In the banquet hall, Song Lihui was busy trying to please the envoy from Ruanyu. In fact, he is currently engaging in a friendly conversation with Bai Ruohan, that is until a servant came over.
Normally, Song Lihui would ignore the servant or simply let them wait. But when he saw that this servant is his third brother’s personal servant, he can’t help feeling restless, especially seeing the nervousness on the servant’s face.
“Gongye, please excuse this prince for a bit. It seems that my third brother have something to tell me,” Song Lihui said with an apologetic expression.
“Go on, go on. Don’t mind me,” Bai Ruohan said with a big smile on his face. “By the way, I heard that the princess is a great beauty. When can we be honored with her presence?”
At this question, Song Lihui froze in place. “That… she will be here soon. Young lady tend to take a lot of time to prepare. Don’t worry, she will be here,” Song Lihui said before he stood up.
Giving Bai Ruohan a friendly salute, he finally walked away to escape further question by approaching the servant. “Follow me,” Song Lihui said in a soft whisper, and the servant nods his head. As soon as they are out of the hall, Song Lihui turned to face the servant. “Alright. Speak.”
The servant looked around to make sure that no one is around. Only then did he lean closer to Song Lihui. “Your Highness… the princess went missing again,” the servant said in a low whisper.
“Again?!” Song Lihui exclaimed in surprise. Then he quickly caught himself and added in a much, lower voice. “That child always cause trouble…”
“So, what does third brother need for me?” Song Lihui asked the servant.
“His Highness said that they might need your help at Yonghe palace. The first prince and the fourth prince is also there,” the servant replied in a hushed tone.
Yonghe palace is exactly Princess Song Lijing’s residence. Upon hearing this, Song Lihui understood what their brothers are planning. ‘I feel sorry for Jun if it ends up like that but, we are pressed for time…’
“Has Royal Father been informed?”
“Yes. The first prince had sent someone to inform His Majesty,” the servant replied.
“Good. You go back first and help them with the search. I will try and get us some time,” Song Lihui said before he went back into the banquet hall.
When he entered the banquet hall again, he glanced at his father. He could see that his father is feeling nervous with how quick the older man downed his wine. ‘I guess he heard the news already. In any case… We must first distract the guests.’
As he thought of this, he went to the center of the banquet hall and clapped his hands a few time to get everyone’s attention. It did not take long for the noisy banquet to quiet down considerably in order to let Song Lihui speak.
“Honored guests,” Song Lihui addressed everyone once he got their attention. “I’m sure that everyone is getting bored. So we have prepared an entertainment for everyone! This was especially prepared for our esteemed guests from Ruanyu. Please, enjoy the dance by our Dong Xing’s best dance troupe!”
Song Lihui announced this, then signalled for the servants guarding the side entrance. After that, he quickly withdrawed and soon after, a group of women entered the hall through each side entrance. They were dressed lightly, and each has a shawl on their hands. Their head and waist were also adorned with ornaments, making them look very eye catching.
Once the performance start, all eyes were on the dancers. Song Lihui could see that the envoys were also attracted by the performance and so, the second prince quickly left the banquet hall in a hurry.
When he arrived at Yonghe palace, he saw the two guards by the entrance. “How was the search?” Song Lihui asked right away. The two guards shook their head, informing Song Lihui that the princess was not yet found.
“What about the treasury? Have any of you searched there? Last time, that is where she hides while waiting for a chance to escape the palace,” Song Lihui said.
“Your Highness, the crown prince also had the same thought and sent someone to look in the treasury, but there was no sign of the princess.”
“Then… my brothers?”
“The three princes are inside Yonghe palace. The eldest prince said…” the guards were nervous. They wondered if they are allowed to say things like the fourth prince is being forced to cross-dress.
“Say no more. Keep watch, in case the troublesome princess is still inside. If she is, and she saw the entrance is unguarded, she will be able to escape easily,” Song Lihui told the two guards before he went into Yonghe palace.
He entered the main building of the residence, and he could already hear his youngest brother’s helpless wail.
“Eldest brother! Spare me!! Why do I have to wear Sister Jing’s clothes?!”
