After an hour-long session of instrument playing with the Emperor, I soon began to feel tired. The melody of the instrument didn’t help me stay awake as well. I rested my head on the Emperor’s shoulder. As he stroked my hair, I couldn’t help but feel a hint of calmness. The silence between us, the sound of us softly breathing, and his presence... It was too much for me. I was soon going to return home, leaving him behind. I forbid myself from falling in love with him.
Besides, he’ll leave me for his concubines. I would never fall in love with someone with multiple women.
“I’m tired, Your Majesty.” I breathed, slowly getting up from his shoulder.
We faced each other while getting up. His hands were on my waist as he leaned his head closer to me, craning his neck. I flushed instantly. I just couldn’t stop myself.
“Why don’t we go take a walk?” he suggested, just a little bit too close to me.
We were inches away from each other, his hands were still placed on my waist. I scanned his face. How could anyone be this beautiful? The paintings and pictures of the emperors I have seen were all hideous.
How could this be possible? I wanted to kiss him. His soft pink lips were practically in front of me. I could lay with him and be crowned Empress for all I care.
I’m being a little bit risky. My hormones were out of control.
I can’t be risky.
“That would be pleasant,” I whispered.
So we took a walk.
“Tell me about your family.” the Emperor broke the silence of our walk, which I genuinely didn’t find awkward.
“Not much to say,” I responded fast. “They’re not here... anymore. Hua Er’s mother took me in when I was small.”
As I pondered about my actual family, I was devastated to be away from them. The thing that frustrated me the most was that I had to stay here and make an effort to get out. I wanted to die. I’m especially not planning to serve the Emperor. I’d rather die in this sexist Hell-ish place.
I want to go home.
But as the Emperor and I walked side-by-side in the darkness, I realised that I wasn’t half as upset as I was before.
“Her mother was very important to you, I suppose.”
“Yes, Your Majesty, which is why I want her with me in the palace. She’s not as old as you think she is,” I began, putting my imaginary thinking cap on as I improvised my made-up story. “After she took me in as an orphan, Hua Er and I were practically sisters. As you can see, Your Majesty, we are very close.”
He didn’t speak a word for a while. He probably was conflicted about how he was going to behave next. Being infatuated with a low noblewoman was unfashionable, obviously, for stuck-up royal people at least. I was no longer a low noblewoman though. I was a Noble Consort.
He slyly slipped his hand into mine, squeezing it softly. “I’m truly sorry to hear that. It must’ve been hard.”
“Forgive me for ruining the moment, Your Majesty.” I looked up to give him a small smile.
“No worries,” he said as he loosened his shoulders. “No problem at all.”
As we walked back to the palace, I was about to pass out. My eyelids drooped like a one-kilogram weight was tied around my eyelash. My breathing was slow. The energy I had hours earlier was drained from my body. I predicted that it was almost midnight because of the indigo sky and pure silence in the palace. I could just simply fall asleep standing up.
But my tiredness drifted away after my body was amped up from the cat-like footsteps from metres away. We were almost near the palace, the silent, dark palace. There was absolutely no way anyone was awake at this hour. As I slowly tilted my head to the right, my left ear caught the soft footsteps approaching us.
My breathing began to become abnormal and my armpits began to sweat. I need a bath after this. The environment no longer was peaceful as I could figure that someone was watching us, I could feel it.
I began to quicken my walking pace. If I get to the palace quick, people can hear us if I scream my lungs out. My heart started to race after I slowly turned my head to the side, spotting a silhouette of a man on the stone pavement.
My eyes caught a brisk movement, my instincts didn’t disappoint me as I struck fast. As the man’s sword was inches away from my neck, my hand gripped his wrist tightly. “Your Majesty, we are being attacked!”
“Ying Yue!” he yelled, snapping his head in my direction.
I was a few metres away from him, trying to hold off the assassin. In the corner of my eyes, I saw him sharply pull a sword from his sash. I unarmed the assassin then quickly grabbing the handle of the sword. As I held on to it, I felt invincible.
My adrenaline was rushing, causing energy I never knew I had in my body to burst inside my veins. I began to gain consciousness and strength. The assassin wasn’t trained properly. His punches and dodges were sloppy, and I had the weapon. My swift motions induced shock that was presented on the man’s face. He’s never seen a female fight before, I’m sure of it. With him being distracted by my abilities, I brought my foot up to connect it with his chin. I watched his head jerk up, followed by his body dropping on the ground.
I debated whether to kill him or not. He deserved to be tortured while questioned. I wanted to know who was behind this, and why. My bet was on the Empress, she has always wanted me dead.
But as I faced the Emperor’s direction, three men who were trying to harm him. He was very keen on fighting and had incredible swordsmanship. The Emperor was definitely trained as a young child because his techniques were extremely impressive.
As I watched his performance, it just didn’t make sense to me. The Empress wouldn’t have wanted him dead as well.
I snapped out of my thoughts. The palace would have heard the commotion by now. Royal guards should soon be running out of the palace to help save the Emperor and me, but we could both finish them off together.
I ran over to the weakest one, giving him a hard blow to his head. As he turned around to defend himself, his eyes widened. I beheaded him with the sword.
There were two left and the Emperor’s movement began to become sluggish. He had great strength and agility, but because of my ignorance, I always thought emperors were always old and defenseless. Who knows how old the Emperor was. He looked young; he was maybe in his early twenties, but looks can be deceiving.
Anyways, two opponents left. No distractions. The taller, chubby one noticed the death of his buddy, stopping mid-fight to look around. We made eye-contact.
“You must be a man in disguise, but I guess I’ll have to see for myself,” he licked his lips, walking towards me. “I never laid with one of the Emperor’s whores before.”
“You wish, you fool!” I scoffed as I dropped my sword.
I charged at full speed, receiving a nasty blow to my face. I was shocked for a few seconds. As I became aware of what was happening, I was too distracted. His punches began to exhaust me. As I ducked at the last punch, I forcefully pulled his arm towards me.
His body leaned closer—his body odour was terrible—and I crashed my head against his. Grabbing the back of his neck, I kneed him in the face repeatedly, then throwing him one more punch.
His body, as well with the last opponent the Emperor was accompanied by, collapsed on the ground.
Our heavy breathing disrupted the silent environment. We both tried to catch our breath. As I stood scanning over at the bodies, I looked up to catch the eyes of the Emperor. He looked at me like I was an alien he wasn’t afraid of, but freaked out of.
Behind the Emperor, I realised the royal guards were just in time.
I felt out of place. They stared at me with widened eyes and opened mouths. Jaxon. Jaxon was here. He looked quite amused. He had a big smirk on his face. He raised his eyebrows at me. I winked.
“Your Majesty, are you alright?” I asked as I approached him, my heart was about to come out of my chest, and I wasn’t exaggerating.
“Ying Yue, I-” his dumbfounded expression was humorous, but since I was coming close to a nervous breakdown, I forgot to laugh. “H-How? I-I’m...”
“Save your words, Your Majesty,” I said, then I bowing deeply. “I believe we should part our ways now to get a good sleep. I left one of the men alive as I was thinking that Your Majesty could question him about the attempted assassination. Goodnight, Your Majesty.”
I walked past the guards as they bowed to me. I felt a strong victory in my heart.