Ever since Lou Che came back, he has not even once slept in the same bed with Li Xi Shi. With the new look that she has, her patience to wait for Lou Che to make a move on her was gradually evaporated. Right after supper, Lou Che would quickly return to his own quarter. That night Li Xi Shi wanted to make sure Lou Che would not return to his own chamber early.
She requested some list of main dishes that commonly known could raise man's heat. It was just to compliment what Dai Mao mama has prepared.
Her heart beated fast as Lou Che arrived her quarter even before the supper was served. She scared her mission to get Lou Che aroused and got caught beforehand.
Li Xi Shi glanced at Dai Mao mama then quickly smiled at her husband. As Lou Che was getting his seat at the center table where they usually have meals, Li Xi Shi quickly sat beside him and touched his hand.
"Husband, the meal is not ready yet and you already arrived. Is there any bad news from the palace as I can see your face is gloomy today?"
Lou Che's face was indeed gloomy. His forehead creased and he ignored her smile. Lou Che let Li Xi Shi caress him while he let himself grumble. Dai Mao mama wsa giving instruction to some taijian to serve the food on the table and Lou Che completely did not notice what she was doing behind him, in between the plating.
"This early morning, the Ministry of War and Defense reported that there is a military conflict as a result of our interventions in the rivalry between the Western and Eastern Turks in order to weaken both sides."
"There would be a war?" Li Xi Shi asked in surprise. Never knew and understood anything related to politics and war, after listening to Lou Che, Li Xi Shi imagined a critical situation would happen soon. Then she felt a little bit relieved when she knew The Emperor would never ask Lou Che to join political affairs or even join military wars. Her husband only knew how to make money and knew nothing about self defense.
Her question met Lou Che's nodded head.
"Husband, Fuhuang would never ask you to join the war. You would never be sent to the front line, then why do you frown like this?"
Her index finger touched his forehead and she laughed as Lou Che frowned deeper. This time Lou Che pulled himself off from Li Xi Shi. Seeing her husband try to made a distance between the two of them, Li Xi Shi regretted her action. She was not supposed to laugh at his problems. Li Xi Shi blamed herself to be a self centered wife who failed to not listen to her husband until he finished his story.
"The Emperor granted me a post under the Ministry of Revenue. From today onwards, I will serve below Wang Lei to boost the Empire's prosperity, to help Wang Lei arrange finances to fund the war." Lou Che muttered in annoyance.
His facial expression made Li Xi Shi feel exasperated. The urge to get a son just as cute as Lou Che returned to her mind. She wanted a spoiled son just like Lou Che.
Laughed with a sense of proud of her husband's capability, Li Xi Shi tried to approach Lou Che. This time she tried to put her hand on his thigh. Dai Mao mama purposely put a cup of wine and the marble pot next to Li Xi Shi's other hand. A slight touch on Li Xi Shi's hand was meant as a signal to make Lou Che drink the wine.
"Husband, why are you grumbling after getting full trust from Fuhuang? I am proud of you."
Quickly, she poured the pot and gave the cup filled with wine into Lou Che's hand.
"Because of this new responsibility, I have to cut down some business trip that I originally planned for this year." After revealing his true matter, Lou Che gulped down the wine and gave the empty back to Li Xi Shi. "The wine tasted awful."
After that he gazed at the servants around them. Randomly he pointed at one of them and commanded, "Change the wine in this pot to the wine that was given by Nanzhao Kingdom."
Instead of reacting right away, the servant hesitantly looked at Li Xi Shi's face for permission as all the servants there knew Li Xi Shi had planned for the night. Lou Che noticed the obvious signal exchange and he turned his head to browse the table.
Li Xi Shi's heart beat increased tremendously. She got caught and she was scared Lou Che would be furious at her. She prayed the medicine would affect Lou Che before his anger controlled him.
By then Lou Che pulled the pot and opened the lid. She held her breath as Lou Che brought the pot under his nose. Immediately after that, Lou Che threw away the pot to the ground. Li Xi Shi and some of the servants squealed in fear. The pot scattered on the ground. The splash of the wine made the edge of Li Xi Shi's dress wet and most of the precious liquid mixed with wine already pooled on the floor.
