Do you ever feel like you are lost in life, without knowing what to do with yourself? Or perhaps when you find yourself in a situation that is too complicated to handle, so you deal with it? What do you do when you get into a challenging situation? Do you live in it and go with it? Or do you at least get up and try to find possible solutions? One thing to keep in mind is: you should never be idle when you are going through something difficult.
I woke up to the sound of Hua Er’s footsteps. She looked at me and smiled, then setting food on the table for me.
“You’re up early,” I said groggily. “Thank you.”
“No worries,” she responded lightly. She looked too happy. “The Emperor wants to see you later, so please dress nice.”
“Where are you going?”
“Ah, my cousin wants to have a chat with me. You know, the Emperor had sent my mother many gifts.”
“Good to know.”
“Ying Yue,” she kneeled down to face me. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know that you’d be mad, you don’t have to please His Majesty if you don’t want to... I-”
I shifted my body to face her, still in bed. “Hua Er, I’m not mad about that. I’m mad that you didn’t tell me before.”
“I apologize deeply for the miscommunication.”
She was too kind for me to hold a grudge, besides, I promised Lei Shu to treat her well.
“I forgive you,” I mumbled while I sprawled my legs around and stretched, squeezing my buttcheeks in. “This feels so good.”
“I will see you soon then, I suppose?” Hua Er asked, giggling at my morning stretch.
“Yeah,” I gave her a sloppy smile. “Thank you for the food.”
The mirror placed on my small desk wasn’t as big as it was back home. It was a tiny little circular mirror, the back of the mirror had little designs on it. I assumed the material on the back of the mirror was bronze, and I was sure I was right because of the videos I watched a month ago. If I wasn’t stuck here, I would’ve actually enjoyed my time in Ancient China.
A small tear rolled down my cheek, right after I thought about the situation I’m in. I soon burst out in tears, gripping on the mirror with my right hand. I wanted to smash it into pieces and destroy everything in this room. All the heavy emotions that I still haven’t let out from last night, came out of me like a waterfall. I already knew my eyes were a bit swollen from yesterday, but it would be even worse after I finished with my useless crying.
Nevertheless, I will stay strong for my family and my friends back home.
Before I did my makeup, I slipped into a nicer attire, a pink and white hanfu with a blue sash. I hated it already. I wiped my tears aggressively, then looked at myself in the mirror again. I still looked good, I guess.
The makeup that the women have on was not my style of makeup, it was rather too “blushy” for me. The women here powdered their face, but I refuse to put anything on my skin without a primer. After filling my brows with the pigment given and putting a light blush on my cheeks and my eyes, I applied natural eyeliner using the pigment for my eyebrows. If I’m going to be here for a while, I’ll have to at least outshine the other concubines.
Watching beauty guru videos can be useful.
I was excited to try the lipstick paper, it was something I always wanted to make but I was too lazy to.
As I pressed my lips onto the paper, I heard the sound of light footsteps that were coming closer.
“Ying Yue,” the familiar and infamous voice spread around the room, causing me to cringe. “You look beautiful.”
The Emperor had a side view of me, but I took a glimpse of him from the mirror I held up in front of me. He really was attractive, but a little creepy with the remark. I stood up and put my head a little down while intertwining my hands to bow to him. “Greetings to Your Majesty.”
“Please don’t stand on ceremony,” he said, beaming for the first time. He held my wrists and gently separated my hands. “This is the first time I’ve seen you be polite.”
I almost got offended before I saw the light in his eyes and the way he chuckled after his cheeky remark. How did the Empress win him over? He wasn’t that uptight and bitter like the Empress, and I could tell he was friendly behind his whole tough act.
Because of that, I couldn’t help myself but grin at his joke. “I truly apologize for my behaviour yesterday, but that honestly doesn’t define who I am.”
“Nonsense, the Empress can be a little, how can I say... impolite,” he replied, the smile on his face was completely wiped off when he mentioned his annoying wife. “But I reassure you, she’s a kind-hearted, virtuous person.”
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself at his delusional opinion about her. The Emperor is whipped!
“Right, so is there a particular reason why Your Majesty is here?” I asked, scratching the back of my head.
Uh oh. I forgot to do my hair.
