(Short Story) Flowerbox, the Young Peony

Present Day, Peonic Manor, Royal Capital of Lián.

The winter subdued the overgrowth of the manoral garden and froze the pond in ice. The guardians patrolled around the perimeter while caretaking the manor grounds. Winter in Huawan is an interesting sight, yet today was unusually cold. The streets are deserted as the wind punished those that dare come outside, there will be a lot of snow to shovel later.

Rin Kagamine took some tea as she looked outwards from the manor window. Her only respite from today, one that she forced herself to allow. She contemplated her wedding day growing near, and the dress picking with her family and friends soon to follow this week. Her hands warm from the boiling cup of tea that she steeped too long, she liked strong and bitter teas.

The High Knight looked at the lantern light that withstood the frost storm, dimly lit around a white fog under a stormy night. She took a sigh from the tea, and sipped it once more. She placed her cup on the table and graciously walked to The Peony’s study.

Carefully walking on the wooden floorboards her eyes glanced at the number of art and paintings hanging on the traditional walls that insulate the heat. A row of items she understood so well, it wasn’t once or twice she passed through this specific hallway.

She paused, in front of her was the door to The Peony’s study. She made herself presentable, it was protocol for her to do so. She knocked at the door to The Peony’s study, upon hearing a voice, she let herself in.

Rin bowed, and arose to see The Peony. The young monarch was cickclacking away on her computer, wearing a headset, even tonight she was still working.

“–rines will remain on standby. I do not want us to spill more needless blood in the wars of others. Though honorable Premier, we must ensure that our commitments to the LoC is kept. I assume you will summon our ambassador to the palace?”

“We have made the preparations my Nuwang for a meeting with his excellency. As we speak our mission is en route to the LoC taskforce.” Answered Royal Premier Sima Yi

“Very good. Sir Kukkonen, how about the stabilization of the Eastern region?”

“We have effectively secured and fixed high importance infrastructure in the region. Both railways and roads are fixed and fully operational, though the fan-rong croplands are still in disarray and the peatlands would need to be revitalized. There is also a matter of the nuclear plant, where we will need to neutralize the radiation.” answered Lord-Minister Kukkonen

“When should we expect a completion?” Asked The Peony.

“It would take another 6 months to fully revitalize the Eastern region from this earthquake my Nuwang. Full containment of the nuclear reactor will need some more time and we might go over budget.”

“How much over budget, Royal Exchequer?”

“The estimate is almost 2x as large. Our recommendation would be to increase the debt ceiling.” Answered Lord-Exchequer Kim Sol

“The edict needs to be agreed on, ensure an edict written and presented to the People’s Council. We must ensure the government does not shut down from this.” Responded The Peony, “I want a financial report of the severity by tomorrow.”

“Understood my Nuwang.” Answered the Lord-Exchequer.

“I have other engagements tonight. We shall reconvene tomorrow in the Council should the weather allow us. Ladies and Gentlemen.”

“Your honored excellency.” the ministers responded.

The Peony turned off the call and took off her headset in annoyance. She pinched the bridge between her eyes and continued clacking away on her computer.

“Rin.” answered The Peony.

“My Nuwang.” Rin responded, “the manor grounds are secure and the heaters are on. The exotic plants are also moved to the greenhouse.”

“Excellent. Tell the matron to make me some tea, and bring me some crackers.” she said as she drank some tea.

“Yes my Nuwang” said Rin, she viewed how frizzled The Peony’s hair and how red her eyes were.

“My Peony, this is just me talking to myself.” Said Rin, with careful tact, “surely you’re weary, but you have not slept in days.”

“I am fine, Rin. A couple sleepless nights is not abnormal for me.”

Rin could only give a sigh. It was not the first time The Peony didn’t sleep. Yet now is a highly abnormal for The Peony to be awake for so long, and Rin knew her adopted sister enough to know how she would act. Rin knelt down by her Monarch’s side.

“My Peony. You must sleep.” Said Rin. “Why don’t we retire and work once more in the morning?”

The Peony did not look at Rin, she opened the drawer in her desk and dropped some eye moisturizer on her eyes.

“Not only must I finish the writing of my dissertation for tenureship, we also risk a government shutdown. I must finish these reports if our Peocracy is to survive.”

“Yan, our Peocracy will still be here by the morning. Please get some rest, you are her monarch.”

“Rin, I must continue to seize the day if I were… If I were…”

The Peony started to slur her speech, and her eyes became so blurry.

“Rin… Where is… My tea.”

And in that moment. The Peony flopped to the side of her Guardian. Rin caught her in panic.

“My Nuwang, my Nuwang? Yan?, Yan?!?”

The Peony hears the sounds of Rin radioing the guardians, she couldn’t make out the words anymore. Light came out of The Peony’s eyes, as if she flew up to the skies.


Autumn, Royal Palace of Huawan, Lián.

Yan woke up to the chirps of the birds. Cold sweat drizzling from her body. The nightmares are back, she looked at the clock on her bedside and realized it was morning. For most it was too early to get up, but for her, it was too late.

She sat back up and drank her glass of water the matron placed for her every night, and checked her phone. The black brick had all her schedules in the calendar, engagements and classes, she was rather neat that way. She checked her messages and social media, there wasn’t much to see.

She felt her eyes with more moisture, she wasn’t wearing contacts at the time. In fatigue she stood up, and looked at the mirror in the room, assessing whether or not she looked presentable or not. She took out the dirt from her eyes and went to wash her face in her toilet.

Then a knock.

“Yes?” Yan asked, composing herself. It was one of the Peonic Royal Guardians.

“Good Morning, Honorable Princess. Her Excellency The Peony and His Majesty The Emperor would like to ask whether you would be joining them for breakfast.”

“Tell Mama and Baba I shall be there shortly.”

“Yes honorable princess.”

The Princess of Huawan. The youngest of the Royal Core Family, that was who Yan was. In other countries the princess would have a line or claim to the throne. But her brother would be the one that will claim the title when he is of age as emperor. It has been a long time since their mother was in power, and she is looking for an early retirement.

The young princess took her phone and went outside her room, where the matrons and the guardians gave her a bow to recognize her presence. In truth she always hated this protocol, it was interesting for onlookers, but after 16 years she grew weary of the bows and person she must portray.

The guardian had escorted her not to the dining hall, but instead to the outdoor garden. Sitting there was her two siblings, Crown Princess Shizuka and Crown Prince Ryuunosuke who looked at their sister and gave a brief nod.

