Wei Luo’s waistline became wider and wider. Her formerly small, slender, and seductive waist had already vanished without a trace. Not only was her belly protruding, her cheeks had also become round. The small peaches on her chest had turned into large, tender, and white steamed buns. If today wasn’t the day that Zhao Liuli and Yang Zhen were visiting the palace together, Wei Luo wouldn’t have been willing to go out no matter what. She felt that other people shouldn’t see her current appearance. Before she went out, she looked at herself in the mirror for a long time. The more she looked, the more displeased she was with herself.
Wei Luo touched her belly, sighed, and said, “Little watermelon, once you’re born, your mother really has to fix herself up.”
On the side, Zhao Jie chuckled. It was probably because Wei Luo’s appearance of sighing in despair was too cute. He walked forward to hug her. He nipped her ear and said, “No matter how your appearance changes, my Ah Luo will always be the most beautiful girl.”
“No.” Wei Luo pushed him away and sternly corrected him, “You can’t say that. It’ll make me complacent. I only temporarily look like this because I’m having a child and there’s no other choice. I’ll lose this weight once I give birth.”
Zhao Jie’s thin lips smiled. He looked at her without moving. With a lowered voice that had a tempting magnetism, he said, “But I’m only saying how I truly feel.” In his heart, his girl always looked the best, especially in this moment when she was straightening her back and shoulders to support her round belly. Her petite body was nurturing their unborn baby. The curve in her bulging belly was the most beautiful curve in the world.
Wei Luo called him, “Smooth talker”, but her tone was sweet.
Fortunately, Wei Luo clearly knew that Zhao Jie was only saying sweet words of love and didn’t take these words seriously. It was enough just to hear these words.
On the way to the palace, Wei Luo silently said towards her belly, “Little watermelon, your mother has sacrificed so much for you. You definitely have to be safely without any complications. Don’t torment your mother on your way out.”
She had heard from Liang Yu Rong that giving birth would be very painful.
At Zhao Yang Hall, Zhao Liuli and Yang Zhen had already arrived a while ago.
Zhao Liuli was sitting on a red sandalwood arhat couch. There was a large, sapphire blue pillow behind her. With red cheeks, she furtively looked at Yang Zhen, who was standing in front of Emperor Chong Zhen and Empress Chen. Yang Zhen was wearing a red robe that was embroidered with a pattern of rippling water. His face was solemn as he respectfully answered their questions.
All in all, Yang Zhen appeared as calmly serious as always with his attention fully concentrated on the emperor and empress. Before Zhao Liuli married him and understood his inherent nature, she didn’t have any complicated feelings when she saw him like this.
On their wedding night, Zhao Liuli didn’t even have time to change out of her wedding dress before Yang Zhen had pressed her down on their bed.
Yang Zhen had tightly held her wrists and infatuatedly nipped at her ear while repeatedly calling her, “Your Highness.” Later on, his voice became hoarse and he called her, “Liuli”. Pressed underneath his body, Zhao Liuli couldn’t move. She could only tremble and accept his numerous kisses.
When Yang Zhen had thrust inside, it had hurt so much that tears rolled down from her eyes. She bit his shoulder and sobbed out her pain. Yang Zhen knew that this was hard for her to take, but he couldn’t control himself. He licked the tears on her face and didn’t stop until he had opened her body completely.
After Zhao Liuli had sobbed for an hour, to the point that her small face was completely flushed and looked extremely pitiful, Yang Zhen carried the weaken Zhao Liuli to the cleaning room to wash up.
When Yun Zi led the palace servants into the inner room to clean up and they saw the utterly disorderly mess on the bed and wedding dress that was so soaked it could drip, their cheeks turned red one after another.
Emperor Chong Zhen had given Yang Zhen a few days off.
During the past few days, Yang Zhen didn’t go anywhere. He stayed with Zhao Liuli for three days and three nights inside their room. No one came to bother them in the room, except for when the servants knocked on the doors to indicate that they had brought food and water. Zhao Liuli hadn’t known that Yang Zhen would be so energetic. He had probably endured for a long time. All of his energy came out and was directed towards her body once they were married.
They had left behind traces of themselves in every corner of the bridal room; even the window ledge and desk weren’t exceptions. Yang Zhen wouldn’t even let her off when they were eating. While he was feeding her food, he still wouldn’t leave her body.
Zhao Liuli felt that these three days had passed by very quickly, but also very slowly. If they didn’t have to return to the palace to see imperial father and mother today, Yang Zhen might not have allowed her to leave their room.
