Chapter 3 – A So-Called Disastrous Outcome
Xiao Han felt as if he had been dreaming for a very long time. When he woke up, he struggled a little to tell dream from reality.
The hangings overhead were bright yellow and embroidered with gold dragons. He stared at the drapery for a long time before suddenly sitting up and looking around. His eyes swept over celadon incense altars, gold lacquer screens, a pair of embroidered golden dragon boots on the foot-rest by the bed, and a latticework heater with curling smoke a few steps away. All of them looked vintage and luxurious; all of them were exquisite and crafted with finesse.
It seemed that someone had been alarmed by the sound of him getting up. Immediately, a young man stepped into the room, bowing, and stood still in front of the screen. In a soft, fawning voice, he asked, “Is Your Majesty awake? The Top Scholar has been waiting for a long time in the east warmroom.
This was Xianfu, the Chief Eunuch, who had served directly by the side of Emperor Qing ever since he was a child. Emperor Qing had an unfathomable mind and a volatile temper. What little Xianfu could understand of the ruler’s mind was enough to make him the confidant amongst confidants. Right now, as Emperor Qing sat on his imperial bed in silence, Xianfu sighed in his heart. He had a feeling that the Top Scholar’s ‘nightly blessings’ from the emperor were probably coming to an end. Everyone knew that the emperor was very cold-hearted, and most capricious with his affections. Xianfu could not help but pity the Top Scholar for the deep affections he felt towards the emperor; those feelings were bound to go to waste. Even now, he was still waiting in hope for Emperor Qing’s summon in the east warmroom.
Xianfu quietly waited, still maintaining his bowed posture. Finally, after a long while, some sounds came from the imperial bed behind the rosewood screen.
“Let him wait,” Emperor Qing said very slowly. His voice sounded huskier and lower than ever. He seemed to be even more indifferent than usual, and Xianfu even thought he detected a trace of anger in the ruler’s voice.
The Chief Eunuch’s heart fell and his face tightened up. It did not matter that His Majesty was angry; what was fatal was not knowing why he was angry!
“Pour… us a cup of water.”
Uncertainty filled Xianfu’s heart. As soon as he heard the command, he quickly poured out a cup and brought it respectfully to the emperor. Although Emperor Qing’s order did not sound very smooth and had an obvious pause before referring to himself, Xianfu did not think much about it due to his awe for the ruler’s authority.
Emperor Qing did not like his attendants to be too close to him. Hence, after passing him the tea, Xianfu respectfully retreated behind the screen.
At this time in winter, the tea was slightly hot but not scalding. The tea leaves were the lotus needle leaves given as tribute by a small Southwestern country. The tea was very fragrant. Emperor Qing took a mouthful, but no matter how warm the tea fragrance was, it could not melt the chill off his face.
Emperor Qing took his time drinking the tea. Finding the emperor harder and harder to understand, Xianfu could not help but raise his eyes a little to glance secretly at him. With this single glance, he suddenly met the dark eyes of the emperor. Xianfu’s heart jolted, his knees weakened, and he almost knelt down.
“Xianfu.” The Emperor put the teacup aside. The tea soon became cold, much like his tone as he said, “Let him come in and serve us.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.” Xianfu withdrew, still keeping his head bowed. Only after he had closed the door and taken a few steps did he heave a sigh of relief. Wiping the cold sweat off his forehead, he trotted his way to the east warmroom.
Perhaps because he had been looking forward to it for a long time, the Top Scholar’s pace was very light and quick. Even his footsteps on the snow sounded pleasant.
As he approached the Evergreen Palace where the Emperor Qing lived, the Top Scholar quietly tugged at Xianfu’s sleeve. Cautiously, he whispered, “Eunuch Xian, may I know how is His Majesty’s mood tonight?”
Immediately, Xianfu felt somewhat troubled. He answered in a helpless tone, “Your Honour, His Majesty has never liked having others speculate about him carelessly. You’re putting me in a spot, and I’m unable to answer this question. Your Honour, you are at the peak of His Majesty’s favour, so you don’t have to worry too much. But… still, please be careful.”
After being momentarily stunned, the Top Scholar thanked the eunuch for his advice.
Not many lamps were lit in the Evergreen Palace tonight, so it seemed a little dim. It was unclear whether this a special order given by Emperor Qing.
The heater in the resting hall was burning vigorously. Some cold air blew in when the door was opened, but was soon dissipated by the heat. The Top Scholar removed his heavy fur cloak and revealed his purple and blue official robe, exposing his very thin body.
He bowed his head as he walked up to the screen before the imperial bed. Kneeling down, he saluted and paid his respects to the emperor. Though he was shy, his etiquette was impeccable, giving off a scholarly air.
