Hua Zhu Yu’s time in prison passed by peacefully. She was not subject to any forms of interrogation nor torture. Ji Feng Li had imprisoned her merely for appearances sake in order to appease the court officials. Luckily, her other secret identity, Ying Shu Xie, was still a kept secret, else she would’ve implicated Ping, Kang, or Tai. Though she found it puzzling that they trusted Ji Feng Li wouldn’t hurt her and was assured enough to leave her here in this prison to wait.
How long Ji Feng Li intended to keep her imprisoned here she did not know but in any case, she couldn’t leave so she might as well calmly stay put.
Long Yu was sent by Ji Feng Li to take care of her while she was imprisoned. Due to her special identity and Ji Feng Li’s care, her cell was not short of any daily necessities. Each day she would quietly sit there with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other to pass the time.
No matter how busy he was with state affairs during the day, Ji Feng Li would always visit her in the night. Though she knew this, she would always pretend to be deep asleep, unaware of his presence.
Night after night, he would sit in the chair next to the bed and gaze at her.
She could not remember how many days it’s been since they’ve been like this.
Seeing all this, Long Yu couldn’t help but try to persuade her. “Princess Consort, the Retired Emperor has just passed away and the Prince is swamped with handling state affairs but no matter how busy he is, he always comes to visit you every night. It can be seen that the Prince cares greatly for you but why do you continue to ignore him? Why suffer like this?”
“Long Yu, do you also think that I killed the Retired Emperor?” Hua Zhu Yu sat up and asked.
Startled by her sudden question, Long Yu slowly answered, “This servant knows that Princess Consort wouldn’t do such a thing but you were the last person to see him and based on your history with him…..it’s only natural for you to be suspected. But this servant believes that the Prince doesn’t think it’s true either. These days, he has been sending people to thoroughly investigate this matter.”
“Really?” Hua Zhu Yu questioned. Leaning against the head of the bed, the corner of her lips lifted self-mockingly as she asked, “So, I can leave this prison in a few days?”
“Princess Consort, it must’ve been because those men from Northern Kingdom came to save you that day and that angered the Prince,” Long Yu reasoned as she brought a cup of tea over to Hua Zhu Yu.
“You don’t have to speak well on behalf of your master,” Hua Zhu Yu said.
“Princess Consort, what this servant said is all true. Everyone can see how much the Prince cares for you, ” Long Yu anxiously stated.
“Long Yu,” Hua Zhu Yu patted Long Yu’s hand and said with a smile, “It’s late. You can go back, rest early.”
Long Yu helplessly smiled and said, “This servant shall withdraw then. Princess Consort should also rest early.” After paying her respects, Long Yu got up and went to the adjacent cell to rest for the night.
Hua Zhu Yu was leaning against the bed, holding a book in her hand but her mind was elsewhere as she stared blankly at the candle on the table.
As the night grew late, a cold chill crept over her.
It was April, springtime, but within this prison, it was always cold and damp. On her wedding night, Ji Feng Li had sent people to furnish this place but in the end it could not change the essence of a prison cell. Even during the day, when the rays of sunlight shine in through the small cracks of the window, it was still murky.
She was a martial arts practitioner so she shouldn’t be afraid of the cold but lately it’s been difficult to tell between day and night. She hadn’t seen the sun nor the skies for many days now. Staying in this cold, damp place, she began to wonder if she had caught a cold.
But she didn’t tell Long Yu because she didn’t want to bring her unnecessary troubles. She drank the cup of warm tea, blew out the candle and laid down in bed, pulling the blanket up to cover herself, hoping to sweat it out.1
In the deep night, her body grew increasingly cold, her breathing, heavy and labored. Turning over, she rubbed her eyes awake.
In the dark cell, the silence was eerie.
A light familiar scent had filled the air, making her realize that Ji Feng Li had arrived.
Opening her eyes cautiously, she could see the faint moonlight trickling in the cell through the window. The moon must be shining bright tonight given that the window was so small even the sunlight was faint let alone the moonlight.
Standing at the center was a tall figure, seemingly enveloped in a layer of mist. The distance between them was only a few steps away. If she merely extended her hand it seemed as if she could touch him. Yet at the same time he seemed so out of reach as if miles away.