"Fuma, this is purely Nubi's fault." Dai Mao mama kneeled on the ground and kowtow in desperation. "Nubi planned all of this without Gongzhu's permission. Please do not be impassioned towards Gongzhu and give me punishment. Please do not let this lowly ruin the mood between Fuma and Gongzhu."
Lou Che jumped up from his seat. His face turned reddish as he held in his anger. Without she could even realize herself, her eyes were already filled with tears. Between her soft cries, Li Xi Shi said, "Husband, I miss you. As a wife, I miss the warmth you once gave me at the beginning of our marriage. It has been almost four years we are together, please just stay with me even only for this night."
Before Lou Che could answer to that plea, Dai Mao mama once again kowtow and supported the plea.
"Nubi was there the day of Gongzhu's birth. Nubi was also in charge of raising and looking after Gongzhu. Please, Fuma consummate Gongzhu's plea."
The other servants followed Dai Mao and kneeled behind Dai Mao. The tears flowed even greater from Li Xi Shi's eyes. Everyone inside her chamber cared and loved her more than she could ask for but the only person she wanted did not love her as the way she loved him.
Apparently Lou Che did not know what to do. He just stood there and looked very confused. Everyone was crying and technically forced him to consummate his marriage with Li Xi Shi.
His body reacted strangely too. He guessed the effect of the love potion was starting to make him aroused. Lou Che looked deeply at Li Xi Shi's teary eyes. That moment he was starting to tears. All things he held inside his heart bursted out uncontrollably.
"I cannot…. I cannot…." He cried. He shook his head and made Li Xi Shi wail.
His body part got hardened. Before he lost his control, he stormed out from Li Xi Shi's quarter. Tried to ignore the terrible sound behind him and he ran as fast as he could towards his own quarter.
The moment he reached his chamber, he shouted loudly while his hands opened the door.
"Do not disturb me!"
His personal taijian and other servants that followed him abruptly stopped and made a distance from his main quarter. They all stood there and looked into each other. After that Lou Che closed his door and locked it. He leaned on the closed door as the heat was crawling inside him. His tool was as hard as wood. His mind was filled with Ah Ke as he tried to relieve his passionate breath.
"Gongzi, what happened?"
Ah Ke came out from the inner chamber. His soft voice made Lou Che open his eyes and found him terribly alluring.
Ah Ke wore only pants and looked concerned about Lou Che. "Why are you panting and crying at the same time?"
His fingers wiped tears on Lou Che's cheek. The other hand stayed at Lou Che's chest. "Did you get into an argument with Gongzhu?"
Lou Che cannot control his libido any longer. His tears flew even more because he was thinking why he could not attract women. Everything in his life was perfect. He could get anything he wanted, he even got to be the only Fuma that was trusted by The Emperor and The Empress. Why cannot he fall in love with the right human?
He pulled Ah Ke and hugged him tight. He kissed Ah Ke's lips passionately. He tried to imagine that Ah Ke's lips were Li Xi Shi's but it just ruined his feeling.
Lou Che retreated to take a good look at Ah Ke. The young man that has been on his bed for some time. The thin lips of him and his thin body. Lou Che tore off the pants that he wore. Lou Che wanted him that much.
Without more words, Lou Che turned Ah Ke to turn his back against him. Lou Che pushed his hand on Ah Ke's shoulder so Ah Ke bended and gave his butt up in front of him. In a second, Lou Che already forced himself inside Ah Ke.
There was no time for Jiang Xi Yu to rest during the Spring Festival.
After returning from their winter retreat, both Jiang Xi Yu and Li Fei Long attended the New Year Banquet at the palace where Jing Guì Fēi was nowhere to be seen. Jiang Xi Yu already prepared herself to meet Jing Gui Fei but Li Fei Long did not even invite her to visit his mother.
