It was a beautiful and bright morning when the aircraft landed on Alikarta, Odin’s ruling planet. After maids Qing Yue and Qing Chu’s administrations, Princess Luo Lan wore a resplendent crown, delicate dress, and crystal shoes. She was decked out in jewels to the point where she looked like a walking treasure box.
The aircraft door slowly opened, revealing two lines of straight-backed soldiers waiting to welcome the princess’ descent. General Yue Se politely bowed, gesturing for the princess to lead. “Your Highness.”
Luo Lan smiled and walked forward, her heart filled with anxious anticipation. Naturally, this wasn’t because she was soon to meet her fiancé, but because of the unknown world that lay ahead.
She first opened her eyes in base G9737, a barren desert with no trace of human life. She eventually encountered human civilization, only to be immediately locked in prison. All she’d experienced after was a cold cell and a solemn tribunal before she closed her eyes. Once she’d opened them again, she’d already been locked up inside an aircraft.
The base, her prison, the aircraft—these three places constituted her entire impression of the world. She knew nothing about the outside world, the world of the common people.
Having stepped out of the aircraft, Luo Lan took in a deep breath and looked around at her surroundings. In an instant, a riot of activity appeared before her—
Aircrafts taking off and landing, bustling androids, speeding vehicles, all different kinds of buildings…
She maintained calm and slowly walked forward, her expression cold and aloof. Inside her mind was a whirlwind of confusion and curiosity.
Qing Yue was furiously complaining about something, but Luo Lan was like a country bumpkin making their first foray into the city—no, like a child who’d never left their room and who’d just opened the door, excitedly staring at the world. Every sight, smell, they all were a novelty. Naturally, Luo Lan didn’t register a thing Qing Yue said.
She numbly entered the transporting vehicle, and heard the furious Qing Yue’s words to General Yue Se. Only then did Luo Lan register that her fiancé hadn’t appeared; only common officials had welcomed them.
“How infuriating!” Qing Yue snarled. “This is how they treat our princess? How dare they…”
Luo Lan wasn’t quite sure how to respond, so she remained calm and sat, hands crossed over her lap, her face expressionless.
Soon they arrived at their destination—Sparta Palace, the living area of Odin’s ruling officials.
Luo Lan loosed a breath before she noticed that Qing Yue’s scowl had worsened, and even the normally expressionless General Yue Se looked unhappy.
She followed their gazes, and saw that among the sparse welcoming group, some had pointed ears, others had slitted pupils, and a few even sported long, waving tails.
So these were carriers of mutant genes!
According to Dr. Mu’s information, a few Aerdes residents were born with physical attributes different from that of humans, but at birth they would receive surgery to remove these “abnormalities.” Rarely would anyone so openly reveal their mutation.
Nevertheless, they were currently in the Odin Federation. Thus, the experienced general wasn’t furious about this, but the fact that there clearly wasn’t a duke amid the crowd.
A straight-backed old man with pointed ears moved forward, a polite yet aloof smile on his face. “Your Highness has traveled a long way. My name is An Da; I am Sparta Palace’s managing official.”
Before Luo Lan could say a word, General Yue Se, feigning surprise, said, “Why haven’t we met the duke yet? Does Odin uphold the ancient tradition of not allowing the bride and groom to meet before the wedding?”
An Da’s smile vanished, and his back straightened further. He coldly said, “Princess, please come with me.”
Luo Lan silently complied.
Qing Yue, who closely followed, mockingly sneered, “What does Odin know of etiquette and tradition. Just a bunch of uncivilized—”
Yue Se coughed, covering what Qing Yue said next.
Luo Lan inwardly sighed. Yue Se had no qualms about hiding his insults behind a refined air, as despite Odin’s obvious disrespect, his only task was to escort the princess before returning to Aerdes. In contrast, Qing Yue would stay in Odin; hence, she was being far too rash. Well, Luo Lan thought. It’s not as if a smart maid would have been selected to be sent to Odin. Looks like we’re fellow fish in a barrel.
An Da led them into a hall before stopping at a large set of double wooden doors carved with winding vines. In the center of the doors was hewn a roaring lion.
An Da slightly bowed and politely said, “The dukes are inside. Would the princess like to enter?”
Luo Lan didn’t immediately respond, pondering the situation.
An Da pushed an invisible button, and the doors slowly opened.
