Fu Nian quickly withdrew his hand, as if he had been shocked, and moved towards the edge of the bed.
“I didn’t mean to…” he explained weakly and palely before quickly turning his gaze away.
He had just wanted to reach out and comfort Chu Zhaoyi, who seemed to be trapped in a nightmare.
As a result….
It seemed it wasn’t a nightmare.
The sensation of a burning touch and the subtle feeling through the clothes still lingered in his palm. The scorching breath continued to brush against his face, and Fu Nian could feel that the person in front of him was suppressing something.
“This subordinate will first…”
Before he could finish his sentence, he suddenly felt himself being grabbed from behind. The grip was strong, leaving him no room to struggle.
He hadn’t had a chance to speak yet when a hoarse and low voice spoke against his forehead, “You have the guts to touch me, but not the guts to take responsibility? You want to run away?”
“This subordinate really didn’t mean to, it’s not…” Fu Nian’s words were cut off before he could finish as he felt the man in front of him intentionally moving closer.
With their bodies pressed together, every part of their body temperature could be felt, and the thin inner robe couldn’t block anything.
Fu Nian couldn’t continue speaking, so he closed his mouth and listened to the agitated breathing next to him, thinking quickly.
During this period, he had indeed been feeling uncomfortable. Even in the previous life, even with injuries that prevented him from bending over, as long as his lips weren’t severely injured, he had never made Chu Zhaoyi suffer, always diligently fulfilling his duty beyond being a Shadow Guard.
But now, the occasional inexplicable nausea was already hard for him to endure, not to mention…
“Since it was unintentional, why are you so nervous?” Chu Zhaoyi said, his hand unabashedly pushing aside the thin fabric of the inner robe. His fingers accurately touched the indentation at Fu Nian’s waist, gently caressing the removed mark.
Fu Nian gritted his teeth, and his body instinctively shrank.
A little over half a month ago, when they recognized each other, it was the same. One second he was shouting and raging, but as soon as his waist was touched, it was like a switch had been turned off, and he instantly became silent.
When he regained his composure, Fu Nian suddenly changed his previous retreat.
Since Chu Zhaoyi was leaning towards him, he leaned in closer.
Pressing his lips near the soft earlobe, Fu Nian lowered his voice and said, “I was flustered because it’s been a long time, and my skills in serving you have become rusty… especially after the last incident, I was afraid of displeasing you.”
After speaking, he saw Chu Zhaoyi’s icy expression freeze for a moment, clearly not expecting him to say that.
Then, the aggressiveness in Chu Zhaoyi’s gaze seemed to diminish slightly.
Fu Nian continued, “So please, don’t be agitated, give me some time to recall. This subordinate promises to let you…” He hesitated at the last words, remembering the dialogue he had recently read in the book, and with immense embarrassment, he whispered them into Chu Zhaoyi’s ear.
After saying that, Fu Nian felt Chu Zhaoyi’s breath suddenly become heavier, and he gritted his teeth, enduring the burning sensation on his cheek. “So please, Your Majesty, release me. This way, I can better… make you, make you… unable to leave the bed.”
From the earlobe to the neck, it burned intensely, and Fu Nian clenched his fists.
Sure enough, the restraint behind him loosened.
“When did you become so obedient?”
Fu Nian didn’t answer, and without waiting for Chu Zhaoyi to react, he rolled over and leaped off the bed, grabbing Chu Zhaoyi’s shoes and socks and running out.
He didn’t specify which thing made Chu Zhaoyi unable to leave the bed.
As expected, within three seconds, Fu Nian heard a roar from behind him.
Fu Nian had no intention of turning back.
“Why did you take Zhen’s shoes?”
“Ugh….It’s so cold…”
“Fu Nian! Give them back to me!”
Fu Nian breathed a sigh of relief as he reached the door of the bedroom.
Even though there was a floor heater burning in the room, the floor was much colder than the body temperature in the winter night. Chu Zhaoyi had grown up in a ceremonial environment, and Fu Nian was sure that he wouldn’t chase after him barefoot, so he boldly used this trick.
“Imperial Guard Lian, why did you come out? Just now… His Majesty was shouting, whose name was he calling?” Outside the bedroom, a palace maid who was on duty stood up when she saw him running out, not daring to doze off. She asked, a bit bewildered.
Fu Nian suppressed his facial expressions and spoke calmly, “His Majesty, earlier was trapped in a nightmare and mistook me for someone else. But now, everything is fine. He has fallen asleep. Please, don’t disturb His Majesty’s rest by entering.” He paused intentionally here and continued, “Also, there were some stains on His Majesty’s boots, so I took the liberty of removing them. Please, kindly pass these to the laundry department.”
“Very well, I’ll take care of it,” the young palace maid replied without any suspicion, taking the shoes and socks from him.
“Thank you,” said Fu Nian with a respectful nod before quickly making his way back to his own quarters.
As he reached the courtyard gate, Fu Nian couldn’t contain his amusement any longer.
He burst into laughter, feeling an unparalleled joy. It was a simple, pure happiness that he had never experienced before.
Indeed, it was even more delightful than he had imagined.
After laughing for a while, Fu Nian returned to his room with light-hearted steps.
The first snow of the season had fallen overnight, leaving a thick layer of snow in front of his door.
For nearly a month now since his return to the palace, he had been feeling unwell. He wasn’t sure if it was due to the onset of winter or some other reason, but this persistent discomfort seemed to shadow him. However, most of the time, it didn’t hinder his daily life.
