Dark Empress - Chapter 2

Published at 1st of September 2018 05:33:35 PM

Chapter 2
‘The Empress isn’t feeling well?’ Hearing Yongfu’s report, Xiahou Yin raised his eyebrows . There was no trace of worry in his expression, but he asked, ‘Has she been attended by a doctor?’
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Yongfu bowed, ‘Xia XI said the Queen only had a cold . She was on the way to look for a doctor to get medicine for the Empress . It’s just that the Empress fears she would transmit it to your royal self . She is afraid she cannot attend to you tonight . ’Although, Yongfu thought to himself, Xia Xi’s manner was a bit suspect . But, he didn’t dwell on it for it was impossible for the Empress to be pretending to be sick . Oh, this was simply not possible; how could she refuse the grace of the Dragon? (Zuben: How could she?!)Xiahou Yin slumped and sighed, ‘Take some ginseng, ganoderma lucidum and sacred snow lotus to Feng Yi palace, and tell Doctor Tai to go and see the Empress . ’‘Yes,’ Yongfu bowed . He had been with the Emperor since he was a child and he understood the Emperor’s mind; the Emperor must be relieved he did not have to go to Feng Yi palace tonight . Who didn’t know the Empress wasn’t favoured? There are only two palace maids serving Feng Yi palace . If it wasn’t for the backing of the Queen Mother and the Minister, such a modest and docile Empress who hadn’t gotten pregnant would have had a her post taken away a long time ago . ‘Will the Emperor still wish to go to Feng Yi, or shall I inform Qingling Palace that you will visit?’ Yongfu asked . Qingling Palace was the Emperor’s favourite place, he had visited there regularly in the past six months . Xiahou Yin’s lips hooked up, ‘Yongfu, you really understand our mind . ’Yongfu sneaked a look up at the Emperor and found he was not angry . He immediately rose and preened, ‘Of course, this small servant has been with you since childhood . Important matters, this small one does not understand and is unable to share the troubles . So in the matters of the Emperor’s comfort, I aim to care for you satisfactorily . ’Xiahou Yin laughed at Yongfu’s words, ‘This kid; you can talk with this mouth . ’ Such a close servant, he really saved him a lot of trouble, ‘Send my order, I will be dining at Qingling tonight . ’ He said and then returned to the documents before him . ‘Yes,’ Yongfu bowed and went to inform Qingling Palace of the Emperor’s visit . Xiahou Yin returned to his work . He put behind his mind his promise to the Queen Mother . For him, the women in the harem were only there to relieve his boredom . He did not attach great importance to female sexual attractiveness . If he wanted a woman, he could get her . Why should he struggle to gain the favour of a woman in the harem when there was another at his beck and call? As long as they don’t misbehave, he would get along with them . Of course he understood the difficulties of an Empress managing harem . But what of it? Since Su Xiurong is queen, it was her business to take charge of the harem . If she couldn’t do her job, what does he need her for? (Zuben: I thought she was doing it well) For now, the Empress had the Dowager to rely on, but the day the Dowager is gone, he was afraid Su Xiurong would end up being bullied by the harem?Thinking of Su Xiurong, the writing hand stilled . Xiahou Yin frowned, then immediately continued his work . If she was having a hard time managing the harem, he would find a concubine to assist her . He would not remove her title . (Zuben: Would that assistant be Qing Fei?) If he did so, there would be trouble . The ministers would oppose it, and his uncle would not be pleased with him . Su Xiurong would be Empress, just one without power . Give her a comfortable life of riches and honour, calm and steady; so that she was not thin, right?Xiahou Yin was happy with his decision and continued his work happily, buoyed by the idea that he didn’t have to go to Feng Yi tonight . It was really something to celebrate . He thought of the gentle and charming Qingling concubine, compared to Xiurong, was much better . Tonight would not be boring after all . ♛
 At dinner time, Xiahou Yin headed to Qing Ling Palace . He held his hands behind his back and walked leisurely to his destination . There were a few eunuchs escorting from the rear, and in front, Yongfu held the lantern leading the group . ‘Your Majesty…’ Yongfu called falteringly . With his gaze he directed Xiahou Yin to the Court Lady kneeling at the doorway . Yongfu’s face stiffened at the sight of the Court Lady . Xiahou Yin saw that the lady was one of the Dowager’s retinue,‘Lu Xiu sees the Emperor . ’ The court lady bowed respectfully . Xiahou Yin didn’t reply, he groaned in dismay . ‘My Emperor, the Dowager Empress asked Lu Xiu to wait for you and give you a message . ’‘What is this message?’
