The Belated Proposal
Tian Bing Qing said that three years ago, after seeing me and the late emperor of the Great Chen in the burning Jin Xiu Pavillion, Feng Zhao Wen was heartbroken. He didn’t eat or sleep for many days. He ordered people to clean after the fire. Once he investigated everything that happened in Jin Xiu Pavillion, he secretly ordered people to search for me throughout the entire kingdom.
Tian Bing Qing also told me that those concubines were no different than the flowers in the flower garden; they were mere decorations. Even though their palaces were glorious, it was no different than the cold palace.
The words he said before, I didn’t believe. The words he said after, en….. I also didn’t believe.
I burrowed myself deep in the dragon bed while gnawing on caramelized pork hock. Father once told me that flowery words said to maidens were the least credible thing in the world.
I had blinked curiously at him back then, “What about the flowery words you said to Mother? Were they not credible either?”
Father slapped me on the back, “Is your father the same as those fickle men?”
I had clung onto his arms and pulled his sleeves, quickly currying favor, “Of course not! My father is loyal; how can he be compared to those fickle men who speak empty words!”
That’s why I didn’t believe what Tian Bing Qing said. I also didn’t believe in Feng Zhao Wen’s so called undying love.
With that in mind, I eat what I could eat and sleep where I could sleep. Even though Feng Zhao Wen returned every night to criticize memorials, I remained unperturbed. If Father was still alive, he would have praised me for having a willpower stronger than a mountain; taking after him.
He was the kind that never hesitated to praise himself.
Even though I mostly followed his teachings, I too will have moments where I second guessed myself.
Seeing him coming to bed early one night, I half-reclined on a pillow on the bed, curiously asking, “Your Majesty, you goes in and out of the harem every day, have you ever sense that aggrieved air?”
At that moment, he had just finished bathing. His satin-like hair was let loose as he heads towards the dragon bed and laid down, his head on my little tummy.
“Are you trying to scare zhen with your ghost stories?”
I thought his hair was really interesting. It was soft and luminous, pleasing to the touch. His position today made it really easy for me to take advantage of that. I casually toyed with his hair, “Your Majesty has never called for any concubines after I came here. This made me feel really guilty. All those concubines in the harem are lonely and deserted, can’t you feel their great grievance?”
His phoenix eyes were dangerously narrowed as his sword-like eyes fell on me, “An Yi, are you trying to tell zhen to call for concubines to serve for the night?”
I didn’t know where it went wrong….. I was just trying to see if what Tian Bing Qing said was right.
The emperor clearly couldn’t get my humor. He carried me up like he would to a chicken. He took the dragon robe he took off moments ago and wrapped them around my body. He then coarsely sent me out to the door. “You heartless girl….. You have no conscience, your heart is made of stone….. I will summon a concubine to serve me now!” After he said that, he opened the door and forcefully pushed me out before slamming the door close.
I was dumbfounded. Facing the door, I finally had the chance to talk back. “……. Can’t he go to the concubine’s palace instead? Must he kick me out of Zhong Hua Palace?”
I turned around to see Tian Bing Qing. His eyes basically said ‘serve you right!’
I kicked his foot, loudly complaining, “You dared to laugh at me?!”
This wretched eunuch sure smiled so happily, “Not believing the emperor, you got kicked out of the dragon bed, right? Right?!”
I couldn’t stop myself from kicking him once again. He expertly avoided it.
This time, he did not use his eyes to express his dissatisfaction. He only said, “Serve you right! Serve you right for getting kicked out in the middle of the cold night!” After saying that, he went to the side-hall to sleep. As he walked away, he turned around to tell me, “Since Miss is here to stay vigil for tonight, this servant shall go back to his room to sleep. We will have to trouble you.”
No matter how I pondered about it, he was gloating in the wake of other’s misery.
It should be dawn soon. I curled under the dragon robe as I leaned on one of the pillars near the entrance; gradually falling asleep. I could vaguely hear the sound of the door opening, perhaps it was Feng Zhao Wen opening the door for his concubine…… I hazily fell asleep again.
The next time I woke up, the sky was already bright. My entire body ached. I rubbed my sore neck as I casually looked over to the door. The door that was shut tight last night was open. A tall silhouette sat in front of a table, his face cold and icy. His eyes swept over me. Taken aback, I quickly look away.
After I looked away, I saw something that made me froze.
Someone was kneeling below the stone steps. I had no idea how long he had been kneeling there.
I secretly glanced at the hall, and then to the bright courtyard. I then decide that the person who was kneeling was the easier one to approach. I wrapped the dragon robes tighter around my body as I head over to him before sitting on the stone steps. “General Yan, what are you doing kneeling here early in the morning?”
Today was a leave from the morning court, nobody should be around to bother Feng Zhao Wen. Why was Yan Ping becoming more and more unperceptive?
Yan Ping’s eyes were complex as he stared at the dragon robe on me. I looked back at him with clear conscience; after all, I didn’t steal this. The emperor personally gave them to me.
He was quiet for a moment before he spoke, “I am here to beg the emperor to bestow me a marriage.”
I rubbed my chin before sighing; this person was truly tired of living!
Even though Qin Yu Zheng haven’t served Feng Zhao Wen, she was still a high-ranked consort. Why would he simply bestow her to an official like that?
