This chapter has been brought to you by me, vivie and leecherleechleech.
This is the first of three epilogues. A bit of longer reading than usual.
Bit of long time since I put pictures up.
Chapter One Hundred and Twenty One Epilogue: Painting of a Beauty
It was another blooming time of the year. Recently, all of Rui Wang Fu was full of cheer. Wang ye had just recovered his qin wang rank, and wang fei was pregnant. This could be considered the best things to have happened in the recent years for Rui Wang Fu.
Before marrying into the wang fu, Lu Yu Rong had thought Rui Wang was a lecherous and preposterous man. But only when she had entered the wang fu did she know how unfounded rumors could be. The third day after she married into the wang fu, wang ye accompanied her back to her paternal home and sent away a crowd of tong fang from the wang fu. Even though some of them had been bestowed down by the Emperor and couldn’t move out of the wang fu, the time that wang ye went to those women’s rooms lessened dramatically.
Gradually, wang ye started to like painting. And what he liked to draw best were bright and eye-catching red flowers. She had once asked him why he liked painting such vivid flowers but he didn’t say anything.
Before marriage, there was someone else in her heart. But one could not rebel against the Imperial Order. She had to marry this man who didn’t have a good reputation but her days were much better than she had imagined.
But maybe it was the nature of all men to be fickle. After she became pregnant, wang ye became interested in a tong fang. He visited her frequently in the day, but the majority of the time, he slept in the tongfang’s place.
But to her, this wasn’t anything major. Since she couldn’t marry the man she liked. Who she married, who that person loved, what did it have to do with her?
All the servants in Rui Wang Fu knew that the relationship between wang ye and the new wang fei was better than the old one so no one dared to slight wang fei. Even more, wang fei was pregnant. But quickly, servants with keen eyes found the brows and mouth of wang ye’s newly favored tongfang were very similar to wang fei. The servants then understood that it was that wang fei couldn’t have relations with wang ye due to her pregnancy so wang ye was finding comfort on another person’s body.
When Lu Yu Rong heard that rumor, she was even more generous to all the tong fang and qieshi. In the end, the houyuan of Rui Wang Fu became more and more peaceful, drastically different than the smoke and fire of the past.
She had once encountered a yahuan named Yao Xi in the wang fu. She recognized this yahuan. She was the personal maid of Qu Yue Su. She remembered that year when she and Qu Yue Su had composed poetry to amuse Jin An Princess Royal and the other wang fei had judged them. But who knew that the previous Rui Wang Fu would be executed, Qu ce fei would die from illness and she would become the second wang fei.
Destiny was just this ironic. If people wanted it, they didn’t get it, if they didn’t want it, it was shoved onto them. Wrongs and rights. By the end, who was the one who was the joke, who was the one that is a pity.
The first time she saw wang ye could draw people, it was the third month of her pregnancy. At that time, the beginning of summer had ended and she was too hot to fall asleep. She had walked around. For some reason, she walked into the study and saw the unfinished painting on the table.
It was a very solitary painting. The blooming plum blossoms, the thick layer of snow, and a half-open exquisite sedan in the midst of the snowflakes. There was a hazy shadow in the sedan, only revealing a shock of black hair and a red sleeve.
An empty painting, but she felt as though she was the artist of the painting, and was admiring the woman in the sedan, waiting for her to raise the curtain the entire way. But in the end, the person had pulled down the curtain instead.
Sighing, she reached out with a hand to touch the corner of the sleeve that was flying in the harsh wind. But before she could touch, heavy steps came from behind her.
She suddenly turned back and saw wang ye standing with a cold face at the door. The eyes he had when he looked at her, it was as though he was looking at a stranger, cool and indifferent.
“Wang ye… …” Her voice was somewhat dry and she strangely felt guilty.
“Why has wang fei come here?” He came up and put away the painting, his voice as gentle as usual, “I’ll accompany you back, the road is hard to walk at night.”
She followed him out of the study. Turning back to look at the doors to the study that were already closed, she couldn’t resist asking: “That drawing, wang ye, it’s seems like the landscape outside our plum forest.”
