This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
In the spring of the twelfth year of Delong, the Delong Emperor sent a decree establishing the six-year-old eldest son as the crown prince, and he pardoned the world. This action caused all of Great Feng to see how much the emperor valued the crown prince.
Before the crown prince had been established, Gaoluo had invaded Great Feng, but Great Feng’s generals seemed to be blessed and knew the movements of the Gaoluo armies, defeating them steadily until they managed to capture the Gaoluo crown prince and the other imperial sons. Gaoluo was greatly embarrassed.
Gaoluo suffered great losses, and the crown prince and imperial sons were captured. Helpless, they could only send a letter of surrender to Great Feng, and after signing a lot of humiliating treaties, they managed to ransom back their crown prince and imperial sons.
After this, Gaoluo would not have the ability to invade Great Feng for a few centuries, and their awe and terror of Great Feng would be imprinted in their bones.
Yang Chui Wen, as the heir to a duke, the first-ranked in the imperial examination of the sixth year of Delong, gradually established himself in court after being an official for five or six years. He became the most prominent person among the younger generation.
Back in his early years, there had been the young masters of the Sima and Li families. But as the Sima Families closed their doors, and the Li Family was sentenced and exiled, he appeared above his peers.
Coming out of the Ministry of Rites, he encountered Gu Zhi Yu, the Minister of Revenue. He was just a minor official in his ministry, and naturally had to bow to the Minister of Revenue.
If he was outstanding among the younger generation, then Gu Zhi Yu was the best in their age group. Entered court at seventeen, assistant minister of Revenue at twenty-eight, Minister of Revenue at thirty-four. He had risen step by step.
History had recorded first-ranked examinees in the imperial examination aged twelve, and prime ministers aged seven, but they were all once-in-a-century occurrences. People like Gu Zhi Yu were very rare. Also, he was well trusted by His Majesty, and he was capable. Even if people were jealous of him, when they saw Gu Zhi Yu, they all had smiles and carefully flattered him.
Yang Chui Wen had no desire to curry favor, but felt admiration.
“This lowly official greets Official Gu.” He was willing to bow.
“Official Gu.” Gu Zhi Yu was a civil official but he was riding a horse. He smiled and returned the greeting when he saw Yang Chui Wen. “Such a coincidence.”
More than six years had passed. This person had once been young, and had Mistress Hu come to propose marriage. So many years had passed. The unworried youth had become a steady young man.
“Yes.” Yang Chui Wen smiled, a hint of melancholy in his features. “A coincidence.”
There were not many interactions between the two. They really did not have much to say.
“I heard the position of the left assistant minister of Rites has opened up.” Gu Zhi Yu raised his folded hands to Yang Chui Wen. “I will congratulate Official Yang for your promotion first.”
Yang Chui Wen stilled. He clearly did not expect the usually steady Gu Zhi Yu to easily say such things.
“Official Yang, do not mind—tomorrow, your documents will come.” Seeing Yang Chui Wen like this, Gu Zhi Yu guessed that he felt restrained inside and spoke clearly. “Just now, I accidentally saw your documents, so I said such a thing.”
“Thank you, Official, for telling me.” Yang Chui Wen accepted Gu Zhi Yu’s goodwill and bowed to the other.
“Official Yang is too polite.” Gu Zhi Yu smiled. He looked at the sky, and bowed. “It is late; I will bid farewell.”
“Official, take care.” Yang Chui Wei bowed again and saw Gu Zhi Yu off.
Back then, Gu Zhi Yu had been in love with his wife Chen shi, and even after Chen shi‘s death, he did not want to marry again even if he did not have children. This had been a good story, but the Chen Family was muddle-headed, and wore away the past feelings, even causing the empress to be cursed at by Princess Consort Cheng. That had provoked the emperor’s fury, so Commandery Princess Consort Cheng’s situation, who was already disliked by the emperor, became even more difficult.
Prince Cheng had three sons. The eldest was adopted by the previous emperor and the empress dowager, and became the present emperor. The second son had been arrogant and a wastrel, and in the end, was accidentally killed by Young Master Chen. Finally, the one who received the title was the illegitimate third son who never revealed himself.
Originally, according to the rules, when the father died, the legitimate son inherited, and if there were no legitimate sons, then the clan inherited. The third young master was illegitimate and should have had no qualifications to inherit, but while the rules were dead, the person was alive. The emperor changed the third young master to be under the name of the deceased Princess Consort Cheng Sima shi. Even though he was not legitimate, he became legitimate.
People who did not know praised the emperor for being kind, and for wanting Prince Cheng’s blood to inherit the title. But in the eyes of those in the know, they felt the emperor was vicious. Commandery Princess Consort Cheng had not been good to the emperor and the illegitimate son all this time. Now, the illegitimate son had inherited the title. How could Commandery Princess Consort Cheng have comfortable days?
Thinking of the grievances in the imperial house, Yang Chui Wen could not avoid thinking of a certain person, and grimaced. Returning to the ducal establishment, he first saw his parents and then returned to his own courtyard.
