Chapter 123 The Beauties from the Palace
It was obvious that the tall, elegant ink-black carriage embedded with jade and gold carried an esteemed guest.
The breeze swept the half-rolled pearl necklace, causing it the pearls to emit a crisp rustling sound. One could faintly see the man sitting on the soft couch covered in golden silk. Leaning on him was a woman with a slip of white silk covering her face.
Prince Yi lay on the jade couch on his side. His face was so delicate and gorgeous that it looked like it was carved out of jade. There was a small smirk on his lips, making him look even more bewitching. Yet no one dared to look straight at him.
His eyes were ice-cold. His jet-black pupils emanated a startlingly bloodthirsty air. In the spacious and empty courtyard, he appeared sly and frigid. No one dared to meet his eyes. His nefarious aura seemed capable of dragging a person down to the nine levels of hell.
Everyone's faces looked stiff. Prince Yi had always been a rebellious sort, known for his ruthless bloodthirstiness. He might be smiling now, but he could plunge you into purgatory in the next second. The several beautiful ladies kneeling on the ground were trembling with fear. They didn't even dare to raise their head.
On the contrary, the white-clothed woman leaning against him calmly reached for a grape on the table. She peeled off the skin of the grape with her slender fingers and brought it to Prince Yi's thin, beautiful lips. Her action demonstrated her calm. Now and then, she would turn around to reveal a lovely pair of eyes. Her gaze was so penetrating that she seemed capable of reading anyone's heart.
Ao Chenyi opened his mouth ever so subtly, biting the purple grape imported from the Western Region that Ning Xueyan fed him. His dark red lips glistened thanks to the juice from the grape, making him look even captivating.
He narrowed his eyes. Reflected in his beautiful, jet-black eyes was a demonic coldness, so cold that it stifled the air around them. He said, "Behead them."
"Prince, please spare our lives!" The two adorable-looking beauties who kneeled at the forefront immediately collapsed on the ground. Their jade-white faces were wet with tears. They raised their head, giving Ao Chenyi a pitiful, pleading look.
Most people wouldn't bear to behead such beautiful ladies, but none of the imperial bodyguards dared to say a word. Two guards came forward to drag the flirtatious-looking beauties away without mercy.
Suddenly, a court eunuch standing on the side recovered his senses, and hastily stepped forward. With flailing hands, he said, "H... Halt... Prince... These are gifts from... the Emperor... If you do this... the Emperor will..." His face was so pale that it looked almost lifeless. The ladies that he delivered here today were all gorgeous, and these two even more so.
Moreover, they were daughters of officials. If they were beheaded the minute they were sent to Prince Yi's Manor, the Emperor would surely behead him in retaliation.
"Just because the Emperor sent them here, does that mean they can offend my beloved?" Ao Chenyi looked at everyone in disdain. His beautiful eyes emanated an insidious and ruthless gaze.
Right on cue, Ning Xueyan played the role of a well-pampered concubine. She lowered her voice and said affectionately, "Prince, those two insulted me!" Ao Chenyi reached out and pulled her into his embrace.
"Prince... They didn't... It's just that these two beauties... got into a little argument with your... beloved concubine... I... I'll make them apologize now," the eunuch explained, stammering. He was as anxious as he was angry, but there was nothing he could do about it when he had no backing.
He had no idea how those two managed to offend Prince Yi's favorite concubine. He had told them in advance that Prince Yi had just wedded a concubine that he doted on dearly. Not only did he allow her to live in the Garden of Irises and Orchids, the courtyard closest to his, but he also assigned her multiple guards. Most days, she wouldn't even show up in front of others.
He had warned them not to offend her!
Yet in the short time where he stepped away, the two beauties ran into Prince Yi's beloved concubine and even got into a quarrel with her. He heard that those two were so agitated that they pushed her off the rock garden platform, nearly killing her. Fortunately, Prince Yi returned right then and saved her just in time.
Prince Yi was the one who took lives, never the other way around!
"Tell the Emperor that I thank him for his royal grace." Ao Chenyi looked at the eunuch. Noticing him shivering, a smirk gradually appeared on his peerlessly handsome face.
Even though the eunuch was afraid, he knew he must plead for the two beauties' lives. He pointed in the direction where the ladies were dragged away and said, "But..."
Suddenly, he heard two screeches coming from the distance. It was obvious that the ladies were screaming while struggling.
"I ought to be taking care of them since they came from the Emperor, and yet... they provoked someone they shouldn't." Ao Chenyi seemed to be commenting on the two screeches earlier. His voice carried peculiar darkness that made people feel like they were suffocating.
Did he truly behead the beauties that the Emperor sent without mercy?
Under the veil, Ning Xueyan subconsciously bit her lip. Looking like she was frightened, she trembled as she leaned into Ao Chenyi's embrace. No one saw that she was sneering.
Today, she came here to find a chance to start an argument with the two beauties. Those two ladies from the palace had always been the proud sort. Since it was the Emperor who sent them here, they became even haughtier. They were cruel, too. Just because of a few words of dispute, they worked together to push her off the rock garden platform.