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‘”I was not joking”’A good monarch does not joke! (Zuben: how boring)Xiahou Yin suddenly had a headache; is Esteemed Mother not really letting him escape? He could ignore the warning, but he imagined that it would not long before she came to personally drag him from Qingling Palace . Xiahou Yin knew his mother’s personality very well . (Zuben: I thought she said she wouldn’t interfere too much)Xiahou Yin closed his eyes and turned reluctantly . ‘Your Majesty?’ Yongfu queried,‘To Fengyi Palace,’ he said as he began to walk off without waiting for Yongfu, ‘Yongfu will follow, the rest, return to your posts . 'Yongfu quickly followed his master, and he kept quiet knowing that anything could make the Emperor’s mood worse . When he arrived at the doors of Fengyi Palace, he cautiously asked, ‘Your Majesty, would you like this servant to notify…’‘No,’ it didn’t matter anyway, it was destined to be boring tonight whether she was prepared or not, ‘Let’s just go…’ he stopped and frowned . ‘What’s the matter, Emperor?’ Yongfu asked in confusion when he stopped mid-sentence . ‘what’s the- what’s that scent?’He sniffed around, ‘How come the scent…’ seemed like it was coming from Fengyi Palace?Xiahou Yin did not speak but entered the palace compound, Yongfu hurriedly followed close . The closer they got to the court the stronger the smell got . Yongfu could not help but drool and lick his lips at the delicious aroma . As they approached the inner court entry, they could hear voices,‘Niangniang, can we really eat this?’‘Of course, chicken butt is delicious . ’ (Zuben: Nice and fatty)‘Is that so…’‘Just try it if you don’t believe me…’‘Oh…hot…hot . It’s really delicious! Xia Xi, you have to try it . ’‘Oh alright oh…hot!’‘Niangniang, be careful . ’‘Don’t mind me, just eat . ’Listening to the conversation, Xiahou Yin frowned slightly in puzzlement . He walked through the archway and saw three women sitting around a stone fire with an iron net over it where meat was roasting and a bowl . Xia Xi and Chun Xi dipped brushes into the bowl and daubed them over the roasting meat, and the delicious scent emitted as the meat sizzled . And his Empress…Xiahou Yin’s puzzled frown deepened; Su Xiurong who was had always been neat, docile and cowering, only had on a light robe on . It wasn’t even tied up, not only her skin was exposed - one could see her peach-pink dudou . Her hair was in a messy braid and held up with an ornamental pin . She sat in an uncouth manner; cross-legged on a chair . She grabbed a chicken leg and bit into it wide-mouthed . Of course Yongfu saw this scene; he quickly bowed his head so he could not bear witness to it . He did not dare look at the Empress, but he was shocked .
