World of Hidden Phoenixes

Chapter 160 part 2

In Qin Zheng Hall, the candle in the glass lamp on the dragon table was moments away from being burnt out. A eunuch had stepped forward to lift the lamp shade but before he got the chance to replace the candle, the flickering flame was extinguished by the gust of wind coming from the window, leaving behind only a wisp of rising smoke. 

 The eunuch was about to light the candle when suddenly, Ji Feng Li motioned with his hand and ordered, “Withdraw.” 

The eunuch bowed and quietly retreated. Remaining in his seat, Ji Feng Li fished out the sachet from within his sleeve. Under the luminance of the cold moonlight outside the window, he stared at the child embroidered on the white satin sachet. The child’s cheeks were fair and chubby. Wearing a red bib, the child was smiling brightly, his eyes shining with laughter. Stroking the child’s face, Ji Feng Li’s heart rose with bitterness. 

Long Yu had delivered her sachet to him that day and when he saw the rough stitches and poor embroidery, his heart had rippled with affection. He knew that embroidery was not one of her many talents but he was still happy that she had made an effort for him. Seeing the child, he was even more delighted thinking that she was fond of children and had wanted to have his child. But why did everything turn out this way? Did he misunderstand her? Did she send him this sachet just to tell him that she would never have his child? 

Was she such an illogical person? 

Ji Feng Li’s brows grew tightly knitted. 

Outside, a eunuch at the door announced, “Your Highness, Third Princess would like an audience!” 

“Let her in,” Ji Feng Li calmly ordered. 

The eunuch entered and lit the candle before leading Huangfu Yan inside. 

Upon entering, she saw Ji Feng Li sitting behind the dragon table. She noticed that he was holding a white sachet in his hand that was embroidered with the image of a young child. At that moment, she was further unnerved and felt increasingly lightheaded. 

Initially, upon her return from the Royal Temple, she was still reluctant to come clean to him. Her heart harbored doubts but the guilty conscience left her feeling uneasy so she ultimately decided to come though she was still conflicted. But after spotting the sachet in his hand, there were no longer any doubts. If he didn’t lose a child, why would he look so dazed staring at the child on the sachet? She quickly came to a decision and knelt down on the floor, tears streaming down her face as she professed, “Imperial Brother, Yan’er didn’t know that drug could cause a miscarriage. Yan’er deserves to die, Imperial Brother please punish me!” 

Ji Feng Li furrowed his brows and slowly placed the sachet back into his sleeve. Silently, he gazed down at her, his eyes sharp and oppressive, making Huangfu Yan feel short of breath. She felt she could no longer keep this a secret since she was certain now that Imperial Brother was aware of everything and was merely waiting for her to confess. Not daring to dally any longer, Huangfu Yan began to recount everything that had happened in a trembling voice.  

 Ji Feng Li sat motionless behind the dragon table, listening quietly. Though his expression was calm, his heart had soon grown turbulent with emotions. The grief that had tormented him these past few days gradually dissipated as he realized she did not take that drug herself, that she did not refuse to bear his child. But as the grief faded, a new found anger was slowly rising. He thought he could protect her yet she was still schemed by others. Realizing this, his expression gradually grew ugly. 

Looking up at Ji Feng Li, Huangfu Yan’s heart raced with trepidation. She had never seen such an expression on his gentle face. 

“Where did you get the drug?” Ji Feng Li questioned in a cold voice.

Huangfu Yan replied frightfully, “I bought it from a medicinal shop outside the palace. But I had only intended to buy a drug that makes people dizzy, not poison.”

“There are many different drugs that make people dizzy!” Ji Feng Li said, his complexion growing increasingly cold. “Tell me, who told you about the medicinal shop.”

Huangfu Yan replied “Older Sister Wan did but that drug was given by the shop owner, he himself recommended it to me.” 

 “What would the shop owner gain from harming her? Most likely the shop owner as well as the drug were both arranged by Wen Wan,” Ji Feng Li coldly stated. 

Huangfu Yan kowtowed.  “Yan’er was muddled. Yan’er just wanted to prove she was lying about her pregnancy and stop her from marrying Imperial Brother.  Sister Wan and Yan’er both did it for the sake of Imperial Brother. She is not chaste, she’s not worthy of Imperial Brother.” 

“For my sake?” Ji Feng Li repeated, his tone rather cold and callous. 

For his sake? Just for his sake they say?

Looking at the indifferent smile on Ji Feng Li’s lips, Huangfu Yan grew increasingly frightened and uncertain of how he was going to punish her. 

