Zhou Yun Sheng was sitting at his desk, many memorials spread before him, his expression resembled the gloom of approaching storm clouds, hearing the chamberlain announce Duke Yu Gou’s presence, he immediately commanded, “Let him in.”
Zhao Xuan half kneeled in ceremony, and was about to report on the matter of Zhao Bi Xuan poisoning the dishes, when thrown memorials smacked into his face.
Zhou Yun Sheng spit out a turbid breath and shouted, “Pick them up and look!”
Zhao Xuan picked up the memorials and slowly read, his expression didn’t look the slightest bit panic. These were memorials sent by courtiers asking to impeach him, some said that he colluded with foreigners to insight rebellions, others said that he was corrupt, he embezzled military funds and forged military achievements, furthermore, he smuggled salt, iron and other prohibited goods beyond the Great Wall, if every charge was true, he would be worthy of execution by death of a thousand cuts hundreds of times.
“Duke Yu Guo, do you have anything to say?” Zhou Yun Sheng raised his jaw, his tranquil voice not revealing either delight or fury. Of these impeachment memorials, more than half were true, and some were frames, but even if you removed the portion with framed evidence, Zhao Xuan could still be charged with the mortal crime of plotting a rebellion. His reputation in the Northwest was far above imperial power, the Northwest people only knew about a Northwest King, they didn’t recognize the Emperor. But Zhou Yun Sheng really didn’t care about these, he called Zhao Xuan over today purely just to play with him.
Don’t ask him for a reason, this animal always kidnapped and played with him whenever he had free time, he was just learning from him.
Zhao Xuan finished reading the memorials and cupped his hands, “Replying to the Emperor, this small official has no rebuttal, only this word, this small official’s loyalty to the Emperor is as large as the heavens, the sun and the moon can witness. If I have a rebellious heart, may I be split open by a bolt of lightning and be unable to die peacefully!”
“Oh? You really don’t have an insubordinate heart?” Zhou Yun Sheng walked up to his side and stared at the top of his dark hair.
“No.” Zhao Xuan unhesitantly replied.
“You’ve never done anything worthy of my pardon?” Zhou Yun Sheng asked, then immediately felt that his words held some ambiguity, and he couldn’t help but awkwardly cough.
“Never.” Zhao Xuan lifted his eyes and quickly glanced at the Emperor’s face. How could he feel sorry for that? He was so in love with him, he hated that he couldn’t pull out his heart to show him.
You fucking kidnapped me so many times, you dare say no so self-confidently? Zhou Yun Sheng was itching to point at his nose and curse him out, but he held back. Stretching out his hand, he gripped his jaw and lifted his extraordinarily handsome face, leaning over to look straight into his eyes.
“Zhao Xuan, remember what you’ve spoken today. If I find out you’ve done something disgraceful, I’ll flay you alive.”
The Emperor was so close, every word was accompanied by a spray of breath, and that breath was a mixture of grass, morning dew and sunshine, he only had to kiss him to get a taste. In the past, the Emperor was always dazed and blindfolded, so him forcefully pinching his jaw, and being face to face like now, their eyes touching each other’s as their breaths mixed, was still a new experience. Zhao Xuan suddenly felt an intense longing. He hoped that he could one day pull off the blindfold, and make the man clearly see who was taking him. He was proud, so he refuses to admit that he’s pleased, his mouth always repeatedly cursing “Animal”, “Bastard”, “Pervert”, but from now on, Zhao Xuan hoped that the only thing he shouted was Zhao Xuan, Zhao Xuan, Zhao Xuan …
He wanted to be honest, a bright sun on a blue sky, to meet him without apprehension, to let him know who his man was.
At this moment, Zhao Xuan was forced to look at the Emperor face to face, but he didn’t feel the slightest bit anxious, he just kept thinking about a variety of crazy ideas. Especially when the man slowed down his voice and said he’d flay him alive, he probably didn’t know just how beautiful the dangerous and arrogant light that flicked across his peach eyes was, this hair-raising beauty, it was soul-sucking, to the extent that Zhao Xuan, without any direct comfort, produced an intense reaction.
Zhou Yun Sheng saw his lover not speaking for a long time, beads of sweat emerging on his forehead and his eyes flickering away, so he thought that he’d frightened him, and his heart was filled with pride. But out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a rapidly expanding giant, and immediately fiercely cursed this beast in his heart.
What did he say to make this man’s imagination run so wild? Did he do anything provocative? Why was this animal hard? He wasn’t really in fucking heat, right?
