Reign Of The Phoenix - BestLightNovel.com
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Yan Feng sat on the marble steps in front of the hall, his expression quite lonely. “I'd rather it had been me who they captured and not you. Like that, the person Ning'er saved would have been me, the 'little big brother' who she constantly kept in mind would be only me. Ning'er had been rejecting me all because you met her earlier than me. But she never expected that, not only did she save a wolf, she even delivered herself to its mouth. You destroyed her. Do you know how lively and cheerful she used to be? Even I can't recognize her now.”
Chiyun Yuexuan looked somber. “I've spent such a long time with her, yet I didn't once discover the phoenix leaf on her. If just for once, I had looked at her seriously, I would have recognized her. Your Majesty, please allow me to escort Princess Fengyi to Shangxia. I owe her an apology.”
Yan Feng flew into a rage. He stood up. “Don't you think you've hurt her enough already? She disdains your words of apology. I forbid you from bothering her!”
Chiyun Yuexuan stood up and headed outside the palace. He ignored Yan Feng's warning, “Please forgive me that I cannot obey!”
Yan Feng shouted at his back, furious, “This is my bottom line! If you insist on going about things the wrong way, don't blame me for disregarding our past friends.h.i.+p.”
Chiyun Yuexuan walked back into the palace and went to Minghui Palace to bid farewell to Chiyun Ping. As he did, his face was full of remorse. “I will go against the decree and escort Murong Zhining. If His Majesty condemns me for this, I'll probably be unable to return. Big sister, please take care!”
Chiyun Ping shouted in a low voice, “Are you insane? You both are bewitched by that Murong Zhining. I won't allow you to be so willful.”
Chiyun Yuexuan stood up to leave. “I only came to say goodbye, not to negotiate with you. If His Majesty punishes me, please take good care of our father in my place, sister.”
Chiyun Ping chased behind him yelling, “Chiyun Yuexuan, get back here! You can't go!”
Cai Qin had just brought the tea when she saw Chiyun Yuexuan left in a hurry. Pretending to help her master by seeing off the guest, Cai Qin followed behind Chiyun Yuexuan and rambled, hoping to attract his attention, “Did that cheap maid, Murong Zhining, make you angry again, General? That lowly maid was very dirty back in the Zhuang Estate. The servants there all knew that the foolish son and his father shared the same concubine. It's already a blessing from heaven that she got to follow General. I didn't think she wouldn't know to be satisfied and even wanted to climb up His Majesty's coattails. She really has no shame.”
Chiyun Yuexuan abruptly stopped his steps and stared at Cai Qin. “You repeat that again.”
Cai Qin was frightened by his imposing aura. She muttered fearfully, “I was only afraid that you would be tricked by her. Her behavior back in the Zhuang Estate was extremely improper. Her body was soon ruined by the Zhuang father and son, how can she deserve someone of your stature? If General doesn't believe me, you can ask the other people in the Zhuang Estate.”
In the past, Chiyun Yuexuan would only laugh it out of court when someone besmirched Murong Zhining with malice; he couldn't be more pleased to hear people humiliate her, the more the better. Today, however, Cai Qin had picked the wrong day for it.
Chiyun Yuexuan's fury erupted like a volcano. He grabbed her lapel, gritting his teeth as if wanting to eat her alive, “You dare slander my beloved wife? When I slept with her, red fell . Do you know what that means? It's something that a lowly slave like you had lost long ago!”
Chiyun Ping was still angry when she heard Chiyun Yuexuan's furious roar. She chased to the door, saying, “Chiyun Yuexuan your impudence is getting worse. This is the palace, not your General Estate. Do you have to force your own family to death until you're satisfied?”
Chiyun Yuexuan shoved the trembling Cai Qin to the ground. “I implore Esteemed Consort to do me a favor and cut out this bigmouth's tongue.” Finis.h.i.+ng his words, he dispiritedly left the palace.
In the carriage heading for Shangxia, Murong Zhining sat still with Cai Sang and Luo Siyao accompanying by her sides. Murong Zhining was crying the whole time. Cai Sang only thought that she was reluctant to leave the imperial capital.
Murong Zhining's thoughts drifted back to when she was little. She vaguely remembered that year when she was less than five years old.