“You came back?” Shen shi saw Yang Chui Wen return, and gave a dignified smile. She turned and had the servant girls serve the meal.
“Thank you.” Yang Chui Wen took the towel Shen shi handed over to clean his hands, and then chatted with Shen shi. One asked, the other answered. They were respectful but lacked closeness. However, both were used to interacting like this, and felt this was very good.
The two had an adorable son. When Yang Chui Wen came home, he would usually spend time teaching his son.
“After a few days, it will be my mother’s birthday—do you have time to go?” Shen shi asked after eating.
Yang Chui Wen nodded. Each year, when he encountered such matters, even though he did not have time, he would try to make time. This was him giving face to his wife.
Seeing him nod, Shen shi sighed in relief inside. The two washed up and prepared to sleep.
One bed, two blankets, and each slept without dreams until morning.
The second day, the documents came. Yang Chui Wen became the left assistant minister of the Ministry of Rites. His colleagues laughed and wanted him to buy them drinks, and he instantly agreed. That night, everyone got drunk. When he returned home, his mother had people prepare a sobering soup for him before he went back to his courtyard.
When he came to his own courtyard, Shen shi had fallen asleep already. He stood outside the pitch-black room, was silent for a while, and turned to leave.
When Shen shi woke up in the morning, she saw the blankets beside her had not been moved. She asked her servant girl, “Did Heir not return yesterday?”
“Young Mistress, Heir returned but he drank too much and slept in the study,” the servant girl whispered.
Shen shi nodded at hearing this. She did not ask anything, just turning and reading the invitations sent by the noblewomen circles of the capital.
Her personal servant girl wanted to say more. But she saw that Shen shi did not care that the heir had been drunk last night, and swallowed her words.
This was another major court session. As the assistant minister of Rites, Yang Chui Wen stood closer to the front. He glanced at the emperor on the throne, and bowed his head again.
The court session was only halfway when an eunuch suddenly said something by the emperor’s ear. Then everyone saw the emperor, usually not one to show his emotions, stand up and stride away, leaving the officials looking at each other.
He unconsciously glanced at Gu Zhi Yu at the front. Maybe the other knew what had happened.
Other than him, several other officials were looking at Gu Zhi Yu, hoping he would say something. To everyone’s disappointment, Gu Zhi Yu said nothing from start to end, except show a slightly ugly expression.
Yang Chui Wen suddenly felt worried. Even Gu Zhi Yu had changed expression. It could be seen that something had happened in the inner palace, and likely had to do with the empress.
About an hour later, news came from the inner palace. The empress had given birth to a little princess.
The officials all had expressions of “it is so” after hearing the news. The emperor and empress had been married seven years, and already had two sons but no daughters. The rumor was that the empress seemed to be very regretful about this. Now, they had both sons and daughters.
Knowing that His Majesty would not have the patience to meet the court officials right now, everyone scattered. Yang Chui Wen left the hall, and found that a rain had started, and the jade steps were soaked.
He walked in the rain, allowing it to soak his clothing. But his heart felt empty, and unspeakably sad.
From afar, he saw several young women in veils sprinting on horseback, and laughter coming from afar. He suddenly recalled, the empress had ridden a horse like this and smiled brightly back then.
Later, she married into the palace. Because of the emperor’s favour, she was cursed as a demon empress. Later, when she gave birth to a son, the emperor said in front of the officials that he would not take consorts.
The most ruthless thing in the world was time. Because everything would have a time to stop, but only time would never change when people’s feelings changed.
He rejoiced that His Majesty had always stayed loyal to the empress. The Gu Family was also peaceful and deeply trusted by His Majesty. Otherwise, what fate would the empress have?
At the street’s end, a blind old man had a stall. The passersby were also setting up stalls, and only he, because of his bad sight, was fumbling at the table with his trembling hands.
He stopped, and helped the old man pack away the things on the table. Then he tied a knot and handed it to the old man.
“Thank you, Official.” The blind old man gripped his wrist. “This official has extraordinary air and must be a noble person by birth.”
Yang Chui Wen looked at his dull eyes and smiled unconcernedly. “Mister, you are really brilliant.”
“No, no, this old man just found this official’s wrist is fine and fleshy, and guessed from that.” The blind man pulled his hand back, and held the tied bag. Then he took a cane from the bottom of the wall behind him. “The rain is heavy. Official, why stay here?”
Yang Chui Wen looked at the people running on the street, and said with a smile, “Walking in the rain can help me calm my mind.”
“The calm is in the mind, and not in material objects.” The blind man “looked” at Yang Chui Wen. Then he shook his head and sighed. “There are things you will get in life if you are fated—do not demand what you are not fated for.”
“This one does not want anything,” Yang Chui Wen said after a moment. “Just…”
He was just a bit melancholy.
The blind man sighed, used his cane to test the way, and left.
A fortune-teller could divine the past and the future, but not people’s hearts.
Yang Chui Wen watched the old man leave, and wiped the rain from his face. When he suddenly recalled he was going to teach his son to write today, he could not help but speed up.
After a while, the rain grew heavier, and all of the capital seemed to be submerged in a mist.