First Arc ー Chapter 1 (Part 5): Chenyu
However, Ji Ying’s gaze did not linger on her face and it was quickly swept away as he left in a haste.
The quiet night breeze stirred at his long gown. Under the palace lanterns, his shadow was elongated until it formed a long path. It was exceptionally calm and mysterious and it became dimmer as time elapsed.
Jiang Chenyu stared at his back figure dumbly until Jiang Huayue pushed her with much strength. She teased, “You’re still looking? You can’t even see his shadow anymore.”
Jiang Chenyu’s face blushed. She was about to justify herself when Jiang Huayue had already pulled her hand. “Let’s go back.”
Upon reaching Jia Ning Palace, Jiang Huayue ordered her attendants to clear out and released her hand. Her expression turned very complicated before she finally gave out a long sigh.
Jiang Huayue lowered her voice, “I didn’t expect that Marquis Qi Ao was actually such a figure……Heh heh, he solved this matter in such an easy way. To think that he would think of something like the Empress Dowager’s imperial decree!”
Jiang Chenyu bent her head and smiled. “Isn’t this rather good? A war is resolved without fighting and shedding blood……”
Jiang Huayue rolled her eyes at her. “It’s good for you. As long as you get to see Ji Ying, what else is not good?”
“It made me be delighted for nothing instead. I originally thought that Xihe can fight with the Empress until both sides suffer great losses, but I didn’t expect that a Ji Ying would suddenly pop out halfway. The Emperor was indeed waiting for him to put out the fire by waiting that long in the study. It can be considered that Xihe was defeated by his hands this time!”
Jiang Chenyu muttered, “The reason Consort Xihe was that overbearing was simply because she clung onto the matter of the imperial edict falling into the water, but Xue Cai had also been carrying the late emperor’s imperial scroll back then. Filial piety is even greater than the heavens. Even if it’s the Emperor’s imperial edict, she has no choice but to give way in front of the late emperor’s imperial scroll. This move, albeit simple, is actually ingenious.”
“What had carry the late emperor’s imperial scroll back then? It’s obvious that they only took it from Ding Guo Temple now.” Jiang Huayue scoffed when she suddenly seemed to have thought of something and started to chuckle.
“What is Elder Sister laughing about again?”
“I’m laughing that Xihe depleted all her stratagem and knelt half a day for nothing.” As Jiang Huayue was speaking, she released her hair and sat in front of the dressing table to start removing her formal ornaments. “It’s really such a pity. It was originally a golden opportunity to pull the Empress down but it’s such a pity that it was lost in vain……Chenyu, do you know which step did Xihe lose at today?”
Jiang Chenyu hesitated before speaking, “Because……of Gentleman’s interference?”
Jiang Huayue glared at her. “You, when you see Marquis Qi Ao, it’s as if you have abandoned your soul. Your whole mind is full of your Gentleman!”
Jiang Chenyu was shy until her face turned red. Jiang Huayue saw this appearance of hers and could only smile and shake her head as she exclaimed, “Alright then, alright then. Let’s just take it that this is one reason. But, this exactly illustrates the most paramount point ー Although Xihe is favored, apart from the imperial favor, she has nothing else.”
Jiang Chenyu’s heart trembled for a moment. She had comprehended the undertone.
“If I had been the one involved in the matter today instead, I wouldn’t even need to personally go to the front of the palace hall to kneel, I simply need to let Father team up with the ministers in the court to submit memorial booklets together to complain deeply about how the Empress’ failure in educating her nephew, how she indulged her nephew to commit acts of violence and offended the heaven’s authority. When that time comes, as memorial booklets are handed up one after another, so what if he has the late emperor’s imperial edict? He also can’t save the whole Xue family clan. That’s why……” Jiang Huayue leisurely combed her long hair while she said proudly, “So what if she’s more devastatingly beautiful and monopolize the imperial favor? She has no family background and power from the court behind her to support her. In a land of Asuras like this imperial palace, how could it possibly be something one can influence with just the strength of a mere person?”
Jiang Chenyu lowered her head and didn’t answer.
“I had overestimated her too much in the past and viewed her as a formidable opponent. Now that I look at it, that’s all she has. When the matter concerns née Xue, even His Majesty only thought about how to protect née Xue and not how to uphold justice for his favored consort. That’s why I say, a loach is ultimately a loach. No matter how much more they toss and turn, they also can’t flip itself out of the pond……”
Jiang Chenyu suddenly stood up and said, “Elder Sister, I’m going back.”
