To leave the imperial city it was impossible to avoid mountain terrains.
‘Who are you to dare to obstruct the path?’ an imperial guard asked.
‘Stop the pleasantries,’ Pei Lam said and took off his mask. ‘Prepare to sacrifice your lives.’
Pei Lam’s sharp sword tasted fresh blood. Sunlight shone on the bloody ground. More imperial guards appeared because they thought Pei Lam’s life was in danger, but they were immediately killed under Pei Lam’s sword and their dead bodies collapsed on the ground. The last face they saw were Pei Lam’s disturbing smile.
Pei Lam searched forty dead bodies for someone similar to his build and looks to exchange clothes with him. Then he flung the forty dead bodies down the mountain.
Pei Lam escaped on a horse and heard silence in four directions. He was happy he no longer had to be Pei Lam and truly free.
Pei Lam rode for a while but a person with a cold demon face who wore black clothes obstructed his path.
‘It’s you,’ Pei Lam said.
Pei Lam recognised Bei Dou who had a cold demon face that never changed expression and was also Pei Jin’s servant but he didn’t know why Bei Dou followed him.
‘Thank you,’ Bei Dou said and raised his sword.
Later at Pei Jin’s manor, Bei Dou recounted what happened to Pei Lam and Pei Lam’s imperial guards.
‘You said thank you to him?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘Of course I should thank him for dealing with the imperial guards,’ Bei Dou said.
‘I didn’t think he would kill everyone to escape,’ Pei Jin said. ‘What are his true intentions?’
‘Perhaps he wants to start a new life,’ Bei Dou said.
‘A new life?’ Pei Jin asked. ‘If that isn’t true then it’s hard to explain his actions. I didn’t expect tenth brother was someone like this. I thought he asked imperial father to take away his position to wait for a good opportunity to strike… where are you hiding him?’
‘Su Ci,’ Bei Dou said and looked in four directions.
‘Gentleman Bei, who are your wandering eyes looking for?’ Pei Jin teased.
‘There are sand in my eyes,’ Bei Dou lied.
Pei Jin spat out tea. ‘Why don’t you find your precious pupil to help you? Wait, don’t disturb her. She’s studying effects of some poisons in the courtyard with Xiao Zai… wait, where are you running to… tomorrow I’m summoned to the palace, you need to be prepared.’
Pei Jin thought Bei Dou was in a deep spring trance after only a few days.
In the courtyard Bei Dou’s expression darkened, he saw Xiao Zai sat too close to Xiao Tu.
Bei Dou’s deadly eyes focused on Xiao Tu. ‘You, follow me to my chamber!’
Xiao Tu calmly followed Bei Dou to his chamber. ‘Gentleman Bei, what’s wrong?’
‘There are sand in my eyes,’ Bei Dou said. ‘Help take them out for me.’
Xiao Tu was speechless.
Inside Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning’s chamber, Yan Shi Ning’s chest wound had healed. It wasn’t a surprise considering for half a month she was forced to ingest nutritious food and herbal remedies to improve her health while pregnant and recovering from her injury.
Pei Jin thought Yan Shi Ning’s body was even more appealing while she was pregnant. The problem was he could only see, kiss and touch her but he couldn’t eat her because Bei Dou advised him it was dangerous for him to eat her while she was pregnant.
‘Wife…’ Pei Jin said pitifully.
Yan Shi Ning knew what Pei Jin wanted. She pulled the blanket over her body and avoided his hands.
‘Wife…’ Pei Jin sulked.
‘No,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
‘Only one time,’ Pei Jin said.
‘No,’ Yan Shi Ning said and rolled over.
‘You don’t care about me,’ Pei Jin said in a frustrated tone.
Yan Shi Ning turned her head to look at Pei Jin’s pitiful face.
‘Little sister Ning, don’t you pity me?’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning played dead on her back to avoid putting pressure on their child.
‘This child is hateful,’ Pei Jin said.
‘This child is still yours even if this child is hateful,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
‘Shi Ning, don’t forget this child is yours too-’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning kicked Pei Jin off the bed. ‘MF Pei Jin, tonight you’re not allowed to sleep on this bed.’
Pei Jin wore his outer robe and unwillingly left the chamber.
Xiao Zai was guarding outside the chamber and saw Pei Jin’s pitiful face.
‘If you don’t stop smiling then you’ll be in trouble,’ Pei Jin said.
