Chapter 191: Guilt
“Of course not,” the guard said. “If we don’t add any, the prince is going to punish us when he notices. I’m just saying we don’t have to put this much salt into the water.”
The other guard took a moment to think and ultimately came to the conclusion that his colleague was right. He added half of the salt into the water.
The two guards left the room, leaving Jun Huang alone in the water prison.
Water washed away the blood on her body. Jun Huang ground her teeth together hard to brace for the burning sensation. Being in the cold water help numb her pain, but only for a brief moment. Even though the guard had only put in half of the salt, but once it dissolved in the water, her wounds started to burn and hurt even more. Tears filled her eyes to the brim. She was in so much pain she could barely breathe. Her beautiful face twisted together. She was horrifyingly pale under the the torchlight.
She was at the edge of falling unconscious, but the pain of being immersed in salt water kept some part of her brain awake. The suffering never ended.
Qi Chen walked out of the prison. The sun was bright in the sky, but his gloomy mood persisted. He made his way to Nan Guyue’s place.
When he reached the building, Nan Guyue was enjoying the sun in the garden with her hands on her belly. She looked at peace.
The sight was an insult to Qi Chen. With a scoff, he took big strides toward her and seized her arm. He was so forceful that his grip left a red mark on her skin.
Nan Guyue was startled by his sudden movement and only let out a sigh of relief when she saw that it was Qi Chen. She put on a smile and sat up. “Why is Your Highness here? I thought you’re busy these couple of days.”
“Ha! If I stay busy, you will go to Feng Baiyu, won’t you?”
Nan Guyue stared dumbly at him. “What does Your Highness mean? Why would I go to gentleman Feng?”
“Who knows why you would go to him? Don’t think I don’t know anything. It’s quite the opposite.”
Qi Chen’s eyes were dark. He grabbed Nan Guyue’s chin forcefully. The pain made Nan Guyue tear up. She held onto Qi Chen’s arms, unable to say anything.
Qi Chen felt even more angry seeing her like this. He cast Nan Guyue aside, causing her to fall onto the floor. Her face paled in pain.
Nan Guyue’s maid had followed her here from Southern Mu. She couldn’t stand by and do nothing when Nan Guyue was being treated this way. She put herself between her master and Qi Chen. “What’s the meaning of this, Your Highness? The princess is still pregnant with your child, and yet you’re so forceful with her. This is against the rules of proprietary.”
Qi Chen looked down at the maid and slapped her hard, catching her off guard. She fell to the ground. Qi Chen huffed at the two of them. “It seems that maids do resemble their master.” He scoffed and turned to his guards. “Keep them inside. Without my order, no one is to leave or to enter the building. If either of them escape, you’ll pay with your life.”
Once Qi Chen had left, the guards threw Nan Guyue and her maid into the room without hesitation. They even locked the door like the two women were prisoners.
Sharp pain stabbed through Nan Guyue’s stomach. Her face twisted into a grimace. The maid was too angry to notice her condition.
After the time for a pot of tea to brew, the pain in Nan Guyue’s stomach subsided. She propped herself up and walked inside with her arms around her stomach. Her maid wanted to follow her, but she shook her head. “You don’t have to come with me. I’m just feeling a little ill. I’m going to take a short rest. I’ll call out for you if something happens.”
Nan Guyue collapsed on her bed. Her stomach started to hurt again. The pain came and went like waves even after she fell asleep. Her fuzzy mind failed to supply her with reason behind Qi Chen’s sudden violence. Her lips curled into a sarcastic smile in her dream. Qi Chen had not even given her an explanation.
When she woke up again, it was past midnight. There was no lamp in the room. The place was as dark as how she imagined hell would be. She shivered and called out for her maid with a hoarse voice.
Her maid had been in a state of panic ever since they were locked up. She didn’t feel like sleeping. Hearing Nan Guyue’s voice, she went to her with a lamp in her hand. When she parted the silk drape, she almost dropped the lamp. Nan Guyue’s pale face was covered by sweat and her lower body was tainted with blood.
