Chapter 143: Wang Hong Makes a Timely Appearance
As soon as Chen Rong spoke, she perceived a change in the way people looked at her. They appeared exasperated, as if they were displeased that she did not know how to be accommodating.
Behind them, the prince named Sima Jing at this time peculiarly raised his voice, “Since the priestess is going into meditation to honor the Divine Founders, these worldly affairs perhaps do not concern her anymore. Twelfth brother, Auntie’s sincerity has been delivered to the wrong place.”
He burst into laughter after having said this.
Sima Yan’s men looked none too pleased.
Nevertheless, Sima Yan remained smiling. He good-naturedly said to Chen Rong, “How heartless you are, priestess. Now I cannot go home.”
Chen Rong bit her lips and thought to herself: If I keep refusing him, then it would not be very agreeable of me.
“Your Highness,” she made a bow, “I can’t possibly refuse your kindness.”
After accepting his invitation, Chen Rong turned to bow to Sima Jing and smiled: “I’ve been rude for not welcoming Your Highnesses sooner into my humble temple. Please come in.”
“After you, priestess.”
No sooner had Chen Rong welcomed them into the temple than another drumming music rose from the foothill.
It was the sixth group of visitors.
Chen Rong’s day was hence quite busy. In just a short amount of time, six aristocrats had come to her temple. She had intended to find out who was watching her every move and who did not want to leave her alone. But these people were now arriving separately, each not quite friendly with the next. How was Chen Rong to differentiate friends from foes?
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Sunset in Xishan.
The birds circled in the air as human voices gradually diminished.
Staring after the last departing carriages, Nurse Ping came to stand behind Chen Rong and quietly remarked, “What a crazy day, miss.”
It was indeed a crazy day.
While Chen Rong wryly smiled, her nurse worriedly asked, “Will you really go to Prince Ying’s estate tomorrow?”
Prince Ying was Sima Yan, who had come on behalf of his mother to invite her.
Chen Rong nodded with a frown. “I would have to.” She suddenly turned around. “Nurse, do you think I should ask His Majesty to let me practice in my own home?”
While Nurse Ping was still searching for an answer, Chen Rong shook her head and muttered to herself, “No, even at home I cannot refuse these people if they want to cause me trouble.”
She looked up at the sky ahead. As she was absently staring, a singing voice rang to them from the west side of the mountain: “Art thou rich or poor? Art thou wrong or right? No one flees from death, whether king or knight. The mulberry fields will soon be blue seas. What the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency.”
This weeping voice drifted to her from a faraway place among the blowing wind and calls of birds. Against the Xishan sunset, it cast a biting desolation across the land.
Chen Rong listened to it and quietly repeated: “What the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency?” She whirled back to look at her nurse with an emptiness in her eyes before breaking into laughter. “Are they saying that the peaceful life I want has always been out of reach?”
The singing voice had by this time drifted off into the distance.
Chen Rong looked its way and remarked with a frown, “What a strange song. I haven’t heard this kind of irregular verses before.”
She had, but it was uttered from her very own mouth and only mirrored by Wang Hong once. She did not expect to hear it in a place like Jiankang and at a time like this.
While Chen Rong was lost in her thoughts, her nurse stared at her wanting to answer but not knowing where to start.
A day went by.
The servants from Prince Ying’s home showed up outside the temple early next morning.
Chen Rong took five servants with her and mounted the horse carriage.
A thick tiger pelt lay on the spacious floor. She sat down on it and then looked left and right to see an incense burner. The faint pleasant scent prompted her to ask: “What is this scent?”
Behind her, the two maids glanced at each other before one of them raised her sleeve over her smile to answer. “Oh this? It’s called dark incense.”
Chen Rong did not know her fragrances, so she nodded and paid no more attention.
The carriage entered the city.
Jiankang was just as busy as when she last saw it. Whenever fashionable aristocrats galloped by, they would leave a whiff of perfume behind.
Chen Rong quietly viewed the scenery through the screen and was lost in her own reverie. She may have sat too still, for she gradually felt lightheaded and had to lift the curtain for relief.
Before she knew it, a voice had called to her, “We’re here. Please come down, priestess.”
The carriage curtain was lifted, at which time the pair of maids approached to help her down.
They were already inside the estate. Rows upon rows of houses lined among a lush landscape complete with rockeries and draping willows.
