Chapter 143: Wang Hong Makes a Timely Appearance
As soon as Chen Rong spoke, she perceived a change in the way people looked at her. They appeared exasperated, as if they were displeased that she did not know how to be accommodating.
Behind them, the prince named Sima Jing at this time peculiarly raised his voice, “Since the priestess is going into meditation to honor the Divine Founders, these worldly affairs perhaps do not concern her anymore. Twelfth brother, Auntie’s sincerity has been delivered to the wrong place.”
He burst into laughter after having said this.
Sima Yan’s men looked none too pleased.
Nevertheless, Sima Yan remained smiling. He good-naturedly said to Chen Rong, “How heartless you are, priestess. Now I cannot go home.”
Chen Rong bit her lips and thought to herself: If I keep refusing him, then it would not be very agreeable of me.
“Your Highness,” she made a bow, “I can’t possibly refuse your kindness.”
After accepting his invitation, Chen Rong turned to bow to Sima Jing and smiled: “I’ve been rude for not welcoming Your Highnesses sooner into my humble temple. Please come in.”
“After you, priestess.”
No sooner had Chen Rong welcomed them into the temple than another drumming music rose from the foothill.
It was the sixth group of visitors.
Chen Rong’s day was hence quite busy. In just a short amount of time, six aristocrats had come to her temple. She had intended to find out who was watching her every move and who did not want to leave her alone. But these people were now arriving separately, each not quite friendly with the next. How was Chen Rong to differentiate friends from foes?
This translation belongs to hamster428.
Sunset in Xishan.
The birds circled in the air as human voices gradually diminished.
Staring after the last departing carriages, Nurse Ping came to stand behind Chen Rong and quietly remarked, “What a crazy day, miss.”
It was indeed a crazy day.
While Chen Rong wryly smiled, her nurse worriedly asked, “Will you really go to Prince Ying’s estate tomorrow?”
Prince Ying was Sima Yan, who had come on behalf of his mother to invite her.
Chen Rong nodded with a frown. “I would have to.” She suddenly turned around. “Nurse, do you think I should ask His Majesty to let me practice in my own home?”
While Nurse Ping was still searching for an answer, Chen Rong shook her head and muttered to herself, “No, even at home I cannot refuse these people if they want to cause me trouble.”
She looked up at the sky ahead. As she was absently staring, a singing voice rang to them from the west side of the mountain: “Art thou rich or poor? Art thou wrong or right? No one flees from death, whether king or knight. The mulberry fields will soon be blue seas. What the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency.”
This weeping voice drifted to her from a faraway place among the blowing wind and calls of birds. Against the Xishan sunset, it cast a biting desolation across the land.
Chen Rong listened to it and quietly repeated: “What the Wangs and Xies have is but clemency?” She whirled back to look at her nurse with an emptiness in her eyes before breaking into laughter. “Are they saying that the peaceful life I want has always been out of reach?”
The singing voice had by this time drifted off into the distance.
Chen Rong looked its way and remarked with a frown, “What a strange song. I haven’t heard this kind of irregular verses before.”
She had, but it was uttered from her very own mouth and only mirrored by Wang Hong once. She did not expect to hear it in a place like Jiankang and at a time like this.
While Chen Rong was lost in her thoughts, her nurse stared at her wanting to answer but not knowing where to start.
A day went by.
The servants from Prince Ying’s home showed up outside the temple early next morning.
Chen Rong took five servants with her and mounted the horse carriage.
A thick tiger pelt lay on the spacious floor. She sat down on it and then looked left and right to see an incense burner. The faint pleasant scent prompted her to ask: “What is this scent?”
Behind her, the two maids glanced at each other before one of them raised her sleeve over her smile to answer. “Oh this? It’s called dark incense.”
Chen Rong did not know her fragrances, so she nodded and paid no more attention.
The carriage entered the city.
Jiankang was just as busy as when she last saw it. Whenever fashionable aristocrats galloped by, they would leave a whiff of perfume behind.
Chen Rong quietly viewed the scenery through the screen and was lost in her own reverie. She may have sat too still, for she gradually felt lightheaded and had to lift the curtain for relief.
Before she knew it, a voice had called to her, “We’re here. Please come down, priestess.”
The carriage curtain was lifted, at which time the pair of maids approached to help her down.
They were already inside the estate. Rows upon rows of houses lined among a lush landscape complete with rockeries and draping willows.
Chen Rong looked around and thought: What a grand estate. We can spend a whole day looking for the gate if no one was here to lead the way.
Seeing her looking around as soon as she dismounted, a maid in her thirties approached and politely smiled to her. “Priestess, this way.”
They slowly walked north on a gravel path.
The farther they went, the more sumptuous the landscape became. Chen Rong asked as she was looking around: “How should I address the elder madam?”
The maid had been observing her closely. When she heard her question, she smiled in reply. “You may not know yet that the one you’re meeting today is our prince’s birth mother. You can simply call her the Lady Dowager.”
The prince’s birth mother? Chen Rong inwardly thought, It seems she is a lowborn lady without a title.
At the end of the gravel path was a large lake, above which a turning corridor bridged across to a splendid loft on the other side.
“Priestess, this way.”
Chen Rong nodded and stepped inside.
The loft was made of wood and surrounded by hollow carvings, fluttering curtains, and a faint fragrance.
Everything about this place was too opulent. It didn’t look like the kind of place a religious and elderly woman would want to live in.
At this thought, Chen Rong smiled and asked, “Where is the Lady Dowager’s room?”
“About 30 paces ahead.”
Chen Rong acknowledged this answer and looked around again.
