Fuzhu’s Ballad Chapter 31

CHAPTER 31 Lost in the dream of the Dragon Wall

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During the carriage ride back to the Prince’s mansion, Zi Fu sat straight across from Lan Dan, with a solemn expression, her gaze quietly resting on her own knees. Lan Dan actually felt that she, a legitimate princess, was being overshadowed by Zi Fu in terms of aura. In the small space, no one spoke. Lan Dan felt slightly uneasy, but Zi Fu clearly did not. She secretly sized up Zi Fu, but Zi Fu didn’t even glance at her. It wasn’t an avoidance of looking, but rather an arrogant disregard.

Lan Dan didn’t remember seeing someone like her next to Luan Huang before. Luan Huang’s capable palace maids were usually either Zi Yuan or Zi Dai. This beautiful girl had been in the palace either before or after Fu Zhu, but she couldn’t recall. She was very pretty, her eyebrows and eyes weren’t necessarily exquisite, but they went well together and exuded a quiet and peaceful beauty. Even Lan Dan liked looking at her.

When they got off at the Prince’s mansion, Lan Dan looked at the courtyard she had not seen for a long time and surprisingly felt like she was coming home. She couldn’t help but feel ridiculous. How could this be her home?

The maids in the Prince’s mansion appeared more approachable in contrast to Zi Fu’s cold demeanor. At least they simply didn’t want to talk much, but Zi Fu exuded an inherent arrogance. If she was a stranger, Lan Dan would appreciate this kind of nobility and self-possession, but she was Lan Huang’s person, and they lived under the same roof, so the feeling was not so good.

Upon arriving at the inner courtyard, Shentu Rui took Lan Dan’s hand and led her to her room, while Zi Fu and the other maids trailed behind. Lan Dan knew he was upset, and at this time, she couldn’t pick a fight with him in front of Zi Fu, so even though she wanted to shake him off, she restrained herself.

They entered the inner courtyard, and Shentu Rui led Lan Dan straight to her room while Zi Fu gracefully stood in the courtyard, showing no emotion. Her back was even straighter than before.

The chief maid entered the room and asked Shentu Rui for guidance on where to house Zi Fu. He named a place and she left to lead Zi Fu to the backyard.

Zi Fu didn’t move but looked straight into Lan Dan’s room. “Your Highness, I am not here to be a servant,” she said in a pleasant tone of voice.

Shentu Rui had already settled himself cross-legged on the kang bed, and when he heard Zi Fu’s statement, he coldly chuckled, “Not a servant? Are you here to be my Consort then?”

Zi Fu didn’t answer, nor did she seem flustered. She even raised the corner of her mouth slightly.

The smile that seemed like a provocation angered Shentu Rui, who scolded, “You are just a tool sent by your mistress to act on her behalf outside the palace. I agreed to bring you here, which was already a huge favor to her. Don’t overstep your boundaries here! Since you were asked to find a suitable baby boy, you should focus on your own task. Who do you think you are?!”

Shentu Rui’s outburst interrupted Lan Dan’s packing, causing her to stop and put the clothes back into her bag.

This was the second time she had seen Shentu Rui truly angry. The last time was due to the incident in Gaolin, so it was no wonder he was so upset. Since Lan Huang wanted Zi Fu to complete such an important task, he naturally couldn’t refuse her. This was like inserting a nail next to him.

A hint of panic finally appeared on Zi Fu’s face, and her voice became sharper, “Your Highness, be careful of your words!”

“Be careful?” Shentu Rui smiled coldly. “What taboo is there for me to speak in my own house? Aren’t you the one I should be most wary of?”

Zi Fu didn’t answer, her face turned pale, and the calm and arrogant expression from earlier was gone. Although she still maintained an elegant posture, it was already apparent that she was stiff.

The maid stepped forward to lead Zi Fu away again, but Zi Fu still ignored her.