Chen Rong looked around and thought: What a grand estate. We can spend a whole day looking for the gate if no one was here to lead the way.
Seeing her looking around as soon as she dismounted, a maid in her thirties approached and politely smiled to her. “Priestess, this way.”
They slowly walked north on a gravel path.
The farther they went, the more sumptuous the landscape became. Chen Rong asked as she was looking around: “How should I address the elder madam?”
The maid had been observing her closely. When she heard her question, she smiled in reply. “You may not know yet that the one you’re meeting today is our prince’s birth mother. You can simply call her the Lady Dowager.”
The prince’s birth mother? Chen Rong inwardly thought, It seems she is a lowborn lady without a title.
At the end of the gravel path was a large lake, above which a turning corridor bridged across to a splendid loft on the other side.
“Priestess, this way.”
Chen Rong nodded and stepped inside.
The loft was made of wood and surrounded by hollow carvings, fluttering curtains, and a faint fragrance.
Everything about this place was too opulent. It didn’t look like the kind of place a religious and elderly woman would want to live in.
At this thought, Chen Rong smiled and asked, “Where is the Lady Dowager’s room?”
“About 30 paces ahead.”
Chen Rong acknowledged this answer and looked around again.
The maid glanced at her to see that her guest was uneasy, but she simply smiled without any further explanation, and sped up.
Once they passed the winding hallway, an exquisite mansion appeared before Chen Rong’s eyes.
“Priestess, this way.”
Chen Rong did not go.
She suddenly realized why she kept feeling that something was amiss. The Lady Dowager’s quarters were oddly void of sounds and servants. The wafting scent was also too strong to be favored by an elderly woman.
She should have realized this much sooner. Unfortunately, she had not lived in so large a mansion in neither of her lives. When she used to be Ran Min’s wife, he did not like extravagance and thus did not keep many maids and nannies around. Those who came and went were mostly guards or male servants.
More importantly, she kept feeling a little lightheaded today and her responses were slower than usual.
After Chen Rong stopped walking, she smiled and casually asked, “Does not the Lady Dowager have servants? Why is it so quiet here?”
No one answered her questions.
Chen Rong whipped around.
The servants were bowing their heads in slow retreat, closing the doors as they went.
While a change came over Chen Rong’s expression, a laughter came to her from the east corner: “You’re a clever one, pretty girl.”
In the midst of this laughter, a formally dressed man emerged from behind the curtains.
He was about 26 or 27 years old, with an elegant countenance and an aquiline nose. His looks were very similar to Sima Yan, Sima Jing, and His Majesty.
Chen Rong involuntarily retreated at the sight of this man. She watched him while waiting to be called.
However, he withdrew his gaze soon after a glance. She saw him stride to the east side of the hall where he eventually stopped as the maids prepared his seat and lit the incense burner.
While Chen Rong was trying to predict his action, the man sat down and clapped his hands.
The quiet room instantly transformed. A dozen graceful figures quietly waltzed in from behind the curtains. At the same time, reed music grew louder and louder.
The fragrance in the hall was also deepening.
Chen Rong frowned at the sight of them.
Each of these women was as beautiful as a spring blossom, their eyes the lake of autumn, their figures seduction itself. Most importantly, they were all scantily clad in a thin layer of fabric behind which their voluptuous breasts were poorly concealed.
Chen Rong hurriedly turned around.
She only now realized that Nurse Ping and the others were gone, and the servants who brought her here had also vanished. She was surrounded by closed doors and windows, and a fragrance that was growing more and more intense.
Her expression turned chilly.
She said nothing and strode to the door.
“You may be chaste, pretty one, but can you fight against dark incense?” the man laughed. “Perhaps this fragrance isn’t very effective. You’ve smelled it for so long yet you still have so much energy… Tsk tsk, what a fearless heroine.”
Chen Rong rushed to the door, barely pulling it when four expressionless maidservants appeared behind her.
The man clapped and said, “Don’t be afraid… why would you want to leave this paradise, Priestess Hong Yunzi?” By the time he got to her name, he had gritted his teeth to spit each syllable out.
Chen Rong used all her strength to pull on the door.
But she could not. No matter how much she tried, the door did not move. It was as unshakable as Mount Taishan.
