His highness's Allure - Chap 104
Pei Zheng stepped into the side hall. With a small gust of spiritual wind from his palm, the door closed tightly behind him.
Shen Shijiu’s eyes were bright as he ran over to the door and stood in front of Pei Zheng.
Pei Zheng hadn’t slept a wink last night, so he currently looked a little tired; there were dark circles under his eyes.
The side hall was very quiet, blocking out all the noise and chaos outside.
Shen Shijiu stood quietly and lifted his head slightly to look at Pei Zheng. As he blinked his eyes; he looked terribly sweet and obedient.
Pei Zheng slowly bent down and leaned toward Shen Shijiu.
Shen Shijiu became a bit nervous when his eyes met Pei Zheng’s pitch-black gaze, and he silently gulped back his saliva.
Pei Zheng turned sideways, and he leaned his head against Shen Shijiu’s slender shoulder. He was facing the other’s neck, so he took a light sniff. There was a faint medicinal scent on him, which soothed the mind.
Shen Shijiu stiffened. There was a tall, warm body pressed against him, and there were hot breaths spraying onto his neck; he didn’t dare to move at all.
“Mm…” Pei Zheng responded softly.
Shen Shijiu realized that the body leaning on his shoulder was slipping off, so he quickly stuck his arm out and grabbed Pei Zheng’s waist, allowing the tall man to lean more comfortably against his body, and prevent him from collapsing to the floor.
Pei Zheng really did feel a bit tired. He had been trying to reason with the Empress for so long, but she still refused to relent; she still insisted on summoning Shen Shijiu to the palace, and had even disturbed the Emperor.
He had no choice, Pei Zheng could only say that he would have his servants return to the manor and escort Shen Shijiu to the palace as quickly as possible.
Then he found an excuse to leave the inner hall. Only then did he have time to look for Shen Shijiu.
No, not Shen Shijiu. He was Pei Zheng’s little Highness. But this matter couldn’t be discovered by anyone else.
He felt a gentle touch on his back; a little hand was stroking it, as if to comfort him.
“My Lord, are you tired? It’s okay if you’re tired, you can rest for a bit, I can lend you my shoulder to lean on for as long as you want… My Lord, you’re so amazing, you can do anything, because my Lord is the best…”
He had purposely taken on a more experienced, mature tone of voice, but he still sounded like a child impersonating an adult.
Pei Zheng closed his eyes, and the corners of his lips rose, enjoying Shen Shijiu’s stroking and consolation.
This small man had always had some kind of magical power; he always seemed so cheerful and affectionate, like a stream of warm water that could thaw the coldest ice. Yet, he had been the one who had suffered the most pain: how could he remain so fresh and dazzling?
Pei Zheng’s fingers shifted as he raised them, before he slowly hugged Shen Shijiu’s waist as well. Then, he pulled him into an embrace.
Shen Shijiu’s body was suddenly thrust forward, and he was unable to find his footing, so his body was firmly supported by a pair of strong arms.
Originally, Pei Zheng’s body had been pressed against Shen Shijiu’s, but now, most of Shen Shijiu’s body was pinned tightly against Pei Zheng’s chest.
Last night, one sip of wine had made Shen Shijiu so drunk that he lost consciousness. Pei Zheng didn’t have time to do anything before he was summoned to the palace.
He hadn’t even been able to give him a proper hug.
Now, he was hugging something so real, so warm, so soft. He could finally breathe. He could look into those beautiful eyes and smile again. He could even shed small tears as his eyes reddened in aggrievement.
The cold blood in Pei Zheng’s chest finally melted and began to flow again. All he wanted to do was hug the person in his arms and never let go.
But right now, in the inner hall not too far away, the majestic Emperor and harsh Empress were waiting. The weak Second Princess Qi Bingzhi, who was about to faint, was also there. There were also a few ministers from the Empress’s family and concubines of the Empress’s faction, as well as countless servants…
They were all ready to snatch the person in his arms away.
Pei Zheng’s grip loosened slightly, and he let Shen Shijiu stand by himself. Then, he grabbed the back of his head with one hand, and gazed carefully at Shen Shijiu’s eyes.
Those curled eyelashes couldn’t cover those watery, affectionate eyes. They seemed to sweep imperceptibly over one’s heart, unwittingly seductive. These eyes had originally looked a bit different because of the mask, but now, they were gradually coinciding with the eyes in his memory.
Shen Shijiu was also staring attentively at Pei Zheng. He didn’t know what had happened to His Lordship today, but he thought that he seemed a bit different than before.