“En,” He nodded ambiguously, “White snow, red plums, it’s beautiful to draw.”
Thinking about the feeling from the painting, she agreed wholeheartedly with wang ye’s explanation. The white of the snow and the red of the plum flowers were especially beautiful. Even that piece of sleeve was to tempt others’ imagination. Wang ye’s skills were getting better and better.
Since then, she never saw wang ye draw other people, not even her or their child. But, wang ye’s paintings steadily became famous in Da Long. Many people would give a thousand gold to beg for one of wang ye’s paintings. But she rarely saw wang ye give them away, the fu accumulating many.
She knew that the relationship between the Emperor and wang ye wasn’t close so she and wang ye rarely were summoned into the palace. Thankfully, wang ye’s personality was a lot better now so even though the palace was cold to wang ye, if he was summoned, wang ye would control his temper and go each time. And in front of the two Empress Dowagers, the Emperor and Empress, he was extremely friendly. Even she couldn’t see any signs of unhappiness.
If wang ye had been like this in the beginning, the circumstances of Rui Wang Fu wouldn’t have been so awkward.
Later, the reason that the circumstances of Rui Wang Fu were resolved was actually because the Empress suddenly became interested in paintings. So the noble families all wanted to curry favor with the Emperor by buying good artwork everywhere in hopes of gaining the Empress’ favor.
The Emperor and Empress had been together for quite a few years. But after so many years, the love between Emperor and Empress was still strong. Many people that were waiting for a spectacle were disappointed. In the end, they reasoned that the Empress was very good at taking care of herself, her looks were still so seductive after so many years.
She scoffed at such sour words. Just by looks, the Empress was beautiful but not to the point of the most beautiful. Even though she had willow brows and “phoenix eyes”, but those weren’t a rarity in the world. Even her own features were the same, but she didn’t have the Empress’ snow white skin and composure.
Beautiful women could be found everywhere, but what was rare was the qualities of attractiveness. The feeling that the Empress gave others was seductive yet out of the world, vivid yet dignified. Such a contradictory woman was rare in the world but it was easy for people’s hearts to move. Because this disregarded the outer shell and was something that came from the deep parts of the soul, it was hard for others to ignore.
When wang ye took out some paintings for her to take in the palace, she was very surprised. But she hoped that the Empress would look on wang ye’s paintings and help Rui Wang Fu to not be in such an awkward position, so her child could establish himself in Da Long as he grew up.
Kui Yuan Palace was forever lavish and bright. Every time she entered this place, she would forget this was the hougong and not some family’s compound.
“Good day, Third Aunt.” The seven years-old Crown Prince stood in front of her. His looks were outstanding. Even though he now had didi and meimei, but no one in Jing would think that the position of Crown Prince was going to shake.
The Empress was a great woman. She raised the Crown Prince well. His actions and speech were extremely polite yet didn’t seem rigid.
“Your Highness Crown Prince, good day,” She couldn’t help but smile. Adults frequently were most soft-hearted for children, “Is the Empress free now?”
“Muhou just said that if I encountered you on the road, I should tell you to just head in,” the Crown Prince smiled and added, “Third Aunt, I’m going to accompany fuhuang to practice writing.”
Such a young age. It was clearly the Emperor teaching him to write but in his mouth, it became him accompanying the Emperor. Lu Yu Rong sighed. It was clear to see how patient the Emperor and Empress were in teaching the Crown Prince.
Entering the main hall of Kui Yuan Palace, she saw the Empress and the wife of lao si were chatting as they sat together. Seeing her enter, they involved her in talking about some of the interesting things around the city of Jing, the mood so harmonious that one could forget it was still the hougong.
However, she still remembered to take out the three paintings that wang ye gave her. She didn’t know what was drawn on the scrolls so when the Empress went to open them, she was curious as well.
The first painting was a cat playing with an orchid. Just a glance made people relax and refreshed. She had seen this before. Wang ye had done many copies before he made one he was satisfied with. She hadn’t thought he would willingly send it to the palace.
