This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
- 朕 zhen: illeism for the Emperor; equivalent to the royal “we”
- 郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
- 郡王 junwang: prince (of the second rank); also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. :His [Your] Royal Highness”
- 王妃 wang fei: princess consort
- 公公 gonggong: how to refer to a taijian, i.e. an eunuch employed by the Imperial Family
- 府 fu: compound or estate; junwang fu: prince’s estate/compound
- 王 wang: short for qinwang (亲王) or prince of the first rank
-  嬷嬷 mama: old female servant. Mostly they accompanied their master since birth.
-  哀家 aijia: a rough translation would be “the grieving one”; illeism for the Empress Dowager, a widowed empress, as she is in mourning for her deceased husband
- 步摇 buyao: a dangling head ornament
- 郡王爷 junwang ye: His [Your] Royal Highness
- 本宫 ben gong: lit. “this palace”; illeism for imperial consorts and females of the Imperial Family
Chapter Six: The People of the Inner Palace
“Zhen heard that Xian Junwang Fei’s constitution is weak. There are many Grand physicians in the palace. Zi Ling, remember to help Wang Fei’s body become better.” Qilong Emperor’s gaze swept across Hua Xi Wan as he spoke with the concern of an elder. “Zhen is still waiting to hold grand-nephews.”
“Yes, subject-nephew will remember.” Yan Jin Qiu accepted.
“Empress Dowager has been talking about you these days and must be waiting impatiently now. Zhen will not keep you any longer.” Qilong Emperor talked for a while longer with husband and wife, bestowed down some things, and then said for them to leave.
Ma gonggong saw the two to the doors of the palace. Looking at the backs of the pair as they left, he sighed. He had just managed a glance and did not clearly see Xian Junwang Fei’s appearance, but he was at least sure the other was a beauty. She was not as the rumors said, a woman without beauty.
Just as he turned and walked to the outside of Guang Yang Hall, Ma gonggong heard the sound of objects hitting the ground. He paused in his step and then hurried into the hall to see the Emperor sweep everything on the table to the ground. The Emperor was clearly extremely angry.
The servants in the hall were all kneeling on the ground in terror. Ma gonggong instantly knelt down as well and said, “Emperor, please do not be angry.”
“Do not be angry, how can zhen not be angry!” Qilong Emperor had not imagined that he had schemed for everything yet never planned for the fact that the daughter of Yi’an Marquis Fu was not a woman without beauty as in the rumors but instead a rare beauty. Even if Xian Junwang was not one to immerse himself in beauty, facing that kind of awesome beauty, he would put in a lot of effort. Then how could it cause a conflict between him and Yi’an Marquis Fu?!
Thinking about how he had given such an assistant to Yan Jin Qiu with his own hands, Qilong Emperor who was skilled in scheming felt anger burn. Looking at the timid palace attendants in the hall, he found them exceptionally displeasing to the eye. “Take all of them out and bestow ten blows with the plank.”
The palace attendants did not dare to beg for mercy. After being dragged out and given ten blows, they released a breath. At least they had kept their life.
Even though Ma gonggong also received ten blows, the one carrying out the punishment knew that he was someone close with the Emperor. The Emperor had punished him now because of the Emperor’s terrible mood, but Ma gonggong was still going to be used heavily by the Emperor in the future. So while the planks were held up high and the sounds of impact were loud, in reality not much force was used.
After the ten blows were finished, a junior eunuch came up to support Ma gonggong, and there were even those that came with tea and water. Ma gonggong’s behind was wounded, so he did not dare sit. The eunuch supported him as he leaned against the pillar and drank tea. After a bowl of tea went into his stomach, Ma gonggong finally caught his breath. He could not endure as much as those young eunuchs. After toiling for so many years in the palace, his body was weak and supported right now by good medicine.
“All right, put more thought in when you are serving the Emperor.” Ma gonggong accepted the favor from these people that were trying to make a good impression and reminded tonelessly. He did not say anything else.
Everyone present was a servant of the Emperor and extremely clever. They naturally heard that Ma gonggong was implying that the Emperor was not in a good mood and would not be in the near future. They were smart and did not inquire further. As they carefully saw Ma gonggong back to his residence, their hearts were in the air.
