His highness's Allure - Chap 85
What was she saying?
Just what did she mean, “he hadn’t always been such a stupid fool”?
Prince Qi Changyi had been born this way; wasn’t that common knowledge?
“Explain yourself clearly!”
Pei Zheng’s fingers suddenly clenched with force, and Qi Bingzhi felt as though her chin was about to be crushed under his grip.
She was in so much pain that her vision blurred, and her words came out disjointed and choppy, “It looks Your Lordship doesn’t know… as you shouldn’t… if Mother hadn’t told me, I would never have thought…”
It turned out that when Qi Changyi was younger, he was extremely clever. He could already recite poems and eulogies at such a tender young age, and always spoke kindly, so the Emperor had a deep fondness for him.
But at that time, Qi Changyi was being raised within the harem; he didn’t appear in public often, so there weren’t many people who knew what had happened during his childhood.
His Mother Consort had been sent as tribute from the foreign clan to the Emperor. She didn’t love the Emperor, so she was always indifferent to him.
Yet this hadn’t affected the Emperor’s love for her at all, and he had continued to dote on her. He gave her all the best things, and she alone was given her own residence, where outsiders weren’t permitted, lest they disturb her.
At that time, compared to the Fourth Prince Qi Changfeng, the Emperor preferred his younger son, Qi Changyi, because as a child, Qi Changyi resembled his mother more; they both had gorgeous features, and were well-behaved and sweet.
The Emperor also had high hopes for him, saying that he would definitely achieve great success in the future.
But who would have expected that when he was seven years old, Qi Changyi suddenly fell seriously ill; he was plagued by a high fever that persisted for days on end, that in the end, completely burnt his brain.
When he woke up again, Qi Changyi was a bit different from before. His speech was awkward; the cleverness he had once possessed was completely gone.
As Qi Changyi got older, this peculiarity only became more obvious. His mind was simple, so simple that it might even be considered dull.
While he was studying at the academy, he couldn’t grasp any of the concepts that the teacher taught, and would be teased by the other princes and princesses, who would play all kinds of mean tricks on him; every time he returned the residence, he would be covered in injuries.
Noble Consort Ning’s heart ached for him, so she begged the Emperor to stop having him attend classes. The Emperor had agreed, and even personally taught him a few things.
Later, Noble Consort Ning’s treasonous activities were exposed.
Qi Changyi, who no longer had his mother’s protection, grew up trembling in fear until he met Pei Zheng.
“‘Seriously ill’, that’s just, what they all say to cover up what really happened…” Qi Bingzhi felt that the oxygen in her body was being seized bit by bit, and she used all her strength to speak her next words.
“He became like this, purely through someone else’s actions!”
The grip on her neck suddenly loosened, and Qi Bingzhi hurriedly gasped for breath. Her face was flushed from lack of oxygen, and she coughed for a long time before her breathing finally returned to normal.
“Someone else? Who?”
“The Fourth Prince,” Qi Bingzhi looked at Pei Zheng and said, “… Qi Changfeng.”
Pei Zheng’s gaze suddenly changed, and he grabbed Qi Bingzhi by the collar, yanking her towards himself, “Do you know what you’re saying?!”
“I do. Years ago, the thirteen-year-old Fourth Prince secretly took the seven-year-old Ninth Prince of the palace to play. The two had an argument outside. In order to punish the Ninth Prince, the Fourth Prince had him climb over the palace wall by himself. Unexpectedly, the prince accidentally fell off the high wall and hit his head, which led to his fever that persisted for three days…”
“I don’t think Changyi himself even remembers what happened. It was said that the dispute between them was about a little beggar, absolutely ridiculous…”
“Shut up!” For some reason, Pei Zheng’s eyes were glazed with blood-red again, and his expression had become quite strange.
He seemed to be lost in a certain painful memory, and it took a long time for him to find his voice again, “What… day was it?”
Qi Bingzhi was frightened by his sudden change in expression, and replied dumbly, “The twelfth lunar month, the first day of the Greater Cold.”
With a bang, the bowstring in Pei Zheng’s mind snapped, and memories instantly flooded into his mind like a furious scourge.
An unbearable pain suddenly surged up in his body, and it felt like his brain was about to be cleaved into two halves. Pei Zheng clutched his chest, unable to catch his breath.
Suddenly, blood overflowed from his lips, and everything went dark before his eyes as he fainted.
