First Arc ー Chapter 1 (Part 2): Chenyu
Since the child was born, he had already been the imperial capital’s centre of admiration. For seven years, as his age increased, he only became more wonderful. At three years old, he was able to write essays. At four years old, he was able to compose poems. At five years old, he drew a bow and shot a tiger in the presence of the Emperor. At six years old, he became the ambassador dispatched by Nation Bi to Nation Yan. When King Yan saw this scene, he laughed. “Is there no one in Nation Bi? How come you’re the ambassador?” Xue Cai said to him, “Nation Yan is the jade among the countries while I am the Bi(a round flat piece of jade with a hole in the centre)* among the people. Both parties are suitable for each other, how is it not appropriate?” King Yan was exulted and bestowed a thousand-year-old ancient Bi named as “Ice Glass”. He exclaimed, “Only a Bi jade that is peerless in this world is befitting of such a splendid person who is peerless in this world.”
*T/n: It comes in many sizes, colors and design, but it may look something like this:
From then onwards, the sobriquet “Ice Glass Gentleman” spread like wildfire until its name shook the four nations.
Now that he had helped to stand up for the Empress and startled Consort Xihe’s horse which caused her to fall into the lake and made a spectacle of herself, based on her temper, she would definitely not be willing to take things lying down.
“What is there to be scared of?” Zhao Luan made nothing of it. “The Empress loves Little Xue Cai the most. Even Imperial Elder Brother doesn’t dare to do anything to him.”
While talking, they had already reached Jia Ning(Jiā Níng) Palace. The current emperor was still very young and had not sat on the throne for long, thus the consorts in the imperial harem had yet to reach hundred. Beneath the Empress, there was one Imperial Noble Concubine, one consort and one Noble Lady who live in Duan Ze(Duān Zé) Palace, Bao Hua(Băo Huá) Palace and Jia Ning Palace respectively. Even beneath them were Nine Concubines, Beauties and Ladies of Talent, but they mostly had empty titles since they have yet to be officially conferred. As for her Elder Sister, Jiang Huayue(Huà Yuè), she was conferred as a Noble Lady and lived here.
Compared to the universally shocking glazed tile Bao Hua Palace, Jia Ning Palace appeared to be dignified and simple but elegant instead. Planted in front of the room were three Wintersweet plants where the spots of light yellow seemed to be growing sorrowfully. A palace maid in front of the corridor came over to welcome them and kowtowed in greetings while receiving their cape. “Noble Lady kept repeating why Miss still hadn’t come yet.”
“Has Elder Sister gotten better?”
“Much better, just that the body lacks strength and she is lazy to move. Please come in quickly.” While the palace maid was speaking, she lifted the windshield curtains and led the two people inside. After entering the inner chambers, they saw a woman being supported as she sat down and was consuming medicine with the assistance of a palace maid. She had slender brows and eyes, smooth skin and possessed a extremely beautiful appearance.
Zhao Luan sniffed and asked curiously, “What is this medicine made of? It’s actually this fragrant! Let me try too.”
Jiang Huayue smiled faintly, “Princess is messing around again. Can this medicine be casually ingested?”
Zhao Luan went forward to grab her hand and shook her head. She spoke in a tender voice, “I say that taking this medicine is definitely the reason why Noble Lady is usually this sweet-swelling. Noble Lady simply knows how to hide good things for yourself and don’t allow me to gain some benefits too.”
Jiang Huayue did not know whether she should cry or laugh. She turned her head and said to her Younger Sister, “Why did you bring this buffoon along too?” Jiang Chenyu only pursed her lips and smiled. She did not say anything but was thinking inside her heart, ‘She deserves to be called Elder Sister. She could even coax the Princess until she was docile to her. Compared to her, that Consort Xihe really didn’t know how to get along with people.’
She heard Zhao Luan gloatingly repeated the matter of Consort Xihe falling into the lake one more time and as expected, an astonished expression was shown on her Elder Sister’s face. “Consort Xihe went to the front of the palace hall to kneel?”
“Yeah. I reckon that even now she’s still kneeling over there.”
Just as they spoke until here, a court lady hurriedly requested for an audience. After she came in and bend down to whisper some words beside Zhao Luan’s ears, Zhao Luan’s countenance suddenly changed and she stood up. “What? Was what you said true?”
Jiang Huayue involuntarily asked, “What happened?”
Zhao Luan stamped her feet and said, “It’s all over, it’s all over. That’s why I said that bewitching consort is capable of doing anything. I formerly thought that she was going to be in really big trouble this time but I didn’t expect that she actually still concealed such a move. It’s terrible now!”
Jiang Huayue and Jiang Chenyu exchanged a glance. Jiang Huayue said gently, “Don’t be anxious, Princess. Why don’t you start by saying what exactly happened?”
“It turned out that Consort Xihe received an imperial edict to leave the palace on a mission today.”
As soon as she uttered it, not only her but even Jiang Huayue turned pale suddenly. “What? Imperial edict?”
“That’s right. Imperial Elder Brother had the intention to engage Elder Yan Rui(Yán Ruì) as a teacher whereas Yan Rui was that bewitching consort’s father teacher while he was alive, therefore that bewitching consort received an imperial edict to personally make the trip there to confer him the title. Unexpectedly, she bumped into the Empress at Dong Da Bridge and even fell into the lake from Little Xue Cai’s whip……”
Jiang Huayue sighed softly. “If it’s just an ordinary day there is nothing much about it, but just because she carries an imperial edict with her, it represents the Emperor. Offending the imperial authority was a death penalty.”
