Chapter 9: Bringing the Prince Back Home (1)
The Daughter’s Day of the fifth month was connected to the Dragon’s Boat Festival1, bringing mugwort leaves and five poison Daoist talismans. It was a summer tradition to return on May 1st and stay up until May 5th. The attitude of a young daughter was studied to the greatest extent to keep up appearances. Each and every married woman visited their parents and as such, it came to be known as Daughter’s Day.
For the next couple of days, I was depressed over having to follow a group of ladies and mistresses in celebrating Daughter’s Day.
The Qi Sheng who had been deep underwater for over three months had finally come up to the surface, saying he had to accompany me to visit my parents.
Returning, returning, returning to what, returning to who?
The night before the visit, Lu Li’s heart seemed to be full of happiness as she arranged the luggage. I sat quietly on the couch, one hand supporting my cheek as I watched her scurry about like a butterfly. Lu Li was not at ease with leaving me unattended, and would look back to look at me from time to time. Seeing that I hadn’t moved, she would go back to being busy once again.
I thought in my heart that in any case Qi Sheng was someone with a wife and concubines, yet Daughter’s Day was but a few short days. He had so many father-in-laws, would he be able to get through them all? Originally I wanted to ask Lu Li, but then I thought about how I was already known as being half-crazy. If I were to carelessly ask such things, I’m afraid the day I’ll be called a fool wouldn’t be far away. Forget it, let’s not give Lu Li a shock.
That’s what I thought, but the moment this question arose within my heart it was like shutting a noisy, young cat inside. Afterwards, I really couldn’t stand it anymore, so I took an indirect approach: “Lu Li ah, since we’re going back home like this, what about Huang Liangyuan and Chen Liangdi?”
“Them?” Lu Li turned around to look at me. “Naturally they’re going to stay in the Palace.”
“They’re not going to go back to their homes?” I wondered in surprise. “I’ll be going back.”
Lu Li replied: “How can they be compared to the Crown Princess? You are the wife, they are the concubines, you are the master, they are the servants!”
I saw the bit of disdain that showed on Lu Li’s face as she talked about Huang Liangyuan and the others. Aiya little Lu Li, if we stay like this, sooner or later trouble will come. You are still too young, and completely don’t understand us men. What master, what servant. Being fresh is the way of the king! Just like how a wife isn’t as good as a concubine, and a concubine isn’t as good as something stolen, ah!
I originally wanted to thoroughly educate Lu Li, but after giving it some thought I decided to let it go again, so I just continued to sit.
The words coming out of Lu Li’s mouth however, seemed to increase. She busied about as she reminisced: “Ever since the last Daughter’s Day, Crown Princess didn’t go back home for a whole year. The esteemed Madame and Lady must have missed you silly, so this time going back there will be a lot to talk about. We also haven’t seen the other girls at home for a while now, and we don’t know if the younger little miss has grown taller……The trees and flowers in the garden at home are also the best, I wonder how they turned out this year……”
Lu Li continued with a low voice, face peaceful with a tender tone of voice. Listening to her my heart also relaxed, and I unwittingly started feeling a bit sleepy. Right in the middle of my drowsiness, I suddenly heard Lu Li’s tone change as she bitterly complained: “The only hateful thing is that that slut Jiang-shi is also going back. There’s no doubt she’s going to tempt His Highness the Crown Prince again!”
I was shocked and subconsciously asked: “Return where?”
Lu Li replied with a hateful tone: “How can that person have any home, she’s just going to thicken her face2 and return to ours.”
I suddenly felt as if my brain was made out of melon seed paste. Wanting to ask but not daring to, I huffed and puffed like I was constipated and the effort from keeping it in turned my face red.
Lu Li only thought I was angry and quickly put down the work in her hands before crouching down beside me to explain: “Crown Princess, no matter what you can’t act on your anger. Although that slut now has the position of wangfei, but the moment she reaches our house she’ll be nothing more than a poor, fallen relative. You are the eldest young miss, born to our house’s first wife, how could her identity as the cousin of a cousin of a cousin etc etc3 be comparable to yours!”
