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Chapter One Hundred and Eleven Flying Gracefully
The lights in the western hall suddenly extinguished. Only the night luminous pearls on the stage and the flower lanterns floating on the water provided illumination, as though in the world, there only existed the woman on the stage.
The music of the ancient qin quietly started, and the person on the flower stage moved. The red sleeves seemed to cut through the dark night, flying in the air like ripples in the water. The flower stage slightly trembled and the red-clad woman moved with it, suddenly starting to spin as though what was under her feet wasn’t the unsteady flower stage floating on the water, but the solid ground.
The bells at her ankles rang out in the darkness, striking deep into the soul, again and again striking He Heng’s appreciation.
Qu Qing Ju was dressed entirely in red. It was a pure vermilion. No jewelry, no jade, other than a string of bells on her ankles, she had no adornments on her body. The night wind blew in through the open windows, lifting up the silk curtains in the room, and also the vermilion dress. The flexible waist suddenly stopped, and then a back flip. The red sleeves drawing out a circle in the air. In the blink of an eye, the person was reclining on the flower stage. Flower petals slowly floated down, falling on the steaming water, and creating charm for the amazing dance.
At some unknown time, a pipa appeared in Qu Qing Ju’s hands. She slowly stood, her right foot slowly curling, her fingertip gently flicking, her neck slightly raised, like a goddess taking a flight to the heavens. Even though there was a moving smile on her face, but it stirred fear in the onlooker that she would suddenly leave.
He Heng couldn’t resist walking forward, and saw Qu Qing Ju’s eyes swirl as she started to dance and play the pipa at the same time. After the song ended, a red silk rope suddenly fell down from the top. Qu Qing Ju wrapped her hand around the rope and with a push of her feet, she managed to fly off the flower stage in the midst of a rain of flower petals.
“Qing Ju!” He Heng pushed aside layers of silk. When he saw the faintly smiling person reclining on the bed, his heart jumped. He muttered: “The ancients talked about one ‘dancing the “Feathered Coat and Rainbow Skirt” with a breeze in her skirts.’ It’s only today that I know what it meant.”
Qu Qing Ju turned around, changing to lean on the bed, her eyes bewitching as she asked: “Is Emperor satisfied with my dance?”
“A dance that overturns the state,” He Heng walked next to the bed, reaching to pull out the jade hairpin in her hair, his voice husky as he replied: “To have such a woman, in this life what else do I need to ask for?”
The wind started, the sleeves slightly swayed as though it stirred He Heng’s heart. He couldn’t resist gathering Qu Qing Ju in his embrace. Such scenery, such beauty, his heart was tangled like hair, and there was nothing else that could enter his eyes.
The servants all waited outside Kui Yuan Palace. No one knew what had happened inside Kui Yuan Palace. Some of the attendants that had cooperated with Qu Qing Ju in her dance had all left when Qu Qing Ju stopped dancing. The moment the doors to the western hall closed, it also closed on the romantic night of the Emperor and Empress.
The moonlight was still there, the people were still the same, but to Mu Jin and the group of people waiting outside, if the Emperor hadn’t appeared out of the western hall now, then it meant that before the sunrise tomorrow morning, the Emperor wouldn’t come out.
Mu Jin turned to look at the western hall. Not just Emperor, even her, a woman, when she saw the Empress in that vermilion costume had been dumbstruck.
Perhaps, there really were women in this world that might be the most beautiful in the world, but they didn’t have the ability to entice others, like Empress did.
When Qu Qing Ju woke up, the sky was turning pale. She looked at the man who was holding her, and reached out to brush aside the strands of hair in front of the face. Two pairs of eyes met, and she found the other was already awake, his eyes incomparably warm.
“Awake?” He Heng reached to brush through Qu Qing Ju’s hair, smiling as he asked: “Call for the servants to come in?”
Qu Qing Ju yawned and looked outside the window through the layers of silk. She lazily leaned her head on He Heng’s chest: “Don’t want to get up.”
“A beauty in the arms, I don’t want to get up either,” He Heng’s hand gently slid across Qu Qing Ju’s back, and unwillingly and discontentedly sighed, “I finally understand the reason behind ‘from now, the Emperor will not have morning court’.”