Pei Jin was lenient on Xiao Zai because Xiao Zai protected Yan Shi Ning’s life at the Yan Manor. Also, Xiao Zai had begged Yan Shi Ning to save Xiao Zai from him so he only scared Xiao Zai a little.
Xiao Zai believed Pei Jin’s threat, he stopped smiling and looked like he was at his parent’s funeral. ‘Ninth prince, I don’t know if it’s appropriate for me to tell you this.’
‘Hurry and say it,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Ninth prince, the truth is… after your wife is three months pregnant as long as you’re gentle it’s safe,’ Xiao Zai said.
Pei Jin’s eyes shone brightly. ‘Truly?’
Xiao Zai nodded his head.
‘How do you know?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘I read it in one of Gentleman Bei’s books,’ Xiao Zai said.
‘Bei Dou you lied to me again!’ Pei Jin cried out.
Last time Bei Dou lied to Pei Jin that Pei Jin had to wait half a month instead to seven days to have a wedding night with Yan Shi Ning. But Bei Dou dared to lie to him that he had to wait a year after Yan Shi Ning was pregnant to eat her.
Xiao Zai was happy Pei Jin wanted to kill Bei Dou. Xiao Zai thought it was Bei Dou’s fault for interrupting Xiao Zai’s alone time with Xiao Tu.
‘Xiao Zai, how did you find out about my situation with my wife?’ Pei Jin asked suspiciously.
‘I… I didn’t hear anything,’ Xiao Zai lied.
‘Xiao Hui, lock this eavesdropper in the firewood storage room!’ Pei Jin said. ‘Don’t let him eat for two days!’
‘Yes, ninth prince,’ Xiao Hui said.
‘Xiao Hui, you don’t have to use brute force,’ Xiao Zai said. ‘I know how to walk… ah… you don’t need to carry me… ah… you don’t need to throw me into the firewood storage room.’
Xiao Hui locked the firewood storage room and left.
That night Pei Jin knocked Bei Dou unconscious.
Early the following morning Bei Dou woke up and saw Xiao Tu was laying on top him.
‘Why… are you here?’ Bei Dou asked and pulled the blanket over his body.
Xiao Tu rubbed her eyes and looked at her surroundings. ‘Gentleman Bei, why am I here?’
In that moment Pei Jin opened Bei Dou’s door and entered Bei Dou’s chamber.
‘What am I seeing?’ Pei Jin asked innocently. ‘Everyone look away!’
Bei Dou’s mouth and eyes widened after seeing the crowd behind Pei Jin.
‘Everyone remember we didn’t see a lady on Gentleman Bei’s bed!’ Pei Jin said.
Bei Dou wanted to kill Pei Jin.
‘Gentleman Bei, are you going to marry me?’ Xiao Tu asked.
Bei Dou’s throat felt choked.
‘Gentleman Bei that means I’ll need to die,’ Xiao Tu said and cried.
‘You’re not allowed to die!’ Bei Dou said.
‘Gentleman Bei, you don’t have to force yourself to marry me,’ Xiao Tu said.
‘I’m not forcing myself!’ Bei Dou said. ‘You’re a good person!’
Xiao Tu hugged Bei Dou and cried happy tears. ‘Gentleman Bei!’
Inside the firewood storage room Xiao Zai felt he was struck by lightning after he heard Bei Dou was marrying Xiao Tu.
The moment Xiao Hui opened the door Xiao Zai cried pitifully and hugged Xiao Hui.
‘Xiao Hui, I lost Xiao Tu!’ Xiao Zai said.
Xiao Hui pushed Xiao Zai away before Xiao Zai could wipe snot on Xiao Hui’s clothes.
Xiao Hui threw wrapped buns at Xiao Zai. ‘Hurry and eat the buns!’
‘Big brother Xiao Hui is a good big brother!’ Xiao Zai praised.
End of Chapter Fifty-One
Chapter Twenty (Part 1)
The palace guards apprehended the assassins.
But the assassins hid poison under their tongues. They swallowed it, blood dripped out of their mouths and they died.
The emperor commanded the palace guards to investigate who was responsible for the assassination attempt. Then the emperor ordered the imperial physicians to follow him to his chamber because Pei Zhang was injured.
During the banquet Pei Zhang wasn’t sitting near the emperor but he flew to save the emperor the moment he heard assassins entered the palace. But an assassin’s sword stabbed Pei Zhang’s body while he was protecting the emperor.
