Tantai Jin calmly said, “I got it, continue on about the Eighth Prince.”
The officials each gave their opinions1你一言我一语 (nǐ yī yán wǒ yī yǔ) – lit. your talk is followed by mine; people render their respective views in discussion of something; eg: One says something, then another follows. It means people talk together, or discuss or argue about something. It implies that there is a heated atmosphere of discussion in which all give their opinions actively. and begin to argue.
Previously, when Tantai Minglang ascended to the throne, he killed almost all the princes. Even the princesses couldn’t escape this misfortune, and the Eighth Prince was the only fish that slipped through the net2漏网之鱼 (lòuwǎngzhīyú) – a fish that escaped the net (idiom); (fig.) somebody or something that slips through the net; fugitive; criminal at large; runaway.
He was seventeen this year, clever and quick-witted, and was originally Tantai Minglang’s formidable opponent. Back then, after cleverly slipping away3金蝉脱壳 (jīnchán-tuōqiào) – lit. the cicada sheds its carapace/slip out of a predicament like a cicada sloughing its skin (idiom); fig. to vanish leaving an empty shell; escape by cunning maneuvering, he managed to escape without Tantai Minglang noticing.
But recently, a rebel army suddenly appeared in the imperial city, beginning to boldly spread propaganda against Tantai Jin’s legitimacy to the throne, and about his ruthless killing of the people at Mo River.
For the people, they didn’t care if the ruler’s throne was legitimate or not, but it was frightening if the ruler was ruthless and in the company of demons.
The Eighth Prince, who hadn’t yet come of age, was intensely ambitious.
He was still a young fledgling, so he was forced to bring his men into hiding around the country 4东躲西藏 (dōng duǒ xī cáng) – lit. hiding east and west. In Tantai Jin’s eyes, the Eighth Prince was just a little flea that caused barely a tickle5不痛不痒 (bùtòng-bùyǎng) – lit. doesn’t hurt, doesn’t tickle (idiom); something is wrong, but not quite sure what; fig. not getting to any matter of substance; scratching the surface; superficial; perfunctory.
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“Zlp, Zswa Yyflpvu.”
Fkdnl bl nswzed’v qkde bkx, vbl Oktbvb Vakdnl xwpv byhl wple psxl prlnkyz xlvbse, ps qktbvkdt lhkz okvb lhkz oyp qyka.&dcpr;
“Rp vblal yduvbkdt lzpl?” Mydvyk Kkd ypjle.
Mbl sqqknkyzp zssjle yv lynb svbla.
“If not, then you’re dismissed,” Tantai Jin said as he stood up, lifting the hem of his robe and heading for Chengqian Palace.
No one dared to stop him either, so they had to watch the young emperor walk away.
Under the guidance of the palace maids, Su Su barely managed to get three dishes done.
When no one was paying attention, she blended a drawn talisman into them.
“What is that?” Curved Jade asked.
“A few days ago, Tantai Jin asked me to teach him how to draw talismans, and I secretly hid two pieces of talisman paper.”
“Are you drugging him?”
“Sort of,” Su Su said. “It’ll just make him feel slightly unwell, just enough to attract the attention of the Night Shadow Guards.”
Only Tantai Jin’s safety could draw them out, which wasn’t a good idea, but it was her only idea.
The palace maids helped her serve the dishes.
Before the entrance of the main hall, the eunuch in charge of testing the food6for poison was at the ready. Su Su looked calm as she watched him eat a piece of food with silver chopsticks.
The eunuch’s expression turned strange, and his chewing froze.
Although the dish wasn’t unpalatable, its taste was quite strange. It was very sweet and not at all tasty.
Su Su smiled and said, “If there’s no poison, can I go over now?”
“Young lady, please.“
The eunuch didn’t stop her,Su Su had only added a few dishes for His Majesty, so it was harmless as long as they weren’t poisoned.
Over the past few days, everyone had realized that if His Majesty really hated her, he wouldn’t have kept her in the palace.
There was no telling what identity she would have in the future, so it was best not to offend her.
Su Su smoothly entered the hall, only to discover that Tantai Jin had already returned. He was sitting at the table, reading a book with his head down.
She was inwardly a little surprised, but she also knew that it was reasonable.
It wasn’t surprising that Tantai Jin was aware of her actions.
Su Su approached for a closer look, and Tantai Jin really was reading a book.
The book was titled “Qi7启 – open/start/initiate/enlighten or awaken/state/inform Yi8义 – justice/righteousness/meaning/foster (father etc)/adopted/artificial (tooth, limb, etc)/relationship/friendship”, Su Su assumed that it was about proper human relationships9伦常 (lúncháng) – traditional order of priority or seniority in human relationships.
