Hua Ziqing dismissed him instead of answering him this time. “Go on with your duties. It’s better to know less sometimes.”
Drenched in cold sweat, the man with the douli chided himself inwardly for being nosy. How could I forget Master’s taboo?
He immediately knelt on the ground to beg for mercy. “Your Highness, this subordinate will never breathe a word of this to anyone.”
“You’re my most trusted man. You’re loyal, so I naturally trust you on this.” Hua Ziqing reached out to help him get up.
“Thank you for putting your trust in me, Your Highness. This subordinate will go about my duties.” The man with the douli then left.
After he left, Hua Ziqing picked up a black chess piece, toying with it for a moment before crushing it in his hand. The human heart is as greedy as a snake wanting to swallow an elephant. It’s probably time to use another piece, thought Hua Ziqing.
In the meantime, at the imperial palace.
The pale Hua Zirong lay on a bed within an ornately-designed palace.
He had been transferred back to his own palace after his brief conversation with Li Zikang. The official story was that he had almost been assassinated, and was currently resting to recover. Nobody was allowed to visit.
He was nothing but a caged bird at this point, where even basic dignity was a luxury. Every one of his meals was drugged with Ruangusan, causing him to be almost unable to move on his own at all. He gave a bitter smile at the thought of this.
“Your Majesty, it’s time for your meal.” A guard said without a trace of respect in his eyes.
Hua Zirong knew that the guard was just putting on an act to avoid anybody finding out about this situation; it would be unthinkable if word got out.
As for the guard, he was completely loyal to Li Zikang, and seeing Hua Zirong so composed only annoyed him. He had no interest at all in being Hua Zirong’s nanny.
“Are you going to eat it or not? How about you just die of starvation? If the General allowed it, I’d have taught you a lesson already.” The guard threatened.
Suddenly, a scream was heard, and a female attendant wearing purple chiffon muslin robes walked up with a surprised expression. “Your Majesty, what happened? You horrible guard. How dare you torture His Majesty like that. Someone, take him out and execute him.”
She was, however, ignored.
The guard gave a lewd laugh before he hugged the woman and felt her up. The woman revealed a horrified expression, and flushed red as she tried to struggle from his grasp.
Hua Zirong was boiling with anger, but was helpless to interfere as he watched the guard grope the woman and pressed her against a table, forcing kisses on her.
Another guard who passed by quickly came in and smacked the guard on the back of his head before knocking the woman out.
“What are you doing? I’ve not had enough!” The lewd guard complained.
“Where do you think this is? It’s the palace. Don’t forget what the General said,” the other guard warned him before continuing.
“You can leave; I’ll take care of things here. Things will only go wrong if you’re doing it, and you won’t be able to explain yourself afterwards.”
“Fine, fine. You take over then. I don’t like to guard over him anyway.” The lewd guard then left, but not before taking the woman with him.
“You will die on a woman’s bed one day.” The other guard scoffed.
Hua Zirong watched as everything unfolded, stubbornly burying this grudge in his heart. I’ll make sure to pay Li Zikang and Prince Qing back for everything.
Tearing them limb from limb won’t be enough to appease my rage. I have to wait. I only have to wait until the fireworks banquet.
1. You will likely have come across this in historical or wuxia stories. Ruangusan is commonly used to weaken a person, making them unable to exert strength and make their escape.