Edited by renderedreversed
Though Chu Kong was blushing, he didn’t hide away. Instead, he slowly began to walk towards us. I drank a cup of wine while observing everyone’s expression. Xinyun leaned closer to me, her face full of panic. Chu Yi was more nervous than I was. Quietly, he went over to Xinyun’s side as if he was afraid that when Chu Kong got here, he’d kill her. The expressions of the maids behind Chu Kong were resentful. Only Chu Kong seemed indifferent. With a raised chin, he stood proudly before me. His face was a bit pale. The pregnancy must’ve weakened his body’s health.
I stroked my chin. Under such circumstances, how should the dialogue of the princess and the general go? I agonized over it without result. Chu Kong took the initiative and sat down beside me. He pointed at Xinyun’s hand, which was holding mine, and said, “Let go.”
Her voice wasn’t loud, but her tone was arrogant and left no room for disobedience.
Fire seemed to have caught on Xinyun’s hand. With a “putong” sound, she immediately knelt down. Tears were in her eyes as she looked at me. It was a display worthy of pity.
At this point, I still hadn’t figured out how General Chu would react, so I continued to act all mean, serious, and general-like with an inscrutable look on my face. And I kept drinking. Naturally, I was waiting for Chu Kong to clean up this mess.
Chu Kong also picked up a cup and poured himself some wine. The maid behind him immediately said, “Princess, you’re pregnant. You shouldn’t drink.”
Chu Kong quietly played with his cup of wine for a while. Then, he placed the cup on the table and pushed it over to Xinyun.
“I’ve forgotten that I was pregnant. That being the case, Lady Xinyun can drink this cup of wine on bengong’s[1. 本宫 (Běn gōng): means I. When someone from the court excluding the emperor refer to him/herself they’ll use ben before their title like ben wang, ben fei, ben jiangjun and ben gong. behalf].”
Xinyun shivered. Her eyes were frightened. I suddenly remembered that this was no different from getting wine from the royal family2. But I also know that, although Chu Kong was arrogant, he wouldn’t just casually murder someone. This wine must be because he wanted to tease her…
- When an emperor or someone from the royal family wants to give you a cup of wine, mostly it’s poison
So, I also opened my eyes and excitedly looked at Xinyun.
Chu Yi was more impatient than I. I waved to shut him up. Xinyun looked over to me, asking for help with her eyes. I also stared at her. She seemed to know that I wouldn’t open my mouth to save her, so she gritted her teeth, grabbed the cup of wine, raised it, and drank it all in one go. Xinyun closed her eyes and waited in fear for a long while. But…nothing happened. More horrified than she was before, she opened her eyes and quickly glanced at Chu Kong.
“Princess Qingling, you…”
“What about bengong?”
Chu Kong smiled.
“What about bengong, you can only endure it.”
Xinyun hung her head. Her fists were clenched. The surroundings turned dead silent. Chu Kong’s finger was tapping on the table. His head was bent, so I didn’t know what he was thinking. I felt that staying silent like this was also not the answer, so I let Chu Yi send Xinyun off. Chu Kong and I sat for a while, and then she let the maids wait outside.
After everyone left, I raised my thumbs: “You performed very much like a princess. That arrogant look, cheche… Forcing a woman like that, don’t you feel guilty?”
I suddenly remembered the first time I went to the Netherworld: there was a lady dressed in pink who stood beside Chu Kong. I thought really hard and finally remembered her name. Thus, I decided to tease him and said, “Did you ever treat that Immortal Yingshi like that?”
Chu Kong’s eyes lightly swept over me. “Yinshi would not make such a disgusting expression.”
Hearing him protect another woman shouldn’t have upset me so, but I was reminded of a time four lifetimes ago, when he told that same woman he would come back and watch the stars with her after he made me an eunuch. The difference in treatment, so stark as it was said in the same breath, was as marked as the Netherworld was vast.
My heart suddenly decided it was unhappy.
I placed my cup on the table and said, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Xinyun’s expression. Being weak can reap many benefits.”
Chu Kong looked at me out of the corner of his eyes and raised a brow. “After receiving a turtle shell, you still think of yourself as a man?”
I didn’t want to argue with him about this, so I turned and looked at the sky. “So. Autumn. The weather is nice today.”
Chu Kong coldly laughed. “While I was busy thoroughly investigating this situation, here’s a certain someone who spent his time sitting around and drinking all day. Getting comfortable as the man of the house, I see. Eating men and women alike, your life is really good.”
- Chu Kong meant that she likes both men and women.
I protested: “Firstly, I don’t see myself as the owner of this body, and I didn’t spend my time eating men and women alike. Secondly, I also earnestly went to find out more about our surroundings.”
“Oh? Then tell me what you’ve found out.”
