Thank you Jacka for sponsoring 1.5 chapters all by yourself! I’ll do my best to get the owed sponsored chapter out by tonight. Sorry for the late releases, Fridays are a little busy.
The next day, the Jing Emperor made an announcement.
The gist of it was that due to the matter of the empress, many issues had popped up in the last few days. It had even implicated Our senior concubine, and made her suffer without reason. Although the empress had contracted this foul ailment, she is still Our principal wife. She was conferred as the Jing Consort by the former emperor, and it hasn’t been a full year since his passing yet. Since the empress was seriously ill, for the sake of showing his father gratitude, and for the sake of their marital relationship, he would temporarily not consider stripping her position.
None of the officials had any objections. Even the former emperor had been brought up as well as their marital relationship. Could they force the emperor to disregard his father and his old relationship, and make him out to be a fickle and unrighteous person?
After court was over, the news was transmitted to the Fengqi Palace.
The empress didn’t reveal anything in front of the messenger. Only after the person left did she reveal a mocking expression.
“Hypocrite! Clearly using this seat as an excuse to give himself more time, but still making himself sound righteous. Luo Jing, when did you learn to act hypocritically? ……heh…..however, this seat won’t refuse…..”
Others may not realize it but the empress was very clear that after his announcement, the Jing Emperor would definitely not strip her position until she was at death’s door.
Was he so certain she would only last a couple of years?
In that case, she must do her best to live on as an annoyance….
“……this adulterer wants to go over this seat’s head and live as a married couple with her? This seat is best at making others suffer….”
Cai Lian stood by her side, and was scared stiff by her mutterings.
Ever since the empress got sick, her thoughts weren’t quite normal anymore. The messenger had clearly said that for the sake of their marital relationship, his majesty didn’t want the empress to worry about her position being stripped and that she could recuperate in peace. How did things become so twisted once they passed through her mouth?
“Cai Lian, go fetch this seat my medicine.”
The empress’s words interrupted Cai Lian’s disordered thoughts. Hearing that the empress wanted to drink medicine, she felt astonished.
Ever since the empress had been diagnosed with tuberculosis, she had stopped taking her medicine, and appeared to be waiting to die. Now, she actually took the initiative to take her medicine.
This probably had something to do with wanting to annoy others. Thinking of such nonsense, Cai Lian hurriedly went to fetch the medicine.
The end of the year soon approached. The Jing Emperor sent out an edict ahead of time summoning the Yun Prince and Qi Prince back to the capital to spend the New Year.
After the Qi Prince lost his arm in the rebellion, the former emperor didn’t continue looking into it. He merely restricted him to the Qi Province’s Qi Prince Estate. After the Jing Emperor ascended, he didn’t change anything.
The Yun Prince and his wife arrived on the 25th. After meeting with the Jing Emperor in the palace, they took up residence in the Yun Prince Estate within the capital. The Qi Prince arrived a night later, and did the same.
On the 26th, the Jing Emperor sealed his brush. The meaning behind this was to declare an end to official business for the remainder of the year. On the fifth day of the New Year, the brush would be unsealed once more and business would resume. Ever since he entered the capital, the Jing Emperor had always been busy. This could count as a rare break.
On New Year’s Eve, the Jing Emperor arranged a banquet within the Bright Sun Hall.
The empress couldn’t participate. Xiao Hua sat to his left in a slightly lower seat. Also present were Concubine Qiao, the Tranquil and Serene Concubines, Crown Prince Luo Zhuo, Eldest Princess Luo Yi, the Yun Prince and his wife, the Qi Prince and his wife, and the previous crown prince’s sons.
This wasn’t Xiao Hua’s first time seeing these people. When the former emperor passed away, the Yun and Qi Princes returned for his funeral, and she had caught a glimpse of them within the funeral hall. Seeing them again, she was able to recognize them.
The Yun Prince was a fatty, but the Yun Consort was an astonishing beauty. This was the sort of beauty that assaulted one’s eyes. One would be frozen in place at a glance.
The Qi Prince’s face looked vicious, but also a little depressed. The Qi Consort on the other hand had a delicate appearance, and seemed to be a gentle person. As for the former crown prince’s sons, they weren’t very old, between seven to ten years of age, and were all extremely taciturn. After saluting, they sat there and faded into the background.