The tranquil, large room was sparsely furnished, aside from a massive oval table. At the table were six regal men of varying appearances. Bright sunlight streamed in from the windows, enveloping their figures in golden light.
The six men should have been meticulously dressed in attire befitting of Odin dukes: snow-white shirts, stiff pants, and shiny boots with rapiers. Yet now, though their bearings were regal, they looked as if they had been fighting for three days and nights without end. Each man’s clothing was rumpled, and a few shirts looked as if they’d been cut open with a blade.
In the moment the doors opened, they’d clearly been locked in a standoff.
Luo Lan had just walked in before she sensed an overwhelming killing intent. She felt as if she took another step forward, it would crush her entire being. She immediately retreated, and when she stepped outside the double doors, the oppressive feeling vanished.
Clearly, this was no welcoming area. An Da had clearly done this on purpose.
Luo Lan couldn’t fathom his intent, so she silently stood there, peering through the wide-open door to observe the dukes.
Odin was comprised of seven autonomous regions, in total ruled by seven dukes. One was female, and the rest of the seven were clearly here.
So which one was her husband-to-be?
Suddenly, a handsome but cold-looking man made his attack, and in an instant, the six figures were locked in battle. They moved so fast that all Luo Lan could see was a flurry of movement.
It was obvious this was no friendly battle—they all moved with dangerous intent.
Abruptly, the beeping of a communicator sounded, and the melee immediately stopped. The six men calmly sat down at the table, as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.
A figure appeared through a hologram. “Aerdes’ princess should have just arrived. Have you still not decided who will be her husband?”’
As the scope of the communicator was limited to the room, the man speaking couldn’t see Luo Lan standing just outside. The man in question stood atop a barren wasteland, dressed in a black uniform and black helmet, his face hidden. His uniform was streaked in blood, and his words were icy.
Only one person could speak in this way to the dukes: the Governor of the Odin Federation.
One of the dukes, a suave and beautiful man, propped his long legs on the tabletop. He yawned and lazily said, “We’ve fought for three days and nights with no clear winner. What do you propose we do?”
Qing Yue tugged on Luo Lan’s sleeve and smiled proudly at her. Her line of thought was clear: the dukes hadn’t snubbed them, they’d simply been locked in a battle over who would win her hand.
Luo Lan had the impression that things weren’t quite as Qing Yue believed them to be, but she returned her smile and continued to observe.
The Governor coldly snapped, “If you lot don’t decide now, I’ll randomly choose!”
The beautiful man who’d spoken before rubbed his chin and said with a smile, “Whoever wins the fight wins the princess’ hand, but there is still no winner. Clearly, we can’t rely on strength to give us the answer.”
“Then what should be the deciding factor? Who’s the unluckiest?”
The beautiful man turned his hand, and six identical cards appeared. He asked with a beatific smile, “How about we draw lots?”
The five other men remained silent, raising no opposition. Only the unluckiest would marry the princess, after all.
The grave man who’d attacked first coldly said, “Draw the lots!”
As soon as he’d said the words, the six cards flew through the air, and the six men caught their cards.
Having seen the dukes make their decision, the Governor said, “Be gentle towards the princess and leave her with a good impression.” As he spoke, he casually kicked back his left foot, sending a three-meter-tall beast flying back. His left hand moved, and in the same moment he’d sliced another beast in half, its blood and organs spraying everywhere.
The communicator’s video quality was truly too good; everything seemed to have happened in front of her very eyes. Luo Lan felt her stomach turn and was considering leaving when he severed the connection. His figure disappeared, as well as the gory sight of blood and bone.
Qing Yue silently fainted. Luo Lan wasn’t sure if it was out of anger, or fear.
Luo Lan made a split-second decision. Given what she knew of the real princess’ personality, if she didn’t want to risk exposure, she would have to immediately pretend to faint.
She closed her eyes and fell forward. To act convincingly, she didn’t break her fall, and her body exploded with pain upon impact. She silently decided that in the future she would properly learn how to fake a faint, find which angle would be optimal for reducing the level of pain.
A female attendant from Odin walked over to inspect the princess and said to An Da: “She was scared witless.” Her words were laced with contempt.
She was about to help the princess up when they heard enthusiastic applause and cheering.
“Congratulations! Congratulations to the groom!”
Luo Lan’s ears perked; clearly the draw had determined a winner.