The second painting was of spring. The green mountains, the blue waters, the hundreds of flowers blooming. This was a scene that couldn’t be seen in the hougong. So beautiful it seemed unreal. Her heart moved when she saw it. Wang ye had spent more than a few months to finish painting this work. He had hung it in his bedroom to admire, but now he also sent it to the palace.
When the third scroll was gradually opened, she was shocked still. She didn’t think that this painting that wang ye had put away that year would once again appear in front of her.
“Drawing of winter snow and red plums……” The white fingers of the Empress gently touched the corner of the drawing. A long time later, she said, “Such a good plum blossom painting. The whiter the snow, the redder the plum blossoms.”
She just was able to see where the Empress had touched, there was half a figure barely discernable. But because that person had been wearing white, it was very hard for others to find.
“A person’s life on earth is like a white steed racing past, suddenly gone……” She didn’t understand the expression on the Empress’ face. She didn’t even understand why the Empress would recite such a line.
Even when she was leaving the palace, she still didn’t understand what the Empress meant. She didn’t know if the Empress liked wang ye’s paintings. However, not long after, the Empress became tired of admiring paintings and turned to favor listening to the stories of talented women across the country.
She didn’t tell wang ye of the two lines of nonsensical poetry that the Empress had said. But wang ye had never asked her what happened when she went to the palace that time. It was as though nothing had happened, unperturbed and quiet.
Later, wang ye was pardoned by the Emperor and could attend court. But she felt that wang ye didn’t feel very happy at such a thing.
Wang ye still liked painting, and still didn’t like giving the paintings away to anyone. Gradually, the child grew up. The one she had once liked was indistinct in her mind, just like a dream. After a while, one woke up.
The day of her son’s wedding, seeing her son and erxi kneel to her, she suddenly realized that this was pretty much her lifetime.
After the newlyweds were sent into the bridal rooms, she suddenly turned but only saw the back of wang ye as he personally sent the Crown Prince out the door.
The day that wang ye left, feathery snow came down from the sky, and the plum flowers in the plum forest had bloomed exceptionally well.
She sat at the head of the bed, looking at this old yet still handsome man. Sorrow quietly creeping in.
“Today’s snow is quite heavy, did it snow all night?” He suddenly became focused, even his pale face became red.
“En,” Her voice was choked. Beside her, her son and grandchildren started to cry.
“The snow that year wasn’t this heavy, the plum blossoms weren’t as good as this year……” His gaze landed on the branch of plum flowers in the pot and shook his head, saying: “A pity, a pity.”
“Fu wang… …” Her son sobbed in front of the bed, and her own eyes started to mist up.
“Guan’er, don’t cry. After I pass, remember to take that painting in the sandalwood box of the fifth square in my study into my coffin,” He slowly closed his eyes and sighed.
“After seeing the ocean, no other water can compare ……that’s it…… that’s it……”
She didn’t know how she stood up, how she watched the white banners hung up over the wang fu until she saw her son take out the sandalwood box that held the painting.
The scroll slowly rolled open and she froze in place..
On the painting, it was a busy street during the Lantern Festival. The beautiful lanterns, a beautiful woman dressed plainly holding a lantern and the fireworks exploding in the sky.
It was a painting that was so beautiful one couldn’t tear the eyes away. It contained all the feelings of the artist, just to depict the skin of the beauty, the bones of the beauty and the emotions buried deep in the heart.
“You walk and walk and don’t stop, and tear you and I part. Now, there are thousand upon ten thousand miles that separate you and I, I at this end of the world while you at the other … …” Shaking as she recited the poem inscribed on the painting, Lu Yu Rong suddenly remembered how he had gently touched her brow on their wedding night.
Gently rolling up the painting, she put it in the wood box. Closing the box, she dried off her tears: “Put this under the pillow of wang ye.”
A painting of a beauty, the bones of a hero. In the end, it was all a handful of dirt.
A person’s life in this world is like a white steed racing past, suddenly gone.
She thought, she understood somewhat now.