Fuzhu’s Ballad Chapter 44

CHAPTER 44 Attachment

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Lan Dan sat far away in front of the window, embracing her knees to watch the maid comb Shentu Rui’s hair. The morning breeze blew in through the window, and the lush leaves outside drank in the dew, swaying gently in the calm of early summer. However, there seemed to be a radiant morning light gathered around Shentu Rui, and even from behind, she was delightful to behold, captivating her attention completely.

He was reading a letter, and after finishing, he lit it with a flame and let it burn to ashes in a small golden tray designed for this purpose.

The fallen plum blossom lantern that he knocked over had been picked up by the maid and placed back in its original place beside the copper mirror. Shentu Rui noticed this, picked it up and stroked it. He remembered the words she had said to him last night that had made him so angry, and couldn’t help but turn to glare at her.

She was leaning against the window, sitting with her knees drawn up into a small ball. Her black hair was styled like a young girl’s, flowing down her shoulders and swaying in the gentle breeze. She wore a spring green jacket and a light pink silk scarf, just like the newly bloomed lotus in the pond. Her self-pitying demeanor was that of Princess Danyang, who walked alone in the Da Min Palace. Although her heavenly beauty was still somewhat unfamiliar, her sad eyes were undoubtedly hers.

Shentu Rui stood up suddenly, startling the maid. He waved his hand, and walked straight towards Lan Dan. Seeing this, the maid quickly stepped out and closed the door behind her.

Lan Dan saw fire in his eyes and involuntarily stepped back, frowning as she watched him approaching, wondering what was on his mind.

He walked over, bent down, grabbed her ankle, and pushed her down, scolding her, “Why are you dressing up like a little girl? Are you trying to seduce someone?”

Lan Dan was speechless, feeling suffocated by his weight. “I just didn’t tie my hair up…” She thought it was more comfortable and cooler this way since she wasn’t going outside. Why was he picking a fight about it?

His hands started to peel off her clothes. Lan Dan twisted her shoulders, originally to resist, but unexpectedly helped him. She was angry and annoyed. “What are you doing? I just finished washing up…” She couldn’t say anymore as he suddenly charged in, and she just hummed heavily.

This time he was particularly rough, making it unbearable for her. She pounded his shoulders a few times, but she didn’t have much strength and he didn’t care. 

“Your Highness, Your Highness.” A maid outside the door called out softly, feeling a bit embarrassed.

Shentu Rui was a bit breathless and naturally impatient at this time, asking harshly, “What’s the matter?”

“The Emperor sent someone to say that the Eldest Princess went out of the city without permission.”

Lan Dan shuddered. Shentu Cheng’s choice of words was very ingenious. Lan Cheng only left the city without permission, not running away in rebellion.

Sensing her anxiousness, Shentu Rui chuckled wickedly twice and thrusted in with all his might, making Lan Dan turn her face away in anger.

“Who should I ask to tell Su Yi Ming?” the maid added.

“Who should go? Didn’t you tell me to go?” Shentu Rui’s breath was unstable. His voice was embarrassing to listen to, and Lan Dan was very ashamed, afraid that others would not know what he was doing. “Tell them I’ll go in a little while, but now I don’t care about anyone’s life or death…”

Upon hearing this, Lan Dan was so angry that she wanted to kick him, but he grabbed her knee and wrestled with her.

As soon as he pulled up his pants, his demeanor changed, and he called Xia Xin through the door to reprimand her for the way she handled Lan Dan’s clothing. Lan Dan was so angry that she glared at him, wondering why he was making such a big deal out of it just because she was wearing a slightly more youthful dress.

Xia Xin was his most capable maid, and when she heard the reason for his outburst, she stifled a laugh outside the door, and explained without fear or remorse, “I’ve been too busy with other matters in the past few days and haven’t carefully examined the new summer clothes. Those inattentive maidservants will be punished accordingly!”

Shentu Rui sneered, unable to get angry anymore. In fact, he wasn’t really angry. He had mixed emotions about how pretty Lan Dan looked in her outfit, yet at the same time, he didn’t like how innocent she appeared. He couldn’t quite understand his own emotions.

Lan Dan looked furious, and he looked at her with confusion. “What?” he retorted, “I haven’t served you well?”

She grabbed a fallen shoe and threw it at him. “What are you talking about? Now, I have to clean up again!” She was angry.

He grinned. “That won’t do. We have to go tell Su Yi Ming and go after the Eldest Princess. Hurry up, or we’ll miss the show.”

“Me? I’m going too?” Lan Dan wasn’t sure. If it were her, she wouldn’t let Su Yi Ming know. After all, Lan Cheng running away from the wedding was her way of expressing her dissatisfaction with him. Why would Shentu Rui want to inform him?