Emperor Qing reclined on his bed, resting with his eyes closed. Ever since the other man had entered, the emperor had not paid any attention to him. Only now did he open his eyes and glance at the person kneeling before the bed.
“Raise your head.” His voice was light, but very dignified.
When the man raised his head, he could not help glancing at the imperial bed. A light gauze hung around the bed, but he could still vaguely see the appearance of the emperor. He had a broad forehead and a straight nose. His eyebrows were neat and his lips were thin. His side profile was cold and frosty, just like it had been that day during the royal progress, when he received the worship of his people, sitting in that majestic dragon carriage, noble and dignified.
The Top Scholar had also been in the crowd at the time, and managed to catch a single glance Emperor Qing from afar. The image had haunted him ever since; it became his obsession, as if he were possessed.
The dim light of the heater reflected upon him, making his face glow faintly red.
The moment Emperor Qing got a clear look at the other man’s face, the pupils of his eyes suddenly shrank — the Top Scholar clearly had the face of Zhuo Fan! Although his temperament seemed different from before, his appearance could be recognised with a glance.
Emperor Qing was the ruler of Qing Dynasty. His surname was Xiao, and the previous emperor gave his eldest son the name of Han. This was Emperor Qing’s actual name, Xiao Han.
As for the Top Scholar kneeling by his bed, he was none other than that person whom Emperor Qing had chosen with a single glance during the palace examination, the top candidate on the rankings, Zhuo Fan.
Zhuo Fan was very handsome, and he had a gentle elegance about him. Emperor Qing had always had a taste for men. Having gotten used to the fawning, chattering girls in the imperial harem, Emperor Qing immediately found Zhuo Fan’s scholarly air and the careful adoration hidden in his eyes very refreshing.
Like a habitual gourmet who wanted some occasional wild game for a change of palate, Emperor Qing effortlessly took the newly-named Top Scholar to bed and favoured him night after night. On the other hand, the latter’s adoration deepened even further as a result of the emperor’s ample skills. Day after day, he immersed himself in the sweet dream of being in love with his sweetheart, completely forgetting how fickle and heartless the real Emperor Qing could be in matters of romance.
Little did he imagine, every person in the Inner Palace ever spoiled by Emperor Qing had once shared the same delusion: they all thought that they were the most special one, entirely different from others; they all naively thought that Emperor Qing would transform himself for their sake, from a philandering emperor to a devoted lover.
Is there anything worse than that?
You think you’re a dreamy girl just because you have long hair? What’s wrong with all these loonies with Princess Syndrome? Too many of them running around these days!
Xiao Han’s face was as gloomy as an Arctic glacier at night. He once thought that violating the script’s arrangement would lead to death at most, but he did not realize that there was something more terrible than death — getting no relief even after death!
Despite the change in his identity and the plot, the damn scum / trash trope was always in front of him, waiting for him to step in.
Does this mean that I will be entangled with this guy forever if I refuse to succumb to the script?! At the thought, Xiao Han’s darkened face gradually turned pale.
“Your Majesty?” Zhuo Fan was still kneeling. Noticing the strange way in which EMperor Qing was looking at him behind the curtain veil, he felt a little uneasy in his heart. Eunuch Xian’s reminder from just now, asking him to serve with caution, must have arisen from the knowledge that His Majesty was in a bad mood.
“… You, get up.” Emperor Qing’s voice was icy, so cold and flat that it did not fluctuate at all.
Zhuo Fan, as if already accustomed to it, got up slowly. The favour he had received these days made him a little more daring. Even on the occasions when he overstepped his boundaries a little, Emperor Qing had been rather indulgent. Hence, the order sounded more like some kind of hint to him from the emperor. Zhuo Fan took a step towards the bed and leaned forward a little. Seeing that Emperor Qing was indifferent to his actions, he felt encouraged and immediately walked up to the bed with caution and pulled apart the thin, gauzy veil.
Emperor Qing was still meticulously dressed in a dark golden robe and a coat. Now, he sat leaning against the head of the bed, looking up at Zhuo Fan with a razor-sharp gaze.
Unconsciously, Zhuo Fan looked away. Bowing his head, he said, “Your Majesty, please allow your humble subject the honour of undressing Your Majesty.”
The emperor still did not say anything, neither opposing nor refusing the request. To Zhuo Fan, this amounted to silent consent.
Mustering his courage, Zhuo Fan climbed onto the bed and pressed his hands to the emperor’s chest. Just as he was about to undo the emperor’s collar, his wrists were held down. Looking up, he saw that Emperor Qing had closed his eyes and was no longer looking at him. “Take off your own,” he ordered before quickly letting go of Zhuo Fan’s hands.
