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Chapter 47 Not hearing an old friend’s laugh
Walking out of the palace one step after another, He Ji’s carriage was still waiting outside. Yue Jiefei leaned against the side of the carriage, a leaf dangling from his mouth. His eyes were half-closed, as if dozing off.
Chu Yu went up and woke him up. They boarded the carriage, returned home. The whole way she still said nothing to He Ji.
When returning, Chu Yu said her farewells to He Ji, and he returned the favor. Although they were quite polite. Each had their own dark thoughts, but they treated each other with the utmost respect.
Returning to her dwellings, Chu Yu took out her silver hair pin before leaning over. In her mind, Rong Zhi’s dark, deep eyes appeared. Her mouth twitched, her wrist turning to take her hair pin into her sleeve. It was a habit that she had tried weaning herself off from, and it brought her slight anxiety, as if someone were scratching at her heart.
After focusing her mind again, she called You Lan over to light the incense furnace that had been taken away a while ago once more.
With the doors and windows closed and locked, the gentle, relaxing scent quickly filled the room. Chu Yu felt relaxed, but she couldn’t fall asleep peacefully. Sitting at the desk near her bed, she prepared her own paper and brush. The big white piece of paper sprawled before her, while she lowered her eyes and sunk into thought, the brush still suspended in her fingers.
After everything that had happened with Rong Zhi, Chu Yu had developed a deeper instinct for danger. She couldn’t trust any of her concubines, her guards, her husband. Even the emperor himself wasn’t to be trusted. The only one she could trust was herself.
Eventually Chu Yu let her brush drop. Calling You Lan over, she gave her a few brief commands. When You Lan responded with nothing but a shocked look, Chu Yu smiled at her. “Remember: don’t listen to more than is necessary, don’t ask more than is necessary. Do what I say. I have a plan. If possible, don’t let anyone else know about this.”
The next morning, Chu Yu woke early. Putting on her clothes that were just as suffused with the aroma of incense as she was, she hesitated before bringing Rong Zhi’s pouch with her into her carriage. Before the morning was half gone, she entered the palace.
While she had made guesses and conjectures based on what she had seen, there wasn’t enough evidence backing up her thoughts. What she saw yesterday could just be coincidence. If she wanted to prove it, then she had to witness it with her eyes.
This time, Chu Yu didn’t meet Liu Ziye in the empty palace. She was led by a eunuch to the emperor’s study, the so-called “royal study”. There she saw that pale youth once again, sitting behind his long desk with a sunken expression, the look in his eyes shockingly cruel.
He didn’t even make an attempt to conceal his intent to kill, letting it all out in the open. The emperor was still a youth, yet his heart seemed to be dyed dark with ink. The mere sight of it chilled Chu Yu’s heart, making her hesitate.
Although the male concubines of her palace also often harbored dark intentions, none of them showed it out in the open like he did. What those men did was backed by reason, by gain, and was limited by her power over them.
But Liu Ziye? He was a ruler. Within the boundaries of this kingdom, he had limitless power. And with his inconsistent temper…
He seemed to be in the middle of a temper tantrum. Looking up, seeing that Chu Yu stood by the door, he didn’t throw himself at her like yesterday. All he said in a dark voice was, “My sister, I want to kill someone.” He was finally showing some of the restraint of a king, but that concerned Chu Yu even more.
Her heart pounded in her chest as she walked over quickly, her voice soft, “Who?” Could he mean her? Was it too late to run?
The gentle scent spread through the air, running over Liu Ziye’s aching nerves like smooth silk. Taking a deep breath, he suddenly seemed less temperamental, although his expression was still dark. “Some people are just so annoying. One of them submits reports to scold me every day. I don’t want to see him anymore.”
Slowly, Chu Yu knelt down beside Liu Ziye, her eyes glancing over the report on the table. The overall meaning seemed to be that the little emperor was acting in an immoral fashion, picking favorites amidst the wicked and the traitorous, with a distinct lack of kingly order.
It was quite a forthright report. With Liu Ziye’s temper, Chu Yu was surprised that the official in question had survived to today in the first place.
With a wave of his hand, Liu Ziye swept the report to the floor. He leaned against Chu Yu and took a deep breath before letting out a groan of comfort. After a while, he tugged on Chu Yu’s sleeve lazily. “Sis, what are you doing here today again? Do you need something? I’ll order someone to get it to you immediately.”
Chu Yu shook her head without a word, trying to suppress the turmoil in her mind as she spoke softly, “I don’t need anything. I haven’t been visiting for a while, so I thought I should make it up today.” Although her current body was related to this young emperor, psychologically speaking Liu Ziye was no more than a stranger with threatening amounts of power. No matter how reliant he was on her, Chu Yu could only really react with caution.
She was a wandering soul who had landed here from a thousand years in the future. To think that she would develop familial affection toward a little devil that she had only seen once or twice was completely ridiculous.
Observing how Liu Ziye’s expression went from murderous to peaceful, Chu Yu’s heart sank slowly: her conjectures were probably correct. No matter what the truth was, Liu Ziye’s emotions were indeed affected by this scent.
In that case, Princess Shanyin was loved by the emperor precisely because of this.
The question that needed pondering after that was: was this Rong Zhi’s idea, or Princess Shanyin’s?
Her eyes lighting on the report on the floor, Chu Yu reached out and rubbed Liu Ziye’s temples like yesterday. While he was still relaxed, she asked, “Your Majesty, you mentioned that you were intent on killing someone. Who is it exactly?”
Liu Ziye said a name offhandedly. The man was called Chen Shenzhi. Searching her memories, Chu Yu couldn’t find a match for him. Not only had she never come across this name in the history books, she had also never heard Rong Zhi mention him before. He probably wasn’t anyone important. Hesitating a moment, she spoke slowly. “Your Majesty, would you consider sparing the man? Just demote him.”
“Why?” Liu Ziye’s eyes snapped open, the glare in his eyes fixed on Chu Yu. It was chilling. “Sis, you never care about this kind of thing.”
Suppressing her drumlike heartbeat, Chu Yu spoke slowly. “I…” She hadn’t even finished her explanation before Liu Ziye interrupted her with a giggle. “I know, Chen Shenzhi is quite good-looking…if you’re interested in him, then I’ll command him to go serve you in your palace starting tomorrow.”
Chu Yu was stunned into silence. She wanted to explain herself, but realized that this reason probably made more sense than what she was trying to come up with. With that, she accepted it.