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Ning Rou was not Li Ying’s first concubine. She entered the palace just half a year ago, but before that, she had already heard of Yun Qingci’s paranoid and jealous temperament.
She heard that at the beginning, the emperor still would persuade him, but later, the entire harem seemed to have become Yun Qingci’s sole domain. He could hit whoever he wanted to hit, and kill whoever he wanted to kill. Even if the emperor said something, it didn’t have any effect at all.
Not only did Yun Qingci want to kill people, he also liked to call them, the concubines who had ambitions to get close to the Son of Heaven, to watch. Ning Rou had a memory that was deeply ingrained in her. On the third day of her entering the palace, the Lord Empress sent someone to invite her over for tea.
She was very nervous and didn’t want to go, but the person who came said coldly: “Lord Empress has given the order. If Concubine Ning doesn’t follow, I’m afraid she won’t be able to bear the consequences.”
Concubine Ning could only bite the bullet.
On that day, Yun Qingci was punishing a palace slave. This palace slave had a very good life. His hands were cleverer than a woman’s, and he was very good at combing one’s hair. He was Li Ying’s close attendant at the time. Ning Rou heard that he had the intention of climbing the emperor’s bed.
In fact, from Li Ying’s point of view, that slave was probably just a minion who combed his hair, but Yun Qingci had never been able to stand someone who coveted his Son of Heaven, so, he didn’t even hesitate.
Yun Qingci ordered people to bring chairs for them, and everyone watched the punishment together.
The palace slave really had some means. When he was disciplined, he actually attracted the emperor to come in person. He cried bitterly for Li Ying for help, insisting on his innocence.
Li Ying ascended the steps and stood beside the Lord Empress, his tone faintly coaxing: “He’s just a little eunuch, one of many. Spare his life. In the future, I won’t let him comb my hair.”
“Just a little eunuch?“ Yun Qingci stared straight at him: “That’s not what he’s just said in front of me.”
The palace slave cried and begged, “This little one doesn’t understand what Lord Empress is talking about. This little one absolutely doesn’t have any ideas about His Majesty. Please, Your Majesty, believe me!”
Li Ying turned to look at them for confirmation, and everyone shook their heads one after another. No one knew what the slave had said to Yun Qingci. When they came, he was already pressed to the bench.
Li Ying reached his hand to pull Yun Qingci, and the latter obeyed and followed him. Not long after, the two came out together, and Li Ying said, “Let him go.”
The concubines breathed out a sigh of relief.
The palace slave was overjoyed, kowtowed again and again, and thanked the emperor frantically.
Li Ying told him: “You should thank Lord Empress.”
The palace slave glanced at Yun Qingci and knocked his head reluctantly: “Thank you, Lord Empress, for your kindness.”
It seemed that this matter had been settled.
The palace slave straightened and limped out. When he passed by the guards with swords, he suddenly heard Yun Qingci shout: “Wait.”
Unexpectedly, Yun Qingci quickly walked forward, came up to the palace slave and stared at him for a few moments.
Clasping the guard’s sword with his thin white fingers, Yun Qingci suddenly waved his wide sleeves.
A concubine screamed.
Li Ying took a few steps down.
The palace slave clutched his neck that spurted blood and fell down without saying a word.
“You promised me not to kill him.”
“He’s just a minion.” Yun Qingci looked directly at Li Ying: “What would you keep him for?”
“You said you believed me,” Yun Qingci said. “If you believed me, you wouldn’t make me let him go!”
There was a crisp ‘clang’ sound.
With hatred in his tone, he threw the blood-stained sword at Li Ying’s feet.
Yun Qingci used a sword to kill a person in front of Li Ying. No one expected it. Ning Rou was so scared that she went back and fell ill for several days.
At the time, she was afraid that with Yun Qingci’s temperament, she would not survive till the end of the month. But she quickly discovered that, as Yun Qingci said, Li Ying did not believe him.
Ning Rou once saw a concubine who had just entered the palace fall down in front of the emperor, and then she cried and told Li Ying that Yun Qingci tripped her.
