Memory is the Most Unreliable Thing
Feng Zhao Wen kicked all the servants out of the hall. He sat in front of the table, ordering me to brew him tea. He glanced outside, “An Yi, what do you think if zhen put General Yan to death?” His eyes were dark and filled with murderous aura.
I finally understood the difficulties of an unmarried maiden. Eating the wife’s food but living the waiting girl’s life.
(TN: Waiting girls are usually a part of the wife’s dowry when marrying into the husband’s family. They are supposed to wait on them and even do ‘that’ with the husband.)
I decided to cast my conscience aside and morphed into a vile person, “Your Majesty, this Yan Ping really deserves to die! Since he chose to assume his position, he should have done his job properly! How can he look into your bowl and still covets your pot?!”
(TN: bowl —-> Qin Yu Zheng, pot —-> An Yi; or you can interchange them lol.)
Feng Zhao Wen lifted his eyebrows, “Didn’t you two had an interesting chat earlier on? Why are you after his life now? Are you the kind that love and hate at the same time?”
I looked at him desperately, my entire face filled with grievance, “Love and hate; and things like that are things that storytellers in teahouses use to deceive people! This disgraced one only covets food and shelter. Love and hate are just a waste of time.”
Seeing him half-believing and half-suspicious, I quickly rack my brain for an excuse, “The way General Yan’s mind works has always been different than normal people. Speaking with him will enlighten people for generations.” The power of example was without bound; the propaganda was spread to prevent others from committing the same mistake and receiving the same end.
From Yan Ping, I could see how imposing the emperor’s tiger’s whisker was. For a little mouse like me, being able to nestle comfortably in Zhong Hua Palace while making tea was truly my fortune.
I used to forsake everything for love; but now, saving this little life of mine was more important.
Perhaps Feng Zhao Wen was not satisfied with my reply. His face looked so cold.
He called for Tian Bing Qing and ‘skillfully wrapped his hand around his official’s wrist’ as he decreed, “Tell General Yan that zhen will bestow him a beautiful girl from proper background. Tell him to go home and wait.”
(TN: ‘skillfully wrapped his hand around his official’s wrist’ means that he skillfully keeps his officials (Yan Ping in this case) in check.)
We could hear the sound of Tian Bing Qing warmly relaying the decree afterwards, fully embodying the emperor’s generous and benevolent nature. Had I not been in the hall and had listened to everything, I too probably would have been grateful to the emperor and swore lifelong loyalty.
How did he came up with such a magnificent and benevolent decree from that murderous aura earlier on?
The day was long. Night arrived after a long struggle. Taking advantage of Feng Zhao Wen bathing, I climbed into the dragon bed and rolled around. The soft sheets and quilts were so comfortable. I secretly sighed: One night of not sleeping was equivalent to three years of fatigue ah!
While I rolled around happily, my entire world seemed to have turned. Somebody grabbed me and pressed his body against mine. Feng Zhao Wen’s handsome face was really close to mine. Before I even get to breath, he put his lips against mine. There was no chance for me to even struggle.
I could somehow hear him murmuring, “Marrying Yan Ping? Zhen simply refuse to let you get what you want!” Such a childish air, there was no way it came from Feng Zhao Wen!
My entire body was ravished again. There wasn’t a single spot that wasn’t sore. Even in my dream, I lament over my pitiful life. Once I drifted to sleep, I dreamed of Father.
Father was looking at me in displeasure. Even though he wasn’t glaring at me while stroking his beard; and even though he wasn’t holding a latch, I felt guilty as though I had done something wrong.
I was self-reflecting in my dream when Father suddenly vomited blood. His blood was sprayed everywhere, even on my face. That warm sensation on my face was surreal, I could feel it penetrating right through my heart. I wiped the blood away, but Father continued to vomit streams of blood non-stop.
“Stop!” My heart raced. I felt as though somebody was clutching my heart. I couldn’t breathe, I felt so suffocated. I could vaguely hear someone shaking me, “Wake up….. Xiao Yi….. Wake up…….”
In my half-asleep state, I could feel my heart jumping violently as though it was going to jump out of my chest any second. There was a head-splitting headache and my entire body felt as though it had been poked with a thousand needles. Numerous pictures and scenes entered my head, cluttering it even more.
“Ah!” I screamed in pain as I hugged my head while curling my body. My voice sounded really pained and miserable, even I was surprised at myself.
A couple of seconds later, I completely woke up.
A broad chest engulfed me from behind, hugging me tight. Feng Zhao Wen gently coax me, “Xiao Yi, your head hurts again? Don’t be afraid, I am here….. I am here……”
The current situation appeared so distant, so unbelievable that it felt like a dream.
I had never felt any pain, why did my head suddenly start hurting?
But my memory couldn’t be reliable at times. All these while, I had been suffering from a pretty embarrassing illness; forgetfulness.
This began when I entered a mountain to hunt. I got lost in the middle of the mountain. Xiao Huang was the one who found me and when we returned home, he asked me, “An Yi, have you turned stupid?”