Zhou Yun Sheng immediately released Zhao Xuan’s jaw and kicked him, but at the last moment, afraid of kicking his own sex-life dead, he pulled back 99% of his strength. He coldly snapped, “Duke Yu Gou, you’ve shamed yourself before the Emperor!”
Zhao Xuan submitted himself to the kick and kowtowed to beg forgiveness, “Please You Majesty, forgive this small official’s insolence. This small official’s full of sap but has no wife or concubine to warm his bed, it’s difficult to control.”
Do you want me to send you a harem? This sentence came up in Zhou Yun Sheng’s throat, but he held it back. He could play with this man, but if someone else touched a hair of his, Zhou Yun Sheng wouldn’t be satisfied until he personally slaughtered that person. His complexion turned red to white, white to red, then he sat back behind the imperial table, and gripped a paperweight, agitated.
Zhao Xuan gathered up the memorials and placed them on the table corner, then bowed and said, “This small official understands why the Emperor summoned him alone today, if you were really suspicious of this small official, you certainly wouldn’t keep quiet about these charges. Since you’ve placed your trust in this small official, this small official will certainly not fail to live up to your trust.”
Zhou Yun Sheng coldly humphed and said, “Good, so you understand what I mean.”
Zhao Xuan saw his lips slightly tilt and his brow slightly rise, he probably thought he looked very noble, but in fact, he looked cute and charming. He was itching to pull him into his arms and wantonly kiss him. Zhao Xuan managed to suppress his inner longing, and continued, “In fact, this small official has an important matter to report from before he entered the palace.”
“What?” Zhou Yun Sheng noticed his careful tone and turned around to look him in the eye.
Zhao Xuan drew closer and whispered the events that took place.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s brows rose higher, his expression was very surprised, but in fact, his heart was calm. He asked in a heavy voice, “If this matter turns out to be true, you know that the whole Zhao clan can be sentenced, right? Poisoning the monarch to death is a great crime, worthy of extinguishing a family line.”
“No matter how the Emperor deals with Zhao clan, it’s only one dot. This small official will not tolerate anyone wishing to murder the Emperor.” Zhao Xuan timely stated where his loyalty lied.
Zhou Yun Sheng, of course, wouldn’t let his lover be implicated, he raised his jaw to Lin Ann, “Go find Xu Yuan, don’t let anyone see you.”
Zhao Xuan quickly glanced at him, really wishing he could caress his raised jaw. He didn’t know just how beautiful he was, especially when he held his head high, his eyelids hanging low, looking out with that noble, insufferably arrogant expression, it could drive people crazy. Except for possessing him, he really couldn’t think of any other thoughts.
Zhou Yun Sheng was too in tune with his lover, as long as the other man shifted his eyebrows, he could immediately guess what he was thinking. Seeing his lover’s eyes darkening, he inwardly cursed him a pervert, and flicked his sleeves, turning away. The guards were still guarding the spilled soup, only stepping away after Lin Ann brought Xu Yuan over. Xu Yuan was able to gain the Emperor’s recognition, he was naturally outstanding, not afraid of getting dirty, and not afraid of death. He dipped his pinky finger into the soup and raised it to his mouth, after a moment, his expression sank.
“Reporting to the Emperor, a chronic poison named ‘Deng Xian’ was mixed into the soup, after taking it for three to five years, the internal organs will fail and you will die, but there would be no observable abnormalities.”
“Even if your sister killed me, Qi Jin Yu wouldn’t become Da Qi’s regent, wouldn’t that be you Zhao Xuan? You are the Second Prince’s maternal uncle.” Because only his trusted subordinates were present, Zhou Yun Sheng boldly voiced his thoughts.
Everyone’s breathing slightly paused, cold sweating for Duke Yu Gou. Listening to the Emperor’s tone, he seemed to be suspecting that Hui Yi Imperial Consort was acting under Duke Yu Gou’s orders. But he was right, the Gong Prince now had no connections, a title without real power, and because of his destroyed face and disabled hands, even if he was the next highest ranked royal family member after the Emperor died, he wouldn’t be set up as regent. If Zhao Xuan stepped out, no one would be able to suggest someone more worthy than him. Because of this, the Emperor’s doubts were fully justified.
Zhao Xuan didn’t expect the Emperor to also know about Zhao Bi Xuan and Qi Jin Yu’s adultery, in other words, he had long given up on Zhao Bi Xuan. This thought made him ecstatic, he was not only not frightened, he even cupped his hands and said: “Replying to the Emperor, this small official is willing to always be by the Emperor’s side. To say some outrageous words, if the Emperor passes away, this small official will be unable to go on living. This small official hopes to be buried alongside the Emperor. This small official has nothing to do with that regent and who loves who business.”