This kind of book was generally used as an enlightenment10启蒙 (qǐ//méng) – to instruct the young; to initiate; awake somebody from ignorance; primer; enlightened book for teenagers. It talked in detail about the ethics of the human world, including camaraderie, lifetime confidants, the close love of husband and wife, respect for the elderly and loving care for children.
It wasn’t anything profound, but he was reading it quite seriously.
Su Su suddenly remembered that he was born without feelings, and even had to learn about proper human relationships from others. This was how when something happened, he could react appropriately.
Hearing Su Su enter, Tantai Jin raised his head.
He closed the book, without any embarrassment, and sat down at the table.
At a glance, Tantai Jin could recognize the three dishes that looked different. He stopped the palace attendants that were about to test11for poison the dishes again, picked up the chopsticks of one dish and asked Su Su, “Did you make this?”
Su Su nodded.
“Why? Don’t you hate me?”
“I want to see my grandmother,” Su Su said.
Tantai Jin glanced at her, “Come over and eat them.”
Su Su had long known this would happen. She calmly walked over, took over Tantai Jin’s chopsticks, and put the food into her mouth.
Tantai Jin stared at her without blinking, and Su Su swallowed.
“There’s no poison,” she said.
Tantai Jin stopped talking, picked up a new pair of chopsticks and began to eat.
Su Su considered for a moment, then simply ate with him.
Tantai Jin saw, but didn’t reprimand her and calmly dined.
Su Su saw that he had very good table manners. He didn’t eat much of any one dish, but he wasn’t at all picky.
He even ate a few mouthfuls of the three dishes that Su Su had made and didn’t even show a strange expression. Other emperors were afraid of their preferences being figured out, but Tantai Jin had no such worries as he didn’t have any preferences in the first place.
Su Su asked expectantly, “Can I go see my grandmother?”
He looked up and asked, “Are you flattering me?”
Su Su gritted her teeth, “Yes.”
“Doesn’t feel like it,” Tantai Jin nonchalantly said.
“Then I’ll teach you how to draw talismans.”
Tantai Jin glanced at her, “I have Daoist priests.”
Su Su stared at him, then got up to leave.
Tantai Jin suddenly said, “Do you only have such little patience?”
Seeing that Su Su didn’t turn back, and their relationship was about to drop back to freezing, he paused for a moment, then said, “You help me track someone and I’ll let you see Old Madam Ye.”
The young girl immediately turned around with joy, “Really?”
Tantai Jin looked at her smiling face and gently pursed his lips, “Mmm, come here.”
Su Su ran over, “Who do you want to track?”
Tantai Jin looked at her deeply. Seeing that there were no abnormalities in her expression, he moved his thin lips, “Eighth Prince.”
“Your younger brother?” Su Su asked.
“I can try, but it won’t necessarily work.”
The two of them returned to Chengqian Hall. Su Su looked at the sky and silently calculated the time in her head.
She sat cross-legged in front of the table, and Tantai Jin’s dark pupils were watching her.
The young girl slightly turned her wrist, and the silver bell on the table kept ringing. With the mindset of a swindler, Su Su deliberately made the ritual very complicated, appearing correct, when actually, she was just playing with the bell.
Not to mention tracking a person, you couldn’t even track a puppy.
Her eyes were opened, and from time to time, she would glance at the silver bell, and other times, she would glance at Tantai Jin. Knowing that he didn’t understand anything, Su Su boldly fooled him with relief.
The youth’s black eyes quietly fell upon her face.
As time passed, Su Su felt a little guilty, but she didn’t show it and waited for what Tantai Jin ate to kick in.
After a while, he softly asked, “You’re tricking me, is it fun?”
The youth’s voice was gentle, and it gave Su Su goosebumps. She met a pair of calm and indifferent eyes, and thought to herself, it’s obviously time, so why isn’t Tantai Jin acting up yet? Did the talisman lose its effectiveness? It can’t be, right?
In the past, a law enforcement elder had used this immortal technique to punish Su Su. Back then, she was still an immortal and it had still worked, so how could it fail to work on a mortal?
Right then, Tantai Jin moved and his expression slightly changed.
Su Su saw him tightly pursing his lips, and he raised his eyes to look at her coldly.
She pretended to be oblivious and asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
“What did you put in the food?” Tantai Jin asked.
Su Su frowned and she acted angry, “You suspect me of drugging you? I ate it too, why am I fine?”
Tantai Jin didn’t speak, but a layer of cold sweat appeared on his forehead as he scrutinized her.
Su Su said, “If you don’t feel well, I’ll call the imperial physician for you.”
Her wrist was suddenly grabbed.
“You’re not allowed to leave.”
She looked at the youth’s pale fingers, the skin was slightly red.
