Chapter 59: Off with Her Head

The next day, Gu Qingyu slept until she woke up naturally. She opened her eyes and looked around. She was at a loss for a while, and then realized that she was in one of the palaces in the Imperial City of Beiying. She had agreed to stay here for three days in exchange for the Spirit Gem, as according to Bei Cheng's condition. The drizzle outside persisted. 

As soon as she got out of bed, someone knocked on the door. "Come in." Gu Qingyu picked out her clothes and was about to get dressed. 

The maid walked in with steady steps as soon as she opened the door and gently took the clothes from Gu Qingyu's hands. "Sir, your servant is here to help you with the baths."

"Uh... No-no need!" Gu Qingyu snatched her clothes back and tucked it under her arm. "Thank you, can you please go out and wait?"

"But," the maid blinked and blinked, her eyes twinkled a little in the light. "The emperor asked me to come and serve you."

"Bei Cheng?" Gu Qingyu looked at the maid. "Okay, I will explain it slowly with him later, you can go out first."

Perhaps it was after seeing the emperor's noble guest speak his majesty's name without any scruples and even said something like 'slowly explain', plus Gu Qingyu's own insistence, the maidservant could not say anything more. She bowed. "Your servant's name is Momo. Should there be anything, do call for your servant."

"Okay." Gu Qingyu nodded slightly. "Can you help me get some water?"

"Yes, sir." Momo bowed slightly, and walked towards the door.

"Thank you, Momo." Gu Qingyu whispered without extra thought but her words made Momo stop. This sir has just thanked her. 

"What's wrong?" Gu Qingyu's confused voice came. 

"No." Momo sped up and stepped out of the room.

 

Soon, Gu Qingyu got dressed and a bucket of water was brought up. After finishing washing up, Gu Qingyu decided to tour the palace grounds.

"Momo, can you accompany me for a walk?" Gu Qingyu looked at Momo.

"Of course, your servant would lead the way." Momo bowed again, stepped outside and opened an umbrella.

Gu Qingyu slowly followed up. "By the way, Momo, does the emperor have a concubine?" That felt like a given, and the emperor does have concubines, she should avoid meeting them. 

Momo nodded. "Yes." She didn't dare to speak too much about the emperor's affairs. Everyone knew that the emperor was brutal by nature. His majesty may wear a smile, but those who cross him would not even know what killed them. So she only dared to answer Gu Qingyu's words and answer them carefully.

Gu Qingyu nodded. "How about the empress?"

"No... Never." Momo stammered.

Gu Qing saw how Momo was so cautious, so she didn't press further. "Where are we going?"

"Sir, we are heading to the Imperial Garden." Momo lowered her head and increased her pace.

The legendary Imperial Garden! I can see it today! A twinkle of glee was in Gu Qingyu's eyes. Gu Qingyu, oh Gu Qingyu, to think a day like this would arrive!

Past the heavy guards, they quickly came to the Imperial Garden. A light fragrance drifted through the air, Gu Qingyu carefully sniffed the air before she walked into the garden. Who would have thought, as soon as she entered, she ran into a problem.

 

"Oh, so this is the male pet brought back by the emperor yesterday?" A woman in a red dress smiled mockingly, her lips barely concealed by her raised hand. 

Gu Qingyu just wanted to speak, but Momo stepped forward. "We greet Noble Consort Hua. This is the distinguished guest invited by the emperor yesterday. Your servant has been told to show great hospitality, we implore Your Highness to assist your servant."

... What's going on with this full sense of palace fighting? If I guess right, next ...

Noble Consort Hua looked at Momo disdainfully. "Who are you to even stand in my path? Someone, slap her!"

Yep, just as expected...

Momo immediately knelt down, but a fire continued to burn in her eyes. "Your servant has no complaints, she is willing to take any punishment. But if the emperor knows that this noble guest is wronged, then your servant can't guarantee what will happen."

This is a naked threat...

Noble Consort Hua scoffed. "Fine! I would love to see that! Someone, punish that noble behind this servant as well!"

Gu Qingyu winced. It feels as though Qian Cheng has no deterrent power in this palace. What she didn't know was that the Noble Consort Hua in front of her was the highest-ranking concubine. She was also childhood friends with the emperor. With so much authority to her name, it's no wonder that she wields power with ease. The two men around Noble Consort Hua would come up and grab Gu Qingyu soon, and Momo was already held down by Noble Consort Hua's other servants. Gu Qingyu supported her head as she racked her brains for a solution.

Run? But Momo was still there, I can't leave her alone. Fight? This is the Imperial Palace!  Besides, this Noble Consort Hua's arrogance can also be thanks to Qian Cheng just letting her do whatever. And if something actually happens, maybe Qian Cheng would still side with his wife. Things could go so badly that it would implicate the others, and we could lose the Spirit Gem.

 

Suddenly she had an idea. Gu Qingyu took out the token that Bei Cheng had given herself before and waved it in front of Noble Consort Hua. "Do you know what this is?" Truth be told, she had no idea what that thing was, she just wanted to scare Noble Consort Hua a little. Maybe whatever that Bei Cheng gave her could have some use right?

Noble Consort Hua froze for a moment, then looked at Gu Qingyu in complete shock. "The Phoenix Token! How do you have it?"

...I really didn't mean to do this. Gu Qingyu silently withdrew the Phoenix Token and had to say, "The only way to get it: from your emperor!" Her loud voice emphasised her point further.