As soon as Zhao Liuli thought of how absurd the past three days had been, she felt extremely embarrassed. Even right now, her entire body still felt sore and she had to be carried on a palanquin to come to Zhao Yang Hall today. Her legs were so weak that she couldn’t even stand up. Imperial mother could probably figure out what had happened. It was entirely Yang Zhen’s fault. Why didn’t he show any restraint?! Zhao Liuli’s cheeks flushed as thought about this.
After Emperor Chong Zhen and Empress Chen finished asking their questions, they seemed satisfied with Yang Zhen.
Empress Chen allowed Yang Zhen sit down, then she sighed with emotion and said, “Liuli is this empress’s precious daughter. This empress has always extremely doted on her. Now that she’s married to you, you have to treat to her well. Don’t let this empress be disappointed in you.”
Yang Zhen stood up to say, “Your Majesty, please be assured. This subjects is whole-heartedly devoted to the princess.”
Empress Chen nodded and turned her head to look at Zhao Liuli, who was sitting askew against a pillow. Displeased, she reprimanded, “You’re already a married girl. Why are you still not acting properly? Go down there to sit so that other people won’t see you and laugh.”
Zhao Liuli supported her waist and slowly sat up and got up from the couch. When she walked to Yang Zhen’s side, she blew out her cheeks as she passed by him to sit at the nearby rosewood chair. Yang Zhen couldn’t help curving the corners of his mouth. When he looked at Zhao Liuli, his eyes were overflowing with delight.
When he smiled like this, Zhao Liuli couldn’t resist thinking about the things he had done to her. Her ears immediately became red and she looked away.
Not long after, one after another, Wei Luo, Zhao Jie, and the other princes and princesses came by. The entire family sat down together and talked for a while.
After lunch, the princes and princesses said their good-byes. Wei Luo and Zhao Liuli stayed in Zhao Yang Hall to accompany Empress Chen and talk with her. Zhao Jie, Yang Zhen, and Emperor Chen left the hall to go the imperial study.
Right now, it was very difficult for Wei Luo to do anything. Empress Chen and Zhao Liuli showed her the utmost care. When Zhao Liuli found out that the baby’s movements could be heard, she was extremely curious. She gently pressed her ear against Wei Luo’s belly and listened. “Imperial sister-in-law, why isn’t it moving?”
Wei Luo said, “It’s probably because it’s not familiar with you and it’s scared of strangers.”
Zhao Liuli wasn’t discouraged. She started speaking to Wei Luo’s belly. She said words like, “I’m your aunt,” and “You’re called little watermelon, right? Could you talk with me?”
Seeing this sight, Empress Chen and Wei Luo wanted to laugh. Soon after, little watermelon started to move in Wei Luo’s belly and stretched out a small foot. It could be counted as a greeting to Zhao Liuli.
Zhao Liuli felt surprised and joyful. “It can really hear me speak?”
Wei Luo also felt very interested. She placed her hand on her belly. Little watermelon really seemed as if it was responding. It replaced its foot with a small hand to touch Wei Luo’s hand on the other side of her belly. Wei Luo’s eyes suddenly felt damp. She had been pregnant for so long. This was the first time that she truly felt her child’s existence. She really wished that it could come out sooner and wondered how it would look when it came out. Since it was Zhao Jie and her child, it definitely wouldn’t be ugly.
It wasn’t early anymore. The sun was moving towards the western horizon. Wei Luo and Zhao Liuli bid Empress Chen farewell and planned on returning to their respective residence next.
Empress Chen went with them to Qing Xi Palace’s entrance to send them off. She rather ruefully said, “Seeing that the both of you are living well, I can put down the worries in my heart.”
Zhao Liuli thought Empress Chen was only feeling sad because there was no one by her side anymore. She held Empress Chen’s hand and said, “Imperial mother, don’t worry. I’ll frequently come back to the palace to se you. I definitely won’t let you feel lonely.”
Empress Chen helplessly said, “You’re already married. How will it look if you frequently come back? Rather than hoping for you come to visit me, wouldn’t it be better for me to hope that Ah Luo will frequently come to the palace to keep me company?”
Wei Luo said, “Once my child is born, I’ll bring the child to see imperial mother. Once you have a grandchild to play and spoil, there won’t be a reason for you to worry about not having people to accompany you.”
Empress Chen smiled and said, “You’re right. I’ll just look forward to my grandchild’s birth.”
After Wei Luo and Zhao Liuli left Qing Xi Palace, Zhao Liuli and Yang Zhen left first while Wei Luo sat inside the carriage and waited for a bit before Zhao Jie came out through the palace’s main doors.
Wei Luo thought Empress Chen’s recent words and she had a peculiar feeling. She asked, “Has imperial mother said anything to you recently?”
