Chapter 4 One Spring Night Part 1
In Wende Hall, the eunuch Liu Quan knelt on the ground and carefully picked up the monument harshly thrown on the ground by Emperor Murong Xiu.
He did not dare to raise his face:
“Your Emperor, please quell your anger. It is not good for your health.”
He has served the emperor for five to six years, and it had been a long time since the emperor has been this angered.
What happened today?
Liu Quan kept an eye on him, then quietly glanced at the relic when he was cleaning up. When he saw it, he called out an apology to Buddha in his heart.
Murong Xiu was sitting on the dragon chair with a gloomy face. His hand with its distinct joints held the ink brush. His knuckles were a little white because of the strong grip. After a long time, he passed on a few words heavily.
After writing, Murong Xiu’s expression worsened.
Liu Quan was nervous. Suddenly, a knock on the door: “Your Majesty, General Yan is here.”
Murong Xiu’s expression changed and he gave Liu Quan a meaningful look. The old eunuch resumed a docile appearance as if all matters were of no concern to himself.
Yan Changqing stepped into the hall. He shouted “long live His Majesty”, kneeled and saluted.
Before he got up, Yan Changqing saw a flower in front of him, then he was hugged. Yan Changqing patted the man’s back lightly:
“Your Majesty, that is not appropriate.”
“What etiquette, it’s just the two of us. Whoever can’t stand it will be dragged out and beheaded.”
Yan Changqing raised his eyes. He hadn’t seen him for over two years. The young emperor in front of him seemed older and more mature.
The childishness on his face had faded away, and he had gradually become a responsible and silent emperor. The corners of his eyes and eyebrows were full of the spirit of an emperor who looked down on everything. He couldn’t recall anymore what that “little brother” who was chasing after him daily years ago was like.
The court ladies and eunuchs on the side had already served a delicious feast: old ginseng wine, tortoise and snake tonic soup, White tree pig lung soup, angelica black-bone chicken, pig blood and sea cucumber.
They were all tonic dishes.
Yan Changqing: “…Your Majesty, this minister was not injured this time.”
“Even if you didn’t get hurt, you still have to nourish yourself with supplements!”
Murong Xiu couldn’t help but put a piece of pig blood into Yan Changqing’s bowl. He complained: “D*mn barbarian, daring to go wild in the main hall.”
If it weren’t for the temper snow stones, he would have thrown the blatantly provocative Dongyun Prince on death row.
Yan Changqing raised his head. He felt that for a moment, the Murong Xiu who had always been gentle and intelligent in his memory had a fierce and decisive look in his eyes.
He must have seen the wrong thing.
Suddenly thinking of something, Yan Changqing put down his bowl and chopsticks. With a serious expression, he continued: “This is the first time that Dongyun was willing to increase the portion of the temper snow stones to be sold. This minister is willing to endure the Dongyun, so the emperor must also be patient.”
Murong Xiu was taken aback for a moment: “Brother Changqing, do you already know?”
Yan Changqing glanced sideways at the table behind the azure dragon screen. The little eunuchs had just placed the relics that Murong Xiu had thrown in anger in order. In fact, before leaving the hall, he already knew that the lawless second prince of Dongyun, Helian Rongchuan, must have named him to be the special envoy for this temper snow stones transaction.
It seems that this prince still remembered the grievances from the Bei Rong camp. This special envoy position will be challenging to handle.
But for the sake of the Yan Kingdom, he would not hesitate to sacrifice his life, let alone, the Dongyun Prince making things difficult for him.
Yan Changqing smiled disdainfully. But he didn’t realize his handsome appearance and this confident smile were incredibly charming. Murong Xiu was a little dazed for a while.
There was a knock on the door.
It turned out to be the little eunuch from the sleep chambers. He was holding flower nameplates of the concubines, waiting for the emperor to choose someone to attend to him in bed.
Murong Xiu pushed the nameplates aside: “Zhen won’t go anywhere tonight. Go and clean up my sleeping chambers–” He turned his head to look at Yan Changqing with a smile: “Brother, since your general mansion is empty and has neither a wife nor a sweetheart, how about you stay at mine tonight? We can talk about the troops, just like when we were younger.”
Just like when we were younger.
Yan Changqing suddenly thought back to ten years ago. He was around the same age as Zong Jiao (8-14) then. His father had died in battle, and his mother followed not soon after. The previous Emperor first took pity on him and brought him into the harem to be raised by Concubine Xian. Concubine Xian already had a son, Murong Xiu, who was only a few months younger than him. Being of similar age, and like-minded, they were like real brothers. Nowadays, floating clouds in the sky are shaped like white clothes and instantly become like grey dogs (metaphor for the ever-changing world/ passing of time). Murong Xiu had also grown from the milk doll who called him “Big Brother Changqing” and became an emperor above 10,000s people.
Yan Changqing sighed, a sense of nostalgia filling his heart. It’s bad manners for adult generals to stay in the palace at night, so Yan Changqing resolutely declined. Murong Xiu could not do anything but accept this decision.
After leaving the imperial study Yan Changqing started to feel dizzy, the red palace lanterns seemed to have doubled in front of him. He concluded that the wine was too strong tonight. He had never been good at drinking, so he reluctantly drank a few glasses with Murong Xiu. Thus, Yan Changqing couldn’t win against alcohol and its effects. He pushed forward, but suddenly his body tilted and stumbled into a person’s arms.
