His ink-like dark hair is arranged neatly into his dragon headgear. His thick and sword-like eyebrows are solemn and majestic, and his eyes are closed, effectively blocking the cold look that he always wears. His lashes are long, making him look surprisingly cute. His tall nose, his tempting lips, his alluring face….. If he is not the Emperor, he ought to be surrounded by women all the time. However, since he is the monarch of their country, he exudes an unapproachable air. Other people can only watch him from afar, no one would dare to approach him. What a waste of this attractive face.
"Hmm," Mo Qi Qi sighs.
"Who is it?" the alert Jun Qian Che immediately wakes up.
He is a little shocked to see Mo Qi Qi next to him, "When did you come, Empress?"
She gives him a brilliant smile, "Just a moment ago. Chenqie saw that you were asleep and did not want to bother you, but chenqie ended up waking you anyway." She suddenly feels bad for him. Being an Emperor is really not easy. He can't even sleep in peace. Poor guy.
"What is the matter, Empress?" Jun Qian Che sits straight as he looks at her. It only takes him a moment to completely wake up.
Mo Qi Qi sighs while shaking her head helplessly, "Your Majesty, you are too busy that you forgot everything. Have you forgotten about your injury? Chenqie waited for you to come so that chenqie could redress your wound, but you didn't come, so chenqie could only come and look for you at Yu Jing Palace."
A burst of joy can be felt inside Jun Qian Che's heart when he hears that, "You're worried about zhen's injury?" At least, she still remembers that he is injured.
Mo Qi Qi nods, "Of course. Have you forgotten that you got injured because of chenqie? If other people discover this, chenqie would be in deep trouble."
The joy in his heart immediately disperses, "So it is like that."
"Obviously. What else?" Mo Qi Qi looks at him with her large and clear eyes.
He shakes his head, "Nothing. Go on and apply the medicine."
"Yes." Mo Qi Qi runs over to close the door before returning to Jun Qian Che and redressing his wound.
Now that she is with him, Mo Qi Qi cannot help but remember what Jun Yue Hen told her about the Marquis of Ning Nan. She wants to ask Jun Qian Che about it, but keeps hesitating over whether or not she should. Due to her distraction, she accidentally applies too much force while redressing his wound.
Jun Qian Che frowns lightly as he looks at her, "What is it? Say it. Otherwise, zhen's wound might start bleeding again."
Mo Qi Qi looks at his wound in surprise, "Sorry, Your Majesty. Chenqie got distracted."
"Something is troubling you?" Although it's a question, it has been uttered certainly.
She hesitates for a moment before nodding honestly.
"Just say what you want to say," replies Jun Qian Che calmly.
She lowers her head as she continues bandaging his wound, murmuring, "What if you get angry?"
"If you don't say it, zhen will get angrier. Whatever it is, just say it. Zhen will not blame you," says Jun Qian Che steadily.
Mo Qi Qi looks up at him happily before saying, "Alright, you promised! You must not get upset if chenqie accidentally said anything that hurts you."
Jun Qian Che made an assenting sound.
Hurt? What could possibly hurt him?
Mo Qi Qi gathers her courage before opening her mouth, "Your Majesty, chenqie remembers that you asked chenqie about the Marquis of Ning Nan. Chenqie replied you by saying that the Marquis deserved to die. You got angry and left. So chenqie was wondering what could possibly anger you to that extent. In the end, chenqie finally figured it out. Your Majesty, chenqie—"
Jun Qian Che cuts her off, "You were worried about zhen's mood?"
Huh? Instead of asking her this, he should have asked her what she figured out. This man really has no common sense.
"Hehe, of course chenqie was worried. Your mood directly affects chenqie's life, as well as the baby's."
Jun Qian Che feels very helpless and frustrated when he hears that, "Go on."
"Your Majesty, chenqie realized you were angry because chenqie said something that you did not want to hear. Chenqie said that Marquis must be killed, which is something that you probably disagree with. You don't want to kill the Marquis of Ning Nan," probes Mo Qi Qi.
Jun Qian Che pretends to be surprised as he says, "Oh, you actually figured that out."
Mo Qi Qi nods, "Yes, Your Majesty."
"You are pretty clever, Empress," Jun Qian Che gives her a rare praise.
"So chenqie is right?" Mo Qi Qi looks at him earnestly.
"Yes, you're right. Zhen does not want to kill the Marquis of Ning Nan," replies Jun Qian Che in a straightforward manner.
