His highness's Allure - Chap 128
After that servant delivered the news, he trudged away.
A few moments later, Mistress Qian ordered the servants to deliver meals to the lords in each pavilion.
At last night’s banquet, after Pei Zheng left, the injured Lord Qian and Lord Wei had been taken care of, but everyone else present was on edge. The banquet had been going just fine, but it had ended on a less than pleasant note.
Shen Huan headed over to Zhao Litang’s pavilion. She had only intended to come up with a way to cool Yue Nu’s fever but ended up fussing until midnight. In the end, she could only continuously wipe his face and hands with cold water until his fever finally subsided.
Then, Shen Huan promptly found a room in Zhao Litang’s pavilion and fell asleep. She assumed that since her little disciple had Pei Zheng to look after him, she didn’t need to worry.
How could she expect that her little disciple really didn’t need her to worry about him? Pei Zheng was taking very good care of him, and had cared him so diligently that they had climbed into bed together.
Fresh, steaming dishes were placed on the table, but the small man on the bed still hadn’t woken up yet; it was already time for lunch.
Pei Zheng sat on the side of the bed. He tugged at the thick quilt, and the little face beneath it was revealed. His red lips were slightly open, and his breathing was soft and shallow.
Pei Zheng couldn’t help himself and lowered his head to kiss him. The small man couldn’t breathe, and his eyelids finally peeled open.
“Wake up, have something to eat before you sleep.”
Shen Shijiu mumbled, “I don’t want to eat, I want to sleep…”
After he finished speaking, he pulled the blanket back over his head.
Pei Zheng grabbed the blanket, “Just eat a little bit, okay?”
Then, he simply scooped the small man out from under the covers.
But Shen Shijiu still hadn’t dressed yet; his body was bare, and his skin had a soft sheen.
Pei Zheng wrapped him in the blanket, before he carried the small man to the table and placed him on his lap.
Shen Shijiu immediately groaned. His breaths trembled, and his little forehead creased.
Pei Zheng instantly understood. He hugged Shen Shijiu and tilted his body sideways, avoiding a certain place. Only then did the small man’s breathing calm slightly.
The fragrance of the spread on the table wafted into his nose. Shen Shijiu’s eyes had been closed this whole time, but in truth, his little belly was empty. The bite of food he had eaten last night was all gone now.
“Open your mouth.”
Shen Shijiu obediently opened his mouth, before a small chunk of tender, aromatic braised pork belly was stuffed into it.
He chewed for a bit before he swallowed the meat. His eyes opened.
“I want more.”
Pei Zheng fed him some more food. Shen Shijiu accepted every bite, and obediently ate it all.
After drinking a bit of warm soup, Shen Shijiu sighed in satisfaction. Then, he smacked his lips and flopped over Pei Zheng’s body, before he closed his eyes once more.
Pei Zheng had fed the small man until he was full, and had also taken a few bites himself. He lifted the cocoon-shaped bundle into his arms and walked back to the bed.
He placed him back onto the mattress. Shen Shijiu burrowed beneath the blanket and turned over to lie on his stomach.
Pei Zheng looked at Shen Shijiu’s little buttocks bulging from beneath the blanket, and his eyes darkened. He suddenly let down the curtain beside the bed and pulled the quilt away.
Shen Shijiu’s buttocks met with cold air, and he hurriedly reached over to cover them.
Pei Zheng pulled his hand aside, “Don’t cover them, let me see if you’re hurt.”
Shen Shijiu immediately regained some of his senses. Although his entire body was still weak, he refused to remove his hand.
“D-don’t look at it.”
“Shy, are we?”
Pei Zheng’s lips curled into a smile. He leaned down and undid his sash with his fingers, “I can’t get a clear view from the outside. I’ll have to… go in there and take a look.”
For the entire day, the people in this three-story pavilion did not come out.
Only the servants who were charged with delivering their meals hurried in and promptly hurried back out.
They didn’t dare to peek at or say a word about whatever was going on in that room.
Night fell once more.
Pei Zheng pulled open the curtain and walked out. He readjusted his loose, hanging robe, before he came to table, poured a cup of water and gulped it down. Then, he poured another cup and came back to the side of the bed.
“Be good, sit up and drink some water.”
This time, the small man couldn’t even open his eyes. He opened his mouth, and leaned toward Pei Zheng’s hand. After just a few sips, he refused to drink any more.
Pei Zheng drank the rest of the water and tossed the cup onto the floor. Just as he was about to turn over and climb onto the bed, there was knock at the door downstairs.