Amongst the six, five were joyful, one was aggrieved. The five were uncaringly rubbing salt in the sixth’s wound, celebrating over his suffering.
Luo Lan couldn’t have cared less who she was going to marry; she could only hope that the unlucky bastard didn’t vent his suffering on her.
The men walked out of the room, the five still cheering over their fortune. They immediately saw the woman lying in a peculiar pose on the ground.
An Da respectfully explained, “Her Highness was anticipating meeting the dukes, so I brought her over here to wait. I didn’t think she’d be scared into a faint.”
The laughter and jokes immediately stopped, and a thick silence fell. Then—
A pair of feet indifferently stepped over her body before walking away.
Another pair of feet indifferently stepped over her body before walking away.
Another, another, and another…
Luo Lan inwardly bemoaned, next time I fall, I’ll not only have to worry about the angle, but where I fall. If I fall in front of a door, I’ll naturally be stepped over.
After the six men had strode off, An Da instructed for the princess to be sent to rest. Luo Lan immediately loosed a breath, relieved to no longer have to lie on the ice-cold floor.
She used the opportunity to take a nap, and when she awoke again, Qing Yue updated her with some news: the “unlucky bastard” who’d won her hand was Duke Chen Sha, the grave and merciless man who’d made the first attack.
Luo Lan had a somber thought: Chen Sha wasn’t the only unlucky one. None of the six were ideal choices, but she’d gotten saddled with perhaps the worst of them.
According to Dr. Mu’s information, Duke Chen Sha was the commanding general of Odin, in charge of the federation’s defense. He was famed across the galaxy as the greatest war machine.
His personality was cold and indifferent, and his methods ruthless. Ever since he took on the mantle of general at the age of twenty six, he had not lost once, his most recent achievement being his defeat of the Aerdes forces a few months prior.
Thank the heavens she wasn’t the real princess, or else there would be true animosity between the new husband and wife.
Qing Yue’s face reddened until she looked like an angry mother hen. She angrily said, “They actually used drawing lots to decide who the groom was! Outrageous! Simply outrageous…”
Indeed outrageous, Luo Lan thought, her heart heavy.
Was this the good treatment given to those with pure genes? She’d prepared herself for life as a test subject, but she’d at least hoped for protection and care.
She truly was worse off than that lone apple tree.
Qing Yue noticed her silence and unhappily said, “Is Princess not angry?”
“Ah…of course I’m furious! I only…” Luo Lan racked her brain for a way to change the subject, “…have a question.”
“What is it?”
“Aren’t they all carriers of mutant genes? How come each seemed to be even better looking than the last?” Luo Lan meekly asked.
(tofu: asking the right questions I see)
“Don’t be fooled! They could have undergone surgery to look more beautiful, so their appearances are all fake! Only the genes inside truly matter, only the inside matters.” Qing Yue was stricken, fearful that the princess would be deceived by a pretty face, and so she rambled on, not remembering to question why the princess didn’t seem to share her deep-rooted enmity.
On the second day, Princess Luo Lan and Duke Chen Sha were joined in marriage in the Sparta Palace.
The ceremony was solemn and lifeless. No media was present, only the two nations’ representatives.
Princess Luo Lan and Chen Sha stood side by side, facing a computerized record. They pressed their palms on a digital form, using bio-authentication to confirm their marriage. General Yue Se acted as Aerdes’ representative, and Duke Zi Yan, the beautiful man with the cards, acted as Odin’s, wishing the couple a happy marriage.
No one spoke a word to Luo Lan and Chen Sha. Everyone seemed to know just how happy this marriage truly was, with one having tried to disfigure herself, and the other a victim of bad luck. Everyone had seemed to reach a tacit agreement to prevent further “happiness” and be content to treat the two as stage props.
Luo Lan, in contrast, was in a daze as she looked around her own wedding. Forgive this country bumpkin for being excited over a new world! she thought.
In accordance with Aerdes’ ancient traditions, she wore a white wedding dress and held a bouquet of flowers. The man at her side wore a red uniform inlaid with epaulets and black dress pants, his back ramrod straight and his face expressionless. He never said a word, and the aura he emitted felt as silent and icy as a snow mountain, transforming the joyful red he wore into a color of cold indifference.
Luo Lan figured if he up and decided to attend a funeral, he wouldn’t even need to change.
