Jun Qian Che simply says, “Zhen does not hate them.”
Mo Qi Qi looks at him in surprise, raising her eyebrows, “Since you don’t hate them, why don’t you make some with the concubines in your harem?”
Jun Qian Che glares at her.
She stares back at him in confusion, “Why are you looking at chenqie like that, Your Majesty? Did chenqie said anything wrong?”
“The first child will be closely affiliated to the throne and will be considered as the most likely candidate to inherit,” says Jun Qian Che, secretly reading her expression.
Mo Qi Qi does not seem to worry about it at all, “Good; as long as he is your child.”
“Do you really not understand zhen‘s meaning or are you only pretending not to?” Jun Qian Che finds it hard to understand Mo Qi Qi these days.
“Chenqie is not wrong though. It does not matter who gives birth to them, the most important thing is they are your flesh and blood, isn’t it so?” says Mo Qi Qi innocently.
“Do you really think so?” Jun Qian Che studies her expression intently.
Mo Qi Qi nods earnestly, “Of course!”
Jun Qian Che sneers, “Giving birth to the heir will determine the fate of the kingdom, zhen cannot simply decide on it before weighing every options carefully. One wrong move and the court will be in an uproar, the back palace will be a warzone.”
Mo Qi Qi sighs emotionally,”I really cannot understand what is in you people’s minds. Is there a need to worry so much over having a child? Little children are so cute, they come to this world with a heart as clean as a piece of blank paper; as long as you colour it carefully, they can be happy. It is because of you people’s so-called consideration and trickery that they have to live their life surrounded by intrigue from the moment they were born. Such a tiring existence. It is no wonder that they grow up killing their family members without a shred of mercy. Everyone says that there is no such thing as familial love in the imperial family, but the truth is, that only happens because you lot instill too much negativity in a child’s life from the get-go; it is an unhealthy upbringing.”
“That is enough, just eat,” says Jun Qian Che, not wishing to further the topic. The current her is very naive, completely different from how she used to be. In the past, all she could think about was how to solidify her position and how to climb onto his bed. Now, she could actually talk about imperial children so calmly; she has indeed changed.
After breakfast, they go to the village head to ask him about the way out.
The head kindly offers to personally send them off. They thank him before following him as they walk out of the village.
The path leading out of the village is filled with villagers, gathering to send them off. They even prepared a ration of dry food for them, as well as ample amount of silver for their journey home.
Mo Qi Qi and Jun Qian Che originally reject their offer. However, the villagers persist and under constant persuasion, they finally accept the food but adamantly refuse the money.
Realizing that they really are not going to accept the silver, the villagers cease from forcing them.
After bidding the villagers goodbye, the two of them follow the village head to the river, where a small boat is waiting for them.
They sit on the boat as the village head navigates them away.
Two hours later, the boat passes under a small bridge. The village head brings the boat to the bank and anchors it there. He turns to them amiably, “Mr. Jun, Miss Mo, once you cross that bridge, you will find a little forest. Beyond that little forest, you will find a road. Just follow that road and you will be well on your way home.”
“Thank you, sir. We will not be able to find our way out without your help,” says Mo Qi Qi in gratitude.
“You are too courteous, Miss Mo. I wish you two the very best.”
“Good deeds will be repaid with kindness,” says Jun Qian Che sincerely.
The village head laughs before waving at them, “Take care, I will leave first!”
“Goodbye, village head sir!” Mo Qi Qi waves back at him enthusiastically.
Once the village head’s boat is far away, Mo Qi Qi and Jun Qian Che cross the bridge.
Mo Qi Qi, already unhappy with him to begin with, turns to him angrily, “Your Honorable Majesty the Emperor, I know that you are the ruler of the common people, but you had been in a sticky situation and someone had willingly helped you, could you at least lower your precious self to thank him? The village head is not young and yet he rowed the boat for hours to help us, the least you could do was thank him! That’s what people call ‘common courtesy!'”
