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91 A Fairy Tale Named The Little Prince

Chapter 91: A Fairy Tale Named The Little Prince
Translator: Transn Editor: Transn

Thinking about the things that he could not fully understand through his intelligence or experiences, Ning Que slowly closed his eyes in the sun. He began to reconstruct Zhuo Er's intensely black face in his chaotic mind to strengthen his confidence in sorting out his own random and frustrated mind. The bright spring sunlight that was shining on the rock formations in the vestibule of the princess's palace, on the bamboo chair, and on his body, was neither too bright nor too warm. It gradually removed the spring chill that had accumulated in the old library.

"Are you basking in the sun? But... my mom won't let me do that."

A crisp voice was gently heard from behind his chair. Ning Que opened his eyes to look back and saw a little boy's face popping out from the rock formations. There were two blushes that were red as an apple on his slightly black and healthy face, on which his long eyelashes were really beautiful and his expression seemed a bit timid.

Ning Que looked at this little black face, somehow remembering Zhuo Er, and a kind of bitterness surged in his heart. He stood up from the chair to bow slightly toward the little boy, whom he had not seen for a while, and said, "Hello, Little Prince."

The timid little boy was Xiaoman, the stepchild that Princess Lee Yu had brought back with her from the grassland. Ning Que had a lot of contact with the little boy along the way from the City of Wei to Chang'an, especially after the bloody battle on Northern Mountain Road.

"Why doesn't Her Highness let you, my Little Prince, stay in the sun?" he asked with a smile.

"Mother said it would be easy to get tan." Xiaoman looked at Ning Que seriously and explained, "I'm the son of my mother, the grandson recognized by His Majesty, and the proudest noble of the Tang Empire. Therefore, I can be black, but not too black."

Ning Que could not help scratching his head upon hearing the little boy's answer. He could imagine the difficulty that the boy from the grasslands had in adapting after coming to the rich and prosperous city of Chang'an, but he never thought that Her Highness' education and care for the little boy was so rigorous. He smiled and explained, "It isn't too bad to bask in the sun occasionally."

The little boy looked around the quiet vestibule and found that the instructor palace nannies and imperial maids did not know that he had snuck in here. Then, his face lit up with pleasure, and he jumped over to the bamboo chair to tug on the sleeves of Ning Que. He gave Ning Que a certain wistful glance, raising his little face, and asked, "Can you tell me a story?"

Ning Que was shocked and did not expect that the little boy still recognized him and even remembered those fairy tales by the bonfire. Looking at his anxious eyes and the quiet vestibule, thinking that he had nothing else to do except for basking in the sun, he sat back against the bamboo chair and beckoned the little boy to sit beside him, and said, "I can't tell stories. Those that I told last time should be called fairy tales."


Xiaoman curiously asked, "What's the difference between a fairy tale and a story?"

"A story is very complicated, while a fairy tale is very simple and happy," replied Ning Que.

"I want to listen to fairy tales," Xiaoman said while he laughed happily.

Ning Que thought of the past images and could not help smiling. He said, "That's precisely what I am good at."

Xiaoman moved closer, and concentrated on listening.

Ning Que thought for a second, and said to him, "You are the Little Prince from the grassland. So, I will tell you a fairy tale about a Little Prince, okay?"

Xiaoman said cheerfully, "Well, okay."

Ning Que lay on the bamboo chair, watching the sky. "There are pythons in the forest, whose heads are really big. They swallow their prey directly into their stomachs without chewing after they hunt, and will sleep for six full months to digest the food in their stomachs."

Xiaoman opened his big eyes, and said in fright, "It's so terrible. Didn't you say that all fairy tales are happy?"

Ning Que gave him a stare, thinking the little boy did not behave as well as Sangsang had back then, and said, "Don't worry, it's just the beginning... When I heard this tale, I was more interested in the things in the forest, so I drew a picture according to my own imagination. In the picture was a big python swallowing a big beast. I took this picture to other adults and asked if they were afraid. They all said, 'Why should a hat scare you?'"

"I understand. You drew the python as the edge of the hat and the big beast as the center. Wasn't your picture good?" Xiaoman was excited, clapping his hands.

"I didn't draw a hat, but a python swallowing a beast. Those adults didn't understand just like you don't. I had just simply drawn the stomach of the python." Ning Que was speechless for a moment but continued.

Xiaoman looked at him puzzled, and asked, "Isn't the fairy tale about the Little Prince? Where is the Little Prince?"

"Coming out soon," Ning Que explained, "He will come out in a minute."

...

...

Not too long after, those palace instructor nannies and imperial maids finally arrived at the vestibule here while the princess had just ended reminiscing with Sangsang. Ning Que took the handmaiden's hand, fleeing away at the fastest speed under suspicious and disgruntled eyes, to finish their visit in the princess's palace.

Walking in the quiet street of Southern City, Sangsang was slapped constantly on the thigh by the big black umbrella that was tightly wrapped with a coarse cloth. The master and the maid walked silently along the way, and Sangsang suddenly said mindlessly, "The princess is a good person."