Fortunately, Ao Chenyi had seen this coming. Had the victim been a woman without any backup whatsoever, she would really be dead. Sure enough, ladies hailing from the palace were ruthless.
"Prince, they... they..." Hearing the screeches coming from outside, the eunuch felt his legs weaken. He pointed outside, unable to even get his words out.
"They're about to be beheaded. Eunuch He, please relay to the Emperor that I'm very pleased with the playthings he sent over. What a pity that the playthings aren't that good and are quickly broken." Ao Chenyi flashed a bright smile. He looked like he was in a good mood.
The eunuch's face turned as white as a piece of paper upon hearing that the two beauties were about to be headed. He couldn't say anything in response.
The other beauties at the scene were so frightened that their teeth were clattering noisily, all of them wrestling feelings of regret. With two of them dying in the first meeting, just what kind of perilous road lie ahead of them? To them, Prince Yi and his bewitchingly good looks were equivalent to the blood-thirsty Asura from hell.
Who would still dare to seduce a man like him...?
Two guards entered through the moon gate, with one holding a tray dripping with blood. When they passed by one of the beauties, she subconsciously looked up and saw a seductive face stained with blood. Once, she was deeply envious of that face. Now, it brought her nothing but fear.
She screeched. With a turn of her head, she fainted.
Her screeching seemed infectious. One after another, all the beauties collapsed.
"Prince, please examine the outcome of the punishment!" The two tall guards ignored them and walked up to the carriage.
On the way back, the carriage entered through the main entrance. Before Ao Chenyi even exited the carriage, he saw Ning Xueyan being pushed off the rock garden platform. Thus, he remained inside.
"Look, Yan'er. I vented your anger for you," Ao Chenyi said breezily. The corner of his red lips curved to form an amused smirk. He reached out to grab Ning Xueyan's face and pulled her close, so that she was facing the frightened faces of the beauties before their death on the tray.
"Thank you, Prince!" Ning Xueyan replied cutely, in neither servile nor overbearing tone. Shocked as she was, she didn't let it show.
"Don't you find them pitiful, Yan'er?" Suddenly, Ao Chenyi frowned and turned his head to stare deep into Ning Xueyan's eyes. Under her long lashes, her beautiful and dark-as-ink pupils were laced with shock but not fear.
"Prince, the two beauties wanted to take my life earlier. If you were even a step later, the one lying here would be me. I don't think I should pity people who tried to harm me." Ning Xueyan glanced at the beauties' heads emotionlessly.
In her new life, she would never show mercy to those who harmed her.
River of Forgetfulness, red spider lilies, Old Lady Meng's soup, Asura's Hell—all these had preordained her ruthless character!
Likewise, the women sent here by the Emperor were destined to suffer such a fate. The competition for affection in the inner courtyard was like a battlefield without smoke. It was a dog-eat-dog world. The two beauties in the rock garden reached a tacit understanding to push her off the mountain after just an exchange of looks. It was obvious how cold-blooded they were. Moreover, they worked very well together.
There was no way an ordinary upbringing could produce such character.
"Prince, are these... the unparalleled beauties earlier?" the eunuch asked as he pointed to the beauties' heads on the tray, unable to accept the truth. He was nonetheless had stronger mental fortitude than the other women.
Never mind ordinary men, even a eunuch like him couldn't help feeling his heart face after seeing the two beauties. He refused to believe that Prince Yi would be affected, much less go so far as to behead them.
"Hearing you put it that way makes me think that they're, in fact, quite pretty. Let's do it this way then. I heard there's a medicine in the palace that can preserve the dead's looks. Why don't you find some?" Ao Chenyi said, looking amused. However, his cold eyes carried no joy whatsoever as his gaze landed on the eunuch.
"I... I'm not... These two offended you, I... I'll report this to the Emperor straightaway." The eunuch shivered under Ao Chenyi's intense gaze. Immediately recovering his senses, he hastily bade farewell and carried his shaking legs back to the place.
That was the tyrannical Prince Yi, after all. He knew that if he dared to nag the prince, he might not be able to see the sunrise tomorrow. He saw very clearly the killing intent glinting in the prince's eyes earlier.
Ao Chenyi straightened his body and got up from the couch. He adjusted his gorgeous but peculiar ink-black robe before stepping on the back of a eunuch on all fours under the carriage door. When his feet reached the ground, he supported Ning Xueyan with his hand and carried her off the carriage. After wrapping her in a long, wide black cloak, he clasped her under his arm and led her into his residence.
"Send them to the inner courtyard!" He shot the group of beauties sprawled on the ground an indifferent glance and smirked. It was such a beautiful smirk, and yet it carried no warmth.
"Yes," said a housekeeper, long on standby. He came over and dragged the beauties without care to the inner courtyard, one in each hand.
Prince Yi could be as unbridled as he wanted to be. The Emperor had declared him the heir presumptive and the title of Crown Prince would be his as long as he didn't plot a rebellion. Even so, was this situation alright...?
"Yan'er, are you scared to be bound to me?" Next to Ning Xueyan's ear was Ao Chenyi's bewitching, amused voice and hints of warmth. Yet what she felt was a trembling deep within her.