Chapter Twenty (Part 1)
The palace guards apprehended the assassins.
But the assassins hid poison under their tongues. They swallowed it, blood dripped out of their mouths and they died.
The emperor commanded the palace guards to investigate who was responsible for the assassination attempt. Then the emperor ordered the imperial physicians to follow him to his chamber because Pei Zhang was injured.
During the banquet Pei Zhang wasn’t sitting near the emperor but he flew to save the emperor the moment he heard assassins entered the palace. But an assassin’s sword stabbed Pei Zhang’s body while he was protecting the emperor.
Inside the emperor’s chamber, many imperial physicians surrounded the unconscious Pei Zhang.
‘If anything happens to seventh prince, I’ll bury all of you together with him,’ the emperor threatened.
Consort Mu stood near the bed and she cried at the sight of her unconscious son.
The empress feigned concern for Pei Zhang’s life. But her heart regretted Pei Zhang didn’t die immediately after being stabbed. It also feared Pei Zhang would wake up and his bond with the emperor would grow stronger enough for the emperor to make Pei Zhang the crown prince instead of Pei Lam.
Pei Lam stood beside his mother and he was in deep thought about the situation.
Consort La was holding a sleeping Pei Khan in her arms. Pei Khan stirred in his sleep when he heard the emperor’s loud voice. Pei Khan raised his head from his mother’s chest, he didn’t see anyone wanted to harm him and continued to sleep on his mother’s chest.
Pei Jin was gaging everyone’s expressions. He noticed Pei Khan was startled by the emperor, Pei Khan’s head raised and laid back on Consort La’s chest to sleep. Then he looked at the tired Yan Shi Ning who stood beside him and his heart beckoned Pei Zhang to wake up so that he and Yan Shi Ning could go home to bathe and sleep.
Pei Jin wasn’t worried about Pei Zhang’s life. He knew if Pei Zhang died that easily then he wasn’t Pei Zhang. Also, the assassins that entered the palace that night were strange.
The assassins were too familiar with the palace surroundings and chose a night when the imperial families were gathered and unarmed. It meant the person who hired the assassins was someone who knew the palace surroundings and when was a good opportunity for an ambush attack. Even if he was beaten to death, he wouldn’t believe that everyone in the emperor’s chamber was innocent.
Pei Jin’s eyes swept over the emperor, empress, the emperor’s consorts, princes and imperial physicians. But he didn’t discover anything unusual about their expressions.
‘Seventh prince is saved by his ancestor’s good deeds,’ the head imperial physician said. ‘His body is stable and he’ll recover after resting for a period.’
The emperor and Consort Mu sighed in relief but the empress smiled coldly.
‘Xiao Zhang is injured, he can stay here while he’s recovering,’ the emperor said.
Everyone was shocked by the emperor’s words. When a prince who wasn’t the crown prince was allowed to remain in the palace had a significant meaning.
The emperor’s eyes swept over everyone in his chamber. Finally he looked at Yan Shi Ning and nodded his head. ‘It’s late, everyone can leave.’
Under the full moon, Pei Jin hugged Yan Shi Ning inside the horse carriage. She didn’t struggle and felt safe being protected by him. His words of reassurance after the attack echoed in her heart, ‘don’t be scared, I’m here.’
Yan Shi Ning wasn’t scared as long as she had Pei Jin. Whether she was a six-year-old being bullied, a twelve-year-old being chased by fierce dog or an eighteen-year-old being attacked… as long as he was with her, he would always protect her with his life.
Yan Shi Ning’s eyes stung. She knew clearly the scoundrel who always bullied her was the only one who truly cared about her and was good to her.
‘Why are you crying?’ Pei Jin asked and searched for a handkerchief to wipe Yan Shi Ning’s tears.
Yan Shi Ning silently wrapped her arms around Pei Jin’s neck and hugged him tightly.
Yan Shi Ning startled Pei Jin. It was the second time Yan Shi Ning initiated a hug. The first time was many years ago. That day she was chased by a fierce dog and the moment she saw him she cried and hugged him.
Pei Jin gently patted Yan Shi Ning’s back. ‘Wife, what do you want to do by falling on my chest?’
Yan Shi Ning heard Pei Jin’s teasing tone and she bit his neck.
Pei Jin felt Yan Shi Ning’s soft warm lips on his skin and immediately his little brother woke up. He wrapped his arms around her waist. Her teeth let go of his neck, he looked at her beautiful face under the moonlight that shone through the window and his lips leaned closer to her lips.
Suddenly the horse carriage halted.
‘Ninth prince, mistress, you’re home,’ the groomsman said.
Yan Shi Ning saw the frustration on Pei Jin’s face and she laughed.
Pei Jin hit Yan Shi Ning’s bottom. ‘Don’t worry, tonight will be a long night.’
Yan Shi Ning immediately stopped laughing.
End of Chapter Twenty (Part 1)