Mo Qi Qi grumpily returns to her own tent. Since she is soaked thorough, she changes her clothes to a clean one, all the while scolding Jun Qian Che non-stop, “Too cold-blooded! Too ruthless! His own Empress had gone missing, not only didn’t he help to look for her, he went and scold her instead! Such a cold-blooded jerk!”
Ban Xiang, who has been helping her change does not say anything.
After a while, Mo Qi Qi senses something off with her, “Why are you so quiet today, Ban Xiang?”
Ban Xiang lowers her head while sniffling, “Do you not like this servant anymore, Your Ladyship? Did this servant do anything wrong?”
Mo Qi Qi looks at her in surprise, “No! You have been doing very well! I like you very much! You are the closest person to me! It is because you are by my side that I am able to survive this weird place! Although we are different in status, I really consider you as my own sister!”
“Then why didn’t you bring this servant with you when you were trying to run away?” Ban Xiang finally voices her discontent, tears streaming down her face.
Mo Qi Qi quickly helps her wipe her tears before looking at her fondly, “Don’t cry, Ban Xiang!” Although Ban Xiang have always liked to cry, this time seems different. Her silent sobs seems to come purely from the sadness of her heart.
“Ban Xiang, I did not take you with me not because I do not like you, but because I care too much about you. Me escaping is not a small matter. Jun Qian Che will definitely pursue me. Before I am sure of how my future will shape, I refuse to drag you down with me. You are so cute and your future is so bright, you must find a good man who loves you as you are. I want you to be happy, and that will be impossible if you were to run with me.” Mo Qi Qi gently coaxes her.
Ban Xiang looks at her with an earnest expression on her face, “Your Ladyship, I have followed you since we were young. I have never been away from you. I have made up my mind; I want to be with you forever. It doesn’t matter what you are; an esteemed Young Miss or the Empress or a fugitive, I do not want to be away from you. I am an orphan, you are the only one I have.”
Mo Qi Qi is very touched by Ban Xiang’s words. She hugs Ban Xiang affectionately, “Silly girl. How did I meet such a loyal yatou like you?”
“Please do not abandon this servant again, Your Ladyship. This servant does not fear hardship!” says Ban Xiang earnestly.
Mo Qi Qi nods, touched. She pinches her cheeks, “Don’t worry. I will take you with me, next time!”
Ban Xiang smiles despite her tears, “Thank you, Your Ladyship!”
Mo Qi Qi shakes her head while smiling, “What a foolish girl. But now, it is going to be hard for us to run again.” She sits in front of the table mournfully.
“You still plans to run away?” Bai Jiu asks while walking in from outside.
“Why are you here, Jiu Jiu?” Mo Qi Qi looks at Bai Jiu in surprise.
Bai Jiu sits in front of her, a look of concern on her face, “Second Sister, you really were too bold today. Lucky His Majesty was benevolent and did not pursue the matter. Otherwise, you would have lost your life already.”
“Are you saying that I should be thankful towards that Jun Qian Che instead?” Mo Qi Qi looks at her in displeasure.
“Second Sister, you are the Empress. You are someone other girls can only dream to be. Why do you want to run away? Although I do not know about the state of your relationship with His Majesty, I can see that he treats you really well during this trip.” She really thinks that the Emperor treats her sister well. Although the Emperor looks very cold all the time and never says kind words to her sister, she can see that his eyes are gentle when he is looking at her sister. He was really worried when she went missing, just he didn’t say it out loud.
Ban Xiang who is standing on the sideline nods in agreement, “Right, the Third Miss is right.”
“What right? With what eyes did you two see him treats me well? Both of you are siding with him; who is your master, him or me? Who is your sister, him or me? Why are you two purposely choosing to see only his good side and overlooks everything else?” Mo Qi Qi glares at the two girls. If he really treats her well, he wouldn’t have tried to kill her. If he really treats her well, he wouldn’t have forcefully took her that night. Whenever he spoke to her, he would only utter threatening words.
“Second Sister, I think His Majesty really cares about you. When he found out that you went missing, he ordered everyone to look for you, not leaving even a single guard by his side. Doesn’t that means that he really cares about you?” says Bai Jiu. What Bai Jiu does not know is that Jun Qian Che actually personally braved the rain to look for Mo Qi Qi after sending everyone away.