This time, the knocking carried a sense of anxiousness.
“My Lord, my Lord! Young Master Shen, Young Master Shen! My Lord!”
It sounded like Pei Zheng’s servant. If there wasn’t an urgent matter, he definitely wouldn’t dare to disturb them.
He knocked for a long while before the door finally opened.
Pei Zheng’s clothes were half-undone. He stood by the door and gazed coldly at that servant. If he didn’t have some kind of great disaster to report, Pei Zheng would definitely render him unable to speak another word.
“M-my Lord, something terrible had happened! Master Shen, Master Shen has been captured by Mistress Qian!”
That was indeed a great disaster.
Pei Zheng found his robe and put it on, before he took another look at the unconscious man on the bed. It would probably be a while before he woke up. But it was better this way, lest he heard and became worried for his shifu.
They came to the hall where last night’s banquet had been held. Many people had already gathered inside, but Zhao Litang was missing.
Shen Huan looked to be in a rather sorry state; she was pinned to the ground by several guards, and there were a few bloodstains on her clothes.
“Master Shen, please expain where exactly you picked these herbs from.” Mistress Qian said.
Shen Huan turned her head away. She had already picked the milkwort, and was planning to develop a new formula. Unexpectedly, she had used too much, and all of the milkwort was gone after just a few experiments. So she took advantage of the darkness and snuck back to the forest to pick more.
Before she had even entered the forest, she was noticed by several guards.
Shen Huan ran forward with all her might, and those soldiers chased her with the same fervor.
In the end, after Shen Huan fell many times, she was apprehended by those guards and escorted to this hall.
“Where else could I have picked them, in the forest outside.”
Mistress Qian was visibly enraged, “That is a private area in my villa, no one is allowed to enter without my permission! Master Shen, you should know this, so why must you intentionally break the rules?!”
Shen Huan found it rather strange, “It’s just a patch of woodland, I don’t know what’s so precious about it. You people weren’t the ones who grew the herbs in there either. If I didn’t tell you, you probably wouldn’t even know that it was a medicinal herb. You’d probably just think it was a weed and get rid of it.”
The soldiers’ expressions changed. Shen Huan was right. Before, they really had mistaken the milkwort as a weed, pulling the plants out and throwing them away.
“Even if it is a weed, it’s still my Liuyun Villa’s weed! It’s not an outsider’s job to pick them! Since you dare to enter the private area without my permission, you must be punished according to the disciplinary regulations of the villa!”
Mistress Qian slapped the table and stood up. She waved her hand, and those guards were about to drag Shen Huan away.
“Mistress Qian, please calm down.”
A voice came from behind the crowd. The crowd instantly parted, and Pei Zheng leisurely walked into the center of the hall.
He reached out and helped Shen Huan up, smiling at her.
Shen Huan had been rather nervous. After all, she didn’t really know what those unpleasant disciplinary regulations entailed. But sometimes, Pei Zheng really did give people a sense of comfort and security.
No wonder he was able to enchant and confuse her little disciple so easily.
“Lord Pei, I know that you and Master Shen are familiar with each other, but this matter pertains to the dignity of my villa. Please understand, Lord Pei.”
Pei Zheng said, “Of course I understand Mistress Qian’s reasoning. However, she merely picked a few medicinal plants, you needn’t enforce the disciplinary regulations for something like this.”
Pei Zheng had heard about the disciplinary regulations of Liuyun Villa. The first item alone, which was to throw someone into the lake and let them soak for a few hours, would be enough to kill Shen Huan due to the cold weather.
“That’s right, that’s right,”
Shen Huan agreed quietly from beside Pei Zheng.
Everyone present began to discuss amongst themselves.
In truth, there was nothing hidden in that forest; it was only the place where Mistress Qian’s husband was buried.
Also, it was said that Mistress Qian was the one who killed her husband. Then, she buried him in that secluded forest, and from then on, did not allow anyone to enter without her permission.
Mistress Qian muttered to herself for a long while. If Pei Zheng hadn’t appeared, she would have already dealt with Shen Huan. Pei Zheng had made such a huge fuss last night, who could have expected him to act so indifferent today?
“All right. Since even Lord Pei agrees with this, I can let Master Shen off this time.”
Shen Huan was about to sigh in relief, but Mistress Qian continued.
“However, that medicinal herb must remain in my villa.”
Shen Huan clutched the herbs in her cuff, and hurriedly twisted her head to look at Pei Zheng. She had expended great efforts to obtain this plant, and was covered in injuries from falling over; how could she accept having to hand this damn thing over?