Ning Que looked up at the sky, which was separated by the plain trees above the street, and seeing the gloomy clouds, he said, "It's going to rain."

This was what people would call a conversation with no heads or tails. Sangsang wanted to say something, while Ning Que did not. Therefore, as the former blurted out a sentence with no head or tail, the latter looked up the sky to say that rain would be falling.

"Young master, why don't you like her?" Sangsang stopped and looked up at him.

Ning Que thought that it was necessary to let the little handmaiden know his honest thoughts. He hesitated for a moment and said, "I don't think she's a good person in the traditional sense, though she is really good to you."

Sangsang did not know why he was being so stubborn on this issue, and she asked seriously, "If Her Highness isn't a nice person, then why did she go to the grassland and why is she so good to Xiaoman?"

Ning Que looked at her quietly and suddenly said, "If she is a good person, then why did she go to the grassland and why is she so good to Xiaoman? I don't think all the stepmothers in the world are bad people, but I have also never seen a stepmother who regards Xiaoman's life to be more important than her own."

Asking the same question, Sangsang seemed to prove that Her Highness was a good person, while Ning Que used it to prove the opposite. She was wondering what he wanted to say, looking at him in confusion.

At the moment, a light rain began to drift from the sky over the city of Chang'an in the late spring. Ning Que took the big black umbrella from her back and opened it. Continuing moving forward, he then said, "When things are abnormal, they're often evil. His Highness' stepmother is so young, is her maternal nature suddenly flourishing? It seems that it's too soon for that. I think this is empathy. She was transferring her love for Chanyu to the boy... In this case, how sorry she feels for Chanyu, who rests in the grassland.

"Only military forces in borders like ours know what a great master Chanyu was. So, how was such a superior man murdered and usurped unexpectedly by his idiot younger brother?"

"Young master, what on earth do you want to say?"

"What I want to say is that Her Highness will feel regret all of her life because Chanyu was the one who really loved her, the only one who dared to love her sincerely."

"I don't understand."

"Nevermind."

Sangsang kept silent for a long time, and suddenly spoke, "Do you think the princess is the one who killed Chanyu?"

"It seems that your general foolishness in life is an excuse for laziness," Ning Que answered indirectly.

Sangsang lowered her head, walking under the black umbrella with her little fist slightly clenching, and asked, "What's the evidence?"

"There are lots of things in this world that don't need evidence."

Ning Que watched the light drizzle outside the umbrella, and said, "She could not only resolve the attacks from some villains in the Empire but also gain the mercy from His Majesty by showing weakness in the battle with Her Majesty. What's more, she could win the respect of the citizens of the Tang Empire and even develop her own strengths in the grassland. Yet, it was impossible for her to stay in the grassland forever, since His Majesty is getting older and the person succeeding the throne needs to be confirmed as soon as possible. There's only one way to come back as a woman deeply loved by Chanyu."

Sangsang whispered, lowering her head, "But Her Highness was only 12 or 13 years old when she decided to leave for the grassland."

"I'd already begun to kill people in the Horse Gang at the age of 12 or 13. A person's ability is not necessarily proportional to his age." Ning Que held the big black umbrella and gradually sped up, and then said, shaking his head, "What I said is only a reason why Her Highness might do that and get benefits. But in my opinion, the best proof of the matter is the words that I said earlier.

"We all know how great Chanyu was, though he died young. Such a great man is hard to kill... unless the murderer is the one whom he trusted the most."

Sangsang bowed her head with her lips curled, and then softly muttered, "Anyway, this is just your guess, young master."

"I, too, wish that the speculation is wrong and that this world is full of fairy tales in which the prince and the princess finally live happily ever after. But you see... the prince in the grassland died, and the princess came back home," replied Ning Que.

Sangsang looked up and a drop of rain fell off from her dark black cheeks. She looked at him angrily and asked, "Young master, why is the world so dark in your eyes?"

Ning Que stopped and watched her wordlessly. A good while later he said in a cold voice, "Because the world that I've seen is so dark since the time that I survived and picked you up from the dead bodies by the roadside."

With these words, he also felt that he was not on his best behavior. He walked angrily toward the street. He was wondering if the shadow cast on his spirit by the old library of the Academy or the impending murder had made the rain outside the big black umbrella seem not that fresh, but a bit dull.

Sangsang stood in the rain watching his back, and suddenly hurried to catch up to him with the big black umbrella. She then reached her hand to grab his sleeve hanging down from his right hand, and never let it go.

Under the big black umbrella, a conversation was heard between the master and the maid from time to time.

"I thought you might call Her Highness an idiot."

"You should feel all kinds of things except for emotion, since in the end, it will hurt others and yourself. In this case, she really is an idiot."

"Then why didn't you curse her like that before?"

"In the future, I will use these curse words even less, because one who lets idiots work them up emotionally... is really a poor man."