“Are you admonishing zhen?” Jun Qian Che glares at her, offended.
“Chenqie is not admonishing you, chenqie is only telling you how to interact with strangers!” says Mo Qi Qi smoothly.
“They are all zhen‘s people; in what way did zhen not know how to interact with them?”
“Just because they are your people does not means that you automatically know how to get along with them. You are in charge of their livelihood, yes, but that does not mean that you know how to mingle with them,” Mo Qi Qi raises her eyebrows tauntingly at him. She has always been friendly and knows how to ingratiates herself with strangers; she sure feels a sense of superiority over Jun Qian Che at the moment.
Jun Qian Che looks at her in disdain, “Zhen rules over them; there is no need for zhen to mingle with them.”
Mo Qi Qi almost chokes on her own breath when she hears that, “How arrogant! So what if you rule over them? Does that means that you do not have to communicate with them? Don’t you ever heard the saying, ‘the government and the people are one’? Only when you truly know the people that you are ruling can you finally rule effectively. You need to understand their concerns, their worries. You need to share their burden. Only then can the kingdom be prosperous!”
“Zhen has always encouraged officers to associate with the common people, but zhen is not your regular official. Zhen’s purpose is not to solely serve the common people, but also to serve the entire world. Peace can only be kept through the appearance of majesty and power. Zhen cannot lose that appearance in front of the common people,” explains Jun Qian Che patiently.
“But I am sure you could put that pretense down when they do not even know who you are! How could you repay the village head’s kindness and the villagers’ warm welcome with such indifference? Or perhaps, you thought that since they are your people, it is only their responsibility to treat you kindly! In fact, I bet you think that they should be thanking you instead, for giving them such a peaceful kingdom!” Is his heart really made of stone?
“Once we are safe, zhen will order people to reward them!” It is not that he is indifferent to his people, he is just used to concealing his feelings. He will remember other people’s kindness, but he will not say anything to anyone. He is the Emperor. Sometimes, treating other people well will only harm them, so he needs to be extra careful in everything he does.
“Do you think they want your reward? They didn’t even know who we are and were not even expecting anything in return when they helped us. They helped us purely out of the kindness of their hearts. It is only right for you to express gratitude when someone helps you. This has nothing to do with rewards, nothing at all! Didn’t anyone teach you how to thank people when you were little?” He does not even have the basic common sense.
Mo Qi Qi does not know how imperial children are raised and has therefore mistook his action as rudeness.
“No,” says Jun Qian Che casually as he walks on with large strides. All that he was ever taught was how to protect his position, how to win the throne. No one has ever taught him how to interact with other people, because the son of the Heaven is above everyone else.
Mo Qi Qi stops in her steps and stares at his tall and lean back profile. She shakes her head, “Too heartless! Hey, wait for me!”
After passing through the forest, the two of them stumble upon the road that the village head has told them.
Mo Qi Qi jumps up happily, “Hahaha, the village head did not lie to us! This is too great! But—- how do we return to the palace? What if General Han thought we’re dead and report that to the court? Goodness, there will be chaos!”
Jun Qian Che knocks her in the head.
“Why on earth did you hit my head for?” snarls Mo Qi Qi angrily.
“Please keep the power of your imagination to yourself. Let’s find a way to rejoin our entourage.”
Mo Qi Qi rubs her pained head sulkily, “We don’t even know where we are, how are we supposed to rejoin them?”
“Geographically-challenged…..” mocks Jun Qian Che unkindly.
Unwilling to take that lying down, she retorts back, “I have never been here before, how am I supposed to know which way to take? Besides, how do you know they haven’t left? I think, we better wait here for someone to pass by. There ought to be merchants passing by, we can hitch a ride back to the capital,” Mo Qi Qi sits on the ground.
Jun Qian Che is very confident with General Han, “They will not leave, let’s look for them.” He starts walking off.