Noble Consort Hua huffed. "That's impossible!"

"Why is it impossible?" Gu Qingyu replied with a question.

"Because..." Noble Consort Hua's eyes suddenly dimmed. "He would never crown an Empress." She paused and looked at Gu Qingyu in the eye. "You must have stolen the emperor's Phoenix Token! Come! Seize this thief at once!"

Gu Qingyu would not have dreamed that this token is actually the Phoenix Token! She squeezed her eyes shut as she reached out to grab Momo. If she moved fast enough, they just might be able to get away. But a stern voice boomed from behind her. 

 

"Who dares to lay a hand on my people!" It was Bei Cheng.

"Long live the emperor!" Gu Qingyu watched as the people around her dropped to their knees immediately. She was about to kneel down as well, but Bei Cheng held her by the arm and stopped her. 

"Eh?" Gu Qingyu looked at Bei Cheng.

Bei Cheng looked at Gu Qingyu with eyes full of concern. "Are you hurt?"

"No." Gu Qingyu said sincerely. She turned back to Noble Consort Hua, the most beautiful and brutal woman she has ever seen, kneeling on the ground at this moment, bowing to Bei Cheng.

Bei Cheng then said the most classic line in all TV series. "Men, take her away. I want her head off her shoulders."

Noble Consort Hua looked at Bei Cheng as if her ears had deceived her.

"Eh, no no no, don't do it!" Gu Qingyu immediately stopped Bei Cheng. "Calm down, calm down."

"They tried to hurt you." Bei Cheng turned to Gu Qingyu, his eyes full of doubts. He did not understand why Gu Qingyu had stopped him.

"But they didn't kill me, nor did they actually hurt me, right?" Gu Qingyu blinked. "Can you let them go?"

"...Very well." Bei Cheng nodded. "Brother Zhu, I don't want you to talk to me in such a restrained manner. If you can, I hope you can speak in your usual tone."

As soon as this remark came out, Gu Qingyu gave him a side-eye. "Are you a masochist?"

"No, I'm not." Bei Cheng answered honestly.

"That's good, baby got spooked!" Gu Qingyu patted her chest. "Can I call you Qian Cheng instead? It feels more familiar."

"Of course." Bei Cheng nodded.

Gu Qingyu said to the group of people with their knees on the ground, "Get up! You don't have to kneel like this anymore."

They all glanced at each other instead.

"Rise." Bei Cheng declared and they got up slowly. Momo was surprised, this sir and the emperor has a truly... unusual relationship. Meanwhile Noble Consort Hua kept a straight face, but hidden under her sleeves, her nails had already pierced her palms. Gu Qingyu sighed. Why bother?

 

Gu Qingyu turned and walked out of the Imperial Garden. Bei Cheng followed her, umbrella in hand. "Brother Zhu, are you in a bad mood?"

"Well, I'm ok." Gu Qingyu nodded and suddenly remembered the token. She turned to look at Bei Cheng. "That Phoenix Token... " She took it out of her sleeve and handed it to Bei Cheng.

"What does this mean?" Bei Cheng raised his eyebrows slightly. "How can I take back a gift?"

"Ah? Can't you accept it?" Gu Qingyu narrowed her eyes and looked at Bei Cheng.

Bei Cheng panicked. "Um, well, Brother Zhu, I ..."

"Forget it." Gu Qingyu withdrew the token. "After all, it's just a gift."

Bei Cheng nodded with a breath of relief.

"But, Qian Cheng," Gu Qingyu paused. "Me staying here...what does it mean to you? Is it really worth the Spirit Gem?" Although she had agreed to the terms of the condition, she still wanted to know his reason.

"If I can, I would love to join you on your quest." Bei Cheng sighed. ‘If I can’, he acknowledged his responsibility to his country and his people. 

"Did you know? I thought your group would be filled with so much conflict and bloodshed. So many people in your team did not see eye to eye, but because of you, they have changed. They became warm and upstanding individuals, and all of you are now united as an undefeated team." Bei Cheng gazed at the blue sky. "But... I can never give up everything like they did."

They? Who's 'they'? Give up everything? 

Perhaps Bei Cheng realised that he said too much, he gave her a faint smile. "Sorry, I just wanted some company, even if it's just for three days."

Just wanted some warmth.

"You are welcome to join at any time, if you are tired of being an emperor one day." Gu Qingyu said with a smile.

"Thank you." Bei Cheng resumed their walk. "Let's have lunch. Come with me."

"Sure." Gu Qingyu did not refuse and the pair walked to his palace. The rain did not stop, it seemed that it would get even heavier as the day went on. She accompanied Bei Cheng as they walked around in the palace grounds all day. Bei Cheng seemed very happy, but for some reason, everyone else in the palace stared at Bei Cheng with astonished looks.

 

Soon, it was evening and Gu Qingyu returned to her palace of residence. She bathed and changed her clothes, ready to go to bed. Momo still stayed by her side and served her dutifully. Though she grew more and more surprised as the day progressed, even the way she looked at Gu Qingyu had changed. 

"Okay, okay, stop staring, your eyes are going to fall out." Gu Qingyu looked at Momo's surprised face and smiled.

Momo blushed. "Your servant will be outside."

"Yep, you may take your leave." Gu Qingyu slipped under the covers and laid down, the sound of the rain lured her to a deep sleep. It rained heavily.

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