Indeed, when he heard this the Emperor’s face gradually relaxed and his anger was slightly appeased.
“In addition, His Highness Crown Prince is so infatuated by Miss Wen Wan, how can His Highness have the heart to think of this servant? That night at the early summer festival, His Highness sneaked out of the Palace because he had a meeting with Miss Wen but Miss Wen did not come. As proof there is a lantern with a painting of Miss Wen that the Crown Prince personally crafted.” Hua Zhu Yu continued to speak in a clear voice.
“That’s right Imperial Father, that night Er Chen1 indeed went out to meet Miss Wen!” Huangfu Wu Shuang hurriedly spoke to confirm.
With a seeming smile on his lips, the Emperor glared at Huangfu Wu Shuang.
Huangfu Wu Shuang being captivated by Wen Wan was something the Emperor had also heard of before. Hearing Hua Zhu Yu say that there’s a lantern as evidence, he ordered Chang gong gong to instruct someone to bring it forth. A moment later, Jixiang brought the lantern forward and Chang gong gong received it before presenting it to the Emperor.
Holding the lantern in his hand, the Emperor examined it through narrowed eyes.
Surely enough, the lantern not only had a portrait of Wen Wan but also a riddle expressing affection.
The Emperor let out a long sigh and returned the lantern to Chang gong gong. His gaze then landed on Hua Zhu Yu who was still kneeling on the ground.
This little eunuch encountered danger yet did not panic and was exceedingly calm, speaking clear and logically, causing others to have to look at him with a different eye. As a matter of fact, Huangfu Wu Shuang was lacking such talents by his side.
“Yuan Bao, raise your head!” The Emperor’s solemn voice commanded from overhead.
Hua Zhu Yu slowly lifted her head. Though she despised the Emperor to the bone, she had actually never met him before so this was the first time she saw him face to face.
The Emperor appeared to be over fifty years of age with a pair of long brows almost reaching the hairs of his temples. He had a pair of deep eyes emanating of sharpness, a straight nose and slightly pursed, thin lips. He exuded an aura of fortitude and authority of that of a ruler. It can be seen that when he was younger, he was also once a handsome young man.
Though her heart was filled with abhorrence, when on the battlefield she can still cheerfully chitchat with the enemy without disclosing her true emotions.
As Hua Zhu Yu slowly raised her head, the Emperor’s grand eyes swept her face. Even though he was used to seeing beauties in the harem, he couldn’t help but take in a deep breath.
Perhaps because of those memorials from those ministers, the Emperor imagined Hua Zhu Yu to appear highly seductive but little did he expect to see such pure elegance with even a touch of unspeakable nobleness; and to have such a pair of clear eyes, glistening like a spring.
It was hard to imagine such a person as an evil-doer who had bewitched his master.
The Emperor gazed at Hua Zhu Yu and after a long while his brows un-creased as he asked, “Heard you know how to dance?”
Hua Zhu Yu bowed and replied, “This servant only knows of sword dance!”
“Alright then perform the same sword dance you displayed at the banquet at Kang Wang’s Residence again!” The Emperor deep eyes paused on Hua Zhu Yu’s face before he quickly shifted his gaze elsewhere.
“Yes!” Hua Zhu Yu stood and went to a bush of flowers to snip off a branch and began to perform the same sword dance that she had previously performed. As before, it was elegant yet still imposing, beautiful yet still valiant.
Sitting there watching, the Emperor would sometimes knit his brow and stroke his chin every now and then.
Finally, when the dance came to an end, he turned to the side and asked Chang gong, “Chang gong gong, do you think this is a bewitching dance?”
Chang gong gong dabbed at his forehead which was full of sweat and bent his body to say, “Replying to Your Majesty, this servant feels this dance is very beautiful yet imposing. It doesn’t seem to be a seductive dance.”
The Emperor nodded his head.
Those ministers claimed Huangfu Wu Shuang had a broken sleeve but in fact there was no concrete evidence. In regards to that night trip and the dance, it has been refuted one by one. It seems those ministers were exaggerating just to scare people.
At some point Huangfu Wu Shuang had burst into tears.
“Imperial Father, those old pedantic men just want to get rid of people by my side. Yuan Bao hasn’t done anything wrong and has only been dedicated in serving Er Chen. That night at the banquet, Er Chen received the wine commandment but was afraid of becoming ridiculed by those ministers so Er Chen allowed Yuan Bao to perform the sword dance on Er Chen’s behalf but did not expect Yuan Bao to steal their limelight, inciting their jealousy. Imperial Father…..” Tears continuously streamed down Huangfu Wu Shuang’s face, speckling the ground.
The Emperor frowned and gazed at Huangfu Wu Shuang’s face full of tears. He let out a cold harrumph and said,” Silence, what a disgrace! How can there be smoke with no fire? This is all due to your constant mischievousness and indulgence, no wonder those ministers had such thoughts. In the middle of the night you snuck out of the Palace just to fool around and have fun. In the future this has to change. Today, Zhen will definitely punish you. Yuan Bao, you abetted the Crown Prince in fooling around and shall be punished with forty staves. As for the Crown Prince, he shall be punished with twenty staves. If in the future Zhen were to hear rumors regarding you two again, you won’t be let off lightly like today.”
Once he was done speaking, the Emperor flung his sleeves and along with Chang gong gong, left Eastern Palace. Though it was punishment by forty staves, it was comparatively lighter than being beaten to death. But if one were to have a weak body and were punished with forty staves they would’ve lost half their life. The Emperor did not directly beat her to death, but he was still wary of her so this punishment was considered a fierce warning.
It appears, in the future she had to be more careful while staying in this Palace.
Hua Zhu Yu employed her internal force to support herself. Though her behind was in immense pain, she wasn’t beaten to the point of tearing flesh and spilling blood. She only needed to rest in bed and lie on her stomach for two to three days and she’ll be fine.
Only on the fourth day did Hua Zhu Yu have the strength to go wait on Huangfu Wu Shuang.
Huangfu Wu Shuang was also lying in bed on his stomach. Though he was only punished with half the staves that Hua Zhu Yu endured, for a delicate prince such as himself it truly was a heavy punishment.
When Hua Zhu Yu arrived, Huangfu Wu Shuang was clinging to the bed crying out in pain. When he saw her, his dark eyes lit up as he shouted, “Yuan Bao, you’re all better? Hurry over here, let this prince see. This prince sent you medicine, was it useful?”
Hua Zhu Yu slowly approached Huangfu Wu Shuang who stretched out his hand, intending to pull her pants down, wanting to take a look at the injury on Hua Zhu Yu’s behind.
- Er Chen is how princes referred to themselves to the Emperor.