Translated by Shiny
Cheng Qianye and Yao Tianxiang returned to the princess’ mansion hand in hand and a group of beautiful maidservants stepped forward to serve them.
Two charming maidservants with amorous eyes dexterously helped Cheng Qianye change out from the complicated outer robes into more comfortable clothing.
Liu Lu1 and Chun Xin were also at the back, ready to serve tea.
Liu Lu took off Cheng Qianye’s golden crown, freeing her hair from the neat twist before skillfully massaging her scalp with her ten nimble fingers. Afterwards, she combed her hair again and inserted a light jade hairpin into her hair.
“Marquis Ye’s2 collar is so high, it must be uncomfortable. The weather is gradually becoming warmer too, do you need Xin’er to sew some new clothes for Marquis Ye?”
Cheng Qianye declined to reply and comfortably sat beside Yao Tianxiang before taking the tea from Chun Xin.
Liu Lu knelt beside Cheng Qianye’s knees and started pounding her legs gently with her fists.
Chun Xin smiled and asked, “Marquis Ye must be tired today. Do you want Xin’er to sing a song for you and the Princess.”
Cheng Qianye stared at her for a long time before abruptly laughing for no clear reason and saying, “Go on.”
Chun Xin did not wear any makeup and her face was plain and fair. She cleared her throat and and her figure swayed as she started singing, “A Jade Tree Blossoms in the Back Garden.”3
Her voice was enchanting and soul-stirring, penetrating straight into the heart and seducing the most instinctive desires of the human body.
“In the light from the door she composes herself, hesitates a moment,
Comes out from the curtains, controls her feelings, welcomes me with a smile.
The bewitching beauty of her face is like a dew-filled flower,
The moving light from the jade tree shines on the back-garden.”
Cheng Qianye narrowed her eyes and softly tapped one hand along with the beat as she gently stroked Liu Lu’s head with the other. Liu Lu raised her head, her eyes glowing with autumn ripples and brimming with admiration as she gazed bashfully at Cheng Qianye.
Mo Qiao Sheng was standing quietly behind Cheng Qianye. Looking at Cheng Qianye’s hand that was stroking the head of another person, he felt an inexplicable vicious current arise from within his heart.
I really want to twist that head off.
He was taken aback by this frightening idea that suddenly appeared in his mind.
Haven’t you gotten too pampered and arrogant?!
Mo Qiao Sheng closed his eyes as he gave himself an internal rebuke.
Master gently accompanied you for a few days so you have forgotten your own status. How dare you have such an audacious idea?
Master… How can you wish to monopolize him? You can’t even be like them…. Serving Master like this.
He clenched his fists behind himself, almost wishing he could give himself a few slaps.
But his gaze seemed to be glued to that white palm.
Only he knew best how soft those hands were, carrying a breath of heat as they caressed his head like this and patted his shoulder innumerable times, making his scarred mind and body shiver under the onslaught of such tenderness.
Mo Qiao Sheng felt a wave of sorrow arise from within his heart that was difficult to constrain.
What is wrong with me?
He lowered his head as he tightly clenched his hands which were behind him.
“What is this song? It’s horrible.” Yao Tianxiang put down her teacup. “Change to another song, sing “Mei’s beheading case.”4
Cheng Qianye laughed and sat up. She patted Liu Lu and said, “Go, put on the play with her. Sing well for the Princess to hear.”
She tugged Yao Tianxiang’s hand, pulling her to sit a bit closer to herself.
Everyone realized that the couple had private words they wished to exchange and sensibly withdrew several steps away.
Liu Lu’s singing voice filled the room,
“I was in the Hall of Golden Chimes5 just now,
Long live, paying respects.
Together with the Princess, at the inner courtyard,
The Empress Dowager laughs at me.”
“Tianxiang, don’t be afraid.” Cheng Qianye leaned towards Yao Tianxiang’s head and whispered under her breath, “Don’t be afraid that I won’t keep my word. Afraid that there won’t be anyone to rely on in the future.”
“You want something from me now so you can naturally shower me with flowery words that are pleasing to hear. How can I trust you?” Yao Tianxiang glanced at her. “When we get to Jin Nation and I’m all alone, how will I know how your face is going to change?”
“Tianxiang, what I said before was to coax you. There are more than interests between people…. like love.” Cheng Qianye took her hand and squeezed it gently. “There are many forms of love, like familial love, the love between a couple and the love between friends.”
She looked into Yao Tianxiang’s eyes and realized that this woman who was strong on the surface had a fear towards the uncertainty of her future deep within her heart.
“Between you and I, although we cannot be husband and wife, we can still be friends.”
“The sentiments between friends may not necessarily be more transient than the love between husband and wife.”
