Joy of Life - Chapter 697 - The Young Lady Of The Fan Family In The Palace[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:46]
Chapter 697: The Young Lady Of The Fan Family In The Palace
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The Emperor waved his hand and everyone outside the Fan manor was pulled away. This was the power a feudal lord had. He could do as he wished. As for those subordinates and officials who died confused outside the Fan manor because of the battle between the father and son, who cared about them?
The royal study was not quiet. After Scholar Hu left, the Emperor began to play Go with Fan Ruoruo. This was a habit they had recently gotten into. The Emperor held a black stone between his index and middle finger and placed it on the slightly reflective Go board. Evenly he said, “Looks like Fan Jian did not teach you this in the manor.”
It had been eight days since Fan Ruoruo entered the Palace. She was wearing normal clothing that had been delivered to her with great difficulty through a few of the concubines. All her clothes were plainly colored. Compared to the brilliant Royal Palace, it appeared uncoordinatedly simple. Although everyone knew the young lady of the Fan manor was held inside the Palace as a hostage, her status was not bad. The Emperor also treated her well. Princess Chen took care of things outside the Palace. There were nobles looking out for her inside the Palace, so there were no problems with her food and clothing.
She sat respectfully across from the Qing Emperor with her hands resting lightly on her knees. “The strategy is too complicated…”
The Emperor lifted his eyes slightly and asked with amusement, “I remember that even before An Zhi entered the capital, you were already a famously talented woman in Jingdou.”
“It’s just those trouble-making crass men who like to talk. I can’t write poetry or paint paintings. I really don’t know where my reputation for being a talented woman comes from.”
In the eight days she had been in the Palace, from her initial nervousness, fear, and helplessness, to her present quiet, calmness, and patience, Fan Ruoruo had sufficiently demonstrated the iciness of a glacier. Her nature since childhood made it so, but more important was Fan Xian’s imperceptible influence on her these dozen years. Although the man across from her was the Emperor of the Qing Kingdom, he was still a person and not some strange creature. It was also because the Emperor behaved particularly like a normal person in front of Fan Ruoruo.
“I’ve seen your poetry before. It’s not bad among the women. It’s just that when it is compared to An Zhi’s, it does not compare well. It is no wonder you would think thusly,” the Emperor said with a small smile. “Talent is not about visible skills. It is in the heart’s determination. You were able to save my life and could be said to be a brilliant doctor. The title of talented woman is one you are deserving of.”
“Your Majesty has good fortune. I just…” Fan Ruoruo replied in the style of conversing with an Emperor but ,unexpectedly, the Emperor smiled and said, “Naturally, I wouldn’t have died but having so much metal in one’s body is presumably not very comfortable.”
Eunuch Yao quietly entered the royal study. Standing in front of the Emperor, he quietly said, “One person died in the Qing Temple. They are waiting in the front hall now.”
‘Waiting? Waiting for punishment?” The Emperor’s voice grew cold as he gently played with the dull black stone. “I will let them go this time. If they act rashly again, have them go to Dong Mountain by themselves and jump off the cliff.”
Eunuch Yao acknowledged this in a low voice and said, “After Sir Fan junior left the Qing Temple, he went to the Imperial College and met with Scholar Hu.”
The Emperor was silent for a moment. He then said with a smile, “I already know this. By the Qing Temple, the Shadow has returned.”
Eunuch Yao remained silent. He had no authority to make any suggestions concerning this matter. He understood the Emperor’s thoughts well. He would certainly not be as muddle-headed as those straw-hat wearing Ascetic Monks. Who was Fan Xian? He was the Emperor’s most favored official and illegitimate child. Even if the Emperor wanted Fan Xian to die, he would still not allow those people to act on their own.
“The problem now is that we don’t know how Sir Fan junior left Fan manor or entered the Qing Temple. Furthermore, we don’t know where he went in between,” Eunuch Yao said with his body slightly bent over.
The Emperor’s brows furrowed slightly. He didn’t say anything. He just waved his hand for Eunuch Yao to leave the royal study. During this conversation, Fan Ruoruo had been listening quietly to the side the entire time. Eunuch Yao did not keep anything from her because the servants who came to the Palace these days had long become used to the fact that beside the Emperor there was always this pretty-faced woman who emanated a chilly aura. Regardless of whether it was a meeting in the royal study or more important state affairs, the Emperor kept nothing from her.
Now, they were talking about Fan Xian, her closest brother. Fan Ruoruo still lowered her head slightly. It was as if she didn’t want to hear, but she also didn’t want the Emperor to notice anything out of the ordinary.
