Consort Mi died without any surprises, died in order to save He Lian Chen.
I don’t know what I should think of her death, after all, I ultimately cannot clap my hands saying: “A good death, a good death.” I can only say that Consort Mi’s death, in a certain way, is a perfect ending, be it for herself, be it for He Lian Chen.
On the day of Consort Mi’s burial, the imperial palace was a scene of white, the original scorching hot summer was reduced to bleakness. The blooming flowers no longer seem stunning, those chirping birds no longer seem cheerful, the lake water reflecting the sun’s heat no longer seem heart-warming. Everywhere within the palace, people are wide spreading the news of her ‘honourable deed’ –– turns out Consort Mi is such a courageous person, turns out Consort Mi holds such deep feelings for his majesty, turns out Consort Mi is such a respectable person.
Look at this, once dead, everything is gone, including love and hate, likes and dislikes.
How is this not a type of relieve?
At this time, I am currently lying in bed to recuperate, the slight breeze and the air blowing in through the windows contains a barely detectable fresh fragrance that lulls me to sleep. That is a type of long missed comfort and leisure, causing all the bones within my entire body to instantly soften, my consciousness also slowly turns faint.
In fact, thinking about it, I sure am a heartless one, outside, it is a scene of dispirited gloom, whilst where I am here, it is of comfort and leisure. But what else can you expect from me? Sound a few cries before Consort Mi’s mourning hall, pinching my thigh to squeeze out a few tears? Alright, I am not that type of person, unable to do such things. Even if I did feel numb at heart at the time, it was only a moment of a numbed heart, it does not mean anything.
He Lian Chen had been unusually busy over these few days, ever since that day, he became even more composed, that handsome face thoroughly placid, but his eyes are bottomless deep. I remember that day, in a sorry state, he carried Consort Mi who was covered in blood, back to the palace, I remember him angrily roaring at the imperial physicians to save Consort Mi, remember him holding Consort Mi’s hand as he calls out her name. The anxiousness and helplessness reflected in his eyes looking just like a child, a child that doesn’t know what he is about to lose, unable do anything to grasp onto it.
I turn over, getting ready to fall asleep, hazily thinking, people ultimately experience all sorts of matters before they become more mature.
Here I am neither dead or alive, oh, no, I mean comfortably and leisurely passing these few days. I act accordingly as I pinch at my fingers, en, counting the days, Imperial Sister and Yuwen Rui’s grand wedding have already passed, but who is to give me relief to the mind, who was that man with extremely accurate archery skills?
An ordinary appearance, an ordinary demeanour, reasonably speaking, no matter where that person is placed, he will only be passer-by A B C D, a character that isn’t worth mentioning. But then what is this about, why does his eyes give me a familiar feeling? That such a-, such a-, such a person once said: a person can be in disguise, can change their looks, can change their voice, can change their demeanour, but the only thing that cannot be changed are the eyes. To put it another way, even if one can usually conceal or disguise the emotions in their eyes, when it comes to a critical moment, there will definitely be a stumble.
Towards this, my intuition tells me, this person seems to be Yuwen Rui.
But how could Yuwen Rui have blended into the imperial army? How did he blend in? When did he blend in? What did he blend in for?
Hand on forehead, oh my mother, this truly is a very difficult question, I must find someone to ask about it first.
And so, when Xiao Shun Zi comes to visit me on a certain day, I ask him in a very troubled tone, “Eunuch Shun, I, I want to inquire about a person from you, just that I’m not sure if you know.”
Xiao Shun Zi was just holding a piece of green bean cake, after taking a little bite, he says with slight arrogance: “Say it, what is there that I don’t know of in this palace?”
“Eunuch, who were the two people that shot the arrows to save his majesty that day?” I tightly clench my sleeves, asking this in a worshiping tone, then say: “So, so impressive ah.”
“And here I was wondering who you wanted to inquire about, so it is Commander Mo and Deputy Commander Qi ah.” He takes a sip of tea and slowly say: “That Commander Mo is but Yun Zhan’s great hero, is also his majesty’s right-hand man. As for that Deputy Commander Qi, ever since gaining great merit, he was promoted to deputy commander, can be said to have ascended the sky in one step.”
