The following chapters contain mature content. Reader discretion is advised.
Chapter 119: Drugged
The jade cup was finely made. A celestial crane was carved onto its round body with the crane’s beak forming the vessel’s rim.
The liquid inside was a most beautiful emerald in color.
Chen Rong had never seen such an extraordinary and precious item. She received it, gave a gentle shake, and smilingly said, “I am tempted to try.”
She brought it to her lips and took a sip.
It was bitter at first before a cool sensation took over. “It’s pretty good,” she smiled and took another sip.
Seeing that she liked the drink, the servant girl gave a curtsy and slowly retreated from the room.
She went downstairs to Ah Zhi and covered her smile to say: “She drank it.”
Ah Zhi nodded. “She was following Shi Min around without any prior betrothal. Who knows if she has been passed around as men’s concubine or not. If I really think about it, our Qilang is getting shortchanged.” The words ‘Shi Min’ were carelessly mentioned with a deep despisal, both in the surname she referred to and in the tone she used.
The younger maid nodded in agreement. At the time she brought Chen Rong an aphrodisiac drink only a brothel would have, both she and Ah Zhi had had a look of disapproval. It was as if touching Ran Min’s person without his consent was an inconsequential matter… The fact is that such things were indeed inconsequential in Jiankang. The literati had always perceived beauty in abandonment. If a friend touched their concubines without so much as a declaration, they would merely smile and, if they were broad-minded, might even gift dowry and wine for the occasion. These maidservants had spent many years with the Wang family in Lang’ya. For them, it was a favor their master was bestowing upon someone if he was willing to touch his concubine.
Of course, there had also been those who did not have a grasp on the situation. Shi Chong, who was infatuated with Lu Zhu, did not give in to other men’s requests. Instead, he refused them with stern words. His refusal was no doubt a slap across those men’s faces. For that reason, in the end, the richest man of the Jin court was robbed of his wealth and killed. His beloved concubine Lu Zhu had jumped to her death.
After talking for a while, the younger maidservant retired and walked towards Chen Rong’s loft. The older one named Ah Zhi held a tray to Wang Hong’s courtyard.
She soon arrived. Listening to the leisurely music wafting from inside, she asked a guard, “Is his lordship well?”
“He is with Huan Jiulang.”
Ah Zhi stepped forward, bowed with the wooden tray held high and respectfully announced, “This is the Five Stone Powder brought from Jiankang, would our guest like to try some?”
The guard nodded, retreated, and gestured his hand. “Go in.”
In the bamboo house, the white-robed Wang Hong was playing his zither. Nearby, Huan Jiulang lay on the divan as he looked ahead in a trance.
Ah Zhi went to them. She put the tray down to curtsy, and then took a step back and softly said, “M’lord, Jiulang, in the face of the enemy, and when life and death is but a blink of an eye away, why not have a taste of the gods’ blissful emptiness?”
Huan Jiulang turned around.
He glanced at her, then at the Five Stone Powder on the table and said, “You’re exactly right.” And then he helped himself to some.
Wang Hong was still playing the zither.
Ah Zhi slowly retreated to the courtyard, casting a glance inside the room from time to time as she went.
Within a short while, the music stopped.
“His Lordship has taken the powder,” Ah Zhi whispered. “Serve him wine.”
Two maids went in with a wine bottle. Soon after, a series of rustling and kisses were heard.
Amid these sounds, footsteps padded towards the door.
It was Wang Hong who came out, turning to close the door as soon as he was outside. His face was glowing. Ah Zhi hurried to him to help loosen his belt.
In his disheveled state, Wang Hong strode ahead.
“My lord, will you take a bath?” Ah Zhi asked from behind.
His body temperature had risen after taking the Five Stone Powder. A cold bath would feel quite nice.
Wang Hong nodded. “That’s not a bad idea.” His voice was hoarse, his eyes brighter than usual.
With Ah Zhi’s help, he took a cold bath and changed into loose clothes. Afterwards, he slowly walked to the stairs and leaned on the bamboo railing to look at the sky in a trance.
The sky was dark and had a scant few stars along with a moon.
“My lord, would you like to take a walk?”
Wang Hong nodded and slowly went downstairs.
This time, Ah Zhi led in front.
After making a round outside, she brought Wang Hong to the bamboo loft where she curtsied and smilingly said, “M’lord, the moon is best viewed from upstairs.”
The Five Stone Powder had made Wang Hong slightly languid. Ah Zhi’s suggestion was also sensible. From the loft, one could see the entire courtyard. The scenery was sure to be enchanting on this moonlit night. Ah Zhi was his long time maid; she knew his preferences best and her words and deeds were always to his liking.