How could I turn stupid? The stupid one was him!
After that incident, I would occasionally become muddle-headed. Like that incident where I got lost; I vaguely remembered I was following Father. He ran after a tiger and left me alone in there. So I waited there for a long time, assuming he would come back.
Back then, I complained about him, “Is Father intending to let An Yi die from hunger?”
When my mind was clear, I knew I was there to hunt something to feed Xiao Huang. But when my mind got all muddled up, I sat there waiting for Father to take me home. In the end, it was the silly Xiao Huang who found me.
From then onwards, he forbade me from going to hunt again. If I had the intention to, he would sit on the floor and hug my legs, refusing to let go.
——— That was actually the method I used on Father back then, I never thought that Xiao Huang would learn that from me. He was very quick and learned to apply them real fast; in short, he was skillful.
Sometimes, pieces of memories would intermittently resurface on my mind. Just like when I woke up earlier, I saw myself standing in front of thousands of armies on the battlefield. Feng Zhao Wen was thrusting a lance at my direction. I lifted up my spear and felt someone heavily attacking me from behind. After that, Feng Zhao Wen froze as he stared at me; his lance went straight for my head. He was stunned.
What was that about?
Now that I think about it, that dumbfounded expression shouldn’t have had appeared on Feng Zhao Wen’s face. Two armies from opposite sides fighting in a war, if he was stunned just because he injured the opposing party’s general; was he going to commit suicide as apology if he killed me?
After the attack, I fell from my horse and almost got trampled by the stampedes of clashing soldiers. I ended up falling on a hard chest covered by armor…. My face collided against Feng Zhao Wen’s armor, my teeth received the most impact. I could taste my own blood in my mouth. I spat the blood out.
I hugged my head as I sat on the dragon bed. I could feel the warm breath of the man who was leaning onto me. Perhaps it was because it was night, even his voice sounded uncharacteristically gentle, “Xiao Yi, your head hurts again?”
“I dreamt of you throwing a spear towards me. After that, you took me as a prisoner.”
Actually, I would remember these things but would promptly forgot them right after. Because of that, I sometimes wondered if I should be treating Feng Zhao Wen like an enemy or a friend.
I was aware that I sometimes acted without constraint and it was all thanks to the strike I received on my head back then. Even though it didn’t smash my head off, it did caused me to be muddle-headed at times.
Iron-like arms were wrapped across my shoulders as he imprisoned me in his embrace. A voice came from behind me, sounding like a lament, “You idiot. I thought you would dodge the attack. I only used half of my power.”
—–After that, I recuperated in the Great Qi’s army barrack for half a year.
Perhaps, Yan Ping’s proposal scared me today, I felt as though my heart was oppressed by a heavy rock. After waking up from my sleep, my head became clear.
Three years ago, the previous emperor died and left all the mess for Xiao Huang to handle.
The previous emperor’s death was sudden so he did not get the chance to appoint a regent. My father and Uncle Yan were at loggerheads back then. Both of them had their own factions and both wanted to be the regent.
I told Father once: “You have no son. Even if you become a regent, you will have no successor. Whatever are all these fanfare for?”
Father had laughed back then as he patted my head heavily, “What do you know?”
I was clearly a girl and yet he adamantly deceived everyone and raised me as a boy. He cultivated me to become the next generation of minister in court. I was truly worried about the future of the Great Chen ah…..
Xiao Huang was an idiot to begin with. Put him next to an inadequate official like me and the Great Qi would have annihilated the Great Chen within half a year. Back then, I had overestimated the military power of the Great Qi; so my view of the future had been untainted.
In the end, Father had won and sat on the regent’s seat. Only two people were above him in the entire Great Chen back then.
Xiao Huang didn’t have an empress; he was still young. There was only his mother, the empress dowager.
Speaking about her, she was truly a capable master. She had such benevolent smile and yet the things she committed was truly on a whole another level. When the emperor was sick, all the other princes other than Xiao Huang happened to encountered ‘mishaps’.
I had secretly asked Father; did the then bed-ridden late emperor allowed his wife to arrange those ‘accidents’?
He had glared at me before hitting me on the head, “Do not speak nonsense! From now on, do not go to the empress dowager’s palace unless you really have to.”
After becoming the regent, Father was particularly busy. That made it hard for him to have the time to get upset at me. I thought it was actually good that Father became the regent; at least he wouldn’t have the time to keep a close watch on me.
I was busy too.
Yan Ping regularly entered the palace to accompany Xiao Huang to study. He had softened up to me by a great deal. After the previous emperor’s death, Xiao Huang moved out of the Eastern Palace and settled in Zhong Hua Palace. At times, Yan Ping would keep me company as I head back home; he would even chat amiably with me!
That was the first time we had been that close after I force-kissed him. I was so happy my entire head turned upside down; I couldn’t even tell which way was north and which way was south. The entire sky had felt so clear, as though everything was fine in the world.
At that time, I thought….. the previous emperor truly died at the right timing!
serene: Chapter 17 is sponsored by Olivia!