The Art of Burning the Bridges
While I was being deceived into thinking that the snooping Feng Zhao was there for the peaceful relationship of our two countries and send him off, Yan Ping turned around first and ignored me, leaving me alone outside the city. I quickly turned my horse around and followed him.
I thought the way he burnt the bridges after crossing them was really low. From close friends to enemies and in the end, strangers, the way he casted me aside after he was done with me provoked the years worth of grievance I had towards him. I steered my horse faster and chased after Yan Ping. In the bustling and merry Zhu Que Lane in the capital, I forced a kiss from him.
I didn’t notice if he was responding or not. Coming in contact with his soft lips, I lost all of my senses; everything became numb. Under our influence, a lot of young men and women would start following our actions in the future and because of that, I, the owner of this body would like to apologize.
As for that time, I was too muddleheaded and couldn’t think straight. My timing couldn’t be any worse. We were seen by court officials who were leaving the morning court. One of them was my father.
Even though Father sort of saved me from Yan Ping’s wrath, he gave me a good beating once we got home.
While I was recovering in our manor, I found out that the news of Yan Xiao Lang and An Xiao Lang kissing had spread all throughout the Great Chen. It ended up affecting our marriage prospects greatly. I heard, the unmarried young maidens all spat at our name in disdain.
I was secretly smug at the fact that I managed to ruin Yan Ping’s marriage prospect. Amidst my joy, I could even get over Father’s violence towards me at home.
In the end, I heard even Uncle Yan Yu got involved. He blocked Father on their way back from the morning court to discuss our matter.
By then, I realized that things had gotten serious.
But Father never disappoints me. The people who saw them vividly described the scene.
At that time Father faced Uncle Yan amiably, even called him father of daughter-in-law; almost causing Uncle Yan to fall off his horse. All of their colleagues who were there told me that Father said since General Yan was going to take responsibility for his son, he had to prepare betrothal gifts to propose the other party to show their sincerity.
Uncle Yan was almost angered to death back then.
I was really concerned about my post-marriage life back then. People said that harmonious relationship between the parents of the bride and groom were really important in order to have a peaceful marriage.
An Qing who was there said that though Father won, he didn’t look too happy either.
A quarter of an hour later, I became the victim of my father’s rage again.
When he came back, he came to see me while carrying the stick that he used to hit me a couple of days ago. In the end, I had to recuperate in bed for half a month.
I thought Father’s heart was aching because of the betrothal gifts he had to send.
My heart was aching for him and yet he repaid it by hitting me again. This world was so ‘fair’.
In the future, everytime I remember Father glaring at me with veins appearing on his forehead while angrily holding a stick, I would laugh out loud. My old man was truly extraordinary. He could be so precise and ruthless when he hits people.
Thinking of that, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud. A mocking voice could be heard from behind me, “Did you lost your mind after getting hit today? How can you laugh?” Of course it was Feng Zhao Wen.
I turned around and realized that he was only wearing a yellow inner robe. He was half-lying while facing me, his hair scattering while his chest exposed.
I laughed as I poked him in the chest; it felt sturdy like it always did. “I suddenly remembered something that happened 6 years ago. After you left the Great Chen, my father hit me until I was bed-ridden. He would secretly come to my room at night when he thought I was asleep; but no matter what, he wouldn’t speak gently to me. That old man could be pretty ruthless if he chose to.”
Feng Zhao Wen’s eyes deepened, “The old General An was an upright and reasonable person; albeit a little bold.” His dragged his voice before he continued, “What did you do to provoke him to that degree?”
I resolutely shook my head, “I don’t remember. I only remember receiving his beating!” Some things were better left unsaid.
Feng Zhao Wen twisted my nose and heavily harrumphed. “Do you need zhen to remind you? An Xiao Lang, you dared to kiss Yan Ping in Zhu Que Lane; should I admire your bravery or laugh at your stupidity?”
I straightened my neck, “Your Majesty cleverly spied the Great Chen; should I be praising you for being smart or despise you for being so crafty?”
Under his cold eyes, I regained my senses. The Great Chen was no longer there; my ability to do audacious things was gone along with my authority as a little general. I quickly laughed, “Your Majesty is alert and vigilant, even little things that happened in the Great Chen couldn’t escape your eyes. No wonder you managed to rule over the mountains and rivers.”
He knocked me in the head, “Such a sweet mouth!” His lips curled; clearly my fawning over him had lifted his mood.
After the war, I came into a conclusion: Feng Zhao Wen was a person who only liked praises and disliked criticism. The more you fawn over him, the happier he became.
After I suffered the beating in the empress dowager’s palace, I greatly benefited from my injuries. My meals everyday got better and better, breaking the emperor’s habit of frugal meals. What makes me even happier was the emperor personally promised me that I could pick any food that I want. Such a blessing to my tummy!
Tian Bing Qing personally told me that the emperor had a relatively simple taste. After he became the palace’s master, the imperial chefs had no chance to show off their skills because he likes to keep things simple. The empress dowager on the other hand believed that elderly women should follow their sons. She was also a Buddhist practitioner so she ate only vegetarian dishes. The most pitiful ones were the concubines; their meals couldn’t exceed the emperor and empress dowager, so they could only suffer from grievance in the dark.
These past few days, the meals in Zhong Hua Palace had changed. The imperial chefs exhaust every single ideas they had in mind to come up with 18 precious delicacies.
After Feng Zhao Wen retired from his morning court, I expressed my deep gratitude towards him.
He was very discourteous, taking away the stewed pork hock I was gnawing at. He gave it a big bite, like a tiger.
I took away the rest of the pork hock as I wept, hiding away in the corner of the dragon bed and no longer coming out.
I heard this pork hock was made with eighteen different spices and honey; that was why it was so tender and fragrant. This was my favorite in the past. The one who made it now was a disciple of the imperial chef back then; he truly outdid his shifu.
