This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
“Grand Princess, please walk this way.” A blue-robed eunuch led the way ahead while bowing. Grand Princess Deyi stepped down from the carriage, and reached out so her granddaughter-in-law could support her as she slowly walked forward.
After walking a certain distance, she slowed and said in confusion, “This does not appear to be the path to Luanhe Palace.”
“Grand Princess, Her Majesty is now residing in Purple Imperial Hall.” The blue-robed eunuch turned around and bowed to Grand Princess Deyi. “So we are going this way.”
“Purple Imperial Hall?” Grand Princess Deyi frowned slightly and said with slight disapproval, “The Jin Family has ancestral rules stipulating that the empress resides in Luanhe Palace. How can the empress be so ignorant of the rules?”
Back then, she had intentions of sending her granddaughter into the palace to be the empress. But Zhou shi had not reacted to her hints at all. Helplessly, she could only have her granddaughter become engaged to a young master of the Li Family. But she still felt some displeasure. Now, she was even more displeased with the empress after seeing the empress still living in Luanhe Palace three months after the wedding.
The blue-robed eunuch leading the way buried his head deeper when he heard this. He turned and silently led the way forward, but the eager smile on his face faded greatly.
Sima Ling turned her head to glance at this grandmother. Her old face carried some tinge of lofty arrogance. The luxurious gold ornaments in her silver-shot hair seemed to be frozen with unresolvable cold.
The blue-robed eunuch led them towards Purple Imperial Hall after entering Qiankun Palace. Sima Ling noticed many dragon imperial guards standing along the way. The dragon guards were only replaced by strong eunuchs after they were close to the entrance of Purple Imperial Hall.
The robes of these eunuchs were slightly different from other eunuchs’. Their deep blue robes were embroidered with flying birds and they had curved blades at their waists. If they were not beardless and wearing the hat of eunuchs, Sima Ling would assume they were blade-carrying guards of the palace.
“Gonggong.” The blue-robed eunuch reached the doorway and bowed to He Ming who was standing by the door. “Grand Princess Deyi has arrived.” Then he made a small hand gesture towards He Ming.
He Ming nodded and then bowed to Grand Princess Deyi. He walked towards her down the stairs. “This servant greets Grand Princess Deyi. Their Majesties are waiting for you in the front hall. Please.”
Grand Princess Deyi saw this eunuch wearing red robes with embroidered flower patterns and knew this was a high-ranking eunuch to the emperor. She nodded minutely and stepped onto the stairs.
Sima Ling smiled at He Ming and followed, supporting Grand Princess Deyi’s hand.
He Ming respectfully followed behind them and passed through the entrance expressionlessly.
When they all entered, the blue-robed eunuch standing outside cursed softly. “Who does she think she is?”
The emperor and empress lived in Purple Imperial Hall. The empress dowager had no opinions. The court officials had no opinions. Even the other members of the imperial family said not a word. But this grand princess who just came back from Sanggan was talkative.
Why didn’t she look at who was the master of the world now, and who was in charge of the inner palace.
Grand Princess Deyi did not enter the front hall when she heard speech inside. She stopped and looked at He Ming. “There is someone else inside?”
He Ming seemed not to see the displeasure in Grand Princess Deyi’s eyes and bowed. “Grand Princess, it is the heiress consort to Commandery Prince Ping talking with the empress.”
Hearing it was a member of the imperial family, Grand Princess Deyi’s expression eased and she walked towards the front hall. He Ming saw this and sped up to enter the hall before her. Then he walked in front of Gu Ru Jiu and bowed, “Your Majesty, Grand Princess Deyi has arrived.”
Hearing this, Gu Ru Jiu stopped talking with the heiress consort to Commandery Prince Ping and then smiled as she looked at the doorway. Then she saw an old lady who was very thin but energetic walk in. She held a phoenix-headed staff in one hand, and the hand of a beautiful woman in the other. Her steps were very steady.
Gu Ru Jiu immediately recognized who the beautiful woman was. She and Sima Ling had not seen each other for a few months. The other was more charming than before her marriage, having lost some of her youthful naiveté but becoming more enchanting.