In Fu Kang Palace, the Empress was keeping the Empress Dowager company and easing her boredom. Even though the mood was not very warm, it was not cold either. In these years, the Empress had adjusted to this kind of atmosphere and there wasn’t any awkwardness.
The Empress Dowager was not the Emperor’s birth mother. In the past, the Emperor and Xian Wang had both been raised under the name of the Empress Dowager. After the Emperor ascended the throne, she had been honored as Mother-Empress Empress Dowager. The Empress Dowager rarely interfered with the inner palace and maintained the appearance of a benevolent mother and a filial son with the Emperor. These years, the Emperor could be said to be respectful of the Empress Dowager.
“Reporting to Empress Dowager, Empress, Xian Junwang and Xian Junwang Fei have come to give their morning greetings.” Zhao mama who served the Empress Dowager came in with a face full of smiles and bowed towards the two females. “Will they be summoned?”
Before the Empress could speak, the Empress Dowager said with a smile, “Quick, get them to come in. Aijia wants to see what my granddaughter looks like.”
Sitting at the side, the Empress covered her mouth and laughed lightly. She also turned her head to look at the doorway. Of all the grandchildren, the Empress Dowager always preferred Xian Junwang. Even the Crown Prince could not rival Xian Junwang’s place in her heart. However, the Empress Dowager did not have much real power and Xian Junwang was also one that liked poetry and not matters of government, so she and the Emperor tolerated it.
She also knew the rumors that Xian Junwang Fei was a female without beauty. However, looking at the Empress Dowager, it seemed she did not know any of the rumors outside the palace. Otherwise, she would not be so interested in meeting the wife of her grandson.
The smile on the Empress’ mouth grew. Hearing the eunuch announce that Xian Junwang and Xian Junwang Fei had arrived, she moved her body slightly to the side to let her sitting posture look even more dignified.
But a short time later, the smile on the Empress’ face became forced.
The female following Xian Junwang had a flying immortal hairstyle, and an eye-catching gold buyao was inserted into one side of her hair that contrasted and caused that snowy-white skin to seem even softer. The flower dress seemed to be alive and made the wearer appear like a goddess coming to earth. Everyone only noticed her and could see nothing else.
A female with this beauty… The Empress’ mind became slightly scattered. They all said that the Emperor’s inner palace was full of beauties, but compared to Xian Junwang Fei in front of her, the females in the palace were those with beauty but no presence, just common rouge and powder.
The Empress only managed to recover after Xian Junwang took his wang fei and finished their greeting to the Empress Dowager. She looked at Xian Junwang Fei’s hand which was being held by the Empress Dowager who did not let go. She sighed inside. The Emperor had made a wrong step this time.
But this was also good. It was better for this kind of beauty to enter the Xian Junwang Fu rather than into the inner palace. If this kind of woman became an imperial concubine, she, the Empress, might not be able to keep her status, not to mention the thoughts that the Crown Prince might have after seeing this beauty. That would become the shame of a thousand years. It would be hard to predict then where the throne would land.
For women that were too beautiful, their existence was a kind of disaster. Otherwise, how could the phrase “a calamitous beauty” come about? It was hard to predict whether it was good fortune or a calamity that Xian Junwang had married such a woman.
“Good, good, good.” The Empress Dowager examined Hua Xi Wan closely and said three “goods” in a row. Then she said to Yan Jin Qiu, “Aijia likes this wang fei of yours. In the future, you have to treat her well. If aijia learns that you hurt her, aijia will not have mercy on you.”
Yan Jin Qiu bowed deeply and said, “Imperial Grandmother, rest your heart. Grandson will definitely treat Xi Wan well and not hurt her.”
The Empress Dowager nodded in satisfaction. She then turned her head and pulled Hua Xi Wan to sit next to her. Patting Hua Xi Wan’s hand, the Empress Dowager said, “It has been many years since aijia has seen such a beautiful female. Your presence is extraordinary on its own.”
Hua Xi Wan allowed the Empress Dowager to hold her hand with a smile. She said softly, “Junwang Ye treats this one well. Please, Imperial Grandmother, rest your heart.” The Empress Dowager seemed different than she had imagined. She had already prepared for the Empress Dowager to dislike her appearance. Now it seemed that she had overthought it.