That one big bite Feng Zhao Wen took just now was equivalent to three small bites from me. My heart aches ah!
Once I finished gnawing at the pork hock, a palace maid carried a basin of water for me to wash my hands into. While I did that, they changed the bed sheets. I rubbed my round belly as I lay back on the bed, “When will I be able to go out and play?”
The bad thing about getting injured was being banned from going out by Feng Zhao Wen.
Father used to ban me from going out too. He would lock my door and nailed my windows; all the while leaving a little hole there to slip in food and water. But Feng Zhao Wen’s definition of getting grounded was a lot more extreme than my father. The only place I could move in the large and spacious Zhong Hua Palace was on the dragon bed.
My maid E Huang and four other maids would block me from leaving the bed every single day….. My days were spent in boredom.
On the second day after I got beaten, I noticed that those four jiejie’s movements were a little restricted. E Huang secretly told me that the emperor was furious because I was injured. He ordered them to be hit 30 times. They didn’t dare to slack off on the second day so they came to work even though they were injured.
I secretly thought that it was meaningless. After recuperating in the dragon bed, I became a lot more honest.
Actually, I did carry a little grievance inside me.
Feng Zhao Wen could not provoke the empress dowager and couldn’t bear to punish Consort De, so he turned these four jiejies into sacrificial lambs.
Seeing me secretly bad-mouthing Feng Zhao Wen, E Huang stared at me with bulged eyes, “Miss didn’t know, all those guards who hit Miss that day were all punished with 100 beatings by General Yan. The emperor was still furious and ordered them to be placed into the imperial prison to be deal with another day.”
I scowled. See! Feng Zhao Wen still couldn’t bear to do anything to his gentle and delicate Consort De!
But, no matter what, I was still a criminal whose status was even lower than a slave. Who wasI to demand justice from an esteemed and noble concubine in the harem?
With that in mind, I lied on the dragon bed in peace.
After a while, I was leaning on the dragon bed with a plate of pastries on my hand when a eunuch from outside informed me that Consort De was seeking attendance, “Consort De must be here to look for His Majesty. The emperor is currently in the Imperial Study, tell her to go there.”
The eunuch informed me, “Miss, Consort De is here to see you.”
I raised my eyebrows in vigilance as I hugged my plate. I looked left and right, intending to hide deep within the dragon bed. “Consort De must have known from early on that His Majesty isn’t here, that’s why she came. How many people did she bring? Will you guys be able to deal with them? E Huang! E Huang—– go to the Imperial Study and tell the emperor to come and save me! That woman is going to hit me to death!”
E Huang took the plate from me and place it on the side table before she helplessly said, “Miss, Consort De is here to apologize.”
I think it was either I heard wrong or Consort De’s head went wrong.
When Consort De entered the chamber, she was dragging her legs. I was lying in the far corner of the dragon bed.
Consort De weren’t any better than me. It had only been a few days since I last saw her and she now became crippled.
I stared at her in shock. Who in the world was brave enough to hit Feng Zhao Wen’s concubine until she became crippled! Curiosity rose within me. She too stood over there while watching me in surprise.
“Presumptuous! How dare you lie on the dragon bed! Somebody come! Drag her away!”
See? I knew Consort De was here to seek trouble, she didn’t come here to apologize. Only people like E Huang would truly believe that she came here in peace.
I mustered my courage and glanced behind her, there were only four maids. I was truly relieved. Even if she suddenly ordered them to attack me, I had the chance to win.
E Huang turned towards Consort De and curtsied, “Reporting to Your Ladyship, His Majesty decreed that no one is to order Miss to leave the dragon bed. Miss must recuperate here.”
En. Even though I didn’t feel the pain, my entire body was littered with black and blue marks. Every day, Feng Zhao Wen would check them out with a look of resentment on his face.
I was truly annoyed by that look on his face. I really wanted to give him a good bite, but upon remembering the lesson I learnt after kicking him in the bath, I could only grit my teeth.
Even though Consort De couldn’t see the bruises on my body, she too looked at me in resentment.
At that moment, they truly showed that they were a pair of like-minded husband and wife ah!
But I was broadminded and generous in nature. Since she didn’t come here to seek trouble, I didn’t have to be hostile. I cordially asked her, “Is there a reason behind Consort De’s visit today?”
She remained quiet for a while before she forced herself to smile, “Bengong came here today to ask about your injuries. Bengong lost senses that day and inadvertently hurt Miss, Bengong would like to apologize for that. Hope Miss will not put it to heart. From now on, Bengong wish to get along with Miss like sisters.”
In the back palace of the Great Chen, Xiao Huang’s imperial mother, the empress was a gentle and graceful lady. She got along with the rest of the concubines really well. I once had the fortune to witness the merry scene of the empress and those flower-like concubines calling each other sisters. But at the end of everything, every single one of Xiao Huang’s brothers who were considered smarter and wiser than him didn’t live past adulthood.
Because of that, I always had the impression that Xiao Huang wouldn’t live long and had always indulged his every whims.
After that, Father would knock me in the head while glaring and scolding me. His strength was comparable to the monks from Da Xiang Guo Temple. I always thought that Father should become a monk if he didn’t become a General.
He told me that even if all the other princes died, Xiao Huang would grow up just fine. Because Xiao Huang was the empress’ only son. I rubbed the bump on my head and didn’t dare to refute him.
The empress was truly extraordinary. After a few years, I gradually learnt to be scared everytime I heard the palace’s women calling each other sisters.
Did sisterhood means you stabbing me with a knife from the back and me coming up with ways to kill your son.
I was truly fortunate. My mother died early; she didn’t give me a sister.
serene: Chapter 14 is sponsored by Olivia!