Chapter 25: Dangerous Situation Deep In The Palace
Several boxes, outlined in gold, were placed within the hall, once the lid lifts open, inside there lays silk and satin, pearl and agate stones, against the candlelit background, they appear even more like an overspill of radiance, of extraordinary glamour. The palace maids’ tender and smooth hands organises the things inside the boxes, that type of value and luxury in their hands, tosses and turns, passes on, running along with the flow.
Gui Wan quietly sits by the side, those beautifully arched brows lightly knitted together, cold eyes indifferently watching, such radiance and luxury in her eyes, were no different to thorns, the rays of light reflected on her serene face, yet it is unable to reflect the hidden undercurrent of anger and resentment, sorrows and worries……
She never knew that disappointment gnaws on people like this, just like an invisible needle, little by little, piercing into one’s heart, yet not even a drip of blood is shed. It has already been over two months since she started staying in the palace, yet the news that are being passed along into her ears are so unbearable. Sending for San Niang to investigate Nan Jun and Luo Ling, was only in hopes of striking some luck, who knew that they actually hit spot on.
Lou Che taking Consort Ying out of the palace, Lou Che and Prince Duan in cahoots, Nan Jun, Luo Ling and other places’ are in remonstrating conflict with the reforming of the central governing institutions within the Capital. Each and every piece of such facts, conveys the most recent huge matters within the imperial court, at the same time, it also highlights the awkward position she is in. Lou Che has really abandoned her……in the end, is it her who overly underestimated his decisiveness in grasping hold of the situation, or did she overly overestimated her own value? Turns out that the difference between the two of them is this big.
Don’t blame him, cannot blame him……in face of the changes within the Capital, him leaving the Capital City is a wise move, is a necessity within the power struggle. Such facts have also proven that this chess move is incredibly ingenious, the Emperor is also facing a dilemma from both ends……
Is she not to blame him? Her heart feeling a slight sense of pain, Gui Wan half lays down her body, leaning against the long chair, taking advantage of her posture, she buries all the melancholy in her into the silk brocade, his every actions and every reasoning, could it be that they can really be covered up by two words of “don’t blame”? What he has wounded, is the pride that she accumulated from the coddling she received since young, is her carefree nature like that of the clear skies, is her deeply contained, unrevealing heart……
How is she not to blame ah……?
In her moment of haziness, she seems to hear sounds of gentle calling, lifting those curtains of eyelashes, her eyes brightens up, De Yu stands in front of the bed, solemnly keeping his head bowed, seeming to have stood there for a long time, yet there is not the slightest look of impatience. Gui Wan props up her body, immediately noticing there is already no one else within the hall.
“Madam, although it is already nearing summer, but the night air in the back palace is cold, please take care of your body.” Having just entered the hall, finding her alone lying on the long chair, wearing only one layer of clothing having just finished bathing, not even covering herself with a single silk quilt, thus causing him to receive a fright.
Gui Wan vaguely answers, looking at him, “This late, to come here, do you have matters?”
“Have matters to report. Having already followed Madam’s orders, all has been prepared now, only lacking a final boost of assisted strength now.”
“En,” Gui Wan sits up straight, her fingers combing through her hair, “Getting rid of him, is also beneficial towards you, as long as Li Yu is the Head Eunuch within the palace, you will be under his containment. Not to mention, it inconveniences me from leaving the palace……”
This Li gong-gong, has been harbouring hatred for her, persistently troubling her these past two months, at first he masqueraded himself as a spy planted by Lou Che in the palace, keeping an eye on the Empress, although the current situation may have been reversed now, it is not like he can seek refuge by the Empress’ side, therefore seeing which way the wind blows, he started bootlicking Consort Yin, in order to seek a backing force for his future career. This person is very narrow-minded, with a strong sense of vengeful spirit, loyal to the Emperor, and also difficult to manipulate for her own use, not to mention that if she is to escape the palace in future, as the Head Eunuch of the palace, Li Yu will undoubtedly pose as a great obstacle, and must therefore be eliminated.
Sorrowfully sounding a sigh, Gui Wan sinks into deep thoughts, these past two months, she has sent for De Yu to bribe the personal maids serving Consort Yin, Consort Yin is frank and outgoing, but her ears are particularly soft, easily listens to calumny, listening to the words passed on from her personal maids, she has already grown sceptical towards Li Yu’s loyalty, with the Emperor also not visiting her palace as of recent, she has long felt greatly dissatisfied, placing all the blame onto Li Yu alone, thus growing more and more suspicious, regarding him as a thorn in the eye.
Just lacking a little more, borrowing the hands of Consort Yin to eliminate him, is only lacking the opportunity to do so, just one blow of the wind from west to east……
“Madam, wanting to eradicate Li Yu, cannot be done in haste, need to wait for a good opportunity.” De Yu advises, recently, Gui Wan’s way of doing things has been somewhat impatient.
