Just three more chapters, just three more chapters, just three more… Let me brainwash myself that the end is near (70+ pages T-T)
Chapter 68: After Obtaining Love (III)
Although this Concubine Ran’s attitude and appearance wasn’t as comparable as the other two, she had the most tricks and her schemes ran deeply.
For her to have her current position was not only because her father was the High Official of the Ministry of Appointments, the other important reason was becase she knew how to use tricks and schemes to gain a foothold in the harem.
Of course, Ling Xiao did not believe her tricks and schemes could be hidden from the Emperor.
But since the Emperor allowed her to walk here to this day, then it meant he could tolerate her tricks and scheming,
This kind of woman that has both tricks and schemes, for her to suddenly pay a visit today isn’t anything good.
Ling Xiao waved his head, trying to reject her visit.
But Xiao Lizi who had informed her arrival just had to add on, “King Consort, before your arrival, it was always Concubine Ran who had all of His Majesty’s love. Though His Majesty loves you now, Concubine Ran was just disregarded, so doing this isn’t…”
Ling Xiao frowned and looked at Xiao Lizi, annoyed. He also felt it was a bit strange, just when had Xiao Lizi got on such good terms with Concubine Ran, to speak up on her behalf?
He stared at Xiao Lizi, full of curiosity.
Xiao Lizi cowered a bit from his staring, panic showing on his face. Ling Xiao’s eyes brighten at the sight and he approached him, trying to take a closer look at the other’s expression. But Xiao Lizi became aware and quickly lowered his head respectfully, like he was trying to apologize, when in fact, he was just doing so to hide from Ling Xiao’s line of sight.
Ling Xiao narrowed his eyes, stood up and walked until he was right in front of Xiao Lizi. He then rounded the cowering and kneeling, eying his trembling body. His annoyed mood grew and came out.
“Xiao Lizi, apart from when the Emperor is at court, you pretty much never come to my place right?”
Ling Xiao gussed then mockingly asked, “So what are you trying to do today? The Emperor’s morning court is pretty much over, so why is Steward Li not present by the Emperor’s side and serving him, and ends up at my place?”
Ling Xiao did not call him “Xiao Lizi”, rather, he called his by his title “Steward Li”, which flustered the other more.
Ling Xiao sneered at the sight and did not give him the chance to explain himself, he continued on, “And such a coincidence, my palace is usually unfrequented, yet the moment you come, this Concubine Ran also comes.”
Xiao Lizi was so scared by that point his face lost all color and his lips were blanch, he was trembling so hard he could speak a word.
Ling Xiao stared at him without blinking, while he grimly laughed in his heart.
“Ever since I became King Consort, besides the servants in this courtyard, there haven’t been any of the harem concubines visiting me. I thought, I am a King Consort after all, how could the concubines of the harem not be curious? Since no one dared to come, then someone must have ordered it. Who that person is, I believe Steward Li doesn’t need me to say out loud.”
While he spoke, he saw that Xiao Lizi’s face really did turn for the worse. This confirmed even more that his guess was correct. For his palace to be so peaceful, it was because the Emperor had laid down the order. Looks like he had really done a lot for him. Ling Xiao’s mood turned better at the thought.
But when he thought of Concubine Ran outside the door and the kneeling Xiao Lizi who dared to lie to him, Ling Xiao’s anger flared up.
His face was cold as he further asked, “For this Concubine Ran to be able to come to my palace and ask for an audience, how much effort have you used Steward Li? I am very curious, just how many benefits did she give you, for you to help her like this?”
Xiao Lizi shuddered in spite of himself, and could only keep kowtowing, stutteringly begging for forgiveness.
His appearance was very pitiful.
Ling Xiao disdainfully looked at him, his gaze ice cold, “Back then in the warehouse, you incited me to take that jade ornament, did you already know it was the Emperor’s ‘taboo’? You want to set me up don’t you?”
“No…I wasn’t… This servant…wronged….” Xiao Lizi repeatedly shook his head, trying to refute his words, but he didn’t dare to deny again after being stared at by his cold eyes.
Ling Xiao sneered, this Xiao Lizi had followed him for a good period of time, yet he wanted to kill him.