Li Ying didn’t blame Yun Qingci, but didn’t care about his explanation either. Instead, he ordered the concubine to be sent to the Imperial Hospital, and walked past Yun Qingci indifferently.
Although Ning Rou disdained using such an inferior method since she was eight years old, she still plucked up the courage to imitate it once for the sake of being pampered. Li Ying didn’t care about Yun Qingci, but he later warned her lightly: “Don’t provoke Lord Empress again.”
At that time, Ning Rou realized that it was not that the emperor didn’t know the tricks played by the people below. No matter whether Yun Qingci was innocent or guilty, Li Ying didn’t mind embarrassing him.
Maybe it was because he was afraid of the power of the Prime Minister’s Mansion, maybe he just didn’t like Yun Qingci, or maybe it was because Yun Qingci had been riding roughshod over him for too long. He habitually didn’t dare to conflict with his Lord Empress and could only use this cold and violent way to defend his family status as a husband and his dignity as the Son of Heaven.
It was a little sad, but also a little ridiculous.
But no matter what, in her eyes, Yun Qingci had become the paper tiger who had to be treated politely, but there was no need to really care about him.
Look, his eyes are terrifying, the emperor must reprimand him again.
Ning Rou tried to look innocent and timid.
In the past, Yun Qingci used to think it was disgusting for a woman to look like this, but now he suddenly found a bit of cuteness in it. He raised the corners of his mouth and calmly apologized: “I’m sorry…”
Li Ying, who was standing with his back to them, turned around and interrupted Yun Qingci’s words: “What was terrible?”
Yun Qingci: “?”
Li Ying’s eyes were gloomy, and his tone was cold: “If you dare to frame Lord Empress, you should be punished. Come.”
Ning Rou thought he was joking.
Yun Qingci thought so too.
Someone came in soon, and Li Ying said, “Drag her out, hit her fifty boards and drive her out of the palace.”
Yun Qingci: “?”
He looked at Li Ying suspiciously. Concubine Ning was already seized. She finally realized that Li Ying was serious, and her beautiful face lost its color: “Your Majesty, Your Majesty, this concubine knows that she was wrong, Your Majesty, spare my life, Your Majesty!!”
She was dragged out against her will, and her Momo immediately knelt down and hit her head on the floor: “Your Majesty, Your Majesty please be merciful! Concubine Ning had no evil intentions, she never deliberately conspired. Please be kind, Your Majesty! Your Majesty, forgive her!!”
“Drag her out and beat her, too.”
Concubine Ning was pressed on the punishment bench, and when she looked up and saw her Momo also being dragged out, her heart went cold. She struggled to get up, but she was held down by the eunuchs.
She was shivering, tears running down her cheeks: “Your Majesty please be merciful! Please be merciful, Your Majesty! This concubine won’t dare anymore, this concubine won’t dare anymore!”
Her wailing filled the hall, and Yun Qingci said in confusion, “This is…”
“Is it disturbing you?” Li Ying ordered again: “Block her mouth.”
“Wait.” Yun Qingci had a rare expression on his face as he walked down the steps. The woman on the bench had her hair messy, her golden hairpin fell to the ground, and her eyes were dim with tears. She used to be his biggest opponent in his previous life.
Ning Rou looked at him, as if she was seeing a lifeline: “Lord Empress, Lord Empress, I was wrong, I won’t dare anymore, please don’t beat, it hurts, it hurts… Lord Empress, I was wrong…”
In his previous life, Ning Rou managed to be promoted to an imperial concubine. In addition to the support of the forces of the Grand Commander’s Mansion and her father’s mansion, she also had the courage to risk her life. While she was afraid of Yun Qingci, she kept provoking him. In order to prevent the harem from becoming Yun Qingci’s sole domain, Li Ying could only uphold another person to counterbalance Yun Qingci. Other concubines did not dare, and Li Ying did not want to personally conflict with Yun Qingci, so he could only uphold Ning Rou.
Ning Rou was just Li Ying’s sword, but it was undeniable that this sword was used very well, and it could stab Yun Qingci’s heart accurately every time.
Now Yun Qingci didn’t care anymore, so the sword was scrapped.
