The Princess’ Shadow Guard – Chapter 76

Senior Sister Chapter 6

The moon tonight is so beautiful

The autumn night breeze is cool, but Song Shuqing carefully covers the woman in her arms with a large cloak, shielding her from the cold wind as they leap with the moonlight.

Zi Yan experienced for the first time the feeling of walking on the wind atop the roof, but the unfamiliar weightlessness and the distance from the ground made her, who was usually composed, tightly cling to the neck of the shadow guard.

“Feeling nervous?” looking at the woman in her arms, Song Shuqing spoke reassuringly, “Although my Qinggong is not as good as Qinqin’s, with you being so light, I won’t let you fall.”

“It’s… too high…” Zi Yan dared not open her eyes, only burying her face deeply in Song Shuqing’s neck, a rare sight that made the shadow guard quietly chuckle.

“So in your eyes, I’m so unreliable, making you scared like this. Looks like I need to reflect on myself, otherwise I’ll truly become a disgrace of a shadow guard.” Song Shuqing’s voice sounded aggrieved, disregarding the playful tone in her eyes, as if genuinely feeling hurt.

“It’s not like that…” Zi Yan, with her eyes tightly shut, hurriedly explained, “It’s not about being unreliable, it’s just really too high…”

Pausing their constant movement, Song Shuqing assured, “Well, I promise you, I won’t let you get hurt.” Her grip around the woman’s waist tightened, her voice more solemn than before, “I will hold you securely, would you like to try opening your eyes?”

“Of course, I won’t force you…”

Adjusting their wind-ruffled hair, Song Shuqing’s cheek touched the cool forehead of the courtesan, “The choice is yours.”

Perhaps, it was the gentle tone of the person beside her that was truly so soothing.

Or perhaps, it was the hands tightly wrapped around her waist that were too warm.

Zi Yan, who was afraid of heights, felt her eyelashes tremble lightly.

Surprisingly, she slowly opened her eyes.

Before her eyes were the buildings within the city walls, intertwining at varying heights. The glow of oil lamps seeped through the windows, creating a sparkling scene that harmonized with the stars hanging in the cloudless night sky.

The woman blinked gently, stunned by the picturesque sight before her.

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The white light of the bright moon sprinkled down, as if dusting each tile with a layer of silver powder.

Song Shuqing stood with Zi Yan on the roof of a moderately high restaurant, allowing the city wall to draw a central line in their field of vision. Above them, the starry river shone brilliantly, while below them were the lights of street lamps and candles.

A gentle breeze brushed their cheeks, and the courtesan felt as if she was experiencing the freedom of fresh air for the first time.

Whenever night fell and she saw the bright moon shining, her heart would always be shrouded in a dark cloud, never once considering opening her eyes to see the outside world.

She harbored an extreme disgust for the moon; the mere thought of it felt like a tumult in her stomach, solitary, tiny, surrounded by pitch darkness, pitiful and nauseating, much like herself…

But today.

On this embraced day.

As the empty moon emitted a luminous glow, illuminating everything like a dream, she found herself unable to look away.

The woman stared blankly at the scene before her, with the shadow guard quietly accompanying her, a satisfied smile on her lips as she gently finger-combed her disheveled hair.

After a while, Zi Yan snapped out of her trance, realizing she had kept the person beside her waiting for a long time. She lifted her head apologetically, “…Sorry, but the moon tonight is just too beautiful.”

Upon hearing these words, Song Shuqing’s body tensed slightly. She looked at the silver reflection in the woman’s eyes, sighed, and then said helplessly but indulgently, “Tsk, Zi Yan, that’s not something you can say lightly.”

Gently pressing the courtesan’s head against her neck, she said, “We should go now, close your eyes.”

This time, as her sleeves billowed, the beautiful courtesan who feared heights did not close her eyes. Instead, she stared blankly at the woman’s profile in front of her, focused on each step she took, wanting to imprint it in her heart.

When the two arrived at the nearby Niujiao Alley, as the shadow guard had mentioned, it was still bustling.

Song Shuqing put down Zi Yan and once again discarded her earlier composure, lazily introducing the courtesan.

“The wonton soup here is quite good, thin skin with plenty of filling, and Qinqin and I always sneak over to eat it.” With her hands behind her back, Song Shuqing gracefully navigated through the crowd.

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“The bamboo shoot dumplings here are delicious. Last time when the princess came to eat, I actually managed to get her to say, 『It’s acceptable』. ” With a nod to the boss, she appeared completely at ease and then added with a teasing tone, “You see, apart from praising the congee made by Qinqin, she’s usually quite picky about her food.”

“If you like noodles, the noodles here are also good, with generous portions, but quite spicy in case you’re not used to it.” Turning back to the almost engulfed woman, Song Shuqing stopped in her tracks, picked out the bewildered Zi Yan from the crowd, and tightly clasped her hand.

“Isn’t it curious how someone of your age still manages to get lost so easily?”

Being pulled back to the familiar presence, it was as if a flying bird had found its perch. Zi Yan felt her heart instantly settle down. “…It’s just…rare to have the chance to be in such a lively place.”

Her tone filled with apology.

“It’s fine, you’ll get used to it after coming here more often.”

Understanding the woman’s difficulties, Song Shuqing simply smiled and then, as if changing the subject, she gazed directly at her and asked, tilting her head, “So? After looking around, what would you like to eat?”

The variety of shops overwhelmed the courtesan who had spent years at the Qinglou (brothel), facing so many choices at once made her heart uncertain. Taking in the warm and determined gaze of the woman in front of her, Zi Yan took a deep breath.

“That wonton over there looks really good, can we have that?”

