The years went by smoothly for Yue Mian. She juggled between her etiquette lessons and martial arts perfectly, but with just two hours of sleep, a day made her moody and violent.
Her uncle sat down with her and told her that he had taught her all that he knew over the past five years and that it was time to stop because he had nothing else to teach her.
Yue Mian wasn’t happy because she felt deep inside her that there was room for improvement and was eager to learn more about martial arts. She left her uncles home with a bitter smile.
Looking up at the cloudy sky and chuckled, [I have made so much effort trying to be perfect and it ends just like this? What am I going to do now? Get married?] she questioned herself while strolling back to her home.
With a skip in her step she made it to the entrance of her home but inside she saw many royal robed men from behind. She paused then went around the house and avoided them, jumping on the wall then back down to the ground and sneakily went to her bedroom window and climbed in.
As she climbed in her grandfather stepped into her room and caught her red handed.
“Yue Mian!!! Where are you coming from?” he asked while pointing his index finger at her who was hanging out of the window. She smiled from ear to ear and pushed herself back out of the window and made a run for it.
General Ye rushed to the window and yelled her name as he watched her disappear around the servants quarter. Shaking his head with a light chuckle he folded his hands behind his back and walked out of her room.
Yue Mian ran too the front of the house and stopped when she met with the men in royal robes. She looked at them and smiled.
There were five men dressed in royal robes. Emperor An who was wearing his red robe with a gold dragon embroidered on the back, Crown Prince An Cheng who was wearing a lilac coloured robe with a silver Pheonix embroidered on the back and his cousin who is also his best friend Yu Sheng wearing a blue robe with white patterns embroidered on the hems.
The other two were the emperor’s royal guards who were wearing black and had swords in their right hands. They all caught glimpse of her running and stopping near them in an awkward position with her hands in the air.
She quickly put her hands down and fixed her attire and walked over to the five men with a smile on her face and bowed with her hands in front of her and greeted them all.
“Your majesty what brings you here?” she asked with a curious gaze as she looked at the emperor. Crown Prince An Cheng and Yu Sheng chuckled on the side as they watched her act innocent.
“YuMi, I came here today because you haven’t visited me in a while and I miss my naughty goddaughter,” answered Emperor An jokingly.
Yue Mian waved her right hand in front of her face and walked off with quick steps. “Yue Mian!!!!” he grandfather yelled from the patio and her steps quickened.
Yu Sheng turned around and ran after her catching her just in time before she reached the gates. He held her around the waist and she “tried” wiggling from his grip, but she couldn’t because he was stronger than her. She was dragged back to her grandfather and held down by Yu Sheng.
“Where have you been? And for you to sneak in through the window is very unladylike and too make it worse, you are dressed like a lady!” berated General Ye.
Yue Mian shrugged and rubbed her nose and looked over at Emperor An ignoring her grandfather. General Ye cleared his throat and started conversing with Emperor An.
The two young men walked to Yue Mian’s side and started pinching her sides making her laugh. In the beginning, Yue Mian and Crown Prince An Cheng had a good relationship that went sour but returned to normal after Yue Mian’s accident.
In the beginning, all the nobles and royals couldn’t believe this sudden change in her but this also did not stop them from mocking her and calling her ugly because of her scar. But Crown Prince An Cheng still loved her and his feelings for her kept growing because he saw how dedicated she became and also her behaviour was more womanlike.
Secretly he begged his father for him to approve of their marriage, but as much as Emperor An wanted too, he couldn’t. Yue Mian being the future Empress and sitting on the throne was not a problem, but the problem lied on her face and in the rules that state:
“The future Empress must be of noble birth.
The future Empress must abide by all rules.
The future Empress must be elegant and graceful.
The future Empress must give birth to an heir.
The future Empress must be able to represent her husband the Emperor.
The future Empress must be pure.
The future Empress must not be wounded.
The future Empress must not have a scar.
The future Empress must have benevolence.
The future Empress must be courageous.”
Yue Mian, on the other hand, has a scar on the side of her face. Marrying her was also a disgrace and as much as Emperor An loved her, this could not be permitted.
Crown Prince An Cheng was turning twenty years of age this week and it was also time for him too wed. His marriage has been postponed over the years because the ministers have not found someone suitable for him.
