When the Jing Consort received news that Eunuch Fu had once again arranged low palace maids into the Hall of Splendor, it was long after the fact.
The Hall of Splendor had been built as though a metal container, and its news would rarely spread outside. If it weren’t for those newly entered low-ranked palace maids coming out a few times, no one would have known about it.
After receiving this news, Xiao-Shi threw the teacup in her hand to the floor, and fell ill that very night.
During this time, Nana Li sent someone to the estate’s medical center to invite a doctor over. Doctor Hu examined Xiao-Shi for a long time, not saying much after taking her pulse, only prescribing a few medications and telling the consort to rest more.
Xio-Shi had always been weak and was often ill. Doctor Hu had always been the one to take care of her. Seeing the doctor not expressing anything else, the servants obediently went to brew the medicine. They didn’t even think to inform the Jing Prince because they were very clear. Even if he knew Xiao-Shi was bedridden, he wouldn’t come.
Especially since Xiao-Shi was always ill half the time; everyone had already gotten used to it.
Xiao-Shi leaned against the couch with a pale face, and with Nana Li’s help drank the medicine down.
“Wet nurse, tell me what the point is of being the prince’s consort if even a damn eunuch dares to step over my head!” After speaking, Xiao-Shi started coughing again.
Xiao-Shi was twenty-four years old this year, younger than the Jing Prince by a year. Oval faced, her appearance was dignified and beautiful. Because her body was weak, she was often bedridden, her face overflowing with an air of sickness and paleness.
Nana Li patted her on the back for a while and also gave her some water before sighing: “Consort, don’t think too much of it. Just focus on recuperating.”
Xiao-Shi naturally understood Nana Li’s words. She felt angry and sullen, and her tears unexpectedly began to flow, “Is my contrite attitude not obvious enough? Why does he refuse to forgive me!?”
Nana Li sighed once more, and didn’t speak.
How should she put it? If she was in the prince’s shoes, she probably wouldn’t forgive her either. No matter what, the Jing Prince was the dragon’s descendent. What the consort did all those years ago had thoroughly ruined the couple’s relationship.
Fortunately the prince was a taciturn person and didn’t say much about it, even helping to conceal it to some extent. If Xiao-Shi’s doings were revealed, not only would she be disliked by the prince, she could only be put to death since she violated the royal family’s prestige.
It was a clichéd story: a pair of cousins making unfounded assumptions. It’s just that the girl ended up not marrying her cousin1, but someone else instead.
Xiao-Shi was born into the empress’s maiden household, the Jing2 Duke Estate. It was put this way, but she really was just a commoner girl from the side branch.
In theory, Xiao-Shi didn’t have sufficient status to become the consort of the fifth prince. But after she was listed by the Jing Duke as the main family concubine’s child, the marriage was then appointed by Empress Xiao. The emperor gave the order and bestowed upon her the title of the fifth prince’s consort.
Ascending to the sky in a single day. What does it matter if the fifth prince wasn’t favored? No matter how Xiao-Shi put it, he was still a true-blue royal prince. Unfortunately Xiao-Shi had been young at the time. Having been set on marrying her cousin, this sudden interruption shattered all her dreams.
It would have been fine if it was any other prince. However, everyone in the capital knew of the “mute fifth prince”. Having been an invisible person in the palace, his mother the Venerated Concubine had met an early demise as well, and he was hated by the emperor. His life in the palace couldn’t even be compared to some of those young masters from rich households, let alone to that of his royal brothers.
He was also mute!
How could Xiao-Shi be willing!? How was she supposed to proceed wholeheartedly!?
But this wasn’t something you could avoid by being unwilling. Xiao-Shi was also not allowed to resist, and could only obediently marry the fifth prince.
Xiao-Shi had been seventeen at the time, and still had a maiden’s heart. Although she had married in, she spent her wedding night full of tears as though she had suffered an injustice in this marriage. During the day she had also shown all sorts of reluctance to interact with the Jing Prince.
At that time, the Jing Prince was still the fifth prince who had yet to come of age. Naturally he continued to live in the palace after his marriage. Xiao-Shi suffered all sorts of cold-shouldering and cold gazes within the palace, and lost her temper at the fifth prince after returning. She scolded him for not having any ability, and being a mute to boot, making her lose face in front of others.
Although the Jing Prince really wasn’t favored, he still had a prince’s dignity. How could he tolerate such an affront? Although he didn’t say anything and his character remained just as aloof, the married couple gradually grew further apart to the extent that a barrier against her was erected in his heart.
After being married for seven years, Xiao-Shi slowly realized that her actions only served to put the married couple at odds, and under the cajoling of many people by her side, she slowly changed quite a bit. However, it was too little too late.