At the end of the wedding ceremony, General Yue Se removed Luo Lan’s personal communicator, and Duke Zi Yan gave her a new one with a new identity, representing that from this day on, the Aerdes Princess Luo Lan was now the Odin Federation Duke Chen Sha’s wife and Duchess.
The new communicator was in the form of a beautiful rose-jeweled bracelet. Luo Lan happily put it on her right hand.
Personal communicators could only be used by their owners. Communicators were used to confirm one’s personal identity, search the web, send messages, manage finances, monitor personal health…it wouldn’t be a stretch to say communicators enabled everyday life, or that it would be impossible to live in the galaxy without one.
Before, she only pretended to be able to use Princess Luo Lan’s communicator. Finally, she had one of her own she was able to use.
This wedding wasn’t completely useless, she happily thought.
After the wedding, General Yue Se hastily bid farewell. Duke Zi Yan was only too happy to comply and helped him plan the returning journey.
After an hour, Luo Lan stood at the port, a smile on her face, sending Yue Se off as he left to return to Aerdes.
As the ship rose into the air, Qing Yue and Qing Chu began to silently weep, as if they’d only just realized that a galaxy separated them the planet they’d grown up on. For them, home had never felt so distant, in a world they could never again touch.
The nearby Odin official looked at the scene with obvious impatience and contempt. The official turned to Chen Sha and politely enquired, “Commander, shall we depart now?”
Chen Sha gestured an affirmation before he turned and strode towards the ship.
Luo Lan’s automatically followed behind him, but her steps grew slower and slower. The sound of the young girls’ crying was like an invisible vine, slowly entangling her feet. Without even knowing it, she’d already stopped.
She’d previously thought she was only a fake princess and had watched what’d happened around her from a certain distance. Yet now, listening to the maids’ sobs, Luo Lan suddenly realized that these two girls, because of her, were stuck here.
Tears aren’t only shed because of painfully letting go of one’s past; they are also shed in fear of the uncertain future. She was terrified of what the future would bring, but in her case, she couldn’t cry, because she had no past to let go of. She could only grit her teeth and continue onwards.
Chen Sha had already boarded the airship. He looked out through the window in Luo Lan’s direction. “Madam, the commander is already on board,” the official urged.
Luo Lan pretended she didn’t hear, turning to walk towards the still-weeping Qing Yue and Qing Chu. The two girls shakily wiped their tears, trying to control themselves.
“We’ve breached etiquette,” Qing Yue choked out.
Luo Lan smiled and reached out her hand, and Qing Yue automatically grasped it. “Princess?” she questioningly asked.
“We’ll be together,” Luo Lan said.
Qing Yue started before her face broke into a smile. She grabbed Qing Chu’s hand and said, “Everything will be all right, the princess is together with us!”
“Yeah.” Qing Chu wiped her eyes and vigorously nodded, as if she were trying her hardest to cheer herself up.
Zi Yan stood in the middle of the walkway, his bright eyes crinkled in a smile as he watched them.
Luo Lan immediately felt uneasy. This man wasn’t one to be trifled with, despite his beautiful and suave appearance. She knew just how ruthless and cold he truly was—he was Odin’s minister of security, in charge of ensuring the federation’s safety. Simply speaking, he was Odin’s spymaster.
Luo Lan immediately thought back to what she’d just done and said. She decided she’d done nothing out the ordinary, so for now, Zi Yan shouldn’t think her a threat.
She maintained her calm and steadily walked past him. She was about to board the ship when she heard Chen Sha coldly say, “Princess, please remember that I won’t wait for you.” Suddenly, the ship door closed, and the airship took off, leaving only a whistle in the wind.
Luo Lan could only stand there and stare. She knew that his personality was terrible, but not this terrible! She blankly looked about. Passersby glanced at her, their gazes openly mocking.
Truthfully, she couldn’t care less if everyone knew about the “happy marriage,” just…how was she supposed to get back?
“Princess!” Zi Yan called from his own vehicle.
She questioningly looked at him, and Zi Yan waved his hand to her, gesturing for her to board. “If you don’t mind, my vehicle has an empty seat,” he jovially said.
Luo Lan hurried over and boarded. “Thank you!”
“The princess shouldn’t mind Chen Sha,” Zi Yan said with a smile. “He’s rather formal and stiff, but if you comply with his procedures, he isn’t hard to get along with.”