“Emperor is willing to be the incapable ruler, but I’m not willing to be that calamitous demoness,” Qu Qing Ju pinched at his waist, and got up to throw the red outer garment casually over her body. She flung her head of soft and smooth hair, revealing her pale legs as she walked through layers of silk to enter the hot spring, the red robe spreading out in the water.
He Heng dressed and when he walked next to the water, he saw her swim around in a circle with seductive poses. He turned to grab a large and clean towel, squatting down and reaching with his hands, urging: “Come up, it’ll be cold when you get out of the water.”
Qu Qing Ju swam in front of him. She looked at the hands he had reached out with, and suddenly pulled, dragging He Heng into the water.
Ming He and the others that had been waiting outside the hall heard the sound of something landing in the water inside, and then the laughter of the Emperor and Empress. They could only quietly bend down even more and bury their heads even lower.
The end result was that He Heng managed to arrive at court almost ten minutes late. But it was such a short gap that no one thought more about it. The only thing that the officials couldn’t understand was why the Emperor was in an exceptionally good mood. Even his voice as he decreed to investigate corrupt officials was softer than usual.
The officials thought in puzzlement, was the Emperor expectant of the upcoming birthday?
At the end of the ninth month, the envoys of the minor countries started to arrive in Jing City. They were placed to live in the visitor palace that was set aside for guests. Even though it was a palace, it wasn’t connected with the Imperial Palace, but was constructed on a certain wide and clean street. That same street was also home to many noble families.
After the envoys arrived, they quickly sent their cards to He Heng. However, it was the Ministry of Rites’ officials that saw them. If they wanted to see He Heng in person, they had to wait for the birthday celebration.
When it was time for the country of Jing to arrive, it caused a portion of the people to gather on the side of the street. They held curiosity for the carriages from another land. Even more, they had heard that a beautiful princess was sitting in the grand carriage. Such alluring gossip, even if they didn’t see the person, it was enough to see the carriage.
The envoy from Jing was settled down in the Jiao Xiang Compound of the visitors palace. After moving in, the imperial son and princess of Jing, and the envoys from other countries mutually exchanged greetings, sought out news about the city of Jing before they returned to their compound.
Dai Rong looked at the teacup in her hand, her voice slightly awed: “Da Long is so prosperous and glorious, even a teacup like this would be something in our Jing that everyone would fight over. But here in Da Long, it’s just something common.” A smile formed on her beautiful face, “I heard from others that said that the new Emperor is extremely handsome and is a very capable ruler. Also, he doesn’t have many women in the hougong. Such a rare kind of emperor.”
“But I heard that the Empress of Da Long is as beautiful as a goddess, kindhearted and in love with His Majesty the Emperor,” Tu Er seemed to have seen through his meimei’s mind, indifferently playing with a bracelet of agate, “It makes one admire.”
“There is no man in this world that doesn’t want something new,” Dai Rong smiled carelessly, her expression extremely confident, “The past Emperors of Da Long, they all had many beauties in their hougong.”
Tu Er shrugged, and spreading out his hands, he declared: “Alright, I won’t stop you from whatever you will do. If you make His Majesty the Emperor mad, and lose the right to succession, it would be a great event for me.”
“My good gege, there isn’t a man that would neglect a beautiful woman,” Dai Rong’s index finger slid across her red lips, “Just wait and see. I will become Jing’s greatest Empress.”
“Since you insist on doing so,” Tu Er put down the agate bracelet in his hands and spread them, smiling: “I hope you succeed.” When he finished, he smiled and walked out of the room, turning to return to his own rooms.”
“Princess, what does the imperial son mean?” A female attendant behind Dai Ron frowned as she asked, “would the imperial son try to set you up?”
“Don’t worry, gege isn’t so stupid as to fight with me in front of His Majesty the Emperor. That wouldn’t be of benefit to Jing’s reputation,” Dai Rong set down the cup in her hand, “Even more, mother favors me more. More people are willing to listen to me. If he wanted to scheme against me, he doesn’t have many helpers.”
Thinking about the Empress that Tu Er mentioned, she snorted. Most of the women of Da Long were in the mold of being virtuous. For a time, a man would find it interesting. If they had to always face such a kind of women all the time, it would be strange if they didn’t get sick of it.
