Na Lan Xue sighed and continued, “Wen Wan did a lot for him. He saved her from Northern Kingdom and she sneaked into the palace to deliver the pendant that belonged to the Princess of Northern Kingdom to Huangfu Wu Shuang in order to help Ji Feng Li’s plan move forward more smoothly. But she did those things on her own. Ji Feng Li did not ask her to do so. I’ve heard from Lan Bing that he deliberately refused her help because he didn’t want to owe her too much. Now, because of you, he doesn’t want to ascend the throne. In fact, he wants to marry you before he ascends the throne so that you can become his Empress in the future. When your identity was leaked, he declared that you’re pregnant so that he can marry you as soon as possible. But why didn’t you agree? The court officials are all requesting the Imperial Physician to take your pulse but it was him that put a stop to those petitions.”
Hua Zhu Yu listened silently as the finger placed on the string lightly quivered in tandem with her heart.
“Seeing his dark expression these days, I really can’t take it anymore. I believe that your feelings towards him are sincere, that’s why I’m telling you this, ” Na Lan Xue said with a sigh.
Hua Zhu Yu’s gaze remained lowered and she did not reply. Since Huangfu Yan’s visit, Ji Feng Li hadn’t stopped by for several days.
“I’ll take my leave then.” Na Lan Xue felt that he had said enough so he stood up, cupped his hands and turned to leave.
Sitting in front of the qin, Hua Zhu Yu’s slender fingers gently glided across the strings as she began to play “Rui Shui weak water” composed by Ji Feng Li.
At dusk, the rain descended with the cold, howling wind. This was the first rain shower this spring, but it was anything but spring rain.
In Qin Zheng Hall, it was brightly lit and the rays of light escaped from the gap between the windows to illuminate the vermilion railings of the front veranda with a sense of inexplicable solemnity. Outside the palace hall, there were not only eunuchs standing by but also a large number of Feng Yun troops stationed as guards which brought a sense of tension to the still night.
In his court attire, Ji Feng Li was leaning back against his seat, his tall figure hidden behind the dragon table; his handsome face expressionless. These days, he had been busy dealing with state affairs and going through the stacks of memorials. At this time, the memorials were still piled high upon the dragon table and he was not in the mood to look at them. As regent, he was responsible for the lives of millions of people in Southern Kingdom as well as the kingdom’s vast lands and mountains. Nowadays, he could no longer be lazy or slow in dealing with state affairs. However, he was not inclined to review them because he could already guess what was written on those memorials.
‘She’s the daughter of a traitor’.
He just wanted to marry the woman he loved but why were there so many people against it. In the end, what did he gain by becoming a ruler?
“Please reconsider, Your Highness,” Lan Bing, now a Chancellor of Southern Kingdom, said with a bow.
Lightly tapping the table with his finger, Ji Feng Li had on a light smile but his eyes were narrowed and frosty. “Lan Bing, since becoming Chancellor, you’ve become increasingly obstinate. Based on Yuan Bao’s character, I don’t believe that she will help her father rebel.”
Lan Bing replied in a deep voice, “What Your Highness said is very true. Based on her character, Yuan Bao will not do so. However, please don’t forget Hua Mu’s identity. “
Ji Feng Li frowned slightly. He then got up and paced around the room in silence.
“Your Highness, Tong daren has something to report,” a eunuch stationed outside the hall announced carefully.
When the door opened, Tong Shou walked in quickly, knelt down and saluted, “Your Highness, a secret report arrived from Xijiang Yue.”(refer back to Ch 59 if you forgot about Xijiang Yue)
Lan Bing received the secret report and presented it to Ji Feng Li. Opening the report, he glanced at it quickly and the color on his face instantly drained. Surprise, disbelief, and pain all emerge in quick succession.
“Your Highness, what’s the matter?” Lan Bing and Tong Shou asked with concern. They have never seen him looked so shocked before.
Ji Feng Li shook his head and looked away, ordering, “Nothing, you’re dismissed!”
Tong Shou and Lan Bing exchanged glances before quietly withdrawing.
Ji Feng Li glanced at the secret report in his hand again. His eyes darkened with a burning flame, seemingly wishing to set the word “Princess” a blaze.
