Arc 5: Harem Competing Strategies Chapter 8
In the evening, Tao Yuan took a comfortable bath and then went to bed early. Holding the blanket, he suddenly smiled with a slight curve of his lips.
Just to be safe, he gave Xiao Junye some medicine, which would only arouse his desire when he smelled Tao Yuan’s own scent. At any other time, he would be unable to feel desire, meaning he Xiao Junye couldn’t do anything.
However, the reason he couldn’t help but smile wasn’t that Xiao Junye couldn’t feel desire, but because the medicine had some other effects as well.
Sometimes, Tao Yuan couldn’t help but think that Xiao Junye was quite pitiful in certain aspects. He had been given a slow-acting poison since childhood. Now, in addition to being drugged by himself, he*Xiao Junye also had to be drugged by Ye Rong when he went to him.
Xiao Junye himself, no matter how you looked at it, was a formidable person in every aspect. But in the game, due to the development of the plot, his fate was set to be quite tragic. He could defeat everyone but couldn’t overcome the heavens. Moreover, he had to wear a green hat 1 and work hard to pave the way for someone else’s son.
However, since Tao Yuan had already come to this world, he would naturally flap his wings. Even if he couldn’t change all the developments, he would change some processes and ultimately the outcome.
At this moment, Tao Yuan didn’t know that Xiao Junye had also prepared some medicine for Ye Rong.
After Ye Rong meticulously dressed up, he waited for Xiao Junye’s arrival. Even though he couldn’t have a physical relationship with Xiao Junye for now, he must succeed in making Xiao Junye infatuated with him. He felt that tonight was the best opportunity to utilize the protagonist’s halo.
“His Majesty has arrived!”
“Welcome, Your Majesty.” Ye Rong stood inside the door and immediately knelt down to salute when Xiao Junye appeared.
“Rise.” Xiao Junye walked past him without hesitation.
Ye Rong could only stand up on his own and then followed behind Xiao Junye as they walked inside.
“Your Majesty, the moonlight is beautiful tonight. How about this humble servant accompanies Your Majesty for a drink?” Ye Rong spoke with a gentle and pleasant voice.
“Zhen also have the same intention.” Xiao Junye sat down on the spacious sitting bed by the window.
Upon hearing this, Ye Rong immediately had someone bring in the wine.
When Xiao Junye caught a whiff of the fragrance in the room, he frowned and said, “What kind of incense is burning in this room?”
“It’s You Youxiang 2, made from…”
“I also have the same intention.” Xiao Junye sat down on the spacious sitting bed by the window.
Upon hearing this, Ye Rong immediately had someone bring in the wine.
When Xiao Junye caught a whiff of the fragrance in the room, he frowned and said, “What kind of incense is burning in this room?”
“It’s a Moonlight Fragrance, made from…”
Before Ye Rong could finish, Xiao Junye interrupted, saying, “Extinguish the incense and open all the doors and windows to let it dissipate. I don’t like the smell of incense. From now on, no incense should be burned in this room when I come.”
“Yes.” Ye Rong turned around and instructed the palace maids to remove the incense burner and temporarily open all the doors and windows. Although, according to his gathered intelligence, Xiao Junye shouldn’t have disliked incense, since he had been smelling Tao Yuan’s scent, he found other incense particularly unpleasant. Although the scent of incense didn’t give him a headache, he didn’t want to smell something he disliked.
After giving instructions to the palace maids, Ye Rong approached the sitting bed and poured wine for Xiao Junye.
Due to their close proximity, Xiao Junye caught a whiff of Ye Rong’s scent and couldn’t help but feel nauseated. His head began to ache in waves. Although he didn’t know why he felt this way, he didn’t want to endure it.
“Your Majesty…” Ye Rong had just raised his wine cup when Xiao Junye interrupted him.
“Go change your clothes. Put on something without any scent of incense and come back.” Xiao Junye suppressed the feeling of nausea and maintained a calm expression on his face.
“Yes.” Ye Rong could only set down the wine cup and then turn to change his clothes.