Sitting next to them was grandmother, Lingxin Yan, who still enjoyed her new retirement as The Dowager Peony as she elegantly chewed on her bao with soy milk. The Emperor was there with scientific papers of his latest project in anthropology and textiles, he was about to present it in the university soon.

And in the middle part of the stone table. Was the Peony of Huawan, Akane Yan, with her sweater painted dark green, red and yellow. Taking some Kaya jam to place on a thick piece of milk toast. Her long curls and elegant bright face was noteworthy. Yan always thought her mother was beautiful enough, not the most but certainly nice enough for her parts in cinema. Yet she commanded an air of respect and strength, she was The Peony of Huawan.

And Yan gave a bow. “My Nuwang.” she said.

Akane smiled and asked Yan to come closer. Yan pecked her mother’s cheek, before kissing her father’s and her grandmother’s. She sat on the table, where toast and dumplings were in front.

“How was your sleep sweetie?”

“It was nice mama. I am relaxed.” Yan lied.

“Glad to hear it.” Akane said. She continued her talking. “So this friday we will open the council once more for discussions on the new tax reforms. I shall be heading to the Royal Council for the grand assembly.”

“The Easterners will ask for further reforms on the agricultural laws for the development of their croplands.” Advised Lingxin, the Dowager Peony, “increasing taxes of the croplands may lead to an increase of global food prices.”

“Yes Mama, I shall keep that in mind. Afterwards the ministers and I will fly out to Izaakia and Karnetvor to discuss about the new trade deal for the export of paper and jade.” Said The Peony as she bit her Kaya toast, she looked at her husband, The Emperor “Will I see you in Izaakia by week’s end?”

The Emperor, Professor Jihoon Yan-Park, set down his paper and smiled at his wife. “My conference should end at that time. We could reconvene for dinner with the Izaakian royal family then.”

“Oh! That was a detail I must’ve slipped by my mind. Terribly sorry.” Apologized The Peony, “yes we will have dinner with the Iceborns later on at the end of the week. We should also plan to have them come to us at some point.”

The Emperor gave a nod. “We certainly must. I suppose you three will be there as well?” he gestured towards his three children.

“I have some engagements in Hai Lan and ShengJi. The million readers initiative and some other royal duties I must attend to.” Answered the Crown Prince with his tact and masculine tone, “However I will ask my aid if I could fly there to join you.”

“I am still writing my dissertation and must open this charity in Arnchow. I might not be able to join you for the visit.” Said Shizuka, although second in line she wasn’t exactly free.

“I still have some high school projects to do. I also need to have a discussion with my mentors on what university major I would like to pursue.” Answered Yan as she sipped some tea, “I was wondering if you’ve read the report you asked for.”

“Yes daughter. We support you for going into medicine for your studies, in our alma mater no doubt, though you would have to study hard to ensure your entry.” answered The Emperor.

“The application essay you wrote was impeccable, I understand that the royal physicians have helped you pen this letter. I would also like you to shadow them so that you have a good grasp of the things in medical school later.” Answered The Peony, smiling.

“Sounds good.” Yan said, if you think that the essay was nothing more than embellishments of the truth. A guardian came to whisper something to The Peony, Akane checked her watch and promptly stood up.

“if you’ll excuse me I have engagements I must attend to.” said The Peony, followed by The Emperor too.

“I have a meeting with the university staff. May things go smoothly, insyaallah.” he said before taking his wife’s arms to walk away

The crown prince also stood up. He needed to prepare for his engagements. He bowed at his grandmother and said bye to his siblings. Moments later Shizuka’s phone rang and she took it, Yan knew that she was also over.

So it was only Yan and her 68 year old grandmother, the Empress Dowager who was happily eating her salted egg paos. Yan poured another cup of warm soy milk for her grandmother. It was less than half an hour of a family breakfast, or “family time”

The first family time after 5 months.


Autumn, Royal Palace of Huawan, Lián.

Yan was silently nibbling on her toast and enjoying every crunch of its burnt sides, while absorbing every sweet goodness from the yellow Kaya paste. She glanced at her grandmother, the dowager Peony, who was elegantly reading the paper while drinking her sweet and warm soy milk.

The Dowager Peony then glanced back at her granddaughter. Lingxin was amongst the most powerful people in history, leading Huawan in the Iron Century against the aggressors of history. Though not as battle worn as Lingxin’s own mother, she was a master in espionage, manipulation and clandestine operations. A brilliant mind for a strategist that caused significant grief to Ryccia, Sallodesia, and the IFF in her pursuit of national security of Huawan. Her duty was one she carries with solemn wisdom, calm and inner strength. Beneath the old lady facade lies a sleeping dragon, worried that should she be unshackled when she was in power, she would easily want to burn the entire region in blood, steel, fire and ash.

Yet Lingxin found herself at peace, finally able to relax after so long. Her daughter didn’t fare so poorly in her reign, despite some principal disagreements on policy. She glanced at her granddaughter, one that had the eyes of Yan’s great grandfather and the meekness of her father , two men she respected with all her heart.

“It is poor to stare, granddaughter.” said Lingxin. Yan immediately averted her gaze.

“My apologies grandmother.” She said, looking down. Lingxin took another sip before standing up, fixing her veil.

“Join me for a walk in the koi ponds.” Lingxin gently commanded, as she took a small book.

Yan stood and walked behind her grandmother as she steps.

“Guardians, prepare two cups of Silver corn tea blends. At once!” Lingxin commanded.

“Yes, my Nuwang.” A guardian acknowledged, still mentioning Lingxin’s old title before promptly scurrying off to the matron.

The old and the young walked together through the grassy gardens, by the wooden and stone panels that made the path that were surrounded by an overgrowth of flowers and bugs. Although it was zen to maintain neatness of the garden, it was very Peonic that mother nature remained undisturbed, the People of Huawan are the protectors of the integrity of land and sea, it was in their genes.

As Lingxin continued to walk, she took a deep breath of the air and the floral aroma of the Peonic garden, a welcome concoction that always changed everytime she visits it. Yan looked at her grandmother deeply, who was deep in thought and one with nature and the skies. She remarked that ever since her grandfather, the dowager-emperor, passed away a couple of years ago, Lingxin was rather wistful and calmer than before. Apart from her royal duties, Yan had realized her grandmother spent more time sending her grandfather prayers.

As they arrived at the koi pond, they went to a stone bench that overlooked it all. The Dowager-Peony placed her book down and took a scoop full of fish feed and threw it at the water, attracting the big and colorful koi towards them. Yan did the same, she always liked feeding the fish.