Sima Ling walked into the room. She saw, other than Gu Ru Jiu and her aunt who had married into Commandery Prince Ping’s Establishment, there was a young handsome man dressed in grand clothing. This young man sat side by side with Gu Ru Jiu and appeared very intimate. She stilled and then realized.
“This subject-wife greets the emperor and empress.” While Gu Ru Jiu was not as famous as her before their marriages, the other had better fortune, and became the noble empress. So Sima Ling curtsied perfectly without any discontent.
Grand Princess Deyi handed her phoenix-head staff to a palace maid and slowly bent her knees as though she wanted to curtsy towards Jin Yang and Gu Ru Jiu.
“Great-Aunt, no need for such greetings.” Jin Yang raised his hand towards Grand Princess Deyi. Bai Xian perceptively went forward to help Grand Princess Deyi sit down on a chair.
Deyi sat down and said with a smile, “I was overjoyed upon hearing of Your Majesties’ marriage. Pity I was on the road then, and could not come to give congratulations myself. I feel great regret for missing Your Majesty’s wedding.” Then she took a box from her servant girl. “Father-Emperor bestowed this pair of blood jade bangles to me the year I married. Today, I will present the Buddha with borrowed flowers and give them to the empress. I hope the empress doesn’t mind.”
“How can I take the precious item that Great-Grandfather gifted Great-Aunt?” Gu Ru Jiu refused. “I accept Great-Aunt’s kindness, but…”
“Empress, do not refuse. They say fresh flowers should be given to beautiful women. The blood jade bangles are only suitable for beauties.” Grand Princess Deyi stood up and presented the box in front of Gu Ru Jiu. “As long as the Empress doesn’t mind.”
“Then I can only thank Great-Aunt for giving such a treasure.” Gu Ru Jiu stood up to accept the box and curtsied to Grand Princess Deyi.
Grand Princess Deyi stood there firmly and accepted her bow.
Sitting on the side, Jin Yang’s smile faded, and he lowered the head to take a sip of tea.
Bai Xian went up to help Grand Princess Deyi sit down. Gu Ru Jiu did not open the box, turning and giving it to Bao Lu, her servant girl. She then sat back down next to Jin Yang.
Jin Yang looked up and smiled at her. Then he turned and said to Deyi, “Great-Aunt, since you have returned to the capital, do not go back to Sanggan Commandery. Zhen heard Cousin is working in the Office of State Ceremonies. He has done well.”
“By the good fortune of the emperor, he manages not to embarrass himself.” Deyi smiled and then said to Jin Yang, “I have not visited the capital for many years, and it seems to be more prosperous than when I married.”
Jin Yang said with a smile, “It is Grandfather-Emperor and Father-Emperor’s good governance.”
Everyone knew what kind of virtue the previous emperor had, but no one could argue against Jin Yang saying so. Deyi did not mention the previous emperor, only saying, “On the way here, I frequently heard passersby mention the Emperor. They say Your Majesty is a good emperor, and even the children sing songs… Great Feng has Delong, an abundant harvest of five grains, business is thriving… These are the words of children, but it can be seen the people love you.”
Jin Yang’s era name was Delong, so the people also called him the Delong Emperor.
Gu Ru Jiu silently watched this grand princess compliment Jin Yang and perceptively did not interrupt.
But Jin Yang did not seem to accept this too much. After a few modest words, he pulled the topic towards the heiress consort to Commandery Prince Ping, and asked after Commandery Prince Ping’s health.
“Thank you, Your Majesty, for your concern. Father-in-law has been healthy recently but is regretful he cannot help share the burden for Your Majesty due to his age,” the heiress consort to Commandery Prince Ping said. “Whenever he mentions Your Majesty, he is full of praise and frequently urges the juniors of the family to work hard and help Your Majesty.”
“Great-Uncle is old, and it eases Zhen‘s greatest worry that he is healthy.” Jin Yang suddenly paused and said, “Has Cousin been well recently, and served in court?”
Heiress Consort Ping heard the words and was overjoyed inside, her expression growing more respectful. “My son has been good recently, and much improved. But his father feels he is not capable enough and hasn’t allowed him to serve in court.”