Pei Zheng noticed Shen Huan’s glare, “How about this? Mistress Qian, name a price. Think of this medicinal herb as something you sold to the Prime Minister’s Manor.”
Name a price?
Mistress Qian’s eyes glimmered. Since Pei Zheng was able to say something like this, it was definitely because he would do anything to get this herb.
She thought for a moment, before she held up three fingers.
Shen Huan was utterly shocked, “Three thousand taels?! You could buy those woods with that! Mistress Qian, you’re asking for too much!”
But Mistress Qian shook her head.
Pei Zheng smiled, “She meant thirty thousand taels.”
Shen Huan’s footsteps were unsteady, and she almost fell over. She grabbed Pei Zheng’s sleeve, and asked in a shaky voice, “H-how much?”
Mistress Qian said, “That’s right, thirty thousand taels.”
Everyone sighed. Thirty thousand taels was an incredibly large sum of money. Even if they spent their entire fortune, it was possible that these lords would still be unable to foot this bill, let alone for three stalks of an obscure plant.
Mistress Qian had purposely set this exorbitant price. She wanted to make sure that Pei Zheng couldn’t get out of the spotlight. She was also using this as a way to vent anger on her older brother’s behalf.
“We have a deal.”
A voice broke through the murmurs and discussion.
Pei Zheng said nonchalantly, “The Prime Minister’s Manor will deliver the money at a later date.”
Shen Huan unconsciously grabbed Pei Zheng’s sleeve and said in a low voice, “Lord Pei, I-I know you aren’t short on money, b-but this is a little too much. Even if you bought me, I wouldn’t be able to repay it all.”
Pei Zheng said nothing. He merely smiled.
Shen Huan’s heart jolted, and a disastrous premonition suddenly filled her mind; now that she owed Pei Zheng this much money, did that mean that her and her little disciple’s fate were in Pei Zheng’s hands?
But in the midst of such an urgent situation, Shen Huan really couldn’t worry about anything else.
There were so many eyes watching, and the one she had struck a deal with the Prime Minister’s Manor. Mistress Qian wasn’t at all worried that Pei Zheng would break his promise.
But after this incident, there was something weighing on everyone’s minds. Pei Zheng was able to pay such a large sum of money without blinking an eye. His wealth had probably reached a level that none of them could even imagine.
Shen Huan gripped that bundle of milkwort that was worth tens of thousands of taels. She carefully tucked it into the front of her robe and clutched it, before she walked out of the hall. The wounds she had sustained from falling earlier hadn’t been treated yet, so her entire body was burning with pain.
Pei Zheng also followed Shen Huan out of the hall.
The moment they stepped outside, Shen Huan sighed deeply and stomped into the snow.
“Thirty thousand taels! Thirty thousand taels!” She looked up at the sky and breathed a long sigh, “I’ve never seen this much money in my entire life! And now it’ll be given to someone else in the blink of an eye!”
Pei Zheng walked beside her, “You’re spending my money.”
“Your money can’t even be called ‘money’! Ah! We can’t stay in this crappy villa any longer! Call my little disciple, we have to hurry up and leave!”
Pei Zheng lifted his gaze to look at her, and said in a light tone, “We can’t. The lake is frozen, it probably won’t melt in a day or two’s time.”
Shen Huan looked up and continued to sigh incessantly for a long while, before she said, “I almost forgot, where’s my little disciple? I haven’t seen him for a whole day. Does he know that his beloved shifu almost died for him-“
As she spoke, the two had already arrived in front of the three-story pavilion, but Pei Zheng hadn’t said a word.
Shen Huan demanded, “Lord Pei, did you not hear me? Where’s my little disciple? Wasn’t he with you this whole time?
Pei Zheng “mm”d lazily; it seemed as though he didn’t want Shen Huan to continue talking.
Shen Huan was a very shrewd person. Her imagination instantly jumped to a wild conclusion, and her heart suddenly skipped a beat, “No way.”
“Lord Pei, you and my little disciple couldn’t have… You haven’t even known each other for that long, there’s no way you could be at that point, right?”
Shen Huan didn’t wait for Pei Zheng’s reply. She immediately ran into the pavilion.
She pushed open the door and yelled, “Disciple!”
Unfortunately, no one answered.
Shen Huan sprinted up to the second floor and was greeted by the sight of Shen Shijiu’s robes scattered all over the floor. And from within that curtain, a fair, slender arm peeked out.