His consciousness was slowly tugged out of his body, and gradually drifted away. It drifted past across the ice and snow outside, the lively, bustling Imperial City, and finally reached a small alleyway littered with snowflakes.
The fifteen year old Pei Zheng once lived in a dark, gloomy alley that looked just like this.
“My Lord, please do a good deed and let me have something to eat… I can do manual labor, I’m very strong, and I don’t need any pay…”
An unkempt little beggar stood in front of the gate of an official’s manor, his bare feet buried in the fresh snow; they were frostbitten, festering and oozing pus.
“Ai, stinky vagrant, go away! Don’t stay here and dirty my master’s door! Hurry up and get out of here!”
The housekeeper stretched his foot out and kicked the little beggar in the chest. He rolled down the steps, and landed in a heap of snow.
He was skinny and hardly had any meat on him at all. He wasn’t tall either, and looked extremely fragile. The tattered strips of fabric on his body couldn’t do anything to protect him from the cold.
He lay sprawled in the snow for a long while, unable to get up. Just now, as he rolled down the steps, he had hit his forehead, and he was dizzy with pain.
Seeing that the little beggar still hadn’t left, the housekeeper was extremely angry. He walked up to the person on the ground and tread on his fingers.
“Hey, stop playing dead! Wake up, find somewhere else to die, if you’re going to die, don’t keel over in front of my house!”
The little beggar felt a sharp pain in his fingers, and finally regained a bit of consciousness. He quickly tried to pull his fingers away, but the housekeeper wouldn’t lift his foot.
“Oh, you’re awake. I just knew you were faking it! You’re looking pretty energetic! Why didn’t you get up when I told you to just a moment ago?! Are you trying to get a rise out of me?!”
The housekeeper clenched his teeth and stomped down harder, and the little beggar curled up in pain. He didn’t know where it came from, but he suddenly summoned a burst of strength. He desperately shoved with his other hand, and actually managed to push the housekeeper away.
The housekeeper fell flat on his face. He wiped the snow off his cheeks, his eyes filled with rage as he glared at the little beggar.
“You dare to push me? You little mongrel, I’ll teach you a proper lesson today!”
The housekeeper signaled for the servants inside to come out. They roughly pulled the little beggar off the ground and dragged him through the gate, which was promptly shut behind them.
The housekeeper ordered the servants to drag the vagrant all the way to the manor’s back garden. Then, several people viciously began to beat him.
Only when the little beggar was hardly breathing, and fell into the snow, having been beaten black and blue, did the housekeeper finally have them stop.
He was about to order someone to drag the little beggar out the back door and throw him into some deserted alley to die.
The master of the manor suddenly returned.
This man was not an ordinary person; he was actually an official of the fifth rank who performed the duties of the Imperial Court, surnamed Zhao, named Xun.
Zhao Xun saw a few servants holding a ragged figure by the arms, and looked at the housekeeper.
The housekeeper hurriedly pasted on a smile that was dripping with servile flattery, “My Lord, this beggar acted out of turn, so this lowly one punished him, we’re about to send him away now.”
Zhao Xun looked at the thin, weak figure, and walked over.
The housekeeper was slightly shocked, “My Lord, this beggar is covered in filth, you should keep your distance from him; you wouldn’t want to dirty yourself or catch something.”
Zhao Xun walked over, reached out and parted the strands of dirty hair stuck to the little beggar’s face.
When the fair, beautiful face underneath was revealed, everyone was completely shocked.
That face was covered in dirt, but those tightly closed eyes, slightly trembling, long lashes, that straight nose bridge, those thin, bloodless lips, and that elegant, fragile chin…
That pair of eyes slowly opened; they were narrow, filled with panic and fear, but they held a touch of reserved dignity.
How could a beggar living in the streets look like this?
Zhao Xun quashed the amazement in his gaze, put on a concerned expression, his fingers involuntarily fiddling with his own collar.
The little beggar’s breathing was weak, and his voice was terribly soft, “My lord, I’m begging you, please, please spare my life…”
Zhao Xun didn’t say anything, but the housekeeper recognized the significance in his expression.
“My Lord is magnanimous, he didn’t say he was going to kill you! Someone, take him to the guest room and settle him there for the time being. Have a doctor come and take a look at him. You must take good care of him, you hear me?”