“Oh dear, what to do now? That’s why I was wondering why she kept kneeling in front of the palace hall. If it’s any usual day, Imperial Elder Brother would had already feel pained for her and personally come out to support her. I’m afraid that Imperial Elder Brother also doesn’t know what to do this time and can only drag on and not meet her. No, this won’t work. I definitely won’t stand on the sidelines and do nothing for this matter. I’ll go find Imperial Elder Sister-in-law now and see how we can exactly solve this.” As Zhao Luan was speaking, she had actually hurriedly left.
Jiang Huayue suddenly grasped her Younger Sister’s hand and followed to stand up. “Come on, let’s go take a look too.”
Jiang Chenyu promptly stalled her and lowered her voice, “Elder Sister, wouldn’t it be wise for you to eschew such disputes?”
Jiang Huayue smiled faintly and used her finger to jab at her forehead. “What do you know? It’s precisely because this is a time of such disputes that it is an exploitable opportunity.” She immediately ordered people to change her clothes and dress her up simply. After that, she brought Jiang Chenyu along and went to the Empress’ living quarters, En Pei(Ēn Pèi) Palace, together. Unexpectedly, when they had walked halfway, they heard that the Empress and the others had already rushed to Jing Yang Palace. Thus, they changed their direction to Jing Yang Palace.
Right after they passed Yu Hua Gate, they noticed a number of people standing in front of the palace hall. It turned out that the imperial consorts from their individual palaces had mostly rushed over. The palace maids assisted the Empress who had a pallid complexion while Zhao Luan was standing beside her and staring irately at Consort Xihe who remained kneeling on the ground. Jiang Chenyu then glanced around carefully but did not notice that Imperial Concubine Ji whose talent was best in the world and felt a little disappointed.
She only saw Eunuch Supervisor Eunuch Luo(Luó) bend his back while standing in front of Consort Xihe. He advised her gently, “……Consort, your body is priceless. The weather is frigid and it wouldn’t be good if you catch a cold. It would be best if you get up……”
Jiang Chenyu trailed after her Elder Sister to walk over silently. That Consort Xihe’s side profile also changed from indistinct to clear. Similar to a piece of painting, her contours were gradually delineated and dyed with colors, finally forming a vibrant image:
The long eyebrows condensed from the distant mountains shrouded in the faint mist, a pair of pupils interweaved from agile wings, muscle and bones depicted by the path of the continuous rain and the lips applied with the colors of the flower petals with frost and dew……All of them were suddenly presented before the eyes.
The previous moment was still a monotonous white while in the next moment, it was already so resplendent that it made people dazzled.
At that instant, it felt as if there was an intangible hand waving in front of her eyes suddenly making the murky and mundane world bright and clear. Within the black and white world, the bright colors, countless temperate talents, endless envy and surprise were all stirred up in a split second, all because of this one woman’s appearance and deportment.
Jiang Chenyu felt herself being shocked by one after another until she did not know where she was.
Since she was young, the word she had heard the most was “beautiful”. Anyone who saw her would exclaim in astonishment, “This young daughter of the Jiang Family is really beautiful.” “Oh my, this must be Chenyu. This name is proud enough and worthy enough. I wonder how many lifetimes of fortune she has for her to possess looks that seem to have emerged from a painting.”
A moment before, Zhao Luan had even complimented her beauty and termed her as Nation’s Bi number one beauty. Although she humbly denied it immediately, to say that she did not even have a sliver of proudness was impossible.
However, right at this time and moment, when she witnessed Xihe’s appearance for the first time, it was as if a pot of cold water had overturned and gushed onto her until she was freezing from head to toe.
This woman, this woman……Such lively colors that bring forth fragrance, such peerlessness, such an indescribably striking beauty!
How could she even match up to all these?
Suddenly, she felt that little bit of sense of inferiority.
She heard that Eunuch Luo say again, “Consort, your bones have always been fragile. If you kneel for such a prolonged period of time, what to do if you if the effects of the illness lingers? Please just take it as pitying on this old servant who has stood here to accompany you for half a day. If you don’t rise, His Majesty also won’t permit this old servant to go back……”
Subsequently, Xihe finally spoke, “This concubine wasn’t able to fulfil the task properly. I couldn’t even protect the imperial edict and caused the imperial face to be disgraced. I can’t absolve myself from the blame even if I die ten thousand deaths. I earnestly request that Your Majesty punish me.”
Her voice was very unique and carried a slighty stiff crisp and languid charm. Every character’s final sound was enunciated nimbly yet lingering.
“Goodness, dear Consort, how can His Majesty bear to punish you? His Majesty can’t even bear to have you kneel. Didn’t His Majesty instruct this old servant to come out and escort you in? You should quickly rise……”
“If Your Majesty doesn’t punish me, this concubine won’t get up.” Her tone was extremely light but allowed people to especially feel a sense of perseverance. Xihe gazed straight ahead and did not look at anyone. The corner of her lips was slightly twitched up as she obstinately smiled in an indolent manner with an evil charm to it.
This time, even that eunuch could not do anything about it. Her attitude clearly expressed that she was insistent on a verdict, otherwise she would definitely not leave matters at that. Even though she claimed to be asking for her own punishment, but wasn’t she still targeting Xue Cai? And if she was targeting Xue Cai, wasn’t she actually pointing towards the Empress?
This novel is supposed to be known for quite a few of its memorable character as well as its prose. Hope I don’t ruin it too much with my mediocre translation. ><