“What will you do now?” Ning Xueyan had to take two quick steps to catch up with Ao Chenyi’s pace. “Destroy the nine barbarian states alongside Wen Xueran?”
“No.” Ao Chenyi raised an eyebrow and smiled mysteriously. “I’ll negotiate with Wen Xueran.”
Confused, she repeated, “Negotiate?”
“The people of the nine barbarian states have always been different from those of the central plains. They’re valiant and barbaric. For many years, they have wanted to invade us. If it weren’t for the princes of Annan holding down the front, the nine barbarian states would have attacked us a long time ago. Annan troops have fought the nine barbarian states more than our troops did, and they have a better chance of winning too.”
Ao Chenyi said calmly. He didn’t like the nine barbarian states in the slightest. If it weren’t his father forbidding him from going to the faraway hinterland of the nine barbarian states, where death was almost certain, he would have attacked there back then.
Ning Xueyan thought it over and asked, “So, you’ve decided to negotiate with Wen Xueran?”
“No, I’m going to wait for him to come and negotiate with me.” Ao Chenyi pulled her into the bedroom in the side hall. The rest didn’t come in with them.
“Will Wen Xueran send his men to negotiate with you?” Ning Xueyan replied in astonishment. She was sitting on his lap, with his hands wrapped around her slender waist.
“He will, most certainly. If he still doesn’t at this rate, he’ll be a complete fool.” Ao Chenyi held her slim waist carelessly, his fingers tracing the sides of her waist.
Was Wen Xueran a fool? Of course not! No one would call a man capable of surviving under the Emperor of Chu’s nose as a playboy young master without anyone realizing his identity a fool!
She felt somewhat relieved. She didn’t know how to quite describe her feelings about Wen Xueran. For some reason, she kept thinking about a question. If she was born a prince, would she have to bear the responsibility of reviving her dynasty? Would she have to do everything in her power to return power to her dynasty? However, the previous dynasty had fallen and the new dynasty was firmly in power. In reality, there was little chance of success. There was no way that Wen Xueran didn’t know this.
Perhaps it was because of this feeling that she didn’t want to see Wen Xueran concerned to a dead end!
He was, at the very least, a descendant of the previous imperial family. He was still her older cousin connected by blood!
Even so, this was only her hope. She drew a clear line between her private business and national affairs. Besides, her concern was based on an indescribable feeling. Perhaps, Wen Xueran only saw her as a chess piece that he could use. However, she did not see herself as one.
That was why she never asked Ao Chenyi for details about Wen Xueran’s situation. However, his suggestion seemed to be the best outcome. The people had suffered enough from the war and desperately needed peace. It would be best if they could unite and fight the nine barbarian states together.
“What is it? Are you still thinking about Wen Xueran?” When Ao Chenyi saw her in a daze, he reached out and pinched her waist twice with an unhappy expression.
She immediately pushed him and protested playfully, “That tickles! Don’t do that.”
She was very ticklish, and her waist was her weakest spot. Every time he touched her there, she would feel like laughing.
Unfortunately for her, Ao Chenyi didn’t intend to let her go. He turned around and pinned her on the bed. When he tickled her waist, she tried to push and block him but she wasn’t a match for him. She laughed so hard that she teared up. In the end, she had to pull his hand to stop him from tickling her.
“I’m going to get mad if you touch me again!” Ning Xueyan said. She tried to sound stern but she wasn’t at all convincing. Her tender face was red from all the tickling and struggling, lending her a wonderful radiance. It didn’t take much strength for him to produce such redness on her face. Her limpid eyes were clouded over, making her look as lovable as a flower.
She was so beautiful that Ao Chenyi could keenly feel the temperature of his body rising. He was reminded of what happened yesterday. Though he wasn’t fully satisfied, he didn’t overdo it out of consideration for his little cat. Now that she had rested for an entire day, it was time for him to enjoy her. “Don’t get mad. Let’s get something else instead, like a child for instance.”
He got his hands out of her grasp without any difficulty and tore her outer garment open, making her gasp in surprise. It was impossible to stop him now, for he was pulling her clothes away piece by piece…
“You bear the child yourself!” Ning Xueyan’s coquettish voice came from behind the fallen bed curtains.
“Sure, let’s bear children, let’s do it together. We can’t let the ministers find out that we never did anything together, so let’s hurry up and make up for lost time!”
“I don’t want to!”
“Be good. You want to. Let’s have a few adorable children who look like you, okay?”
Sure enough, it didn’t take long before Ao Chenyi’s prediction came true. Only a month or so later, Wen Xueran sent his envoy, Hua Yunheng, to negotiate with Ao Chenyi. Ning Xueyan wasn’t familiar with the details because she discovered that she was pregnant at that time. She stayed in her palace all day long to care for her unborn child. Ao Chenyi was as protective of her as a priceless treasure, so much so that he didn’t even let her worry about a single thing.
Not even Ao Chenyi expected that she would get pregnant so quickly. What made her happiest was how overjoyed he had been when he learned that she was pregnant. He was happy but also worried about hurting her. He didn’t even dare to touch her. She never imagined that the once fearless Prince Yi, now the monarch of a nation, would become so happy and panicked one day.
Ning Xueyan’s morning sickness was quite severe. Ao Chenyi was worried that she didn’t know how to take care of herself, so he invited Madam Ming to the palace to care for her. With Madam Ming keeping an eye on her, she ended up being ignorant about what was going on with Annan. It wasn’t until the very end that she heard from Madam Ming that her uncle was coming home soon. It seemed that the war with Annan was over.