It was now too late for Xiao-Shi to regret. As she grew older and older, she continued to live with the Jing Prince in such an unharmonious and bland manner without even given birth to an heir. She naturally started to worry in her heart.
She was helpless since the Jing Prince had long stopped spending the night at her place. Even if she was worried, there was nothing she could do. This was why she had tried to investigate the happenings of the Hall of Splendor and why she had now fallen ill.
Regarding Eunuch Fu’s attempts at introducing beautiful low-ranked palace maids into the hall over the past two years, Xiao-Shi had still been aware of it.
The first few times she hadn’t been able to tell, but after time she naturally understood a few things.
How was this a case of the Hall of Splendor needing palace maids? This was clearly that damn eunuch delivery women to the Jing Prince’s mouth.
But even if she understood, what could she do? Eunuch Fu was the general manager of the Jing Prince Estate’s internal affairs. Although he treated her with respect, the reality was that he only cared for the Jing Prince. If she complained about it to the prince, she would probably just be disregarded. Therefore, apart from angering herself to illness, there was nothing else Xiao-Shi could do.
The Jing Prince naturally heard the news that Xiao-Shi had fallen ill again.
But just as the servants had thought, he didn’t have any thoughts of going to see her.
Going over once every ten days to sit for a while in the Chang Chun Pavilion was merely giving her the required dignity. As for the rest, she didn’t need to think it and he also wouldn’t give it.
The old folks serving them closely all knew that they were estranged, but only the Jing Prince knew clearly in his heart that it wasn’t merely just due to these things.
After all, this estrangement wasn’t a big deal. In his past life when Xiao-Shi had changed for the better and expressed goodwill towards him, he had forgiven her.
She was after all his wife, right?
But what he got in exchange was the straw that broke the camel’s back!
Even as he died in his past life, the Jing Prince still couldn’t believe that while he dragged out his ignoble existence and carefully protected his wife Xiao-Shi and son Heng’er, they stabbed him in the back in order to get leniency from the Jin Emperor. They had revealed his intent to revolt, and heaped additional groundless crimes on his head, resulting in the Jin Emperor ordering him to commit suicide via poisoned wine.
That’s right, he was someone who had lived two lives.
In his previous life, Luo Jing3 was a very simple person. He knew he wasn’t completely sound, and wasn’t able to speak. Everyone in the palace looked down on him. He normally remained low key and did things very carefully. He didn’t struggle for affection and didn’t cause any trouble. He was afraid of his royal father’s anger and rarely showed his face.
His mother passed away early, his father didn’t like him. There was no need to mention his suffering during this time. By relying on his title as a mute, Luo Jing was able to survive until he came of age, unlike some of those princes who died prematurely in mysterious ways.
He married Xiao-Shi as his consort at the age of eighteen. She was the current empress’s niece from the same clan. Luo Jing knew that this was the empress’s move to guard against his mute self, but didn’t say anything about it. He had no ability to resist at that time.
After the marriage, Xiao-Shi’s reluctance was also seen by him.
It was definitely impossible for him not to feel hurt in his heart. But the days had to pass, and after all, Luo Jing had seen such contempt many times as he was growing up. He knew how to deal with it, and how to adjust his mood.
The Grand Xi Dynasty had a feudal system, which stipulated that every prince needed to rule over a vassal state once they came of age. Only the crown prince could remain in the capital. This was a rule set by the ancestor of the Xi Dynasty in order to protect the line of ascension and prevent the Luo family’s descendants from fighting internally and causing the line to end.
Luo Jing, as the emperor’s fifth son, naturally had to follow this ruling. Especially since he was not favored by the Xi Emperor. Having just turned twenty and passing his coming of age ceremony, he was ordered to leave for the Jing Province.
Those with sharp insight within the capital knew how disliked the fifth prince was. Luo Jing also knew this in his heart. As a dragon’s descendent he still had an underlying disability. He couldn’t blame his royal father for not liking him.
Although Luo Jing was mute, he wasn’t stupid. Having been hated by his father since he was young, still being able to receive a Prince title and his own vassal state after coming of age was already extremely good. He knew he couldn’t be compared to his brothers and didn’t even dare have any dissatisfaction in his heart. He obediently headed towards the barren state.
In the Grand Xi Dynasty, the vassal princes still held their status as royalty and would never be demoted. They enjoyed a pension and received an extremely generous official’s salary. Just the rice alone, which was only a single part of the salary, was ten thousand grains annually. Apart from that, the expenses required for conferring titles, housing, marriage and funerals were all expensed to the imperial court. They also had chefs, priests, palace maids and laborers, as well as the occasional bestowals.