The Yun Prince had always been very curious about the Jing Emperor. After sitting, his gaze never shifted away from him. Only when he felt a familiar stinging pain on his leg did he snap out of it and smile flatteringly at the Yun Consort.
The Yun Consort threw him a “you’ll pay for this when we get back” look before withdrawing her hand.
The Jing Emperor had always been one of few words, and everyone was aware of this. Apart from a brief toast, he remained silent throughout the banquet.
After it was over, the Yun Consort saluted and took her leave.
Seeing her walk ahead angrily while a round ball rolled along behind her, Xiao Hua was stunned over and over.
Within the royal carriage, the Jing Prince wrapped his arm around Xiao Hua’s waist on the way back to the Chenxi Palace. Seeming to have noticed her astonishment from before, he told her about the Yun Prince and his consort.
After telling her what he knew, the Jing Emperor gave Xiao Hua a kiss and said: “It’s still my Xiao Hua’er who’s nice.”
The Jing Emperor had drank alcohol, and the smell assailed her nostrils and made her tipsy.
Hearing his words, Xiao Hua couldn’t help but be surprised that the Yun Consort had the Yun Prince on a tight leash. She was also surprised that the Jing Emperor was telling her this as an amusing anecdote.
She was going to laugh, but suddenly couldn’t quite do so. She saw the apathetic eyes of the man across from her asking “why aren’t you laughing”, and became speechless.
Apart from laughing at others’ misfortune, Xiao Hua realized the Jing Emperor also had the weird habit of telling amusing stories.
He told her things he himself found very funny, and was always very happy to share them with her. For example, how an official was saying things he didn’t want to hear in court, and thus he ignored him, resulting in that official’s mustache flying about in anger. Other examples included how he knew about all sorts of nonsense within some officials’ estates.
Sometimes Xiao Hua would laugh, sometimes she wouldn’t find it funny at all. If Xiao Hua laughed, the Jing Emperor would tell her something else the next day. If Xiao Hua didn’t laugh, he would ponder for a few days before trying again.
Playing around like this, sometimes Xiao Hua felt this situation itself was quite amusing. Sometimes she felt naughty and would put on a straight face despite almost bursting out in laughter. Then she would get to observe his depressed expression.
Whenever this happened, Xiao Hua wanted to give him a kiss.
Wasn’t he too endearingly silly?!
Xiao Hua leaned in for the kiss. The Jing Emperor squinted his eyes, moved his hands and instead of kissing his cheek their lips met. The rubbed and pressed together, their lips slightly parted, their tongues dancing lightly. The Jing Emperor kissed her unrestrainedly.
Right as he wanted to move to other areas, Xiao Hua stopped him and scolded: “Wait a while, the children are behind.”
The Jing Emperor returned to his original position and pulled Xiao Hua into his arms. The carriage moved smoothly, and it didn’t feel as if they were moving at all.
“Majesty seems to have a pretty good relationship with his highness the Yun Prince?”
Xiao Hua noticed the Jing Emperor had exchanged several words with the Yun Prince today. Others only got a few words if at all.
The Jing Prince made an “en” sound, “He has helped Us before.”
Only after Eunuch Fu’s voice rang out did Xiao Hua realize they had arrived.
After getting off the carriage, a gust of cold wind swept by. Zhuo’er and Yi Yi got off from the carriage behind them. The weather was cold and the people didn’t delay in getting inside.
The second prince was still young so they didn’t bring him along today.
After changing and getting seated, Xiao Hua had the wet nurse bring him over. The second prince Luo Yu was only five months old, and he was placed on the couch by his mom for his brother and sister to play with. He lay there as his brother and sister alternated between rubbing his face and his hands.
Before long, he grew impatient and started crying.
He only stopped when Xiao Hua picked him up to coax him.
“Yu’er is clearly a restless one. Zhuo’er and Yi Yi didn’t cry as much at his age.” Xiao Hua told the Jing Emperor.
The Jing Emperor leaned over and rubbed his son’s face with his finger. He withdrew before his son started crying again.
“Who knows where he learned it from? Not letting anyone touch him, what a stubborn temper.” Xiao Hua continued chattering.
The Jing Emperor gave Xiao Hua a glance and said faintly: “Why does Our prince need to let others touch his little face?”