It was one thing to declare the war over, but another to really put an end to it. It still took some time to wrap everything. Even after two months, Ming Feiyong’s troops were still out there. Madam Ming was so worried that she couldn’t help asking Ning Xueyan. It was only after Ning Xueyan asked Ao Chenyi that she learned the reason for Ming Feiyong keeping his troops there to negotiate with Wen Xueran.
Annan would remain Ao Chenyi’s territory while Wen Xueran and his men would retreat from Annan and fend off the nine barbarian states. Ming Feiyong and his troops would aid Wen Xueran in gaining a new land from the nine barbarian states for him.
When there were just the two of them, Ning Xueyan once asked Ao Chenyi why he was letting Wen Xueran live. He wasn’t one to trust superficial reasons. Killing Wen Xueran was just a matter of time if the war was prolonged, even without the intervention of the nine barbarian states.
Ao Chenyi didn’t keep secrets from her either. He was keeping Wen Xueran so the latter could fend off the nine barbarian states. Compared to the people of the nine barbarian states, he thought that Wen Xueran was at least a human with ethics. If the people of the nine barbarian states were to invade, they would do nothing but kill and plunder, leaving behind a trail of destruction. By comparison, Wen Xueran wouldn’t do that at the very least.
And with Wen Xueran in front, the nine barbarian states would have defeated him before they could attack Chu Kingdom. This was the best advantage for Ao Chenyi.
The combined forces of Wen Xueran and Ao Chenyi were so strong that they swallowed nearly half of the territories belonging to the nine barbarian states. Great General Ming was able to return to court with a tremendous victory, with Ao Chenyi personally welcoming him at the city gate. It was a completely different scene from when he returned to the capital without any fanfare a few years ago. This time, he became a hero to the people.
The chaos of war gradually died down with Ao Chenyi successfully protecting his territory and Wen Xueran gaining half of the land belonging to the nine barbarian states. Wen Xueran established the Luo State and crowned himself Emperor there. His new country was located between Chu Kingdom and the nine barbarian states. What surprised people was that Ao Mingyu’s fiancee, Commandery Princess Muling, ran off to elope with Wen Xueran. News of Wen Xueran’s marriage came shortly after, but he ended up marrying a noble lady from the nine barbarian states. Princess Muling and a few other local noble ladies became his consorts.
With the war over, everyone turned their attention to the Emperor’s family matters. The ministers began to worry that the Emperor was too lonely with only an Empress. Just look at the new Emperor of Luo! He appointed so many consorts after just ascending the throne. Ao Chenyi looked so pitiful in comparison.
Thus, the ministers began to implore that the Emperor should draft more beauties from all over the country into the palace.
Now that the country was at peace, it was time to worry about the Emperor’s family matters. After all, the Emperor’s family matters were a national affair. However, the pile of letters addressed to the Emperor was somehow discovered by the Empress, and a commotion soon broke out in the palace. It was said that the Empress nearly suffered a miscarriage, prompting the Emperor’s anger. He ordered the ministers not to bring up the consort drafting while the Empress was pregnant. If anything were to happen to the Empress, he would kill nine generations of their families.
The ministers stopped causing a fuss, knowing very well how ruthless the Emperor was. They didn’t want to anger the Empress into a miscarriage. The Emperor was so merciless that he would make good on his word. Besides, it wasn’t an urgent matter. They could always mention it again after the Empress gave birth to a prince!
Ten months later, Ning Xueyan gave birth. Hearing her pained screams inside the room, Ao Chenyi was so worried that he nearly tripped outside. Then, he stormed inside the room and held her hand. The bloodthirsty Demon King looked even paler than Ning Xueyan, who was giving birth. It wasn’t until she finished giving birth with difficulty that he felt like he came back to life.
The reason for Ning Xueyan’s difficult birth was that she was giving birth to a pair of twins. Even though the imperial physicians had long thought that she might be having twins due to her bigger-than-normal belly and there was ample preparation for it, it was still her first time giving birth. It took her a long time and nearly scared Ao Chenyi to death in the process.
Following the birth of two princes, Ao Chenyi had to issue imperial pardons as per tradition. Ning Huaiyuan, who was locked up in the imperial prison since the kidnapping incident, was released. When he was first captured, he thought his death was certain. He never thought that Ao Chenyi would let him live. Standing on top of the hill outside the Lord Protector’s Manor, he stared at the manor for a long time before turning around and leaving with unsteady footing.
He never returned to the capital again for the rest of his life…
The moment the Empress finished giving birth, the ministers fell over themselves to persuade the Emperor to draft new consorts. Ao Chenyi pointed out a few ministers who were particularly insistent and asked them to explain properly why he had to draft consorts. Their answer was simple: for the sake of heirs. However, Ao Chenyi had plenty of reasons to refute them. He was now father to two princes. Even if he didn’t have any more children in the future, the two princes were enough as heirs. Besides, he and the Empress were still young.
If they wanted to, they could still bear more children in the future! He asked them if he was some kind of lascivious monarch who would fulfill his selfish desires in the name of consort drafting.
His face was grim and malicious when he said this, scaring the ministers so much that they didn’t dare to say anything. How would they dare call the Emperor a lascivious monarch! That would be seeking death! Remembering his reputation for being fierce and ruthless, no one dared to go against his words, and the call for consort drafting gradually died down.
Afterward, everyone began to accept that the Emperor would only have the Empress as his woman. After all, not everyone dared to confront the rage of the young Demon King. They would consider it the Emperor’s personal affairs. Since the Emperor didn’t feel upset about it, there was no reason for them to insist on provoking his anger.
This was a personal matter, the Emperor’s personal affairs! No one should be paying excessive attention to it! For the sake of everyone’s safety, they should pretend not to see any request about any sort of consort drafting. Since it was the Emperor’s personal affairs, he should have the final say about it!