Part of a Memories of a Graceful Reflection translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 猶記驚鴻照影 by Feng Ning Xue Wu // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
Our mini crisis at the Third Wang fu draws to a close. Will Nan Cheng Yao be able to evade the authority of the crown prince?
Chapter 023: The Twenty-Third Time
Nan Cheng Yao suddenly sat up halfway, facing in the direction of those who had just entered. His voice echoed in the vastness of the resting hall, carrying an undisguised, frosty anger and alertness. As if he had just been startled out of his sleep.
The room was filled with a permeating scent of alcohol that was surging forth. Perhaps it could be even said that what surged forth was just not merely the scent of alcohol.
Zhu Yu kneeled in a haste, her voice quivering softly: “Your Highness, His Highness the Crown Prince is here. Nu-bi could not stop him, please forgive us.”
After several seconds, Nan Cheng Yao lazily reclined against the head of the bed, one hand casually combing through my long, glossy locks while laughing gently: “I can’t be blamed for saying that Eldest Brother is simply too unromantic. What are you doing at this time of night, running over to my fu, instead of staying in the Eastern Palace with your beautiful marriage as company?”
He did not refer to Nan Cheng Mian as crown prince, instead using an intimate appellation. His behavior echoed in kind as he leaned against the bed without rising to perform a salute between that of servant and master.
Nan Cheng Mian did not seem to think anything of it, leisurely offering a genial reply: “Third Brother, an assassin came into the Eastern Palace tonight. I took some people with me and chased them all the way here. I saw him go into Third Wang fu with my own two eyes, so I came over to take a look. The disturbance of your tender moment of warmth with the beautiful woman is my wrong.”
Because I lied on my side facing the inside of the bed, and because of the canopy of plain, light gauze hanging over the bed, Nan Cheng Mian could not see me. Perhaps he treated me merely as one of the many flowers his third brother so oft spoke of. Though the situation was inappropriate, he showed no intentions of withdrawing.
“Oh?” With a chuckle, Nan Cheng Yao raised a brow: “Then is Eldest Brother suspecting that my fu is sheltering an assassin?”
Nan Cheng Mian did not get angry, replying with a genial laugh: “Look at what you’re saying. As your older brother I was only worried about your safety and did not feel assured. That’s why I specially made a trip over.”
Nan Cheng Yao smiled lazily: “In that case, my gratitude to Elder Brother. However, there is no grass stirring in the wind1 over here. With a beauty in my arms, there is but a sense of satisfaction that cannot be explained with mere words.”
With that, he spoke no further and revealed no intent to rise. Though he had not used candid words, this was already a discreet signal inviting the guest to leave.
Nan Cheng Mian naturally did not detect it. Instead, he remained in place, seemingly unwilling to return without accomplishing anything.
After a moment’s pause, he spoke once more: “Since Third Brother is without ailments, I can now be at ease. However, since this is an important matter, I’m afraid I must ask Third Brother to join myself in summoning the ministers for a discussion.”
“Right now?” Nan Cheng Yao chuckled lightly: “Elder Brother is joking with me, no? Setting aside the warm, fragrant jade in my arms with such carelessness is something I, for one, cannot bear to do.”
Nan Cheng Mian chuckled faintly as well: “Stripping Third Brother of his esteemed virtues is my wrongdoing. However, as princes, we must prioritize national matters. This is a responsibility that cannot be passed off. Third Brother, I can only caused grievance to you by having you rise at once and follow me to the assembly hall. After matters are dealt with, as an older brother, I will personally select a few stunning beauties to send to your fu as compensation.”
Once finished, he continued showing no indication of leaving, as if he had to see Nan Cheng Yao get up with his own eyes before was willing to let the matter go.
With a smile that was neither here nor there, Nan Cheng Yao said: “Since Elder Brother has even brought out the responsibilities of a prince and mentioned beauties to entice me, then it looks like I must make a trip with you no matter what tonight.”
As he spoke, he began lifting the quilt to rise.
I knew that the bleeding on his waist had already stopped. Moreover, as Qin An stalled for time outside, Xun Yun had already draped some dark clothing over him. If he stood up right now and put on his outer garb, given that nothing else went sideways, there would be no visible signs.
Even though his complexion was pale from the loss of blood, conversely, the casual, light smile on his face could keep even a person with suspicions from being able to grasp onto any flaws. I knew that with his skills, he would undoubtedly be able to conceal things perfectly. But the amount of pain he would have to endure was something normal people would have trouble even imagining.
My thoughts churned, my mouth opening just as he began to move. My voice was soft and languid, as if having just been woken up: “Your Highness? Is it already dawn?”
He looked at me deeply, paused, and then finally spoke up again with his usual, lackadaisical, smiling voice: “Not yet, sleep a little longer. I’ll be back shortly.”