Turning over in bed again, she pulled the blanket up to cover her head. After a long silence, she could hear him fumbling to light the candle.
Once the candle was lit, the darkness within the cell slowly dispelled.
Adorned in long, black robes which seemingly blended into the night itself, he leaned against the cold wall of the cell, his arms crossed in front of his chest.
The candlelight outlined the contours of his handsome face and tall figure, casting a shadow upon the wall.
As if the candle was too bright, he narrowed his eyes, concealing the emotions in the depths of his eyes.
After an unknown time, she felt his strong arms around her shoulder as he hugged her across the blanket. He whispered in her ear, “Bao’er, I’ve let you suffer these days. Wait a few more days and I’ll come and bring you back with me.”
Hua Zhu Yu remained lying there still in bed. Come and bring her back in a few days? Did he catch the real murderer already? Something felt amiss. If someone had devised such a scheme to pin the crime on her head, it shouldn’t be that easy to find the real mastermind behind it all.
But what pained her wasn’t other’s scheme to frame her but it was Ji Feng Li’s attitude which truly made her heart ache. No matter how bad things got or how people viewed her, she didn’t care as long as he believed in her.
Hua Zhu Yu coldly smiled and indifferently said, “Bring me back? I’m a remnant of the previous dynasty, my father is leading a rebellion and now I’ve killed your father. Shouldn’t I be executed by a thousand cuts? Why would you bring me back?”
Ji Feng Li gazed at her silently, his eyes dark as night, his handsome face cold as the moonlight.
She still remembered the first time they met. He always had on that courteous, indifferent smile, seemingly gentle as a breeze in springtime. She had always wanted to tear off that fake smile of his and yet now in front of her, he wasn’t even putting up a courteous smile.
“Bao’er you know I won’t do that,” Ji Feng Li calmly replied.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
“How would I know you won’t do that? You didn’t believe me so why should I believe you won’t kill me?” Hua Zhu Yu said drearily in one breath, a heaviness and exhaustion evident in her voice.
Sharp as a blade, her words stabbed at Ji Feng Li’s heart.
When she was Yuan Bao, he suspected that she was a spy from Northern Kingdom. But after learning that she was Ying Shu Xie, he had taken a risk to rescue her from Northern Kingdom. Even when he learned that she was Hua Mu’s daughter, he had never doubted her.
Since when did his heart begin to feel so unsettled?
Yes, it was when he learned that she wasn’t just a remnant of the previous dynasty but its princess. It was when he learned that she was pregnant with another man’s child.
“Bao’er, it’s not that I don’t believe you…”
“Ji Feng Li, I’ll only ask you for one favor,” she said, interrupting him.
He raised his head to look up at her. The light in his eyes darkened and he said firmly, “I won’t agree to it, I won’t let you go.”
Hua Zhu Yu helplessly smiled at him. Ji Feng Li was truly Ji Feng Li. Before she even spoke, he had guessed what she was going to say. She bit her lips and tried to suppress the aching pain in her heart as she said, “You’re a prince of Southern Kingdom and I’m a remnant of the previous dynasty. I was also once a eunuch and a daughter of a rebellious official. I was once the Crown Princess Consort of the Northern Emperor and I nearly became the Princess Consort of Eastern Yan’s Dou Qian Jin and I was with Huangfu Wu Shuang…..” As she spoke, she realized the barrier between them was far too great. Her identity aside, the more she went on, the more she realized she was not that innocent.
“So just let me go.” Hua Zhu Yu tried to put on an indifferent expression, trying not to recall the warmth of his embrace and the gentle light in his eyes. The more she spoke, the colder she grew, uncertain if it was her heart growing cold or if it was because she had caught a cold.
With each word she spoke, the light in Ji Feng Li’s eyes gradually darkened with a complicated, indistinguishable emotion.
He had remained quiet and the whole room fell into a heavy silence.
After some time, Hua Zhu Yu felt as though time had stopped. But suddenly he spoke, his voice low and frosty, “Bao’er, do you want to leave me because of Xiao Yin or because of Huangfu Wu Shuang?”
Hua Zhu Yu stiffened for a moment as her complexion grew pale.
