Awwww, I finally get to use a picture of Jiu Ye with Yu Er. Too bad it’s due to some bad stuff befalling Yu Er that (1) she sorta brought on herself because she couldn’t look the other way, and (2) might be more deadly and devious than she ever considered. I think this is the chapter of Da Mo Yao where I really came to the realization that Yu Er is just not cut out for Chang An. She’s nowhere as smart as either Jiu Ye or Huo Qu Bing when it comes to sussing out political machinations, and she doesn’t have the cold-hearted cruelty needed to survive. I also think the city is slowly sucking the life out of her, because ultimately she is a free spirit and the desert is where she belongs.
Chapter 33: Deadly Plot
It felt like I was sleeping on clouds, light and airy, an indescribable feeling of comfort. I want to keep sleeping like this, but the tiny speck of alertness in my mind was telling me to wake up. I have to wake up no matter what. I felt like I had been split into two, one person laying in the clouds wanting to sleep, the other person watching the sleeping me and telling me to wake up. But the sleeping me wasn’t reacting, only getting more tired, so tired that I could tumble from the sky at any moment and smash into pieces.
My consciousness was starting to splinter, but the me in the sky was still struggling and calling “Jin Yu, you must wake up, you have to wake up. You can do this, so use all your strength to open your eyes. Use your strength, use your strength and you can wake up. You can do it……”
I can do it, I must do it. Someone is waiting for me! My eyes were as heavy as lead but I still did the most difficult task of opening my eyes. Jiu Ye stared at me with unbridled joy, unshed tears shining in his eyes. He pulled me into his arms “Yu Er, I knew you would wake up.”
Wei Ji smiled even as she was crying “Thank goodness Jiu Ye refused to wait until the morning to get you out. The moment he resolved the case, even in the middle of the night he asked the Emperor to release you. Otherwise even if I died one hundred times I wouldn’t be able to pay back my debt.”
Ri Chan silently watched me with a slight smile, but his eyes were also misty. Xiao Feng pointed at me “You women are such trouble, you only cause people to worry!” His voice appeared to catch in his throat and he turned and left the room. Looks like I really did take a turn to Hell and back, such that even with Jiu Ye’s unparallel medical skills wasn’t even able to guarantee that I would survive. My hands touched my stomach and I relaxed knowing he was safe.
Jiu Ye’s eyes are bloodshot and he looked uncharacteristically worn down. The normally elegant him was dressed in a wrinkled robe that looked like he hadn’t changed it in some time. I wanted to say “thank you”, but I know it’s not necessary. Those two words are too insignificant, and what I really feel inside, I don’t want him to know. So many things are best kept deep down in the deepest reaches of the heart, and saying it out loud will only impart more pain.
My parched throat asked “Is everything over?” Jiu Ye stared at me without blinking, appearing not to be listening to me. I was afraid to look at him and turned towards Ri Chan, who quickly answered “You’ve been unconscious for four days and nights, even the most earth shattering matter ought to have been resolved.” Ri Chan calmly explained “The jewel was a serving girl’s purposeful act at the banquet, she worked for the newly designated Yi Jie Shu, who wanted to use the opportunity to turn Empress Wei and Consort Li against each other so she could reap the benefits. Once this was all revealed, the serving girl killed herself, and Yi Jie Shu was stripped of her title and send to the Cold Palace.”
Li Yan may not have toppled Empress Wei, but she managed to get rid of another rival. Yi Jie Shu, that girl with the bright healthy smile, so different than Li Yan’s helpless beauty. She just received the Emperor’s favor and so soon she has been sacrificed under two warring powers and now sent to the Cold Palace.
My heart shook and I chastised myself for even having the time to think about someone else’s problem. Wasn’t I supposed to be smart? If it wasn’t for Jiu Ye, I would be six feet under now. I can no longer underestimate Li Yan, and I can’t be soft hearted towards her anymore. Otherwise I will only hurt myself and let my enemies smile and my loved ones weep. “Was I poisoned?”
Jiu Ye didn’t answer me, and when I turned around I saw in shock that he had actually fallen asleep while half laying on the pallet. Wei Ji looked at me “For the last four days and nights, Jiu Ye has been keeping vigil next to you and never once closed his eyes despite our trying to get him to rest.” I looked at Jiu Ye’s exhausted face and my heart’s hurt was hard to describe.