Zhao Jie brought her onto his lap and fiddled with her fingers as asked, “What’s wrong?”
Wei Luo said, “Imperial mother didn’t seem happy today. She’s probably feeling lonelier in the palace now that Liuli is married. And, she doesn’t seem like she has any intentions of forgiving His Majesty. I’m worried that she’s feeling too lonely by herself. I want to come to the palace more often in the future to keep her company.”
Zhao Jie kissed her small face and said with a smile, “Of course, you can. Just wait until after you give birth.”
Right now, Wei Luo’s belly was becoming bigger and bigger. It wasn’t convenient for her to go out and she might also meet danger on the way to the palace. Thus, it would be safer for her to stay at home.
Wei Luo considered for a moment. She nodded and said, “I previously asked you to arrange for more people at Bao He Hall. Have you arranged it yet?”
Zhao Jie said, “I did this a while ago.” As he scratched her nose, he deliberately joked, “How can I not obey Ah Luo’s words?”
Wei Luo pouted. Just as she was about to say something, the carriage shook and stopped on the road.
Zhao Jie lifted the curtain and asked, “What happened?”
The carriage driver replied, “To respond to Your Highness, the carriage in front of us broke and is blocking the road. Should we take a detour to return to the residence?”
Zhao Jie said, “Take a detour then.”
Through the gap from the lifted curtain, Wei Luo caught a glimpse of a girl standing next to carriage in front of them. She was wearing a lavender jacket and skirt. This girl was definitely Gao Qing Yang without a doubt.
Wei Luo had the carriage driver stop the carriage again. At the very least, she did have previous interactions with Gao Qing Yang, so she asked her if she wanted a ride home. After all, Duke Zhen’s residence was near Prince Jing’s residence. In addition, the sky looked gloomy and seemed as if it would rain soon. Who knew how long she would have to stand her before she could go home?
Gao Qing Yang thought for a moment before coming into the carriage without acting bashful. After she sat down, she gratefully said, “Thank you Your Highnesses.”
Wei Luo asked, “Where did you go before? Why did the carriage break down?”
Gao Qing Yang was sitting across from them. She explained, “I went out to buy some inksticks from an ink store. I was planning on going home and using them to practice calligraphy. Unexpectedly, one of the wheels on the carriage suddenly broke and I had stop by the side of the road.
Wei Luo nodded and said, “We’re heading home now. Once we reach home, I’ll have the carriage driver drive you to Duke Zhen’s residence.”
Gao Qing Yang didn’t refuse. She sincerely thanked her again, “Thank you Your Highness.”
Wei Luo shook her head and said, “No need.”
They quickly arrived at Prince Jing’s residence’s entrance. Zhao Jie carried Wei Luo down from the carriage. When they turned around, they saw a person standing tall and straight at the front of the entrance.
In front of the vermillion-lacquered doors, Wei Chang Hong was wearing a bluish-green robe made with ramie fabric. He was as calm and soothing as the rustling sound between pine trees and as elegant as the lofty clouds. The servants at the entrance had recognized him and knew that he was Princess Consort Jing’s younger brother. They didn’t dare to slight him and had asked him to go inside to sit down. Unexpectedly, he had said no and stood outside until now.
As soon as Wei Luo saw Chang Hong, she was so startled that she came out from Zhao Jie’s embrace. She lifted up her delicate green skirt that was embroidered with a pattern of orchids, bamboos, and chrysanthemums as she went up the stairs. She stopped next to Chang Hong and asked, “Chang Hong, why did you come here? Why didn’t you go inside to sit down? It’s so tiring to stand out here.”
Wei Chang Hong showed a faint smile and said, “The servants said you would be coming back soon, so I decided to wait here for you for a bit. I still have to return home after I speak with you.”
Wei Luo tilted her head and asked, “What happened that so urgent?”
“It’s not anything urgent.” Wei Chang Hong took out a bright red sachet that was embroidered with a pattern of a hundred children from his sleeve. He lifted up Wei Luo’s hand and placed the sachet on her palm. “Fourth aunt specially went to Da Ci Temple to request a safety charm for you. The charm is inside this sachet. For the time being, keep this charm for your child. Once he or she is born, give it to your child to wear. Fourth aunt says it can guarantee a lifetime of peace.”
Wei Luo clutched the sachet. When she raised her head to look at Chang Hong, her lips curved into a smile and she said, “Thank fourth aunt for me when you go back. I’ll definitely have my child wear it.”
Wei Chang Hong nodded and glanced at Zhao Jie, who was standing behind Wei Luo. Although he didn’t look happy to see him, their gazes weren’t as mutually hostile as before. Chang Hong didn’t stay to say anything else. He started walking forward after saying, “I’m going home.”