Qin Zheng Hall was silent save for the steady sound of rainfall outside which grew increasingly urgent and endless, as if it would never end.
After a long while, he held the secret report up to the flame and let it burn in the brazier. He then headed for the door. As soon as the eunuch at the door saw him come out, he quickly held up his umbrella to shield Ji Feng Li from the rain. However, Ji Feng Li coldly said, “No need, you don’t have to follow this prince tonight.”
The little eunuch hadn’t even responded yet Ji Feng Li had already stepped out into the rain. He continued running and didn’t stop until he was standing at the lakeside in front of Tao Yuan Ju. The rain was becoming increasingly heavy, splashing the lake surface in small ripples.
Ji Feng Li stood by the lake with a bitter smile on his lips and an aching pain in his chest.
“Bao’er, is that why you stay by my side? What else are you hiding from me?” These words seemed to have exhausted all his strength, leaving only the shortness of breath in the night air.
That night, the Imperial Palace was swept in rain and the intermittent cries of the gusting wind.
After Hua Zhu Yu finished the evening meal, Long Yu ordered the maidservants to clean up the table. She then made a cup of tea for Hua Zhu Yu before withdrawing. Ji Feng Li still didn’t stop by tonight. Usually, no matter how busy he was he would always accompany her for dinner.
Hua Zhu Yu leaned back against the couch by the window, holding the tea cup in her hand as she slowly enjoyed it. The wind came in through the cracks of the window and teased the hair resting on her shoulder.
Intermingled with the rain, she could hear the vague sound of a melodious flute, ethereal and dreamlike. Hua Zhu Yu listened attentively but the sound came and went as if it was never really there. She doubted that she had heard wrong as her hands tightened around the cup of tea and a faint smile rose from the corner of her lips.
She got up and put down the cup on the table and was just about to blow out the candle when the sound of the flute faintly rose outside the window. Her heart quivered slightly and she quickly went over to the window and opened it. The rain and wind came rushing in, engulfing her in a cold chill along with the melodious flute which weaved around her, penetrating her heart.
It was Rui Shou, the song that Ji Feng Li had composed.
All of the world, including the rain and wind, seemed to be rooted in the deep tone of the flute.
Relying on the candlelight, Hua Zhu Yu peered out into the rainy night and saw stationed at a peach blossom tree not too far away was a carriage.
The sound of the flute was coming from inside it. Beside the carriage stood a figure in the rain.
“Yuan Bao, come out quickly!” someone shouted loudly.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
In this palace, the only person that called Yuan Bao was Na Lan Xue, the little prince of Yue Zhi. Why did he come here in the middle of the night? Hua Zhu Yu was uncertain but the sound of the flute piqued her curiosity. She closed the window and headed for the door. Opening up an umbrella, she quickly went to take a look.
Outside, the sound of rain surrounded her and she could no longer hear the flute, making her question if she had heard wrong.
“What are you doing?” Hua Zhu Yu asked with a frown.
Na Lan Xue stood there quietly holding an umbrella but his clothes were still slightly damp. Under the light of the lantern, the cinnabar birthmark between his brows was especially striking.
He didn’t speak but raised his brow. With a faint smile on his lips, his hand reached out and lifted the heavy curtain of the carriage behind him.
“Well, I’ve brought you someone, come take him!” Na Lan Xue replied as he pointed inside the carriage.
Several attendants raised their lanterns and illuminated the inside of the carriage. Hua Zhu Yu peered inside and was stunned by what she saw.
Inside was the man she hadn’t seen these past few days, Ji Feng Li.
He seemed to be asleep, his long lashes hanging down, casting a shadow on his pale face. Inside his brocade sleeve, he was holding onto a jade flute. It seems it wasn’t just an illusion, the flute she had heard was played by Ji Feng Li.
“What happened to him?” Hua Zhu Yu asked. Na Lan Xue’s gaze shifted from Ji Feng Li to Hua Zhu Yu. With a soft sigh, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Nothing really, he just drank too much. This is actually the first time that this prince saw him drunk. Before, he had never gotten drunk. He kept calling out your name so I sent him to you.”
In the middle of the night, Na Lan Xue had sent Ji Feng Li to her place. She hadn’t yet even reacted when Na Lan Xue bent over and dragged Ji Feng Li out of the carriage.
