Author's note: I'm so sorry for the lame update, readers. I believe you've been waiting too long, hehehe. Well, I do expect the next update won't take long time. Thanks for your great feedbacks last time; I really love them with my heart. Hope you can enjoy reading this part like I always do. ^^
When Love is not enough
Chapter 2 Entering the Royal Castle
The main house garden, which was surrounded by big trees and flowers, seemed to be glowing under the moon. Xiaoyu walked sadly, passing the bridge. It was the day after her grandfather told her to be the emperor's concubine. Deep in her heart she knew all of those aristocratic marriages were just for political reasons. Xiaoyu realized that her parents' marriage had been one of political marriages, but they had managed to fall in love with each other until they died. It was quite rare, she noticed grimly. Most of the political marriages always led miserable paths, unhappy companions, and tragic endings. How sad, how pathetic… and now I'm becoming one of them….
She had hoped to find her soulmate in different ways. She might meet him during her journey, a pleasant and brave samurai who had gentle heart. They could fall in love when they help the weaklings together in remote village. Moreover, her soulmate could be a nice sailor too since she always liked sailing and the sea itself. They might sail and fish, spending time until sunset come. Her soulmate could be healer, farmer, magician, traveler, or anyone. Right, he could be anyone but aristocrat like her.
She had only heard few things about her future husband, the emperor. Though, most of them were bad indeed. He was a ruthless person who exiled his own grandfather and father, trying to kill them several times before he had taken over the throne. He had his own assassin squads who were sent to slain his political enemies, which were many. The worst of him was his current decision had made many poor suffered and merchants lost their chances. The cold emperor had allowed his armies to settle at the countryside borders, preparing the wars he had declared before. Even though Mishima Dynasty was the most powerful and richest kingdom on earth at that time, but the thirst for domination and abolition were still there, rotting and corrupting in each soul of politician, soldier, and landlord in Mishima, including her own grandfather.
There were many things she wanted to do. She still had so many desires, things she would have never completed if she had entered the royal castle as emperor's concubine. In the royal castle, she would only become a living doll for her grandfather, the symbol of her grandfather and the emperor's agreement. She would be a political item, nothing less.
Xiaoyu could feel her body shivered under the cold wind in the night, but she completely ignored it. She needed to think over everything, accepting her grandfather decision or running away once again. Running away…. Can I do that? No, No…. Grandfather told me the agreement has been made. There is no way back. Can I possible run while my clan's life is at stake?
Xiaoyu gulped nervously. She bit her lips. She realized that running away was a wrong decision. Her grandfather and her whole clan could be killed for betraying the emperor. Kami-sama, life couldn't be more difficult….
"Xiaoyu-hime?" her governess called her from the end of the road, didn't dare to pass the main house area. "May I speak something to you?"
Xiaoyu nodded lightly, and then walked fast toward Miharu. Her face was bright red when Miharu saw her. She made Miharu's heart ache. How long has she stayed in that cold weather? Oh, my poor child….
"Please follow me to my room, Xiaoyu-hime. At least I could make a warm cup of tea for you."
"Yes, that would be lovely," Xiaoyu answered, placing her hands under her kimono.
Miharu's room was located in the second house, near the big lake. It was a quiet and solemn place. The sound of splashing water and rustling bamboo always made Xiaoyu happy. She always spent her times in Miharu's room long time ago. Everything was still in the same place, she acknowledged it. Miharu came with two cups of jasmine tea, smiling. It smelled different from the tea they used to drink, but it was still delicious. Xiaoyu sipped a little, tasting the freshness and sweetness from the tea.
"Do you like it?"
"Of course Miharu-san, I always enjoy drinking your tea."
"That's good. Panda-san gave this tea and asked me to share it. Hope it could make you feel better."
Xiaoyu looked at her governess' eyes, realizing the news had spread fast. Perhaps the news had been spreading before she had come, since almost all of the workers and families had those pity glances at her. She whispered sadly, "have you heard what my grandfather has asked me to?"
Miharu gave a bitter smile, "For your information, Xiaoyu-hime, I have seen all of the presents and jewels that have been sent for your marriage."
"Absolutely my dear, the castle has sent three chests of jewels, twenty packs of silk, four chests of pure gold and many more. I couldn't say those are enough as your wedding gifts, but remember, the best of all is you have the emperor as your husband."
Xiaoyu sipped her tea, her eyes became teary. Tears started falling from her face. "I can't believe this…. Miharu-san, you agreed with grandfather's decision…."
"Child, please listen…."
"You agreed…." Xiaoyu cried. Her face was turning red once more for different reason. She couldn't believe Miharu was in her grandfather's side. Miharu betrayed her. Her voice was hoarse when she continued, "you are cruel, I don't…."
"Xiaoyu-hime, do you remember the villagers from Kyoshin Village?"
"Kyoshin village is the last village of our journey, Xiaoyu-hime. They suffered big losses from wars. They lost their families; they lost their young sons, their farms. However, they still don't want to leave their village. Those innocents yet headstrong villagers have suffered long enough, haven't they?"