The guards and Xu Yuan sighed in their hearts when they heard these words, exclaiming: Who thought the usually taciturn Duke Yu Gou had such skills in flattery, even daring to offer to be buried together. But where was the basis for burying a minister after the Emperor passes away? With this kind of martyrdom, you should also become an imperial harem concubine ah.
Zhou Yun Sheng’s heart felt satisfied, but he put on an even more arrogant expression, he stared at the other man him for a while, then humphed, “Court Scribe, have you recorded everything Duke Yu Gou just said? On the day that I die, don’t forget to have Duke Yu Gou loyally continue to the Yellow Springs with me.”
The court scribe that often accompanied the Emperor bowed in promise, writing into the “Daily Notes”: Qian Yuan, 17th year, June 11th Xin Mao, Duke Yu Gou arrived at Yang Xin Palace, Duke Yu Gou pledged: He wishes to be buried along with the dead. He gladly gave his promise, several people witnessed.
Zhao Bi Xuan was again put under house arrest. In order to assure Qi Jin Yu and the Empress Dowager, Zhou Yun Sheng visited Feng Yi Palace every two days and stayed the night, but he never entered the side chamber where Zhao Bi Xuan was locked up. Zhao Bi Xuan often heard the sounds of the imperial carriage’s arrival and kicked up a racket, begging the Emperor to release her. But even when she shouted until her throat bleed, she was still ignored. After two months passed, she was already emaciated.
Tossing away the plain soup and cold roast the attendant brought in for her, she yelled hoarsely, “I must see the Emperor! You, go call the Emperor, go ah!”
“Oh my! “Go call the Emperor”? Who are you, to think the Emperor is always available to answer your call? Not only are now an in-name only imperial consort, even if you were the Empress Dowager, you still wouldn’t be able to see the Emperor any time you please. Unfortunately, you smashed today’s only meal…oh well, you can just lick it up, anyway, you’re always eager to bend over.” The servant ridiculed.
“You this dog slave, you dare oppress me behind the Emperor’s back, soon, I’ll return to being favored, then I’ll have you chopped into a million pieces.” Zhao Bi Xuan hid her fear and threatened, but in fact, she was also faintly aware, her chance to become favored again was never coming. If the Emperor had dismissed and sent her to the Cold Palace, perhaps there might still be a chance, but the Emperor didn’t do anything, only putting her under house arrest, which just made her feel more dread. She would never be able to guess what kind of cold and bitter despair was waiting for her.
“I’m oppressing you behind the Emperor’s back? Then I’ll tell you clearly, the Emperor knows everything you’ve suffered today. You think you’ll become favored again? Don’t dream!” The servant shook his head and laughed, then left, locking the huge copper lock behind him.
Zhao Bi Xuan fell limp to the ground, crying silently. Nowadays, she spent every day recalling her time as Hui Yi Imperial Consort, thinking of how the Emperor doted on her. At that time, she always felt that she was forced to be together with the Emperor, falsely affectionate, every minute and every second with him was so unbearable. But now that she had pulled the relationship apart and crushed it with her own hands, she finally realized how beautiful it was. If she could turn back time to the day she entered the palace, she would treat the Emperor kindly, and thoroughly forget about Qi Jin Yu.
Thinking of Qi Jin Yu, his evil spirit-like face appeared in front of her, Zhao Bi Xuan shivered, crying more sorrowfully.
At the Gong Prince’s mansion, after drinking tonic every day for two months, Qian Fangfei suddenly felt dizzy and sick, and thought she would receive good news. Because Qi Jin Yu has recently been in a poor mood, she didn’t dare tell him before getting a pulse diagnosis, waiting for her to get a definite confirmation before surprising him. With a new life joining the family, he would have some new hope, and stop giving up on himself.
Afraid of alarming her husband and the Empress Dowager, only to possibly disappoint them, Qian Fangfei didn’t dare send a message to the imperial medical courtyard, so she sent someone out to find an unaffiliated gynecological physician. The elderly physician carefully probed her pulse, then he suddenly gasped in uncertain shock. But he had already received Lady Qian’s grace, he naturally didn’t dare conceal it, wiping away his cold sweat, he told the princess the truth about her poisoning.
Qian Fangfei was greatly shaken, she gave the doctor two hundred silver and sent him away, then secretly brought over a few more doctors. When they all reacted and told her the same thing as the first doctor, she finally believed it. Qian Tong viewed her as livestock, her mother wouldn’t hesitate to abandon her at the first sign of trouble, and her two older brothers only knew how to seek pleasure, only thinking of her when they ran out of money… … it could be said that from small to big, she never received any familial warmth, and therefore, her dream was to set up a perfect family.