Unknowingly, two drops of cold sweat formed on Chen Rong’s nape.
A series of footsteps closed in behind her before an icy hand stroked her neck. “You have beautiful skin, priestess.”
The man breathed onto her, his fingers slipping into her dress as he hissed, “So fragrant and silky. But are you still a virgin, I wonder?”
By the time he said this, the fragrance in the hall had gotten so thick that she could not breathe. The women’s scent and the dark perfume on their clothes were infiltrating into her nose.
Chen Rong’s hands weakened while she was pulling on the heavy door. She could feel her own strength going, her own body becoming feverish.
The man could barely contain his excitement. He slowly reached from behind to touch her cheek. While feeling the softness of her skin, he gasped and said in an excited yet cruel voice: “Wang Hong.” When he spat out this name, Chen Rong’s chaotic brain instantly cleared.
Behind her, the man was still hoarsely continuing: “The apple of his eye is indeed delectable. I can’t wait to find out how it would feel to have you, Priestess ‘Hong Yunzi’, strip down and crawl between my legs.”
He was getting roused, his ragged breathing becoming rapid. “I’ve trained innumerable girls but it’s my first time meeting someone like you… Would Wang Hong go mad or lose his mind, I wonder, if he saw the sweetheart he cannot have kneeling between my legs and pleasing me?”
This time, the beauty coldly replied, “You’re wrong, Your Highness. He will neither go mad nor will he lose his mind.”
Along with her voice came a severe pain at his throat.
It was a cold hairpin.
The man was stunned. He did not expect the weakened girl to fight back. Had she, like him, used this drug-laced incense over the years?
What he should have known was that the effects of all aphrodisiacs varied from person to person. Those who were strong willed were also the ones with the strongest resistance.
Chen Rong was icily staring at him, the hairpin in her hand pushing against his throat and drawing blood to its tip.
Her pin was different from ordinary ones in that it was exceptionally sharp and long. Anyone who saw it would have no doubt that the ornament in Chen Rong’s hand was a deadly weapon.
It forced the man backward, but despite his paling face, he still uttered a threat: “You’ve got some gut, priestess. Don’t you know who I am?”
Chen Rong coldly smirked. As she was about to retort, a familiar voice called into the hall: “Lang’ya Wang Qi seeks audience with His Highness, the Prince of Jiankang.”
His voice sounded so suddenly that it took both Chen Rong and the man by surprise.
When he detected no sound inside, Wang Hong’s silky voice unhurriedly spoke again: “I beg your pardon, Your Highness. This woman of mine is rather spirited… Please let her out.”
Chapter 144: My Qilang
The Prince of Jiankang had begun to react. With an ashen face, he watched the hairpin in Chen Rong’s hand pushing deeper and finally yelled, “Fine, I’ll let her out!”
He looked down at Chen Rong and frantically said, “Did you hear me? Get out, leave!”
Chen Rong did not move.
Her wrist continued to press down.
A small stab first sounded, followed by a stream of blood flowing from the prince’s throat. Though the stab was not deep, the threat of danger was nevertheless very real for a pampered man like the Prince of Jiankang.
He couldn’t stop himself from screaming in panic: “Have you gone mad, woman?! I told you to go, didn’t you hear me?”
Wang Hong and his men were listening to the development inside. As the guards were about to break into the room, Wang Hong waved his hand and faintly smiled, with gentleness and with a sigh. “Let her cool off, she knows her limits.”
They retreated behind him at his words.
Inside, Chen Rong weakly smiled to hear the Prince of Jiankang screaming in distress. Staring at him through her tired eyes, she pressed the hairpin deeper and coldly said, “You ought to thank Wang Qilang, Your Highness. You’d be a dead corpse by now if not for his arrival.”
Her voice was cold and ringing, and when she had spoken, she glared at him in disgust and threw the people in the corner a look.
As soon as she turned around to leave, the door was pushed opened to usher Wang Hong and his guards into her sight.
He was just in time to see Chen Rong slowly walk out.
She shook her foggy head when she saw him, but even then, her sight was so hazy that she stabbed her left wrist again. They all looked down at her porcelain wrist where they saw four wounds: one still fresh and the other three dried… It turned out she had been stabbing herself to stay sober.
Wang Hong’s eyes went to her wounds. He quickened his strides to reach her.
