Beauty to Ashes chapter 2

Chapter 2

One and a half months later, the diplomatic delegation from Chen Country had already left the borders of Dayue. The emperor had also led his ministers and subjects out for the annual spring hunt, and would only return to the capital after two weeks. This was the opportune time, and hence Chen Lan started to enact his escape plan. The night he was to set off, Jin Xiu went meet him, bringing with her a large cloth bundle. The bundle was stuffed with dribs and drabs, Jin Xiu droned on without end, saying how this was what Chen Ruo liked to eat, and how this was the book he spent a long time looking for, this pair of fitting shoes were made for him by the most talented palace attendants…..

Then she suddenly paused in her speech, only rubbing her eyes repeatedly.

Chen Lan seemed to assume that she was about to cry, but Jin Xiu didn’t, merely repeating her motion of rubbing her eyes.

Chen Lan remained silent for a moment. He extended his hand and wrapped the items one by one before placing them into her hands.

The teenager who was only one year older then her asked, did she want to go together?

Jin Xiu fell into a daze and she stared fixedly at him with a pair of eyes that could not see, but were beautifully framed with mist. Chen Lan repeated his question once more.

Did she want to leave with him? To Chen Country, to meet Chen Ruo?

To be with the youth she loved, the one with that one-of-a-kind voice.

Inside her pitch-black vision, it felt as though…

She could give her life to the one she loves. Even if there came a day of heartless abandonment, there would be no regrets.

This was her wish, and something that Chen Ruo never told her.

She knew Chen Lan was standing before her, reaching out his hands to her.

Beneath the snow-coloured sleeves, a warm, jade-like finger gently joined Chen Lan’s hand. She smiled, her bliss akin to that of blooming flowers. Tears flowed without any warning.

Mm… I’ll leave with you, she said, tears accompanying her faint smile.

The two of them set off on their road to escape, each dressed simply.

This escape was even swifter than what Chen Lan imagined it to be. He had already made preparations for the additional burden, but in reality, that blind girl who had been pampered in the court was strong, even though she was weak.

There were no complaints, no dissatisfaction. She learned prudently every time she encountered unfamiliar circumstances. When she fell, she would pick herself up. If she was sick or injured, she would clench her teeth and endure, bent on not affecting their journey. And every time she knew that she would cause a delay, she would not put on a brave front.

Jin Xiu was the strongest girl he had met thus far.

Once, Chen Lan carelessly mentioned this. At that time, they were having a meal inside a guesthouse. When she heard him say that, Jin Xiu giggled.

It was because she yearned to see Chen Ruo…  Since she had been clinging tightly onto Chen Lan on horseback, her fingers were blistered due to the coarse cloth and she could not grip onto her chopsticks properly. She said this in a soft voice, and her face which was as fair as white jade, flashed a sweet and silly smile. After that, she quietened once more. She rubbed her eyes slowly, her voice low.

Because I’m… my father his majesty’s daughter…. I have already let him down…. At the very least, when it comes to the things I can do, I should not let him suffer from shame.

At that point in time, they had already crossed Yunlin river and reached the borders of Chen Country. Once the news reached the Dayue emperor, he dispatched forces to give chase, only for them to be halted at the bank of Yulin river.

She had caused her father shame and pain.

The soldiers stopped at Yulin River, no longer giving chase. They might have been afraid to hurt her, or they might have given up. She was a daughter who had no sense of honour or shame.

Chen Lan stretched an arm out with the intention to comfort her. But he suddenly realised. What was he to Jin Xiu, and did he even have the qualifications to console her?
As such, he remained taciturn, staring at that petite young girl grip her chopsticks with trembling hands. Some beads of tears dripped down, splattering onto the tabletop.

Chen Lan pondered in a daze. Right, she cried in front of him again. She just didn’t know. Every time she cried, his heart would hurt.

However, she probably would never know… Because, the person she loved was his respected and beloved older brother.

This was good as well, he sincerely felt this way.

As such, ever since the day Chen Ruo left, Jin Xiu finally met Chen Ruo again two and a half months later.

That day, it just so happened to be the seventh day of the seventh month. All daughters in poor families were praying and daughters of noble families were making wishes, hoping to marry a man of their liking. Just like swallows on their beams, to stay by each other’s side forever. [1]

From an astrological perspective, it was also a good day. The god of happiness was east and the god of wealth was southwest. It was a perfect day for getting married.

Hence, when Chen Lan lead her by the hand to the East Palace belonging to the crown prince, the entire East Palace was decorated with colourful lanterns. It was a lively scene.

The crown prince had just returned, and although he did not make it in time to see his mother for the last time, he immediately took a wife – a beautiful and pampered daughter of the right-wing minister.  He also implored his father to exercise restraint, such that he did not dare to establish a new empress immediately. This instantly diminished the haughtiness of the left-wing minister who had counted his chickens before it hatched and desired his own daughter to become the empress. On this note, there was another piece of good news. The return of the crown prince likely had a role in this, for there was word that the emperor of Dayue had collapsed with illness.

The subjects all discussed this in jubilation, pleased as a punch. However, Chen Lan felt like dropping the things in his arms and plugging Jin Xiu’s ears so that she would not be able to hear anything.

This young girl had abandoned her country to come here. She had fallen ill and gotten herself injured, but yet, never once uttered a word of bitterness. She had gone through much suffering, and in the end, she was greeted with news of the marriage of the man she loved, as well as news of her father’s illness.

Chen Ran was on the verge of an outburst, but Jin Xiu gently tugged on his sleeves.

