The Forbidden City
Bing Ran Palace,
Before the first light of dawn even flickers, Li Qiu can hear the sound of movement from the other side of the curtain.
She has served the palace for many years and had seen many kinds of concubines, but this consort is a little different.
From how the emperor acted last night, any other concubine wouldn’t have the guts to even beg, and will only secretly cries at night in regret. But this consort actually bathed and quietly went to sleep last night.
There isn’t a single sound from her the entire night.
According to the rules of the palace, as long as her mistress didn’t call for her, she is not allowed to peer into the other side of the curtain. If she says she isn’t worried, she’d be lying. What if Her Ladyship became muddleheaded and committed suicide? What will she say to the people above?
Even if the emperor didn’t like Her Ladyship, she is still his highest ranked consort.
When she hears the movement on the other side, her alarmed heart finally calms down.
“Your Ladyship, are you awake?” she gently asks.
“Yes,” Xi Yan’s voice floats through the curtain, it didn’t sound anything out of the ordinary.
Li Qiu gently clap her hands three times. Palace maids who are waiting outside immediately comes in, carrying stuffs for their mistress to wash herself with. Her eyes stop at the very last tray, the one carrying white clothes.
This is from the order of the emperor last night.
This will be the only color for her and the entire Bing Ran Palace for three years. If she was worried about Xi Yan’s reaction to this last night, she no longer worries now.
And she indeed did not make any remark. She puts on the white clothes quietly.
Li Qiu stares at Xi Yan from the sideline. Her small face is pale and under the white background, not a trace of color can be found on her.
This consort is the most beautiful woman she had ever in the palace, other than the deceased empress. But their beauty is slightly different. Different in a way that she cannot tell.
“Li Qiu, where is the highest place on the east here?” Xi Yan quietly asks, snapping Li Qiu out of her thoughts.
Li Qiu frowns lightly, “Answering Your Ladyship, the highest place on the east here is She Peak.”
“Order a sedan chair for bengong. Let’s head to She Peak.”
“The emperor never said I cannot leave Bing Ran Palace, did he not? And that She Peak isn’t a forbidden place inside the palace, isn’t it?” Xi Yan blocks what Li Qiu was about to say.
“Yes, Your Ladyship,” Li Qiu bows.
She was right, the emperor never bans her from going out. Besides, she is currently the highest ranked consort around.
After many years, obeying orders is the only things she is good at regardless of who she is serving.
She Peak is in the eastern corner of the Forbidden City while Bing Ran Palace is located in the west. Even with the sedan chair, the journey took almost one hour.
By the time they reach She Peak, the sky is beginning to turn bright while thin snowflakes float around. Xi Yan is engulfed in a thick brocade fur cloak while Li Qiu accepts a paper umbrella from a maid.
“The rest of you wait here.” Xi Yan gently says. After a pause, she glance at Li Qiu and says, “Climb with bengong.”
The mountains at the Forbidden City is not rugged. The paths are pebbled, but on snowy days like this, it can get pretty slippery.
Li Qiu is holding the umbrella so she can’t support her mistress. Xi Yan herself didn’t look like she needs assistance. She hikes in unhurried pace, neither slow nor fast.
At the peak of the hill, the snow gradually turns bigger. When it lands on their faces or eyes, the chill is pretty painful.
At first, she didn’t understand why her mistress wanted to come to She Peak, but after seeing her walking towards the pavilion to view scenery, she finally understands why. From the pavilion, you can see the roads of the eastern part of the city from far away. Xiang Qinwang’s residence can also be seen. Her Ladyship must have wanted to send off Xiang Qinwang from here.
While Li Qiu is busy with her thoughts, Xi Yan gradually gets closer to the pavilion. The closer she gets, the more urgent her pace becomes.
At that very moment, she can hear Xi Yan’s gasp as she falls into the snow below. In the beginning, the fall isn’t severe. But they have a snowfall and she fell on a slippery ground. She grasps on the ground to stabilize herself but the ground is loose.
Right behind is a little hollow area of the hill. Li Qiu can only extends her hand as the white figure of Xi Yan falls straight down.
serene: I think this is my favorite project for now! I am sincerely praying the story doesn’t go downhill like Xi Yan XD