“Well, I’ll leave him in your care,” He said as he pushed Ji Feng Li over to Hua Zhu Yu.
Ji Feng Li leaned against Hua Zhu Yu’s shoulder silently, his breath mingled with the light scent of wine.
“Hey…” Hua Zhu Yu wanted to voice her objection but Na Lan Xue let out a yawn and lazily said, “Oh, the rain is really pouring tonight, I better take my leave!” Then, as if fleeing for his life, he rushed into the carriage and ordered the guards to quickly drive away and soon disappeared into the rain.
Hua Zhu Yu glanced at Ji Feng Li who was still leaning against her shoulder. She hadn’t seen him for only a few days, how did he become like this?
With an umbrella in one hand, Hua Zhu Yu supported Ji Feng Li into the room and placed him on the bed.
Sitting on the side, she watched him as he slept. It had only been a few days but he seemed to have become much thinner. Sighing, she pulled the blankets up to cover him and turned to blow out the candle. She was about to head to the study room to read when suddenly her world was overturned. Her whole body had been pulled back to lie in the arms of the man sleeping behind her.
Hua Zhu Yu was caught off guard and did not have time to react. When she finally did her body was already pressed on the bed, tightly held in place by his hands and feet, unable to move.
“Ji Feng Li!” Hua Zhu Yu shouted. But his only reply was a low snore.
Hua Zhu Yu no longer believed that he was asleep. Moreover, she didn’t think he was drunk either. These past few days he did not stop by to see her. Now he suddenly appears in the middle of the night, disturbing her goodnight’s rest.
She reached out and pushed him but he did not budge. After gritting her teeth, she considered whether she should employ her internal strength to give him a hard kick or not.
“I know you’re not drunk. Get up!” She said with grievance. Does he want her to sleep like this from night to morning?
But the person above her did not budge. His eyes remained closed, even his lashes did not move.
Hua Zhu Yu was suspicious. Was he really drunk and unconscious? But as soon as the thought came, she felt a tingle on her cheek as his lips brushed across her face.
No longer doubtful, Hua Zhu Yu employed her internal strength and gave him a good push.
He fell off the bed with a moan and remained lying on the ground.
Hua Zhu Yu sat up from the bed. Her jade hairpin had loosen and fell to the ground, causing her hair to cascade down her back like floating clouds.
“Ji Feng Li,” She called him softly.
He didn’t move.
Here we go again.
Hua Zhu Yu frowned.
She leaned against the bed and looked down at him.
He lied there on the ground motionless for quite some time.
Feeling a little concerned, Hua Zhu Yu got up and went over to his side, peering down at him.
Under the dim light, his lashes fluttered gently and his black eyes suddenly opened with a look of mirth.
Hua Zhu Yu’s face flushed as if she had been caught redhanded and she said in a cold voice, “Since you’re not drunk, quickly return.” Then she went to take a seat on the bed.
Ji Feng Li stood up and reached for her chin, planting a soft kiss on her forehead.
“Bao’er, you still care about me!” he said in a gentle voice.
“You’re still not going?” Hua Zhu Yu asked.
“I’m hungry.” He changed the subject and did not reply to her question. Instead, he proceeded to take off his cloak, put it on the hanger, and went to the kitchen.
Hua Zhu Yu didn’t know what to do. After all, the entire palace was his anyways. So she climbed back into bed and covered herself with the blanket. But the noise in the kitchen continued and just moments later, the fragrant scent had wafted across the whole house.
How could Hua Zhu Yu possibly sleep? She hasn’t eaten a meal made by Ji Feng Li for so long.
“Come and have some!” Ji Feng Li called out.
In the end, Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t resist the temptation of food so she got up and went to enjoy a bowl of delicious soup.
After the meal was finished and the table had been cleared, Hua Zhu Yu went to get her umbrella and handed it to him, lightly saying, “It’s time for you to go back now.”
Ji Feng Li raised his brow and smiled. He took the umbrella and turned to leave, closing the door gently behind him.
The house fell silent. Hua Zhu Yu went back to bed but she couldn’t fall asleep.
The torrential, pouring rain outside seemed to be getting heavier but amid the downpour the sound of a flute could be heard.