“Princess!” the maid sobbed out. “What - what’s happening?”
Despite the pain, Nan Guyue’s head was clear. She took a deep breath and said through clenched teeth, “Go - go find a doctor. I - I don’t think I can make it without help.”
The maid nodded, her eyes brimming with tears. She rushed to the door, but it was locked. She couldn’t get out.
“Help! Someone help! The princess… the princess is dying! Someone open the door and go find a doctor!”
The maid’s wails pierced through the silent night. Her voice sounded eerie and chilling.
“What should we...” muttered one of the guards. He was at a loss of what to do.
“I’ll go find the prince. You stay here and don’t open the door. Otherwise if the prince decides to hold us accountable, our heads will roll.”
The guard rushed toward Rou’er’s building. Qi Chen wasn’t there. Rou’er noticed the guard’s urgent look and decided to ask him what had happened.
The guard was loyal to only Qi Chen. He shook his head and left, giving her no clue to the current situation.
His attitude alarmed Rou’er. She went off to ask the servants under her charge if they knew anything.
The guard found Qi Chen at Xiaoyun’s place. She and Qi Chen had fallen asleep. Being woken up in the middle of the night made Qi Chen irritable.
The guard knew that he was intruding. He briefed Qi Chen on the situation as soon as Qi Chen left the room. Xiaoyun had heard the guard as well. She could tell that Qi Chen was swaying. She had to say something.
WIth a smile, she went up to Qi Chen and asked, “What’s wrong? Why did he wake Your Highness up so late at night?”
“Nan Guyue collapsed,” Qi Chen said in a cold voice.
“Oh, that’s it? I thought it was an emergency. I know that Your Highness wants to send for a doctor, but remember, the child she bears is - ”
“Enough!” Qi Chen snapped, pointing at the door. “Get back inside!”
Xiaoyun pursed her lips. She knew that Qi Chen would turn on her if she didn’t stop talking. She glanced at Qi Chen as she returned to the room. She was relieved to see the hesitation on Qi Chen’s face disappear.
Qi Chen stood outside, letting the wind sweep through him. “It’s late,” he said after a while. “Even if we try to find a doctor, we may not find one. We’ll see what happen tomorrow.” He walked away, leaving the guard gaping at him.
Back in Nan Guyue’s building, her maid was still crying. Her voice had gone hoarse from the exertion. She was going to lose her voice if she continued.
The guard walked up to them and took a deep breath. “The prince said that we wouldn’t find a doctor at time like this. The princess has to stay strong. We’ll see how she is tomorrow morning.”
He dragged the other guard away. He was worried that he would do something stupid if he stayed here.
He was a mere guard. He had no power in this manor. Qi Chen’s decisions were the law here. There was nothing he could do to change Qi Chen’s mind. He didn’t want to be tortured by his guilt.
All hope died down in Nan Guyue’s heart. She stared dumbly at the ceiling. Tears fell from the corner of her eyes. She clutched at the blanket under her. Pain had numbed her brain. She felt something sliding out of her body.
“My… my baby.” Her voice was rusty. The few words seemed to have taken all her strength to utter. She couldn’t even move a finger now. She lay there, as motionless as a corpse. Finally, she fell asleep.
Wei Lanying knew all about what had happened. She stayed up past midnight. In her hand was a cup of tea that had long gone cold.
“Nan Guyue’s had a miscarriage,” she murmured. “How delightful!”
“Lady Wei is indeed intelligent. Now that the princess has lost her child, she has no leverage to maintain her position. She’s going to bow down to you from now on.”
The maid’s words were music to Wei Lanying’s ears. Oh, how ecstatic she was that Nan Guyue had lost both her child and Qi Chen’s favor! What was better, Jun Huang had been put into jail as well!
The next morning, she made her way to the water prison. She had to suppress her urge to laugh out loud when she saw how terrible a state Jun Huang was in.
Jun Huang looked up at the wolfish grin on Wei Lanying’s face. She croaked, “What do you want, Wei Lanying?”
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