Once he left, Xiao Junye quickly sprinkled some powder he had between his fingers into one of the wine cups.
Originally, he didn’t have to do this, but for some reason, whenever he thought of being intimate with Ye Rong, he felt an unbearable sense of disgust. Upon careful consideration, he believed it was because of the threat from the Ye family. Despite Ye Rong having a good appearance, Xiao Junye simply couldn’t develop any fondness for him. The feeling of disgust in his heart made him irritable, and whenever he was in a bad mood, his headaches would flare up. In order to prevent his headaches from being discovered, he could only drug Ye Rong and let him sleep for the night.
Ye Rong returned in different attire, but as soon as he approached, Xiao Junye could still smell the scent from him that disgusted him. He didn’t bother asking him to change again. He just wanted to quickly drink the wine and put him to sleep.
Xiao Junye’s aversion to the scent on Ye Rong’s body was not because of the drug Tao Yuan had given him. The medicine given by Tao Yuan didn’t have such an effect. It was entirely due to his own psychological effect that he felt this way, although he himself didn’t know why.
The moon outside the window cast a perfect glow as the two of them finished a pot of wine. Xiao Junye suddenly felt intoxicated, and Ye Rong helped him onto the bed to rest.
After lying down on the bed, Xiao Junye immediately lost consciousness.
Ye Rong looked at Xiao Junye’s handsome face and felt a bit moved. Such a handsome man, but unfortunately, he was short-lived. However, if he wasn’t short-lived, Ye Rong wouldn’t be able to become the Empress Dowager in control. Although this man’s appearance and demeanor were captivating, Ye Rong couldn’t bring himself to complete other strategies for him.
Ye Rong was about to lie down next to Xiao Junye when he suddenly saw his personal attendant, Lin Qing, walk in.
Approaching Ye Rong, Lin Qing glanced at the unconscious Xiao Junye and whispered to Ye Rong, “Your Highness, someone wants to see you.”
“Someone wants to see me?” Ye Rong was taken aback. He wondered who would come to see him at such a late hour. But seeing Lin Qing’s cautious behavior and the secretive manner in which he walked over to the window on the side wall, Ye Rong immediately knew who it was.
Ye Rong lowered the hanging curtain by the bed and walked towards the window.
After opening the window, Lin Qing quickly left. A eunuch dressed in a eunuch’s attire entered from outside the window. After swiftly closing the window, the person strode up to Ye Rong and tightly embraced him. “A-Rong!”
“Your Highness, why did you come here?” Ye Rong didn’t expect him to come at this time and nervously asked in a low voice, “Didn’t we agree to only meet at the Queen Mother’s place? The Emperor’s people are also outside. If they find you, we’re both done for!”
“Don’t worry, I climbed over the wall to get in. I have people in the palace who will cover for me. They won’t find me.”
Ye Rong pushed him away and pulled him behind a changing screen, frowning as he said, “Your Highness, please don’t do this in the future. It’s too dangerous. The Emperor’s people are also outside. What if you get caught?”
“I knew he would come to see you today, and I was worried about you…” Xiao Yuyang hadn’t left the palace since the grand wedding yesterday, always staying in the Queen Mother’s palace. Every time he entered the palace to meet Ye Rong secretly, he used the excuse of paying respects to the Queen Mother to stay in the palace.
Ye Rong looked at him and said, “I’ve told you before, I will protect myself for you. Don’t you trust me?”
“It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I’m worried that you won’t be able to handle him and be coerced by him.” Xiao Yuyang said, “Xiao Junye has been the Crown Prince for so many years, and Father has always wanted to depose him without success. He’s a very difficult person to deal with.”
After Xiao Yuyang finished speaking, he gestured for Ye Rong to be silent, took out a hidden knife from his sleeve, and carefully walked to the side of the bed without making a sound. He abruptly pulled back the curtain and aimed the knife at Xiao Junye’s forehead.
“Your Highness!” Ye Rong exclaimed softly, then ran over to stop him.
The knife in Xiao Yuyang’s hand stopped just one millimeter away from Xiao Junye’s forehead.