Wang Hong nodded and began to ascend the loft.
He pushed the door at a squeak.
When the bamboo door opened to let the night wind in, almost suddenly, Wang Hong was rendered dumbstruck.
Behind the fluttering curtains, a freshly-bathed girl was standing barefoot by the tub. Drops of water rolled from her temples down to her neck.
When she heard the door open, she titled her head and looked at Wang Hong in surprise. She was dressed only in a thin and loose yellow robe. Her loosened belt left her dress half open. Her exquisite face was blushing a red hue while her rosy mouth was forming a pout.
Wang Hong’s gaze roamed to her porcelain skin where a string of crystal droplets was slowly sliding down her neck, over her collarbone, and in between that deep valley…
He stared blankly and swallowed.
The girl was Chen Rong.
She hadn’t expected to see Wang Hong. Her mind was muddled and she did not notice that she was in a semi state of undress.
The young maid stood in the corner and smiled to see this scene. She quietly followed the wall to leave. But even had she blatantly gone away, those two would not notice her presence.
She passed Wang Hong and left the loft.
She looked back from the staircase at a stunned Wang Hong, unable to help herself from smiling in thought: I hadn’t felt it before, but this girl seems to indeed be a stunning creature. It only took one bath and a change of clothes that suited her skin color, for her entire appearance to change. She’s turned into a wily fox, this one. Her looks are quite something. Even the famed Consort Rong in Jiankang would be second to her. No wonder men like this girl.
Wang Hong took a step inside at this time.
When she saw him go in, the maidservant stepped forward and closed the door.
Seeing Wang Hong come in, Chen Rong was made abashed by his gaze and thus retreated backward. “Qilang, how did you come in here?” she softly protested.
It was clearly a protest, yet it sounded like coquetry. She was merely mumbling, yet her voice was pliant and hoarse, and sounded as if she was murmuring sweet nothings.
Chen Rong was shocked by her own voice.
However, her chaotic mind could only manage to be a little startled; it simply could not think straight at this point. The manic heat within was also causing her to anticipate Wang Hong’s entrance with a ray of joy and unnamed desire.
Wang Hong’s eyes instantly darkened upon hearing her voice. Unconsciously, his face reddened while his breathing quickened.
He remained staring at her in a trance with each step he took.
Chen Rong took another step backward, leaning when her footing lost ground. She glanced at him grievously and bade, “Don’t move.”
She spoke with a soft cottony voice. Her lips felt a little dry, so she gave them a lick.
When her tongue flickered across her plump lips, Wang Hong unconsciously swallowed.
He looked at her and softly called, “Ah Rong.”
His voice was a little lodged, a little thick, and not clear and cool as usual.
She tilted her head to slightly squint up at him as she pursed her red lips to reply: “Hmm.”
Her “Hmm” sounded like a midnight moan rather than speech – a guttural desire deep down inside.
Wang Hong’s throat undulated. He cropped up a bitter smile. “Why are you here?” he quietly asked.
Chen Rong was still tilting her head sideways. With dazed eyes and a flushed face, she replied, “Didn’t you want me to come back?”
Her bewitching voice was a magic song that could lure souls.
Wang Hong’s hands unconsciously gripped onto the table. He lowered his eyes.
With his head bowed, a strand of semi-dry hair hung and concealed his left eye.
At this moment, Chen Rong suddenly called, “Qilang.” She spoke abruptly, but there was boundless affection in her voice.
Wang Hong was still looking down. He only managed to ask: “What is it?”
Chen Rong’s breath hitched as she murmured, “Don’t come over, you can’t come over…”
Chapter 120: Bliss
Despite what she said, Chen Rong’s small face was growing redder and redder. Her right hand involuntarily pulled on her robe, for she was desperate to feel cooler. However, her action caused one of her breasts to almost be exposed; even her nipple peeked out in the candlelight.
Wang Hong could not peel his eyes away. He grasped onto the table, blue veins surfacing on the back of his hands. A drop of sweat slowly rolled down his forehead…
Chen Rong tilted her head looking at the droplet. She startlingly realized she wanted to go to him, to stick out her tongue and lick that sweat. In fact, as this thought came to her, her tongue wandered between her red lips, her eyes dazed and wanton.
Still clamping his hands onto the table and hanging his head motionlessly, Wang Hong suddenly spoke: “Ah Rong.”
“Hmm.” Chen Rong’s whisper remained silky and pliant. Wang Hong’s tense veins violently pulsed to hear her voice.
He labored for air; his handsome face had turned ruddy. At length, he closed his eyes and let his hair fall over forehead, dangling between his eyes. “Ah Rong, why were you with Ran Min this time? When did you meet?”
