I feel that I should warn for dubious consent in this chapter. Please remember this is fictional and in a pseudo-historical universe.
For everyone who want to avoid the paragraph, please start with “When Qu Qing Ju first heard……” through the search function on your browser.
This chapter has been provided to you by me, ororomunroe90 and leecherleechleech.
Chapter Fifty Four Losing the Heart of the Emperor
“Wang ye, be careful where you step,” said the yahuan holding the lantern in a gentle voice, “Not many people come to Xi Ce Yuan. The road isn’t easy to walk on.”
He Yuan smiled at the yahuan until the other bashfully buried her head lower and lower. He finally spoke: “If that’s so, then the lantern needs to be raised higher.”
The yahuan’s face turned red and the lantern in her hand swayed before she recovered her composure.
Originally, no one had lived in Xi Ce Yuan. Because a ce fei was soon to be taken in, the chief steward of the wang fu told the servants to clean it. The majority of the furniture had not been renewed before Qu Yue Su’s imminent arrival.
The procession entered Xi Ce Yuan. Inside, the lights shone brightly but He Yuan didn’t have the innate joy that sprang from taking a beautiful woman as a ce shi. He looked at the tightly closed door, and then at the two kneeling yahuan who were safeguarding it. In a heavy voice, he said: “Open the door.”
“Yes,” One of the yahuan bowed and gently pushed open the door. He Yuan stepped inside and passed the Shelf of Many Treasures to see Qu Yue Su sitting on the bed. She was wearing a light-colored girdled dress. The girdle was pale green in color. Her head was bowed, revealing a pale neck. She did seem to have some beauty.
He Yuan stood next to the Shelf and motioned for everyone inside to leave before slowly moving forward.
“Wang ye,” Qu Yue Su stood and bowed. Her movements were graceful and subtle, acting more like a daughter of an educated and noble family than his own wang fei, Qin shi.
“Was Beauty waiting for ben wang?” He Yuan raised her chin with his index finger, his thumb curling at her lip, “Each minute of the spring night is worth a thousand gold pieces. We shouldn’t waste any more time.” He didn’t wait to hear Qu Yue Su’s thoughts before pushing her onto the bed.
The piercing pain erupting in the lower half of her body made Qu Yue Su spill hot tears. She’d never thought that her wedding night would end up like this, painful and without a shred of warmth. She hadn’t even heard a gentle word from the man lying on top of her body. To this man, she was probably just a plaything.
The pain slowly dulled into numbness. She stared wide-eyed at the lotus flowers embroidered on the pink curtains above her head. She wouldn’t always be in this position. Qu Qing Ju had achieved a good life so why couldn’t she? What Qu Qing Ju could do, she could do also.
When Qu Qing Ju first heard that the Duke of Chang De had put Qu Yue Su in a blue sedan and sent her off to Rui Wang Fu, she was sitting in zhengyuan listening to the flattery of the qieishi. When she had finished listening to what had happened, she sighed ruefully: “Such a pity.” She might not like Qu Yue Su personally, but to send a fifteen-year old girl away to be a qie? It really was a waste of her talent and beauty. Her entire life had been ruined because she had a mother like Liang shi.
The qieshi sitting below her didn’t know what to say in response. They knew that wang fei didn’t have a good relationship with her maternal family. Her half-sister rushing off to become a qie of Rui Wang wasn’t some glorious event. Should they be outwardly happy that a person wang fei disliked became someone’s qie or sad because wang fei’s sister had shamed her?
Jiang Yong Yu glanced at wang fei and saw she wasn’t angry yet she wasn’t happy. She looked regretful. Jiang Yong Yu’s thoughts switched tracks and she said: “Qie heard that Qu san xiaojie is talented and beautiful. No wonder His Highness Rui Wang would fall in love with her.”
He Yuan was the type of person who saw women as just playthings in his heart. There was no such thing as love in his mind. She smiled helplessly:“If it was like that, then this match would have been good.”
“Some people want to be a qie. Who can stop them?” Ping Zi Jin smiled mirthlessly as she spoke, momentarily forgetting that she too was a qie.
Qu Qing Ju glanced at her. She felt too lazy to argue and lightly remarked: “Ping shiqie should think about her own identity before speaking.” She then told the shiqie to leave.
When Ping Zi Jin came out of the zhengyuan, her face still hadn’t recovered. Now that she had been demoted from ce fei to shiqie, the people who had fawned over her in the past were nowhere to be seen. Even the other shiqie beside her didn’t want to talk to her.
She hated seeing the disdain Qu Qing Ju had towards her but she was helpless. She had no favour and no status. If Qu Qing Ju wanted to move against her, it would take only a few words. What could she do in return?
The news that He Yuan took a qie quickly spread throughout Jing City. The Imperial Censors who had already been opposing him redoubled their efforts to impeach him. It seemed as though they would not rest without defeating He Yuan.
Even Qing De Emperor was angry this time and summoned He Yuan to the palace. He looked at his child kneeling in front of him with a bowed head and thought about his adorableness when he first learned how to talk and walk. His heart softened in an instant. Using a handkerchief to muffle the sound of coughing, he asked a few seconds later: “Zhen thought you were young and inexperienced so zhen tolerated you at every turn. Who knew that you would commit a thoughtless action? Do you not know the discontent that the entire court feels towards you?”
