Beauty to Ashes chapter 5

Chapter 5

The return of consciousness was just like the instantaneous outpouring of water from a dam. Her awareness of the vast darkness slowly returned. Then, the rest of her senses came crashing back. Pain, sadness… and then the crushing sorrow that threatened to rip her entire chest apart.

As it turned out… she didn’t die. Because with death, pain would cease to exist.

Jin Xiu remained silent. Suddenly, her lips twitched and her fingers trembled. It was then that she realised that someone was holding her hand.

The bitter smell of medicine permeated the air around her. It was warm and familiar, allowing her to feel a sense of peace.

She crooked her head slightly, and then her fingers moved once again. The hand that held her also moved slightly.

The hand exerted just the right amount of strength. Not too hard and not too light, not too forceful and not too fleeting. It didn’t impart sadness either. This grip was very familiar to her, because during her long-drawn elope, during those countless days and nights, she had been led by this hand. Warmly and tenderly guiding her forward.

Chen Ruo would not do this. He would grab her, and even if she struggled, he would maintain a death grip on her, causing her hand to hurt.

Such a perfect grip, he never once gave to her.

In actuality, this was probably a sign? In Dayue, she was his superior, and in Chen Country, he was her emperor.

So, her smile became even more brilliant. The corners of her lips ached without warning. It must have been because she had sustained some injuries as she was being dragged out, for a simple smile had inflicted so much pain.

Her throat was not parched and there was the lingering taste of sweet water in her mouth. From the looks of it, she had been taken care of incomparably well.

Jin Xiu tightened her grip over that pair of hands again. She called out gently, “Ah Lan…” After that, she was suddenly embraced. That youth held her back, his long and slender fingers trembling slightly, causing her skin to tingle.

Even though it was so stimulating, this hug didn’t seem inappropriate at all. His embrace was perfect, with just the right amount of warmth and comfort.

She yielded her head to his shoulders, before slowing shutting her eyes. She mumbled and called out for Ah Lan, before gradually slipping into a deep slumber.

Ah Lan kept watching over her by the side. He only loosened his hand after waiting for her breathing to stabilise and after summoning a doctor to confirm that she had not fallen into unconsciousness again.

He carefully covered her with a quilt before tucking in the corners of the blanket. He watched over her for a long time, harbouring both tenderness and dejection.

The red glow of the candlelight cast shadows on all four walls. In the quietness and fading light, her face was as pale as snow, and her breathing was shallow and weak.

It was as though she could die at any moment.

Ah Lan stared at her helplessly, before burying his face. The Chen Country of present was ruled over by one person, and this youth who surpassed thousands of others was now as helpless as a child.

Jin Xiu would slip in and out of unconsciousness and she only recovered slightly when the eighth month arrived. She was able to sit upright on her own to take her medication and hold short conversations with the maid servants who attended to her. By the end of the month, she was able to walk. She was halfway towards a complete recovery.

Chen Lan would visit her in her room every day. However, he had no idea what to talk to her about. Instead, he brought food for her stubbornly every day, before taking out the leftovers.

Jin Xiu did not speak either. She only smiled at him every time he stopped by, before slowly finishing her food. However, this was already beyond Chen Lan’s expectations. He had initially assumed that she would not even be able to stomach her food, just like in the past.

After hearing him vocalise his surprise, the girl who had been sipping her tea flashed a faint smile. Her sightless eyes turned accurately to face him and she slowly closed her eyes. “In the end, we all need to live on…”

From the moment she woke up, Jin Xiu had not shed a single tear. She behaved as though there was nothing out of the ordinary. Her smile was normal, and even her speech was normal. She spoke of Chen Ruo like a distant childhood friend, and whenever she was bored, she would play the zither or tease the birds. She even implored the gardener in charge of the residence to teach her how to care for the flora and fauna. However, in spite of all these normalities, the moment she turned her back, that frail and delicate silhouette would emanate an inexplicable sense of fragility. It was as though she had channelled all her mental and physical strength to hold herself together. Such a Jin Xiu rendered Chen Lan helpless as he stood behind her, not knowing how to comfort her.

Comfort in any form or shape would merely be a fabricated delusion.

At the end of the ninth month, Jin Xiu had more or less recovered completely from her ailment. Chen Lan asked her what she planned to do next.

Ever since Jin Xiu eloped, her father had not written any imperial edicts that demanded her capture. Instead, he had excused her, stating that she had left the palace to recuperate from an illness. If Jin Xiu wanted to return, she would be able to. Hence, Chen Lan asked her whether she wanted to return to Dayue. That girl merely flashed a faint smile, before shaking her head.

“Fleeing back to my homeland because of failure? A princess of Dayue would not be so shameless.”

Chen Lan remained silent for a few minutes. Then he told her – the day that he rescued her from the burial field, Chen Ruo did not know. He asked if she wanted to let him know. At this point, Jin Xiu chuckled. She said, that day, I was dragged out alive right under his nose. He never once stopped them for my sake. Whether I die or whether I live, he simply does not care.

Hence, Chen Lan did not say a word for a very long time.

After an unknown amount of time passed, he asked in a low voice. “Then, do you want to leave with me?” He told her that Chen Ruo had bestowed upon him the title of Prince Wu, and left him in charge of a piece of land near the borders. He would have to head over in a few days.

Jin Xiu fell into a trance.

Many years ago, someone had stretched out his hand to her and asked her if she wanted to leave with him in the same manner. Now, it was still him, and he had asked the same question yet again.

Since the day she met Chen Lan, he had seen her in her most miserable state, he had seen her at her ugliest. That man would always remain silent as he stretched out a hand to her.

