No one gave much attention to Shen Shenzhi’s disappearance. The palace guards all knew what matters to keep an eye out for, and what to turn a blind eye on.
Yue Jiefei was only responsible for Chu Yu’s safety. As for other matters, even if he had seen something, he would forget it in a flash.
Huan Yuan knew of Chu Yu taking the bundle of money, but he did not pursue the incident.
And what of Rong Zhi?
Within the green bamboo forest, atop a stone table, laid a 19-grid chessboard with its black and white chess pieces leisurely slaying each other. Rong Zhi was leaning against this stone table, an idle weariness deeply etched into his brows. A bowl of pitch-black medicine lay beside his hand, its bitter scent permeating the refreshing fragrance of bamboo leaves.
Rong Zhi gave a lax smile. “Shen Shenzhi?”
Mo Xiang, who was sitting opposite him, pondered his reply. “Yes.”
“No need to bother.” Rong Zhi picked up the bowl, blew on it gently, and opened pale lips to lightly swallow the medicine, his lashes half-shuttering deep, unfathomable eyes.
“Leave it be. It’s the same as before. The princess is cultivating Huan Yuan, and we will sit back and watch.”
Mo Xiang hesitated, but brought up one more negligible detail. “These years, the Princess’s Palace has always been under your care.”
Rong Zhi smiled as he drank another mouthful. “Yet in the end, it still belongs to the princess.” The medicine was bitter and astringent in taste. Mo Xiang knew this for he had sneaked a bit while bringing it over. Such was its bitterness that he had almost vomited on the spot. It was surprising to see Rong Zhi looking serene as still water, as though what he had drunk was sugar syrup.
Looking up, Rong Zhi determined what Mo Xiang was thinking and smiled. “I’m not a person who likes to reason with others. The past two years, for your sake, I’ve done many things outside of common reason. You should also know my intentions. How is it so hard to remain unperturbed by now?”
Mo Xiang jolted at this and looked down in shame.
Rong Zhi smiled and continued on. “You are worried for me, I know, but there is no need to be. Once Hua Cuo has fully recovered, I will give the last three items I have at hand to Huan Yuan – it’s quite relaxing at the same time too.”
“Young master…” Mo Xiang wanted to interject but, facing Rong Zhi’s calm, jovial gaze, he found he could not.
Rong Zhi’s smile was cordial as he looked on at him. “I’m letting go, because I do not care.” Handing over to Huan Yuan was fine. Handing over to anyone was fine. For over three years of management to be out of his hands, it all but amounted to a sliver of breathing space for him.
Yet he would not take it to heart.
“Then what do you care about?” Mo Xiang could not help but ask.
Rong Zhi did not speak. His gaze swept through the cracks between the bamboo, past the skies beyond the wall; a momentary light flashed across his eyes, while an indecipherable smile remained unfading at the corners of his lips.
After some time, Rong Zhi put down the emptied bowl and exhaled slowly. He folded a freshly sprouted bamboo leaf and placed it in his mouth. “The princess should be in the palace now?”
Chu Yu was indeed in the palace, or to be more exact, right by the emperor’s side.
The interaction between siblings was no different than usual, with Liu Ziye lying on Chu Yu’s legs, the vicious aura slowly leaving his features while she sat reading a memorial.
Tired of reading, Chu Yu massaged her brow bridge, appearing to be at rest, though her heart was contemplating a question.
How would someone reform Liu Ziye?
With the amount of influence Princess Shanyin had over Liu Ziye, she reckoned it might be possible to change this young man. She did not expect Liu Ziye to become some wise emperor who was reveled in history. She only wished for him to not turn into a violent one pissing off both men and the gods alike. It would be the biggest victory if he did not end up overly brutalizing people and being killed off in a rebellion.
But how would she do it?
Although half of the reason for the little emperor’s brutal tendencies came from his headaches, the rest of his cruelty was inborn and bone-deep. Chu Yu had tried talking to him often, and found him blatantly bloodthirsty. The pleasure he derived from viciousness had left a chill in her heart each time.
To change such a person would be an insurmountable task.
Chu Yu could not help her feelings of blame towards Princess’s Shanyin’s deceased father, the previous emperor. How in the world did he teach his son, making him into some kind of pervert, and even letting him take the throne?
Thinking on it once more, she remembered the numerous brothers and sisters. She reckoned, that father must have spent his finite lifetime on an infinite supply of offspring, leading to an incapability of educating them all. Liu Ziye’s perversion may well have followed that crooked head, and gone on rampaging down his mentally deranged pathway.
And yet, here she was, wanting to pull Liu Ziye back from that pathway.
She did not know how difficult it would be, but even if it weren’t easy, she would still give it a try.
Time slipped away between Liu Ziye’s comfortable state and Chu Yu’s continuous thinking. When she was about to leave, Chu Yu touched her fingers into her sleeve, causing a light scent to linger in the air. She was attentive in scenting her clothes in the past days, and no longer rejected to diffusing the fragrances in her room. Although a tad stifling, it was worthwhile for her future plans.
She was in no hurry to get the fragrances for now, but she would start to think of a way to acquire them from Rong Zhi. Since Princess Shanyin had left her this clue, she would gladly make full use of it.
“Sis, when will you be back?” Chu Yu tidied her wrinkled clothes while thinking over possible future matters. At Liu Ziye’s question, she unwittingly turned her head towards him.
This cruel, vile tempered, lecherous, bigoted, perverse young man – despite the pallor on his face, had an eager gleam in his eyes. Donning a set of formal court robes, he lay crookedly sprawled on the table as he continued to gaze at her without pause. “Sis, let’s go play outside together some other time, alright?”
Chu Yu bit down on her lip.
She was an only child in her past life, with no brothers or sisters. Despite transmigrating, she would not be so naïve as to really treat this perverted emperor as her little brother. But human hearts are live things, made of beating flesh. After her initial fear of him, Chu Yu slowly came to realize Liu Ziye’s unguarded, dependent state around her. Him calling her “sis” was easily forgettable, but an accidental slip of that sound still reached her heart to gently knock on its door.
This pervert was in no way pitiable.
Despite warning herself many times, at this moment, Chu Yu swayed the tiniest bit.
In a pool’s reflection, this youngster’s appearance was undeniably akin to hers.
However, hesitation was merely a blank space in the blink of an eye, and Chu Yu was no sooner back to her calm as water self. Her expression was customary as she left in quick steps.
Just as she was heading towards the Palace’s exit, her path crossed a youth in purple robes walking opposite her.
Within half a month, she had again bumped into the acclaimed Celestial Master, whom she saw as nothing but a charlatan – Tian Rujing.
 Memorial to the throne: A bunch of formal text written by officials detailing court/country affairs to the emperor.
 The title Crooked Head, Crooked End上梁下梁歪 comes from the saying 上梁不正下梁歪 – when the authority head/previous generation is corrupted, the people beneath him/following generation will follow suit.
Ahhhhh, I am so, so sorry I’ve been so late. I’m now working on the next 2 chapters. Was working 6 days a week previously and didn’t expect myself to be that tired after work. (Ｔ▽Ｔ) Well, now I’m back on track! No, I haven’t forgotten this and never will! I edited as I went so I may go back and re-edit after I’m done.
Heheh, here we get to see more of Tian Rujing, my second-fav character (tying with Huan Yuan) in the book. As to who is the first, he hasn’t appeared yet~ ▼ω▼