"If you were samurai, you could stop their suffering for while, but you couldn't stop their suffering forever…. Our people need someone who cares our suffering, understanding the pain, even little child's pain in the corner of the kingdom…."
"Miharu-san, are you telling me that…."
"Our journey is made for opening your eyes, getting with the poor and weak. Not everyone could get that chance, Xiaoyu-hime."
"Means you want me to enter the castle and help the poor? How could I…."
"You will be the emperor's concubine, the wife of the best man in this country. All you could do is giving him advices, supporting him to be better leader of his own kingdom, stopping the wars…."
Xiaoyu couldn't hold her tears any longer. She cried in Miharu's lap. "You're right, Miharu-san. You're right…. But I still feel this frustrated and I couldn't help myself crying…."
Miharu tapped Xiaoyu's head gently, mumbling softly, "even if you hated it, child, I believe it's part of your destiny."
Xiaoyu was already inside the royal castle even before she realized it. The world seemed spinning faster in her eyes. The royal carriage, crying Miharu and poorly sad Panda-chan were like endless shadows to her. She hardly remembered everything.
Where is she? What is she doing here? Who are those people? What are they doing to me?
All seemed strange.
"Are you ready for the next step, Xiaoyu-hime?" she heard someone called her, so she nodded with no hesitation. Becoming the emperor's concubine was rather hard fact to accept. She sighed many times.
"You look really pretty, Xiaoyu-hime. Your ivory skin suits this kimono so much."
"Try this pink blush on her. She looks too pale."
There she was, in front of a huge mirror. Her reflection revealed someone she couldn't recognize. The face was pretty, yet solemn. Her hair was beautifully arranged with the latest style. The kimono was pale white and pink.
It was herself in her wedding kimono.
"What are you doing here? What are these things?" Xiaoyu asked nervously to the group of women around her. "Could all of you leave me alone?"
"Xiaoyu-hime, we're your private maids. Your wedding will be celebrated in the next two days, the empress told us to prepare everything for you."
"Please leave me alone, I need some rest," Xiaoyu pressed her voice. Xiaoyu hurriedly washed her face from the thick make up and slowly opened her hairpins one by one. One of the maids stepped forward and smiled. Xiaoyu felt a little bit weird feeling. The woman looked similar with Miharu, but obviously, she wasn't Miharu anyway. Perhaps she just built that imagination for she missed Miharu so dearly.
"Xiaoyu-hime, I think you need some fresh air…."
Xiaoyu raised one of her brows. She definitely wanted to troll down, walking and enjoying the beauty of nature like she always did. She asked curiously, "You're right. I want to find a place where I could enjoy picking ripe fruits and flowers. Can you lead me to that place?"
The rest of the maids said nothing. They looked confused, staring at each other with uncertain expression on their faces. Most of the princesses or princes never wanted to find anything with their own hands. They were too busy doing their things. However, that lovely young woman was different, just like the previous empress long time ago.
"Of course, you will like the place…."
The fresh scent of the blooming flowers and fruits, dark shadows of big trees, and cool breeze were hardly found in the royal castle. However, the maid was able to lead Xiaoyu to that wonderful place. There were so many fruit trees and green bushes in front of her. Small river was located not too far from her feet. That was wonderful. That was amazing.
Xiaoyu couldn't believe she was in the middle of those lovely sights. Her cherry face was enough to reflect her happiness. She wanted to spend her days there, lying and enjoying the sun. She was so thankful she could find such place in the first place.
"Just leave me here; I'll be back in my place later."
"Are you sure, Xiaoyu-hime? It's my responsibility to guard and…."
Xiaoyu cut in, "worries not, I remember my place. It's easy to remember. Besides, I want to enjoy this place alone."
"But my lady…."
"Listen, I want to be alone."
The maid finally gave up, answering, "whatever you wish my lady. However, please, try your best not to meet anyone."
"We don't want anyone spoil the beauty, right, Xiaoyu-hime?" The maid smiled, "promise me you would try your best to avoid meeting anyone."
Xiaoyu acknowledged that place might have been a secret place, so she nodded. She replied the smile and spoke gently, "of course."
The young woman kept on walking inside the small forest, picking some ripe apples. Miharu had told her that apples were good for relaxing effect. With all of the tense and the pressure around her, she really needed some. She instantly opened her first kimono layer and climbed the tree, taking the biggest apples from the tree. Miharu would kill her for what she had done, she noticed. I will wear it once I land on the ground, Miharu, she told to herself. Besides, I'm all alone in here.
The first apple she took was so red and looked juicy. Xiaoyu spent no time to bite and enjoy it. It was sweet and tasty, she acknowledged. The freshness and watery apple made her hungry. She took another bite and quickly finished eating it. It had been a long time since she had enjoyed that kind of apple. She wished she could share some with Miharu. Miharu always loved apples. Perhaps she could bring Miharu some apples later.