On the seventh day of the New Year when the festival was still very much lively, Jiang Xi Yu was still busy accepting the gifts from the royal families and families who served the Empire. Her duty seemed very much easy but in reality it was far more hard than she imagined.
With the help of Ding mama and Xiao Gan Zi gonggong, who have the most experience, Jiang Xi Yu learned what was the proper gift to return to each royal family member and the government's people. The most important part was to not offend each of them with their gifts.
"In the future, just receiving money is already enough. Nobody gets offended, everyone is happy."
Jiang Xi Yu rambled on while putting down the official seal of Duan Wang Fu on the one of the paper letters which will be attach on the gift they prepared to give to a Marquis's household.
"Manners are like the shadows of virtues, if in the future people start to forget about manners, then…"
"Then Ding mama can come and discipline all of those people." Jiang Xi Yu cut Ding mama's comment in her cheeky way. Being around all the gifts that had purposely been set up at the main hall, Jiang Xi Yu laughed at her own jokes and her closest people followed her laughed.
"Everyday found my wife laugh happily sorting the gifts make me want to make everyday to feel like New Year." Li Fei Long came and joined them with his two trusted taijian behind.
He stood next to the table that was set up on the center and filled with papers and hongbao. His eyes scanned every item around the hall before return to face Jiang Xi Yu.
"Do not get me wrong." Jiang Xi Yu shook her index fingers. "I am happy because I have so much help from them."
She opened her arms and took a look at each person around her. Ding mama, Xiao Gan Zi gonggong, Ru Qing, and Ru Ming lowered their head as they smiled. "This exchange gift norm is too difficult as I am not supposed to offend anyone with my gifts. Without them, I know nothing."
Jiang Xi Yu sighed as her hand shook. Li Fei Long's smile got wider when he sat down beside Jiang Xi Yu. In harmony their servants all retreated in silence. They all stepped back and lowered their heads in courtesy.
"If you feel tired, take rest first or let Ding mama do the rest." Li Fei Long took over the list of gifts that was written neatly.
"I wanted to remember what I gave to each person, what I received. But there were too many names, too many families, too many titles and posts. I think I will give up and get something to eat too so my brain can process all of this." Her complaint made Li Fei Long chuckle.
"You heard wang fei." Without turning his head, with a stern voice, Li Fei Long gave his command to people on their back. "Prepare the midday meals in the garden. Ben wang and wang fei will have the midday meal while admiring the blooming flowers garden."
All behind them accepted the task and went their way in just a split of second. Jiang Xi Yu made sure no one was there before she used that moment alone with Li Fei Long to come up with her intention.
Li Fei Long looked very much content these days. Therefore Jiang Xi Yu felt this was the correct moment to bring up the matter about Jing Gui Fei.
"This rare jewelry set was sent out from Zhong Jing Hall." Jiang Xi Yu lifted a set of headpiece and bracelet from a wooden tray that was about arm length from her. She took a glance to check Li Fei Long's reaction and found nothing.
His smile was gone but his face flat.
"I sent out some gifts for Mufei to return her virtue but I left behind something important. A gift that I found when we were at the outskirts of Luoyang." Jiang Xi Yu carefully continued while admiring the set of jewelry on her hands. She paused to give Li Fei Long a chance to rebut but he was still in silence so she continued calmly.
"I am thinking to take a visit to Zhong Jing Hall and also greet Mufei a new year greeting."
She turned and faced Li Fei Long who still kept his mouth shut. Jiang Xi Yu knew Li Fei Long angered was still there, but she also knew, afterall, Jing Gui Fei was his birth mother. The son also missed his mother. If Jiang Xi Yu burns her anger and create the same grudge between her and Jing Gui Fei, not only it will cause the relationship between the mother and son but also their relationship.
"You have such a great heart to accept what Mufei has done to you." Li Fei Long's eyes got fixed on the set of jewelry on Jiang Xi Yu's hand.