Lingxin sat down and exhaled, and she looked at Yan, her young granddaughter who has grown up so much.

“Would you mind explaining to me why you were late to breakfast today?” Lingxin inquired.

“My apologies grandmother, I did not mean to.” Yan knelt down at her grandmother, “It was foolish of me to oversleep, and I must ask for your forgiveness.”

Lingxin then looked back to the swimming koi, she didn’t care for the apologies. “Was it the nightmares again?”

Yan nodded. “Yes Nainai.”

The Dowager-Peony sighed. “What do you make of it this time?”

Yan was visibly shaken, she held her arm in worry.

“Be strong, granddaughter.” said Lingxin.

“…All around me, for as far as I could see, lay a rough land strewn with rocks, with not a drop of water, nor a blade of grass. Colorless, with no light to speak of. No sun, moon or stars. No sense of direction either. I see a mysterious twilight and a bottomless darkness that exchange places, a remote border at the edge of consciousness. At the same time, a place of strange abundance. At this twilight birds with razor sharp beaks come relentlessly to gnaw out my flesh, but when darkness fell the birds would fly off and the land would silently full in gaps of my flesh with a certain material.”

“what may that be?” asked Lingxin, still nonplussed.

“I am not sure… All I know is that this thing is something I can’t accept nor reject. It settled on my broken body as a shadowy swarm and fixed me up. When twilight returns the birds would come back to slash away at my body… It happens many times.”

Lingxin was deep in thought, wondering what it was that caused such disarray in her granddaughter. Yan sat next to her grandmother, worried.

Just then, the tea arrived, and both of them wore their masks for a brief moment to receive it, promptly taking them off as they sipped their respective cups of tea.

“As twilight comes so does life that gnaw your inner truth bit by bit, until you are a husk of a person.” Lingxin said, slowly picking her words. “no matter what, the things that were lost need to be patched up, whether by a new self, a temporary mask, of faith, of sin, of worldly desires or of inner strength. The body needs to be whole and could not go on without.”

Yan listened intently to her grandmother.

“The brain is one of the most overpowered organic supercomputers in this world, it would be thousands of years until we could create something so similar. Computers process input to predict the most logical output from a series of process, and as much as we find it difficult to remember, our mind has the data from our lives spent.” said Lingxin. “Suppose then, the data taken were to be used to predict your future. Dreams are merely a volume that may predict what comes to your future later.”

" That I be eaten by crows? "

“Interpretation is a very moldable thing. Granddaughter.” Said Lingxin, “each to our own, but it doesn’t mean it is not easy to influence other’s interpretations.”

“and what say you, grandmother?” asked Yan as she sipped her tea.

“… We are never the same person as we are yesterday, biologically, mentally, physically, morphologically. It is however for you to decide, which way should you go.” answered the Dowager-Peony, “what you want to full these gaps, and whom you want to become.”

Yan stayed silent.

“So 孫女(Sunnu). Who are you, and who do you want to become?” Lingxin asked.

Yan gave a thought of the question. She sipped her tea once more and answered in a way she never answered before.

“Nainai.” Yan answered,

“I would like to be kind.”


Autumn, Lián.

Yan walked from her room across the imperial halls. The thoughts by her grandmother still ringing clear in her head, as well as her nightmares. Yan was particularly close to her grandmother now, a long time ago the woman was on a pedestal for the country to seek virtue, now Yan sees an old woman filled with curt wisdom and elegance. Her grandmother was monarch in her eyes no longer, she was just a woman, a family member that she regarded rather highly.

Yan’s shoes continued to ring across the stone path crowded with guardians and caretakers, each bowing and greeting the young princess as she made her way to school. The young princess was veiled with an elegant red veil, with a white health mask on and a long white tunic over red silk pants. The easterners called it the Áo Dài, and she had chosen to wear it to school. Yan had actually spent more time abroad in home stays and multiple different educational institutions across of The South Pacific.

Stoinia, Izaakia, Sedunn, Besern and Techganet are among a few nations that she had lived in. The experiences of being well traveled and well versed in other cultures had made her a “citizen of the world”. She had some adequate command of the languages spoken in these nations, and respect towards the cultures that birthed them too. She had also made sure to keep in touch with her host families and the people she met in these nations. However acquiring these skills come at a cost, she had some small work piled up on her school desk and she would need to complete these tasks if she were to graduate on time. At such a short amount of time, she would need to do all these tasks, alone.

Yet despite the anxiety of so much work piling up clouds her heart and mind, Yan’s perhaps most sad moment was the fact she couldn’t make lasting friendships with the people in school. She was enrolled in the Taiyang system, which is a school noted for the gifted, be it in intelligence, social standing or the abundance of their parents money. The Taiyang system had gifted some of the most prolific politicians for decades, and it was a place for people to make a string of networks that lasts them long.

Yan however had these networks out of a one-sided loop. The thought of knowing someone of the royal family would benefit any ventures in their adulthood, people flocked over her to get on Yan’s good grace.

Naturally, she had to smile and act as if it was alright. But after getting Yan’s contacts (and maybe a coffee or two), these people patted themselves on the back, say to others that they are confidants of the honorable princess, and have her contact in their address book or social media friend list without a call nor a message sent evermore.
Yan therefore had a long list of people in her friend list, and considers none of them a “true friend”. Of course, Yan could easily contact them back and hang out with them, friendship was a two way street after all.

Yet Yan was wary of letting these people too close. The role of a princess was a tricky one, and too much people with bad intentions will be a liability. In this process she has become well versed in reading others and their mannerisms, a skilled orator, character reader and manipulator. At a cost, that she was alone.

But Yan was alright being alone, she accepted that she has little in her circle that she could trust. She accepted that her parents and siblings busied themselves so much to an arguable point of neglect, she understood it to be a necessary evil for her country’s survival. Most of all, Yan loved spending time with herself, Yan was alone, but she was not lonely.

As the steps continued to ring through she saw a group of guardians and a girl roughly the same age as Yan. The guardian was her own personal guard, Anthony Lau was his name, one of the many guards that was assigned to her. Mr. Lau was a man in his early 30s, and was a skilled enough royal guardian to ensure Yan’s safety. Yan viewed the man in neutral respect, and courtsied at him first to show her appreciation like all other guardians.