She looked up at him, her eyes meeting his as they remained staring at one another silently.
Then Hua Zhu Yu smiled weakly. Her body was cold but her forehead was burning up. She heard his faint voice break the silence in the room. “No matter what identity you have, you’re still my wife. Don’t think of leaving.”
He then got up and left without looking back. He then ordered a guard outside, “Strengthen the prison defenses!”
As the sound of his footsteps drew farther away, Hua Zhu Yu collapsed on the bed feeling exhausted to the core. At this point, she felt as though she no longer had any strength left.
Long Yu seemed to have been standing guard outside the cell. Seeing Ji Feng Li leave, she was worried and stepped inside cautiously, asking, “Princess Consort, do you want some tea?”
“Bring me some ginger soup tonight,” Hua Zhu Yu said weakly.
“Ginger soup? Is Princess Consort feeling uncomfortable somewhere?” Long Yu quickly went to her side and extended a hand to her forehead, anxiously saying, “Princess Consort has caught a cold, I fear having just ginger soup won’t be enough. The Prince hasn’t gotten far, I’ll go report to him.”
“Long Yu, there’s no need! I’ll just have a bowl of ginger soup and get some rest.” Hua Zhu Yu reached out to stop Long Yu but she was a step too late and Long Yu was already out the door.
Hua Zhu Yu didn’t know when she had lost consciousness. It was as if she was in a dream, hovering between the light and darkness, at times awake, at times asleep.
She could hear the vague rush of footsteps coming and going along with the familiar voices whispering around her. She had wanted to open her eyes several times to take a look but she had not the strength to do so.
Her body had felt so weak as if she was floating. Seemingly a small gust of wind was all it would take to blow her away.
She could vaguely hear a voice whispering above her. “Due to the cold, we were able to discover it in time, otherwise….the consequences would’ve been……”
She couldn’t hear clearly but felt as if the conversation was related to her. But there was nothing she could do as the last of her consciousness fell into a deep slumber.
In the silent room, the faint footsteps resonated, stirring her consciousness. She could vaguely hear the footsteps approaching. Then her face felt slightly ticklish, seemingly a warm finger was tracing along the contours of her face gently. Then something soft and warm touched her forehead, then her brow, cheeks, and finally her lips, gently kissing her ever so softly.
The lingering sensation upon her lips made her confused and she stretched out her hand, trying to grab onto whoever it was but it was in that moment that she was awakened. Opening her eyes, she realized that she was still in the dark prison cell. With only a dim candle lighting the room, she couldn’t tell if it was day or night.
But the cell was not as cold as before. At an unknown time, a brazier had been placed beside her bed.
Ji Feng Li was sitting next to the bed. Overnight, his handsome face had appeared quite haggard. But his expression was as calm as the deep sea.
He was gazing at her silently, his deep eyes filled with a complicated look and anguish.
The heaviness of his gaze startled Hua Zhu Yu slightly.
At last, he let out a heavy sigh and asked in a low voice, “Are you still feeling uncomfortable anywhere?”
Hua Zhu Yu shook her head and replied, “‘I’m alright, it’s just a cold, nothing serious to worry about.”
Ji Feng Li looked at her gloomily as he said, “Bao’er, now I see just how cruel you are. You… is that how you want to leave me?”
Furrowing her brows, she asked, “I’m cruel?” His words made her heart prick with an unknown pain but she kept her face expressionless as she looked up at him quietly. He must still think that she was the one that had harmed the Retired Emperor.
“You’re right, I’m cruel! So why do you like me? Why don’t you just let me go?” she asked.
In response, Ji Feng Li remained quiet with only an exhausted smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
Looking up at him dressed in his crimson, royal robes which highlighted his noble bearing, along with that smile of his, Hua Zhu Yu felt an inexplicable distance between them.
“The prison’s conditions aren’t good. In about two days I will arrange for you to leave here. There are state affairs that I must go handle. I’ve ordered Long Yu to take care of you.
Here is the porridge that I made. Try to eat a little more,” he said as he got up and called for Long Yu before taking his leave.
Hua Zhu Yu had wanted to argue with him but he unexpectedly walked away just like that. She gazed at his back as he left and felt an ominous foreboding rise in her heart.