“Where did you see her?” Ji Feng Li suddenly questioned as he narrowed his eyes. He could vaguely guess the reason why Huangfu Yan would come make a confession all of a sudden. But he decided to keep the truth concealed. She hadn’t killed his child but he wanted her to continue suffering for the time being. 

“At the Royal Temple….today she came to find me, she said that I had poisoned her child to death, so… ” Huangfu Yan stammered as she was gripped with fear. 

But before she could finish, Ji Feng Li already got up from his seat and had walked quickly to stand in front of her. “You mean she was at the Royal Temple today?” He had thought she had already left for Northern Kingdom with Xiao Yin. Unexpectedly, she was still here. 

Huangfu Yan nodded.

“Come, prepare the horses! This Prince is leaving the palace!” As soon he spoke, he quickly turned and rushed out of the hall, his figure disappearing in the endless darkness of the night. 

Inside the hall, the candlelight flickered and swelled before finally extinguishing from the rush of air driven by his quick steps. 

In the darkness, only Huangfu Yan remained kneeling on the floor, completely at a loss. She was gripped with worry as to what kind of punishment he would mete once he returned. 

***

translations at peachblossomgrove . com

In the deep night, the cold moon rests calmly in the dark skies. 

Hua Zhu Yu, Ping, Kang and Tai were all riding their horses, speeding down a reclusive road lined with trees on both sides which melded in with the darkness as they rode past. The drumming of their horses’ hooves had disturbed the ambience of the night causing the birds perched upon the trees to let out a high shrill cry before taking flight and departing into the night skies. 

They took this road, which was not commonly traveled, and was heading east towards Yan City where Hua Mu and Huangfu Wu Shuang had raised a rebellion. 

Hua Zhu Yu knew that Huangfu Yan would surely go find Ji Feng Li and he would naturally find out the truth. She did not have to do anything further. As for Wen Wan, she was just not in the mood to deal with her. 

In the deep night, it was very quiet. Even the soft rustle of leaves could be heard. As they rode, Tai noticed something and quickly said, “Wait, stop for a moment!” 

They all pulled on their reins and came to a stop. Tai dismounted and placed his ear close to the ground to listen carefully. He then stated, “General, a group seems to be coming this way. Should we avoid them?” 

Hua Zhu Yu got down from her horse and pulled out a hairpin from her hair. She then stabbed the hairpin into the horse’s rear-end. Startled by the pain, the horse started galloping at full speed ahead. 

“General, it’s not certain that whoever’s coming is chasing us,” Kang said but he still dismounted and gave his horse’s rear-end a strong strike. Ping and Tai followed suit. Soon, all four horses had departed ahead. 

Hua Zhu Yu took the initiative and headed for the covers of the trees along the roadside. “Let’s hide.” 

She was not entirely sure the people approaching were chasing her but she did not want to take any risks.

The four of them took shelter in the shadows of the trees, careful as to not disturb the birds. As they waited, they saw several riders appear on the road moments later. 

Under the bright moonlight, she saw him, his tall, steady figure riding in the night, his white cloak flickering in the wind. 

In her momentary daze, he had quickly rode by and she was left gazing at his back until he finally disappeared into the darkness. Once he was out of sight, she slowly turned around and smiled bitterly. 

It seems Huangfu Yan did go speak to him. She just didn’t expect him to make a move so quickly as if he knew she would leave at this time. 

“General, do you want to meet up with him?” Ping asked quietly as he looked over at Hua Zhu Yu.

“It might be better to meet up with him once more. After sorting things out, perhaps it would be easier for us to leave,” Tai said. 

Hua Zhu Yu knitted her brows. She knew that if she met up with him now, she would not be able to leave this place. She can’t remain here in Yu City. No matter what, she must go to Yan City to find out what’s going on. 

 “Let’s take the mountain road!” Hua Zhu Yu said after a moment of silence. 

Ping, Kang and Tai looked at each other then sighed.

Kang smiled and said, “I knew General would say that! Time to take the mountain road by foot again!” 

Not wasting time, they all turned to head towards the mountain road along with Hua Zhu Yu. 

Fortunately, they were familiar with the terrain as they’ve escaped like this before. 

A few days later, they had steered clear of Ji Feng Li’s search party and had arrived at a strategic town located in the eastern parts of Yan City. 

Hua Mu and Huangfu Wu Shuang were also here, meeting up with several generals guarding the defences in these eastern parts of the city. Having planned this for many years, Hua Mu had many subordinates stationed at various strategic towns in Southern Kingdom. Overnight, the kingdom was enveloped in the flames of war, the people living in misery. 

