“Your Highness, you mustn’t disregard Southern Kingdom’s law for this woman! If you do so, the world would fall into chaos!”
“Your Highness, please reconsider. You mustn’t disregard Southern Kingdom’s law! Otherwise, how could you govern the world?”
Hua Zhu Yu’s heart sank and a heaviness swept over her as she listened to the ministers’ loud appeals outside the carriage.
Ji Feng Li coldly swept his gaze across the officials in front of him before calmly asking, “You all are so eager to dispose of this prince’s dragon seed(child)?”
All the officials fell silent as they looked at one another in disbelief.
Hua Zhu Yu was also taken by surprise. Naturally, she knew she wasn’t carrying the dragon seed. In order to protect her, Ji Feng Li had lied that she was pregnant with his child in front of all the court officials. Southern Kingdom’s law dictates that any concubine carrying the dragon seed would temporarily be exempted from punishment. It could be said that this was the best method to protect her at present. But bringing up the topic of children, if Ji Feng Li knew she had once carried his child…..
“Your Highness, this woman entered the palace not too long ago, how could she be carrying the dragon seed so quickly? Could it be a mistake? It’s better to call the Imperial Physician to come and check her pulse once more,” an official surnamed Zhang proposed in a loud voice.
“Oh, Zhang daren is right!” Ji Feng Li remarked as he raised his brow slightly. While everyone was holding their breaths awaiting his next words, he suddenly turned around and strode forward quickly towards the crowd. “Check her pulse? Do my words have such little weight? Since you don’t take my words to heart, what do you need my word for? She’s in the carriage. You want to kill her don’t you? Go ahead!” His words were spoken clearly with a threatening undertone.
It was not the first time he had spoken so fiercely in front of the officials. But it was the first time he had on such a cold and threatening expression. The tight corners of his lips were sharp as a knife and his narrowed phoenix eyes were inflamed with undisguised fury. It was as though his eyes could look straight into one’s heart, straight through their flesh and blood.
The officials all fell silent and the atmosphere grew increasingly tense. Kneeling on the ground, the officials could sense the strong, oppressive air looming over their heads. They dared not move nor make a sound. Cold sweat beaded their foreheads and flowed down their temples but not a soul dared to lift his hand to wipe it away.
Seeing that no one dared to speak on this subject any further, Ji Feng Li raised his brow and declared, “She is pregnant with my dragon seed. This matter shall end here. No one is to bring this up again, otherwise…” He paused for a moment, then coldly continued, “they’ll be beheaded at once with no mercy.”
All the officials kneeling on the ground did not dare to voice their opposition. And just like that, the matter of Hua Zhu Yu being the daughter of a rebellious minister was suppressed by Ji Feng Li.
After the crowd of officials finally dispersed, it was already twilight. Ji Feng Li ordered people to send Hua Zhu Yu back to Tao Yuan Ju first and then ordered someone to send for Lan Bing.
“Do you know who leaked this?” Ji Feng Li asked in a cold voice. Only he and Lan Bing knew Bao’er identity. There was also the palace maidservant Qing Luo but she had already been sent out of the palace long ago. In the end, who did this?
“Your Highness, this subordinate has sent people to investigate. This is not related to Qing Luo. It should be someone else who also knows Yuan Bao’s identity. This afternoon, all the court officials received a secret report disclosing Yuan Bao’s real identity,” Lan Bing said in a low voice.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
Ji Feng Li furrowed his brows. So to speak, there’s someone who also knows of Bao’er identity. Who is that person? How did he know?
“How did the secret report get into their hands?” Ji Feng Li coldly asked.
“It was the little beggars on the streets that were sent to the officials’ gates to deliver the report. This subordinate has investigated but found that those who ordered those beggars to send the letters all wore masks.”
Ji Feng Li coldly sneered. He knew there were many people in court that hated Bao’er. It seems it was time to give Bao’er a title.
The carriage took Hua Zhu Yu back to Tao Yuan Ju. After alighting the carriage, she took a walk through the peach blossom grove and saw the various lanterns hung from the trees. The beautiful lights bathed the scenery in a warm glow like a scene right out of a painting.
Inside the house, the table was filled with all kinds of different dishes, each one carefully prepared. There was also the aromatic smell of wine filling the room.
Seeing Hua Zhu Yu return, Long Yu quickly ran over and said with relief, “Miss, you’re finally back. Quickly drink a cup of tea to warm yourself.”
Hua Zhu Yu accepted the cup of tea and gently took a sip. Apologetically, she asked “Long Yu, today’s matter did not scare you did it?”
Long Yu smiled and said: “Long Yu is fine, just His Highness was very worried. When this servant came back to report, His Highness was in the kitchen. After listening to this servant’s words, his face turned pale and he immediately put down the plate and rushed out. This servant chased after him but His Highness was already gone. This servant has never seen His Highness panic like that, only Miss is able to make His Highness so flustered.”
Hua Zhu Yu looked at the dishes on the table and her heart instantly warmed. It turns out he let her out of the palace today so that he could prepare these dishes for her. Ever since she moved here, he not only ordered the imperial kitchen to prepare her meals but when he had free time, he also went down to the kitchen himself.
“Miss, even this servant can see that His Highness treats you so well!” Long Yu said as she pulled her toward the dressing table. “Miss, your hair bun is a mess, let this servant fix it for you. His Highness will be here shortly.” She removed the silk from Hua Zhu Yu’s bun and proceeded to comb through her hair. Her fingers moved nimbly as she skillfully did her hair into a new bun. It was even more beautiful than the one that Hua Zhu Yu had done herself. It was simple and elegant. Long Yu then took out a green hairpin and was about to fix it in Hua Zhu Yu’s hair when the door opened and Ji Feng Li stepped inside.