I purse my lips, don’t know why, but I just kind of want to laugh. Deputy Commander Qi ah, Deputy Commander Qi, could it be that you are my long-lost cousin?
That evening, the night is cool like water.
I lean onto the windowsill as I look at the dots of lights in the ink-black sky, midsummer night is different from the scorching hot day, even if the sun is viciously harsh during the day, once night arrives, it all becomes waves of comfortable breeze. I close the window and lie back on the bed, preparing to use endless sleep to cultivate my own sentiments. Just that someone knocks on the door at this time, hearing the strength in the knocks sounding messy and improper, I furrow my brows, to be able to be so impudent in this palace, other than He Lian Chen, who else can it be?
I still ask, “Who is it?”
The person outside speaks unclearly: “Ah-Dou, it’s me, open the doors.” The strength in his hand becoming heavier and heavier, to the point that the knocks on the door causes a “zhi-zhi” sound.
I hurriedly put on my outer robes and go to open the doors, the very moment the doors are opened, the strong stench of alcohol greets me, followed by He Lian Chen’s blurred golden eyes. I instantly fall into a trance, didn’t think that after getting drunk, this guy’s eyes would become so……beautiful.
“Ah-Dou.” He circles his arm around my waist, rests his head onto my shoulder, and whimpers: “I’m so sad.”
I come to a clear understanding. After closing the doors, I then help him inside. Pushing him onto the chair, I then pour him a cup of tea, “Your majesty, have a drink of tea to sober up a little.”
“Sober up? Why should I sober up?” He Lian Chen supports his head with one hand, looking at me with a puzzled face, “I’m very sober ah.”
He Lian Chen’s handsome face has none of his usual calmness and dominance, replacing it is instead childishness and innocence. I shake my head with a smile, “Alright alright alright, you’re very sober, here, have a drink first, or you’ll get thirsty later.”
He half squints his eyes as he thinks for a few seconds, then takes the cup and downs it at once. He wipes his mouth with his sleeve, furrowing his thick brows, speaking as though he’s feeling wronged: “Ah-Dou, this tea taste so horrible.”
“That’s right ah, because it’s not U.loveit (优乐美) ah.” I gently say.
“U.loveit?” He hazily says: “What is U.loveit?”
I stroke his head, “U.loveit is milk tea ah.”
“Milk tea?” He is still confused, brows furrows even more tightly, “What is milk tea?”
“Milk tea is U.loveit ah.”
“Then what is U.loveit?”
“U.loveit is milk tea ah.”
“Then what is milk tea again?”
The corners of my eyes twitches several times, then I say even more gently: “Milk tea is U.loveit.”
“Then……” This guy blinks and blinks his dense lashes, persevering in asking: “Then what is U.loveit?”
I take a deep breath, using a Taiwanese accent as I smoothly say: “U.loveit is ‘what am I to you ah’ ‘you are my U.loveit ah’ ‘ah~ so I’m milk tea HO~’ ‘that way I can hold you in the palm of my hands ah’, such a thing.” After saying this, I nod with satisfaction, en, this answer is extremely perfect. (From the U.loveit adverts with Jay Chou: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb-PZVXH2_w)
“Ah?” He Lian Chen seems to be very troubled, staring at the teacup as he mumbles to himself: “Milk tea, U.loveit, you are my U.loveit, HO~ such a thing……”
*Cough cough*. I tell myself I mustn’t be too outrageous, no matter what, I shouldn’t bully a drunk child ah. I sit facing him, copying him in holding my chin in one hand as I say: “Have you come to me for some matters?”
He Lian Chen’s handsome face becomes even more troubled, “Matters? What matters?” He tries to think for a good long while before slumping down as he says: “I’ve forgotten what matters I came finding Ah-Dou for.”
“Be good.” I comfortingly say: “Go back and sleep earlier, you will know after you wake up.” But after waking up, you may not necessarily know either.