Without looking at her, he retrieved a handkerchief and gently bandaged her wrist. When he saw that his handkerchief was not enough to stop the bleeding, he tore his sleeve and placed the fabric on her wounds.
He was tender and careful, and did not let go of her hand after he finished his ministration.
Holding fast onto her hand, Wang Hong slowly looked up.
His pupils were as clear and as vivid as a lake in autumn. Chen Rong was also staring at him. Under the influence of the drug, her eyes were less cold and more dazed than usual. She would never look at him with such enamored eyes if she were sober.
Wang Hong suddenly pulled her into his arms
He closed his eyes and hoarsely called, “Ah Rong, Ah Rong…”
Chen Rong stood still for a moment, and then broke from his hug and pulled away. But she was still tilting her head to dazedly look at him… so absorbed was her gaze, that she seemed to have abandoned all obstinacy and heartache to simply etch this love in her heart, foolishly showing it to the world.
Her gaze was too ardent, too pained, and too tragic… in this cold and absurd world, no one loved someone else this madly anymore.
Wang Hong suddenly felt his eyes stinging. He looked up. After some moments, he pulled her into his arms again.
He hugged Chen Rong tight and then let go, turned and went to the Prince of Jiankang.
He had only taken a step when Chen Rong held back his hand. She was still looking up at him like a little bird that was completely unlike her usual self. She looked a bit stupid, a bit vulnerable, and a bit intent all at once.
Wang Hong softly smiled. He took her into his arms and strode to the Prince of Jiankang.
The Prince of Jiankang’s minor neck wound had closed by this time. He stared at Chen Rong in a trance.
By the time Wang Hong neared, the prince suddenly sighed at the sky and said to the other man in a sincere voice: “I can never beat you.”
The dark fragrance was both a euphoriant and a hallucinogen. It kept people in a dream and open up their hidden desires while amplifying them tenfold. In addition to sexual instinct, the user’s truest wishes would be in play. For this reason, there remained a trace of consciousness for those who used the incense.
The aristocrats had no shortage of women who were willing to be bedded or a shortage of drugs to choose from. Once any aphrodisiac took effect, a chaste widow could easily become a whore. The only reason dark incense was favored by the aristocrats was because even under its effect, the woman would retain her personality despite being controlled by her desires.
The prince’s eyes involuntary glanced at Chen Rong taking cover in Wang Hong’s arms. “This woman is too obsessed, but that makes her worthy of cherishing.”
At this point, he softly recounted with a faraway look in his eyes: “My mother used to look at my father the same way… Too bad she wasn’t smart, so she easily got thrown into the brothel by the queen. Even in her death, my poor mother never received any pity from my father.”
The Prince of Jiankang suddenly threw his head back in laughter. His wound ruptured, blood gushing out. “Fleetingly in the east, fleetingly in the west, our souls linger, when will we rest? When will we rest…?”
He ignored both Wang Hong and the bleeding on his neck, flapped his sleeves and madly raced out, his crazed laughter and mourning song still ringing as he went.
Staring after the Prince of Jiankang and the large number of guards who had arrived because of his hysterics, an advisor came to Wang Hong’s side to quietly say: “Qilang, let’s go.”
Another advisor came forward. He raised his clasped his hands to Wang Hong: “My lord, we couldn’t hope for a better result.”
Wang Hong nodded, coldly smiling in the direction the Prince of Jiankang had left.
They turned and walked out.
When they exited, Prince Ying’s guards gave way to let them through.
Before long, Wang Hong was carrying Chen Rong onto his carriage.
The vehicle steadily drove out.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
In the carriage, Chen Rong nestled in Wang Hong’s arms, still looking up at him. It was as if her subconsciousness wanted to look at him to her heart’s content, enough to fill her with his image from the past to the future, enough to last her an entire lifetime.
Wang Hong turned to give his guards orders before looking down at Chen Rong.
His arms tightened around her when he saw her enamored eyes.
Enveloping her in his arms, Wang Hong placed his face to hers. “Ah Rong?”
“Hmm?” Chen Rong dazedly replied.
Wang Hong smiled to hear her soft reply. He kissed her brow and asked, “Ah Rong do you love me?”
Chen Rong was still holding onto his sleeves in her trance. When she heard him ask, she murmured back, “I do.”
