This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
While Five Estate Temple were professionals at receiving important imperial family members as guests, no matter how simplified the empress dowager and the emperor’s procession was, they could not be very simple.
The next morning, before Gu Ru Jiu boarded the county mistress regulation carriage, she couldn’t help but turn to look at the large group of people ahead of the golden and bejewelled carriage ahead. At first glance, she saw her second brother on horseback.
Gu Ru Jiu gave a small wave towards Gu Cun Jing. Gu Cun Jing coughed and grinned at his younger sister.
Some of the colleagues familiar with him saw this, and teased him, admiring him for having such a lovable little sister.
Hu Yun Qi was an older male cousin of Gu Cun Jing’s wife, and of similar age to Gu Cun Jing. The two were also both dragon guards, and they were close to each other. As a result, when they joked, they did not have so many restraints. He looked in the direction of Gu Ru Jiu’s carriage and said with a smile, “Second Sister is more and more outstanding. I wonder which boy is going to benefit?”
Gu Cun Jing’s smile immediately froze. A beat later, he gritted his teeth and said, “My sister is still young.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk.” Hu Yun Qi laughed, swaying his head. But he knew how much the Gu Family loved their second miss, so he only said a few teasing words before stopping.
“What are you laughing about?” Sitting in the gold dragon carriage, Jin Yang lifted the curtain and said with a smile, “You are so happy?”
Hu Yun Qi glanced at Gu Cun Jing, and dismounted his horse to bow to Jin Yang. “Your Majesty, this subject is praising Brother Gu.”
“Oh?” Jin Yang turned to look at Gu Cun Jing and laughed. “Cun Jin, tell me, what are they praising you for?”
Gu Cun Jing readjusted his expression, dismounted his horse and said honestly, “Brother Hu admires me for having such a good younger sister.”
After hearing this, Jin Yang nodded and said in agreement, “These are true words.” Then he put down the curtain after speaking. Hu Yun Qi, who had heard the words, was dumbstruck. He turned to look at Gu Cun Jing and whispered, “What did His Majesty mean?”
Gu Cun Jing shook his head in silence, and felt slightly anxious inside.
The carriages did not move quickly. Gu Ru Jiu lifted the curtain and could only see the guards, palace attendants, and eunuchs on both sides of the carriage. She could not see any passerby.
The Five Estate Temple was on the Treasure Deer Mountain in the Jing suburbs. Supposedly, a white deer had ascended into immortality on this mountain a thousand years ago, and so the mountain was named after it. While no one knew the truth of this, the scenery of this mountain was pleasing and quiet.
Because important people frequently went to the temple to pray, there were carriage roads that headed straight towards the gates of the temple from the base of the mountain. Gu Ru Jiu discovered guards had been stationed long ago along the way.
In order to show respect towards the gods, the phoenix carriage of the empress dowager stopped a distance away from the gates of the temple. Gu Ru Jiu went down from the carriage, and saw the empress dowager was standing on the ground, holding the hand of a palace attendant. She sped up her steps and walked next to the empress dowager.
Seeing her arrive, the empress dowager turned to pat her hand, the intimacy clear.
The leader of Five Estate Temple was the famed Spiritual Master Chu Yun. This Spiritual Master Chu Yun usually could not be seen, not even when the Sima or Li families invited him. Spiritual Master Chu Yun was standing at the gates and personally welcoming the empress dowager and the emperor’s arrival. This was really giving the imperial house face.
Gu Ru Jiu tilted her head to look at Empress Dowager Zhou and Jin Yang. Both of them had smiles on their face and she could not see anything.
“Virtuous Ones, please enter.” Spiritual Master Chu Yun was a thin white-haired old man who wore a worn but clean Taoist robe. He did not carry a horsetail whisk and did not try to posture as an important person, but gave people the feeling of being ethereal.
“Thank you, Spiritual Master.” Empress Dowager Zhou returned a Daoist greeting, and Gu Ru Jiu curtsied from behind her.
“Virtuous One is a phoenix that flies above the nine heavens. This poor Taoist cannot accept such a greeting.” Spiritual Master Chu Yun avoided Empress Dowager Zhou’s bow and returned a bow. He turned and noticed Jin Yang next to the empress dowager. His eyes lit up slightly and then he bowed respectfully. “An auspicious dragon entering the world is the good fortune of the people.”
A capable person was a capable person. They were even so novel in how they gave flattery. If other people said this, they would definitely feel embarrassed and awkward. But when this Spiritual Master Chu Yun said it, it seemed that the empress dowager and Jin Yang were heavenly blessed.
Regardless of whether the words were flattery or due to Spiritual Master Chu Yun’s so-called ability to read people’s faces, with his present status in Great Feng, the empress dowager and Jin Yang would have the mandate of heaven in the minds of the people, and would be called auspicious stars.
Was… the empress dowager coming here to pray for blessings a lie, and having Spiritual Master Chu Yun say such words the truth?
But if that was the case, it was not rational that Jin Yang only mentioned coming with the empress dowager yesterday. This did not appear as though it was pre-arranged.
She held the empress dowager’s hand and as she prepared to step, Spiritual Master Chu Yun, who was preparing to turn, suddenly stopped. His gaze landed on her.
“Spiritual Master, this is this Grieving One’s niece.” The empress dowager noticed Spiritual Master Chu Yun’s abnormality and lightly patted Gu Ru Jiu’s hand as she looked at Spiritual Master Chu Yun with a smile.
“Mercy, mercy.” Spiritual Master Chu Yun bowed. He glanced at the empress dowager and the emperor. “This Virtuous One has a good face, with good fortune and deep merit.”