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Heavens, did he see correctly, was this really the Empress?!‘Xia Xi, I want to eat the wings . ’ Chuwei said as she chewed on the leg in her hand, she reached for a jug to her side did not pour the contents into a cup but drank directly from the jug . She sighed with satisfaction when she’d had enough . ‘This osmanthus wine is really good . ’ She said with grin, although there was no cola to go with the barbecue chicken, this wine was a really good replacement, but unfortunately there was no ice, cold wine would be even better!Although, Xia Xi and Chun Xi were now used to the changes, there were still puzzled by it . How did she change so much? But since their mistress was now happy, they didn’t want to think about it too much . ‘Since Niangniang likes it, there is still more,’ Chun Xi showed her the jug, ‘but Niangniang, this wine is strong, don’t drink too much . ’‘Hao, I know . ’ Chuwei replied with a mouthful of meat – satisfied, but she did not forget to say, ‘Xia Xi, chicken wings!’‘Yes, Xia Xi knows . ’ Xia Xi smiled and turned back to the grill, but something caught the corner of her eye and she looked up to see the people standing in the archway . She was alarmed and quickly rose,‘The, the Emperor?!’Chun Xi looked over at Xia Xia’s exclamation; she hurriedly dropped the chopsticks in her hand and rose as well . ‘Your Majesty!’Chuwei was still chewing on her chicken leg, her teeth were trapped in the meat when she heard the two maids exclamations, she looked in the direction of the entryway and locked eyes with Xiahou Yin . She blinked, this was the first time she had seen the Emperor . She was not surprised by his youth, she had learned his age from Xia Xi and Chun Xi, but she didn’t expect him to look like this…not bad . Well from her perspective as a magazine editor, he was very good looking . (Zuben: yeah yeah)She had assumed an Emperor who lived all his life in the palace would be pampered, since he didn’t have to work hard . He would be kind of a sissy who was white and clean or an obscene silkworm larva with lots of belly fat – she was still bearing a grudge on the matter of the bedroom but she had never imagined that he would be this handsome enough to shake her . From what she could see, he might be a little over one hundred and eighty centimetres tall . He was wearing blue robes embroidered with the noble five-clawed dragon and he exuded a noble imposing aura – much different from what she had imagined . Although he wasn’t swarthy, he wasn’t thin . His stature was tall, upright and powerful . Don’t talk of a big belly; he most definitely had a six pack!His facial features were not effeminate, but rather manly, angular yet beautiful . His narrowed eyes made her think of the Dowager Empress . The Dowager Empress came to Feng Yi palace to visit her sometimes, from the moment Chuwei met the woman she knew she wasn’t simple not like the two maids beside her - so she kept up a docile front while in the Dowager’s presence . It wasn’t hard at all to put on a look of gentility and obedience, look weak; she had been able to trick the Dowager Empress but this Emperor whose eyes were like his mother’s, had a shrewd glint . She knew this time she might not be so lucky . (Zuben: Well you have been caught in the act, or you could faint? That seems to work)As she continued to chew on her chicken, Chuwei racked her brains for a solution to the current dilemma . When Su Xiurong looked at him, Xiahou Yin noted a flash of surprise before it was quickly hidden, and she still continued to chew on her chicken leg . This was not the Su Xiurong he knew . Jiang Chuwei got lost in thought about solving her current problem that she forgot to be respectful to be deferent . ‘Everyone leave!’ Xiahou Yin commanded with a wave of his hand, his gaze was locked on Su Xiurong . Xia Xi and Chun Xi exchanged a glance, although, they were uneasy leaving their mistress, they could not disobey the orders of the Emperor . They rose from their bow and left the inner court with Yongfu . Chuwei got startled out of her reverie at Xiahou YIn’s words . She saw Chun Xi and Xia Xi leave but the girls cast a worried glance back at her . She turned her gaze to the Emperor and saw he was staring at her . The dim light of dusk made her unable to read his expression, but she also knew if she could not come to an agreement with him, she would not be able to save her life . She dropped the chicken bone now stripped of meat and picked up her handkerchief to wipe her hand . She calmly rose from her seat and bowed,‘Chén qiè sees the Emperor . ’