Wang Hong bloomed into a smile.
He placed his lips on her eyelid, softly asking: “Then will you come home with me?” Seeing her foggy eyes, he gently explained, “To the Wang family, where I am.”
Chen Rong tilted her head and looked at him as though she didn’t understand. After a good while, she murmured, “Home?” She shook her head, her smile silly and childlike, “Qilang, are you groggy? I have no home.”
She giggled while stroking Wang Hong’s smooth chin.
As her fingers strummed his skin, she murmured, “My lord, you look just like my Qilang.”
Wang Hong froze at her words. He softly repeated, “My Qilang?”
Of course Chen Rong couldn’t answer him in her trance. She dazedly looked at him, her small hand unconsciously sliding into his robe.
She pulled at his clothes through her murmurs: “You’re not another man, you’re my Qilang…” She appeared to be persuading herself to relax. After saying this a few times, her body slumped down.
She clung onto his arms, her right hand had slid from his lapels into his chest. When her searing hand made contact with his icy cool skin, Chen Rong made a relieved mewl. Pressing her face against his chest, she continued to murmur: “He’s not another man, he’s Qilang… my Qilang.”
As she repeated this sentence over and over, her face burned redder and redder, her breathing becoming more erratic.
At this moment, Wang Hong tipped her chin and forced her to look up.
His jade-like face was slightly ruddy now. He had just held Chen Rong’s face when his belt was loosened. A creamy warm hand snaked to his lower abdomen.
Chapter 145: The Irresistible Sensation
Wang Hong held back Chen Rong’s hand from snaking into his groin, but he had only taken her hand out of his clothes when her other hand had begun pulling at his lapel.
Her lashes fluttered furiously with a determined look as though she would not give up until she succeeded. But because she was drugged, her hands and feet lacked the strength they needed and her efforts somehow became a slow seduction.
Wang Hong freed her right hand to grab the one playing on his chest.
He had just controlled that hand when her mouth descended over his. Her fragrant tongue flicked out and happily traced his lips. It delved deeper and deeper until it separated his teeth and slipped into his mouth to chase his tongue.
This time, Wang Hong’s breathing completely lost its rhythm. He turned his face to avoid her, but the more he dodged the more mirthful Chen Rong became. She laughed and laughed while propping herself on her elbow to reach for his robe.
It took little effort before she was able to pull his front half open.
Struggling to fend her off, Wang Hong’s breathing grew more and more ragged, his face redder and redder. When he finally could not bear it anymore, he pinned her hands down and hastily ordered, “Ah Rong, stop! Stop!”
Chen Rong grievously raised her head to look at him in bewilderment.
Even saints could not resist Chen Rong when she was being this way. Wang Hong’s breathing missed a few beats. He clenched his teeth, clasped her hands and locked her in his embrace.
Chen Rong was uncomfortable to be locked down. She squirmed and, after finding that her hands could not move, rubbed her face on his chest with soft mewls.
A bead of perspiration followed one another from Wang Hong’s nape, slowly sliding into his collar.
His Adam’s apple undulated. Just as he was clenching his teeth and tightening his hold, an advisor laughed outside the carriage. “My lord, a lady’s love is the most difficult to refuse, why must you try so hard to resist?”
Another chimed in: “The world sure changes quickly. It had not been long but my amorous master is already emulating Liuxia Hui.”
A burst of soft laughter followed these words.
Tortured to sweat by the writhing girl in his arms, Wang Hong harrumphed to hear these words.
The laughter outside grew louder.
Wang Hong was busy fending off her mouth. But if he loosened his hold, the body in his arms would brush against him even more furiously.
Helpless, he dove forward and pinned Chen Rong underneath his own weight to keep her from moving.
The people outside were startled to hear the crashing sound in the carriage. A guard suppressed his laughter to say, “My lord, you are savage.”
“From what I know, the savage one is not our master.”
Another round of suppressed laughter ensued.
Wang Hong had no time to be angry. After seeing that she no longer squirmed around, he loosened his hand and slightly lifted himself up.
He looked down at her flushed face and the eyes that were looking at him full of grievances… Wang Hong clenched his teeth, bent down to kiss her eye and hoarsely said with difficulty: “I’m not a saint, Ah Rong. I’m afraid I won’t be able to control myself if you keep on like this.”
