First Arc ー Chapter 3 (Part 7): Battle Begins
That was because Gentleman was fond of talent while Xue Cai happened to be a sound material made with jade-like quality that was hard to come by in a hundred years. What she betted on was Gentleman’s heart which treasures talent and as expected, he did not disappoint her and finally promised to save him. She actually knew how big a sacrifice he had to make to consent to this matter based on his identity and status, as well as the circumstances he was currently in. Although she had guessed that he would be soft-hearted, she was still moved by this soft-heartedness.
Gentleman……He was worthy of that Gentleman which she had admired for so long and constantly thought about……The him who was being lenient and magnanimous like this, abandoning all his personal gains like this, being so lofty and virtuous in moral character and flawless like this……
But, but, but……
Layers of mist suffused her one after another. Jiang Chenyu thought that she may probably cry right away. Inside her heart, it felt as if it was being cut apart by a knife and a certain spot was streaming with blood because she was moved, because she was in love, and even more because she was ashamed.
‘Gentleman, although you’re rescuing Xue Cai out of righteousness, I Jiang Chenyu is doing this for selfish reasons instead.’
‘It’s because if the Xue Family is really exterminated, the Ji Family will definitely prosper while the Jiang Family will wane even more. In that case, the marriage alliance between the Jiang and Ji families would lose its meaning for existence.’
‘Whereas how could I watch on helplessly as this marriage comes to a premature end?’
‘Therefore, before it has yet to display hints that it was thoroughly ruined, I can only grab on tightly without letting go.’
‘Gentleman, I can’t let go. If I let go, I will lose you!’
‘I want to marry you as wife, have the two of us support each other and forever be together until our hair have turned white. But all those have to be established on an equal foundation. I don’t want to climb socially by forging connections with the Ji Family and also don’t want the others to despise me and think that I’m not worthy of you.’
‘I want you to feel honored because of me. I want to be incomparably dazzling as I stand beside you. I want everyone in the world to say, “The Jiang Family’s Chenyu and Ji Family’s Qi Ao is a match made in heaven!’
‘Therefore, I can only do such a despicable thing.’
‘I can only hinder your future prospects like this.’
‘I’m sorry, Gentleman, I’m sorry……’
‘It’s because I love you, it’s because I love you, it’s because…..I love you in such a stubborn yet lowly manner……’
Jiang Chenyu cast her eyes downwards, her eyebrows shuddering nonstop like a butterfly’s wings as there was a feeling of sorrow in her heart which was hard to conceal. It was at that moment when she heard Ji Ying say, “So this place also has apricot trees……”
She raised her head but saw Ji Ying standing beside the table with his hands folded as he gazed intently at an apricot tree not far away. At this moment, the chilly winter had just passed and the weather had yet to completely turn warm. The tree trunk was bare and had no aesthetic feel at all. But his gaze became extremely extremely gentle as if he had seen the beautiful scenery of the spring flowers brightly colored in full bloom and all living things resuscitating.
Her heart trembled a little and she could not refrain herself from asking, “Gentleman likes apricot flowers?”
“Yeah.” After the cool and gentle nasal sound, he added another sentence with emphasis, “I like it very much.”
So it turned out that apricot flowers. She did not know why but felt a little strange. She had always felt that such a Gentleman who was elegant and lofty should like flowers that were more unique and of an unconventional species.
“It’s a little unexpected. I thought that Gentleman likes cherry blossoms*.”
*T/n: ‘Ying’ flowers refers to cherry blossoms
“Don’t tell me that you really like the common poppy*?” Ji Ying asked back in such a manner. It looked like he had also thought of that couplet in the marriage proposal card.
*T/n: ‘Yu’ mei ren
Jiang Chenyu pursed her lips and smiled as she said, “Both the gorgeousness and desolate appearance of the pear blossom surpass that of the snowflake, the fragrance it emits seeps into the clothes.”
*T/n: One of the lines from the poem is called ‘Pear Blossom at the Left Side’. It is by Qiu Wei from the Tang Dynasty. The ‘Left Side’ is kind of also referring to an official position which has a right counterpart.
For this poem, I decided to translate it based on the more layman meaning.
“So you like pear blossoms……” Ji Ying gazed at that apricot tree and said unhurriedly, “It’s really great. Once another month passes, the two types of flowers would all have bloomed.”
