The Princess of Shanyin has changed, as if it’s a totally new person.
Within a few days, everyone in the palace of the Princess had this new insight.
Starting from that morning when she drove all five of the male concubines serving her away, when even her favorite Rong Zhi hadn’t been able to stay, the Princess of Shanyin had suddenly changed.
She no longer indulged in pleasure throughout the days, but instead locked herself in her room; she didn’t even let people enter to wait upon her, only allowing You Lan and several other maids in to bring her her meals and take care of her daily life. She wouldn’t even see the male concubines that used to be inseparable with her. A few male concubines requested to see her, but all were refused.
It was like this for five days in a row.
On the sixth day, one of her male concubines couldn’t restrain himself anymore.
Liu Se was one of the male concubines in the Princess of Shanyin’s harem. He was seventeen this year, with delicate and charming features. He liked to wear Harlequin clothes, and his brows looked coquettish. The day Chu Yu changed he didn’t get the chance to serve her, and these days all his requests to see Chu Yu were blocked out, so he started suspecting and guessing, and couldn’t resist to go find Rong Zhi.
The Princess’ palace was divided into the East Wing and the West Wing. Chu Yu, as the noble Princess, resided in the East Wing; the opposing West Wing, was left for her husband and male concubines.
When Liu Se found Rong Zhi, Rong Zhi was sitting under the buttonwood tree in the courtyard, holding a bamboo book in his hand, reading intently.
Liu Se had came relatively later. When he arrived, Rong Zhi was already serving beside the Princess of Shanyin. How favorable Rong Zhi was in the eyes of the Princess of Shanyin was unbelievable. She not only granted him the best courtyard in the West Wing, but also because Rong Zhi loved reading, ordered people to search and collect rare books for him everywhere.
Moreover, she dismissed Rong Zhi of all etiquettes, so Rong Zhi didn’t need to salute to her.
Rong Zhi’s appearance wasn’t the most beautiful or elegant of all the male concubines, and he wasn’t respectful or careful around the Princess of Shanyin either. But no matter how beautiful the male concubines that arrived later were, the favor the Princess of Shanyin showed to Rong Zhi didn’t lessen even a bit.
Both Rong Zhi’s origin and identity were a mystery to the multitude of male concubines; they didn’t know the background of this youth. They only knew that the position Rong Zhi held in the Princess of Shanyin’s heart was very important. One sentence of Rong Zhi could worth more than their hundreds of sentences, and whatever the Princess of Shanyin was thinking Rong Zhi knew by just one glance.
Over the past several days the Princess of Shanyin’s temperament changed dramatically, leaving the male concubines in her palace speculating endlessly, not knowing what she was up to. Liu Se was from a poor family, only becoming a male concubine of the Princess of Shanyin by his looks. Although this identity was despised by many, it was very useful; because of his identity, his elder brother became a low rank official, and was living comfortably. Therefore, when the Princess of Shanyin stopped summoning them for pleasure, Liu Se became very worried that he will lose favor in her eyes.
But Chu Yu had people guarding the entrance, and Liu Se didn’t dare force his way in either. So the only way was to find the Rong Zhi whom he disliked.
Reaching Snowfall Gardens, a solitary and silent feeling overwhelmed Liu Se. Following the twisted path, walking around the pavilions, Liu Se found Rong Zhi seated under the buttonwood tree.
Rong Zhi was concentratedly reading the bamboo book with his head down. The elegant silhouette of his side figure was gentle like the luster of a jade, appearing between branches and leaves. He looked so at ease and comfortable; the Princess of Shanyin’s refusal to see anyone didn’t seem to have the slightest effect on him.
Liu Se stepped on the pebbles of the flowered path, sending out slight sounds, lacerating the silence that had filled the yard. Rong Zhi lifted his head, his hand holding the bamboo book paused, and turned his head over. He smiled slightly at Liu Se, “Is there something that you need?”
To come and seek help from someone he had disliked all along, Liu Se felt conflicted. But he even accepted the position of a male concubine, so how would he be stopped by this conflicted feeling. Only hesitating for a moment, he opened up: “I would like you to go see the Princess. For all these days, the Princess has locked herself up, and she no longer summons us either. Don’t you think it’s odd?”
Rong Zhi stood up slowly, holding the closed bamboo book in one hand. The loose sleeve of his snowy white garment hanged downwards, swaying slightly in the wind, as slow and light as the clouds and as gentle and soft as the moon. Liu Se watched on enviously. These fabrics woven with snow silk were extremely rare; the entire Princess’ palace had only two units. But just because the name of the quarters Rong Zhi resided in contained the word “snow”, the Princess of Shanyin gave all the fabrics to Rong Zhi for him to make into garments to wear.
It wasn’t just because of the name, Liu Se believed. Even if every single one of them had the word “snow” in their names, the Princess of Shanyin wouldn’t even grant them a thread of snow silk.
If the small West Wing of the Princess’ palace was a harem, then the Princess’ husband would be like the Queen. But the concubine that had the real power and the most favor would be Rong Zhi, while the rest of them, no matter how many, will be the embellishments of Rong Zhi’s blinding radiance.
Rong Zhi placed the bamboo book into his loose sleeve, then smiled, “The Princess naturally has her own plans, so why shall we bother her, adding to her troubles?”
Liu Se became angry, and couldn’t resist saying, “Of course you don’t need to worry, but we……” Then he stopped in the middle of the sentence.
When he realized he had expressed the unwillingness and resentment deep in his heart, Liu Se regretted. Although he disliked Rong Zhi, he still knew the position he held in the palace. Rong Zhi could determine his fate with just one sentence…… It was unwise to get hotheaded now.
But he couldn’t suppress it.
He hated Rong Zhi.
His expression was always so graceful, like the ice caps on the top of mountain peaks. Everytime Liu Se saw it, he couldn’t help but feel ashamed.
They were both male concubines. Why can Rong Zhi look so pure and good?
Rong Zhi let out a chuckle. He didn’t seem to mind Liu Se’s anger a bit, but instead walked steadily towards the entrance. “Okay. Then I’ll do as you say, and go visit the Princess.”
Walking out the West Wing, passing through the middle court, Rong Zhi’s graceful figure arrived at the East Wing and reached the bedroom of the Princess of Shanyin. Since Rong Zhi had the privilege of going anywhere he wanted in the palace, the guards at the entrance didn’t hold him back but let him pass.
Standing in front of the closed doors, Rong Zhi’s smooth and pretty chin lifted slightly. But his brows showed that he was lost in thought, hesitating.
Yes, he was the one who knew the Princess the most, and also the one who was most favored. But on that morning, after the Princess screamed, he realized that he suddenly couldn’t understand the beautiful girl anymore.
Rong Zhi frowned slightly. Thinking back about what happened that day, when he was awoken by the shriek, the first thing he saw was the beautiful girl’s horrified, flustered, confused, and even…… expression, the expression in her eyes……
Rong Zhi lifted his face and took in a deep breath. A wry smile appeared on the corner of his lips.
He really didn’t want to think about it.