Xiao Feng was worried and I quickly said “Don’t move Jiu Ye, let him sleep here! Move me to the other pallet.” Wei Ji and Xiao Feng helped Jiu Ye take off his shoes and laid his head on a pillow. They placed a bowl of ice near his feet to ward off the heat. As Wei Ji turned to leave, Jiu Ye pulled her skirt while he was still asleep, calling out “Yu Er…..” Everyone in the room turned to look at me, and then quickly averted their eyes.
Wei Ji wanted to pull her skirt out but Jiu Ye refused to let go. His forehead was furrowed in distress and everyone seeing it felt despondent. Xiao Feng wanted to help but Wei Ji stopped him “Let Jiu Ye grab onto it! At least he’ll rest better in his dreams.” Ri Chan softly sighed and handed a pair of scissors to Wei Ji, who cut her skirt where he was grabbing it. Jiu Ye’s hand relaxed while holding the skirt and his face eased. I laid my head on the pillow while my heart just ached.
Ri Chan understood somewhat and sat next to me, patting me on the shoulder “Weren’t you asking about being poisoned?” I took a deep breath and gathered my thoughts. Things are what they are today and I cannot hope to resolve things amicably with Li Yan. And now I’ve dragged Jiu Ye back into the muck of Chang An, despite him having almost extricated himself. This is also the deepest cesspool in Chang An – the fight for imperial succession. I have to get myself together no matter who is involved.
Ri Chan saw me listening and continued “These past few days Jiu Ye was busy saving you so he didn’t pay attention to anything else. Others asked who poisoned you but Jiu Ye wouldn’t answer. I think it’s Consort Li, and by now the Emperor must know you were poisoned because all the rare and precious medicines from the Palace have been delivered non stop. Even though it wasn’t specified for what use, with everyone pretending nothing happened, but it’s clear the Emperor is worried. And….”
If something happened, it would be one corpse and two lives. The Emperor can seal all information but Jiu Ye would be able to let Huo Qu Bing know. With his temper, and having control of the military, of course the Emperor is worried. When I think about this, I sudden realize that Li Yan is not doing this as a personal vendetta. Her end game is still the entire Han Empire. Despite Huo Qu Bing and Wei Qing not always getting along, they are still relatives. If she succeeded this time, the Han court would descend into chaos. Even if Liu Che could control the fury, he would be exhausted by it and have no time or attention to pay to Xi Yu.
Wei Ji quickly came over to wipe my sweat “Talk about this later! First get better.” I replied “I got my life back and I’m more nervous about myself than anyone is. It’s no problem to talk about this, and it’s better to figure it out. If I know what’s going on, I can rest better. Otherwise I’ll be worried about where the next attempt will come and can’t rest soundly.”
Ri Chan said “The key is that Consort Li and your relationship has always been good, and most people still think you are as close as sisters. General Huo and the Wei family isn’t that aligned politically. Even if he has equal military power as General Wei, even if Consort Li wanted her son on the throne, she ought not go as far as eliminate you and use that to enrage General Huo. With Consort Li so beloved right now, unless there was ironclad proof, the Emperor will never believe it. He might even suspect that the Wei family was behind this in order to lessen the growing power of the Li family. So now the Emperor doesn’t want to get to the bottom of your poisoning.”
I sigh “If Li Yan dared to do it, she would have prepared a get away plan and people ready to take the fall for her. If we’re not careful, innocent people night be sacrificed. Since it’s over with, I don’t want to bother with it. How did Jiu Ye get Li Yan to back down on the smashing of the jade tower that injured the prince?” Ri Chan shook his head “All I know is Jiu Ye spoke with the Emperor once, but only they know what the content of the discussion was. Afterwards the Emperor ordered Jiu Ye to investigate this matter. Maybe Consort Li thought it was too hard to topple Empress Wei with this, plus now Jiu Ye with his unknown resources are involved. Rather than make this more complicated, why not sacrifice a pawn and use it to topple someone becoming more dangerous to her.”
I humph once “She didn’t give up. She’s got more up her sleeve, and each new tactic is more deadly and vicious than the last. She’s pretending to let this go, and even left it to Empress Wei to punish Yi Jie Shu. In the future if the Emperor ever remembered Yi Jie Shu fondly, he’ll place the blame on Empress Wei for having her cast out.” Ri Chan and Wei Ji both looked shocked and afraid “From the beginning it was a trap within a trap, so thorough and calculated.” I said to Ri Chan “I’m sorry to you. You could have lived comfortably in the Han dynasty, but now I’ve embroiled you in this court intrigue.”