Shentu Rui’s face also changed, stood up and walked towards the inner room. Lan Dan had been silent and thought they were about to reach an impasse. Unexpectedly, Zi Fu, who had always maintained a noble demeanor, suddenly burst into tears and choked, “Why does Your Highness have to make things difficult for me…”

The word “me” was spoken by her with a poignant and subtle meaning, which made Lan Dan’s heart tremble. She had thought that she would continue to vent her grievances and say that she was also helpless and could not go against orders, but instead, Zi Fu stopped abruptly after saying half of her words. Lan Dan looked at her again, and she stopped crying and instead showed a kind of gentle resilience, which made her feel even more sorry for her.

Apparently, Shentu Rui was swayed by her words. He stopped in his tracks, struggling for a moment before finally lifting his hand.

The well-trained maid understood and immediately changed direction, leading Zi Fu to a row of guest rooms opposite Lan Dan’s room. Zi Fu thanked Shentu Rui with a deep bow before following the maid.

Lan Dan fiddled with the items in her bag, realizing that when skilled individuals engage in combat, there was no need for excessive talking. The unspoken language of their movements conveyed their understanding, rendering words unnecessary.

She had always known that she was far from being on par, but upon witnessing the methods of Lan Huang’s maid, she realized just how much she lacked.

It was not surprising that two sisters, one vying for power with Shentu Cheng from a position of high authority, while the other was wandering aimlessly, carrying the weight of a crime, ended up with vastly different circumstances.

Even though it was already spring, it was still a little chilly at night. After taking a shower, Lan Dan walked slowly along the veranda to cool down. There was a sea of ​​crabapples planted in the courtyard. Shentu Rui had thoughtfully erected two lamp poles next to the tree, each with a ceramic lampshade hanging from it with a poem inscribed on it. The light shone on the layers of flowers. The pale pink petals and the bright red buds looked especially elegant and beautiful in the dim light of the night, creating a poetic atmosphere. Lan Dan stopped to admire it, and then heard the sound of light footsteps. Two palace maids dressed as young girls, carrying luggage, were led by a maid and headed towards Zi Fu’s bedroom. Lan Dan pursed her lips, thinking that Lan Huang had sent helpers for Zi Fu.

This small courtyard was the center of the Prince’s mansion. The main house was where Shentu Rui lived, and she and Zi Fu respectively lived in the east and west wings. As Zi Fu had just arrived, her room was well-lit with people moving about, while her own room was dark and quiet.

Laughter could be faintly heard from Zi Fu’s room, but Lan Dan didn’t want to listen any longer and walked back to her own room.

Shentu Rui was sitting beside a low table reading by the light of a lamp. Lan Dan walked straight to her bed, which had already been made, and lay down under the covers.

“Your hair isn’t dry yet. You’ll have a headache if you go to sleep like that,” Shentu Rui said as he turned the page.

Lan Dan didn’t respond to him and remained motionless with her back facing him.

Shentu Rui put down his book and threw it on the low table with a loud sound. “Now even you don’t listen to me?” He deliberately used a heavy tone.

This trick used to work, but it didn’t scare Lan Dan anymore.

When she heard the words “even you”, she felt uncomfortable. He couldn’t control Lan Huang, so he wanted to control her?

“Get out, I want to sleep.” She rudely drove him away.

Shentu Rui gritted his teeth, got up, walked over to Lan Dan, and squeezed into bed with her. He extended his arms around her and asked, “Are you still angry?”

His chest was pressed against her back, too close for comfort, and the position was too intimate. Lan Dan blushed and her heart began to race, causing a thin layer of sweat to form on her forehead.

“I’m not angry! Just leave!” Lan Dan spoke with firmness, fearing that he would detect her panic.

Shentu Rui effortlessly pushed her down, but the action left him slightly winded.

“I’m not leaving today…” He lowered his head and looked at her, their noses almost touching. His voice was low and sounded full of tenderness. “Now that I am surrounded by many eyes and ears, if they find anything suspicious, you will be in danger.” He paused, feeling the need to explain that his interest in her was not solely driven by desire but also out of concern for her safety.