“Uncle is good at everything but too serious. Zhen remembers Cousin is skilled in the martial arts, able to shoot at a hundred paces, and with outstanding swordsmanship.” Jin Yang rubbed the rim of his teacup and said, “A few days ago, Zhen promoted my brother-in-law to the commander of the dragon guard. There is an empty vice-commander spot. Zhen wants to see if Cousin will help fill the spot—what does Aunt think?”
Vice-commander of the dragon guard? That was a lower third-rank position of real power, and one close to the emperor. Heiress Consort Ping was of course happy and said, “It is my son’s good fortune—this subject-wife thanks Your Majesty for your grace on behalf of my son.”
This wasn’t just grace—it was enormous grace. Their family was part of the imperial clan but had never been influential. Not many in the family had actual positions. Now, the emperor was willing to give her son the position of vice-commander of the dragon guard. How could she not be happy?
Grand Princess Deyi glanced at the joyful Heiress Consort Ping with a slightly aloof expression. She had always looked down slightly on Commandery Princes Ping and Kang. Back then during the struggle for the throne, the two of them had no opinions and wavered like grass. But fortunately, the two men’s cowardice and incompetence meant their brother could tolerate them after becoming emperor, and they managed to live a leisurely life as commandery princes.
Later, her nephew took the throne. Her nephew was a soft-hearted person, and the two had even better days in the capital. Now, her nephew had passed away and this adopted young emperor did not appear to be as easy to get along with. These two old men shrunk back into turtledoves again and did not act like elders at all.
After she married into Sanggan long ago, she had lived honestly and not dared to meddle in her brothers’ struggle for the throne. Reality proved her decision then had been correct. So many siblings had died in those years. Only she and these two cowardly brothers had managed to survive.
Deyi had only sat for a few minutes and already seen the emperor and empress make several secret marital interactions. She became even more discontent with the empress.
As the empress, one should be dignified and graceful. Exchanging flirtatious glances with the emperor in front of elders was too frivolous.
In Grand Princess Deyi’s view, Jin Yang and Gu Ru Jiu’s occasional actions of smiling at each other or handing over a teacup were a loss of dignity. If consorts did this, she could pretend not to see it, but this was not something the empress could do.
“Your Majesty and the empress have a really good relationship.” Seeing Jin Yang take the teacup Gu Ru Jiu had drunk from from her hand, Deyi finally could not endure it. She glanced at Gu Ru Jiu. “You can even share teacups.”
Heiress Consort Ping heard the words and feared that the empress would be embarrassed. She hurriedly said, “It is good fortune to Great Feng for the emperor and empress to be in love.”
“The empress is Zhen‘s wife, so we are the same.” Jin Yang put the teacup to his lips and slowly took a sip. He smiled at Gu Ru Jiu and said to Deyi, “Excuse us, Great-Aunt.”
When Deyi saw Jin Yang drink from the teacup in front of her, ignoring her words, she did not have a good expression but she could not argue with Jin Yang. She could only turn to Gu Ru Jiu and say, “Empress has taken good care of His Majesty.”
What did this mean?
Heiress Consort Ping turned to glance at Deyi. Why did this aunt have to argue with the empress? Wasn’t this going to cause the empress and empress dowager’s displeasure?
Even the emperor…
She glanced at the emperor who had a cool expression and quickly moved her gaze away. She feared even the emperor was not happy inside.
“As His Majesty’s wife, it is my duty to take good care of His Majesty.” Gu Ru Jiu smiled at Grand Princess Deyi and raised her chin slightly. “Even Mother-Empress praised this palace for taking good care of His Majesty, and that the clothes had to be re-made.”
Heiress Consort Ping laughed inside. This was scolding Grand Princess Deyi for being meddlesome, that she was pointing the finger of blame to things that even the empress dowager did not talk about?
“This subject sees that His Majesty has grown fatter these days.” Heiress Consort Ping had intentions of getting in favour with the emperor and empress, so she immediately followed Gu Ru Jiu’s words. “It appears that the empress is very considerate.”