Ri Chan held Wei Ji’s hand and smiled “In this lifetime it’s hard enough to find true friends, and if we live an exciting life, then it was all worth it. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have met such amazing men like General Huo and Jiu Ye, such loyal friends like Tian Cao and Xiao Feng. If you asked me, I’m willing to do this again.”
Wei Ji also smiled “I’m also willing. Stories talk about willing to die for one promise and I never believed it until I met you and Ri Chan. Forget one promise, I’m willing to die for one ring.” Xiao Feng piped up “I’m not willing. Little ole me just wants to run my business. Your crappy mess, don’t bother me again with it.”
Wei Ji wrinkled her nose and cocked her head, asking in a playful voice “Who was the first person to drop everything and hold vigil here day and night. Who was the person hollering that he would go slay Consort Li to avenge his big sister Yu. Who was the one who started crying first the moment Xiao Yu woke up?”
Xiao Feng had already hopped outside “I was like that because of Jiu Ye, and because of my grandpa.” Everyone looking at him started to laugh, and I felt a sense of warmth. All the darkness caused my Li Yan’s plot vanished. With friends such as these, I have no regrets.
Jiu Ye wanted me to stay at the Shi Estate, and even Tian Cao, Ri Chan, and Hong Gu all begged me to stay there. Initially Uncle Chen was not sure, but when Jiu Ye asked “Can you guarantee that everyone at the Huo Estate is trustworthy?” then Uncle Chen slowly sighed and bowed to Jiu Ye “It’s all this old servant’s fault. When the General returns, he will personally go to thank you for taking care of Ms. Yu.”
Jiu Ye’s tightly gripped hand on his wheelchair relaxed and he smiled and bowed to Uncle Chen. Tian Cao angrily huffed “Xiao Yu lived her when she first arrived in Chang An. We are old friends, the General doesn’t need to thank us.” Uncle Chen achieved his purpose and pretended not to hear what Tian Cao said. He said a few words to me and then turned and left.
Ri Chan looked like he was laughing and crying, while Wei Ji looked angry. I can only shake my head. Whether it’s Jiu Ye or Qu Bing, if a woman met either of those men and they loved her, it would be a lifetime’s blessing. But when these two huge blessings are added together, somehow it’s not one plus one equals two, doubling in happiness. It’s so precarious that one misstep and all three of us will be crushed.
Returning once again to the Bamboo Residence, the bamboos are still green, the white pigeons are still flying, but everything else has completely changed. I hide all my regrets in my heart, and Jiu Ye also tried his best to keep all his feelings hidden. On the surface he has his usual winsome smile.
Sometimes I will accidentally turn my head or shift my eyes and it will meet his eyes. In the dark depths swirled waves of emotion, heartache and pain blended together, which he brushed aside with a smile. Jiu Ye rigidly controlled my diet, my daily routine, until by the end of the month I was fully recovered. I kept asking him what he discussed with Liu Che or what promised he made to Liu Che, but he always just smiled and refused to answer.
Since I was “ill”, Liu Che sent royal physicians and medicines, and the Empress also sent someone to check on me. The most ironic thing was Li Yan sending someone to check on me, and even sending me letters on how to take care of my unborn baby. Her words were all care and worry for me. If Liu Che read this he would be so touched that Li Yan was such an emotional person, and that we were still close sisters! Every time Xiao Feng saw one of Li Yan’s servants he would be furious and looked like he wanted to stab someone, and he only backed down when Jiu Ye shot him a look,
After her servant would leave, Xiao Feng would hop around me and rail at her, about how even businessmen aren’t as devious as her. He gets angry that we are so politely and smiling towards Li Yan’s people. Tian Cao tried to call Xiao Feng down to no avail, so he just let him vent. Once Jiu Ye heard it, he shot Xiao Feng a long look, which actually gave Xiao Feng goosebumps. Xiao Feng rubbed his goosebumps and calmed down. It was rare to see that crab accept defeat and I just smile and fan myself.
Jiu Ye lightly said to Xiao Feng “From now on you are in charge of anyone sent by Consort Li. If you mistreat them even one bit, you might as well leave Chang An and go be Jing Yen and Sheng Xing’s guy from now on.” Xiao Feng lowered his head and stood in one spot for two hours, not even listening to either Tian Cao or myself when we try to console him.