“In this era, daring to love and hate as you do with the courage to cast off your fetters and be the woman you are in your innermost being is exceptionally rare. After getting along with you for these past couple of days, I have truly come to like you from the bottom of my heart. I consider you a friend, please believe in me.”
Yao Tianxiang glanced at her several times before struggling free from her grip. “Okay, okay, acting so sappy all of a sudden.”
“Who wants to be friends with you, I am merely acting for my own interests.” Her face was imperceptibly red.
Liu Lu’s singing floated towards them,
“Like riding a tiger,6 you must be ruthless,
Even if I am punished.”
Yao Tianxiang’s gaze flitted over towards the courtyard, catching sight of the figure of the young man dressed in the attire of the most humble of servants who was looking down at the fallen leaves as he stood beneath the huge banyan tree.
This was Yao Tianxiang’s most beloved man, but his status was only that of a lowly stable lad, forever unable to match up with her own superior status.
Yao Tianxiang thought back to those enchanting nights with beads of sweat dripping down from his bare body as they spent every time like it would be their last, joining together as he gave her all his strength before letting out a low roar and reaching the abyss of pleasure with her.
Who wants to submit to those wretched old fogeys? I’ve been living the same mouldy days throughout my entire life. I want this man and for his sake, I will take this bet.
The skies darkened and the evening lights were set alight.
Mo Qiao Sheng tidied himself up before heading towards Cheng Qianye’s bedroom.
Lately, he had been sleeping at the foot of his Master’s bed so that he could guard him.
Being alone together as he guarded his sleeping Master throughout the pitch-black night was the happiest matter for him in the midst of this precarious situation.
Just as he reached the door, Liu Lu and Chun Xin thwarted him.
“You are not needed here tonight. Fuma7 Ye says that the both of us can serve him tonight.”
Mo Qiao Sheng’s face sank and he stood motionless.
“Hey, I just spoke to you. Are you unable to understand human speech?” Chun Xin surveyed him from head to toe, her eyes filled with disgust. “Such rough skin and thick flesh. So big and ugly, yet you’re so shameless sticking to Fuma Ye all day, not looking at your own revolting behaviour. You don’t even deserve to pour tea.”
That figure dressed in black stood silently within the deep shadows of the night.
“I told you to leave, didn’t you hear me?” Liu Lu poked Mo Qiao Sheng’s chest. “Shameless and lowly scum, does a slave still want to monopolize the love of Fuma Ye?”
“Ah! Ah!” She suddenly shrieked, “It hurts, it hurts, it really hurts! Let go! Quickly let go!”
Mo Qiao Sheng clamped down on her wrist, his dark eyes aglow with a vicious light.
“What are you doing?” A gentle voice interrupted them. Cheng Qianye calmly strolled over to them.
Mo Qiao Sheng released his grip.
Liu Lu flew over and pounced herself to Cheng Qianye’s side, her eyes filled with tears and her body soft and delicate. “Fuma Ye, look what he did, he almost broke my hand, it will be hard for me to sing and act tomorrow.”
After speaking, she pitifully stretched out that jade-like hand which was imprinted with five shocking purplish bruises in the shape of a hand.
“Oh my, it’s all swollen, so pitiful.” Cheng Qianye held her wrist and blew gently.
Liu Lu was inwardly pleased with herself as she cast a glance at Mo Qiao Sheng. Mo Qiao Sheng dropped his hand as he bowed his head silently.
“Go see the doctor and get some medicine.” Cheng Qianye put down Liu Lu’s hand. “It’s late, go back and rest earlier.”
Then, under Liu Lu and Chun Xin’s shocked gazes, she walked over to Mo Qiao Sheng and reached out her hand to stroke his head before taking his hand and pulling him into her room.
Before closing the door, she turned to face the two who were obviously resistant and said, “I’ll teach him a lesson later, don’t be angry, go back.”
In front of Yao Hong; Duke Wei Heng,
A lady in charge of the affairs at the Princess’ mansion bowed her head and stood with her hands down.
“You said that he only regards that slave as a male pet? Are you sure?”
The lady staward folded her hands and raised them to her chin in salute. “Answering the Duke, it is truly the case. Marquis Jin Yue is preposterous, many people have witnessed that he tossed that slave until he wept endlessly, after which he came out of the room full of smiles. It’s really pitiful.”
Yao Hong sneered and said, “Such a talent but he does not know how to cherish it, only regarding him as plaything for the bed. It seems that Marquis Jin Yue is nothing more than a greedy lecher with no ambitions, nothing to fear.”
He pondered for a moment before asking, “Liu Lu and Chun Xin still haven’t been able to get close to him?”