Hua Zhu Yu walked up to the army camp stationed there and disclosed her name to the soldiers standing guard who went inside to make a report. Soon after, An Xiao’er came out to welcome. He had been following Hua Mu this entire time, so seeing Hua Zhu Yu, Ping, Kang, and Tai again he was overjoyed. 

 He then proceeded to take the lead, accompanying Hua Zhu Yu past the various tents, heading to the largest tent in the army camp. 

 Inside, there was a bed and a short table on top of which was a spread out military map. Hua Mu’s tent was still as simple as before but his identity was completely different from the past. 

Standing in front of the table, Hua Mu was staring at the map while in deep thought. When Hua Zhu Yu entered, he looked up and glanced at her lightly, calmly saying, “You’re here.”  

Hua Zhu Yu remained silent. It was strange, when facing Hua Mu, the anger and resentment she harbored had vanished and she was left with only a shallow feeling of sorrow. 

The tent was silent. Hua Mu was still standing in front of the table, staring at the map. He looked indifferent as if he had expected her arrival. 

“Yu’er, come and take a look. Aren’t you very familiar with the terrain here?” Hua Mu asked quietly as he pointed to the map just as he had many times before at the army camps in the western borders.

But now everything had changed. He was no longer an esteemed general fighting to protect the kingdom. Now, he was the man leading a rebellion against the kingdom. 

“How did you know I was coming?” Hua Zhu Yu asked in a low voice after a moment of silence. She knew what kind of person he was, one that would always plan and strategize. If he had not been defeated by Ji Feng Li, she feared he would’ve already taken the throne. Suddenly, a thought surfaced in her mind but she did not dare believe it. But after so many things had happened over the past year, she felt that there’s nothing that Hua Mu wouldn’t do. 

“The Retired Emperor’s death, you were involved weren’t you?” Hua Zhu Yu suddenly asked. That must be why he was certain she would leave Yu City. He had sent people to kill the Retired Emperor and placed the blame on her so she could not marry Ji Feng Li. Even if Ji Feng Li did not hate her, suspicion would naturally rise and get in between them. At that point, how could she continue to remain in Yu City? How could she stay with Ji Feng Li? Sooner or later, she would still come find him. “Weren’t you afraid I would die in prison for killing the Retired Emperor? Didn’t you fear Ji Feng Li would kill me in a fit of anger?” 

 Her dear father, when planning all these schemes, did not seem to have taken her safety into account. 

Hua Mu looked at Hua Zhu Yu’s angry, discolored face and narrowed his eyes, asking, “Yu’er, in your heart, is father such a person?”

“Isn’t it so? To achieve your goal, you would use any means necessary,” Hua Zhu Yu coldly stated. “The Imperial Palace is tightly guarded. How could an ordinary assassin enter to kill the Retired Emperor? Unless it’s you. You’ve been in the palace for so long. Only you can enter and leave the palace so easily. ” Hua Zhu Yu had once suspected Wen Wan of being involved in the Retired Emperor’s death but she always felt Wen Wan did not have the courage to make such a move. 

“What about Huangfu Wu Shuang?” Hua Mu suddenly asked with a quiet smile.

“Huangfu Wu Shuang is the emperor’s son, he would never…..” Hua Zhu Yu suddenly stopped. It seems that Huangfu Wushuang wasn’t really the emperor’s son. He was a descendant of the former Nation of Mo. His real name was Mu Feng. However, Huangfu Wu Shuang had taken the Retired Emperor Yan as his father for so many years, how could he have done it.

“Father, please stop. Is the throne really that tempting?” Hua Zhu Yu quietly asked after a long silence. 

 In a deep voice, Hua Mu replied, “Everything father has done has been for you, for your sake.” 

 “Don’t say it’s for me!” Hua Zhu Yu said. She looked at him and a cold smile floated across her lips, “Are you really even my father?”

Hua Mu looked at her for a long while, then he gave a heavy sigh and sat down silently. 

“Why don’t you talk?” Hua Zhu Yu pressed. “Master Xuan said that she was my mother. Father, is that true? Am I really the child you had with Master Xuan? Did the Empress of the Nation of Mo really die?”