At that point, galaxy could vaguely be seen in the distant sky and the bridge across the milky way was dim. [2] She lifted her face to look at him, her complexion was so white that no one would dare to take a closer look.

Jin Xiu said lightly, Ah Lan, let’s go, alright?

He looked straight back at her, and then said, alright.

Chen Lan’s manor was nearby. It wasn’t big, but the courtyard contained a pond full of blooming water lilies.

“I have this understanding… My father has so many concubines, he doesn’t like those women but he still has to marry them. He even needs to make calculations so that they give birth to children in order… I know…. Ah Ruo will be the emperor in the future, I know… He will have many concubines… many… My father his majesty must have fallen ill because he was disappointed. He cherished me so much, but yet I chose to abandon him, he must be devastated, so…” She stood on the small bridge in the middle of the lotus pond. Her back faced Chen Lan, her voice slowly trailing off…. trailing off… After which, that young girl slowly slumped onto the ground, hugging her knees and forcefully curling herself up, just like a young beast in agony.

Everything that was suppressed slowly unravelled with the sound of her sobbing.

Her tears and her whimpers, were all a result of emotions that could no longer be suppressed, even after biting her lips.

In his older brother’s eyes, this young girl in front of him would never shed tears. Her every smile was like the warm rays of light emitted from the spring sun.

However, in his memory, she was always in tears.

When Chen Lan vaguely heard her reminiscing her father and yearning for Chen Ruo. He was at his wits end. He bent his body over and supported her shoulders. Then, he heard Jin Xiu choke between her tears, “Don’t look at me.”

Chen Lan remained silent for a while. He closed his eyes and said, “I have shut my eyes now, I can’t see anything.”

Then, something warm leaned into his arms.

She finally cried her heart out in his embrace, her sobs almost tearing through viscera.

Her father, her countrymen, the person she liked. In one night, everything had left her just like that.

There was nothing he could do, he could only lend her a shoulder to cry on.

Jin Xiu’s cried till she lost all strength, before slowing slipping into a slumber. Chen Lan immediately left, and under the pretence of congratulating the groom, he arrived at the crown prince’s residence in the palace. Chen Ruo did not know that he was returning that day, and when he saw him arrive, he was overwhelmed with tumultuous joy. Chen Lan only grabbed his older brother’s hand and whispered a line by his ear, “… Jin Xiu came.” After which, he excused himself, claiming he was exhausted before turning around to leave. Chen Ruo widened his eyes, and then, he was back to that quiet and calm, pale and handsome crown prince of Chen Country.

That silhouette which was donned in an auspicious red wedding gown, only shook for a split second when the words ‘Jin Xiu’ were uttered.

Imperial wedding rites were complicated and tedious, Chen Lan held the hand of the sickly girl who was on the bed as he watched coldly as his older brother completed his marriage matters.

Everyone said, a lovely golden couple; everyone said, when the bride returned to her parental home for three days, the crown prince sent her over personally; everyone said, he cared for his bride, who was of the same age, thoroughly.

All these words were spoken by everyone on the whim, but Jin Xiu did not cry. She only held on tightly to Chen Lan’s hand without letting go. She ate her meals on time, but every time she ate, she would throw everything up. Then, she would sit back in place and continue eating.

“… It’s not good not to eat… will fall sick…” She said in a weak and thin voice , her sightless eyes just like an abyss.

Chen Lan was unable to cough out a single word of comfort.

He could only watch her and hold her hand. These were all the limits to what he could do and apart from these, he was completely helpless.

On the night of the fifth day, after the night watch drummed a second time, Chen Ruo came over quietly. At that time, Jin Xiu was on her seat drinking porridge when she suddenly paused. She perked her ears, and a warm smile slowly spread onto her face.

“He’s here…” She said softly. Then, she started to count backwards, and when she reached one, the doors creaked open and Chen Ruo strolled in.

That soft and warm hand, naturally and soundlessly slipped out from Chen Lan’s hands.

“Ah Ruo.” She raised her voice and called out to him, gently and sweetly, as though all the boundless pain and sorrow never once existed.

Chen Lan suddenly understood. In front of Chen Ruo, Jin Xiu could only smile.

Warm, gentle, a smile that could soothe a person’s heart.

Chen Lan retreated without a sound. No one called out for him to remain.

His shoulders brushed against the older brother who looked exactly like him, none of them looking back at the other.


Beauty to Ashes

Beauty to Ashes

锦成灰
Score 9.4
Status: Completed Type: Author: Released: 2016 Native Language: Chinese
It was a beautiful beginning.She was a precious princess who was treasured by her father. Her life should have been filled with beauty, without winter, only sunshine.She just had to meet him.As she was dozing off, wrapped in a bundle of blankets on her father’s lap in court,He was kneeling below, with a pale complexion and picturesque eyes. A small red mark was imprinted between his brows, akin to a red-crowned crane – alluring and highly venomous.He was a prince from the enemy land being held hostage, possessing an uncertain futureShe was the princess, with royal blood running in her veins.Hence, she became a legend passed down in folksongs on the apricot path: To give her life to the one she loves. Even if there came a day of heartless abandonment, there would be no regrets.But, in this story, there was another person.At her lowest points, he said to her, I will take you away, to the ends of the earth, not leaving, not forsaking – But, unfortunately, he wasn’t the same young man from the very start.Till the end, when everything that flourished receded, she realised. Alas, all her former hate and pain was nothing but a lie.Her one lifetime was the most magnificent beauty. After which, simply reduced to ash.

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