Even though she acquired some basic information from conversations with You Lan, Chu Yu still refrained herself from asking too much to prevent arousing suspicion. Furthermore, what You Lan told her was just the world from the viewpoint of a little servant girl. To know what the situation really looked like, Chu Yu had to determine for herself.
Among the many people at the banquet, there were two that Chu Yu kept her eyes on. One sat on the least prominent seat on the left hand side. That youth looked to be slightly older than Rong Zhi, about twenty-one or twenty-two. He was thin and handsome, but ever since he entered courtyard, he was low-spirited and solitary.
His expression and manner fit badly with the spring garden. Under the blue sky and white clouds, there was only this small area of darkness and shadows; therefore it was very catching to the eye.
Up until when Chu Yu said she was going to dismiss Rong Zhi’s privileges, he didn’t even look at her, not even the slightest glance, as if looking at Chu Yu would stain his eyes.
After Chu Yu said it, she had been pay attention to his attitude. Sure enough, the very depressed youth had a reaction. He looked up at Chu Yu with a stunned and somewhat disdainful and indignant expression; but he suppressed his emotions and didn’t speak. Coldness flashed across his eyes. Then he turned away again.
But among all the people, the most astonishing to Chu Yu, was Rong Zhi.
When Chu Yu ordered the dismissal of Rong Zhi’s privileges, Rong Zhi was in the middle of lifting a cup to drink. Hearing Chu Yu’s words, there was absolutely no flicker of emotion or pausing of action; he just elegantly sipped some wine, gently placed the cup down, and leisurely turned towards Chu Yu, smiling, “Yes.”
Some were indignant for him, some were gloating over him. But he seemed completely unaware of all this, no wait, he was aware, just not minding it. That calmness, was an almost luxurious elegance, graceful as the HeShibi1 ; it was lucky if one could witness such, for it could not be wished for, it just comes along.
As if any chaos or mess, when brought before him, would become sorted and organized.
After carefully examining everyone’s response, Chu Yu smiled lightly, “I was joking. Don’t take it seriously.” Before figuring out Rong Zhi’s background and identity, she wasn’t going to make any big changes. The words she just spoke were only to probe around. The crowd’s reactions didn’t disappoint Chu Yu’s expectations; except Rong Zhi.
This youth was like an interesting book. With each flip of the pages, new information would be disclosed. Until now, Chu Yu still couldn’t tell how many pages this book had.
Hearing Chu Yu say so, the rock on Liu Se’s heart was lifted. He rejoiced for being saved, and calculated in his heart whether he should go and be nice to Rong Zhi to prevent him from bearing a grudge against him. Contrastingly, disappointment appeared between Mo Xiang’s delicate brows.
Yet Rong Zhi was still gentle and calm as the white clouds floating in the sky. Underneath the blossoming trees, the youth in snowy white clothes smiled again and responded, “Yes.”
This was supposed to be a banquet, but Chu Yu was busy observing the people, so pretty much she didn’t eat anything. Even if the food went into her mouth, she didn’t taste them. She sporadically spoke to examine the crowd’s reactions, and used their reactions to judge them.
Since Chu Yu ate absent-mindedly, most of the male concubines also weren’t at peace. Some tried to guess what this princess was up to, and ate even less than Chu Yu.
After not seeing her these past days, the change in the princess was way too big. Although there was no difference in her appearance, her expression had transformed. Underneath the deceivingly elegant countenance of the young girl seated at the most prominent seat, wasn’t the usual half-drunken smiles; now she smiled infrequently and shallowly, but also decisively; the gazes from her eyes, clear as water, landed on every single one of them, as if wanting to penetrate them.
It was as if, she had become a totally different person.
Not that Chu Yu didn’t know the confusion of the group, but she didn’t care. Ever since she found out her identity and position from You Lan, she became at ease.
As long as she was careful, and avoided leaving proof, so what if people suspected her? Who could pull out the evidence to accuse her of not being the real Liu Chuyu? Who dared question her, such a highly statused princess? So what if she was different from before? If she wanted to change, who was qualified to intervene?
Plus, if at the last second, she still had the card of amnesia that she could play out.