Just as he was about to raise his foot, the gloomy sky started to rain. The sudden sound of the raindrops hitting the ground caught them off guard.
Wei Chang Hong froze for a moment. He hadn’t brought an umbrella when he came out today and had ridden here on a horse. The tall, fine steed didn’t care about being rained on. It even lifted up its hooves underneath the downpour.
Wei Luo looked at Chang Hong, then she looked at the carriage that hadn’t left yet. She had a sudden idea and ordered Jin Lu to bring an umbrella over. Very quickly, Jin Lu came back and said, “Your Highness, here’s the umbrella that you wanted.”
Wei Luo took the umbrella, brought the double-ring oilpaper umbrella to Wei Chang Hong’s hand, and pointed at the black, flat-roofed carriage at the entrance. She said, “Miss Gao’s carriage broke down and she came back here with us. Chang Hong, since you’re here and it’s raining heavily, could you send Miss Gao back home just in case?”
It was just rain. What could possibly go wrong? Wei Chang Hong glanced at Wei Luo. Her intention was extremely obvious, even a blind person would be able to see. A moment later, Wei Chang Hong looked away. Holding the umbrella, he rather helplessly said, “Okay, I’ll send her home.”
Wei Luo smiled. She reminded him again, “Be careful on the way there. Don’t rush.”
Wei Chang Hong mounted the horse, opened the double-ring oilpaper umbrella, and tightened his legs around the horse to urge it towards the carriage. He said to the driver, “Let’s go.”
Hearing his words, the carriage driver raised the whip and directed the horse in the direction towards Duke Zhen’s residence.
Inside the carriage, Gao Qing Yang had heard Wei Luo and Wei Chang Hong’s conversation and wasn’t quite sure of Wei Luo’s intention. A while later, she lifted up the corner of the curtain and saw Wei Chang Hong riding a horse near the carriage. The rain was falling fast and heavy. It had already soaked one side of his sleeves, but his handsome face was still unhurriedly looking straight ahead.
Gao Qing Yang contemplated for a while before saying, “My home isn’t far away from here. I don’t need you to come with me. You can go home.”
Hearing her words, Wei Chang Hong finally turned his head to look at her. Separated by a curtain of rain, she couldn’t clearly see Wei Chang Hong’s expression. His voice was mixed with the clamminess of the rain and the pure smoothness of spring water as he slowly said, “If I go back now, I can only ride my horse back. If I come with you to Duke Zhen’s residence, I can ride inside the carriage to go back home. Tell me, which option do you think I’ll choose?”
Fine, so it was because of this carriage. Gao Qing Yang felt as if she had worried over nothing. She put down the curtain and peacefully sat back down. She didn’t pay attention the person outside again.
The carriage quickly reached Duke Zhen’s residence. This rain had come rapidly and had also left rapidly. In the time it would take to burn an incense stick, the rain had decreased significantly until there were only leftover raindrops.
Gao Qing Yang held her servant girl’s hand for support as she came down from the carriage. She glanced towards Wei Chang Hong and said, “Thank you, Sir Wei.”
Wei Chang Hong sat on the horse as he expressionlessly looked at her without saying a word.
So rude. Gao Qing Yang understood his natural disposition and didn’t lower herself to argue with him. She took the umbrella that the servant girl handed to her and started to walk into Duke Zhen’s residence.
But, just as she had taken one step, she heard a noisy clamor behind her. It was followed by someone yelling, “Miss, be careful!”
Gao Qing Yang turned her head to look and saw a black horse rushing towards her. The horse seemed to have suffered from a shock and couldn’t be controlled. As it charged in her direction, it shook off the servants that tried to stop it. Gao Qing Yang was too startled and only instinctively fell backwards two steps, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the horse. She could only watch as the horse lifted up its front legs and strike them down at her body –
“Miss!” A servant girl called out.
Gao Qing Yang also felt she was definitely going to die. Even if she didn’t die, she would definitely be trampled and become a cripple. Her face was deathly pale and she even forgot to close her eyes. She saw a handsome and tall figure riding a horse forward. He nimbly jumped onto the horse that had lost control and tightly grabbed the reins with both of his hands to turn the horse around. The horse’s hooves heavily landed near Gao Qing Yang’s side and splashed her with mud.
The previously rampaging horse now obediently stood still under Wei Chang Hong’s control.
Sitting on the horse, Wei Chang Hong lowered his eyes and furrowed his eyebrows. He rather disdainfully asked, “Why didn’t you avoid it?”
If there had been the slightest deviation just now, she might have lost her life.