A smile of astringent flavour spreads, Gui Wan nods her head, how is she not aware that such matters must not be done in haste, but the one prodding at her to hurry up is the current Emperor. His increasingly strange attitude, has given rise to the feeling of fear within her. His behaviour seemingly real, seemingly fake, very mixed, unsettling. Making regular visits to Yin Yue Hall every day to rest, gradually, he no longer treats her with fake grace. When approving official documents within the hall, he sometimes grows tired, not caring about the masses of palace maids, insisting on wanting her to personally brew a cup of clear tea, read a section of text, or even search for a book within the hall for him. Sometimes he would suddenly fly into fury, not allowing a single person to enter the hall, after a while, he would once again ask for her to brew him some clear tea.
She can no longer stay within the palace now, must leave soon, even if she does not know where she is to go once she escapes, she must still get out of this golden cage.
“When the time is ripe, you shall replace him, the day you become the Head Eunuch, will be the day I can leave the palace.” Grandly saying this, Gui Wan leisurely smiles, scenes from her memory suddenly flashes by, one person’s figure suddenly seeming to standstill for a moment, she blurts out, “If this does not work out either, there is still one person who can save me.”
“Madam is referring to……”
“General Lin.” In that instance, the image of plum blossoms appears hazy, the embroidered handkerchief promise once again rings within Gui Wan’s ears.
Sounding a sigh, De Yu frowns as he worriedly looks at Gui Wan. In such a situation ah, how could it simply be described with one word of “difficult”?
He completely empathises with Gui Wan’s situation, it is not just the matter of being put in a difficult spot. Today he has already received the most recent news, stating that Prime Minister Lou and Prince Duan, Prince of Nan Jun are soon entering the Capital, wanting to seek an explanation regarding the Changes of Feng Shan, taking on a confrontational stance against the Emperor, the situation within the imperial court filled with unrest, everyone feeling insecure, chaos to be triggered at any given moment. The Emperor has power, Prime Minister Lou has force, Prince Duan has reasoning, exactly how will the situation turn out in future? He has been keeping all this news from Gui Wan, she already seems to be treading on thin ice right now, how could he bear to let her add frost onto snow at a time like this?
“Madam it’s better to get an early rest, matters within the palace, I will sort out with greater care.” Softly spoken in a reassuring manner, De Yu takes hold of a thin silk quilt, flatly laying it on the side of the long chair, just as he was going to withdraw, a ruckus can be heard from the doors.
The two of them makes eye contact, both finding it strange, this Jing Ye strictly prohibit others from entering, right now it is also night time, who is able to cause a ruckus outside the palace right now?
The noises are getting closer and closer, De Yu decisively turns around, heading towards the side hall entrance, his and Gui Wan’s political alliance is extremely secretive, as though if others are to find out, it will definitely lead to infinite causes of disasters, such that they have been resolutely avoiding.
“Lord Guan, you cannot go in……” The two palace maids are blocking the arriving person, not allowing for him to step inside.
Gui Wan carefully looks over, three figures were entangled in a struggle by the entrance of the hall, Guan Xiu Wen in the midst of charging inside, the two palace maids unable to prevent him, all the way until they reached the inside of the hall. The youth that has always had an image as clear as water in her mind, was harbouring fury in this very moment, his face sullen, those soft facial features appearing stiff, expressing an air of cold cruelty.
Raising her hand to stop the palace maids, Gui Wan coldly commands: “Withdraw.” She deeply understands the survival of those who resides within the palace, the two palace maids were also afraid to bear responsibility, naturally not daring to speak up, and quietly withdraws.
Guan Xiu Wen stands within the hall, silently unmoving with that sullen expression, within those orbs staring at Gui Wan, certain feelings flashes by, not only deep but also persistent, the simmering anger from before, seeming to have no place to vent, thus his facial expressions changes over and over again. The hall’s doors were half open, the moonlight leaking in, a shadow extends from his feet, that water-like person should obviously be indifferently clear, but his shadow is actually as black as night, the tall and slender shadow like a figure of black, lonely and undisturbed.
Facing this youth, Gui Wan’s feelings are somewhat complex, his very doings, she can more or less make out, behind the matter of Lou Che entering the palace, he also contributed, she should be hating him, but in her eyes, he always had that appearance of harmless elegance, humans are very strange, they would usually believe in the facts witnessed by their eyes, that is why she cannot bring herself to hate, not to mention, back then it was her who brought him into officialdom, that lengthy hate thus transforms into blame, mixed with guilt, and in the end it transforms into faint anger and stream-like gurgling of pity.
Guan Xiu Wen slowly approaches, only ten steps away, yet he seems to have been walking for his entire life, that expression of obscurity slowly gathers away, once again restoring that bright clearness, spreading a smile that can rival the sunlight, walking up to Gui Wan, his shadow covering up Gui Wan in this half bright half dark room, he very gently speaks up: “Are you willing to leave this place and come with me?”
Gui Wan was stunned, steadily eyeing him, the endless flow of thoughts from just now seems to have been frozen by this one phrase.
