Trigger warning: drugging
t/n: At this point, this novel starts getting pretty morally wrong. No nsfw this chapter but in the next. I DO NOT CONDONE ANY OF THE ACTIONS IN THE FOLLOWING CHAPTERS. I was translating as I was reading so I was unaware of this content when I started this project. I still translated to the end because there’s only like five chapters left anyways, and I treated it as an educational experience. I’m going to try posting daily for the next week to finish posting this novel. Feel free to leave at this point if you’re uncomfortable with this type of material. If you have enjoyed my work up to this point, consider following me on twitter @sleepyneedle for future project updates or if you just want to fangirl over other novels together (the next novel I’m planning to throw out if completely sfw)
Before dinner, Yi Chongren had to report on inner court affairs to Huo Feng. Huo Feng didn’t request for that, but Yi Chongren insisted. Many people were skeptical towards his control over the inner court, so Yi Chongren didn’t hide anything from Huo Feng to avoid attracting any unnecessary suspicions from him. Inquiring if Huo Feng was still in the imperial study, Yi Chongren took a few important memorials to the imperial study. The court ladies and eunuchs he encountered on the way bowed to him in succession as they saw him, calling “Lord Yi”. Yi Chongren only nodded slightly. He didn’t change that gorgeous palace uniform. After Huo Feng sobered up, he hinted at it a few times, but Yi Chongren pretended not to understand. He didn’t intend to adopt such a confrontational posture against Huo Feng, but once he thought of how that person regretted picking those clothes for him, Yi Chongren didn’t want to change them. After walking for a while, his steps slowed to a stop and he turned. Four eunuchs who had just bowed turned rigid, not daring to breathe for a moment.
Yi Chongren walked before one of the eunuchs and with his usual cold voice: “Raise your head.”
The man trembled and raised his head slightly. Yi Chongren’s eyes sternly scanned across him and he asked: “What’s your name?”
“Replying, replying to your excellency, this servant, this servant is called Xiao Wang.”
“Which eunuch do you work under?”
“Replying, replying to your excellency, this servant, this servant……” The man’s voice trembled and he knelt on the ground, kowtowing repeatedly, “Your excellency, have mercy, your excellency, have mercy, this servant is clumsy with hands and feet and didn’t clean well, your excellency, please have mercy.”
There was a broom by the eunuch’s feet, as if the eunuch had just been sweeping the road. The man was visibly frightened, kowtowing like his life depended on it. Fresh blood soon began flowing from his forehead and all the surrounding eunuchs didn’t dare to breathe. Not one person in the palace didn’t fear the former Qianhu of the Hu An guards.
Yi Chongren remained unmoved as he watched the eunuch continue kowtowing for a while and he turned to leave. Without explanation, and without letting that person rise. As the man continued to kowtow, hatred flashed in his eyes. Soon, a eunuch chased after Yi Chongren: “Lord Yi, that person……”
“Get him out of the palace.”
Yi Chongren didn’t explain why, and the eunuch didn’t dare ask, personally going to deal with this matter. Yi Chongren whispered to Guo An and Zhuang Ye who were following behind him: “Send someone to observe him. I saw him at Noble Consort Ru’s side before.”
Guo An felt awe in his heart, and left calmly.
Reaching the entrance of the imperial study, after being allowed in, Yi Chongren entered alone. The only person in the imperial study was Huo Feng, who was in the midst of reading through memorials. Once he saw Yi Chongren enter, he pointed to an empty chair: “Chongren’s here. Sit, I’ll finish reading these memorials.”
“This official isn’t in a rush.”
Yi Chongren did not refuse and sat down. Yi Chongren was never very respectful towards Huo Feng. He knew he couldn’t continue being like this but every time he saw Huo Feng, he just couldn’t act as respectful as he should. And Huo Feng seemed to condone this behavior. Yi Chongren looked at Huo Feng and thought of the matter he just learned of, feeling annoyed for some reason. Huo Feng wasn’t as good looking as the Jiazheng emperor, but with his greater masculinity and vast military experience, now that he was also the emperor, his presence became more majestic. Men like this are never destined to lack women.
Huo Feng felt Yi Chongren’s gaze on him and perceived that there was a load on Yi Chongren’s mind, so he pretended not to notice and continued lowering his head to read memorials. After reading through the last memorial, Huo Feng raised his head, colliding with Yi Chongren’s line of sight. Yi Chongrend didn’t dodge in time, and his heart skipped a beat. However, he immediately calmed down and stood to present his report.