In his chaotic mind, all that filled his nose and eyes was her female scent. It took him a great deal of effort to ask a simple complete question.
Chen Rong was likewise feeling muddled. She felt increasingly hot and thirsty. She dazedly stared at Wang Hong’s lips and barely knew what she was saying: “It was Chen Yuan. He wanted me to ask for Ran Min’s help in finding his lost grains. They always try to harm me and never leave me with a way out. So I went. I don’t want Ran Min to give his grains back. I even let him know of the secret route.”
By now, her voice had turned slightly jumbled. She paused, and then stared into Wang Hong’s eyes, murmuring: “Qilang, your lips look so soft.”
The motionless Wang Hong trembled at her words.
This time, his grip on the table turned purple. He clenched with all of his might and breathed raggedly for a while before he asked, “What did Ran Min say?”
Chen Rong was still looking at him. Her eyes had completely clouded over. She kept pulling on her robe. Her hair was tangled, her belt was loosened, and patches of her porcelain skin were exposed.
Wang Hong was afraid to look at her. He stared at the table and coldly asked, “What did Ran Min say when you went to find him because of Chen Yuan’s grains? Why did you stay with him?”
He knew Chen Rong wasn’t very clearheaded right now, and so he made his question quite clear. Not only did he repeat himself, he was also very direct.
Chen Rong tilted her head, making one side of her gown slip down her creamy shoulder.
She dazedly looked at Wang Hong, murmuring: “Him? He said that I’m just like him. He also said he wants to marry me.”
“He said he wants to marry you?”
Wang Hong’s voice suddenly rose.
Chen Rong was startled by it. She blinked and replied in a trance: “Aye, he said he wants to marry me.” She added: “Qilang, I like you, I don’t like him. But he said he will marry me… so I want to go with him.”
She repeated this over and over. Meanwhile, Wang Hong was also repeating her words: “You want to go with Ran Min?”
His eyes bored into Chen Rong. Nothing she said entered his ears anymore. He simply repeated: “You want to go with Ran Min?”
While the two of them were talking to themselves, Chen Rong seemed to have awoken a little.
She suddenly turned and rushed to the door.
Her action was abrupt and decisive. Her cheeks retained their blush, her eyes were misty, and her hands were still pulling on her clothes restlessly, but her sprint was fast and determined.
In the blink of an eye, she had gone some paces as she stumbled to the bamboo door.
At this moment, a pair of arms stole around her waist.
The minute his scent enveloped her, Chen Rong could not help from trembling. Her thighs gave out, and she slid down, unconsciously mumbling: “No, no, I can’t…”
She kept repeating these words, but in her mind, she had forgotten why she could not or what it was she was saying.
Those arms tightened around her.
His chest was pressed against her back, his fiery breath at her nape.
“Do you want to go with Ran Min?” hoarsely asked Wang Hong.
Chen Rong melted in his arms, dazed and lost.
She saw a pair of thin lips at this time. She stopped her unconscious murmurs and slowly reached out to touch it.
She traced his lips as she giggled.
He captured her finger and gently nibbled its tip.
Chen Rong’s giggle stiffened. Her rosy lips parted in surprise.
His lips suddenly moved and covered her parting mouth.
Instantly, a male breath rushed forth like the tides. It occupied her breath, stalled her heartbeat, and filled her heart, her mind, her soul… almost suddenly, Chen Rong burst into tears. She sobbed: “How can this feel so good…” While she dazedly uttered these words, his arms had tightly imprisoned her. At the same time, something parted her teeth, probed into the depths of her mouth and chased her tongue.
Chen Rong made a moan.
She reached around his neck, urgently raised her mouth and groped to his open robe.
Unconsciously, she had pressed herself against his body and greeted his kiss as she hummed, “Qilang, Qilang, Qilang……”
Over and over and over.
Wang Hong clung to her.
Clasping her in his embrace, he cradled her nape with his left hand while the other roamed to her supple breast, kneading as he gasped: “Ah Rong.”
“Qilang,” she hummed his name with tears.
Wang Hong pinched her nipple, then he lowered his head to take the other in his mouth. As Chen Rong rolled her head back with a satisfied moan, his hazy voice sought her response: “Ah Rong, tell me, who am I, who am I?”
As he asked her, his tongue lightly swirled. When her sensitive nipple trembled, Chen Rong cried, “Qilang, you’re Qilang, you’re Qilang.” A drop of tear fell from the corner of her eye.
Wang Hong wrapped his other hand around her right breast, squeezing it as he bade, “Remember, I’m Qilang, I’m not Ran Min.”