He Lian Chen half lowers his eyes as he says: “But I want to see Ah-Dou, Ah-Dou, I……” He gets up runs over to my side, holding my hand, acting like a well-fed cat as he rubs against it in satisfaction, ”Once I see Ah-Dou, I won’t be sad anymore.”
I turn my hand to hold his, “Why are you sad?”
He hazily looks at me, “Why? I don’t know, seems like someone left, I couldn’t keep her.”
Looking at such a He Lian Chen, I suddenly feel my heart soften a little, not a man, not an emperor, just a child, a child that suffered cold treatment and neglection throughout childhood. I squeeze his face, “Why would you keep them? If she wishes to leave, you need to say goodbye to her with a smile, that’s the right way to go about it.”
“But I don’t want her leave, once she leaves, there will be no one to play with me.” He carefully says: “Only she wouldn’t ignore me in the palace, she wouldn’t laugh at me for being blind.”
“How could that be now? You’re not blind.” I wave my hand in front of his eye, “Look, you can see my hand, so how could you be blind?”
“But they all say I’m a blind person……”
I silently think, Great Master He, that is because you have already troubled yourself in confusion.
“Ah-Dou, I remember now, it’s Mi Er, it’s Mi Er who said she will leave.” His hands holding mine suddenly tightens, “Mi Er said she must marry Imperial Brother, she said she can’t be with me anymore, Ah-Dou, I don’t want her to leave. I made Mi Er a wooden doll, I made Mi Er a kite, we agreed to make one together this year, but she says she can’t go anymore, she says she cannot play with me anymore……”
He hurriedly takes out a box from his sleeve, taking the wooden doll from inside of it, “Look, this is the wooden doll I made Mi Er, is it because I made it too ugly, so Mi Er wouldn’t play with me anymore?”
My eyes sweep across the box, then shake my head as I say: “Mi Er is only going to the place she should go to, you did very well.”
Yet He Lian Chen furiously shoves the box and wooden doll onto the ground, leaving the wooden doll to break into several parts, “Why must they all still have to leave when I did well!”
I slightly lament, “It has all passed now, you can still be very well without her playing with you, you’re no longer a child now, you’re the emperor, the emperor can do whatever he wishes to.”
He falls silent for a while, “Emperor, Ah-Dou, I heard Mother Consort say being the emperor is very pitiful.”
I slightly pause, then lightly smile, if it isn’t so, being the emperor is such a pity, yet everyone wishes to be the emperor.
“Ah-Dou, I’m very tired ah.” His golden eyes are sparkling, filled with innocence and complaint, “Being the emperor is so tiring, cannot do this, cannot do that, no one to accompany me, Mother Consort left, Mi Er also left……”
“Then how about not being the emperor?”
“Not being the emperor?” He happily hugs me, “Alright, then I shall not be the emperor anymore, Ah-Dou can be it.”
“Silly.” I burst out laughing, but feel deeply powerless, “An emperor is not something you can not be, just because you don’t want to, since you’re already the emperor, then you should do a good job of it.”
“Ah-Dou, they all left now, will you stay with me?” He Lian Chen holds me in his embrace, lowering his head to rub against my face, “With you beside me, I won’t be tired anymore.” He yawns after saying this, “So sleepy.”
I pat his shoulder, “Go back and sleep now.”
“Don’t want to.” He hugs me tighter, “I want to stay with you.”
“Be good, go back and sleep.”
“Don’t want to.”
“Caress you, go back and sleep.”
“Don’t want to.”
“Get lost, go back and sleep.”
He Lian Chen gets teary eyed, wrongfully looking at me, “Don’t! Want! To!”
I rub my ears, f*ck, if you don’t want to then you don’t want to, why you shouting it so loudly for?
I wave my hand as I point at the bed, “Go go go, hurriedly go to sleep now.”
“Oh.” He pulls me along as he strides towards the bed, “Sleep.”
“I’m not sleeping, you sleep first.”
He immediately stop in his steps, yawning as he half squints his eyes and says: “Then we both won’t sleep.”
“You go sleep.”
“You better f*cking go ah.”
