“Why must you make things difficult for yourself? This is a simple matter. She enjoys His Majesty’s favor now. That’s nothing new. Very few men can be truly loyal, let alone a man from the royal family. You should know that better than anyone.”
Consort Li’s anger subsided somewhat. She took a deep breath to calm herself and nodded. “I know what you meant, mama, but you haven’t seen her yourself. She’s too shameless! I don’t know who she is and how she seduced His Majesty. I’ve never been scolded before, and yet His Majesty punished me again and again for her. How can I take that? She’s a nobody with no official relationship with His Majesty, and yet His Majesty keeps taking her side! Of course I’d be angry!”
The caretaker darted her eyes around. “If so, Lady Li should turn to your father, the general, for help. Explain what you’ve been through. He’d have a solution.”
Consort Li thought for a while. It made sense. She quickly drafted a letter to her father. Worried that he wouldn’t pay enough attention to her plea, she made Jun Huang out as a woman who shamelessly seduced Nan Jihan and asked him to get rid of her.
General Li considered the letter for a long time. He asked around about Jun Huang and came to the conclusion that there was truth to his daughter’s accusation. Besides, he wasn’t going to ignore her plea. During the morning meeting the next day, he brought the issue up to the emperor.
“It’s said that His Majesty is keeping a woman in the palace. Is that true?” General Li stared at Nan Jihan and asked before a room full of scholar and military officials.
Nan Jihan frowned at him. “Where did the official hear that?”
“It’s… Whatever happened in the palace could affect the entire nation,” the general struggled to explain himself, his expression tight. “It’s a common topic in the court. This official happened to overhear that.”
Nan Jihan smiled coolly. General Li stood silently at the center of the main hall, worried that he’d drag his daughter down with him.
Nan Jihan’s eyes turned frosty. “Do your job and don’t try to gather information about my personal affairs. You do this now. Are you going to force me to surrender the throne next?”
He was facing the general, but everyone knew Nan Jihan’s warning was for all of them.
“We’d never.” Everyone dropped to their knees. General Li was completely drenched in sweat. He was both defiant and fearful. He didn’t know what to do.
Nan Jihan scoffed, his gaze sweeping over everyone in attendance. “My personal affairs are none of your business. If any of you dare contact anyone in the palace, I won’t go easy on you. Do all of you understand?”
He raised an eyebrow, his face tight with anger.
General Li nodded nervously. Even after the meeting concluded, he still hadn’t recovered from his shock. Everything felt like a fever dream.
Nan Jihan returned to the palace. Consort Li obviously hadn’t learned her lesson. After some hesitation, he issued a decree degrading her from the honored consort to a noble lady. Consort Li almost fainted when she heard. She gritted her teeth in resentment and came close to tearing down her place.
Nan Jihan heard that Jun Huang had woken up before he reached his chamber. He rushed to her room and saw her reading a book on the bed. He frowned and took the book from her, handing it to a maid behind him. “The royal doctor said you shouldn’t do anything strenuous. Rest and wait until you’ve recovered to read.”
Jun Huang nodded with a smile and didn’t argue with him. She adjusted her posture, trying to get comfortable, but ended up pulling the wounds on her knees. She sucked in a pained breath.
Nan Jihan hurriedly steadied her with a hand on her shoulder and scolded, “Just sit tight and let the servants do the work.”
Jun Huang snorted. Her face was no longer red from the sunburn. Instead, it was sickly pale. Even her lips were almost free of any color. It made Nan Jihan’s heart ache.
“Don’t worry. The pain is minor and not important at all in the grand scheme of things.”
“You are the most important thing now,” Nan Jihan snapped with a scowl. “Don’t trivialize your discomfort.”
Jun Huang knew Nan Jihan was worried about her, which she wasn’t going to dismiss. She’d caused quite a lot of troubles for him lately. She lowered her eyes for a bemused moment before looking up at him and saying apologetically, “I appreciate all the help you’ve offered me. What can I do to repay you?”
“Would you stay by my side?” Nan Jihan asked hopefully, reaching out to take her hand.
Jun Huang’s smile dropped. With furrowed brows, she pulled her hand away and shook her head. “No.”