At this juncture, he could not help from a rueful smile. He bowed his head, letting a strand of hair fall across Chen Rong’s nose. There was loneliness in his husky voice: “Lovemaking is supposed to be a beautiful thing… I was wrong last time. I should’ve tried something else.”
How could Chen Rong understand what he was saying? She was just looking at him with those watery eyes…
The carriage steadily continued to drive forward.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
“My lord, there’s medicine now,” a guard called in at this moment.
According to him, it was a sedative that could induce rest. Although it wasn’t an antidote for the fragrance, it could lull people into sleep.
“My lord?” asked the guard when he did not hear his master answer.
Wang Hong still gave no reply.
He was quietly looking down at Chen Rong writhing underneath him. Her eyes and expression were both tantalizing, and more importantly, overflowing with love…
He cast his gaze down and at length said, “I don’t need it.”
The guard lingered, wanting to ask again when someone nearby glared at him and whispered, “The young master is enjoying himself. You’re really obtuse!”
The guard continued watching the carriage and muttered, “She’s only a woman. It is our young master’s prerogative whether he wants her or not. It’s very unlike him to neither touch her nor let her go.”
His voice was low enough that only two men heard him. They threw him a supercilious look, with one shaking his head.
In the carriage, Chen Rong could not move from his confine. She could only lift her flushed face, murmuring: “Qilang, I’m burning.”
Her words caused Wang Hong’s throat to undulate.
He bent down and gently nipped her nose, saying: “It’s alright, I’m here with you.”
His breath had a scent that made Chen Rong’s blush deepen.
“My lord, my lord… my dearest lord,” she whispered with longing in her eyes.
Wang Hong closed his eyes and pressed his face to hers, sighing as he listened to her sensual whisper.
Almost as soon as his sigh escaped, his mouth moved to capture her lips, swallowing her moans and whispers into his throat.
Her fragrant tongue and breath made for a heady taste…
Wang Hong’s lips had barely left when Chen Rong anxiously raised her head to recapture them. As she curled around his tongue, a satisfied groan escaped his throat.
At this time, a guard voiced in, “My lord, are we going home?”
No one answered.
The carriage stopped. Soon after the guard asked slightly louder, “My lord, are we going home?”
His voice awakened the couple in the carriage. Wang Hong fought for breath and looked up. He opened his eyes, no longer lucid, and closed them again after looking at Chen Rong for a while.
When he next opened his eyes, they were clear again. He looked into her eyes where he saw his own reflection, and slowly said, “Go back to Xishan Temple.”
After a pause, Wang Hong bade, “Go and send the servants back to the temple too.”
The carriages changed direction.
Before they reached a hundred feet, they jolted and came to a stop.
“Is it Qilang?” a girl asked, sounding pleasantly surprised.
Not waiting for the guards to answer, a man’s laughter gave sound. “Did I run into Qilang? Excellent.”
Noises ceased outside, and then a series of orderly voices took over: “Greetings, Your Majesty!”
Wang Hong furrowed his brow.
He looked at Chen Rong’s Daoist robe and knotted bun, thinking to himself: I had only left but I’m already running into His Majesty. It seems I have been playing nice for too long.
Chen Rong was a royally-ordained nun, an occurrence that had only happened a few days ago.
Even if the emperor didn’t have the Jiankang aristocracy’s regard, he still had the divine right of kings that had ruled for thousands of years.
Pretension was still part and parcel of court life.
Not only him, but the Prince of Jiankang had also acted in discreet… public humiliation was taboo in the aristocratic circle, after all.
It seemed someone had set him up.
Amid Wang Hong’s silence, another young man’s laughter gave sound outside. “Is it really Qilang? It’s been a year, I wonder if Qilang still recognizes me?”
This youthful voice was that of Prince Ren, who was the closest to the emperor.
“A few days ago I heard people say that Qilang is back. Now that Qilang has returned, the girls in the city will never look at us again,” quipped another.
The crowd broke into laughter at these words.
At this time, the soft-spoken girl called again, “Qilang, Qilang, why haven’t you come out?”
Wang Hong smiled as he listened to the laughter outside. He flung his sleeve over Chen Rong’s face and covered her mouth.
He reached out and slowly lifted the curtain.