The servants didn’t understand why the housekeeper’s attitude changed so quickly, but they hurriedly affirmed the order and dragged the beggar away.
Zhao Xun stood in place, staring at the little beggar’s retreating back.
“My Lord, what do you think?” The housekeeper leaned over, “This lowly one thought he was pretty, and ordered someone to bring him back, but unexpectedly, his temper is very fierce.
Zhao Xun twined his fingers together, “The fiercer, the better, only the fierce ones make you feel good once you’ve conquered them, am I right?’
The two immediately looked at each other and exchanged a laugh.
The little beggar didn’t expect that he would be lucky enough to meet such a kind man, who took him in and treated him like a young master. He was given good food and drink, and was well-taken care of.
His wounds were almost completely healed; the frostbite had also been cured, so his skin returned to its usual whiteness and smoothness. Dressed in a luxurious brocade robe, he looked noble and dignified.
Lord Zhao was in his forties, but he didn’t have a wife or children because he was often busy with government affairs. He was a conscientious, diligent official.
The little beggar felt bad for freeloading off of him, so he offered to stay at Zhao Xun’s side to assist and serve him.
The housekeeper immediately agreed, ” I wanted to wait until you had rested for a few more days, but since you insist, I won’t try to stop you.”
The beggar’s heart was full of joy, as he held a bowl of reinvigorating soup, on his way to deliver it to Zhao Xun’s study.
When he pushed open the door and walked in, Zhao Xun was lighting a candle and writing a report. When he looked up and saw who had just entered, he secretly took two deep breaths, before he smiled.
The beggar held the bowl of soup carefully and passed it to Zhao Xun.
“My Lord, you have worked hard, have some hot soup to warm up your body.”
Zhao Xun took the bowl of soup, but placed it right onto the table, and stared fixedly at the person in front of him.
“No need to be so prudish. Come, sit here.” Zhao Xun patted the spot beside him.
The little beggar looked a bit embarrassed, “My Lord, I-I’m afraid that wouldn’t be appropriate…”
Zhao Xun simply reached out and yanked him forward. He was unprepared, and was pulled right into Zhao Xun’s lap.
“What’s so inappropriate about it? This is my study, no one dares to come in here.” Zhao Xun squeezed his slender waist with his big hand, “Except you.”
The little beggar’s entire body froze with fright. The only thing he could feel was a terrifyingly hard object pressing against his buttocks. His mind was blank, he didn’t know how to react.
Zhao Xun lifted his hand and swept everything on the table to the side. Then, he placed the person in his arms onto the desk, and ravenously tore off his clothing.
“I’ve already waited for this long, and I’ve taken good care of you. Although you’re a little skinny, it’s fine, I’ll just keep taking care of you.” Zhao Xun struggled with the beggar’s robes for a long while, but still couldn’t get them off. He was impatient, and simply took off his pants first.
The little beggar began to struggle desperately, his legs kicking in every direction.
Zhao Xun grabbed his legs and spread them apart. His breathing was rapid as he spoke, “All right, stop struggling. You can’t escape, what do you think I took care of you for? Of course it was so you could serve me! So now you’re unwilling; why didn’t you just refuse when you first moved in here?”
Tears flowed out of the little beggar’s eyes, and he struggled with all his might to break free.
“I… I didn’t know… I didn’t know you were like this… let me… go… let go of me…”
Zhao Xun was scratched by him, and became enraged. He grabbed a fistful of his hair and pulled it back, before whispering in his ear, “You want to leave now? Let me tell you this: it’s too late! You still dare to defy me? I’ll show you what defiance looks like!”
As he spoke, Zhao Xun grabbed his head and slammed it hard into the desk.
The little beggar’s forehead immediately began to bleed. Blood dripped down and blurred one of his eyes; when he opened them, one side of the world was veiled in scarlet.
He saw the bowl of boiling hot soup on the table, and without thinking, grabbed it and threw it behind himself.
The soup happened to spill directly on Zhao Xun’s chest, and he immediately began to scream in pain.
The little beggar took this opportunity to scramble off the table, and he ran toward the door, stumbling with every step.
But, unexpectedly, as soon as he reached the door, the housekeeper clubbed him with a stick, and he fell unconscious.
Upon opening his eyes again, the little beggar found himself locked in a dimly-lit woodshed.
He was still dressed in all his garments, but the wound on his forehead had worsened; it hadn’t been treated yet, and the blood had already dried.