Nan Jihan’s chest tightened. Jun Huang just wouldn’t budge! He’d done so much for her. He’d even offended his officials for her. And yet her heart remained frosty.
His expression clouded. What an ungrateful woman!
The maid was observant enough to read Nan Jihan’s thoughts. She hurried to Nan Jihan when she saw the change in his expression and said, “His Majesty, the lady has just woken up. She still hasn’t recovered and must be tired now. It’s time for her to rest.”
Nan Jihan glanced at Jun Huang and nodded. “I’ll arrange for the side building to be prepared for her. You may move there later.”
The maid sighed in relief and turned to the bemused Jun Huang. She was beautiful. Even a woman like her couldn’t help stare. Now she saw that Jun Huang was also a woman who didn’t fear the aristocrats. She didn’t seek power the way other people did and had an unusually pure heart.
After the room had been prepared, Jun Huang made her way to the side building with the maid’s help. Nan Jihan hadn’t come visit her, which she was glad about. She was tired of dealing with him. In the past, she’d just say no to him. However, Nan Jihan had done too much for her. She was in his debt.
She sighed, staring outside the window as she sat on the bed. That was what the maid saw when she entered with a bowl of medicine. Was her master thinking about what happened earlier? She approached the bed and placed the bowl on the table.
“Don’t let it concerned you,” the maid comforted. “His Majesty is just busy. Besides, he’s prepared the side building for you so that you can recover.”
Jun Huang looked up at her. Hers was a face of someone who truly cared. She smiled and patted the girl on the back of her hand and gestured for her to sit down.
“I’m not worried,” she said at a deliberate pace and chuckled. The cadence of her speech had a nice rhythm to it. “I’m just getting bored and feel like getting some fresh air.”
The maid looked around. “You don’t pay enough attention to your own health, and you became even worse after you got sick. What would you do without me? You’d insist on going outside! Please don’t be stubborn. You can do whatever you wish to do.”
Jun Huang covered up a laugh and prodded at the maid’s forehead. “Sweet-talker.”
“Alright, please don’t laugh at me. The medicine is about cooled down. If you don’t take it now, it’s going to be really bitter.”
The maid was reminded of the medicine she placed on the table. She brought it to Jun Huang.
Without a word, Jun Huang took a sip. The maid hurriedly said, “You should finish it in one go, or it’s going to be even more bitter. I’ve asked for some candied dates earlier. I wonder why it’s not delivered yet. I’ll go out and check. Please wait for me and don’t take the medicine just yet. The dates will help lessen the bitterness.”
She rushed out of the room before Jun Huang could stop her. Jun Huang looked at her, then at the black and thick medicine in her hand. She smiled resignedly and finished the medicine in one go without so much as a frown.
The maid walked outside and saw the girl she’d sent to get candied dates sitting on the door sill chewing sunflower seeds. She frowned as she rushed to her. “Why are you still here? Didn’t I tell you to get some candied dates? Lady Feng is going to take the medicine. She needs something sweet.”
The chubby girl glanced at the maid and spat the seed onto the ground. She then shoved the remaining seeds into her inner pocket and brushing dust off her clothes. “I went but they wouldn’t let me take any. What am I supposed to do?”
The maid wasn’t convinced. “How so? We’ve taken things from the kitchen before. Why would they turn you away?”
The chubby girl scoffed and looked over at the door. She leaned into the maid and muttered, “Stupid girl, you are the only one who still serves her with care. She has no hope in the future. Everyone knows His Majesty has stormed away from her room in anger. People are only going to turn me down due to her lack of status if I ask for anything. Why would I waste the time?”
With that, she walked away.
The maid quickly figured out what was happening. She looked inside the room, then glanced outside again. In the end, she sighed and returned to Jun Huang, giving her a stilted smile. “The housekeeper said there was no candied dates available. This servant...”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sorry I forgot to make the announcement yesterday. Because of an exam I’m preparing for, starting this week till the end of June releases will be 5x/week. So no update tomorrow and the next three Saturdays. BUT starting July I’ll be doing daily releases. 7x/week that is. Thank you all for understanding.