The Rise of Phoenixes (天盛长歌) - Chapter 5 (Fanfiction)

Chapter 5 - He who conquers others is strong. He who conquers himself is mighty

written by kakashi
edited by Bunny

Feng Zhiwei opened her eyes. Where was she? It seemed to be morning and she was on a bed, only… this looked oddly familiar… The Prince of Chu’s residence?

“Why am I here? Was yesterday a dream?” she murmured.

“What did you do in your dream?” a languid voice she knew all too well said from nearby.

She scrambled up. He was right there, right there in the room with her! Supporting his head with his hand, like he had slept sitting upright at the table.

“Can you tell me?” he added sleepily, turning his rather bloodshot eyes on her. He had slept there sitting upright at the table! What was going on?

“I thought I ran away from your residence. I even left you a letter!” she explained, rubbing her neck in confusion. Sometimes, dreams were really strange. This one seemed so vivid!

“A letter? What did it say?” the Prince of Chu yawned. “You are probably exhausted. You had a fever. That's why you fell asleep on my bed. You never left this place.”

He got up and sat on the bed down where her feet were. He seemed awfully nice this morning, maybe because he had not slept a lot - like the blade he normally was had been blunted by lack of proper rest.

“A fever?” she frowned. “No wonder my head is spinning.”

He smiled, she caught it from the corner of her eyes. It was a very satisfied kind of smile, which alerted her immediately. Something was up. She frowned at him.

“What?” he said.

“Are you lying to me again?” It was insufferable, but he must be.

“Why would I lie to you?”

His hand came up to rest on her forehead. She shied away from the touch, but he just leaned in further, until she turned her head away entirely and he would have fallen on top of her had he not withdrawn the hand.

“You are still running a fever. You probably overheated your brain,” the Prince of Chu declared after righting himself and then added in his usual charming way: “You were never smart to begin with, but after this fever, you will probably get stupider.”

Ignoring him seemed like a good idea. And then, it was her nose and not her head that realized what was up.

“What is this familiar scent?” she asked.

It was perfume! It came from him, this smell, but it was not his. His natural smell was kind of minty, that she knew from getting a whiff of him before. This, this was flowery and rather unpleasant. To verify, she bent down low, almost pressing her nose to his knees, sniffing the contours of his body up to his neck.

“What? What are you doing?” he demanded to know, bending away from her.

“You sneaky tailor,” now it was her turn to be satisfied, though she wasn’t sure whether she should not primarily be insulted by his new tricks. “You lied to me again. You smell like Qiu Yuluo's perfume!”

He made one of his innocent faces, but now it all came back to her. He had been there, at her Uncle’s Residence, her cousin’s paws all over him. He had looked very uncomfortable. Served him right. She had made a run for it, because she really wanted to be done with him.

“I remember now. Last night, I evaded the Royal Guards and was attacked. Did you order the attack?”

“Why are you so cute even when you are being stupid?” he snorted and got up. She didn’t like it at all when he did that, throw sweet yet barbed words at her. It discomforted her in strange ways, when she wasn’t easily discomforted in other situations.

He was almost at the door already when she pulled herself together.

“Hey! Don't go! Stop!”

“Watch her,” he ordered his men without even a backward glance.

“What is this supposed to mean? Let me out of here. I have to go save my mother and brother!”

He turned then, but all the pretense of being friendly was wiped from his face. “Do you have any personal item that you could give me? Something that another person would recognize instantly to be yours. If you do, I will let you go.”

She didn’t need to think for long. Taking off a golden bracelet from her left arm and handing it to him, she said: “This is a gift my uncle gave me when I first entered Qiu Residence. Keep it safe.”

He took it and turned to leave without another word.

“Hey! You lied to me again!” It was insufferable! And she was too stupid. From now on, she would not believe anything he said ever again.

“Do you want to save your mother and brother? If you do, stay here and don't leave. Be good,” he added, as if she were a dog.

Fuming, she tried to get the guards to let her out, but they were just as awful as their master. What was he even planning to do with that bracelet? Most likely something sinister and wicked again.

But Feng Zhiwei was smart and she would trick them. They would certainly have fewer men guarding her at night, so that was the time she would make her escape and be rid of this Prince once and for all.

… wrong. There were even more men, and all of them were completely immune to her charms, staring at her viciously when she opened the door to check on the situation out there.

It became almost unbearable the next day. Even that special bodyguard of Ning Yi’s, his name was Ning Cheng, could not be corrupted, even though she had thought he was a nice person. He told her “His Highness” had made sure the guards at her door were all deaf, since she could even entice the dead if she tried. Well, if this was how it was played, she would just refuse to eat. Even though she was horribly hungry.

She had no real idea about how much time had passed, but suddenly, Prince of Chu was back. He was dressed in a silver-grey robe of high quality and looked rather tired, but she did not care.

“Your Highness, are you done playing here?” she immediately charged at him.

He just stared into the empty air, fanning himself with his favorite fan.

“I am only a small, unimportant ant, but I have my own family as well as my own life. I will not play up to powerful men, but I will not sit by idly either!” she declared. At least, she now had his attention. Yes, he was tired, she clearly saw how strained his features were, no idea what he had been doing all day.

“Your Highness, can't you be the bigger person? Stop messing around with me.” Ah, but she was getting desperate to get away and it showed. And it was like this with him: As soon as she seemed weak, he bit hard. Every single time.