Pei Zheng’s slender fingers bent slightly, and gently brushed Shen Shijiu’s eyelashes. Shen Shijiu closed his eyes at the touch.
Then, there was a soft, warm feeling on his lips. Shen Shijiu didn’t dare to open his eyes, nor dare to move. His jaw was tightly clenched, as he clutched the robe at Pei Zheng’s waist.
That warmth suddenly disappeared. Shen Shijiu’s eyes were still closed, and his heart was beating incredibly fast. Then, he heard a deep, hoarse voice in his ear.
“Stick out your tongue.”
Shen Shijiu obediently did as he was told, and his breath was stolen…
Pei Zheng’s eyes were open the entire time; he was looking at Shen Shijiu’s trembling eyelashes, as well as the tears that were gradually beading upon them.
The face in front of him seemed to be slowly transforming. The mask over his visage appeared to be slowly melting away, fading until it was completely gone.
His original face was revealed. Because he had been wearing a mask for all these years, his skin was even clearer and more exquisite than it was before, delicate as mutton fat jade.
Pei Zheng noticed that the breathing of the person in his arms was chaotic, and that he couldn’t catch his breath, so he lightly pulled away for a gulp of air, and let go of him.
Shen Shijiu opened his eyes, and the tears on his lashes rolled down. His watery gaze landed on Pei Zheng; His crimson lips were slightly pouted, as he raised his aggrieved eyes to look up at him.
Once Pei Zheng saw his face clearly, he could hardly breathe.
It was exactly the same as it had been in the past, and was even more charming than before. And because his growth had been stunted, his facial features still looked youthful.
Brows like kingfisher feathers, skin like snow, a waist like a bundle of silk, lips like mussel shells, eyes like pearls shining in autumn water. His cheeks were flushed red, resembling the first bloom of spring. The person who was illuminated by this radiant spring light was both pure and charming; now, he had the pitiful appearance of a rain-soaked pear blossom, though he didn’t know how loveable it made him look.
Pei Zheng suddenly lifted his hand and covered Shen Shijiu’s eyes. His other hand balled into a fist, and he took a deep breath.
If this pair of eyes glanced at him again, Pei Zheng didn’t know if he could control himself from disregarding the circumstances and doing something to him.
Shen Shijiu didn’t understand why his eyes had to be covered, and he didn’t know that the mask over his face was already gone. He also didn’t know that he wasn’t disfigured at all; that was a lie Shen Huan concocted so that he would continue to wear the mask.
After Pei Zheng’s emotions settled, he removed his hand.
“My Lord… I-I was really uncomfortable earlier…”
Pei Zheng wiped the tears from the corners of his eyes.
“I-I couldn’t catch my breath… I almost suffocated to death…”
Pei Zheng chuckled, and he tapped a finger against Shen Shijiu’s lips.
“Then later, I will teach you a way that won’t be uncomfortable, okay?”
Shen Shijiu didn’t fully grasp the meaning of his words, but nodded obediently, “Okay…”
At this moment, that maid from earlier knocked on the door.
“Young Master Shen.”
She tried to push the door and walk in, but something seemed to be blocking it from inside, so she couldn’t open it.
The maid could only lean closer to the door and say, “Young Master Shen, you’ve been summoned to the inner hall, please follow me.”
Shen Shijiu tugged Pei Zheng’s sleeve, and gave him a clueless look, “My Lord… “
Pei Zheng saw how nervous and scared he looked; he didn’t want Shen Shijiu to even step foot in the inner hall. But since he was by his side, he definitely wouldn’t let anything happen to him.
Pei Zheng grabbed the small man’s face again and kissed it, before patting his little head.
“Don’t be afraid, I’m going with you.”
Only then did Shen Shijiu feel relieved, and he nodded.
The maid behind the door heard the deep voice from inside the room, and found it very strange.
“Young Master Shen, is that you talking? Is there someone else with yo-“
She hadn’t finished speaking before the door to the side hall was opened.
The first thing that came into view was a black brocade robe with dark patterns, and the maid stood by the door, gazing at the Prime Minister in utter shock.
The maid hurriedly bowed. Wasn’t Lord Pei in the inner hall? When did he come here, how did she not notice him at all?
The gentleness and warmth that Pei Zheng had shown to Shen Shijiu had disappeared without a trace, “Find me a veil.”
The maid didn’t dare to disobey and hurriedly left to search. Then, she returned to deliver it. She respectfully handed the veil to Pei Zheng, and the door to the side hall was slammed mercilessly in her face.