Exhaling a warm breath, he watched as the white mist dissipated into the air.
Hearing about the snowfall today, he had planned to leave the palace.
One reason was that he was accustomed to the harsh cold and snow, so even if he encountered Fu Zhen or other Imperial Guards or spies tracking him, he had the advantage to escape. Another reason was that he wanted to visit an outside medical clinic on his way to the palace.
Although the palace physicians were skilled, they would undoubtedly report all his physical conditions to Chu Zhaoyi.
Since the incident in the bedchamber when he played a prank on Chu Zhaoyi, he hadn’t dared to apologize. Now, with the New Year approaching and Chu Zhaoyi busy with his duties, often not returning to the Chengyuan Hall at night, it seemed like the right time to make amends.
After leaving the palace, he carefully reviewed the address provided in the clues given to him by Rendong and then quickly made his way toward the outskirts of the capital.
Knowing that there would be snow today, Fu Nian had chosen a pure white cloak to blend into the snowy surroundings. However, he felt that his steps today were not as light as usual, whether it was because of the heavy rabbit fur or some other reason.
When he arrived at the private school in the suburbs, the snow was almost up to his calves. There were hardly any pedestrians on the streets. Fu Nian knocked on the door and waited for a response.
After a while, a middle-aged woman opened the door. Despite her middle age, her demeanor and posture suggested that she had come from a prosperous background in her youth.
Seeing her posture, Fu Nian thought that he had found the right person.
“Excuse me, guest, you…”
Before the woman on the other side could finish her sentence, Fu Nian pulled off his hood and extended his prosthetic right hand.
“!” The woman, upon seeing this hand, paused for a moment, her breath catching. After a few seconds, she cautiously asked, “Your… your right leg, too, is it…”
Fu Nian didn’t wait for her to finish and rolled up the pants on his right leg, revealing the stone-made prosthetic limb.
Before he could say anything, the woman exclaimed loudly, “Ghost! There’s a ghost here!”
“Quiet!” Fu Nian hurriedly closed the door to avoid the attention of the neighbors.
After shouting, Fu Nian also realized that he had frightened her. He urgently tried to think of a way to prove that he was a living person.
Suddenly, he had an idea. He took out the Fuguang Blade and made a small cut on his fingertip. “You see, I have blood. I am alive.”
However, as soon as she saw the blood, the woman’s screams became even more frantic, “Ghost! Help!”
After a chaotic few moments, Fu Nian finally managed to sit down on a chair, wiping the blood from his fingertip with a handkerchief provided by the woman.
During the silence that followed, Fu Nian heard the woman’s sobbing. “Sorry for frightening you, Miss Chun’e. I have some questions I’d like to ask you.” Fu Nian then pushed a prepared envelope with money and a small silk box towards her. He glanced briefly at the trembling woman and kept his head down.
“Lord Fu, back then, I… I was the one who dressed you up, no, I mean, I helped you put on the phoenix crown and red robe,” Chun’e, still in shock, stammered as she spoke, reluctant to touch the money and silk box. “And later on, I reached the age to leave the palace.”
It made sense.
Fu Nian scratched his head, trying to put himself in her shoes. It did sound quite frightening.
After she finished crying, Fu Nian explained the reason for his visit. He briefly mentioned where he had come across her name and what information he was hoping to obtain.
He added, “I apologize for any inconvenience Miss. If you provide the information I need, consider this money a deposit. The final payment will be made to your satisfaction.”
Chun’e shook her head.
“You can’t tell me?”
“It’s not that. It’s just that I don’t know. All I know is that after you were poisoned… what you mentioned in the ‘records’ doesn’t match what happened. You were lying in the bedroom at the time, and none of us, including me, rarely entered it. Even if we did, it was only to leave food and medicine outside the folding screen at the entrance, so we couldn’t see your condition. Only His Majesty and that wandering sorcerer frequently went in and out.”
Fu Nian: “Continue speaking.”
“On the first day that the wandering sorcerer arrived, His Majesty looked very solemn. But on the second day, you could tell that His Majesty had relaxed somewhat. However, the contents of the conspiracy between His Majesty and the wandering sorcerer were still unknown to us servants. After that… we only saw the wandering sorcerer, His Majesty, and you, all in closed seclusion within the palace for two days. During those two days, we servants couldn’t enter, and only Li Gonggong went in once, but he came out within half a quarter-hour. After that, we saw you alive and kicking, even arguing with His Majesty. If you’re asking how you recovered from the poisoning and who helped you deal with all those various toxins and poisons, I truly don’t know.”
Fu Nian: …..
Indeed, it was understandable that the palace maids who left the palace would not be fully informed.
But Fu Nian had one question.
According to Chun’e, it seemed that someone had implanted the Gu in him during those three days.
But how could there have been only three people present—himself, Chu Zhaoyi, and that sorcerer? It was highly unlikely that the sorcerer would willingly bear the danger of carrying out such a dangerous task for him.
“I have another question,” Fu Nian said, furrowing his brows. “Can you describe this ‘wandering sorcerer’? What did he look like?”
“I don’t know who he was, only that he was a young man. He always wore a face cover, so I couldn’t see his appearance. There weren’t any distinctive features, but I do know he carried a longsword by his side and never took off his weapons. Despite being a wandering sorcerer, he dressed elegantly, usually in pale blue or light blue robes. He looked like a refined young scholar.”
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