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Chapter Ninety Two Karma
“Zhuzi,” Yao Xi’s eyes were red as she helped Qu Yue Su sit up on the bed. Then she turned to bring over the medicine bowl, which was steaming due to the temperature of its contents, “Drink the medicine.”
Qu Yue Su leaned weakly against the headboard. As she took the medicine bowl, she saw Yao Xi’s burned hands and grimaced: “It’s me who has dragged you down. All these years you stayed with me, when did you ever have to do this?” Even if she didn’t see it with her eyes, she knew that the medicine had been brewed by Yao Xi on her own. Now that wang ye didn’t come to her rooms, and wang fei targeted her at every occasion, even the servants in her yard dared to steal and cut corners, pointing at the mulberry and cursing the locust tree, much less the kitchen people.
“Zhuzi, what are you saying?” Yao Xi forced a smile and hid her burnt hand back into her sleeve, “Drink the medicine and after a night, it will all get better.” Thinking about what Chief Steward He had just said, she almost couldn’t keep the smile up. Now that even wang ye wasn’t willing to help zhuzhi, how would they live?
Qu Yue Su finished the medicine in a few mouthfuls. Seeing Yao Xi’s state, she sighed: “Yao Xi, do you remember my father’s birthday banquet held five years ago?”
Yao Xi took the empty bowl from Qu Yue Su’s hand and minutely shook her head.
“It’s normal that you don’t remember, but it remains fresh in my memory,” Qu Yue Su grimaced, “That year, I accidentally broke a porcelain in Father’s room. That day was Father’s birthday and breaking something was unlucky. I was very scared and purposefully got someone to lure da jie into father’s room … …”
When she heard, Yao Xi remembered. She recalled that after lao ye’s birthday, he had been so angry that he slapped da xiaojie on her face and sentenced her to stand in the yard for a whole night. After that, da xiaojie became seriously ill. Furen wouldn’t get a doctor to see da xiaojie. If it hadn’t been that the Tian Family had sent someone to deliver something to da xiaojie, da xiaojie probably would have died that year. She hadn’t thought that the matter had been connected to zhuzi, and even more, she hadn’t thought that her zhuzi would have such tactics at such a young age. She hesitated before remarking, “Nubi remembers that da xiaojie nearly died that year.”
“Yes, almost gone. At that time, I was afraid and guilty,” she coughed, “But she lived. If she hadn’t lived, then it would have been me who would’ve married into Duan Wang Fu.”
Yao Xi’s hand, which held the bowl, shook. She looked at the sickly complexion of zhuzi and supported her to lie down and tucked the blanket in. She comforted: “Zhuzi, you’re sick, don’t talk nonsense. Nubi will go see if there is something to eat.” As she came out of the room, she released a long breath. She still remembered Mu Jin painstakingly begging zhuzi to beg furen to send for a doctor.
At that time, zhuzi’s face was full of helplessness, and even used the reason of filial piety to refuse Mu Jin. Afterwards, zhuzi had sent her to give some pills to da xiaojie and never mentioned it again. She had never expected the truth of the matter was actually this. She rubbed her arms, feeling cold in the hot summer day.
“Isn’t that Yao Xi?” A yahuan wearing green saw Yao Xi come out and hollered, “Is Qu ce fei well? Our zhuzi has missed her.”
“Not well yet, thanks to yiniang for thinking of her.” Yao Xi’s smile wasn’t pretty. This yahuan was one who served another yiniang. Usually, they didn’t have much interaction. But now, even a personal yahuan of a yiniang could mock zhuzi.
“Such a hot day, it’s such a pain to endure,” The yahuan’s tone suddenly changed, “I heard that when the Empress hadn’t yet married, she had been abused by her family, don’t you think …… what it’s like now, isn’t it karma?”
She saw Yao Xi’s expression change and smiled. Clapping her hands, she remarked: “The Heavens have eyes. People who do evil things don’t have good endings.” The green-clad yahuan bowed slightly, “I respect you for being a loyal servant but think more for yourself.” She turned and left.
Yao Xi looked at the yahuan’s back. She gave a helpless smile and went on her original path to the kitchen.
The news that the Wei Family’s female candidate had broken palace protocol during the mourning period for xiandi and was expelled from the palace by the Emperor, quickly became the joke of Jing City. The Wei Family had some reputation in Jing but now, they’d lost all honor and didn’t have the courage to even leave the house.
The female candidates had gone through countless rounds of elimination. Originally, they were people who had a chance to be given to other members of the Imperial House or to be taken into the hougong to serve. Due to the passing of xiandi, aside from the Imperial House that had to observe mourning, even the common people couldn’t marry for a month.
But that Wei Family, they’d thought to let their daughter capture the attention of the new Emperor during the mourning period. Why didn’t they think of the Emperor’s personality, was he a lusty person? Even more so, the love between the Imperial Couple was known by everyone in Da Long Dynasty. Was the Wei Family’s daughter more beautiful than a goddess? From where did she get the confidence to break into the Imperial Gardens?
The second day after Wei Zhu was sent back to the Wei Family, she was sent by the Wei Family into a nunnery. The reason given was that she would cultivate morals and pray for xiandi and the Emperor.
Everyone knew that this was the Wei Family pulling a cloth to hide themselves. The Emperor had already sent down the decree. The daughters of the Wei Family couldn’t enter the Imperial House, this Wei Family was over.
The three months of mourning passed by quickly but He Heng still followed the protocols of mourning, paying close attention to his attire. This caused the world to praise the filial piety of the Emperor.