Pei Zheng tied the veil for Shen Shijiu, leaving only his eyes uncovered. Fortunately, his eyes hadn’t changed much from before, so it wouldn’t be easy for people to tell that something was amiss.
“Later, if someone asks you something, just be honest. If you can’t answer, look at me, and I will answer for you. Do you understand?”
“I understand.” Shen Shijiu nodded, “But, my Lord, why do I still have to wear this?”
He blew at the veil, and it flew upward, revealing the bright red lips and fair chin underneath.
Pei Zheng calmly helped him tidy the veil again, but in truth, his heart had also fluttered along with the veil.
When did he become so easy to tease?
“Just wear it. You are not allowed to take it off.” Pei Zheng ordered.
“Oh.” Shen Shijiu nodded obediently.
The door to the side hall opened again. The maid was still waiting outside. Seeing that the two people inside had finally come out, she breathed a sigh of relief.
She led Pei Zheng and Shen Shijiu through the outer hall and the courtyard, all the way to the door of the residence’s inner hall, before she retreated.
The door to the inner hall was open. The pair stood side by side at the entrance.
Shen Shijiu tilted his head and glanced at Pei Zheng. It just so happened that Pei Zheng was looking at him as well.
The little hand hidden within a wide cuff was clasped by cool fingers. Although they only brushed past, Shen Shijiu’s eyes curved slightly.
Pei Zheng stepped inside, and Shen Shijiu followed as well.
This inner hall was very spacious; the moment they turned the corner, they saw a hall full of people.
The Emperor and Empress sat at the center of the hall1; everyone else was seated along the sides.
Pei Zheng bowed to the Emperor, before he walked over to the empty seat beside him and sat down.
Shen Shijiu was told to kneel respectfully in the main hall. He could feel everyone’s eyes on him; his head was practically buried in the floor, and he didn’t dare to move.
“You are Shen Shijiu?” The Empress asked. Her voice sounded a bit imposing, and one couldn’t detect her emotions from it.
“Yes.” Shen Shijiu’s voice was still soft, and he looked quite pitiful.
“Lift your head.”
Only then did Shen Shijiu slowly lift his head and look up at the Emperor and the Empress.
As soon as he raised his eyes, everyone was captivated by their beauty, and couldn’t help but sneak a few more glances at him.
The Emperor was a bit surprised; he had only seen this person once at the last banquet. Why did he feel an inexplicable sense of familiarity with him now?
The Empress saw that he had the audacity to hide his face, and was a bit displeased.
“Someone, take off his veil.”
The eunuch standing at the side was about to step forward and take it off, but Pei Zheng spoke up, “Stop.”
“Your Highness the Empress, there’s been a rash on his face for the past few days, and it might be contagious, hence the veil.”
When Pei Zheng lied, his expression didn’t change and his heart felt no anxiousness, but Shen Shijiu was clutching the hem of his robe in nervousness as he knelt.
“He has a rash? Isn’t he an apprentice at the Imperial Hospital? How come he can’t even treat an infectious rash?”
The Empress waved for the servant to retreat, but still intended on questioning them.
“Your Highness might not know, but doctors cannot treat themselves2.”
The Empress’ expression looked a bit ugly; how could she not know this? She was only trying to use her power and status to teach him a lesson.
At this moment, Qi Bingzhi, who had been sitting beside the Empress the entire time, suddenly coughed. In truth, she had only just regained consciousness, and had also bled a substantial amount. She couldn’t even get out of bed, and should have been in the Imperial Hospital, resting and recuperating.
But how could Qi Bingzhi rest peacefully? The situation had already spiraled to this point, so she had to fulfill her plan to its end.
The Empress heard her daughter’s coughing, and her heart immediately ached.
“Your Majesty, you saw how much abuse Bing-er’s body has gone through. Although she hasn’t received much favor, I have always regarded her as a treasure and looked after her. How, how could she have lived in the Prime Minister’s Manor for three years, and almost lost her life…”
As the Empress spoke, her eyes became wet. It seemed as though she was genuinely heartbroken for her daughter.
The Emperor patted her hand to comfort her, “Be at ease, my Empress. This matter has already been left up to your judgment, so we will definitely seek justice for Bing-er.”
The Empress’s gaze sharpened a bit, and she spoke to the kneeling Shen Shijiu, “Hurry up and explain everything, just how did you poison Bing-er?!”
