“Maybe I should do the talking.” Zhu Junyang recalled that his cousin, the emperor, had once said that if one wanted to win a lady’s affections, the best one could do was to be sincere and honest with the other person and never hide anything from them, because women were very petty and they would remember it for the rest of their lives.
Although his condition seemed to have taken a turn for the better now, he was still unsure of how his illness would progress in the future. With Yu Xiaocao’s cleverness, she would sooner or later catch a hint about his condition after a period of interaction. Since he had already decided to marry her, he might as well make everything clear from the beginning. It would definitely be best if she could accept him, but if she really could not, then they would maintain as they currently were. At most, he would stay single for his entire life.
Princess Consort Jing could tell that he seemed to have made some sort of decision, and that surprised her. Her son had finally found a girl that he was willing to get close to, even if she was currently still young, but all they needed to do was wait for her to grow up—it might be several years, but they could afford the wait.
But it seemed that her son was about to tell Xiaocao the secret he had kept for nearly two decades! Who would be willing to spend the rest of their lives with a large firecracker that could explode at any moment? If, at any day, he went out of control, she could be risking her own life! Her son was too impulsive—this act was equivalent to pushing her away!
“Yang’er, you…are you sure?” Princess Consort Jing sounded slightly anxious, and her voice tinged with hesitation.
Zhu Junyang looked seriously at his mother and slowly nodded, “I’m sure, Lady Mother. I can’t hide this matter forever. Since I really intend to marry, I must show my sincerity. I trust Xiaocao—she’s not the same as the other girls in the capital.”
Yu Xiaocao watched them cluelessly. What kind of riddle were they talking about? It seemed like Royal Prince Yang was about to tell her something important—so important that even Princess Consort Jing took it very seriously. Er…could it be that Royal Prince Yang was not the biological son of Imperial Prince Jing? Or was it some other secret of the imperial family? Could she choose to not listen?
Princess Consort Jing worriedly glanced at Yu Xiaocao, then she sighed lightly, “I won’t say any more since you’ve already made your decision. Xiaocao, even if you can’t accept what Yang’er will tell you later, please don’t use it to hurt him. It’s been difficult for Yang’er all these years…As his mother, I beg of you, no matter what, help him keep his secret, alright?”
“Er… since this secret is so important, I think…it’s better if I don’t know about it…” Yu Xiaocao stuttered as she mumbled.
“No! You must know!” Zhu Junyang felt that if he did not pick up the courage to tell her today, he might never have the guts to tell her. He tugged Yu Xiaocao’s wrist and led her to the deepest part of the garden.
Yu Xiaocao tried to shake his grip off, but the young prince’s hand was like a big pair of pliers. His grip firm yet light, so she did not feel pain. She tried to forcefully pull herself free, but her strength compared to that of Royal Prince Yang, who was skilled in martial arts, was like an ant trying to shake a tree. With no other choice, she gave up her struggle.
“There’s no one here. You can say whatever you want to now!” Yu Xiaocao said in a somewhat sulky tone.
Zhu Junyang let go of her wrist, albeit a little unwilling to part with that delicate feeling in his palm. His lips thinned into a line as he structured his thoughts. He stared into Yu Xiaocao’s eyes, “I… When I was five, I fell into a pond and almost drowned…”
Yu Xiaocao’s eyes widened as many schemes from the plot of inner courtyard fight novels flashed through her mind. She blinked her clear, big eyes and carefully asked, “How did you fall in? And what about your servants? Did someone push you? What happened afterwards?”
Now that he had begun, Zhu Junyang felt that the following words were not so hard to say, “I was still young at that time. Moreover, I was frightened and I had fallen ill for some time afterwards, so I don’t remember what happened during that time. I only know that after that incident, my lord father punished a concubine that was quite favored at that time.”
“Your father must’ve found out that it was that wretch who wanted to harm you. That’s weird, you have two older brothers, so why did your father’s concubine target you instead?” According to inner courtyard fight plots, shouldn’t they first get rid of the heir who was going to inherit the princely title? There was no benefit to killing off the youngest son!
Zhu Junyang glared at her and said, “This prince was extremely charming when I was young, and Lord Father favored me very much! Every time he returned from court or after finishing his errands, he would first visit Lady Mother’s courtyard and play with me for a while. That wretch thought that Lady Mother used me as an excuse to persuade Lord Father to her courtyard…”
“Oh… But I thought your father was loyal to your mother? Why did he still bring these messy women into the inner courtyard? You men are always eyeing the pot even though you’re already eating from the bowl. You all want to be surrounded by women and enjoy the bliss of a harmonious harem!” Yu Xiaocao pursed her lips, making an expression that said ‘all men are like this’.
