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Spring Once More chapter 13
(Traditional Chinese cover scanned by Dairytea)
I’m super psyched to see Master Su. I was just thinking about finding him, and here he is. I greet him warmly, and he returns it politely.
He’s still giving the same vibe as the first time in the funeral pavilion – not too warm or too cold, just indifferent. This time he’s wearing a black robe instead of the white mourning one. The inky colour gives him more of a scholarly aura than the effeminate tanhua could ever possess.
This invokes another reflection from me. You can never judge a book by its cover, let alone a man by his looks. If not for the infallible records that I saw on the Bridge of Hopelessness, I would not have taken this bookish Master Su to be No. 1 among the nineteen concubines of the prince! Wow, I just can’t wrap my head around it.
Hearing me call him ‘Master Su’ doesn’t trigger any reactions from him.
“Has Your Highness fully recovered today?”
I touch my forehead. “The swelling has not gone completely, but otherwise I am fine. Thanks for thinking of me, Master Su. Oh, right. I see in your hand a book. Could it be that you have leisure time today and decided to do some reading on this fine day, Master Su?”
The repeated use of ‘Master Su’ finally provokes a response. “Milord, call me ‘Yanzhi’ as usual, if you please. I am not worthy of the honourific.”
Hehe, all that plotting and planning, and I have him right where I want him! I rub my chin. “Actually, I’m simply uncertain how to refer to you. Yanzhi, Su Yanzhi. But I recall you telling me in person that day I climbed out of the coffin that your name is Su Xingzhi; courtesy name, Zhengyan.”
Then I scrutinize his face for any changes…
Two nights ago, I was quite shocked at one particular piece of top secret info that I got in the netherworld. I was tricked by the first concubine that I met after coming to the new world. I thought I had fooled him but it was the other way around! The man who assured others I was not a reanimated corpse is actually called Su Yanzhi. He is ranked first among all the concubines.
All the history between Su Yanzhi and the prince could take three whole days to tell, according to the Chief. So he explained it briefly for me. At the age of seventeen, Chai Rong travelled to Jiangnan, spotted Su Yanzhi at a teahouse and was hooked. The Su house was a well-known merchant house in the region. In order to obtain the royal textile warrant from the little prince, Su Yanzhi’s older brother gifted him to the prince as a library attendant and counsellor. Su Yanzhi endured the shame in the prince’s manor and served his role, but the prince always treated him with respect perhaps on account of the merchant house’s status. All eighteen other concubines had to obey Su Yanzhi.
But Su Yanzhi also played a role in the prince’s strangulation by Wang Rui. It was he who put muscle relaxant in the prince’s meal, intending for the tanhua to take the chance to escape, but the righteous tanhua went as far as to remove an evil for the people and strangled him to death.
Therefore, the chief suggested that I could reveal my identity to him, since he is definitely the most able-minded and sympathetic person in the entire manor. Maybe he would even help me pull off my act.
I think it’s a good piece of advice. I mean, think about Master Su’s outstanding behavior in the funeral pavilion. As the wise leader of all the masters, he might have already guessed that I was lying, but he still covered for me in front of everyone. A true ally!
However, there’s still one thing I can’t figure out. Why did he tell me his name was Su Xingzhi? I mean, Su Xingzhi is the name of Su Yanzhi’s second eldest brother who had traded his brother for the imperial warrant. Apparently, this guy was a force to be reckoned with, too. He died a year ago, though.
Maybe Su Yanzhi gave his brother’s name in order to test the prince, to see if his head was working.
I spent most of my time last night wondering if I will confront Master Su and, if so, how. I’m certain that he wouldn’t betray me. Betraying me meant admitting that the prince is dead, and that would mean he and Wang Rui and the others – all twenty heads would be chopped off. Master Su comes from a merchant house and surely knows his profits and losses well. Haha! I’m a goddamn genius!
That’s why before I went to the palace this morning, I first sent a secret slip to Master Su. I wrote a wobbly, ugly message with a brush: Master Su, what are your thoughts on a foreign soul reanimating a corpse?
Sure enough, Master Su’s expression changes at my words. Not pale in the bad way, but warmer. His lips curve up a little.
“I am not quite sure how to treat you either, Milord. Your Highness returned to life and rose from the coffin. Then, Your Highness appeared to have lost your memory and began to do good since yesterday. All the signs of illness disappeared, and all speech patterns and behaviour seem different from before. Now that we are alone here, could Yanzhi receive an explanation from Your Highness?”
Good, this is more like it. I like smart guys! I stand up and shake out my sleeves.
“Well, there’s no use in hiding anything now. Let’s be open! You’re the only wise enough in this manor. I don’t like lying to smart people, but you have to believe me, too. No, I’m not the little prince. I’m Ma Xiaodong. I was dealt the heavenly judgment wrongly by the lackeys of Lord Yan, and I was placed in your prince’s corpse to live out a life that is rightfully mine.”
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Spring Once More by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.