Behind the Scenes
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“Lord Lin. Lord Lin… are we going to loan money now?”
I didn’t want to find lodging despite the darkness having come out to play. It had been long since I last ate and slept, but I felt neither hungry nor tired.
Ross had to jog to keep up to my pace. However, I had no intention of accommodating him. I grabbed a long loaf of bread and tossed a copper coin to the merchant. I handed the bread to Ross. He took it but was startled due to my sudden kind gesture.
“Umm… are you not eating, My Lord?”
“I have no appetite.”
Ross ripped the bread and then chased after me. He tried to pass half of the bread into my swaying hand, making me turn around. Frightened, he took a step back. He dug his fingers into his bread and frantically replied, “Sorry… Lord Lin… I did not… I just… I was just… mm… worried you were hungry… so… so I came over…”
“It’s all right.”
I adjusted my speed and resumed. Ross noticed that I slowed down, thereby finally smiling and ran up to my side. Because took care of me despite my extremely poor mood, I didn’t judge him to be some malignant tumour anymore. If he had any designs for me, he wouldn’t have followed me when I was at rock bottom.
While eating his bread, Ross inquired, “Lord Lin, Lord Lin, are we going to loan money? We no longer have money, so we have to take a loan, right…? Else… we cannot back the back.”
“No. The bank isn’t the issue. If it was just them, I wouldn’t have been defeated so thoroughly. The businessmen deceived me. In their defence, I share part of the blame. I was too overconfident. I wouldn’t be in this predicament had I calm down just a tad. It’s pointless to seek them as they definitely wouldn’t give me a loan. I’m going to see Her Majesty now. Wait for me outside the imperial palace.”
“But… It is already late… How about we wait until tomorrow morning…? Her Majesty would not grant you an audience at this hour, would she?”
“I’m an exception. Just wait for me at the door.”
We finally arrived at the palace doors. As Ross said, the doors were shut, and only guards stood at the door. When they saw me approach, they opened the door for me without a comment.
“Wait for me here. I won’t be too long,” I instructed.
I didn’t know if Sisi had heard of my bankruptcy and, therefore, ordered the guards to open up for me or if the guards knew my identity. The lamps on both sides of the imperial palace weren’t particularly bright. Sisi didn’t go for strolls in the middle of the night anyway.
The rear palace was still bright, yet Sisi’s room was dark. A lady-in-waiting reacted surprised upon seeing me: “Lord Lin, you have arrived?! Her Majesty said you would be here, which was why we did not dare to let too many off at night. It is good news that you have arrived. Did you want to eat something? I shall notify Her Majesty. She must be asleep now.”
“Mm… I’ll head up to see her.”
I wouldn’t want to disrupt Sisi’s sleep under normal circumstances. Nevertheless, I had to speak to her as she was the only one who could now help me.
“That… is not wise, is it…?”
Normally, nobody was allowed to approach Her Majesty’s bedroom, especially males. I moved the lady-in-waiting aside: “It’s fine. SIsi won’t blame you. If you stop me, on the other hand, she will punish you.”
“Please head on up, then.”
I heaved a breath before knocking. I heard Sisi climb out of bed and open her door. Sisi radiated as she pulled open the door. Before I got to speak, she expressed, “Dongqing! I knew it was you! I knew it! The only person who could be here for me at night is you! Come, Dongqing. Come in. Do you have something to say to me? Come.”
I had no idea why Sisi had a fondness for sleeping nude… Regardless, my intention wasn’t on her body that didn’t have a blemish under the moonlight. I entered her room. She cheerfully jogged over to her bed and sprawled out on it. She patted her bed with a smile: “While I didn’t expect it, I don’t care. Dongqing, do you want to do something? If you do, come. I asked the lady-in-waiting what I had to do, so I, too, want to try what I learn.”
“No, I didn’t come here to do it with you. Sisi, I came to ask you for a favour…”
“Is this about your bankruptcy?”
Sisi rolled over to face me, and let an unwelcoming smile bloom. I felt something was off about her when I looked at her. Nonetheless, I didn’t think too much as it was reasonable for news of my bankruptcy to have reached her.
Though it was shameless to admit it, I had to speak up. Else, I wouldn’t have any way of discussing it with Sisi.
“It’s all right, Dongqing. I know about it. It wasn’t your fault. Clearly, someone was pulling the strings from the shadows. The businessmen wouldn’t have teamed up, otherwise.”
I emotionally responded, “Indeed… you’re right. So, do you have any clues?”
“I do, hehehe.”
Anxious, I took a step forward and practically yelled, “Who orchestrated it?!”
Sisi hopped off her bed and sauntered to me. She wrapped her arms around my neck and bit my ear. She then lazed onto my shoulder and laughed: “Me, of course…”
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