After one night, Xiao Feng’s expression changed a bit, and Tian Cao said to Jiu Ye “We can rest assured now and hand everything in Chang An to him in the future. He’s older than Xiao Dian and Xiao Lei, and to be the boss in Chang An he needs to learn to be fake and conciliatory when necessary.” This is true, but Jiu Ye didn’t seem happy, appearing worried that Xiao Feng will go too overboard with this as well. But Jiu Ye wasn’t able to think of a good way to explain this to Xiao Feng.
Since I’m all better, I decide to pay a visit to the Palace to thank them for their consideration of me during my illness. Jiu Ye immediately said “No.” I furrow my brows and use the same tone of voice with him that he used with Xiao Feng “One needs to learn to be fake and conciliatory when necessary.” Jiu Ye was so frustrated his eyes were filled with laughter as he stared at me. It’s rare Jiu Ye is pushed into submission. Tian Cao was drinking tea and spit it out, choking on the water. The formerly somber Xiao Feng peeked at me and then at Jiu Ye’s weird expression and then burst out laughing.
Jiu Ye looked at Xiao Feng and said with a smile “Behavior can be fake, but your heart must be real. Many rich people in Chang An end up with nothing. They were not making money to use money, they got lost in the money. You must retain your true heart no matter what experiences you go through.” Xiao Feng looked stunned for a moment before smiling “I understand now.” Tian Cao finally knew why I pretended to be Jiu Ye to goad him. He looked at me, he looked at Jiu Ye, and then he softly sighed.
“Jiu Ye, I know you are worried, but these things I have to face by myself. According to etiquette I need to enter the Palace to thank them for their supposed concern for me. Even if…..even if I am no longer alone, and I am tightly connected to them now.” Jiu Ye was silent while Tian Cao left the room quietly.
“Don’t eat or drink anything in the Palace, whether at Consort Li or the Empress’s residence. Leave as soon as you can. If anything happens go find the Emperor, right now he’s the most truthworthy person there. The Emperor promised me……. Because of me and General Huo, the Emperor will protect you.” I was filled with a lot of anxiety and questions but now is not the time to ask it, so I just agree.
When I enter the Palace I first head to thank the Emperor. Liu Che was in his study reading official documents. He didn’t summon me inside, just speaking to me through the door and then sending me along. Everything was normal, related to my recovery, but one question appeared out of the blue. He asked “How many more months until the baby is born?” I thought about it but couldn’t find out a reason he wanted to know. Maybe he wanted to check that Qu Bing would be able to come back in time for the birth.
I ought to visit the Empress first, but for my own safety, I head to visit Consort Li. That way if Consort Li wanted to try anything, she would be wary. Li Yan’s smile was as beautiful as a flower. She looked at my stomach “This child’s life is full of danger, from the beginning it’s already endured so much. Who knows if more will befall it…..”
I laughed out loud and stop her from saying the rest of her ill words “How could that be possible? Qu Bing and I have never done anything bad we need to be wary of. Since your highness believes in fate, you ought to worry about yourself. Worrying too much may shorten a life. Hearing your highness has been sick recently, perhaps you’ve been worrying too much.” Li Yan’s grip on her handkerchief was so tight her knuckles turned white.
“I came to thank your highness for your “care and affection”, but now I need to go thank the Empress as well. May I be excused?”
I turn to leave and her cold voice rings out “Do you really think the Empress is protecting you? If Empress Wei was so innocent she couldn’t possibly have dominated the Back Palace for so long, causing Empress Chen to die alone in the Cold Palace. Wei Shao Er is an idiot compared to her. Empress Wei and Wei Qing are the two smartest in that family. All the Wei relatives are against Huo Qu Bing marrying you, except for those two. They neither object nor do they support. Empress Wei doesn’t care about previous issues between you two, always taking good care of you. Jin Yu, you can’t possibly be smart your entire life and then stupid when it comes to this?”
She casually said, each word carefully “Did you honestly think your illness was caused by me?” My head started to turn but I kept my smile on my face and courtesied to Li Yan before walking out. She suddenly asked “Why? Jin Yu, why?” I was confused so I stopped “Why what?”