Huo Feng didn’t look at it, putting it beside him, saying: “Chongren, I must seek your advice on something.”
“Your majesty, please speak.”
Huo Feng sighed and said a bit emotionally: “After the empress and noble consort died, I never thought about remarrying. I always feel like it’d be letting them down. But now, I’m the emperor, and I can’t act on my own volition. These, these few days, many ministers have submitted petitions about organizing a concubine selection.”
Yi Chongren couldn’t help but feel his expression become colder. Huo Feng stared at Yi Chongren and continued saying: “But I’m so annoyed. I’m used to being alone after all these years. Once I think about marrying, I will think of how the empress and noble consort committed suicide right before my eyes, and I lose that desire. Chongren, do you also think I should organize a selection?”
Of course not. Yi Chongren lowered his eyes to avoid Huo Feng’s gaze. After an inexplicable feeling of satisfaction returned in his heart because of Huo Feng’s words, he raised his eyes, saying: “This official can’t escape blame for the empress and noble consort’s death. If this minister came just a bit earlier, the two ladies wouldn’t have……”
Huo Feng raised his hand to stop Yi Chongren from blaming himself and said: “It was already hard enough for you to save the two children and I. Don’t take this matter to heart. I only want to hear your opinion.”
Yi Chongren feigned contemplation, and after a while, he finally said: “Your highness toils day and night. There should be a thoughtful person to serve by your side.” And the desires of men can’t be endured forever. Thinking of the desires of men, a shadow passed through Yi Chongren’s heart, and he continued to say: “Only……There are so many servants in the palace, so this official can’t understand everyone. If your majesty wants a concubine selection now, it would be hard to prevent people from taking advantage of this. Yunkai and Douzi just arrived at the capital, lost their mothers at a young age, and just became close to your majesty. If your majesty gets a new concubine, this official worries that they will feel difficult. Also, the land has just been settled. If your majesty chooses to hold a concubine selection now, it will be easy for the people to feel anxious and look down on your majesty’s prestige.”
Huo Feng appeared to agree: “I think so too. You also understand that I’m so busy that I don’t have time to sleep. Where would I get the energy to hold a concubine selection? Let’s drop this matter for now and talk about it later.”
Yi Chongren nodded, very satisfied.
Discussing serious matters until now, Huo Feng said: “I’ll go to Ningshen palace for dinner. I haven’t eaten with Baozi and Douzi for many days. Someone come.”
Lu Tao bowed and walked in: “This servant is here.”
“I will have dinner at Ningshen palace. Let the crown prince come too.”
Huo Feng said he hadn’t gone to Ningshen palace for many days, but he had just gone three days ago. Yi Chongren was already used to Huo Feng coming to Ningshen palace for dinner from time to time. Most importantly, Baozi and Douzi liked eating with their imperial father so he let them be. Knowing Yi Chongren wasn’t unwilling, after Lu Tao retreated, Huo Feng stretched his arms and bitterly laughed: “Being the emperor is even more tiring than marching and fighting with the army. Accompany me to drink a bit later?”
“This official is at your majesty’s command.”
Yi Chongren appeared to be in a decent mood. Huo Feng laughed. He was also in a decent mood.
Yi Chongren now controlled the inner court. Although Huo Feng allowed him to participate in court politics, he still put most of his energy in the inner court. He didn’t have much time to accompany the two children. Douzi and Baozi also began their formal education, taking classes in the morning and practicing martial arts after their afternoon nap. However, they said martial arts practice was more like playtime. At dinnertime, they saw imperial father and daddy come together. Baozi and Douzi self indulgently drilled into imperial father’s arms, making Huo Feng laugh heartily. Huo Feng always spoiled Baozi and Douzi, so naturally the two children quickly became closer to him. Not long after, Huo Yunkai arrived. He had already begun taking over the duties of the crown prince, and Huo Feng valued this son of his very much. Under Yi Chongren’s tutelage, Huo Yunkai, who originally already had a calm and steady temperament, gained the confidence to be a good crown prince.
Huo Feng didn’t mind that the crown prince arrived late, and after exchanging a few words with the crown prince, he ordered the imperial kitchen to serve the dishes, even specially letting the imperial kitchen bring out two bottles of palace aged wine, goods left over by the Jiazheng emperor. Yi Chongren rarely drank wine, so no one knew how his alcohol tolerance was, but today, Huo Feng was in high spirits, and Yi Chongren accompanied him to drink one cup after another. Once he began feeling dizzy, Yi Chongren stopped drinking. Huo Feng obviously didn’t want to let him go and poured him another cup, persuading: “Drink another cup, it’s rare that I want to drink with you today. Don’t put a damper on my good mood.”