In her memories, there was once a time within the back courtyard of Jing Ye, where this same phrase was heard, it is just that this phrase, was what she said to this youth, right now……the situation is completely reversed……
Fate ah, truly is a ridiculous joke……
Gui Wan smiles as she shakes her head, “Xiu Wen, I will not leave.” Although she is desperate to get out the palace, she is not willing take this risk, not to mention, in the end, is this youth friend or foe?
The instant he heard this answer, Guan Xiu Wen’s face clearly expresses bitter pain, as though he could not breath, only after heavily taking a deep breath, was he able to barely sustain that perfectly clear smile, carrying a look of silent infatuation he gazes at Gui Wan, waiting for a very long time before he speaks again: “Why? Is it because of Lou Che?”
Seeing him directly call Lou Che by his name, Gui Wan was stunned, answering: “No.”
“No?” Because of this answer, he appears pleased, followed on by another round of thinking, Guan Xiu Wen’s expression once again turns sullen again, “Then why else? Could it be……because of his majesty?” Carefully looking at Gui Wan’s face without blinking, observingly.
Two months already, his heart has been desperately burning, unable to sleep peacefully every night, everything went along as planned, the only deviation is that Gui Wan actually ended up in the palace, his thoughts grows anxious, this was unforeseen. The Emperor’s strange behaviour as of late, he has heard in his ear, seen in his eyes, desperate in his heart. Today, taking advantage of discussing official matters within the palace till late, he breaks into Jing Ye at night, the moment he sees Gui Wan, he immediately has his mind set, to take her away from this back palace.
A feeling of unease piles up within his heart, like an invisible thread tying him up, unable to break away from it no matter how much he tries. Over this past half of the year and more, only when he sees her within the Prime Minister Estate, would he finally feel a moment of comfort, leaving the Prime Minister Estate, that throbbing pain grows even more intense than when he enters the Prime Minister Estate. This enchanting beauty of the Prime Minister Estate, like poison like antidote, his thoughts grows eager, like illness sinking into the bones, the heartbreak of love, deeply sinking into the heart. Just like that, sometimes pained, sometimes comforted, day after day, in the end, he actually cannot even feel that throbbing pain anymore, as though it is a feeling he was born with, he even fell in love with this pain.
She is his poison, also his antidote, he has never considered whether he regrets it or not, only because he has already long sank into this pitch black abyss, the only salvation is her one frown one smile, curing his poison, solving his feelings.
But what she had said brought upon such tremendous heart pain that he cannot even breathe. And then personally hearing her say it is not because of Lou Che, his heart suddenly lightens up, one rise one fall, only from those few words from her, since when did it start, his world has been twisted into such state?
The look in Guan Xiu Wen’s eyes were growing increasingly strange, presenting some sort of pain and struggle, his face is clearly still smiling, yet within that bright smile, their braces bleakness. Affected by him, Gui Wan also seemed to be speechless, only sensing the constant overflowing feelings of sorrow leaking out from the youth’s body, wearing away the air and night.
Guan Xiu Wen extends his hand, carrying a look of obsession, gently stroking Gui Wan’s face, “Is it because of……his majesty?”
Struck by surprise, Gui Wan did not avoid his hand, a burst of warmth spreading from her cheek, raising her eyes to look at Guan Xiu Wen, she suddenly finds that she has never actually truly gotten a clear look of him. “Xiu Wen, exactly what is up with you?” Unable to resist pulling away from his impudent touch, Gui Wan straightens her face, turning three points colder.
Her two words of “Xiu Wen” has always been the comfort to his soul, but seeing her appear displeased, he frowns, his chest feeling stuffy, without even thinking, he seizes Gui Wan’s wrist, pulling Gui Wan down from the long chair, “Leave this place with me.”
Barefoot stepping onto the floor, an icy coldness that pierces through the heart, Gui Wan under immense shock, wanting to throw him off, but his grasp on her was extremely tight, she could not even turn her wrist, feeling angered, she coldly says: “Xiu Wen, what are you doing, let go of me.”
Guan Xiu Wen turns a deaf ear as he continues pulling Gui Wan along towards the doors, pulling her into the middle of the hall, up until he hears the person behind sound a painful cry, did he seem to snap out of it, stopping in his steps, he abruptly turns around, his eyes overflowing with pain, “Where does it hurt? Let me take a look.” As if their senses been switched, it seemed just like the one who was pained was him, and not Gui Wan.
Barefooted on the cold ground, and the burning heat from his hand became a sharp contrast, Gui Wan’s heart was thrown into chaos, thinking back to the past happening, she grits her teeth as she speaks: “Exactly what do you want to do? Could it be that you still haven’t harmed the Prime Minister Estate enough?”
Guan Xiu Wen froze on the spot, asking in confusion: “Are you blaming me?”
“Could it be that I cannot blame you? Exactly what are you doing, no matter what, Lou Che is also the teacher that elevated you, has never done you any wrong, why must you hit him when he’s down, deceiving him into entering the palace, could it be that officialdom is truly that great, worth having you give up your righteous heart in exchange?”
How did this youth become like this, could it be that she was wrong from the start, having mercy on him was wrong, leading him into officialdom was wrong, was all of this all wrong?