He was long suspicious of that jade ornament. In his past lifetime, he knew there was such a jade ornament, but he had never seen it before and the Emperor never spoke to Mo Qi about it. He also did not give Mo Qi the warehouse key, so up to this life, he has never been on guard against it.
But this Xiao Lizi was different, in the time he wasn’t by the Emperor, the other had always been by the Emperor. The Emperor even gave him the key, so if Xiao Lizi tried to say he didn’t know about the jade, how could Ling Xiao believe it?
Ling Xiao mockingly smiled, this Xiao Lizi thought he would die, but he would have never guessed that the Emperor would not punish him.
He coldly snorted once, looking down at Xiao Lizi and squashed down his rage to ask, “Do you want to confess yourself, or go see the Emperor?”
The moment Ling Xiao mentioned the Emperor, Xiao Lizi was so frightened he was paralyzed on the ground, almost losing his head out of fear.
“No… King Consort… King Consort, please spare my life! You can’t let His Majesty know… this servant… this servant was also forced…”
Seeing how Xiao Lizi was starting to speak the truth, Ling Xiao coldly ordered, “Explain from the beginning.”
“This servant… this servant was incited by Concubine Ran…” Xiao Lizi started to speak in a soft voice, “Back when you’ve returned, this servant had once told you Concubine Ran’s schemes runs the deepest. But this servant did not know someone heard it and passed it onto her. So this servant was called to her.”
While he spoke, his face was very upset, he seems to be regretting not clearing away the surrounding people when he said those words. Ling Xiao listened and carefully identified if the expression on his face was faked or genuine.
“Concubine Ran threatened this servant, saying this servant has slandered her and wanted to punish this servant. Although this servant is a servant by the Emperor’s side, Concubine Ran is still His Majesty’s concubine, and therefore a master. She was also the previous favorite, so this servant in a moment of fear…”
“Took her order?” Ling Xiao continued his line for him, and Xiao Lizi did not admit or deny it, he only respectfully kept his head low to ask for forgiveness.
Ling Xiao sneered at the scene, “Xiao Lizi, you weren’t such a cowardly person before.”
While he spoke, he also squatted down, then forcefully raised up Xiao Lizi’s lowered head.
“I once taught you, if you wanted to hide something, then speak in half truths. But I have never said to do so to me before.”
As he spoke, he tighten his hold on the other’s chin, causing him pain. But Xiao Lizi did not dare to cry out as tears slowly filled his eyes.
Ling Xiao unfeelingly watched and angrily asked, “What, you still want try and hide it now that it has come to this?”
Xiao Lizi trembled, “King… King Consort…”
Ling Xiao once again put in force.
Xiao Lizi slightly struggled, “King Consort… mer…cy.”
“Hmph.” Ling Xiao mocked him with a smile, “You don’t even dare to tell me the truth, and still try to beg for mercy?”
Like he was venting, he threw Xiao Lizi aside and called out, “Servants.”
“Your servants are here.” In a short moment, An Xiang, followed by An Yong while wearing Ji Xiang and Fu Kang’s disguise appeared.
Ling Xiao said with a dark expression, “You guys watch him, I will go out and meet Concubine Ran.”
“Young Master, just Fu Kang would be enough to watch him. This servant will go out with you alright?” Ji Xiang and Fu Kang exchanged a look and Ji Xiang said back.
Ling Xiao paused. The people in his palace, besides these two that keeps watch over him in secret, the other people had all been sent away by Xiao Lizi. It would not be proper to go see Concubine Ran with no one by his side..
He thought for a bit and nodded, agreeing to Ji Xiang’s suggestion.
When Ling Xiao left with Ji Xiang, Concubine Ran was bringing along her maid to look over the place.
She seems to think that this palace is very fresh experience and toured the place. She would even reach out from time to time to rub the objects arranged on the table.
Her face held both delight and complaint.
Ling Xiao controlled himself, gave a coughed, and immediately plastered a smile on his face as he walked in.
“If Concubine Ran likes some of the items in my palace, why don’t I give some to you?”
“This lady hopes you are well King Consort.” When she heard his voice, she immediately turned around and saluted.
When she saluted, she slightly raised her eyes and looked at him. When she saw that the one behind him wasn’t Xiao Lizi, but Ji Xiang, she frowned but immediately buried it and assumed an appearance of not seeing anything. She respectfully and obediently waited for Ling Xiao to let her up.
