Inner Residence arc ー Chapter 14 (Part 1): Beautiful and Conspiracy
After Xie Zhaoying’s wound had slightly healed he once again appeared at one moment and disappeared at the next moment all day long like a divine dragon which head could be seen but not its tail. There were a few times when I woke up in the morning and saw that the pastries on the table had reduced. Only then did I know that this guy had come again in the middle of the night.
Hence, I picked up a brush to write the two words ‘Big Rat’ on the table. As a result, on the next day, I saw four additional words below them, ‘striving together as one’. It made me so angry that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Later on, there was one day when Yun Xiang told me, “Madam doesn’t let Third Miss leave her building anymore. Teacher Song also seems to be going to Prince Ying’s residence as secretary and will be moving out of the residence!”
I was very astonished. “Why is it so sudden?”
Yun Xiang said, “It’s not sudden at all. Look at Third Miss’ manner when expressing goodwill towards Teacher Song. This matter is considered to have been concealed long enough already as Madam is only aware of it now. I heard that Bao Ping even got rebuked and demoted to the servants’ quarters.”
I said, “Isn’t Third Elder Sister no longer preparing to enter the palace? Teacher Song’s not bad. A gifted scholar and a beautiful lady, a match made in heaven. I think that they are really well-matched.”
Yun Xiang said, “Miss, your waist doesn’t get sore from talking while standing.(You’re only making sarcastic remarks without understanding the situation well from others’ perspectives)*”
*T/n: This expression came about because the worker has to bend his waist to labor while the supervisor just stands there and tells the worker to work.
She’s right too. Just talking is easy.
That afternoon, I secretly went to look for Song Zijing and was surprised that the academy had a new teacher. He was an old fellow with a grizzled beard who spoke exasperatingly slow. What about Song Zijing?
Thankfully, Song San was still around. He told me, “Teacher Song is already working at Prince Ying’s residence. He will be moving out these few days.”
I asked, “Did your Teacher say anything?”
“Teacher said that it was very good like this. Actually, Master Xie had the intention of betrothing Third Miss to him after Teacher has gained some achievements in his career. However, Teacher flatly refused, saying that he is used to a free and unrestrained life like this with no fixed abode and not suited for marriage and settling down. He even said that Third Miss is more suitable for a better man, and he himself is really undeserving of her. At that time, Third Miss was behind the screen. When she heard it, she cried as she ran out.”
I shook my head. Xie Zhaoke was quite pitiful. However, my first love was also not any better than hers. Song Zijing was a celibate. Then at least there wouldn’t be other girls who could get him, wasn’t that right?
The Little Prince had also said before, ‘time will soothe all sorrows and what remains will only be happiness*’.
*T/n: Sorry, I didn’t search for the actual English translation from ‘The Little Prince’
I hoped that in time, she would understand.
In the middle of the night that day, I extinguished the light and waited for Xie Zhaoying. He climbed over the wall like before to enter the room. The wind soughs and sighs, the moonlight was gloomy and we met each other all around the world*.
*T/n: A poem that she thought of
Xie Zhaoying was frightened by me. “Girl? It’s in the middle of the night and you haven’t sleep yet?”
I lit up the lamp and smiled sarcastically. “In the middle of the night when no one whispers, it’s such a fine time with a beautiful scene. I find it too much of a waste to use it to sleeping.”
Xie Zhaoying sat down squarely. “It’s just nice that you’re not asleep. Come, pour tea.”
I cleared my throat. “The two of us should discuss properly for a bit!”
Xie Zhaoying had already poured himself a cup of tea. “That’s fine as well. It’s about time we had a chat.”
I went straight to the point. “You have always wanted to meet the Emperor, right?”
Xie Zhaoying held the tea cup with both of his hands. Amidst the light of the candle, he flashed me a mesmerizing smile.
I asked again, “You haven’t been able to see him so far?”
Xie Zhaoying said, “He’s in the inner palace. The Empress and the Zhao family keep a close watch and guard strictly.”
I said, “In a country, when the Emperor has already been placed under house arrest like this, those traitorous officials can actually still allow people like you to go out and come in under their noses? I have to say, Dong Qi is really democratic!”
Xie Zhaoying cast a sidelong glance at me. “The Zhao family doesn’t dare to walk until the last step because they don’t have the military power.”
“Where is the military power?”
“In Prince Yan(Yàn)’s hand.”
“Who is Prince Yan exactly?”
“The Emperor’s sixth younger brother.”
“Then when his elder brother is placed under house arrest, he doesn’t have any reaction?”
“It’s because he only controls the northern army and although the eastern army is managed by him, the tiger tally* is not in his hands. If he wants to stage an uprising, it will be extremely inconvenient to mobilize the troops, So much so that if there’s a change in the situation, it will become a stumbling block instead.”
*T/n: A two-pieced object made in the shape of a tiger and is used in ancient China as a proof of authority. It can be used to mobilize troops. The two halves of the tally are used for verification.