“He has never done me any wrong, but has he not done you wrong? He and Consort Ying has not cut off lingering relations, he has not treated you right, he is undeserving……undeserving of having you.” With the mentioning of the wound in his heart, Guan Xiu Wen could not restrain himself, his feelings immediately getting worked up again, “I was only one step later than him, just that one step. It is him who grasped hold of power over the court and public, attracting his majesty’s fear, all of this he has called upon himself. You think that I deceived him into entering the palace? If he himself is unwilling to enter the palace, who is able to force him? Him taking away Consort Ying is the absolute truth……he is actually as cunning as such, with nets above and snares below in the palace, he was still able to escape, and has even joined forces with Prince Duan now……”
Seeing him speak so incoherently, extremely emotionally instable, Gui Wan calms down, hearing up to this point, she could not help but to cut him off saying: “It was you lot who set up a trap within the palace, and then let him escape?”
“That’s right ah……” Guan Xiu Wen suddenly calms down, with seeming appeasement he reveals a smile, “Didn’t think that he is this omnipotent, to be able to escape from deep within the palace. But it does not matter, so what if he has joined hands with Prince Duan, Prince Duan’s crime of plotting treason is already set in stone, wanting to stand back up, is simply wishful thinking. Within the Capital City, his majesty has already heavily planted imperial forces, no matter how powerful Lou Che is, he still would not dare to return at this time.”
Hearing such words naturally makes Gui Wan’s heart turn cold, once again looking at Guan Xiu Wen, sensing that he does things strangely, his thoughts surreptitious. “Why must you do this? Lou Che is the teacher you are indebted to in this officialdom, Prince Duan has supported you in many areas, yet you frame them with no distinction between right and wrong……” How could you be this terrifying? This latter half of the sentence, she did not utter a word of, Gui Wan looks at Guan Xiu Wen carrying gentle warmth in his smile, not only bizarre but frightening under the moonlight.
“How could there be no reason, Prince Duan and I, were originally using one another, I too have but only used his name during the Feng Shan assassination. As for Lou Che, that can also only be said as him asking for it himself……Gui Wan, come with me, let us leave this place……Gui Wan, Gui Wan, Gui Wan……” From his lips, he continuously mutters the name that has always been lingering within his heart, the youth appears both happy and also sad, his hand tightly grabbing hold of Gui Wan’s wrist.
Up until this very moment, did Gui Wan finally come to a vague understanding, the Changes of Feng Shan was perhaps the Emperor’s strategy, but to say it correctly, the one who carried it out was this youth. Then with each and every one of the following actions, what role this youth played in it all is just as she can think of.
Hearing her own name repeatedly being softly called out from his lips, Gui Wan was completely stunned on the spot. This youth’s methods are as vicious as such, but it just happens that he is also this deeply loving and crystal clear, two types of extreme contradictions manifested within his body, blending into one. So sorrowful tonight, a sense of whistling wind persistently lingers on his body. Sinking deep into this cold night, even the figure of the moon grows sorrowful, Gui Wan was unable to utter a sound, nor did she know how she is to speak up.
So this is how it is, turns out the source of all troubles is herself. Gui Wan reveals a bitter smile, her and Guan Xiu Wen staring at one another in still silence.
Guan Xiu Wen had long been unable to take anything else into his eyes, to be able to be with Gui Wan alone like this, his heart has completely sunken into intoxication, senselessly standing still within the huge hall, with an endless sense of loneliness and sorrows.
It is in this moment of one in a dilemma, one in an obsessive state, that the sound of hurried footsteps nears the doors, the palace maid that was blocking Guan Xiu Wen before loudly calls out: “His majesty has arrived” Seeming afraid that those within the hall is unable to hear her, this call out is particularly sharp and resounding, travelling into the hall, it instantly breaks through the hazy atmosphere filling the room.
Guan Xiu Wen was thunderstruck by this sound, snapping awake, his face suddenly darkening, seemingly bitter.
And when Gui Wan heard the palace maid’s voice, she could not even bring herself to smile, the Emperor has never come to Jing Ye at this time before, what is up with today? All matters are crowding together. She raises her head to take a look at the moon still hanging high up, lightly asking within her heart: Moon ah moon, could it be that this night really can’t get any more difficult? The dark night is as long as such, just when will it be daybreak?
Heart beating rather fast, Gui Wan flashes a thought, making a prompt decision, with a flip of her hand, she grabs onto Guan Xiu Wen, quietly saying: “What you still stood frozen for? Quickly go hide in the side hall.” She figured out that De Yu gong-gong has already left from the side hall by now, allowing Guan Xiu Wen to go to the side hall, be it to hide there, be it to escape from there, all in all she must not allow herself to get into trouble again. Letting the Emperor see that deep within the palace, there is actually a man showing up in the dead of night, who knows what calamity it could cause? Whilst thinking this, she pushes the dumbstruck Guan Xiu Wen towards the back of the hall.