Jiang Xi Yu shook her head and she put the jewelry back on the tray. "I do not have the greatest heart. I still have the anger inside me. I still question why it has to happen when I never have any bad intentions toward Mufei. I am still grieving on the unborn fetus. On top of that I am scared. I am scared of possibilities that could happen in the future for me."
"I would not let anyone hurt you…"
Li Fei Long turned his eyes and looked deeply on hers. Quickly put her hand on his cheek, Jiang Xi Yu stopped Li Fei Long.
"But I know for sure… " She whispered close in front of his face. "If I return the grudge, if I put hate inside you and use you against Mufei, it will be endless misery. The real meaning of why I am here at this era would be worthless. All of us would just live our life full of tension, anger, hate."
They lost their sight in each other's eyes. Jiang Xi Yu continued, "I fell into a world that I do not recognize. I am planning to live the most out of it. I do not plan to have a miserable life, full of worries and fears."
Li Fei Long took her hand off his cheek. He squeezed her hand then put it on his chest. He let Jiang Xi Yu feel his heart beat. After they were trapped in a pause, Li Fei Long finally opened his voice.
"Take Ding mama with you. I heard Mufei does not feel well, bring some old age herbs that Master Gao left behind."
Jiang Xi Yu smiled and nodded her head. She was going to ask why Li Fei Long still did not want to join her, but after much more thought she chose to seal her mouth. Li Fei Long must have his own reason.
Zhong Jing Hall was not like the last time Jiang Xi Yu was there. Even though the servants put up the red banner and new year accessories, the ambience inside the Zhong Jing Hall very much deserted.
After He Lu gonggong welcomed her and led her inside, Jiang Xi Yu got taken back by Jing Gui Fei's condition. She was pale and got a lot skinnier than before. Even though Jing Gui Fei wore new dress with vibrant color and thick lip coloring, that effort cannot hide her sickness.
"Mufei, erxi come to wish you great happiness, prosperity, and a thousand years of life." With the help of Ding mama, Jiang Xi Yu gave a full formal bow to Jing Gui Fei.
"Come and sit down." The cold voice of Jing Gui Fei made Jiang Xi Yu's grip on Ding mama's hand shake. She was still scared of her.
Like surrendering herself into a hungry Tiger, Jiang Xi Yu tried her best to look calm. She sat on the second seat next to Jing Gui Fei. By the time she was going to accept the tea cup the servant offered her, her eyes caught Jing Gui Fei's trembling hand holding her own tea cup.
"Bengong did not mix the tea with potion. Ease yourself to this calming tea." Her tone was sarcastic and Jiang Xi Yu realized she stopped her hands and did not realize the servant beside her was awkwardly waiting for her.
"Please excuse erxi's manner. Erxi got caught by Mufei's health condition." Jiang Xi Yu picked up the tea cup and put it back on the side table. Quickly turned into Ding mama who looked full of worries on Jing Gui Fei's state, Jiang Xi Yu took over the box from Ding mama's hand.
"Wang ye has prepared these herbs to be given to Mufei. Wang ye has been concerned about Mufei's health and these might nourish Mufei's health."
He Lu gonggong stepped up to receive the box from Jiang Xi Yu's hand then returned to the back of the hall without showing it to Jing Gui Fei.
"If it is true that Wang Ye has been concerned about his birth mother, why did Wang Ye not pay respect by himself?" Jing Gui Fei cleared her throat then let the servant take away her tea cup.
Not even once did she gaze at Jiang Xi Yu. With her poor healthy condition, Jing Gui Fei managed her pride as high as she could. Her attitude put Jiang Xi Yu into a wiser mind.
Why would she be worried and scared over this hopeless arrogant Royal Consort?!
"Wang Ye is in a difficult position at this moment." After she took a deep breath, Jiang Xi Yu felt like she had the strength to talk it through with Jing Gui Fei. "After his anger and sorrow passed along the time, he surely missed the only woman who would do anything for him."
By then Jing Gui Fei turned her head and glared at her. "Did you tell him to not come?"
"Erxi never persuaded Wang Ye to come or to not come visit Mufei." Whether Jing Gui Fei would believe her or not, she did not care. Jiang Xi Yu gave her a sad looking face and Jing Gui Fei turned her head away to avoid it.