(tofu: you sure about that?)
Luo Lan didn’t want to speak with a stranger about the matters of marriage, and so she only replied, “I understand.”
Zi Yan nonchalantly played with a bright purple card, carelessly flipping it between his fingers. It was clear it was the card he had drawn yesterday. His deftly manipulated the card in his hands, until the card seemed to be another extension of his hand.
Only now did Luo Lan see that the card was a tarot card, thin and glossy. On it was Death, drawn so vividly that it seemed he would jump out of the card.
Luo Lan appreciatively said, “What a pretty tarot card.”
Zi Yan stared at her, pinching the card between his thumb and index finger. “Do you recognize this drawing?”
Warning bells suddenly rang in Luo Lan’s head, and she couldn’t help but recall when she stood in the tribunal. The judge had pointed to an image of an apple and asked her, “Do you recognize what this is?”
“I don’t.” Luo Lan apologetically laughed. “I once saw a drawing like this in a book and learned it was a tarot card.”
“The princess is quite well learned if you know of a such an archaic game,” Zi Yan said as he smiled and put away the card.
Luo Lan could only wonder, had she studied ancient history in the past? Perhaps if she researched similar topics, it would restore a few memories.
Afterwards, the two remained silent the rest of the way, and they soon reached Sparta Palace.
Luo Lan again thanked Zi Yan and got off the vehicle. She returned to her living space and took off her wedding dress. She was about to hop in the shower when she realized one thing: she and Chen Sha were now husband and wife. Wasn’t it a given that they would have to live together?
She looked at her bed and imagined lying together with Chen Sha. She immediately felt ill. Humans have already progressed so far, she lamented. Why isn’t asexual reproduction a common option?
That night, a celebration was held at the Sparta Palace in honor of Chen Sha and Luo Lan’s marriage.
Apparently, it was Zi Yan who had proposed the idea. After today’s encounter with the man, Luo Lan knew she’d crossed hairs with someone not to be meddled with.
Qing Yue encouraged her not to attend the celebration and return the favor by ignoring the Odin bastards and giving them a taste of their own medicine.
Luo Lan agreed, though not because of her pride, but because she knew nobody would be happy to greet her anyway. Why not rest instead of subjecting herself to further rejection?
When An Da arrived to escort her, Luo Lan politely declined to go.
“This event was specifically arranged for the Princess. Many people would like to meet the commander’s new wife,” An Da stonily said.
Qing Yue was about to spew a few insults before Luo Lan lifted a hand to stop her.
Luo Lan considered for a moment before agreeing, not because “many people would like to meet” her, but she wanted to meet these “many people.”
She didn’t have the courage to escape like the real Princess Luo Lan; she didn’t even have the means to board another aircraft to flee. In the face of an unpredictable future, she could only remain in Odin.
She couldn’t be cowed into hiding from others in her room forever—in fact, it would only make her life harder.
The real princess at least had ties to her home country, a route that would forever be there for her, but she, on the other hand, had nothing.
If she didn’t want to move forward, the only other option was death. No matter how much her heart resisted, she could only forge ahead and try to understand and learn about this new world and these people. Then perhaps one day, refusing to see others when she didn’t wish to would become her right instead of her way of escape.
In one corner of the room, the six dukes stood or sat, offering relaxed greetings to acquaintances and friends. As soon as Luo Lan walked in, the atmosphere immediately chilled. They coldly looked at Luo Lan, their eyes indifferent, as if they were glancing upon an insignificant creature who’d just trespassed on their territory.
If she were being truthful, Luo Lan didn’t want to invite further reproach, but the only people she knew in the large room were the six. Additionally, how they viewed her would determine how the entire Odin Federation viewed her. Hence, she could only walk forward and approach the beast.
Luo Lan politely greeted the room, “Good evening!”
Every person looked towards Chen Sha. He continued to sip his wine as if he hadn’t heard anything at all, not showing one bit of reaction, and so, no person answered her greeting.
It was impossible to say being treated like this was tolerable in any shape or form, yet Luo Lan knew she had no rights here to express her grievances. She could only self-deprecatingly think, a princess’ treatment truly can’t compare to that of a convict. At least when she opened her mouth in court, the judge would attentively listen.
