This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
- 堂 tang: relatives with the same surname
Chapter Ninety-Four: Honest Talk
Zhang Qing Yan was just a second empress and not of the main branch, but she was still of the Zhang bloodline. With the Zhang Family’s reputation among the scholars, even before Zhang Qing Yan entered the palace, there were scholars who wrote essays and poems for her to praise her marriage to Qilong Emperor.
But even the grandest pomp and most beautiful praise could not disguise the reality that Qilong Emperor was old. A beautiful girl in her teens marrying a man older than her father—what else could she get except that noble phoenix seat?
But Zhang Qing Yan did not care. It was not important to her how the Emperor looked, or how old he was. What was most important was that she was going to become an empress, with her name recorded in the history books. How many women dreamed of this chance?
She listened to the songs of praise and respect, and even she thought that she was the most outstanding woman in the world. What talented and virtuous Min Huai Junzhu, what dignified Sheng Junwang Fei, what peerlessly beautiful Xian Wang Fei? What were they next to her?
She was the empress, the most noble woman in the world. The noblewomen who had been once been praised by people had to kneel before her. How pleasurable was this?
“Miss, Old Zhang Taitai has come. Mistress asks you to go to the front hall to see the old taitai.” A servant girl came in and saw Zhang Qing Yan was reading. She said in a small voice, “Mistress said that the old taitai has seen many noble personages, and for her to advise you. It will be of benefit for you later in the palace.”
Zhang Qing Yan frowned upon hearing this. When she thought of the main family Zhang Taitai’s dignified and almost proud face, she said, “When I went to the main family to pay my respects in the past, that one was aloof and remote. Now seeing our family about to rise, they want to come fawn; this is laughable.”
The servant girl heard the outrageous words and wanted to cover her ears and pretend that she did not hear them. But Miss was the future empress. She didn’t dare to show even the slightest bit of disrespect.
In the front hall, Old Zhang Taitai calmly put down the teacup in her hand and slowly wiped the corner of her mouth. “It seems that your miss has no time to see this old woman. That’s all right. It is late; I should return.”
“Old Taitai!” Mother Zhang’s face was flushed, but she was of a wooden personality and not skilled verbally. Seeing that her daughter had angered the taitai of the main family into leaving, she hurriedly stood to support Old Zhang Taitai.
Old Zhang Taitai had experienced the pain of losing her son, and her personality was peaceful now. She looked at the panicked Mother Zhang, patted her hand lightly, and then left with a sigh.
People outside all thought that the Zhang Family was about to rise and prosper after this, but she felt that the Zhang Family had sunk into a bog that they could not climb out of. The Emperor was old and did not have a son. The imperial grandson was young and born with inauspicious signs. A naïve girl like Zhang Qing Yan—when she entered the palace which ate people, did she have the skill to give birth to an imperial son?
Something that even those scheming imperial consorts in the palace were unable to do, what great ability did Zhang Qing Yan have to accomplish?
Also, court was turbulent right now. With Zhang Qing Yan’s personality, it would be accumulating the good fortune of a few lifetimes if she could just survive, yet she wanted to have a child?
Old Zhang Taitai had a small disdainful smile. When she thought of her son who had died senselessly and of that dirty Imperial Family, there was a hint of hate in her eyes.
When she was preparing to get on the carriage with the help of the servant girl, she suddenly saw the procession of a qinwang fei passing by outside the alley. She couldn’t resist looking and then turned to ask the servant girl, “Is that Xian Wang Fei passing by?”
The servant girl cautiously took a glance. “It seems to be Xian Wang Fei’s carriage.”
Old Zhang Taitai nodded. After entering the carriage, she sighed helplessly. Her son had died young, and her eldest daughter was worrisome. She wasn’t just jealous, she was also short-sighted. If it wasn’t that her son-in-law and Yi’an Marquis were full-blood brothers, she probably would have already offended the family of the Yi’an Marquis.
And her granddaughter who had been sent to a monastery. She didn’t know what her granddaughter had done to force the Hua Family who treated their children so well to do such a thing. It must have been major.
The only comfort she had was that her grandson knew to work and advance. He was also good friends with the younger generation. She had heard that even Xian Wang Fei was close to him. A few days ago, she had even had servants send the answers of graduates from past years to her grandson. It could be seen from her actions that the Hua Family placed great importance on her grandson.
None of the members of prestigious families could be separated from the support of their families. If the entire family ignored them, only if the entire dynasty changed, otherwise they would not have a chance in their entire lifetime.