“Of course, it’s an excellent choice! You’ve got good taste.” Encouragingly squeezing the held hand and feeling the calluses on the woman’s fingertips, Song Shuqing turned to cut through the crowd, protecting Zi Yan as they walked back.

Finding their seats skillfully, the shadow guard couldn’t contain her eagerness, “You must have telepathy to know I also want to eat wontons. Since it’s your treat, I’ll have five bowls today.”

“Eating too much can upset your stomach,” Zi Yan lowered her eyes, looking at the hand that had been released when they sat down.

“True, I’m not Qinqin after all, so I won’t take advantage of you this time.” Although lamenting verbally, Song Shuqing’s eyes revealed a hint of playfulness. She waved her hand behind and shouted, “Please bring two servings of wonton soup here and a braised beef tendon!”

The landlady acted swiftly, and soon, she brought over two steaming bowls of wontons, thin skins filled with generous meat filling, with scallion greens floating in the broth, tempting the taste buds.

Handing over chopsticks and spoons to the person beside her, Song Shuqing couldn’t wait to start eating. The warm food entering her stomach made her unable to help but let out a satisfied sigh.

“How is it, does it suit your taste?” After eating a few bites, Song Shuqing propped her head up and asked.

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“It’s very delicious.” Perhaps due to the warmth of the hot soup spreading through her body, Zi Yan’s face took on a faint blush. “It’s tastier than what the cook in the building makes.”

Pushing the plate with the braised beef tendon in front of the courtesan, the shadow guard had a proud look in her eyes at her favorite dish being recognized. “Is it? Then eat more, if it’s not enough we can order more.”

“I’m good… one bowl is enough.” Slowly chewing on the food in her mouth, savoring its flavor, Zi Yan lowered her eyes and cherished each bite.

“That’s fine, we’ll save some stomach space for something else later.” Song Shuqing turned her wrist, helping herself to a piece of the braised beef tendon as she suddenly asked, “Oh, by the way, do you have a lot of things to move to a new place? Do you need help?”

“Hmm?” Faced with this sudden question, Zi Yan was a bit caught off guard, she just raised her head to look at the person who spoke, wearing a puzzled expression.

“Moving? You’re changing jobs at the end of this month, coming to the teahouse, you haven’t forgotten, have you?”

Wide-eyed, Song Shuqing looked at the woman’s puzzled expression, holding her head as if the sky were about to fall. “Don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts? I’ve already told Ah Yun that there will be help coming.”

Her face wrinkled up as if tears were about to come out in the next second.

“I was even planning to drive a carriage to help you move if you had a lot of stuff. You’re not suddenly reconsidering coming, are you?”

“No, no, I haven’t changed my mind, and I do want to go.” Swallowing nervously, Zi Yan paused with the spoon in her hand, then whispered, “It’s just, can I really work at the teahouse? I… I’m…”

Would someone like her really be hired?

“Oh, I see now.” Waving her hand, Song Shuqing dramatically breathed out a sigh. “There’s nothing you can’t do, Ah Yun and I are so busy every day and really need an extra pair of hands. The Princess, as a major shareholder, has no objections. Don’t worry unnecessarily.”

“Your brother, he doesn’t have the courage… Oh no, he won’t come bother you again. As for your hometown…”

The shadow guard shifted her gaze, pretending to look at the sign above their heads, and casually said, “His Majesty has recently set up schools, I’ve inquired about your younger siblings, they can go to school. And about your mother… though she can’t hear, I heard she’s skilled in cooking. A friend of mine from Jiangnan happens to like the food she cooks… the pay is quite generous. So, don’t worry about things back home.”

“After six months, if you decide you want to go back home, then go back home.”

“If you don’t want to go back home, continue working at the teahouse, no one will chase you away.”

“The choice is yours, it’s all up to you.”

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Staring at the woman in front of her speaking so nonchalantly, Zi Yan felt the remaining steam from the simmering broth rise up and gather in her eyes.

She blinked her warm eyes, quickly lowering her head.

Her hand holding the utensils trembled slightly, as if trying to dispel the sourness choking her throat. With a hurried motion, the usually elegant Zi Yan opened her mouth and haphazardly stuffed the remaining food in the bowl into her mouth, chewing casually before swallowing.

A muffled groan, as if from excessive restraint, a whimper like that of a small animal, her breathing became somewhat erratic.

Throughout the whole ordeal, Song Shuqing kept her gaze averted, not looking at the person who was losing composure, as if there was something truly fascinating on that ordinary wooden sign worth her full attention.

The shadow guard simply rose quietly to settle the bill after the person in front of her finished all the food. As she turned to leave, a clean square handkerchief landed in the courtesan’s palm, carrying a fragrance of tea.

Naturally engaging in conversation with the landlady with her back turned, Song Shuqing left the empty space on the wooden table to the courtesan. After half a cup of tea, she slowly stood by Zi Yan’s side, waiting silently.

“This food is on me.” The seated woman reached out and grabbed the shadow guard’s sleeve, breaking the silence with a sudden remark.

“Oh!”

Patting her head, Song Shuqing’s reaction was exaggerated, a look of extreme regret on her face. “Oh, I can’t believe I forgot.”

“Never mind, you’ll treat me next time, and I’ll make sure I eat until I can’t anymore.” Though her tone was fierce, she gently helped the courtesan up, affectionately wiping away the tear stains on her chin.

“Since I’ve already treated you today, do you have anything else you want to eat? I’ll buy it for you.”

“… Candied hawthorns, I want candied hawthorns.”

“Alright. Whatever Zi Yan wants to eat, it’s all good.”


The author has something to say:

I’m sure everyone knows the meaning of “The moon tonight is just too beautiful,” right?

If you’re not too sure, you can search it up, or ask in the comments section~

Next Monday represents a day off!



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StrayCk

Song shu qing is the standard

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