This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
“Mu Xiang, what happened?” Gu Ru Jiu put the hairpin back into the box, and her anxiety grew more obvious.
“Miss.” Mu Xiang knelt in front of Gu Ru Jiu and said in a hoarse voice, “Eldest Mistress has passed away.”
“What did you say?!” Gu Ru Jiu was stunned. She saw Mu Xiang’s mouth open and close, but her mind was completely blank.
“Eldest Mistress went on the carriage today to Five Estates Temple to offer incense. But the young master of the Sima Third Branch was racing on his horse and startled Eldest Mistress’ carriage horses. In the end… the baby did not survive, and Eldest Mistress also passed away.” Mu Xiang choked out the words. She lifted her head and saw Gu Ru Jiu’s face was pale. She couldn’t help but feel worry. “Miss…”
“How can this be, how can…” She thought of how well her eldest sister-in-law treated her usually and of her anticipation towards the arrival of her little nephew. She felt suffocated and couldn’t breathe. Her legs gave out under her and she sat towards the ground.
“Miss!” Bao Lu and Qiu Luo saw she was not right and hurriedly helped her sit down on a chair. Han Xiao glared at Mu Xiang, telling her to not continue and avoid stimulating Miss again.
“Prepare the carriage. I am returning.” Gu Ru Jiu pushed aside the teacup Han Xiao was handing her. Her voice trembled. “I want to return immediately.”
“This servant will immediately find someone to prepare the carriage.” Seeing her miss like this, Bao Lu was worried and didn’t dare to delay. She lifted her dress and hurriedly ran out.
“He Gonggong, apologies today.” Qiu Luo turned and dipped slightly towards He Ming. “When this matter is finished, my miss will thank His Majesty. Please, Gonggong…”
“Miss Qiu Luo, do not say this.” He Ming had a face full of sorrow as he bowed.” County Princess, condolences. Do not harm yourself.” He hadn’t thought something like this would occur today. The eldest mistress of the Gu Family had died with her unborn child. The culprit was a member of the Sima Family. There was definitely trouble now.
The eldest master of the Sima First branch was the teacher of the previous emperor, and was famed for his abilities in the capital. If the Sima Family did not give an appropriate explanation on this matter, the Gu Family would not rest.
Knowing that it was not appropriate to remain here, He Ming bowed and walked outwards. When he reached the doorway, he looked up and saw the pale County Princess Changyan. He couldn’t help but think, they all said that sisters-in-law did not have good relationships. But from County Princess Changyan’s reaction, she appeared to have a profound relationship with her sisters-in-law.
In Purple Imperial Hall, Jin Yang saw He Ming return and asked, “Did County Princess like those items?”
“Your Majesty, the County Princess originally liked greatly. But a major event occurred to Marquis Gu’s family, so the County Princess is in a hurry to return.” He Ming paused, saw His Majesty’s anxious expression and said cleverly before His Majesty could speak, “The young master of the Sima Third Branch raced horses on the government path, and startled Eldest Mistress Gu’s carriage…”
“How is Eldest Mistress Gu?” Jin Yang frowned.
“Eldest Mistress Gu… both of them passed away?” He Ming saw His Majesty’s expression was dark and buried his head lower.
“Both passed away?”
Jin Yang thought of the joy Gu Ru Jiu showed when she mentioned her unborn nephew, and the smile that Gu Chang Ling usually had on his face. He said in a dark voice, “What about that young master of the Sima Family?”
“This servant does not know.” He Ming did not know that. He had just learned of this event from County Princess Changyan.
Jin Yang closed his eyes and waved for him to leave.
“Your Majesty.” Outside the hall, Hu Yun Qi shouted. “Your Majesty, this subject requests a meeting.”
Hearing his voice, Jin Yang suddenly stood from his seat and hurriedly walked out.
“Your Majesty?!” Hu Yun Qi saw Jin Yang walk out. He just bowed and before he could speak, he saw the other’s shadow flash past him and already several paces away.