“Yes.” Jin Yang shook his head and smiled. “Ever since having Empress, Zhen eats two more bowls of rice every day. How can I not grow fat?”
“It is good to gain weight; having an appetite is also good fortune.” Heiress Consort Ping covered her mouth and laughed. “Otherwise, why would Spiritual Master Chu Yun say that the empress had good fortune?”
With Heiress Consort Ping’s deliberate flattery, the atmosphere grew better. Grand Princess Deyi saw the situation and knew she could not say more, even if she was slightly displeased.
After an hour, Grand Princess
Deyi could not stand listening to Heiress Consort Ping flattering the empress and stood up to bid farewell.
Jin Yang did not call her to stay, and only had Bai Xian see her off.
When she returned to the princess establishment, Grand Princess Deyi said to Sima Ling with a dark expression, “Heiress Consort Ping is your aunt?”
“Yes.” Sima Ling nodded.
“They all say the Sima Family is measured in their conduct and speech, outstanding in their demeanor.” Grand Princess Deyi took off her bangles and other adornments. She said coldly, “The reputation does not appear to be true.”
Sima Ling heard the words and her expression darkened. She stood up from her chair and curtsied to Grand Princess Deyi. “Grandmother, Husband is returning soon and I should go back. Granddaughter-in-law bids farewell.” She did not wait for Grand Princess Deyi to speak before she turned and left the grand princess’ yard.
As a miss of the Sima Family, she knew filial piety, but she would not obey without reason. If she remained silent when her family was being humiliated, she would be ashamed as a member of the Sima Family.
“What does she mean?!” Seeing Sima Ling leave like this, Grand Princess Deyi’s expression darkened. “This is the upbringing of the Sima Family?”
The servant girls saw this and none dared to speak.
When Sima Ling returned to the yard, Shen Qinghe was there. Seeing her bad expression, he asked in concern, “What is it—were you slighted in the palace?”
“No.” Sima Ling slowly shook her head. She looked at Shen Qinghe and bowed her head slightly. “It’s nothing; I am just a bit tired.”
“Then rest.” Shen Qing He hurriedly called over servant girls to help Sima Ling take off her hair ornaments. “Sleep for a bit, and then I will wake you to eat.”
“All right.” Sima Ling forced a smile and then entered the inner room.
After she left, Shen Qing He’s expression grew heavy. He called in a servant girl who had accompanied Sima Ling into the palace and asked her what had happened.
After learning the cause, he felt both guilty and heartsore. He had the servant girl leave.
“Jiu Jiu.” Jin Yang presented a teacup in front of Gu Ru Jiu. Seeing her head lowered, he carefully moved his head closer. “You are angry?”
“Why am I angry?” Gu Ru Jiu took the teacup and then said, “Just now, I drank a stomachful of water—don’t make me drink more.”
“I am here to make amends.” Jin Yang crowded closer to sit next to her. “I fear your anger will harm your health.”
“Are you stupid?” Gu Ru Jiu reached out and tapped Jin Yang’s forehead. “Who is she, who are you?”
Seeing him so careful, Gu Ru Jiu’s heart softened. She touched his face and said, “She is an outsider, whereas you and I are one—how can I be angry at you because of an unrelated person? Also, after seeing you protect me just now, I have no anger.”
“But I still do not feel comfortable.” Jin Yang hugged Gu Ru Jiu and smelled her fragrance. “You are the empress, and she dares to stand and accept your greeting—this is really annoying.”
“All right, all right, don’t be angry, good.” Gu Ru Jiu touched his head and then raised her head to kiss his chin. “I will not hold a grudge against an old lady in her seventies.”
Jin Yang looked down at her and picked her up in a bridal carry.
In the afternoon, Gu Ru Jiu napped after eating lunch. Jin Yang stood by the bedside and gazed at her sleeping face. He bent down to kiss her cheek before walking out of the inner room.
“Your Majesty.” Bai Xian and He Ming bowed after seeing Jin Yang come out.
“Yes.” Jin Yang glanced back at the inner chamber and led the pair out the door. After entering the imperial study, he spoke. “Have you gotten an understanding of the matter?”