Shen Huan walked over, trembling, and lifted the heavy curtain slightly. Then, she covered her eyes and peeked through the gaps of her fingers.
She suddenly dropped the curtain, and she flushed uncontrollably. Fortunately, since her face was covered by a mask, no one could tell.
Pei Zheng’s cool voice sounded from behind her, “Your ears are red.”
Shen Huan swiveled, “I know that!”
She really couldn’t accept this. The little disciple that she had treasured and raised for so long had actually been f*cked1 by someone. And judging by the marks she had seen littering his body, he had been f*cked quite intensely.
But Pei Zheng walked around Shen Huan and came to the side of the bed in a serene manner. He grabbed the arm that was sticking out of the curtain and gently placed it back inside.
Shen Huan felt that she wouldn’t be able to breathe if she stayed any longer, so she shot Pei Zheng a look.
“Lord Pei, please excuse me.”
Then, Shen Huan walked down the staircase to wait.
Pei Zheng pulled open the curtain and saw the small man sprawled over the bed, the quilt having slipped down to his waist. Fortunately, the charcoal fire was still blazing. Otherwise, he would have caught a cold again.
It was just that his once flawless, jade-like back was now covered in small red marks; it was an incredibly intimate sight to behold.
Pei Zheng tucked the quilt back over the small man, who was still sound asleep.
Shen Shijiu’s long lashes trembled, and his eyes suddenlyfluttered open
“Pei-gege, is it morning?”
It was already nighttime.
Pei Zheng smiled and brushed his hand through the small man’s soft, ink-black hair that was pooled on the side.
“No. Go back to sleep.”
“Oh,” Shen Shijiu readjusted his pillow and buried his head deep into the thick quilt, before he promptly fell back asleep.
Pei Zheng walked down the staircase. Shen Huan was standing in the center of the first floor with a serious expression on her face.
“Ahem, Lord Pei. I think we should have a little chat. It’s something that has to do with Shen Shijiu.”
Pei Zheng raised his brows.
“Truthfully, there’s something that I’ve never told you, my Lord.”
Shen Huan thought for a moment. She had a feeling that she wouldn’t be able to hide this matter from Pei Zheng. If Pei Zheng tried hard enough, he would probably be able to find that little village in the foreign tribe.
“I’m also a foreigner, and I’m also related to Shi by blood. So he isn’t just my little disciple. He’s my family.”
But upon hearing this, Pei Zheng didn’t look shocked at all. Shen Huan immediately understood; Pei Zheng must have known for a while now.
Indeed, Pei Zheng’s tone was one of indifference.
“I’m saying that I know Shi’s true identity.” Shen Huan annunciated every word as she looked at Pei Zheng, “He is a prince of the Celestial Dynasty, Qi Changyi.”
When he heard that name he was so familiar with, Pei Zheng’s expression finally flickered.
Shen Huan continued, “I’m afraid that not many people know about the things that happened to the prince in the past. Lord Pei, I think you would know the most about this.”
Pei Zheng’s gaze gradually chilled, and his fingers tapped silently against the table.
Seeing how cold he looked, there were a few words that Shen Huan was too scared to say.
“Lord Pei, could I make a request of you?”
Shen Huan said, “I only request that, no matter what happens, you never hurt him.”
Pei Zheng suddenly smiled.
Not only would he never hurt that small man, but he would cradle him in the palm of his hand, and carefully look after him.
This was a treasure that he had lost and found again, the heart that connected his five viscera; how could he bear to hurt him?
Shen Huan left the pavilion, and headed off to where Zhao Litang was staying.
Yue Nu’s condition had become unstable again, so Wu Quan had hurried over to summon her. But Shen Huan was still worried about her little disciple. She still had something extremely important that she didn’t have the chance to tell Pei Zheng, but she was pulled away by Wu Quan before she could.
And after Shen Huan left, Pei Zheng returned upstairs.
It was already late at night; it was indeed time for bed.
The candlelight in the pavilion flickered, before it was suddenly extinguished.
During the next few days, the frozen lake was slowly melting, so everyone could only continue to stay in the villa.
The lords who still had to attend court were extremely anxious and impatient. They hadn’t gone to the palace for several days in a row; who knew how His Majesty would deal with them?
But Pei Zheng didn’t even need to attend court to begin with. The Emperor had summoned him to the palace daily for the past few days, and it had become a bit irritating. This was the perfect time for him to relax and take a restful break.