When Little Ling'er was on the run with her nanny, they had fallen into the hands of human traffickers and nanny was sold to an old farmer in a mountain village to be his wife. However, the small village was plagued by mountain bandits, so nanny and Little Ling'er were s.n.a.t.c.hed off to the bandit lair in the mountain. During the day, nanny had to cook and clean clothes for the bandits. At night, the bandits took turns sullying her. Those days were utterly dreary. Nanny would always smear the black matter at the bottom of the cooking pot on Little Ling'er's face. Confused, Little Ling'er asked nanny why, and nanny gently stroke her head, “Little Ling'er is a pretty and good girl. I'm scared that those abominable bandits will steal my Little Ling'er from me and sell you.”
Recently, the bandits captured a little big brother and locked him up in the woodshed. Little Ling'er heard the short bandit say that, after they got the ransom, they would kill the little big brother and feed his body to the wolves.
Little Ling'er had seen the bandits kill people before. When they did so, they wouldn't even bat an eyelash. Not long ago, the bandits kidnapped the son of a rich man. After they got the ransom silver, they still killed the child. His miserable cries of begging for mercy had always been her part of her nightmares. The kind-hearted little girl she was didn't want to see the little big brother killed by the bandits, so she made up her mind to release him.
When the little big brother escaped, he put his jade phoenix leaf on her neck. Little Ling'er only vaguely remembered his name being “eating fish.” As the little big brother ran very far away, he turned his head and shouted back towards her, “Little Tabby, if you come find me, I will marry you!”
Little Ling'er was too small to understand what “eating fish” brother meant when he said he would “marry” her, but she still naively nodded at him. In the end, the bandit that she lured away dragged her back and beat her up badly. Staying by the little girl's side to protect her, nanny was also beaten black and blue all over.
Little Ling'er touched the phoenix leaf the little big brother gave her, thinking that if one day, she and nanny could escape this place, she must return the jade to “eating fish” brother. Afraid that she would forget him the little girl even repeatedly said in her heart, “Little Tabby loves eating fish.”
Murong Zhining lay on the thick fur mattress in the carriage, her tears kept falling down. Cai Sang didn't understand the pain in her heart and only thought it to be parting sorrow.
Murong Zhining remained uncommunicative. As long as she was awake, she would silently cry until she grew tired and fell asleep. When she was in a daze, Cai Sang took the chance to ask, “Zhining, what's going on? Isn't it a good thing that you can return home? Is there something else that you're hiding from me?” When no one else was around, Cai Sang still called Murong Zhining by her name, knowing that Murong Zhining considered her a sister and wouldn't dispute about etiquette with her.
Murong Zhining's tears rolled down like pearls. “I found Little Big Brother.”
Cai Sang was delighted, “I knew it was His Majesty. Shouldn't you be happy about it, though?”
Murong Zhining covered her chest and sobbed even harder, “Not… His Majesty…”
Cai sang was incredulous. There were only two men Murong Zhining was involved with. It suddenly dawned on Cai Sang. She gritted her teeth. “It's that beast again. Just what does Heaven want to do to you!?”
Cai Sang pulled Murong Zhining's head to rest on her shoulder and quietly patted her back comfortingly. Luo Siyao was anxious, “Then, will General Chiyun and Princess still be together?”
Cai Sang resentfully shot her a side glance. “Even if all the men in this world are dead, our Zhining will never be together with that beast.”
Cai Sang understood Murong Zhining very well. The little big brother was a ray of light in Murong Zhining's difficult past, fueling her with hope and giving her the strength to face all the kinds of hards.h.i.+ps life had thrown to her. Finding the little big brother was a goal she never gave up on, no matter how desperate she was. However, reality was just that cruel. The one who destroyed all this was the same little big brother whose existence was like a G.o.d in her mind.
Three days later, General Huyan, who was in charge of escorting Murong Zhining to Shangxia, respectfully bowed with cupped hands outside her carriage and said, “Reporting to Your Highness, General Chiyun of Huayan has asked for a meeting. He has brought his troops to follow behind us for two days.”
Cai Sang lifted up the curtains. “He still has the face to request a meeting with our princess? Tell him that Princess will not see him. He should give up on it.”
Luo Siyao tugged on Cai Sang's clothes. “Don't make decisions in our princess' stead. She hasn't said anything yet.”