You may have seen it in period dramas:
“Then where’s that tiger tally?”
Xie Zhaoying sipped a mouth of tea. “In the Emperor’s hand.”
I was stunned. “Then, isn’t the Zhao family in charge of the eastern army?”
“No.” He said, “The reason the Zhao family has always been prudent and biding their time is because they also do not have the tiger tally.”
I pondered and reorganized my thoughts before I praised, “The Emperor is really not simple.”
Xie Zhaoying nodded his head. “The Emperor is wise. It’s just that he has always been indisposed and has the desire but lacks the power. However, the Zhao faction’s power now is also not formed overnight. The Emperor presumably have also long prepared in advance. That’s how we can pin them down during this critical juncture.”
I smiled. “If I were Elderly Zhao, I would think of a way to force Prince Yan to stage an uprising. Who cares if he makes himself the Emperor or purges the officials around the Emperor as part of a coup d’état. At any rate, he has to mobilize the eastern army, then employ the stratagem of sowing dissension midway and let the two armies fight within themselves.”
Xie Zhaoying was very gratified and pinched my face. “Clever, so intelligent.”
I kicked his leg lightly and said, “Then you wanting to meet the Emperor must be for that tiger tally?”
Xie Zhaoying nodded his head.
“You worked hard for four months but still haven’t met him yet?”
Xie Zhaoying felt very helpless. “I really have tried my best.”
I suddenly thought of an idea. “If you couldn’t meet him when you wanted to enter the palace to meet him, then you can let him come out to meet you in person!”
Xie Zhaoying’s face was written with the few words ‘are you an idiot’. I also thought so. I was afraid that the only things he hadn’t done yet in these few months were just building a tunnel or inventing an airplane. How could he not have thought of a small idea like that?
“He can’t come out?”
“First of all, his health isn’t well. You still remember Feihua right? Her reliable information is that the Emperor he needs people to support him even when walking. With this kind of body, plus née Zhao that woman obstructing the way, can he go wherever he wants to go?”
I nodded. “That’s why the elders said, we have to be cautious when marrying….”
Xie Zhaoying pushed away the tea cup irritably. “I’m pressed for time….”
He stood up and paced to and fro inside the room. “The Zhao faction has already been restless and ready to make trouble for a long time. I’m worried that the Emperor is unable to resist any longer. Once the Zhao faction controls the eastern army, let alone changing the ruler of the country, it’s even more of the beginning of a catastrophe.”
I mumbled to myself, “When is it not a catastrophe when changing the ruler of the country? Politics is a war that doesn’t shed blood. War is politics that sheds blood!”
Xie Zhaoying abruptly turned his head. “You said it well!”
I mocked. “It’s still Grandpa Mao* who said it well.”
*T/n: Referring to Mao Zedong
I suddenly thought of something. “Why don’t I give it a try?”
Xie Zhaoying asked again, “What?”
I jumped up. “Anyway, I have to enter the palace to give thanks for the favor. I can have a good chat with the Empress.”
“Ask her to let me meet the Emperor?”
“Ask her to go out of the palace.”
Xie Zhaoying said, “Don’t think of things as overly simple. Before you, Feihua had tried a few times to exhort née Zhao to go out of the palace but it was not efficacious at all. Née Zhao is very distrustful of others.”
“Menopause.” I nodded. “However, I think that it is you who thinks in an overly complicated manner. Think about it, what is the most urgent for them right now?”
Xie Zhaoying instantly understood with just a little hint from me. “Capturing me.”
I nodded. “It’s highly possible that for the sake of capturing you, she will risk beating you at your own game once. This is an unprecedented precondition that did not exist when Elder Sister Feihua exhorted her in the past. Therefore, maybe I won’t need to waste too much words in talking her around before she will agree.”
Xie Zhaoying smiled through half-closed eyes. “Even if she will go out of the palace, she will certainly leave a great deal of manpower to watch over the Emperor and prevent outsiders from approaching him. Or maybe, she will lay out a ruse and plan to create a diversion by making a feint in the east and attacking in the west and seize the opportunity to capture me?”
I also smiled. “She will even bring along the Emperor and go out of the palace together.”
Xie Zhaoying mulled over it. “We have to take a gamble.”
I said, “This is something to talk about later. First of all, we have to prod the Empress to leave the palace.”
Xie Zhaoying stood with his hands clasped behind his back. He creased his eyebrows as he pondered for a moment. “Indeed. Time waits for no one. We can put our all into the fight.”
I gasped in admiration, “Second Elder Brother, I suddenly realized that your stature is very imposing!”
Xie Zhaoying was pleased with himself. “Is that so?”
“That’s right.” I added, “It’ll be even better if there isn’t that grain of sesame seed beside your mouth.”
The next day, I was dressed grandly again and followed Madam Xie to enter the palace and pay our respects to the shaman granny, Empress Zhao.
Translated and Edited by: HaruOngy and LalaKurouds