Su Su mischievously thought, it must itch terribly, right? This kind of itching feels extremely unbearable, and once you reach out to scratch it, it’ll just become more and more unbearable.
“Detoxify it, or I won’t let you off easy.”
Su Su squatted down and softly asked, “Are you going to kill me?”
The youth raised his eyes. His watering eyes actually made him look extremely pure. His voice was hoarse, practically squeezing the two words out of his throat, “I will.”
Su Su said, “It really wasn’t me, what’s wrong with you?”
She was secretly amazed. She’d been hit by this spell when she was a child, and she’d laughed and cried when the itching flared up, begging the law enforcement elder for forgiveness. Even jumping about wouldn’t alleviate the discomfort, and she even wanted to climb up a tree to scratch against it.
But Tantai Jin was acting too calmly.
If it wasn’t for the fact that he was sweating all over, Su Su would’ve thought that the talisman had failed to work.
She deliberately touched his forehead and scratched him with her fingernails, “Your forehead is burning, aren’t you sick after doing so many bad things these days? It’s bad to hide your sickness for fear of treatment.”
Her fingernail left a red mark on the youth’s pretty face.
His breath started to quicken.
Su Su thought to herself, if you can stand even this and not feel itchy, I’ll go back to cultivation.
Suddenly, someone tightly hugged her waist.
The hand holding her waist was pale white and trembling as he gripped her. The youth gritted his teeth and said in a trembling voice, “I know it’s you, you……”
Su Su knew he must want to curse right now, but his lips quivered for a long time and he still couldn’t say a single profanity.
“I want to kill you, I’ll definitely kill you,” he vaguely said with trembling lips.
With surprise, Su Su heard a hint of grievance in his shaky voice.
A hint of malice appeared in her eyes and she tried to push him away, “Hey, don’t drag me along if you don’t feel well. Let go of me and I’ll find the imperial physician for you.”
The youth’s hand tightened.
He seemed to have turned into a young Su Su too, except that while Su Su jumped around, trying to scratch her back against a tree trunk, Tantai Jin treated her as the tree trunk.
The grip on her waist was so tight that it hurt.
Su Su frowned and pinched him, trying to make him loosen his hand. Tantai Jin grunted, and even the pitch of his voice changed.
Su Su knew that things had gone wrong. Once the pain receptors of the person hit by the spell were stimulated, it would only make it worse12雪上加霜 (xuěshàng-jiāshuāng) – (idiom) to make matters even worse; to add insult to injury.
She wanted to subdue him and leave, but her lips hurt as if someone had bitten them.
The huge force pushed Su Su down, collapsing her onto the couch.
Like he’d gone crazy, the youth on top of her covered her lips.
He pressed so tightly that Su Su’s lips and teeth felt hot. In shock, she looked up and saw a pair of eyes filled with pain and discomfort. As if pleading, they revealed a hint of pity.
For a moment, she was almost deceived by those eyes. She tugged at his collar, trying to pull him away.
Her lips were burning hot.
He wasn’t willing to go. Su Su was furious. This was a spell to make him feel itchy and uncomfortable, not something to make him go into heat. What the h*ll is this?
She volleyed a talisman spell into the air which forcibly pulled him away.
Just as she was about to run out to find the Night Shadow Guards, her ankle was grabbed.
He looked up, his eyes filled with a little hatred, but mostly something else that she couldn’t clearly see.
“Help me…… I really don’t feel good……”
Su Su said, “I’ll help you call for someone.”
“D-don’t want them…… just you…… wuu……” He bit his lip, creating two red marks, and his words became incoherent.
“What?” Su Su asked.
His body slightly jerked and he could finally speak clearly, “Do it, or else I’ll kill Old Madam Ye!”
Su Su was so angry that she almost laughed.
She looked at him expressionlessly for a moment and asked, “What do you need me to do?”
The youth on the floor tightly clutched her ankle and grunted in pain.
“Beat me,” he trembled. “Beat me.”
“You asked for it.” Su Su said.
Su Su looked at his flushed face, and a thought flickered, this was indeed a good chance. She blinked and leaned closer, whispering into his ear, “You won’t blame me afterwards, right?”
She shook her head, “I don’t believe you.”
His lip were almost bleeding from his bite, and his eyes were unfocused.
Su Su touched his eyes and sighed, “But you look so pitiful.”
His body shuddered.
Su Su kicked him hard on the shoulder and rubbed her wrists, “So I better fulfill your wish.”
Thinking of Xiao Lin, she wanted to beat him to death!
The youth curled up and crawled on the ground, his fingers twitched, and he licked his lips without making a sound.
The author has something to say:
Su Su five hundred years later: I was too naive back then.
Edited by: Gaze