Wei Chang Hong looked at Gao Qing Yang. Perhaps, it was because she had been extremely terrified by the recent event. She wasn’t showing her usually calm and composed expression. Her face was deathly pale and her red lips were tightly pressed. Although the rain had stopped, there were still large and small puddles on the road. The mud from the horse’s movement had splashed her body, including her face. Her small, exquisite face looked rather wretched, but her eyes were astonishingly bright.
Wei Chang Hong didn’t know why, but he felt that Gao Qing Yang’s ridiculous appearance looked slightly cute. It was much more pleasing to look at than her normal appearance.
Gao Qing Yang slowly stood up from the ground.
Her servant girl anxiously rushed over to look her over. In a sobbing tone, she asked, “Miss, are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere?” After Gao Dang Yang had married, Gao Qing Yang became Duke Zhen and his wife’s most beloved daughter. If anything happened to her, she wouldn’t be able to keep her life.
Gao Qing Yang shook her head. She looked at Wei Chang Hong for a moment before saying, “Thank you, Sir Wei.” This time, her tone was sincere.
Wei Chang Hong jumped down from the horse. He lightly said, “No need.” Then, he handed the reins to a servant that had just come over.
The servant was extremely grateful towards him and repeatedly thanked him.
Not long after, inside the residence, Duke Zhen and his wife heard what had happened outside and hastily rushed over here. They genuinely expressed their thanks to Wei Chang Hong, then they commanded that the servant, who had been responsible for watching over the horse, be punished by being beaten twenty times with a rod and lose three months of salary. Duke Zhen and his wife also warmly invited Wei Chang Hong to come into their home.
But, Wei Chang Hong only silently raised a hand in acknowledgement before mounting his horse and riding away.
Duke Zhen and his wife were still in an undecided and panicked state. Gao Qing Yang held them for support as she walked inside.
Duchess Zhen couldn’t help praising Wei Chang Hong, “Sir Wei is truly an outstanding youth. Not only is he handsome, he’s also very talented.”
Gao Qing Yang silently followed them, but the recent image of Wei Chang Hong on the horse flashed through her mind. He had looked down on her from above as his wide sleeves were blown by the wind. His handsome eyebrows had been deeply furrowed as he very disapprovingly asked her, “Why didn’t you avoid it?
Gao Qing Yang had always thought he was an ignorant and incompetent person, a lounge lizard that used five minerals powder. But, in that moment, she felt that Wei Chang Hong’s figure was tall and handsome. Gao Qing Yang took out a silk handkerchief to wipe the mud from her face. In her mind, she thought it would be the better if she found the time to go to Duke Ying’s residence to say thank you again.
The summer weather was muggy and hot. It felt unbearable. As Wei Luo lied on an elmwood couch that was underneath a trellis roof for growing flowering vines, she could hear the continuous chirping of insects from the trees. She sat up to hold a cup of ice-cold black plum soup. As she sipped the soup, she said to Bai Lan, “Fan harder. Did you not eat enough at lunch? Why are you fanning so weakly?”
Bai Lan’s brow was twisted as she said, “Your Highness, you’re about to give birth soon. It would better if you drink less cold liquids.”
There was a thin layer of sweat on the tip of Wei Luo’s nose. Even though she was hiding underneath the trellis roof, she wasn’t able to escape from the heat. She lied back down on the couch and lazily looked up. “Don’t worry. I asked Doctor Sun about this. He said it was okay. If even my small desire of drinking something cold is taken away from me, I don’t know how I can endure through this endless summer.”
As soon as Bai Lan heard Doctor Sun’s said it was okay, she immediately stopped worrying. Doctor Sun was much more knowledgeable than them.
Wei Luo lied on the couch to rest for a while. When Zhao Jie came home, her eyes were closed and she was peacefully sleeping.
Zhao Jie waved his hand to indicate for Bai Lan and Jin Luo to withdraw and sat down on the couch. He parted the loose hair on Wei Luo’s forehead and gently used his thumb to wipe away the sweat.
During today’s morning court, Emperor Chong Zhen brought up the topic of establishing the next emperor again. The court ministers that had previously objected to Zhao Jie had already vanished without a trace. Some of them had met with accidents while they were traveling. Other court ministers had been thoroughly investigated by Emperor Chong Zhen for accepting bribes. There were also court ministers who took the initiative of proposing to retire from their official positions and returning to the countryside. Everyone had a tacit mutual understanding of who was behind all of this.
Other than Prince Rui, who had stepped forward, to retort, no one else in the imperial court dared to voice any objections. Regardless, the emperor had suppressed his objections and he could only step back to his original position.