“It would be fine if it were just outsiders, but he doesn’t even let his own family do it. Such a white and chubby face, how can it not be touched?” As she spoke, Xiao Hua gave it another light pinch.
The second prince spat some bubbles, gave a snort and turned his face away, making Xiao Hua laugh.
Yi Yi leaned over and giggled, “Little bro isn’t cute at all. Not letting big sis touch his little face.”
As she spoke, she lightly pinched with her hand. Before the second prince started crying, Xiao Hua gave him a kiss which turned his cries into laughter.
“Oh? Looks like our Yu’er is closer with his mother concubine. Let’s not bother with your mean big sis.”
The second prince Luo Yu smiled happily as though agreeing.
Yi Yi pouted her little lips and went to sit in her father’s arms before making a face to show off. Yu’er didn’t understand this and laughed even more happily.
Zhuo’er couldn’t quite resist smiling on the side. He knew to do a facepalm at his young age, and looked as if he couldn’t take it anymore.
At this point, not only did the three make Xiao Hua laugh, but even the Jing Emperor let out a rare smile.
Although they planned to stay up for the New Year, they had never managed to last until the end.
The three children usually woke early and went to bed early, and soon became tired. The palace maids took them to rest. The Jing Emperor naturally pulled Xiao Hua along to continue where they had left off in the carriage.
On the first day of the first month of the New Year, the Jing Emperor was extremely busy. He went to the Ancestral Worship Hall to offer tributes to his ancestors bright and early. Afterwards was the great court gathering, where he accepted the well wishes of officials and foreign envoys.
As the crown prince, Luo Zhuo had to participate along with the Jing Emperor.
Before the sun had risen, Xiao Hua got up. After making herself look presentable along with the Jing Emperor, Luo Zhuo had come over. The three of them ate breakfast and some eunuchs helped the Jing Emperor put on his imperial outfit. Luo Zhuo was also helped into a miniature crown prince’s imperial outfit.
The so called imperial outfit could only be worn by the emperor and the highest ranking officials. Princes and below couldn’t wear imperial robes, and could only wear ceremonial robes.
Such imperial robes were commonly worn for ceremonial events. This included visits to the ancestral temple, the first month of the year, the winter solstice, the holy festival, the national offering, the first harvest, and scholarly worship. The emperor’s imperial robes had twelve prints: sun, moon, star, mountain, dragon and pheasant were woven into the upper shirt while the chalice, grass, fire, rice, axe and alternating Fu design were embroidered on the lower garment.1
The imperial crown was the headwear worn alongside the imperial robes. It was black in appearance and covered in jewels. The base was round and the top was square. The front and back each had twelve tassels. They were multicolored and contained a jade bead. The crown prince’s version had nine tassels and nine beads.
The Jing Emperor looked astonishingly handsome in his robes. His air of apathy matched with the black imperial robes made him look imposing. The faintly discernible handsome face behind the tassels looked rather oppressive.
Xiao Hua couldn’t help but lean in past the tassels and plant a kiss on his face.
“Majesty is really handsome!”
The Jing Emperor’s face was hidden behind the tassels, but Xiao Hua seemed to have noticed a faint blush.
In contrast to the Jing Emperor, Zhuo’er looked extremely cute in his similar outfit.
He was small in stature, and wearing such long robes and a complicated headpiece made him seem a little unbalanced. His small hand couldn’t help but hold his headdress up, afraid to lose his balance.
Xiao Hua smiled and crouched down, helping her son straighten his outfit. When she reached his headdress, she gave his little face a kiss.
“Zhuo’er is going to participate in the great court gathering with father. No need to be nervous. Our Zhuo’er is still young. Just maintain your etiquette.”
Zhuo’er nodded and his little face turned red as he looked at his mom.
Father got a kiss and he got one too. He wore the same outfit as his father. He was his father’s son and also the crown prince. He just had to follow his father’s example. Thinking this way, Zhuo’er was no longer as nervous.
The Jing Emperor stretched out his slender fingers towards his son. Zhuo’er raised his head and looked at his father before grabbing his hand.
The two men, one big and one small, wearing the same imperial robes and walking off in the same direction out of the hall. Their silhouettes appeared exceptionally dignified in the imperial robes, yet Xiao Hua couldn’t help but feel extremely moved.