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   Chapter 33 The Embroidery

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 11150

Updated: 2018-08-03 18:51

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ISBN: 978-1719927130

Puzzled, Yun Shang looked at the Empress, "Can I do this? But wouldn't I be lying in that case? Master Wu Na always told me that there are certain monastic disciples I should never violate. I cannot lie."

"My child, but you are not one of them. Eventually you have to marry someone. It's only a matter of time. Now think about this. Every noble lord and lady will attend the ceremony. How can you expect them to accept you willingly, even though you are a Royal Princess, if they find out that you couldn't do a simple thing such as an embroidery? Besides, your maids will take over the job after you marry into your husband's family. You don't have to embroider anything, and thus you don't have to worry about it at all. I can assure you that the secret will be well kept. But still, you are just a girl. Know this. For us women, the most important thing through our life is to always be fully prepared, and, when the time comes, marry into a decent clan. That's what really matters."

Eyes fixed on the ground, Yun Shang remained silent for a while before finally answering determinedly, "I'll do whatever mother says."

Empress Yuan Zhen nodded with satisfaction, "There is hardly half a month before your Coming-of-age Ceremony. You'd better get started and choose a pattern so that Jing'er will have enough time to finish the work for you."

Yun Shang consented. Empress Yuan Zhen then asked a few more questions before finally permitting Yun Shang to leave. Yun Shang returned to the Qingxin Palace with Qin Yi.

"Princess..." Qin Yi was about to say something when Yun Shang signaled to her to stop talking. She waved her hand at Qin Yi to come closer and then whispered in her ear. Soon after they had returned to Qingxin Palace, Yun Shang left again with Qin Yi. This time, she headed to the Imperial Treasure House.

The Imperial Treasure House was a depository allocated for the storage of invaluable treasures, including numerous gems, famous paintings, and calligraphy works. As soon as they arrived at the Imperial Treasure House, Yun Shang noticed that the front door was locked. Having no other option, Yun Shang sent Qin Yi to have a word with the eunuchs who were sweeping the floor.

Qin Yi returned and reported to Yun Shang, "Princess, they said the director is not here. In fact, he hardly comes here, unless its a special occasion. They also said that all the paintings and calligraphy works collected in the House are not for circulation. Not without His Majesty's dictation..."

Yun Shang sighed heavily, "Never mind. We don't have to bother my father, not with such trifles." Disappointed, they headed back to Qingxin Palace. Qin Meng was making Yun Shang's bed when they entered. Opposite the bed stood a chair. Yun Shang sank into the chair and sighed melodramatically.

"Princess, I remember that you brought back plenty of paintings and calligraphy works from Ning'guo Temple. Didn't you? And some of them are said to be masterpieces. Though they might not be as exquisite as those from the Imperial Treasure House, they are from the collections of someone as particular as Master Wu Na. I bet they must be stunning as well. Why don't you pick one from them for Princess Hua Jing?" Qin Yi hurried to console Yun Shang.

Listlessly, Yun Shang nodded and said, "Fine, there's nothing we can do for now. Go fetch those paintings for me. I'll see what we have and hopefully find one that will do."

Qin Yi trotted to the wooden case in the corner, and brought out several scrolls. She then asked Qin Meng to help her open the scrolls one after another for Yun Shang to see.

"Sukhavati? No. Rather ominous. Amitayus Buddha? Inappropriate. We are not celebrating someone's birthday. Avalokitesvara? Not very suitable for the occasion... Lotus? That seems pretty nice. Every Buddhist knows the religious meaning of lotus. Even for people who have no faith in Buddhism, they can simply enjoy the beauty of the flowers. That's it. We'll use this one." Yun Shang muttered as she continued to stare at the painting, "That's it then. Qin Meng, take it to Princess Hua Jing later on."

Qin Meng replied, "Yes, Your Royal Highness."

As soon as Yun Shang made sure that Qin Meng had gone, she turned to Qin Yi and asked, "We have been back for nearly half a month. I assume that the Empress is lowering her guard. I think it's about time. Can you find a way to get in touch with my mother, Lady Jin?"

"Yes, I can." Qin Yi nodded firmly. She didn't hesitate.

Tilting her head sideways, Yun Shang once again became immersed in her thoughts. Qin Yi stood by silently, watching the Princess. After quite a while, Yun Shang said, "Send a message to my mother. Tell her that I've heard that she was a great Guqin player*. I never had a chance to listen, not even once in my life. I hope she can play for me, as her gift to me, at the night of my Coming-of-age Ceremony, when the moon rises. After the Ceremony, the banquet will be held at the Moon Tower. She doesn't have to show up at the feast. I'm sure I will be able to hear her playing for me if she plays the instrument in the nearby pavilion."

(*TN A plucked seven-string Chinese musical instrument of the Zither family.)

Qin Yi paused in surprise. She thought of all the possible messages that Yun Shang may have asked her to send. She would never have guessed that she would ask Lady Jin to play. She wasn't in a position to judge, so she simply responded, "Yes, I will."