Chen Rong climbed to extreme pleasure under his ministration. She haphazardly clasped and kissed him, forgetting her answer.
A pain nipped at the tip of her breast.
At the time Chen Rong whimpered, a low and tender voice whispered in her ear, “Tell me, who am I?”
She opened her eyes and tossed a coquettish glance at him. “Qilang, you’re so silly.” She suddenly stilled his hands.
Wang Hong paused. He raised his head and looked at her.
She used all the strength in her left hand to hold him, tilted her head, and quietly gazed at him.
Her eyes were now much more translucent.
She giggled and then licked her lips. While Wang Hong’s gaze darkened, she stood on tiptoe to caress his face and eyes.
“Qilang, you’re blushing. And your eyes are hypnotizing. You’re so handsome.”
She laughed cheerfully. She slid her hand to his belt and gave a tug. His robe fell to the floor, baring his chest and lean body completely to view. She lowered her head and took a curious look at the red dot on his left chest. “This is just like my dreams,” she mumbled, cocking her head to the side.
Wang Hong furrowed his brow to hear her words.
Chen Rong suddenly bent her head to capture the red bud.
Hearing his groan, she lifted her eyes and glanced at him to mumble: “You’re delectable.”
Wang Hong could not help himself from laughing.
But no sooner had he laughed than his laughter halted.
Because Chen Rong had squatted down all of a sudden to curiously look at his erection. He wasn’t wearing any undergarments at present. After taking the Five Stone Powder, he wore nothing underneath his outer robe to relieve himself of the heat.
She raised her head staring at the object. Then she looked sideways at him with eyes so beguiling that they made him want to take her right there and then. “Is that what belongs to a man? Qilang, you’re so handsome, but this thing is quite ugly.”
Accompanying this comment was an emphatic nod of her head.
Wang Hong emitted a low growl as he pulled her up by the elbow. After Chen Rong got on her feet, he carried her and turned towards the bed. He had taken but two steps when all of a sudden, a burst of laughter broke out from his arms.
The girl in his arms was laughing as though her joy could not be suppressed. She shook with laughter in his chest and gradually slipped from his hold.
Unknowingly, Chen Rong had slid down from his hands. Looking at her sitting on the floor with her shoulders half exposed and her breasts shaking, Wang Hong furrowed his brow and reached out to pull her up.
Chen Rong suddenly covered her hands over her face as her laughter turned into sobs.
Wang Hong froze.
His ragged breathing steadied; the expression on his face turned somber.
Chen Rong wept, curling into a ball on the floor. “How can I dream such dreams? Qilang, why do you make me have this kind of dream… If I know I’m not good enough for you, I ought to let you go and forget you. Why do I still dream of you? If Ran Min knew, he would never tolerate me.”
When Ran Min’s name was uttered, an ache shot through her arms.
Then, her body became airborne.
Chen Rong fell onto the bed. She yelped and clutched her buttocks. Due to the pain, desire lessened from her whole being, and even her blush faded.
At this moment, a very gentle kiss was planted on her tears.
That familiar voice was now husky as it softly rasped into her ear: “Ah Rong.”
After Chen Rong foggily answered him, she heard the same voice grazing her ears. “From now on, you must never mention that name again.”
A trace of coldness was detected in his tender voice.
He sighed into her ear, his hoarseness recovering slightly.
He leaned forward and slowly lowered his naked body over her.
By the time he reached out to pull her sash, lucidity had returned to his eyes.
Yes, lucidity. Wang Hong’s eyes were still exceptionally bright and fiery, but compared to a second ago, they were now unmistakably more lucid… Even his breathing across her face had calmed to a steady pace.
The influence of the Five Stone Powder had passed.
He bowed his head, letting his inky hair drape across his face.
Like spring breeze, his fingers caressed her lips while he coaxed her: “Ah Rong.”
Chen Rong’s eyes flew open to drunkenly regard him. She instinctively felt something was wrong in her muddled mind, but it was no more than a vague feeling.
When he received Chen Rong’s response, Wang Hong smiled and lightly kissed her to ask: “Has Ran Min touched you?”
His hand slowly slid down and gave her goosebumps wherever it traveled. When she found herself unable to suppress her shivers, his hand sudden closed over her breast. Lightly plucking her nipple, he hoarsely prodded: “Has he touched you like this?”
Chen Rong widened her eyes and haphazardly shook her head, whimpering: “No, no.”
Hearing her answer, his mischievous hand moved downward to draw circles on her stomach. When the blush on Chen Rong’s face deepened, he again asked, “What about here?”
“Has he touched you here?”
