Chapter 146: He Says
Wang Hong had lowered the curtain again, however. His husky and suggestive voice sounded from the other side of the fluttering fabric: "I recently acquired an irresistible servant girl... I beg your pardon, Your Majesty." He sounded as if he was laboring for breath.
Everyone outside was overcome with surprise.
Momentarily, both the emperor and Prince Ren were stunned silly, while the soft-spoken girl bit her lips to prevent her tears from falling.
At long last, a loud laughter broke the silence.
The young emperor slapped the carriage as he rocked back and forth in mirth, laughing so much that he was tearing up.
Prince Ren was also laughing. "Good for you, Wang Qi! Good for you! You're actually getting it on in a horse carriage, haha."
Most members of the Sima House were debouched and proud of it. Prince Ren and his peers were more than delighted to hear Wang Hong's words, for it was as if they'd found a kindred spirit.
"Let's go," Wang Hong said to his men while the aristocrats were still laughing.
As soon as his carriage moved, people turned to look at the young emperor. The laughing emperor clapped his hands and ordered, "Let them through, let them through. I already know Lang'ya Wang Qi likes cleanliness. I reckon he wants to rush home for a bath and change of clothes. Hahahaha."
The carriage pulled away in the midst of his laughter.
There was a man who had been watching Wang Hong's entourage, having wanted to interfere several times. Unfortunately the emperor was laughing so merrily, and the two princes rapt in banter, that he never found a chance.
Only when the emperor's laughter ceased did he find an opportunity to come closer to him with this whisper: "Your Majesty, Wang Qi is not going in the direction of the Wang Estate... You see, he is heading towards Xishan Temple."
Xishan Temple? The emperor widened his eyes, blinked twice, and then broke out laughing. "Does Wang Qi want to make love in front of the Divine Founders?"
The other man did not think the emperor would make such a conjecture; he couldn't help but blink his eyes speechlessly.
Prince Ren drove his carriage to the emperor while still looking in the direction of Wang Hong's departure. He suddenly tutted with a smile. "Who would've thought..."
Another young man who resembled him was shaking his head again and again as he sneered: "Even Lang'ya Wang Qi behaves this way. Hmph, let's see how those sanctimonious pedants are going to criticize us now."
The emperor had been laughing so much that he couldn't stop his tears. "Good for Wang Qi, good for Wang Qi! Damn, Wang Qi's our peer after all, a libertine who has sex when he wants it. I like this guy!"
The courtier behind him was at a loss for words. He never thought that the emperor, who didn't particularly like heirs of prestigious clans, to praise Wang Hong for such absurdity and then easily let him go... Not only that, the two princes present were also beaming as if they had met a fellow believer.
Only the girl was sulking at this time. She suffered her brothers' laughter for as long as she could before snapping: "Stop laughing! And stop talking!" She pursed her lips and burst into tears. "Terrible Wang Qi, awful Wang Qi... Boohoohoo, I don't like this Wang Qi."
The men stopped when they saw their sister in distress, but resumed their laughter soon enough. The softhearted Prince Ren drove over and sighed. "Silly child, even if Wang Qi were Liuxia Hui, we would not allow you to marry him. What good will your sadness do?"
The girl cried more disconsolately.
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Wang Hong's carriage was still driving on.
At the moment, Chen Rong's murmurs and his gentle whispers were the only sounds from his entourage.
Several advisors traded glances. One of them approached and said from the other side of the curtain, "My lord, the clan chief will be angered by what you did."
Another advisor added, "My lord, there are many ways to deal with His Majesty, why did you have to do this? The conservative ministers will be disappointed by your actions."
The two men sighed as the third unhappily continued: "The clan has high expectations for you. Several courtiers had even recommended you just a few days ago. Even if you have no ambition for a political career, there is no need to do this. Those pedants are going to use this as a pretext. The clansmen will also want to stir the pot."
Their persuasion and lament made little difference. The man in the carriage was still gently whispering to the woman and paid no attention to any of them.
They looked back and forth at one another and at last sighed.