If she could use her beauty to obtain the favor of His Majesty the Emperor, she would get the throne, and also get more benefits for Jing from Da Long, why shouldn’t she do it?
So what if there was an Empress, would the Emperor remain pure as jade for her?
In the rear hall of Tian Qi Palace, Qu Qing Ju was teasing Tun Tun to reach and grab the small drum in her hand. Seeing his head sway about with the drum, and reaching out to grab, she smiled as she pushed the small drum into his hand. Then she saw Tuo Tuo clumsily shove the drum into his mouth.
Qu Qing Ju didn’t stop him. Seeing his toothless mouth smear the drum with saliva, she took a handkerchief to wipe his face. Then she reached out to rub his back. Finding that his temperature was normal, she lifted Tuo Tuo up, “Tun Tun, say ma.”
Seeing Tun Tun smile ignorantly at her, Qu Qing Ju couldn’t resist kissing his face repeatedly, “Tun Tun, tomorrow is your father’s birthday, say ma.”
“It’s my birthday, why should he first call you?” When He Heng came in, he heard the words and helplessly walked in front of his son. He reached out to poke his son’s face. Seeing him duck into his muhou’s arms with a dark face, his eyebrow raised as he remarked, “This brat knows how to hide.”
“Don’t poke,” Qu Qing Ju slapped aside his hand, “Rough hands and feet, it’ll harm his skin.”
“He’s not tofu and can’t be touched,” He Heng resentfully took his hand back. Seeing Tun Tun reach with his plump hands to lie on Qu Qing Ju’s body, he asked; “Why do I feel that he is much closer to you?”
“He lived in my belly for more than nine months,” Qu Qing Ju shot him a glare, “If you can give birth to a child, he will be close to you.”
He Heng rubbed his nose. He felt that he couldn’t challenge a woman’s power and status in this field, and only responded: “En, it’s good that the child is close to you. It means that this child will be a filial one.” Finishing, he took the advantage to rub his son’s butt.
Qu Qing Ju handed the child to the nursemaid and sat down on the chair with He Heng. She knew that many envoys from subordinate countries were arriving tomorrow and asked: “Have all the envoys arrived?”
“All here. Even the one from Du Han managed to arrive four days earlier,” He Heng thought and then added, “The imperial son and princess from Jing also came. I heard that they caused quite a fuss.”
Qu Qing Ju raised an eyebrow, arguing: “A beauty’s entrance should be grand.”
He Heng smiled. Then he objected: “As a subordinate country, they should act like one. What host would like a loud guest that overwhelms them?”
Qu Qing Ju listened to his tone of voice and detected that the envoy from Jing had done something to make him unhappy so she asked: “What did they do?”
“I heard they created a furor when they entered Jing City and then came in in a twelve horse carriage,” He Heng’s brow furrowed, “xiandi hasn’t yet passed away for three years yet, but they are already dancing and singing, they have no sense of propriety.”
Qu Qing Ju finally understood. Even though it was already past the mourning period, but it was very likely that when the envoys of the subordinate countries arrived and expressed their allegiance, they certainly expressed their grief at the passing of xiandi. So the country of Jing’s behavior was lacking to He Heng.
A twelve horse carriage …… when He Heng was still a wang ye, he could only use an eight horse carriage. Were the imperial son and princess of the country of Jing even nobler than a wang ye of Da Long?
Didn’t the information on the country of Jing say that the Hu Guo Princess was beautiful, good at dancing and singing and peerlessly intelligent? Why was it that her actions seemed to rub He Heng the wrong way?
Or was it that, this was the tactic that the Hu Guo Princess was using to attract the new emperor’s attention?
Such a pity. Regardless of her real intentions, her ploys were being performed in front of blind people. It also made He Heng discontent.
It really …… made people feel sympathy.
The feathers coat and rainbow skirt dance (霓裳舞衣曲) originated in the Tang Dynasty when Tang Xuan Emperor dreamed of going to the Palace of Heaven and saw the goddesses dance. He took inspiration from that to compose a song and dance suitable to perform in the palace. Later, Yang guifei was one of those who did the performance. Additionally, the phrase comes from the Song of Everlasting Regret.