Mo Qi Qi continues probing carefully, "The Marquis of Ning Nan committed such a big crime and yet you're actually unwilling to kill him. There must be a reason behind that."
Jun Qian Che nods, "Yes, there is a reason behind that."
She continues gathering her courage to say, "Chenqie heard that Your Majesty had something going on with the Marquis' daughter. Is that true?"
He looks at her, "You've already met her before, haven't you?"
"Uh? Hehe, did you forget what chenqie told you, Your Majesty? Chenqie have lost all my memories, I forgot everything. Can you tell me the story between you and the Marquis of Ning Nan's daughter? Chenqie is quite curious about the two of you," Mo Qi Qi smiles at him sweetly.
Jun Qian Che glances at her before saying, "To tell the truth, this is not something shameful that other people must never know. Since the Empress wants to know, zhen will tell you."
"Thank you, Your Majesty," she looks at him in anticipation. Deep inside though, she is cursing him. Pah, nothing shameful you say! How shameless can one be! He mistreated another man's daughter and claims it is nothing to be shameful about. How thick-skinned can one be? Even the walls are not as thick as his face!
Jun Qian Che's eyes drift away as he begins telling his story, "Ning Xuan Yu is the Marquis of Ning Nan's only daughter. She is the pearl within the Marquis' palm. We knew each other ever since we were little—-"
"You knew each other since little? Does that mean you two were childhood sweethearts?" interrupts Mo Qi Qi.
Jun Qian Che glances at her, "We were Apprenticeship Siblings. I am older by two years old. We learned under the same Shifu, so I was her Senior Brother."
"You two are Apprenticeship Siblings…. Does that mean that Ning Xuan Yu also knows martial arts?" Mo Qi Qi is surprised. Jun Yue Hen did not say this.
Jun Qian Che nods unhappily, "Yes, Xuan Yu loves martial arts. She thought, women that know martial arts are cool. She is straightforward and honest. She has her own ideas and will not let anyone tell her otherwise. She has always been different from other girls."
"Since she is so different from other girls, Your Majesty must have liked her a lot," Mo Qi Qi nosily raises her eyebrows.
Jun Qian Che unhappily reprimands her, "Do you even want to listen, Mo Qi Qi? Can you please not interrupt when someone else is talking?"
She nods, "Alright, alright. Chenqie will keep quiet. Go on, go on….." You won't let others interfere when you speak, but somehow, it's alright if you're the one doing it! Unreasonable jerk!
"Although she has always been different from other girls, in my eyes, she is only a little sister. We know each other too well, so we've always treated each other intimately. Like family."
"Only as family?" Mo Qi Qi could not help but ask.
He glares at her.
"Chenqie is wrong," she immediately shuts her mouth.
Jun Qian Che rolls his eyes before he continues speaking, "Learning from Shifu all those years were the best times of my life. They were the happiest memories I have. Back then, all we cared about was learning martial arts. We did not have to think of anything else. Our lives were so simple. However, I was the Crown Prince and could not live outside the palace for too long. I had to return to the palace and could only practice privately using my Shifu's secret manual. Xuan Yu, on the other hand, continued learning under Shifu outside. In the blink of an eye, we grew up. After finishing her apprenticeship, Xuan Yu returned to the Ning Residence. Back then, her father was only a 3rd level courtier who was based at the capital, so we met often. She would often visit the Crown Prince's residence. Since she grew up traversing the jianghu, she did not know about etiquette. Although she could be considered a noble young miss in the capital, she did not carry herself as such. Whenever she visited the Crown Prince's residence, she would joke around with me, disregarding boundaries between men and women. I know her personality, but other people did not. They thought we both liked each other. I tried explaining to protect her reputation, but she stopped me. This kind of things, the more you try to explain, the more people would speak. She said that what other people said did not matter. What mattered was our conscience were clear. I thought she had a point, so I stopped trying to explain things.
We merely treated each other as siblings, but somehow, rumors about our relationship reached my late Imperial Father. Imperial Father wanted to bestow us a marriage edict. When I found out, I immediately explained everything to him. Although we managed to stop the marriage edict, the rumors about us kept getting worse. The situation at court back then was unstable, so her father and I frequently meet, sometimes in secrecy. Everyone thought it was because I had entanglements with his daughter. Then, Imperial Father got ill and I was too distracted to pay any attention to the rumors. When Xuan Yu's mother heard about the rumors, she was furious. She asked her what our relationship was and Xuan Yu told her that I was only her Senior Brother and that there was nothing going on between us. When her mother heard that, she decided to marry Xuan Yu off to subdue those rumors. Xuan Yu refused, but after her mother refused to back down, she relented and agreed to meet the man that her mother arranged for her. To everyone's surprise, the two of them actually ended up liking each other. Although the man was only a weak scholar, he was good-looking and refined and was completely to Xuan Yu's liking.
