Chapter 119: Drugged
Chapter 119: Drugged
The jade cup was finely made. A celestial crane was carved onto its round body with the crane’s beak forming the vessel’s rim.
The liquid inside was a most beautiful emerald in color.
Chen Rong had never seen such an extraordinary and precious item. She received it, gave a gentle shake, and smilingly said, “I am tempted to try.”
She brought it to her lips and took a sip.
It was bitter at first before a cool sensation took over. “It’s pretty good,” she smiled and took another sip.
Seeing that she liked the drink, the servant girl gave a curtsy and slowly retreated from the room.
She went downstairs to Ah Zhi and covered her smile to say: “She drank it.”
Ah Zhi nodded. “She was following Shi Min around without any prior betrothal. Who knows if she has been passed around as men’s concubine or not. If I really think about it, our Qilang is getting shortchanged.” The words ‘Shi Min’ were carelessly mentioned with a deep despisal, both in the surname she referred to and in the tone she used.
The younger maid nodded in agreement. At the time she brought Chen Rong an aphrodisiac drink only a brothel would have, both she and Ah Zhi had had a look of disapproval. It was as if touching Ran Min’s person without his consent was an inconsequential matter… The fact is that such things were indeed inconsequential in Jiankang. The literati had always perceived beauty in abandonment. If a friend touched their concubines without so much as a declaration, they would merely smile and, if they were broad-minded, might even gift dowry and wine for the occasion. These maidservants had spent many years with the Wang family in Lang’ya. For them, it was a favor their master was bestowing upon someone if he was willing to touch his concubine.
Of course, there had also been those who did not have a grasp on the situation. Shi Chong, who was infatuated with Lu Zhu, did not give in to other men’s requests. Instead, he refused them with stern words. His refusal was no doubt a slap across those men’s faces. For that reason, in the end, the richest man of the Jin court was robbed of his wealth and killed. His beloved concubine Lu Zhu had jumped to her death.
After talking for a while, the younger maidservant retired and walked towards Chen Rong’s loft. The older one named Ah Zhi held a tray to Wang Hong’s courtyard.
She soon arrived. Listening to the leisurely music wafting from inside, she asked a guard, “Is his lordship well?”
“He is with Huan Jiulang.”
Ah Zhi stepped forward, bowed with the wooden tray held high and respectfully announced, “This is the Five Stone Powder brought from Jiankang, would our guest like to try some?”
The guard nodded, retreated, and gestured his hand. “Go in.”
In the bamboo house, the white-robed Wang Hong was playing his zither. Nearby, Huan Jiulang lay on the divan as he looked ahead in a trance.
Ah Zhi went to them. She put the tray down to curtsy, and then took a step back and softly said, “M’lord, Jiulang, in the face of the enemy, and when life and death is but a blink of an eye away, why not have a taste of the gods’ blissful emptiness?”
Huan Jiulang turned around.
He glanced at her, then at the Five Stone Powder on the table and said, “You’re exactly right.” And then he helped himself to some.
Wang Hong was still playing the zither.
Ah Zhi slowly retreated to the courtyard, casting a glance inside the room from time to time as she went.
Within a short while, the music stopped.
“His Lordship has taken the powder,” Ah Zhi whispered. “Serve him wine.”
Two maids went in with a wine bottle. Soon after, a series of rustling and kisses were heard.
Amid these sounds, footsteps padded towards the door.
It was Wang Hong who came out, turning to close the door as soon as he was outside. His face was glowing. Ah Zhi hurried to him to help loosen his belt.
In his disheveled state, Wang Hong strode ahead.
“My lord, will you take a bath?” Ah Zhi asked from behind.
His body temperature had risen after taking the Five Stone Powder. A cold bath would feel quite nice.
Wang Hong nodded. “That’s not a bad idea.” His voice was hoarse, his eyes brighter than usual.
With Ah Zhi’s help, he took a cold bath and changed into loose clothes. Afterwards, he slowly walked to the stairs and leaned on the bamboo railing to look at the sky in a trance.
The sky was dark and had a scant few stars along with a moon.
“My lord, would you like to take a walk?”
