The White-Haired Imperial Concubine - Chapter 37 - Escaping Heavens and Earth[Updated at: 2021-01-11 22:05:31]
Chapter 37 Escaping Heavens and Earth
The fog in the room drifted about, rising in the air. Within the large hot spring, Man Yao soaked for a long time before her ice-cold body finally warmed up. Even so, her heart felt like it was dug out and thrown onto a snowy ground, emitting an ice-cold air. Even though her body still had traces of that person’s warmth, the pain of her first time traveled all the way to her heart, leaving behind its brutal traces.
She opened her eyes, turning to the curtain that prevented the fog from dissipating. The fog had condensed along the beads, slowly making its way down, dripping onto the white bricks. Suddenly, the curtain moved very, very faintly, almost imperceptibly. The doors and windows were tightly shut, where did this wind come from?
A glint flashed through her eyes, and she grabbed the clothes next to the spring and unhesitatingly shoved them into the water. Leaning against the side of the spring, she slid down into the water, the warm water slowly covering her chest, neck, eyes and nose, all the way to the top of her head until all traces of her were gone. She plastered herself against the bottom of the spring, snaking around the sides of the pool. Her ink-black hair spread out within the water and she grabbed ahold of it, the ends that were pressing against the sides of the jade stones drifted about, seemingly dissatisfied with being restrained, wanting to escape.
Shutting her eyes, she pressed her ear against the jade wall of the hot spring, listening to the movements outside. Suddenly, she didn’t hear even the slightest footstep, only the faint sound of something whizzing, sounding like a martial arts expert flying through the air. In an instant, everything became silent again.
Man Yao did not surface from the water, however, and kept in the same position, slowly feeling the air in her lungs disappearing bit by bit. Dying by suffocation to bid farewell to love didn’t seem like a bad choice either. She need to force herself to sear this into her memory, deceit and manipulation were all around her in her world so even if she hated it, she must get used to it. Love was a far-fetched dream, as long as she hardened her heart into steel, no one would be able to hurt her.
As she endured to the very last moment, until the pain in her chest felt as if someone was ripping her apart, she finally surfaced from the water. In the midst of the floating flowers, she opened her mouth and took in deep breaths of air, feeling liberated. There were always things in this world that were worth desiring, like this oxygen. She curled her lips, revealing a shallow and cold smile.
After a while, the water began to cool and so as to not cause any problems, she did not call for anyone to add more hot water. The steam in the air slowly dissipated, allowing her to see clearly. When the water was finally cold, the hair spread out on the edges of the pool was almost dry. She heard the sound of footsteps outside the door, and this time, she did not sink back into the water, she didn’t even blink.
The person stopped five steps behind her, digging out a light-colored cloth bag before kneeling on the ground and raising it up with both hands, speaking in a low voice, “This subject greets Princess, this is the clothes and accessories that Mei guniang prepared for Princess.”
The skies turned dark and the night breeze was cool. As the General’s Residence had important guests inside, the lanterns were all brightly lit. Fu Chou arranged the banquet and personally escorted Princess Rong Le to tour around the residence in case there were any areas she wanted to change. Zongzheng Wuyou was interested as well and followed along, and the Crown Prince naturally did not fall behind.
A train of people leisurely walked through the hallway behind the courtyard. Fu Chou pointed with his left hand at a bamboo forest, his voice crisp as he introduced, “This bamboo forest was planted two years ago, if you don’t like it, we can tell them to chop it al down. Behind the bamboo forest is Qingyi(1) Courtyard, it is the residence I especially prepared for Princes…let’s go over to take a look.”
Fu Chou elegantly swept his arm in a “please” gesture, and the red-robed woman smiled as she nodded, “Alright.”
Qingyi Courtyard, as expected it was quiet and peaceful and yet still elegant. Fu Chou and the red-robed woman walked ahead, taking a look inside every room.
Zongzheng Xiaoren followed along for a while, noticing how the General’s residence had a refined scenery, both luxurious and delicate. He personally felt that it was incomparable to the Crown Prince Residence and thus, he lost interest and became bored. Glancing at the person walking next to him, he only saw Zongzheng Wuyou walking lazily as if he was taking a stroll in his own courtyard. He would occasionally observe his surroundings, but no emotions could be gleaned from his deep eyes. Zongzheng Xiaoren asked, “Why is Seventh Imperial Brother so curious today? Usually, you don’t even bother to take a glance at the royal gardens in the palace.”
Left behind the pair, Zongzheng Wuyou furrowed his eyebrows at the faint fragrance that occasionally passed through his nose due to the breeze. He silently glanced at Zongzheng Xiaoren, ignoring him, but his gaze never truly left the two people walking in front. At this moment, the two people in front turned a corner and walked up the steps, only for Fu Chou to say, “This is the bath house, this afternoon there was a friend that used it, so it is a little muggy. Princess won’t mind, right?”
The red-robed woman smiled, “It’s alright.”
Zongzheng Wuyou’s gaze changed, understanding who the friend Fu Chou had mentioned was. He stepped into the bath house, and the first thing he saw was the curtain between the pool and the doorway, blocking the view inside. The red-robed woman was no longer within his sights and Zongzheng Wuyou frowned. Before he could step any further, he saw Fu Chou block the curtain that still carried condensation on it before ordering the servants outside, “Why is this curtain still here? Hurry and take it away to clean!”
A maidservant hurried into the room and gathered away the curtain, and the bathhouse was displayed in full view. Other than the walls, ground, pool, and them, there was nothing else present.
The red-robed woman half-knelt by the pool, using her hands to graze the water, causing turquoise ripples to form. The snow-white fingers became even more like white jade, mesmerizing people with its dewiness. The woman slightly turned, seeming to look at Fu Chou, but in reality, she was staring at Zongzheng Wuyou through the corner of her eyes before lightly smiling, “Although this is not as luxurious as the bathhouse I had in the palace, it is still big enough. I’m just afraid that this water…is not from the hot springs, it’s so cold!”
The woman’s voice was elegant and clear, like the sounds of nature. She stood up and used her sleeved to cover her hands as if she was already thoroughly chilled by the cold water. The lotuses in the water were the same as before and she stepped out. When she walked past Zongzheng Wuyou, a fragrance once again assaulted his senses, and this one seemed to carry hints of a light scent. Whether it was present or not was hard to grasp as it was masked by the other stronger fragrance.
Fu Chou smiled apologetically towards her, “Princess is right. But this residence does not have any sources of hot spring water nearby, so I’m afraid that Princess must put up with it.”
The red-robed woman walked out of the bathhouse, her expression unchanged and kept silent.
Zongzheng Wuyou swept his eyes around the empty bathhouse before following behind them. He gave a faint wave of his hand and Leng Yan immediately appeared. In a voice that only the two of them could hear, he reported, “Wangye, I’ve looked everywhere and I did not find the person.”
Zongzheng Wuyou’s gaze turned cold, asking, “Are you sure she did not leave the general’s residence?”
Leng Yan answered confidently, “Yes.” There were people from Wuyin Lou surrounding the place and keeping an eye on it, even the flies that exited could be investigated and identified as male or female.
Zongzheng Wuyou spoke in a low voice, “Continue to search. Send down my order, investigate clearly each and every person that entered and exited the General’s Residence today. This prince doesn’t believe that she can fly to the sky and hide in the earth(2)?!”
(1) Qingyi Courtyard (清谧园): Qing meaning clear and Yi meaning quiet.
(2) 上天遁地: English equivalent would be “disappear into thin air”.