Shen Shijiu hurriedly kowtowed, “Your Highness the Empress, I really didn’t poison the Second Princess…”
Then, he explained truthfully about how he had taken Qi Bingzhi’s pulse, and the process of prescribing and making the medicine. Although he spoke very slowly, he recounted in detail, and could even remember what medicine he had prescribed each time. He really didn’t seem to be lying.
“But I heard that you were the one who prescribed the medicines with conflicting properties to Bing-er, no?”
Shen Shijiu shook his head, “No, the herbs that caused the reaction are called yu gui, it’s a very expensive ingredient. I never prescribed it to the Second Princess.”
“Then where did those herbs come from? Could it be that there was someone else prescribing medication to Bing-er?” The Empress pressed further.
Shen Shijiu replied, “Replying to Your Highness the Empress, there was. His name is Zhou Wu.”
At the mention of Zhou Wu’s name, Qi Bingzhi’s face paled slightly, and she even coughed a few mouthfuls of blood.
“Bing-er!” The Empress clasped her hand, “Listen to Mother, go back to the Imperial Hospital and have Imperial Physician Jiang perform a thorough examination. Mother will handle the rest, hurry.”
Qi Bingzhi shook her head, and said in a feeble voice, “Mother, Bing-er is fine, I-I want to see the person who hurt me receive punishment with my own eyes.”
The Empress saw how stubborn she was acting, and became a bit anxious.
“Where is Zhou Wu now? Why wasn’t he called over as well?”
Shen Shijiu froze at this question. He knew that Zhou Wu was currently locked up in the Prime Minister’s Manor, but he didn’t know if he should say that or not.
Shen Shijiu looked toward Pei Zheng, and realized that Pei Zheng had been gazing at him the entire time. There was even a trace of a smile on his lips.
“Your Highness the Empress, are you sure you want to concern yourself with Zhou Wu?”
Pei Zheng looked at the crowd. Few of them actually cared about the truth of the matter. They were all loyal followers of the Empress, and only wanted to see Pei Zheng collapse.
“Am I not allowed to question a mere apprentice?” The Empress didn’t see Qi Bingzhi’s face, which had lost all color, and continued, “It seems like Lord Pei also knows some inside information? Or does this matter have something to do with Lord Pei as well?”
Pei Zheng didn’t answer. He looked toward Qi Binzghi, but he was still smiling.
That smile made Qi Bingzhi feel a bit uneasy. Could it be that Pei Zheng knew about her and Zhou Wu?
He didn’t… he couldn’t, right?
Qi Bingzhi could only continue to reassure herself, but she was just too nervous, and Pei Zheng’s gaze sent shivers down her spine; it was as if he had everything grasped in the palm of his hand.
The wounds all over her body, and the broken fingers hidden within her cuffs, had forced Qi Bingzhi to understand Pei Zheng’s heartlessness.
A twisting pain suddenly came from her stomach, Qi Bingzhi secretly clutched her belly, and a thin layer of sweat appeared on her forehead, but she gritted her teeth and endured it.
But Xiao Mei, who was standing beside her, was the first to notice that something was wrong. Why were there bloodstains on the princess’s dress? And they were only getting bigger and darker. Then, both Qi Bingzhi and her chair fell to the floor with a creak.
The Empress also saw this, and she screamed in fright, “Bing-er, Bing-er, what’s wrong?! Why is there so much blood?! Someone, summon an imperial physician!”
The crowd became a bit chaotic, and everyone wanted to see just what had happened to Qi Bingzhi. The blood beneath the chair was only continuing to pool – enough to send chills down one’s spine.
Shen Shijiu hurriedly stood up, and ran over to Qi Bingzhi’s side. He wanted to take her pulse, but once the Empress spotted him, she shoved him onto the ground.
“Get away! Don’t touch Bing-er!”
Shen Shijiu was half-sprawled on the ground, stunned.
I’m a doctor too.
Although he had never seen anyone’s lower regions bleed so much before, he was only trying to help. Otherwise, judging by how much blood she was losing, she wouldn’t be able to hold on for much longer.
The inner hall immediately burst into chaos. Qi Bingzhi had already fainted from blood loss, but no one dared to act rashly and move her body. She was surrounded by people; several pairs of hands were trying to staunch the blood.
The Emperor also looked a bit worried, frowning as he sat to the side and watched everybody busy themselves. A few ministers came to console him, “Your Majesty, the Second princess will be fine, someone has been sent to find an imperial physician, they’ll be back soon….”
Shen Shijiu tried to stand up amidst the pandemonium, but several people stepped on him. Fortunately, they had only stepped on his clothes, not his limbs.