Wang Hong nodded and slowly went downstairs.
This time, Ah Zhi led in front.
After making a round outside, she brought Wang Hong to the bamboo loft where she curtsied and smilingly said, “M’lord, the moon is best viewed from upstairs.”
The Five Stone Powder had made Wang Hong slightly languid. Ah Zhi’s suggestion was also sensible. From the loft, one could see the entire courtyard. The scenery was sure to be enchanting on this moonlit night. Ah Zhi was his long time maid; she knew his preferences best and her words and deeds were always to his liking.
Wang Hong nodded and began to ascend the loft.
He pushed the door at a squeak.
When the bamboo door opened to let the night wind in, almost suddenly, Wang Hong was rendered dumbstruck.
Behind the fluttering curtains, a freshly-bathed girl was standing barefoot by the tub. Drops of water rolled from her temples down to her neck.
When she heard the door open, she titled her head and looked at Wang Hong in surprise. She was dressed only in a thin and loose yellow robe. Her loosened belt left her dress half open. Her exquisite face was blushing a red hue while her rosy mouth was forming a pout.
Wang Hong’s gaze roamed to her porcelain skin where a string of crystal droplets was slowly sliding down her neck, over her collarbone, and in between that deep valley…
He stared blankly and swallowed.
The girl was Chen Rong.
She hadn’t expected to see Wang Hong. Her mind was muddled and she did not notice that she was in a semi state of undress.
The young maid stood in the corner and smiled to see this scene. She quietly followed the wall to leave. But even had she blatantly gone away, those two would not notice her presence.
She passed Wang Hong and left the loft.
She looked back from the staircase at a stunned Wang Hong, unable to help herself from smiling in thought: I hadn’t felt it before, but this girl seems to indeed be a stunning creature. It only took one bath and a change of clothes that suited her skin color, for her entire appearance to change. She’s turned into a wily fox, this one. Her looks are quite something. Even the famed Consort Rong in Jiankang would be second to her. No wonder men like this girl.
Wang Hong took a step inside at this time.
When she saw him go in, the maidservant stepped forward and closed the door.
Seeing Wang Hong come in, Chen Rong was made abashed by his gaze and thus retreated backward. “Qilang, how did you come in here?” she softly protested.
It was clearly a protest, yet it sounded like coquetry. She was merely mumbling, yet her voice was pliant and hoarse, and sounded as if she was murmuring sweet nothings.
Chen Rong was shocked by her own voice.
However, her chaotic mind could only manage to be a little startled; it simply could not think straight at this point. The manic heat within was also causing her to anticipate Wang Hong’s entrance with a ray of joy and unnamed desire.
Wang Hong’s eyes instantly darkened upon hearing her voice. Unconsciously, his face reddened while his breathing quickened.
He remained staring at her in a trance with each step he took.
Chen Rong took another step backward, leaning when her footing lost ground. She glanced at him grievously and bade, “Don’t move.”
She spoke with a soft cottony voice. Her lips felt a little dry, so she gave them a lick.
When her tongue flickered across her plump lips, Wang Hong unconsciously swallowed.
He looked at her and softly called, “Ah Rong.”
His voice was a little lodged, a little thick, and not clear and cool as usual.
She tilted her head to slightly squint up at him as she pursed her red lips to reply: “Hmm.”
Her “Hmm” sounded like a midnight moan rather than speech – a guttural desire deep down inside.
Wang Hong’s throat undulated. He cropped up a bitter smile. “Why are you here?” he quietly asked.
Chen Rong was still tilting her head sideways. With dazed eyes and a flushed face, she replied, “Didn’t you want me to come back?”
Her bewitching voice was a magic song that could lure souls.
Wang Hong’s hands unconsciously gripped onto the table. He lowered his eyes.
With his head bowed, a strand of semi-dry hair hung and concealed his left eye.
At this moment, Chen Rong suddenly called, “Qilang.” She spoke abruptly, but there was boundless affection in her voice.
Wang Hong was still looking down. He only managed to ask: “What is it?”
Chen Rong’s breath hitched as she murmured, “Don’t come over, you can’t come over…”