Chapter 3: Can I Sleep With You (3)
Shu Nuan became immersed in her work instead of bothering anyone. But after about two hours, someone entered the embroidering room and asked for a slave by name.
Perhaps the shackles on Shu Nuan’s little hands and feet were too conspicuous, as all eyes immediately fell upon her. She stopped her work and stood up.
The man did not come towards her, but instead stood at the door and motioned with his eyes at the guards behind him. Then someone came and took her out.
Walking through the winding palace corridor, Shu Nuan wondered where she was being taken. In their path they walked over a stone bridge. There Shu Nuan saw a girl in pink sitting on a stone beside the pond the bridge stood over. She had by her side several maids, most of which handled the umbrella open above her, while one regularly handed her fish food. As the group passed by, they paid their respects.
“Your humble servants greet Princess Gu.”
Sheng Gu raised her head from by the lake and looked at the several people kneeling in front of her. She noticed the shackled girl who looked as young as her, and couldn’t help but ask, “What’s going on?”
Sheng Gu’s voice was frail lie a person who had been sick for a long time. Her pale face complemented the weak voice.
The leader of the group replied, “We were ordered to bring this slave, and on the way interrupted your esteemed self. Please forgive us.”
Sheng Gu simply said a gentle word in response, dismissing them, “Alright.”
As Shu Nuan was being led away by the guards, she overheard the little princess whisper to a servant, “When will Fourth Uncle be back?”
When they reached their destination, the palace, Shu Nuan heard multiple miserable shouts filled with pain. Her reason for being brought here dawned upon her.
It was procedure for all slaves to be branded with a hot piece of iron.
As she entered the building, she saw a woman whose face was covered with blood, being dragged out as she cried. The sight caused Shu Nuan to start shaking.
As she had to wait for a while, she saw the scene repeated multiple times…
At last, her turn came.
Shu Nuan was pushed towards her fate by a guard.
Frightening shadows born of a raging fire crawled upon the walls of the dark room.
An old woman stood among the shadows, in her hand iron tongs grabbed a glowing hot, circular “slave” brand. Shu Nuan lied down upon the nearby bloody stone bed.
The old woman came over and looked at Shu Nuan lying motionless on the stone bed. Her gaze moved towards the tear mole under the corner of the little girl’s eye, which caused her eyes to narrow a little. She held Shu Nuan’s face by the chin, and looked at it more carefully.
“Such a pretty girl. Whose slave are you?”
Shu Nuan stared at the fearful brand, which glowed with short flames, and whispered, “His Highness, the Prince…”
The old woman did not seem surprised by her answer. Instead, she smiled and said, “It is not good to ruin such a beautiful face by marking it. It’ll be your collarbone instead.”
Shu Nuan did not have the option to refuse. With her eyes wide open, she suffered as the pain imprinted itself on her skin. She bit her lips to keep herself lucid, as the brand burned and pricked her skin. Too unbearable!
Regardless of the fate her defeated country had forced upon her, she was still only a little girl. At just 16 years old, her skin was much younger than the other slaves. She suffered immense pain during the branding process, and her neck turned a dark shade of red: swollen and bleeding profusely. The pain caused her to sweat and for tears to flow uncontrollably.
After what seemed like ages, the old woman removed the brand from her skin. She quickly wiped the blood off Shu Nuan’s body and applied some medicine to the wound. Smiling, she said, “Little girl, enduring hardships is something you can not avoid as a human being.”
When Shu Nuan returned to her room, she still felt the burning pain on her neck. Her petite frame lay on the bed, covered with cold sweat as she tried not to pass out from the pain.
And then, after nearly half a month of work and recovery, Shu Nuan’s neck finally got rid of the swelling.