“Your Highness, what are you trying to do? You can’t kill him now!” Ye Rong pulled him back behind the screen. “If he dies now, the other princes will surely unite to contend for the throne that could lead to chaos in the kingdom.”
“Your Highness, what are you trying to do? You can’t kill him now!” Ye Rong pulled him back behind the screen. “If he dies now, the other princes will surely unite to contend for the throne, and it could lead to chaos in the kingdom.”
“I know, I was just testing him to see if he really fell asleep,” Xiao Yuyang put away the knife. “If he’s pretending, then I’ll have to give him a stronger dose of medicine that won’t kill him but will render him unable to speak. That way, it will be more advantageous for me to control the court.”
“I put a heavy dose of medicine in his wine. He drank almost half a pot. How could he be pretending to sleep?” Ye Rong held his face, anxiously saying, “Your Highness, I beg you, let’s only meet at the Queen Mother’s place in the future or when the Emperor is not around. I’m even more worried when you come to see me like tonight. Didn’t you say that the poison the Queen Mother gave him will only allow him to hold on for a few more years? We just need to endure these few years.”
“…Alright, I promise you, I’ll only come when he’s not around,” Xiao Yuyang looked at him and said. “But tonight, I don’t want to leave. Tonight is the night you consummate your marriage with him. At least tonight, I must replace him.”
“Then, you need to leave quickly…” Ye Rong thought to himself that it would be better to yield to him and let him leave earlier instead of prolonging this situation.
Xiao Yuyang kissed Ye Rong’s lips and started undressing him.
Meanwhile, Xiao Junye, lying motionless on the bed, kept his eyes open, looking very alert.
When Ye Rong first pulled Xiao Yuyang behind the screen, Xiao Junye had already woken up and heard their entire conversation clearly.
The drug given to him by Tao Yuan not only prevented him from having desires for others, but it also had another effect—it rapidly neutralized the effects of the aphrodisiac drug.
Tao Yuan’s intention was for Xiao Junye to suddenly wake up while under the influence of the aphrodisiac drug rather than waking up the next day from his sleep, as it would surely make him realize that Ye Rong had drugged him. However, Tao Yuan didn’t anticipate that Crown Prince Xiao Yuyang would have the audacity to come to Ye Rong tonight for a secret rendezvous.
Although Xiao Junye had also drugged Ye Rong, Ye Rong had taken an antidote beforehand, rendering all the drugs ineffective on him.
While Xiao Junye was puzzled as to why he suddenly woke up after drinking the wine Ye Rong had drugged him with, he could only feel anger at this moment as he listened to the sounds of intimacy between Ye Rong and Xiao Yuyang. He had no extra mental capacity to think about anything else.
The next evening, as soon as Xiao Junye arrived at the Fenghua Palace, he dismissed everyone and sat down on the bed with a gloomy expression.
Tao Yuan knew he wasn’t angry with him, so he personally brewed a cup of tea and placed it in front of Xiao Junye. He said, “Your Majesty, please have some tea.”
Xiao Junye fell into contemplation, sitting still without any reaction. He had suppressed the events of last night in his heart, showing no emotions whatsoever from the morning court session to reviewing memorials after the court session.
Originally, he had no intention of coming to the harem tonight. He wanted to stay in his own sleeping quarters and carefully consider how to arrange his new plans. But he was eager to catch a whiff of Tao Yuan’s fragrance, which led him to Fenghua Palace involuntarily. As soon as he arrived, his mood relaxed a lot, and his emotions couldn’t help but show on his face.
Whenever Xiao Junye thought about last night, his heart erupted like a volcano, with furious lava flowing. He knew that Xiao Yuyang had planted many people in the palace, even while their father was still alive. He also knew that every time Xiao Yuyang entered the palace to visit the Queen Mother, he definitely had ill intentions, wanting to secretly deploy something in the palace. But he never imagined that every time Xiao Yuyang entered the palace, he was actually having an affair with Ye Rong.