“To-! -ge-! -ther!”
……I grievingly rub my ears, what sin did I commit ah, I.
I very uncourteously push him onto the bed, “Alright now, close your eyes and sleep.”
“En.” He hugs the blanket and bats his eyes at me, “Ah-Dou, I like you.”
“En en, I know.”
“Like you even more than Mi Er.”
“En en, I understand.”
“Like you even more than anyone else.”
“En en, I got it.”
Only then, does he closes his eyes in great satisfaction, going to sleep at ease.
The room starts to go quiet, just that He Lian Chen’s light and steady breathing can be vaguely heard, I sit at the bed side, not feeling sleepy at all, just nonsensically eyeing up his face.
Needless to say, this is a very handsome face. Unlike Yuwen Rui’s elegance and Meng Shao Jue’s suaveness, He Lian Chen’s features are strong and sharp, faintly giving off an air of dominance and frankness. That pair of tightly shut eyes owns a pair of golden pupils when opened, circulating with a dazzling charm like that of glass. He would occasionally reveal spoilt and childish behaviour, just like before, the him like that makes me struggle to reject him. His temper isn’t particularly great, easily angered, will light up with happiness, and not hide everything inside him. But he also has his own scheming, and doesn’t lose to anyone.
I close my eyes to rest for a while, when I open my eyes again, I look towards the box that had been knocked into the corner by him.
That is an ordinary box, that is not an ordinary box.
Consort Mi had placed the wooden doll she holds dear inside, Consort Mi had placed Yun Zhan’s treasure map inside.
I’m very unsettled, because I really want to take that box, and then see whether that treasure map still ‘exists’. This feeling is extremely difficult to cope with, just like how our surroundings have been covered with anti-drug advertisements, but there are still so many people that feel obligated to pursue it with no turning back as they lose themselves in taking drugs. That is an addiction that hides inside the bones, making one’s heart intolerably itch.
Eh……I will not go take it, I only want to take a look, one look will be enough.
I take a look at He Lian Chen who is still in deep sleep, in the end, I lightly get out of bed and walk towards that box. I feel a little worked up, one must know that its ‘brother’ had been sewn into the inside of my boots, accompanying me this entire time.
When I pick up the box, my heart inexplicably beats faster, that is a type of very thrilling feeling, nerve wrecking but unwilling to give up, making one feel captivated. I inspect the bottom of the box over and over again, there is no switch that sticks out. And so, I then push against the bottom section over and over again, finally finding a suspicious spot that pushes in, in the corner. I hook up the corners of my lips, brother ah, after I take a glimpse of you, I can go to sleep with a peace of mind.
But behind me, someone lowly speaks up, “Ah-Lan, the thing you’re wanting to find, isn’t there.”
I stiffly straighten up my back, adjusting the expression on my face, before wanting to turn around to face him with a smile, but in reality, before I could turn around, I was pulled back by a strong force. I roughly fall onto the bed, and He Lian Chen holds his body up with both arms as he looks at me.
His immature and adorable behaviour from before had already completely faded away, restoring his usual dominance, handsomeness and……a trace of violence. He starts to gradually run his hand from my waist upwards, the emotions in his voice undetectable as he says: “Ah-Lan, why did you have to touch that box……?”
“Shh~, don’t speak.” He tenderly looks at me, but makes my entire body shudder, “You clearly could have pretended to not know, did you want it that much?”
“I……” was only curious.
“If I give it you, will you stay behind?” He gently holds my face, breathing warm and lingering.
I sweep away his hand, spitting out the words one by one: “He Lian Chen, quit acting with me.”
He dangerously narrows his eyes, but does not speak.
“You think I don’t know why you’re keeping me in Yun Zhan? You think I don’t know why you’re treating me so nicely?” I coldly harrumph, eyes directly looking into his, “It’s because I can bring you what you want, isn’t that it?”
The arm hooked onto my waist tightens, “Continue.”
