ARC 1 – The Way to become an Empress Part 17
Xi Jiu’s face softened. My pity plan seemed to have worked.
“You-….. It’s fine. I’m fine. Though I still don’t understand why we ended up like that, this servant won’t tell anyone and won’t hold grudges against Imperial Consort Ye.”
…I seduced you, so of course we ended up like that…
“Thank you!” I showed him a bright smile.
He turned his head to the side, seemingly avoiding seeing my face.
Your red ears are betraying you though, Xi Jiu.
He’s blushing. How cute. Innocent boy’s back.
Then he hurriedly bowed down and excused himself.
“Then, I’m going now, Imperial Consort.”
“Wait! One last thing.” I stopped him before he could go.
“I won’t call out for you anymore, since that seems to be for the best. I’ll even reward you-“
“No need, Imperial Consort. I don’t need anything. Being able to serve Imperial Consort Ye is this servant’s honor.” He cut me off, looking me in the eyes. “I’m sorry for the impudence.” But he immediately apologized and bowed again.
“…Okay… Uhm, then, please promise me one last thing. I’m sorry for asking another favor from you…”
“Imperial Consort doesn’t need to be sorry. Please don’t hold back and tell this servant what Your Highness wishes for.” He raised his head again, his eyes confirming his resolve.
“Then… No matter what your mistress Li Zhen Zhen concocts, please stay loyal to the Emperor. If Sir Xi Jiu finds something suspicious going on, please immediately report to His Majesty. Sir Xi Jiu may be directly under the Empress, but you’re still the Emperor’s man. The Emperor is wary of the Empress for some reason, but I do think it’s for a good reason. I’m not asking Sir Xi Jiu to be a spy, but I just want Sir Xi Jiu to have his guard up and help keep His Majesty safe.”
Xi Jiu then smiled deprecatingly, and lowered his head, as if thinking.
“In the end, you still care about the Emperor. Exactly how did we end up like that? Perhaps, you’re thinking of the Emperor all that time? Were you lonely he didn’t visit you? Was that it?” Xi Jiu muttered to himself, but I could absolutely hear him. He talked fast and softly, but I was still able to catch what he was saying.
Hmm? Perhaps he had fallen for me?
…Impossible. Too fast, too irrational. He was just feeling bad for having been used. That’s it. …Right?
And, his thoughts are wrong. I didn’t think of Ji Zhen Tian at that time at all. Well, at least not until it was all over and I was hurrying to the palace. Anyway,
“This servant understands. This servant will help the Emperor. Imperial Consort Ye doesn’t need to worry. This servant swears in his honor and the name of his family that I, Xi Jiu, would always stay loyal to the Emperor. I am willing to dedicate my life.” Xi Jiu bowed and vowed sincerely.
“Thank you, Sir Xi Jiu.” I didn’t know how to respond anymore, so I thought of letting him go. “You must be a little tight on time right now. You’re excused.”
“…This servant excuses himself.” And then he left.
Though I said I’m not sending him as a spy, but it’s actually like that, no?
After he left, my maids immediately approached me. They looked like they want to know what we talked about for quite a while, but
“Shall we prepare the rewards for Sir Xi Jiu?” They only asked that instead.
“No need. That imperial guard didn’t want anything like that.”
“Understood. …Then, Imperial Consort, should we brew another tea? Or, does Imperial Consort want to return to the palace now?”
“Let’s stay for a little while longer. No need to brew tea again. Instead, I want to walk around and look at the sights in this garden.” The garden is so big, and I want to go deeper in it.
“Yes, Your Highness.”
And so I did, and they accompanied me. I was thinking these past few days that I’d like to see how the imperial gardens look like with my own eyes. I’ve known glimpses of it from Imperial Consort Ye’s memory and from several paintings in the palace, but there’s not much of those paintings, and she also didn’t frequent this place that is “available even for lower consorts“.
When I looked around, I thought, as expected of the garden for the “most important” people in the dynasty.
It was filled with flowering trees and shrubs that are all well taken care of. Trees and shrubs of different colors line up on both sides of a path only wide enough for several people. The path was littered with fallen leaves and flowers, but they only added to the gorgeous scenery.
The sight is so colorful and very beautiful. Paintings would definitely be unable to capture the whole feeling of seeing it in person. Even the air smells nice.
I heard in the center of it all is a small floating pavilion in the middle of a pond. Thinking I would also like to see that, I, together with my maids, headed for it.
After walking and touring for a while, I finally reached the heart of this imperial garden.
And there, I met that person.