Her smile disappeared and all that remained was sadness and confusion “I should call you Yu Jin. Why did you not revenge the Shan Yu of the Xiong Nu. Don’t you have the same grudge for your father’s death that I carry?” “So you did discover my true identity. Sorry to disappoint you, it’s of not much value. Even if I were a Xiong Nu person, any vengeance I have ought to be against Yi Zhi Xie, and not helping him fight the Han dynasty.”
“Jin Yu, I just want to know why. Before I entered the Palace, you counseled me to give up my revenge plans and live my own life. I thought then that you didn’t understand my pain so you could say such easy things. But now I know that you do understand, you do know my vengeance” Li Yan’s voice was sorrowful.
Different than her usual seductive beauty, Li Yan was like a lost child right now, her eyes filled with a deep hopelessness. My heart softened for a moment and I sighed before sincerely answering her “Because I had a Papa who loved me a lot, and met the man my Papa was hoping could give me happiness. I’m actually as straight as a string. If I decided on vengeance I would see it through to the bitter end. If my Papa didn’t force me to promise him that I would live my own happy life, then I would have tried to revenge the Xiong Nu a long time ago. I would have never come to Chang An. I would not have met Jiu Ye, met Qu Bing, perhaps…..” I shook my head with a bitter smile “Perhaps I would have run out of options and seduced Yi Zhi Xie or married him. But the only difference is that I would have waited until he lowered his guard to me before killing him. And you want to put your son on the throne to control the entire Han Empire.”
Li Yan’s eyes were full of tears “Your Papa wanted you to forget the past and walk your own path. My mom refused to let me forget the vengeance. The moment before she died she stared at me and made me promise that I would seek revenge for her before she closed her eyes and died.”
I pick up my skirt to leave and Li Yan’s voice still rang out behind me “Why? Why?…..It’s not fair. The Heavens are not fair…..You and I ought to have the same fate in life, but why are you free to come and go as you please, with Jiu Ye and Huo Qu Bing wholeheartedly loving you, and friends who care about you. Jin Yu, why do you have more happiness than me? I hate you, I hate you…..”
Before stepping out of the room, I turned back and Li Yan was sitting on the pallet dressed to the nines in silk and jewels. Her skirt was fanned around her making her seem tiny and helpless, and her eyes were filled with despair and her face was ashen. I see that the jade curtains in front of her bedroom are just like the bars of a prison. The sun shines outside, but cannot enter the darkness of the courtyard.
My heart shook, it was like seeing an alternate version of myself. I hurry out of the room. The more I walk forward in life, the more I understand Papa’s wisdom and know how fortunate I am. At a juncture in my life, if I had chosen a different path, I would have lived a completely different life.
Li Yan, you actually have a lot. You have brothers who love you, Li Gan who wants for you to happy, and a beautiful son. For your purpose you lost yourself. Even if you succeeded, would you be happy?
The residence of the Empress is always suffused with floral fragrance. The large courtyard has not a single person in it, while the purple flowers above are slowly dropping its petals as I walk. Under the awning, Empress Wei is reclining on a bamboo pallet watching the falling petals dancing in the wind. The sound of water dripping can be heard, a steady beat. I stand for some time before she notices me, and without getting up she gestures me over. I quietly bow and then sit down next to her pallet. “The flowers are beautiful.”
Empress Wei smiled “I have too much time, and nothing to do, so I spent it all on taking care of the flowers.” I silently sit there until Empress Wei asks “Are you all recovered?”
Since everyone wants to believe I was just sick, I stick with the story “I’m all recovered, thank you for your concern these past few days.” I was getting up when Empress Wei grabbed my hand “There is just you and I here, so say it like it is and stop talking in circles. You’re tired and I’m tired of that.”
The courtyard is vast and despite the sun out it doesn’t shine completely inside. Sitting there long, I feel a chill that doesn’t feel good. The water continued to drip and I think of a poem about how lonely one is in the courtyard accompanied only by flowers.
“………you learned your lesson this time. In the future you must be more cautious, and endure it when you must.” I was zoned out so only caught the tail end of what Empress Wei was saying “Sometimes there are things one cannot endure.” Should I have watched my friend die before me? Should I have watched Qu Bing marry another woman?
Empress Wei looked at the ground covered with fallen petals “If you cannot endure it, then you MUST endure it. There is nothing in this life that cannot be endured.” My chill rose again, reminding me that this Palace may be beautiful but it was making me feel only emotional dislike and exhaustion. I wanted to leave so I got up and bowed to Empress Wei. She nodded “Take care of yourself, you can come find me for anything.”