Good job Lu Li, you finally said some words that I like to hear.
But to think that this Jiang-shi was actually the blood-related cousin of Zhang-shi, in the end, wasn’t this sisters fighting over a guy? I’m embarrassed ah!
Lu Li thought that I still couldn’t get over the stuff about Jiang-shi, and again softly advised: “Crown Princess, you are the Crown Princess, the future mother of the country, why do you have to be angry with His Highness the Crown Prince because of that slut Jiang-shi? No matter what you are the palace’s rightful empress that His Highness officially wed while Jiang-shi has already become Zhao wangfei, and is the Crown Prince’s sister-in-law. Even if she uses her foxy charms, what kind of waves can she create?”
I looked at Lu Li. In my mind I said, little girl, you are still too inexperienced ah. You don’t understand the minds of men, ah. Didn’t we just say that a wife isn’t as good as a concubine and a concubine isn’t as good as something stolen. Don’t you know that after something stolen is something that can’t be stolen? This last one is the one that’s kept in someone’s heart.
Besides, so what if she’s his sister-in-law? Yang guifei4 was also the daughter-in-law of Emperor Ming of Tang, but hadn’t she also become a guifei? The status isn’t a problem, ah! Moreover, this Qi Sheng already told Jiang-shi: ……wait for me for a little while, okay?
Wait for a while for him to do what?
Obviously it’s to wait for the old Emperor to die, and for Qi Sheng to become the new Emperor. And then he’ll think of a way to take away Jiang-shi.
It really is a melodramatic palace story, ah! And unfortunately I am the vicious cannon fodder female supporting lead!
Screw your grandma Heavenly Lord Si Ming, it’s okay to give me a tragedy, but at the very least you should have given me the role of male supporting lead!
I lowered my head and stared at my brimming “pectoral muscles” for a long time……how great would it be if this were to grow on my wife’s body!
When I raised my head, Lu Li was looking at me with a mournful gaze……
Forget it, let’s wash up and sleep ah!
Perhaps my resentment towards Heavenly Lord Si Ming had moved the heavens and earth, for that night when I dreamed I actually met him in the dream. This guy looked the same as before and when he saw me, he pretended to be shy for a bit before saying: “Sure enough, this body suits you more, it’s much better compared to your original appearance!”
Originally I was squeezing his neck, but hearing him say this I released him and instead switched to gripping his collar. I then asked him with narrowed eyes: “Hearing you say that, do you mean that my original body wasn’t handsome enough?”
Heavenly Lord Si Ming repeatedly said: “Handsome, handsome, handsome.”
Only then was I satisfied and loosened my hold on him, but then I thought about it and realized something was wrong. I used both hands to squeeze Heavenly Lord Si Ming’s neck again and angrily said: “This is called showing me your gratitude? It’s fine if you didn’t let me be the Crown Prince, why would you give me a woman’s body to tease me? Hurry up, if you’re sensible then you’ll quickly send me back to my original body! Otherwise …… don’t blame me for being rude!”
Heavenly Lord Si Ming who was being choked by me could only cough as he quickly said: “Quickly let go, being so rough to me, you won’t reap any benefits!”
“F***, I’m already like this, what kind of retribution would I be afraid of?” I applied more strength to my hands as I roared at Heavenly Lord Si Ming: “Send me back, send me back!”
“You can’t go back anymore!” Heavenly Lord Si Ming choked out with a red face.
I was startled and my hands involuntarily loosened. He quickly struggled to get free and hurriedly took a few steps back with both hands guarding his neck as he looked at me with guarded eyes.
“Why can’t I go back? Is my body gone? Burned?” I asked in a daze.
Heavenly Lord Si Meng saw that I was no longer going to use violence against him, and only then did he take the time to tidy up his appearance as he said: “No, your body is fine.”
I felt it was weird: “Then why can I no longer go back? Didn’t you want to repay me? Sending me back is what would be considered as repaying me, what you’re doing to me right now is what’s considered as revenge?”