I guess he didn’t seem to notice as he wandered off in my chamber, pacing.
“I want to take you out for a walk,” he said, then turning around to face me. “Ying Yue, have you ever been to a garden before?”
Plenty of times actually, but in this case, I’d have to lie to him. Plus, walking around this place will give me a chance to find Lan Yun. “No, never, Your Majesty. I was always working on a farm, I never got the chance to see beautiful flowers.”
His face softened, and I could tell he pitied me. “I truly am glad you are here, you look like you belong here. A girl like you should never work at a farm.”
I forced myself to give him a smile. So if I was ugly, I should be working on a farm? Is that what he was implying? “What do you mean by that, Your Majesty?”
“My apologies if that was offensive, I meant that you are quite beautiful and very,” he complimented, but paused and tried to think of what he was trying to say next. He knows he shouldn’t wake up the beast within me. “Special. By special, I mean your personality of course. I’m fond of that.”
“Well it’s an honour to see the gardens with you, Your Majesty,” I walked towards him, combing through my hair. Not to mention, I am also glad that I haven’t cut my hair for years. “I may need someone to do my hair for me first.”
“Ah, your lady-in-waiting is reuniting with her cousin?” he asked me, deep in his thoughts.
I nodded. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”
“No worries, the Empress has plenty of time actually,” he gave me an innocent grin. “She loves doing hair, and you two also need to talk things out. Maybe it can solve the conflict between you ladies?”
This guy is nuts and oblivious. The only thing that this will create is a catfight, and me getting lashed twenty times.
I sighed. “If that is what you want, Your Majesty, then I will go talk to the Empress.”
“Great, I’ll let a guard escort you to her chamber. Usually, you’ll have a eunuch but for now, this won’t be the case.”
He, surprisingly, gracefully walked out of my room. I watched him walk out, feeling a little bit of emptiness.
Soon after, a knock interrupted my lonely thoughts, causing my head to immediately turn to the right of me. It was Lan Yun, it was definitely him... and he was beautiful. His skin was not as pale as the Emperor’s, which I admired about him. I do love a little bit of melanin in a man’s skin. His facial features were perfect, there were no flaws I could point out. The best part is that: he could relate to me, and understand the situation I was going through.
“Ying Yue, co-”
“Listen, I don’t know what the hell is going on,” I interrupted him, I tried to hide my excitement from him, but I knew I failed. “I was in a car accident in 2018, and now I’m here.”
“You too?” an obvious expression of relief was shown on his face while he let out a deep breath.
”Yeah, oh, my name is Carmen by the way.”
”Jaxon,” he responded, then turning around to make sure nobody was around. “Listen, I don’t know what’s going on either, but we’ll talk soon. Right now, you need to go to the Empress. Meet me at the bridge after the performance.”
“What performance are you even talking about?” I knitted my brows.
“Some get-together with the Emperor and some of his... concubines,” he cringed. “And why did you even come here? And be one of them?”
“I thought this was my only choice! And besides, you’re here!” I hissed, waving my hands everywhere.
He raised an eyebrow, smirking at me. “Oh, because I was here?”
“Yes,” I snapped back a little aggressively. We were both in a strange situation and he decided to flirt with me? “Now please, I don’t want to be late to get my hair done.”
I was so caught up in our conversation, that I almost forgot to talk to the Empress. I already know she’s starting a fuss about me to the Emperor.
“You ever find how weird it is that we already know the language?” he asked me while we walked to our destination.
“Yes, and how funny it is that our slang isn’t translated?” I said, giggling to myself.
I was so delighted to know that someone else was going through this with me. Although it may be a bit cringeworthy, I’m really glad I found Jaxon sooner than I thought I would find him.
”Hey, how did your hair get so long in such a short period of time?” I eyed Jaxon’s hair skeptically. It had to be extensions.
“I found some sort of material that kind of looked like hair, but it was white so I had to dye it in black ink,” Jaxon responded. “I tried to keep it as secretive as possible, so I tied it in a bun and put the headpiece on myself... I’ve been hiding it for a very long time.”
I couldn’t help but burst into laughter, the idea of him sneaking around to look for a material that looked like hair made me crack up. ”Oh my God! It had to be something from an animal! Or it could be silk!”