Cai Sang looked at the unconscious Murong Zhining and shook off Luo Xiyao's hand. “It's not like you don't know what he did to Princess. Don't you feel sad when Princess was tortured to that state? General Huyan, just do as I said. I'll bear any responsibility.”
General Huyan had to accept her words and left.
After an incense stick of time, General Huyan returned and said, “Reporting to Her Highness, General Chiyun told me to bring this to you.”
Cai Sang looked out from the window. General Huyan was kneeling respectfully on one knee, his hands raised above his head as they held a jade pendant in the shape of a phoenix tree leaf.
Cai Sang raged, “Return it to him, tell him our princess doesn't want this stupid thing!”
General Huyan looked embarra.s.sed. “General Chiyun said he wouldn't accept returning the token of engagement. Er… I think Princess should tell it to him herself.”
Cai Sang spat in disdain. “That's some really thick skin. What token of engagement! Our princess has no relations.h.i.+p with him whatsoever. You give it back to him. Oh, right, and don't disturb Her Highness with this sort of thing again.” Cai Sang impatiently pulled down the curtain.
After General Huyan left, Cai Sang craned her neck to look. Behind the team of Shangxia, there was indeed a Huayan troop. Cai Sang helplessly shook her head and retracted back into the carriage.
Luo Siyao looked at Murong Zhining who hadn't woken up for a long time. “Cai Sang, I don't think it's right for you to do that.”
Cai Sang pushed her. “If I had known sooner you were so protective of your absurd master, I shouldn't have let you come with us. How about you just leave and return to your master?”
Luo Siyao was ashamed. “Thank you for this, sister Cai Sang. I owe General for his great kindness.”
General Huyan immediately had people send Luo Siyao back to Chiyun Yuexuan's team.
When Luo Siyao was brought to Chiyun Yuexuan, he hurriedly asked, “Princess Fengyi… is she well? Why are you not serving by her side?”
Luo Siyao respectfully bowed, “I am a servant of the Chiyun Army. I wouldn't dare to leave without your authorization. Princess… Princess hasn't fared well lately. Her body is already so weak, and she doesn't stop crying. She cries as long as she is awake, it's heartbreaking.”
Chiyun Yuexuan clenched his fist, his brows tightly knitted. Apparently, his mood seemed to be fluctuating intensely. In Luo Siyao's perception, Chiyun Yuexuan was the kind of person whose expression wouldn't change even when facing a landslide.
Chiyun Yuexuan fell silent for a long time, his expression inconsolably heavy.
Long after, he sighed, “Return to the princess' side and take good care of her in my stead. Report her condition to me whenever you have the chance.”
After sending away Luo Siyao, Chiyun Yuexuan rode his horse in contemplation. He tightly gripped the phoenix leaf, quietly lost in thought. He hated himself for never properly looking at Murong Zhining. If only he had looked at her carefully, just once even, he could have discovered the pendant on her, or that small red mole behind her ear.
Chiyun Yuexuan never considered himself to be a cold-blooded person, but at this moment, he got to know himself once more. He started loathing himself for being so cruel and ruthless, which deeply hurt the two most important people in his life. One was the little tabby who fed him when he was most hungry and led him to escape the evil nest when he was most scared, and the other was his childhood friend who was as close as a brother.
What made Chiyun Yuexuan extremely worried was that, no matter how much he hurt Murong Zhining before, she had never once shed a tear; but today, he learned that she had been crying. Of course he knew that she wept because of him. He also knew full well that, if he wasn't the owner of the phoenix leaf, Murong Zhining wouldn't even shed half a tear for him.
Chiyun Yuexuan was overrun with the pleasant surprise of regaining something that had been lost, but also full of guilt. He, who was in an internal conflict, felt smug that Murong Zhining shed tears for him, but also ashamed of this very same thought.
Chiyun Yuexuan steadily followed behind the Shangxia cavalcade. Several days pa.s.sed and he simply had no way to approach Murong Zhining. This evening when the cavalcade camped down, Cai Sang and Luo Siyao helped Murong Zhining off the carriage to rest at the side of the fields around the road. Cai Sang recalled their time in Lotus Pond Hollow when Murong Zhining confident, lively, and exuding the vitality of a young girl. But now, the Murong Zhining in front of her was lackl.u.s.ter like a lifeless puppet.