Throughout the week, Longwei had showered Ming-hua with gifts and luxuries.
Every morning that he woke up, there would be a new addition of jewels, and treasures placed in his room.
The emperor also hadn’t forgotten to always visit him when he played the flute in the garden.
He would arrive there relishing in the melody, eyes closed, and then when finished he would walk away with a complex gaze.
Ming-hua didn’t understand the thoughts of the emperor, he was cruel but then he suddenly started treating him to luxuries and treasures, while continuously checking up on him.
Although Ming-hua was in a bad mood thinking about the amount of presents, he couldn’t help the small quirk of his lips every time he would see something new.
Today... today is the consort selection isn’t it.
[Yes master it is.]
Ming-hua proceeded wipe his face with a wet towel, when he was disrupted by a couple of hushed whispers and gossip.
“I heard the emperor has been frequently visiting a new concubine this week. He is always seen walking through the garden in the middle of the night, after the deed is done. And its been heard that his usual concubines haven’t been favored in a while.”
The maids giggle to each other.
Ming-hua’s eyes widened, he took deep breaths, calm down calm down, as he continued to wipe his face.
He tried to focus on tending to himself but the maids whispers echoed in his ears.He was still favoring concubines? I thought he had stopped, since he always visited me in the middle of the night... so after he had been with concubines he came to see me play the flute? Like everything is good?
His hands clenched into fists, his nails digging into the flash of his hands, leaving a trail of red blood.
Ming-hua’s silver eyes darkened severely, the aura around him becoming almost demonic.
The maids who were outside the door slid it open. Their eyes widened in fright and their knees shuddered under the overwhelming pressure.
The difference was like heaven and earth. Such a normally expressionless and calm individual was now looking like an asura ready for slaughter. They regretted purposely stirring him up.
They shrieked and ran away, dropping the clean towel and contents of breakfast.
Did he go to their palaces and sleep with them?
[No master, it seems the maids are simply trying to stir you up and get you angry]
Ming-hua’s brows furrowed in confusion as his aura calmed down and his eyes returned to normal
So... he hasn’t visited any concubines?
[No, he has not]
Ming-hua’s grip loosened and his body relaxed. So he has not favored anyone then, good. Well. Even if that’s the case the concubines are still going to die. He smiled enchantingly. His eyes swirling with malicious excitement.
Ming-hua strode over towards the mirror. He closed his eyes and entered his space. He imagined a black elegant and luxurious robe, adorned with the finest silk and laced with silver lilies. The sleeves were loose and long and would glide behind him in the wind. It was simple and elegant, not too gaudy and overdone.
Opening his eyes, he looked in the mirror and nodded his head in satisfaction.
The robe complimented his healthy skin, the black made a beautiful contrast to his silver eyes, making them stand out more, while the silver lily embroidery matched them and complimented them.
Mmm... Ace you got any makeup
[Master... why would I have makeup] Ace internally facepalmed
Uh. Then can I purchase some.
Ming-hua elegantly took a seat on the chair, as he began lining his eyes, making them more eye-catching and stunning. He then lined his eyes with red rogue, making them seem more enticing and demonic.
Lastly, he drew a small petal symbol on his forehead between his brows. It brought out a cold and demonic charm, like a sinful beauty that could capture you and never let go.
He left his hair out, letting it float around him as he moved, creating an appealing and beautiful sight.
After he was satisfied he left and walked towards the main hall, where the concubine selection was happening. The crowd and commotion could be heard as he walked up.
There stood hundreds of potential concubines, all either glaring at each other or gossiping and picking fights with flowery words.
Ming-hua steadily walked, his aura elegant and dominating, immediately bringing everyone’s attention onto himself. His robe flowing in the wind, making him seem like an immortal.
The women were stunned by his beauty for a while, before they realized the purpose of his appearance. To be their competition.
They glared at him in envy, jealousy and disbelief. Never had they seen someone so beautiful, someone so otherworldly. His silver eyes enticing and penetrating, making it seem he could see into their souls. His posture that of a royal, overbearing and superior, his appearance more stunning than every woman’s there.
Their hearts grew angry with jealousy, why was a man blessed with such exotic beauty?
A few of them attempted to start fights with him using flowery words but Ming-hua had no time for that bullshit and simply walked past them, ignoring and disregarding them completely.
Their faces grew red. They had never met someone like Ming-hua who immediately shut them down before they could even exchange a few flowery words. He didn’t give them the slightest bit of face.
The first part of the concubine selection was based on appearance, first their appearances were examined and judged whether or not they were worthy, then their status.
Since Ming-hua was basically an abandoned royal, he considered himself a commoner, thus he gave such information.
Many of the females who were there frowned with distaste when he mentioned he was a commoner. They were all from families that were considered above average, yet this low commoner dared to try to compete against them. Not only that but he was a man.