The Emperor did not glance in her direction. He just remained silent. After a moment, the Emperor suddenly smiled slightly. The internal court had not discovered anything about what Fan Xian did after he risked death to leave the Fan manor. But, they now knew the Shadow of the Sixth Bureau had returned and in the Qing Temple, a dozen Ascetic Monks had fought a great battle with these two.
Thinking of those bald Ascetic Monks, the smile of the Emperor’s face immediately disappeared. A glimmer of disgust rose in his eyes. He had not thought the fanatical monks of the Qing Temple would act against Fan Xian without an imperial edict. This made the Emperor unhappy.
Thinking of the true head of the Sixth Bureau, the Shadow, the Emperor narrowed his eyes but revealed an amused expression.
Chen Pingping had served him for many decades, yet he still kept many of his own secrets. In the past, the Emperor had not cared about it because he deeply trusted his loyalty. Thus, although he knew that there had always been a shadow hovering near that black wheelchair, the Emperor had never deeply investigated the origins of that shadow.
Now, he knew. A streak of light flashed in front of the Emperor’s eyes. It was the sword light from the attack of the white-clothed swordsman a few years ago in Hanging Temple. This light was dazzling. It made him narrow his eyes, but there was some faint anticipation in his heart as he wondered what this younger brother of Sigu Jian would do.
There was no need to think about what Fan Xian had done upon leaving the manor. The Emperor knew perfectly well. Fan Xian must have contacted his most trusted subordinates in Jingdou and sent some important messages toward Xiliang, Dongyi, and Jiangnan.
This was simple. With the situation as it was, if Fan Xian wanted to continue his independence in front of the might of the throne, he had to mobilize all of his power. The Emperor could not be bothered to care about the specific contents of the messages. In his perspective, no matter how Fan Xian jumped around, he was still in this kingdom. And, this kingdom was already in the Emperor’s hands.
The Emperor was curious as to what his most favored son could do while under house arrest in Jingdou. If he was faced with Ye Qingmei, for the sake of the people of this kingdom, continuation of the entire Qing Kingdom, and wishes of too many people, perhaps he wouldn’t even need to say anything and Ye Qingmei would only go far away in silence, never to return to the territory of the Qing Kingdom. However, what choice would their son make? This deeply interested the Emperor.
Was calmly watching the struggles of the next generation an evil delight born of absolute confidence? The Emperor still had not even thought about striking Fan Xian into an abyss. In his perspective, this son had just misunderstood him. It was just that the Emperor did not want to explain. He disdained explaining.
This was a process of self-reflection. He sat stubbornly in the Palace, waiting for Fan Xian to enter the Palace to explain and ask for forgiveness. Then, at that time, he would tell Fan Xian in an even voice that the old dog that had died was not as benevolent as he thought. That dog only wanted to kill the entire Li royal family and had tried to kill Fan Xian before. Although his surname was Fan, in reality, it was Li.
But, how could he explain about Ye Qingmei? Perhaps the Emperor did not want to touch on that area at all.
“I’m going out for a walk,” the Emperor said. Although his voice was calm, it was clear that because of what Scholar Hu had said, the Emperor now had some grasp of how to deal with Fan Xian. His mood was relatively relaxed.
There were only two people in the royal study. The Emperor’s words were said for Fan Ruoruo to hear. Fan Ruoruo stood and got out a light black fur cloak with gold detailing and carefully helped the Emperor put it on. Then, she took his right arm and slowly walked with him to the wooden door of the royal study.
The door opened. There were already a dozen eunuchs and serving girls waiting outside. Eunuch Yao humbly lowered his body and waited with a wheelchair. There was a short amount of time from the moment the Emperor spoke to when the eunuchs outside prepared everything. They reacted quickly.
There was not a glimmer of approval as the Emperor looked at the wheelchair outside the threshold of the door. He just glanced coldly at Eunuch Yao. Without even acknowledging the servants outside the door, he walked toward the Palace in the night with Fan Ruoruo’s support.
Cold sweat poured out of Eunuch Yao’s body with the Emperor’s cold glance. Eight days had passed. Not many people actually knew that the battle between ruler and official in the royal study that day had left the Emperor with serious injuries. Although they were not life-threatening, the Emperor’s body still suffered damage that could not recover in a short time. Additionally, each of Chen Pingping’s words that day had scraped at his heart. Thus, the Emperor’s psychological situation was not very good.
