The Emperor’s Trust
Three gong-time later, she stands on top of the gate tower, overlooking the entire ground below. She feels like she is lost in a boat in the middle of a sea during a dark night. Lanterns that are hung far away looks like the light from a lighthouse. It also resembles a pair of eye peeking out from a dark sea.
(TN: The gong/drum is beat at every 2.4 hours.)
Tian Qi shivers.
Not out of fear, but out of coldness. The middle of the night is when people are at their weakest and yet she has to stand at such a high place, being blown by cold winds. The cold winds enters her body, making her feel uncomfortable on the inside.
Outside the imperial city, tens of thousands of people are sleeping, only she is unlucky enough to have to be on top of a tower with a beating stick in hand.
Tian Qi looks up and gaze at the star-filled sky, the moon is sparkling like silver hook. The dark blue sky is like a bowl, filled with sparkling rice-like stars.
………. She is hungry.
It is easy to get hungry when you are staying up late at night. She should have seen this coming. It’s a pity she was preoccupied when she left her building back then; she forgot to bring snacks.
‘The sky is sparse with stars, as the sound of the flute floats, a man leans on the tower.’ Thinking about that piece of poem, she used to find it indescribably beautiful. But now, she thinks a person must eat first before ‘leaning on the tower’ or else, you will be really miserably.
Tian Qi sighs. She rubs her stomach before going down the tower to walk back to the nightwatcher’s little room.
When she gets there, she sees a frail eunuch sleeping soundly underneath a quilt. Tian Qi gets so pissed off she kicks him twice. After that, she sits beside him and covers her legs underneath the quilt.
Tian Qi knocks her head against the wall gently, thinking she must come here early tomorrow.
She has no idea what is wrong with the other eunuchs these days, all of them knows their places and does their jobs really well. Only two are punished to beat the night gong, while another one is instructed to supervise them. Even though Tian Qi arrives early, the other eunuch is even earlier than her.
First come first serve, they had came into an agreement. Whoever comes first beats the drum for the first half of the night while the other for the second half of the night. Since she slept earlier that day, she wasn’t sleepy. She waited for a while as the other eunuch did his turn. Just as she got sleepy and was about to sleep, he woke her up. Her turn had came.
As she sleepily went out, she hiked up the tower and was no longer sleepy—– too cold.
After hitting the gong for the third time, Tian Qi don’t dare to sleep as she returns here. She is not familiar with the other eunuch. Since she is on duty, falling asleep is a big offense. If the other party calls her out, she is done for.
Tian Qi is scared she will succumb to her sleepiness so she walks out and decides to pace around. The cold wind blows away her sleepiness. And then, she gets sleepy again. After that, cold again…..
After a grueling night, her duty finishes after the fifth gong. She runs back to the Shi San Suo, no longer having the desire to eat. She falls asleep the moment she gets under the quilt. She sleeps until noon. When she wakes up, she goes to the kitchen to find something to eat. She even packs some and brings it to Geng Gu Fang in preparation of tonight.
……. She refuse to believe the other eunuch will be earlier than her this time.
He indeed hasn’t come. Tian Qi is very happy.
The other eunuch is actually called Wang Meng, though he isn’t meng (fierce) at all. He is so thin and frail, like the refugee victim of a natural disaster. Seeing him gives her the urge to feed him and fatten him up.
Such a thin chicken and yet he actually dares to compete for turns against her, the Lord Tian Qi?
Tian Qi brings two books with her; to read as she waits. He comes right when it is about time for their jobs to start. He didn’t say anything as he sits beside Tian Qi and takes one of her books.
Tian Qi: ………….. He really didn’t consider her as an outsider.
The other party is so calm, so she didn’t have a reason to get petty. Fine, just read it if you want!
When her turn ends that night, she gives the other book to Wang Meng. After that, she tries to sleep.
However, she does not have the slightest desire to nap. She slept for too long earlier that day.
In contrast, Wang Meng’s entire body is lethargic. He squints his eyes as he walks around. After hitting the gong, he walks around to kick off the sleepiness, just like Tian Qi the other night.
Seeing him, Tian Qi feels a mixture of sympathy and delight. No matter what, they are still people who are sharing the same fate. There is no need for them to stomp over each other. To some extent, she can still be considered a good person. And so, she tells Wang Meng, “I slept enough today. Do you want me to replace you?”
If another person said such a thing to Tian Qi, she will get suspicious. After that, she will hesitate and then turn down the offer. But this frail chicken in front of him actually thank her and goes right to sleep.
The sound of snoring follows right after. Even though his face doesn’t look fierce, his snores sure does. It sounds like thunders. Tian Qi can almost feel the walls shaking from the sound he makes.
She must have gotten too muddle-headed from being too full when she made that offer. But words that have been said are like water that have been scooped out. She will be embarrassed to take back what she said…. Never mind, she isn’t sleepy anyway. She’ll just help him this one time. Just consider it a good deed for the day.
At this moment, she didn’t know that this action of hers will give her a live-saving opportunity soon.
After leaving the Geng Gu Fang, Tian Qi quickly leaves for Shi San Suo, her lair. Unfortunately, not long after she falls asleep, she is woken by a person. She opens her eyes, isn’t this a eunuch from Gan Qing Palace? What is an imperial eunuch doing here?
Tian Qi suddenly has a bad feeling about this.
That eunuch says, “The emperor has something to ask you. Hurry up.”
Tian Qi’s head blanks out. She slowly puts on her shoes and fix her clothes before taking out a few pieces of silver and hands it to the eunuch, “I have to trouble you to come all the way here……. Why is the emperor calling for me?”
