This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter 85: Prayer
Kong Hou indistinctly felt something was wrong with Huan Zhong. She observed Huan Zhong’s expression. Recently, after he started universal paired cultivation with her, Huan Zhong’s complexion had gotten much better. Even Elder Lin had said that Huan Zhong could soon recover eighty percent of his past cultivation.
Right now, Huan Zhong’s cultivation was deep and unmeasurable. She had not expected this was only sixty percent of his power. When they found the spirit grasses and Huan Zhong eliminated his mental demon, how great would he be?
There was a kind of person in the world who others felt even at first glance that he should stand in the highest of places, and should not live in mundanity. In Kong Hou’s eyes, Huan Zhong was this kind of person. Teacher, as well as friend, as well as elder brother. If there was any hope of recovery, she did not want Huan Zhong to give up.
Seeing the young girl’s puzzled look, Huan Zhong’s expression recovered. “You have been cultivating with me in these past days. This place has beautiful scenery. Let’s first rest here and then go to the bottom of Wind Listening Valley.”
“All right.” Kong Hou was hesitant but this place was beautiful. No wonder even Huan Zhong liked this place.
She walked to the edge of the pond and sat. As spirit energy circulated around her body, the contents of the Secret Art of the Mind appeared in her mind. In the secret realm, the spirit realm spirit demanded she memorize the mind art. At the time, she had not felt anything but she now discovered that the contents of the art seemed to be carved into her mind. She could not forget it.
Finding that her body unconsciously wanted to cultivate following the methods of the mind art, Kong Hou hurriedly controlled her mind and started to channel her spirit energy.
“She is born for cultivation.” Lin Hu looked at Kong Hou who had quickly entered her trance and merged into one with the world by the water’s edge. He patted the horse’s head and fed it some more spirit grass with an astounded gaze.
“In this world, everyone will be born with talent. But everyone has different talents, and in varying amounts.” Huan Zhong looked at Lin Hu. “You do not have to feel inferior.”
Lin Hu laughed. Master really liked to joke. A person of his age would not feel jealousy or inferiority because of a junior’s talent.
Knowing that Master was joking, Lin Hu said, “Just like you.”
“Yes.” Huan Zhong nodded. “They say one should pay the one who saved their life with oneself…”
“Master, you are wrong. In the mortal world, this means that if you are ugly, you should work for them—only the good-looking ones repay with themselves.”
“I am very good-looking. Kong Hou is also very good-looking.”
Lin Hu was silent for a long time. “Master, are you joking with me?”
Huan Zhong asked back .”When do I ever joke with you?”
Lin Hu was expressionless. “Frequently.”
“Then you do not have to worry this time. I am serious.”
Lin Hu’s lips trembled. He turned away and did not speak. He released the reins of the horses so they could go feed and drink on their own. The horses running around were like his emotions, running wildly but not mad.
“Please, please, save us.”
“Immortal Princess, please appear and look at us.”
“Everything in the past was this palace’s fault. Please appear and save the people. This palace is willing to give up ten years from the lifespan.”
Kong Hou woke up from her meditation, sweat beading on her forehead and her face ashen. She opened her eyes. The scene was beautiful. Who was speaking?
“Kong Hou, what is it?” Huan Zhong saw Kong Hou’s face pallid and full of sweat. He worried something had gone wrong with her cultivation and walked to feel her spirit meridians.
Everything was normal. Her spirit energy was not in chaos.
“Huan Zhong, I am fine.” Kong Hou still had not recovered from the pained and despairing pleading. “Just now, I seemed to hear strange voices.”
“Strange voices?” Huan Zhong’s expression grew stranger. If a cultivator had cursed Kong Hou, he was so close to Kong Hou that it was impossible for him not to have felt the least difference. Then where did these voices come from?
“Yes.” Kong Hou’s emotions calmed with Huan Zhong’s company. “These voices are old and young, male and female, and they are asking me to save them. I am very familiar with one of the voices. It seems to be the voice of the empress from when I was in the mortal world.” Her memories of the empress were blurry. She remembered it was a stern woman who did not have the affection of Emperor Jinghong but had his respect.
She did not seem like a person, but a symbol of the inner palace, a model for the noblewomen. At that time, Kong Hou would only notice Emperor Jinghong’s women who participated in the harem struggle but simply did not notice the empress. She felt especially strange hearing a voice similar to the empress’.
Even if something had gone wrong with her cultivation, she should not hear the empress’ voice. Other than the surface-level politeness, they had never interacted, much less had any grudges or mental demons.
The one who stole from the Ji Family was Emperor Jinghong, not that empress who watched expressionless as the consorts fought.
Hearing Kong Hou mention a mortal empress, Huan Zhong was slightly surprised. He thought. “Someone built a temple and raised monuments to you—you are receiving the worship of mortals.”
“A temple, monuments?” Kong Hou thought she had heard incorrectly. “I am not an immortal—why would they build temples and monuments to me?” When she finished saying this, she suddenly remembered the rumors about immortals in the mortal realm and grew silent.
