Wuxiaworld > EMPEROR AND I > 49 Pot-stone




"Your Majesty, Consort Wang has sent a palace maid to confirm on whether she may come and seek your audience on this night." Eunuch Nam bowed by the emperor, his wide green sleeves draping over. The lounging chamber was inky dark, with huge candles around the room to offer light but the eunuch's garment somewhat looked dark green than the actual color.

Emperor Huizhong picked some of the marble stones in one of the small pots and started distributing them quietly. He lay on a large cream cushioned zabuton encrusted with woven gold, legs sprawled and head resting on his left hand while the other hand played 'pot-stone' game. This was a game he liked to play with Li Jun and Li Jie, who sat before him.

"Your Majesty?" Eunuch Nam probed gently though weary about the dragons' unpredictable foul mood.

"What does it say in the Harem Book of Law, Eunuch Nam?"

Eunuch Nam fidgeted a little. "None of the harem women shall appear before his majesty unless summoned."

"Then what makes Consort Wang the exception?"

"Your majesty she is the mother of—"

"You are excused." Huizhong flatly dismissed.

To this, Li Jun and Li Jie gave each other a questioning stare before picking their own set of stones.

"His Majesty is being inconsiderate about this servant's feelings." Li Jie started as soon as Eunuch Nam left. "How shall I see the one who has captured my heart if you will not grant Consort Wang audience?"

"Li Jie!" Li Jun creased up.

Shen Hong smiled. "I have told Li Jun to forget about Consort Wang's court lady, it will never happen."

"His Majesty owns thousands of women, and this servant only asks for one." Li Jie whined.

"Win this game and zhen[1] may consider it." The emperor grinned.

"Your Majesty!" Li Jie cried. "This servant always loses in this game."

"Yeh, your Majesty, but why play this game all the time?" Li Jun backed Li Jie.

Shen Hong picked more stones, already left with a few which would have him win. "Because…" He started counting in his head as he redistributed more stones. "Someone I like loves this game and she always won over me. Next time we meet, I would like to win instead."

Both Li Jun and Li Jie started mewling over their impending loss.

"No Your Majesty! You may not win again!" Li Jun protested, his hands howling in the air in objection.

Unhappy with it too, Li Jie discarded all the stones, destroying the game. "Game over Li Jun!"

"Li Jie!" Shen Hong growled and reached over so as to smack him to which Li Jie quickly avoided as he cackled.

It took them a little while to again settle down, and during that time the palace maids entered in to clean up the items of the game.

At the instruction of Court Lady Nam, they also presented some wine for the three.

This was good to watch for everyone. It was not everyday that the emperor relaxed like this and did nothing much.

As warm wine was to be served, the Year of the Dragon wine set was used by the Dragon Kitchen. The cups' design of the body consisted of two parts, the inner pot that contained the wine and also an outer sheath which acted as the warmer. For ostentatiousness, the wine jug had a drip-free spout and brass handles, while the completing tray simply had a clean design of rice-grain patterns.

"May we drink until we drop?" The emperor held up his cup of wine.

"May we drink until we drop!" The twins repeated, then respectfully they turned from the emperor and shielded their faces with their arms to drink unseen. A person could not drink so openly before their liege.

Li Jun placed down his empty cup. "Your Majesty, which woman has your heart in the harem so we can watch over her for you?"

Shen Hong was not slow to turn him down. "I don't have time for matters of the heart."

Li Jie held his heart and carressed his head with his other hand like a damsel. "Elora will only do!" The words came out in a womanly tone, meant to tease the dragon.

Li Jun held his stomach as he fell into fits of laughter. His brother never ceased to surprise him.

"Li Jie!" The emperor warned again though he laughed along. Li Jie was quite bold before the emperor, and weirdly the emperor had a soft spot for the two of them.

Li Jun coughed a little. "That is hilarious but serious matters first Li Jie."

The emperor frowned. "What may the matter be now?"

"Li Jie, we must tell him about that crazy woman."

"Yeh, yeh." Li Jie was more eager to spill the matter. "Your Majesty, what will you do about the scandalous woman who poisoned you?"

"She even had the nerve to come to the Military Grounds Camp to deliver some letter." Li Jun added.

"A letter?" Shen Hong was stricken by the similarity of this story to the case of Little Fox.

"Some letter from the Senior Court Lady." Li Jie sounded agitated just by having to talk about her.

Shen Hong quickly lifted from the place he sat. "What does this mean?"

"But our Liege may not worry much about her for she was recently arrested."

"Serves her right for almost killing us." Li Jun sniggered.

"And for holding me up against the tree, very disrespectful."

Li Jun and Li Jie seemed to hate her. Seemed like Little Fox was not doing so good at making a good record for herself.

The emperor did not answer back but concentrated on the golden cage that housed his treasured bird by the window. It was a parrot with striking red feathers and a little bit of green at it's back. His sword-master gifted him with it when he completed his training course with success; a gift for being the best student.

Qi qi was the parrot's name.

Grand Consort Shu had given him the name as one who loved him the most. Silly mother, she loved him not because she was an animal lover but just because he belonged to her son. Every time she visited and found him present, she cooed with much exhilaration for the bird.

It had been a while since he saw his mother, Shen Hong noted. And moreover, how did it happen that his mother owned such a naughty and despicable palace maid like Litte Fox? Shen Hong remembered the time the twins told him that they saw her in the Grand Consort Shu's palace maids uniform.

He chuckled to himself and opened the cage, placing Qi qi on his arm.

So Little Fox was the one who poisoned him?

"Idiot," he muttered almost to himself and with much happiness of having caught a word, the parrot went on a screaming rampage.

"Idiot! Idiot! Idiot!" It squealed wildly to Huizhong's amusement.

He turned to look at the twins behind him.

"She is in prison, you say?"


[1] Zhen = I, used by the emperor to refer to himself. It is the symbol of an emperor and other people cannot call themselves this. It stands for the status and rights that others can't own. Sometimes it can express that the words the emperor is saying are irrefutable.