Shen Shijiu stayed in Pei Zheng’s room. Originally, there had been one person staying in the three-story pavilion; it felt lonely and empty. But now, it was incredibly warm.
The blizzard had stopped, but the snow piled on the ground was still thick and deep.
Shen Shijiu ran out to play in the snow during the day, making snowmen and rolling snowballs by himself. It was obviously such a boring, monotonous task, but he was having a lot of fun.
Pei Zheng leaned against the door and watched the small man frolicking in the snow. Seeing how happy he was, Pei Zheng also felt his mood brighten up quite a bit.
And in the dead of night, sounds of whimpering and sobbing would always be heard from inside the building. Then, a certain deep voice would speak gentle, coaxing words, before everything slowly fell quiet again.
By the fifth day, Shen Shijiu had forgotten about all the pain. As soon as morning came, he forgot about the night’s torment and cheerfully plunged into the snow to play.
He didn’t know why he loved snow so much.
Pei Zheng was leaning against the door again. He was going to wait until the small man was done playing before pulling him back inside.
But suddenly, a flapping sound came from above his head. A white dove broke through the snow-white sky and flew to Pei Zheng’s side.
Pei Zheng removed a strip of paper from the dove’s leg, and unfolded it to read its contents. But there was not a single word written on this piece of paper; there was only a blood-red dot.
This dove had been trained by the Pei family’s shadow guard academy in the past, and only listened to the shadow guards’ orders. So Cheng Feng, who was in the palace, must have found a way to send it to him.
But why was there only a droplet of blood?
Pei Zheng clenched the paper strip. Could it be that something had happened in the palace?
On the same day Pei Zheng had left for Liuyun Villa, Cheng Feng had gone to the palace. It had already been five days.
In a place as ruthless as the royal palace, a lot could happen in five days’ time.
Cheng Feng had gone to the palace because Jiang Yubai had gotten into a bit of trouble. Pei Zheng sent him there to investigate, as well as to secretly protect Jiang Yubai.
But now, Pei Zheng didn’t know what could have happened.
Pei Zheng walked out the door and said to the small man playing in the snow, “Come here.”
Shen Shijiu dropped whatever was in his hands and scampered over. He stood in front of Pei Zheng and blinked, looking terribly adorable.
Pei Zheng squeezed his cold hands, “We’re going home.”
Mistress Qian knew that Pei Zheng was set on returning to the city immediately. Although she felt that the lake still wasn’t suitable for boats to sail in, she couldn’t refuse him.
Once the others saw that Pei Zheng was leaving, they all became agitated and wanted to leave as well.
In the end, everybody boarded the boat when it arrived, and left the same way they came.
There were still shards of ice floating on the surface of the lake, but they weren’t large. The pleasure-boat safely escorted everyone back to the Imperial City.
The entire way back, that Wei Yiren really didn’t come up to Pei Zheng and Shen Shijiu.
And Yue Nu had already completely recovered.
Shen Huan and Shen Shijiu took a detour at the General’s Manor and packed up their things, before they returned to the Prime Minister’s Manor.
The moment she stepped into the Prime Minister’s Manor and saw those familiar, gloomy buildings, Shen Huan actually began to feel a sense of warmth and tenderness.
It was probably because Pei Zheng had just paid thirty thousand taels on her behalf.
When Li Yu saw Shen Shijiu, he hurried over. He looked Shen Shijiu up and down, left and right. After making sure he was intact, Li Yu finally felt at ease.
But Li Yu’s gaze was a bit strange as he looked at Shen Huan. After all, he had just sent someone to deliver thirty thousand taels on behalf of his master, all for Shen Huan to buy three stalks of a medicinal plant.
He was puzzled; just what kind of herb could be this expensive?
Shen Huan was wondering why she didn’t see Pei Zheng; didn’t he return to the manor first?
She heard Shen Shijiu ask, “Housekeeper Li, where did His Lordship go?”
Li Yu said, “Oh, His Lordship went to straight to the palace when he came back. I don’t know what happened, perhaps he was summoned to the palace again.”
However, when night fell, Pei Zheng still hadn’t returned.
Usually, even if he had been summoned by the Emperor, it would never take this long for him to come back.
Just as everyone in the manor began to worry, the servant who had accompanied Pei Zheng to the palace returned in a panic.
“Master Shen! Master Shen! Something terrible has happened in the palace!”
I have the mental maturity of a Shen Shijiu.
Thanks for reading~
1. 拱 (gǒng): it can mean arch/push/dig, but in this context, it’s ‘f*ck’ (or ‘dig’ if you really think about it).