The Holy One right now seemed to be in decline, while Sheng Junwang seemed to have great support, but compared to Xian Wang who was liked by the famous and the scholars, he lacked something inside.
If it was Xian Wang…
Old Zhang Taitai didn’t dare to keep thinking. She leaned against the wall of the carriage and started to rest.
She only prayed that Xian Wang did not know what Zhang Qing Yan’s family had done. Otherwise, with Hua shi’s place in Xian Wang’s heart, after the Holy One passed away, the Zhang Clan would be affected.
On this side, Hua Xi Wan did not know that the Zhang Family’s old taitai was pondering about her. She had come out today to see Hua Yi Liu.
A few days ago, Hua Yi Liu had made a fuss to see her, and Hua Xi Wan had ignored it. Who knew that she had gone mad in the past few days. She hadn’t just smashed things and injured the nuns of the monastery, she had tormented her servant girls. Hua Xi Wan could only come out.
In her memory, Hua Yi Liu had a silent personality but was not a brutal person. Now that she was like this, she had to visit Hua Yi Liu, even if it was just for her second uncle.
“Wang Fei, we’ve arrived.”
Hua Xi Wan held Hong Ying’s hand to get off the carriage. Then she exchanged a Taoist bow with the masters of the monastery before saying with a smile, “My sister has been resting in the monastery recently due to her health. It has been of trouble to Master.”
“The Three Pure Ones are benevolent; there is no trouble.” The female Taoist ushered Hua Xi Wan into the monastery and walked towards the west. Everyone came to a serene little yard. The female Taoist stopped and said, “Virtuous One, ahead is the yard where Householder Hua is residing. Please.”
“Many thanks, Master.” Hua Xi Wan led her servant girls and taijian into the yard. Before she entered the rooms, she heard the sound of smashing inside the room, and her brow creased slightly.
Hong Ying saw this and went forward to say loudly, “This servant is Hong Ying. Greetings to Miss.”
The room suddenly quieted. Moments later, the main door slowly opened. It was a young servant girl who timidly opened the door. She was wearing an old robe. When she saw that it was Hua Xi Wan, she shrank into the corner.
Hong Ying saw the young servant girl’s state, and her brow furrowed slightly. She looked towards the door and saw Hua Yi Liu sitting by the yellow pear wood table. Hua Yi Liu was wearing a pale green dress. Her hair was in a lily hairstyle, and with a ruby and gold brooch inserted into it. It gave people a feeling of showing off.
“You finally came.” Hua Yi Liu took a sip of tea slowly and then slowly put down the teacup. She took out an embroidered handkerchief and wiped the corner of her mouth. “It really isn’t easy for your elder sister to see you.”
Hong Ying’s brow locked even tighter. Tang Miss’ tone seemed like what Wang Fei would use. What did she want?
Hua Xi Wan’s gaze slowly swept across Hua Yi Liu’s wrist where a gold bangle embedded with jade rested and smiled faintly. “The weather is hot; it isn’t comfortable wearing gold bangles. This younger sister has two crystal bangles. If Elder Sister doesn’t mind, take them to play with.” She could see that Hua Yi Liu’s attitude towards her wasn’t right. She wasn’t one to return good for evil. Since the other did not give her face, she would not offer her face for the other to slap.
“Sister is now wang fei—what rare things do you not have? This sister is unlucky and cannot have these good things!” Hua Yi Liu sneered and swept the tea cups on the table to the ground. The fine porcelain immediately shattered. The young servant girl who had been in the corner was so frightened she gave a full body shudder, and she seemed to be terrified by Hua Yi Liu’s action.
Seeing Hua Yi Liu’s fickle emotions, Hua Xi Wan was not angry. She sat down on a nearby chair and slowly fanned herself. She looked wryly at Hua Yi Liu. “For what has Jiejie called me here?”
“Let me out!” Hua Yi Liu stared at her with bright eyes. “I know that you can let me out!”
Hua Xi Wan stopped fanning herself. She raised her head and looked at the elegant decorations in the room. She sighed and said, “Meimei cannot satisfy Jiejie’s wish.”
“Why?! Why can you order me? So what if you are a wang fei—are you the only daughter of the Hua Family?”
Hua Yi Liu glared at Hua Xi Wan. If it wasn’t for the two servant women who were restraining her, she would have already jumped at Hua Xi Wan.