Inside the emperor’s chamber, many imperial physicians surrounded the unconscious Pei Zhang.
‘If anything happens to seventh prince, I’ll bury all of you together with him,’ the emperor threatened.
Consort Mu stood near the bed and she cried at the sight of her unconscious son.
The empress feigned concern for Pei Zhang’s life. But her heart regretted Pei Zhang didn’t die immediately after being stabbed. It also feared Pei Zhang would wake up and his bond with the emperor would grow stronger enough for the emperor to make Pei Zhang the crown prince instead of Pei Lam.
Pei Lam stood beside his mother and he was in deep thought about the situation.
Consort La was holding a sleeping Pei Khan in her arms. Pei Khan stirred in his sleep when he heard the emperor’s loud voice. Pei Khan raised his head from his mother’s chest, he didn’t see anyone wanted to harm him and continued to sleep on his mother’s chest.
Pei Jin was gaging everyone’s expressions. He noticed Pei Khan was startled by the emperor, Pei Khan’s head raised and laid back on Consort La’s chest to sleep. Then he looked at the tired Yan Shi Ning who stood beside him and his heart beckoned Pei Zhang to wake up so that he and Yan Shi Ning could go home to bathe and sleep.
Pei Jin wasn’t worried about Pei Zhang’s life. He knew if Pei Zhang died that easily then he wasn’t Pei Zhang. Also, the assassins that entered the palace that night were strange.
The assassins were too familiar with the palace surroundings and chose a night when the imperial families were gathered and unarmed. It meant the person who hired the assassins was someone who knew the palace surroundings and when was a good opportunity for an ambush attack. Even if he was beaten to death, he wouldn’t believe that everyone in the emperor’s chamber was innocent.
Pei Jin’s eyes swept over the emperor, empress, the emperor’s consorts, princes and imperial physicians. But he didn’t discover anything unusual about their expressions.
‘Seventh prince is saved by his ancestor’s good deeds,’ the head imperial physician said. ‘His body is stable and he’ll recover after resting for a period.’
The emperor and Consort Mu sighed in relief but the empress smiled coldly.
‘Xiao Zhang is injured, he can stay here while he’s recovering,’ the emperor said.
Everyone was shocked by the emperor’s words. When a prince who wasn’t the crown prince was allowed to remain in the palace had a significant meaning.
The emperor’s eyes swept over everyone in his chamber. Finally he looked at Yan Shi Ning and nodded his head. ‘It’s late, everyone can leave.’
Under the full moon, Pei Jin hugged Yan Shi Ning inside the horse carriage. She didn’t struggle and felt safe being protected by him. His words of reassurance after the attack echoed in her heart, ‘don’t be scared, I’m here.’
Yan Shi Ning wasn’t scared as long as she had Pei Jin. Whether she was a six-year-old being bullied, a twelve-year-old being chased by fierce dog or an eighteen-year-old being attacked… as long as he was with her, he would always protect her with his life.
Yan Shi Ning’s eyes stung. She knew clearly the scoundrel who always bullied her was the only one who truly cared about her and was good to her.
‘Why are you crying?’ Pei Jin asked and searched for a handkerchief to wipe Yan Shi Ning’s tears.
Yan Shi Ning silently wrapped her arms around Pei Jin’s neck and hugged him tightly.
Yan Shi Ning startled Pei Jin. It was the second time Yan Shi Ning initiated a hug. The first time was many years ago. That day she was chased by a fierce dog and the moment she saw him she cried and hugged him.
Pei Jin gently patted Yan Shi Ning’s back. ‘Wife, what do you want to do by falling on my chest?’
Yan Shi Ning heard Pei Jin’s teasing tone and she bit his neck.
Pei Jin felt Yan Shi Ning’s soft warm lips on his skin and immediately his little brother woke up. He wrapped his arms around her waist. Her teeth let go of his neck, he looked at her beautiful face under the moonlight that shone through the window and his lips leaned closer to her lips.
Suddenly the horse carriage halted.
‘Ninth prince, mistress, you’re home,’ the groomsman said.
Yan Shi Ning saw the frustration on Pei Jin’s face and she laughed.
Pei Jin hit Yan Shi Ning’s bottom. ‘Don’t worry, tonight will be a long night.’
Yan Shi Ning immediately stopped laughing.
End of Chapter Twenty (Part 1)