But her slight actions did not bypass Ling Xiao’s sight and he slightly smiled, intending to embarrass her. He did not say she could get up, rather, he went around her and sat down.
Concubine Ran followed his movement and turned around, but she did not get up, continuing to kneel in front of Ling Xiao.
Ling Xiao raised the teacup on the table and rank it as he sized her up from the corner of his eye.
She was dressed in a red cotton dress, her makeup delicate and heavy while her posture enchanting, she was very charming.
If it were the old Ling Xiao who had not entered the palace and seen such a woman, then he would at least look at such a woman a few more times then compliment her. But the current Ling Xiao is in the palace, no matter if it was his past lifetime or his current one, he wouldn’t be in the mood to admire the Emperor’s women.
He silently said ‘The Emperor’s woman’, those three words in his chest and he suddenly felt a bit unwell. But the smile on his face remained without change.
Concubine Ran had knelt for a long time, and took the initiative to ask when she saw Ling Xiao still hasn’t responded, “King Consort?”
“Hm?” Ling Xiao gave a fake smile and responded, pretending to still wear a puzzled appearance, “What does Concubine Ran want to ask this King Consort? For what reason did Concubine Ran come here?”
Did those words mean he wanted her to keep kneeling and reply?
Concubine Ran’s face changed now, a burst of anger surge in her chest that she almost couldn’t keep down. But when she thought of how this man was the current favorite, she clenched her teeth and resisted with great difficulty.
She asked with false courtesy, “Can this lady stand up and speak?”
“You cannot.” Ling Xiao smiled and refused.
Concubine Ran was so surprised she raised her head to look at him. It looks like she had never thought Ling Xiao would so straightforwardly refuse her.
Ling Xiao sneered in his mind at the sight, lifting the teacup that was on the table and berated, “Who allowed you to raise your head?”
“……” Concubine Ran quickly lowered her head, her face even more ugly.
After seeing her, Ling Xiao languidly said, “Concubine Ran seems to have some complaints toward this King Consort. Since so, then you may leave.”
“!” Concubine Ran trembled, her face twisted.
She finally came here due to Steward Li, how could she leave just like that!
Many thoughts ran around and she took a deep breath. She first had to make Ling Xiao stay, so she smiled and spoke, “What is King Consort talking about? How could this lady dare to have any complaints toward you?”
“How could you dare? Heh…” Ling Xiao sneered, his eyes full of disdain as he looked down at the kneeling Concubine Ran, “Concubine Ran’s courage is great, how could you have things you don’t dare to do?”
“King Consort is laying it down too heavily, this lady is doing her best for both you and His Majesty. Your words are accusing this lady unjustly.”
“Heh…” Ling Xiao mockingly smiled and shook his head, “Concubine Ran, must you make this King Consort say it clearly? How you used drugs on the Emperor, how you threatened Xiao Lizi, how you planned to set up this King Consort, do you think this one knows nothing about it?”
Alarm rang in her mind and her body went rigid. After stopping for a few seconds, she finally stiffly returned, “This lady does not understand what King Consort means.”
Ling Xiao got up then walked in front of her and squatted down, mockingly asking, “Concubine Ran, you are a smart person and can play some tricks. But those small tricks can only deceive fools. Take a look, does this King Consort look like a fool you can deceive?”
With that said, he added another line, “If you can’t even hide from this King Consort, then do you think you can hide it from the Emperor?”
“……” Concubine Ran’s body went stiff again when she heard that line, her face turning deathly white in that moment.
Ling Xiao profoundly stated, “You best behave.”
Now that he was done speaking, he was about to cross over Concubine Xian and leave with Ji Xiang in tow when she suddenly got up and shouted at him.
Her expression and tone held none of the respect from before, rather, it turned menacing.
“Ling Xiao, what evil intentions do you have to threaten and slander this one!”
TL Note: She changed from the chenqie to bengong. Chenqie is used for females to address their lower statues, bengong is much higher.
Ling Xiao turned back, his eyes so cold that Concubine Ran trembled a bit and retreated at the sight. But she once again gathered her courage, “In any case, this one is still the Emperor’s concubine, you, who has no proof dares to slander this one, this one will report it to the Emperor!”