Mo Qi Qi hastily runs after him, “Wait for me! You are so stubborn, you know that? It’s better if we just wait for a carriage to pass by, at least then, we can look for them while sitting down.”
“Are you so brave as to share a carriage with a stranger?” asks Jun Qian Che coldly.
“What is there to be afraid of?” asks Mo Qi Qi bravely.
Jun Qian Che suddenly stops in his steps and whispers to her, “Aren’t you scared that we might bump into the assassins that have tried to kill us? Perhaps, they are watching us in the dark right now.”
Mo Qi Qi hugs his arm, scared. She looks all around them cautiously, “Chenqie is not brave, Your Majesty. Please do not scare chenqie.”
A flash of roguish smile can be seen on Jun Qian Che’s face before he walks on.
General Han, on the other hand, has managed to figure out the way to go down the cliff. From an encountered passerby, he finds out that there is a road leading towards the bottom of the cliff. After asking for a detailed description of the road and where it leads to, he leads a select few of his men towards the road.
As Mo Qi Qi and Jun Qian Che walks on, they suddenly hear the sound of horse hooves.
She jumps up to him and hugs his arm, “Is it the assassins?”
Jun Qian Che listens to sound of the hooves before smiling, “Yi Xiao and the rest are here.”
Mo Qi Qi looks at him half-believing and half-not, “How do you know? Are you a dog with sensitive ears?”
Jun Qian Che glares at her.
“Chenqie was praising you!” explains Mo Qi Qi hastily.
More than a dozen horses make their way towards them. Mo Qi Qi can see Han Yi Xiao leading the rest of the imperial guards towards them.
When Han Yi Xiao spots them, he pulls the reign of his horse and jumps off it. He walks towards them with large strides before kneeling on the ground, “Greeting Your Majesty, Your Ladyship! This General has failed to protect you, please punish this General heavily!”
“How could we possibly blame you for this, General Han? The assassins ambushed us, none of us were prepared for the attack! This incident cannot be blamed on you. Life is precious, don’t just go around asking for punishment,” says Mo Qi Qi benevolently.
Han Yi Xiao is very surprised to hear that. Is this really the Empress? She actually said that ‘life is precious’; the very person who used to punish people to death in the past. Last time, a little guard accidentally touched her. She got so furious and ordered him to be killed. He happened to stumble upon that scene and had tried to plead for mercy on the little guard’s behalf, but the Empress got even angrier and claimed that he was taking advantage of the Emperor’s trust and was disrespecting her. In the end, she sentenced them both to death. Lucky the Emperor came over and took control of the situation. Had this been the old her, none of the imperial guards here should even dream to escape death.
The fact that she is not pursuing their derelictions of duty is very surprising. Did she hurt her head from the fall?
Han Yi Xiao looks at Jun Qian Che, who remains calm and collected.
“Alright, get up. This is not your fault,” says Jun Qian Che.
When Mo Qi Qi sees Bai Jiu, she blinks at her meaningfully.
Bai Jiu finally smiles, the first one in the day.
The two of them as well as the rescue party returns to where Jun Yue Hen and the rest are waiting.
When Jun Yue Hen sees that they have returned safely, he runs over to greet them joyfully, “This official greets Your Majesty and Your Ladyship! Your safety is a blessing to the kingdom, blessing to the people!”
Jun Qian Che gets off from his horse and helps Mo Qi Qi down before turning to Jun Yue Hen. “You may get up, 7th Imperial Uncle,” says Jun Qian Che calmly.
The rest of the crowd promptly kneels, “Greeting Your Majesty, Your Ladyship!”
Jun Qian Che looks at the crowd before sweeping his eyes over Jun Yue Hen, “Zhen is the Son of the Heaven and has received heavenly protection. Some people harbours ill-intention and tried to harm zhen, but with the heaven’s blessing, zhen managed to return safely. One must not harbour too much greed, it might end up consuming themselves. Alright, pack up, we will continue the journey.”
serene: Sorry for the delay, got a little ill TT