First Arc ー Chapter 1 (Part 4): Chenyu
The Emperor turned around and smiled. “You may get up.”
The bright lantern lights shone on his face. Nation Bi’s current ruler of the country, Zhao Yin, was an extremely handsome young man. His curved eyebrows always carried a faint smile. However, Empress Xue was very clear in her heart that his pleasant countenance was only a facade. This young monarch with the surname “Li” was notorious for being ruthless and merciless.
She apprehensively moved closer to the front of the couch and asked in an anxious voice, “Imperial Physician, did my nephew knocked himself severely?”
After the Imperial Physician took Xue Cai’s pulse, he turned around and bowed in greetings. “Replying to Your Majesty and Your Highness, Gentleman Xue is not in jeopardy. He just needs to convalesce for a while and he will be able to recover. However……”
“However, I’m afraid that the wound on his forehead will leave a scar.”
Empress Xue trembled, then looked towards the unconscious Xue Cai while feeling painful and guilty. This nephew of her has been the whole family’s most beloved since young. Not only was he intelligent, his appearance was also cream of the crop but now that his face is damaged, even if it was only on the forehead, it was still after all a flaw.
Just as she was getting dismal, she sensed a line of sight on her and raised her head, only to see Ji Ying smiling at her. “A mere scar is nothing to a real man of character, Your Highness doesn’t have to be overly concerned about this.”
Empress Xue shot him a grateful look before shifting her eyes to Zhao Yin. Zhao Yin’s eyebrows were light and he still made no move. She knelt once again and said bleakly, “Your Majesty, Xiao Cai is still young and ignorant so he offended Consort Xihe……”Just as she said until this point, Zhaoyin raised his hand and stopped her from continuing to speak.
Empress Xue thought in her heart, ‘It’s done for, this calamity ultimately was hard to circumvent.’
At this moment, a eunuch with delicate features silently crouched and walked over. Empress Xue recognized that he was Zhao Yin’s trusted subordinate, Tian Jiu(Tián Jiǔ). After he came in, he went down on his knees to kneel and called, “Your Majesty.”
Zhao Yin turned around immediately. “How was it? Have you brought it over?”
“Yes.” As Tian Jiu spoke, he retrieved a long small box from his chest and presented it in front of the Emperor in extreme deference.
Zhao Yin removed the cover and his eyebrows curved again. He smiled at Ji Ying beside him. “As expected of Qi Ao, this is a brilliant scheme. In this way, the matter can then be solved.” After he finished speaking, he turned around to pass the small box to Empress Xue.
Empress Xue received it with uncertainty and only saw a roll of tough yellow silk fabric placed in it. When she opened it, what entered her sight first were the words “Ekottara Agama”*. The handwriting was bold yet gentle. It was exactly the late emperor’s personal handwriting.
*T/n: An early Indian Buddhist text
Zhao Yin asked unhurriedly, “Does the Empress know what this is?”
Empress Xue hesitated for a moment and answered, “Could this be……the “Ekottara Agama Scripture” that the late emperor personally copied?”
“That’s right. Does the Empress know its origins?”
“I heard that……when Empress Dowager Yun of the previous dynasty was severely ill, the late emperor personally copied this “Ekottara Agama” to express his filial piety and to pray for her longevity. Since then, this scripture has always been consecrated at Ding Guo temple and is viewed as the epitome of filial piety in the world.”
Zhao Yin nodded his head as an indescribable emotion twinkled in his eyes, causing him to appear even more unfathomable. “Didn’t the Empress and Little Xue Cai return from precisely that Ding Guo Temple today?”
Empress Xue was shocked and all of a sudden, realization dawned upon her. She exclaimed, “Your Majesty’s meaning is?”
Zhao Yin averted his gaze and focused on the bronze head of a spirit beast of daybreak at the side of the writing desk. When she saw him like that, Empress Xue knew that she had guessed correctly ー She didn’t expect that the Emperor would actually be willing to help her!
She heard that the Empress Dowager have been feeling unwell these few days. If she claims that she had went to Ding Guo Temple to get this roll of imperial scripture for the Empress Dowager, the matter today will become entirely different.
Since she was the official consort and also had the late emperor’s imperial scroll in hand, even if Xihe carries the imperial edict, she would also need to respectfully move out of the way. In this way, the incident of Xue Cai causing Xihe to fall into the water along with the imperial edict could be resolved to become a smaller matter and once it has become a small problem, it can easily be erased…… Empress Xue was shocked, on one hand it was true that she was elated due to settling the enormous conundrum while on the other hand, it was because she was flabbergasted at the Emperor’s partiality towards her.
Zhao Yin, he was her husband. She married him as his wife when she was fourteen years old and until now, it has been six years. He had all along treated her with much courtesy and was not intimate enough. It could be considered as “mutual respect between husband and wife like guests”. Five years ago, he was taken by Ji Hu’s exceptional talent. Three years ago, he favored the sweet-tempered and amiable Jiang Huayue. Right now, it was known to the whole world that he treats Xihe who has peerless beauty as a pearl in his hands.