The matter of choosing the crown prince was settled just like this. Once the Ministry of Rites selected an auspicious date and the Ministry of Justice finished drafting and finalizing the documents, Prince Jing Zhao Jie would be proclaimed as the crown prince. Emperor Chong Zhen announced that he would step down from the imperial court once this was done. In front of everyone, Emperor Chong told Zhao Jie to come with him to the imperial study. This was to clearly indicate that they would be discussing an important matter.
Prince Rui stood inside Han Yuan Hall with a gloomy and cold gaze. Soon after, he flung his sleeve and left the hall.
Zhao Zhang’s expression wasn’t good either. He clenched his fists inside his sleeve before following after Prince Rui’s footsteps and left the hall together.
Emperor Chong Zhen mentioned Jiang Nan’s flood to Zhao Jie about and asked about his opinions. After they finished discussing this matter, he didn’t say anything else, just waved his hand to indicate for Zhao Jie to leave the room.
Before Zhao Jie left the study, Emperor Chong Zhen put down his brush and looked at the blue sky and white clouds through the window. He suddenly sighed, “Once you ascend the throne, this emperor will leave the capital with your imperial mother and leisurely travel the country as husband and wife.”
Zhao Jie paused for a moment before he strode away without saying a word.
Zhao Jie’s movements woke Wei Luo up. When she opened her eyes, she saw that he was lost in thought. She couldn’t resist stretching her hand out and waving it in front of him. She asked, “What are you thinking about?”
Zhao Jie’s black eyes shifted. He grasped Wei Luo’s soft fingers, curved his lips into a smile, and said, “I was thinking about whether our child will be a son or daughter.”
Wei Luo very opinionatedly said, “It’s so mischievous. It’s definitely a son. Moreover, if a pregnant woman likes sour food, it means she’s going to have a son. If she likes spicy food, it means she’s going to have a daughter. Recently, I really like to eat sour plums.”
It wasn’t that Wei Luo had a preference for a son over a daughter. She was merely guessing based on what she knew. To be totally honest, Wei Luo still wanted to have a daughter slightly more. People all said that a daughter was like a small, cotton-padded jacket that would be intimate and considerate towards her mother. She also wanted a small cotton-padded jacket of her own.
Zhao Jie silently smiled. A while later, he finally said, “I thought of names for our child yesterday. Do you want to hear them?”
Wei Luo became interested, “Tell me.”
Zhao Jie said, “If it’s a son, then his name will be a single Chinese character, Xi. His name will have the warm and harmonious meaning of sunlight. If it’s a daughter, her name will be Ran Ran. It’s the ran from shi guang ren ran.” He looked at Wei Luo, pinched her small, round face, and asked, “What do you think?”
(Note: Shi guang ren ran is an idiom that means passing of time, usually used to express an emotional feeling that time is fleeting).
Wei Luo pondered for a moment and felt that both of these names were pretty good. “Have you discussed this with His Majesty?”
Zhao Jie said, “Why would this prince have to discuss my own child’s name with him?”
All of the names of the imperial descendants had to be approved by the emperor first. However, this wasn’t the first or second time that Zhao Jie acted so arrogantly. In all likelihood, Emperor Chong Zhen didn’t have a way to deal with him either.
Wei Luo nodded, “Both of those names are pretty good. Then, it’s settled.”
After they finished discussing this, Zhao Jie stretched his arms out to hug Wei Luo. He hadn’t had time to be affectionate with her in many days. Right now, he just wanted to be close with her for a while.
Unexpectedly, she avoided him fasted than a rabbit. With a look as if she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to escape from him, she scowled as she said, “It’s too hot. Stay farther away from me. Don’t come closer.”
She suddenly thought of something and looked around, “Why did you drive Jin Lu and Bai Lan way? There’s no one left to fan me. No wonder I feel so hot…”
Zhao Jie knew that Wei Luo didn’t like being too hot, but he still felt slightly injured from how she had reacted and his expression didn’t look good.
Zhao Jie grasped Wei Luo’s slender, white wrist, leaned over, and easily pressed her underneath his body. He calmly looked down on her, “You want me to stay farther away?”
Wei Luo shrunk back slightly. Even thought she was feeling hot, she didn’t dare to voice a complaint right now.
Zhao Jie lowered his head to bite her neck. He gently nibbled and his voice became quieter and quieter, “Ah Luo, do you know how difficult it has been for me to resist during the past few months?”
In consideration for the baby in Wei Luo’s belly, Zhao Jie hadn’t touched her for over eight weeks and he was very much longing to do so. Zhao Jie’s hand went inside Wei Luo’s small top to hold her white steamed bun. He bit it a few times as if he was venting his anger, but at the same time, he didn’t dare to use too much force. However, Wei Luo’s body was delicate and red marks quickly appeared on her skin. Wei Luo yelped in pain, so he changed to coaxingly sucking on it.