“Why wouldn’t you want to go and see the excitement? Are you willing to miss it?” he asked, looking disdainful. She couldn’t argue with him, and she did want to go and see what was happening.

After refreshing and dressing up again, the horse was already brought to the courtyard. Seemingly in a good mood, Shentu Rui mounted the horse with agility. However, when Lan Dan tried to mount the horse, she fell back down as her body was weak and legs were powerless. She glared at Shentu Rui with anger, who was laughing mischievously on the horse.

“Clumsy fool.” He still had the nerve to scold her?

Shentu Rui dismounted and helped her up onto the saddle by holding her waist. Instead of riding his own horse, he took the reins from the servant and personally led the horse for her. “You’ve become so rusty in just a few days without riding. What can I say about you?”

Lan Dan’s heart trembled as she looked at him leading the horse for her. If she didn’t control herself, she might have even wanted to call him over to kiss him. “You… why don’t you ride a horse too? This is too slow.”

“What’s the rush?” He turned his head halfway, tall and lithe but still heroic, with black hair and fair skin, high nose and deep-set eyes. She shouldn’t have overlooked him back then. It was really Lan Huang and Lan Cheng who had more discerning eyes. “We have to give the Emperor some time to persuade his sister, right?”

When they reached the main road leading to the South Gate, Su Yi Ming had already caught up with two personal guards. It seemed that Shentu Rui had informed him. Su Yi Ming glanced at Shentu Rui on foot and then at Lan Dan on horseback, teasing him, “Hey, Brother Rui, trying to win a girl’s heart by walking? Not a bad move. I’ll learn from you.”

Shentu Rui glanced at him disdainfully and clicked his tongue. Su Yi Ming dismounted and walked with him.

“You’re not angry? My sister ran away in fright when she heard that she’s going to marry you. It just shows how poor your character is.” Shentu Rui didn’t avoid the fact that Lan Cheng had run away from marriage.

Su Yi Ming grunted dissatisfiedly, “It’s only because she’s afraid of my father. Otherwise, I can run faster than her! We might even be at Jixian by now.”

“Alright, stop teasing. In the future, just treat my sister better, even if it’s just to make up for me.” Finally, Shentu Rui said something like an older brother should.

Su Yi Ming also stopped laughing, half-seriously saying, “I understand, but I’m enduring humiliation and you have to keep your word about what you said to me.”

Shentu Rui glanced at him again.

Su Yi Ming snorted coldly, full of ambition, saying, “In my life, I must surpass my father! I don’t want to be afraid of him anymore!”

Shentu Rui chuckled lightly and advised him, “In the previous dynasty, Huo Lin was a Prince Consort and Grand Minister of Agriculture, but his father still chased him with a stick and forced him into retirement. If you’re only doing this to make me keep my promise, I think you should forget about it.”

Su Yi Ming’s heart sank, and he opened his mouth for a moment before saying, “Forget it, let’s just forget about it! I’ll be an obedient son-in-law and serve the country, while also being filial to you.”

The first half of the sentence was well said, but at the second half, Shentu Rui kicked him angrily.

A team of Imperial Guards came in and cleared the way at the city gate, blocking the people coming in and out of the city. The citizens of the capital were used to this and obediently knelt on both sides of the road, waiting for the nobleman to pass.

From a distance, Lan Dan saw Shentu Cheng wearing casual clothes and holding Lan Cheng’s hand while walking through the city gate. They were talking, but their expressions couldn’t be seen from where she was.

Shentu Cheng also saw them, ordered the leader of the Imperial Guards to do something, and then removed the city’s defenses. The people were allowed to move again. Shentu Cheng and Lan Cheng immediately blended into the crowd as if they were just an ordinary brother and sister.

As Shentu Rui approached, he helped Lan Dan down from her horse and held her hand tightly until Shentu Cheng and Lan Cheng walked over.

Su Yi Ming wanted to salute, but Shentu Cheng reached out and supported him, smiling and saying, “Young General Su, my younger sister is immature and stubborn. This time she acted recklessly because she was angry with me for being arbitrary. It’s my fault for not telling her beforehand. Please don’t be offended, and don’t hold a grudge.”

Saying this, he glanced at Lan Cheng, who blushed and stepped forward to apologize to Su Yi Ming, “Young General, please forgive my youthful impulsiveness.”

Lan Dan stood behind Shentu Rui and saw Lan Cheng’s obedient appearance, secretly surprised. She didn’t know what method Shentu Cheng used to make her obedient. Judging from her attitude last night, she didn’t looked like she could be persuaded with just a few words. She was so close to Shentu Rui, but didn’t even glance at him. But Lan Dan knew that the less she cared on the surface, the more she cared in her heart.