I walk out of the courtyard and stand under the sunlight again. I can’t help it but take a deep breath. Sitting inside, I thought it was sunset already since the light was so dim, but it’s actually still daylight out. This place was just like Li Yan’s residence, the view was different but one thing was identical, the sun could not shine in.
I understand Empress Wei’s thinking. But sometimes it’s happier to pretend to be stupid. I’ve always only thought of myself as Qu Bing’s girl, and don’t have any relationship with the Wei family. If Qu Bing wanted to help the Wei family, I would support it. If he didn’t want to, I also support it. To me, it all boils down to what Qu Bing likes and what he wants to do. To Empress Wei, Qu Bing is someone she must get to support her. So she is nice to me just to show Qu Bing. Wei Shao Er may be Qu Bing’s mom but she doesn’t understand him that well. Once he decided on something he won’t change his mind.
Liu Che wants his relationship strengthened with Qu Bing, and maybe even take the place of the Wei family in his loyalties. He wants to marry a princess to Qu Bing for that purpose. But Empress Wei might not want that, and to her advantage Qu Bing also doesn’t want that. So she’s happy to support Qu Bing, which might even make Qu Bing lose favor with Liu Che and stop Liu Che from using Qu Bing to oppose Wei Qing.
I did understand already. With Empress Wei’s position in the family, if she supported me, there was no way the rest of her siblings would still be opposing me. I tried not to think too much about it and pretend to be stupid. Since all I care about is Qu Bing, that didn’t matter. But now I have the baby and everything I do must be careful and keep him safe.
Qu Bing might not get along with Wei Qing and appeared to be gradually eroding Wei Qing’s power, but Qu Bing’s reason for doing this is to gain Liu Che’s trust in him. But when it comes down to the position of the Crown Prince, Qu Bing would undoubtedly support the Wei family. But Empress Wei doesn’t trust Qu Bing in the same way she doesn’t trust Liu Che.
Living in a Palace without sunlight for too long, in the end there is no one that can be trusted except oneself.
If something did happen to me because of Li Yan, Empress Wei would just use that opportunity to her advantage. Qu Bing will never let Li Yan get away with it, and all Empress Wei needs to do is sit back and watch Qu Bing get rid of her biggest rival for her. Li Yan and Empress Wei both want the same thing, but their methods are different. Their calculations are different and their results are different, that is all.
In that Palace, the only person who wants that child born alive is the Emperor. No wonder Jiu Ye told me if something happened to go find the Emperor but never mentioned the Empress. He already knew everything. But he was concerned about my relationship with Qu Bing and didn’t want me to be hurt.
I lay down in the carriage and sigh. Qu Bing is out there fighting a long and hard war, and I’m here in grave danger. But nothing will happen to me, because I will protect myself and the baby. Before the carriage has arrived at the Shi Estate I already see Jiu Ye’s figure. He was waiting for me outside the gate and I quickly wave at him.
The first thing I saw when I get off is “I didn’t drink or eat anything.” He nodded and reached out to take my pulse. A moment later he truly relaxed “You’ve had a long day, have dinner and then get some rest!” My heart felt a twinge of emotion but I keep my expression casual and nod my head.
“How long until the child is born? How long until the child is born? …..”
“Not fair, not fair, not fair……”
“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you…….”
“When you can’t endure it, then you MUST endure it…..”
Liu Che’s face, Li Yan’s face, Empress Wei’s face, they all flew around me and they continued to split into multiples until their eyes filled with coldness, anger, and smiles surround me. …..I try to run away while clutching my stomach but there is nowhere for me to go and I see they are about to grab my stomach.
I wake up with a “ah” and sit up on the pallet. The moonlight is lovely outside and shines its silver beam on the pallet, confirming that it was just a nightmare. My body was still shaking and Jiu Ye quickly walked inside on his crutch “Yu Er?” I held my head “Nothing. I just had a nightmare.” He sat down next to me “No matter the nightmare, it will never come true.”
His voice was like the Spring wind blowing away all the chill on my heart so that I slowly calmed down “Could the Empress have poisoned me?’
