Chapter 60: Xie Zang's Tenderness

Gu Qingyu found herself in a labyrinth. No matter how hard she tried, she could not get out. She pushed open a door, and Mo Bai was there, on the floor, in a pool of blood. Jia Qizhe stood beside him. The rain ran along his sword, but it could not wash away the crimson that stained its edge. She shut the door with a bang, then she whipped around at the sound of footsteps. Qi Wan was running towards her. She reached out, but in that second a sword pierced through his chest. Murong Zuoyu stood indifferently behind Qi Wan. Qi Wan slumped to the ground and the rain turned his face into a blur.

No. Don't do this...

She was drowning in the torrential rain. Every way she looked, there was no escape. Every method she tried could not free her. It was as if she was caught in a spider's web, the more she struggled, the more she was entangled. There seemed to be a voice murmuring beside her head.

"Since the game has started, it cannot be stopped."

"It will take you into the land of eternal destruction."

"Until you die."

 

Suddenly, a familiar scent wrapped her up. It was the smell of flowers. There was strength in that floral fragrance. "You seem to be in trouble, Kitten." A man whispered gently in her ear. He nibbled on her earlobe and spoke with a soft voice. "Don't listen to your inner demons, wake up."

A thunder clap, and Gu Qingyu opened her eyes in shock. She was still surrounded by darkness, but she could hear the rain outside and soft breathing next to her ears. Someone had wrapped their arms around her and held her in a tight embrace.

"Xie Zang?" Gu Qingyu could feel her body still trembling in horror.

"Yes, I'm here." Xie Zang spoke, his voice mixed with the sound of rain. "It's nothing, just a dream. None of us would want to leave you. A gloomy thunderstorm like this can awaken people's inner demons. Just don't think about it too much."

"Alright." Gu Qingyu closed her eyes. Then, muffled by the rain, was the sound of broken glass.

Was it from Bei Cheng's chambers?

"Are you going to check it out?" Xie Zang asked, his voice charmed her as always. 

Gu Qingyu nodded, put on her clothes and shoes, and looked at Xie Zang. He shrugged. "Guess I don't have a choice, Kitten. Who asked me to be such a kind person?" He grabbed Gu Qingyu, took an umbrella, and flew out.

 

Soon, they arrived outside Bei Cheng's palace.

"I'll take a look first." Gu Qingyu smiled at Xie Zang, although her face was slightly pale.

Xie Zang nodded. "Be careful."

She walked to the door, and the guards at the door knelt down immediately after seeing her. "Sir, please, persuade your majesty!"

Gu Qingyu nodded, pushed open the door and went in. Bei Cheng sat alone in the center of the hall with glassy eyes, as if he had been in a daze.

"What's the matter?" Gu Qingyu looked at Bei Cheng tentatively.

"Brother Zhu..." His eyes gradually focused on her. "Sorry, I lost control of myself for a while."

For a while?

"Does this always happen on stormy nights?" Gu Qingyu watched him as he sat back on his seat. Bei Cheng nodded.

"So what happened? I can just listen to you, if you don't mind telling me." Gu Qingyu also sat down and looked to Bei Cheng expectantly. Bei Cheng gave a slow nod under her watchful gaze.

 

"I was the first prince of Beiying and the next-in-line for the throne. My parents have expected great things from me since childhood. I have a half-sister, but her mother, Concubine Xun passed away during childbirth. Father granted Concubine Xun's last wish and allowed my younger sister to share her surname. That became my sister's name, Xun Qi, who was then raised by my mother, the Empress. 

But soon after she was born, a fire broke out in the palace. That year, I was five, she was only two. Father sent me to a secret room, but he himself did not manage to escape. He died that day. After the fire, we tried to find my sister, but she was nowhere to be seen. We know she was not caught in the fire, so she must have been kidnapped. 

From then on, Mother washed her face with tears, she closed herself into her chamber, ate nothing but vegetables and prayed to Budhha day and night. She lived like that for years. I was enthroned the day after Father died. I knew that the fire was no accident, and I knew that I had to be strong before I could find the murderer who killed my father and took away my sister. 

I became an emperor who smiles but kills without a blink, and I made sure that our country was prosperous and people were happy. Everyone admires me, and everyone fears me.

Great, this is exactly what I want, isn't it?

But every night, I would hear my sister's cries in that horrible fire and the screams of those who had died by my orders, whose blood stained my hands. I hate to hurt anyone, I loathe everything that I've done, but I don't have a choice. I like the name Qian Cheng, it reminds me of what I wanted to do, to protect my sister like a thousand cities."

 

After Bei Cheng finished speaking, he exhaled slowly. "Are you disappointed, Brother Zhu? Now that you've found out just what kind of person I am."

Gu Qingyu shook her head. "Of course not! You're just you! It's like you said, you didn't have a choice. Why would I blame you for something outside of your control? You're my friend, regardless of who you are." She suddenly thought of Xiao Qi. Xiao Qi seemed to have mentioned that her real name is Xun Qi.

Gu Qingyu looked at Beicheng tentatively and chose her words carefully. "Qian Cheng, just asking... Are you still looking for your sister? Or, do you want to find your sister?"

"Of course." Bei Cheng nodded.