Hua Xi Wan saw Hua Yi Liu’s almost insane state, and a complicated feeling that could not be described rose inside her. “I had originally thought that Jiejie would be able to come back to a peaceful life after leaving that family. I didn’t think that it would really progress to this.”
The struggling Hua Yi Liu heard this, and her body stilled as though she was struck by lightning. A moment later, she covered her face and cried. “What do you think you know? You are the noble wang fei, the woman whom all of Jing admires. When have you ever thought of my hardship?”
Hong Ying who usually was quick of mouth couldn’t help but say, “Tang Miss, it was Second Furen who decided your marriage. Even if it was unfortunate, what does it have to do with our Wang Fei? When you were in difficulty, Wang Fei came to your husband’s family gates to support you as a married daughter. When has our Wang Fei owed you? You, on the other hand—you purposefully misled Min Huai Junzhu and caused the Imperial House to think that Wang Fei was without beauty. If it wasn’t for you…”
“If it wasn’t for you, I would not be where I am today.” Hua Xi Wan did not want Hong Ying to say too much. She looked at Hua Yi Liu who brimmed with anger and said disinterestedly, “I think that I have never done something wrong to Jiejie. Since Jiejie is full of anger towards me, then I have nothing to say.”
“From young, you were always better than me. Your father was the marquis, your father and your brothers loved you and protected you. What you do all day is admire flowers, eat good food, learn some martial skills, and then lazily pass the days. But me, I have to learn a woman’s skills all day, how to take care of the household. Even so, I am still not as good as you. Isn’t it just because you have a more beautiful face?” Hua Yi Liu sneered. “If your beauty was not there, would Xian Wang still fall in love with you?”
Hua Xi Wan heard this and said with a smile, “Then so what? Should I carve up my face to test my man’s thoughts?”
What Hua Yi Liu hated the most was Hua Xi Wan’s disinterested attitude, as though if she opened her mouth, what she wanted would be delivered to her. But they were all daughters of the Hua Family. Why did some people have good lives, and others had ones full of misfortune?
Even Hua Yi Liu did not know when she had started to be jealous of Hua Xi Wan. Maybe it was when her grandmother who was usually cool to everyone was especially gentle to Hua Xi Wan, or maybe when the outside rumors were that Hua Xi Wan had no beauty and yet she was still able to marry Xian Wang. Or maybe it was when her marriage was unfortunate whereas she had become the famous Xian Wang Fei, or maybe it was because who she liked was… She had once hoped that Hua Xi Wan could have a good life, but when Hua Xi Wan was having a good life and she could only live out her days in loneliness, she couldn’t help but feel hate.
She could not hate her parents, then Hua Xi Wan with her infinite scenery became the target to give vent to her emotions.
“Jiejie dares to be so harsh towards me because you rely on the tolerance I have for my paternal family.” The smile on Hua Xi Wan’s face slowly faded. “We have been cousins for more than a decade. You naturally know that I will not take your life for a man. But have you considered if the man you think about will even look at you or take your life?”
Hua Xi Wan grew bored of Hua Yi Liu and decided to spill it all. “The Hua Family sent you to the monastery in order to save your life. If you really cannot think this through, I will not stop you. The Hua Family can protect you for now, but can they protect you for your entire life?”
Hua Yi Liu stilled. She wanted to say that the beautiful and gentlemanly Xian Wang could not be such an emotionless and cold-blooded person, but she could not speak.
A moment later, she covered her mouth and leaned back weakly against the chair.
Seeing her like this, Hua Xi Wan stood and said in a calm tone, “If Jiejie can settle down, think of what you are to do in the future. The monastery is the clean palace for the Pure Ones. If you continue to make a fuss, it will not be good if you disturb the deities here.”
After saying this, she started to walk out. When she reached the door, Hua Yi Liu called her. She turned back. Hua Yi Liu was sitting on the chair and her expression was strange.
“Meimei’s words are true?”
Hua Xi Wan sighed. “Why would I lie to you about this?”
“I understand.” Hua Yi Liu bowed her head to disguise her emotions. A moment later, she raised her head and smiled at Hua Xi Wan. She said, “Meimei, take care. Jiejie will not see you off.”
Hua Xi Wan nodded and her foot stepped over the doorway.
“Be careful on the road.”
Hua Xi Wan turned around. She saw that while Hua Yi Liu’s face was hidden in the shadow, her lips were pressed tightly together.
Translator Ramblings: The old Zhang taitai did not pass on her smarts to her daughter.