As a result, she was very concerned with taking care of her health, especially when it involved childbearing. Before she got married, she brought over an imperial physician every day to check up on her, to ensure that she would give birth to healthy heirs, how could she be poisoned? It didn’t happen in the Zhenbei General’s manor, so it had to have happened in the prince’s mansion? However, the prince had no concubines, who would want to harm her?
Qian Fangfei was very capable, she thoroughly investigated the mansion without Qi Jin Yu’s knowledge. She was holding onto many shadow guards, it might be a bit of trouble to check out other imperial households, but the investigation target was the Gong Qin Mansion that she herself had properly remodeled, it only took one day to find out. Seeing the evidence handed to her by the shadow guards, Qian Fangfei’s expression went from shock to despair, then from despair to tranquility.
She would’ve never imagined that she’d taste the feeling of her heart crumbling to dust twice in her lifetime. If she hadn’t fallen in love with Qi Jin Yu, if her deathly still heart hadn’t been resurrected by him, perhaps she wouldn’t feel such monstrous hatred right now. She always thought that Qian Tong’s blunt ruthlessness was the most dreadful type, but now she knew, the ruthlessness of poison wrapped in tenderness was countless times more dreadful.
Touching her flat belly, she smiled neurotically. Qi Jin Yu, you took my eye, so I’ll take yours, look forward to it!
Thus, things were quiet for a month, and soon, the Longevity Festival arrived. The Emperor held a banquet in the palace, inviting numerous officials to come have fun, and the Gong Prince and his wife were naturally first place on the guest list. Qi Jin Yu was the fate of the world’s son, after a few months, he could even slowly recover from depression. He repeatedly told himself: If you never appear before other people because of this face, how will you take charge of the imperial court in the future? How will you grant interviews to the ministers?
With these words, he boldly left the mansion and began socializing again, and unexpectedly adapted well. The palace banquet was a good opportunity to become friendly with the courtiers, how could he miss it? Seeing Qian Fangfei enter her rooms a long time ago but still not coming out, he had no choice but to go to her room to hurry her up. Just as he pushed open the door, a strong smell entered his nose, and he fainted.
“Tie him to the bed pillar.” Qian Fangfei ordered while wiping down a polished and sharp looking dagger.
The two maidservants softly agreed and tied him up with thick ropes, neatly peeling off his outer garments. Qian Fangfei walked up to the bed and sliced off his member, placed it in a small, dark wooden box, packaged up all the collected evidences, then calmly walked out the front door.
The steward saw the princess walking out alone, followed by two servant girls, one holding a box, the other carrying a parcel, so he chased them and asked, “Princess, where is the prince?”
“He suddenly changed his mind and said he won’t come. You know, his face … …” Qian Fangfei put on an act, sighing, “I tried to persuade him, but he just didn’t want to listen. He wrapped himself in a quilt and went to sleep, he says he doesn’t want to go out and meet people. The prince is in a bad mood, make sure no one bothers him, so he doesn’t get even more depressed.”
The prince really was very depressed for a while, although his mood recently improved, today was the palace banquet, all the capital’s elites would attend, it was natural for the prince to suddenly feel timid. The housekeeper didn’t doubt, he respectfully promised, not noticing a drop of blood falling onto the carriage’s shaft as the maidservant holding the box stepped in.
When Qian Fangfei arrived at Tai He Hall, the Emperor and the Empress Dowager had not yet arrived. She sat in the seat reserved for Qi Jin Yu and poured and drained a glass of wine, her expression relaxed. During one’s time on the earth, they should live happily, and die heroically, what Gong Prince, what Hui Yi Imperial Consort, what Empress Dowager? Since they’ve provoked her, she would pull them down to hell!
Zhao Xuan had already received the news at the same time Qian Fangfei formulated her revenge, he glanced at her with dark eyes, his heart lamenting, if she was born a man, he would’ve recruited her.
While pondering, the Emperor, Hui Yi Imperial Consort, and the Empress Dowager arrived together, the officials promptly kneeled down in greeting.
The Empress Dowager saw her son’s empty seat and guessed why he didn’t want to show up, without inquiring, she nodded slightly to Qian Fangfei. Zhou Yun Sheng said a few words of preamble before ordering the officials to make their own fun. Zhao Bi Xuan sat beside him, ecstatic, frequently pouring wine for him. She thought she would be locked up in the side chamber for rest of her life, she didn’t expect the Emperor to suddenly send servants to dress her up, saying that he would take her to the feast. She almost fainted in excitement, it felt like a dream sitting beside the Emperor again.