The young girl however, Yan knew best, Rin Fayya Kagamine, Yan’s milk sister, a member of the royal family that was not related to blood. Rin was a descendant of an Arnchow family that was close to Mei Yan, her great grandmother. When news broke out that the girl was made orphan, the royal family spared no expense to save the young woman. Yan grew up with Rin by her side, and the two princesses were inseparable like twins. There were times that the both of them caused much nuisance and chaos in the royal palace with their pranks and schemes, but their relationship was firmly in Rin’s almost knightly loyalty towards Yan.

Rin was not seen that day in “family time” because of her education. Of all the things she chose, she chose to become a Peonic Royal Guardian. An interesting career choice from within the royal family, yet one her adoptive parents did not question much. In her graduation she will enroll in a military university and will be inducted in the arms forces before receiving special training in the guardians. Now she shadows the guardians in being Yan’s own, believing that Yan’s security could be ever more secure if she had someone by her side. Yan welcomed the idea.

Rin had her bag, and an orange hairband that put her hair back and her forehead up, she wore blue tracksuit pants, a tracksuit jacket and a sports top within. She had physical education today, and she was training for track and field today before spending the rest of her day in karate, she had already finished her tasks. When Yan bowed Mr. Lau and Rin knew they had to move the minute the curtsies end.

Rin moved beside her milk sister as Lau walked closely behind as to be in appropriate reach while not crossing the princesses space too much.

“Goooooooood Morning Sister!” Rin shouted with a chipper smile. She knew how to cheer up her sister from one of her deep thoughts.

“Morning Rin.” Responded Yan with a tired but composed smile, “Anything to look forward today?”

“Oh just some exercises from coach. I already ran a couple of laps with the guardians today. Anything from our parents?”

“The same old family time.” Yan somberly said, Rin knew what she meant.

“I see… Well, no use of crying over spoilt milk! Let’s have a great time today!” shouted Rin with a wide smile.

“… Yeah, lets do exactly that!” Yan smiled, she was not going to let the nightmare ruin the rest of her day, at least, she will try to keep those thoughts at bay.

“I know, why don’t we take the metro today?” suggested Rin, knowing how much Yan loves the rails “it is such a nice day and we might not get caught on the rush hour.”

Yan looked at Mr. Lau for his approval. Although he would much rather the two be driven to school in a secure car, Mr. Lau understood and trusted Rin’s judgement in this matter. Rin was still a princess after all. His nod beamed Yan once more.

So the three of them walked outside on the secret staff entrance of the Royal Palace, and exited a series of hallways in between shops to the road.

Tourists and day goers walked around the path surrounding the palace minding their own business, some were jogging, some wanted a head start on tourism, and others were preparing for today’s business. Both Rin and Yan did not look conspicuous, Rin looked like she was a run of the mill student athlete and Yan’s dress was commonplace for students. Mr. Lau was inconspicuous, and surrounding the three were Peonic guardians well hidden to ensure security.

Yan and Rin continued to walk through the paths filled with autumn leaves and the smell of hot soy milk and colorful breakfast foods. The Royal Palace area was quite a good place to shop for both tourists and locals, reasonably priced for the two different societies. Yan always enjoyed looking at the different things sold and the overall atmosphere of the area, she always remarked how much she enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Huawan, and an urban sound that itself is a lovely thing to get lost into.

They made their way to the metro station, about 700 metres from the Royal Palace exit. Open tracks between a row of fences and lovely autumn colored trees. The station was noteworthy, high capacity yet still retaining it’s traditional architecture, almost having a timeless charm. Yan tapped her commuter’s card and Rin did so too, Mr. Lau silently follows behind them. They waited in the station platform for the train. They were in no rush.

download (2)
Yan saw the station. It was not as full yet not empty either. It was just before rush hour and the tourists nor government workers have arrived just yet. So she does not expect too much of a crowd in the train.

Yan saw the tracks that reached to the horizon of the cityscape, the clock that strikes to 6, the morning sun that’s preparing to rise, the wind that blows a cool wind in the autumn of early March. She saw the station master, looking at the clock nestled comfortably on his gloved hands.

The 6.03 metro was in sight. A yellow electric multiple unit, a simple urban block that’s akin to a long block of cheddar with wheels and windows. The train slows down in the platform, bringing wind to those who wait. As the carriages slow down Yan took her sunglasses and wore them between her ears and her hijab. The doors opened, and the three entered for a seat.

Yan and Rin sat while Mr. Lau was in front of them. Yan looked outside the windows as the station master waved the green flag, she was happy to get lost in the tracks once more.

And so the yellow commuter train goes silently to the next station. So begins another day in the young princess’s life.


Midorikawa Imperial College, Taiyang Wing, Lián, Huawan.

They alighted at L’ecole, the scholar area metro stop about five stops from the imperial palace metro station using the circle line. The Midorikawa college was an old and respected institution for students in Lián, a prestigious national school that was built and sponsored alongside the Stoinians and the Izaakian. The college was made as a place to provide a more Austral education and mannerism that was considered somewhat more refined.

The college has a student body of roughly 2500, ranging from ages 6 to 19. Its strict yet stellar education and that many of its students and alumni come from families with prominent status have made it extremely desirable for families to enroll their children. Some parents even offer “donations” to enroll their children or buy good grades, but it has been made clear that the headmaster and school administration are not easily bought. Although outsiders also deem the school to be posh, abundance of scholarship programs and a more modest tuition fee had made it affordable to many.

By the 20th century the Midorikawa Imperial College was arguably one of the best schools in all of Cordilia, with awards and great figures spawning out of the college and achieve greatness. The Taiyang Wing was especially interesting, it was a wing of the school made for the most talented, the most affluent or the most rich.

Although Yan knew that some of her peers had easily bought their way into the school through sheer political intrigue, she had been determined to get into the school using her own wills. She passed the written and interview exam easily, and became among the few that earned their way in. Yan made it clear that her peers knew that proud fact, and had never received preferential treatment.

Rin also enrolled in the Taiyang Wing for her excellent athletic prowess that had got her much awards for the college as well as an extensive community service hours under her belt. Rin was also adequate enough in her studies to pass and go into institutions she would like, as well as a healthy social circle.

The two princesses were complete opposites of one another. The solemn, quiet and loner seen in Yan commanded high grades in the entire college as well as any other school she enrolled herself into in her homestays, if it weren’t for her absences she would be noted the best valedictorian in the history of the college. Rin was the cheerful, loudmouthed and athletic which netted many wins for the school and achieved enough grades in her courses, who had a large social circle that her station currently allowed her to have.

Yet there is something interesting on the both of them, similar to the yin and yang icon that plastered heavily in Peonic symbolism. With Rin’s blue jacket and Yan’s red veil they moved with tact and form. Other students from the college gazed at them, with some saying hi to either or both of them. The two princesses never did anything controversial and were overall respected by their peers.