The eunuch place the silvers back to Tian Qi’s palm, “You will know once you meet His Majesty. I am only following orders, I don’t know the details.”
Tian Qi understands it, he is not allowed to speak it out. This matter must be big, it’s definitely a bad thing. She ponders to herself, she hasn’t done anything wrong in the Geng Gu Fang. Did the emperor regrets punishing her too lightly and now wants to be harsh.
If so, she is so done for.
She follows the eunuch uneasily to Gan Qing Palace. An Sheng Huai personally receives Tian Qi and brings her to kneel in front of Ji Heng.
Ji Heng glances at her, and afterwards, no longer pays any attention to her.
There is a complete silence. The emperor didn’t speak up, so Tian Qi obediently kneels, not saying a single word. After working in the Forbidden City for seven years, Tian Qi is someone who really understands rules. She kneels in an upright manner, not even bothering about knee pains.
Ji Heng is immersed in a book. He did not want to interrupt his reading yet, so he simply ignores Tian Qi.
Tian Qi looks around. There is not a single person in that Nuan Pavillion. Sheng An Huai is outside. The dragon bed is so big, the yellow veil that serves to shield it is hooked away. She can vaguely see the faint embroidery of dragon patterns on it. Tian Qi is curious, these are all bright colors, can the emperor sleeps sound at night?
Ji Heng places a pillow under his arms as he leans against a table. His two feet are placed across a small table without taking off his boots.
From where Tian Qi is at, he is currently reclining on his side while facing her direction. His smooth silky clothes are pressed against his body, outlining the shape of his body. There is a small curve at the area of his waist, where a jade pendant is hanging from. His stretched legs looks so long and slender from her point of view.
An idiom suddenly flashes in Tian Qi’s mind. Jade-like body is reclining in disarray.
Cough Cough Cough Cough
Realizing that what she has been thinking of is akin to blasphemy, Tian Qi feels a burst of fear. As though he can sense what she is thinking, Ji Heng looks at her.
Tian Qi’s face reddens before she quickly looks down.
Ji Heng continues to read the book, the entire place is quiet. No other sound can be heard, other than the turning of pages.
Nuan Pavillion is warm and peaceful. No cold winds blows here. Tian Qi was originally wide awake, but after a while, her mind gradually sinks.
According to her usual schedule, she should be sleeping at this hour. People who stays up at night are always lethargic; their brains are slow and their self-control is as good as none.
As Ji Heng turns to another page, the sound of snoring can suddenly be heard in that room.
He freezes before putting down his book. He looks around and in the end, his eyes falls on that person who is kneeling with head droops low.
Ji Heng cannot believe this. He gets up and walk towards Tian Qi before crouching down to look at her. She has her eyes close while breathing calmly. Her two cheeks are red, looks like she is really asleep. Her eyebrows are slightly frowning, as though she isn’t sleeping comfortably.
——being able to sleep while kneeling itself is an ability. How can it be comfortable?
Ji Heng carefully studies Tian Qi’s face. She has an egg-shaped face while her skin is fair white; tinged with slight redness. Her forehead is full while her eyebrows are slender and have a nice curve. Her nose is small and delicate, while her lips are moist red. The lips looks exquisite, like it is painted with rouge even though it isn’t.
How can the face of a eunuch looks so esteemed?
Ji Heng regretfully shakes his head. He uses his hand and touches her long eyelashes. Her eyes moves a little, but she didn’t wake up.
She is too tired. Her neck is drooped low as she sleeps, until her chin comes in contact with her chest. That is why she is snoring.
The entire person looks delicate, even when she snores, she looks delicate. She is like a lazy cat.
Ji Heng gets up. Remembering the little report some people had reported to him before, he shakes his head. The strange nature behind Song Zhaoyi’s death. There is no result after investigating the concubines within the palace, so he has to personally takes over. He originally was not suspicious of Tian Qi, but yesterday, someone told him that this eunuch is close to some other eunuchs from other palaces. That, added with the fact that Song Zhaoyi had only begun to have signs of premature childbirth once she had gotten close to this eunuch, he has no other choice but to summon this eunuch in.
Just he didn’t think he will actually falls asleep while kneeling.
He has never seen such a preposterous servant before, but this also proves one point: this kid has nothing shady going on in his heart. If he really has anything to do with Song Zhaoyi’s death, no matter how good he is in acting, he will not let down his guard and sleeps while he is kneeling before him.
Because of this, Ji Heng chooses to believe in Tian Qi without even questioning him. He kicks him in the knee twice, “Wake up.”
Tian Qi clicks her tongue and continues to sleep.
Ji Heng grabs her by the collar to wake her up. Tian Qi opens her eyes and stares at the face before her. She is so scared, her hair might as well erects up as she stares at him with big eyes.
Her eyes transform from the size of a date to the size of an apricot.
Ji Heng cannot stop himself from laughing. He decides to let her transgression be for now. He lets go of her, “You can go back.”
Tian Qi has no idea that the little nap just now has just gained the trust of the person before her.
She is at a loss, she has no idea what the emperor is trying to do. This is so scary, she has done something stupid again
No matter what, she is safe for now. She quietly retreats. Even though she thinks the emperor can be pretty unreadable, his heart is good. He is benevolent.
In the later days, she will be crossing those impressions out, one by one.
serene: Chapter 1, 2 and 3 are dedicated to Adnana! Thank you for recommending this to me! And sorry for taking too long, the word counts for each chapters are more on the larger side ^^. Anyway, we are pretty excited for this! Yay!