I suffered from Feng Zhao Wen’s heartless oppression in Zhong Hua Palace. My life was similar to that of a slave’s; I couldn’t escape that virile man’s advances. I had been depressed for days now.
Perhaps Feng Zhao Wen pitied me for being bullied so miserably and thought that my will to fight wasn’t that vigorous anymore; he treated me exceedingly well these past few days. My three meals each day were sumptuous as hell.
I kept myself busy, gorging myself in food to make up for the three years of hunger. Only when I was full could I try to recharge myself.
Today, after Feng Zhao Wen left for his court meeting, a palace maid came and told me that the empress dowager summoned me. From my experience of growing up in the palace, people with really high positions were usually those who were up to no good, especially those like the empress dowager or the empress. Their actions could not be measured based on common sense; just like Feng Zhao Wen that animal.
An empress was a little better, to be an emperor’s partner, she ought to be a little peaceful inside. They can be pretty virtuous if they chose to. As for an empress dowager, it didn’t matter if they have children or not, they were still widows. The better half of their life was spent in blood; fighting over everything in the harem. Even if they were old and like to practice Buddhist teaching, they might not necessarily be willing to put down their knife.
As I follow that female official to the empress dowager’s Yi Ning Palace, I tried to pry some info out of her using flattering words. That female official was full of praises. “The empress dowager is someone who adheres to Buddhist teaching. She is benevolent and kind, Miss does not have to worry.”
Aiya, the fact that she practiced Buddhist teaching scared me even more!
I secretly sighed. The female official was so dim-witted. In order to be able to sit in the esteemed position of an empress dowager, she must have committed a lot of atrocities in her younger days. That was why she had been practicing Buddhist lifestyle, to put her heart at ease.
Seems like this empress dowager was not someone you could view lightly. I glanced at the four huge maids following me. I laughed, “Jiejie is someone who is close to the empress dowager; hearing you saying that, I am relieved.”
I’d be stupid if I was truly relieved!
Once we reached Yi Ning Palace, a middle aged lady that appeared to be around forty sat on the master’s seat. A young lady of around fourteen or fifteen sat close to her. Her phoenix eyes were clear and her face resembled Feng Zhao Wen; this young lady must be the empress dowager’s princess. Six or seven beauties sat underneath the empress dowager’s seat, Qin Yu Zheng sitting on the very first seat on the left. The first one on the right was an almond eyed beauty with peach-red cheeks. All those beauties were Feng Zhao Wen’s concubines; I swept my eyes through that crowd and failed to spot anyone wearing the empress’ dress.
“An Yi greets the empress dowager.” As I got up, I received a scolding, “A preposterous slave!”
I blank out and looked at the direction of the voice. It was the almond-eyed beauty.
The empress dowager unhappily reproached me, “An Yi, you have not received any title. Why didn’t you greet Consort De and Consort Yu?”
I secretly laughed: Feng Zhao Wen ah, Feng Zhao Wen! Your harem has been peaceful for far too long, let’s make it a little merrier this time! I lifted my head and arrogantly said, “His Majesty allowed me to forgo formality when it comes to his concubines.” He indeed decreed so, but with the haughty way I spoke, I didn’t believe I didn’t anger those concubines this time.
As expected, that almond-eyed pretty girl immediately jumped up and stomped her feet in displeasure, “Auntie, see how rude this servant is!”
Oh…. So that girl was the empress dowager’s niece?
Nice! Angering this Consort De meant that I was threatening the peace in the harem. Other than placing me in the prison, the only other option for him was to set me free. I glared at Consort De even more imposingly than she did, “Consort De, the emperor spends time with me every single day. The affection between the both of us runs deep. Even he does not want to force me to bow in front of his concubines, don’t tell me you dares to!”
After I finished saying that, even the empress dowager stiffened. As Consort De rushed down to give my face a slap, I could see a flash of delight in Qin Yu Zheng’s face. Even the little princess who sat next to the empress dowager stood up in anticipation.
————— This was a love conflict ah!
Two of the maids behind me stepped up and blocked Consort De, “Your Ladyship, please be careful.”
Heh, these two jiejies were even more arrogant than me!
I was so happy, seemed like even the empress dowager would not let this matter rest.
“Preposterous, all of you actually dares to act prudishly in Yi Ning Palace!” As expected, the empress dowager was upset!
