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   Chapter 3 Alone In The Lingering Cold

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 8743

Updated: 2018-07-15 18:10

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Price: $9.99

ISBN: 978-1719927130

In the dead of night, a small figure wrapped tightly in a black cloak quietly opened the door of the Nichang Palace and rushed out.

The figure crept through part of the inner court, and stopped at a secluded courtyard and knocked on the door. After a long time, a weary voice answered from inside, "Coming. Who is it?"

The door creaked open and an old maid in a grey dress looked out. The figure removed the cloak's hood and looked up at the old maid.

"Princess Yun Shang? Your Highness, why are you here at this time?" The old maid hurriedly looked around before pulling Yun Shang inside.

The interior was utterly bleak. There was nothing but a well and a tree in the yard, though everything was clean and in its proper order. Yun Shang had not been here in her last lifetime. But now, after a close look, she wanted to weep.

When she looked at the small building in the yard, she saw a dim yellow light from an oil lamp shimmering inside. Yun Shang paused, "You haven't slept yet?"

The old maid had been studying Yun Shang since she came in, and when she asked, she replied in a soft voice, "We are out of food. Her Highness intended to make some clothes for the eunuchs of the Shangshi Bureau*, in exchange for food."

(*TN: The ancient Chinese and Korean institutions responsible for the provision of royal meals.)

Yun Shang didn't ask any more questions. She walked towards the building and entered the door.

Inside the room there sat a young woman embroidering in the light of the oil lamp. She wore plain cyan clothes but still looked extraordinarily beautiful. As the door opened, she asked in a low voice, without raising her head, "Madam Zheng, who is knocking at the door at this late hour?"

Yun Shang couldn't help feeling sad. She walked forward, knelt on her knees and whispered, "Mother...... I am so sorry......"

The Empress had favored Yun Shang in her previous life. She had always hated her biological mother, a concubine in the Cold Palace*. Since losing favor with the Emperor, no one was allowed to speak about Lady Jin. When others asked Yun Shang about her mother, she always proudly claimed, "I am born with royal blood. And my mother is Her Majesty the Empress. How could that repulsive Lady Jin be my true mother!"

(*TN: the place where wives that have lost favor with the Emperor are sent.)

But now, she understood that criticism cut deeper than swords.

The woman heard Yun Shang's voice and quickly turned her head. She seemed to be in a daze when she saw the young princess. But then she stood up in a hurry, "Yun Shang! You must be Yun Shang!"

Yun Shang smiled and nodded. She had been separated from her mother at childhood. It was no wonder that her mother couldn't recognize her.

Before Yun Shang spoke, Lady Jin had already reached out to help her stand. When she saw the little princess was barefoot she exclaimed, "How can you run out of your palace at this hour? And you didn't even wear your shoes. What if you got ill due to the cold?"

Yun Shang lowered her head. Her eyes were sour with tears. However bad she been to her mother, Lady Jin still loved her. She couldn't help but think of her child, whom Mo Jingran had tossed out the window. He had was only six months old! Tears ran down her cheeks.

Lady Jin was worried when she saw Yun Shang's tears. She hurriedly raise a hand to help the young princess wipe away the tears, "Why are you crying? Were they bad to you? But I've heard the Empress treated you as she would her own daughter."

Yun Shang gritted her teeth and said, "No, mother, they were terrible to me. Their love is only a facade. A means to an end. By pampering me and spoiling me, they molded me into a proud and bossy girl. They taught me that the Four Arts* were boring so I would stop learning them. They pretended to be kind to me to make me more and more useless. The Empress personally selected my companions and caregivers so that she could watch me. They told me every day how generous and virtuous Her Majesty was, which blinded me to her faults. They also told me every day how her teacher was punishing princess Hua Jing. If I ever behaved well, the virtuous Empress would come and tell me that I could do whatever I want, that I could even beat or kill my servants if they displeased me. She also assured me that would always be under h

er protection. Mother, do you still think I am good? I'm eight years old now, but I still can't write, draw or play an instrument. Whereas Princess Hua Jing is already renowned in the Imperial City for her talents."

(*TN: In ancient China, high-born ladies were required to master skills in music, chess, calligraphy, and painting.)

Lady Jin fell silent for a long time, and sighed, "It is all my fault."

Before she could speak more, a bell rang. Yun Shang rose in a hurry, "Mother, I have to go now. I'm merely visiting today. A few days ago, I had a bad fall and passed out for several days. When I woke up, I lied about having nightmares every night and forbade my servants from coming near me. Whenever the eunuchs and maids approached, I shouted curses at them. Now, they dare not come and check on me. I finally got the chance to visit you. But now they are about to get up, and I can't risk staying here any longer. I can't let you be punished because of me, mother." With these words Yun Shang hurried to the door.

"Yun Shang......" Yun Shang stopped and lowered her eyes when she heard her mother call. She turned back, removed a gold bracelet from her waist and handed it to Lady Jin, "Mother, I came out in a hurry, and didn't prepare anything for you. You can take this bracelet to exchange for some food. The servants in the palace are all greedy and heartless. I'm so sorry that you have had to suffer so. I'll find another chance to visit you again!" That said, Yun Shang slid her hood over her head and rushed into the darkness outside.

Lady Jin sat on the stool and watched Yun Shang leave. She didn't speak for a long time.

Madam Zheng asked, "Your Highness, what is the Princess's intention?"

Lady Jin sighed and raised her teary eyes, "Madam, am I too self-willed? In the beginning, I didn't want to see the Emperor taking new concubines into his harem. I didn't want to see him fall in love with another woman. So I chose to hide here, to be ignorant about everything. I thought I had escaped tough years. But I had forgotten about my little Yun Shang, who is of my blood, who is too young to protect herself from the others..."

Madam Zheng remained silent for a while, and said, "Your Highness, the harem has always been wicked and dangerous. You've despised meaningless disputes since childhood, and it was righteous for you to step aside from the ugliness. As for the Princess, I will try to find someone to protect her tomorrow. Your Highness was kind to many people before moving here. I'm sure I will find someone willing to help you. It would be better to have someone by her side."

Lady Jin nodded somewhat absent-mindedly.

Yun Shang breathed a sigh of relief when she snuck back into Ni Chang Palace undetected. She stopped at the gate and frowned as a thought struck her. She knew almost nothing about her birth mother and had never seen or asked about her before. All Yun Shang could only remember was that in her previous life, her mother had become seriously ill and had died before her Coming-of-age ceremony*. Yun Shang didn't know whether her visit would change her mother's fate or not. It didn't matter. Whatever little time she had with her mother, Yun Shang vowed to treat her mother well.

(*TN: In ancient China, when women are 15 years old, they use a hairpin to tie their hair to show that they have come of age.)

Returning to her chamber, Yun Shang put the black cloak into a chest, then sat on her bed. She thought of an idea, and in her excitement, Yun Shang ran out to the inner hall, barefoot. Yun Shang narrowed her eyes and glared at the lamps. She then raised her hand and pushed them down on to the carpet. Yun Shang hurried back to her chamber and crouched in her bed to feign sleep.

"The palace is on fire! The palace is on fire!" A cry of alarm called out. Before long, chaos overran Ni Chang Palace. A voice shouted, "Hurry! The Princess is still in her chamber!" "Find the Princess!"

Yun Shang got out of her bed. Standing at the door of her chamber, she looked at the fire with a smile.

She thought she had died with regret in her past life. But she had been reborn. Given God's arrangement, she would never again allow anyone to control her. Hadn't these two women been obsessed with power and wealth? She was going to take away what they had now, bit by bit.

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