When his face appeared, the girl concernedly asked in surprise, “Qilang, what’s wrong? What’s causing you to be so red? Your clothes are also disheveled.” When her eyes moved to Wang Hong’s half naked top, a blush spread across her face.
Nevertheless, the young girl craned her neck to peer inside the carriage.
Chapter 146: He Says
Wang Hong had lowered the curtain again, however. His husky and suggestive voice sounded from the other side of the fluttering fabric: “I recently acquired an irresistible servant girl… I beg your pardon, Your Majesty.” He sounded as if he was laboring for breath.
Everyone outside was overcome with surprise.
Momentarily, both the emperor and Prince Ren were stunned silly, while the soft-spoken girl bit her lips to prevent her tears from falling.
At long last, a loud laughter broke the silence.
The young emperor slapped the carriage as he rocked back and forth in mirth, laughing so much that he was tearing up.
Prince Ren was also laughing. “Good for you, Wang Qi! Good for you! You’re actually getting it on in a horse carriage, haha.”
Most members of the Sima House were debouched and proud of it. Prince Ren and his peers were more than delighted to hear Wang Hong’s words, for it was as if they’d found a kindred spirit.
“Let’s go,” Wang Hong said to his men while the aristocrats were still laughing.
As soon as his carriage moved, people turned to look at the young emperor. The laughing emperor clapped his hands and ordered, “Let them through, let them through. I already know Lang’ya Wang Qi likes cleanliness. I reckon he wants to rush home for a bath and change of clothes. Hahahaha.”
The carriage pulled away in the midst of his laughter.
There was a man who had been watching Wang Hong’s entourage, having wanted to interfere several times. Unfortunately the emperor was laughing so merrily, and the two princes rapt in banter, that he never found a chance.
Only when the emperor’s laughter ceased did he find an opportunity to come closer to him with this whisper: “Your Majesty, Wang Qi is not going in the direction of the Wang Estate… You see, he is heading towards Xishan Temple.”
Xishan Temple? The emperor widened his eyes, blinked twice, and then broke out laughing. “Does Wang Qi want to make love in front of the Divine Founders?”
The other man did not think the emperor would make such a conjecture; he couldn’t help but blink his eyes speechlessly.
Prince Ren drove his carriage to the emperor while still looking in the direction of Wang Hong’s departure. He suddenly tutted with a smile. “Who would’ve thought…”
Another young man who resembled him was shaking his head again and again as he sneered: “Even Lang’ya Wang Qi behaves this way. Hmph, let’s see how those sanctimonious pedants are going to criticize us now.”
The emperor had been laughing so much that he couldn’t stop his tears. “Good for Wang Qi, good for Wang Qi! Damn, Wang Qi’s our peer after all, a libertine who has sex when he wants it. I like this guy!”
The courtier behind him was at a loss for words. He never thought that the emperor, who didn’t particularly like heirs of prestigious clans, to praise Wang Hong for such absurdity and then easily let him go… Not only that, the two princes present were also beaming as if they had met a fellow believer.
Only the girl was sulking at this time. She suffered her brothers’ laughter for as long as she could before snapping: “Stop laughing! And stop talking!” She pursed her lips and burst into tears. “Terrible Wang Qi, awful Wang Qi… Boohoohoo, I don’t like this Wang Qi.”
The men stopped when they saw their sister in distress, but resumed their laughter soon enough. The softhearted Prince Ren drove over and sighed. “Silly child, even if Wang Qi were Liuxia Hui, we would not allow you to marry him. What good will your sadness do?”
The girl cried more disconsolately.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Wang Hong’s carriage was still driving on.
At the moment, Chen Rong’s murmurs and his gentle whispers were the only sounds from his entourage.
Several advisors traded glances. One of them approached and said from the other side of the curtain, “My lord, the clan chief will be angered by what you did.”
Another advisor added, “My lord, there are many ways to deal with His Majesty, why did you have to do this? The conservative ministers will be disappointed by your actions.”
The two men sighed as the third unhappily continued: “The clan has high expectations for you. Several courtiers had even recommended you just a few days ago. Even if you have no ambition for a political career, there is no need to do this. Those pedants are going to use this as a pretext. The clansmen will also want to stir the pot.”
Their persuasion and lament made little difference. The man in the carriage was still gently whispering to the woman and paid no attention to any of them.