"What has happened, has already happened." Jing Gui Fei's voice became softer than before. Jiang Xi Yu caught a crystal-like drop under Jing Gui Fei's eye. "Because of what Bengong did, Wang Ye's stance in the eyes of Huáng shang might have shifted."
"Because what Mufei did, it caused Wang Ye and I lost our baby." Jiang Xi Yu added firmly. She wanted Jing Gui Fei to know what she felt. She emphasized it once again. Slowly. "I lost my baby because of you."
She almost choked up after she said it in Jing Gui Fei's face. "The baby I never knew I ever had before I lost it. And I am here, sitting elegantly right in front of the person who killed my baby. I thought I grieved enough. I thought I had forgiven you. But now I realize I will never forgive you."
Jing Gui Fei astonished as Jiang Xi Yu no longer kept her manners. "Impudent!" Jing Gui Fei called her.
Jiang Xi Yu continued in a calm and cold tone. "I never even dreamed of being where I am currently sitting. But the reality is... I am stuck here. Appearing in the middle of this life just as all of you suddenly became involved in my new life. Instead of knocking each other down, it would be better for us to favor each other."
"Do you think I do not know the feeling of losing someone?" Jing Gui Fei got back at Jiang Xi Yu.
But Jiang Xi Yu did not plan to let Jing Gui Fei ruin her moment. Hastily, she answered back at her. "I do not care whether you have lost someone you care about before this. But surely I know you are losing your own son now. This is the result of your reckless actions and I feel there is no need to repay you for what you did to me."
Jing Gui Fei's eyeballs widened. Her mouth was opened to say something but it was closed again as she knew what Jiang Xi Yu said was right. Jing Gui Fei's people were in total shock as the gasp they made was clearly caught by Jiang Xi Yu's ears.
Maintaining her chin high enough, Jiang Xi Yu glanced at Ding mama. "Mufei seems to be falling sick because of erxi and since Mufei bestowed Ding mama to Duan Wang Fu, no one treat Mufei better than Ding mama."
Ding mama stepped forward and kneeled in front of Jing Gui Fei. "Jing Gui Fei, Nubi have been serving you even before you join the harem. Ever since Duan Wang Fei saved and received nu back into the fu, nubi had pledged nu's life to serve Duan Wang Fei wholeheartedly. For the sake of Duan Qin Wang, nubi is begging Jing Gui Fei to take care of the health and together with Duan Wang Fei support Duan Qin Wang."
Jiang Xi Yu gave the opportunity for Ding mama to get to be back beside Jing Gui Fei, but turned out Ding mama had her small compassion as moral duty.
Jing Gui Fei returned her gaze on Jiang Xi Yu. After Jiang Xi Yu let out all of her grudge inside her heart, both her hands were shaking real bad. Jing Gui Fei noticed that too and she lent her hand to captured Jiang Xi Yu's hand.
"If only time could be turned back…"
Jiang Xi Yu caught it between Jing Gui Fei's eyes. The guilt she finally showed. The arrogance of her was gone and Jiang Xi Yu got the apology she never knew she wanted.
"The next time erxi visits Zhong Jing Hall, erxi is sure wang ye will come along." Said Jiang Xi Yu. She took a deep breath to calm herself. Her hand returned the warm squeeze of Jing Gui Fei's hand. "The Lantern Festival is right in the corner. By that time Mufei needs to be healthy enough to attend it. Erxi will not disturb Mufei's time to rest and recuperate."
Jiang Xi Yu stood up as Jing Gui Fei let go of her hands. With a gentle wave, Jing Gui Fei pardon Ding mama. "Serve Duan Wang Fei as you have been serving me."
"Sure, Niangniang." Ding mama bowed before she straightened her back up.
After nodding her head, Jing Gui Fei swifted her eyes back on Jiang Xi Yu's. "If visiting is not possible, sending small birds is sufficient."