The door of the woodshed opened, and the housekeeper came in. He ordered several servants to pull the beggar off the ground, and drag him into the back garden.
There was a large tree in the back garden; the little beggar’s wrists were tied, and he was hung from its branches. His toes could barely touch the ground, so his wrists were bearing all the weight of his body. A few servants carrying soft whips walked over, and gave him ten hard lashes, his skin splitting every time the whip cracked down.
“You’ve really got guts! You actually dared to hurt His Lordship! You stay here and reflect, you’ll be untied once you come back to your senses!” The moment he finished speaking, the housekeeper left with the group of servants.
The little beggar’s mouth was half-open; he couldn’t catch his breath for a long while. His injuries were extremely serious; blood flowed along his skin and dripped into the icy, white ground, mixing and melting into a puddle of blood and snow.
As he was being whipped, his body had been dripping with cold sweat. Now that the bitterly cold wind was blowing over his skin, he was freezing, and shivering uncontrollably.
The wounds on his body gradually numbed, and his eyelids became extremely heavy. He finally couldn’t hold on for any longer and passed out.
On the second day, the housekeeper brought his entourage of servants again and asked him if he knew what he did wrong.
The little beggar lowered his eyes and didn’t answer, so he was beaten again.
It was the same on the third day.
The fourth day, the fifth day…
It had been seven days. The little beggar was still hanging from the tree and was rotting away from seven days worth of whipping.
Every time he fainted from the pain, he felt that it would be impossible for him to wake up again. But somehow, he would always be able to stay awake during the next day’s painful beating.
Every day, a little maid would come and give him a few bites to eat and drink to prevent him from dying.
They tortured and humiliated him; they only wanted him to bow his head and admit his wrongdoing, they wanted him to submit in obedience, but the little beggar would rather die than do so.
Finally, he found an opportunity to escape.
It was the twelfth lunar month; the first day of the Greater Cold.
The maid who brought him food hastily stuffed a shard of porcelain into his hand, before walking away, pretending as if nothing had happened.
The little beggar squeezed the fragment in fright, cutting his palm in the process. But it didn’t even hurt at this point. All he could feel was his nervous heart thudding in his chest, ready to jump out.
That night, the little beggar cut away the ropes binding his wrists, and escaped from the manor, leaving bloody footsteps in his wake.
He didn’t dare to stop and rest. Every wound on his body stung unbearably, but he couldn’t stop; his only thought was to continue ahead, escape, and get out of there as fast as he could.
The cold wind penetrated his clothing, and the blood covering his body solidified, unable to drip downward.
He ducked into a small alley, and huddled into a pile of ragged straw mats. He couldn’t hold on any longer, and slowly lost consciousness.
He was unaware of how long he had been unconscious, but in his hazy trance, he thought he’d heard someone talking. Then, two warm, little hands rested on his forehead.
That pair of hands was very small, but they were soft and warm, which made him lean involuntarily towards the source of heat.
“Do you want me to hug you? I’ll give you a hug, okay? You’re bleeding a lot, you must have been bullied by someone, right?”
He knew that he was in a terrible condition right now, but the owner of those hands didn’t ignore him. Instead, he stretched his small arms out, and tucked the beggar’s head into his embrace, even gently stroking his hair to comfort him.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, don’t cry. Are you in pain from your wounds? It won’t hurt after I blow on them. “
It seemed that there really was hot air blowing over the wound on the forehead, so warm that it could thaw his frozen body.
“You must be hungry, I’ll go buy you something tasty, okay? Be good and wait for me here, all right?”
The beggar couldn’t open his eyes; through a small slit in his eyelids, he saw a little white ball ball sprint past, running out of the little alley, worriedly turning his head several times as he ran, before disappearing.
All of this felt too illusory, too unreal; he had never encountered such warm kindness before, so he thought it was merely a hallucination, and soon fell back into a coma.
It really was too good to be true. The small boy who had left really didn’t return.
Instead, lively chatter sounded from the entrance to the alley, and several people walked in.
The leader of the group walked up to him – he looked to be the same age as the little beggar, but was dressed in luxurious robes, proud and dignified, and had an air of exceptional talent.
The little beggar had regained some consciousness, but he still couldn’t move. His face was pale as paper; every time he shifted his body, his wounds would burst with terrible pain.
