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    Kong Wen Hui
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The Spirit of the Plum Blossom Tree (TSPBT) - 5. Chapter 5

Dàjiā hǎo! It has been long time since I last posted!

 

 

Some Language.

Guan Shuilian stepped gracefully inside the room, and after a moment Hong Shen followed, face dark. Now that he thought about it, the man didn’t really look like his murderer, but there were certain similarities in the shape of his face and the expression in his eyes. Definitely not the style of clothing, either.

The man in question closed the door silently behind them, but the action went unnoticed as soon as Hong Shen saw the interior of the dining area. Oriental drapes hung from practically every surface. A lacquer table stretched horizontally at the further end, laden with covered dishes of imperial food and decorated with embroidered napkins and silver utensils. The eunuchs and servants that had finished setting the table quickly bowed and left, keeping their eyes to the floor.

A handsome man garbed in a yellow and black longpao sat on the other side of the table, facing Hong Shen. Several dragons were stitched flying all over the robes, in a variety of shapes and sizes. A mianguan rested upon his head, the beaded strings on both sides remaining perfectly still as the ends hovered inches away from the inky strands of his long hair. Despite his age, his jaw remained strong and sturdy, his dark eyes clear though an aura of sadness radiated from within.

“Your Majesty,” Guan Shuilian spoke, a neutral tone to her voice. Lowering herself to the plush fur rug, she kneeled alongside Er-ge and two others he didn’t know, pressing her forehead to the ground. Behind him, the gaudy man also moved forwards, kneeling besides her. As Hong Shen looked down at them, he felt the narrowed eyes of the man fall heavily upon him, and he reluctantly copied their movements before him. The one he now knew as the Emperor.

A long silence ensued, until it was broken by a small rustle of cloth, the slight tap of a cup on the table loud in the quiet. “Rise,” a low voice said, considerably rich and deep. After a beat, everyone moved, standing respectfully before the Emperor. Hong Shen’s brow twitched; what sorcery did this old man use to make the great criminal bow in submission? The thought was almost unbearable.

“Guan Hongye. I see you have recovered.” Tch, no thanks to you. “Guan Yushe has informed me that you have lost your memory due to the trauma of the event. Is this true?”

Guan Yushe? Hong Shen glanced at the people around him, noticing Er Ge twitch slightly at the name. Ah, so that must have been his true name. His lips curled in a sneer, and he looked directly at the Emperor, noting a glimmer of surprise in his eyes at the action.

“Lost my memory? Well, isn’t that bloody convenient. Now none of you can be righteously accused of attempting to murder me.”

He barely managed to register the dark expression that flitted across the Emperor’s face before a force plowed into the back of his head, knocking him to his knees and causing sparks to ignite in front of his eyes. Pain erupted from the point of impact, and he gritted his teeth to prevent himself from shouting curses.

“Please forgive him, Father. He may have forgotten his manners as well.”

Hong Shen craned his neck to see who had struck him, seething with rage. A maroon hanfu above black ku trousers swarmed his vision, tied over with a simple white belt. The youth who wore them had a cold look to his black eyes, and a pale scar stretched down diagonally from his cheek over his lips in a thin line. His dark hair was cut short, giving him an overall serious disposition.

“Yes, yes, as Shishi said.” The man in the purple ku piped up, earning him a glare from the youth. The Emperor’s attention turned to him, and gradually the storm brewing on his features subsided to exhaustion.

“Guan Shixin, Guan Yesheng.” He sighed, rubbing his temples with his fingers. “Perhaps the two of you can reteach your elder brother everything he has forgotten, but not now. Until the murderer is found, Guan Hongye, you are to stay within the South Palace. Your birthday draws closer, and it would be best to avoid repeating such unfortunate incidents so close to the date.”

His tone left no room for refute. Hong Shen slowly pushed himself to standing, smacking aside the hand Guan Shuilian offered to him. Fury filled his eyes, and what little self control he had left snapped. After all this time, the man who had ‘rescued’ him from beneath the bush still hadn’t changed. Abandoning him to his fate at the mercy of the Imperial Court, too ashamed to look the bastard of his favorite consort in the eyes. Exchanging nothing but meaningless greetings in the hall and in private, imprisoning him within the underground tunnels of the South Palace, ignoring his presence and allowing both his siblings and even the servants to disrespect him to his face. The most likely suspect for orchestrating the attempted murder, even, to finally rid the royal family of the black stain upon their name once and for all.