In the magnificent hall, the noble women kneeling next to the ministers all stared at her unreachable seat with eyes of envy and reverence, this was all so familiar, it was hard for her to control her excitement.
Qian Fangfei watched Zhao Bi Xuan for a long while, then sneered and continued drinking.
“Your Majesty, drinking on an empty stomach with give you a bellyache, you should eat something to pad your stomach.” Zhao Bi Xuan didn’t feel Qian Fangfei’s hostility, sincerely occupied with looking after the Emperor.
Zhou Yun Sheng was extremely tired of playing house with her, shaking her off, he hooked a finger at Duke Yu Gou, “Zhao Xuan, come join me for a few drinks.”
Zhao Xuan? Zhao Xuan’s ear trembled, his crotch immediately rising in response. His dream was for his sweetheart to shout these two words in a voice filled with pleasure and slight pain, when he was moaning, when he was angry, when he couldn’t bear to go on, he would deeply remember who brought these incomparable feelings to him. He wasn’t ‘Animal’, he wasn’t the ‘black-dressed man’, he was Zhao Xuan, his lover!
Quickly suppressing his arousal with his internal force, Zhao Xuan calmly walked up to the imperial table, and persuaded while pouring wine, “Drinking on an empty stomach really is bad, Your Majesty, it’s better to eat something first.” Then he picked up the chopsticks, filling the Emperor’s bowl with his favorite dishes.
Zhou Yun Sheng smiled and glanced at him, then waved, “Let’s eat together.”
Zhao Bi Xuan was unusually conscious today, she quickly sent people to prepare a new bowl and chopsticks, and also fawningly called out to Big Brother Zhao Xuan, apparently wishing to chat, but unable to say a word. She’d committed too great an offense against him, and now nothing she said would be useful. Had she known the consequences of losing the Emperor’s favor would be so terrible, she wouldn’t have cut ties so decisively. Seeing Fang-shi sitting in the lower main hall, looking at her in concern, Zhao Bi Xuan gathered together her Imperial Consort court dress, which hung looser of her thinner frame, and forced a smile.
After several rounds of drinks, the imperial household members began presenting their prepared gifts to the Emperor. Zhou Yun Sheng already knew who today’s main performer would be, so after slightly glancing at the gifts and praising them, he ordered the servants to take them into his personal storehouse, bored. At last, Qian Fangfei’s turn arrived, and he immediately sat up straighter.
Qian Fangfei looked at the supremely handsome ruler with sympathetic eyes. She still couldn’t understand why Zhao Bi Xuan had an affair with Qi Jin Yu. The Emperor pampered her exclusively for three years, not to mention the aloof imperial family, it was rare to find such devoted love even among civilians. If it was her, she would sleep easy and wake up smiling every day.
Lips hooking in a cold smile, Qian Fangfei handed the wooden box to Lin Ann. When Lin Ann asked her to introduce her treasure, so he could announce it to the group of ministers, she chuckled, “His Majesty will know it as soon as he opens it.”
Zhou Yun Sheng naturally knew what filled the box, just as he was about to reach out to lift the lid, Zhao Xuan held his wrist. He didn’t want his sweetheart to see such a dirty thing, and even more, didn’t want him to touch it. Quickly opening the box, he pretended to be outraged, overturning it to the ground and snapping, “Gong Qin Princess, what is this thing?”
The courtiers sitting in the front rows saw a blood soaked, sausage-shaped thing roll out from the small box, on closer inspection, even the courtiers who’ve experienced many unfathomable spectacles couldn’t help but cry out. To everyone’s disbeliefs, that thing turned out to be a detached penis. Gong Qin Princess brought such a thing to the Emperor’s birthday, was she tired of living? And more importantly – who did it belong to?
Qian Fangfei laughed neurotically, turning her head, she stared at Zhao Bi Xuan with blood shot eyes, enunciating each word, “What is this thing? Presumably, no one here is more familiar with it than Hui Yi Imperial Consort, after all, it ran through Hui Yi Imperial Consort’s body countless times, and brought Hui Yi Imperial Consort supreme pleasure. My Lady, why are you hiding? Look down, it misses you so much!”
The words were vulgar, but the hidden meaning behind the words were even more vulgar, causing everyone to shudder in fear. The courtiers started wishing they could fade away, all regretting that they’d showed up, and Zhao Bi Xuan and the Empress Dowager both went deathly pale. Once again glancing at the thing, they were pushed to the edge of mental collapse.
Worthy of my pardon- could also be read as ‘screwed me (over)’. Hence the double entendre.
The Emperor’s etc. Update: Thanks KazeYuki for the translation.
Longevity Festival- Emperor’s birthday