His close trusted aids, they all wanted her to die!
In the end, she couldn’t even muster a bitter smile. She looked towards Qing Feng and nodded gently as a gesture of gratitude….This man, though he was currently calling for her death, moments ago he had intentions of letting her go. He had clearly seen her hiding behind the haystack yet he had chosen not to reveal her.
Catching her gaze, Qing Feng averted his and lowered his head.
Cui Ya, who had been in a frightful daze, suddenly rushed toward Xuan Ji’s side and cried, “Your Highness, why did you come out? It’s all my fault, I’ve harmed you, if I didn’t come….sobbing…I just wanted to help you find out who that woman was, I shouldn’t have come. Cui Ya has harmed you.”
Xuan Ji wrapped her arms around Cui Ya comfortingly and pulled her behind to shield her from Xu Xi’s sword.
The expression on Xu Xi’s face was becoming increasingly callous.
Xuan Ji lifted her head to gaze at the back figure of the man standing mere steps away from her. Inside her heart, there was only a hollowness left, yet evidently she could still feel pain.
He was contemplating whether or not to kill her, all for Ru Yi’s sake.
‘Contemplating’…. In truth he had already made a decision!
Yes, he wanted to kill her!
At the thought, her stomach constricted painfully once more and she quietly pressed her hand against her belly as she waited silently for his sentence.
Cui Ya came out from behind her and went to kneel before Long Fei Li’s feet. She repeatedly kowtowed, her head slamming against the cold ground as she deplored, “Your Majesty, please, this servant begs you to forgive Her Highness. She was still in her room preparing your birthday present just moments ago. How can you kill her?”
Ru Yi looked at Long Fei Li and noticed his back stiffen slightly. She furrowed her brows and looked back towards Xuan Ji.
Xuan Ji came forward to help Cui Ya up as tears slowly trickled down her cheeks. She chided in a light tone, “Silly girl, what’s the use in pleading?”
As soon as her words fell, Long Fei Li’s low voice sounded from above, “Why did you come out?”
“I can’t just hide in the corner and watch you kill my servant. Like the servant that was beaten to death by your order last time, she’s just a little girl,” Xuan Ji said with her eyes lowered, gazing at the straw of hay on the ground as it rose with the wind and subsequently fell.
“At this very place, I’ve killed someone before,” Long Fei Li suddenly stated, his tone as light as when he ordered Xu Xi to ‘take action.’
Xuan Ji suddenly came to a realization and her heart began to race. In a trembling voice, she asked, “That person you killed, she’s currently lying in the dry well in this very courtyard, isn’t she?”
“Hmm,” He casually acknowledged. “You’re quite informed.”
“She…who was she?” Xuan Ji asked quietly so as to hide the tremor in her voice.
“Someone has gone missing from the harem recently, don’t you know?” he asked in return.
“You killed your own concubine?” Xuan Ji asked with a slight tremble.
The figure that stood in front of her was cold and indifferent as he stated, “She was the first woman I had been with. Since I was 14 years of age, she’s been with me for nearly 7 years now.”
Xuan Ji clutched her arms tightly as she listened to him speak, his voice low and collected as if the words he spoke had nothing to do with him whatsoever.
“And I met Xin Yi at the age of 7. Nian Xuan Ji, do you understand?”
Xuan Ji’s heart sank and she suddenly wanted to laugh. He wanted to kill her! In the end, he still decided to kill her!
Ru Yi gritted her teeth and knelt down on the ground. In a low voice, she pleaded, “Your Majesty, Xin Yi begs you to let Concubine Nian go.”
Hearing that he wanted to kill her, Xuan Ji was left with only despair but for Ru Yi to plead on her behalf…..she would rather die under his order.
Xuan Ji clenched her teeth and gently released Cui Ya. She made her way over to Rui Yi and knelt down slowly to everyone’s surprise.
“Ru Yi gugu, since the day I entered the palace, you have helped me, time and time again. Perhaps till the day I die, I won’t know the reason why you want to help me but I only ask you this one last favor, “ Xuan Ji smiled and continued, “Please don’t plead for me anymore.”
