Bonus chapter. An Ning trust in Xuan Chen is broken. Can it be mended back?
The day has finally come. I sat in my room, while my husband and my father are fighting outside. No matter who wins, I’m bound to be unhappy. After what seems forever, Lian Er finally came with news.
“The emperor has won. Your father is at court now hearing all his sins.”
I rushed to the court. I didn’t let the eunuch announce me. I stood outside against the door, hearing what my father has done. Corruption, treason, manipulating and more sins. He sentenced to death. Then I heard that the whole family is also sentenced to death. My eyes widened. My legs went weak. I wanted to rush inside but Lian Er grabbed me.
I waited the whole night for Xuan Chen but he didn’t come. The next morning when he did come, he knows that I must’ve heard the news. I kneeled and grabbed his feet.
“Please, spare my family.”
“An Ning, I can’t do that. Your father has committed treason. He raised his sword against his emperor. That alone is enough to sentence all nine generations die death. Beside he committed more sins. How can I spare them? What will become of the law if I spare them?”
“My brother didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t blame him just because my father is his father. You’re the emperor. You can surely make an exception.”
“An Ning there are things even an emperor can’t do.”
“Xuan Chen, I’ve never asked you for anything. This is and will be the only time I ask something from you. Please spare my family. I promise that they won’t get revenge on the imperial family.”
“An Ning, I’m sorry. If you asked me for anything else, I’ll give it to you. But this is something that I can’t do.”
I stood up and looked coldly at him.
“What about the daughter of someone who committed treason? Does she also need to die, Your Majesty?”
“An Ning don’t be unreasonable. You’re married to me now. You don’t have any ties to them anymore.”
“No ties? I’ve gotten his blood in me. My son will have his blood. What will you do about it? Since you want to make sure that nobody of his blood is alive, then you need to kill me.”
“You’re being unreasonable now. I’ll come back later.”
“If you kill my brother. Don’t you ever come back here.”
I went to the prison where my family is.
“Who are you? Nobody can’t go in,” said the guards.
“Who dare to block the empress,” asked Lian Er.
They looked at each other unsure what to do. I took out my seal. They say their greetings and let me in.
Everyone was wearing white criminal clothing. It hurts seeing them in such a state. My mom was the first to notice me.
“Ning Er, what are you doing here? You need to escape.”
They all looked at me. I only have eyes for my father. He didn’t seem like someone who was defeated. He’s still my prideful father.
“You’ve gotten thinner, father.”
“Did you come to say goodbye?”
“No, I’ve come to say I’ve never hated anyone before. I’ve never known that you will be the first. Why are you so hungry for power? We were well off, why do you need more? Do you see what you’ve brought us all too?”
“What’s wrong with wanting to be stronger? In this world only the strongest will survive. An Ning, you don’t see it now but you’ll see it later. Do you think that everything will last? Someday the emperor may favor somebody else. What do you have then aside from power to protect yourself? It’s not because I don’t want to fight means I’ll not end up fighting. Many people will force my hand to fight. Do you think I become so because I wanted to? I was once a foolish righteous man. I believed in the law. But the law did nothing when people were trampling over me. So I become stronger to protect myself and my family. I don’t regret anything that I’ve done. The only mistake that I’ve ever made is underestimating the emperor.”
“Xiao mei, go back. If the emperor finds you here, you might get into trouble.”
“Ge, I can’t let you die. Let’s escape from here.”
“I’ll rather die than live my life in hiding.”
“Ning Er, listen to your brother. Go back before you bring trouble to yourself. We weren’t born on the same day but we’re happy to die on the same day. We won’t be lonely on our road.”
“Mom, do you really want to die?”
She just smiled.
“When it’s your time, it’s your time.”
“Father, I really resent you. Why did you make me the emperor’s wife? Why make my husband kill you and make me witness all of this?”
He said nothing. I looked at each one of them. They looked back without any trace of sadness. I can’t believe they accepted their death so easily. I turned to leave.
“An Ning, you were a wonderful daughter. I regret a little for making you the emperor’s wife, but that’s your fate. The fortune teller said that you’ve gotten two fates as the emperor’s wife. He said to me to let you move freely to avoid all the people who want to hurt you. That’s reason why I’ve never bounded your feet was because I wanted you to be free to move when in danger and when people are scheming towards you. You need to stay strong to be able to survive. Believe the fortune teller because he told me my death and it’s the same even though I tried to change it. You really need to be careful.”
“I don’t believe in those things. I chose my own fate.”
Without looking back I walked away. When I arrived at my room Xuan Chen was there. I walked past him. I was in no mood to see him.
“I know that you were at the prison. Do you know what will happen if an official saw you there?”
I threw up in front of him. I feel weak and cold. He wanted to help me stay on my feet. I pushed him away.
“An Ning, you really can’t blame me for your father’s death. He deserves it.”
“I don’t blame you. How dare I blame the emperor? Can Your Majesty just go away? I’m not feeling really well today to entertain you. You can go to Consort De.”
“Do you know what you’re saying?”
“I know very well what I’m saying.”
He left angrily. The moment he left I gave up pretending to be strong and fainted.
When I woke up the physician was beside me.
“Congratulations, Your Highness. You are pregnant.”