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“Crown Prince, are you awake?” Wu Wei asked quietly as she stood outside the bedroom. She knew that while the crown prince was resting, he absolutely could not be disturbed. In addition, over the past several days, Wu Wei had discovered one of the crown prince’s secrets – he had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.
Due to the other day’s display of intimidation, things were quiet in the residence. But hidden underneath the calm, it wasn’t at all peaceful.
Currently, there wasn’t a single person within the residence who dared to belittle the crown prince. Many people actually became fearful of him. But after serving him for the past few days, Wu Wei’s loyalty never wavered. If anything, she felt even more strongly that he was immeasurably profound.
“Mhm.” The crown prince’s lethargic voice emerged from inside the bedroom. The voice made people unconsciously admire it.
Wu Wei entered without any further ceremonies. The crown prince didn’t like people serving him closely, so she would only tidy up the sleeping quarters. Often times he would do it himself. It made Wu Wei feel warm at heart, especially since his position was so respectable.
Shang Wuxin had already washed and dressed and was watching Wu Wei come in, looking in her eyes. It was just a simple gaze, but it made Wu Wei a bit nervous. The crown prince’s eyes were too straightforward and sharp, as if they could see through anything. Wu Wei felt that she didn’t want to ever displease him.
“How’d it go?” Shang Wuxin asked coldly, but because of her indifferent tone it didn’t sound like a question.
“This servant has found many orphans, as well as soldiers with good aptitudes. I have sent them to the place that You have specified. They’re using the Crown Prince’s method to train, and the capable ones have received Your martial arts manual.” Wu Wei reported while kneeling on the ground.
Ever since the day she became the Crown Prince’s personal made, he had let her handle some matters, all of which were very important. She didn’t know whether the crown prince actually trusted her that much, or if he just couldn’t be bothered to do them himself. However, she did her best to accomplish her tasks perfectly.
Shang Wuxin wasn’t disappointed. From the very first time she had laid eyes on the woman who seemed similar to her previous subordinate, she had expected her to be very capable. Just like the former Wu Wei, this one was wise and astute, but until now, she was like a pearl gathering dust. But since Shang Wuxin had taken over, she would clean up that dust and let Wu Wei shine brightly.
“You know martial arts?” Though it was clearly a question, it sounded like a statement. Shang Wuxin seemed to ask at random.
Wu Wei heavily knocked her head on the soft white blanket, but the sound of a ‘bang’ could be heard from there nevertheless. She spoke in a bit of a panic, “This servant knows martial arts, asking the Crown Prince to punish!” She did indeed know martial arts, and furthermore, her skill wasn’t bad. Since the crown prince hadn’t asked, she hadn’t told him. Because the crown prince was usually so aloof, she felt that if she said it first, she would only end up bothering him. But now that he asked, it seemed as if she had been withholding the truth. She wasn’t afraid of getting punished, but she didn’t want to have to part from him. He was the master she had sworn her loyalty to.
“Get up,” Shang Wuxin said quietly. She wasn’t blaming Wu Wei. For her, it was a good thing that Wu Wei had experience in the martial arts. After all, she was her closest subordinate. If she were too weak, she wouldn’t be able to survive for long.
Wu Wei stood up, not daring to meet the crown prince’s eyes. A large bump had already swelled up on her forehead. Combined with the scar on her cheek, she looked even fiercer, but she was standing there like a child who had done something wrong. Looking at her, Shang Wuxin found the sight rather comical.
“Catch!” Shang Wuxin threw her a rare martial arts manual she had personally written down. She was the former master of the Shang family, which had kept numerous rare books on martial arts handed down through the ages. It could be said that her mind was currently filled with rare martial arts that didn’t even exist in this particular world. She also knew that Wu Wei hadn’t peeked into the manual she had given her a few days ago, and had faithfully delivered it to the recruited servants. She was certain that Wu Wei could be trusted.
Wu Wei caught the book at once, respectfully holding it with both hands. The scent of ink was still present on the book. She saw the bold handwriting inside. It was a masterful, flashy handwriting, yet the crown prince himself was as tranquil as water. No, perhaps even water wasn’t as tranquil as the crown prince.
“Crown Prince…” Wu Wei was awestruck when she looked inside the martial arts manual. Even at a glance she could tell it was extremely powerful and valuable. Why would the crown prince give such a book to her?