Dimly Hong Shen registered that these raging thoughts were not his own, but it was just fuel to his fire, growing with each passing breath. A faint throbbing began on his back, forming a shape similar to the one that had erupted in agony at the long nailed creature’s command. Only this time, it pulsed like a great heartbeat, synchronizing with the beats of his own heart. Gradually, the rhythm increased until he panted as though he had just run a marathon.

With a roar, he launched himself at the Emperor, hand pulled back in a punch. The Emperor merely gazed at him, the shock soon replaced with bone weary acceptance. Hong Shen hesitated for a moment, faltering. Why wasn’t he fighting back? What kind of weak response was this, did he not see him as a threat?

Re-energized, his foot landed lightly between two covered dishes, while the other leg swung around in a kick to the Emperor’s face, switching from a punch. Surprisingly, the move was easier than he thought it would be considering he had been bedridden for a while. A cry was heard from Guan Shuilian, with matching exclamations from Guan Yesheng and Er-ge. A blur of soft pink flashed before him, and he didn’t even pause before continuing the movement, connecting with a hard skull in a dull thump.

A girl no older than 12 fell gracefully to the side, a few petals drifting to the ground from the flowers weaved into her elaborate bun. Her small face was turned to the side from the blow, her light grey eyes tearing up from the pain. Pink fabric from her chang pao hanfu fluttered around her fragile form, decorated with beautiful white blossoms blooming on the branches that extended along the end of the skirt. As Hong Shen lowered his leg, the Emperor stretched out his arms, catching her before she fell completely. He felt she looked familiar, and soon recognized her to be the other person kneeling with Guan Shixin when they had come in.

“Xiaotang!” The Emperor held her close to his chest, checking her over for injuries while she held the side of her face, lips trembling as she bravely held back her tears. Hong Shen watched impassively, stepping off the table as he regained control of his body. The throbbing from his back began to fade as he calmed, disappearing as though it had never existed.

He turned to walk away, aiming to leave this hell hole and never return, but Guan Shixin stepped forward, anger reflecting in his glare. Before he could reach Hong Shen, however, Guan Shuilian stepped up, smacking him across the face with the palm of her hand.

“You bitch, how dare you?!” he spat, snapping his head back to snarl in her face. In retaliation, she smacked him again, before grabbing the front of his hanfu and bringing her blatantly furious expression close to his face. Her jewelry clinked melodiously, contrasting with her violent behavior.

“How dare YOU strike your little sister, much less Father! Are you trying to die?!”

“And what would it matter to you?! It would be a miracle if I was, you two faced rats would probably throw a celebration!”

“Now now, let’s not be rude,” Er-ge interrupted quietly, an amused expression upon his delicate features. His hand waved the fan leisurely in front of him, radiating nonchalance.

“Stay out of this, you walking tree!” Hong Shen snapped at Er-ge, gesturing towards his color scheme. “Grow some fucking balls, will you?”

“ENOUGH!” The Emperor stood, the dragons upon his robe seeming to move with the action. Guan Xiaotang stood beside him, hands folded behind her as a red welt formed on her cheek.

“Guan Hongye, be silent!”

“Make me!” He flipped the Emperor some rude hand gestures, most of which he didn’t understand but got the general idea behind it. A cloud descended upon his face, and he opened his mouth to respond, but Guan Shixin finally couldn’t take it anymore and struck Hong Shen’s neck, pressing his pressure point and rendering him unconscious. With a gasp, he fell forwards, the world turning to black as the shouts of those around him filled the air.

 

⭑・゚゚・*:༅。.。༅:*゚:*:✼✿  ✿✼:*゚:༅。.。༅:*・゚゚・⭑

 

Hong Shen opened his eyes, blinking at the white expanse surrounding him. Had he failed the trial already? The first day hadn’t even finished yet.