That man, on the other hand, liked Xuan Yu's honesty. He liked that she did not pretend to be someone else. They were compatible with each other and liked each other very much. Xuan Yu married the scholar. Later, Imperial Father passed away and there was a power struggle amongst the princes for the throne. With Duke Zhen's help, zhen ascended the throne, married you and made you the Empress.
However, the matter did not end there. Because everything happened so quickly, everyone thought that zhen forsook her and married someone else for the throne. People thought that she married the scholar out of spite. Very few people know what really happened. Neither of us bothered to set the story straight because it did not affect our relationship anyway. As long as we know the truth, that was enough. Besides, her husband trusted her and the rumors did not affect their relationship. They are now happily married and have settled in the south where they gave birth to a son and a daughter. So that's our story. You heard about our rumors before and asked zhen about it. Zhen explained everything but you did not believe zhen. You adamantly believed that there was something between zhen and Xuan Yu. You even wanted zhen to kill Xuan Yu to prove our innocence. We used to fight a lot over this. Today, zhen is telling you the same thing all over again. Would the Empress believe zhen this time, or would you be just like two years ago, thinking that zhen secretly loved Xuan Yu?" asks Jun Qian Che.
Without even thinking, Mo Qi Qi shakes her head, "No. Chenqie believes that someone like Xuan Yu would never like Your Majesty."
Jun Qian Che frowns, "Why do you say that?" He feels like there are words hidden behind her words.
She raises her brows before murmuring, "Because you are cold and boring. Marrying you is like living inside a golden cage. It's luxurious but stifling. There will be no freedom. Someone like Xuan Yu who is used to traveling freely would never willingly settle down inside this cage. Not only that, she would also have to compete for love with so many women. She would never be that stupid."
Jun Qian Che tries to control his anger, "Does that mean the Empress regrets marrying zhen?"
"I—–" Mo Qi Qi naturally want to say she regrets everything, but under his intimidating glare, how would she dare to say it to his face? She laughs like a fool, "Hehe, chenqie's personality is not the same as Xuan Yu, so we naturally want different things. Chenqie does not dare to regret anything."
Not dare to regret anything basically means that she regrets it. Jun Qian Che is very unhappy.
She immediately lowers her head and continues dressing his wound.
Jun Qian Che suddenly pulls her chin to make her look at him. He slowly leans in.
Mo Qi Qi's heart begins pounding heavily as he slowly approaches. Even she does not know why her heart is acting this way.
Jun Qian Che stops inches from her face. He looks at her as he overbearingly warns her, "It does not matter if you regret this or not. You picked this path, so you could only go through with it. Without zhen's permission, do not even dream of leaving."
Mo Qi Qi inwardly gives him a big eye-roll, but outwardly gives him a flowery smile, "Yes, yes, yes. Chenqie does not dare to leave. Chenqie is currently carrying Your Majesty's child, where else could chenqie go? Hehe, chenqie has finished bandaging your wound, Your Majesty."
Jun Qian Che lets go of her.
Mo Qi Qi remains curious, "So that's why Your Majesty does not want to kill the Marquis of Ning Nan? For the sake of Ning Xuan Yu?"
"No," replies Jun Qian Che firmly.
"Why, then?" Mo Qi Qi looks at him, confused.
He looks at her.
She immediately understands his meaning, "Chenqie shouldn't have asked about politics. Chenqie overstepped the limit."
"Alright, let's not talk about this. Zhen heard that you met the other concubines at the imperial garden earlier," states Jun Qian Che.
She nods earnestly, "Yes. We bumped into each other. Chenqie did not know Your Majesty forbade them from visiting chenqie."
"You are pregnant, you should rest more. They are too noisy, they will disturb you and the baby." Jun Qian Che's tone is calm, but deep inside, he really cares about the mother and child.
"But being all by myself is too boring. Chatting with them is pretty fun."
"Mo Qi Qi, you have become more and more naïve. You actually trusts the other concubines from the palace," mocks Jun Qian Che.