He thought that the Ye family was loyal to him, so Ye Rong should also be loyal to him. He never expected that Ye Rong had long been colluding with Crown Prince Xiao Yuyang. He didn’t know if the Ye family was aware of it. If the Ye family knew that Ye Rong was involved with Yu Wang and still sent him into the palace, it meant that the Ye family was not loyal to him.
For now, regardless of whether the Ye family knew or not, it was certain that Ye Rong and Yu Wang colluded together, plotting to take his life and seize the throne. Ye Rong even drugged him and engaged in an affair beside him while he was unconscious. These two individuals completely disregarded him!
The more Xiao Junye thought about it, the angrier he became. He forcefully slammed the table, causing the teacups on it to tremble. Due to the intense fluctuations in his emotions, he had a severe headache, and it felt like his brain was about to explode.
“Ugh…” Xiao Junye held his head, enduring the intense pain that made his vision darken.
“Your Majesty!” Tao Yuan, who had been quietly standing by his side, hurriedly went over to support him.
Xiao Junye caught a whiff of Tao Yuan’s fragrance and tightly embraced him, pressing his nose against Tao Yuan’s skin and inhaling deeply.
After a while, Xiao Junye’s pain gradually subsided. He rested his head against Tao Yuan’s shoulder and asked, “A-Xi, in this palace, in this world, who can I trust? Who is truly loyal to me?”
Tao Yuan held onto his shoulder and remained silent for a moment before saying, “Your Majesty, you can only trust yourself because you are the Emperor. The position you hold can only accommodate one person, yet it is coveted by many. If Your Majesty wants to firmly stand above, you must ruthlessly trample those who seek to bring you down, make them suffer and fear, so they dare not entertain any other thoughts and can only be loyal to Your Majesty.”
“Even you, can’t I trust you?” Xiao Junye thought Tao Yuan would say something to make himself believe in him.
“Your Majesty may choose not to trust me, but I will always be loyal to you because you are my husband and the person I admire,” Tao Yuan replied.
“Do you admire me?”
“Yes, I admire Your Majesty.”
Xiao Junye straightened his posture and pulled Tao Yuan into his embrace, burying his head in the scent of his skin. Even as an emperor, there were times when he hoped for someone who could help him relax and alleviate his exhaustion.
While everyone believed that the emperor, with his three palaces and six courtyards, enjoyed the pleasures that others could never experience, who could truly understand that the emperor’s visits to the harem were filled with danger? The person lying beside him could not only have affairs with others but also have intentions to take his life.
Xiao Junye understood Tao Yuan’s meaning. To be a good emperor who firmly sits on the throne, he must compel even the disloyal to be loyal to him. He needed the ability and authority to intimidate them.
He wasn’t afraid to confront anyone, whether it was the Queen Mother or Xiao Yuyang. He had the means to surpass anyone who wanted to eliminate him. However, he didn’t know how long he could live. Even if he could triumph over everyone, he still couldn’t defeat the arrangements of fate. He always felt that everything was predestined, and he was not meant to live for too long. At this thought, Xiao Junye’s heart grew even more desolate.
“Your Majesty, there is something I would like to ask for your clarification.”
“What is it?”
“Does Your Majesty’s headache have anything to do with poisoning?”
Xiao Junye released Tao Yuan and looked at him expressionlessly.
“If Your Majesty is poisoned, I have a way to detoxify you,” Tao Yuan said, locking eyes with him.
“You have a way to detoxify me?” Xiao Junye asked, puzzled. “Do you know what poison I have been afflicted with?”
“I don’t know what poison Your Majesty has been afflicted with.”
“Then how can you help me detoxify?”
“I have a secret to share with Your Highness, and I hope you can keep this secret.”
“Because Your Majesty always suffers from headaches and even vomits blood, and only finds relief when smelling the fragrance on me, I suspect that Your Majesty might be poisoned. Although I don’t know the specific poison, my blood can cure any poison.”
“Your blood can cure any poison?” Xiao Junye looked at him in disbelief. The idea that someone’s blood could detoxify poison was something he had never heard of.