Shaking his head, he said condescendingly: “I was truly not mistaken to call you stupid. Look at you. Do I look like I am in the mood to mess around with you? If I wanted to play, I would've gone to House of Lanxiang.”

The look he gave her! He even walked around her, surveying her favorite - and currently only - dress with destain. How dare he! As if she would ever give herself to a man like him!

“Your Highness, if you are not interested in me, then why are you holding me captive? I am only an eyesore to you. We should stay out of each other's business. Thank you for rescuing me. Please allow me to return the favor.” And out she walked! She would show him.

But: “Do you want to save your mother and brother?” he said evenly. He knew how to play her. He knew it too well. Of course she wanted to! Of course!

“Your Highness, do you… do you have a plan?” she went back to his side like a tame pet.

“Of course, I have a plan,” he retorted and fixated her with his intense stare. “But the thing is, you must disappear. Will you be able to do that?”

She said she was … even though she had no idea what that meant. That very moment Ning Cheng came to report an invitation had come from the Qiu Residence. Because Colonel Qiu’s sister and nephew were back. As relief made her eyes water, her head flashed a warning.

Be careful of Prince of Chu. Be careful.

“Tell him that I will be right there,” he told his guard and turned to leave.

Feng Zhiwei grabbed his arm. Grabbing a royal without his consent could easily result in one’s hands being chopped off, but in that moment, she did not care.

“Your Highness, I would like to go too,” she begged. She had to see her mother. She had to. She wanted to make sure she was okay. She wanted to weep in her arms. She wanted to … go back home.

“Get your hands off me,” Ning Yi hissed at her.

No. No. She grabbed his arm more forcefully and stepped closer. It was like this with him. He always seemed so haughty and in control, but there were moments… like now. Their faces were very close, so close she could feel his breath. Briefly, he was a different man. Vulnerable.

“You don't behave like a girl at all,” he stuttered. It only took him a moment to turn vicious again. “Didn't you agree to disappear? Don't just stand there. Just disappear.”

So the Prince of Chu had a soft side. One he tried to hide, rather successfully, but she had seen it. Something to remember. Something to take advantage of when the time came. But could she?


A reckless plan. Putting everything on the line. Pushing here, pushing there… but it looked like Ning Yi and his allies had succeeded. Qiu Mingying was alive and so was her weakling of a son, though it had been a close call, as Ziyan had told him. Not only were they alive, they were also safe for the time being, because the Crown Prince had been convinced Qiu Mingying would do anything he asked for, like make sure nobody ever got wind of Madame Yuhua’s letter or if they did, would never believe it.

The one most hurt by it was Feng Zhiwei. She had insisted and Ning Yi had let her come to the Qiu Residence in disguise. A boy servant, she played her part well, but what she had to witness … it is good she was there, he told himself, it will just make it more final.

Feng Zhiwei had to disappear from this earth for her own safety. She had to hear her mother’s words.

Having an unfilial daughter is a disgrace to our family. I have already severed all ties with her. Even if she were standing in front of me now, I would only feel humiliation. I have no love for my daughter anymore.

Qiu Mingying probably didn’t mean it. But Feng Zhiwei could not know that - or at least had to doubt that.

It was a horrible world they were living in.

I gave birth to a sinful and immoral daughter. I should have redeemed myself by committing suicide. From now on, Feng Zhiwei is no longer my daughter.

Ning Yi knew, Feng Zhiwei’s life would change drastically from this point. He also knew that he would no longer be able to keep her with him.

“Do you regret it?” he asked her once they had returned to the residence. She had changed her clothes … she was wearing her purple dress again. He was getting used to it by now. And he had been mistaken to think it didn’t suit her. It did. The dress was like her. Willful. Straightforward. With character.

“No, I don't.”

Her answer sounded almost harsh.

You do not need to put up your brave face in front of me, Prince of Chu thought, it is okay to cry. I will not mock you. I understand.

“You say "No" with your lips, but your heart must be in great pain. I have experienced many times the pain of being abandoned by family,” he said softly. Do you hear my sincerity?

When she turned her face to him, he saw the tears. Not flowing freely like they surely wanted to. Staying in her eyes, making them larger, more expressive.

“Your Highness. How are you able to remain so calm?” she whispered.

Calm? I am not calm! he wanted to shout. My heart hurts, every single day. I do not sleep well at night because the dead do not let me!

“He who conquers others is strong. He who conquers himself is mighty,” he answered with a rueful smile. When he looked at her again, he knew that his face showed emotions she had never yet seen on there before.

But she said nothing, just started to walk away.

“Do you have any other wishes?” he quickly said, hoping she would stay… just a little longer.

“I only wish that one day, no one will be able to bully me. And that one day, I can fly like a bird across the sky.”

It was like his heart was overflowing to hear her say words he could have spoken himself … in another life, in other circumstances. He hurried after her, stopped at her arm… he felt an impulse to take it, to pull her close. But Ning Yi was not a man who lived on impulse.

“You have nowhere to go now. Stay here. And I promise I will make your wishes come true. You will regain your freedom,” was what he said, meaning every word.

“Thank you. But there is one thing in life that I will never do.”

“What is it?”

“I will never be someone's servant. The world is big. There will definitely be a place for me. Farewell, Your Highness.”

She left, just like that, before he could utter another word. Stay, he had wanted to say, stay here with me. Who is talking about you being a servant? I do not want you to serve me.

Rendered temporarily speechless, his hand in the air as if to hold her back by invisible strings, Ning Yi felt like his world had suddenly become a little emptier.