Yan clenched unto her leather bag tightly as it flails on her side from the autumn wind. Rin had checked her phone to see her schedule, and realized it was 15 minutes till class.

“I have to go now Yan, I’ll try to catch you at lunch!” Rin said as she gave her milk sister a hug.

“Alright, I shall see you then.” responding to her sister’s embrace, before seeing her run to the gym. Yan then walked by herself, taking out her new shuffle music player and promptly playing her playlist. She drowned out the sounds as she made her way to her classroom, but lowering the volume enough to still hear her peers should she need to be courteous.

She entered through the big doors of the college and found herself in the cafwteria/waiting hall, and made her way through a modest clamor of students bustling around with their projects and tasks. Greeting them in response with a chipper voice. Through the corridors and the specialized classes she arrived in 3-C, that was her homeroom class. She opened the doors and saw the student body, without uniform and handling their own errands.

Yan greeted some of them and they greeted them back. She sat at one of the tables and opened her phone to check the agendas and classes she would have to go to today. Yan sighed, at a time when most students would be finishing with their final projects Yan would be starting hers. The bells tolled, and students sat back down awaiting the entry of the teacher. Yan took off her mask and greeted at her seatmates.

The teacher, a 46 year old man with a suit and tie and neat hair came up to the board, facing his small class of 15 students.

“Good morning class.”

“Good morning Mr. Han” the students said in unison.

“For the morning briefing be reminded to submit your university applications if you haven’t yet. Also keep in mind to complete the tasks, you still have a month to complete them before we log into your grades. Lastly remember to register yourself for the graduation ceremony if you’ve completed all your tasks. Remember your schedules and I will be having meetings with you soon in regards to your studies, which I have uploaded to your respective schedules.” Briefed Mr. Han.

“Yes teacher.”

“Now then. Have a good day, study hard and concentrate. I shall see some of you in anthropology class and the others in geography.” said Mr. Han, that was the end of the morning assembly, some students immediately went out of their class and some stayed until theirs began. Yan stood up, and went into Mr. Han’s desk, she was the first one to be scheduled.

“Good morning Yan.” Mr. Han said, “I have some reports for you to see.”

“What would that be teacher?” she asked, Mr. Han promptly flipped his computer screen for his summary.

“You have completed all of your worksheets in your school subjects and completed your group work tasks despite your multiple absences. The other teachers have converted some of the work you’ve done abroad into our system so you have passed these subjects well.” Mr. Han briefed her, “there are however some exams you would have to sit, mostly practical ones in advanced biology, advanced chemistry, advanced engineering, practical Calligraphy and calculus. I assume you knew which ones.”

“Yes teacher, I shall promptly email the corresponding teachers for guidance.”

“Excellent. There is also a matter of your final project which is a graduation requirement. I would suggest coming up with the topic today to me, and we could work on the proposal you can begin with the report immediately. I know that you might have a large plan for your research but I assure you it would be much better to achieve something achievable in this short amount of time, I advise you this so that you could still graduate on time with your peers.”

“I am aware. My full attention has been made for my graduation and my subsequent application.”

“Yes about your application to the Lotus Royal University of Lián, I agree that medicine is an excellent field for you to undergo. The headmaster of the College would like to have a discussion with you about it, I assume you’ve seen it in your schedule and your email today?”

Yan nodded. “Yes, at 10AM for a short tea with the headmaster. I shall be on time for it.”

“Excellent. I am glad we had this meeting, remember to come see me this afternoon for your topic. Let us ensure that you could graduate on time this month.” Said Mr. Han as he gave some forms and papers to Yan.

“I will not fail you, teacher.” Yan courteously said, before walking to her table and neatly placing those papers in her folder.

She made her way outside of class, prepared to ask her other teachers for an appropriate date for her exams.


Midorikawa Imperial College, Taiyang Wing, Lián, Huawan.

download (3)

“9.45 AM” Yan thought, as she finished a meeting with one of her teachers. She hurriedly rushed to the main building of the college, taking her items with her. She had the dates of her examinations ready, and will be spending quite some time studying them in a row. She grew weary of the examinations she needed to prepare, but it was not impossible, the memories of the things she studied was still fresh, she just needed to revise.

By this time her peers are still in their respective classes carrying about their own duties. That was the Taiyang school system, almost a mirror to university and adult working life, where every student was expected to attain the grades and credits from their chosen courses of the semester that would fit their interests or prequisites for their chosen university. It was not to say that the college was lax, the teachers were strict towards protocol.

Yan was at least happy she wore pants that day, it allowed her to walk a little bit faster and jump through obstacles that would allow her to arrive even seconds faster. The young princess was a pragmatist, something she got from her older sister. Passing by a brick bridge that overlooked the autumn courtyards of the college, she felt the winds blew on her again, like a tailwind above the skies as if pushing her from behind with confidence.

A series of hallways and stairs found her to the room of the college headmaster. A wide stone and brick room that retained the original qualities centuries ago, mahogany tables and soft couches to welcome anyone that’s waiting for an audience, and of course one of the two secretaries the college headmaster has at his disposal. The secretary looked at Yan, and asked her a question.

“Good morning, do you have an appointment with the headmaster?” he asked, professional but tired from a lack of bean count.

“I have an appointment with the college headmaster, sir.” Yan said.

“and what is your family name?” He asked, looking at the headmaster’s schedule for the day in his flipbook.

“Yan, sir.” Yan said, the secretary immediately knew he was speaking to one of the two royals currently in the college.

“Ah yes.” he said. “Please have a seat Yan, I shall call you when the headmaster is ready.”

Yan bowed and turned to sit in one of the comfy seats. She saw the secretary buzzing the headmaster of his appointment, it did not take a minute until the secretary stood up and called for Yan.

“Right this way Yan,” said the secretary “the headmaster is ready to see you.”

Yan stood up with her bag now held on her hand, she found it slinging to be rather rude. She meekly followed behind the secretary through the large twin doors of the headmaster’s office. She was greeted by a large mahogany desk that stood in front a 67 year old man with a long white beard, round spectacles and a receding hairline. He was the headmaster, Lord Leonardo Kwah, the ex-ambassador of Huawan to Sedunn. He had his glasses on him, but there were not much papers on his desk, he was entertaining another guest.