Wei Luo twisted her body. She couldn’t stop worry. “Stop, our child will be coming out soon. Doctor Sun said that we can’t do this during the last three months…”
Zhao Jie naturally remembered his words. He knew that he couldn’t truly touch her. He just wanted to feed his craving a little bit.
A moment later, quiet moaning could be heard from the trellis roof frame.
There were curtains hanging from the trellis roof frame, so the scene inside couldn’t be clearly seen, only the shadowy figures of two people could be seen. Zhao Jie had completely wrapped himself around Wei Luo with his head buried in her chest. After Wei Luo stretched a hand out to push him, she quietly yelped. Perhaps, she was feeling pain from being bitten again.
A long time later, Zhao Jie asked in dissatisfaction, “Why isn’t there milk?”
Wei Luo felt flustered and exasperated. If she wasn’t worried about harming her child, she really wanted to kick him to the ground. “It’ll only come after the child is born. I haven’t given birth yet, why would there be…” When she had said half of her sentence, her face had already become unspeakably red. She couldn’t finish her words.
Zhao Jie lingered in this position for a bit before turning over and wrapping his arm behind Wei Luo. He heavily breathed into Wei Luo’s ear and slowly said to Wei Luo, “Wait until this child is born and you’ll see how I’ll punish you.”
Wei Luo’s long eyelashes trembled. She didn’t say a word.
As the time for the birthing approached, Wei Luo’s mood became increasingly tense and nervous.
Zhao Jie had found the capital’s four most dependable and well-known midwifes for her. He had them stayed in Prince Jing’s residence for the time being. As soon as there was the slightest change in Wei Luo’s situation, it would be convenient to summon them to Wei Luo’s side.
Even so, Wei Luo still felt uneasy and anxious all day long. She hadn’t even started to give birth yet, but she had already made herself miserably worried.
Today, Wei Luo came to the study to bring Zhao Jie tea and snacks. Her wrist accidently knocked into the curved part of the red sandalwood table and her jade bracelet cracked into two pieces before falling to the ground. Wei Luo stared at the broken bracelet on the ground for a long time without moving.
Zhao Jie pulled her to his side, ordered Zhu Geng to throw out the broken bracelet, and looked at her as he said, “Look at you, you seem so scared. Why are you so ill-at-ease?” He pinched Wei Luo’s earlobe. He was comforting her as well as comforting himself, “Didn’t we already talk about this? This prince is here and won’t let anything happen to you.”
Wei Luo looked at Zhao Jie and nodded. She climbed onto Zhao Jie’s lap, wrapped her arms around his neck, and said, “I’m scared… I don’t know why. Maybe, it’s because this is my first time giving birth and I don’t have any experience, so my heart keeps feeling uneasy. No matter what I do, my thoughts keep wandering.”
Zhao Jie smiled as he scratched her nose, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re only scaring yourself.”
Wei Luo touched her nose and thought, perhaps.
However, she hadn’t sat on Zhao Jie’s lap for long before Yang Hao hurriedly rushed into the study. He didn’t even take a moment to follow etiquette before saying, “Your Highness, bad news. Bao He Hall caught on fire! Her Majesty was inside the hall chanting sutras!”
Zhao Jie’s expression changed. Fear also gripped Wei Luo’s heart.
Zhao Jie immediately stood up and coldly asked, “What happened? Where is imperial mother now?”
Yang Hao said, “This subordinate doesn’t know the exact details and only knows that Her Majesty hasn’t been rescued yet and is still trapped inside Bao He Hall.”
Zhao Jie’s expression was very ugly. He strode towards the door, “Prepared a horse!”
Wei Luo hurriedly followed after him. She grabbed Zhao Jie’s sleeve and said, “I want to go too.”
No matter how much you tried to avoid fate, the will of the heavens couldn’t be changed. Wei Luo had thought that since Zhao Jie had assigned people to watch over Bao He Hall’s surrounding area, Empress Chen’s death by fire would be avoided in this lifetime. Against her expectations, this event still happened. Wei Luo had felt there was something was wrong after hearing Empress Chen’s words at Qing Xi Palace’s entrance. Empress Chen’s voice sounded as if she no longer cared about anything. This was why she had asked Zhao Jie again to confirm and stopped worrying once he said everything had been arranged. But now… Why did this still happen?
Zhao Jie stroked her face, “Ah Luo, it’s not suitable for you to go there in your current condition. Stay here and wait for me to bring back news. Be good, I don’t want anything bad to happen to you too.”