Jiu Ye had a bitter smile “Whether the Empress personally ordered it, there is no way to know. The Wei family is the court’s biggest power faction. From Princess Pingyang to many officials, all are related to them. Either Li Yan or Empress Wei’s factions could have poisoned you, and then are ready to point the finger at the other side. If it was Empress Wei’s side, if they succeeded, they would force the Emperor to give a rightful response to Huo Qu Bing. With the Emperor’s personality, he most likely would sacrifice Li Yan in that case. A beauty is hard to come by, but a great general is even harder to find. Plus a woman in the heart of the Emperor cannot equal his empire. But if Liu Che sacrificed Consort Li, he would always resent Huo Qu Bing, so this is a great way to kill two birds with one arrow. If it was Consort Li who poisoned you, then she would point fingers at Empress Wei or someone else. Only you know what she really wants. Perhaps her motive was even more understandable to you, so you paid attention to her and missed Empress Wei.”
I had a sad smile “No wonder you insisted I stay at the Shi Estate. In my nightmare they wanted my baby. Until now, there are only short messages from the battlefield. I trust Qu Bing will return victorious, and if he does yet again, he will have gained higher ranking and prestige than the Great General Wei. The Emperor might heavily favor Qu Bing, but once Qu Bing’s power gets too large, Liu Che will start to grow wary of him.”
Jiu Ye replied “On the surface General Huo appears arrogant and wild, but he really is very calculating. He must already be aware of this. The Emperor is also wise and ought to be able to control his suspicions until it is manageable. Plus General Huo will not allow for any opportunity for him to commit an punishable infraction.”
“I know this and Qu Bing told me before. His tactless behavior in the army base and the soldiers not liking him is all because of these considerations. The results are good and the Emperor trusts him more than any other general. I’m not worried about that right now, I worry that the Emperor wants my baby. He wants to raise the baby in the Palace.”
My heart started to ache and despite trying to control myself, I start to cry. There is no mother in this world that wants to be parted from her child. Even though its an honor for the Emperor to raise a child, garnering immense love and prestige, but in truth he’s no more than a hostage in there.
Jiu Ye looked concerned and worried “Why do you think that?” I shook my head “I don’t know, I just have that feeling. Even if the Emperor never thought about it, Li Yan will be sure to remind him to do so. Li Yan hates me so much that even if she gets nothing out of it, she’ll do it just so I won’t be happy.”
“Oh right!” I suddenly shouted “Li Yan has discovered that I was raised in the Xiong Nu. That day when Ri Chan played the flute and accompanied me while I danced the Xiong Nu dance, the Emperor also saw that. Then the Emperor must also know my relationship with the Xiong Nu.”
Jiu Ye’s face immediately fell and his eyes were filled with pain. He quickly turned his head and looked elsewhere. I realized then how he must feel to know about that event. I bit my lip, wanting to say something but not knowing what to say. When he smiled and turned back to face me, he was back to normal “Think on the bright side. You have a grudge against Yi Zhi Xie, so the Emperor shouldn’t be wary of you. But if you think on the down side, no matter what you are a Xiong Nu person. You really don’t want to help the Xiong Nu?”
I sigh “That’s all true. Qu Bing’s position is very unique and if I tried to use Qu Bing to do something or encouraged him to do something for me, these are all things the Emperor needs to guard against. With Li Yan’s clever fanning the flames, there is an ever greater possibility the Emperor will take the baby into the Palace.”
Jiu Ye was silent for a while and then said “Don’t worry for now. If you are not willing, no one can take your baby. We have three months time, we can think of a plan. Just get some rest now.” I want to say something but Jiu Ye shakes his head. He helped me lay down to rest “Even if you’re not tired you need to let the baby rest.”
He pulled the blanket over me and then took a fan to fan me lightly. I kept my eyes open and stared at the ceiling. He asked me nothing but knew my thoughts. “You won’t have anymore nightmares. I will stay here and keep the nightmares away. So hurry up and close your eyes to sleep.”
Even though he said it jokingly, his voice was sure and unwavering, so much so there was no room to doubt him. I look at his gentle eyes and my heart started to thump so I quickly shut my eyes, afraid to look any longer. With the rise and fall of the fan, a cool breeze wafts over me. I realized that I was so preoccupied with the welfare of the baby that I neglected to take into account his feelings.
My heart just ached with pain and my mind cried out a thousand “I’m sorries.”
“Yu Er, don’t think too much. There is nothing to be sorry for…..” His voice was low and I couldn’t hear the rest of what he was saying. My body didn’t move an inch, pretending to be asleep is my only choice.