Yi Chongren supported his forehead with one hand and smiled slightly at Huo Feng: “This official seems to be drunk, can’t drink any more.”
Seeing Yi Chongren look at him with that appearance, Huo Feng felt his mouth and tongue turn dry, and he pulled over Yi Chongren’s hand, stuffing in another cup of wine: “No, I don’t want to leave without getting drunk with you. I’m not drunk yet.”
“Your majesty, drunkenness harms the body.” Yi Chongren said, refusing to drink. His current state was already very dangerous.
Huo Feng said: “Then one last cup. Drink it, and I won’t force you again.”
Yi Chongren once again lightly smiled: “Once last cup?”
“Once last cup.”
Whatever, just drink it. Yi Chongren drank the cup of wine with drunken eyes, only feeling a subtle sweetness in the wine. This was Huo Yunkai’s first time seeing yifu’s drunken state, and he was amazed. Drunken yifu had a different flavor than usual, but he couldn’t pinpoint the specifics.
Baozi and Douzi were already full, and as daddy and imperial father drank, they chatted on their seats. Huo Feng looked towards the crown prince and said: “Yunkai, take Baozi and Douzi on a walk to help them digest. Imperial father wants to speak with your yifu.”
“Yifu seems to be drunk.” Huo Yunkai didn’t think yifu had the energy to discuss politics with imperial father.
Huo Feng waved his hand to drive him away: “Go.”
Huo Yunkai had no choice but to just take Baozi and Douzi away. Not long after they left, Lu Tao closed the gate to the courtyard of Ningshen palace, leaving only Huo Feng and Yi Chongren in Ningshen palace.
Yi Chongren was also pretty much full, and he had a terrible headache. Half squinting, he asked: “Your majesty……what matters do you want to discuss with this official?”
Huo Feng once again poured a cup of wine for the two of them. He picked up a cup and handed the other cup to Yi Chongren, seriously saying: “Chongren, you’re one cup behind.”
One cup behind? A doubtful expression appeared on Yi Chongren’s drunken face. He subconsciously received the wine: “This official, is drunk.”
“Chongren, I, thank you. Thank you for your kindness.” Huo Feng raised his head and downed the cup.
As if infected by Huo Feng’s seriousness, Yi Chongren also raised his head to down the cup, forgetting he had just drank “the last cup of wine”. Putting down the cup, Yi Chongren lightly said: “This official, only did one thing, this official only did what I wanted to do. Your majesty doesn’t have to keep worrying about this.” Seeing the person in front of him become two people, Yi Chongren closed his eyes. He had never been so drunk before.
A radiant light quickly flashed through Huo Feng’s eyes, and he supported Yi Chongren: “I see that you’re really drunk. I’ll support you to the bed to rest.”
Yi Chongren shook his head and put both hands on the table to support himself up: “This official, will go by myself. Your majesty should also return to your bedchamber.”
Huo Feng clasped Yi Chongren’s shoulders with both hands and took him into his arms, leading him out, saying: “I should still send you back into the room.”
“Call Baozi and Douzi back.” Yi Chongren was used to coaxing the two children to sleep before he went to sleep.
“Someone is taking care of Baozi and Douzi, don’t worry.” Taking Yi Chongren out of the dining room, Huo Feng somewhat eagerly supported Yi Chongren into the bedroom and used his foot to close the door.
Huo Feng led Yi Chongren’s unsteady footsteps to the bedside and he used a hand to push Huo Feng away: “This official, will do it myself.”
Huo Feng swallowed, and suddenly forcefully pushed Yi Chongren onto the bed. Feeling his body falling for a moment, Yi Chongren sobered up, but not waiting for him to make a move, a shadow pressed on him, letting down the bed curtain, dimming his line of sight.
If Yi Chongren wouldn’t sense danger at this time, he wouldn’t be Yi Chongren. Both hands pressing against Huo Feng’s chest, Yi Chongren’s expression turned cold: “What does your highness want to do?”
Huo Feng wantonly touched Yi Chongren’s smooth face, voice hoarse: “I only want to ask you a question.”
“Can your majesty let go of this official first?” Yi Chongren was pressed under Huo Feng very uncomfortably.
Huo Feng slightly shifted his body, both legs straddling Yi Chongren’s sides and pulling away both his hands, trapping the man under his body. Yi Chongren tried to push him away, but immediately realized with astonishment that he actually couldn’t muster out any strength!