This other guest sat opposite to the headmaster and was looking at the window behind the headmaster’s desk, which saw the assembly square of the college. He tilted his head to see the recent entry of the room however, and gave a brief smile that pushed up his cheeks. The man was considerably younger than the headmaster, and Yan can’t say she was already acquainted with him.

“Good morning sirs.” Yan bowed, her veil slipping down a bit before she fixed it as she stood back straight.

“Ah Yan. Come have a seat with us.” The headmaster said, “Mr. Halonen, please excuse us.”

The secretary gave a bow and excused himself from the room to proceed with his other duties. Yan stepped forward and sat down on the seat.

“Yan, I would like to introduce you to Professor-Doctor Ibrahim Tingzhe, a specialist in experimental orthopedics from the imperial hospital of Lián, and the vice dean of the medical faculty of Lotus University.” Introduced the headmaster.

“A pleasure to meet you, your excellency.” Doctor Tingzhe stood to shake Yan’s hands, which Yan courteously accepted by promptly standing and receiving it. “Headmaster Kwah and I go way back in my university days.”

“The pleasure is all mine doctor.” Yan responded with a smile, before sitting down.

“Now Yan, I understood from your teachers that you are interested in applying to the Lotus University Medical Faculty?” Asked Headmaster Kwah, “is this true?”

“Yes, honorable headmaster.” Yan answered the rhetoric, “I am keen to apply in Lotus University as a physician.”

“At 16 no doubt. Impressive.” Headmaster Kwah remarked. Yan had an interesting educational background that allowed her to graduate at such a young age.

“As you know some schools have a set amount of slots that is given by the university for talent scouting enrollment. These are usually reserved for the finest students, and we have discussed to give you this slot.”

Yan was surprised by the sudden announcement.

“Our medical faculty is prepared to guarantee you a slot in this year’s intake, on the basis that you do not apply anywhere else.” Continued Doctor Tingzhe. “You would still need to provide the administrative papers and submit your motivation letter, as well as complete your academic year, but overall youd be among the first to have their application accepted.”

Yan was happy to hear the news, but wary if there are any strings attached to this. It almost made her want to ask if her parents had anything to do with this.

“I appreciate that you think so highly of me, honorable headmaster, honored doctor.” Yan gave a courteous nod. “However if I may speak so freely, is there anything further I would have to commit compared to another student?”

Doctor Tingzhe understood her worries. Both her parents and her older brother were alma maters of Lotus University, and it was not above her to think the palace had any influence to this news. Though that was not the case, she was correct that the university had another plan in mind.

“There is something extra. You see, the Southern Grovne University in Sedunn has recently signed a medical double degree program with Lotus University. This is rather unprecedented as both continents host different disease models and medical authorities. Peonic traditional medicine models is also of interest to those in Bailtem, and a school was proposed to be made there.” Explained Doctor Tingzhe, “among these plans would be the beginning of the double degree program which would ensure whether or not a shared program could work between our universities.”

Yan began to understand.

“And that is where my experience with Sedunn shall lie?”

“You will start your semester in Lotus University and get basic understanding of medical and biological sciences as well as study a little bit of Sedunnic. Before promptly transferring to Southern Grovne University for three semesters. By then you would have to do your Peonic mandatory military service continued with your medical internship in either Sedunn or Huawan. You would be amongst the first to have the opportunity to graduate as a medical student in both SGU and LotusU.”

Yan paused. She knew what they were doing, a public relations stunt. One of the many with Sedunn to ease off relations from the Iron Century, and to foster better Peonic relations with the other states. How great would it be if the princess of Huawan was also a Sedunnic graduate, it would certainly tighten relations with the King of Sedunn. Though this will come at a huge risk, eyes will be more on Yan, how a member of the Peonic royal family will act. Opportunities don’t come cheap, and Yan found it wise to discuss this first with her closest. .

“… I do not mean any disrespect, doctor, headmaster.” Yan said with a respectful bow, “but this is such an announcement, may I be allowed time and opportunity to process the news?”

The doctor looked at the headmaster and gave a nod. The headmaster promptly responded as he combed his beard with his hands.

“Very well. I am sure Lotus University could give you a week to ponder this carefully?” asked headmaster Kwah to the doctor, who responded with a nod. The headmaster turned back to Yan, “the most important thing is to complete your exams and your final project.”

Yan then asked, “and if I refuse this offer, would I still be eligible to enroll in Lotus University Medical school through conventional means?”

“the same.” doctor Tingzhe said. “I urge you however to give this careful thought, let the headmaster know of your decision and should you accept, we shall process this right away.”

Yan gave another nod. “May I be excused, honorable headmaster.”

“You are excused now, Yan.” Headmaster Kwah answered, “please close the door behind you.”

Yan stood to bow at the headmaster, and thanked the doctor by shaking his hand once more. She promptly left the room with her light steps, unsure what to think.

Yan knew that this would be a massive undertaking and a huge responsibility that she must amass. She needed to confide in someone, and lunch was close.

She took her phone and texted Rin to meet her in the college cafeteria, she also moved to another chatroom to ask for an audience.

“Dajie Shizuka.” she texted, “could you meet me for lunch today in college? ASAP”

The message was read, and Shizuka responded.

“See you 12.”


Midorikawa Imperial College, Taiyang Wing, Lián, Huawan.

Shizuka was, in most matrices, an absent sister. She was the crown princess and was the second in line for the throne, even upon the coronation of her older brother she would still be expected to carry out royal duties. She was nearly 8 years Yan’s senior, and at the age of 24 is beginning her dissertation and PhD in Law. Shizuka was busy and cold, her upbringing in royal protocol and governance did not allow her much time with her little sister.

Though let it not be known that Shizuka never tried to be there for her sister. Even now she allowed herself some time to meet with her sister in the Imperial College, one she used to go to years ago. Though as Shizuka’s car arrived on campus, she wasn’t there to greet old teachers and go on a trip to memory lane.

She was there for lunch, and today was an excellent menu for lunch. So within moments the woman went into the college café and study area, where she saw her little sister Yan sitting down and spacing out somewhere.


“Little sister.” said Shizuka, towering above the sitting Yan. The woman with long flowy dark hair that covered the protrusion of her collarbone, she wore a white sleeveless blouse and black denim under her long black overcoat. She likes her clothes to be clean cut and modern, one that projects her no-nonsense attitude towards things.

Yan stood up, her eyes matching her sister, and gave a bow, thanking her for coming at such short notice. Shizuka sometimes wondered whether or not Yan would surpass her in height, she is still able to grow, and she will be an excellent fashion model. Perhaps that’s where most of their mother’s height genes went to.