“I’m not as benevolent as you, I’m a narrow-minded person. If I were to love a person, I will only love him in this lifetime. In return, I hope that person will do the same.”
“He’s in a difficult position and I know someone like myself is not worthy of being with him. You are the one who’s most suitable. It’s no wonder his heart only has you. I’m envious of you and in my eyes, you’re considered a rival so please don’t plead for me. I don’t wish for my rival to intercede on my behalf.”
Stunned, Ru Yi gazed at Xuan Ji’s pale face that was exceedingly calm and composed, radiant with a light of conviction.
Ru Yi could suddenly get a sense of why Long Fei Li treated her differently compared to the other women in his harem………. Though Ru Yi had been in love with him for many years, she had grown increasingly uncertain of his heart and what kind of place Xuan Ji held in it.
Perhaps it’s better if Xuan Ji was dead, but….. Ru Yi smiled bitterly, “Your Highness, I owe you for your saving grace, I can’t stand aside and watch you die.”
“Saving grace?” Xuan Ji murmured, “How can that be?”
Ru Yi closed her eyes and explained, “My father is Wen Ru Ping, the Empress Dowager’s other younger brother. He’s a philanderer by nature and has many wives and concubines. Consort Wen Hua Min and I are sisters but her mother is the principal wife, the beloved daughter of the wealthiest man in the imperial capital whereas my mother is just the daughter of a private school teacher, a mere concubine. Their statuses are incomparable.”
“But that’s not worth mentioning, just that one winter many years ago, when each courtyard in the residence had gotten new clothes and jewelry in preparation for the new year, Hua Min had gotten a beautiful pearl necklace. All the other children in the residence, including myself, marveled at the sight of the necklace. I couldn’t help but stare at it in awe just a little longer. Later on, her necklace had disappeared and she insisted that I was the one who stole it. I adamantly denied it but she ordered the servants to beat me to teach me a lesson. My mother had no status in the residence so who would care what happened to us? Moreover, my mother was afraid of offending the Big Madam(principal wife) so she pressed me to apologize. That day I was so angry that I ran away.”
“I wandered along the streets for many days, cold and hungry. My stubbornness was all that kept me going till I finally fainted at the Nian Residence’s rear gate.” Ru Yi whispered, “You were the one that had saved me. You offered me food and clothing to shelter from the cold.
As I walked back home that day, I happened to come across the late Emperor and Consort Ru who had left the palace in disguise. They brought me back to the palace with them and that was when the Empress Dowager saw me. She then asked the Wen Family and took me in as her servant. Without you, I would’ve died on that snowy night, I wouldn’t have been able to meet the late Emperor nor His Majesty…..”
Xuan Ji staggered back several steps. Her mind had gone blank as her trembling fingers pointed at Ru Yi. “Saving grace………. That child was you, not him…..”
Back at that willow tree near the lake, he had told her that she had once saved a child. He never once said that child was him, but she had believed this whole time that it was…….
Turns out it was Ru Yi, it was Ru Yi all along.
In the end what kind of situation was this?
In this huge imperial palace, the one who had protected her this entire time had been him but it had all been because she had saved Xin Yi. He was merely returning the favor on behalf of Xin Yi. Then in those intimate moments that they shared, did it even mean anything to him?
Long Fei Li, those moments we shared, what exactly do they amount to in the end?
She raised her hand to wipe her tears, but the more she wiped, the more they seemingly fell. She then glanced over at Cui Ya who was still kowtowing at Long Fei Li’s feet. Her forehead was already bruised and bloody, her face full of tears. Looking at her like this, Xuan Ji was reminded of that servant girl who had died. She too was just around 15-16 years of age, still but a child. Yet that man stood there as straight and still as ever, callously disregarding her.
Xuan Ji then swept her eyes across the faces of those present, they were either dark or solemn, but not a single one showed signs of mercy.
Tonight, in this courtyard, she was all alone…….
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!