Mind thrown into chaos, only after receiving a push from an outside force, did he quickly snap out of it, Guan Xiu Wen filled with bitter sorrow, the look in his eyes slightly settles, giving Gui Wan one last look, a face of great difficulty and unwilling, his hand releases, and in the end he still turns around, resolutely walking towards the side hall.
Seeing his shadow fade into the side hall, she unconsciously lets out a deep sigh of relief, Gui Wan’s eyes sweeps towards the doors, the Emperor has just stepped into the hall, separated by the dimness of the moonlight, she temporarily could not get a clear look of the expression on his face. Up until the shallow light of the faint moon brushes half of his face, did it clearly reflect the seemingly exhausted look on his face. Having never seen him display the slightest bit of weariness before, Gui Wan receives a shock, how much pride the Son of Heaven holds, he is just like that dragon throne, even though it is already covered with innumerable blood spilled on it, in outer-appearance alone, it is forever spotlessly clean, that type of desolation caused by many years of erosion resides inside, left for him alone to get a taste of, reflected on the outside can only be luxurious glamour, that is for others to see. Be it of bitterness, be it of sweetness, all is what the Emperor presents to everyone, everything is more or less a show that he has staged, deluding everyone, whilst carrying a purpose, after a long time, this all becomes a cultivated personality just like the monarch before her eyes, with unsettled temperament, sometimes angry, sometimes happy, in the end is it putting on a show, or is it in his nature?
Not knowing what is up with tonight, perhaps it is the moonlight that turned cold, perhaps it is the loneliness of that figure, perhaps it is the kindness in her heart surging up, facing Zheng Liu, Gui Wan carefully takes a look at him with her heart, rather than just with her eyes. Suddenly finding that there is an additional sense of human touch to this monarch, it is not that fake gentle warmth, nor is it that deeply embedded maliciousness and insidiousness, but like that of a common man, there is just that type of subtle expression, making him appear like a completely different person.
Blinking her eyes in disbelief, Gui Wan appears somewhat startled as she meet eyes with the Son of Heaven’s orbs that are as gentle as shallow streams, his eyes are so deep so dark, and even carries a slight suppression, containing something Gui Wan dares not to get to the bottom of nor does she dares to touch.
From afar, catching a glimpse of Gui Wan standing alone in the middle of the hall, Zheng Liu receives a slight shock, upon getting a closer look, he finds that she is actually standing barefooted, with one layer of clothing, just one lonely shadow. He has come to this palace hall countless times before, every time he comes, it is always brightly lit, Consort Ying is extraordinary in both beauty and talents, coming here is just like coming to a land of tenderness, but such glamorous beauty is always carrying false pretence and superficial behaviour, thus making the entire hall appear small, today there is only one person within the hall, appearing particularly vast and empty, yet it gives the place a different type of flavour, bringing a sense of reality into this palace hall. She is not as beautiful as Consort Ying, but why is it that she is able to give him such feelings? A certain something deep down in his heart has been awakened by a soft calling, eagerly wriggling to take action, before he comes to a realisation, a sense of pity surges up within him, crashing through that ice-like surface.
“The cold night like frost, why are you standing here?”
Having just been stirred into disorder by Guan Xiu Wen, her body has already grown numb, under Zheng Liu’s sound of reminder, she feels a sudden recovery, a floor of ice-cold below her feet, her body even more so senses the chills, only inhaling mouthfuls of cold air, her body slightly shrinks, under the eyes of the Son of Heaven, she dares not to rashly return to the long chair, hooking up a smile, lightly answering: “It’s already almost summer, there’s no harm.”
Even Zheng Liu did not know how much his own expression was overflowing with tenderness, gradually walking up, seeing Gui Wan’s complexion appear pale, without the usual flawless exquisiteness, with only that billowing leisurely bearing, making his heart throb upon seeing her. Lowering his head to take a look, her bare feet, that pair of feet that never sees the sun is not only delicate, but also carries a point of baby-like clearness, of flawless white jade, sparkling clean, standing on this ground of black ice, looking even more enchanting. He lowers his body, squatting down.
The monarch of the country kneeling down, appearing half the height shorter in front of her, Gui Wan hurriedly takes a step back in fright, just as her right foot slightly raises, it is seized by Zheng Liu, a sense of blazing heat spreads from the bottom of her foot, Gui Wan freezes on the spot, not daring to make a single move.
The sparkling jade foot in his hand, Zheng Liu smiles, not minding the ice cold, only noticing that his large palm just happens to perfectly hold this one foot, extremely fitting. Having looked all around, he finds that there are no silk shoes or anything of such sort within hands reach, lightly sounding a sigh, his one free hand unties the knot under his collar, the cloak releases, he pulls it off in one go, matting it under Gui Wan’s foot, allowing her to step onto it, whilst softly explaining: “The ground at night is most cold, passing through your body, can easily lead to ill health.”