Seeing him enter, Long Yu quickly placed the hairpin down and tactfully stepped outside.
Ji Feng Li slowly walked over to stand behind Hua Zhu Yu. He took the hairpin from the dressing table and fixed it in her bun. Leaning against the dressing table, he looked at her with a smile.
Under the flickering candlelight, she shone as beautiful as a sculpted jade.
Beneath his fervent gaze, Hua Zhu Yu’s heart skipped a beat. She decided it was best to head over to the dining table so she got up but had inadvertently stepped on the hem of her long skirt as she moved and fell forward.
Ji Feng Li quickly dashed over and caught her in his arms. Startled, Hua Zhu Yu looked up and met his phoenix eyes which were inches away from hers, so close she could even see her own reflection within them.
“It’s been so long but you still haven’t gotten used to wearing skirts yet?” Ji Feng Li teased with a soft laughter. A loose strand of hair brushed across his cheeks, adding a touch of charming to his handsome features.
Hua Zhu Yu quickly pushed him away and took a seat at the table. In a quiet voice she changed the subject and asked, “When did you know I was Hua Zhu Yu?”
Ji Feng Li followed after her and sat down as well and carefully replied, “Since you entered the palace.”
Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t help but laugh at herself. Who was Ji Feng Li? She was sure he must’ve begun to doubt her identity when he found out she was a woman. When she entered the palace, his suspicions were only confirmed.
Yet she tried to hide it from him!
“If you already knew, why not tell me?” Hua Zhu Yu continued to ask.
“Bao’er, it’s not that I didn’t want to tell you.” Actually he did not dare to tell her. He was only afraid she would be reminded of the poisonous cup of wine and the letter of divorce. He was even more afraid that she would leave him.
“In the beginning, was it your idea to let me marry off to Northern Kingdom in Wen Wan’s place?” She had hoped she could forget these things but in the end she discovered that it still troubled her thoughts.
Ji Feng Li shook his head. The dim candlelight casted a soft glow upon his face. His brows furrowed slightly and he looked at her, softly saying, “Bao’er, although I do not wish to see Wan’er die, I will never harm an innocent person. That day, when I had welcomed you into my home(on their wedding day), I was summoned into the palace. He had decreed the change.”
Hua Zhu Yu noticed that Ji Feng Li did not refer to Emperor Yan as his father.
For many years, why did he hide his identity and only assisted Emperor Yan as the Left Chancellor? Even Emperor Yan did not seem to know his real identity. Why?
“The poisonous cup of wine ……” He paused momentarily then said, “It was him that bestowed it to me. I let Tang Yu take a look at it and he said that the poison would initially make one fall into a trance before finally turning the person into a fool. So I had switched the poison in the wine.”
At the thought of almost turning into a fool, Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t help but shudder.
“Bao’er, at that time I did not want to hurt you, but I still ended up hurting you.” His voice was filled with deep regret and remorse.
“So you saved Jin Se because you wanted to save Miss Hua or did you see through my father’s plan and intend to beat him at his own game?” Hua Zhu Yu asked.
“Yes, I saw through his plot. After I saved Rong Si(aka Jin Se), I did not let her go back to the residence because I did not know what kind of trap awaited in the shadows. Later, in Northern Kingdom, Wan’er found out that Xiao Yan had a long lost sister and that was when I guessed that she might be the princess of Northern Kingdom.”
“So you let Wen Wan take the pendant back from Northern Kingdom and planted a trap for Huangfu Wu Shuang? You wanted to use his hand to fake your death on the execution grounds?” Hua Zhu Yu asked in a soft voice, tinged with pain.
It turned out that he had arranged everything so perfectly, but she was the one that was in pain for so long. She thought of that time when she had felt better off dead than alive and could still feel that despair deep inside.
Ji Feng Li noticed Hua Zhu Yu trembling slightly and he quickly pulled her into his arms, tightly enveloping her in his embrace.
“Bao’er, do you still hate me?” he asked carefully.
Hua Zhu Yu could feel his strong arms around her, tightening more and more, as if he was afraid she would suddenly disappear. She whispered, “I once hated you, not only because of the Hua family but also for the divorce letter, the poisoned wine, and the life of Jin Se. But on the execution ground, when I stabbed you seven times, when you stopped breathing in my arms, when your body turned cold to the touch, I realized in that moment that I no longer hated you.” At that time she didn’t even feel like living any longer, all the hatred she felt had vanished into smoke.
Ji Feng Li was stunned as he looked down at her, his eyes shining like two burning flames. He reached out and lifted her chin softly and whispered, “Really? Bao’er, say it again, say it again.” There was a wavering uncertainty in his voice as well as a hint of pleading and vulnerability.
Hua Zhu Yu would often hear Huangfu Wu Shuang talk to her in such a tone but she never anticipated a proud person such as Ji Feng Li could say such words. She couldn’t help but smile and replied, “It’s true.”
He always thought she hated him. The moment he got his validation, his lips sealed hers, swallowing her next words. His kiss had swept away her every thought. It was unyielding yet gentle like the passing waters, lingering across her lips as if wishing to remain there with her for all eternity.
“Bao’er, when will you marry me? Can I stay here tonight?” He asked in a low whisper next to her ear.
Hua Zhu Yu’s whole body immediately froze as if an ice crystal had suddenly pierced into her heart. “I …… I’m inconvenient ……”
Ji Feng Li felt this change and tightened his arms around her, softly saying, “Bao’er, in regards to Hua Mu, I will try to preserve his life if possible.” His voice was gentle and tender. He reached out his hand and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, “Going out for a whole day today, you must be tired. You should rest early. There’s no urgency, I will wait for you.”
Hua Zhu Yu’s heart let loose and she breathed a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, Ji Feng Li looked away as his eyes flicked with a sense of loss.