It was as though they were back to the time where the Crown Prince was rearing Xiao Hui.
The smile on his face gradually grew abundant; he no longer appeared solemn in a heart-aching way.
Everytime he saw that smile on his face, Tian Bing Qing secretly thank General Wu Ke for smashing An Xiaolang in the head.
There was a blood-clot in An Xiaolang’s head, she believed everything that His Highness said. She would chase after him to flatter him every day. His Highness looked so satisfied with that.
Neither him nor the Crown Prince had ever expected to see the muddle-headed and mischievous An Xiaolang to wander around them. His Highness slowly changed.
That year, during the lantern’s festival, An Xiaolang and him stood at the head of a road with the Crown Prince. His Majesty’s handsome face that looked so cold had softened down, prompting a lot of women to try to chat him up.
Previously, his problems had been the women in the palace who kept buttering up to the empress to enter the Eastern Palace. To him, they were all up to no good. Perhaps, there were some amongst them who were truly attracted to His Highness, but one could never know for sure.
Tian Bing Qing had been serving His Highness since young. He was very familiar with his personality. Ever since the late empress passed away, all the women in the palace became snakes in his eyes.
His Highness could not be blamed for this. One year, a gentle and bashful maid was promoted to work inside the hall. Not more than a week later, she and the Crown Prince engaged in a duel after she tried to attack him while he was sleeping.
There had been a lot of incidents like that ever since His Highness was young. He had learned to sleep with one eye open. He broke that maid’s wrist; that didn’t really count as severely injuring her.
When they interrogated her in the dungeon, she swallowed poison and committed suicide.
All that makes it hard for His Highness to get close to women.
—— If people next to him harbored hidden intention, the consequences would not be good.
That was why An Xiaolang who was completely unrelated to them was a great candidate for companionship. Because of that, Tian Bing Qing had always harbored gratitude towards the silly and innocent An Xiaolang. He too great care of her, from her meals to her accommodation.
Unfortunately, An Xiaolang was hard to tame. His Highness treated her with utmost love and affection. He gifted her his warmest smile, yet everything went down the drain during that great fire in Jin Xiu Pavilion.
By the time the then emperor moved his harem into the Great Chen’s palace, the Crown Prince who had been depressed for months finally showed some reaction.
For the past years, the more merit the Crown Prince had accumulated, the more hatred the empress harbored towards him. Whenever the emperor met the Crown Prince, he would scorn everything he did. His Majesty would admonish His Highness for being too ferocious and for having questionable rumors. Everyone knew that the emperor disliked getting near women, there had been rumors that he had a hidden disease.
One time, the emperor shoved a couple of women into the Crown Prince’s harem without asking him prior. One of them was the previous dynasty’s Rui Wang’s daughter, Qin Yu Zheng. Another one out of the lot was the empress’ niece, General Hu Guo’s daughter, Tian Shu Wan. The rest were the daughters of the officials in court.
That Qin Yu Zheng was supposed to be offered to the ill emperor after the Great Chen lost the war. However, the emperor ordered her to be placed at the Crown Prince’s Eastern Palace. Her father must have been excited since the Crown Princess’ position was empty. His daughter was very beautiful and would attract the Crown Prince’s attention for sure.
As for General Hu Guo’s daughter, she visited the palace frequently ever since she was young. Whenever she bumped into the Crown Prince, she would go red in the face before greeting him, “Biaoge!”
The Crown Prince had never paid her any attention. The empress came over a couple of times to express her desire to make Tian Shu Wan the Crown Princess, but the Crown Prince was no longer a 9 year old little child.
The Crown Prince had huge military power. Even the emperor had to think thrice to not sound forceful while discussing politics with him.
Stuffing so many women into the Eastern Palace was actually the first time the emperor did such a decisive decision in years.
The Eastern Palace suddenly became full of beautiful women; consorts and maids alike. Even General Wu Ke who was not keen on seeing An Xiaolang again turned to Tian Bing Qing and whispered, “Was the emperor afraid that the Crown Prince would seize the throne while His Majesty is sick?”
The emperor had been really sick lately. The empress had grown antsy like grasshoppers at the end of autumn.
Tian Bing Qing sighed, “If this happened to a common family, the son would have inherited the father’s fortune to let the father rest. That is called filial piety. But, in the imperial family…..”
Though he didn’t finish his sentence, Wu Ke understood him.