He stilled. Then he, along with several of Jin Yang’s personal palace attendants and eunuchs gave chase.
Yesterday night, rain had fallen. The stone paths were slippery. Jin Yang stumbled, and managed to stop falling by holding onto the white jade pillar next to him. But he did not care. He shoved his outer robe into his jade belt and continued to run in the direction or Vermillion Bird Gates.
The palace attendants of Qiankun Palace were pale, and even Hu Yun Qi and the other dragon guards couldn’t help but worry. His Majesty’s health was not good. Could he withstand this run?
Gu Ru Jiu had never thought that something like this would occur around her, and did not believe that such a thing would occur. Just a few days ago, Eldest Sister-in-law had Second Brother come to tell her that she was going to Five Estates Temple to pray for the unborn child and the family. Why would a good thing become like this?
The Sima Family! How arrogant was the Sima Family that they would allow horses to gallop wildly when they saw the carriages of nobility passing by?!
Thinking of her dead sister-in-law and unborn nephew, Gu Ru Jiu pressed on her aching chest. The Sima Family, the Sima Family!
The racing carriage suddenly stopped. Gu Ru Jiu wiped the tears from her face and lifted the curtain, wanting to demand who stopped her carriage. Then she saw Jin Yang panting in front of her carriage. Seeing her lift the curtain, he started coughing violently before he even spoke.
“Your Majesty… ” Gu Ru Jiu looked at this flushed panting youth and said dazedly, “Why are you here?” Where were his servants that they allowed him to run like this?”
“Junior Sister.” Jin Yang walked close and looked at Gu Ru Jiu in the carriage. He placed a clean white handkerchief in her hand. “Be careful for your health.”
Gu Ru Jiu took the handkerchief. She wanted to squeeze out a smile, but she cried instead. She roughly wiped away the tears with the back of her hand. She stared at the youth with blurry vision. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
Seeing her face red due to her rough rubbing, Jin Yang said in a low voice, emphasizing each word, “Do not worry, Zhen will get justice for the Gu Family.”
“This subject believes you.” Gu Ru Jiu looked solemnly at him. “This subject believes in Your Majesty. Sooner or later, this world will be in your palm and no one will be able to influence you. The Sima Family, the Li Family, they are all your lowly subjects.” After saying this, she put down the curtain to cover her dishevelled face. “Your Majesty, please return. This subject bids farewell.”
Jin Yang took a step to the side, waving and indicating the carriage could leave. His expression was dazed but also unspeakably determined.
“Your Majesty.” Hu Yun Qi and the others standing behind him saw him like this and no one dared to interrupt him. Hu Yun Qi hesitated for a long time before taking a step forward. “Your Majesty, please take care of your body.”
He had run the fastest just now, so he had seen the movements between His Majesty and the second Gu miss. But because he had seen clearly, he was shocked. The regard that His Majesty treated Second Miss Gu with was definitely not the mere friendship between fellow students.
Since His Majesty had such thoughts about Second Miss Gu, why had he titled her a county princess?
“Yun Qi,” Jin Yang slowly panted out, putting his hands behind his back. He stood up and looked at Hu Yun Qi. “Summon the Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of the Court.”
“Yes.” Hu Yun Qi acknowledged and bowed.
Jin Yang looked up at the gloomy sky. Slowly, he closed his eyes, and the tear-streaked face of his junior sister appeared in his mind.
He suddenly opened his eyes, his gaze filled with murderousness.
Gu Ru Jiu stepped down from the carriage and hurriedly walked towards the memorial hall. Before she even entered, she heard the sobs of Second Sister-in-law. She halted in her steps. She looked around. This place was already hanging with white banners, the pale white color chilling to see.
She stepped onto the stone stairs and entered the gates. There was a black coffin in the hall. The scent of incense and paper money filled the room, but she could not notice this at this time.
“Big Brother.” Gu Ru Jiu walked next to the man standing in front of the memorial hall. She opened her mouth but couldn’t say her condolences to him.