‘You’re just a little girl, how many men have you met? You say that as though you have a lot of experience!’ Zhu Junyang felt so stifled by her words he did not know how to continue. He tsked at her and asked, “Do you or do you not want to hear me continue?”
“Can I choose not to?” Yu Xiaocao’s expression was full of reluctance, “I mean, if you really have to tell it to someone, there’s definitely a group of outstanding girls that are lining up and willing to listen to you!”
“No! I only want to tell you and you alone! Others are not fit to know my secret!” Zhu Junyang scowled in annoyance. If it were anyone else, he would have had the servants take them away to be punished, but towards Yu Xiaocao, he had no way of doing it. It was like he was trying to catch a porcupine barehanded. He was filled with the feeling of helplessness.
Yu Xiaocao listlessly responded, “Alright, say whatever you wish, then. I’m listening!”
“You… What kind of reaction is that? Is it so hard to bear, listening to me speak?” A blazing fire raged in Zhu Junyang. He wanted to let it out, but he could not.
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him, her voice tinted with willful arrogance, “So are you going to tell me or not? If not, I’m leaving!”
Zhu Junyang took a deep breath. One of these days, he would definitely die of anger because of this infuriating little girl!
After he calmed down, he continued, “Since that time I almost drowned and fell seriously ill, I suddenly became able to sense certain people’s emotions, and I’m especially sensitive towards others’ ill intentions.”
Yu Xiaocao’s eyes bulged in shock, her gaze filled with a hint of excitement, "Wow! That means you obtained superpowers after overcoming a tragedy! And it's a perception-type superpower! So cool! This is very good ah!”
“Good? How is it good? The ill-intent of others will affect my emotions and make me lose all sense of rationality! For example, those people with ulterior motives that try to curry my favor have the lowest degree of ill-intent, and it’s still tolerable as I’ll only feel a little stifled in my heart. But if the other person has ill-intent but has yet to carry it out, it will make me want to rage. If the other party wants to harm me and the people around me, I will lose all rationality…” Zhu Junyang’s brows furrowed, as though he was reluctant to remember how he managed to endure through that period of time.
“Maybe you were too young at that time and afraid of the sudden change to your body, so your emotions were strongly influenced. If you were already an adult, you shouldn’t have such a big reaction to it. How badly has it progressed, your loss of all rationality?” Yu Xiaocao was affected by his emotions. She smothered that small excitement and started seriously helping him analyze the matter.
Zhu Junyang hesitated for a moment, glancing at Yu Xiaocao. Finally, he gritted his teeth and continued, “My first outburst was because of my lady mother’s personal maidservant. She was feeding my mother a type of slow-acting poison, and the aura of her malice was so strong it engulfed me and devoured my rationality. At that time, all I could see was black, and I seemed to have lost control of my body. Not only could I not see and hear anything, but I also didn’t know what was happening. When my lady mother’s anxious scream made me return to consciousness…”
He glanced at Yu Xiaocao again, not knowing if the following details would scare the little girl who was listening to his story seriously. He pondered for a moment, but since he had already started, what was the point in only telling half of the story?
He decided to continue, “When I came to my senses, that maidservant was already dead and lying by my feet. In my hand, I was holding the sharp dagger my lord father gave me on my fifth birthday. My mother’s personal maidservant...her head, her face, her body...had been stabbed until she was an unrecognizable lump of flesh and blood. Both of her legs were broken at the knees, her carotid artery had been cut open and her blood bathed the floor…”
Once he finished, he solemnly watched Yu Xiaocao. He expected to see fear, terror or loathing on her face, and he had also mentally prepared himself to receive her disgust.
Against his expectations, this twelve-year-old girl displayed only a face of complete seriousness as her brows pinched together in deep thought. At last, she met his gaze boldly and unafraid, and analyzed in all seriousness, “Young Royal Prince, I think you have a mental disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder. It can manifest as a desire to kill, to attempt suicide or in self-mutilation…”
Where had she heard this from? It was probably a preview from some informative talk show broadcast that she had seen before. It should sound convincingly professional, right?
“You’re...not afraid of me?” Zhu Junyang secretly breathed a sigh of relief. She was indeed different from others and worthy of being the person who caught his eye—deserving of him burning his own boats and telling her his secret.
Yu Xiaocao’s eyebrows furrowed together as she met his gaze and asked, “Will you hurt me?”
“Of course not!” If he had the choice, he would rather hurt himself than let her suffer even a little injury or grievance.
“So? What is there to be afraid of?” Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes in reply, and then her line of thought returned to his words, “What about afterwards? Has this kind of situation recurred?”
Zhu Junyang nodded, “Yes, a lot of times! I feel as though a demon lives in my heart. It’ll appear occasionally, take control of my will and body and make me do some brutal things. Honestly, some people might not have deserved to die, but I killed them when I lost all rationality…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter