First Arc ー Chapter 3 (Part 3): Battle Begins
The snow had already stopped but the frost had yet to rest.
Rising spirals of white air could be seen from one’s breath. Jiang Chenyu looked at the color of the sky outside the window which was gradually getting darker and sighed almost inaudibly.
Wo Yu said from one side, “Miss, the weather is cold, you should return to the warm room to shelter there first, so as not to get frozen here.”
She shook her head and continued to keep watch at the front of the main hall to wait. She waited all the way until the second hour of 7-9pm. Only then did Jiang Zhong and Jiang Xiaocheng came back together. The two people’s expressions were both very exhausted, especially Jiang Xiaocheng whose pair of eyes were sunken and bloodshot, with an appearance that he had yet to recover from a fright. His left hand was still wrapped around with bandages and had been injured.
Jiang Chenyu promptly went up to say, “Father, Elder Brother.”
Jiang Zhong signalled at her to follow and the three of them went to the study together.
“Elder Brother, what happened to your hand?”
Jiang Xiaocheng’s mouth twitched and felt quit aggrieved. “When we went to search the house and confiscate possessions today, I got bitten by a small crazy dog.”
Jiang Zhong made a loud ‘humph’ sound. “Why don’t you say that you were so driven by strong sexual urges? I really don’t know what your brain is made of. You still dare to fool around and cause trouble at such a critical juncture like this. If I must say, this bite is still bitten lightly!”
Only after taking a long time did Jiang Chenyu figured out. It turned out that when Jiang Xiaocheng acted under orders to go to the Xue Family to search their house and confiscate their properties today, he saw a maidservant which looked extremely beautiful. His lust surged for a moment and started to take advantage of her. As a result, he was bitten by Xue Cai.
Jiang Xiaocheng said resentfully, “That boy can hardly save himself, yet he still wanted to protect others. So ridiculous.”
Jiang Chenyu said anxiously, “Elder Brother, what did you do to him?”
“Nothing much. After I kicked him, I captured him to the imperial prison and locked him up together with that lecherous father of his.”
Jiang Zhong made a ‘humph’ sound again. “If you continue to be like this, your end also won’t be much better than Xue Su!”
Jiang Xiaocheng instantly smiled in a flattering manner. “How could that be? My father knows his place much more than his father. Moreover, didn’t I just want to take a little advantage, I also didn’t really think of doing what……”
Jiang Chenyu creased her eyebrows. She knew that it was easy to change mountains and rivers but hard to alter a person’s nature. It was not just one or two days that her Elder Brother had been lascivious and he also would not be successfully exhorted in a moment. She immediately pushed it aside to not think about it but picked an urgent matter to talk about, “Father, what did His Majesty say during today’s imperial court assembly?”
“His Majesty naturally flew into a terrible rage. How else? There were still some people below* who wanted to speak for the Xue Family but in the end, they were frightened by him and didn’t dare to say anymore. The current situation is tilting towards the side of the pro-war faction.”
*T/n: The Emperor sits on the throne at an upper platform, so the court officials are below
“Xue Hai has really revolted?”
Jiang Xiaocheng said, “Can this still be fake?”
“Mountain Yan’s letter didn’t come early nor late but came precisely at this time. That has to be too much of a coincidence right. But never mind, it’s no longer important whether he has really revolted. Everyone currently thinks that he has revolted so he simply has no second way of retreat that he can take at all.” Jiang Chenyu’s gaze flickered. “How is Pan Fang’s injury?”
“That Jiang Wanyi is indeed brilliant. Not only did he rescue his life, furthermore, after these few days of nursing his body, it’s said that he has already recovered halfway.”
“Then did His Majesty settle on a general to lead the troops to go on a punitive expedition to suppress Xue Huai?”
The Jiang father and son looked at each other as both their expressions turned very odd. Finally, it was still Jiang Xiaocheng who licked his mouth and said in an exasperatingly slow manner, “His Majesty he……wants to personally lead his soldiers in the military expedition.”
Jiang Chenyu was flabbergasted.
Jiang Xiaocheng said, “From what I see, His Majesty has really lost his mind this time. Forget it that he fell out with Xue Huai, but he even wants to personally go onto the battlefield. If I were to say something extremely disrespectful, isn’t this courting……” He surveyed his surroundings. Although he was certain that there would not be anyone who would eavesdrop, he still lowered his voice, “Courting death right? Who doesn’t know that this Majesty of ours has been weak in health since young, unable to carry anything on his shoulders and lift anything with his hands. Whether he can ride a horse is also a problem, let alone personally taking part in the expedition.”
Regarding this, Jiang Chenyu had also actually heard a little. She heard that Zhao Yin was born from an unfavored palace maid, thus he was snubbed since young and no one showed interest in him. It was all the way until he was ten years old that he received a chance to return to the late emperor’s side. Let alone martial arts, he did not even recognize a few words previously. It was also because he had that kind of utterly deplorable experience that caused his personality to become gloomy and suspicious, and capricious.
Jiang Chenyu inhaled deeply and said unhurriedly, “No, His Majesty must personally take part in the expedition for this battle.”
“Younger Sister, why do you also think so? The opponent is after all Xue Huai who has been engaged in the battlefield for a long time. What if there is something untoward happens after His Majesty goes……”
“There are three reasons.” Jiang Chenyu interrupted him. “Ever since His Majesty has ascended the throne, he has yet to make a contribution so he borrows his campaign to firstly establish his might, secondly to seize power and thirdly, just like what Father has said, His Majesty is someone who is resolute and adept in scheming as well as intelligent and able to endure silently. All these years, having been restrained by people in every aspect, his heart definitely has accumulated a pile of grievances and to exact revenge on someone, the best method is nothing more than crushing him at where the opponent is most proud of. Isn’t Xue Huai known to be the number one divine general? In that case, His Majesty precisely wants to defeat him on the battlefield and deliver a thorough blow to him.”
Jiang Xiaocheng widened his eyes as he said, “Wah, His Majesty is indeed ruthless enough!”
After Jiang Zhong heard it, he did not speak for a long time. Finally, he lamented softly, “I didn’t think that my child is actually His Majesty’s kindred spirit……”
Jiang Chenyu’s face immediately turned red. She spoke hesitatingly, “Chenyu’s humble opinion has instead let Father see a joke.”
“No.” Jiang Zhong reached out his hand and slowly as well as a little heavily placed it on her shoulder. “In the past, it was Father who didn’t realize that you actually have such knowledge. It’s a pity, it’s a pity, it’s a pity……”
He repeatedly said ‘it’s a pity’ three times. Jiang Chenyu knew that what he felt was a pity was about the matter of her being a female. If she were a male, then the Jiang Family would have hope already.
‘But I don’t want to be a man,’ Jiang Chenyu thought.
It was because if she were a male, then she would have no fate with Gentleman in this lifetime and she did not want to miss out on him. No matter how challenging the circumstances were, no matter how many numerous obstacles were between the two of them, no matter how much that distant future appeared to be elusive and uncertain, she wanted to grab onto this chance tightly. She must, she must, not miss it!
Elder Sister gifted me ‘staying together for a long time’. I must be like this bead’s name, staying together for a long time and never abandon each other forever.
Jiang Chenyu bit her lower lip. As she gazed fixedly at the dim candle light which was dancing up and down, the color of her pupils turned from pale to dark.
Along with Xue Huai’s uprising, martial laws were imposed all around the capital and it sunk into pandemonium. It appeared to be immensely chaotic on the surface, but in fact, everything was methodically happening according to what Jiang Chenyu had theorized ー
First of all, Xue Su was captured, the Xue Family’s house was searched with the possessions confiscated and every single person who was involved with the Xue Clan were all chained in iron shackles and thrown in jail. After three days, Xue Su was beheaded at the Meridian Gate* under all his crimes of colluding with the enemy and committing treason. His head was sent using a fine steed to Luo City and hung on the city gate to demonstrate his might.
*T/n: It is said that capital punishments were carried out outside the Meridian Gate
Next, the previous General of Fast Cavalry, Pan Fang, who was dismissed from his post, knelt with his injuries outside Marquis Qi Ao’s residence for the whole night to implore to lead troops to go on a punitive expedition for the Xue traitors. Gentleman was moved by his sincerity and finally permitted. The next day, disregarding the officials who tried to thwart him in court, the Emperor conferred Pan Fang as a Great General and brought 300 000 main forces, marching the troops to war down south and personally led them on the military expedition.
Immediately after the Emperor’s army had just left, there came people from the palace who conveyed that Noble Lady Jiang had summoned to see Chenyu.
Hence, one month apart from the incident of Xihe vomiting blood the last time, Jiang Chenyu entered the palace once again. On the way, she met a lot of palace maids and eunuchs who brushed past her as they were weeping and wailing while being escorted by soldiers. When she reached Jia Ning Palace and asked her Elder Sister, the corner of Jiang Huayue’s lips pulled up slightly as she said not without sneering, “What else can it be? Aren’t they implicated by Xue Ming’s incident?”
“Hasn’t it already been ascertained?”
“His Majesty treasures that woman and is afraid that she would get suffer from an evil scheme again, thus every single person who is just a little related to the Xue Family, had served Xue Ming, received benefits from her, are all driven out.”
Jiang Chenyu was silent and only opened her mouth to speak after quite a while. “How is the Empress now?”
“How else can she be? Staying in that vile place like Qian Xi Palace is not any different from death.” As Jiang Huayue continued to speak, she started to pity herself and lamented faintly, “With that kind of impressiveness back then, I had always thought that the Xue Family could protect her for a lifetime, how would I have thought that edifice would just collapse all of a sudden. The Xue Family is like this, the Jiang Family, would also be like this.”
“Elder Sister is worrying too much.”
“Worrying too much? If it’s really worrying too much, then that’s good. Such an enormous power like the Xue Family could be eliminated when His Majesty said to eliminate, let alone our Jiang Family……let me ask you, how are the arrangements going for your marriage with the Ji Family? I heard that there’s something wrong with the marriage proposal card?”
Jiang Chenyu’s eyebrows trembled for a moment, after which she raised her head, her pair of eyes as deep and black as ink. “There is nothing wrong with the marriage proposal card. There also won’t be anything wrong.”
Jiang Huayue understood her meaning immediately and corrected herself, “Then that’s good. Presenting betrothal gifts* and presenting wedding gifts* have already been done right?”
*T/n: The third and fourth steps of the ‘six etiquettes/ceremonies of betrothal and marriage’ respectively. The third step is the boy’s family displaying their intentions for the engagement while the fourth step is sending gifts for the wedding after the betrothal gifts have been accepted.
If you are interested, I have included two links below:
“There’s only selecting the wedding date left. However, due to the ongoing war, it has been set aside.”
Jiang Huayue spoke in a low voice, “That’s also something that can’t be helped. Yesterday night, a scout came to report that Xue Huai’s main forces are already up north and are an irresistible force like splitting bamboo. In one night, they captured three cities, Jin, Ji and Hui. He deserves to be called Nation Bi’s number one general. A good sword remains sharp and his skills are still as splendid as ever. On top of that, that foster son of his, Xue Hongfei is said to have unrivalled strength as well as dauntless and proficient in warfare. Taking down three cities and three city governors is like playing. His Majesty going this time, is really……” When she spoke until here, it was reduced to a sigh.
“His Majesty is the true dragon and son of heaven. He will naturally have the heaven’s assistance and nothing will happen to him. Elder Sister does not need to worry. “Just as she said until here, a palace maid came to report, “Your Highness, Princess has come.”
As Jiang Huayue promptly stood up, she saw Princess Zhao Luan dashed in with her very red eyes. “Noble Lady, you definitely have to help me this time!” As she said, she wanted to kneel down. It scared her as she hastily supported her, “Princess, what is this about? If there’s anything you want to say, say it properly. You’re overwhelming me with more than I deserve like this.”
Zhao Luan gazed at her with her eyes brimming with tears and choked with sobs. “I want to go to Qian Xi Palace to see Imperial Elder Sister-in-law……”