They were promptly joined by Rin, who was sweating profusely after running to the café. She didn’t think to shower from her exercise because she’d be sweating again soon anyway. Besides, it was Yan, though she didn’t expect the Crown princess to be there. Rin promptly gave another bow.

“You seriously need a shower, Rin.” Shizuka remarked with a teasing laugh.

"I’ve got exercise again so might as well go on."Rin said, proud of her odours.

" I take it your strategy is going to K.O. your opponent with this odor?" Teased Shizuka.

“A win, is a win.” Said Rin, dismissively, before looking at Yan, “I hear there is seared halibut today.”

Yan nodded, “yes, let’s go have lunch.” Before meekly leading the other two to the cafeteria. Shizuka knew something was up, Yan was not the most talkative or commanding, she was rather meek if she didn’t feel the need to put on her mask, yet Shizuka at least knew if there are things going on with her little sister.

They went to the cafeteria where some people glanced at the three princesses. With their trays they took their portions, one took more vegetables the other took more bread, but all took two pieces of seared halibut with lemon. All the while with some people recording the three, wondering if it is shareworthy. Shizuka merely smiled when a student or a faculty member greeted her with honorifics, though she tried to show them that she wasn’t there on a public visit.

Shizuka paid for her two siblings, and they immediately made their way outside in a more private place for conversation. Trays on hand with their drinks chosen, they were in the courtyard. The Peonic guardians standing by and hidden, Shizuka ordered them to do so.

They said their prayers and their phrase and silently dug into their meals using their utensils. It was polite to eat for a little in silence until beginning to converse, a time to actually enjoy the food. The steaming hot seared halibut tantilized the tastebuds of the three princesses, they knew that although the royal chefs could make this ten times better, there is about cafeteria food that is rather nostalgic.

After completing half of the halibut, Shizuka began the conversation.

“So, is something the matter Yan?” asked Shizuka, “surely you didn’t ask me here just for a lunch.”

Yan gave a big gulp and looked her two sisters. She needed to pause her meal.

“Headmaster Kwah called me today and introduced me to the vice dean of the medical faculty of Lotus University, they are willing to offer me a slot in the intake through talent-scouting.” said Yan.

“That is excellent news!” Rin shouted. “I know you’ve worked hard for this.”

“Indeed, that is an impressive offer.” added Shizuka.

Yan continued, her voice filled with trepidation, “But they want me to get into the pioneering double degree program between Huawan and Sedunn. Apparently, it’s this new major that’s going to open this year.”

Shizuka leaned back, her skepticism deepening. “And I suppose they want you to head the program as the star student.”

Yan nodded, blushing and meek, and Shizuka saw through the situation more clearly than ever.

“They want you to be their puppet in this diplomatic circus,” Shizuka remarked. “It’s not just about your talents; it’s about their interests. You’re just a pawn in their political game.”

Shizuka sipped her tea. She guessed correctly, even though the headmaster no longer held the post, he still was the ambassador for Huawan in Sedunn at the peak of Iron Century crisises. He had much connections in Sedunn and would benefit towards closer relations between the two states, this may be one of the things that he might get a kickback from. Shizuka is certain that there are deeper hidden risks than what her sister heard.

Yan saw Shizuka, the elder understood Yan’s dilemma very well. Yan had to know whether this offer was too good to be true, yet wondering if the risk was worth the rewards that follow.

Yan looked solemn.

" I mean, I am happy that I was offered such an opportunity. It’s just… It feels a bit too much to stomach for me. I can’t help but feel like I’m being used as a pawn," she confessed.

Shizuka’s response was stern. “Yan, you need to be cautious. This is not just an opportunity; it’s a potential minefield. They’re exploiting your royal station, and we should be ready for the consequences.”

Shizuka said her words with much sharpness, she was not foreign to bluntness. She has continuously came out of the wolves den by biting them harder, politics is a tricky bridge to cross that will give out at any moment. Despite so, she decided to switch the tone for her little sister afterwards.

“Yan, you were never expected to perform diplomatic efforts of such proportions. It is understood that your inclusion to this program initially will not be fully dependent to your merit, and you might believe you don’t deserve such a blessing.” Mentioned Shizuka, “yet regardless of your station, it is actually your role as a student and your skills as a physician, that would decide your value in this field, as well as the impact that follows.”

Shizuka sipped some more tea, and continued her words. “Self doubt is an unfortunately persistent feeling that you’ll have, and the only cure is to perform the best you can be, whilst still be humble that you can improve further. There is no end in thinking whether or not you deserve this opportunity, and whether it is because of your station or your merit. It clouds your efforts to soldier on and succeed with your plans.”

Shizuka cut her final piece of fish and wiped her mouth with her napkin before continuing her words.

“I understand your concerns,” Shizuka said with a gentle smile. “It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed by such a significant opportunity. But remember, you’ve come this far because of your hard work and dedication to your studies. The fact that they want you to lead this program is a testament to your abilities.”

Rin, who had been listening attentively, chimed in, “You have our full support, Yan. We know you’ll rise to the occasion and make the most of this opportunity.”

Yan’s anxiety remained, but it began to ease as she felt the genuine support of her sisters. She could sense a glimmer of opportunity beneath her sister’s warnings.

“I’ll tread carefully, Dajie,” Yan whispered, her weariness still present but now mingled with a growing determination. “I’ll give it my best, and maybe I can make the most of this chance.”

Shizuka softened her gaze, realizing the mix of emotions Yan was going through. “Yan, it’s a world of complexities out there, and sometimes you have to wade through the murk to find the clarity. Your resilience and your ability to adapt will be your strengths.”

Rin chimed in with an encouraging smile. “You’ve got a family that believes in you, Yan. We’ll be here for you every step of the way.”

Yan’s uncertain expression began to shift as she absorbed their support. “Thank you, Dajie, Rin. I’ll take your words to heart. I’m not entirely sure what lies ahead, but I’ll do my best to make the most of this opportunity.”

Shizuka nodded in approval. “That’s the spirit, Yan. Trust in your own abilities, and remember, we’re here to help and guide you whenever you need.”

The sisters continued their meal, the atmosphere now filled with a sense of unity and optimism. Yan’s path was uncertain, but with her determination and her sisters by her side, she at least didn’t felt alone.

1 Like

Midorikawa Imperial College, Taiyang Wing, Lián, Huawan.

