Xin Yuan was a nice quiet place. Hua Zhu Yu’s room was plainly furnished yet had all the essential daily necessities. The difference was as stark as night and day when compared to Nei Cheng Yuan. If anyone else treated her this way she would surely be moved to tears, however this was Ji Feng Li, and the deep hatred she had for him didn’t leave any room for gratitude.
After washing her face and changing her clothes, Hua Zhu Yu was just about to get into bed when a series of knocks on the door sounded. Left with no choice, she went to answer the door and was greeted by the sight of Lan Bing who grudgingly walked in.
Hua Zhu Yu frowned, “Lan daren, is something the matter? It’s already late and you haven’t retired for the night yet?”
Lan Bing glanced at Hua Zhu Yu with a guarded expression. “Listen, I know you have a broken sleeve but don’t dare set your sights on this daren. I don’t like men and already have a woman I like, so it’s best if you keep your distance from me alright?” Lan Bing then strode over to the bed and climbed in, shifting towards the furthest corner.
This startled Hua Zhu Yu as she initially assumed she had the room all to herself. Although she had roomed with a male before, Jixiang, their shifts for keeping vigil were different so they rarely slept in the room at the same time. Did she have to sleep in the same bed as Lan Bing?
She came to the Left Chancellor’s Residence to be a guard so this type of sleeping arrangement was normal. She could clearly see from Lan Bing’s expression that he was afraid of losing his chastity. There was still a way for her to get the room to herself. His look had given her an idea so she swiftly blew out the candles.
“Yuan Bao, keep the lights on, I like to sleep with the lights on!” Lan Bing grumbled.
Hua Zhu Yu smiled sweetly, “Lan daren is afraid of the dark? Then I will relight the candle. Whatever Lan daren desires, I shall abide.” After lighting the candle, she pulled back the blanket and climbed on the bed.
Lan Bing scooted further back. He saw that Hua Zhu Yu was facing the opposite direction and had soon fallen fast asleep but he was still unable to relax.
His thoughts began to run wild.
If a person was a male pet, then in the eyes of the populace he was no different from a female. If so, would sleeping together with this broken sleeve tonight be the same as sleeping with a female? Would he be tarnishing his reputation?
These thoughts kept him up, making it hard for him to rest when all of a sudden, a hand hooked around his neck, further aggravating him. Beneath the dim lighting, he could see the other person had his eyes closed with a pleasant smile on his lips, as though he was enjoying a beautiful dream. In his sleep the other muttered a few words that greatly scared Lan Bing. “Beautiful man, smile for this old man. Come give this old man a kiss.”
Darn that Tong Shou, he said Yuan Bao was a broken sleeve with nothing down there, but why was he acting like a broken sleeve so aggressively on top? If he slept with this broken sleeve would others see him as a kept man? He feared the stain from this would be worse than sleeping with a woman.
Lan Bing shoved Hua Zhu Yu and coldly exclaimed, “Broken sleeve Yuan, get up this instant!”
Hua Zhu Yu clamped her eyes shut tightly and continued on with the act. “Beautiful man, your lips are so soft and sweet, just like the scent of honey.”
Lan Bing had had enough, whoever wanted to monitor him could do it themselves, he wouldn’t do it any longer. Fortunately the Lord Chancellor didn’t specify that he had to sleep in the same room with this fellow. Sleeping in the adjacent room, he would still be able to monitor any movements in this room. After coming to this conclusion, he quickly stepped over Hua Zhu Yu and jumped off the bed, scurrying out the door in haste.
Seeing him leave in such a frenzy, Hua Zhu Yu stood up and blew out the candle. She laid in the dark laughing until her stomach cramped up and tears unknowingly fell from her eyes as an overwhelming sorrow gripped her heart. Once she was an all powerful general but now she had to stomach others slighting her as a broken sleeve, yet she could only use this broken sleeve identity to protect herself.
Flashing memories engulfed her thoughts. Since young she’s lived a tougher life compared to the average girl. When other girls were still being embraced in their mother’s bosom, her father had sent her deep into the mountains to undergo taxing training with other orphans. She had to learn archery, horse riding, and how to wield swords and spears. She trained harder than any boy, never once complaining, all in hopes of making her father happy.
When other girls were embroidering or reciting poetry in their boudoir, she was already accompanying her father on the battlefield, fending off the invading enemy. Not wanting to disappoint her father, she became well versed in battle formations and assisted her father, one victory after another. She had thought that once the war in Western Jiang was settled, the coming days would pass in peace. She thought she could finally return to the capital to be a normal young miss, wear a wedding gown and marry a man she loved.
But it was just wishful thinking. No matter how dazzling and beautiful the dream was, it was shattered with the passing of a single night, perishing into nonexistence. She was now lying on a cold bed, having just been sneered at. Recalling the events that transpired that day on the execution grounds, her eyes flashed with a cold glint. One day, this debt of blood will be repaid.
