This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
Gu Ru Jiu heard Jin Yang’s reasoning of “cannot casually move within a hundred days of the wedding” and was stunned. This didn’t seem quite right.
The Purple Imperial Hall was the residence of the emperor. Just putting the wedding rooms in Purple Imperial Hall had been unprecedented in the Feng Dynasty. Now, she as the empress was going to live a hundred days in Purple Imperial Hall. Was this going to write a new page in the tolerance of the Feng Dynasty officials?
Temporarily abandoning the plan of a “leadership speech”, Gu Ru Jiu brought Jin Yang into the room. “Your Majesty, I fear this is not quite appropriate.”
“How so?” Jin Yang said seriously. “I am not concerned where the wives and daughters of my subjects live, so they should not get to make comments about where you live.”
The words sounded reasonable, but in reality, Your Majesty, you are a headstrong youth.
While she regretted that she could not immediately have her personal space, Gu Ru Jiu still agreed to Jin Yang’s wilful request in the end.
If she acted according to the traditional values of wifely virtue and character, she should be urging Jin Yang to follow the etiquette and not create conflict with the court officials for such a minor matter.
But… she had never planned to be a textbook virtuous empress.
Seeing His Majesty bring the empress back to Purple Imperial Hall, the servants of Purple Imperial Hall thought to themselves that His Majesty and the empress really had good feelings that he didn’t bear to separate from the empress.
The palace maids who originally had some intentions rested their thoughts. They only hoped the empress was a mistress easy to serve, and didn’t dare to think of anything else.
In reality, Gu Ru Jiu was a very good empress. She had a gentle personality and did not treat the servants harshly. Other than strolling through the palace every day and visiting the empress dowager, she appeared extremely friendly and considerate.
People’s minds were sometimes strange things.
In the few days that Gu Ru Jiu lived in Purple Imperial Hall, she had not been angry with any palace maids, so some of the more daring people started to slack off.
The cause of the matter was very simple. When Gu Ru Jiu was resting in the room, a palace maid went in and out, thinking nothing of the empress’ prestige.
“Qiu Luo, Bao Lu, go call in Bai Gonggong and He Gonggong,” Gu Ru Jiu sat on the couch and lazily flipped a page in her book. “Say that this palace has something to discuss with the two of them.”
Qiu Luo walked out and the other palace maids serving in the room inexplicably found their hearts tight as the empress rarely called herself “this palace.”
Hearing the empress’ summons, Bai Xian and He Ming didn’t dare to slack off and hurried to Purple Imperial Hall. They were not like some of the unwise little palace maids and eunuchs who thought the empress was soft and could be bullied.
The empress did not treat the palace maids badly due to her status as the daughter of an aristocratic family, not because she really had a soft personality. If someone really offended her, then this person thought their life was too long.
When He Ming arrived, Bai Xian had also just arrived. The two smiled and bowed insincerely towards each other. He Ming said, “Bai Gonggong, do you know why the empress has summoned us?”
“If He Gonggong doesn’t understand, this one is even more ignorant.” Bai Xian returned the smile. “Also, it is not for this lowly one to guess the thoughts of the empress.”
He Ming knew he wasn’t willing to speak the truth, chuckled, and didn’t ask anymore.
The two entered the hall. They saw the empress’ servant girl Bao Lu standing guard at the door, and bowed to her.
“Thank you for making the trip.” Bao Lu curtsied back and then sighed. “Gonggong should not have been called to make the trip, but…” She looked back into the room and shook her head helplessly. “Please enter the room.”
Bai Xian and He Ming saw this and felt their hearts jump. It appeared this was nothing good.
The two entered and saw two palace maids kneeling on the ground. The empress was sitting properly, without any anger or happiness. Nothing could be seen from her face. The two saw this and became even more worried. They went forward and bowed respectfully.