Despite being momentarily puzzled, Zhuo Fan nodded a little and slowly unfastened the buttons on his official robe. He did not pause even when he was stripped down to his undergarments. Blushing, he removed his last piece of clothing and knelt beside the emperor, stark naked.
Although he had been receiving the emperor’s favours night after night, Zhuo Fan was still easily embarrassed. Emperor Qing had always been the one to make the first move when it came to fondling and petting. Now that the emperor was showing no intention of taking the initiative, Zhuo Fan became a little flustered. He did not even know where to put his hands.
After a long standstill, Xiao Han remained unresponsive. Zhuo Fan had no choice. He gritted his teeth, mustered his determination, and leaned over to kiss the emperor on his lips.
Unexpectedly, Xiao Han frowned and turned his face away without realising it. The kiss fell on his cheek instead. Looking back, he saw Zhuo Fang kneeling innocently with a hurt expression. Instead of trying to kiss him again, Zhuo Fan moved his head lower and pecked gently at the emperor’s chest through his robes.
Thinking about the lousy script, Xiao Han felt no sense of pleasure in his heart. However, he also knew that tonight’s encounter could not be avoided, unless he wanted to change the plot again. But he had already learnt the disastrous outcome of such a decision; there could be nothing more painful than what was happening right now in front of him!
— At least, let’s follow the plot for a while before I figure out how to deal with the script.
Although he had no love for Zhuo Fan in his heart, Xiao Han’s body still stirred under the other man’s service. He decided to close his eyes and shut out the face under him. A moment later, he felt his robes being lifted. Then, his underpants came undone and his straining rod sprang from the confines of his clothing.
Blushing a deep crimson, Zhuo Fan held the shaft carefully with both hands. He stole a glance at Emperor Qing before lowering his head taking the length into his mouth. Seeing that the other man’s eyes were still closed, he was filled with a sense of loss as well as relief.
Xiao Han kept up his expressionless face. Only when he was about to spend himself in Zhuo Fan’s mouth did his breathing become heavier. He frowned and opened his eyes. Zhuo Fan, caught unawares just about to lower himself onto the swollen rod, was shocked.
Xiao Han’s line of vision fell straight on the other man’s exposed, slightly straining member. His frown deepened. He really did not want to see this. Grabbing the other man by the arm, Xiao Han flung him farther into the bed and made him lie face-down on the snow-white bedding.
“Your Majesty?” Zhuo Fan moved uneasily. Although there was a heater in the hall, his state of undress still left his hands and feet freezing in the winter cold.
Pressing down on Zhuo Fan’s waist, Xiao Han said in a cold voice, “Stop moving. Don’t turn around.”
Zhuo Fan became even more uneasy, but he still lay down obediently, enduring the emperor’s intruding fingers while they lubed up his walls and spread him out.
Xiao Han was agitated and had no mood for flirtation or foreplay. He grabbed Zhuo Fan’s waist and thrust in immediately. The hot tightness squeezed around him, and heated pleasure seared through his body. Uncontrollably, he thrust himself even deeper and began pounding at the tender flesh with all his strength.
“Mn… Your Majesty… Ah… ” Zhuo Fan’s body rocked in time to Xiao Han’’s movements, his intermittent moans lost on the waves of sinful desire. He wanted to look back at the face of Emperor Qing, but his body was firmly pinned down; he could only hear the heavy and indifferent breathing of the man atop his body.
In contrast to Zhuo Fan’s nakedness, Xiao Han was neatly clothed apart from his slightly lowered underpants. The sheets were quickly mussed beyond recognition from Zhuo Fan’s desperate clawing. The confines of the canopied imperial bed were soon filled with the sounds of a man’s wanton cries and the wet squelch of flesh against flesh.
Yet, the hotter his body was, the colder his heart became, as if someone else was watching their absurd affair through apathetic eyes…
In the final moment, a loud “ahh” tore from Zhuo Fan’s throat. His eyes glazed over as uncontrollable shudders ripped through his thighs again and again. Xiao Han collapsed onto the fair back under him, his breath laboured. After a long time, Xiao Han straightened slowly and slid himself out of the warm, wet sheath of Zhuo Fan’s body.
Dark eyes watched as milky fluids dripped onto the sheets from the crevice between Zhuo Fan’s thighs. Xiao Han showed no inclination to touch Zhuo Fan again, and his expression was indifferent to the extreme.
Feeling rather uncomfortable from the sticky wetness on his body, Xiao Han frowned and cleaned himself up. After that, he got out of bed without so much as a sideways glance at the man who was about to burst into tears on the bed. Apart from Zhuo Fan’s restless breathing, there was only the sound of his cold footsteps in the hall, making the space seem particularly empty and silent.
— Since the script wanted him to be a scum top, he would be a scumbag till the very end!