By the time Feng Zhao Wen returned, Consort De had already left. He sat on the dragon bed and pulled me out of the quilt I was nestling on. He placed me onto his embrace like I was a little child. He pinched my face a little as he spoke: “What are you thinking about?”
I sighed in sorrow, “Your Majesty, I think I am getting fat.”
He laughed in a low tone; his voice was really warm and pleasing to the ears, “En, getting fat is good.” He pinched my ribs, “You indeed have a little more flesh.”
I pushed his hand away, getting even more depressed. “Don’t tell me Your Majesty plans to fatten me up before killing me?”
He placed his forehead against mine, his deep eyes locked straight to mine. It felt like his deep eyes were probing straight to my heart. He half-jokingly replied me, “Probably!”
I shrunk under his embrace, gritting my teeth before sighing, “I knew you aren’t anything good!”
He laughed brilliantly, “Do you think I am rearing a pig inside my Zhong Hua Palace? Have you seen such a fancy pig before?”
I glared at him hatefully, but ended up getting drawn in by his genuine smile. I froze.
He pinched me in the face again, “Why didn’t I see you eat your caramelized pork hock today? The imperial kitchen didn’t make them for you?”
I lowered my head, embarrassed by how I got seduced to confusion by his beauty—– I honestly lacked integrity.
“I am waiting for you to get busy with the country matters before eating them— lest you steal them from me again.”
He took my hand and place each and every single one of my fingers inside his mouth. He bit my fingertips, leaving deep marks, “You are scared zhen will eat your pork hock?”
Seeing that greedy look on his face, I was truly scared he would mistook my fingers as pork hock and bite them off. I quickly climbed down from him and took out a big urn hidden somewhere in the large dragon bed. I reluctantly presented them to him.
His expression looked strange, “What is this?”
“Caramelized pork hock.” I very reluctantly replied.
He opened the lid and saw the pork hock inside them. He pointed at me, half-angered and half-amused, “Are you in the middle of a famine? You actually dared to hide this kind of thing in the dragon bed?”
I helplessly scratched my head, “Your Majesty, what source of entertainment can a person get while being imprisoned on bed? This is the only source of entertainment for me.” I pulled away the quilt, revealing rows and rows of urns. The corner of Feng Zhao Wen’s lips curled; he forced them down before he glared at me. “Nonsense!”
I thought he wasn’t really angry. I put on a miserable expression, “I have no other way. I don’t know why, every time I got grounded, I have this itch to hide stuff. This illness came from when Father constantly grounded me in the past. It will get better once the ban is lifted.”
———— Do you think people hides food on bed for fun? This isn’t a restaurant!
He stared at me with a headache, he looked like he couldn’t wait to tear my face off. But his eyes were unexpectedly gentle, just like Father years ago when he secretly checked on me after hitting me; a look of apology and pity. I unconsciously drifted closer to him and took his hands before pulling at his sleeves, “Your Majesty, as long as you lift the ban, I will immediately put away all these things….. Promise me! Promise me! Promise me!”
I suddenly realized what I was doing. I released his hands and quickly flew to hide in the depth of the dragon bed.
…… why did I use the tactic I used on Father on him? Pulling his hand while begging with a spoilt tone?
His hand-eye coordination was really good, he pulled me back and stared at me deeply, “What’s wrong? Embarassed? The audacious An Xiaolang is embarrassed? This is the first time for me.” His voice carried a cold tone.
That momentary warmth just now must have been my imagination.
I stared back at him, trying to get a clue. But other than the usual solemn face he had, I couldn’t find anything else.
He placed me tight against his embrace, his hand caressing my head as though I was a cat with knotted hair. I gradually got sleepy and forgot about everything else; leaning my pliant body against his chest.
If this man hadn’t forced his way into my life with that tyrannical and overbearing attitude of his—- if he hadn’t entered my life, inched his way closer to me and gave me the impression that he was doing everything he could to keep me within his palm, I think I would’ve fall in love with him. I would’ve fallen for him no less than how I fell for Yan Ping back then.
But, people’s lives were riddled in obstacles. Once you passed them, you could no longer go back. You could no longer go back to how you originally felt.
As I gradually fell asleep, I could her him muttering, “An Yi, be zhen’s empress.” He surprised me until I sat straight, no longer sleepy.
“What about your empress?” I stammered.
“Zhen has never conferred an empress. Zhen have been waiting for you.”
I laughed drily, such fake words. I respectfully replied him, “Your Majesty has good intention, but the position of an empress is high and esteemed. A lowly criminal like me isn’t good enough to sit on the seat.”
“If zhen said you can, then you can!”
I really hated this attitude of his! My heart was on fire and I accidentally poured everything out, “Feng Zhao Wen, I just knew you have a rotten heart!”
Feng Zhao Wen lowered his head, inching closer to me as he muttered, “Zhen have a rotten heart?”
………… I think I need to fight him off this time.
The enemy used the tactic of ‘you retreat, I charge’ method to control my life. If I didn’t deal with this from the start, I will end up just like the deceased Great Chen; a lesson for the future generation.
I glared at him, ignoring the ambiguous position we have, “Your Majesty, do you have something against me?”
He frowns lightly in wonder as he looked at me; there were traces of displeasure on his eyes.
I was full of grievance as I knelt weepingly in front of him, “This criminal dare not poke into Your Majesty’s decision to kill me after rearing me fat. But you actually wanted to send me into the lair of the tigers to become food for those women; it is like cutting this criminal using a blunt knife. Rather than facing that kind of suffering, might as well face the blade for a quick end!”