Su Yi Ming repeatedly returned the gesture, and scratched his head slightly embarrassedly, “Princess, please don’t say that. The engagement is sudden. Reacting the way you did… is understandable.”

Lan Cheng saw his cute and awkward appearance and played along, smiling and asking him, “Since you say it’s understandable, do you still want to marry me?”

Su Yi Ming didn’t expect Lan Cheng to ask such a bold question, hesitated for a moment, and before answering, he briefly glanced at Lan Dan, not wanting to be caught in this situation in front of her. With all eyes on him and the princess eagerly waiting, what else could he do but smile reluctantly and say he was willing.

Shentu Cheng thought the conversation between the teenagers was cute and ridiculous, so he laughed loudly. Embarrassed, Lan Cheng and Su Yi Ming blushed and turned their eyes away.

However, Shentu Rui didn’t laugh. He pulled Lan Dan and said, “Since this matter is over, we’ll take our leave.” Then he turned around and lifted Lan Dan onto his horse. His attendant brought his horse over, but he didn’t even look at it. He jumped onto Lan Dan’s horse, forcing it to gallop with a fierce tug on the reins, and pedestrians on the road scattered to avoid them.

Lan Dan’s face turned pale with fright, and she couldn’t help asking in a low voice, “What’s wrong with you? Lan Cheng agreed to marry Su Yi Ming. Shouldn’t you be happy? Why are you jealous again?”

Upon hearing this, Shentu Rui was so angry that he pulled hard on the reins, causing the galloping horse to come to an abrupt stop, and Lan Dan screamed and fell into his arms. He was still angry, and in a flash, he let go of her, and she fell off the horse. He didn’t want her to get hurt, so he quickly caught her and then let go of her. She fell heavily to the ground.

Lan Dan was frightened and looked up at Shentu Rui, who was sitting on his horse with a grim face. He coldly snorted, pulled on the reins, and slowly circled around her. He looked down at her and asked, “Why are you flirting with Su Yi Ming?”

This was the narrow alley behind the back door of the Prince of Yan’s mansion. There were not many people coming and going, and they all recognized the Prince of Yan. Seeing this scene, they all avoided, and for a while, there was no one around the alley.

Furious and resentful, Lan Dan slowly stood up, didn’t look back, and walked towards the mansion. “The reason is whatever you think it is,” she coldly returned.

He jumped off his horse, caught up with her, and grabbed her arm, staring at her. “Didn’t I tell you to stay away from Su Yi Ming?”

Lan Dan remained cold. “You were the one who took me there.”

Shentu Rui felt guilty and couldn’t find the right words to say. He touched her arm and said softly, “Are you hurt?”

Lan Dan pushed him away, and walked into the courtyard. He followed her and hugged her from behind. “It’s my fault… I’ve been irritable lately. Please don’t be angry.”

His words carried a hint of sadness and helplessness, which struck the softest part of her heart. These days he had been exhausted, constantly worried and frustrated, as if his life was at stake. She could understand why he had become irritable and impulsive.

“My leg is broken. It hurts,” she said coldly, but already willing to be a coquette.

He lifted her up with guilt and a mixture of anger and laughter, and kissed her forehead.

In the following days, Lan Dan deeply felt his irritability. He was always absent-minded and restless at night. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night and find him still awake, drinking alone by the window.

This night was the same again. Lan Dan turned over and felt that the space beside her was empty. Startled, she sat up and saw him drinking alone by the window again. The moonlight was exceptionally beautiful tonight, shining through the open window and forming a pale blue misty silver plate. He sat in the light, like he was in the lonely Guanghan Palace in the Ninth Heaven. The night breeze was cool, and he was shirtless. Lan Dan sighed and got up, took his clothes, and draped them over him.

“What’s been going on with you these past few days?” She sat down and looked at him with concern.

He look very lonely and melancholic with his loose and messy hair. He smiled at her and said, “It’s nothing. Maybe I’m just too anxious. After all, I’ve been waiting for so many years.”

Lan Dan frowned, not understanding.

He slowly leaned back and rested his head on her shoulder, murmuring, “I’ve been waiting too long, too long…”

“Can you tell me?” she asked softly.

“Not now, I’m afraid,” he replied frankly.

She kept wondering in her heart about what could make him so anxious after waiting for so long.

He suddenly chuckled softly, “Are you thinking wildly again? Making up more stories about my romantic affairs?”

“Hmm,” she admitted with a smile.

“You know… why don’t you believe that you’re the only one in my heart?” he sighed.

Because he always confessed at the wrong time, she smiled bitterly and said nothing.

When she knew that he was too upset to sleep peacefully, how could she believe in such casual confession?

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