“You drugged me?!”
This conjecture made Yi Chongren lose all respect he held towards Huo Feng.
“Just to make you unable to push me away.” At this time, Huo Feng didn’t seem like the high and mighty emperor, but a danger.
He was too careless! But now wasn’t the time to regret. Yi Chongren’s first thought was to delay time, delay until Yunkai brought back Douzi and Baozi or he forced out the pharmaceutical properties.
“Chongren.”Huo Feng’s rough fingers slid across Yi Chongren’s eyes, his hoarse voice making his heart palpitate. His and Yi Chongren’s breaths completely blended together, and Yi Chongren turned his head, not looking at him.
Huo Feng didn’t let him escape, wrenching his face to make him look at himself.
“Why me?” Huo Feng asked out the doubt buried in his heart for so many years, “You saved so many people, but why did you help me of all people win the world?”
Yi Chongren revealed his customary sneer: “Just a lucky coincidence.”
“Chongren,” Huo Feng laid a hand on Yi Chongren’s chest with a serious expression, “I want to hear the truth. Why me?” Then, he took a deep breath, voice becoming even more hoarse, “These six years, I kept asking myself, why did you choose me? Chongren, I want to know.”
Feeling a wave of dizziness sweep over, Yi Chongren closed his eyes. Huo Feng embraced Yi Chongren’s waist and rolled over, leaving Yi Chongren laying on top of him. Huo Feng drew out Yi Chongren’s hair pin and caressed his face.
“Chongren, tell me.”
A powerful heartbeat traveled from Huo Feng’s chest to Yi Chongren’s eardrums. The arm embracing his waist was forceful, yet the hand caressing his face seemed especially gentle. Under a dizzy spell, Yi Chongren only felt a burst of heat flow from where he was stroked to the rest of his body.
Like an earworm, the voice seemed to come from far away, and the dazed Yi Chongren stubbornly refused to speak, but he couldn’t ward off the repeating words “tell me……”
Powerless fingers curling, the scene before his eyes gradually distorted. Soldiers storming into his home, his bound parents and siblings, the dark, damp prison cell, the sinister face of the castrator, the overwhelming stench of the room full of crying children……Yi Chongren let out a low voice: “I hate……I want, revenge……”
The hand stroking Yi Chongren paused without a word.
“That person, killed my parents and relatives……I want to destroy his rivers and mountains, kill his sons and grandsons……to survive, I became a demon neither male nor female……how could I not take revenge…….how could I, not take revenge!”
Huo Feng tightly hugged the man, feeling an unbreakable heartache.
“Then why, me? That man’s blood flows through my veins. You should have, also killed me.”
“I thought about it.”
Huo Feng’s body shook, a look of unbearableness passed through his eyes.
“Do you still remember that night? You called me a castrated dog……a demon……should……”
“Stop it.” Huo Feng covered Yi Chongren’s mouth, unable to face that person, “You don’t know how much I regret saying those hurtful words to you.”
After Huo Feng let him go, Yi Chongren laughed in a low voice: “You weren’t wrong, I’m just a……” His mouth was covered again.
“No, you aren’t. You were just seriously injured. Chongren, did you choose me because there were troops in my hands?”
“Yes.” Yi Chongren didn’t hesitate, yet Huo Feng was disappointed. Of course it was like this.
“I hated you, but there was no one more suitable……at least you, weren’t an asshole. My parents wouldn’t blame me for helping you.”
These words didn’t make Huo Feng very content. Should he be happy?
“What about now? Do you still hate me?”
“Now?” A bit of perplexity appeared in Yi Chongren’s eyes, “Now……I don’t know…..I never thought about, meeting you again……never thought……” He sighed, “I’m tired……I’m tired……”
With another flip, Huo Feng pressed the tired man under him. Yi Chongren’s eyes lost their customary coldness, and bewilderment, fatigue, and a bit of vulnerability that he had never seen in that person before appeared.
Huo Feng undid the first frog on Yi Chongren’s crimson official robes, then undid the second, the third……Yi Chongrenjust watched Huo Feng’s torch-like eyes without stopping him.
“I know you’re tired……and know you don’t like this place, unwilling to stay in this place, but……” Huo Feng leaned close and pressed on Yi Chongren’s lips, slowly moving against him, gently licking, “But……I don’t want you to leave me again……Chongren…..Chongren……”
Yi Chongren’s eyes opened wide. The moment Huo Feng covered his lips, his mind suddenly turned blank. What was, this, person, doing?
 Starts using 我 instead of 朕 here. Less formal