Jiang Huayue was stunned for a moment but swiftly understood after that. A mocking look flashed across her eyes. She smiled and said, “I know that you feel that this conflict over jealousy as well as such overt and covert struggles are disgusting and don’t like to listen. But think of me, your poor sister, who has to live in these kinds of day every day. Who knows when the person being plotted against would be me one day. Never mind, never mind, how is it possible for an outsider to understand how it feels inside? I was also just ranting for a moment only, if you don’t like to listen, I’ll just don’t say.”
When said like that, Jiang Chenyu could not help but became guilty. She went up and grasped her hand. “Elder Sister, it’s not that I don’t like to listen, it’s just that……”
“I do understand, I won’t say anymore.” Jiang Huayue looked towards her reflection in the copper mirror. Even if her eyebrows still resembled paintings, but her eyes were no longer innocent. How was she still that ignorant Eldest Miss Jiang who dwelled in her maiden quarters back then? She then looked at her younger sister behind her. They were only apart by three years but it felt as if they were two different categories of people. She had already experienced the hardships in her life and had become haggard while her younger sister was still protected by her family and as pure as the fresh flower during the first rays of the morning sun. When her thoughts reached her, she could not help but lament, “To think about it, the luckiest one is you. Not only do your parents pamper you like a treasure, I also heard that they even arranged a marriage with Marquis Qi Ao for you?”
Jiang Chenyu bit her lips and after a long while, she nodded her head lightly.
“How great. Haven’t you admired him for a long time? Right now, your wish can finally be fulfilled.”
“This matter has not been confirmed yet……”
“How could it not be confirmed? Younger Sister is currently the only one in the capital who can match up to that person who is like a banished immortal.” Jiang Huayue smiled faintly. “Haven’t you also seen his ability today? The Emperor relies on him heavily, not just for the significant matters in court but even listening to him for internal affairs within the imperial harem. Once the Ji Family and Jiang Family have a marriage alliance, we would no longer be afraid of the Xue Family. Look, your eyebrows are creasing again. As soon as you hear such matters about fighting for power and gain, you would detest it. My silly younger sister, the husband you’re marrying is not a commoner but an important official in court. How are you going to break away from this place where one is apt to get into trouble?”
Jiang Chenyu was clear in her heart that what her Elder Sister said was the truth but precisely due to this, she instead felt even more sorrowful. She sincerely admired Ji Ying but for her family, they valued the benefits brought about from the marriage alliance even more. As she thought, once anything in this world is stained with glory and wealth, it would no longer have any purity left.
Jiang Huayue took out a pearl hairpin from her makeup small box. The head of the hairpin was a pearl which had the size of a longan and glistened lustrously.
“This is a rare pearl imported by Nation Yi’s ambassadors. There is currently only one pair in this world. His Majesty bestowed one to me and Xihe respectively. This one is called ‘staying together for a long time’ while hers is called ‘never forget each other’. I invited a skilled craftsman to manufacture it into a hairpin. I’ll gift this to Younger Sister now. Just treat it as giving my Younger Sister a congratulatory gift for her wedding.”
Jiang Chenyu immediately knelt and thanked her for the favor and received it respectfully. As the pearl hairpin was transferred to her hands, it was so reflective that her skin became a serene blue color.
Jiang Huayue gazed at that hairpin and the expression in her eyes became softer. Yet, she appeared to have experienced many vicissitudes of life. “I hope that you can really stay together with your husband for a long time and be loving until an old age like what this name says.”
Staying together for a long time……huh? It was really a good name.
As Jiang Chenyu held that hairpin, a multitude of emotions welled up within her heart. However, at that moment, she and Jiang Huayue never expected that precisely because of this pearl, the fates of both of them and Xihe, as well as those who were involved in today’s matter would all be tangled together.
The one called staying together for a long time just happened to separate.
The one called never forget each other just had to put an end to it.
People are full of joys and sorrows as nothing is perfect even since the olden days*, the affairs of life never turns out as one wishes.
*T/n: I believe it is adapted from a longer sentence which means something like:
People have joys and sorrows, they part and meet again. The moon has times when it dims or shines, when it waxes or wanes. Nothing is perfect, not even since the olden days.
Alright, last part of Chapter 1. Chapter 2 coming next! 🙂