He finally succeeded in yanking his clothing out from under a concubine’s foot, before he turned, knelt on the ground, and crawled his way out of the crowd on his hands and feet.
He dodged left and right, before he finally spotted an opening in the crowd. But then, a pair of black boots appeared in front of him.
Why did they look so familiar?
Shen Shijiu looked up, and saw the hem of a familiar robe, then a straight, slender pair of legs, and when his gaze drifted further up, he saw Pei Zheng’s handsome, elegant face.
Pei Zheng lowered his head, placed his hands behind his back, and stood at the periphery of the crowd. He gazed at the small man who was sprawled on his hands and feet, looking up at him. Those dark, sparkling eyes lit up at the sight of him.
Very good, Pei Zheng liked seeing the unconcealed joy that flooded Shen Shijiu’s eyes every time he saw him.
Pei Zheng bent over, reached out, and placed his hand on Shen Shijiu’s arm. He pulled hard, which lifted the small man right off the floor and into a standing position.
But, Shen Shijiu had only just stood upright, when the veil on his face suddenly loosened from the previous movement, and fluttered to the floor. Then, it was trampled mercilessly by several servants as they hurried past.
Behind Shen Shijiu was the noisy crowd; there were maids and eunuchs everywhere. There were also the Emperor and the Empress, the concubines of the harem, as well as several important ministers.
Pei Zheng pinched the center of his brows. This little man really knew how to make even more trouble for him.
Shen Shijiu turned to pick up the veil that was already in tatters, before Pei Zheng grabbed his shoulders and turned him back around.
Pei Zheng’s hand covered the lower half of Shen Shijiu’s face, and he glanced behind him. No one had noticed the two of them yet.
He slowly led Shen Shijiu towards the curtain at the side, inching over until the two figures were completely obscured by the curtain.
Shen Shijiu blinked hard; it seemed that he had something to say.
Pei Zheng’s grip loosened slightly.
“My Lord, I can cover it myself, I…”
Shen Shijiu hadn’t finished speaking, before Pei Zheng’s hand muffled his mouth once more. A smooth softness touched his palm, fair, tender, and moist; it was as though his skin could be pierced with just a bit of force. Even if it wasn’t pierced through, just a single touch would leave red marks behind. It had become even more delicate than before.
The two weren’t far from the door, so they silently snuck out of the hall.
The moment they left the inner hall, Pei Zheng let go of Shen Shijiu. Instead, he cupped his buttocks and lifted him up, allowing Shen Shijiu to clamp his legs around his waist.
This wasn’t Shen Shijiu’s first time being carried like this by Pei Zheng. He wrapped his arms around Pei Zheng’s neck. He didn’t even have time to ask a question when Pei Zheng’s other hand pressed the back of his head into his shoulder.
Since the height difference between the two was sufficient, Shen Shijiu fit perfectly against Pei Zheng’s shoulder.
He still wanted to lift his head and ask where they were going, but just as he raised it, it was pressed back down by Pei Zheng.
“You are not allowed to lift your head.”
Pei Zheng patted his unhappy little head, and leaned into his ear, “You are not allowed to let anyone see you.”
Only then did Shen Shijiu become obedient. He flopped over Pei Zheng’s shoulder and didn’t move, his face hidden in Pei Zheng’s neck; others could only see the back of his little head.
Pei Zheng held him and circulated his internal energy. The tips of his toes lightly tapped the ground, and in two or three steps, he had scaled the towering palace walls, and arrived at an isolated residence.
After he put Shen Shijiu down, Pei Zheng opened the door to the residence, and led Shen Shijiu inside.
“No one will come to search here. Be good and wait here for me.”
Shen Shijiu nodded.
Pei Zheng turned and was about to leave, but Shen Shijiu grabbed his sleeve.
“My Lord… you’ll come back and pick me up, right…”
Shen Shijiu didn’t know why, but his eyes were a bit red, and his tone was soft and gentle; he resembled a little animal that was scared of being left behind by its owner.
Pei Zheng’s heart ached. He stepped forward and took the small man into his arms, and kissed the corners of his eyes and mouth.
“I will. I will never abandon you again.”
Also, there’s no mistake, Qi Bingzhi is really bleeding from down there o-o
Thanks for reading~
1.高堂 (gāo táng): it’s a hall with a high ceiling
2. 医不自医 (yī bù zì yī): ‘doctors cannot treat themselves’, it means that, because doctors are well-versed in medical practices, they can treat others’ diseases, but not themselves, because they’re overly concerned about the effects of the cure on themselves.