“Er chen only took a woman. It has nothing to do with them,” He Yuan raised his head to look at Qing De Emperor. “Fuhuang, these people are purposefully attacking er chen. No matter what er chen does, they will always find an excuse to make things difficult for er chen. There’s no difference whether or not er chen actually committed it.”
Qing De Emperor saw He Yuan’s face had turned slightly red with anger. He coughed several more times before asking: “How could the entire court be deliberately opposing you? Yuan’er, you are not small anymore. Think before you act. Even zhen cannot do whatever zhen pleases.”
He Yuan’s face darkened but didn’t say a word.
“Zhen knows you have a fiery personality. All these years, there hasn’t been any criticism. Zhen only thought that after you grew up, you would understand and change. But after seeing your conduct becoming even more outrageous, zhen hurts inside.” He gave a sigh, “Stay in your fu and reflect. If you do such things again, even zhen cannot protect you.”
“Fuhuang is the Son of Heaven, the master of all the people in the world. Do you have to consider other people?” He Yuan looked at Qing De Emperor and asked with a hint of defiance, “The entire world is yours. Why do you have to take their opinions into consideration?”
Qing De Emperor looked at his most beloved son. A beat later, he said: “You shall go back and reflect. Leave now.”
“Er chen asks for leave.” He Yuan saw Qing De Emperor’s expression wasn’t good, and could only bow and leave. Coming out of Tian Qi Palace, his face became progressively angrier. If he was the Emperor, he would control all the power. He didn’t need anyone ordering him about. If they didn’t want their position, there would be hundreds of thousands of people who did. He wouldn’t get threatened because of these matters. After all these years, fuhuang’s personality was still soft so he allowed the people in the Royal Court to push him around.
“Yo, san di is leaving the palace?” He Qi had a smile on his face as he strode towards He Yuan. Seeing the ugly expression on He Yuan’s face, his smile became even brighter, “I heard that in two days, si di is being transported back to Jing for his recovery, what does san di think?”
“Whatever da ge thinks, I will also think,” He Yuan raised his chin, his eyes full of disdain as he looked at He Qi, “Did you think that you could jump up in order to push me down so you could climb even higher? Dream on.” A scornful smile appeared on his face.
He Qi didn’t become angry. He only came up and patted He Yuan’s shoulder. He lowered his voice and said: “To climb up or not is not important. If san di falls down, wei xiong would be even happier.” He straightened and said with a smile, “That year, san di and this brother were playing together. San di tripped and caused ben wang and mufei to kneel at Zhao Xiang Palace for an entire night. Don’t forget it.”
“We all rely on our abilities. If da ge and Wen guipin had the ability, why would you ask for mercy in front of the doors of didi and mufei’s palace?” He Yuan raised his lips in a smile, “Of course I wouldn’t forget such a matter. It was such a good show in the past.”
He Qi’s smile became darker. He stared icily at He Yuan, “Pray towards the Heavens that you would see an entire lifetime of good shows.”
“Da ge doesn’t have to worry about that,” He Yuan raised an eyebrow and looked towards the palace gates, “Farewell.”
He Qi watched expressionlessly as He Yuan left the palace and a thin sliver of icy mirth appeared on his face. Arrogant people died quickly. He wondered if the other would be as arrogant at the time of his death.
Around the corner, He Heng smiled as he saw his two brothers part ways. He turned and said to Ming He behind him, “Ben wang’s da ge and san di have such good relations.”
“To have harmony between sons of the Imperial Family, it is a lucky event.” Ming He responded with a smile.
“Of course it is a lucky event,” He Heng rubbed his chin as he smiled. Remembering that lao si was coming back to Jing in two days, he ordered, “After returning to the fu, remember to let wang fei prepare some healing and blood-enriching medicines.”
Ming He acknowledged the words with a bow of his head, realising that wang ye was preparing it for Cheng Wang. He said: “Wang ye doesn’t have to worry. Nucai remembers that the fu’s stores has many rare blood-enriching medicines. Cheng Wang will certainly recover quickly.”
He Heng nodded. He turned and went inside the carriage to return home. At the fu, he walked towards the zhengyuan to eat the evening meal as was his custom.
As he entered the main gate of zhengyuan, he detected the distinct smell of medicine. When he looked around and saw the zhengyuan’s servants moving back and forth as they sorted out the medicines. It was a busy scene. When the servants saw him, they stopped what they were doing and bowed in greeting.
“No need to bow, just perform your duties,” He Heng went inside the room to see Qu Qing Ju writing, her head bent. As he moved closer, he saw that she was writing several lists of medicines. All of them seemed to contain good items that would help improve a person’s health.
“Wang ye has returned?” Qu Qing Ju raised her head to glance at him before returning to her writing, not even bothering to stand for greeting.
“This is all in preparation for si di?” He Heng glanced a few more times at her characters that were only neat, not beautiful. “We have a good variety here.”
“There are only two months left before the wedding of si shu and the girl from the Luo Family is held,” Qu Qing Ju put down her pen and scanned the list before saying, “Originally, si shu returning home victoriously and his upcoming marriage was a cause for celebration. Who knew that villains would try to assassinate him? Thankfully, he is in no mortal danger, but what good is that if he doesn’t have a healthy body?”
He Heng just realized that the date of marriage was almost here and the Spring Examinations were also about to begin.
When fuhuang had sent si di to investigate the case, did he think of si di’s impending nuptials?
Maybe he did think about it, maybe he didn’t. But he was certain of one thing, for He Yuan, fuhuang could overlook anything.