The mortal realm had many stories concerning immortals, but how many had ever seen immortals? For the people of the mortal realms, the immortals were a code name, a mental support, but they were ethereal. They respected immortals but did not rely on them.
When she had flown away with Master in front of Emperor Jinghong and the officials, she had “become immortal” in the eyes of those people. Emperor Jinghong was a man who was careful and skilled at planning. When he saw her “become immortal,” he would use the opportunity to stabilize his position.
She was still Emperor Jinghong’s adopted daughter in name. His adopted daughter had “become immortal.” Building temples and monuments for the people to worship was natural. And the people of the country would only be happy hearing someone from their country had become immortal. Who would be unwilling?
There was one of them among the immortals. This gave the people a strong feeling of safety.
After realizing all this, Kong Hou wiped her sweat. “Huan Zhong, so many sounds of prayer—has something happened to them?”
Huan Zhong did not say yes or no, but responded, “To us cultivators, worship is useless. That is only what mortals do to ask for protection when they are weak and useless. When you stepped onto the path of cultivation, the past became unrelated with you. Even if everyone in the mortal world burns incense and bows to you, you do not owe them.”
“I know.” Kong Hou nodded.
“Rest a while longer.” Huan Zhong stood up and gave the silence back to Kong Hou.
Kong Hou looked at Huan Zhong’s figure. She sighed and sat with her knees to her chest as she sank into thought.
In the mortal world’s imperial palace, the empress stood up from the prayer mat. She pushed the incense into the pot and looked at the portrait of the female immortal in a daze.
“Niangniang, you have not slept at all for a night. Please rest for a while.” The female official worried for her health and held her arm. “You do not have to do this. The noble consort that His Majesty favors had the Department of Household Affairs send over the best rouge but you pray to the immortals in this small room for His Majesty. Even your knees are bruised.”
You do so much, would His Majesty even care? But the words were so unpleasant to hear that the female official who had followed the empress for more than two decades did not dare to say them.
When His Majesty had not been His Majesty, he and niangniang had been in harmony and he had pledged undying love. Now that he had the world and possessed countless beautiful women, he had forgotten the past promises.
Men were like this. The promises were temporarily true, their love was true, but their fickleness was also true. But niangniang had helped his Majesty obtain the world and bore his children. But in the end, she had to watch as His Majesty laughed and flirted with other women.
But so what? Centuries later, the history books would only record the greatness of His Majesty. Niangniang would only be an adornment at His Majesty’s side. When all the scholars and students read the records about the empress, probably they would sincerely praise her as virtuous.
The present history books recorded the founding emperors and empresses of past dynasties so. The history books of a thousand years later would remember His Majesty and niangniang the same way.
“I am not doing this for His Majesty, but for the people of the world.” The empress shook her head, her voice cool. The husband of her heart had died long ago. What did the favor of His Majesty and who he liked have to do with her?
“A plague is breaking out, countless people are being tormented by pain. Asking other immortals is useless—we can only ask Kong Hou.” The empress laughed mockingly. Who would have thought that an immortal would take away that princess of the previous dynasty whom she had ignored?
“Niangniang, you cannot say the name of the immortal niangniang.” The female official bowed towards the portrait. “The immortal will hear it.”
“I did not treat her well in the past. If she hates me, it will not be just due to calling her name.” The empress sighed. “His Majesty stole the world belonging to her father. We let her be bullied and ignored for several years in the inner palace. Do you think she will forget the past and appear?”
The female official shook her head. “This servant does not know.”
“You know; you just do not dare to say the truth.” The empress’ expression grew stern. She turned back into the authoritative empress. “Send my orders. Have the Grand Princess copy scriptures and pray for Immortal Kong Hou, and also those princesses and county ladies of similar age to Kong Hou. They have to burn incense three times daily for her. Send people to supervise them.”
“Grand Princess…” the female official said worriedly. “Would she disobey your orders and go to His Majesty?”
“When it is concerning the life or death of the people, it is useless even if she goes to the emperor of Heaven,” the empress said coldly. “This palace is in charge of all the women in the world. If His Majesty wants to side with the Grand Princess, first depose this palace.”
Millions of people were about to die. Why would she care whether a shrew was happy or angry? She was too spoiled!
“This servant will do so.” The female official left with her orders.
The room turned silent again. The empress turned back to look at the portrait. “I can give you anything, even my life, as long as you are willing to save the people.”
The smoke rose, but the face of the idol still remained cold.
“His Majesty, the empress has given several orders for the Grand Princess and other imperial women to pray to Immortal Kong Hou. The Grand Princess is arguing with the empress’ people.”
Hearing the report from the guard, Emperor Jinghong who had not slept well for several nights was silent for a long moment. “The empress is the mother of all people. Her orders are zhen‘s orders. No one can disobey.”
Empress Jinghong was silent for a while. “Send orders to the Astrology Bureau. Have them build an altar at the Star Observatory. Zhen will lead the imperial family to… pray to Immortal Kong Hou.”
Translator Ramblings: Cough guess where we are going next!