The maid glanced at her to see that her guest was uneasy, but she simply smiled without any further explanation, and sped up.
Once they passed the winding hallway, an exquisite mansion appeared before Chen Rong’s eyes.
“Priestess, this way.”
Chen Rong did not go.
She suddenly realized why she kept feeling that something was amiss. The Lady Dowager’s quarters were oddly void of sounds and servants. The wafting scent was also too strong to be favored by an elderly woman.
She should have realized this much sooner. Unfortunately, she had not lived in so large a mansion in neither of her lives. When she used to be Ran Min’s wife, he did not like extravagance and thus did not keep many maids and nannies around. Those who came and went were mostly guards or male servants.
More importantly, she kept feeling a little lightheaded today and her responses were slower than usual.
After Chen Rong stopped walking, she smiled and casually asked, “Does not the Lady Dowager have servants? Why is it so quiet here?”
No one answered her questions.
Chen Rong whipped around.
The servants were bowing their heads in slow retreat, closing the doors as they went.
While a change came over Chen Rong’s expression, a laughter came to her from the east corner: “You’re a clever one, pretty girl.”
In the midst of this laughter, a formally dressed man emerged from behind the curtains.
He was about 26 or 27 years old, with an elegant countenance and an aquiline nose. His looks were very similar to Sima Yan, Sima Jing, and His Majesty.
Chen Rong involuntarily retreated at the sight of this man. She watched him while waiting to be called.
However, he withdrew his gaze soon after a glance. She saw him stride to the east side of the hall where he eventually stopped as the maids prepared his seat and lit the incense burner.
While Chen Rong was trying to predict his action, the man sat down and clapped his hands.
The quiet room instantly transformed. A dozen graceful figures quietly waltzed in from behind the curtains. At the same time, reed music grew louder and louder.
The fragrance in the hall was also deepening.
Chen Rong frowned at the sight of them.
Each of these women was as beautiful as a spring blossom, their eyes the lake of autumn, their figures seduction itself. Most importantly, they were all scantily clad in a thin layer of fabric behind which their voluptuous breasts were poorly concealed.
Chen Rong hurriedly turned around.
She only now realized that Nurse Ping and the others were gone, and the servants who brought her here had also vanished. She was surrounded by closed doors and windows, and a fragrance that was growing more and more intense.
Her expression turned chilly.
She said nothing and strode to the door.
“You may be chaste, pretty one, but can you fight against dark incense?” the man laughed. “Perhaps this fragrance isn’t very effective. You’ve smelled it for so long yet you still have so much energy… Tsk tsk, what a fearless heroine.”
Chen Rong rushed to the door, barely pulling it when four expressionless maidservants appeared behind her.
The man clapped and said, “Don’t be afraid… why would you want to leave this paradise, Priestess Hong Yunzi?” By the time he got to her name, he had gritted his teeth to spit each syllable out.
Chen Rong used all her strength to pull on the door.
But she could not. No matter how much she tried, the door did not move. It was as unshakable as Mount Taishan.
Unknowingly, two drops of cold sweat formed on Chen Rong’s nape.
A series of footsteps closed in behind her before an icy hand stroked her neck. “You have beautiful skin, priestess.”
The man breathed onto her, his fingers slipping into her dress as he hissed, “So fragrant and silky. But are you still a virgin, I wonder?”
By the time he said this, the fragrance in the hall had gotten so thick that she could not breathe. The women’s scent and the dark perfume on their clothes were infiltrating into her nose.
Chen Rong’s hands weakened while she was pulling on the heavy door. She could feel her own strength going, her own body becoming feverish.
The man could barely contain his excitement. He slowly reached from behind to touch her cheek. While feeling the softness of her skin, he gasped and said in an excited yet cruel voice: “Wang Hong.” When he spat out this name, Chen Rong’s chaotic brain instantly cleared.
Behind her, the man was still hoarsely continuing: “The apple of his eye is indeed delectable. I can’t wait to find out how it would feel to have you, Priestess ‘Hong Yunzi’, strip down and crawl between my legs.”
He was getting roused, his ragged breathing becoming rapid. “I’ve trained innumerable girls but it’s my first time meeting someone like you… Would Wang Hong go mad or lose his mind, I wonder, if he saw the sweetheart he cannot have kneeling between my legs and pleasing me?”
This time, the beauty coldly replied, “You’re wrong, Your Highness. He will neither go mad nor will he lose his mind.”
Along with her voice came a severe pain at his throat.
It was a cold hairpin.
The man was stunned. He did not expect the weakened girl to fight back. Had she, like him, used this drug-laced incense over the years?
What he should have known was that the effects of all aphrodisiacs varied from person to person. Those who were strong willed were also the ones with the strongest resistance.
Chen Rong was icily staring at him, the hairpin in her hand pushing against his throat and drawing blood to its tip.
Her pin was different from ordinary ones in that it was exceptionally sharp and long. Anyone who saw it would have no doubt that the ornament in Chen Rong’s hand was a deadly weapon.
It forced the man backward, but despite his paling face, he still uttered a threat: “You’ve got some gut, priestess. Don’t you know who I am?”
Chen Rong coldly smirked. As she was about to retort, a familiar voice called into the hall: “Lang’ya Wang Qi seeks audience with His Highness, the Prince of Jiankang.”
His voice sounded so suddenly that it took both Chen Rong and the man by surprise.
When he detected no sound inside, Wang Hong’s silky voice unhurriedly spoke again: “I beg your pardon, Your Highness. This woman of mine is rather spirited… Please let her out.”
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