As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, Luo Lan carried on, smiling as she said, “I am Aerdes’ Princess Luo Lan. I just married Chen Sha this morning, and I’m pleased to meet you all. Please just call me Luo Lan!”
Still no one responded. Some people were looking at her with interest, others were focused on eating their food, and others were absentmindedly looking elsewhere.
Luo Lan could only grit her teeth and walk forward, past Zi Yan, and greet a refined looking gentleman: “Hello!”
He started, having just been watching the dancefloor. He raised his eyes to meet Luo Lan’s gaze and didn’t answer.
“Hello!” Luo Lan repeated, reaching out her hand.
She desperately tried to maintain a natural smile, but it only resulted in her face stiffening further.
She stubbornly kept her hand outstretched even under the sharp gaze of the crowd. The smile on her face was as fragile as the moon’s reflection on water, as if one touch would fracture the image. Yet like the moon’s reflection, her smile remained, fixed despite the ripples.
The man finally stood up and grasped her hand, warmly saying, “Hello, I’m Duke Chu Mo of Odin’s fourth autonomous region, though you can call me Chu Mo. I’m honored to meet you.”
It had only been a few moments, though to Luo Lan, it had felt like a century. There was no doubt Chu Mo felt her hand trembling, but his expression didn’t change.
When he released her hand, Luo Lan had already righted herself and smiled at the man next to him. The man was tall and burly, with thick eyebrows, cropped red hair, and an unreadable expression.
He was clearly reluctant, yet nevertheless grasped her hand and said in a low voice, “Hello, I’m Duke Bai Li Cang of Odin’s fifth autonomous region. You can call me Bai Li Cang.”
After the first two, the rest of the greetings went more smoothly.
Zuo Qiu Bai of the third region had curly golden hair and an indifferent air. He merely lounged on his sofa, not bothering to stand up when he shook her hand.
Zong Li of the seventh region was handsome, with perfectly styled brown hair. However, his brown eyes emanated a gloomy chill. Making eye contact with him felt akin to meeting the gaze of a poisonous snake.
Bai Li Cang and Zuo Qiu Bai had both greeted her in the same fashion as Chu Mo, but Zong Li didn’t even wait for Luo Lan to reach out her hand before he curtly said, “Seventh region, Zong Li.” It was clear he had no intentions of shaking her hand.
Luo Lan still said “hello” before she immediately moved to the next one.
Zi Yan enthusiastically reached his hand out first. “Hello, I’m the sixth region’s Zi Yan.” He lifted his hand and pointed at Chen Sha. “Does he still need to introduce himself?”
“There’s no need,” Luo Lan calmy said. “It’s clear on our marriage record: the first region, Chen Sha.”
Zi Yan and Zuo Qiu Bai chuckled. Zi Yan quirked his brow and asked, “Chen Sha, won’t you introduce your wife to everyone?”
Luo Lan couldn’t help but hopefully look at Chen Sha. He didn’t even look her way before grabbing a piece of fruit and shoving it in Zi Yan’s mouth. Zi Yan choked, unable to say another word. Luo Lan’s anticipation slowly dissolved into disappointment.
Suddenly, the crowd on the dancefloor parted, and a woman dressed in a white shirt and black pencil skirt with rimmed glassed walked towards them.
Her face was solemn, and she seemed to be contemplating something as she walked, like a student lost on the first day of class. Nevertheless, the crowd respectfully parted for her. The woman’s gaze fell on Luo Lan and the others and immediately brightened. She smiled, as if she’d just met a long-lost friend, and quickened her pace.
Luo Lan immediately moved to one side. After the fainting debacle, she’d come to deeply understand that a good dog stays where it’s supposed to and never blocks the path.
At Luo Lan’s side was Chen Sha; the woman was clearly walking towards him. Stories of catfights flashed through Luo Lan’s head, and she told herself no matter what happened, she would remain calm.
The woman beatifically smiled and floated over, reaching out and hugging…her.
Luo Lan’s mouth formed into an “O.”
Calm, calm, calm, must remain calm…
Luo Lan was scared out of her wits. “You are?”
(tofu: Luo Lan’s using a polite form of “you” here.)
“You must be the beautiful, smart, elegant, and cute Princess Luo Lan! I wish I could’ve met you at first opportunity, but I was occupied with my research. I hurried over as soon as I finished with my work, I hope you don’t mind…”
Luo Lan plastered a smile on her face. How could this woman see her gaping like a fish and possibly think she was smart or elegant? She pleadingly looked towards Zi Yan. He coughed and said, “Duke Feng Lin of the second region, in charge of the federation’s research and education.”