"That's good." Gu Qing said with a breath of relief. "I have a friend, Xiao Qi. She was my personal maidservant back in the Gu Family. And she happens to share your sister's name, her surname is also Xun."

"Great! Can I see her?" Bei Cheng's eyes looked at Gu Qingyu with excitement and hope.

"Yes." Gu Qing nodded. "Then I will let her come to the palace tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow is the third day ..." Bei Cheng’s eyes drifted to the floor. 

"Relax, I promised you, if you want, you can come find me at any time and join us." Gu Qingyu had a comforting smile on her face as she stood up."Go get some sleep, you still have the morning meeting tomorrow."

"Uh-huh." Bei Cheng laid down, then in a whisper, he said, "Thank you, Qingyu."

"Don't mention it." Gu Qingyu smiled and walked out.

 

It was still raining outside, and Xie Zang had been waiting outside. The moment he laid eyes on her, Xia Zang placed a robe over her shoulders and held up an umbrella.

Xie Zang couldn't help but complain. "Kitten, I feel so aggrieved. To think the Lord of Xieli Castle has been reduced to a servant by you.

"Yeah, right." Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes at him as they walked back to her palace. "Xie Zang, can you let Xiao Qi come over tomorrow?"

Xie Zang is so powerful, he must have heard everything Bei Cheng said. Xie Zang stared into Gu Qingyu's eyes, he was in complete disbelief. "Are you willing to let me go?"

"...I have to." Gu Qingyu gritted her teeth. "Go, I'll miss you."

"Hmph." Xie Zang flattened his mouth. "Meanie."

Gu Qingyu was speechless. What can I do, I don't have a choice! 

She had to patiently coax him. "Pretty please? Little Zang?" Goosebumps crawled along her skin as she listened to her own sickeningly sweet voice. 

Xie Zang's eyes sparkled. "Okay, fine. I'll help."

……It's that easy?

They returned to her room and Gu Qingyu gave him a small nod. "Thank you." She looked out the window. "The rain's still so heavy, stay and wait it out first."

"Aww, you're so kind, kitten." Xie Zang sat down. 

"Don't stay down." Gu Qingyu laid back on the bed. "Thank you so much today, Xie Zang."

"Oh, don't thank me." A flash of lightning illuminated Xie Zang's face. Gu Qingyu watched her with clear eyes. Xie Zang, Lord of Xieli Castle, a man feared all across the land because of his demonic charm and strength. That man smiled warmly at her. If the devil could be redeemed.

 

The next day, morning.

Gu Qingyu stood up and looked out the window, the rain seemed to have stopped. When did she fall asleep? Xie Zang was already gone. Gu Qingyu got dressed, and stretched her back with a satisfying pop before she opened the door. Momo bowed when she saw Gu Qingyu. "Good morning Sir. "

"Good morning to you as well," Gu Qingyu smiled slightly. "Momo."

Momo immediately blushed. "Sir, the emperor invites you to have breakfast together."

"Ok, thank you." Gu Qingyu nodded and followed Momo. They ran into Noble Consort Hua again outside the door leading to Bei Cheng's chambers. She was holding a bowl of porridge.

 

"Oh, to think this sir is in such a good mood to visit our emperor so early in the morning?" Noble Consort Hua gave her a disdainful look, viciousness was also hidden deeply in her eyes. 

"Yeah, after all, the emperor invited me to eat with him. There's no way I can turn down his gracious offer." Gu Qingyu glanced at Noble Consort Hua. People like her are just asking for it!

Noble Consort Hua was shocked. "What are you talking about?"

"Alas, such things come with age, you can’t even hear properly." Gu Qingyu shook her head with a sigh, then she pushed the door open and went in.

Bei Cheng, who was inside, waved his hand when he saw Gu Qingyu. "Brother Zhu, you're here!"

"Yeah, have you been waiting for a long time?" Gu Qingyu nodded and sat down in front of Bei Cheng.

Noble Consort Hua knelt down with a gloomy face. "We greet the Emperor. Long live the emperor!"

"Rise." Bei Cheng's mood was pretty good.

"Emperor, your concubine heard that your health has been worrying as of late. So I cooked a bowl of porridge." Noble Consort Hua served the porridge. "Please have a taste."

"Leave it there." Bei Cheng nodded.

Right then, Gu Qingyu picked up a spoon and scooped a spoonful of porridge into her mouth, and smacked her lips. "Noble Consort Hua's culinary skills still need improvement. You ought to work hard and practice more!"

Noble Consort Hua's face instantly turned a pale shade of green while Bei Cheng chuckled and laughed.

"Then your concubine will take her leave." Noble Consort Hua bowed and walked out.

"Brother Zhu, thank you for last night." Bei Cheng said suddenly.

"I've already said don't mention it." Gu Qingyu picked up more food. "Xiao Qi will come this afternoon. Before that, Qian Cheng, can you promise me something?"

"Anything." Bei Cheng immediately agreed.

"If Xiao Qi is really your sister, can you... respect her wishes? If she wants to stay, please let her be a carefree princess. If she wants to follow me instead, then I too will treat her well, and ensure that she's happy. "Gu Qingyu smiled." After all, I am her husband. "

"Yes, this is what I want for her too." Bei Cheng nodded. "...Husband?"

"Ahahaha, ignore that..."

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