“Don’t say that so loud! I could get killed!” he scolded me but tried to hide the smile that played out on his face.
“I’m sorry!” I exclaimed, but I was still smirking to myself.
We paused. We were a few steps outside the Empress’s chamber. As we both looked at each other in the eyes, our smiles faded soon after. I’m sure both of us realised that our comic relief wouldn’t last that long, and I know it won’t help us get back home.
His eyes glistened, sparkling from the natural sunlight. I looked away because I could feel my face flush. I was hoping Jaxon couldn’t distinguish the difference between my authentic blush and my makeup blush. After he kept staring at my flustered face, I knew he could.
“Well, we’re here,” Jaxon broke our silence, then placed his hand on my shoulder. “Good luck, don’t let the Empress humiliate you.”
Laughing again, I looked down at my shoes. “Thank you.”
“You wore Gucci shoes the first time didn’t you?”
”Oh God, don’t even remind me, I was coming back from shopping.”
“Where’s it now?”
“I’m not telling you before you steal it and sell it when we go back.”
“Don’t you think this language sounds so strange?”
“Yes and Jaxon, you’re making me late.”
“O-Oh sorry, right, have fun.”
I walked into her palace with a smile on my face. Her chamber was bigger than mine, I have to admit, I was jealous. As I walked further down towards her, I kneeled down and bowed. “Happiness and peace to the Empress.”
A few girls, I was guessing to be the unappreciated concubines, was surrounding her. They didn’t speak much, but I heard a few whispers.
“She’s very beautiful,” one girl whispered softly, while the rest had joined in the chatter.
“Please get up,” The Empress looked at me and, for once, beamed at me. She calmly held my wrist and helped me up. “What brings you here?”
She doesn’t even know. I had to play my cards right. If I tell her that I’m walking through the gardens with her husband and I needed her to do my hair, she would be furious and beat me up in front of her minions. If I inform her that the Emperor wanted me to come with him and she was obligated to do my hair for me, I may avoid problems. I have never thought before I had spoken, so this was a first for me.
If I die in her chamber, it was the Emperor’s fault. How dare he leave me here without telling his wife about my visit?
I forced a smile, showing my pearly whites. “His Majesty wanted us to take a stroll into the gardens, so he wants you to do my hair for me. Also, I think this would be a good way to discuss the issues we have between each other and to leave that aside.”
Her hair is already very gorgeous...
She doesn’t even have to do her hair.
Her hair isn’t even perfectly straight. It’s kind of wavy and it’s definitely not my type.
Do you like girls now? Why are you judging her hair like that?
“That’s enough! Please don’t speak when I am talking to someone,” the Empress shrieked, waving away the girls. “Oh, Ying Yue, we just had a misunderstanding. I think our problems are resolved already.”
“Please forgive us, Your Majesty!” the girls kowtowed nervously.
The power the Empress has is quite shocking. I don’t even think she has respect in this Palace, I feel as if her power exists due to fear and the title.
“He wants me to do your hair, huh,” she uttered, then running her fingers through my hair. “That’s no problem, do you have any pins or jewellery to decorate your hair with?”
“No, he didn’t give me any.”
“Oh that’s terrible,” she mocked as she slanted her eyebrows upwards and frowned. “I won’t use my items on you because, well, you’re not worthy, dear. I will simply style your hair with it flowing down, wouldn’t you like that?”
I nodded, then scanning around the room. My eyes stopped at another pair of eyes. The girl looked at me with concern. She tried to mouth something to me, but I couldn’t make out the words she was trying to say.
The Empress did my hair silently.
After the Empress did my hair, she turned me around and looked me deep in the eyes. “What great beauty you have, Ying Yue.”
She leaned forward like she was about to kiss me. Her eyes were dark pools of hatred, narrowing ever so slightly to display her anger. I looked at her with a straight face, waiting for what she would do next. Her nostrils flared a little, and her grip on my wrist was a little too harsh. I could tell that there were suspense and tension in the room with all the girls who looked uneasy and anxious.
Before I could act, she forcefully pressed her hand above my chest and pushed me. I landed on my back with a thud.