His vision began to clear, focusing on the white painted ceiling above him. With a groan, he sat up, his head swimming with a sudden surge of dizziness. It seemed that Guan Shixin had hit him harder than necessary.

Looking around, he found himself alone in a large room, lying on a bamboo floor mat. The sound of medicinal herbs filled the air from their places on shelves lining an adjacent wall, while scrolls of all ages filled a small shelf on the other side of the room. A sparse plain rug lay a few feet away, and a writing desk was propped up in the corner, a feather quill and inkpot resting upon its surface. A porcelain bowl and pestle were within arm’s reach, something green inside as though someone had been using it just a few minutes before.

Muttering curses under his breath, he stood up slowly, feeling his joints crack and pop as his muscles stretched. White strands of hair caught his eye as he looked down, noticing he was still dressed in his hanfu and Suan Ni robe. Sighing, he took the cloth strip out of his hair, catching the hairpin Guan Shuilian had gifted him, staring into the red leaves dangling down.

Those thoughts he had been plagued with when standing before the Emperor had not been his own, of that he was sure. That inexplicable rage had belonged to Guan Hongye, but for some reason it had seeped into his own mind, fueling his emotions and sending them spiraling out of control. And the mark on his back had awoken because of it.

Not to mention Guan Hongye’s birthday, mentioned once again by the Emperor. When would he finally figure out why it was so important that it apparently threatened his life?

Taking a deep breath, Hong Shen steeled his nerve, clenching his fists. It didn’t matter if it was a new world with magic and confusion or a living nightmare, he would conquer it all. He wouldn’t fall to hell because he couldn’t fall in love with a stupid woman before a year had passed. And he would be damned if he submitted to conceited fools along the way.

With that taken care of, he made his way over to the writing desk, throwing the hairpin on it carelessly as he turned towards the door behind the floor mat. As he turned, his attention caught on an open scroll pushed further up the desk, detailed in spidery black writing. It was yellowed with time, but still in decent shape.

Stepping back, he reached out, picking it up with rough hands, surprised at the leathery feeling of the parchment. Scanning over the title, Hong Shen began to read it out loud.

“Twin Soul One Heart Incantation.” Sounds ridiculous, he thought, but continued to read it anyway. He spoke the words out loud, making his way down the scroll. A hot sensation began to ignite in his heart, but he ignored it, passing it off as a temporary heartburn.

“Wait!” Someone shouted, and Hong Shen looked up to see a man running into the room. “Stop! Don’t complete the Incantation!”

What nonsense was he spouting? Hong Shen completed the last line just as the man reached him. All of a sudden, the burning feeling in his heart increased tenfold, and he folded over in agony, clutching his chest and dropping the scroll to the ground. The man before him reacted similarly, grimacing in pain and clutching the edge of the desk with white fingers.

“You… bastard! What… have.. you done?!”

・゚゚・*:༅。.。༅:*゚:*:✼✿ Author's Translations ✿✼:*゚:༅。.。༅:*・゚゚・⭑

Lóngpáo (龙袍) - dragon robes

Miǎnguān (冕冠) - classical Emperor headdress (picture below)

Brief of Emperor Hat in Ancient China - 2021

Guān Yùshé (冠玉蛇) - crown jade serpent

Guān Shíxīn (冠石心) - crown stone heart

Guān Yěshēng (冠野声) - crown wild sound

Guān Xiǎotáng (冠小糖) - crown little sugar

Suān Ní (狻猊) - just as a note, I will now be referring to 'Suan Mi' as 'Suan Ni'

Copyright © 2020 Kong Wen Hui; All Rights Reserved.
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I'm glad to see a new chapter of this story!  I'm looking forward to reading more :) 

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Reading a strange incantation out loud after you've determined magic really exists pushes Hong Shen up on the dummy scale.

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4 minutes ago, drpaladin said:

Reading a strange incantation out loud after you've determined magic really exists pushes Hong Shen up on the dummy scale.

Oh yes, he is very stubborn about the actual existence of magic and paranormal things, and because of that his intelligence has every right to be insulted!

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