Jiang Xi Yu nodded as she understood what Jing Gui Fei meant.
On the day of the Lantern Festival, The Grand Chancellor's mansion was the most festive place out of all the places in the capital city. That day was the official day Han Yao Ying gong gege became Ruì Wáng Fei.
Han Yao Ying was waiting for Li Qing Feng to arrive and picked her up with the wedding carriage. Most of the commoners already gathered on the side of the main road, waiting to watch the second prince of the Empire passed by with his beautiful wedding carriage.
The Grand Chancellor and The Grand Princess have their own duty. While The Grand Chancellor stood by the front door to welcome all their guests, he was also waiting to welcome Li Qing Feng. On the other hand, The Grand Princess entertained the ladies guests that already had arrived.
Not even one guest noticed there was a woman who was anxious to join the wedding banquet. Because no one even knew that Pan Xi Yin even existed.
Pan Xi Yin has all dolled up for the occasion. The wedding banquet was all she was waiting for as she desperately wanted the world to understand who she was and her importance status in Grand Chancellor's fu.
She kept checking her face in the mirror. The last touched she made was plugged a big rock hair ornament into her already heavy hairdo. Then she rose to her feet in confidence to announce herself in front of all the guests outside. She believed that the timing was perfect to ruin The Grand Princess's face and after that she planned to awe the second prince by her appearance.
"Bai Xia, lead my way out to introduce myself to the all important people out there." Said Pan Xi Yin in glory.
Strangely, Bai Xia looked at her with fear. Beside her were two other pozi, each of them held a white long fabric in their hands.
"Open the door and lead me out." Pan Xi Yin frowned in confusion at the three. Bai Xia shocked her head as the other two pozi approached her in their flat expression.
Naturally sensed something was suspicious, Pan Xi Yin stepped back. "What are you planning to do? Was it The Grand Princess's scheme to keep me inside? Do you realize what you are going to do to me? Once The Grand Chancellor knows both of you are doing this to me, there would be no mercy for you!"
Her voice rose gradually as the two pozi approached her and each of them caught her hands. Her strength fought back as one of the pozi tried to lock her hand. She moved lightly to avoid the cubby hands. She tried to run away from both pozi and hit the wooden pillar accidentally.
"The Grand Chancellor and The Grand Princess gave instruction to lock you inside the room and to keep you quiet throughout the banquet." Bai Xia explained in her soft voice. That lowly servant was afraid to help the pozi.
Pan Xi Yi growled angrily at Bai Xia. The servant that she trusted just stood by the closed door and did not help her at all. She kept running away from the pozi as she screamed at Bai Xia.
"Open the door and let me report to laoye what the ruckus you have made."
Finally one of the pozi caught her slender hand and tried to pull her. To fight back, Pan Xi Yin used the method she learned from the street. She pulled one of the bu yao on her hairdo. She stabbed the pozi's hand until the blood spurted out.
"You bitch!" The other pozi tried to grabed her but Pan Xi Yin was faster. Out of anger Pan Xi Yin ran into Bai Xia. With the bu yao still in her hand, she tried to attack Bai Xia.
Bai Xia tried to dodge the attack but somehow the sharp tip of the bu yao scratched along her face. The pain made her stumbled her feet as both hands withstanded Pan Xi Yin responsively.
Before Pan Xi Yin could scream out of her lungs to get attention from the outside, one pozi managed to cover her mouth with the long white cloth. The other pozi managed to tie her hands behind her body.
With a breathless breath, Pan Xi Yin attempted to make a loud scream one more time but she was not able to do so. Anger possessed her. The cloth between her teeth was smelly and too tight. The pozi took turns punching her back and it was so painful. In her eyes she saw Bai Xia. Sitting on the floor with half face covered with blood, crying.
She was this close to spread her wings and become the woman she wanted to be. Her eyes moved to the closed door. Her ears caught the noise from the outside. The sound of firecrackers detonating, the sound of wedding music, and the sound of crowds greeted the prince.
A hard hit on her head made Pan Xi Yin collapse. All she saw only blackout.