Chapter 2: Be Ready To Serve Me
A carriage stopped in front of the Imperial Gates of the Qiu Royal Palace. The atmosphere seemed colder than usual despite it being early summer time.
The carriages door was pushed and it opened with a bang. A young man in his early 20s stepped his foot on the footplate and stepped out of the carriage. He had worn a Black Hanfu dress while his hair was tied into a bun, held intact by a knot holder.
Qiu Lóng Wei closed his eyes and took a deep breath in.
“Finally, I am home,” he pronounced. His eyes shot open and he walked in.
The gatekeepers had kept their heads low and when Lóng Wei approached them, shivers ran down their spines as he walked inside the giant gate.
Lóng Weis eyes fell on his eldest brother, Qiu Xiaoming, the Crown Prince of the Qiu Kingdom. Behind the Crown Prince, a line of servants could be seen.
Lóng Wei averted his gaze from Xiaoming. It was indeed an insult in everyones eyes toward the Crown Prince.
As Lóng Wei walked past the Crown Prince without formally greeting, Xiaoming stopped him.
“Welcome to the Royal Palace, Brother Lóng Wei,” Xiaoming warmly said and tilted his head. “We all missed you for five months,” he added.
Lóng Wei halted at his place and chuckled. Xiaoming wondered why Lóng Wei gave such an expression.
“I never thought that my absence would bother the Crown Prince,” Lóng Wei answered and finally gazed into his eyes.
“The Youngest Prince shall not forget his manners. He should not forget that hes standing in front of the Crown Prince,” Eunuch Lishi scolded Lóng Wei for his insolent behavior.
“Eunuch Lishi, be quiet,” Xiaoming said sternly and he instantly lowered his head.
“It seems the five months punishment in the Cold Palace was not enough for the Sixth Brother.” Another familiar voice fell into their ears and they looked in that direction except for Lóng Wei.
“If you are going to act this way, then I am afraid youll be punished again,” Qiu Mu, the Second Prince said as he came forward and bowed before the Crown Prince.
He stood straight and turned to face Lóng Wei. “It is understandable that your mother failed to put values in you, but at least do not disrespect the teachings of the respected Royal Mother,” asserted Qiu Mu.
“Isnt the respect earned” Lóng Wei asked him and chuckled. “And since when the Second Brother started to preach about respect” He scoffed at him.
“Dont forget that you are nothing before me, Sixth Brother. I am the General in the army,” Qiu Mu reminded him of his position.
“Thats why the great General lost the war against the famous Zhuan tribe,” Lóng Wei remarked. It was evident that he was making fun of Qiu Mus capabilities.
“Dont start an argument in the morning,” Xiaoming intervened between them and prevented it from turning into a heated argument.
“The Sixth Brother shall greet the Royal Father and Royal Mother first,” Xiaoming suggested to him.
Lóng Wei did not answer him and walked away.
The Fourth Prince, Qiu Tianjie had also come there but when Lóng Wei ignored his presence, it troubled him.
“He has not changed a bit,” Qiu Tianjie said as he came near his elder brothers. He bowed before them and then stood straight.
“It must be his anger towards us,” Xiaoming proclaimed. “He was alone in the cold palace for five months, so his agony is understandable.”
“Your Royal Highness, the Sixth Brother does not respect his elders or the people around him. He is selfish and only thinks about himself. I wonder why the Crown Prince is lenient towards him. If I would be at his place, then I would have punished him until he understood the meaning of respect,” Qiu Mu said in exasperation.
“Brother Mu, Sixth Brother is the youngest among all of us. He needs love and care,” Xiaoming made him understand. “I have important work, so I will take my leave,” he said and walked ahead, followed by his servants.
The two Princes bowed their heads until the Crown Prince vanished from their sights.
Lóng Wei walked through the corridor to reach his chamber. He had knitted his brows and displeasure was visible on his grimace. As he turned, a Palace maid hit him and the tray from her hand fell. The teapot fell and the hot water inside it fell on Lóng Weis hand.
However, Lóng Wei did not even hiss in pain when the hot water fell on his hand.
The Palace maid immediately grasped his hand and wiped that water while blowing air on it. “Forgive me, Your Highness,” she said with a worried look.
Lóng Wei was astonished to see a woman holding his hand. He gazed at her face and looked at her facial expressions.
“I will call the Royal Physician for His Highness,” the Palace maid said and slowly let go of his hand. “Please punish me for hurting the Royal body,” she asked humbly.
“Who are you” Lóng Wei asked her and looked at his hand. He could still feel her touch on his skin. He liked the way she did not fear him and even touched him, knowing it was prohibited to touch a Royal Prince.
He studied her face closely and found something unusual about her. Her fair complexion with pink cheeks and pink luscious lips was no lesser than of a woman from a reputed noble family. Also, her hands seemed softer even though she was a palace maid.
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“I am a Palace maid in the Queens manor,” she answered.
“I asked your name,” Lóng Wei cleared her.
“It is Li Hua, Your Highness,” she pronounced her name. “Please punish me for hurting His Highness,” Li Hua requested. Her voice did not tremble and it puzzled the Prince.
“You seem new here,” Lóng Wei said.
“I joined two months ago, Your Highness,” Li Hua replied.
“How do you know that I am a Prince” He asked and leaned down, bringing his face closer to her to look into her eyes.
However, Li Hua did not lift her eyes. “The robes His Highness is wearing are enough to show that hes a Prince,” Li Hua answered.
“Prince Lóng Wei,” they heard a feminine voice. He stood straight and looked at his front. Li Hua immediately got on her knees and started to clean the mess that she had created.
Princess Jingfei came forward to them and looked down at Li Hua, who was silently picking up the broken pieces of the porcelain teapot when Jingfei put her foot on Li Huas right hand. She cried out in pain and her hand got cut.
Lóng Wei looked at Jingfei and asked her what she was doing.
“It should not bother you, Sixth Brother. I am teaching a petty maid to not make mistakes anymore,” Jingfei stated with a stern expression.
Li Hua pressed her lips tightly and felt blood ooze out of her palm.
“Everyone in the Palace thinks that they are well taught. Dont you think I can punish her better than you” Lóng Wei questioned her.
Li Huas eyes welled and tears formed in them.
“Sixth Brother can leave,” Jingfei told him.
“You dont need to order me,” Lóng Wei affirmed and gazed at Li Hua. He stepped closer to Jingfei and then whispered in her ear, “Stop torturing her if you dont want to cry later.”
He slowly moved back and gazed into her eyes with a smirk on his face. Jingfei moved her foot from Li Huas hand, who took a breath of relief. She looked at her palm and then quickly put the broken porcelain pieces on the tray.
Jingfei walked past them followed by the two servants.
Li Hua stood up, keeping her head low, and stepped forward when Lóng Wei stood in front of her.
“Be ready to serve me, Li Hua,” he told her when she lifted her eyelids to peer at him. “You are the first woman, whom I will let enter my chamber,” Lóng Wei affirmed and grinned.