Jiang Chenyu’s thoughts moved slightly. Thereupon, she said, “Every April, the imperial capital will have grand ceremonies specially for admiring the flowers. Thousands of flowers will bloom in fragrance and is the most like the red garden. Does Gentleman want to……go with me this year?”
Ji Ying seemed to be stunned for a moment and this made her instantly feel a kind of regret that she had been offensive. Was taking the initiative like this to invite a man to go admire the flowers too……not reserved?
But Gentleman was Gentleman after all. Obviously, he would definitely not let people feel embarrassed, especially making a girl embarrassed. Hence, he raised the corner of his lips and said in a gentle voice, “This is Ying’s honor.”
Jiang Chenyu’s heart leapt a few times. Her uneasiness and awkwardness subsided and what supplanted it was an indescribable soft feelings. She looked at the man standing in front of her eyes and only felt that there was not one area on his whole body from head to toe which was not perfect. Every single thing corresponded to her feelings and made her delighted. There was still one more month……after another month, she would then be able to see the flowers the two of them loved the most, together with Gentleman.
When that time comes, the white pear blossom and red apricot flowers would both shine and reflect each other. They would definitely be joined like a string of pearls and matched harmoniously like joining jade annulus and bloom very very splendidly right……
Ten days later, Nation Bi’s monarch, Zhao Yin, who stationed troops at the north of Huai River and was preparing to openly face off with Great General Xue Huai, suddenly received the letter written by Nation Yan’s monarch, Zhang Hua. The letter was interceded for Xue Cai, earnestly requesting for his life to be preserved.
After the young emperor read that letter, his raging flames burned his two pupils. He pierced the letter and tore it into two halves, frightening the group of high-ranking military officers at his side to kneel down and cry out ‘long live the Your Majesty’ in unison.
His chest continuously moved up and down. Only after a very long period of time did he slowly calm down and open his mouth to say, “All of you get out. This Emperor wants to be alone in silence for a while.”
The high-ranking military officers withdrew one after another. Thus, the whole tent was only left with him alone. His gaze flashed and he called out, “Tian Jiu.”
A ball of black figure floated down from the rooftop and lastly manifested itself as a person who prostrated on the ground and said, “Here.”
“What’s with this?” Zhao Yin threw the letter towards the ground in front of him.
Tian Jiu picked up the fragments and pieced them together to read it once. He lowered his voice to say, “I heard that Noble Lady Jiang and Princess went to the cold palace to see the Empress once.”
Zhao Yin laughed sarcastically, “You think it’s the Empress who wrote a letter to plead with King Yan? If she really could still pass on a brief note, then that large group of imperial guards raised in the palace don’t need to live anymore!”
Tian Jiu knew that His Majesty was currently in a fit of anger and that a careless answer would cause the anger to be vented on everyone else so he immediately said on the spot, “The world knows that King Yan is fond of Xue Cai but cannot help that his identity is special and cannot accept him as a foster son. In addition, he is also too young and can’t be recruited as a son-in-law. He has found it regrettable for a very long time. I suppose he must have heard about the matter regarding the Xue Clan and therefore specially plead for leniency……”
Zhao Yin was silently and finally made a ‘humph’ noise.
Tian Jiu cautiously said, “How does Your Majesty plan to respond?”
“What else can This Emperor do? This letter appears to be politely pleading for leniency, it’s actually simply a threat. He clearly knows that my country has civil strifes and although it’s inconvenient to act indiscriminately due to being hindered by the two country’s diplomatic relations, who knows if his heart is thinking about how he should divide a cup of soup! If I don’t promise him to preserve Xue Cai, I’m afraid that he will announce that he’s going to assist Xue Huai in sending armed forces to suppress me, the fatuous ruler, tomorrow!” Zhao Yin’s facial expression was extremely ghastly. In a flash, his eyes were even more sombre.
Tian Jiu did not dare to resume the conversation and could only lower his head.
After being silent for quite a while like this, Zhao Yin hooked the corner of his lips up and smiled. “That’s fine too. Since you all hope that This Emperor can preserve him, then This Emperor will just preserve him.”
Tian Jiu still continued to main silence prudently. He had followed Zhao Yin for seven years already and knew this master’s innate character and temperament very well. If he really raised his eyebrows and glared as he loses his temper, that was still good. The scariest was when he had a shadow of a smile on his face like this. Whenever His Majesty was like this, it indicated that there was someone who was going to be terribly out of luck again.