Furthermore, the vassal princes’ land belonged to the vassal state, meaning that the princes could grant nobility titles and divide up their land.
To speak plainly, the vassal state was essentially the vassal prince’s own little country. The taxes within the borders were not given to the imperial court, but to the prince instead. Apart from the justice and human resources department, as well as several positions such as the Left Adjutant, and the military sent by the imperial court to guard and protect the land, the prince had free reign in appointing his own officials.
Therefore, Luo Jing was still extremely satisfied. In the end, this land belonged to him, and he would definitely not have to live as cautiously and restrained as he did in the palace. He didn’t ask for much, only wanting to live a peaceful life removed from worldly affairs.
Even if his vassal state was barren, even if the government’s estate constantly delayed in giving him his salary on account of his place in his father’s eyes, even if his state’s taxes could not cover its expenditures. He wasn’t willing to exploit his own people, so even if it left him in poverty, he continued to endure.
Because he knew he didn’t have the qualifications to struggle with his siblings. He was just an unsound person. Why would he go and struggle?
He cut himself off from the rest of the world and lived in the Jing Province which was miles away from the capital. He didn’t bother himself with the happenings there….
Even after his brother the Jin Prince overthrew the crown prince after his father’s death and ascended the throne to become emperor, he still paid no attention to it.
Because he knew that someone like him who couldn’t fight for anything would not be an obstacle in anyone’s eyes.
Luo Jing wasn’t a fool. He knew that the position of a vassal prince was very sensitive. Therefore ever since getting to his vassal state, he remained low key and was full of respect for the imperial court. He never paid attention to government affairs and completely handed things over to the Adjutant’s Office. He dared to meddle even less in the military’s matters.
He didn’t want to provoke anyone and wanted to remain a leisurely prince. He didn’t ask for anything except peace.
His calculations weren’t wrong, but unfortunately he miscalculated the heart of an emperor who had risen from a vassal state, and also miscalculated the Jin Prince’s narrowmindedness.
The Jin Prince himself was from a vassal state, and due to succeeding in his own revolt, he was well aware of the threat posed by the other vassal princes.
The moment he sat stably on the throne, he started to clean up the various vassal princes. The first one to go was his brother the Qi Prince, who had helped him raise an army and seize the throne. There was no need to speak of any consideration for mediocre Luo Jing who never had the previous emperor’s favor.
However, the Jin Prince – oh, right, it should be the Jin Emperor now, had just succeeded the throne, and still cared more about his own image. He knew that the act of cleaning up his own brother the Qi Prince was a little overly ugly. The remaining two vassal prince brothers also happened to be extremely mediocre and stupid, and one of them was not even whole. He temporarily put down the butcher’s knife in his hands, and in fact, started repeatedly bestowing rewards to illustrate his benevolence.
Luo Jing did manage to pass the next two years peacefully, but his heart was not calm. He understood that things were not that simple.
As expected, after things had settled down in the imperial court, the Jin Emperor started making continuous moves, finding all sorts of excuses to strip the rights and wealth of the vassal princes, only leaving the hereditary title and the annual salary. He even restricted them to their own estates and didn’t allow them to go anywhere, making it seem no different than captivity.
To reduce the Jin Emperor’s vigilance, Luo Jing even converted to Buddhism within his estate. His conversion wasn’t faked. He really became vegetarian and started reading psalms. Apart from not shaving his head and not leaving home, he was pretty much the same as a Buddhist monk.
Despite this, the Jin Emperor did not let him off, and still closed in step by step.
At that time, Luo Jing didn’t have anything left to live for, and the only reason he struggled at death’s door was because he wanted to protect his own flesh and blood, as well as his wives and concubines.
In his last life, Luo Jing was also someone who didn’t lust after women, probably due to his own deficiencies and apathetic personality. His rear court only had four women, same as in this lifetime.
It’s just that in his last life he ultimately had thoughts of continuing his family line, and was not apathetic about it unlike in this life. Luo Jing had a son and two daughters then. One son and daughter was birthed by his consort Xiao-Shi, and the other daughter was from Senior Concubine Qiao.
In his last life, Luo Jing lived to the ripe “old” age of thirty three, dying to the poisoned wine bestowed by the Jin Emperor.
When he returned to life, it had been the day before he was to move to the Jing Province.
On this day in the past, Luo Jing had also fallen seriously ill. Despite being sick, he had forcible endured the suffering and commanded his group to set off to avoid angering his father even more.
In this life, his serious illness was substituted as his past-self reincarnated, but though he still gave the same command to set off, many things had changed in the end.