Chapter 1: Nan Yan
Once again Nan Yan tried to break free from the firm ribbons binding each of her wrists, yet it was not in the least effective.
She moved. But as expected it made the thin quilt conveniently slide down the side of her body, exposing her thin shoulders. Her smooth skin shined like pure jade. The candlelight at the bedside reflected off her skin and added a bit of a remarkable temptation.
Apart from exposing her shoulders, in fact, on her whole body there was not a stitch of clothing. Her bare body was completely flattened by the ice cold silk quilt. Actually, the quilt did not feel good. She felt a sort of icy feeling from it. All at once, she felt shivers run down her body. Causing the quilt to once again slide down, dropping inch by inch. This time it was not only her shoulders, but even her collar bone was exposed. She did not dare to move again.
Tonight is her first night serving the Emperor.
It has been more than three months since she was selected to enter the harem. Nan Yan kept count on both her fingers these days. And even though she did not act like the rest of the selected concubines. Who were stretching their necks, looking forward to being favored by the Emperor. However, she was still aware that this day would come.
She was unable to say she was anticipating it. Naturally she did not have the qualifications to defy it. But all the harem sisters around her. Each of them tried extremely hard and used every method. Even resorting to bribing the Mamas and palace Eunuchs to win over an opportunity to serve his Imperial Majesty. However, after the concubine of the third rank was chosen to serve the Emperor in bed. The event and situation had changed.
Because she—did not come back alive!
The two former concubines that were selected before that incident served his Imperial Majesty, but returned covered with injuries and wounds. One was even unconscious for several days and still had not awakened. The other while fully awake acted like an imbecile generally. She had developed a fever, with a high temperature, and spent everyday wrapped in a quilt; talking nonsense. No one was allowed to approach her. Two days later they were both taken away by the Inner Palace’s people.
From then on everyone was no longer so enthusiastic about harem duties. On the contrary, they avoided it like it was a scorpion or snake; something dangerous. The Emperor’s palace bedchamber was like a wild animal’s bloody mouth; wide open like a sacrificial bowl. Who ever goes in, would not be able to think about coming out.
Unfortunately, today the palace’s eunuch had come with news. Letting Nan Yan know she would be serving the Emperor that night.
Everyone else hearing this news at that time, they were concealing their relief and rejoicing. And if you looked closely you would see that everyone was looking towards her with a meaningful glance, filled somewhat with pity. It was like looking at a dead person.
Even though Nan Yan was afraid, she could not disobey the Emperor’s command. She could only let those palace maids help her take a bath. Then afterwards they brought her to a tall and stunning palace. She let them take off her clothes until the last layer; lying her down on the bed with the cold quilt. But before leaving the two palace maids tied her wrists tightly with ribbons on each side of the bed. Saying all who had served the Emperor were like this.
Nan Yan was now like meat on a chopping board, just waiting for someone to come and slaughter. While thinking, she could not help but turn to look out the windows. The outside was a pitch black darkness, and nobody was around. Even the sound of the wind could not be heard. She could only see the shadows of the trees projected onto the paper screen, swaying back and forth. The sight made her more restless.
When will the Emperor come tonight?
If he does not come, it will be fine.
Perhaps the Emperor was busy tonight and there would not be enough time for him to come here; fortunately enough for her. In that case she might be able to recover her small life.
Her mind was relentless with such thoughts in the silence. It almost seemed like the Heavens had also heard her prayers. The time little by little passed. Even though it looked like less from the hourglass in the corner of the room. She estimated already that he would arrive between 11 PM and 1 AM. He still had not come.
Will he truly come?
At this thought, Nan Yan’s heart raised a glimmer of hope. Perhaps if she endured the next several hours she would be saved.
However, just as she was wishfully thinking, there was a loud noise from outside.