Throughout history and across countries, ninety percent of the main characters in time travel and body possession novels pretended to have amnesia. But for Chu Yu, she would only use it when she had no other choice.
Using amnesia to fake innocence, depending on others to perceive her surroundings, led on by others, and unable to wrestle control in times of problems; this was not Chu Yu’s style.
But Chu Yu had some trust in the Princess of Shanyin’s despotic power: in this entire palace, there must be no one that dared to question her…… Except Rong Zhi.
This youth, was the one person that Chu Yu was most worried about at the moment.
According to what Chu Yu had first planned, all of the male concubines would have been dismissed immediately. Of course pretty youths were pleasing to the eyes; but after all, she wasn’t the Princess of Shanyin. She didn’t have that kind of need, so it’s best to not ruin the futures of these good boys.
Through observation, Chu Yu discovered that Rong Zhi held a special position in the heart of the Princess of Shanyin and all the male concubines. In addition, Rong Zhi’s identity and background were both a mystery; he didn’t seem to be forced into becoming a male concubine, but his attitude towards Chu Yu was never fawning either. He even enjoyed the privilege of complete freedom in the palace, yet he was never arrogant or conceited. Perhaps only the real Princess of Shanyin knew who Rong Zhi was.
He looked as if he wanted nothing. Therefore, Chu Yu felt that he was unfathomable.
The banquet ended after one hour. Chu Yu declared the end of the banquet, but since she didn’t move, how could anyone dare to leave before the princess. So now there’s this awkward situation where everyone sat silently in their seats and stared at each other.
Chu Yu spoke. “I want to stay here for a little longer. You all can leave now.”
After these words, still no one moved. At first Chu Yu didn’t know why, but thinking about it, she understood: this Princess of Shanyin probably had a bad record, using similar methods to trick them, so these people are now so careful.
As she was trying to come up with a way to persuade then, someone chuckled quietly. Chu Yu looked up, and saw that it was Rong Zhi. Rong Zhi lifted his cup, raised it towards Chu Yu, and drank all its contents. He then stood up and left gracefully.
Following Rong Zhi, the beautiful youth that disdained Chu Yu also left. With someone taking the lead, people would follow. Not long, and most of the banquet became empty. But the two pretty youths besides Chu Yu wouldn’t leave. One beggingly and the other coquettishly, both looked at Chu Yu.
Chu Yu was helpless and amused. Of course she knew that these two youths were rivaling for favor, but too bad, she wasn’t the Princess of Shanyin, so she couldn’t settle that type of stuff. Having no other choice, she opened her mouth to shoo them away, “You two should also go. I want to have some alone time.”
Mo Xiang and Liu Se looked at each other, shot glances of hostility, and carefully saluted Chu Yu. Only then did they left, all the while dallying.
The two rows of seats were now empty. Even though she didn’t really enjoy the banquet, the loneliness afterwards, like the ending a piece and people scattering, still made Chu Yu feel a sense of loss.
The Princess’s palace was rich and luxurious, letting the newly came Chu Yu mercilessly try everything. But all the decorated garments and delicious food, couldn’t fill the emptiness in her chest.
Coming here, she payed the price of losing everything in her beforelife. Although she was the princess and enjoyed luxury, it doesn’t mean that she was happier or freer than when living in modern times.
But Chu Yu didn’t complain. She didn’t self-pity. She didn’t self-wound. After she cleared her thoughts, her turned her determined gaze forward.
In her blood flowed the toughness of life, the kind that would bloom in any type of situation. Even in this obscurantism more than a thousand years ago, it was able to blossom the most gorgeous of flowers.
This was a type of calmness, an elegance originating from the soul. It had nothing to with physical enjoyments, nothing to do with her identity or position, nothing to do with things of this world, and nothing to do with time.
Chu Yu wiped her brows and looked towards the end of the apricot woods. Her gaze pierced through the red flower branches and white petals, reaching the blue sky and creamy clouds, distant and clear.
There will be a day when she would soar freely.
1. HeShibi: 和氏璧, or 和氏美玉, a famous piece of jade in Chinese history. Was regarded as priceless and a treasure of the world.↩