“Wangfei, Wangfei, are you awake?”
The light feminine voice caused Meifeng to push herself from the bed onto her elbows for a moment, but a splitting headache made her fall back down. Reaching a hand to her head, Meifeng found that the heavy metal combs, pins and woven flowers were still there.
At least I know why my head hurts, Meifeng thought before reaching into her head and slowly removing the cause of her pain.
“Wangfei, please allow me,” said that same voice.
Turning her head to the side, Meifeng saw what appeared to be a young girl around her age dressed in a pink hanfu, the long robe simple yet fitting to her figure. Her hair was also tied up in a black bun reminiscent to a maid from Ancient China, though Meifeng couldn’t be sure about the exact dynasty of the style.
“Are you here to serve me?” Meifeng tentatively asked.
Giving a deep curtsey with her hands clasped to the right corner of her waist, the girl said, “This servant pays respects to the Wangfei. When this servant was among the living, this servant was surnamed Ye and named Huian. The ‘hui’ from ‘kindness’ and the ‘an’ from ‘quiet’. The honorable wang has arranged for this servant to see to your needs.”
Meifeng stayed quiet for a moment thinking about what to say before saying, “Its nice to meet you Huian. Before I introduce myself, could you please help me up?”
“It would be this servant’s pleasure” Huian said with a slight smile before offering Meifeng an arm to help her stand up. After, Huian proceeded to help Meifeng walk to the other side of the room where a wooden chair, desk, and mirror laid. On either side of it were some large wooden boxes, their outside decoratively carved, although Meifeng suspected they held only clothes. Last night Meifeng had not taken notice of this half of the room as the books and music room had consumed her entire attention.
Sitting down, Meifeng saw how grimy her once beautiful makeup had become and how messy and out of control her once perfect black locks appeared. At the sight, she couldn’t help but feel her cheeks redden.
“Wangfei, just relax and allow this servant do the rest,” Huian’s voice said, pulling Meifeng from her thoughts.
As Huian started to carefully remove all of Meifeng’s hair ornaments, Meifeng said, “I apologize for not introducing myself. I am surnamed Jia and named Meifeng. The ‘mei’ from ‘beautiful’ and the ‘feng’ from ‘wind’.”
“Wangfei, if this servant may be so bold, this servant would like to request permission to speak freely,” Huian inquired.
Having been raised in the modern era, Meifeng found that no amount of preparation could have helped her get used to the classist manner of speaking Huian had. Even so, she didn’t want to get Huian into trouble by going against the mold. It was the first time Meifeng felt like a foreigner in this land and was grateful for all of her shifu’s teachings.
With that thought, Meifeng carefully said, “When we are alone, you may speak freely.”
Smiling, Huian said, “As expected, wangfei is both beautiful and kindhearted, suitable for living in the seventh court. Now, this servant wishes to inquire as to why the wangfei is so calm.”
“Forgive me, Huian, but I don’t quite understand your meaning,” Meifeng responded.
“Please allow this servant to explain,” began Huian before she placed the last hairpin on the table and started removing Meifeng’s makeup as she explained, “A friend of this servant often travels into Earth and she tells this servant that in the current era, there are not many willing to accept a fate of living in the ten courts with all of our restrictions. This servant wagered 50 liang with her on whether the new wangfei would be truly suitable or not. Might the magnanimous wangfei help this servant hold on to her 50 liang.”
“Aren’t you afraid that I’m a cruel wangfei who will punish you for admitting to gambling over me,” Meifeng responded.
Laughing while moving a cloth filled with makeup remover over Meifeng’s rouge, Huian responded, “Although this servant is young in appearance, this servant died in the Tang Dynasty and prides herself on being an excellent judge of character.”
Meifeng then stood up so that Huian could help remove her wedding dress and while holding her arms out said, “If you would like, I have a story you could tell your friend.”
Meifeng wasn’t entirely sure why she said this, but there was just something about the caring aura around Huian that made her want to be honest with her.
Pulling on the sash at her waist, Huian responded, “This servant enjoys stories.”
Meifeng began, “In a certain family there were two cousins, both girls and sharing the same age. One was as pretty as an immortal fairy and as pure hearted as an angel while the other was quiet and lonely. One day the angel’s parents received news that their angel would marry a demon king. When all hope had been lost, the mother of the angel learned that the parents of the lonely child had perished in an accident and that she was being mistreated by her new relatives. The mother then took the child and let her meet with the angel. Like everyone else she was entranced and found that being around the angel made life not so lonely anymore. So as a child, the lonely child decided that she would take the angel’s place.”
