A lady Wang Zhaojun moved her fingers, plucking the strings of a chinese lute in the room. The tune lingered in the house, expressing a feeling of melancholy.
“Ouch!” Zhaojun moaned in pain and stopped playing. The swelling pad she was pressing had a bruise mark.
Bang! A brutal noise completely freaked her out. On her guard, Zhaojun greeted a burly man with a shuddering awe. It was her husband——the third son of the tribal chief of Nanman.
The continuous wars between Nanman and the northern country had made life a misery for peasants. To make peace, the northern country proposed to marry their unrivalled beauty, Wang Zhaojun, to Nanman as a deal.
Despite the hatred towards her parents’ arrangement, Zhaojun was unable to disobey the decision. Wearing a vividly-red wedding dress, she held her favourite chinese lute, stepped into the camel cart sent by Nanman and went on a journey to the strange country on her own.
At first, her husband treated her well, which was Zhaojun happy with. But soon he reveal his true nature——violence-prone personality.
She was covered in bruises that even her clothes could not hide them all. “Hus-husband, welcome back. The dinner is ready. I’m going to get——,” she spoke fearfully.
“Can’t you see I’m in a bad mood!? Brother has posted away all my soldiers! Those are the elites that I’ve spent so much time in training…” Her husband grumbled. Although Zhaojun did not understand this power struggle between men, she still tried to be a good listener.
Later on, her husband appeared to feel better after the complaint. “I’m hungry now. Bring out the dishes.”
“Great, looks like I won’t be spanked today.” Zhaojun spoke in her heart. However, the relief did not last long.
“Bah!” Her husband flipped the table over; all dishes fell to the floor. “That’s too spicy! Are you trying to kill me?”
“No...I thought it was a good idea to make a spicy appetizer in this hot weather. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Zhaojun explained nervously, but it only added fuel to the flame instead.
“So are you blaming me for misunderstanding you?”
“...It’s my fault. It’s all my——Ah!” Her husband slapped across her face to interrupt. This was merely the beginning. He then kept beating up Zhaojun, who was too weak to defend but curl herself up.
“Wheeze...I’m tired! Gonna sleep!” After the abuse, he went straight to bed, leaving the injured Zhaojun behind.
Zhaojun got herself together to tidy the room in mess. Then she fell asleep sitting on a chair.
“Zhaojun, Zhaojun.” A gentle voice woke her up. She saw her husband crouch down right beside and look worried.
“Fear not. I’m not gonna hurt you.” Her husband was like a completely different person from the last night. He was gentle when touching the swelling bruise on her face. The pain made Zhaojun recoil immediately. “Let me put this on your wound,” he said guiltily as he held a box of medicine.
In spite of hesitation, she took off clothes to show her back, riddled with scars. Emotionally moved, he kissed the bruises and apologized. “Sorry...It’s my fault. I should have controlled myself. But do believe me, I love you in all sincerity.”
“I understand. I love you too.” Her husband’s words touched Zhaojun’s heart and made her forget the pain, as if she had returned to those happy old days they were newly married. Then, she saw her husband out with a smile.
“I guess he’s just stressed out by heavy workload. I heard that the neighbouring country just sent us some fruit as gift. Let me make a refreshing dessert for him.”
After wearing makeup to cover her scars, Zhaojun left to get some ingredients from the granary. It was at noon with bright sunlight. The wounds she had last night, coupled with the hot weather, caused her to zone out, trip and fall into someone’s brace.
“Are you alright?” The man asked with concern as he held Zhaojun in time. Standing next to him was a charming lady, who looked at her with an unfathomable gaze.
“Is there something wrong with my makeup?” Zhaojun thought as she slightly pushed the man away. Just then she saw his face clearly——Meng Huo, the 13th son of the chief.
“You look pale. Shall we escort you home?”
“Thank you for your kindness, but I don’t want to waste your time.”
“Not at all. Leave it to me.” As Meng Huo wanted to carry the heavy item for her, someone stopped him——It was the lady, his wife Zhurong. “Don’t make things difficult for Zhaojun. Let’s leave.”
Witnessing Zhurong’s serious gaze, Meng Huo gave up retorting but quietly followed her from behind. After they left, Zhaojun continued the way back home. As soon as she stepped into the front door, his husband had already be waiting.
“Husband, why are you so early——Ah!” He pushed down Zhaojun without speaking a word, dropping all the fruits to the floor.
“You slut!” He yelled at Zhaojun, grabbed her hair, dragged her to the cell underground and threw her in rudely.
However, his anger was not yet to ease. Then, he picked up a whip beside the cell and lashed hard. One after another, all Zhaojun could feel was heat in the back.
“Why...Did I do something wrong?” Even when she was whipped, Zhaojun never intended to blame her husband. All she felt was endless grief. Unable to contain the emotion, she began to sob.
Tears had awakened her brutal husband. He was numb with shock looking at all the wounds in her back. Dropping the whip, he knelt down painfully. “I...just saw you hug Meng Huo...I was afraid that you would leave me for him...I was afraid that I would lose you...I’m sorry...I’m so sorry…”
Her husband covered his face and cried. It was hard to believe a valiant man like him would feel so helpless in front of his wife. Heartache surged in her heart as Zhaojun found him cringing in fear. Regardless of her injuries and pain, she came over and touched his face.
“I won’t. I’m yours already. And It’s my fault to make you feel insecure.” She continued sincerely, “if trapping me in this cell can make you feel secure, then do it. I’ll do anything I can for you as a wife.”