Chen Rong continued to shake her head. For some reason, his slow and gentle touches only served to make her feel bursts of tingling sensations. She wanted to cry. “No, no.”
He bowed his head to lightly bite her chin. “Then how has he touched you?”
When he did not receive an answer, he propped himself up on one arm, raised his head and looked at her.
Chen Rong’s beautiful face was flushed red, her smooth jade skin was also glowing alluringly. She looked at him with large round eyes and pursed her kiss-swollen lips. She looked to be thinking.
Wang Hong smiled ever more tenderly. He softly prodded, “Darling, did he touch you?”
She grievously nodded. Immediately, his eyes narrowed into lines. A cold current circulated the room. “Oh? Did you let him touch you? Where? Good girl, tell me.”
Chen Rong blinked. After a long time, she mumbled, “He held my waist.”
Wang Hong frowned.
“Just your waist?”
She looked at him and grievously nodded.
Slowly, he smiled.
He had always been handsome, with jade-like skin and a bearing that seemed to radiate. His face was at present ruddy, his clear and lofty eyes now slightly scattered, slightly clouded, and slightly seductive. And that smile… such Wang Hong was very tempting.
Chen Rong swallowed.
He chuckled to see her wanton eyes. He held her hand and guided her to his lower body, groaning out loud when her impatient fingertips made contact.
At this time, she was still looking stupidly at him.
Wang Hong laughed despite himself: “Are you happy? Do you love me?”
“You’re beautiful, my lord,” she bluntly replied with a nod.
She laughed, withdrew her hand, and then pressed her lips onto his. “This dream feels so real.” She laughed cheerfully.
Wang Hong slowed down to lie on top of her. He easily tore her clothes so that in the blink of an eye, Chen Rong was also bare with nary a thread on her.
He propped himself up with one hand to survey her body.
Like a flame, his eyes swept from her neck to her breasts, to her waist, to her lower belly… and then to her legs.
Momentarily, he smiled and murmured, “You are truly stunning.”
With this comment, his hand went between her legs.
Chen Rong was hugging him at this time. She was pressing close and writhing against him in hope of relieving herself from that rush of heat when, all of a sudden, a foreign object was felt down below.
She looked down.
A large hand was stroking her virginal entrance.
Even in her stupor, Chen Rong had felt embarrassed. She held back his hand and looked up at him. “No, Qilang, we can’t,” she said with a tear.
Chapter 121: After Chen Rong Woke Up
Wang Hong’s hand paused on her intimate place.
Propping himself with the other hand, he looked up at her and hoarsely called, “Ah Rong.”
Chen Rong vaguely answered him with tears in her clouded eyes.
Wang Hong’s breathing quickened. He bowed his head to place a kiss on her lips and whispered, “Ah Rong.” He had swallowed back the words he wanted to say and only uttered her name.
His hand once again started to move.
Chen Rong whimpered to his movement, her long lashes fluttering amidst beads of tears. “We can’t, Qilang, we can’t…” They were words of refusal, but they sounded like amorous whisperings.
The color on his face deepened at the sight of her. He lowered his head to capture her lips, his tongue lightly tracing them and chasing her own. “I don’t want to let go…” he murmured.
He next moved down and sucked on her left nipple.
As his tongue was stroking it, Chen Rong’s moan was growing more audible.
At this time, footsteps could be heard outside.
Soon, a maid stammered to him: “My lord, the Prince of Nan’yang has sent a messenger to relay that he has urgent business to discuss.”
Wang Hong did not lift his head. Still suckling at her nipple and fingers lightly tugging at her quivering sex, he vaguely replied, “I shan’t see anyone.”
When Ah Zhi saw the girl come back down, she promptly went to her and asked, “What did his lordship say?”
“He said he won’t see anyone,” the girl whispered.
Their expression both slightly altered. After a while, the other said at a loss, “From a young age, he has always had extraordinary will power, and has never cared for sexual temptation. But now… Ah Zhi, I’m a little afraid.”
Ah Zhi’s face was as blanched as hers. She looked up at the bamboo loft in the swaying candlelight and, after a long time, smiled as her voice turned brisk: “What is there to fear? That girl will only be glad to have spent the night with our master. And if she’s happy about it, then our master will be, too.”
The other maid snickered and eagerly nodded her head.
The gasps of pleasure continued in the bamboo loft.
Chen Rong raised her head, her lips nibbling Wang Hong. She moaned again and again: “Qilang, Qilang, Qilang…”
At this time, his hand left her mound to part her thighs.
Then, a fiery object was felt at her entrance.
Almost suddenly, Chen Rong broke into tears. They spilled from her eyes to her cheeks, soaking the pillow behind her.