Tao Yuan got up and fetched a small bottle, then poured a glass of water on the table.
“This is the powder of Yuexin Grass, highly toxic. Just a small amount can cause fatal poisoning.” Tao Yuan poured the powder into the glass, and the water immediately turned black. “But there is one thing. This powder turns black upon contact with water.”
Tao Yuan then took out a silver needle, pricked his own finger, and squeezed a drop of blood into the glass.
Xiao Junye watched as the black water slowly turned into clear water, widening his eyes in astonishment. He couldn’t believe that someone’s blood could indeed detoxify poison.
“I have prepared some antidotes with me, and I ask Your Majesty for forgiveness,” Tao Yuan said while looking at him. “But the reason I prepared these poisons was not to harm anyone.”
At this moment, Xiao Junye had no interest in why Tao Yuan had the poisons. He hadn’t fully recovered from his shock because he finally understood why his headaches would ease when he smelled the fragrance on Tao Yuan. So his blood could actually counteract the poison.
Xiao Junye held Tao Yuan’s hand, looking at the blood beads forming on his finger, feeling extremely excited. For so many years, he had tried every possible way to find a cure, but he couldn’t find a way to detoxify himself. Could he finally be able to detoxify now?
“Your Majesty, although my blood can counteract the poison, you cannot drink it directly, or else it will burn your organs,” Tao Yuan withdrew his hand and took another cup. He poured a glass of water and added two drops of blood into it. After shaking the teacup a few times, he handed it to Xiao Junye. “Your Majesty.”
Xiao Junye took the teacup and slowly drank the water. After putting down the teacup, he carefully felt the effects. After a while, he indeed felt much better, and the discomfort was gradually fading away. This cup of water was even more effective than smelling the fragrance on Tao Yuan.
“Do you feel better, Your Majesty?” Tao Yuan asked.
Xiao Junye nodded.
“Just this cup of water alone cannot completely detoxify Your Majesty. The longer you have been poisoned, the longer it will take to detoxify. Although my blood can help you detoxify, it cannot be consumed excessively at once, or it will harm your organs. Therefore, Your Majesty, please be patient during the detoxification process,” Tao Yuan explained.
“I have been poisoned for over a decade. How long will it take to completely detoxify?” Xiao Junye looked at him and asked.
“The specific duration, I’m not quite sure. But I guarantee that I can help Your Majesty completely detoxify,” Tao Yuan said.
“Why did you tell me about this? If you hadn’t mentioned it, I would be unable to live without the fragrance from your body, and I would be unable to live without you. After I detoxify, I may no longer rely on the fragrance from your body, and there’s a possibility that I might neglect you,” Xiao Junye thought to himself. If someone were to become so dependent on him, they would definitely find ways to make that person remain dependent. Why did he reveal the secret of his blood being able to counteract all poisons to him?
“Your Majesty, you are my husband, the one I love in my heart, so I feel distressed seeing you suffer from headaches. I don’t want you to be tormented anymore,” Tao Yuan said earnestly. “I mentioned earlier that Your Majesty can choose not to believe me, but I will always be loyal to you.”
Xiao Junye looked at Tao Yuan, feeling overwhelmed with complex emotions. He didn’t know how to react anymore. Just a moment ago, he thought he wouldn’t live much longer, even if he won against everyone in a struggle, he couldn’t defy fate. But now he suddenly learned that he could detoxify and live a long and healthy life. The fluctuations in his heart were so immense that he couldn’t even comprehend them himself.
Tao Yuan understood that he needed time to accept everything, so he remained silent and didn’t disturb him. He simply sat silently by his side, waiting for him to process the information on his own.
Xiao Junye reached out and embraced Tao Yuan. He didn’t know why, but when he held him in his arms, he felt a profound sense of comfort. He closed his eyes and contemplated, thinking that he should start planning again.
Tao Yuan leaned his head on Xiao Junye’s shoulder, and the two of them nestled together quietly. Without any words, they could feel each other’s trust and dependence, as well as a beautiful and harmonious connection between them.
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