This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
- 娘娘 niangniang: respectful title used for the Empress and/or imperial consorts
Chapter One Hundred and Seven: Eight Treasures Trousseau
In the dark room, Yan Bo Yi sat expressionlessly at the table and looked coldly at Yan Jin Qiu who was sitting on the other side. “Your Majesty the Emperor, on the first day after seizing power, has not forgotten to come laugh at me?” His forehead was burning in pain. Two hours ago, a “prisoner” character had been added there.
“Zhen has decreed that your concubines who do not have children can leave as they wish,” Yan Jin Qiu said slowly. “They are now packing up. Do you want to go bid farewell to them?”
“They are just people who are selfish and have no loyalty—what is there to say?” Yan Jin Qiu sneered.” What’s the use of women except for having children?”
Yan Jin Qiu’s brow creased slightly. When he thought that it had been two days since he had seen Hua Xi Wan, he didn’t have any more interest in looking at Yan Bo Yi. “Your outcome really cannot be blamed on others.” He stood and headed outside, unwilling to look at Yan Bo Yi one last time.
“Where are you better than me? You are someone who schemed against your own brother-in-law—you do not qualify to criticize others.” Yan Bo Yi snorted. “And that wang fei of yours—she is enchanted by your warmth. She doesn’t know how disgusting you are under that skin of yours.”
Hearing this, Yan Jin Qiu turned back to glance at him. He smiled noncommittally and then left without a look back.
Watching as the gates slowly closed in front of him, the room becoming dark, Yan Bo Yi raised a hand to lightly touch his forehead and then hatefully smashed the rough porcelain tea set on the table.
The gates to Xian Wang Fu were wide open. Outside, the imperial guard was clearing the way. They splashed clean water on the streets. The imperial procession was coming, and everyone else needed to move out of the way.
They had made such a fuss because the new emperor wanted to come himself to meet the empress and take her into the palace. Some older officials had objected to this, but the new emperor had said in front of the entire court, “Hua shi is my wife, and we will not be separated. Among the people, husband and wife love and support each other. Zhen is the son of Heaven but is the same as any other person, and only wishes to stay with my wife until we grow old.”
All the officials were speechless. What could they say? The Emperor himself was willing, so could they, the officials, have the Emperor disrespect the Empress and favor concubines? It would not look good to say that. Also, the new emperor had just ascended the throne—who was willing to disagree with him?
Fine, you, the grand emperor, are willing to bow to your woman; they would not meddle in these matters and would just watch.
“Niangniang, the Emperor has personally come to take you to the palace.” Bai Xia who was usually composed had a thread of surprise on her face. She walked into the room and looked at the grandly dressed Hua Xi Wan. She carefully touched the phoenix hairpin in Hua Xi Wan’s hair. “They will reach the second door about now.”
Hua Xi Wan also hadn’t expected that Yan Jin Qiu would come. After a slight pause, she slowly smiled. Holding Bai Xia’s hand, she stood up unhurriedly. “Let’s go.”
When someone has already walked ninety-nine steps, she was not so lazy that she wasn’t even willing to walk that one remaining step. A person needed to be careful, but they also needed to have enough bravery.
“Emperor?” Mu Tong looked in puzzlement at the Emperor. He did not understand why the Emperor got off the dragon carriage after reaching the second door. However, the moment when he spoke, he knew he had made a mistake and hurriedly closed his mouth. He bowed and then took a step back. The other people saw that Chief Steward Mu who had served the Emperor for so many years did not dare to speak, and all of them remained silent. They followed behind the Emperor and watched as he walked towards the inner compound.
When he first got off the carriage, Yan Jin Qiu’s steps were steady and measured, but when he was about to cross through the door to the inner compound, his strides grew longer. Maybe other people did not detect it, but Mu Tong saw the other’s expression clearly.
He suddenly raised his head and saw the Empress standing by the inner door. He then understood the reason why the Emperor had lost his usual composure and became slightly rushed.
The woman standing by the door was just eighteen, and her appearance was soul-stealing, but what was most attractive was that warm smile on her face. That warm smile was enough for any man who saw it to lose his mind.
Yan Jin Qiu hadn’t expected that Hua Xi Wan would be willing to wait by the door for him. Seeing the faint smile on her lips, he was slightly dazed. Then an indescribable feeling of joy rose inside him.
Three steps merging into two, he went forward and grabbed Hua Xi Wan’s hands to stop her from curtseying. Yan Jin Qiu stared at her and said, “I have come to take you to the palace.”
Hua Xi Wan raised her head and smiled faintly as she looked into his eyes.
Their gazes met. They clearly didn’t say anything, but they did not need to.
Hua Xi Wan looked at her hand that was in Yan Jin Qiu’s and allowed him to pull her to the gates of the wang fu.