If she is to say she has received a fright, this is undoubtedly the second time today, Gui Wan did not know how she is to react, to have one’s feet stepping on the Emperor’s cloak, such a thing is simply unheard of, even cold sweat has been scared out of her, yet Zheng Liu actually forcibly presses her feet onto the cloak, she does what she is ordered to, only afraid that a little mistake will lead to disastrous trouble. Right when she was feeling at extreme unease, Zheng Liu raises his head in that squatted position, his face carrying a relaxed smile, as though he made a great achievement. This is the first time Gui Wan has seen this practically innocent look on him, her heart hit with yet another fright, just how many more firsts are there today, how many more fright is she to receive? Slightly lamenting at the same time, didn’t think that this deeply unpredictable Son of Heaven actually has a time like this, the Son of Heaven, in the end, is also an ordinary person ah……thinking this, her heart softens up a few points, eyes sweeping across Zheng Liu, sweeping past his nose, his eyebrows, his hair, stopping at that spot, she remains silent.
“What’s wrong?” Zheng Liu asks, suddenly finding Gui Wan’s stiffness.
A smile shallow like green waves, Gui Wan lightly knits her brows as she softly says: “Your majesty, you have white hair.” The words having just slipped out her mouth, was immediately met with regret, exactly what is up with tonight, even she has also lost her usual bearings? No matter what, the other person is still the Son of Heaven, despite the unusualness of today, it cannot possibly change this nature, her feeling slightly restless, she is only able to silently wait for Zheng Liu’s reaction.
His face practically making an immediate change upon hearing this, Zheng Liu’s eyes darkens, sinking into deep thoughts, pressing his lips together as he remains silent. His half squinted eyes looking at Gui Wan, only now does he recalls, she is around the sweet age of twenty, a face blooming in radiance, the ripe age of a blossoming flower, as for him, already thirty years past his early spring, although he is only just entering the prime age, but over ten years of age difference between him and her is also a fact. Hearing her mention the early whitening of his hair, his heart suddenly sinks, actually finding himself feeling concerned towards this problem.
“Your meaning is……I’m old?” Zheng Liu raises his head as he speaks, that slightly uncertain expression carrying a hint of awkwardness, makes Gui Wan unable to help but to secretly find it funny upon seeing this, usually it is only him who laughs at other people’s anxiousness, now he finally gets a taste of it himself.
Zheng Liu stares at the slight reveal of her pleased look, his face easing down, lips lightly hooking up, displaying a hint of helpless smile, standing up from his squatting position, he has never thought that there would be a day, someone would be able to put a stop to his flawlessness, unwillingness within his endurance, reluctance within his anger. Gaze locked onto her, under the moonlit night, a corner of her thin layer of clothing slightly rising in the wind being blown in from the outside doors of the hall, well-proportioned and delicately beautiful shoulders made vaguely visible, such fair skin like a drop of the moon’s radiance, scenes of Yu Gan Hall suddenly flashes by his eyes, his heart immediately sways, leaping up like fire, those deep orbs suddenly darkens, glowingly looking at her.
Seeing the look in his eyes. As though it can burn people, Gui Wan slightly shrinks her body, unconsciously taking a small step back, saying: “Your majesty, the night is already deep, please return to your palace.”
Eyes seemingly lit on fire, circles around her entire body. Zheng Liu smiles, his mind tells him to take his eyes away, but his body seemed to have lost control, he actually did not divert his eyes away in the slightest bit, exactly what bewitchment has he fallen into? Within his entire life, he has seen countless beauties, he himself admits that he has already past the youthful age of impulsiveness, with extraordinary self-control, so why is his heart so unquenchable right now?
Seeing the look in Zheng Liu’s eyes getting darker and darker, Gui Wan’s heart starts panicking, her body cold and fatigued, having exhausted her mind, she no longer has the capacity to pull through this unexpected situation, her heart making a sharp turn, wanting to back away. Being stared at dead on by Zheng Liu, she dares not to make too big of a movement, her feet lightly nudges, forgetting that below her feet, she is standing on the cloak and not even ground, under a moment panic, her feet gets caught, before she could even withhold her balance, her body falls backwards, sounding a shocked cry deep inside, she had not yet blurted it out of her mouth, when a great strength had already hooked onto her waist, with lingering fear after the shock, Gui Wan looks at the Zheng Liu before her with rounded eyes, he is half containing laughter, those eyes looking even more deep, compared to her sorry self, he appears more elegantly contented. Anger rises within Gui Wan’s heart, her body having lost its balance, can only grab onto Zheng Liu’s sleeves, this feeling of falling under the wind, makes one feel somewhat wronged, wanting to support herself back up, yet Zheng Liu chooses to drops his hand in this very moment.
Gui Wan’s body follows and drops down, a pain that unexpectedly hits her, Zheng Liu catches her body and places her on top of the cloak, she half lies on the ground, only upon hurriedly supporting her body, did she manage to half raise herself up, Zheng Liu’s knees touches the ground, half hovering his body, and he already has her trapped between the ground and his chest.
“Your majesty,” Gui Wan secretly filled with hate, speaking in warning, “Liable to lay oneself open to suspicion, could it be that your majesty does not know to avoid arousing suspicion?”