The noble-looking boy spoke, “So it was just a stinky beggar; he actually insisted on taking him back to the palace! Looks like he’s getting more and more unruly, he dares to act so thoughtlessly just because he’s favored!”
The attendants beside him thought that the little beggar was still unconscious, and persuaded in a low voice, “Your Highness the Fourth Prince, please don’t be angry, the origins of this beggar are unknown, so he definitely can’t be brought back. Besides, it’s getting late now, so we should hurry back to the palace as soon as possible.”
The fourth prince glared scornfully at the beggar, who had collapsed on the ground, snorted coldly, and was about to turn around and leave.
Unexpectedly, the little beggar suddenly opened his eyes, and gazed with fear at the people who had appeared just outside the alleyway. They were the people from the Zhao Manor coming to capture him!
What could he do?! Just what could he do?!
With great effort, the little beggar propped himself up, crawled up to the Fourth Prince’s feet, and softly tugged at the hem of his robe.
“I’m begging… you… please… save… me… please…”
That single string of words was choppy. The ground beside him was covered in filthy bloodstains.
The Fourth Prince gave him a disgusted look, and kicked him aside, “Don’t touch me! Absolutely disgusting!”
The guards protecting him hurried over and pulled the little beggar to the side, mercilessly slamming him into the wall, letting his body slide limply to the ground. They didn’t forget to walk over and stomp on his injuries a few times.
“You filthy beggar! Have you even considered your own status? You dare to touch whatever you see; have you eaten a bear’s heart and a leopard’s gallbladder1?”
The fourth prince watched from the side, his arms crossed, as the little beggar curled up into a ball, unable to fight back.
His eyes suddenly met the beggar’s. The Fourth Prince was startled by the cold stubbornness and layers of hatred in his eyes, and cried out, “You dare to stare at me?!”
Upon hearing those words, the guards stepped on his limbs with even more force. The little beggar was struggling to raise his head, his vision obscured by his messy hair.
The Fourth Prince stopped the guards, and walked back toward the entrance of the alley. He said as he walked, “It’s really bad luck that I happened upon such a dirty thing today!”
After walking to the entrance of the alley, he just so happened to run into the Zhao Manor’s servants.
The housekeeper of the Zhao Manor saw that the boy was definitely some powerful bigwig, and approached him with a smile, “Young Master, have you seen an injured little beggar?”
The Fourth Prince scoffed and pointed at the alleyway, “He’s in there, I just taught him a lesson for his ignorance.”
The housekeeper thanked him with a smile, and charged into the alley with the group of servants…
The little beggar was recaptured and brought back to the Zhao Manor. This time, he was punished with even more brutal whippings, but he still refused to yield to their demands. Even when Zhao Xun insisted that he bow, he kicked one of his prized treasures to pieces.
Zhao Xun was so angry that he lost his mind, and ordered the little beggar to be beaten to death. His fingers were broken, and he was quietly thrown into a mass grave in the middle of the night.
Snowflakes fell heavily, one by one, blanketing the burial mound layer by layer.
On the stretch of icy white, there was a long trail of blood, as if someone had climbed out of the burial mound and crawled all the way to the roadside.
A red-soaked figure lay in the middle of the road, his entire body covered in blood, dying a large patch of snow scarlet
A carriage in the distance drew near. The person inside it was the young prodigy, surnamed Jiang, named Yubai, on his way to the palace to be appointed as an imperial physician.
In the next four years, the Pei family finally recognized their only son, who they had left to fend for himself, and allowed him to rejoin the family. Then, the newly-appointed Prime Minister Pei Zheng came to power, who was notorious for his violence and ruthlessness.
The first thing he did was find a reason to punish Zhao Xun, who had already resigned and returned home. The thirty-something people residing at the Zhao Manor were all executed. Zhao Xun was imprisoned in the secret dungeon of the Prime Minister’s Manor.
After being punished, he was thrown to the barracks, where he was tortured to death by dozens of strong, rough men. The housekeeper’s fingers and toes were torn off, and he was thrown into a burial mound and buried alive.
It was said that Prime Minister Pei had also tried to find a young maid of the Zhao Manor, but failed in the end.
I’M SO SAD WHAT
This novel is just a competition of who suffered more sigh…
Thanks for reading~~
1. 吃熊心豹子胆 (chī xióng xīn bào zi dǎn): to eat a bear’s heart and a leopard’s gallbladder; to have great courage.