“Find the time to properly practice, you’re too weak.” Shang Wuxin stated the facts. Estimating that the manual might be too difficult for Wu Wei, she added, “If you can’t understand anything, go and ask Chief Hai. This Prince hopes to see some changes in you within three months.”
“Yes!” Wu Wei nodded, then went about tidying up the crown prince’s bedroom without a word while Shang Wuxin was sitting by the window and staring at the clouds in the sky. Wu Wei had noticed that the crown prince was normally quiet. So quiet it was scary. Sometimes he didn’t even resemble a living person.
Finished cleaning, Wu Wei lingered around wordlessly. She was well aware she had to leave to practice her martial arts as soon as possible, but looking at the crown prince sitting there by himself, she didn’t know why she couldn’t bear to take a single step. Even if she was just a servant, she still wished to keep him company. Her master was just too desolate.
“Crown Prince!” Chief Hai’s voice reached them from outside.
Shang Wuxin focused her eyes. Wu Wei knew what she had to do, saying towards the closed door, “The Crown Prince is awake. Chief Hai, please enter.” Though she hadn’t served the crown prince for long, she was very perceptive. During the past few days, she got to understand his disposition. She took care of the trivial tasks. Even though she was intelligent, she wasn’t pretentious.
Chief Hai entered the bedroom wearing his usual grey robe. For decades, he hadn’t once changed to a different style. No one except for Chief Hai had been allowed to enter the crown prince’s bedroom before. There were even spies sent by some factions to search the crown prince’s sleeping quarters, but they hadn’t been able to find out anything useful. If they had to say anything, it would be that the crown prince’s bedroom was somewhat nondescript. Over time, people lost their curiosity. Recently, one maid named Wu Wei had been allowed to enter his sleeping quarters, so everyone in the residence was fawning over her trying to gain her favor. But Wu Wei was unresponsive, she only waited upon the crown prince and took care of the tasks she was given.
As he entered, Chief Hai noticed the crown prince sitting by the window. If he wasn’t uncommonly familiar with the crown prince, he would’ve thought that was a different person entirely. He didn’t know what happened to him in the mountain forest that day, but he was certain it had been something major, enough to make the crown prince change completely. But to him, that kind of change was a very good thing.
“What is it?” Shang Wuxin asked impatiently.
Chief Hai organized his thoughts. The crown prince was no longer that little girl who would run and hide in her bedroom to cry, nor was she the little kid who used to complain to him. The current crown prince was already a proper prince. What Chief Hai had to do was to simply take care of the Crown Prince’s residence well.
“Crown Prince, the Emperor has summoned you!” Chief Hai said with a lowered head. He still felt somewhat anxious. Since the Empress’ death, the Emperor never showed an interest in the crown prince and even treated him with repugnance. Though it was a Crown Prince position, it didn’t hold any power. Previously, the crown prince had always gotten hurt because of the Emperor’s attitude. Would the current crown prince still get hurt as before?
Shang Wuxin glanced at Chief Hai as if she hadn’t heard anything, but they were certain of the contrary.
Some time later, she got up. “Wu Wei, accompany This Prince to the palace.” She had already speculated about that so called Father Emperor. In her memories, the Father Emperor could be considered thoroughly heartless and disgusted with the crown prince, often reprimanding him in front of the other princes. Yet Shang Wuxin felt like things weren’t so simple. She had wanted to go and take a look at him for a while now. If the emperor wasn’t a threat, she would ignore him. If he intended to block her way, she wouldn’t mind becoming a rebel to commit regicide.
Not saying a word, Wu Wei slightly brought her hair down to cover up the large bump on her forehead. She didn’t want people to think that the crown prince mistreated his servants.
“Crown Prince!” Chief Hai looked with some hesitation at the crown prince, who was preparing to depart. Shang Wuxin paused her steps and glanced back at him. Because she was aware of his loyalty and concern, she was more patient towards him.
“Wu Wei is but a servant girl. Letting her enter the palace, if His Majesty saw, he might get offended. Crown Prince, please reconsider!” Chief Hai worriedly proclaimed. Nowadays the crown prince had both courage and smarts. If the emperor decided to suppress him, the Crown Prince’s residence wouldn’t see any good days ahead.
“It’s fine.” Shang Wuxin considered this one sentence enough of a reassurance for Chief Hai. Then she led Wu Wei out of the residence and onto the carriage that would take them to the palace. Chief Hai kept standing at the gate, his heart full of worry. But he still fully believed in the crown prince.
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