They looked back and forth at one another and at last sighed.
After circling the road, the carriage quietly ascended the mountain to enter Xishan Temple.
By the time Chen Rong woke up, Xishan was in twilight. As bird chirping rose and fell, the sunset hues filtered through the window screen and illuminated half of the room.
She was enveloped in the setting sunlight, its rays dancing in front of her.
She opened her eyes and slowly turned her head only to see a very handsome face. At the moment, his head was resting above hers, and she was curled up in his arms.
She didn’t want to wake him up. He was sleeping on a table. His long lashes cast arched shadows on his handsome face. With the golden sunlight scattered on his jadeite skin, she could even see the fine fuzz on his upper lip.
Chen Rong blinked and slowly reach out to tentatively touch his face.
She grazed across his warm skin but suddenly retracted her hand as if a current shocked her.
She kept her head down and did not move, and then her eyes flew open.
Warmth enveloped her waist at this time.
Wang Hong is awake?
Chen Rong froze.
The man behind her did not notice her tension. He gently held her small waist and asked, “Did you just wake up?”
He bowed his head to look at her and quietly said, “They used an incense to drug you.”
It was a simple statement.
As Chen Rong’s head bowed lower, his voice ebbed like flowing water: “Ah Rong, you haven’t lived in Jiankang and Luo’yang so there are certain things you don’t know. The aristocrats had indulged in pleasures for hundreds of years; their forms of entertainment are evolved and varied. They are all experts at alcohol, drugs, and sex. When they get tired of these things, some would even have their fun with male lovers.”
He wound a strand of Chen Rong’s hair around his finger, gently saying, “They have drowned in those alcohol and drugs for so long that they’ve naturally come up with hundreds of them. Even if you are careful, it’s nearly impossible to avoid.” He seemed to have detected Chen Rong’s self-blame and chagrin. His words were as gentle as the breeze.
Chen Rong did not speak.
But his quiet voice was still floating in the small bedroom under the evening’s glow: “Did you hear the song I asked them to sing that day, Ah Rong?”
He proceeded to sing to himself: “Art thou rich or poor, art thou wrong or right? No one flees from death, whether king or knight. The mulberry fields will soon be blue seas. What the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency.”
After a long time, Chen Rong quietly asked, “You said what the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency?”
What they have is but clemency? In other words, preeminent members of great clans like the Wang House and Xie House could only be exempted from public execution. Was that not to say assassination, poison, and diseases were all within the realm of possibility?
He combed his fingers through her hair and casually said, “The major clans are quite satisfied with the current situation.”
Chen Rong shivered.
The Hu invasion had wiped out the entire northern population. Luo’yang, as the imperial city, were trampled on time after time. Numerous fortress cities such as Mo’yang were laid under siege and burned to the ground. Countless families of Jin descent were killed under the invaders’ hooves, their skeletons piling high. Yet the major clans were satisfied with this situation?
Did that mean many people did not want a wise emperor?
Did it mean these people did not want to see anyone from the Wang House of Lang’ya or the Xie House of Chen County to have the political talent and military prowess to expel the barbarians?
The more Chen Rong thought the more she understood and the more disappointed she became. “Then what about you?” she murmured after a long time.
Wang Hong smiled to see her unable to help herself from worrying about him.
He looked down and softly said, “I’ve sent men to guard this monastery of yours.”
They had still been talking about the state of affairs when he suddenly tossed out this line.
Chen Rong stilled, not knowing what to say… She wanted to turn him down, but in a city like Jiankang, if she was drugged today, then she could be harmed by much worse tactics tomorrow.
“Thank you,” she quietly said with a smile at length.
Wang Hong’s answer was clean and clear.
Chen Rong had left his embrace by this time, and so he was free to get up.
After two steps, he glanced back at her.
Strands of golden twilight strewed on his body, his hair, his face, and his robe. Almost suddenly, his entire presence transformed and he was indescribably beautiful if also nebulous.
He looked sideways at her, his hair falling across his left eye. His draping dark hair, his jadeite face, and his vivid eyes all made for an eternal, beautiful picture.
He was as beautiful as jade.
And this beautiful man was, at this very moment, tenderly gazing at her.
I’m swamped with year-end deadlines so I likely won’t see you guys again until January. Have a great Thanksgiving next week and Christmas in December!