When the Empress Dowager heard this, the smile on her face grew. “Aijia feels happy seeing that you two have a good relationship.” After she finished talking, she bestowed down a pile of objects to Hua Xi Wan, including many things that could not be bought with money.
Even though she knew that the Empress Dowager favored Xian Junwang, the Empress still felt slightly discomforted when she saw this. When the Crown Prince had married the Crown Princess, she had not seen the Empress Dowager react so warmly. There had been a large number of things that she had bestowed down, but how could those things compare to these things that the Empress Dowager collected?
Regardless of how unhappy she was, the Empress did not show any of the emotion on her face. She repeated the Empress Dowager’s words and added two-tenths more to what she had planned on bestowing.
“If it was not that Xian Junwang Fei was weak in health and never attended banquets in the palace, ben gong would have liked this beautiful miss a long time ago,” the Empress said in the time that the Empress Dowager was drinking tea. “Xian Junwang is fortunate to marry such a beauty.”
“Subject-nephew accepts Empress’ good words.” Yan Jin Qiu bowed in the direction of Guang Yang Hall. “It is all due to the benevolence of the Holy One that subject-nephew is able to marry such a virtuous wife.”
The Empress spoke of Hua Xi Wan’s beauty, but Yan Jin Qiu emphasized the word “virtuous.” He also used the Emperor to deflect the Empress so that she could not object.
The Empress was a woman who had spent many years in the inner palace and naturally would not lose her composure over such words. She smiled, nodded her head, and said, “Emperor and ben gong are your elders and will naturally think for you. Ben gong had been worried that your wang fei has a weak constitution. Seeing her complexion today, ben gong’s worries are put to rest.”
Yan Jin Qiu was a man and naturally would not engage with the Empress in verbal battle for long. He gave another word of thanks, then sat down at the side silently.
At this perfect time, Hua Xi Wan spoke: “Nephew-wife accidentally had a great illness a few years ago. Father and Mother visited many famed doctors to save this life. Because the doctor said that nephew-wife’s body needed to recover in peace, nephew-wife was unable to go outside until this year as the body recovered. It really is a regret of nephew-wife to not have seen the phoenix appearances of Empress Dowager and Empress these years due to weakness of the body. Seeing the phoenix appearances now, nephew-wife has learned that Empress Dowager is more benevolent and noble than imagined, and Empress is even more beautiful and dignified than imagined.”
So these words were to remove the label of being weak in constitution and to also clarify why she had not seen any people on the outside in these years?
The Empress’ eyebrow rose slightly. She smiled benevolently and said, “It is a great and fortunate matter for your body to recover. Now that you have become a member of our family, it will not be difficult to see Empress Dowager and ben gong.”
“That is true,” the Empress Dowager said with a smile. “In the future when you want to see aijia, come to the palace.” She took out and gave a pendant to Hua Xi Wan after speaking. “This is the token for Fu Kang Palace. You will not need to send in your card in order to enter the palace to see aijia. Just take this token to Fu Kang Palace.”
How could Hua Xi Wan be ignorant of the fact that this was equivalent to a permit of admittance to the Imperial Palace? She refused three times, but in the end, under the Empress Dowager’s persistent attitude, she accepted this slightly hot potato.
She was not clear about the different camps in the inner palace but her intuition said that the Empress Dowager was not on as good terms as rumored with the Imperial Couple. This old lady might have some sincerity in treating her grandson, Yan Jin Qiu, but as to how much sincerity there was, she could not see at this time.
The Empress Dowager was unreasonable in this move. She wanted to give Yan Jin Qiu a token of admittance to the Imperial Palace, but she did it openly in front of the Empress. The Empress could not stop her and could only stare. There wasn’t any incorrectness since the Empress Dowager had given it out in front of her. If the Empress was not willing, she could speak directly. Since the Empress did not speak, it meant that she had accepted it.
But how could she speak directly and slight the Empress Dowager?
The Empress Dowager’s move was simple and crude, but it was the best way to deal with the Imperial Couple.
Hua Xi Wan rubbed the black iron token in her hand and sighed inside. A woman who did not have any children of her own but was able to stay firmly on the seat of Empress, who also managed to adopt two imperial sons and become the Empress Dowager in the end—how could this woman be simple?
Translator Ramblings: The Holy One is the Emperor, in case anyone was confused. One happy person out of three isn’t that bad of a percentage.