Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
"What are you doing?" Rong Zhi demanded coldly while the pain stiffened his body.
Cold sweat was dripping from his forehead quickly one bead after another from the agony. However, his expression remained relaxed while his eyes looked calm as if his body was detached from him. "Violence isn't who you are, Huan Yuan. Don't lose your demeanor."
Huan Yuan glared at Rong Zhi expressionlessly for a moment, then let go slowly. He returned to where he was sitting and picked up the wine before him. He poured himself a glass as he spoke, "Was it you who told the Princess about the plot Jiang Yan and I had?"
The wine was actually for Jiang Yan's farewell. Although Jiang Yan was leaving him, he wanted to see him one last time, but he was stopped at the entrance by the guards. They forbade them from meeting.
Although he did not enjoy that much freedom before this, he had never been stranded inside like what he was going through right now. It was clear that the guards were following some special order.
Rong Zhi smiled lightly. "You've underestimated the Princess. It was the Princess who came up with the plan at the banquet today. The other day, when you were having your secret rendezvous with Jiang Yan, the Princess pretended to leave, but she came back later on. Even I didn't notice that. She then decided to send Jiang Yan out of the Imperial Residence."
However, it was Rong Zhi who had ordered the guards to watch Huan Yuan. Although Huan Yuan had failed his plan, he had not given up just yet. He wanted to give Jiang Yan a farewell as a guilt trip so that he could carry on with his plan in the future. Unfortunately, Rong Zhi did not allow him that opportunity.
Huan Yuan kept quiet for a moment before he spoke slowly again, "Rong Zhi, since the situation has come to this, I don't care about what's going to happen to me any longer. I'm asking you sincerely, are you really happy being by the Princess's side?"
Rong Zhi smiled without responding.
Huan Yuan then continued softly, "Although you've never wanted to be in the limelight since you're only helping the Princess manage chores in the inner court, I think the ability that you've shown is less than 10% of what you've got. You're an extraordinary man who's so influential that you could stir things up if you're out there. Are you sure you're willing to stay in the Princess's Imperial Residence to be a lover of an arrogant lady?" His voice was so deep that it seemed to vibrate in the air in the darkness. "Are you really willing to do that?"
He had been in the Princess's Imperial Residence for two years, and that was how long he knew Rong Zhi. He could never see through Rong Zhi throughout such a long time. Initially, he thought he was a push-over for his kindness, but slowly, he found out how unfathomable this seemingly harmless young man who was.
Rong Zhi continued smiling and did not respond to his questions.
After looking at him for a while, Huan Yuan relaxed his face and smiled all of a sudden. "You must be unwilling. Otherwise, why don't you dare to answer me? You can't admit that you're willing to stay with all sincerity."
His face was gentle and handsome. The moment when he relaxed his face, he looked like a big white petal being flipped over in the darkness. His face was a clean slate with a whiff of sadness lingering in his beauty.
Rong Zhi finally responded after Huan Yuan said that. He extended his hand and poured himself a glass of wine slowly. He filled the cup until it was full and almost overflowing before he put the wine pot down. "Huan Yuan, don't you forget who granted your life so you can still live peacefully today. You're a sinner's son. If not for the Princess's protection at all costs, you would've been killed since the beginning. Not only are you being ungrateful to her, but all you want to do is also to rebel. Do the Huan Clan's ancestors teach their descendants to be ungrateful?"
Huan Yuan replied, "I don't deny that she saved me and protected me, but her intentions of rescuing come from pure selfishness. She kept me here like a prisoner and I'll die here in this Princess's Imperial Residence. Rong Zhi, I'm unwilling to do that."
He said that in an extremely calm tone, almost like it was a determination that came from clarity. His almond eyes had a faint luster and brilliance like the surface of a jade. They looked gentle, but in reality, they were extremely tough. "The Huan Clan's ancestors… Didn't her Liu Clan kill them?"
The nobility, which was once glorious with clothes so shiny that one could not look at them directly, was now buried under some unknown land. He had no words for the 'winner takes all' phenomenon during the troubled times.
"I won't do that," he said in determination.
Although he ended up where he was right now, he was still unwilling to be a toy for a lady to play with. He would never have committed suicide just to prove his innocence. Survival was the greatest gift of all as giving up on life was a cowardly act. There was a male companion in the Imperial Residence who committed suicide by jumping into the lake due to his unwillingness to be humiliated. Looking at his cold body, though overcome with emotion, Huan Yuan had no respect for the male companion who had taken his own life.
It was easy to die, but it was difficult to survive, and he chose to walk the difficult path.
"So, you're unwilling." Rong Zhi chuckled softly. "How ambitious, how tough, but you've got no choice, Huan Yuan."
He then raised the wine glass to admire the clear liquid in it. He spilled a little bit of the wine from lifting the glass, and a small merlot stain spilled on his white shirt. "You said I'm unwilling just now. You're not me, so how would you know what I think?"
Seeing that Rong Zhi had gotten up to leave, Huan Yuan sighed and spoke, knowing that he could not persuade him today: "Whatever. You're willing, but I'm not. Even though I've failed this time, I won't give up as long as I'm still alive. Even if I'm unlucky enough to be killed, it would still be better than being tortured here."
Rong Zhi smiled for a moment and walked out of the residence slowly. He paused when he arrived at the entrance. "Torture?" He asked Huan Yuan back, "So, staying here without having to worry about shelter and life is torture to you?"
Huan Yuan snickered in a teasing manner. "Do you think I should treat this as amazing grace?"
Rong Zhi paused again, then proceeded to walk out of the residence. A while later, Huan Yuan seemed to hear a looming and blurry phrase that came from outside. Although it was there, it felt like an illusion to him. The voice was so ephemeral that it even sounded like sadness that existed since the prehistoric ages.
"The world is a burner. Which living thing in this world isn't fighting for their lives?"
After Rong Zhi left, Chu Yu walked back and forth in the Apricot Forest for a while before she decided to head back. As she passed by the intersection of the East Court and the West Court, she happened to see Jiang Yan and the other five young men who were granted their freedom walking out of the outer court. Chu Yu nodded as she passed them.
She did not feel any longing for them nor did she glance back. As soon as they left the door, they were strangers to her from then onwards. In reality, those people were strangers to her after all. There was nothing to miss about them.
'We'll part ways forever from this moment onwards,' Chu Yu thought to herself while the edge of her lips lifted slightly as she held herself from looking back.
They would not see each other from then onwards. Almost at the same time, Jiang Yan, who thought the same, could not help but turned to take a glance at her. He had been thinking about leaving to hell as soon as he could in the past, but now that he was leaving, he felt confused.
This lady's back looked unbothered and free like she was no longer sitting high up as she used to be. It was so unfamiliar that it felt like he was seeing her for the very first time.
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