This was all a lie and Emperor An knew this. His son’s heart was with Yue Mian just like his heart was with Ni Xing, but he learnt to love someone else, the current Empress, his wife.
Crown Prince An Cheng’s marriage would be decided in the next two days at the coming of age banquet that was held annually for all the nobles and royals who have reached the age of sixteen.
Next year it would be Yue Mian’s coming of age, but her mother, grandmother, grandfather Emperor An and Crown Prince An Cheng were worried, they were worried for her. She hasn’t bloomed yet and half of the year passed already, the new year would come soon and she wasn’t allowed to wed - the Crown Prince was secretly hoping he could marry her too.
This was possible, but only if she bloomed and agreed to marry him.
Everyone in the Xiěyè Empire knew that their Crown Prince was in love with Yue Mian, she knew this too and accepted his feelings for her by returning them, but they both knew that their relationship was not possible.
However, Yue Mian had no feelings in her heart towards Crown Prince An Cheng, or her mother, not even for her grandparents. What she had in her heart was hate and only hate, the love she showed them all was false, well on a scale of one too ten her heart was one was her feelings of love and nine was her feelings of hate.
Hate consumed Yue Mian years ago after she lost her dog Gãowán and over the years it just continued to grow, but to say that she completely hated everyone is false too. She just loved them with two per cent of her heart.
The mistake her mother and grandmother made was when they told Yue Mian during her etiquette lessons what a woman was, and a woman blooming meant that she was ready to be wedded off.
With all this information and her ambition, Yue Mian made sure not to let anyone know that she has in fact been blooming for the last two years.
During her morning sessions with her uncle two years ago, she was practising he spear combat skills and misstepped and injured herself.
Her uncle let her go after treating her wound and told her to rest up. When she returned home, she felt uncomfortable and dirty and because she was feeling so, she decided to take a bath during the early morning.
Inside the washroom, she lit the oil lamp and took a bath in the bath barrel she relaxed and felt much better. After a while, she needed to urinate and was too lazy to move so she urinated in her bath water.
Any other person would find this disgusting, but who was Yue Mian? She watched as the water around her legs become light yellow in colour then turn too red!
She started panicking and thought something bad was happening to her. She stood up and checked her body, but found no wounds. She thought for a moment then tested it out again by urinating in the water and again there was red liquid flowing from her vagina.
Getting out of the water and drying her wet body, she couldn’t put her finger on it, but she felt that it meant something. After clearing out the bath water she finally got to the answer and grew angry at herself. Returning to her room she did not sleep in her bed and sat on the floor with black bed sheets under her.
When morning came she was up first and went to town with her mother to help out at her shop, later on, she strolled to a shop that sold woman supplies and bought sanitary napkins. These came in a little chest, for the royals and nobles packed full so that they wouldn’t have to wash it and just throw the used cloths away.
These sanitary napkins came in two types of material, cotton and silk. The royals and nobles preferred silk why the cotton napkin was affordable for the commoners. Yue Mian, on the other hand, did as the commoners did and bought a chest full for herself and used plant ash to clean the napkins.
How she kept this away from everyone is easy to explain. No one knows about the pond in the mountain cave because they were too busy with military affairs to worry about exploring lands.
She hid her chest of napkins away inside the cave and would clean them there too, but not contaminate the pond water with her red fluids.
This was troublesome but it was a must if she wanted to keep this a secret. Her family knew that she was going through certain things and did not want to suffocate her and repeat history by forcing her to do this and that and whenever she said that she was heading out back to the mountain they never forced her to stay.
With this also, Yue Mian never made daily trips even when it was her blooming period, she had back up stashed in the floor of her room under the shelf.
She bought the chest with the excuse of giving it to the poor which she did, spending all her allowance on ten chests. The shop owner did not mind since Yue Mian is one of the kindest nobles she knows and she is good friends with her mother.
When asked by her mother why she decided to help other women, she said, “Not everyone can afford these and we as nobles need to help them.” Agreeing with her answer Ni Xing helped her daughter out with buying more chests and handed them out together.
This wasn’t a part of Yue Mian’s plans because now, she had to do this monthly and communicating with others was something she is not fond of, but never-the-less, her secrets must be kept.
1. I refer to menstruation as Bloom.
2. Plant ash contains potassium carbonate, this helps with decontamination, it was used as a cleaning detergent in ancient times. - please correct me if I am wrong.