Paternal love ran thin in the imperial family. The emperor refused to abdicate. He wanted to remain as the one at the very top until the end of his breath. He would never let go of his position to his son.
The emperor had been living a pretty idle and easy life in the palace of the Great Qi. Uniting the world lies in the hands of the Crown Prince. Now that everything had been settled, he only needed to move into the Great Chen’s palace and enjoyed the success of his son’s war campaign. With the empress instigating in his ears, the gap between him and his son widened. He couldn’t even trust his own son.
Other than worrying about his brothers coveting his spot, he also needed to worry about his son suddenly seizing his power. That was why he bestowed the Crown Prince with so many beauties.
For the past years, the Crown Prince was busy in his expeditions outside; he could use that as an excuse to reject marriage bestowment. Now that the land had been settled, the father and son pair met everyday, causing the Crown Prince to be in a really difficult spot.
As Feng Zhao Wen’s confidante, Tian Bing Qing naturally knew that the Crown Prince’s preference wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Just, the person he liked was an ungrateful white-eyed wolf. He reared the wolf with his heart and soul, but the wolf refused to settle down with him, always trying to find the opportunities to run away. She wasn’t willing to stay in the Eastern Palace with him.
He knew that the Crown Prince was a resolute and daring person, he would rather break than bend. He knew that if the Crown Prince rejected those women, the emperor would be alarmed and would try to subdue the Crown Prince by using the excuse of ‘spurning the emperor’. As he was busy worrying over everything, the Crown Prince suddenly gave him an instruction, “Place them in the empty palaces at the back.”
The Crown Prince who was reading a military book while lazily lying on a long couch did not even raise his head. He calmly accepted those beauties.
Tian Bing Qing stood next to him. He could see a look of resentment on Princess Qin Yu Zheng’s face, while Tian Shu Wan looked delighted and happy. Her eyes were plastered on the Crown Prince as though she was just waiting for him to call her to serve in bed.
Those empty palaces in the Eastern Palace were full to the brim.
Those trivial things that followed suit did not even deserve a mention.
Those women who were locked between tall walls were only concubines by name. What was the point if he didn’t even call them to bed?
They tried it all; from bumping into him on the roads, to making soup and clothes, to playing flute, to dancing to attract attention, but the Crown Prince did not spare them a single glance.
After the Crown Prince inherited the throne, those concubines were relocated to the main palace. Each of them received flashy titles and the new emperor once said, “The palace still needs a little splash of color and decoration.”
What was once the palace of the Great Chen had now became the palace of the Great Qi. Bi Luo Garden was misty, as though it was shrouded with clouds. As Consort De led the other concubines to kneel in front of him, the emperor’s eyes were trained forward, a slight smile hanging on his lips.
From other people’s view, it was the emperor’s joy after seeing so many beauties, but Tian Bing Qing knew where exactly his eyes were trained. He was looking at the spot where An Xiaolang took off her clothes after being kicked into the river by Yan Ping.
The shocking scene that year had left an impression on His Majesty’s heart. Nobody knew about it; how that girl in men’s clothing kept the emperor’s attention on her for so long. He loathed to part from her and wanted to be with her all the time.
Tian Bing Qing and the emperor were inseparable, but the only time he didn’t get to be with the emperor was during the fire in the Jin Xiu Pavilion. He was in the military barrack and did not witness the incident.
When An Xiaolang was brought back again, he was shocked to see how unkempt and frail she was. He looked over to the emperor only to find him looking at her calmly, as though he knew she was just taking a short time away and would be back to him at the end of everything.
However, An Xiaolang did not seem to understand what the emperor had in mind. She used so many ways to get away from him. Tian Bing Qing followed her from behind with a fearful heart, scared that he wouldn’t see her again.
When she gave birth to Crown Prince Qing Jun, he still could not put his worry to rest.
The current empress’ conduct was unreliable; that was a well-known fact.
By the time she gave birth to Princess Xin Rui and Prince Qing Yu, she would carry them while walking around every day. She looked at peace and natural. The emperor would be next to her, keeping her company. It was only then that Tian Bing Qing finally put his worry to rest.
The emperor had invested so much feelings and time; he exhausted everything to finally have this day. The day where that white-eyed wolf became familiar and attached to him.
Serene: This chapter was brought to you by Meropi! This was the continuation of Chapter 26.