But the me right now wasn’t close enough to him to discourage him from his decision. I could only watch the fanfare from the sideline. I gave him my deepest sympathy, “I understand. I understand. If Consort Yu didn’t enter the palace, she would’ve been with you right now.”
Yan Ping looked at me as though I was his long-lost brother. Heartache and pain flashed through his face one by one.
“An Yi, I am begging His Majesty to bestow you to me.”
I think my head had finally became unusable. I felt as though there were thousands of bees humming next to my ears; I couldn’t fathom everything that he said. I heard him but when I pieced everything together, everything he said became incoherent in my mind. My heart felt as though it had been hammered with something heavy; it wasn’t painful but it sure felt numb. My body shivered a little.
He continued speaking, “An Yi, I want to marry you. I want to make you my wife.”
I patted my own head heavily, I must have been dreaming.
Such a horror dream, I kept imagining Father holding a door latch while bellowing at me: “Approach the Yan Family’s child again and I will hit you to death!” From then on, my flesh automatically ache every time I heard the surname ‘Yan’.
“This is a dream, this is a dream. I will go back to sleep.” I muttered to myself before turning around to leave. Yan Ping grabbed the hem of the dragon robe tight, refusing to let go.
“Xiao Yi, I was really happy when I found you again that day….. I no longer cared about you being a man, I just wanted to be with you…… But after knowing that you are a girl, I only have one desire….. I want to beg the emperor to pardon you. After that, I will marry you…… I want to marry you……..”
The ice surrounding my heart gradually broke. Usually, people who have waited for far too long would have that sense of burnout, but I couldn’t even feel any of them. I have lost my sense of perception, I felt like a walking corpse.
I refuse to recall the past. For me, they were just a vague shadow that would appear in my dreams once in a while. One that would make me wake up bathing in sweat. So, I would try my best to forget them and continue striving forward. I didn’t want to turn back anymore. I just wanted to live properly like how Father wanted me to.
I smiled lightly as I turned around, patting him on the shoulder, “Thank you for your affection, General Yan! Please leave!”
“An Yi, you still haven’t forgiven me for what happened back then, aren’t you? I know I hurt you too deep back then. I just want to beg you to accept this proposal, I definitely will not mistreat you in the future. I will love you and protect you from everything.”
I suddenly got a headache; I rubbed my forehead. Yan Ping wasn’t this muddle-headed before.
“General Yan, I already forgot everything that happened in the past and I don’t plan on remembering them either. I hope you will forget them as well. As for your proposal, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Him and I had nothing to do with each other. There were no hatred or love.
See, Father? I could now face him with a clear head, even my heart no longer jump like it used to.
Can you finally forgive this unfilial daughter?
I grasped his hand in warmth, saying, “General Yan, do you remember Official Jin whose entire family was killed back then?”
He grasped my hand tight, his face confused, “What does that has anything to do with you marrying me?”
“Of course it has!” I glanced at the hopeless case in front of me before I sighed. “That Official Jin messed up on his own yet his entire clan were dragged down with him.”
Seeing him still not understanding what I was trying to imply, I said things with even more clarity, “I currently can pull no one or be pulled down by anyone. Even if I am to be sent to the guillotine one day, it will only implicate one life. If I marry anyone, I will have children or perhaps even grandchildren. Implicating others like that isn’t good.”
“I am not afraid!” The pained expression on his face was replaced by a warm smile, “So you were worrying about implicating me. I knew you haven’t completely forgotten me!”
I was dumbfounded. Where did he got that conclusion from?
What I was trying to say was: I want to be a thousand year old turtle; to live a long life. You are an official holding military powers. That in itself is dangerous and yet you have the cheek to harbor feelings for a consort in the harem. The chances dying with you are even higher than me living in the harem as a prisoner right now. Not agreeing to the proposal was me not wanting you to implicate me!
I was just trying to sound less blunt just now; why couldn’t he see the meaning behind my words?
Xiao Tian cleared his throat loudly behind me. I casually lifted my hand and hit him in the head. Wretched eunuch!
He dragged his tone and leisurely announced, “The emperor has arrived!”
I quickly turned around, Feng Zhao Wen was five steps away, his eyes were like blade as it looked at my hand. I glanced at what he was looking. Turned out Yan Ping and I were holding hands as we spoke…….
I hastily pulled away but Yan Ping stubbornly held onto me. Looking at Feng Zhao Wen’s ice cold face, I could tell that he didn’t like seeing me acting so intimate with Yan Ping.
I understand where he was coming from. Yan Ping was an official yet he didn’t act like one. First of all, he fell in love with Consort Yu, placing a great green hat on top of Feng Zhao Wen’s head. Then, he went around pushing and pulling with me. He was clearly tired of living, trying to find ways to make Feng Zhao Wen kill him.
He doesn’t want to live, then so be it! I, on the other hand, didn’t have the plan to die!
I used force to pull away from Yan Ping before hastily heading over to Feng Zhao Wen to flatter him. “Why did you come out, Your Majesty?”
Feng Zhao Wen didn’t say anything. He held my hand tight, the one that was grasped by Yan Ping earlier on. He headed back towards the hall with large strides.
Tian Bing Qing followed suit, frequently looking back to give me the ‘you are on your own’ look. He stopped by the entrance to keep guard.
That wretched eunuch.
serene: Chapter 16 is sponsored by Olivia!