Those two maids bowed respectfully, “Informing Your Ladyship, His Majesty indeed allowed Miss An Yi to forgo formality towards the concubines in his harem.” Their hands continued to block Consort De as they said that.
Consort De violently kicked the two maids using her two feet. She took advantage of their pain and broke free from their hold; gifting them with a slap to the face each. The two people’s faces immediately swelled up. Judging by the strength of her blow, she was an experienced striker!
I felt like I finally found the one; I finally found my match!
Even though the Great Qi had been around for hundreds of years, it had only been a couple of years since the unification. Because of that, it was normal for young maidens from esteemed family to learn martial arts to protect themselves.
Consort De managed to fend off the two maids, she jumped like a gust of wind and within three steps, she already made her way towards me. I retreated a few steps and yelled out in fear, “Oh! Oh! Consort De is hitting people!”
My voice was very sharp. Qin Yu Zheng who was sitting on her seat looked at me in surprise. She could not understand why a general who had gone to war like me was being intimidated by a consort.
I was very happy! I turned around to run out of the hall while screaming, “Consort De is hitting people!”
Consort De went after me in exasperation. Two of my maids behind me held me back, “Do not worry, Miss. We will not allow Consort De to hit you!”
These two idiots! I pushed them away and accidentally locked eyes with Qin Yu Zheng who was staring at me in astonishment. I blinked twice. If I guessed correctly, me being called over today had something to do with her.
She could not sit still in her seat; she got up and cried out, “Consort De….. Consort De…..”
Unfortunately, Consort De hasd lost all of her senses from anger; she glared at me murderously. She didn’t even seem to notice that I had pushed away the two maids that was blocking me.
“Bengong must teach this little servant a lesson today! Don’t ever think you can show off in front of bengong just because the emperor favors you!”
My feet had already stepped out of Yi Ning Palace when the empress dowager spoke out, “Stop Miss An from leaving Yi Ning Palace.”
If we dragged this outside, things would naturally turned even uglier.
She probably thought I was running out to search for Feng Zhao Wen and complained about them. The truth was, I just wanted to find an empty place to settle everything with Consort De. After all, the empress dowager’s palace was full of precious treasures. If we accidentally broke something, I didn’t think I would be able to afford to re-compensate her ah!
I could feel something behind me and before I knew it, I was already rolling on the floor after being rammed by Consort De from behind. The guards who were inside the hall made their way outside.
Hmm, the scenery outside Yi Ning Palace was really good. Warm wind blows into your face as you admire thousands of blooming flowers. What a perfect setting to fight with other people!
By the time Feng Zhao Wen rushed over, I was lying on the ground, receiving a beating while being restrained by the palace’s guards. My four maids were dueling with the guards; other than them, nobody else stepped up to save me. I totally underestimated the abilities of the guards in the empress dowager’s place; serve me right, seriously.
Consort De was busy shouting on the sideline, “Hit that lowly servant to death! Hit her to death!” After that, she joined the fun and gave me a few kick.
Her head-gear was a mess, her hair were scattered around. She looked battered and exhausted; her entire face was red. Her eyes twinkled like pearls and had we been in any other situation, my heart would have ached for her.
I suddenly heard the fierce voice of someone, “Stop! What on earth are you doing?”
The feet that were kicking me immediately stopped. Consort De knelt in the ground with a thump, tears staining her entire face as she spoke in a voice full of grief, “Your Majesty, she- she bullies chenqie!”
En, what a smart answer!
I laughed as I laid on the ground. If getting beaten meant that I got to leave the Great Qi’s Imperial Palace; then by all means, hit me. It was a fair trade.
I actually studied a couple of moves years ago, but I didn’t exert enough effort to learn them; I had little perseverance. Those guards from the empress dowager’s palace on the other hand, were so proficient in martial arts. The techniques I learnt back then were all immediate and straightforward; those that were taught to soldiers.
I only wanted to stir things up, I didn’t really want to spill blood in Yi Ning Palace; but before I got to do anything, I was already surrounded by all these people.
Feng Zhao Wen harrumphed coldly, “Then why does it look like you are the one bullying her rather than her bullying you?” He took large strides towards me before pulling me up.