I don’t shrink back either, continuing to say: “Don’t say something like childhood encounter or heart moved by me, with your hand on chest, ask yourself the reason why you are keeping me in Yun Zhan? Treasure map is one thing, what else? Yuwen Rui? You dare to say it’s not partly due to holding a grudge against Yuwen Rui? You’ve suffered so many losses under him, hence wanting to gain consolation from me?”
I coldly laugh, “The only thing I didn’t expect is, even just now, you were deceiving me.”
“Nonsense!” He loses his previous calmness, fist fiercely landing onto the bed, he clamps onto my chin and coldly shouts: “I don’t deny what you just said, but how could you disregard my feelings for you, how could you use all that to explain my feelings for you? An Ke Lan, do you even have a heart?!”
“I have a heart.” I bite down on my bottom lip, firmly saying: “But it will never be given to a monarch.” Because a monarch, will never ever hold pure feelings.
“An Ke Lan!” He Lian Chen calls out through gritted teeth, “You want the treasure map, I’ll give you the map!” He takes out the map from his chest and tries to stuff it into the palm of my hand, that handsome face filled with fury, “Whatever you want, I shall give you!”
I clench my fists tightly, coldly saying: “I don’t want it.”
He Lian Chen abruptly narrows his eyes, concealing his anger, as he lightly smiles and says: “Zhen gives you the map, but you, must give zhen yourself.”
Before I realised what his words meant, my acupoint had been rapidly tapped by him, rendering my entire body unmovable. I coldly look at him, “He Lian Chen, don’t do anything unnecessary.”
Yet he undoes my belt, also taking the opportunity to block my lips with his, trying hard to break open my tightly clenched teeth with his tongue.
“Ah-Lan, this isn’t something unnecessary.” He practically has his lips pasted against mine as he says this, eyes solemn, “At least, to me it isn’t.”
In the next second, he even tapped the muting acupoint, and so, I can only be forced to endure his passionately lingering kiss. His kiss is forceful, as though he wants nothing more than to swallow me up whole. His hands constantly gliding over my body again and again, then suddenly reaches my bare skin under my clothing, slowly placing something onto my chest.
Deep down, I really want nothing more than to smack that smile off his face, this crazy bastard, actually, actually placed the map inside my undergarment!
He looks at my widened eyes in satisfaction, lowly laughing as he says: “The map, is yours. You, are mine.” After saying that, he licks my neck, just as he was ready to make advances, he is interrupted by the sound of a high-pitched cry from outside.
Outside, the shrill voice that belongs to Eunuch Qu, cries out in a high-pitch voice: “Your majesty! The Imperial Study is on fire!”
He Lian Chen’s face is washed cold, after placing a heavy kiss on my face, he immediately gets up and heads out, not even forgetting to say to the people outside: “Keep a tight guard of this place, not allowed to let even a little fly out!”
The group of people outside collectively responds: “This subject shall obey the command!”
I stare at the roof of the bed, powerlessly cursing inside: “F*ck your martial arts skills! F*ck your acupoint tapping! F*ck you, He Lian Chen!”
I don’t know how long I stared at the roof of the bed for, I only know that it is a scene of chaos outside, from time to time, there would be people running back and forth, able to hear the cries of “fire”. But isn’t it just the Imperial Study that is on fire? Why are they crying about it here?
Immediately, a palace maid loudly cries out: “Fire! Fire! What are you all still standing there for?! Quickly come with me to help out ah!”
“Ah? There’s also a fire here?” The imperial guard is greatly shocked.
“If it isn’t so!” The palace maid stomps her foot.
The imperial guard hesitates, “But his majesty told us to keep guard here……”
“Leave two people here, everyone else come with me ah! If not, this place will later catch on fire too!” The palace maid says in utter agitation.
Only then does the imperial guard say: “Then, alright, you lot follow me! Lu Da and Zhen Qing stay here!”
What followed was a burst of footstep sounds, and finally quietness. I blink my eyes, why does this seem like someone’s deliberately wreaking havoc?
In this moment, two grunts can be heard from outside, then the doors were gently pushed open.
Someone holds me up.
And that person fiercely bites onto my cheek, a clear and cold voice carrying slight relief.
He says, “Finally found you.”