After the lunch with her sisters, Shizuka had departed to attend to her royal duties and Rin left to continue her sports to the night. Leaving Yan alone with her thoughts. The cool autumn breeze rustled the leaves of the trees as Yan walked through the college garden. The memories of the meal and her sisters’ support warmed her heart, but Yan’s mind was still preoccupied with the life-changing offer presented to her by Headmaster Kwah.

She reached a bench beneath a cherry blossom tree and took a seat, gazing out at the picturesque landscape that surrounded the manor. The garden was a sanctuary of nature, a place where she had sought solace during countless moments of reflection.

Yan’s fingers absentmindedly traced the petals of a fallen cherry blossom as she contemplated her future. The offer to lead the pioneering double degree program between Huawan and Sedunn was both a tremendous honor and a daunting responsibility. Her heart swelled with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

In the distance, she could hear the gentle chirping of birds, and the soft trickling of the fountain. The beauty of the garden offered a stark contrast to the weighty decision she needed to make.

“What should I do?” Yan whispered to herself, as if the garden itself might provide an answer.

She knew that the decision to accept the offer would impact not only her academic and professional path but also her role in her family and her duty to her country. The responsibility was immense, and the path ahead uncertain.

Then a ping came on her phone, it was an email from her teacher, asking if she had decided a project topic yet. Yan typed that she did, she was going to analyze the bento boxes of train stations and see which one is the most popular. It didn’t seem too large, and she was sure she could do so while trainspotting.

A prompt email from her homeroom teacher signals his approval, and that he will find a willing teacher to help supervise Yan. She is tired that she might have to study for some of the exams that she’d need to sit soon, but she knew its an occupational hazard, so to speak.

As the afternoon sun cast long shadows the college and the bustles of students came to be for the end of the day, Yan continued to wrestle with her thoughts. She had always sought the guidance and wisdom of her family, but this decision was one she would have to make on her own. Yan made a silent promise to herself. She would explore the possibilities and weigh the consequences carefully at her level best.

Walker’s Quay Metro, Walker’s Quay Riverfront, Lián, Huawan.

Later that day, Yan found herself at Walker’s Quay, a metro station near the famed Walker’ Quay riverfront, the old merchants district for riverboat turned fancy shopping and restaurant plazas that adorned a beautiful station with colonial Peonic merchant architecture from the early 18th to 19th century. Picturesque, and not too busy, a perfect time for her to train spot. It was one of the stations she decided to visit that day.

Her thoughts were still occupied by the offer from Lotus University’s medical faculty, and her mother, The Peony’s, unusual absence during their conversation this morning.

Yan’s steps echoed on the platform as she looked out at the approaching train. Her phone seemed to weigh heavily in her hand, and her heart pounded with a sense of urgency. She had been contemplating her final project for school, and how to proceed to complete it.

As the train came to a halt, she boarded without a specific destination in mind. The idea was impulsive, driven by a need for a change of scenery and a break from the overwhelming choices that lay ahead. As she tapped her public transport card unto the card reader, Yan didn’t know where she would alight the train, but she welcomed the unpredictability of the journey.

As the train began its rhythmic journey, Yan found a strange sense of comfort in the unknown. Her passion for trainspotting had led her on this impulsive ride, a metaphor for the choices she faced. The bustling cityscape outside the window was a reflection of the world she was about to step into—a world where tradition and modernity coexisted, where she would have to balance her personal dreams with her royal duties.

As she settled into her seat, she decided to take out her phone and dial her mother’s number. The Peony answered promptly, the video call displayed her face and voice carrying a mix of warmth and formality.


“Ni Hao, my Nuwang…” said Yan, meekly.

“Yan, is everything alright?” The Peony inquired, she is not sure if she could spare the time.

Yan hesitated for a moment before speaking. “Mama, I wanted to say that I truly appreciate the opportunity you’ve presented to me. I understand how significant it is, and I’m grateful for your support.”

Akane somewhat knew what this was about. She knew that Lotus University was going to offer this to her daughter, and its not a false assumption to say that her position as Nuwang of Huawan didn’t affect the decision, directly or indirectly.

Yet The Peony’s response was filled with pride as to evade the suggestion. “I’m glad to hear that, Yan. Your dedication and hard work have not gone unnoticed, and this opportunity reflects our confidence in you.”

Yan nodded, her gratitude rehearsed. “I’m determined to make the most of it and continue our family’s legacy of service to our people.”

Her mother’s voice softened. “I have no doubt that you will, my dear. You have always carried yourself with grace and resilience.”

Despite The Peony’s reassuring words, Yan couldn’t shake her unease. “Mama, I don’t mean to question your judgment, but during our conversation earlier, it felt as if you were distracted or troubled by something. Is there something you haven’t shared with me?”

There was a pause on the other end of the line, and Yan could sense her mother’s hesitation.

The Peony finally spoke, her voice tinged with a hint of vulnerability. “Yan, there are complexities and challenges in the path you’re about to embark on as a princess of Huawan. Your title is everlasting, like it or not you are going to represent our name further as you grow older.”

Yan felt a mixture of emotions, ranging from confusion to concern. “Mama, I understand that your responsibilities are vast, but if there’s anything you think I should be aware of or any guidance you can offer, I would appreciate it.”

The Peony continued, her attention divided between the call and something off-screen. “Just remember, this is a chance for you to shine and bring honor to our family. You must consider what’s best for Huawan. Now I have to go, duty calls. I shall see you back home.”

The call turned off without much warmth as the train sped through the city, the young princess thought as much. Her mother was not the warmest or available of parents. She has grown to accept the fact that her mom could only scratch the surface of her worries. Yan was exasperated, remembering her life will only be riddled by the rules and responsibilities of her station.

Yan’s thoughts were a whirlwind of emotions and contemplation. The words of her mother, The Peony, echoed in her mind. She understood that her role as a princess of Huawan carried immense responsibilities. She was not only making a decision for herself but also for her family and her nation. It was a weighty burden, and she couldn’t deny the honor and privilege that came with her heritage.

Yan had always carried herself with enough grace and resilience, as her mother had mentioned, and she knew that her journey ahead would be marked by challenges and complexities. It wasn’t just about her academic or professional path; it was about preserving the legacy of her family and serving her people with dedication.

A legacy that she grows to separate herself from. A position she wishes would not define who she is. She wishes so hard that these responsibilities not be placed on her shoulders, and that she makes her own path. Unfortunately she can’t run away from her legacy, and she knows decisions must be made, and consequences be endured.

The rumble of the empty train cars moving through the suburbs of the Royal Province continues, and the young princess lost herself in a trance of moving landscapes, not knowing where she would alight.