“Today, His Majesty went to court, and this palace rested for a while on the couch. Who knew that palace maids would enter the rooms without being summoned?” Gu Ru Jiu took a small sip of tea, her tone as soft as usual. But Bai Xian and He Ming broke out into a cold sweat.
“This matter is not very major or minor, but this is the emperor’s residence. If people are allowed to come in and out at will, is there any etiquette to speak of?” Gu Ru Jiu raised her chin slightly and looked down at the palace maids on the ground. She raised her hand and said, “You two are the head eunuchs of Qiankun Palace, and these two palace attendants should be in your care.”
“Niangniang, please have mercy, Niangniang, please have mercy.” The two palace maids had seen Bai Xian and He Ming’s tactics in the past. Seeing Gu Ru Jiu about to hand them over to Bai Xian and He Ming, they immediately paled and pleaded for mercy from Gu Ru Jiu.
Gu Ru Jiu held the teacup and didn’t speak. Bai Xian and He Ming were smart enough to have even made it to serving the emperor, and could naturally see the empress did not want to pay attention to the two palace maids. The pair went forward to cover the palace maids’ mouths, and then pulled them outwards assisted by several other eunuchs.
“What is going on?” Jin Yang walked in the room and saw He Ming and Bai Xian pulling two palace maids. He walked quickly in front of Gu Ru Jiu and bent down to stare at her. “Jiu Jiu, what happened?”
Gu Ru Jiu raised her chin at He Ming and Bai Xian. The two saw this and let go, moving to the side.
“Your Majesty, let’s sit down and talk.” Gu Ru Jiu pulled Jin Yang to sit by her. The two of them were not squeezed in on the couch.
Jin Yang was happy to sit close to Gu Ru Jiu and didn’t refuse, brushing closer to Gu Ru Jiu before he had the attention to look at the two palace maids on the ground. “Speak—what happened?”
The two palace maids exchanged looks. One gritted her teeth and raised her head so Jin Yang could see her red forehead from kowtowing. Then she kowtowed hard several times to Jin Yang. “Your Majesty, this servant was punished to kneel by the empress after being summoned. When the two gonggong came, the empress then said she was going to punish us servants.” Then this palace attendants kowtowed several times to Gu Ru Jiu. “Please, Niangniang, forgive me, please.”
Hearing the palace maid’s description, Bai Xian almost laughed out loud. This hussy was daring to slander the empress in front of the emperor. Her vague statements made it appear the empress was purposefully humiliating them.
She was so daring to the point of not wanting to live.
After she finished, Gu Ru Jiu was not angry but Jin Yang’s face darkened. He lectured, “Such a verbally skilled palace maid who dares to criticise the empress in front of Zhen. Zhen can see how arrogant you are when Zhen is not present.”
The two palace maids were stunned by the emperor’s great anger, especially the one who had spoken. She wanted to bury herself in the ground.
“He Ming, Bai Xian, how do you handle matters?!” Jin Yang pointed angrily at the two quivering palace maids. “Palace maids who are like this rude in front of Zhen are allowed to serve in Qiankun Palace?”
Bai Xian and He Ming asked for mercy immediately and wanted to skin the two palace maids who had dragged them in.
“Your Majesty, I think the two gonggong did not know of these two palace attendants.” Gu Ru Jiu pulled Jin Yang’s sleeve. “Do not be angry.”
Jin Yang looked at Jiu Jiu’s hand on his sleeve and sat back down. He barely managed to suppress his anger. “I did not pay attention and you were wronged.”
“How can this be blamed on you?” Gu Ru Jiu put a teacup by his hand for him to drink and settle his breath. “I am the mistress of the inner palace. Not managing the inner palace well is my mistake. Your Majesty is the master of a country and has to govern the people of the world. You work much harder than I. You govern the world and do it neatly and tidily. I cannot even manage the inner palace well, and I am incompetent.”
