Reign Of The Phoenix - BestLightNovel.com
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Outside Zhaogan Hall, eunuchs and maids lined up on both sides of the white marble steps. The maids each stood with a lantern in hand and their heads bowed. The eunuchs held their horsetail whisk as they respectfully bent their bodies in a slight bow.
On the first nine stone steps, all of the court officials arranged neatly according to their ranks, military officials in the left and civil officials in the right. Under the following nine steps were rows of guards standing at both sides with sharp weapons hanging on their waists. After the last twenty-one steps and on the vast field, the team sent by Shangxia Country to escort Murong Zhining were lined up in a proper formation.
Yan Feng led Murong Zhining out of Zhaogan Hall, her delicate white hand lightly settling on his palm. Behind them were two palace maids holding two big pheasant-feathered palace fans .
Today, Yan Feng wore the Tongtian Crown and dressed in a crimson dragon robe. He wanted to send Murong Zhining off with the most solemn ceremony to show how highly regarded she was in his heart.
A phoenix crown sat atop Murong Zhining's head. A fleeting brush on the eyebrows, a touch of red on the lips, and a flower painted with bright red rogue on the forehead was her makeup. She wore a bright-yellow, thin silk gown with large sleeves and embroidered with golden patterns, and a long flowery skirt that swept the ground. A sash decorated with precious gems emphasized her slender waist that could be wholly held with one arm.
Everyone watching this scene felt like they were in a grand wedding ceremony.
According to the rules, Yan Feng could only accompany Murong Zhining to this point outside the grand court hall. She turned to face him, her hands crossed over her shoulders as she bowed in farewell to him. Yan Feng nodded in response. Standing outside the grand hall, he watched her leaving with eyes full of love.
Under his intent gaze, Murong Zhining slowly descended the first nine steps. With her hands clasped before her body and her long thin silk gown dragging over the steps, she looked ethereally surreal as if coming from the celestial world.
Chiyun Yuexuan stood at the very front of the military official row on the right side of the steps, his thoughts swirled as he looked attentively at Murong Zhining floating down the steps. He finally understood the reason why Murong Zhining was so proud and refused to yield to him: her own inherent royal disposition, which had never reduced over the changes of ident.i.ty.
Painfully, it suddenly dawned on Chiyun Yuexuan that he had never won once in this battle. Murong Zhining had always been proudly looking down upon him. As light as clouds and breezes, her indifferent manner made him felt a kind of disdain, and the humiliation and torture he imposed on her was but only a means to hide his frustration.
At this very moment, Chiyun Yuexuan held a little hope that Murong Zhining would glance at him once, which would alleviate the sense of loss in his arrogant ego.
Murong Zhining looked straight ahead as she walked slowly and gracefully like a fairy. Under the sunlight, her slightly exposed white skin glowed with a pearly l.u.s.ter. Hanging between her delicate collarbones, a green phoenix tree leaf caught Chiyun Yuexuan's eyes. The leaf was pure green and translucent and s.h.i.+ning with a gentle light. However, the red string tied to it was somewhat tattered like it had undergone the wear and tear of time, looking very out of tune with the beautiful leaf.
Chiyun Yuexuan's hands involuntarily clenched, his palms beginning to sweat. Murong Zhining swayed past him, proud as ever. She didn't once spare him a glance like he had hoped, still regarding him as merely a pa.s.serby.
Chiyun Yuexuan's complex and resentful eyes fixed on her back. Suddenly, a little mole behind her ear p.r.i.c.ked his eyes.
Chiyun Yuexuan's mind was plunged into chaos. He staggered and his body swayed. Looking at Murong Zhining's figure getting further and further away, he couldn't control himself and softly called out, “Little Tabby.”
Murong Zhining froze in her steps. She stood here without turning her head, only gracefully reached out for her chest and pulled the leaf pendant off her neck, gently placing it next to a marble pillar. Then, she continued to walk down the steps in a calm and leisure manner. No one watching understood what had happened, and no one could make out her expression.
Yan Feng had seen it all from above. He suddenly realized that heaven had played a big joke on the three of them. He rushed down the steps to Chiyun Yuexuan, and in disregard of his dignity, threw a heavy punch at the latter's face.
Chiyun Yueuan was dumbstruck for a moment before he went to pick up the leaf pendant and gripped it tightly in his palm.
At the end of the steps, Shangxia's envoy and the companion palace maids knelt to pay homage to Murong Zhining, then helped her into an eight-horse carriage. The interior was large, decorated with carvings and paintings of dragons and phoenixes with a circle of ta.s.sels hanging at the top, looking like a mini palace.
The carriage left the palace under everyone's intent eyes and slowly disappeared from sight. Yan Feng and Chiyun Yuexuan kept gazing at the direction where it disappeared, both feeling empty as if something important had been lost.
Even after the court officials had dispersed, Yan Feng and Chiyun Yuexuan still remained. They each sat on the two sides of the steps lost in their own thoughts.
Yan Feng's memory rolled back to when he was 12 years old. One day, Chiyun Ping and Chiyun Yuexuan came to the palace to play with him. The two boys tacitly made up an excuse to drive Chiyun Ping away, then left the palace with the help of the eunuchs. Back then, the outside was especially appealing to Yan Feng, and Chiyun Yuexuan was more than happy to have someone running wild with him.
The two sneakily used a horse of Chiyun Nan's and rode it out into the city. Riding on the same horse, the two boys had enjoyed the wind and were shouting loudly as they sped through the fields. They didn't notice that there were two men on horseback slowly approaching them.