“This lonely child is really pitiful if that’s the case,” Huian spoke.
“No, she wasn’t pitiful because the lonely child had made a decision,” Meifeng argued.
Huian paused while removing Meifeng’s clothes and asked, “And what decision did the lonely child make?”
“That in the future she would make a happy family filled with love and kindness with the demon king,” Meifeng finished.
Huian finished removing Meifeng’s robes and said, “That’s a wonderful story and between the wangfei and this servant, this servant much prefers the lonely girl to the angel. Now what color hanfu would the wangfei prefer to dress in today?”
Pulling herself from her musings, Meifeng crossed her arms over her underclothes and tentatively responded, “Is there blue?”
Huian pulled from the wooden chest on the right a beautiful hanfu, the top half white and embroidered in blue-green flowers and the skirt of the lower half was the color of the ocean itself with similar flowers embroidered at the edges and sleeves.
“Wangfei, is this pleasing to you?” Huian asked with an expression akin to a puppy wishing to be praised.
Smiling, Meifeng again was reassured that something must have been amiss last night. Huian was so kind and even to her untrained eyes, the clothes were beautiful and extravagant.
So she said, “Its lovely, could you help me put it on?”
“It would be this servant’s pleasure,” Huian responded as she began helping Meifeng dress in the complicated ancient clothes.
While Huian helped her, Meifeng thought it would be a good time to ask the question that had been burning in her mind since last night.
“Huian?” Meifeng started.
“Yes, wangfei” Huian responded while securing the skirt around her thin pants.
“Is it alright if I ask you something,” Meifang inquired.
Smiling, Huian responded, “Ask away. There is nothing in the whole of the seventh court which this servant does not know. Well except for the sixteen dungeons.” Huian paused for a moment before asking, “The question isn’t about that awful place, is it?”
At the mention of the place where sinful souls were tortured, sometimes for years, Meifeng suppressed a shudder and said, “No, its not about that. I was just wondering if the wang got into an accident or if something had happened last night.”
“Last night?” Huian frowned as she took one final look at Meifeng’s appearance.
Before Meifeng could respond, a knock sounded at the door.
“Oh, look at the time, it would appear that that child has arrived,” Huian suddenly said.
“Who’s here?” Meifeng asked.
“Wangfei will find out in a moment. First, if this servant may ask, how proficient is wangfei in the dialect of Diyu?” Huian instead answered.
Meifeng responded, “When I was six, my shifu performed a ceremony which granted me fluency in the dialect of Diyu, the sight, and the bridal gift.”
“The village made a child undergo that ceremony?” Huian exclaimed, her cheerful disposition falling for the first time.
“It was my decision,” Meifeng responded.
“Still, it shouldn’t be one a child should have to make,” Huian insisted.
Before Meifeng could respond, the knock turned into almost banging.
“Wangfei, this servant apologizes about her. She’s a short-tempered child, but her heart is in the right place. Just remember to speak in the dialect of Diyu and be yourself and I’m sure we’ll all get on.” Huian explained.
The banging intensified even more and Huian switched from Mandarin into the dialect of Diyu as she said, “Hold on, I haven’t even done the wangfei’s hair.”
In that same dialect, a gruff yet feminine voice responded, “She’s still here? You mean she didn’t try to run away?”
Ignoring the woman outside, Meifeng asked Huian if they were going somewhere.
Beaming, Huian responded, “The wang requested that we take you into town today so that wangfei can familiarize yourself with your new home.”
“When will I get to see the wang?” Meifeng asked in response.
Instead of answering, Huian said, “It would seem that this servant cannot arrange your hair for today’s outing. No matter, no one knows wangfei’s face so we shall say that wangfei is a new demon.”
Running to the wooden chest, Huian grabbed some shoes to match Weifang’s hanfu and said, “Now put these on and let us be on our way before the angry dragon abandons us both.”
Nodding in confusion Meifeng did as she was told with the thought that she could always inquire about her husband while they were out. With that thought, she carefully placed the dainty blue-green shoes on her feet and pulled open the wooden sliding door to find a very tall and annoyed demon tapping her foot incessantly on the wooden floorboard. Her firey colored skin and ram horns only adding to her intimidating atmosphere.
Before Meifeng could greet herself, Huian hooked both Meifeng and the demon by the arm and said, “Shall we, my ladies?”
With that, they were off to wherever it was Huian planned for them to go to.