It was said that illness came as sudden as the collapse of a mountain and dragged like the spinning of silk. However, Hua Zhu Yu was a martial arts practitioner and after two days, her condition had greatly improved. These two days, Long Yu had kept her company but she faintly felt that something was off. Long Yu felt somewhat distant as compared to before. Although she acted accordingly with respect, there was a sense of alienation.
When she was unconscious, did something happen in court that was related to her? But in the past, no matter what happened, Long Yu never acted like this so what exactly happened this time?
With a brazier in the prison, the cell was no longer as cold and damp as before.
“Long Yu, did anything happen in court in recent days?” Hua Zhu Yu asked casually.
Long Yu was clearing up the dishes on the table. Upon hearing this, she looked up and said with a smile, “Princess Consort, no need to worry. Nothing much happened in court. The Ministry of Justice found that it was a eunuch that had killed the Retired Emperor. He confessed that the one who instigated him promised to release him from the palace with a large sum of silver. But before the investigation was complete, he had committed suicide. So tomorrow morning, after the Ministry of Justice goes through the formalities, Princess Consort will be released from prison.”
Hua Zhu Yu was startled by this piece of news. She recalled that before he left that day, Ji Feng Li had told her that she would be able to leave this prison in soon. She naturally did not believe that it was a little eunuch that had assassinated the Retired Emperor. Ji Feng Li must have just used this person to clear her of the crimes.
“Nothing else?” Hua Zhu Yu prodded.
“That’s all,” Long Yu said as she lowered her head. “Princess Consort, if there’s nothing else, this servant shall withdraw.” Long Yu then proceeded to take the dishes away.
“Wait!” Hua Zhu Yu stood up and walked over to stand in front of Long Yu. She reached for the plates in her hand and placed them down on the table again.
“Long Yu, I have something to ask you. Which Imperial Physician came to treat me this time? These two days, I feel that my body is a little different. The cold has been treated so why do I feel so weak? Moreover, sometimes I would feel an aching pain in my stomach. Can you ask the Prince to let A’ Tai come examine me?” Hua Zhu Yu vaguely recalled that when she woke up, she seemed to have heard someone mentioning her illness. She felt that if there was nothing amiss in court then it must be related to her illness.
Princess Consort, are you sick? ” Long Yu asked with concern. “But that can’t be, Imperial Physician Yang said…”
“What did he say?” Hua Zhu Yu asked as she grabbed onto Long Yu’s wrist.
In truth she was not feeling sick but merely feeling out Long Yu for information but it seems it really was related to her illness.
Startled, Long Yu’s complexion grew pale. She remained silent for a long time and at last looked up at Hua Zhu Yu, whispering, “Princess Consort, you should be more aware of this than this servant. Why ask Long Yu? Isn’t it because you, at the risk of damaging your own health, took that medicine because you’re not willing to bear the Prince a child?”
sigh.. more misunderstandings ????????
- When asian people get a cold, they try to sweat it out by eating spicy food, drinking warm/hot water, exercising, going to a sauna etc. Not really sure if there is scientific evidence for this but the logic is that if you heat your body up it will drive away the cold. My parents have been telling me to do this since I was young so I still do it, it certainly helps relieve the symptoms of a cold, in my opinion.
Also wanted to bring your attention to a new chinese drama that was just released this week! It’s called “Romance of Tiger and Rose” and I literally just binged watch all the released episodes yesterday night. The premise of the show is kind of like one of those web novels where a character in modern day somehow gets trapped inside a historical web novel but she’s the cannon fodder instead of the main female lead so she knows hows the story ends and has to try to stay alive and not get killed while trying to get the main leads to get together so that she can escape this story and get back to real life. It’s a low budget drama but it has just the right amount of quirkiness, romance, cuteness, comedy and most importantly, chemistry between the leads. It reminds me a lot of the web drama Eternal love 1 and 2 in that even though it’s a low budget drama, it has so much potential. I honestly was not expecting much when I started this drama but I have to say that it’s my favorite chinese drama released this year even though I haven’t even finished watching it yet. Thought I’d just let ya’ll know so ya’ll can check it out! ????