Meanwhile, back in Flower Pavilion, Song Lijun who had separated from Jin Rongqiu earlier finally found a place where he could process the event that happened before.
‘I… was kissed, didn’t I?’ he thought as his mind went to replay the kiss from earlier. Once again, his face turned red and he quickly covered his face. Taking several deep breaths, he forced himself to calm down. ‘It’s alright. It is only a kiss… a ki… your mother! That was my first kiss, ah!!’
Song Lijun wanted to curse the man’s ancestor but seeing that he is his saviour, that would be inappropriate. In the end, he just sighed and tried to forget about the kiss. After calming down, Song Lijun finally went back to find his older sister. It was truly hard to sneakily find a room where his sister is. But fortunately, Song Lijun didn’t have to resort to opening each door of the room on the fourth floor.
When Song Lijun turned to a corner, he saw his sister’s maid-servant. The maid-servant who saw him widened her eyes and immediately turned around to run. Unfortunately for her, Song Lijun reacted quickly and grabbed her by the arm. “Mei Hualing!” Song Lijun called out her name. “You better lead this prince to where the princess currently is!”
“Ah! Your Highness!! Please forgive this servant, ah!” the servant, Mei Hualing, speaks up. “The princess… I’ll lead you to the princess. But Your Highness must assure me that I will not get punished. This servant still has her old mother to take care off, and my younger sister is still young…” the servant said tearfully.
“If you don’t tell this prince right away, then you will answer to Royal Father instead!” Song Lijun threatened.
The threat worked and Mei Hualing quickly led Song Lijun to Song Lijing’s room. As they got closer, Song Lijun could hear a muffled conversation, followed by high-pitched laughter that sounds very familiar to him. When the maidservant was about to open the door, Song Lijun stopped her. He signalled her to keep quiet before his hand rested on the door.
Sliding it open, he could see Song Lijing smiling at a man who is extremely good looking. His sister indeed wore a man’s clothing. Not only that, but that outer robe is also extremely familiar to him. ‘Is that not what eldest brother got me for my birthday last year?!’
Hearing the door open, Song Lijing turned her head as she speaks: “Ah, Hualing. You returned so quickly. Did you get the win- Jun!? H-how come you’re here?!”
“Why? Am I not supposed to be here, elder sister? Wasn’t that man supposed to serve ‘me’?” Song Lijun asked with a fake smile on his face.
“Ah… you heard that?” Song Lijing has an awkward expression on her face. “Jun, ah! I have a reason for this. You know how a woman cannot enter the pleasure house! But I am curious about this guy whom the third brother took fancy of! So in order to meet him, I have to borrow your identity!” Song Lijing told him. “Third brother wanted to buy his freedom from the Flower Pavilion, but I have to make sure that he is of decent character so that third brother won’t be cheated!”
“It doesn’t matter what your reason is!” Song Lijun could care less about his sister’s reason. “To actually go into a pleasure house, do you think father will let you off? And do you know what kind of expression the woman of the pleasure house have when she said this man,” Song Lijun pointed at the male in the room. “Is serving the fourth prince?! You just made others think that I ate both men and women!”
“Is there a problem with that?” Song Lijing asked.
“Well… no, but-” ‘Because of you, I was harassed by a drunk man and then my first kiss was also stolen!’ Song Lijun wanted to say that to his sister but immediately stopped. “A-anyway, father called. Just come home with me now. The earlier we go home, the earlier we can save the eldest brother and second brother,” Song Lijun said.
“… What do you mean?”
At this question, Song Lijun turned to the other man who was still in the room. Throwing another bag of gold, he told the other man to leave. “And also, don’t speak of anything about what happened in this room to other people, or else… if you suddenly disappear, no one will know,” Song Lijun threatened.
“Of course, Your Highness. This slave wouldn’t dare to speak a word of this matter,” the man replied as he bowed at Song Lijun. After he picked up the gold, he quickly left the room.
As soon as the man left, Song Lijun closed the door and began to recount on what happened earlier at their father’s study.
“Then… doesn’t that mean if I go back now, I will be scolded by father?” Song Lijing asked. “Then I will not return!”
“Sister Jing!” Song Lijun exclaimed helplessly. “Don’t you pity our older brothers? They suffered because of you!”
“But Jun… I don’t want to be scolded by father…”
‘If you don’t want to be scolded, then why do things that will arouse his anger?!’ Song Lijun thought. But he knew, once his sister made up her mind, she will truly do it.
“Father said that… If you don’t come home… you won’t receive your dessert for the rest of the month!”
Song Lijun knew that even though this kind of threat sounds childish, his sister will always fall for it.
“What?! He won’t dare!”
‘Sure enough. Your dessert is your weakness, dear sister.’
“Well, are you going to come home or not?” Song Lijun asked. His sister only glared at him, but with much reluctance, she finally nods her head. “Good. Let us go now.”
After finally managing to convince his sister to come home, the twin made their way home followed by their servants. An Liu was actually disappointed that he has to leave the pleasure house, but after being given a death glare by his master, he quietly followed them back to the palace.
Song Lijun didn’t give Song Lijing any escape and as soon as they arrived in the palace, Song Lijun brought his sister straight to his father’s study. When he opened the door, he saw that his two elder brothers were still there, listening to their father’s scolding. When they saw Song Lijun and their sister behind him, they showed a look of relief.
“Father, please calm your anger. Look! Little sister is here already, safe and sound!” the eldest, Song Liren quickly said, hoping to shift his father’s attention.
Hearing that his daughter has come back, King Song Min turned to the door. As soon as he saw her, his nose flared up and he quickly barked at Song Lijing angrily. “Young woman, come here this instance!”
Both twins winced when they heard their father’s tone. Song Lijing slowly walked inside and stood in front of her father. Song Lijun followed closely behind, then stood beside her with his head bowed.
“Where is little third?” King Song Min asked.
“Father… third brother was sent by you to kneel in the ancestral hall until he understands where he went wrong…” Song Lihui reminded him.
“… Fine. You tell him what I am about to tell you later! As all of you have known, our country has been attacked by both bandits and barbarians. Not only that, but pirates have also started to attack our ships, making it hard for us to trade,” King Song Min explained. “Our treasury is slowly being drained, and it won’t even sustain us for another decade…”
“Why aren’t our allies helping us?” Song Lijing asked.
“I have written several letters to those bastards, pleading them to help us but there are no replies at all! In the end, I could only go to the Great Country of Ruanyu. Earlier, I have just received a reply from the Emperor,” King Song Min replied.
“Lijing, ah… you are the only princess of this country. When the country is in trouble, it is our responsibility as the royal family to protect them. I hope that you will be able to do your duty as part of Dong Xing’s royal family,” King Song Min said and the more Song Lijing listen, the more she felt that something is wrong. “The envoy from Ruanyu will come in a month. You will go with them and enter the Emperor’s Imperial Harem.”
Written by: Lin Xiaolong
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