“Marquis Jin Yue seemed to be very fond of them, but that slave Mo Qiao Sheng has good means and manages to get Marquis Ye to spoil him every night.” The lady hesitated for a moment before saying, “Even on the wedding night with the Princess, after Marquis Ye came out of the bedroom, he went to another room with the slave and…. called for water twice. From time to time, one could hear the sounds of crying and pleading, it was simply disgusting.”
“Could it be that he and Tianxiang are not a true couple?”
“That’s not the case, Fuma Ye and Princess have a very harmonious relationship, the young couple dismissed everyone and locked themselves together in a room for several hours this afternoon before coming out. They seem to have a tacit understanding between them which nobody is able to interfere with.”
Yao Hong nodded his head. “Tianxiang has a bad temper which nobody can tolerate. Does she still have any relations with that stable lad after she got married?”
The lady steward nodded her head.
“As the princess of an awe-inspiring country, there are so many handsome and talented youths who would like her and she could pick any one of them as a lover, but she insists on picking a cheap stable lad, it is simply a blemish on my dignity.” Yao Hong furrowed his eyebrows. “After a few days, find an opportunity to get rid of that stable lad, make sure you avoid any complications.”
At that moment, in Cheng Qianye’s room, the lights were extinguished and the moonlight penetrated through the window.
Mo Qiao Sheng held onto his sword as he reclined at the foot of the bed to sleep.
Cheng Qianye was lying on her stomach at the side of the bed with half of her fine black hair spilling down from the edge of the bed.
Her chin was resting on her arm and her clear eyes were aimed at Mo Qiao Sheng in the darkness.
“Are you really not going to come up to sleep? Isn’t it uncomfortable to sleep there?”
“It is already very comfortable with the bedding and pillows that Master bestowed. There is no discomfort.”
Fortunately, it’s dark. Mo Qiao Sheng thought. I don’t need to be afraid that Master will see me blush.
“Qiao Sheng, you should prepare. Me and the Princess have already discussed the details today and we will be leaving on the first day of spring.”
“Is the Princess coming with us?”
“Yes, Tianxiang is coming with us. She secretly helped me to send a letter the other day. General Helan and Minister Xiao will be coming with the navy and come meet us at the border.”
“I will stake my life and make sure to escort Master and Princess back home safely.”
Cheng Qianye dropped her arm and stroked Mo Qiao Sheng’s head. “Don’t stake your life. We must all return safely, hm?”
The night gradually got darker and Master’s hand which was stroking his head slowly stopped moving.
Mo Qiao Sheng stared fixedly at the glowing half of the face which was illuminated beneath the moonlight. He carefully lifted up the arm that was drooping down and gently placed it back on the bed.
The fine black hair was still hanging down and the ends of the hair poked him, making his face feel ticklish, reaching the depths of his heart.
After a long time, he rigidly lifted up his arm and gently wound a strand of hair around his finger before kissing it lightly as though he was being controlled by a devil.
1. In the previous chapter, she was called Liu Yue, but it’s changed to Liu Lu or Liu Ye (idk whats going on with this Liu x) in this chapter. I’ll see whether she’s mentioned later on and change it later.↩
2. (爷 – Yé) A respectful form of addressing a man of higher position [Sir; Master; Lord]/respectful form of addressing an elder man. Literal translation father/grandpa/old gentleman. Basically an honorific such as “sama” in jp.↩
3. (玉树后庭花 – yù shù hòu tíng huā) seems to have been a poem that was written by emperor Chen Shubao to celebrate the beauty of consorts Zhang and Kong. Chen Shubao who was said to have no interest in state affairs to the extent that he would often have Consort Zhang Lihua on his lap as he worked and make decisions according to her whims. The English translation of the verses from the poem are by John Frodsham.↩
4. (铡美案 – zhá měi àn) – Lolol this is an opera about Chen Shimei [which is also a byword for heartless and unfaithful men and based on Chen Shumei] who was a poor scholar studying for the imperial examinations. He was married to a woman named Qin Xianglian who took care of him, his family and their children so he would have time to study. Later, he left for the capital to take the examination leaving them all behind, but never returned. It turned out that he ranked first in the exam, gaining an official post and the favour of the emperor who offered to have his daughter married to him, after which, Chen Shimei hid that he was already married and married the princess. Qin Xianglian takes their kids later to look for him but he refuses to recognize them and orders them to be killed secretly. Lots of things happen and he later winds up being beheaded. Look it up and check the wiki article, quite interesting. ↩
5. Popular name for the emperor’s audience hall.↩
6. (势成骑虎 – shì chéng qí hǔ) – Idiom; if you ride a tiger, it’s hard to get off, ie; once you encounter a dilemma, it is difficult to extricate yourself from the situation.↩
7. (驸马 – Fuma) – Princess’ husband↩
Author: An Interview: Qiao Sheng, that night did you cry from pleasure, or did you cry from guilt?
Mo Qiao Sheng: Both… both of them.