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The Emperor did not reply . Chuwei licked her lips, but she did plan to spend her time on bended knee so she rose and stared at the Emperor Xiahou Yin . Xiahou Yin could plainly see her attitude was not respectful at all, there was no fear in her eyes . If he was not mistaken, she was disdainful of him . (Zuben: how does he get to see in the dusk light?) He stepped forward till he was right in front of her, but she did not shy away . She stood firm and with her prideful eyes, stared directly at him . ‘You’re not Su Xiurong,’ he declared . Su Xiurong would never have such an expression on her face, she never had such courage . Xiahou Yin’s eyes were cold, and he could not hold back, he grabbed her wrist and held it tightly, ‘Who are you? Where is Su Xiurong?’Suddenly having her wrist gripped so tightly made her frown, ‘Hey! Let go!’ she cried . She wanted to struggle free but he gripped her arm so tightly, she felt her wrist would break . Chuwei got angry, she lifted her leg to kick his shin, but he stepped back in a flash . She swept under him and pulled his arm intending to throw him over her shoulder but she forgot that the body was hot hers . Even though she was a black belt in Taekwondo, this body was not . Xiurong’s body was not only thin, but weak as well . ‘Shit!’ she swore . Instead of throwing him, both her arms were locked behind her . Her face distorted in pain, ‘Wait! Stop! Let’s not get excited . Just keep calm so we can solve this in a civilised manner . ’She couldn’t beat him so she could only beg for mercy . Chuwei smiled over her shoulder at Xiahou Yin with pitiful eyes, ‘Your Majesty, as the ruler of a country, it is good to treat your woman like this?’Xiahou Yin did not pay attention but asked, ‘Where is Su Xiurong?’‘I am ah! Ah! Ah!--’ he twisted her arms painfully, ‘Damn it! If you don’t believe me touch my face!’She rose on tip-toe and pushed her face close to his, ‘Touch it, touch this face and see if I’m not Su Xiurong . ’Xiahou Yin stared at the face close to his, there were no suspicious marks, even the edges did not have any trace of unevenness . He could not find any signs that this was not Xiurong . He lifted a hand and touched her face . He felt everywhere and frowned as he could not find a flaw . It was impossible, no matter how good the mask was, there should be a flaw . This person was really Su Xiurong? Xiahou Yin released her . As soon as she was freed, Chuwei glared at her wrists that had been held till they were bruised . She glared at him,‘So do you believe me now?’Seeing the confusion in Xiahou Yin’s eyes made her happy . If the emperor is so wise, what would he think about a change of souls . ‘Who are you?’ he asked . Though the body was Su Xiurong, he knew the person standing before him no was not his Empress . He didn’t think that Xiurong had been deliberately pretending to be meek and well behaved . She didn’t need to do that kind of thing . And the feeling he got from Xiurong and the feeling he got from this woman were different; two completely different people . Chuwei rubbed her wrist and looked up at him with a smile and batted her eyelashes, ‘My name is Jiang Chuwei . As for Su Xiurong . . . she is dead . ’Looking at Xiahou Yin’s puzzled frown, she sighed helplessly and she told him the truth, ‘Actually, I was a lonely ghost floating about in this world, very pitiful . I saw Su Xiurong falling into the lake, and then I woke up and became Su Xiurong . ’Though this was an esoteric thing, she thought that the ancient people would not understand it . Anyway, she hadn’t lied, she did wake up and inexplicably became Su Xiurong . Xiahou Yin did not miss the flash in her eyes, he sneered at her,‘Do you think I would believe that kind of nonsense?’She wouldn’t have believed it either if she hadn’t experienced it herself . ‘This kind of nonsense even an ignorant person won’t believe it,’ Jiang Chuwei said with a flattering grin, ‘talk less of you, the Emperor! Who is the Emperor? The Son of Heaven! How could someone as esteemed as you be a stupid ignorant person?’ She waved up and down at his person . She nearly held her cheeks and exclaimed . This woman . . . Xiahou Yin raised his eyebrows, the irony in her eyes were more pronounced, ‘Do you think that I will let you off because of your words?’Okay so she could not flatter this Emperor . She put away her smile and folded her arms across her chest . She lifted her chin proudly and asked, ‘So what to you want to do? Kill me? This body is really Su Xiurong, even if you told people I was not, no one would believe you . ’ She shrugged and gave him a false smile . ‘And even if you wanted to touch a hair on my head, wouldn’t you have to explain yourself to the Dowager Empress and the General?’ She knew very well Xiurong’s backing . Looking at her smug smile, Xiahou Yin wasn’t angered, he simply asked, ‘Are you threatening me?’Chuwei held her hands up, ‘You’re the Emperor! How can I dare threaten you?’ she said, ‘Let’s just treat this as a transaction of sorts . ’Xiahou Yin raised an eyebrow, ‘What sort of transaction?’ he asked . This woman who called herself Jiang Chuwei was beginning to be very interesting . Noting his interest, Chuwei became hopeful, she stepped forward and placed a hand on his chest, ‘Be assured that this will be favourable to you, no harm whatsoever . ’Xiahou Yin looked at the hand resting on his chest; no one in this world had ever dared touch him like this . ‘I heard that you are wary of the Dowager Empress and the Imperial Uncle’s influence in court,’ she said . He was bound to be angry by that statement, she thought . Xiahou Yin did not react or respond, Chuwei took it as approval . How pitiful, a puppet Emperor . ‘You had no choice but to marry Su Xiurong and make her Empress, and then you have to come to Feng Yi palace under duress . It must be really tiring . ’ she said sympathetically shaking her head, ‘I am not Su Xiurong, therefore, I would not compel you to come here . Although, your physique looks very good, one not assured of the ability…’Ability…?He followed her gaze to his pelvic area; he could very well guess what her implication was . His black eyes flashed . This woman’s boldness was beyond his expectations . With a word, he could take her little life, but since his arrival, she hadn’t considered putting more clothes on . She did not show any indication of being uncomfortable . Jiang Chuwei coughed as she found herself digressing, and continued on as though nothing happened, ‘I will continue to be Su Xiurong: A queen with no voice . Before the Dowager and Imperial Uncle, I will say good words on your behalf, even when you want to dote on other concubines . If you want to deal with the Dowager and Imperial Uncle, I will help you pave the path . How does that sound?’‘It sounds good,’ it was favourable to him, ‘but I think you are labouring under a misapprehension; there is no need to deal with the Dowager and Imperial Uncle . ’Chuwei blinked and immediately nodded in agreement, ‘Oh, I understand . ’What a useless guy . Xiahou Yin could immediately tell what she was thinking, he said quietly, ‘The Dowager and Imperial Uncle have never been my enemies . ’What did he mean by that?Chuwei watched him, thinking that the was trying to save his self respect . But then she thought back to her meetings with the Dowager, she was a smart and capable woman . While they chatted sometimes, she would mention the Emperor . There was reprimand in her tone but there was also a little helplessness…Chuwei suddenly realised, that was the look of a mother who loved her child . She had ignored it before . Thinking about it, if the Dowager really held the power, the Emperor would have been clinging to Xiurong’s thigh every day . ‘Have you figured it out?’ he asked with a satisfied smile seeing her horrified look . ‘Jiang Chuwei,’ he called . ‘What?’ she shouted, ready for another fight . ‘You are very interesting . Moreso, than Si Xiurong . ’ Although, he did not believe her about being a ghost, he had read in a book about soul exchange . In any case, he thought she was interesting, much more than docile Su Xiurong . Chuwei was about to speak when she saw the playful glint in his eye . (Zuben: So you finally can read his expression in the dusk) and the hair in the back of her neck stood on end . ‘We have a deal, you can stay in the palace . ’ he said with a wide smile . The handsome smile gave Chuwei goosebumbs . ‘My Empress…’ he said deliberately . In the warm summer night, Chuwei felt a chill . Why did she have the sense that she had just dug her own grave? (Zuben: Well, you were talking big without all the facts)