But not matter what, according to tradition, He Heng was now allowed to take new concubines. However, everyone in the hougong knew that the Emperor had no intentions of entering the hougong.
The sixth day of the eighth month of Qing De Thirty Fourth Year was the most auspicious day in the near half year as calculated by the Imperial Astronomers. The Ziwei star and its pair were bright, and it had the influence of the phoenix raising its head. So it was the most appropriate day for the crowning ceremony of the Empress.
The Empress’ crowning ceremony was a very momentous occasion in Da Long Dynasty. First, sacrifices would be offered to the Heavens and prayers would be recited; next the Emperor and Empress would bow to the ancestors to notify them that this woman was one of the Imperial Family. Then the Emperor would personally put in the phoenix hairpin personally for the Empress and draw on her brows. Lastly, the Empress, wearing the phoenix robe, would receive the bows of the Royal Court Officials and the noblewomen.
In front of the copper mirror, Qu Qing Ju wore the phoenix robe that the weavers had rushed to make in three months by working day and night. Though the layers of clothing looked complicated and majestic, it didn’t feel very heavy on the body.
The outermost wide-sleeved floor-length phoenix robe didn’t have any gold or pearls but it was so beautiful that it blinded everyone’s eyes.
As she watched He Heng solemnly draw on her brows for her and gently put the phoenix crown on her, she gave a smile.
Once they finished everything, they clasped their hands together as they walked to the high platform. On the platform were the dragon chair and the phoenix chair; dragon on the left, phoenix on the right.
Qu Qing Ju stood in front of the phoenix chair, slightly raising her chin to look at the hundreds of officials under her and watched as those people simultaneously knelt down towards her.
“Emperor, wan sui, wan sui, wan wan sui, Empress, qian sui, qian sui, qian qian sui!”
And then it was the three bows and nine kowtows. Qu Qing Ju stood side by side with He Heng. Looking at the scene before her, she felt strangely exhilarated.
“Rise,” the Minister of Ceremonies called, “Music.”
The music sounded slightly solemn yet light. Qu Qing Ju didn’t really know what song it was, but looking at the reactions of the officials as they stood with bent bodies, she could guess that it was a very high standard for her crowning ceremony.
After the music stopped, Qu Qing Ju and He Heng sat down at the same time. Then it was the officials’ turn to bow, one by one according to their ranks. Then it was the titled women. Just to watch people kneel to her, Qu Qing Ju sat for more than two hours.
After the people finished, He Heng spoke: “Today is the Empress’ crowning ceremony, and also the year that zhen ascended to the throne. To accumulate virtue for the Empress, the world would be especially pardoned. Those banished would be reduced sixty miles, those in prison reduced one year, those on the death sentence will be delayed one month to their execution!”
The people under shouted the Emperor and Empress were kind, and would be lucky for ten thousand years.
Qu Qing Ju hadn’t thought that He Heng would pardon the world at her crowning ceremony. Even though it was customary for the new Emperor to pardon the world after ascending the throne, but waiting for today to announce the decree, it was too ……
She turned to look at the person beside her and smiled helplessly.
Even if the Empress’ crowning ceremony was done extremely grand, but the ceremonies for Heng fei and the others were much simpler when they followed. Heng fei’s was still alright, but the other three couldn’t compare to the occasions when the xiandi’s consorts of equivalent rank were promoted. Especially Ping cairen. It was absolutely unbearable to see. If it wasn’t that the Empress’ bestowments also came down that day, almost no one in the palace would have known that it was the day that she was officially titled.
For people, what was worse was not being ignorant, but being able to make comparisons. All those in the palace were intelligent. And they could all see what was happening. This Ping cairen not being favored by the Emperor was a certainty. Since the Emperor didn’t care for her, would they be willing to flatter her?
Feng Zi Jin finally knew just how difficult palace life could be. The food delivered each day was cold. The tea was old, and not of good quality. If something was lacking or needed fixing, it was extremely difficult for the Department of Internal Affairs to come remedy it.
She had fought and complained but in the end, she found that what was sent to her became more and more terrible. Sometimes they wouldn’t even send anything. After these months, she finally knew what was “the servants bullying the masters” and the torture of the deep palace.
“Zhuzi, Han liangdi has come,” Xia Yun quickly walked into the room, her expression unpleasant.
Feng Zi Jin grimaced as she stood. As she came out of the inner room, she saw Han Qing He drinking tea as she sat on the chair. Her steps paused. She walked in front, bowing, and made a greeting: “Pinqie greets Han liangdi.”
“Please stand, Ping cairen,’ Han Qing He smiled as she examined Feng Zi Jin. The other was wearing a slightly worn dark dress, completely devoid of the arrogance she once had in the fu. She put down the teacup, wiping her mouth, and remarked, “Your tea is too bitter. I’ll have someone deliver some new tea to you tomorrow.”
Feng Zi Jin declined: “There’s no need to trouble Han liangdi.”
“We can’t have that. Once upon a time, meimei wouldn’t drink anything at wang fu except the Long Jing before the first rain. Now that you have entered the palace, you can’t deny yourself.” She stood, asking, “Today’s sunshine is great, why doesn’t cairen accompany me on a walk?”
Knowing that she was intentionally making it difficult, Feng Zi Jin could do nothing except to follow behind Han Qing He.
Han Qing He gave a cold smile as she walked at the front. In the past when Feng Zi Jin humiliated her, she had been even more ruthless. What she was doing now wasn’t really anything. Thinking about it, Han Qing He turned back to look at Feng Zi Jin, the smile on her face growing wider.
In the future, there was still more to come. The humiliations she had suffered, she didn’t suffer them for nothing.