“Jiu Jiu cannot undervalue yourself so.” Jin Yang put down the teacup. “Ever since you entered the palace, Zhen has been in a good mood each day. Qiankun Palace is neat and orderly. How are you incompetent?” He swept a look over the two kneeling palace maids. “If the palace servants are not good, it is their mistake, and it has nothing to do with you.”
“Originally, I did not plan on punishing you severely. It’s all right if they casually enter the inner rooms when I am resting, but if you are present and they do the same…” Gu Ru Jiu shook her head and said with a severe expression, “We cannot let this stand.”
Hearing the two palace maids had dared to enter the inner rooms when Gu Ru Jiu was resting, Jin Yang’s expression became extremely unpleasant. If not for the fact Gu Ru Jiu was still present, he feared he would have ordered for the two palace maids to be dragged away and severely punished.
“You are right—this cannot be allowed to stand.” Jin Yang waved a hand at Bai Xian and He Ming. He said softly, “Take them away.”
This time, He Ming and Bai Xian were even faster, immediately covering the two palace maids’ mouths and then briskly dragging them out.
This time, they had seen the empress’ tactics. She did not fuss, cry or speak of her grievances. Just a few words were enough for His Majesty to understand the cause and effect of the matter, and for His Majesty to feel distressed for her. The tactic was stunning.
So these people who assumed the empress was gentle and soft had problems with their minds, and their eyes were not keen.
Why didn’t they think? Would a noble miss respected and taken care of by a roomful of people be soft and easy to bully?
Now, someone finally hit the iron plate, and knew the strength.
“Jiu Jiu.” After everyone else in the room left, Jin Yang spoke hesitantly. “Something happened… to the Sima Family.” He knew that Jiu Jiu did not like the Sima Family very much, but Jiu Jiu should hear what had happened this time.
“Sima Family?” Gu Ru Jiu saw no anger in Jin Yang’s eyes and guessed this matter had nothing to do with him. So she said, “What could have happened to their family?”
“The mistress of the third Sima Branch has passed away.” Jin Yang did not want to mention the word “death” in front of Gu Ru Jiu and chose an euphemism.
“Passed away?” Gu Ru Jiu was slightly surprised. Before she married, she had heard this mistress was extremely lively as she cursed the Gu Family and the Sima first and second branches. So soon, she had passed away?
Jin Yang nodded. “Supposedly, it was very sudden.” He had the spies that the emperors of the Feng Dynasty had privately nurtured over generations, so he knew the mistress of the third Sima branch had passed away by cutting her wrists. But he had no need to mention this matter and frighten Jiu Jiu.
Gu Ru Jiu had no good feelings towards the Sima Family, so when she heard the mistress of the third Sima branch had died, she felt inexplicably complicated, and then sighed in the end.
Worried that she was sad and thinking of her eldest sister-in-law and unborn nephew, Jin Yang pulled her into his arms and whispered, “Do not think so much. I am still here for everything.”
Gu Ru Jiu rubbed her forehead on his chest and hugged him back.
At dinnertime, Gu Ru Jiu and Jin Yang went over to the empress dowager’s Kangquan Palace for a free meal. The empress dowager saw them together so sweetly and teased, “The emperor has smiled so much these days, he almost has wrinkles.”
Jin Yang was not angry upon hearing this. He chuckled and pulled Gu Ru Jiu to sit down at the table. “This son is happy to come to Mother-Empress to eat.”
“These words are not honest.” The empress dowager shook her head, laughed and then said to Gu Ru Jiu, “Jiu Jiu, do you think he is honest?”
Gu Ru Jiu covered her mouth and laughed, her eyes moving between Jin Yang and the empress dowager, but she didn’t speak.
Seeing her like this, the empress dowager shook her head and sighed. “It seems our Jiu Jiu has learned bad habits from the emperor.”
Gu Ru Jiu heard this and hurriedly hugged the empress dowager’s arm, saying with a smile, “Mother-Empress, I am on your side.”