Heavenly Lord Si Ming hesitated before saying: “You came here by using Zhang-shi’s body. Zhang-shi’s predestined time was not up yet, so obviously she would need a body to reincarnate. So she used yours.”
I froze for a moment, somewhat unwilling to believe him as I asked: “You mean to say that my previous body is now being used by Zhang-shi?”
Heavenly Lord Si Ming nodded his head, then shook his head. He thought for a while before saying: “To be honest we can’t say it like that either. It should be said that you used her body first, and then she used your body. Right now you are using your body which she has used for more than ten years, and she is now using her body which you used for more than twenty years. No matter how you count it, it’s you who used her body for a lot more years, so it’s you who’s got the advantage.”
I mulled over it for a while and then mulled over it some more. In a short while, my anger became even greater as I angrily said: “I, I, I……did not understand, say it again!”
Si Ming rolled his eyes: “In short, you were originally supposed to be sent to this body, but a small mistake occurred on King Yama’s side. Because of how important you are in this life and that if anything were to go wrong the common people of this world would be harmed King Yama pleaded for me to secretly switch your bodies back.”
I was stunned, and even after a long while I still hadn’t completely come to my senses yet. Somewhat stupidly, I asked: “Doesn’t that mean……this……is actually my genuine……body?”
Heavenly Lord Si Ming looked at me with some sympathy and nodded his head.
I was somewhat unwilling to believe it as I dipped my head and touched my own chest before reaching down towards my small, slender waist. Then I raised my head to look at Heavenly Lord Si Ming.
Heavenly Lord Si Ming’s expression became even more sympathetic as he reached out to pat my shoulder: “Accept it your fate, at least this body can be considered as first-rate goods, you said so before yourself, you like this kind of young girl.”
F***, I had thought I was still a man, okay!
Suddenly, I felt as though my whole body was tired, my head ached and I was dumfounded. The sole remaining hope in my heart had been snapped clean by Heavenly Lord Si Ming.
Heavenly Lord Si Ming gave a deep sigh and patted me: “Stop thinking about it, it’s better to wash up and sleep.”
I reached out my hand to grab his sleeves before he could leave and asked: “My previous body, is it alright right now?”
Heavenly Lord Si Ming gave me a look: “What’s past is past, what’s the point of seeing it again?”
I bitterly smiled: “No matter what I used it for more than twenty years, it would be nice if I could see it one more time.“
Heavenly Lord Si Ming asked: “If you look at it you might feel even worse, do you still want to look?”
I hastily nodded: “Want to see, want to see!”
Heavenly Lord Si Ming sighed and shook his head before taking out a crystal mirror from his clothes and held it in front of me: “Then, look.”
I felt excited as I used both of my trembling hands to receive the mirror. Inside I only saw dense smoke. Although I couldn’t hear anything, a man’s back appeared from within the hazy smoke. It was a dark tan color and extremely robust. It was densely covered with tiny beads of sweat that rolled down to merge together in a stream which slowly rolled down the spine……
I was confused as I asked: “It’s only been a few months, how did it get this tanned?”
Hearing this, Heavenly Lord Si Ming extended his head in my direction and said: “Oh, that isn’t your body, yours is the one under it.”
I was surprised, and then carefully examined the contents of the mirror once more. The angle of the mirror changed and sure enough, another body was exposed. Eyes slightly closed, cheeks red, and ruddy red lips slightly open. It was hard to say if it was a pained or joyful expression…….this was shockingly me!
I stiffly turned around and silently stared at Heavenly Lord Si Ming.
Heavenly Lord Si Ming was a bit embarrassed as he spread his hands: “You can’t really blame Zhang-shi, she has a delicate womanly heart, and needs a man to care for her……”
1. For more info about this festival if anyone is interested: https://www.travelchinaguide.com/essential/holidays/dragon-boat/traditions.htm .”↩
2. ‘Thicken the face’ is a saying that basically means be shameless.”↩
3. Let’s just say they are really, reaaaaally distant…”↩
4. A title for the imperial concubine of the Emperor…”↩