Hua Zhu Yu shook her head wistfully and walked out of the tent. She knew that she couldn’t change his mind so easily but he wasn’t a heartless man, he wouldn’t wish to see the common people suffer from the scorching flames of another war.
Outside, the moon shone brightly in the night sky.
At a distance not too far away, Hua Zhu Yu saw the tall figure of a man’s back. He stood there alone, accompanied by only the moonlight which spilled upon his back, extending his reclusive shadow upon the ground.
Hua Zhu Yu was taken aback at the sight of this man. She felt a wave of apprehension as her heart tightened involuntarily.
How long has Huangfu Wu Shuang stood there? Did he hear her conversation with Hua Mu? However, gauging from the distance, it seems he shouldn’t have.
Hua Zhu Yu proceeded forward. Hearing her footsteps, he turned around and looked at her slowly. His expression could not be seen clearly due to the angle of moonlight behind him but his eyes were beaming with happiness.
“Xiao Bao’er, you’re here at last! I’ve missed you greatly,” he said as he walked up to her, his eyes slightly creased, giving her an enchanting smile comparable to the exquisiteness of flowers that even the moonlight paled in comparison.
Looking at Huangfu Wushuang’s innocent, bright smile, Hua Zhu Yu’s heart felt increasingly heavy. Her lips opened but she suddenly didn’t know how to address him.
Before, she had called him Your Highness, then later, Your Majesty. At times, he would even let her call him just Wu Shuang. But now, none of these terms of addressment belonged to him.
Sensing what had caught her tongue, he smiled and said, “Xiao Bao’er, you can just call me A’Feng1. I believe General Hua has already told you that I am Crown Prince Mu Feng of the Nation of Mo.”
Recollecting herself, she looked at Huangfu Wu Shuang, gazed at the smile on his lips, and just as the words A’Feng was at the tip of her tongue, for some reason, she just couldn’t say it.
Hua Mu had already told her that the Empress of Mo had given birth to a girl which was her. That means that Huangfu Wu Shuang wasn’t really the prince of Mo. In the end, he was merely a pawn in Hua Mu’s scheme to restore his country, simply because a prince had more influence and appeal over a princess.
Realizing this, Hua Zhu Yu suddenly felt a great sense of pity for Huangfu Wu Shuang.
“It’s still better to just call you Wu Shuang,” Hua Zhu Yu said softly.
“Alright, that works too. Whatever name Xiao Bao’er calls me, I’ll like.” Huangfu Wu Shuang suddenly stepped forward and stood close to Hua Zhu Yu, so close that she could feel his warm breath upon her cheeks.
“Xiao Bao’er, did you miss me?” From above, she could hear his low voice as he placed his hands on her shoulders.
At this close distance, his eyes gazed deeply into hers, expectantly.
Hua Zhu Yu stepped back to avoid him and indifferently responded, “No, I didn’t.” Afterwards, she turned to leave.
Huangfu Wu Shuang gazed at her disappearing figure, the fervor in his eyes slowly settling down til finally it was cold as ice just like his heart at the moment.
Xiao Bao’er, everytime he calls out this name, his heart would throb with mixed emotions. He had placed far too much sentiment on this name.
There were misgivings, reliance, despair, unwillingness … and even resentment. He resented her coldness, resented her forthright nature, resented her for not loving him. This deep resentment that he harbored goaded him to force himself upon her whenever he saw her.
But he knew he mustn’t!
Because he knew that he didn’t just resent her. Deeper than those feelings of resentment, were feelings of love and longing his heart held for her.
When he couldn’t see her, this longing would consume his thoughts and entire being.
In this lifetime, the two of them have been entangled far too great, unable to extricate in any way.
“Xiao Bao’er, I will take back everything that belongs to me….. including you!” he vowed in a low voice as light as a feather but with the firmness of the weight of a thousand ton.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
For the past few days, Hua Zhu Yu remained in Yan City, but no matter what she said, she could not persuade Hua Mu and Huangfu Wu Shuang to put a stop to their plans.
Three days later, the rebel troops assembled in Yan City and Hua Mu and Huangfu Wu Shuang launched an attack at the nearest city, Yong Cheng City. Hua Zhu Yu did not go with them but remained in Yan City.
Ten days later, the report of victory arrived. Hua Mu and Huangfu Wu Shuang had successfully captured Yong Cheng and were marching to Ning City. Along with this victory report, was another startling news, Ji Feng Li had ascended the throne.
These days, she had deliberately tried not to think of him and ignore any talks regarding him but inevitably his news still reached her ear.
Ji Feng Li had ascended the throne. He was now the Emperor.
No one understood the implications behind this news better than Hua Zhu Yu. She hadn’t forgotten what Na Lan Xue had told her that day. He said a country could not go on without a monarch but for her, Ji Feng Li had postponed the ascension because once he became Emperor, he would have to abide by his mother’s last will.
Ultimately, he has ascended the throne. In other words, he has finally decided to make Wen Wan his Empress.
Hua Zhu Yu leaned against the tree trunk, feeling as though the heavens and earth were spinning, as if a tragic mist was obscuring the spring scenery before her eyes.
He once said, whether he had to ascend to Heaven or fall to Hell, he would never let her go.
He once said he loved her.
He once said he would protect her with his life.