The person carried the smell of agarwood which was unique to the imperial study. Yan Changqing’s only thought was that this was the little eunuch who came out to help him to bed, and told him in a daze, “Send me back home.” Then he fell into a drowsy sleep.
Late in the night.
The rear palace of the Imperial Study Room was filled with the faint smell of agarwood. Yan Changqing was always stationed on the border, so even in his sleep, he was very alert. The faintest noise could not escape his ears. However, this night, he slept extremely deep, failing to notice the movement around him.
Murong Xiu stood quietly by the bed, his eyes no longer pretending to be as clear compared to when facing Yan Changqing during the day. Instead, everything seemed a little complicated.
The shadow of the tree outside of the window moved, projecting Yan Changqing’s unsuspecting sleeping face. His profile was very handsome, with a tall and delicate nose, upturned eyes, and a beautifully-lined jaw and neck.
Further down: a snow-white, scrupulous collar which covered his delicate collarbone and chest.
Murong Xiu felt a small flame burning deep in his body.
His throat was a little dry.
This kind of feeling Murong Xiu was too familiar with, from the countless nights when he thought of Yan Changqing. Three thousand harem beauties, but no beauty could dispel this feeling. He knew this longing for Yan Changqing, the more it was suppressed, the more prosperous the burning ground. But after two years, his feeling had evolved into a prairie fire.
He had dismissed all his servants and maids in the palace.
Murong Xiu had secretly added a sufficient amount of nerve-calming drugs to Yan Changqing’s meals tonight. This medicine was the most beneficial to help recuperate those who were struggling with anxiety all year round and were mentally strained. However, it could also cause people to fall into a deep sleep.
So no matter what he did tonight, no one will know.
Except for Yan Changqing when he wakes up tomorrow.
In those crystal clear black eyes, Murong Xiu was an emperor, his friend, or his younger brother.
And nothing more than that.
Murong Xiu’s trembling fingers gently rubbed Yan Changqing’s long eyelashes and thin lips then moved down again but stopped.
With a sigh, Murong Xiu turned and walked out of the sleeping chambers.
It was snowing on this winter night. In the palace garden, tree branches were covered with snow, bending under its weight. Just like the crabapple tree that the two teenagers planted together outside the Imperial Concubine Xian’s palace.
When the wind blew, the snow would rustle and fall.
A very sweet sleep, but Yan Changqing still woke up automatically when Mao Shi (5-7am) arrived. As soon as he opened his eyes, he jumped awake. How did he return to the Imperial Study Room again!
Palace servants around him had no answers in regards to what happened and how he ended up back in this bed. A soft sedan had been parked outside the imperial study room to take him out of the palace. A court lady respectfully presented a card. Yan Changqing opened it and looked at it. It was from the second prince of Dongyun, who was on his way to discuss the temper snow stone business.
Why are these Dongyun people more anxious than the Yan Kingdom when they were seeking Dongyun’s business?
Looking down, Yan Changqing’s long brows furrowed.
The meeting place on the card was written upright in three large characters: Chunfeng Pavilion.
What kind of a hall was this?
Yan Changqing was stationed at the border all year round. Even when he returned to the capital, he was busy with official duties and was not familiar with the streets and lanes of the capital. He only occasionally heard of Merchant Guild Halls and Local Guild Halls, but he had never heard of Chunfeng Pavilion. He asked a few of his guards about it, but all of them shook their heads.
After leaving the palace, Yan Changqing had no choice but to ask a local from the capital for directions. However, whether it was a benevolent elder or a woman holding a child, their expressions would change when they heard the words “Chunfeng Pavilion”.They didn’t shake their heads and sigh or become angry while waving their walking sticks. Instead, they would tease: “Oh~~ Such a beautiful little brother is also a pervert!”
He asked around, confused. Yan Changqing turned around and saw a number of his bodyguards blushing. They looked like they wanted to talk but didn’t and wanted to laugh but didn’t dare to. He said: “Speak, where is it?”
A cool breeze swept across his back. The guards couldn’t help shivering.
Chunfeng Pavilion was not difficult to find. It was open on a corner of the most prosperous street in Sheng An city. It was a tall, richly ornamented building of 3 levels. A pair of couplets were pasted on both sides of the door. The first couplet “The bright moon shines in the world” and the second couplet “the spring breeze is in the capital across ten miles”, horizontally “Indulge in pleasure and forget home and duty”.
Outside the gate, a row of brightly-painted girls greeted the guests with a smile. Seeing a few young men suddenly approaching the door, especially the middle one, who was as handsome as a painting, scrambled to act shy while approaching. The female brothel keeper even familiarly greeted the guards: “Oh, these military masters are here again. Will you order the same girl this time or change to another?”
Yan Changqing stepped back and looked up at the red base signboard with gold letters.
That’s right, it was indeed the three characters of Chunfeng Pavilion.
Unexpectedly for him, Chunfeng Pavilion turned out to be a brothel.
Looking back at his few personal guards, he saw that they were desperately giving looks to the old female brothel keeper. They were surrounded by these beautiful birds but looked like they were pleading for the earth to swallow them whole.