This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
- 王妃 wang fei: princess consort
- 王 wang: short for qinwang (亲王) or prince of the first rank
-  侧室 ceshi: literally “side room”. Referring to a concubine, but one of a higher rank, akin to a secondary wife.
- 庶 shu: born from a concubine
- 府 fu: compound or estate; (jun)wang fu: prince’s estate/compound
- 郡王 junwang: prince (of the second rank); also referred to as junwang ye, i.e. “His [Your] Royal Highness”
- 郡王妃 junwang fei: the official wife of a junwang
- 太监 taijian: eunuch employed by the Imperial Family, with an official position
Chapter Seven: The Beautiful Wang Fu
After visiting the three great personages of the palace, the pair came out of the palace. When they got onto the carriage, Hua Xi Wan put the token in front of Yan Jin Qiu. “The Empress Dowager’s token is very valuable. It is safer for it to be in Jin Qiu’s care.”
Yan Jin Qiu looked at the token but did not reach out to take it. “The Empress Dowager likes you and naturally hopes that you will take the token and visit her. I feel safe having it in your care.”
Hua Xi Wan did not persist and put away the token with a smile. She adjusted the adornments at her waist and said wryly, “The Empress Dowager is really a friendly elder.”
“When I was young and Mother was frail, I grew up for a few years under the Empress Dowager.” Yan Jin Qiu’s smile was harmonious. “She treats everyone benevolently.”
Hearing this, Hua Xi Wan recalled a rumor. The rumor was that Xian Wang Fei had been from a scholarly family and birthed Yan Jin Qiu’s older sister one year after marrying Xian Wang. Two years later, she became pregnant with Yan Jin Qiu. But who knew that when she was pregnant, Xian Wang got a ceshi pregnant, and half a year after Yan Jin Qiu was born, a shu son was born as well.
The outside did not know if there had been conflict between Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei due to this matter; they only knew that after Xian Wang Fei gave birth, her health was not good. When Yan Jin Qiu was two years old, he was sent into the Imperial Palace to be reared by the Empress Dowager. Only when he was six years old and Xian Wang Fei was heavily ill did Yan Jin Qiu come out of the Imperial Palace to care for his mother. Before Xian Wang Fei died, Xian Wang asked to title Yan Jin Qiu the Heir to the Wang Fu.
She didn’t know if Xian Wang Fei had felt hatred, but Hua Xi Wan felt that, if a female discovered that her husband had gotten another woman pregnant during her pregnancy, she would not be unaffected.
Hua Xi Wan wanted to say that he was fortunate to be reared by the Empress Dowager, but looking at Yan Jin Qiu’s smile, she suddenly did not want to speak. The carriage quieted down. She listened to the sound of the hoofs, and adjusted to a comfortable position reclined against the back of the carriage to wait for the carriage to return to the wang fu.
Yan Jin Qiu waited for a few moments and did not hear Hua Xi Wan’s voice. When he looked at her, he found that she had fallen asleep against the back panel of the carriage. Thinking back to his uncontrolled actions of last night, a small but sincere smile appeared on the corner of his mouth.
“Junwang Ye, Junwang Fei, we have arrived at the wang fu.” Mu Tong announced from outside the carriage.
Yan Jin Qiu turned and saw that Hua Xi Wan was sleeping. Just as he was planning to reach out and carry her, Hua Xi Wan opened her eyes.
“We’ve arrived?” Hua Xi Wan touched the hairpin in her hair and lifted the curtain to look outside the window. She slowly massaged her waist. “It is not yet time for the noon meal. Will Jin Qiu accompany me to tour the wang fu?”
“A request from a beauty cannot be refused.” Yan Jin Qiu raised the curtain and stepped out of the carriage. Then, under the gaze of everyone, he supported Hua Xi Wan’s hand. Only when she got off the carriage did he release her hand. “There are some good places in the wang fu. I’ll accompany you on the walk.”
Mu Tong saw that the two seemed to want to tour the wang fu and hurriedly told a servant to order the servants within the second door and lower to stay away so they would not coincide with Junwang Fei.
Even though Yan Jin Qiu had locked some places in the wang fu which were over his rank when he succeeded the position, what was locked was the buildings at the edges. The attractive places were still left open.
Along the way, Hua Xi Wan saw some beautiful structures as she had expected. With Mu Tong talking along the way, it was pretty interesting. After entering the Door of Drooping Flowers, Hua Xi Wan smiled at Mu Tong and said, “No wonder Junwang Ye has a high opinion of you. If I have such a clever person attending me, I will definitely use you frequently.”
“This one does not dare to accept Junwang Fei’s praise. This one is just fulfilling the duties of a servant.” Mu Tong respectfully made a major bow. “Anything that Wang Fei orders, this small one will try his best to fulfill. This one just hopes that Wang Fei does not disdain this small one for his clumsiness and stupidity.”
“Someone who can say these words is not one who is clumsy and stupid.” Hua Xi Wan smiled. When she raised her foot to step through the Door of Drooping Flowers, her hand was held by Yan Jin Qiu. She turned her head and saw the considerate smile on the other’s face.
“Thank you.” Under the gazes of everyone behind them, Hua Xi Wan did not take her hand away and allowed Yan Jin Qiu to lead her towards the middle of the fake mountain and forests. When the two walked next to the fake mountain, they heard two young servant girls conversing, and she seemed to hear the words “wang fei.”
Mu Tong was going to speak and scold them, but when he looked at Junwang Fei who had stopped walking, he hesitated and then stood silently at the side.
“I have seen several noble people; Sheng Junwang Fei is the most beautiful.”