She purses her lips, "Your Majesty, if they know that you talk of them in this manner, it would break their hearts." Although she knows that the concubines at the palace are not all nice, they benefit her more than harm her.
A disdainful smile flits through Jun Qian Che's face. What is it to him if their hearts break?
"If there is nothing else, you can go. You are currently pregnant, it is not good for you to stay up late," says Jun Qian Che calmly.
Mo Qi Qi stands up and curtsies, "Yes, chenqie will leave first." Then, she leaves.
As she walks out of Yu Jing Palace, Mo Qi Qi's heart is filled with apprehension. What Jun Yue Hen said is completely different from what Jun Qian Che said about him and Ning Xuan Yu. Which one of them is telling the truth? Jun Qian Che has no reason to lie to her. Besides, when he was telling the story, his eyes were calm and his tone was completely indifferent. She cannot sense any hint of regret or affection from him towards Ning Xuan Yu.
However, Jun Yue Hen has no reason to lie to her either. Could it be that Jun Yue Hen did not know what was going on and ended up believing the rumors? That's why he told her all those things? That appears to be the likeliest thing.
If so, Jun Qian Che did not really forsake Ning Xuan Yu, so he is not really that much of a scumbag after all. A light smile is formed on her lips.
This time, Mo Qi Qi's heart is unconsciously biased towards Jun Qian Che, choosing to trust him over the rumors.
The court is in tension over the Marquis of Ning Nan's matter and the Marquis' return to the capital is mired with difficulties.
Han Yi Xiao takes Bai Jiu to Ning Nan to escort the Marquis to the capital.
On the way to the capital, the common people frequently gathers around them and proclaim their trust to the Marquis, believing him to be innocent of the charges brought upon him. In their hearts, they know that the Marquis of Ning Nan is a good official.
Amongst the crowd, stand a pair of goodlooking man and woman. The man possesses the elegant and refined air of a scholar, while the woman is startlingly beautiful but with a trace of courage in her eyes.
As the captive carriage drives past them, the woman touches the hilt of the sword hanging from her waist. The man stops her and shakes his head refrainingly.
The woman glances at him, and in the end, could only watch as the captive carriage carrying the Marquis of Ning Nan passes them.
As the carriage moves farther and farther away, the worry inside the woman's eyes deepens, "Why wouldn't you let me save my father, Husband?"
He smiles at her warmly, "Father-in-law is innocent, Wife. Once he reached the capital, His Majesty will absolve him of all accusations. Don't you trust His Majesty?"
She sighs, "It's not that I don't believe in my Senior Brother, it's just that the capital is too far away. The journey will be tough and my father is already old. What if his body couldn't take it?" That woman is none other than Ning Xuan Yu, the woman whom Jun Qian Che and Mo Qi Qi had been talking about. The man is her husband, Wen Zi Feng.
Wen Zi Feng tries to comfort her, "Don't worry, although father-in-law is old, he practices martial arts diligently and is very healthy. Father-in-law didn't object to Duke Zhen's demand to search his property because he knew he was innocent. He intends to appear in front of the Emperor to proclaim his innocence and maintain his reputation in front of the common people. If you really try to save him, he may not necessarily be willing to follow you. Besides, do you really think you can compete with General Han? There are so many people here, what if Duke Zhen's people decide to take advantage of the chaos to kill father-in-law? He can just claim that father-in-law's death has been accidental. Father-in-law would have lost his chance to clear his reputation, he would die as a criminal. It would implicate the entire Ning Clan. People would curse his name. And if the opposite happens, and you ends up getting caught along with him, you would be sent to the capital as well. Wouldn't that put His Majesty in a hard place? By then, it does not matter if father-in-law is guilty or not, the point is you are guilty of your own crime. It would be hard for His Majesty to protect you."
Ning Xuan Yu cannot help but look at him in appreciation upon hearing his analysis, "Lucky you are here, Husband. Otherwise, I would have messed everything up with my clumsiness."
"Idiot. We are family, why are you saying such courteous words? Don't worry, with General Han to protect him, nothing will happen to father-in-law. Let's sneak into the capital as well. It'll be easier to obtain news about father-in-law if we're there," suggests Wen Zi Feng.
Ning Xuan Yu smiles, "I thought so, as well. I want to enter the palace and ask my Senior Brother how he plans to deal with my father."
They look at each other before beginning to prepare everything they need to go to the capital.
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