Eldest Brother and Eldest Sister-in-law were deeply in love and close together like glue. If people said that Eldest Sister-in-law’s womb was not good, Eldest Brother would be angrier than she was. After Eldest Sister-in-law became pregnant, Eldest Brother had been happier than anyone else. But now…
“Jiu Jiu has returned?” Gu Zhi Yu’s dry eyes were bloodshot. When he saw his beloved younger sister, he finally showed a hint of life. “Your sister-in-law was talking yesterday about making you a beautiful pouch. In the future, I fear…” He closed his red eyes and could not continue.
Gu Ru Jiu saw him like this and suddenly hugged Gu Zhi Yu, sobbing loudly as though she was going to cry Gu Zhi Yu’s tears for him.
Seeing his younger sister cry like a child, Gu Zhi Yu numbly reached out to pat her back. After a few pats, he finally couldn’t stop himself from crying.
He had not cried for many years. But the grief was so painful that he almost couldn’t breathe.
Outside the memorial hall, Yang shi looked at her son and daughter crying together. She turned and said to Gu Chang Ling, “The Sima Family are intolerable bullies.”
The smile Gu Chang Ling usually had was completely gone. He said after a long moment, “In the land around the capital, only when one is noble and important enough will people know respect.”
The Gu Family had never bullied others with their power, but this did not mean that the Gu Family could be bullied by anyone.
The Sima Third Branch was extremely unsettled at this time. The members of the eldest branch looked at the unreasonable Third Mistress and almost couldn’t keep their expressions composed. If not for the fact that they were of the same family, who was willing to step into these muddy waters?
“Uncle, you must save my child. Our third branch only has this one seedling. If something happens to him, what will the Third Branch do in the future?” Third Mistress’ makeup was a mess, and she did not have any of the dignity and composure an aristocratic family wife should have. But at this time, she did not care about her face. She only begged the old master of the eldest branch to save her child for their ancestor’s sake.
“Shut up!” The first to lose control was not a member of the eldest branch but the old master of the third branch, Sima Peng. He pointed with a trembling finger at his son and daughter-in-law. “If you did not always spoil the child, how would he have made such a terrible mistake?”
When the elder spoke, Third Mistress did not dare to argue. She only stood there and wiped her tears. Sima Yue saw his father’s great anger and worried for his health. But he also worried for his son that the Ministry of Justice had taken away. He spoke up. “Father, after this matter, this son will teach him well. But he has been taken away by the Ministry of Justice, and we do not know how much hardship he will suffer in the jail.”
Sima Peng was both angry and annoyed, but it was not possible that he would ignore his grandson. He had lost all his face after his family had such a matter. But for his grandson, he had to bow his head.
“Big Brother.” Sima Peng trembled as he stood up and bowed to Sima Hong who had not spoken all this time. “Big Brother, please help my unworthy grandson.”
The juniors of the eldest branch hurriedly helped him up but didn’t dare to speak.
Sima Hong looked expressionlessly at the members of the Sima Third Branch. After they lowered their heads, he said, “Today, it is not a matter of whether I will help, but if the Gu Family is willing to give up. You think the Gu Family has no temper because they usually behave in a low-key manner?”
Sima Yue saw his father flush at his uncle’s words and couldn’t bear for his father to endure such humiliation for a junior. He went forward and bowed to Sima Hong. “Uncle, this matter is due to this nephew not teaching properly. Please, Uncle, point out a path.”
“The Gu Family has risen and fallen for centuries, but they were never in real decline. If a family did not have any temper, how could they have had glory until now.” Sima Hong sighed. “I am the imperial tutor of the previous emperor, but you must understand the truth that once people are gone, the tea goes cold. The new emperor has ascended the throne and greatly trusts Gu Chang Ling. Sima Ji is great. He killed their eldest daughter-in-law and their unborn child. If the Gu Family can swallow this, can the Chen Family?”
“But Ji’er did not intend to. This is just an accident. He did not want to.” Third Mistress heard Sima Hong’s words and thought he did not want to help. She panicked. “Also, what kind of families are the Gu and Chen families…” Before she finished speaking, she saw her father-in-law’s expression grow ugly and became even less confident.