“An Xiao Lang, you are telling zhen that zhen’s harem is a tiger’s lair?”
His expression was that of disbelief. My heart felt really uncomfortable.
This was what we call men’s wishful thinking; they never consider that women too have murderous desires. They thought all women ought to dress prettily while obediently serving them food.
The name ‘empress’ sounded glorious but was actually riddled with danger. But, I’ve experienced first-hand just how stubborn Feng Zhao Wen could be.
I pulled my sleeves open and showed him the black and blue marks on my hand; planning to use reality to prove my point. “Your Majesty, this criminal is helpless and powerless. If you have even the littlest of pity towards this criminal, you must not make this criminal your empress. Just look at the injuries I am suffering from, each and every single one of your concubines out there are not vegetarians!”
(TN: What she means by that is they are not simple. They are not as gentle as they seems.)
Even though my skin could endure beating, doing what he asked me to was equivalent to kneeling and begging for death.
This was the teaching Father meticulously taught me.
But Feng Zhao Wen over there did not care for my suffering. He laughed leisurely; somewhat amused, “You ate pork hock every day, you are not a vegetarian either!”
I gritted my teeth, suddenly remembering the previous dynasty’s empress dowager’s glorious achievements. I decided to intimidate him a little.
“Your Majesty didn’t know, I am actually a pretty peculiar person at heart. If I truly become your empress; I’m afraid your Consort Yu or Consort De will all accidentally stumbles upon mishaps by the end of the year. By then, Your Majesty has no one to blame.”
His eyes immediately lightened up, “Zhen is truly looking forward to the day where you dominates the entire harem!”
I froze as I glared at him.
This man was truly poisonous. He was actually discussing about getting rid of his concubines with me! Even though I was exhausted from everything, my hands were not strangers to blood. The hearts of the people who had been to war were after all a lot harder than regular people.
I couldn’t stop myself from mumbling as I thought of that, “Your Majesty has a rotten heart! Those concubines are still your wives at the end of the day; you actually bear to kill them.”
His eyes turned cold. My neck shrunk in fear.
I quickly hug his arms tight before forcing myself to shed tears; using the very same method I always used on Father years ago, “Your Majesty, I always spoke without thinking! The one with the rotten heart is not you, it is me! If you are a rotten person, you would have pushed me into the guillotine long ago. Instead you let me live here, living a luxurious life.”
I suddenly heard a light laughter. I quickly look up. Feng Zhao Wen’s face was still the same, just he sighed a little darkly. I surrendered to my fate and clutched onto his sleeves even tighter, practically burrowing myself into his chest as I wept.
Faking tears not only needs expertise; it also consumed your energy.
Feng Zhao Wen harrumphed coldly before pushing me who was clinging onto him like an octopus. He walked out of the hall without even a backward glance. I saw his back shaking; he was clearly furious. In the blink of an eye; he disappeared from Zhong Hua Palace.
There was a light laughter coming from the entrance. I put on a heartbroken expression and try to peek at the door from the gaps of my fingers. It was that wretched Tian Qing Bing, laughing at me in amusement. “Miss, stop acting. The emperor is no longer here.”
I grabbed a tea cup from the bedside and casually flung it to him. “Wretched eunuch! Why didn’t you save me just now?”
Tian Qing Bing didn’t react to my question; he simply entered while carrying water basin and a piece of cloth, “Why don’t you clean your face, miss. No wonder the emperor laughed so hard. Your face is a little……”
Feng Zhao Wen, he…… he……..
Was he toying with me?
I gripped at the yellow bed sheets and angrily gritted my teeth. Why did I endured everything just now? Why didn’t I just bite him?
Tian Bing Qing laughed happily, “Miss, I have to say, you and the emperor are indeed star-crossed lover. Ever since His Majesty assumed the position of the emperor, he always thought of ways to find you again, to make you the empress. You on the other hand were really something; you disappeared into the countryside and made him wait for you for three years.”
I wouldn’t dare to yell in front of Feng Zhao Wen, but Tian Bing Qing was a different case.
“Xiao Tian, are you playing with me? Feng Zhao Wen have so many beauties inside the palace; since he hasn’t conferred an empress, there must be multiple factions competing to get the seat at the moment. The harem is in a stalemate. So now, he wants to use me as the blade. Do you honestly expect me to accept his offer?”
Tian Bing Qing stomped heavily. “Miss, you misunderstood His Majesty!”
I couldn’t stop myself from laughing, “Misunderstood? When did I misunderstood him?”
Tian Bing Qing looked at me like I was a helpless patient during the last stage of her illness, “Miss, all those concubines were conferred by the previous emperor when he was still alive. Some of them were the offerings of officials. Consort Yu herself were offered by the empress dowager’s maternal family. What you said were right, they were all pushed to His Majesty by the late emperor to balance power. Back then, the emperor was only the crown prince; the late emperor’s decree could not be broken. All those concubines have never been touched over these past three years. People have been speculating about the emperor’s ‘illness’ for a while now.”
I struggled to digest Tian Bing Qing’s words, “If he is ill, why didn’t he ask imperial physicians to check on him?”
Tian Bing Qing looked at me in incredulity, “Whether or not the emperor have any ‘illness’, you know that better than anyone. No wonder the emperor said you have wood for head and stone for heart.”
I finally understood what Tian Bing Qing meant. I kicked his foot angrily before hiding deep in the dragon bed.
serene: Chapter 15 is sponsored by BeBoua!