Eunuch Yao had prepared the wheelchair. Unexpectedly, it made the Emperor unhappy. He immediately realized what he had done. Regardless of whether it was because he didn’t want the officials to know the true state of his health or because the wheelchair made the Emperor angrily and painfully remember that old Director, Eunuch Yao had made a great mistake.
Such a mistake could not be made. Fortunately, the Emperor was a relatively kind and benevolent master and would not grow angry easily. That was why Eunuch Yao did not have to worry about his life.
He wiped the cold sweat from his forehead and led the group of eunuchs and serving girls quietly behind the Emperor. They watched young lady Fan gently help the Emperor as they walked. They did not follow too closely.
The lanterns hanging in the corridors of the Royal Palace were not bright. They were just used to illuminate the stones beneath one’s feet. Usually, once night fell, the noblemen stayed inside their palaces and did not come out. Only the eunuchs and serving girls going about their business walked along these quiet corridors. Now, the slightly dim light shone on the Emperor and Fan Ruoruo, casting long and short shadows. It made the eunuchs and serving girls they ran into to shiver and hurriedly kneel to the side.
Just as Eunuch Yao guessed, the Emperor’s earlier unhappiness was because of the wheelchair at the door of the royal study. Once he saw the wheelchair, the Emperor thought of the old dog who had sat in a wheelchair for the decades. They would often walk shoulder to shoulder with him in the Royal Palace when it was late and quiet discussing world affairs as if they were discussing the domestic affairs: the conflicts of the royal family, drafting plans, and estimating the number of the dead.
The Qing Emperor was human. He missed those scenes of the past greatly. Because of this, because of Chen Pingping’s betrayal, there was suddenly a great deal of suspicion and disbelief surrounding these beautiful memories that were worth recalling. Thus, he felt angry.
Other than anger, he had another complicated emotion in his heart. A number of years ago, because of the Hanging Temple incident, Fan Xian was heavily injured and had almost died. After he recovered, it was winter. They young man entered the Palace in a wheelchair and had talked with the Emperor for a very long time.
That was the first time the Emperor had talked with Fan Xian. Although they still did not acknowledge the relationship between them, and it was not like that time in the little building, for the Qing Emperor, it was an important meeting.
Seeing the wheelchair tonight, he thought of Chen Pingping and the injured Fan Xian. His emotions grew complicated. He slowly said, “The reason I sentenced that old dog to die the death of a thousand cuts was because he was extremely evil and false.”
Fan Ruoruo held his arm and maintained her distance. She did not feel too tired. After hearing these words, she felt the Emperor’s body grow as heavy as Tai Mountain. If the Emperor wanted an official to die, the official had no choice but to die. Particularly with Director Chen’s treasonous actions, it was clear to heaven and earth that no one could use this matter to question the Emperor except Fan Xian. More importantly, the Emperor did not need to explain anything. He had never thought to voluntarily explain anything to Fan Xian. Yet, on this autumn night, with just the two of them, the Emperor had spoken.
Was he saying this to her or was he using her mouth to speak to her brother? Fan Ruoruo lowered her head slightly and did not reply, but she wondered endlessly to herself.
“In the end, the old dog purposely died to my hands so that An Zhi would resent and hate me. For such a person who does not even forget their hatred in death, how could I allow him to die quickly?” The Emperor’s voice was tired. He turned his head and glanced at Fan Ruoruo. He then turned his head back and looked at the quiet Palace in the night. “Tomorrow, I will issue an edict for An Zhi to enter the Palace to greet me.”
Fan Ruoruo’s figure froze slightly. One hand held the Emperor’s arm as her body dipped slightly. Curtseying slightly, she said sincerely, “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
The Emperor’s expression was blank. It was as if he did not think he needed the daughter of an official to express thanks as he made the first compromise in this cold war. What moved him slightly was that after young lady Fan said those words, she did not say anything else. She just calmly held his arm and continued to walk in the Palace. She did not mention anything about her leaving the Palace.
“You are different.” The Emperor turned his head and glanced at her with deep meaning. “In the past, I often took Princess Chen in wandering around the Palace. As she grew older, it became less frequent. Plus, she is much cheekier than you.”
“Naturally, I cannot compare to sister-in-law,” Fan Ruoruo replied in a low voice. The Emperor smiled and did not say anything. He felt that the girl next to him was extremely humble. Speaking of which, it was pitiful that after Lin Wan’er grew up, there probably were not many people who could be like true juniors in keeping the Emperor company because the Emperor had no domestic matters. In the hearts of the living and dead princes, the Emperor as certainly not a true father.