But it was a pity it was scrapped like this.
“It’s alright,” Yun Qingci said, “It’s enough.”
The eunuch in charge of the punishment stopped and hesitated, looking at the emperor.
Yun Qingci’s cloak was untied and hanging loosely on his shoulders, making him appear lazy and gentle. The silver brocade boots stepped on the snow and made a crunching sound.
Ning Rou was lying on the bench. Tears had already wetted her entire face. She kept sobbing, raising her head to look at Yun Qingci, her eyes filled with fear: “Lord Empress, I was wrong, and I will never dare again.”
Silver boots stopped in front of her. Ning Rou hugged the bench tightly in fear.
“I was wrong, I was wrong, Lord Empress, don’t, don’t kill me…”
Her delicate, incomparably beautiful face shone through the film of tears. Yun Qingci took out a handkerchief and handed it over. “Your makeup is being ruined.”
Ning Rou was dumbfounded.
Yun Qingci’s gentleness had always been given only to the emperor. Some people said that he was like a rare treasure that the gods sent to the Son of Heaven. Although his looks were stunning, earning a smile from him was just a silly dream for a normal person.
Was this still Yun Qingci?
Why did he treat her so well?
Ning Rou hesitated for a long time before timidly reaching out for his handkerchief.
The bench under her was suddenly kicked heavily, and she fell down in the snow, whimpering in distress.
Li Ying’s wide palm wrapped Yun Qingci’s hand and the handkerchief together. Looking at Ning Rou indifferently, he said coldly: “Why aren’t you thanking him?”
The Momo crawled over quickly, stretching out her hand to help Ning Rou up. Ning Rou shrank her head and knelt down. “Thank you for your kindness, Lord Empress.”
Ning Rou was a little uncertain. Go, go where? Should she go back to the Full Moon Pavilion, or go out of the palace?
She still remembered Li Ying’s words about expelling her from the palace.
Yun Qingci said, “Why don’t you help Concubine Ning back to the palace as soon as possible?”
The meaning of this was that she could continue to stay in the palace.
After watching Concubine Ning leave, Yun Qingci glanced at Li Ying. The other man looked at him for a moment and lowered his eyes.
Yun Qingci followed his look and bent down, picking up the golden hairpin that Concubine Ning had dropped, saying, “This golden hairpin is worthy of beauty. Your Majesty will take it to her tonight, right?”
Li Ying pursed his lips and said, “What I just said was true. I want to drive her out of the palace.”
“She dared to lie in front of you and me, and deserves a heavy punishment.”
It was really getting more and more strange.
Yun Qingci raised his chin slightly, and his clear eyes filled with interest: “In the past two years, this kind of thing happened more than once, why is Your Majesty suddenly pursuing it?”
Yun Qingci waited patiently for him to speak.
He knew that Li Ying couldn’t make anything out of this ‘I’. Yun Qingci could see clearly that Li Ying, like Empress Dowager Zhang, believed that he, unfair and irrational, was the real weapon to restrain the Prime Minister’s Mansion.
After all, Yun Qingci thought, Li Ying couldn’t say bluntly: ‘For your own good, I hope you will go crazy for me like before’?
Li Ying really didn’t continue with ‘I’. He said, “Let’s go into the hall for dinner and chat while eating…”
After a pause, he asked, “Okay?”
“No talking when eating or sleeping,” Yun Qingci reminded him: “The last time I wanted to chat with you while eating, you warned me like this.”
Li Ying’s eyelashes fluttered; he was silent for a moment, then said, “Before, I was wrong.”
“Before, you were right.” Yun Qingci recalled himself in his previous life and said, “I have been crazy for too long, and you got tired, which makes sense.”
Li Ying looked at him.
“But Your Majesty,” Yun Qingci stared at him: “No matter what you think, no matter what you do…”
“I will never go crazy for you again.”
The cold wind blew, blowing the snow on the ground in white swirls around them.
Yun Qingci smiled softly, as if he had unloaded an infinite burden, and turned around carelessly.
Suddenly a heavy, low voice reached him: “Then change me.”
“Change me to go crazy for you.”