“Because you need to be her stand it!”
Song Lihui heard his eldest brother reply to his youngest brother. He can’t help but shake his head. ‘It looks like Jun can no longer escape this… we are indeed pressed for time.’
Song Lihui brought his feet to the direction of the wail earlier. The closer he got to the room where the voices came from, the clearer he could hear the verbal arguments between his brothers.
“Then what about me, ah?! If I don’t appear, won’t the envoy think I’m not giving them face?! My reputation will be tarnished!” Song Lijun said.
“As I have said earlier, we will inform them that you got sick and have to stay in bed. Xiao Jun, be good and listen to your older brother,” Song Liren’s voice could be heard as he replied to Song Lijun.
“Yes, Xiao Jun should just give up trying to change our mind. Also, I think that your reputation has long been tarnished…” the next who spoke was Song Lifan.
“What do you mean?” came Song Lijun’s question.
“Mmn… the citizens has been saying how I became a bad influence and dragged Junjun into a pit with me,” Song Lifan replied.
“Huh? What does the third brother mean? Say it clearly, ah!”
Song Lihui finally arrived at the door and he slid the door open, entering the room and joining his other three brothers. Seeing that Song Lijun was still dressed in his own clothings, Song Lihui let out a heavy sigh.
“I figured that you’re not ready yet,” Song Lihui said as he stared at Song Lijun, then at the female clothes that was prepared for Song Lijing. “I’ve come to help you get ready! Don’t waste anymore time. The dance performance can only buy little time,” Song Lihui said. “The Gongye who led the envoy even inquired about Lijing already!”
Hearing this, the first and third prince also became impatient. Song Lijun became panicked and for the nth time of the night, tried to escape. Unfortunately, his brothers blocked every path of his escape and finally, the only thing that Song Lijun could do was wail helplessly as his brothers began to remove his clothes.
The preparation took almost half of Song Lijun’s life. He stared lifelessly at the bronze mirror in front of him while Song Lifan helped him with his hair. His face was covered with powders and rouge. His lips were pasted with a seductive colour of red. If anyone else were to see him now, everyone would think that he is a woman.
“… Brother Fan… how is it that you are good at this?” Song Lijun couldn’t help but ask.
“Hmm? It is my hobby,” Song Lifan replied with a smile. “Never expected I’d use this skill on one of my brothers though. But I did have some practice with Lijing before,” he added as he placed the last ornament on top of Song Lijun’s head.
“Done!” he grinned before telling Song Lijun to stand up. “Brothers, what do you think?” Song Lifan asked the other two who are now staring at Song Lijun.
“En. As expected of twins,” Song Lifan nods his head in satisfaction.
“Yes. Just perfect! I doubt even Royal Father would know this is Jun… Truly, my plan is a masterpiece!” Song Liren said. “Third brother’s work is also a masterpiece! The make-up is not too overdone. Just enough to highlight Jun’s already beautiful feature… Excellent!”
Song Lifan, hearing his eldest brother’s praise only let out a small laughter. “Alright. Now where is the muslin veil?” Song Lifan went around the room and finally found the veil inside one of Song Lijing’s wardrobe.
‘Didn’t even blink an eye when seeing Sister Jing’s undergarment… Big brother Fan, how far have you fallen, ah?!’ Song Lijun thought as he noticed how his third brothers seemed to be acting normal despite seeing embarrassing stuffs like female’s undergarment.
Song Lifan came back and placed the veil over Song Lijun’s face to cover the other’s face. The veil was semi-transparent, it’s purpose is none other than to let other see that it was Song Lijing, but at the same time, not letting them see her clearly.
“I believe we are done here. Shall we go and greet the envoy?” Song Liren asked.
“… Can I greet them as Song Lijun? I believe I can still change back,” Song Lijun tried for one last time to escape.
“No. We are already late. Any later, the envoy might start to suspect and feel that we are lying to them. Jun, ah! Don’t worry! Once we sister is found, we’ll let you change back,” Song Liren replied, even though they all knew that Song Lijing won’t be found until the night is over.
Written by: Lin Xiaolong
Reach out to the author by scanning the code below or by pressing this link.