But at the end of the day, it was merely as fleeting as the moonlight upon the waters. After a momentary brightness, what remained was merely an endless darkness and emptiness.
When he finds out the person who had instigated Huangfu Yan to give her the Ice Cloud Grass was Wen Wan, would he still make her his Empress?
Hua Zhu Yu’s heart suddenly sank. Did Ji Feng Li know that she was the princess of the previous dynasty? He mostly likely already did. Yes, just based on her identity alone, it was impossible for them to be together.
Her father, burned alive, her country destroyed in a river of blood, all these things were what stood between them, a void that could never be filled.
Hua Zhu Yu’s lips lifted in a weak smile. Deep inside, there was no sorrow, no hate, no anger, only a vast bleakness.
Suddenly, a falling flower fluttered down with the wind. She extended her hand and caught it in her palm. Closing her eyes, she brought the flower to her nose and could smell the faint fragrance. But all of a sudden, her stomach churned. She turned around to grasp the tree trunk for support as she hunched over and vomited uncontrollably. She felt as though her stomach had been emptied completely, even the bile, leaving a bitter and sour aftertaste in her mouth.
She stood up and leaned against the trunck, gasping for a long time.
Where did this sudden urge to vomit come from?
She stood there and thought for a moment. Then her whole body froze up and her face paled with fright. Could it be?
Hua Zhu Yu returned to her tent and called for Tai.
Tai hurried in and saw Hua Zhu Yu sitting on the chair with her hand outstretched on the table. Frowning, she said, “Tai, come take my pulse!”
Tai placed his fingers on her wrist. Moments later, his brows suddenly furrowed and he let out a shallow sigh. Hua Zhu Yu’s face was calm but the hand resting on her knee was slightly shaking, revealing her concern and helplessness.
How is it?” Hua Zhu Yu stared at the furrowed expression on Tai’s face and asked in a trembling voice.
“General has probably guessed it. It’s a pregnancy pulse,” Tai said in a low voice.
“Are you certain? Last time you took my pulse there was nothing. Besides, how can I get pregnant so easily when I have the Ice Cloud Grass in my system? ” Hua Zhu Yu asked with doubts.
“It’s indeed a pregnancy pulse. Like I’ve said last time, the amount of drug was very small so it didn’t affect your body. And last time I took your pulse, it must’ve been too early in the pregnancy thus I couldn’t feel the pulse yet.”
Hua Zhu Yu pushed her sleeve down and said, “I see. Tai, you can leave first.”
A little concerned, Tai gazed at Hua Zhu Yu for a moment before slowly exiting the tent.
Hua Zhu Yu closed her eyes as a sour feeling rose in her heart.
Pregnancy pulse. That day, Ji Feng Li had said that as long as she had his child, she would not leave him. For this reason, he approached her under the pretense that he was ill. When he thought she had taken Ice Cloud Grass because she didn’t want to bear his children, he had felt so at loss. Now she was finally pregnant, but he has become the Emperor.
This pregnancy pulse, would he consider it a matter to be happy about? What about her?
Hua Zhu Yu felt somewhat surreal as she placed her hand over her abdomen. Realizing that the child she had with him was growing right here inside of her, her heart softened.
This time, she must protect her child!
She stood up and quickly stepped out of the tent, ordering Ping, Kang, and Tai, “Prepare your horses and follow me to Ning City.”
On the first day of the fifth month, the regent, Huangfu Wu Xiang was crowned as the new Emperor. All under his reign was granted amnesty. The reigning year was changed to Tai Ping(Peace and Security). The harem was empty and the sixth palaces had no imperial concubines. Since his accession, he has been solely focused on state affairs, wholeheartedly handling everything himself, winning over the hearts of the people.
In the quiet night, the hazy moonlight shone over the grand Imperial Palace. Within Qin Zheng Hall, candles were lit and eunuchs along with a large number of Imperial Guards stood stationed outside the hall.
As the new leader of the Imperial Guards, Tong Shou received the report brought by the scout and went inside the hall to present it.
Sitting on the dragon seat in his dignified dragon robes, Ji Feng Li was busy dealing with state affairs. For several days, he’s been kept up late at night, going through the stacks of memorials. Since he had decided to acknowledge his identity as Huangfu Wu Xiang, he knew such a day would come sooner or later.
“Your Majesty, a report of the battle at Yan City has arrived!” Tong Shou said.
Ji Feng Li paused momentarily before continuing to glance through the open memorial on the table. In a low voice he asked, “How is it?”
Tong Shou was quiet for a moment before realizing that Ji Feng Li had allowed him to read the report. Quickly, he opened it up and glanced through it. In a low voice, he reported, “ our Majesty, Yong Cheng City is lost. The rebels are now marching to Ning City.”
Ji Feng Li nodded and asked, “Is there anything else?”
Tong Shou was about to say no when suddenly the loud voice of a eunuch outside announced, “Reporting to Your Majesty, there is an urgent military report!”
“Present it!” Ji Feng Li placed his brush down and said in a cold voice.
Tong Shou quickly went to receive the military report and presented it to Ji Feng Li. Narrowing his eyes, he quickly skimmed through the report. Standing on the side, Tong Shou observed the expression on Ji Feng Li’s face and wondered what had happened.
- The ‘A’ in A’Feng is a prefix that shows more familiarity/ intimacy.