Chapter 41: Crisis Moment
Ling Xiao was suddenly startled. The hand he was using to stroke the zither string suddenly got cut and he took back his hand in pain.
He seemed to be hesitating on something and stared blankly, lost in his thoughts. The kneeling little eunuch hurriedly urged him when he saw no reaction: “Steward, you should prepare a little! The Emperor will be at Ning Xuan Palace in half a quarter!”
Ling Xiao heard this time and roused. Taking a deep breath, he pushed down the anxiousness within his heart and said: “I know, you can go.”
“…Yes.” The little eunuch clearly still had something he wanted to say, but seeing that Ling Xiao’s face wasn’t good, he closed his lips and respectfully left.
After the little eunuch left, Ling Xiao held his wound and walked to the table. On the table was dessert and wine Ling Xiao prepared for the Emperor. From his waist, he took out some medical powder. This was the cartilage powder medicine given to him by Qi Lin, the one that he once used on Fu Yujun. It would not harm the body, but it could make someone immobile for a period of time.
Ling Xiao poured it into the wine bottle on the table. This was especially prepared for the Emperor tonight.
Finishing these tasks, Ling Xiao ignited the sleep incense on the zither table. He had already taken medicine beforehand, so the sleep incense shouldn’t have any effect on him. However, it would be hard to say for to the Emperor that had taken cartilage powdered medicine.
With everything prepared, Ling Xiao once again sat in front of the zither case, looking at the seven-stringed zither absentmindedly.
If possible, he didn’t want to do this either.
However, the relationship between the Emperor and himself was built of top of lies. He really wanted to be honest with the Emperor, but he could not stake his life on it.
Steward Xu took care of the Emperor for nineteen years, and because of one lie, he was driven out of the palace.
The Prime Minister Household was so important, yet because of a lie, he was removed from office and driven out of the capital.
He, Ling Xiao, did not accompany the Emperor for many years, and was just an insignificant nobody. He simply did not have the confidence to be honest to the Emperor.
There was already nothing he could hesitate about. If he didn’t want to lose his life, then he had to leave the palace before his secret spread out.
With those thoughts, Ling Xiao’s gaze became firm, and he calmed himself. Spreading out a delicate finger, he started to strum the strings.
Fu Yujun admittedly could not be trusted, but he could use Fu Yujun’s identity.
As long as he borrowed Fu Yujun’s identity to leave the capital, Ling Xiao had countless ways to get away from Fu Yujun once they were far enough on the way to Shao Country…
Just as he was thinking of this, the sound of footsteps passed by the entrance and Ling Xiao cleared his mind, wholeheartedly throwing himself into playing the seven-stringed zither in front of him. This is the first time he played for the Emperor, and it should also be the last time.
The Emperor had just walked to the entrance of Ning Xuan Palace when he heard the sounds of a zither being played from within.
The sound of the zither rose, full of emotion and yearning, expressing one’s inner feelings. The Emperor slightly stopped and prevented the servants from announcing his arrival as he walked into the room.
Within the room, a single person was sitting in front of a zither table, his ten fingers lightly stroking the strings.
The strings lightly trembled and the clear melody of the zither flowed out pleasantly.
In front of the table was a lit incense burner that was gently burning. The smoke surrounded the zither table and gave the feeling that this place was a fairyland.
The Emperor watched this scene, his gaze gradually becoming deep.
The man sitting before him was dressed in white with elegant features and fine black hair that lightly fluttered. He looked just like an immortal. But those pure and limpid autumn eyes wandered, landed on him quietly a few times, and left. It tickled his heart.
His grace was clear, charming, and enchanting.
He hadn’t seen the little eunuch for a while and this little eunuch was becoming more and more beautiful.
The Emperor narrowed his eyes, the color of his double-pupil turning slightly darker as he moved forward to the man behind the zither table.
With an echoing “zheng”, Ling Xiao saw that the Emperor was about to walk in front of him, and he stopped his movements. Holding his wound, he got up with difficulty and was just about to salute to the Emperor.
The Emperor helped him up with both hands and pulled Ling Xiao into his embrace.
“Don’t be too polite, your body isn’t well yet. Why are you not resting some more?”
The Emperor seized Ling Xiao’s waist as he said that, his gaze sweeping past the injury on Ling Xiao’s chest. Seeing that it was not bleeding, he quietly looked away.
“……” Ling Xiao went quiet and looked down when he saw that.
The Emperor’s tone was just as caring as before, as if he never gave him the cold shoulder. Ling Xiao suddenly had the misconception that they were not on the same page. He did not know what he should say at the moment.
When the Emperor didn’t hear Ling Xiao’s reply, he slightly raised an eyebrow and looked down at him.
He saw that the little eunuch in his embrace had a pale face, sweat dotting his forehead, and slightly knit brows. He looked discontented and extremely tired.
The Emperor saw this and displeasure showed on his face. He sighed once and carried Ling Xiao to the bed: “You are injured, you don’t need to exhaust yourself like this.”
“Your Majesty… this servant…” Crying out in alarm at suddenly being carried, Ling Xiao went rigid, then found himself lying on the bed. The Emperor bent down and approached him, his hands on either side of Ling Xiao’s head, and his posture ambiguous.
Ling Xiao opened his eyes, watching the Emperor’s handsome face that was almost within reach, his heartbeat like thunder.
Xiao Lizi, who followed the Emperor in, quietly placed the tray in his hand on the table and left when he saw the scene.
On the tray, there was some swallow nest congee that a small maid from Concubine Ran’s palace offered to the Emperor when they were on their way to Ning Xuan Palace. The Emperor had Xiao Lizi accept it, so Xiao Lizi did not dare to deal with it as he pleased. He could only leave it on the table, waiting for the Emperor to remember it.