After circling the road, the carriage quietly ascended the mountain to enter Xishan Temple.
By the time Chen Rong woke up, Xishan was in twilight. As bird chirping rose and fell, the sunset hues filtered through the window screen and illuminated half of the room.
She was enveloped in the setting sunlight, its rays dancing in front of her.
She opened her eyes and slowly turned her head only to see a very handsome face. At the moment, his head was resting above hers, and she was curled up in his arms.
She didn't want to wake him up. He was sleeping on a table. His long lashes cast arched shadows on his handsome face. With the golden sunlight scattered on his jadeite skin, she could even see the fine fuzz on his upper lip.
Chen Rong blinked and slowly reach out to tentatively touch his face.
She grazed across his warm skin but suddenly retracted her hand as if a current shocked her.
She kept her head down and did not move, and then her eyes flew open.
Warmth enveloped her waist at this time.
Wang Hong is awake?
Chen Rong froze.
The man behind her did not notice her tension. He gently held her small waist and asked, "Did you just wake up?"
He bowed his head to look at her and quietly said, "They used an incense to drug you."
It was a simple statement.
As Chen Rong's head bowed lower, his voice ebbed like flowing water: "Ah Rong, you haven't lived in Jiankang and Luo'yang so there are certain things you don't know. The aristocrats had indulged in pleasures for hundreds of years; their forms of entertainment are evolved and varied. They are all experts at alcohol, drugs, and sex. When they get tired of these things, some would even have their fun with male lovers."
He wound a strand of Chen Rong's hair around his finger, gently saying, "They have drowned in those alcohol and drugs for so long that they've naturally come up with hundreds of them. Even if you are careful, it's nearly impossible to avoid." He seemed to have detected Chen Rong's self-blame and chagrin. His words were as gentle as the breeze.
Chen Rong did not speak.
But his quiet voice was still floating in the small bedroom under the evening's glow: "Did you hear the song I asked them to sing that day, Ah Rong?"
He proceeded to sing to himself: "Art thou rich or poor, art thou wrong or right? No one flees from death, whether king or knight. The mulberry fields will soon be blue seas. What the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency."
After a long time, Chen Rong quietly asked, "You said what the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency?"
What they have is but clemency? In other words, preeminent members of great clans like the Wang House and Xie House could only be exempted from public execution. Was that not to say assassination, poison, and diseases were all within the realm of possibility?
He combed his fingers through her hair and casually said, "The major clans are quite satisfied with the current situation."
Chen Rong shivered.
The Hu invasion had wiped out the entire northern population. Luo'yang, as the imperial city, were trampled on time after time. Numerous fortress cities such as Mo'yang were laid under siege and burned to the ground. Countless families of Jin descent were killed under the invaders' hooves, their skeletons piling high. Yet the major clans were satisfied with this situation?
Did that mean many people did not want a wise emperor?
Did it mean these people did not want to see anyone from the Wang House of Lang'ya or the Xie House of Chen County to have the political talent and military prowess to expel the barbarians?
The more Chen Rong thought the more she understood and the more disappointed she became. "Then what about you?" she murmured after a long time.
Wang Hong smiled to see her unable to help herself from worrying about him.
He looked down and softly said, "I've sent men to guard this monastery of yours."
They had still been talking about the state of affairs when he suddenly tossed out this line.
Chen Rong stilled, not knowing what to say... She wanted to turn him down, but in a city like Jiankang, if she was drugged today, then she could be harmed by much worse tactics tomorrow.
"Thank you," she quietly said with a smile at length.
Wang Hong's answer was clean and clear.
Chen Rong had left his embrace by this time, and so he was free to get up.
After two steps, he glanced back at her.
Strands of golden twilight strewed on his body, his hair, his face, and his robe. Almost suddenly, his entire presence transformed and he was indescribably beautiful if also nebulous.
He looked sideways at her, his hair falling across his left eye. His draping dark hair, his jadeite face, and his vivid eyes all made for an eternal, beautiful picture.
He was as beautiful as jade.
And this beautiful man was, at this very moment, tenderly gazing at her.