“Your Majesty, this servant investigated, and this matter is related to your marriage.” He Ming hesitated for a moment and said, “Grand Princess Deyi originally had intentions of her granddaughter becoming empress, but the empress dowager did not agree, so nothing more came of the matter.”
“Her granddaughter?” Jin Yang expressionlessly opened a memorandum and wrote a few characters after reading it. “Has her granddaughter been engaged yet?”
“Yes, to the Young Master Li Huai Gu of the Li Family. I heard the two will marry at the end of this month.”
“Li Huai Gu?” Jin Yang looked up, his eyes cold. “Zhen heard this Young Master Li once had intentions of marriage with the Gu Family?”
“There-there seems to have been such a thing, but the Gu Family did not agree.” He Ming bowed his head.
“Of course they did not agree. If they had, where would Zhen find Jiu Jiu?” Jin Yang’s lips curved up. His cold expression dissipated slightly. “I hear that this Grand Princess Deyi was a tactful person in the past.”
He Ming and Bai Xian didn’t dare to answer.
“A tactful person should continue being so.” Jin Yang opened another memorandum. This one was concerning the Sanggan Commandery Governor exposing the fact that the grand princess’ servants were beating up people and abusing their power.
“If she does not understand, then someone can teach her.” Jin Yang used the red pen to quickly write a few characters and then said, “Send this memorandum to the Ministry of Justice.”
“Yes.” Bai Xian didn’t dare to look at the contents. After receiving the memorandum, he hurried to the Ministry of Justice.
The officials from the Ministry of Justice read the memorandum and were slightly confused. Servants from Grand Princess Deyi’s establishment used their power to bully others. The emperor told them to follow the law and take them in. This appeared to be punishing the servants, but… wasn’t this publicly slapping the grand princess’ face?
“Grand Princess Deyi has only been in the capital for three days. How did she anger the emperor?” The left assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice took the memorandum and was so anxious his hair was about to fall out. But he and the right assistant minister didn’t dare to show this to anyone other than the minister.
“Who knows the thoughts of the emperor?” The right assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice adjusted his clothing. “This one is not of a fickle temper. I fear this grand princess really committed a mistake and this matter is to warn her.”
Otherwise, why would the Ministry of Justice have to personally go make a trip for this minor matter?
Grand Princess Deyi was noble, but once His Majesty spoke, then this noble grand princess was not so noble. The Ministry of Justice would arrest those who had to be arrested.
“Your Highness, Your Highness!”
Just as night descended and Grand Princess Deyi was in the middle of her dinner, she heard a ruckus from outside the yard. She frowned and said, “What happened—why is it so noisy outside?”
“Your Highness.” A matron ran in. “People from the Ministry of Justice have come. They say the steward has committed a crime and want to take him for interrogation.”
“Insolence! They can take this palace’s people if they want to?!” Grand Princess Deyi’s face darkened. As she prepared to call in the official in charge, she saw a middle-aged man dressed in the robes of a lower third-rank official walk in.
“This subject greets Grand Princess Deyi.” The right assistant minister of the Ministry of Justice bowed to Deyi and then said, “This subject is acting on orders. Your Highness, please forgive me.”
“Orders—whose orders?” Grand Princess Deyi scolded angrily. “You come into this palace’s establishment as you please, you take this palace’s people as you wish—do you even see this palace, this grand princess?!”
The assistant minister jerked his lips in a smile. “Your Highness, please do not be angry. If your servant’s case is overturned, this lowly official will return him unharmed. Otherwise…” He paused and then said, “You know, ever since His Majesty ascended the throne, he dislikes those who use their power to bully those weaker. Even Your Highness’s servants must obey the laws of Great Feng—do you not think so?”
“You do not have to say these high-sounding words with this palace,” Grand Princess Deyi said. “Prepare the carriage; this palace is going to take this official from the Ministry of Justice to see the emperor! Let the emperor see how such servants are insulting his great-aunt!”
Translator Ramblings: Jiu Jiu skipped the picky mother in law, so she gets a picky aunt in law.