She wrapped her legs on his waist and murmured the same thing over and over: “Qilang, Qilang, Qilang…” Even in her stupor, her voice was choking with sadness.
Her choked voice and tears made Wang Hong stiffen.
He raised his head.
His flawless face was faintly flushed, his eyes no longer translucent. His pupils were clouded and even his lips were swollen red.
He fixedly looked at Chen Rong.
She quietly looked back at him through her tears and reached around his neck to press her face against his lips as she cried. “Qilang, I’m so happy.”
Tears were falling even though she claimed to be happy.
Wang Hong paused.
Slowly, he bowed his head, kissed her eyes and licked away her tears. Long strands of hair plastered onto his body… his weaving with hers – one strand, then another.
And then he left her.
Chen Rong widened her glazed eyes looking to him when coldness suddenly surrounded her.
In the candlelight, she rubbed her left breast, gasping and looking at him with burning eyes. “Qilang,” she called him, squirming as she begged, “Don’t leave me.”
Standing naked by the bed, Wang Hong watched Chen Rong as he took out a piece of white satin.
He slightly leaned down, causing his inky silk to drape over her. He smiled to see that she was watching him with longing. “Good girl, lift up a bit,” he softly rasped.
Chen Rong did as told.
He placed the white satin beneath her, smiled up at her, and then climbed over her again.
Chen Rong let out a satisfied mewl to have his warmth return.
He was now completely on top of her.
He again opened her legs, nudging his hard fiery tip at her opening.
He raised his head.
Solemnly looking into her eyes, he tenderly said, “Ah Rong, you mustn’t regret this…”
Chen Rong blinked and remained looking at him in a daze.
But for some reason, those bright eyes full of rapture and carnal desire began to brim with tears again.
Wang Hong kissed her eyes and softly said, “Good girl, don’t cry… don’t melt my heart.”
His body suddenly sank down.
Instantaneously, a hard and hot object plunged into her.
She gave a cry and questioned him with her tears. Whatever that stopped inside her began to move again.
Pain tore through her.
She clutched his shoulders, pushing him away and crying: “It hurts. Qilang, something is pricking me, help me take it out.”
She pushed him and called his name. In her teary eyes were trust, pleading, and vague sadness and fear.
Wang Hong looked at her once before decisively moving his eyes away.
He placed his hand where they met and softly stroked.
Chen Rong slowly let out a light moan.
He suddenly moved. He took one of her breasts in his mouth while his hand attended to the other. His right hand held her hip as he moved in and out.
Due to the pain and the strange fullness, Chen Rong shook her head, spilling her silky hair around them. Both pain and pleasure washed over her face.
Her moans grew.
This happiness felt as if it would never end but also as if it was for but a moment.
However long had passed, the bamboo loft quieted down.
Ah Zhi, who had been listening in, quietly stepped forward and called, “My lord?”
As she was pondering the silence inside, Wang Hong tiredly ordered: “Bring me some warm water.”
Ah Zhi soon opened the door to bring the water in.
“Leave it, don’t come in.”
Ah Zhi paused. After some time, she softly said, “But…”
Ah Zhi placed the basin down, left the towels and clean clothes, then slowly retreated.
She heard someone come down from bed before she saw an arm reaching out to take those things inside.
Her brow knitted together as she listened to the sound of water, the women’s sweet murmuring, and the man’s gentle appeasing voice.
The younger maid went to her, looked at the loft, and whispered, “Ah Zhi, what is it?”
“He is cleansing her himself,” Ah Zhi replied, staring at the loft.
This fact kept both of them silent.
Some time later, the younger girl shakingly asked, “Ah Zhi, have we made a mistake?”
Ah Zhi didn’t have an answer. In the candlelight, her pretty face was as white as a sheet of paper. They both knew their master was as noble as the king himself. Once he slept with a woman, according to convention, they would go in to help him bathe and dress, then change the sheets and light the incense to rid of the foul odor to help him sleep. The woman would be carried outside. Once she woke up, she would be given a bowl of abortion drink.
But what happened inside had gone beyond everything they knew.
At length, Ah Zhi murmured, “The pain of not attaining what we want… Shouldn’t he spurn such a lowly and tawdry girl after he got her?”
Chen Rong had an unrestful night.
She kept tossing and turning. From time to time, a tear shed from her closed eyes.
Tears that were iridescent in the candlelight.
Dawn arrived at last.
Chen Rong slowly opened her eyes.
She foggily looked beyond the window shades.
Gradually, her eyes gained some sobriety.
Her eyes were struggling to move but they soon stopped. A white figure was writing away in front of her bed. In the sunlight, his tall and handsome sight blinded her. He was clearly sitting there, but it seemed as if he was surrounded by the clouds.
