The moment Liu Ziye threw himself at her, Chu Yu couldn’t help but exclaim to herself. It was here, finally, it was happening! But all she could do was stay put and stand still.
A pair of hands wrapped around her tightly. Chu Yu’s body was suddenly stiff, and a cold sweat broke out over her body.
Would he so directly try something?
Surprisingly enough, Liu Ziye didn’t do anything. He kept holding her in his arms quietly, his head buried near her shoulder, unmoving, as if he had fallen asleep.
Chu Yu’s heart beat quickly. She didn’t know what he was planning on doing, but didn’t dare to shift around. Like him, she waited quietly.
All the strange excuses and things she had come up with earlier were all now stuck in her throat.
She didn’t know how long it had been, but her body was beginning to feel numb. Only then did Liu Ziye speak. “Sis, have you not been visiting me because you don’t like me anymore?”
From what Chu Yu could tell, his tone didn’t seem accusatory or full of blame. She picked her words slowly, “Why would you think that? I’ve been ill for a while and have had to rest my body. I’ve only gotten better very recently.”
“What?” Liu Ziye released Chu Yu in shock, studying her face. It was a while before he spoke with melancholy, “Sis, your face is so pale. You need to eat more medicine.”
That was mostly because of how scared I was of you, Chu Yu wanted to say. Plus, keeping healthy had very little to do with how much medicine you took. But she didn’t blab on, letting Liu Ziye pull her to sit down at his desk. He called the eunuchs who had been guarding outside, ordering them to give her great quantities of valued medicine, silk, and jewelry.
Hearing all of this sent chills through Chu Yu’s body: was this brother always so generous with his sister? If that was the case, then how much would an official gift end up entailing?
After the eunuch left, Liu Ziye’s hand once again wrapped around Chu Yu’s waist. He pitched over on her kneeling legs.
Inwardly Chu Yu was grinding her teeth together, cursing out this little bastard. He sure knew how to lie!
But Liu Ziye’s motions didn’t betray ulterior intent. He lay there across Chu Yu’s legs quietly. With each breath, time passed, and the frustration and anger on his face faded away, eventually becoming a peaceful expression.
His face was slightly pale, with the look of someone who had relaxed after tension. He looked like a completely different person from just now; if someone had told Chu Yu that the young emperor on her lap had been switched out for a completely different person with the same face, she would believe it.
Liu Ziye sighed lightly. “Sis, you need to come and see me more often. When you’re not here I get so frustrated with everything. I always want to kill people.”
Chu Yu’s heart sank upon hearing this. What she had been thinking was much more than just delusion. This youth with such a peaceful look on his face was none other than that cruel, wicked little emperor.
Why was she even here if she knew that he wanted to kill people? Chu Yu asked herself. While from the outside they were the very definition of familial affection, the fear in Chu Yu’s heart was difficult to express in words. Who knows how many people this boy had killed? His tone seemed to imply that killing someone was barely more noteworthy than eating or drinking. If he got angry at her, would he sentence her to death on the spot as well?
She stayed calm on the outside, but was on high alert on the inside, trying not to speak in case she said something wrong.
After a while, Liu Ziye slowly spoke, “Hey, Sis, you smell different from usual. It’s kinda odd.”
At first she was caught off-guard. Then she remembered the pouch that Rong Zhi gave her before she left, and thoughts began to spin in her head. She said quietly, “Today before leaving I took a shower and switched to a new scent, so it’s different from usual.” The scent of the pouch was somewhat similar to that of her room when she first woke up there. She hadn’t sensed any slight differences, but Liu Ziye apparently had.
“Oh.” Liu Ziye seemed content not to ask any further. His eyes narrowed as he shifted around on Chu Yu’s legs, trying to find a more comfortable position to lie in. “You always smell so good. Every time my head hurts, I smell the scent on your body and I start feeling a lot better.”
Chu Yu nodded along. Staring down at the youth on her lap, she felt like she was looking at some kind of fearful creature.
The tyrant Liu Ziye from history, from legends, was resting on her lap right now like a kitten with its claws hidden.
The afternoon sunlight was warm and comforting on them. If something like this happened in a normal family, it wouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. But in the palace?
Chu Yu was very confused.
After a while of lying there, Liu Ziye flipped over, eyes narrowed. Grabbing Chu Yu’s sleeve, he asked in a whining voice, “Sis, press your fingers on my forehead. The past two years I keep having headaches. If you push down on it it’ll feel better.”
At first Chu Yu didn’t understand, but it didn’t take her long. She extended her fingers and pressed on his temples firmly and gently, beginning to massage him. At the same time, some of her doubts from just now began to become more clear. A shocking answer came to her heart.
When she finally bode Liu Ziye farewell and left the palace, it was already almost dusk. Chu Yu slowed down as she approached the entrance and took out the pouch that Rong Zhi had given her. Lifting it to her nose, she inhaled deeply. Lazy fumes entered her lungs, relaxing her whole body.
This pouch had a calming effect on the spirit.
Liu Ziye seemed to have some kind of hidden illness that gave him headaches and prompted him to have constant angry impulses to kill people. Perhaps it was some kind of intermittent mania. Princess Shanyin kept the incense burning in her room for months, years. As time went it, the scent suffused into her skin. Because it soothed Liu Ziye’s nerves, he came to the conclusion that he was extraordinarily comfortable whenever he was with his sister, and treated her quite well in all regards.
Since Chu Yu had become Princess Shanyin, however, she began to find the scent of incense suffocating and ordered it to be taken away. The scent on her body had faded as a result. If Rong Zhi hadn’t delivered this pouch today, she wouldn’t be able to soothe the young emperor’s nerves in the same way. Because it came from the pouch and was different from an aroma emanating from one’s skin, Liu Ziye sensed a slight difference.
Chu Yu thought back on each detail: if the scent was enough to soothe Liu Ziye’s emotions, why didn’t the princess tell him and give the incense to him directly? That way she wouldn’t have to enter the palace all the time…or perhaps she kept it a secret from him on purpose?
Did she keep the truth a secret on purpose? Or was it possible that Liu Ziye’s illness was caused by her in the first place?
Although it was almost summer and the weather was beginning to warm up, Chu Yu felt a cold sweat break out all over her skin.
Her hands and feet were cold, as if they had been soaked in ice water.