During the palace’s Mid-Autumn banquet, the Marquis of An was persuaded to drink a few cups of wine by other officials. He suddenly had the desire to get drunk. The empress instructed a servant to escort him to stroll around outside to sober him out.
Even though he did not wield any power in court and hold only an empty title; though he only married a normal girl of unknown origin who did not hail from powerful clans, none of the officials dared to look down on him.
——– That was because the empress, his sister, received the emperor’s sole favor in the harem. The current Crown Prince was her son and the emperor only had three children, all of whom were given birth to by her.
Though the empress did not like to meddle in politics, the court was peaceful and prosperous. No one dared to covet her power and her position was basically unshakeable.
His Majesty was firm and merciless. Everyone who had wronged the empress or wished to send their daughters to the harem were treated accordingly.
The current emperor was really blood-thirsty when he was young. He was very hot-blooded and ferocious in the battlefield. Nowadays, he concentrated more on administrating the kingdom, though that did not mean that he was now gentle and light-handed.
Because of that, the Marquis of An Le lived true to his title; he lived peacefully and happily.
(TN: An (安) = Peace; Le (乐) = Happiness.)
He walked on confidently. Though he appeared drunk, a joyful feeling rose in his heart as he walked on.
He was very familiar with the roads in the palace. He would always pass the imperial garden whenever he came over to visit the empress, these past few years. Not far from here, there would be a blue canal filled with lotus. At the moment, the northern part of the kingdom had been snowing, but the southern part had not.
He walked on until he felt tired. Then, he leaned against a clean rock near the canal. He closed his eyes, feeling even drunker. He really wanted to take a nap.
The servant was afraid that he was not treating him good enough. If the empress finds out…. He quickly tried to persuade him, “Marquis, the rock is cold and you are drunk, what if you fall ill? Why don’t this servant escort you to a nearby palace to rest?”
He shook his head, “Just let this Marquis rest here for a minute.”
The servant felt very helpless, “Why don’t this servant bring a cloak to you? So you won’t feel cold? Please rest, but please do not fall asleep.”
When he nodded in agreement, the servant quickly went away.
His surrounding was exceptionally quiet at the moment. In a half-asleep, half-awake state, a bloody pathway surfaced in his mind. He was in the body of a four to five year old child. He was being carried by a servant as he looked out to the long pathway. The sun hadn’t risen yet. That servant whispered something to his ears, “You must not forget to greet the empress when you see her.” His body was turned around so that the servant could have an easier time talking to him.
Though he was in the body of a little child, his brain was still that of a grown man. Though this scene appeared familiar, he felt weirded out: Had I entered the body of Jiejie’s son?
Empress An Yi had three children: Qing Jun, Xin Rui and Qing Yu. All of the children were close to him and now, he had entered the body of someone even younger than Qing Yu. How could this be?
He struggled hard, but no matter what he did, the maid wouldn’t loosen her hold.
He watched as the maid brought him to Jing Ren Palace. He was shocked. An Yi had been living with the emperor in Zhong Hua Palace ever since forever, she never really moved out even after becoming the empress. Jing Ren Palace was unoccupied, why would that maid brought him there?
Before they even pass through the gate, they could hear the sound of heavy beating. In the blink of an eye, it was as though he had returned to his nightmare. What he was seeing was clearly something that really happened when he was young. From the half-opened gate to Jing Ren Palace, he could see traces of blood pooling on the stone steps.
Then, he heard a poisonous voice booming in the courtyard, “Xu Feng, you infertile woman! You can only steal a maid’s son and forcibly make him your own!” Even though he had the mentality of a grown man this time, that voice still shook him to the core.
The name Xu Feng made him realize something. His heart raced: His imperial mother. His imperial mother’s real name was Xu Feng and she used to live in Jing Ren Palace when she was still the empress.
Right now, he already knew that the empress was not his real mother. She was just his adoptive mother.