The man looked up and smiled at her when he heard rustling sounds.
Instinctively, she smiled back at him.
She blinked and blinked yet he did not disappeared. She quizzically ventured, “You.”
“What is it?” He looked at her with a smile, his voice was as gentle as water.
Chen Rong blinked rapidly and was shocked to find that he was still there. “Qilang, how can you be here?”
She suddenly sensed that something wasn’t right.
She gazed down.
The quilt slipped to reveal the bruises on her jadeite body… she wasn’t wearing any clothes!
Chen Rong hurriedly reached out to pull the quilt over herself and then looked towards Wang Hong.
Her face grew paler and paler.
She again lowered her head and quietly lifted the quilt to take another look.
She was thoroughly stunned by what she saw.
A long time later, she abstrusely asked, “Last night wasn’t a dream?”
Wang Hong had put down his brush at this point. He glanced over to face her, a playful lock of hair blocking his eyes.
“Aye, last night wasn’t a dream.” His voice was gentle as always.
Chen Rong slowly looked up. She blankly stared at him and asked yet again, “We… slept together?”
Wang Hong’s voice remained smooth and gentle. He looked at her with a smile. “Aye.”
Chen Rong shut her eyes.
A while later, she hoarsely asked, “We, unbetrothed and out of wedlock… had slept together?”
Wang Hong was still looking sideways, a stray hair dangling in front of his eyes. “Aye.”
She slowly sat up.
The quilt slid down to present her perfectly beautiful body before his eyes.
Chen Rong did not feel anything was wrong with her sudden nudity. She sat up and let her uncombed hair hide her lowered face.
“Are you going to marry me?” she quietly asked.
A long silence passed.
Chen Rong chuckled. “Right,” she rasped, “how can you possibly marry me? But I still have to ask, don’t you think?”
The room was very quiet; not the slightest sound was made.
“Qilang, what will you do about me now?”
A long time later, Wang Hong softly said, “I’ve kept proof that you lost your virginity to me. Ah Rong, you can still be my honored concubine.”
Chen Rong chuckled.
She slowly looked up.
Combing her fingers through her hair, she tilted her head looking at Wang Hong with her mouth upturned into a smile. “Can I still be your honored concubine without a prior betrothal?”
She sounded a little strange. Wang Hong only looked at her fixedly without an answer.
She smiled again. She looked at him and quietly called, “Qilang.”
“Even if I enter the Wang House in Lang’ya as an honored concubine, I would never live with dignity there, am I right?” She had previously refused Wang Yi’s proposition. Yet she was now sleeping with Wang Hong out of wedlock… what a contemptible girl she was. An honored concubine like her was worse than a regular concubine.
“Don’t be afraid,” Wang Hong softly told her.
“No?” Chen Rong laughed with eyes that sparkled. When she leaned forward, her porcelain breasts gleamed in the sun with her movements.
She looked at him with an unsmiling smile and lightly said, “Qilang, would you believe that I’ve murdered before?”
Her words surprised Wang Hong. He did not understand why she said what she said.
Chen Rong slightly smirked. Her perfect body and beautiful face were luminous in the morning sun. She laughed. “I’ve killed seven people… all of them were women.”
Wang Hong furrowed his brow. His eyes left her exquisite body. Looking into her eyes, he softly said, “Ah Rong, you’re tired.” He knew her history so well that he thought her words must be delirious.
However, not only was Chen Rong’s gaze enchanting, it was also completely sober, and she didn’t look at all delirious. She tilted her head, her eyes sparkling, as she faintly smiled. “Even that cousin of mine – if she wasn’t elsewhere right now, she would’ve been killed by me…“
As she spoke, Chen Rong lifted the quilt and walked down from bed. She had just lost her maidenhood, but she was not embarrassed at showing her naked body to a man, and was openly stepping down from bed in front of him. Wang Hong was made to feel that her body was Heaven’s best creation, for it was devastatingly beautiful. Not only her body, but even her youthful face no longer carried the timidity, vigilance, and fear of the past. Her smile was now bewitchingly cold.
Chen Rong walked barefoot and called, “Is someone out there?”
“Aye,” Ah Zhi replied. The bamboo door opened to admit her and another maidservant in, carrying a basin and some clothes.
Upon their entrance, they were startled to see a naked Chen Rong quietly smiling in the sunlight.
Chen Rong eyed the clothes on the tray and then sweetly smiled. “Why is it a yellow dress? Go, fetch the white outfit here.”
She confused them. If they remembered correctly, not long ago the young lady had said she did not wear white.
