Chapter 3: In the Cold Palace
Li Hua wondered what Lóng Wei meant by that. She knitted her brows and then lowered her head.
“Get your hand checked. I will see you later, Li Hua,” Lóng Wei affirmed and walked away. Li Hua looked at her hand and then quickly paced towards the Royal Kitchen.
“Li Hua, what happened to your hand” Her friend, Ju Lin said as she saw blood on Li Huas palm. Ju Lin worked in the royal kitchen with hundreds of other servants. Ju Lin took the tray from her and saw the broken porcelain pieces on it.
“I hurt my hand while picking the pieces up,” Li Hua said and finally wrapped the handkerchief on it. It did not seem right to say that she got punished by the inner court head, Princess Jingfei. She tied it on her palm when Ju Lin advised her to check it with the physician.
“It is a minor cut,” Li Hua said when the senior court lady scolded them for slacking off from work. They both apologized and walked inside the kitchen.
Li Hua prepared another set of a teapot, teacups, and a small container consisting of powdered chamomile tea leaves. She covered it with the lid and carried the tray up.
“Be careful,” Ju Lin told her, who was picking the vegetables in a basket. Li Hua nodded and left for the Hall, where the King and Queen were seated.
She halted and the doors were opened for her. She walked in and bowed before the King and Queen.
“You took time to bring the tea,” Zhu Liling said, whos the Queen of Qiu Kingdom.
“Forgive me for getting late, Your Majesty,” Li Hua apologized. The Crown Prince entered the hall and greeted his both parents, followed by the other Princes and the Princesses.
Jingfei narrowly glanced at Li Hua and took her seat after greeting her father.
“Where is the Sixth Prince” Qiu Zedong, the King, asked and looked at Xiaoming to answer.
“Prince Lóng Wei returned a few minutes ago, Father. He will be here soon,” Xiaoming said. Li Hua prepared the tea for them. She served the King first, followed by the Queen and the other members of the Royal Family.
“Father, Lóng Wei has still not changed. He talks back. He doesnt respect his elders at all. I am afraid, Father, but he should have stayed in the Cold Palace for eternity. This Palace is not for him,” Qiu Mu said in annoyance and picked the cup to drink the tea when the hot tea burned his lips. The day was not good for him. How would it be His biggest trouble had returned to the Palace.
“I found the Sixth Brother was taking the side of a petty servant,” Jingfei announced and gazed in the direction of Li Hua, whose eyes were lowered.
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“Thats impossible, Sister Jingfei. Does he even care about anyone else except himself” Qiu Mu said with a chuckle. He could never believe that Lóng Wei would take the side of a servant.
“Everyone be quiet,” Qiu Zedong said sternly and they stopped conversing.
“Call Prince Lóng Wei,” Qiu Zedong commanded Eunuch Gao Bing, who left the hall. The King did not touch the teacup and the Queen asked him about it.
“I am waiting for Prince Lóng Wei,” Qiu Zedong said. The others also did not touch their teacups.
Lóng Wei pushed the chambers door and found nothing had changed. Everything was kept in its place.
He unbuttoned the overcoat from his right shoulder and yanked it off. Picking up the clean overcoat, he wore it. He recalled the incident where Li Hua touched his hand.
“Why did I not get angry” He murmured. A similar incident had occurred with him when a palace maid mistakenly threw the water at him. He urged his father to cut her hands, but around Li Hua, he reacted differently.
Probably the reason was her boldness to ask for the punishment, instead of forgiveness.
“Forgive me Your Highness for intruding in your thoughts,” Eunuch Gao Bing said while apologizing. “The King has asked for your presence in the hall,” he informed.
Lóng Wei turned to face Gao Bing, who had kept his gaze low.
“I am tired. I will meet Father later,” Lóng Wei refused to meet his father.
“Pardon me, Your Highness. But if the Sixth Prince does not go with me, then I will get punished,” Gao Bing said with a worried look.
“Then, get punished, Eunuch Gao Bing,” Lóng Wei stated, ignoring his plea. He settled on the hardwood low back armchair, resting one leg above the other.
“The Sixth Prince cannot refuse the command of the King,” Eunuch Gao Bing threatened him.
He chuckled and rested his elbow on the armchair. His chin rested on it and he said, “Gao Bing, you should beg me instead of lecturing me.”
Gao Bing widened his eyes in exasperation. “The Sixth Prince shall not disrespect me. I am the highest rank Eunuch in the Qiu Palace,” he stated.
“Gao Bing, you lost your chance to convince me. Now, I will tell my dear Father how you used his name to build a residence for yourself for free,” Lóng Wei stated and stood up from the chair. Gao Bing was terrified to hear him.
“What happened Did you think no one would find out Alas! Nothing is hidden from me, Gao Bing. Even though I was locked in the Cold Palace for five months, I know everything that happened in this Palace,” Lóng Wei affirmed with a smirk and walked past him.
Gao Bing ran after the Prince to convince him not to say anything to the King. However, Lóng Wei did not pay heed to him. He walked through the corridors and soon reached outside the Greeting hall.
Gao Bing came near Lóng Wei and whispered, “I will do anything that the Sixth Prince wants me to. Please do not complain about me to the King.”
“Dont step back later, Gao Bing,” Lóng Wei said and the giant mahogany doors opened. He stepped inside followed by Eunuch Gao Bing.
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