Sima Hong looked at her niece-in-law. He sighed inwardly. They said that one should marry a virtuous wife. Third Brother’s daughter-in-law really was…
He looked at Sima Yue and shook his head. His nephew was like this and wasn’t worthy of a good aristocratic family miss. Otherwise, it would be starting a feud, and not tying a marriage.
“You think that the Sima Family is as prominent as before?” Sima Hong said seriously. “You have not stayed long in the capital and were used to receiving the reverence of others in other places. It is understandable that you do not know the changes in situation.”
“Uncle, what is your meaning?” Sima Yue was confused. They had been well-respected these years they had been in the capital. But why, in the words of Eldest Uncle, was this not so?
“The imperial house has the power over the military. The aristocratic families have their guards, but the creation of weapons is registered and one cannot exceed regulations.” Sima Hong took a sip of the cooled tea. “A hundred years ago, the imperial family started the imperial examinations to take in the talents of the world. New nobility has continued to rise, and the aristocratic families no longer dominate the court. The aristocratic families, the new families, nowadays they all have to look at the face of the imperial family to act.”
Sima Peng thought for a moment and said, “Starting the examinations a hundred years ago was to…”
“Whether it was or not is a matter of a century ago. Mentioning it now is no use.” Sima Hong put down his teacup. “If we do not take care of his matter well, Ji’er’s life will be in danger, and even Xiang’er will need to consider her marriage.”
“You mean…” Sima Yue looked dazedly at Sima Hong and could not react.
“How can the imperial house put a woman whose older brother has a murder on his hands on the throne?” Sima Hong said in a calm tone. “Not to mention becoming the empress—it would not be very likely she could be even a consort in the palace.”
“Why has it turned out like this?” Third Mistress murmured to herself. “Which path the Gu wife couldn’t take but she had to select that one. If only… if only…”
Outside the door, Sima Xiang pulled back her hand that prepared to knock. She looked dazedly at her well-maintained hand and silently turned to walk towards her own courtyard.
“Miss.” Bao Mei looked worriedly at her and didn’t know what to say.
Sima Xiang shook her head gently to indicate for her to not say more. Then she sat down by the window. In these recent years, the family had been teaching her how to be a qualified imperial consort. Now, they were saying that she might not be able to enter the palace. She felt she did not know what to do.
She had seen the eldest mistress of the Gu Family before. She had been a very gentle, beautiful woman who aroused positive feelings. But now this gentle and beautiful woman had passed away with her unborn child due to her brother allowing his horse to race wildly.
She feared that the Gu Family would not forgive and her brother would be punished. She knew that people should pay for killing others, but when the culprit was her older brother, she could not look objectively at the problem.
Since the aristocratic families had lost their former influence, then she had an even greater reason to become the noblest woman of the Feng Dynasty, so the people of the world would not look down on the Sima Family.
Regardless of how they stopped the Gu Family from pursuing this matter, they had to do so in order for the matter to be resolved perfectly.
The news that a young master of the Sima Family had raced his horse and killed the eldest mistress of the Gu Family along with her unborn child quickly spread through the entire capital in two short days. Even the people on the streets knew the details of the matter as though they had all been present at the scene.
Originally, in everyone’s eyes, the upbringing of the Sima Family was flawless. But after this event, the Sima family became a bit different in people’s eyes. People even laughed behind the Sima Family’s back that they were just bright on the surface and dirty inside.
Some people mocked the Sima Family, and there were naturally those who sympathized with the Gu Family. Those well-informed learned that the unborn child of Eldest Mistress Gu was the first of the third generation for the Gu Family, and their sympathy reached new heights.
The eldest mistress of the Gu Family had been married for several years, finally managed to get pregnant but was killed by a wastrel. Who could they find for justice?