Hua Mu remained silent for a long time. Finally, he said, “Yu’er, since it has come to this, father doesn’t want to hide it from you any longer. The Empress of the Nation of Mo gave birth to a little princess and that little princess is you. But in order to call upon the subordinates of the Nation of Mo, father had claimed that the Empress had given birth to a prince. Father had tried all means to send Huangfu Wu Shuang to the palace. As long as he ascended the throne and married you as his Empress then the bloodline of the royal family of the Nation of Mo would be preserved. Then in the future, we will have the chance to change the dynasty and restore our country. “

“Although your father was weak, he was a benevolent Emperor. Unfortunately, his benevolence could not support the declining nation. Rebels were everywhere and they had ultimately stormed through Zi Yan City. In Zhao Yang Palace, your father had given me his last imperial edict. He wanted me to take your mother away and escape. He wanted me to restore the Nation of Mo. After presenting me with the edict, he had set the palace afire and was burned alive.”

Hua Mu’s cold, black eyes narrowed.  

It was as if the past was flashing before his very eyes, from the peaceful times to the fall of his country, the rising smokes and streams of blood, a country that had prospered for hundreds of years, all devoured in the flames of war overnight. 

Hua Zhu Yu could feel the deep anguish in his eyes. 

Master Xuan had told her that she was a descendant of the former Nation of Mo so she merely considered herself an ordinary citizen. Unexpectedly, she was actually a princess. A princess of the former dynasty. And the Emperor of Mo who was killed in the fire was her real father. Though she did not witness these events firsthand, she could still imagine the devastating tragedy that took place from Hua Mu’s brief words. 

 Hua Zhu Yu thought for a moment, then quietly asked, “”That year, what was your identity?”

Hua Mu glanced at her sideways and a trace of gentleness surfaced on his cold face. “Yu’er, no matter who I am, I will always be the one who cares for you the most in this world.”

Hua Zhu Yu looked at Hua Mu perplexed. In this moment, he still didn’t want to disclose his identity. But her intuition told her that he wasn’t merely just a simple official of the Nation of Mo. 

With the passing of time, the hair at his temples had inadvertently turned gray. The love and compassion on his face had, in a flash, been replaced by the deep anger and hatred. 

“Must we restore our country? If there’s another war, many more innocent lives will be lossed. What’s more, the world has already settled down. The people only wish for peace. We fight to restore our country but the people of Southern Kingdom view us as revolting and plotting to usurp the throne. Times have changed. So what if we win? Even if we invade Yu City and get the throne, then what will happen? It will only incite the heroes in Southern Kingdom to raise their flags and fight. How long can we sit on that throne? If a civil war ignites in Southern Kingdom, what will happen if Northern Kingdom, or Eastern Yan or Western Liang takes advantage of that opportunity to invade again. If that happens, wouldn’t you be condemned as a sinner in history, father?” Hua Zhu Yu reasoned. 

The room fell dead silent. He had clearly heard her but it was not easy for a person who had spent his whole life for the purpose of restoring his country to accept such an ending. Hua Mu suddenly stood, his face cold, his eyes full of anger and pain. “Child, you have greatly disappointed me! Do you think father wants that? If the plan had not failed, Ji Feng Li wouldn’t have the chance to ascend the throne and become Emperor, then father would not have to start a war either!” Hua Mu then looked up towards the sky and sighed. In a deep voice, he said, “Father is tired. You can leave.” 

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So in this chapter some of the mysteries have been unraveled. HZY is the other “hidden phoenix” besides Dan Hong. As for her reunion with her”father”, it was so disheartening. But I guess that’s because he’s been a military man all his life and has always been the strict, austere type. I felt like HZY was hoping for something more too but he really gave her no emotional acknowledgement. He says he cares for her and that’s why he’s done everything that he did but I feel like he did it more for is sake and for his revenge rather than for her sake.

On a side note, I am possible thinking of taking on “Who Gets the World” as my next translation project. There’s 5 chapters up on Novelupdates and it seems that the previous translator has dropped the project. I have not read this novel before, but from the first 5 English chapters that I’ve read, it looks like a pretty good wuxia novel with a strong yet carefree female protagonist. From what I’ve read, it seems pretty fast-paced too. It’s only 55 chapters but the chapters are super long so I think it would be as long as World of Hidden Phoenix is. However, this is just me speaking my mind, I haven’t really come to a decision yet. The other novels I was considering was Scarlet Heart or Drunken Exquisiteness. I’ve watched both of the drama adaptations for these 2 novels but I haven’t finished reading the novel itself. I’ve only read the English chapters that have been translated so far and they seem pretty slow paced. I don’t mind reading a slow paced novel but translating a slow-paced novel can be quite tiresome so that’s why I’m leaning more towards “Who Gets the World”.

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