Chapter 23: Entering the palace
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Ji Luo, on his majestic white horse, riding side by side, the main carriage, could hear faint noises of crying and curses. He was evident, that by now, Ji Hua would’ve figured out the situation. For now, his major concern was, to stop Ji Hua from acting recklessly and destroying their father’s agreement with the demon lord. He wished that Ji Miao might control the situation somehow, and beat some sense in that childish sister of his.

The procession halted after some time and a maid came near the principal carriage to notify Ji Miao of their arrival.  Putting the red veil over Ji Hua’s head, who had become as in animate as a rock, she helped her down the carriage. Looking at the situation, all calm, Ji Luo was finally relieved. Before them was a grand palace and several servants and other important people waiting for their arrival. But, in all this crowd there seemed a man as placid as the jade and as refreshing as the morning dew, even outshining the Demon Lord, who was evidently his son, the Demon Crown-Prince, Bao Xiang Lei. As soon as Ji Hua, who was now the bride, came out of the carriage, several servants ran towards her, and took her in their custody. Several dozens of maids took her and Ji Miao in the palace. While the bird emperor and his brother, Ji Luo and other relatives and officials of Shen Sheng were welcomed in by the demon lord and his son themselves, who had been awaiting them for a long time. The relationship between the demon realm and Shen Sheng was not new, one could say that at a point of time in history, they had common ancestors. But this relationship had become a little foggy, since the former emperor of Shen Sheng had formed a marriage alliance with the heavenly realm, marrying the daughter of the former Jade Lord. What the current rulers of Shen Sheng and the demon realm are doing is just but reconstructing their old ties through the marriage of their children. But it is also evident that they have ulterior motives too.

Ji Hua felt that this palace was too colossus, or more like a maze, as they had been going around and around, and still there seemed no end. Each corridor that they went through opened into a grand yet another grand courtyard. And it looked that they palace had loads of servants, who could be found in each corridor, who as saw the new bride, side-lined to the walls and bowed until the little procession passed.

Soon, they reached the grand Kang Jie, a sub-palace within the palace, made exquisitely for the Demon Crown-Prince. It was beautiful and decorated here and there with majestic flowers and other little creatures, merry-making all through its gardens. The Demon Realm, wasn’t a place, Ji Hua had always thought it to be. According to what she read from books and heard from others, the Demon Realm was a dark and hateful place with filthy creatures roaming about its lands, not suitable to be inhabited by any respected person. But, to her surprise, it all proved wrong.

Well, this is the place when she’d have to part from Ji Miao. This place was the prince’s quarters, so no one other than the prince, his wife and the concubines was allowed to move in. As Ji Hua proceeded towards the inner quarters, she could hear women laughing and merry-making. And there seemed loads of them. A maid, accompanying Ji Hua who had an air of attitude spoke up, “These are the crown prince’s concubines. But, my lady, need not be tensed about it. For she is the legitimate and primary wife of the crown-prince. And provide for the beauty you possess…”, the maid was interrupted when Ji Hua spoke up taunting, “It is a wonder for me, that how can there be people who can tell whether someone is beautiful, without even looking at them.”

 The maid seemed at a loss of words, while other maids hided their smiling and taunting faces. Nevertheless, giggling she said, “Beauty with brain. My lady need not think negatively about what I said. I just accidentally saw your portrait which the crown-prince was admiring.” Even thought he maid had not seen the portrait and had just heard that the prince possesses one, she found it a good way to shield her foxy behaviour. The servants halted after a moment, as they reached the crown prince’s personal chamber and Ji Hua was sent in. As soon as she entered the chamber, she ordered all the maids to exit and not to disturb her. Now, only Ji Hua was left in the room.

She sat on the divan and thought gravely about the matter. If she were to accept this marriage and stay here, what could be the possible outcomes? For sure she thought, her freedom will be taken away and she’ll be bound by rules. Moreover, all this matter seemed certainly fishy to her. This marriage had popped out all of a sudden from nowhere. And why did his family needed to keep this matter from her? ‘Were they afraid that I might create troubles or refuse it? But, if they insisted on doing something against my will, then seems that this matter is more important to them than me. What are they gaining from it?’, sitting there Ji Hua dealt with the question that whether she should do something to prevent her imprisonment in this for forever or not? At last rising she spoke with confidence, “Okay! In the first place, no one has the right to decide about my marriage, except me. I am not going to tolerate this imprudence. I’ll certainly tell them, what I am made of. Doing it against my will, huh? Let’s see what you’ll get for it.”

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