“Do as you wish.” Ling Xiao scoffed.
“You!” Concubine Ran’s anger spiked and she angrily stated, “Don’t think that just because the Emperor loves you, you can disregard the laws and morals! This harem is not yours to rule, it has Concubine Xian to manage!”
“How long would the Emperor love you? Besides the three concubines in the harem, there’s also the beauty, Hong Ye under Concubine Xian’s hands. They can all crush you!”
“That Hong Ye, is beautiful and skillful with her hands. The Emperor’s attitude towards her isn’t any less than to you. I believe that her entering the harem is just a matter of time, just wait for her to come, then your good days would be over!”
Ling Xiao’s eyes turned gloomy, Hong Ye was already something he was worried about. Now listening to what Concubine Ran was saying, although he knew she was just trying to instigate something, he still couldn’t help but burn with anger.
After seeing how Ling Xiao’s face turned worse, Concubine Ran knew that she had reached her purpose. Although she had to use an extreme way to do it, since she had her father’s protection, she could still live peacefully.
The more she thought, the more she felt secured since she had backing. Like a prideful peacock, with her head up and her chest forwards, she walked by Ling Xiao while holding onto the arm of her maid.
“Wait.” Ling Xiao’s deeper voice stopped her.
Concubine Ran arrogantly turned around, a proud expression on her face, “Is there any other matter King Consort? This lady is very busy.”
“Ha!” Ling Xiao was angered to the point he laughed.
He darkly stared at her, his cruel gaze like a hunting lion, freezing her to the spot.
Ling Xiao darkly smiled. What showed in his smile were spotlessly white and orderly teeth, yet in Concubine Ran’s eyes, they appeared like fangs that dripped with saliva, ready to pounce foward and tear open her throat at any moment.
She involuntarily drew back.
This Ling Xiao gave her the same oppressive feeling she would only get from the Emperor, a suffocating one.
“Ji Xiang, if Concubine Ran returns just like that, it would be seen as if we do not treat our guests well. Let’s leave her some memories. This King Consort thinks her face is pretty nice, destroy it.”
Just while Concubine Ran was flustered, her mind went into shock at what he just said. But more than shock was disbelief. She was one of the Emperor’s imperial concubines, even if he wanted to punish her, it would all depend on what the Emperor says. How could Ling Xiao dare to punish her without approval?!
She was in so much shock she couldn’t even retort. She could only retreat as she watched Ji Xiang walk towards her while holding the knife, her mouth constantly repeating, “It’s impossible. You wouldn’t dare, it won’t happen”. But she completely lost confidence in her words.
She pulled the maid she had brought with her to take the blow, but she was not fast enough against Ji Xiang’s quick hands.
A stab of pain came from her face and she could feel the sharp blade cutting open her tender skin, then her warm blood flowing down from it.
Just how important a beautiful appearance was in the cruel harem, no one was more clear about it than Concubine Ran.
Now that she could feel her appearance being destroyed, she lost control and screamed.
Ling Xiao frowned and covered his ears. He used a complaining face to look toward Ji Xiang, as if he was blaming her for provoking Concubine Ran too much.
But with Ling Xiao’s face slowly returning to normal, Ji Xiang knew that he was actually very satisfied with how she treated Concubine Ran.
“Alright, Ji Xiang, what are you still looking at? Throw out this crazy woman.” Ling Xiao coldly commanded her.
Ji Xiang accepted the order.
Ling Xiao turned, but then seem to have remembered something and turned back to say to her, “That’s right, Ji Xiang, those things that that crazy woman touched just now, send them all to Concubine Ran’s place and smash it.”
“……” Ji Xiang paused, her heart aching a bit as she looked at those items.
Those were all personally chosen by the Emperor and set up here, every single one were invaluable.
Ji Xiang looked at Ling Xiao and wanted to tell him how these items were innocent. But he had already turned and went back to his courtyard.
Ji Xiang had no other choice, she could only find people to move these items. One item after another were moved to Concubine Ran’s palace and smashed in front of the provoked Concubine Ran.
This matter quickly spread out.
But in a quarter of a time, the Emperor had arrived at Ling Xiao’s palace.