However, for today’s matter, he actually chose to defend her instead……For an instant, the five favors mingled, it was a little sweet yet a little sour.
She bowed respectfully and knelt down on the spot right then. She said with gratefulness, “This concubine thanks Your Majesty’s grand favor!”
Zhao Yin’s gaze continued to remain on the bronze beast. He leisurely said, “Empress, we’ll call it a day for today’s matter. Empress is the nation’s mother and prioritizes the peace in the imperial harem. This Emperor hopes that there will be no follow-up in the future that is related to this matter.”
Empress Xue understood that this was to warn her to not bear a grudge against Xihe and wait for an opportunity to retaliate. It seemed that although the Emperor had helped her on the surface but his heart was still bias towards Xihe. The ripples that have scarcely arisen also subsided along with this sentence. She shut her eyes as she bent her head and tried her best to let her voice sound placid. “Yes, this concubine will keep in mind.”
“Very good.” Zhao Yin finally turned his head back and glanced at the eunuch by the side. “Luo Heng(Héng)*, go announce the imperial edict.”
*T/n: Referring to Eunuch Luo
She surmised that the imperial edict must have been already written before she entered the palace hall. Eunuch Luo heard the command and promptly opened the palace hall door. Under the gazes of all the beauties present, he walked until the front of Xihe and opened the yellow satin imperial edict. He read out in a clear voice, “The fourth year of Nation Bi, the twenty eighth year of the sixty year cycle, beginning on the seventeenth in the second month of the fifty sixth year of the sixty year cycle to the twelfth year of the sixty year cycle, the Emperor speaks: Alack! The etiquette in the book of rites, utilisation of human relations, the meaning of wife, to rectify the family financial situation.* Consulting thou Chang Qiu Residence’s Xue Su’s seventh son who is filial to parents and doting to siblings, intelligent with multifarious talents, finds joy in good deeds and clever in both words and action. Acting under the Empress Dowager’s imperial decree to move accordingly, manifested the period of prosperity of my dynasty and display the late emperor’s accomplishments. Although he mistakenly startled the imperial edict and offended the heaven’s authority, on account that filial piety comes first, I would not investigate any further. On the other hand, Consort Xihe is gentle and upright, her virtuosity known to all. She will be bestowed the title “Yong Le”, rewarded ten strings of pearls, a hundred silk satin, a thousand gold taels and she is to be remembered as Hui Fang. That is all.**
*T/n: You may take this whole part as me writing gibberish since I honestly don’t know what I’m writing but that should not affect the story at all since they are some long words that are sometimes said at the start of an imperial edict. I could notice that this was adapted from the text when King Liang’s Consort Zhang was conferred.
(I’m sorry that it was really hard for me to understand the ancient text, if it were poems I could have probably tried harder but at least the good thing is that it doesn’t affect the plot.)
**T/n: Signifies the end of the imperial edict
The four palace hall doors were wide open. Xihe who was kneeling outside the door and Empress Xue who was kneeling within the door raised their heads at the same time and their eyes met each other from far away.
When this scene fell into Jiang Chenyu’s eyes, she only felt that this scene was very strange as if the ephemeral ocean simply silently flowed past within the lines of sight of the two woman.
Whereas Xihe’s beautiful face still carried a faint smile but there was a weary expression within her smile which made people completely unable to figure out what she was exactly thinking inside her heart.
Eunuch Luo walked until he was in front of her and reminded, “Is Consort still not going to thank His Majesty for the favor?”
Only then did Xihe withdraw her gaze from Empress Xue’s face and her whole body jolted as if she had just woken up from a dream. She then curled her mouth upwards and smiled in an exceptionally alluring manner. “Thanking Your Majesty for the grand favor, long live Your Majesty.”
Jiang Chenyu let out a small breath. This matter could finally be considered to have been solved. When she turned her eyes again to look inside the palace hall, she saw Ji Ying standing beside the Emperor’s dragon desk. His expression appeared placid, but judging from the appreciation in the Emperor’s eyes when he looked at him, it looks like……he was the one who came up with this solution? Besides, there was only Gentleman who would use such a mild and simple yet the most practical method to settle matters.
Xihe swayed about as she stood up with the assistance of the palace maids, but since she had knelt for too long after all, when she rose halfway, she fell back again. The imperial physician instantly dashed out while Eunuch Luo ordered people to carry a sedan chair to lift her back to Bao Hua Palace. As the group of people who added to the confusion left, the front of Jing Yang Palace finally became peaceful.
Just as Jiang Chenyu was waiting to return with her Elder Sister, she suddenly saw Ji Ying walking out from inside the palace hall. Their lines of vision inadvertently crossed paths with each other and Jiang Chenyu’s heart immediately palpitated rapidly such that she almost stopped breathing.
The next release will be the last part for Chapter 1! 🙂
If any of you are wondering why the chapters are split into many parts, it’s because one chapter is really long. Chapter 1 is already twenty two full pages in font size 11. T^T