Many of them snickered behind their fans, their overly powdered and done faces lighting up with ridicule.
Everyone in the country was aware that the emperor adores his concubines, he has many and none of them are male, yet this man thinks he could somehow arouse his interest?
They continued to whisper and giggle around him. Ming-hua simply ignored them, they were less than cannon fodders who had nothing to do with him so he acted like they didn’t exist.
Upon seeing that the exotic male didn’t react the women grew angry. He was so expressionless, disregarding them in every way, as if he was superior. Their eyes flamed with anger and irritation.
The woman were spoilt and used to getting their way, thus Ming-hua’s treatment was new to them.
After all the woman had been examined, there were only a few that passed. About 50, who all were quite attractive, yet they were nothing compared to Ming-hua.
They were escorted into the grand hall, where the emperor sat on his throne, his main lower concubines sat on luxurious chairs a level under his, showing their status.
As soon as Ming-hua stepped into the hall, his deep, dark gaze bore into his form. His eyes narrowed, darkening with lust as he felt his lower body heat up.
Ming-hua kept his eyes connected with his as they stared each other down.
The emperor was wearing an elegant and luxurious royal golden robe embraided with dragons as he sat lazily on his throne, wine cup in hand, his scorching gaze on Ming-hua’s form
“We are looking forward to see your talents and abilities” his deep alluring voice echoed throughout the hall. His gaze intensely baring into the silver orbs.
The women behind Ming-hua squealed with excitement, while the concubines who sat by the emperor’s side smiled, yet the undeniable hatred and jealously in their eyes was easily noticeable as it roamed on the potential concubines and then finally settled on Ming-hua’s beautiful form.
The female lead, Yu Yan, she is behind you
Just as Ace had finished informing him, he felt a womanly body bump into his back, before a loud thud sounded in the hall, silencing everyone and alerting their attention.
“A-Ah!” The female lead screamed as she pitifully collided with the ground and then looked up at Ming-hua as if she suffered a great grievant because of him.
He inwardly scoffed, seriously, is she going to blame me for another ‘injury’.
Her watery doe eyes widened as she came upon a realization.
“B-Brother... N-No it can’t be...” she muttered to herself in a quiet docile and innocent voice.
How he wished to tear out that voice box of hers, and those big watery eyes, then, he shall see how she ruins people with her innocence. The lingering feelings of the original Ming-hua were still very prominent. As if a small flame had become ignited.
She immediately diverted her watery doe eyes to the emperor, who was watching with narrowed complex eyes.
Y-Your majesty” she coyly muttered, barely audible. She looked at him as if she had suffered greatly as she looked down at her slightly ruffled form and bit her lips.
Ming-hua raised his eyes to his dark ones, wandering what he would do.
The emperor’s eyes narrowed, “Resume the competition”
Yu Yan stood there, wide eyed, she had never thought that his majesty would just ignore her, after her brother hurt her. Her nails dug into her palms.
Everyone who had hurt a single hair on her head had been punished severely in the past. She was extremely spoilt and doted on. Even if she had caused others to suffer because of her stupidity she never thought it was her fault, because the people around her told her it wasn’t.
Ming-hua snickered under his breath, she may be innocent and dumb, but I don’t give a shit. She’s going to die and I will make sure of it.
After the potential concubines had performed their combination of dances, instruments and painting to try and attract his majesty’s attention, it was finally Yu Yan’s turn.
She blushed as she saw the attention on her, before she innocently walked to the middle of the hall and proceeded to play her guquin.
Her guquin had a common sound, it sounded too similar to the previous concubines and had not had any originality or creativity, making Longwei want to yawn throughout the process.
Yu Yan, on the other hand, had believed she was superior at the instrument compared to everyone else because that was what she was told as she grew up. She had believed her parents when they told her she was superior at everything she did.
She looked up after finishing, expecting the emperor to look at her in amazement and love, but instead he simply sat there, looking distracted as he absentmindedly gazed at her brother behind her.
Her face was overtaken with an intense blush, making her face look blotchy and embarrassing. Anger grew in her heart, her brother was a mean person, who hurt her and didn’t deserve to be called family or deserve anything, so why is his majesty looking at him rather than her?
Her nails dug into her palms as her eyes watered
Steward Wei slightly coughed, allowing the emperor to escape his fantasy and instead look at the girl who was looking at him expectantly.
His brows slightly furrowed, eyes flashing with irritation “You did well, next.”
She heard the potential concubines snickering around her, she flushed an even stronger red before she scurried away from the middle of the room.
All attention was brought upon Ming-hua’s stunning form, yet he didn’t look the least bit worried, as he carried himself towards the middle of the hall with confidence, elegance and power.
Looking up, into the emperors dark narrowed eyes, it felt as if everything else faded away, and it was just the two of them.