I put on a solemn expression and seriously said, “The cook of the General’s manor tends to overcook the food.”
As an example, I picked up one of the desserts on the table and took a bite. It was disgusting. “I really don’t know how the general and the princess bore it till now. I’m trying to find a reason to dismiss him.”
Chu Kong’s lips trembled. Unrestrained, he flung the plate of desserts into the pond to feed the fish.
“Good for nothing.” That was his evaluation of me.
Then he said, serious: “Did you see that this Xinyun is not simple?”
I was surprised and gulped down the desserts in my mouth, letting them come to rest in the pit of my stomach.
“How complex can she be?”
“Think, with the little brain that you have. If the arrogant princess really decided to perish together with the general, do you really think that she’d leave Xinyun alone? But this woman is still alive, so I relentlessly researched her. Sure enough, someone is manipulating her from behind.”
Chu Kong shook his head. “What I can find now isn’t much. But you must be careful around this woman.”
He touched his chin, narrowed his eyes, and said, “With the limited power I have at the moment, I couldn’t find much about Xinyun. The previous general who climbed from soldier to general must have been a smart man. He must’ve also detected something strange about Xinyun’s origin. But why did he love her? Did she really befuddle his mind…”
I tapped my cup and speculated: “Could it be…that the general didn’t actually like Xinyun as much as other people thought he did?”
And also, I privately added, he didn’t actually hate the princess as much as other people thought he did, either…
Chu Kong frowned and thought for a while. Then, he said, “These troublesome mortals! All day long, they only know how to make a mess of things!”
I scratched my head and said, “I really want to go to the Netherworld and ask them what happened!”
Feeling sad for a while, I sat down, and the pavilion quieted down as well. The autumn wind blew. I whispered: “Pregnancy…how are you feeling?”
Chu Kong’s voice seemed to have disappeared. I continued to ask, “Did your belly grow bigger? Why do I feel that nothing is happening to you, ah…”
I thought that after hearing me start such a topic, Chu Kong would get angry. But all he did was glance at me and say, “What should happen? Say it, let me hear it.”
I raised my fingers one by one and counted: “The whole body feels tired, loss of appetite.”
“The breast hurts, nauseous and vomiting.”
Chu Kong shook his head. “No.”
I wondered: “Didn’t your belly grow bigger?”
“How would I know if it got bigger?” Chu Kong asked me. “Would xiaoye touch a woman’s belly when he’s bored?”
“But now this is your body!” I pouted. “Do you think it’s cool to need to lift up this small jiji when I go to the toilet? I, a virtuous lady, need to do this every day. What’s wrong with touching your belly every day to see if the child is well?”
Chu Kong narrowed his eyes. “Do you think it’s easy to be a woman? This chest feels like a heavy iron ball, but every day, I still need to walk with a straight back. It’s really tiring.”
“Nonsense! Do you think I haven’t been a woman before?! Don’t exaggerate.”
Chu Kong raised an eyebrow and was quiet for a while. Suddenly, he smiled and said, “En, I think you’ll never know my sorrow.”
I clenched my fists. This bastard…what was he trying to say…
Chu Kong suddenly stood up and picked up the jug of wine.
“This afternoon, I’ll go and test that ‘weak expression that can reap many benefits’ of Lady Xinyun’s. The wound on General is still not healed. I’ll reward this wine to others.”
He walked out of the garden.
I stared at the empty table. This pregnancy of Chu Kong was strange. I should go and ask a doctor; let him give her some medicine that would be good for a pregnant woman…
Princess was busy doing things outside, so the general needed to make him feel at peace on the inside. After all, we had a working relationship now.
After the meal, I went to see the live-in physician. Physician Zhang was a middle-aged man. He seemed a little useless, too afraid of death. When I entered his room, he had already been shivering. Frowning, I asked: “Did you recently go to check the princess’s pulse?”
Physician Zhang uncontrollably shivered. “Answering the general, since the last time the princess…was poisoned, she no longer lets me check her pulse, and the medicine has also been returned.”
“Nonsense,” I shouted angrily. “Forget about the princess being capricious. You helped her hide this and did not report to me!”
If it delayed Chu Kong’s labour, I feared that I could no longer see this kind of adventure!
Physician Zhan was scared and kowtowed. “General, forgive me! General, forgive me!”
I saw him pitifully shivering on the floor and let him stand up to answer. Then I told him the symptoms that Chu Kong told me earlier. I hadn’t even asked him about it yet, when he knelt again with a “putong” sound. His body was trembling now. I wondered: “I didn’t bully you. What are you afraid of? Stand up.”
“I don’t dare! I don’t dare!”
Seeing him like that, I got angry and snapped: “Stand up! Say everything you know!”