Empress Dowager Zhou laughed and then the two washed their hands to eat, leaving Jin Yang alone on the side, miserable.
Jin Yang saw his mother-empress so close to Jiu Jiu and looked at himself alone. He couldn’t help but think, he was probably the first emperor in history to be abandoned by the empress dowager and the empress together.
So that night, Jin Yang used the reason his empress had abandoned him to repeat some activity over and over again. His empress almost kicked him off the bed.
Of course, the reason he wasn’t kicked off was because he was not in good health, and the empress worried he would get sick.
So, having a sickly body was a very good excuse at certain times.
At least, it was an effective weapon in pretending to be pitiful.
The court sessions of the Feng Dynasty would be a minor session every three days and a major session every five. The emperor and the court officials did not have to run to the court every morning before the sun rose, and they just stayed in their respective departments and worked at other times.
Recently, the Ministry of Rights and the Office of State Ceremonies. The reason was the surrounding small countries and vassal countries sent envoys upon learning the new emperor of the Feng Dynasty was getting married, and sent their congratulations to the emperor and empress.
However, these countries were mostly far away. On top of that, when they started off, it had been harsh winter, so they had been delayed on the road. By the time they reached the capital, covered in dust, His Majesty and Her Majesty had already finished the wedding.
But regardless, they had travelled a long way. Although they were late, the intentions were good.
The members of the Office of State Ceremonies and the Ministry of Rites arranged for these people to live in the palaces for foreign guests, and then started a serious discussion about the seating layout of the guests and the grade of the banquets to welcome them.
Some people felt that Great Feng was a preeminent country and should treat them thoughtfully to show their demeanour as a great country.
Other people thought these countries were mostly subordinate countries of Great Feng, and some had once been at war with Great Feng. They were not worthy of Great Feng lifting them at such a high status.
Of course, there was also a group that thought they should be better to those who were more loyal and obedient. Among those people was Gu Zhi Yu.
As the vice minister of the Office of State Ceremonies, and also the heir to a ducal establishment, Gu Zhi Yu’s words carried some authority. So even though some people did not agree with his thoughts, no one argued too vehemently against him.
This was a genuine brother-in-law of the country. No one would be so stupid to make trouble for themselves.
Even more importantly, the people in politics would think more. They started to speculate if Gu Zhi Yu’s words were the emperor’s private thoughts.
“Officials, this one thinks that this matter should be decided by His Majesty.” Gu Zhi Yu saw the people of the Ministry of Rites and the Office of State Ceremonies arguing endlessly. “We can first present our opinions to the emperor. What does everyone think?”
“Thi …” The Minister of Rites frowned. During the time of the previous emperor, these matters were first decided by the Ministry of Rites and the Office of State Ceremonies, then the previous emperor would put his seal on the plans. There was no need for His Majesty to consider these matters.
The director of the Office of State Ceremonies immediately said with a smile, “Official Gu is reasonable. I think this is good.”
While the director of the Office of State Ceremonies was in a position above Gu Zhi Yu, he came from a common family and had once received help from the Gu Family, so he agreed with Gu Zhi Yu’s opinion.
Who cared about past traditions? One emperor, one group of officials. He would hug the Gu family’s leg and walk forward.
Seeing the director of the Office of State Ceremonies have no objections and the other officials of the Ministry of Rites remain silent, the Minister of Rites could only say, “If so, then let’s do according to everyone’s opinion.”
In reality, he thought further than everyone else. Right now, the matters of the Ministry of Rites required His Majesty’s permission. Would this be the same with other ministries?
The more he thought, the more he didn’t dare to think. The Minister of Rites looked at Gu Zhi Yu sitting opposite him. This heir to the ducal establishment was handsome and elegant in his conduct. People could not pick out a flaw.
“Official Sun, is there anything else?” Gu Zhi Yu looked up to meet his gaze and asked with a smile.