As I reached up to rub my temples, I complained coquettishly: “Your Highness fed me so much wine, Qing’er’s head still hurts even now. Don’t think that you can just abandon me like this. Qing’er won’t accept it.”
I never thought that I would speak such kinds of words, purposely lowering and softening my voice to imply immeasurable amounts of coquettishness and seduction. I must have learned a thing or two from Qing Fei niang-niang‘s bone-numbingly charming flirtation.
Perhaps Nan Cheng Mian did not expect such a development, because he said nothing for a moment.
As for myself, it was as if I had woken up for the first time after getting drunk, completely unaware of his presence. I knew nothing of what had happened, continuing to lay on my side while facing Nan Cheng Yao.
Nan Cheng Yao began laughing: “How could I ignore you? But ben-wang has some urgent matters, I’ll come back in a moment to accompany you, alright?”
I smiled coquettishly, unwilling to overlook or spare his excuses: “It’s so late, what important things could Your Highness have to do? It couldn’t be that you’re going to go off to seek out some mistress in the middle of the night, could it? Past matters can be let go of, but today, Qing’er won a ‘jing-tao‘ gu qin2 for Your Highness, and Your Highness has also fed a certain someone so much wine and tossed them around so ferociously. There’s no way that I’ll let you off. If Your Highness is unwilling to accept this, then don’t you come seek out Qing’er in the future.”
Each word and every sentence, every tone, was very obviously like the little temperament of a woman who’s been pampered with favor. Yet, it was also soft and charming, so much so that one would not be able to harden their heart and refuse.
Nan Cheng Yao gave a low laugh, facing Nan Cheng Mian as he said: “Elder Brother, what do you think I ought to do now?”
“Elder Brother?” As if doubtful, I didn’t wait for Nan Cheng Mian to speak up before laughing first: “What sort of trick is Your Highness playing with me now? I’d like to see where this Elder Brother is.”
While speaking, I turned ever so slightly and half rose, my movements controlled and nimble.
With my right hand that was under the covers, I held firmly onto the brocade quilt so as to not let it fall. My hair followed my movements and swept downwards accordingly, obscuring my bare left arm.
Then, I inadvertently met with Nan Cheng Mian’s oblivious expression and let the charming, content softness in my eyes instantly pale with shock.
I shrieked, and in this surprise, I shrank back into the quilt with my body turned away. Avoiding Nan Cheng Yao’s injury, I hugged him tightly and buried my face into his chest, unwilling to speak any further.
“I did not know that Third Wang fei was here. Such a huge offense of frightening Wang fei is my wrongdoing.” Nan Cheng Yao said hastily.
I still refused to lift my head or saying anything else, only putting on a show of shame and indignation.
“Wang fei, alright, hurry and let go of me. If you don’t lift your head, you’ll suffocate yourself,” Nan Cheng Yao laughed while coaxing me.
Still, I did not look up. My face buried in his embrace as I spoke with a gentle lilt filled with humiliation. In the stillness of the night, it was enough to reach the ears of anyone who needed to hear it: “I don’t want to, this is all Your Highness’ fault. After today, Qing’er won’t have the face to see anyone. Once Mother, Father, and Imperial Father find out, who knows how they’ll blame me.”
Nan Cheng Yao smiled faintly and said: “How can this be blamed be placed on me? The boudoir should favor such delights. I did not expect—likely, nobody would expect, that His Highness the Crown Prince would suddenly come and interrupted our pleasures of the boudoir. Even if Imperial Father and your mother and father find out, it would be hard to predict who they would blame.”
I continued to turn a deaf ear, hugging him with a death grip as my face buried itself in his embrace, refusing to let go.
Nan Cheng Yao laughed and coaxed me once more before smiling helplessly: “Fine, fine, count this as my loss. Even if the sky collapses tonight, ben-wang won’t leave and will hug you like this al night, alright?”
I remained silent, and Nan Cheng Yao smiled as he said to Nan Cheng Mian: “Elder Brother, you’ve seen it too, I really can’t get out of this. Even if it’s an earth shattering matter, it can only wait until tomorrow.”
The situation had unfolded in ways that Nan Cheng Mian did not expect. Moreover, given the awkwardness of the circumstances and how my station was not one that he could ignore, he did not know how to respond in that moment. Therefore, because of what Nan Cheng Yao just said, no matter how unwilling he was, he could only nod and apologize once more before taking leave from Qing Tian Hall.
Translator’s Note: Murong Qing is finally a sav and I’m living for it. Also, updates are going to be on Sundays moving forward. Sorry that I’ve been so inconsistent! I’m about to get super busy so I don’t want to make any false promises and underdeliver.