The common people cursed the Sima Family, but the court was not as simple as the streets. Those on good terms with the Gu Family naturally suggested that Sima Ji should be publicly executed. Those on the Sima Family side were not willing, saying that youth was ignorant and he hadn’t done it on purpose. Or saying that Sima Ji was the only son of the third branch and should only be punished lightly.
On this matter, the Li Family’s attitude was strange. Originally, everyone felt that, based on the competitive relationship between the Sima and Li Families, they would take the opportunity to step on the Sima Family. But Li Guang Ji unexpectedly asked for mercy for the Sima Family and made the court even more chaotic.
Spit flew as these people argued, but not many paid attention to the emperor on the throne. They were flushed, their necks red, and they were on the verge of physically fighting during court.
Jin Yang looked coldly at the ugliness of these important officials. He slowly moved into a comfortable sitting position, and then looked on, head propped on one hand, as he allowed them to continue shouting.
“Your Majesty, please give justice for this subject.” Gu Chang Ling, who had remained silent since court started, took two steps forward. He bowed deeply to Jin Yang. “This subject’s daughter-in-law died with her unborn child. This subject wants the Sima Family to give justice for the Gu Family.”
“Teacher, please rise.” Jin Yang straightened his body and raised his hand to indicate for Gu Chang Ling to rise.
The two groups that had been arguing fiercely hadn’t thought that Gu Chang Ling would report directly to the young emperor. They were unable to react and the entire court quieted.
“Officials, why are you not continuing your discussion?” Jin Yang held the armrest of the throne and said slowly, “Zhen still wants to hear everyone’s wisdom.”
The officials all bowed their heads and did not dare to speak.
“Since the officials will not speak, then Zhen will start speaking.” Jin Yang stood up, took a few steps, and looked down at these well-dressed subjects. “Officials, you are all important officials of the court—do you know etiquette and law?”
“We are guilty!” The few people who had been fighting the most intensely felt anxious and pleaded guilty.
“You are all worrying about matters of the country—what crime is there?” Jin Yang laughed softly and caused everyone to feel anxious.
The officials of the Sima Family heard this and knew this was not good. They had just been arguing how Sima Ji should be punished, but the emperor said it was a matter of the country…
“The Feng Dynasty’s law clearly states that those who allow their horses to hurt others will be sentenced to 20 strokes, and will be imprisoned for 5 years. Those that kill, if there are pardonable circumstances, will receive forty strokes and twenty years. Those who are unforgivable will be executed.” Jin Yang looked down and said slowly. “Officials, do you think that Sima Ji’s conduct is pardonable?”
Pardonable? Recklessly racing the horse for fun—how was that pardonable?
But the officials on the Sima Family’s side could not say that, and were trying to find reasons to spare Sima Ji from his crime.
Hearing the absurd excuses these officials made for Sima Ji, Jin Yang finally said after listening for a while, unable to bear it, “Gentlemen, you think that men are superior to women, and so Sima Ji should not die for Chen shi. What do you gentlemen’s mothers think about this?”
The officials flushed red. They also felt their words were absurd. No one had the face to answer Jin Yang’s question.
“Zhen thinks that Sima Ji’s crime is unpardonable, and he should be publicly beheaded for effectiveness. If there is another offender, Sima Ji will be the precedent.” Jin Yang sat back on his throne. “Officials, what do you think?”
Some of the officials cheered the Holy One for his wisdom while another group did not speak.
“Your Majesty.” Sima Hong walked out and bowed to Jin Yang. “This subject…”
“Official Sima, you do not need to speak. Official Sima was the previous emperor’s teacher, and Zhen believes you are a gentleman who will help the truth and not your relatives.” Jin Yang interrupted Sima Hong’s words. “Official Sima, do not disappoint Zhen.”
Who among the aristocratic families dared to say they were not a gentleman?
Jin Yang blocked all of Sima Hong’s words. Sima Hong felt bitterness in his mouth, bowed to Jin Yang, and then silently moved back.
Today, the Sima Family had personally presented a knife to the imperial house. How could the imperial house not cut a piece of meat off them?
Translator Ramblings: And the hammer falls.