“Liable to lay oneself open to suspicion?” Zheng Liu laughs upon hearing this, his voice turning a few points deeper, carrying a few points of huskiness, speaking tenderly with a seemingly devilish charm: “No need to use such earthly regulations to constrain me……” These words seemed to be also spoken for himself, he deliberately neglecting her identity, blurring the relationship between them both, exactly why is this? He too really wants to know the answer.
Seeing his half soft halt rigid attitude, she becomes deeply aware of the terrible situation she is in, Gui Wan grows anxious, her smile also fades away.
“What are you thinking?” A clean faint fragrance wafts out from Gui Wan’s body, into his nose, enriching his inner barbarism, his heartbeat is also thumping in chaos, “If you must think, then take out a little share of efforts to think of me.” In this moment, it felt as though everything else is no longer important, country, power, misgivings, morals……all can no longer hold back this torment, he honestly complies with what his heart longs for, reaching out his hand, at the same she leans back, he tightly wraps his arms around her waist, kissing down on this enchanting beauty that has put him in absolute loss.
Being caught by him, Gui Wan’s heart grew desperate as though it was burning, just as she opens her mouth to cry out, he takes advantage of this and blocks her voice with his tongue, the voice that did not manage to escape in time transforms into a sound of soft crooning amidst the interlacing of tongues, no matter how much she turns her head, she just cannot avoid his exploration, her hair long turned into a mess, like black silk spreading all over the ground, his blazing tongue in her mouth, wrapping around, half of his body pressing her down, not giving her any opportunity to escape, his kiss covering her mouth airtight, whilst taking away her breath, he transfers his own breath to her at the same time, by doing so, no matter how unwilling she is, she is forced to accept this deep kiss of his.
Close to suffocating……Gui Wan’s entire body is covered in a thin layer of sweat, her body pressed under him unable to escape, she raises her hand, throwing it towards his face, amidst doing so, Zheng Liu catches her wrist, she wants to break away, but is no match against the strength of a man.
Ending one deep kiss, he smiles with evil craftiness, lips not leaving Gui Wan, a trail of kisses stopping by her nose, lips and her delicate chin, even their breaths were mixing together.
“You have already thrown away my hand two times, I don’t even know why I myself……is able to dote on you……to this extent……even when you harmed……my self-esteem……I can still let it go……” Purposely being entangled with her, as he speaks, he kisses her with seeming playfulness, one big hand seizing her wrist, placed above her head, one hand on her body, because of the struggle, her clothes were a mess, exposing a shoulder, with one great exertion of strength, he rips off her thin layer of clothing, untying the knot of her undergarment behind her neck, a great view of spring before his eyes, Zheng Liu’s eyes turns even more darker, even his head has gotten too hot to even think properly, lowering himself onto this fair jade-like body.
“No……” Lips constantly being intertwined with his, body held under him, she did not even have the chance to cry for help, and a broken cry sounds from her mouth, Gui Wan’s heart aches, a drop of tear running down her face, “Lou Che……” Unable to help but to think of that man in this moment, she quietly calls out.
Half squinting his eyes, Zheng Liu’s face instantly turns grim, raging anger growing more intense, unable to suppress his jealousy, his hands exerts more power, confining her body, he tears off his waist belt, laying his body on top of her, harshly scolding: “Do not call him……” Wildly kissing down on her neck, half soft half harsh as he caresses her fragile and soft body, such fine and thick kisses gradually reaches her cleavage, his big hand rubbing at her waist, the tightening and loosening rhythm faintly discernible, Gui Wan mutely calls out, drops after drops of tears like the rain.
Noticing Gui Wan’s body feeling unwell, Zheng Liu slows down his action, seeing her face filled with tears, his heart is hit with pain, enduring it, gently stroking her cheek, he places a kiss on her eyes, the tip of his tongue collecting those tears into his mouth, it is clearly of bitter taste, yet he cannot taste this at all, only feeling that even her tears carries a fragrance, kissing her reassuringly, he softly says by her ear: “Don’t cry……what do you want? I will give it you……I will give you anything, as long as you genuinely smile at me……” A gentle sounding of comfort, he breathlessly pulls her into his arms, skin against skin, heads rubbing past one another, the hand around her waist does not loosen up in the slightest.
What if I want freedom? Gui Wan was dying to say this upon hearing his words, but if it is to be in exchange for her body, she is not carefree and easy going to this extent, closing her eyes, she tightly presses her lips together, saying nothing.
“Gui Wan, you just go in accordance with me.” Vaguely muttering, Zheng Liu lifts her up, turning her back, he in turns kisses her back, delicately fair jade like skin, he endlessly wanders in savouring, breathing growing increasingly short, even the air he breathes out is scorching, smooth tender white body against his, he and her endlessly at it. Imperial robe falls to the ground, all that can be heard is the sound of breathing and also the withered soft hums that were tender but unloving.
“Your majesty……” Sounds of hurried running enters the ears, Li gong-gong’s voice closes in from afar, stopping outside the hall, the opening of doors sounds, sudden but stops halfway, Li Yu stands by the doors of the hall stunned, reaction showing complete loss.