Chen Lan was just that warm.

She gradually laughed again. When she turned her head to look at him, her innocence and guileless nature was heightened. Chen Lan stared at her and suddenly felt decrepit.

She most likely despised him, right? Back then, he had brought her to Chen Country in a moment of impulse, causing her to suffer such torment and humiliation. If he had not brought her over, would she be in that resplendent palace enjoying the glorious life she was meant to live now?

He lowered his hand and asked her in a soft voice, “… Do you hate me?”

Jin Xiu widened her eyes in astonishment. Strange, why did he think this way?

Back then, every single decision was made by her, what did it have to do with Chen Lan? Why would she hate him?

“… Really?” Chen Lan responded with a single question, before abruptly keeping mum. On the other hand, Jin Xiu raised her head up and grinned at him.

“Ah Lan.”

“Mm?”

“Do you like me?” When she asked this, she raised her head, her thin and fair neck mirroring that of a swan’s.

“!” Chen Lan’s eyes widened the instant she asked that question. Then, he sighed, before flashing a bitter smile. “… Yes, I like you. Since the first time I met you.”

Jin Xiu nodded her head. She replied saying, Ah Lan, I’ll follow you.

In the end, we all need to live on, right?

Wuzhou was located at the borders, close to the Great Wall. There, armoured horses and frothing rivers abounded, and the scent of metal permeated the air. Wuzhou was established at the foot of a mountain – it was easy to defend and difficult to attack. The Prince’s Mansion had been constructed halfway up the mountain, with a white and silky waterfall in the back garden that flowed continuously, generating mist akin to jade.

Jin Xiu liked this place. Even in the winter, she would bundle herself up in a fur coat and sit beneath a pavilion to listen to the sound of flowing water.

Once, Chen Lan asked her why she liked the waterfall so much. She only shook her head with a smile, staring fixedly at it instead of giving an answer.

At that moment, Chen Lan could once again sense that she was doing her utmost to put on a façade of calm.

The girl before him had never walked out of her nightmare. She was only pretending, pretending that she had already escaped from it.

Time flew by, and the seventh month arrived once more. Chen Lan was afraid that the circumstances would evoke her sadness again and carefully followed her the whole day. Jin Xiu, on the other hand, was more or less indifferent to it. She explained that she was fine with a smile.

Nobody in the Prince’s Manor knew of her origins, but since Chen Lan treated her so well, everyone also regarded her with respect.

However, when it was time for the yearly feast, she did not appear.

Chen Lan went to find her, and just as he guessed, she was sitting under the pavilion near the waterfall.

Plain clothes and jet-black hair. The girl who stood with her back facing him seemed to be basking in the moonlight. With the sound of water trickling in the background, Jin Xiu’s voice appeared to possess an unexpected trace of clarity.

“… Every turning point in my life always occurred on the seventh month.” She said this with such calmness. After which, she turned her head and even flashed a smile at Chen Lan.

“… Ah Lan, you like me, right?” This was the question she had asked him one year back. After asking him, she had followed him to Wuzhou.

Chen Lan looked at her, and after a long, long time, the youth who looked frighteningly similar to Chen Ruo finally answered her slowly. “I don’t need you to reciprocate. Even if I can’t do anything about it, I won’t be so shameless as to force your feelings.”

“… You are completely different from him.”Jin Xiu had a blank expression on her face, and when she said this, she couldn’t help but laugh.

Chen Lan shook his head. “Talent, ambition and wisdom. I would never be able to compare to my royal brother.”

Jin Xiu gestured for him to come over. She stood shoulder to shoulder with Chen Lan, facing the gushing waterfall that brought forth a cloud of snow-white mist. Then, he heard the girl’s gentle voice drift over.

“Ah Lan, you once asked me why I enjoy looking at the waterfall. Let me tell you why. I feel like the waterfall is just like me.” When waterfalls are overflowing with water, they are empowered with the strength of a thousand forces, able to overcome anything in its way. But when it is dried up, the few drops of water are still able to penetrate stone with perseverance. But in truth, even if it can do so, it would never be able to produce a pool like this.

That pale and beautiful girl stared forward fixedly with eyes that could not see. She said this while Chen Lan remained silent at the side, quietly listening to her analogy.

Ever since she turned seven and met Chen Ruo, her life had become a vast wilderness. Ever since that day, her world only contained Chen Ruo. What about now? She was still trapped in Chen Ruo’s world. She pretended to forget and have no care for him. She pretended that it no longer hurt, and forced herself not to shed tears for him. Now, she was so fragile that she could collapse at any time – This was the price she had to pay.

“I want to stand back up. I want to walk out.” She said it like this.

She was the daughter of the Xiao Family. The princess of Dayue.

Jin Xiu turned her head over to look at him. Suddenly, she smiled. “But I’m still not strong enough. Alone, I would not be able to walk out of this wilderness. And Ah Lan, you like me. You said that you were not a shameless person, but I, Xiao Jin Xiu, am one. This girl here wants to use your love for me in order to walk out of this fatal trap. How despicable.”

Chen Lan did not reply. He only stretched out his hand slowly to hold her icy cold and fair finger.

The corner of Jin Xiu’s lips twitched slightly. “… Currently, this girl doesn’t love you.”

“Mm.” He nodded his head and tightened his grip slightly. “… It is possible that she would not love you this lifetime.”

“Mm.” Still, he nodded his head, and tightened his grip even more.

“She’s only using you.”

He already had a firm grasp over her fingers.

“I only want her to rise up from her despair, and then see her smile at me. I know how much sorrow she is in. Please, use me.” As he said this, Chen Lan planted a kiss on her forehead.


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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