The Forbidden City
“Chenqie greets the emperor,” Xi Yan greets him with a curtsy.
“All retreat!” Xuan Yuan Yu’s voice sounds colder than the snow outside.
She continues curtsying, her face modest. Even though the man in front of him is her spouse by name, she knows that the only feeling he has for her is an indescribable kind of loathness.
Since it’s like that, she might as well just accept it. She will not expect anything from someone who doesn’t belong to her.
From her eyes that are drooping down, she can see the silhouette of a man in black robes. On the robe, pattern of dragons in the clouds are embroidered using glimmering blue threads. Those shining blue threads envelop the dark fabric to the point where she will occasionally remembers them everytime she sits by herself, looking at the night sky.
“You are indeed Xiang Qinwang’s daughter.” He coldly says that sentence. She can only lower her head even more.
She does not know how to explain his misunderstanding because since she was little, she believes that if a person believes you, he will naturally believe you. If a person is prejudiced, no matter how many times you try to explain yourself, he will not change his perception.
Besides, after what happened today, any explanation will not change the outcome.
“Your Majesty, chenqie——“ But she still has to speak up, if she don’t, this situation will not turn any better.
“You don’t have to say it. Zhen knows what is it that you wants. Zhen also knows why Xiang Qinwang has been hiding you all these years.” He inches closer to her, his voice turning colder. “But someone who schemes too much is destined to live a shorter life. Do you understand?”
Xi Yan exhales deep, pushing down the anger that is bubbling inside her before she kneels, “Answering the emperor, chenqie understand. Since chenqie has already entered the palace, chenqie only wish to seek peace in the corner of Your Majesty’s protection. Other than that, chenqie will not have any presumptuous ideas.” She put the back of her hand on her forehead pleadingly.
Yes, she only wants peace. That is the most important thing for her and also for the Xiang Qinwang’s household that only looks strong on the outside but is actually brittle on the inside.
“Protection?” he says that word out loud, his voice sharp, “Did Xiang Qinwang cultivates you for so long only for you to seek protection from zhen?”
As Xi Yan bite her lips, Xuan Yuan Yu pulls her fragile body up from the floor. When she staggers up, he place his hands on her slender waist tightly. “Don’t think zhen will accommodate you just because you are beautiful. And don’t ever try to test zhen’s limit.”
His grip on her hurt but she did not show it in her face. Her face is still as calm as before, “Chenqie does not dare.”
After a pause, she raises her eyes and look at him. “But— chenqie has something to beg from Your Majesty—— Tomorrow is the funeral of Xiang Qinwang, chenqie would like to beg the emperor to—–“
Half-way through her sentence, Xuan Yuan Yu retrieves his hand, pulling her body along with it. She almost stumble but manage to stabilize herself. “Will you allow chenqie to return to the residence to fulfil chenqie’s filial piety?”
“Since you already entered the palace, you should know that once you enter, you cannot leave,” the corner of Xuan Yuan Yu’s lips curls in malice, “This Forbidden City, is zhen’s finest and most magnificent cage for women like you.”
After saying that, he flips his sleeves and walks out of the hall, “Zhen decrees; Zui Fei is in deep mourning, she is to be a vegetarian and mourns for three years.”
As soon as he said that, servants who are familiar with the rules of the palace recognize it’s severity.
It means that for three years, the collection of name plates the emperor will choose from will not include Zui Fei’s name. In other words, Zui Fei who seems to have entered the palace in glory is actually nothing but the holder of an empty title.
Three years isn’t exactly a long time, but for the women in the palace, those three years represents the most precious part of their youth.