The maid who was carrying him was originally trying to pick a good time to enter the palace, but who would have thought that they would stumble upon that? She hugged him tight and swiftly turned around, walking away.
His body felt cold. He burrowed himself deep inside his huge bed in the Eastern Palace, but even so, he was still cold and shivering.
The maid who brought him there that day did not show up anymore. The entire Crown Prince’s palace became deserted, to the point where it was weird.
Even in his dream, he could still remember his 17th brother and Consort Hui. They frequently visited Jing Ren Palace to greet the empress, carrying traces of arrogance with them.
During those times, he would be sitting next to the empress and she would be holding his hand tight, as though she wanted to break it despite the fact that she was wearing a warm smile on her face, “….. the emperor is busy with court, Hui Meimei must take really good care of Little Seventeen. We must work together to manage the back palace to lessen His Majesty’s burden.”
Since he was looking through everything with the eyes of a grown man, he admits that Consort Hui possessed a really beautiful face. She was young, at the tender age where the flower had just blossomed. She received the emperor’s favor and she was basically living the dream.
Unfortunately, that dream was short-lived.
Even in his dream, he could see Little Seventeen’s bloated body floating in the palace’s Tai Ye Lake. His stomach was like a round melon, it was frightening sight.
Consort Hui rushed towards the empress like a maniac, “Xu Feng, you wretched woman! You actually dared to harm a prince?”
He stood next to his mother. In front of him was the maniacal Consort Hui whose eyes were red. She looked like she wanted to destroy the empress with her bare hands.
His imperial mother’s eyes turned glassy. She took out her handkerchief and dabbed it on the corner of her eyes before talking to his imperial father, “Chenqie does not blame Hui Meimei for accusing chenqie. Hui Meimei just lost her son, her mind is not in the right place….. Poor Little Seventeen, he was such a good child. Chenqie’s heart aches so much at his death…..”
A man in yellow who was standing at the banks of Tai Ye Lake glanced at the deranged Consort Hui in disdain, “Zhen originally thought that you were kind and understanding; turns out you are someone who does not know when to advance or retreat. As a mother, you did not take good care of your child. Now that something has happened, you run around blaming everyone….”
Imperial father had a lot of children. Most of his time were spent on the court and on the beauties in the palace, he gave little attention to his children. For the past two years, Little Seventeen could be considered as the child he loved the most. Now that Little Seventeen was dead, he was treated as just another whiff of breeze that passed him.
He was young back then. Though he did not realize what exactly just happened, he could feel a cold feeling nestling in his chest. Now that he revisited this scene with the wisdom of a grown man, the jumbled feelings in his chest were more than ‘cold.’
“This is all chenqie’s fault; always abandoning Hui Er to play with Little Seventeen. Chenqie used to joke with Hui Meimei, saying chenqie would rather exchange Hui Er with Little Seventeen. That was why Hui Meimei misunderstood me….”
The yellow figure came closer and patted his imperial mother twice in the back. After a long sigh, he patted him on the head, “Hui Er is such a good child.”
On the cold banks of Tai Ye Lake, his 17th brother was fished out to be buried properly. Consort Hui was dragged away while that yellow figure gradually became farther and farther. The warm expression on his imperial mother’s face dissolved as she laughed in a blood-curdling manner.
He lowered his head, his heart turned cold. He never wanted to understand the reason behind that laughter.
Under that cold desolateness, that little child desperately wanted to grow up in one night, though he didn’t really know what difference growing up would give him.
Sitting on the emperor’s seat while facing a crowd of ministers paying respect to him never really interest him. Behind a bead curtain, that person who had killed and robbed to be able to sit there was the real master. Sleeping on the throne or not, would it bring any difference?
The throne was hard and stiff, uncomfortable to sleep on. He could not easily change his posture either. He looked forward to the moment where the court dispersed so that he could return to Zhong Hua Palace.