When Yan Feng and Chiyun Yuexuan realized the incoming danger, they jumped off the horse and hid in a patch of waist-high wild gra.s.s. As the two mounted men slowly walked towards them, a voice could clearly be heard, “Search carefully, don't let them escape.”
Yan Feng and Chiyun Yuexuan rolled into a ditch beneath them. Right after that, a rustle noise of gra.s.s being swept through sounded above their heads.
A shrill voice asked, “There are two children. Which one did Big Bro tell us to grab?”
A hoa.r.s.e voice replied, “The spy said the one a little bit bigger is the prince. We need to catch him.”
The shrill voice remarked, “Their horse is here, so they shouldn't have run far. Search carefully. There will be no error if we just catch them both.”
As the rustling sound gradually went further away, Yan Feng and Chiyun Yuexuan sneakily ran in the opposite direction. However, the sound of their movements alerted the two evil-doers, who instantly turned around to chase after them.
Chiyun Yuexuan whispered in an urgent tone, “I'll lead them away. You go back and find help.”
Yan Feng was resolute, “No, we run together.”
Chiyun Yuexuan slightly pushed Yan Feng. “If you get caught, my father will definitely kill me. Besides, they'll release me soon when they know they have the wrong person.”
Then, Chiyun Yuexuan pushed Yan Feng to the ground and pressed his head down. Yan Feng could vaguely see a green, leaf-like object half-exposed from inside Chiyun Yuexuan's lapel.
Chiyun Yuexuan crawled to the high ground, then started to run away. The two pursuers quickly caught up with him. The one with the low, hoa.r.s.e voice viciously asked, “Where's the other one that was with you?”
Chiyun Yuexuan pretended to tremble with fear. “You must let this Little Lord go at once, or my imperial father won't let you off. My imperial father is the emperor.”
The two men exchanged glances, then grabbed him and left.
Chiyun Yuexuan also recalled what happened that year. The taller man blindfolded him with a black cloth and put him on a horse, before getting on the horse himself and galloped off. The horse ran for a very long time. When it stopped, someone carried him over their shoulder and walked a long way. Chiyun Yuexuan judged that it was a long mountain road. In the end, he was thrown into a room.
Chiyun Yuexuan slowly rubbed his head against the ground until the cloth covering his face was torn to see that this was a woodshed. Piles of hay randomly lay around the room. A little while later, the taller man entered, shoved him on the ground and tied his hands backward around a pillar. Glaring at Chiyun Yuexuan with menacing eyes, the man threatened in a coa.r.s.e voice, “Behave and stay in here. If you run, I'll have your life.”
Chiyun Yuexuan was locked up for a whole day. No one ever came to give him any food or drink. He was left feeling hungry and thirsty.
The door to the woodshed suddenly creaked opened a little. A little head with two hair buns poked inside and looked a little before immediately shrinking back. Chiyun Yuexuan didn't see clearly. Scared, he asked, “Who goes there!?”
The little head stuck in again. It was a four, five-year-old little girl, her face dirty with some black matter.
Chiyun Yuexuan softly asked her, “Hey, can you release me?”
The little girl didn't talk and fearfully drew back her head. The door closed again with a creak.
Chiyun Yuexuan struggled with all his might, but the rope tightly bound him without any sign of loosening.
The door creaked again as it was gently pushed open. The little girl snuck into the shed, then looked outside a little, before very gently closing the door. She walked over to Chiyun Yuexuan and held a mantou to his lips. Chiyun Yuexuan couldn't hold himself back and hurriedly bit down on it; he was starving. The little girl went to the window, where a big water tank was placed. She pushed open the heavy cover with difficulty, then tiptoed to scoop half a spoonful of water from the tank that was as tall as her, and brought it to his lips.
After his stomach was filled, Chiyun Yuexuan asked the little girl, “Is this your home? What did the adults in your family capture me for?”
The little girl didn't talk. She only shook her head and left the shed.
The next day, the little girl came again and secretly snuck him half a pancake. As Chiyun Yuexuan ate the cake that she fed to his mouth, he asked, “What's your name?”
The little girl shook her head. “Nanny doesn't allow me to talk to strangers. I heard that short man say, he'd kill you once they got the money.”
Chiyun Yuexuan pleaded in a low voice, “Can you release me, then?”
The little girl looked at him, frightened. “If I release you, they'll kill me.”
Chiyun Yuexuan patiently persuaded, “I can bring you to run away with me.”
The little girl still shook her head. “They'll kill my nanny.”
The two didn't say anything more. After a long time of silence, the little girl seemed to have made a big decision. “Little Big Brother, I'll let you go. I don't want to see you killed by them.”
The little girl untied his rope and tiptoed very carefully as she snuck him to the yard. She pushed away the firewood piled up against the wall, revealing a doghole leading to outside the yard. The girl took him to crawl through it.
Chiyun Yuexuan followed her running to the back of the mountain. The little girl looked up at him. “Little Big Brother, hurry and run, they'll return soon. Don't run towards the road, run into the woods.”
Chiyun Yuexuan ran for a little and stopped when seeing that no one was chasing him. He ran back and squatted down, rubbing the little girl's fluffy head. “I'm called Chiyun Yuexuan. Take this and find me at the imperial capital later.” He took the jade phoenix tree leaf off his neck and put it on the little girl's.
The little girl's voice was really innocent, “Little Big Brother, your name is so strange. What eating fish… and want it fresh even?” She turned to look back, “Eating fish brother, hurry and run, someone's coming.”
Chiyun Yuexuan looked at her gratefully, and saw a little red mole behind her ear. His eyes reddened. “Thank you, Little Tabby .” Then, he turned to run towards the woods.
The little girl ran in the opposite direction, helping him by leading the pursuer away.