It was as if she’d just glimpsed the light. Luo Lan immediately grasped Feng Lin’s hand. So this was the wacko scientist who’d be dissecting her genes! Her time as a sheltered apple tree had finally come at last!
Feng Lin kindly said, “You’ve just arrived in Odin, so if you have any problems, don’t hesitate to let me know, I’ll do my best to help you.” She glanced at the six other dukes. “If anyone wrongs you, just let me know—I’ll definitely whoop his ass.”
Luo Lan wanted to cry in relief. Jie jie, why didn’t you come sooner?
(tofu: Jie jie means “big sister” in Chinese. It doesn’t always mean by blood, in this context it’s more like what you might call an older, more mature woman, or a female you look up to.)
“Have you eaten dinner yet? What do you want to eat? I can grab it for you,” Feng Lin warmly said.
“I’m not very hungry. I only wanted to meet everyone.”
“I’ll introduce you.” Feng Lin grabbed Luo Lan’s elbow and led her into the crowd.
Luo Lan couldn’t resist glancing back at Chen Sha. Ha! I didn’t need you to help me anyway, she couldn’t help thinking.
With Feng Lin’s help, Luo Lan became acquainted with various people. Truthfully, she couldn’t remember so many new people at once, but it was prudent to become familiar with more faces.
Thanks to the dukes’ earlier welcome, as well as Feng Lin’s enthusiastic introductions, everyone came to treat her with more respect and kindness. Even if they were all pretending, Luo Lan was satisfied. People only truly cared for their loved ones anyway, and politely pretended in front of everyone else.
Feng Lin eventually bumped into a friend. Sensing that the newcomer had something to tell Feng Lin, Luo Lan excused herself in search of a drink.
Luo Lan stood by the drinks table and looked at the wide array of choices. Zi Yan walked over and said, “Answer a question, and I’ll tell you which drink tastes the best.”
“What’s your question?”
“Why did you walk past me in favor of Chu Mo, even though I was closer and we’re more familiar?”
“I didn’t think you’d humor me, and instead, make fun of me.”
Zi Yan’s eyes crinkled into a smile. He noncommittally said, “You believed Chu Mo would humor you?”
“Not entirely, but I figured he’d be a good bet.
Luo Lan knew there are some things that simply shouldn’t be said, so she vaguely answered, “A feeling, that’s all.”
Earlier, Zi Yan, Zuo Qiu Bai, and Zong Li had all been looking at her. Regardless of whether their faces were smiling or indifferent, it’d been clear none of them were bothered by her discomfort. Luo Lan knew that at the scene of a disaster, it was always the onlookers who were the most indifferent.
Bai Li Cang had been steadfastly eating and drinking, indicating that he couldn’t have cared less about the situation and had no opinion.
Chen Sha and Chu Mo hadn’t been looking at her, yet one was avoiding looking at her out of indifference, while the other was appreciating the beautiful image of the dancers, avoiding witnessing Luo Lan’s humiliation.
Zi Yan studied Luo Lan. “That was very sharp of you. Among us, Chu Mo is the friendliest. Those who aren’t familiar with us are often swayed by Bai Li Cang’s dumb smile, or my peerless good looks.”
Luo Lan wordlessly stared at him and pointed at the drinks table, indicating that he stop talking bullshit and fulfill his promise.
Zi Yan selected a glowing blue and green drink and handed it to her.
Luo Lan hesitated, not daring to drink.
Zi Yan’s mouth quirked and grabbed another cup of the same drink, and in one swallow drank it all.
Luo Lan lifted the cup and tasted a sip of the sour and sweet drink, deciding that it was indeed delicious. She was about to thank him before the world suddenly began to spin, as if something in her brain was about to explode. Everything went black, and she knew nothing more.
tofu: And that’s a wrap on Chapter 1! And thus concludes LL’s arrival in Odin. My god, this was so much longer than the prologue.
Poor LL. She’s so strong; I can’t even imagine being thrown headfirst into this new and hostile world. Nevertheless, she keeps her head held high and marches on.
Rereading as I translate has reminded me what a huge turd Chen Sha can be. Poor LL has to deal with his crap for quite a while.