Yun Shang remembered every single detail from her previous life. She couldn't, however,

remember the recent suggestion that Princess Jing Hua would embroider for her. She couldn't help notice that events were not going as she remembered from her past life. More or less, everything seemed to be different from before. She decided not to worry about this and to see where her destiny would take her this time. Having made up her mind, Yun Shang walked to her table, ripped a small piece of parchment and scrawled a hasty note. Then she opened the window and threw the note out.

"Princess, I have delivered the painting to Princess Hua Jing. She was meeting the Empress, so I took the painting to Her Majesty's Palace. Princess Hua Jing appreciated the painting very much. 'It's a great choice.' That is what Princess Hua Jing said. She said she would get started as soon as possible." Yun Shang was reading a Buddhist text alone in her study when Qin Meng raised the curtains and came in to report. She noticed that the maid was beaming.

Yun Shang let out a small smile, "Really? That's a relief. I brought all those paintings from the Ning'guo Temple, and they are almost all about either Avalokitesvara or Buddha. I was actually afraid that they wouldn't fit the Ceremony. Speaking of which, is my sister very good at embroidery?"

Qin Meng nodded hastily, "Very good indeed. Princess Hua Jing was praised by the Director of the Shangyi Bureau, several times. In fact, he was very appreciative about the delicateness of her work. He said not a single woman from the Palace could ever outshine Princess Hua Jing in embroidery. Princess Hua Jing learned Hunan embroidery when she was little, and that had become her forte ever since. Her works are so vivid and lively its as if a person could smell the fragrance of the flowers and hear the birds singing cheerfully when looking at her works. If Princess Hua Jing finishes the embroidery for you to present at the Coming-of-age Ceremony, it would be a great way for you to establish your position in the court."

"Will it?" Yun Shang looked up at Qin Meng, calmly but in doubt, "I asked you to take the painting to my Princess Sister. But I never mentioned that my sister will embroider for me so that I can present it at my Coming-of-age Ceremony. How do you know about it?"

All of a sudden, a trace of panic flashed through Qin Meng's face. But she pulled herself together within a split second and replied, "I heard the Empress mentioning it to Princess Hua Jing when I took the painting. Her Majesty also wanted you to stay in more often. She said that if people asked you should pretend to focus on the embroidery."

Saying no more, Yun Shang fixed her eyes on the text in hand again. After a while, she nodded and said, "Mother has been so considerate. I'll do as she said."

Hua Jing was, at least, really good at embroidery as per the rumors. Within five days, she had finished the work and brought it back to Yun Shang in person. In front of her sister, Yun Shang unfolded the scroll carefully, admiring every detail of the fine art made of thread, "Sister's craftsmanship is truly beyond compare. Look at these lotuses. It looks like they are real lotuses like the ones in the pond. So fresh and alive..."

In spite of the fact that she was smirking inside, Hua Jing only gave Yun Shang a tender smile and said softly, "As long as you like it. In fact, I can't take all the credit for such a fine piece, which, I must say, is mainly because you gave me such a fabulous painting as the pattern. I dare say there is no other soul than you in the entire Imperial City who could have painted such delicate lotuses as you have done. Not even those so-called gifted ones. Trust me, all they are capable of is nothing other than vulgar and boring stuff."

"I don't really know how to judge a painting. What is good and what is not. I just chose this one because I don't have any other." Slowly and gently, Yun Shang caressed the beautiful embroidered lotus and smiled sweetly.

"Well, I'm so glad that you like it. Now, I'll leave you to your business. I also happen to have something to deal with." Hua Jing rose from the chair and smoothened down her dress. Then she bid Yun Shang good-bye with a smile and turned to leave.

"I'll walk you out." Yun Shang hurried to follow Hua Jing. She walked with her sister till the front door.

When Yun Shang went back inside, Qin Yi was standing beside the bed, motionlessly. She held a small embroidered sachet in her hands. She stared at the sachet thoughtfully until she heard Yun Shang's footsteps, and then she turned to Yun Shang and asked, "Princess, this is not yours. Why would it be found on your bed? I swear it was not there earlier. And look at the craftsmanship, I bet it belongs to Princess Hua Jing..."

Curiously, Yun Shang took the sachet, and turned it back and forth for a while. Then she put it away and smiled, "The two of them have been bullying me for quite some time, and I have done nothing except avoid them. But not anymore. I'm done hiding from them and I'll strike first for once. I'm afraid I must officially declare war on the Empress and Princess Hua Jing at my Coming-of-age Ceremony. Just wait and see,. It will definitely be a day to live for. I can hardly wait for it."

Qin Yi couldn't help wondering, "Princess, what do you plan to do?"

"You'll know when the day comes." With cruel determination sparkling in her narrowed eyes, Yun Shang said, "I'll take everything from them, bit by bit. My Coming-of-age Ceremony will only be the beginning. I won't stop until they crawl and beg for mercy."

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