Wei Luo insistently said, “I know that I can’t help with anything. But, imperial mother is in danger. I can’t just sit here and do nothing. Big brother, please bring me with you.”
Zhao Jie lowered his eyes and stared at her. A moment later, he ordered Yang Hao, “Prepare a carriage!”
The carriage hurriedly drove towards the palace. Before Wei Luo and Zhao Jie reached Bao He Hall, they already saw a raging fire in front of them. The intensity of the fire was like a torrential wave. Almost half of the sky was red because of the fire.
Zhao Jie’s expression was so ugly that it was terrifying. His thin lips were tightly pressed into a line. By the time they finally reached Bao He Hall, the area had already become a sea of fire. The fire had already engulfed the hall’s main doors. The blazing fire was raging. It made people feel intimidated and fearful. They didn’t dare to rashly go forward.
The guards and palace servants carried bucket after bucket of water to put out the fire. They hurriedly passed by Wei Luo and Zhao Jie. At this time, no one paid attention to etiquette. It was more important to put out the fire first.
Wei Luo looked up and saw the emperor standing diagonally from them. He was wearing his golden court robes with a pattern of dragons inside circles. Emperor Chong Zhen stared at Bao He Hall without moving. His eyes had turned red and his arms were faintly trembling at his side.
He probably hadn’t expected today’s scene either.
Emperor Chong Zhen thought that if he slowly and patiently made up for what he had done in the past, Empress Chen would definitely forgive him one day. He had even imagined that he would bring his Wan Wan to various places once Zhao Jie ascended the throne. They would go see Mount Emei and Sun Moon Lake. They would travel the world together as a couple and be as leisurely as wild cranes and floating clouds. They would be an ordinary husband and wife that had a love that was worthy of praise.
(Note: Mount Emei is one the four sacred Buddhist Mountain in China. Sun Moon Lake is the largest lake in Taiwan and one of the top eight scenic spots in Taiwan.)
He would have never anticipated that Empress Chen would be so cold-hearted towards him. She wouldn’t even give him a chance to redeem himself. She wanted to leave this world before him.
He couldn’t let her to leave like this!
They had taken so many detours and wrong paths until they had gradually drifted further and further away from each other. They had finally started to come back together on the same path. He had so many things that he wanted to say to her. How could she die? Emperor Chong seemed as if he had suddenly achieved enlightenment. He seized a bucket of water from a nearby guard, brought it over his head, and poured it over himself. He headed towards Bao He Hall without any hesitation.
Everyone was stunned stupid by his action. When Eunuch Chu returned to his senses, he hugged the emperor’s leg in fear and panic. “Your Majesty, what are you going to do? Don’t act rashly. People have already gone inside to find and save the empress. Perhaps, she’ll be rescued in just a few more moments and be brought out. You definitely can’t go inside!”
The people behind the emperor all kneeled down and shouted, “Your Majesty, please reconsider.”
Emperor Chong kicked Eunuch Chu away from him. He gritted his teeth and said, “Wan Wan is still inside. How can this emperor continue to wait her? Stop your nonsense. This emperor is a supreme being and won’t die easily.”
After he said this, he paused and looked at Zhao Jie, who wasn’t standing far away, with a complicated expression. “If something happens to this emperor, arrange for throne to be passed onto Prince Jing on behalf of this emperor.”
The group of people sorrowfully shouted, “Your Majesty!”
Zhao Jie’s eyes sunk and he clenched the fist that was hidden in his sleeve tighter and tighter.
Emperor Chong Zhen didn’t pay further attention to them. He turned around and resolutely walked into the sea of fire
The intensity of the fire was as powerful as torrential wave. Several of the hall’s pillars had fallen and there was dark smoke billowing in front of him. He couldn’t clearly see the path in front of him. Other than the palace guards, Zhao Jie had also sent several people inside the hall to rescues Empress Chen. However, no one had been able to find her. Some of those people had even been engulfed by the fire and became departed spirits.
Zhao Zhi Qing shouted, “Wan Wan, where are you?!”
Everyone was waiting outside of Bao He Hall.
Wei Luo tightly clutched Zhao Jie’s sleeve. Her heart felt as if had jumped up to her throat and eyes. Her belly had originally only felt slightly painful and she thought it was only because she was too nervous. However, the painful feeling gradually became more and more intense until she couldn’t ignore it anymore.
Wei Luo’s small face was pale as she helplessly called out Zhao Jie’s name.
Zhao Jie saw that her face didn’t look good. He hastily picked her up and asked, “Ah Luo, what’s wrong?”
Wei Luo clung to Zhao Jie’s robe and slowly said, “I… I think I’m about to give birth…”