His hands did not stop, hating to be unable to have her body submerged into his bones, surging ahead, having not gotten his relieve, for the sole reason that she has eyes tightly closed and her tightly gritted teeth causing those lips to whiten, he is greatly reluctant to truly obtain her, afraid that he will obtain her body today, thereby losing the opportunity to obtain her heart.
“Your……your majesty, there’s……there’s a military situation, General……General Lin urgently asks for an audience……” His mouth does not have its usual nimbleness, Li gong-gong stands trembling by the doors, unable to enter, unable to withdraw.
Restraining himself, Zheng Liu keeps Gui Wan’s body covered inside, seeing the corner of her eyes appear to contain tears, his heart could not bear it, softly sounding a sigh, he endures it for a long time, grabbing the clothing on the floor beside him, he slowly helps Gui Wan cover up, a soft voice carrying regret: “Don’t cry, today it is I who offended you, don’t cry anymore okay? It I who was reckless. Give me some time, I will definitely give you a status, I will keep you for sure……” Softly placing a kiss on her face, Zheng Liu pats her shoulder, tenderly comforting her.
Li gong-gong had long turned into stone, personally seeing the Emperor grab the imperial robe, actually draping it over Gui Wan’s body, and even continuously talk to her so softly, humbly, such attitude, has practically already put down the pride of the Son of Heaven ah, being overly shocked to this degree, he could only watch on dumbly.
Not bothered to take to the trouble of comforting the person in his arms, Zheng Liu has a sort of stance as though he will definitely not leave if he does not see her stop crying, Gui Wan has long been hoping for him to quickly leave, nodding her head a few times, slowly opening her eyes, meeting Zheng Liu’s both surprised and relieved eyes, Zheng Liu upon seeing her open her eyes, finally loosens his tight hold on her, helping her stand up, caressing her face, he helps pull over her clothing, looking at her with reluctance, up until traces of tears have faded away, did he turn around, ready to leave. Li gong-gong collects himself, following after him.
“Your majesty, your clothing……” Li gong-gong anxiously calls out, afraid that the Emperor will leave the palace in just one layer of clothing.
“Return to Zhang Ning Hall for dressing.” Zheng Liu’s voice gradually grows further away from the palace hall, asking as he walks, “This late, what has General Lin entered the palace for?”
“It was Deputy Head Eunuch De Yu who brought him into the palace, said there are important matters to discuss with your majesty.”
The desolated palace hall has once again restored its quiet, no longer are there any sounds by her ears, Gui Wan’s heart makes sudden rises and sudden falls, filled with anger and resentment, the raging anger in her heart continues to burn, only feeling extremely sad, the tears no longer able to flow out, gently wrapping her body, standing in the same spot unmoving. From hearing Li gong-gong’s words just now, did she find out De Yu saved her, heart struck with a thought, she quickly paces up to the side hall, taking a look inside, nothing there at all, only then did Gui Wan gained a little peace of mind, turning back to look around this cold and large hall, a burst of desolation, filled with a sense of boundlessness.
She cannot possibly blame others, only able to transfer all this hate onto Lou Che, thinking that if not for dilemma of the Prime Minister Estate back then, how could she have been subjected to the shame of today? In her times of distress, he has never appeared to save her……growing more and more angry the more she thinks about it, not only did she think everything over again, she suddenly remembers what he said before he left, mushroom garden date……seems to be a mushroom garden, exactly what is the meaning?
 Add frost onto snow - xuě shàng jiā shuāng / 雪上加霜 - means to add misfortune onto misfortune.
 The original Chinese proverb to describe the situation of hitting someone whilst their down is luò jǐng xià shí / 落井下石 which literally means to drop stones on one who has already fallen down the well.
 The proverb Xiu Wen uses to refer to not [completely] cutting of lingering relations is ǒu duàn sī lián / 藕断丝连 which literally translates to lotus roots breaks, the fibres remains linked together.
 The proverb for omnipotent in Chinese is shén tōng guǎng dà / 神通广大literally meaning of heavenly powers and extensive reach. A term used to refer to one’s superb skills and abilities, another less powerful translation would simply be resourceful.
 The original phrase used for unquenchable is xīn yuan yì mǎ nán / 心猿意马难 which originates from the term xīn yuán jì fàng, yì mǎ nán shōu /心猿既放，意马难收 , the phrase literally translating to heart let loose like wild apes, reasoning difficult to hold back like wild horses, describing the uncontrollable shift of inner thoughts, difficult to withdraw. Simply put, it refers to when one loses control of their inner selves.
 The idiom behind the meaning liable to lay oneself open to suspicion is called guā tián lǐ xià /瓜田李下 — I’m not sure if there is a proper idiom story behind this but the idiom literally translates to [in the] melon patch, under the pear [tree] - one must not bend their waist to brush off their shoes in a melon path, to avoid accusations of stealing melon; one must not raise their hand to organise their hat under a pear tree, to avoid being suspected of stealing pears. This idiom itself refers to placing oneself in a suspicious position.
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