Ming-hua lightly smiled at him, creating a captivating sight, like ice melting for the first time, yet it was also filled with sadness.
Longwei felt his heart beat as his intense gaze focused on that smile, his heart was embraced with warmth, yet he didn’t know why the smile seemed so sad, making his chest feel stuffy.
Ming-hua took a deep breath, raised his flute, and began to play a smooth, peaceful melody, it captured everyone’s attention. It was unusual and new, yet undeniably addictive. It brought out feelings of peace and love, before the melody changed, and turned dark, diabolic and tragic. The melody was filled with pain, agony and betrayal.
As the melody stopped, everyone was still in a daze, their hearts still beating rapidly. Their eyes wide with amazement as they looked at Ming-hua. But all of that didn’t matter to him. All that mattered to him was the reaction from the person he wished loved him.
Ming-hua’s eyes fluttered open, and he gazed into Longwei’s eyes.
Longwei was unable to suppress the feeling of guilt and sadness in his heart. Why had it felt like he was playing for him and no one else? His brows furrowed, and his eyes flashed with guilt.
A silence surrounded the hall, no one dared to speak. Still stunned from the performance, unable to say anything.
“We have chosen Our imperial concubine” All potential concubines heads snapped towards the owner of the deep dominating voice.
Longwei rested his chin on his hand, lazily looking down at Ming-hua, his eyes narrowing in approval as they roamed on his body.
“One with immense musical talent that makes even Zhens heartbeat, his ethereal beauty and bearing is worthy of the title”
“You shall be Zhen’s imperial concubine” he drawled as got up from his seat and elegantly strode down the steps to Ming-hua’s side, placing his hand on his cheek.
Every mouth in the room fell open. Disbelief flashing in their wide eyes. The emperor... goes for males too?
Yu Yan’s eyes widened and she stood there, shocked, before she convinced herself that she must say something for his majesty’s sake.
Yu Yan felt the need to innocently inform the emperor how dark and evil Ming-hua is and how he hurt her so her family confined him to a small prisonlike courtyard and starved him. Not knowing how bad it sounded. And that she actually just admitted he was abused by his own family.
She did not want the emperor to make the mistake of choosing someone so evil. She smiled, satisfied as she saw the way the emperor looked at her brother.
The hall was engulfed in a suffocating silence.
Everyone’s gazes on the ‘innocent’ girl became full of disgust. They had never seen someone so innocently talk about how their own brother was abused by their parents because of something so pathetic..
Yet she felt no remorse, as she casually and proudly blasted the news throughout the royal hall, in front his majesty, as if it’s something to be celebrated.
What sort of parents raised this child? Did she really not know that because of her, her brother was confined and starved?
She felt proud, as she looked up into the emperor’s eyes and saw them narrow and darken on her.
He will finally know that I care about him, that disgusting excuse of a brother shouldn’t be anywhere near him, his majesty knows now. She mused to herself, shyly peeking through her lashes at the emperor’s eyes that had darkened into a pool of black.
Unable to sense the mood, her cheeks flushed as she felt the emperor ‘appreciate her’, when actually Longwei had never felt so much anger and disgust in his life.
When he heard from the girls mouth how he was treated and abused, he felt as if a demon inside him wanted to rip her apart. His jaw clenched as he watched her grow shy, thinking that he was admiring her.
He immediately couldn’t take the disgusting sight of her anymore and turned his gaze to the stunning male who stood expressionless throughout the entire ordeal.
His silver eyes bore into his dark ones, and he wishes he could scoop him up into his arms, protect him from harm.
The guilt only grew stronger as he realized that someone who had already suffered so much had suffered even more by his hand. He soothingly stroked his cheek as his jaw tightened and he suppressed the pain and guilt that seemed to leak into his eyes.
“Princess Yu Yan is feeling unwell, guards, escort her out. We have no need for a princess who does not realize that she was the reason her own brother was starved and abused.”
The guards immediately came and dragged her out the hall.
She looked at all the eyes that bore into her with disgust, why? She didn’t understand why they all looked at her with disgust, but she thought it was all her disgusting brothers’ fault. She wished he wasn’t born he always seemed to hurt her.
Ming-hua watched the show with great interest and was able to temporarily satisfy the raging fire of revenge in his chest.
The warm soothing palm on his cheek comforted him as he felt time stop when he looked into those dark eyes that were usually cold, yet now swirled with endless guilt and sadness.
The night went on, and the entertainers came to bring up the festive mood.
Ming-hua was sat beside the emperor, their hands entwined. His small one in his big strong one, making him feel protected.
He couldn’t help the small redness that peaked out of his expressionless mask, onto his ears as he saw every concubine eyeing him with hate, and the man next to him staring at him the entire time as if he was the entertainment, not the dancers that were tragically failing at seducing the emperor.