Mo Qi Qi sneers, “As if! He was only doing that for show! No matter what, I am still his Empress in name. If his own Empress went missing and he did not order people to look for her, people would call him heartless. In fact, I bet he wished that I was dead. At least, that way he would not have to personally kill me and raise the ire of the Duke Zhen’s Residence. That was why he was that angry when Imperial Uncle brought me back safely!”
Bai Jiu scratches her head, “I think you are a little biased against His Majesty. Everyone says that, in love, the people at the side-line will have the clearest view. I think they are right.”
“I am biased against him? Mo Jiu Jiu, just whose sister are you? Why do you keep speaking up for him? There is no love between me and Jun Qian Che on the first place, so there is nothing for people at the side-line like you to see!” Mo Qi Qi unhappily scolds her.
Mo Jiu Jiu looks at her in surprise, “What did you say? There is no love between you two? Weren’t you in love with him though? You were willing to die just to marry him back then. It has only been two years and you already regret it?” Is it really that easy to fall out of love?
“Correct, I started regretting it long ago!” Mo Qi Qi angrily replies. The previous owner must have been blind to have liked Jun Qian Che.
Mo Jiu Jiu sighs regretfully, “Who would have thought that you would take love so lightly? Loving someone should last throughout your entire lifetime. Once you set your heart into it, you should not regret it for the rest of your life. No matter how hard things get, you must persevere. Although things are hard between you and His Majesty, you cannot simply say you do not love!”
“Huh! Even a little girl like you wants to teach me about love! What do you know? Have you ever been in love before?” asks Mo Qi Qi.
Mo Jiu Jiu purses her lips, “Although I have never been in love before, I know that once I love someone, I will stick with it till the end. Second Sister, you have made things really difficult for everyone because of your escape attempt tonight. Please do not repeat that silly action in the future. If His Majesty does not want to let you go, you will not be able to run, no matter how hard you try. I am going first, think about what I said.”
As Bai Jiu left, Mo Qi Qi points at her back profile angrily, “That girl! She actually came to reprimand me!”
Ban Xiang swallows heavily before gathering her courage to say, “Your Ladyship, this servant actually kind of agree with the Third Miss.”
“I—-“ Mo Qi Qi turns that accusing finger towards Ban Xiang, before lamenting with a bitter face, “Wuwuwu, what kind of hardship is this! There is no one out there who can understand my plight!”
Ban Xiang secretly laughs at her.
The rain gradually stops.
The smell of rain mixed with dirt and dead leaves feel particularly refreshing.
Mo Qi Qi lies on her bed, repeating today’s event inside her head. Jun Yue Hen’s expression as he left Jun Qian Che’s tent earlier left a deep impression on her. In his eyes, there were disappointment and sadness. Mo Qi Qi feels really guilty when she remembers that, to the point where she cannot sleep. She gets up from her bed. She wants to see Jun Yue Hen. She wonders how his wound is.
With that in mind, Mo Qi Qi puts on her shoes and walks to the exit. Since Ban Xiang is asleep, she tries to make as little noise as possible.
The night is dark, and the compound is empty, save for the guards lining up around the perimeter.
Once Mo Qi Qi sees that the coast is clear, she immediately runs towards Jun Yue Hen’s tent. Once outside the entrance, she whispers, “Yue Hen, are you asleep?” His lights are still on, so he probably is still awake.
Jun Yue Hen is currently sitting in front of a table, in a daze. When he hears Mo Qi Qi’s voice, he quickly says, “I am still awake.”
Mo Qi Qi quietly enters the tent.
“It is already so late, Qi Qi, why aren’t you asleep yet?” Jun Yue Hen feels a little disappointed again when he sees her.
Mo Qi Qi sits in front of him, “You are also still awake.”
Jun Yue Hen forces himself to smile, “I am not sleepy.”
“How is your injury, Yue Hen?” Mo Qi Qi looks at his arm.
“It is fine, no need to worry, Qi Qi.”
“As long as it’s fine. You shouldn’t have looked for me earlier on,” Mo Qi Qi lowers her head guiltily.
Since she brought it up herself, Jun Yue Hen immediately says, “Why did you lie to me, Qi Qi?”