Minister Sun smiled and waved his hand, moving his gaze away.
Seeing this, Gu Zhi Yu nodded with a small smile and stopped looking at Minister Sun.
Seeing him not look any longer at him, Minister Sun felt more relaxed. Speaking of the Sun and Gu families, they could not be said to be on good terms. His younger sister had married into the second Sima branch, and the third Sima branch was on bad terms with the Gu Family. So when the Sun Family faced the Gu Family, they would do their best to avoid the relationship with the Sima Family.
Thinking of how it had been Gu Zhi Yu’s wife and unborn child killed by the third Sima branch, Minister Sun mentally cursed the Sima branch for their lack of virtue.
When one did not accumulate merit, it was karma to end up like they did.
After arguing with the Ministry of Rites, the officials from the Office of State Ceremonies had to go to the palace to visit the envoys.
The envoys of the various countries were very enthusiastic when they met the officials from the Office of State Ceremonies. If this was someone unsuspecting, they would think the envoys were welcoming hosts, and the officials the guests.
The Karu country was situated to the northwest of the Feng Dynasty. This country was extremely poor. In the last century, due to their raids on the Great Feng border, they had been soundly defeated by the Great Feng army, and submitted to the Feng Dynasty.
Later, Great Feng opened markets at the borders to sell them food and brocade in limited amounts. The Karu became more ardent towards Great Feng and frequently said they were a subordinate country. In matters like the inheritance of the throne or the elevation of the queen, they would submit a country letter to the Feng Emperor, and their status would only be accepted by the country’s nobility after the Feng Emperor put his seal to the letter.
There were several countries like Karu. These small countries would have all kinds of tactics to try to get more benefits for their country. Some envoys spoke better in the capital dialect than the Feng people. All of this was to get the favour of the Feng Emperor.
“Respected official.” The leader of the Karu envoy was their country’s prime minister, Duo Mi. This was an old man in his fifties. He first bowed deeply when he saw Gu Zhi Yu and then gave the bow of his country. “This subordinate country’s subject greets the respected Official Gu.”
“Official, no need for such courtesy.” Gu Zhi Yu politely returned the bow. Duo Mi hurriedly avoided it and enthusiastically called Gu Zhi Yu to sit down. He personally served tea and answered every one of Gu Zhi Yu’s questions.
After Gu Zhi Yu left, the official behind Duo Mi asked in puzzlement, “Official, why didn’t we give the gifts we prepared to this official?”
“Do you know who he is?” Duo Mi glared at this official. “I fear the gifts we prepared will not be acceptable to this official.”
The other official’s eyes widened in surprise. “Are our gold and precious gems not precious enough?”
“If this were someone ordinary, our gold and gems might gain their favour, but this is the older brother of the present empress. The empress is from nobility, and her brother naturally has seen material items like gold and gems many times. If we gave such things to him, that would be an insult.” As the prime minister of Karu, Duo mi knew more about the people who he had to curry favor with.
The other officials accompanying him heard his words and showed reverent expressions. “No wonder this official is so handsome. So he is nobility and also the older brother of the empress.”
They felt regret when they said this. If they had known before, they would have had this Official Gu stay a while longer.
Karu had a smart prime minister, but the envoys of other countries did not necessarily have such good foresight.
For example, Duobao.
Duobao was situated to the west of Great Feng, and neighbouring to Karu. They did not have good relationships with Karu and the two countries had once fought.
Even more importantly, while the country’s name meant “Many Treasures,” they actually didn’t have treasures and were extremely poor. When winter came, they would steal from neighbouring countries. Other than Great Feng, where they did not dare come after being defeated a few times, the other countries had all been harassed by Duobao in the winter before. As a result, the envoys of this country were disliked by the others in this palace.
Translator Ramblings: I don’t know how to translate 国舅(guo jiu) properly, country brother-in-law, imperial brother-in-law, state in-law, emperor’s brother-in-law …