The Tale of a Pearl

Cunning creatures

Five moons had passed since Mei had last seen the master of the household. She had taken that time to familiarize herself with the estate and its servants. After a few days of extraneous work getting to know many of the people in the residence, she was now exhausted and had made up her mind to find a silent place where she could hide for most of her upcoming days.

Although she had found the beautiful courtyard she was living in very agreeable, it was anything but calm. The very nosy maids were all excessively excited to meet the new houseguest and kept interrogating her every day from dawn to dusk, she was only able to evade them at night.

To all their questions regarding how she had met their master and why she was currently staying in the princes residence, she could only reply that it was a secret that had to be kept only between her and the Crown Prince, which made the servants all the more interested and thrilled.

However, she had not foreseen the problems she would create for herself when she disclosed her identity as a mermaid. The female servants would pester her endlessly with their overwhelming curiosity, asking questions about everything and more.

She had become fatigued from all the commotion and decided to hide in the garden close to Zhen Fengs study. The servants all feared disrespecting their lords rules, so the only people that would sporadically be spotted in the garden were the servants responsible for upkeeping it, and they would keep the noise to a minimum.

When she had divulged her plan to Liu Ting the previous night, the maid had advised her otherwise, explaining that the Crown Prince had forbidden people from intruding into his personal quarters without his consent and that he had severely punished servants in the past just for being in the yard.

Disregarding her new friends advice, Mei had found herself a bottle of wine and was now walking into the beautiful garden. Arriving at her new hiding spot, Mei looked at the colorful scenery in wonder and immersed herself in its beauty.

She sniffed the lovely scent of the water, grass, leaves, and flowers in the garden and marveled at its picturesque view and its delightful quietness1.

She took a particular interest in a pinkish-red round-shaped fruit that was hanging from a small tree. Not recognizing the fruit, she thought she should give it a try. She bit into its hard smooth surface and took a small piece into her mouth. Immediately regretting it, she squinted her eyes and quickly spit out the unfamiliar piece of fruit, throwing the rest on the floor.

Mei decided to erase the memory of its flavor by taking a large gulp of wine and thankfully it worked. She now understood why they didn sell this fruit in the human markets she had visited.

Tired of looking around, she climbed up a tree with delicate blue flowers and laid down on one of its long branches. Sprawled in the thickest branch she found, Mei tried to think of nothing else and engulfed herself in the pleasures of drinking in such a beautiful spot.

She could only hear the wind and the sound of the fish swimming in the large pond. Slowly but surely she started to become drowsy and felt her face become hot as the tips of her nose and fingers turned numb.

Finally feeling at ease, she began chanting a beautiful melody that her mother used to sing to her a long, long time ago. The song didn have lyrics, it was just a melancholic tune. She sang it very quietly in order not to be noticed by the demon human residing in the nearby building.

As she was singing, she saw a small blue flower falling from the tree and attempted to reach for it, extending her hand towards it. A bit disoriented by the feeling unleashed from ingesting the alcoholic beverage, she lost her balance and fell from the branch.

A man who had been gazing at her with amusement caught her mid-fall. He had seen her sneakily entering the garden, charmingly exploring its corners, foolishly biting into a hawthorn berry, unrestrainedly drinking her wine, beautifully singing a sad melody, and now, inevitably falling from a tree.

Zhen Feng would usually punish or strongly disapprove of anyone invading his personal territory – as well as breaking the rules he had set – without permission, but this time he had found himself enjoying her presence, and, unknowingly, he had walked closer and closer to where she was.

When she fell, he instinctively caught her in his arms.

At the moment, he was looking into her dazed eyes, holding her whole body within his arms, close to his chest. Her face was unprecedentedly close to his and he could feel her drunken breath. Strangely enough, he didn find it repulsive but instead began to believe that she was transferring her inebriation to him.

Lin Mei had felt someone grabbing her, preventing a possibly painful fall. She looked up and as she saw the prince staring at her, she felt enchanted with his face. For the first time, she saw a hint of emotion in his previously dull eyes. She smiled at the charming young man, delighted with the feelings she was experiencing in her intoxicated state.

They looked into each others orbs for a long time, their hearts beating in synchrony.

1. Inspiration pictures for garden

Garden of Suzhou:

*these pictures serve only to help the readers visualize the world of the novel. The story is set in an entirely fictional world

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