She stayed still for a moment before Ah Zhi went away.
Before long, she had brought the white dress back with her. It was taken from Chen Rong’s luggage.
Ah Zhi put the clothes in front of Chen Rong and couldn’t help herself from asking: “I thought you didn’t like white clothes, miss?” She must want to please my master. At this thought, Ah Zhi cast a scornful glance at Chen Rong.
Chen Rong simply smiled. She picked up the outfit to admire it. “I don’t… How can a vulgar, ruthless, and ridiculous woman like me be worthy of this pure, white dress?”
Upon her words, the three people in the room stilled.
Wang Hong who had been tilting his head to look at Chen Rong slowly stopped smiling.
Chen Rong dropped her gaze with a smile and slowly put on the white dress. “But I can wear it now… If I can be reborn, then of course I’m worthy of it.”
The last sentence was a bit vague, and only the maids faintly heard it.
They began to comb her hair after she finished dressing.
“Undo it,” she soon ordered them.
The maids paused.
Ah Zhi frowned, gently explaining: “Miss, you’re a married woman now…” She hadn’t finish by the time Chen Rong coldly said, “I want my hair to be styled like a maiden!”
They paused. After looking at each other, they turned to look at Wang Hong.
Wang Hong was still looking at Chen Rong, all this time he has been quietly watching her.
Not hearing him speak, the two maids had to do what Chen Rong wanted and combed her hair like a maiden.
It took little effort before Chen Rong’s hair was finished. It is uncertain whether it was due to her new womanhood, but her beauty was now rather cold. This coldness made her radiant and somewhat terrifying.
Chen Rong turned from the bronze mirror and rose. Turning around, she smiled and asked, “Whose idea was the Heaven’s Brew last night?”
The maids froze.
They turned to look at Wang Hong despite themselves.
Yet again, they saw their master quietly looking at Chen Rong.
After trading glances, the younger one finally said, “It was me.” Ah Zhi intervened with a smile: “Are you upset, miss? If not for that drink, you wouldn’t have gotten what you wanted.” She laughed and added, “We know you’re a gentry woman, so even if you loved our master, you would not dare to say it. We only wanted to help.” She bowed deeply to Chen Rong, pleading: “Do forgive us, miss.”
Chen Rong didn’t turn around. She went to the window where her porcelain hand gently stroked the windowsill before reaching for the sword beside it. “Then you are saying that it was your two’s idea to serve me the Heaven’s Brew?” A hint of a smile was heard in her voice.
Seeing that she didn’t sound to be angered, Ah Zhi also lightly laughed. “Aye… won’t you forgive us, miss?” She and the young maidservant once again bowed deeply to her.
They acted like the scholars and bowed to Chen Rong, their mouths uttering apologies but their gestures and rhetoric were frivolous, with a trace of contempt from deep down inside.
“Forgive you?” Chen Rong chaffed. “Then who will forgive me?” she whispered as she grabbed onto the sword hilt.
“Fwoosh” the sword left its scabbard, sunlight reflecting off of its cold iron. When they saw her suddenly pick up the sword, they simultaneously cried, “Miss, this isn’t something you can touch!” Their voices were full of habitual haughtiness.
It was as if Chen Rong had not heard their accusations. She raised the sword, her fingers lightly tapping on its surface. She smiled at the sharp clangs. “The Wang House of Lang’ya indeed produces a fine sword!”
Like lightning, she stabbed backwards.
“Fwoosh –” it was the sound of pierced flesh.
The two servant girls simultaneously screamed. Wang Hong who had been looking on with his elegant smile had also shot to his feet, watching Chen Rong in dismay.
Chen Rong turned around.
The sword in her hand had drilled straight into Ah Zhi’s chest. While the girl’s blood flowed out, the smile on Chen Rong’s face grew breathtakingly brilliant.
She withdrew the sword and then raised her hand to point the dripping blade at the younger hysterical maid.
Blood scattered. A few drops splashed onto her luminous face, painting her sweet smile a palpitating gorgeousness.
Only until the sword had completely drilled into its target did they hear a heavy crash from the side. It was Ah Zhi’s body slumping to the floor.
Chen Rong withdrew the bloody sword once more. She looked up at Wang Hong.
Just like that, she carried the bloody sword towards him.
Wang Hong stared at her.
Under his gaze, Chen Rong passed him and slowly headed for the door.
He turned to stare after her straight figure, lonely and hopeless in the sunlight. “Ah Rong,” he heard himself calling.
The airiness and elegance were gone from his wavering voice. He sounded bleak, with an inner predicament even he was not aware of: “Are you this scornful of being my honored concubine?”