Fan Ruoruo’s heart was also filled with confusion and emotional upheaval. After these days of interaction, the strange and awe-inspiring Emperor seemed to have gradually walked down from his pedestal and taken off his golden and dazzling outer robe. He had become like a normal senior or perhaps an elder who was gradually showing his age after a heavy injury.
The young lady of the Fan family walked with the Emperor. This scene was seen by many people. This was not the first time someone noticed the Emperor’s unusual treatment of young lady Fan. Ever since the Emperor was injured in the royal study and she had entered the Palace to save him, everyone in the Palace knew the Emperor treated her differently.
Everyone with the slightest intelligence knew that young lady Fan’s current status was hostage, but there had never been such a hostage before. Her rights in the Palace were like what Princess Chen’s were in the past. Other than returning to her palace to rest at night, she spent the entire day in the royal study with the Emperor. The Emperor did not keep anything from her when discussing state affairs.
The scholars of the Hall of Governmental Affairs were surprised by this sight. They were all people of status, so they would not blindly pass anything on. However, whenever Scholar He saw young lady Fan in the royal study, his expression would appear slightly uncomfortable.
It was not the same inside the Royal Palace. People talked. In a moment, discussions flew heatedly. Humans were forgetful creatures. Perhaps the eunuchs and serving girls in the Palace had all forgotten that storm in the seventh year of the Qing calendar, the bloody purge that had started because of rumors as they plunged themselves back into the grand job of gossip.
Perhaps it was because too many people had died three years ago and the new eunuchs and serving girls brought in to fill the rank this season did not know about the danger hidden in the atmosphere of the royal family. Perhaps it was because the Emperor’s attitude toward the young lady indeed confused many people, so rumors about the royal study gradually spread in the Royal Palace.
The Emperor was a wise ruler who did not lust much after women and was not a licentious master. During these years, there were only about a dozen concubines in the Royal Palace. Only four of those had children. No one would guess in that direction. However, the Emperor’s treatment of young lady Fan was truly unique. With the other major event that had recently happened in the Palace, it involuntarily triggered too many people’s thoughts.
This event was the choosing of concubines for the Emperor. It had started three days ago. The activity the Qing Royal Palace had stopped for a dozen years raised its curtains again.
No one understood why the Emperor suddenly at thoughts to supplement his concubines at such a juncture. Had the dangers beyond middle-age suddenly triggered this Emperor’s desire to be young again?
Three days ago, with the Taichang Temple hosting and the internal court and Board of Rites assisting, the concubine choosing event began. As the Qing Kingdom was now unfamiliar with this process, the Board of Rites appeared somewhat panicked. The Seven Roads and provinces of the Qing Kingdom had probably received the edict. Yet, those women who were fortunate enough to be chosen in the Palace had not heard any whisper of this. So, the first place to start was still Jingdou.
This was a rare opportunity. The noble families that had been living in seclusion in Jingdou for a long time, the officials, and scholars, all wanted to grasp this opportunity. Even during such a confused process, they still managed to send the first batch of age-appropriate women into the Palace two nights ago.
An imposing sense of youth suddenly appeared in the Royal Palace that had been quiet for many years because of these young women moving in. Even though it was nighttime, clear laughter still rang out periodically from the courtyard the girls lived in.
Thoughts of spring were overflowing and filled the autumnal Palace. The people of the Palace had turned speculative gazes toward the royal study. If the Emperor’s heart had moved, then how would young lady Fan, who had won the Emperor’s affections, be dealt with?
“They’re all a bunch of idiots,” Yi Guipin said. Her eyelids slightly shuttered as she gently pulled on the Third Prince’s hand. She smiled coldly, and said, “Do they not know what kind of person the Emperor is? Your teacher is? How could such absurd things come from the Palace?”
“Most of the Palace are idiots. With too many new people, perhaps they have forgotten many things.” The Third Prince, Li Chengping, smiled but it was rather forced. With each passing day, worry grew heavier between his previously unclouded brows.
Yi Guipin looked at her son and sighed gently. “The Emperor is a wise man. He will not do something so absurd. The choosing of concubines this time has nothing to do with that person in the royal study. Your father is just…”
She did not finish what she was saying. Li Chengping raised his head and looked at his mother with worry. “I heard that father will summon teacher into the Palace tomorrow. But choosing concubines… I’m afraid that father will not trust teacher the same as he did in the past.”