Xiaoyu really had good time in the garden and didn't realize hours had passed since her arrival. She decided to return to her room for she didn't want to make her personal maids worry. She giggled, climbing the apple tree once more. Hey, it would be better if I take some apples with me! My pick is surely better than those castle cooks!
In her way back, she passed a lonesome man inside a ruined temple. She weren't sure whether she had passed the temple before, but it did look familiar with her. She stopped for a while. Something rose in her when she saw that man. Despite his awesome look and godlike appearance, he looked so sad and frustrated. His hazel eyes seemed gloomy, filled with problems.
What's wrong with him? What is he thinking about?
The man sighed heavily, closing his eyes. There was no way Xiaoyu could ignore his condition. Her instinct told her to help him. Wait, the maid had told her….
Come on, she wouldn't ruin anything by giving a small talk to that man. Besides, he was so hopeless. What that hopeless man could do? Xiaoyu couldn't care less. She walked closer, crossing the path and bushes between them.
"Are you all right? Hold on…." Xiaoyu put her apples down, placing them on the ground. She moved, holding the man's face. He looked so surprised with her coming. His dark hazel eyes sparkled when Xiaoyu checked his eyes and his pulse. He barely said anything and let her touched him that way.
"You're definitely stressed, aren't you?"
The man opened his mouth, raising his thick eyebrows. "You…."
"In that case you'd better take some apples with you. Listen, apples are good for your health. You can eat them and leave some in your room, just put them on the table. The scent will comfort you, trust me."
Xiaoyu gave five apples to his hands, smiling. "Right, do what I say and you'll see the differences."
The man looked confused, yet he held his tongue. Xiaoyu cheered him, "today is so beautiful, stop looking all depressed! Look, there are so many beauty things here, huh? You'd better take a walk later on."
"See you around…."
There, she left after giving him apples and positive insights.
Jin Kazama looked at the red apples in his hands. He smirked sardonically and threw those apples to the ground, stomping and crushing them with anger reflected in his dark eyes. That day was the day when his mother vanished, leaving him. Jin always spent his time in the ruined temple, her mother's favorite place.
The red apples were all crushed. What the hell….What was she giving me….
Her mother used to give him red apples too. Both of them usually ate apples together, laughing. His mother face popped in his mind. His mother. She had left him.
Those memories made his heart ache. Jin couldn't bear it longer.
Jin quickly ran, following that young woman. She couldn't be far away, could she? Who was she? How dared she behave like that in front of him, giving him advices…. He needed no advices from anyone. He needed no one cared about his life. That woman deserved punishment. Hell, he would give her the worst punishment ever.
Where could she go?
Jin found himself in front of Northern Palace, the palace of maids and governesses. The maids there were shocked to meet their emperor. Their faces were all pale.
Jin raised his brows higher. He didn't want anyone interrupted his willing. He gave his command, "leave this palace or locking your door safely. Hear nothing or receive your compensation."
"Your wish is my command, Your Highness."
The maids hurriedly locked their door, afraid of disturbing their Emperor's will. Jin was quite sure he had found the right room. That young woman had to be one of his maids, what a nice surprise. He would teach her lesson for messing with the emperor.
The emperor slowly opened the door, staring at the long-haired young woman who was cutting her apples. Her face was his type, innocent and pure. Her body was desirable too, slender yet curvy. His heart beat faster.
Jin tilted his head, knocking her door.
"Well, well, look who is here, I happily accepted your apples," he said with his deep cold voice. Xiaoyu almost jumped when she looked at the man she had met before. That man looked at her with that kind of eyes, hungry for her. Xiaoyu could feel her breathing become rapid, pressing her chest.
He had followed her then, she acknowledged. What this man wants? Why he looks so horrible? Are my feet shaking? Oh, Kami-sama….
"What are you doing here? You're not allowed to enter my room!" Xiaoyu stepped back, swaying her knife. She obviously didn't want an intruder in her room. She had to get rid of that man soon. Where were her maids? They should have guarded her. Why he could enter her chamber anyway?
"Funny, I like the way you look at me."
"I can hurt you… step back!" Xiaoyu shrieked, holding her knife closer with her hands. What is this man wants?
"My, you're making me afraid…." Jin kept on moving forward. Xiaoyu had no option but attacked him with the knife. "You give me no choice…."
"I like your courage, woman…."
"STEP BACK! DON'T YOU DARE!"
She didn't want to hurt him, just wanted to make him terrified. Yet he wasn't ordinary man, he was able to counter her attacks and took the knife with him. Slowly, he whispered in her ears, "your life shall be mine, why don't we be friend first?"
"What are you talking about? Release me you—"
Jin sealed her mouth with passionate kiss, taking her into the bed. Xiaoyu was so anxious and scared, she hardly moved her body. The evil man smirked at her, showing his devilish grin, "you have to pay what you have stolen from me, woman."
Hope you enjoy reading this! See you in the next chapter!