Physician Zhang attached his head to the floor. With a tremulous voice, he said, “I…I think that this symptom of the princess is… I fear…I fear that in princess’ belly is a stillborn.”
I blinked. I didn’t understand.
“Say that again.”
I squatted down and placed my ear beside his mouth.
“Princess…princess is pregnant with….with a stillborn.”
I carefully listened to his words, and once I comprehended them, I stood up, feeling a little dizzy. Physician Zhang, trembling again, began a bumbling speech: “General, General, if we don’t let the fetus come out quickly, it’ll cause great harm to the mother! If it isn’t done properly, the princess will also…”
My heart chilled. I grabbed Physician Zhang’s hand and went straight to Chu Kong’s residence.
Let a stillbirth be a stillbirth. Being unable to see Chu Kong go into labor was fine, but if he died…
I inexplicably began to panic. If he was dead, with what would I play with?
I hurriedly rushed to Chu Kong’s chamber. His maid was evasive and refused to tell me where Chu Kong was. I was so angry that I was nearly breathing fire. Suddenly, I remembered that he told me he was going to test Lady Xinyun this afternoon. At about this time, he should already be at Xinyun’s. I grabbed the physician again, let Chu Yi prepare a carriage, and hustled over to Xinyun’s residence.
Xinyun lived in a small house on the west of the city. This was especially arranged by the general. When the carriage stopped in front of the door, I jumped out.
I suddenly heard Chu Kong’s gasp, coming somewhere from the yard. “Damn…..”
His voice was tight. He sounded like he was in unbearable pain.
Chu Yi frowned. He must be surprised that the haughty and proud Princess Qingling would lower herself to curse.
I didn’t have time to care about our identities being discovered; something must’ve happened inside, and I wasn’t going to spend another minute waiting. I took two steps, kicked the door open, and went straight inside.
Nothing prepared me for the scene inside. There were three men in black standing tall. One of them had grabbed Xinyun by her armpits. She seemed to have suffered light injuries.
Chu Kong was squatting on the ground. His whole forehead was full of cold sweat, and he was very pale. A large gorgeous skirt was spread over the ground. Two maids were lying beside Chu Kong, and whether they had just fainted or had already left on the road to the Netherworld was anyone’s guess.
At my sudden appearance, the three men, frightened, shared a look.
Then someone shouted the word “run,” and something exploded. Dust was everywhere. The Chu Yi beside me didn’t wait for the dust to settle and went to catch up with them. In a blink of eye, I didn’t know where he went to, and I didn’t care about who those people were, either. I ran towards Chu Kong instead, patting his face to consciousness.
“Hey, how are you? Injured? Where are you injured?”
Chu Kong grabbed my hand. He couldn’t spit one complete word out. I listened to each carefully for half a day and still didn’t understand. His eyes began to roll to the back of his head. Finally, I was able to understand two words from the broken pieces that came out of his mouth: “Given…birth…”
I blanked out. Nothing else mattered at the moment; I pulled him close and hugged him. The wide skirt beneath him was drenched in blood, and even more blood was still gushing out at an unimaginable speed. It was my first time experiencing such a scene; I was so scared that I began to tremble. Panicked, I exclaimed, “Chu Kong, this isn’t right! Why is it like you’re menstruating instead of giving birth…this isn’t right!”
Physician Zhang, who was hiding outside, seemed like he couldn’t stand it anymore. He ran over to me, gaze flickering to Chu Kong as he cried, “General, it’s a dead fetus. The fetus has flown out! We can’t let the princess continue to bleed. We must stop the bleeding!”
In the chaos, somehow I still managed to ask: “How, how, how do we stop the bleeding? Block it? With what does it need to be blocked? Rolling pin?”
The physician hadn’t given me an answer yet, when Chu Kong, who I thought had already fainted, suddenly grabbed my hand. His glare was ferocious when he said, “You dare to be so reckless… Try it and see what happens!”
I was so anxious that I was about to cry. My eyes were red and my nose felt sore and sour.
“Then what am I supposed to do?! Does it hurt? What do I need to do? What do you want me to do?!”
Chu Kong, seeing me in such a state, was a bit surprised: “It’s just…one reincarnation…”
How could I not understand that? The purpose of our lives in this world was just a reincarnation, just one lifetime in a line of seven, but every reincarnation was unique. If we missed it, it would be gone for good.
Humans were fragile. That was why they knew how to cherish life more than us immortals. Perhaps Chu Kong and I would never understand the fear of death, but at this moment, I knew that he miscarried a life. All I could do was helplessly watch that life pass, as all humans would…
It was impossible to be unafraid. It was impossible to stop trembling. Gods had very few feelings, but perhaps that was only because there were very few matters that concerned them.