The distance from the inner door of the wang fu to the outer gates was not small, but Yan Jin Qiu did not sit on the carriage as he held Hua Xi Wan’s hand. The two of them slowly passed through the corridors on the lotus pond, the corridors carved with exquisite patterns, through the doors, like a pair of lovers idly strolling and not the Emperor and Empress.
The two of them got closer and closer to the gates. Yan Jin Qiu looked at the open wang fu gates. He stopped walking and said, “I once said that I will never let anyone slight you again. From today onward, you don’t need to bow to anyone.”
Hua Xi Wan looked at her hand held in his and put her other hand on the back of Yan Jin Qiu’s hand. “I remember your words.”
Looking at her exquisite brow, Yan Jin Qiu smiled and said, “It doesn’t matter if you remember or not. I will remember for you.” Finishing, he did not wait for Hua Xi Wan to speak and pulled her out through the gates. Then, under the gazes of everyone, he led Hua Xi Wan onto his carriage.
The rites officials who had come along blinked, but no one stepped out to say that it was not correct for the two to share a carriage.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Rites, and the Department of Internal Affairs had worked through the night to create this dragon and phoenix carriage. This was all because the Emperor had said that husband and wife were yin and yang, and when they were out, their status should not be different. The Emperor was the dragon, and the Empress was the phoenix. In the future, when he and the Empress were out, it was enough for the two of them to ride one carriage.
Since the Emperor had no objection to sitting on the same carriage as the Empress, they, the subjects, should not say anything more. However, since it was not appropriate for the Empress to sit on the dragon carriage yet the Emperor was determined to sit with the Empress, they could only think of a solution.
Since the Emperor said that empress and emperor should be one, then they would make a dragon and phoenix carriage. It both satisfied the love between the Emperor and Empress, and did not break etiquette. This should be all right.
The Emperor and Empress were deeply in love, the Empress was born from a prestigious family, her paternal and maternal family were all loyal subjects. They were not worried about a demoness that would bring calamity to the country. Everyone was satisfied with this. The only shortcoming was that the Emperor and Empress were young, had not been married for two years, and did not have a child.
But the two were still young. A child most likely would not be a major problem.
Five days later, Yan Jin Qiu formally ascended the throne and changed the era name to Shengkun. After his twenty-seven days of intensive mourning were over, other than making some decrees that followed the normal tradition, he gave a verbal decree that shocked the court.
“Zhen’s inner palace will be just Hua shi.”
Many officials praised the Emperor for his love, but sighed inside. The Emperor was still too young. Later, he would probably regret and be humiliated by this verbal decree from today.
Even as beautiful as Empress Hua was, there would be a day when the beauty would grow old. How many men in the world did not desire beauty? There were many young couples in love, but when they reached middle age, the past love became dull silence. The love would become the ignorance of youth, oaths would become an impulsive action, and then what would he do in the future?
Three days later, Emperor Shengkun held a great crowning ceremony for Empress Hua. Empress Hua didn’t just receive the bows of the court officials and the noblewomen; he personally put the golden token, golden seal and golden book that represented the status of the empress into Empress Hua’s hands.
“Starting from today, you and I will be together living in this deep palace. Zhen will not fail you.” Yan Jin Qiu stood on the tall jade stairs and looked down at the officials who were kneeling. He turned and said to Hua Xi Wan beside him, “I know that you do not like living in the Imperial House, but in this life, you will not be able to easily leave this place. This is my fault.”
“Didn’t you once say that we are a match made in heaven?” Hua Xi Wan smiled faintly. “In the beginning, it was not you who forced me, nor did I cry and beg to marry you. You cannot give me a free and indolent life, but you have tried your best so that I do not have to worry much. You have done enough.”
She raised her head to look at the cloudless sky and smiled freely. “Maybe it was fated by Heaven that I encountered you and you encountered me. This is fate.”
She did not believe promises or oaths, but she believed in herself.
There would be an end to even the most craggy road. Before the last moment, no one knew what beauty and misfortune one would encounter in life.
She might not believe in the oaths of men, but she would not deny the other’s true heart because of her suspicious nature.
It was just a lifetime. She dared to gamble, and she could afford to.
“Before a daughter of the Lu Family marries, her mother will personally give her a trousseau. There will be eight hair ornaments in the box. Therefore, the daughters of the Lu Family call it the Eight Treasures Trousseau.”
Hua Xi Wan took out an exquisite sandalwood box from the tray and put it in Yan Jin Qiu’s hand.
“Gold and silver, eight treasures, four each for male and female, good wishes for the two to hold hands through good and bad, loving each other and never parting.”
Yan Jin Qiu opened the sandalwood box. Inside was a love-knot jade pendant, a signet ring carved with the character “good fortune,” a lucky cloud hairpin, and an exquisite jade coronet.
He suddenly raised his head to look at Hua Xi Wan. Her eyes were glowing, and her smile was blossoming.
Translator Ramblings: Just an epilogue left for next week.