“I—-“ Mo Qi Qi looks at Jun Yue Hen in guilt, “I’m sorry!”
“Don’t you trust me, Qi Qi?” asks Jun Yue Hen, hurt.
“Don’t even say that, Yue Hen! I trust you!”
“If you really trust me, you wouldn’t have tried to run all by yourself! I told you that we should take this chance to escape, but you told me now is not the time. In the end, you tried to run away all by yourself,” Jun Yue Hen’s voice is very low.
“Don’t misunderstand me, Yue Hen. It is not that I don’t trust you, I just don’t want to trouble you. Everytime you get close to me, you get injured. You already saved my life three times in the span of a couple of months. Your injury this time makes me feel so guilty. Taking you with me on the run will bring nothing good to you. You have such a bright future, I do not wish to drag you down with me.”
Jun Yue Hen grabs her by the hand impulsively, “Qi Qi, being able to be with you is the best possible outcome for me. I am willing to lose my life as long as you are safe.”
“It is exactly because of that, that I cannot take you with me. I do not want to harm you,” Mo Qi Qi quietly removes her hand from his grasp.
Jun Yue Hen takes her action to heart. His heart becomes empty as he smiles bitterly, “In the end, you still consider me as an outsider.”
“You are my best friend, Yue Hen. You will forever be my best friend, but that is the limit. I cannot promise you anything else. I am Jun Qian Che’s Empress. As long as he is unwilling to let me go, I will never be able to get rid of that title. Stop wasting your time on me. You deserve a better woman. Now that my attempt to escape has failed, I have think things through. Rather than running away and living the rest of my life as a fearful fugitive, it is better for me to stay by his side and be his Empress. Perhaps, if I am careful enough, I can still live a peaceful life. This time, me running away without telling you is entirely my fault. I am sorry. I hope you are not angry. The night is deep and your body is injured, you should rest early. I will leave first.” Mo Qi Qi gets up and leaves, now that she has said the things she needed to say. It does not matter whether or not she manage to escape the palace, the point is she and Jun Yue Hen will never be together. Now that she has said all these, she hopes he will let go. She hopes he will not sacrifice himself for her again because she really cannot return his love.
After she left, Jun Yue Hen smiles bitterly: Qi Qi, you clearly know about my feelings for you. Why did you keep rejecting me so cruelly? I am willing to let go of everything for you, even my own life! Since you choose to be by his side, I will continue protecting you from the dark, ensuring your safety. Protecting you from anything that might hurt you. Whenever you feel tired, like you cannot go on any longer, feel free to look behind you for you will see me standing there, supporting you. I will forever be by your side.
Mo Qi Qi returns to her tent with a light heart. She knows what Jun Yue Hen feels for her, but she really cannot accept him. He is too good for her. She cannot cause him any more harm. Although he will be in pain for the moment, he will be fine once he thinks things through. After all, she is Jun Qian Che’s Empress and she will probably be stuck with that title till the day she dies. God, what should she do to travel back to her own world?
Since her attempt to escape has failed, she should return to the palace and figure out the way to return to her world. As for now, she should go to sleep.
The next day, the sun is bright in the sky, lighting the wet ground and trees so beautifully.
The journey back to the palace commences. Although people are surprised that they are suddenly returning to the palace, no one dares to question the Emperor’s decision.
Mo Qi Qi and Jun Qian Che sit on the same carriage. Jun Qian Che sits with his eyes closed, meditating, while Mo Qi Qi looks out of the window curiously. “Your Majesty, it is not easy for us to leave the palace, why are we suddenly returning? Did something happen in the court?”
“Why? Do you wish that something has happened in the court?” Jun Qian Che replies her without opening his eyes.
Mo Qi Qi gives him a big eyeroll, ‘”What are you saying, Your Majesty? If something happens to the court, you will be worried. As your Empress, chenqie will be worried as well.”
“You really should be worried if anything happens in the court. Before we left, zhen entrusted the court to Duke Zhen and the Prime Minister. If anything happens, Duke Zhen will not be able to avoid responsibility.” Jun Qian Che slowly opens his eyes to look at her. What she does not know is that he got poisoned while looking for her yesterday. The reason they are hastily returning to the palace is so that he can neutralize the poison.