“So what if she is beautiful, her status cannot rival our wang fei…”
“You are stupid—don’t you know that our wang fei is ordinary in appearance?” When the servant girl that spoke first said this, she pushed her voice lower. “I heard that it is because her appearance is not good that the Emperor decreed her marriage to our junwang.”
“Don’t speak nonsense, how can you know what the Emperor is thinking?” Hearing this, the second servant girl was frightened and even her voice started to tremble. “If Junwang hears this, what are you going to do?”
The first servant girl felt slight regret and said unconfidently, “Junwang and Junwang Fei are not in the fu, how can they hear what we are saying, don’t frighten yourself…” Just as she finished saying this, she saw a corner of a blue robe peeking from behind the fake mountain. When she saw who the people behind the fake mountain were, her legs softened, and she knelt down with a bang.
Hua Xi Wan looked at Yan Jin Qiu who did not show any anger and did not speak, and then at the two servant girls who were pale with fright and shaking all over. She raised an eyebrow in interest. Fearful to this degree yet dared to say these things behind people’s backs—they were really daring.
“Junwang, spare us! Junwang, spare us!”
The servant girl that had gossiped about Hua Xi Wan started to repeatedly kowtow. Moments later, blood started to come out of her forehead. But even so, this servant girl did not decrease the strength of the kowtow and hit the ground even harder as though, if she kowtowed slowly, she would not be able to keep her little life.
Looking at the slate bricks that were dyed in fresh blood, Hua Xi Wan spoke. “All right, do not kowtow anymore.”
The servant girl whose face was covered in blood paused slightly. Even though Hua Xi Wan had spoken, she was not sure if she should keep on kowtowing and begging for her life to be spared.
“Since Junwang Fei does not like bowing, do not cause Junwang Fei to be unhappy.” Yan Jin Qiu looked at the blood on the stone. With a furrowed brow, he said, “You who serve in the inner compound should know best what the protocol of the wang fu is.”
The servant girl whose face was covered in blood collapsed in fear and lay facedown on the ground. Even the servant girl who had listened to her speak had an expression of hopelessness. She didn’t know where she got the courage and crawled a few steps forward. She banged her head on the ground in Hua Xi Wan’s direction. “Junwang Fei, this servant has offended. Please, Junwang Fei, spare this life!”
Her face was full of tears from fright as she looked pleadingly in Hua Xi Wan’s direction. The next moment, she froze and could not speak any more entreaties. A moment later, she collapsed in a kneeling position on the ground and said, “This servant has offended.”
Hua Xi Wan looked at this servant girl that had been urging the other one to not gossip and coughed lightly. “Jin Qiu, I see that this servant girl knows some protocol. How about a lighter punishment for her?”
“Since Junwang Fei has spoken on your behalf, then go to the Discipline Room for twenty blows. If you offend again, then you will be punished according to the crime.” Yan Jin Qiu waved his hand at Mu Tong to indicate this servant girl would be spared.
“Thank Junwang, thank Junwang Fei.” This servant girl was so excited her face was full of tears and extremely disheveled.
The servant girl whose face was full of blood from kowtowing was gagged and dragged away by two taijian. As to what punishment she would endure, Hua Xi Wan did not ask, and Yan Jin Qiu did not explain.
The two seemed to forget this event and did not mention the matter of the decree of marriage, nor the rumors on the outside about Hua Xi Wan’s appearance.
The two used the noon meal together. Even though the two had been together for less than a day, there was never a cold period when the two did not speak, and they never felt that they were searching for something to say. They did not seem like the newly married couples that had never met before the marriage, but lovers with deep emotion, every one of their actions filled with warmth.
Mu Tong who was serving the pair at the meal looked with a complicated gaze at the elegant junwang fei. Junwang Fei was probably not a wooden beauty that was empty inside.
In the afternoon, Yan Jin Qiu had matters and left the fu. Hua Xi Wan naturally went back to her room to catch up on her sleep. Last night, His Highness Xian Junwang had been slightly fast the first time, and it might have been that he wanted to prove something to her in the next two times that she had been harassed for some time after.
When she woke up, it was in the evening. She rose and put on a comfortable cotton dress, had Hong Ying put her hair into a simple style, and then indolently leaned back against the soft cushion to let the servant girls knead her shoulders.
“Has Junwang returned to the fu?” She saw the sky was gradually turning dark and just remembered that she also had a title of junwang fei. No matter what, she should ask about that juwang ye.
“Junwang has not yet returned to the fu. The people from the Meal Room came in the afternoon. This servant had them make a few dishes according to the styles you usually prefer. Should the meal be sent for now?” Bai Xia held a cup of hawthorn, wolfberry and date tea to put into Hua Xi Wan’s hand. “The kitchen should have been prepared already.”
“I’ve just woken up and do not have an appetite. Let’s speak of this later.” She lazily looked outside. The orchids were at their peak of bloom and were exceptionally beautiful under the sunset, as though surrounded by a halo.
This Xian Junwang was more complex than she had imagined. She had seen clearly the terror that the two servant girls had when they faced him—as though if he blinked his eyes, they and their families would die.
Sighing, she adjusted her position so she was more comfortable leaning back. “Bai Xia, what do you think of the junwang fu?”
Bai Xia said after a moment of silence, “The wang fu is very beautiful, and the servants have very good etiquette.”
Hua Xi Wan smiled. “Yes, don’t they have very good etiquette?”
Bai Xia’s lips moved. She knew that Mistress was usually intelligent and thought farther than she did, so she did not speak up.
She swept the beautiful room. Even though the wang fu appeared very beautiful, the servants were obedient and well-mannered, a place that was too regulated and beautiful would cause people to feel it was unrealistic.
This was probably the true colors of the Imperial House?
Translator Ramblings: So much foreshadowing … … this chapter almost crashes under its own weight except for Hua Xi Wan’s thoughts that save it.