He moved into there once his imperial father passed. His imperial mother, on the other hand, had became the empress dowager. She moved out of Jing Ren Palace and was now living in Yi Ning Palace.
In Zhong Hua Palace, a warm bed and a warm smile were waiting for him.
The one with the warm smile was called An Yi.
When the weather was cold, she would tell him to wear thicker clothes, when the weather was warm, she would tell him to wear thinner clothes. If a servant dared to neglect him, she would figure out ways to help him vent. Once, she even went to complain at the empress dowager’s palace.
The empress dowager was a virtuous mother, the most benevolent one in the entire palace. She naturally wouldn’t let anyone sit on top of the emperor’s head. Everyone who secretly bullied him did not have good ends.
Everyone ridiculed him, calling him stupid, treating him like an idiot. Only she treated him sincerely, never looking at him in disdain like other people.
He thought she was really warm; he couldn’t help but want to draw her closer, like a warm stove of fire. Even though there was always that sinister cold air lurking behind him, it was okay, he had his little warm pot of fire next to him.
His intimate years with her played out one by one in his mind. The two of them were teasing each other while sitting on his bed and his eyes accidentally fell on her delicate collarbone. She pressed him down before tickling his armpits teasingly. He ended up laughing on top of his dragon bed while she looked at him triumphantly.
Only then did he realized that he was now in the body of the teenage him. He was fair and round, like a meatball. An Yi pinched his two cheeks apart… Being too familiar with someone had it’s own disadvantage. She considered herself as his companion for far too long that she ended up considering him as her real brother.
The way she was laughing at the moment was really warm.
He slowly outstretched his hand, wanting to touch her face. He secretly ridiculed Yan Ping for having eyes but not seeing. A voice could suddenly be heard, “Marquis…. Marquis, please wake up….”
That annoying voice was disturbing the smiling face in front of him. He could not stop himself from calling out, “Xiao Yi…..” And then, he woke up from his dream.
When that servant heard the Marquis calling the Empress’ name in his sleep, he did not paid much attention to it and merely brushed it off as the imperial siblings sharing a deep bond. Instead, he focused on something completely unrelated, “Marquis, why are you sleeping on top of a cold rock? Please rest in a nearby resting hall….” As he said that, he put on a thick coat on the Marquis of An Le’s body.
His entire head was muddled, he could only absent-mindedly allowed the servant to help him put on the robe. The banquet had ended and all guests had been escorted outside. The servant led him out of the palace to board his personal carriage.
His mind was in a trance during the entire journey. He reminisced about the fire in Jin Xiu Pavilion, and then, his life in the countryside after that. And then, he remembered about being secretly approached by the previous dynasty’s rebels. He was young back then, he always thought he had a big mission to complete. Once he succeeded, Xiao Yi would no longer have to live in poverty in the countryside.
He had always been an idiot.
The Xiao Yi whom he thought was an idiot, was actually optimistic and 100 times cleverer than him.
Perhaps, he would only realize how naïve he was back then if he knocked his head against a rock.
Even a little girl that Rui Wang adopted, Xiao Wu, was free to bully him. During those days where he was treated with respect when in front of others while treated like an idiot when not, his nights would be sleepless and cold. He yearned for her companionship.
The lanterns that lit his home was near. There was a beautiful figure waiting for him by the window of their room. He could not help but pause a little before pushing the door open. Xiao Wu was waiting quietly under the lantern’s light. After marrying him and giving birth to children, she became a lot gentler. She treated his foster father with respect and served him really well. She no longer touched blades.
That year, when he and An Yi ran away from the palace of the Great Chen, he never knew he would have this day. He only wanted to chase after that warmth, kept on chasing and chasing.
He accidentally got lost when they got in front of an intersection.
Lucky he found his way back and she was still there, giving him her hand while sharing with him her warmth.
Serene: This chapter was brought to you by Meropi!
Synopsis: The online game <