Traditional Chinese medicine doctors routinely check a person's pulse as a judgement for their state of health. Diagnosis of many diseases often depended on the patterns and irregularities to one's pulse as well as swelling of "chakra" points, and condition of skin colour etc. Remedies revolved around boiling herbs, roots and parts of animals. The taste leaves much for improvement, usually the concoctions are bitter and the smell so pungant it makes you cringe.
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The aftereffects of the poison were evident and took a heavy toll on the Prince's feeble body. Even though Feng Ming's pulse returned to a regular pace he was immersed in a spell of deep slumber.
Needless to say, Xi Rei was now in a state of emergency, their political ties were in complete disarray. Adding fuel to the fire, Fan Jia's royal family had pronounced that they will be seeking retribution against the whole country for the breach of confidence and betrayal.
Government officials surged to the frontline of the political battle, attempting to hold back each state from falling blindly headfirst into a bloody war.
Fortunately King Rong was able to create an intricate cover up and his efforts eventually eased the hectic courts and the restless officials which had the nations in a standstill.
As countless matters were being settled over the bargaining table, Feng Ming remained unconscious and oblivious.
Several days following the return of peace to the courtrooms, the Prince's body remained unmoving in the middle of a large bed. His condition had not improved and every pair of concerned eyes was glued on the boy waiting for any signs of improvement.
Included among the eagerly waiting subjects, were a set of blazing eyes that kept the Prince in his line of sight. Naturally, they belonged to King Rong.
Suddenly a soft groan finally released the tension.
The lips that had been pursed throughout the ordeal had opened ever so slightly giving a muffled noise to everyone's pleasant surprise.
A rosy taint had already returned to Feng Ming's cheeks, a positive turn indicating he may be ready to wake.
Each servant had participated in vigil for days on end in hope that the Prince would recover. Now it was apparent their master was awakening, everyone continued to look on with anticipation, holding their breath.
The Prince's lush and long eyelashes began to dance, as the heavy lids beckoned them to part. As if shy under the close scrutiny of his onlookers, the movement suddenly ceased.
After a delay his large eyes abruptly opened.
The pair of intoxicating dark eyes that had been hidden for numerous days was finally open and at the moment he peered out towards his observers, an overzealous joy rushed into the crowd.
Exuberant cheers echoed the halls, "His Majesty has awaken!"
"He has awaken!"
Praises for the heaven were belted out.
Within the hustle and joy of the servants, Chiu Lan immediately knelt beside her master and prayed to the Gods in thanks.
The King made no delay, striding to the bed and presenting himself in all his glory beside to the boy. He placed Feng Ming's wrist into his own hands, surveying for the strength of his lover's pulse.
"Do you still remember who I am? Where are you hurting?" he prompted anxiously.
Feng Ming had just awoken and he was aching from head to toe. Raising his head to gain a better view of the King, he then recalled why he was in this predicament in the first place. However, he was in no state give Rong Tian a chewing.
As he was about to attempt a few words, Feng Ming was interrupted by a serious of short chuckling.
"King Rong need not be worried." The unfamiliar voice offered, "Our legendary potion will absolutely never fail. Your servant, Official Xia is willing to use his life to guarantee this fact. The Prince was unconscious for seven days and it has been a sufficient period of time for him to recover."
An old man stood nearby, cloaked in a rich green embroidered outfit, he had a sharp chin and slender eyes.
In his hand he was holding a rather peculiar fan. Although he came across as odd, he was Xi Rei's highest and revered Master of medicine.
He had a natural disposition of an eccentric and borderline antisocial personality. This talented man only operated under the orders of the Royal family, preferring to live like a hermit he was indeed a rare sight to be out in the open.
The toxin Feng Ming had been force fed was the brain child of this senile genius, who belted out a hearty laugh.
Shortly another man's voice entered the conversation.
"The Prince has the heavens luck shining upon him, within such a devious grand plan you've manage to demonstrate your bravery and prowess, exterminating an enemy with evil intentions. Truly a trait you have inherited from the former King."
General Tong stood boldly as he gave endearing words of support to his Master he rested his hands on his waist, one rested upon the hilt of his sword.
"Exterminating an enemy with evil intentions?" Feng Ming repeated vacantly.
"Indeed Your Highness, this is referring to the traitorous King sent from Fan Jia. Your Majesty brought a warranted end to An Xun by your blade. You were merciful to issue him a death that was quick and dignified"
"An Xun is dead?" Feng Ming's jaw gaped at the news and a soft cry escaped his lips. His strange reaction was quickly rectified when he was prompted by Rong Tian. The older man had reached inside the bed covers, grabbed and tugged at Feng Ming's sleeve sending him a cue to play along.
Drawing his jaw shut, he swallowed.
After ingesting the foul poison, he had surmised that he had fallen into Rong Tian's trap, the doubts he had
were washed away as soon as he had waken. He was kicking himself inside for making the wrong judgement.
Glad to have a conclusion to the doubts cast around Rong Tian, Feng Ming was now focused with the task at hand. The situation he had been confronted by was perplexing and in all honestly Feng Ming couldn't even guess what had played out in the moments that followed his blackout. He knew he had to proceed with caution, and silently waited for further instructions from Rong Wang.
Regardless whether he knew fact for fact, it was wiser to feign his knowledge. To get the ball rolling, he changed his expression, turning in a serious nod of agreement.
"That's correct. Traitors that scheme against Xi Rei deserve a death sentence." Although he forced himself to sound assured Feng Ming couldn't help but think about his deceased uncle.
Now that An Xun is dead, what of the Queen's second spring?
Anyhow, it was that bastard who forced me to drink the poison, his death served him right.