“You’re pulling the wrong person! You’re pulling the wrong person!” I pointed at the weeping Consort De. “Such a fragile beauty crying pitifully like that; don’t you pity her, Your Majesty?”
Feng Zhao Wen gave my head a flick, “You clueless girl!” Dark waves rolled inside his phoenix eyes as he glared at those helpless guards. “All of you——- go to Yan Ping and receive your punishment!”
Those guards got up and quickly ran off to follow his order.
Feng Zhao Wen reached out to me. I laughed foolishly and quickly wiped the blood on my face, “Your Majesty is magnificent and outstanding, An Yi is just a criminal; I wouldn’t dare to stain you with my blood!” I tried to struggle for a moment but I was absolutely powerless against him.
He got even angrier, he furiously swept his cold eyes on everyone. Those people knelt before him. There was a complete silence. He trained his eyes back to me, “An Yi, do you trust me?”
I looked up to the tall and lofty Feng Zhao Wen from the ground. I felt like I had hit rock bottom long ago. No matter how many people kicked and trampled over me, the one person who cared for me was no longer here. No matter how much I stumbled and suffered, nothing would change that fact.
I laughed crudely, “Your Majesty, you and I first met when you were only the crown prince. Our two kingdoms were amiable on the outside but were secretly vindictive on the inside. Everything that Your Majesty did….. hehe, it will be hard for An Yi to trust you.” Even though I could be dumb at times, I could still understand the bigger picture of things.
His expression turned ugly.
I got hit today so naturally I felt oppressed on the inside. I continued complaining without a care for anything, “The word ‘trust’ can only be applied to your trusted comrades, your family, your loved ones. What you and I have isn’t any of those; what trust are you talking about?”
His face actually formed a smile, “One day, you will know…..”
I was too lazy to ask what he was talking about. He leaned down; and without a care for his dragon robe, he picked me up. I yelped in surprise, wrapping my arms around his neck. The blood in my hands was smeared on his dragon robe: “Blood…. Blood……”
He gave me a faint smile, “What are you panicking about? You are not the one in charge of washing this.”
He turned to face all those people behind us, “Zhen will come another day to pay respect to imperial mother.” After that, he walked away.
I looked at the scene behind Feng Zhao Wen; all of those people were kneeling on the floor while kowtowing. This scene felt so grand. The crying Consort De watched this scene while weeping in astonishment. Even Qin Yu Zheng and the little princess who had just stepped out of Yi Ning Palace stood there while watching us in a daze.
———— What Feng Zhao Wen did really took me by surprise.
He didn’t send me to prison nor did he kick me out of the palace; instead he embraced me against his chest.
Never mind Qin Yu Zheng, I bet even he knew by now that Qin Yu Zheng had been giving him a green hat. But what about that Consort De? From the haughty way she acted, she ought to be one of those women who received his favor. Didn’t he pity her?
(TN: Giving a man a green hat means you are cheating on him.)
He accidentally touched my wounds while carrying me. I purposely cried out in pain, “Aiya!” He quickly changed his posture and carried me in the gentlest way possible. Despite his tender actions, the words that csme out of his mouth were pretty coarse. “You wild girl! Why didn’t you obediently stay in Zhong Hua Palace? Whatever did you come here for? Serve you right for getting hit!”
I glared at him. “The empress dowager called for me, how could I not come?” I could feel his body turning still for a moment before he continued carrying me with care. “She knew how to act, you must have been the one who searched for trouble.”
Even though his voice was low, I could hear him just fine.
I had no interest in what he was talking about; whatever happened in this harem had nothing to do with me. This Feng Zhao Wen was really weird. Even though he usually treated me badly, the way he meticulously carried me right now was so…… Even his cold eyes had softens by a great deal.
After arriving in Zhong Hua Hall, Feng Zhao Wen ordered everyone to get out. After that, he opened my clothes and eyed those black and blue marks on my body. His eyes darkened. He angrily punched the dragon bed, “Those wretched people!”
I carefully shrank my body, fearing that he would punch me next.
Even though I didn’t fear pain, broken bones were no laughing matter.
He took the medicine and puts it on for me, softly asking, “Does it hurt?”
I shook my head. This side of Feng Zhao Wen gave me a strange, indescribable feeling.
The sly crown prince of the Great Qi that I used to know was now a cold-blooded emperor.
serene: Chapter 11 is sponsored by Kati!