WHERE IS THE PRINCESS?
It wasn’t until one month later did King Song Min receive a reply from the Emperor of Ruan Yu. But when he read the content of the letter, he was angered to the point that he almost tore the letter off. If it were not for Steward Yun calming him down, the King Song Min might even execute the messenger from Ruan Yu who was currently waiting in the courtyard they prepared. If he did, then he would incur the wrath of Ruan Yu, and the steward knew they could not afford to.
“Your Majesty, please calm your anger. The conditions may seem harsh, but if things continue as it is, Dong Xing Kingdom will cease to exist. Not only that, think of what will happen to our citizens…” the steward advised him.
“So, are you asking this King to send away his only daughter?!” King Song Min asked the eunuch.
“Your Majesty, sometimes, we must make sacrifices in order to achieve something,” Steward Yun replied. “In addition, this servant heard that the Emperor of Ruan Yu treats his harem member well even if they are not favoured. The princess will still be able to live her life to the fullest. But imagine what will happen if our kingdom fall… she might even be reduced to being a slave.”
King Song Min was still reluctant at first but when he heard that his only daughter would suffer even more if he didn’t agree to Ruan Yu’s Emperor’s condition, he finally made up his mind. “Call the princess, as well as the other princes,” King Song Min said and Steward Yun immediately sent someone to get the King’s children.
The king did not have to wait for long. Soon enough, his children arrived one by one, from the eldest prince to the fourth prince. But the main character for his announcement has yet to arrive. They waited for a while and finally, the king could no longer hold it. He turned to his fourth son, who is the twin brother of the princess.
“Lijun, where is your sister?” King Song Min asked with a hint of impatience.
Song Lijun only gave his father an awkward smile before he glanced toward the rest of his brothers. The others, instinctively looked away, not wanting to meet Song Lijun’s pleading gaze.
‘Brothers, why must you abandon your youngest brother in his time of need, ah!!’ Song Lijun wailed in his mind.
“Well?” the king continued to press on. It was well known to everyone in the palace that Song Lijun is very close to the princess. It was to the point that he’s willing to help her whenever the princess, who was spoiled since young, made trouble. Not only Song Lijun, even the rest of his brothers spoils her rotten but compared to Song Lijun, it still amounts to nothing.
“Father… elder sister just went out to shop, that’s all. She heard that there was a new shipment of ingredients and that the Western Orchid meal house is making a new dish-”
“What nonsense of new shipment?! If you want to make a lie, then at the very least find out what happened first! If the new shipment arrived, do you think I, the king, would be this worried?!” King Song Min scolded his son. “Now, tell me the truth. Where is your sister?”
Song Lijun only lowered his head, not wanting to give out an answer. Seeing their younger brother’s pitiful appearance, the other princes felt that their father was too much. The eldest prince, Song Liren, finally decided to speak up.
“Father, I don’t think Lijun knows where the little sister is. On my way here, Lijun was just leaving his courtyard…”
“Then where is she?” King Song Min asked. “Our country is already like this and she still acts selfishly!”
“I… know where she went,” another voice speaks up, and it was the third prince, Song Lifan. “Yesterday, I received a painting of a new member the Flower Pavilion and because the man in the painting was too good looking, I showed it to little sister Jing…”
Flower Pavilion is the top pleasure house in the Kingdom of Dong Xing. They not only have women serving their customers, but also men. Everyone in the kingdom knew that the third prince, Song Lifan, is a cut-sleeve. No one really knows how he was bent, but when King Song Min found out, he almost castrated this son of his. But the late queen, his wife, threatened to cut his own ‘little brother’ when he sleeps, so King Song Min can only throw out the idea away.
“Flower Pavilion? Good. Very good,” King Song Min who heard that his only daughter ventured out to the pleasure house can’t help but point at his third son. “You already know what kind of person your sister is… she is vain and always place an importance on look… Go and kneel in the ancestral hall to reflect on your wrongs! Don’t come out until it is dinner time!” King Song Min yelled at Song Lifan.
The third prince was scared out of his wits and quickly rushed out of the study room, not wanting to anger his father any further.
The remaining three princes lowered their head as they waited for their father to calm down. “Lijun, you go out there and pick up your sister. Liren and Lihui, you two stay!”
As if being granted amnesty, Song Lijun felt relieved that his father gave the task of picking up his sister to him. If he were to stay in the study any longer, he felt that his legs may turn soft. Before leaving, he gave his two elder brothers a distressed expression, but the two only waved their hand to him with a helpless smile on their face.
Of course, the brothers knew that their father is carrying a heavy burden so they understood why their father is angry.
Song Lijun went back to his courtyard and disguised himself. In Dong Xing kingdom, other than being the fourth prince, he was also well known for being half of the Kingdom’s most proud ‘Twin Jade’. As per the name, it refers to him and his twin sister, Song Lijing, praising them for their beauties. It was due to this title that Song Lijun felt burdened whenever he goes out. He could feel eyes on him wherever he walks, and those whispers about him were sometimes too much to listen to. ‘I wish to grow up quickly… When will I grow up to be as dashing as eldest brother?’ Song Lijun sighed as he stared at his figure from the bronze mirror.
Though he is now sixteen, his build appears to be smaller than most men much to his displeasure. He yearns to have a great build like his eldest brother. But no matter how much he eats, exercise or train, his body did not develop the way he wanted to.
After finishing his disguise, he came out of his room only to see a young servant waiting on him. This servant was given by his father when he was ten years old, and since then, this servant has been accompanying him. “An Liu, when did you get here?” Song Lijun asked.
“This servant came over as soon as he heard that the prince has returned,” An Liu replied. “Your highness… with your current outfit, are you going out?”
“En. Father tasked me to pick up sister Jing,” Song Lijun replied. “You will come and accompany me outside.”
“Ah, is that so? Then, let me go and get the gua-”
“No need for guards. I don’t want to cause an uproar,” Song Lijun quickly stopped An Liu from getting the guards. An Liu only looked at Song Lijun in a confused manner and Song Lijun knew that he has to tell An Liu their destination. “Apparently, the place that sister Jing went to this time… is Flower Pavilion.”
Upon hearing the name, An Liu’s hand went to cover his mouth as he gasped in surprise. “F-Flower Pavilion… as in… that Flower Pavilion?” he asked Song Lijun who nods his head. “The one in the eastern street?”
“The four floored building with a lot of red ornament?”
“The princess… is truly wild… to think she would go there to-”
“Where did your mind go!” Song Lijun immediately flicked An Liu’s forehead, stopping the other from overthinking things. “She only went there because she is curious about the new member that Flower Pavilion had just gotten. She’s not there to do indecent things,” Song Lijun told the servant, though he himself is not confident that his sister wouldn’t do anything that would go past the boundary of being decent.
“In any case. Let’s just go. The earlier we got her, the earlier we can return. Then father won’t be too angry anymore,” Song Lijun said before finally departing from his courtyard.
Written by: Lin Xiaolong
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