After Lan Bing was frightened off, no one else came demanding to share the bed with her. Her first day in the residence could be considered favorable. Ji Feng Li had said that he valued her talent and thus wanted her as his guard, but really his main objective was just to place her under house arrest. He didn’t trust her so he didn’t allocate any tasks to her either. And whenever Lan Bing wasn’t around, there were two guards, Ji Shui and Ji Yue, that were sent to accompany her but in fact were just there to monitor her movements.
She had nothing to fear for she had no intentions of making any trouble in the residence in the first place. She hadn’t seen Ji Feng Li in several days. Listening in on Ji Shui and Ji Yue’s conversation, she learned that Huangfu Wu Shuang’s crown prince title was abolished. Huangfu Wu Shang had already ascended the throne, his reigning title, Emperor Kang, and the reigning year was changed to Qing Kang.
After Huangfu Wu Shang ascended the throne, Ji Feng Li became busier than ever. As an assisting minister, he had many things to take care of. A faint smile surfaced on her lips. Emperor Kang, Huangfu Wu Shang was very naive, he did not have a strong grasp on court affairs. Among the 3 designated assisting ministers, Grand Tutor Wen, needless to say was Ji Feng Li’s supporter. As for Nie Yuan Qiao, though he was an enigma and his thoughts hard to predict, when Huangfu Wu Shuang was met with trouble he did not provide much help. She feared this time it wasn’t going to be much different. It could be said that the entirety of Southern Kingdom’s power rested in the palm of Left Chancellor Ji Feng Li.
Though she was currently residing in the Left Chancellor’s Residence, she hadn’t seen Ji Feng Li since that first night. There was nothing she could do during the course of the day in the residence and she could not get in touch with An Xiao Er either. She was practically no different from a blind and deaf person. It seemed she wouldn’t have the opportunity to investigate anything. She couldn’t go on like this. No matter what, she had to go have a talk with Ji Feng Li.
These past few days, Ji Shui and Ji Yue were glued to her like a tail. They didn’t have a favorable impression of her since that night in Qing Cheng Mountain when they were trapped in her formation and couldn’t find the chancellor. Because of her, they were punished by the chancellor, forced to learn formations, which wasn’t only difficult to understand but gave them a headache as well.
“Yuan Bao ah, let me tell you something. Lord Chancellor goes to court everyday and doesn’t return till late in the night. It just passed the hour of the horse (11am-1pm), Lord Chancellor won’t be in the residence,” Ji Shui said.
“You think it’s that easy to meet the chancellor?” Ji Yue sneered.
Hua Zhu Yu ignored them and continued on the stone-paved path, towards the main gate. Ji Shui and Ji Yue quickly blocked her way. She flashed a cold smile, saying, “I’m not leaving. It can’t be that I can’t even stand near the gate?”
“You can’t!” the two said decisively.
Just as they were in a confrontation, a luxurious carriage entered the residence. From its deep blue canopy, strings of jade hung from all four directions, obscuring the passenger inside. The carriage was pulled by fine snow white steeds and was large enough to accomodate 8 comfortably. It went to show how extraordinary the person in side was. Who else was inside if not Ji Feng Li?
Ji Shui and Ji Yue quickly stepped aside, lowering their heads. Hua Zhu Yu followed suit, allowing the carriage to pass before following after it. It stopped in front of Ji Feng Li’s quarters before the curtains lifted and Ji Feng Li stepped out.
Hua Zhu Yu silently followed behind him. He looked at her before glancing at Ji Shui and Ji Yue, his brows slightly furrowing.
“Yuan Bao, what did you come here for?” Tong Shou sneered.
Hua Zhu Yu wondered if Tong Shou was the King of Hell reincarnated; not only his appearance but even his voice was dark and heavy.
“Of course it is to receive my orders. I came to the Chancellors Residence to work for the chancellor. Left Chancellor daren, do you have any tasks to assign Yuan Bao?” Hua Zhu Yu asked with a smile.
Standing in front of the carriage, Ji Feng Li had on a seeming smile as he indifferently looked at her, saying, “Alright, this chancellor was intending to take a trip out. You can accompany this chancellor.”
He entered his room to change out of his official court robes and into a casual black one, giving him a scholarly appearance. Along with Tong Shou, they got on an ordinary carriage instead of the luxurious one from before. The carriage traveled along the street for some time before stopping at the back door of a house.
Lifting the curtains, Ji Feng Li surveying the surrounding alleyway. Seeing that the coast was clear, he alighted the carriage and went up to lightly knock on the door. Hua Zhu Yu also got off at this time. Looking at the situation, it really felt like Ji Feng Li was here to carry on a clandestine love affair. When the back door opened, a male servant greeted Ji Feng Li with deference and welcomed him in.
Sorry for the late update guys! Last week I was super busy with getting all my matriculation forms done. (This gal is going to pharm school this fall!) I had to go to the doctor 5 times just to get all my shots and tests in. My online class also started last week, so after 8hrs at work and then going home to do homework, I was very lazy. Just wanted to cuddle up in bed and read or watch drama afterwards. Anyone watching Moonshine and Valentines? Or the Undatables? I also started reading Return of the Swallow which is really good, ya’ll should check it out if you haven’t. But yeah, that was why. I know, excuses, excuses. I’ll try better ????????