He nodded again after coming to an internal agreement that the man's death could be justified.
"Yes, his death was necessary." He confirmed with an adamant tone.
The Prince made eye contact with the high ranking officials who had participated in the bedside vigil, and it was clear that in each of their hearts the Crown Prince's old visage of a pathetic, irresponsible and useless coward had been permanently erased. Rather he was growing into a wise and resolute natural leader and on the thought of Xi Rei's promising future one couldn't help to feel a sense of content.
Feng Ming strained to shift himself so he could lean on Rong Tian for support. His face appeared hollowed out and he was in a terribly weak state that left him barely any energy to keep alert, hence handling any government affairs was completely out of the question.
Chiu Lan hastily fetched a bowl of tepid herbal medicine she had prepared for the Prince and brought the bowl to his lips.
General Chu had been present all this time and he raised his cupped hands in obeisance to Feng Ming. His voice was deep, "
"His Majesty facing such perils managed to eliminate An Xun and spared Xi Rei's people from an upheaval. Indeed your choice to end his life was impetuous and brute and will be followed by enmity from those with different opinions in court. However, on closer analysis it is evident that it was vital to save the people of Xi
Rei and as an outcome you have won the faith of countless officials"
"At present so long as we take care of the remaining spies An Xun had disseminated throughout Xi Rei, we will be able to overcome this hurdle. We have managed to capture almost half of the spies and these men have been tortured for confessions. Several have given statements on an impending attack against Xi Rei city, they have been left specific orders that under certain circumstances they must infiltrate and poison the wells, to cause an internal strife and civil unrest. This is a matter of great importance, how shall we advance Your Highness? King Rong?"
Since the time Feng Ming had demonstrated his tactical talent, with his sermon on making foreign alliances he had gain respect among the Generals at a rapid rate. This was supported by fact these men who had once belittled him was now requesting Feng Ming to make a political decision for Xi Rei.
General Tong let out a chortle, "General Chu there's no need to be worried over this matter. King Rong has already reassured us that the Prince had thoroughly planned his moves before taking An Xun's life. May it be the spies that are to poison our water or an impending army from Fan Jia, we will be prepared to take them head on." He waved.
"The Prince has recovered, nothing could hinder us now."
The conversation was growing into a tangled mess inside Feng Ming's brain and he could only assume that this was all Rong Tian's doing and it was unclear on what responsibilities the devil had push upon him.
He turned his head, and sent the King a death glare with all his might.
King Rong merely gave him a faint smile as a response, before softly saying "You've just awaken so don't strain yourself for now."
His lover then diverted his attention from him, raising his head to look at the occupants of the Prince's chamber and ordered them in a firm manner.
"The Prince has recovered his unconsciousness and everybody has placed in an exhausting effort in the past days, at this moment may you all be relieved of your duties. You may all take your leave for rest. General Tong, as for Fan Jia affairs you shall continue to be in charge. General Chu, the matters of chasing out the remaining spies rests on your shoulders you'll need to be on guard to avoid any disasters arising."
Rong Tian's sharp eyes finally rested on the hermit man who sneezed when the man's gaze fell on him. The King's lips turned into a slight smile, "Master Xia, the Prince's body has not returned to complete health and I request that you are posted nearby in case there is any changes in his condition."
All the subjects listened and dispatched themselves according to Rong Wang's orders, with their minds at ease with the Prince's awakening they happily left to do the King's bidding.
Poor Master Xia was about to fall over and snore on the spot, thanks to an infuriated Rong Tian who caught and forced him to attend the Prince for the past seven days straight.
Although he was tired and could sleep like a log he was anxious, he bowed at the King. "King Rong, humble Xia has a crop of herbal medicine that has never been tended by anyone else, please permit Xia to have a look and I shall return immediately to the Prince's quarters as you have ordered."
Rong Tian understood that his man lived for his passion of medicine, and the rare herbs he reared manually were his most treasured objects in the world. He nodded, "Alright, go quickly and return as quick and don't delay the Prince's next prescription of medicine."
"Humble Xia's gratitude to Your Highness and King Rong." The old man quickly became invigorated and slipped out of sight with a big grin planted across his face.
A tranquil peace finally returned to the Prince's chambers, Chiu Lan was clever and instinctively knew that Rong Tian wanted to be left alone with Feng Ming. She beckoned the other attendants in the room with her hands, and without a sound the pack of servants retreated and closed the bedroom chamber doors behind them.
All that was left was Rong Tian and Feng Ming. Once the door clicked shut, Feng Ming felt the arms that held him tighten. He immediately looked back at the man, Rong Wang's eyes were red hot, his gaze pinning themselves upon his body. The famished look he was receiving was starting to burn into his flesh.
"You..."Feng Ming muttered a little afraid.
Inside his heart he had so many questions that begged for answers and as soon as he started to speak again Rong Tian had already forced himself on the Prince.
His lover pressed his lips firmly over his and where their lips met the temperature was scalding, the arm that had snaked around his small waist was going to snap him in two. Alike if Rong Tian wanted to engulf the boy to make him part of his entity forever.
"You little devil."
Rong Tian kissed and nipped at Feng Ming's swelling lips as he vented his suppressed passion and the stress from the worry he had to live with for the past seven days.
"Even daring to sleep for seven days." He scolded.
"You... You are the real devil here..."In hindsight the mastermind behind all their troubles was Rong Tian and Feng Ming genuinely felt the rights to refute.
There was no need to ask, Feng Ming was sure Rong Tian had another plan up his sleeve which no less included him without any prior notice.
However, in his current circumstance he was not fit to be doing anything than have his lips kissed by a madman in a frenzy of lust.
How could he contest against this onslaught?