After he saw Xiao Lizi walk out, he and the Emperor were left in the room. Ling Xiao’s heart became restless. After all, it was quite easy to lose oneself to passion on a place such as a bed.
He struggled, wanting to get up, but the Emperor couldn’t be moved at all. Ling Xiao’s face was white, staring at the Emperor above him, he became agitated and his lips trembled. With a tone that carried some pleading, he called out: “Your Majesty…”
The little eunuch below him, bright eyes and white teeth, now had moist eyes that looked cautiously at him. It was just like a startled rabbit, truly adorable.
The Emperor’s heart softened, and he leaned in to give Ling Xiao’s pale lips a kiss, then got up.
Ling Xiao also rushed to follow him up. The Emperor pursed his lips when he saw that, his serene and deep eyes watching Ling Xiao.
Ling Xiao’s heart felt weak under his gaze and he gave a forced smile: “Your Majesty… why are you watching this servant so much?”
The Emperor heard the question and leaned against the bed, distancing himself from Ling Xiao a little, but he did not move his line of sight. After a while, the Emperor thoughtfully said: “We are thinking that you still haven’t made your preparations to serve Us.”
Ling Xiao stared blankly at what he said and immediately knelt on the bed to the Emperor, guilty saying: “Your servant knows his crime.”
He could not make out anger on the Emperor’s face. The Emperor’s expressions were profound and mysterious, as if his gaze was examining something.
Ling Xiao kept sneakily sizing up the Emperor’s expression. Seeing this, his mind was even more of a mess with no solution. His hands and feet were also weakening. If he weren’t kneeling on the bed, he probably would had already gone numb.
Just when Ling Xiao was almost unable to bear it, the Emperor moved his line of sight and walked to the table.
Ling Xiao sighed in relief and wiped the sweat on his forehead, climbing off the bed to follow the Emperor to the table.
When he had just walked to the table, he heard the Emperor say: “Have you never thought that, compared to not being prepared, your heavy injuries are a better excuse?”
The Emperor unexpectedly mentioned “excuse” and startled Ling Xiao. His knees immediately went soft, and he was already kneeling in front of the Emperor.
His heart that just calmed down started to pound again. Ling Xiao felt that the scene before him was a bit blurry.
The lights turned dimmer, shining on the indeterminate face of the Emperor and made him look even more profound and mysterious. Ling Xiao’s eyelid kept twitching, a dense feeling of unease in his heart.
He did not dare to say another word. He was afraid it would backfire like before. The more he talked, the more mistakes there were to pick out. He lowered head and glanced at the wine cup on the table. He clenched his teeth and frowned. He needed to think of a way to get the Emperor to drink the wine.
Just as he was thinking of this, the Emperor suddenly extended his hand to Ling Xiao.
Ling Xiao stared blankly and raised his eyes to look at the Emperor. What his gaze landed on was the Emperor’s chilly expression and this startled him. He quickly retracted his gaze and wiped his hand at the bottom of his clothes. Only after he wiped off the cold sweat on his palm did he reached out to hold the Emperor’s hand.
The Emperor held Ling Xiao’s hand and pulled strongly, bringing the kneeling Ling Xiao into his embrace, and setting on Ling Xiao his leg.
Ling Xiao’s body went rigid and his eyes saw that the corner of the Emperor’s mouth were pulled down…
The Emperor was angry and he was inwardly frightened. He stubbornly pushed down the panic within and relaxed himself.
The Emperor’s brows slightly relaxed, and he took the swallow nest congee Xiao Lizi left behind. He scooped up a spoonful and blew on it before carrying it to Ling Xiao’s mouth.
Ling Xiao stared blankly, the Emperor wanted to feed him food? Why?
He was obviously angry!
Although doubtful, he did not dare to refuse the food the Emperor offered to him. He could only brace himself and eat the swallow nest congee spoon by spoon. Just when he swallowed, the Emperor would bring another spoon to his mouth. Ling Xiao had no other choice but to keep eating until he could no longer taste it.
The Emperor did not say anything, and Ling Xiao did not dare to speak. He did not know what the Emperor was thinking about, and he also did not know what the Emperor intended.
After finishing the bowl of swallow nest congee, the Emperor finally spoke.
His voice was cold and cheerless, not warm or hot, yet causing a person’s whole body to go cold. He spoke: “Since you don’t want to serve Us, then, did you want to be honest with Us when you called Us over?”
The Emperor finally said those words. Ling Xiao tighten his fist, his heart pounding and aching. Ling Xiao endured and pursed his lips tightly.
He had long known that the time the Emperor deliberately gave him the cold shoulder and had not come to come visit him… was time given to him to prepare himself and be honest.
He was just always unwilling to confront the ambiguity between himself and the Emperor…
And nowadays, he brazenly requested the Emperor as he please, clearly showing his position. If he told the Emperor that the time he gave was already enough, then he would have to either be honest tonight or chose to serve the Emperor. If not, the Emperor would be hard to please.
It was already an enormous favor for a Sovereign King to give a little eunuch this much time to prepare.
Ling Xiao clenched his fist and frowned, lowering his head.
Ling Xiao’s silence seemed to have offended the Emperor. The Emperor coldly laughed and grasp Ling Xiao’s jaw, forcing Ling Xiao to face him.
“…Will you not tell Us, what you cannot give Us?”
Within the Emperor’s serene and deep double-pupils, a terrifying anger dyed his eyes. Facing these eyes, Ling Xiao shuddered and was intimidated and spellbound. He could not help his trembling, nor could he say anything.