“Luo Heng.” Zhao Yin summoned his personal imperial eunuch to come in. “Issue a decree for This Emperor. Just say that although Xue Huai had revolted and his crimes are linked to his offsprings, This Emperor remembers his old favors, thus specially gives a lenient treatment to pardon Xue Cai and rewards him to Ji Ying as a slave. May Gentleman properly discipline instead.”
Luo Heng hesitated slightly for a while. “Your Majesty……”
“Bestowing Xue Cai to Ji Ying, will it be inappropriate……”
Zhao Yin flashed a faint smile at him. His eyebrows and eyes were curved. “Then, bestow to you?”
Luo Heng was immediately frightened until he broke out in cold sweat. He did not dare to speak any further and hastily accepted the decree and went out.
After Zhao Yin made this decision, his facial expression improved by a lot. He waved his hand to signal that Tian Jiu could also hide. Hence, the black figure on the floor flashed and the figure disappeared.
He unhurriedly sat down, unhurriedly spread out the troops’ map on the table and summoned Pan Fang to come to meet him. Not long after, Pan Fang arrived in a rush. Zhao Yin beckoned him to beside the desk and said, “Dear Subject, we have already reached the Huai River and the traitor Xue is also invading until Huai River soon. Based on your opinion, where would we wage war?”
Pan Fang pointed at a small city beside the river, “Naturally it’s Luo City.”
“It’s that place where Xue Su’s head is hung?”
“Firstly, although this city is small, it is a strategic location of importance for soldiers. It has all along been an area where every passing army must rob. The city is one hundred Chinese feet* tall and its three sides overlook the river. It is easy to defend but hard to attack. If this cit is lost, it’s considered that the battle is already lost.”
*T/n: If my calculations aren’t wrong, it should be about 33m
“Then what about the second point?”
“Secondly……” Pan Fang pointed at the place marked in red circle on the map and said. “Lord Marquis has already laid out an inescapable net in the city. This subject dares to use my head to guarantee that as long as the traitor Xue enters this city, there is no doubt that he will die!”
Zhao Yin’s gaze flashed and did not probe for the reason in details. He stood up and patted his shoulder as he said, “Good. Wait until the traitor Xue is subdued and put to death, This Emperor wants to drink three cups to our fill with General to thank heaven for bestowing such a valiant general like you to Nation Bi.”
Pan Fang threw himself to the ground and knelt. “After Your Majesty beheaded Xue Su and helped this humble subject exact a great revenge for the wife I have yet to marry, even if this humble subject dash his brains to the ground, it’s also hard to repay Your Majesty’s favor! Right now, this subject has only one wish that has yet to be fulfilled.”
Pan Fang bit his teeth and his voice was close to a sob. “It’s the unjust accusation to my father……”
Zhao Yin nodded his head and said, “Don’t worry. Once this battle succeeds, This Emperor will naturally return justice to your esteemed father.”
“Thanks to Your Majesty!” Pan Fang heavily kowtowed resoundingly three times.
Zhao Yin reached his hand out to lift him up. He smiled as he said, “Once this battle succeeds, who wouldn’t know you……Even if it’s your esteemed father’s spirit in heaven, he would also have a smile on his face in the underworld. You mustn’t let This Emperor be disappointed……”
As he watched Pan Fang’s face reveal a touched expression, Zhao Yin smiled but his smile did not reach his eyes. He thought, ‘This person, he is This Emperor’s subject on the surface but in his bones, he is still Qi Ao’s person.’
‘But that’s alright. Once the day comes when they have to go on different paths and he is forced to choose, this person will then become This Emperor’s person. It’s just that, if it is possible, I still hope that there won’t be such a day.’
As Zhao Yin smiled and smiled, the expression in his eyes suddenly became silent.
Last part for this chapter. Woah, almost 37 pages! Why do the chapters seem to be getting longer… Haha
Anyway, some of you may have noticed the support button at the sidebar or the in the menu. You don’t have to feel obliged to support or anything (the comments have been encouraging) but it would be much appreciated. It may motivate me greatly! 🙂 It will also help me organize my priorities and have a better idea of what readers would like. You can request what you would like to see more of or even suggest new ideas and projects. I kind of joined a translation group a short while ago too so now I really need to decide on what to focus on. >< I was planning on site monetization but the subscription plan T^T
Sorry for the long message and if you don’t mind, do click on the button! I have put up a page with more details too but I think that will bore you all haha 😀