However, Lan Dan’s heart sank like a stone upon hearing his words, feeling like she had fallen into a dark and frigid abyss.

They had been together day and night, shouldn’t they have mutual feelings for each other? He was young and passionate, but he had always treated her with respect and propriety. She appreciated it, but now he was only being intimate with her to hide from others. She remembered his cold and distant kiss in the flower field.

“Danyang…” he murmured softly, his lips pressing down with scorching heat.

While she was feeling lost and confused, he quickly grabbed a comb from her pillow and used it to put out the candle with great accuracy.

“Ah…Danyang…” he sighed heavily, embracing her tightly and calling out to her passionately, “Danyang!”

Her body was gradually heating up, but her heart was growing colder. This kind of torment left Lan Dan feeling lost and confused, unsure whether the darkness she was experiencing was due to her closed eyes or the candle being extinguished by him.

The unfamiliar touch caused her to lose her sense of reality and feel like she was in a hazy and surreal dream.

Her mind transported her back to the Battle of Wu Gate in Beimo, but it seemed like a bizarre and confusing experience with the appearance of a Dragon Wall and her sudden appearance on the wall amidst the tumultuous scene of battle.

The ruler of Beimo, with a golden helmet and a white horse, was extremely handsome. Was that… Shentu Rui?

The smoke was too thick, obscuring the sky and sun, and she was enveloped in a wave after wave of choking smoke. With difficulty breathing, she gasped for air and called out to him intermittently, “Shentu Rui… Rui…”

The sound of battle suddenly rose, as if pouring in from all directions. The fierce and elite soldiers of Beimo came slashing and killing from the ladders, and the defenders of Da Min roared back in response. On the city walls, swords clashed and blood flew, leaving her overwhelmed and terrified. She wanted to retreat, to find a place to hide, but there were soldiers all around her, and she trembled uncontrollably, unable to move even an inch.

There was a tremendous noise, like an earthquake. Could it really be an earthquake? The city walls trembled so violently that they seemed on the verge of collapse. She screamed as she looked down and saw the enemy army pushing their war chariots, loaded with massive battering rams, smashing into the city gates with each blow. The gates were almost shattered, and the pain was excruciating, tearing at her heart and lungs. Her cries became desperate, and finally, after the heaviest blow, the gates collapsed with a resounding crash. The enemy army surged in, and even the city walls seemed on the verge of crumbling. She wanted to call for help, but she plunged straight down, as if into an abyss from which there was no escape.

The gloomy sky suddenly started drizzling, and she was drenched. Her clothes clung to her body, making her feel so uncomfortable that she almost suffocated. She collapsed amidst the ruins of the collapsed city wall, with sharp stones and debris underneath her, cutting into her and making her feel as if she was falling apart.

She thought she might be about to perish, crumbling into nothingness along with the Dragon Wall under the trampling of a thousand horses and ten thousand soldiers.

Who? Who was playing the reed flute in the rain? The sound of the flute was melodious and ethereal, passing over the willow branches and flying across the peach blossom forest. How did the bloody and cruel battlefield turn into a picturesque wonderland in the sound of the flute?

The rain became soft and warm, and she turned into a wisp of spring breeze, rising from the ruins and flying with the passionate flute sound that expressed love. She flew over mountains and rivers, listening greedily and humming along… Suddenly the rain intensified, pouring down heavily. She found herself standing at the gate of Tongye, watching the rainwater washing over the stone road, running freely along the wheel ruts left by the chariots. She felt the pain of defeat again.

Danyang, Danyang…

Someone was calling out to her, but it felt like a rope was strangling her, getting tighter and tighter. Her blood seemed to stop flowing, and in her numbness, she suddenly saw a flare of signal fire shooting up into the sky.

In an instant, the entire sky was illuminated, and she screamed loudly and continuously, shaking violently as she rose higher and higher, until she reached the brightest spot in the sky.

She felt weightless and aimless, not knowing where to go, when she heard Shentu Rui calling her name softly, “Danyang”.

“Shentu Rui,” she responded softly, “Shentu Rui.”

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