Wuxiaworld > EMPEROR AND I > 28 Clean My Mess




The imperial gardens were one of the finest; greens in every corner, birds flapping around in the air and a maze of flora littered all over. Every breath one took in the place ignited a sense of peace and amity with nature. However, this beauty was not significant to Le-anne, as this place had become a harbour in which she, General Feng and random allied spies regularly exchanged letters and information.

"Did you check on Ai and let her know that I might ask for her soon?" The princess indistinctly enquired as soon as she spotted General Feng. She then looked around again to make sure no one was eavesdropping from nearby.

"Your Highness," he replied before proceeding to roughly pull her to him and shove her against the tree.

His quick action caught her by surprise. "Excuse me!" Le-anne objected angrily, huffing for air. She struggled to get free, but he was far stronger than her and unmoved at her attempts. She felt a swell of indignance. It was unacceptable of him more than anyone else to treat her this rudely.

"Doesn't this feel familiar, my princess?" he mocked her, "Any deja vu moment?"

Le-anne's eyes bobbed open in surprise. She did not understand why he was acting so different towards her, considering that he knew that she was royalty and all.

"General Feng!" she rebuked him discordantly.

He gave a soft chuckle of disbelief. "What now? You don't remember?" He nudged her chin up with his free hand so she could meet his gaze. "Or what? Do you want me to woo you with exquisite words then attempt kissing you so that you can remember?"

His words only served to puzzle her. She had done nothing romantic or really anything to indicate that she carried feelings for him, so why was he being so emotional?

"Let me go right at this moment," she demanded sharply.

"Or what, princess? Or what? You will kick me too?"

This finally got her to cease her struggles and still for a minute.The only man she had kicked recently was… the Grand General. Did this mean he had seen them together that day? But that was long back... why would he react to old news now?

Le-anne's cheeks darkened with embarrassment at the prospect of someone having watched her and the Grand General. That man was part of her personal life and had nothing to do with their mission, so why talk about him?

She leaned away and said, "You reek of alcohol." She sized him up in disappointment, choosing to ignore the elephant in the room.

"Must I remind you that the main reason why you are here is for you to become empress and not his secret woman?" He was not going to drop the subject.

Le-anne looked at him angrily. She was already doing everything she could do to bring herself closer to that goal every day. How dare General Feng make false assumptions toward her when she was trying her hardest? And bringing up the topic about the Great General, what did he have anything to do with all of it? It's not like she had any desire to do anything with that man.

"Am I not working towards this?" Any moment from thence, her temper would break forth.

He laughed out loud and clutched his stomach as he drew away from her. "By what? By having forest meetings?"

Le-anne felt befuddled. A secret woman was one who met privately with her beloved, who was only known as her lover and not known by the world. If she was the emperor's secret woman then it meant they had rendezvous meetings like the ones she had with the Grand General previously, but this was not the case, so why did General Feng consider her as one aiming to be the emperor's secret woman? After the stunt she had pulled where she chose to be a servant over a concubine, her father's trust for her had waned by the day. This was what she wanted least of all for her mission. She had recently been trying to salvage some of that trust by doing her utmost to to make some progress toward becoming something to the emperor.

"General Feng―"

"Why did you do it?" He accused rawly, now using the Huticah tongue to address her

"Do what?" she asked with disconcert.

"Why did you poison Prince Kuan Hui?" He turned around to her and again impaled her against the tree.

She was getting irritant with the phases of mystery he seemed to be dancing on, on this particular day. "General Feng, what do you mean by this?"

"A palace maid admitted that she saw you in Prince Kuan Hui's kitchen. What were you doing there?" His hand encircled her neck, but shook a little and did not dare to tighten. Obviously he would not kill her.

She lifted her chin. "I did it because no one messes with me and gets away with it," she said, feeling foolish at having to explain this to him.

The look her gave her was one of sadness, perplexation and deep hurt. "What did he even do to you?" He shook his head as if he could loosen the emotion off of him. "He is such an earnest and kind person, so why do such a terrible thing?" Feng's voice was delicate, soft and raspy.

She rolled her eyes in annoyance. "General Feng, you must know me to be better than that by now. The person I poisoned was the emperor." She did not poison Prince Kuan Hui. Why would she waste time on the Princess Man when the emperor owed her sevenfold?

Le-anne hated the distrust that lay in the brown orbs staring down at her and felt inclined to explain.

"Did you not at any time wonder how the emperor got sick with an upset stomach out of the blue?" She searched his eyes, hoping that he would believe her. General Feng was the subject who mattered most when it came to her mission, and if she were to lose his respect, her success would be next to impossible.

"You were recently spotted in Prince Kuan Hui's kitchen and not at the dragon's kitchens, your highness!"

"I was there to steal the herbs that I was to put in the emperor's food. The herbs were not in the emperor's kitchens because he is allergic to them."

"But why did you go to Prince Kuan Hui's kitchens? Why not the imperial pharmacy?" He raised his voice in frustration.

"Because I have free access there," she shot back, "Prince Kuan Hui does not mind having Grand Consort Shu's maids around his quarters." They were now brawling wildly at each other.

General Feng looked at her critically, then sighed deeply. Exasperated with her, he turned around while holding his head.

"Your highness just does what she wants and I always have to cover for her. I had to kill the place maid that saw you to protect you. Then there's my clan, which has to slave away in Nevoria in order to protect Huticah too. Everything for others but not ourselves." He made a loud throaty sound of agitation. "My clan unfortunately serves your sorry father. It's not that we do not know better but that we have our own pride. We are too proud to become Nevorians."

Le-anne stared at him. It troubled her that she did not know whether this was the true General Feng speaking or if it was confusion, alcohol and emotion overwhelming his senses.

"We did not have to kill the previous emperor of Nevoria, you know that? I know your royal grandfather was angry about Nevoria refusing to be an ally, but couldn't he have had patience and sent more envoys to negotiate a little further?"

His pain was something she was familiar with. Le-anne wanted to step forward and tell him she understood. She understood what it meant to have your life as a tool for someone's own means and ambitions. Her and him were the same people and going through the same injustice at the end of the day.

Just as she was about to voice these thoughts, she sniffed the air, and picking up on something, suddenly tensed.

Her ears perked up, and quickly, she pounced into the nearby bushes. She could feel General Feng behind her, probably shocked. It took some shaking and a little bit of scuffling before she pulled out two surprised looking eunuchs.

She glared at them each. "Mutts!" she spat venomously before reaching back toward General Feng and pulling out his sharp sword from the case.

"Ah… ah…" The two terrified eunuchs shook on the ground helplessly, shrinking away from her. Le-anne felt a shred of pity for them, but it couldn't be helped. Just how much had they heard? And how much did they know now?

She knew what she had to do.

'They must die,' she declared in her mind. But when she cast her eye towards General Feng, he silently begged her to let them go.

'It is his job, anyway,' she realized this with a pang of lamentation. It was his job to walk after her and clean her mess.