“As expected of a spiritual master to have such discerning eyes. This girl was born in an aristocratic family, and is loved by her parents. She has a title and is so adorable. She must be a lucky person.” Empress Dowager Zhou’s pats on Gu Ru Jiu’s hand grew stronger, but her smile remained normal.
Spiritual Master Chu Yun was outside of society, but he was not an ignorant person. Seeing the empress dowager did not appear to want him to discuss this noblewoman’s face in public, he glanced at the emperor next to her and guided them into the temple.
He did not know that his words reminded Empress Dowager Zhou of herself in the past, and deliberately stopped him from continuing.
Gu Ru Jiu touched her own forehead in puzzlement. Was her physiognomy really so good? So good that this spiritual master famed in Great Feng would mention it?
There was the statue of the Three Pure Ones. The utensils and tribute items placed on the table were done with extreme care. It could be seen how popular the temple was.
Gu Ru Jiu knelt down behind Empress Dowager Zhou and the emperor. After offering incense and bowing, she followed Jin Yang and put the incense into the pot.
After giving incense to the Three Pure Ones, Empress Dowager Zhou added fragrance money for her mother’s memorial tablet. Jin Yang and Gu Ru Jiu added their own goodwill relative to their status.
After doing all this, a junior Taoist came and guided Gu Ru Jiu to the inner courtyard to drink tea. Gu Ru Jiu did not ask where the empress dowager had gone, and followed the junior Taoist into the courtyard.
The courtyard of Five Estate Temple was extremely large, and connected to the mountain. Standing in the courtyard, it was possible to see the opposing mountain peak.
Not long after Gu Ru Jiu sat down, she heard footsteps come behind her. She turned to look and saw Jin Yang coming over with some dragon guards, palace attendants, and eunuchs. Seeing this, she put down her teacup and bowed towards Jin Yang along with her servant girls.
“Junior Sister, please sit.” Jin Yang sat down opposite Gu Ru Jiu at the stone table. Seeing Gu Ru Jiu sit down, he had the other dragon guards sit down at nearby stone tables.
Gu Ru Jiu looked at Gu Cun Jing who was at a neighbouring table and reached out to pour a cup of hot tea to Jin Yang. “Your Majesty, please.”
“Thank you.” Jin Yang took the teacup and said with a smile, “Just now I… I set up a memorial tablet for Princess Consort Cheng in the temple. I only hope that she will be wealthy and healthy in her new life, without any illness and calamity.”
“The heavens are virtuous, Your Majesty is a filial and kind person, so what you ask will definitely come true.” Gu Ru Jiu knew the Princess Consort Cheng he spoke of was his birth mother Sima shi. She said in a smiling and gentle tone, “Your Majesty is the son of heaven. How can the heavens fail to live up to your wishes?”
Hearing the word “filial,” Jin Yang’s expression changed slightly. After listening to Gu Ru Jiu’s words, his expression became extremely relaxed. “Thank you, Junior Sister, for your good words.”
He already felt guilty not being able to call his birth mother as “mother.” If he could not even set up a memorial tablet for her in Five Estate Temple, how could he be worthy of her favour in birthing him?
On the neighbouring table, Gu Cun Jing’s expression was one of helplessness. His hand, which held the teacup, was slightly unstable. The emperor had already been adopted to the empress dowager. Setting up a memorial tablet for Princess Consort Cheng was already inappropriate. His younger sister also had to mention the word “filial.” If this reached the ears of the empress dowager, it would not be good.
Looking at the surrounding palace attendants and eunuchs, Gu Cun Jing sighed helplessly. It seemed that it was definitely going to reach the empress dowager.
The empress dowager talked with Spiritual Master Tun Yun almost two hours regarding Taoist scriptures before they appeared back in public. It was already near noon. The temple had prepared food for the empress dowager and other people. The palace attendants, the eunuchs, and guards not of high enough rank were fed by the people they brought along.
Gu Ru Jiu had come with the empress dowager and the emperor, so when they were dining, she sat with the two of them. Many of the guards who had come along saw the high importance the empress dowager put on the second Gu miss.
Everyone couldn’t help but speculate, did the empress dowager intend for Miss Gu to become the empress? But looking at the Gu Family’s attitude, it did not appear to be the case. Hadn’t they said a few days ago the young master of the Yang Ducal Family wanted to marry the second Miss Gu?
Regardless of whether the imperial house wanted to marry Second Miss Gu as the empress, it was clear the empress dowager was very close to Second Miss Gu, and treated her like a daughter.
“I say…”—Hu Yun Qi raised his chin in the direction of the inner room—”Does your family…”
Gu Cun Jing slowly shook his head. “Our Gu Family has never had an empress in our centuries of history. Also, Jiu Jiu has been spoiled growing up and isn’t suitable.”
Hu Yun Qi knew the meaning in Gu Cun Jing’s words. The Gu Family had never intended to raise an empress, and had not prepared to fight for the seat of empress? He looked around. Seeing no one pay attention to the two of them, he whispered, “It’s good you have no intentions. The Li Family and the third Sima branch have put in considerable thought.”
Many aristocratic families had guessed the thoughts of the third Sima branch and the Li Family. They just had a mutual agreement to not mention it.
Hu Yun Qi believed that, with the abilities of the Gu Family, they likely would have guessed the thoughts of the two families long ago. So when the imperial house became close to Second Miss Gu, they led Second Miss Gu to the Yang Ducal Establishment, and used this to inform the two families that the Gu Family had no intentions to the empress position.
At this thought, he felt the Gu Family did not have an easy time. The Sima and Li families’ conduct would likely incur the displeasure of His Majesty, and the gains would not make up for the losses.
Translator Ramblings: Now other people are speculating too …