This chapter is brought to everyone by Xena and Jennifer❤️❤️
Three days later, An and Kang returned from Qing Xin Temple and as expected, Madam Xuan was there and had been escorted back by them. Originally, Hua Zhu Yu still had reservations since the last time she saw her, Madam Xuan was with Dou Qian Jin and Hua Zhu Yu had thought that he had taken her back to Eastern Yan.
When Hua Zhu Yu recalled the night that Madam Xuan had nearly strangled her to death, she really couldn’t believe that Madam Xuan was her mother.
Moreover, when Hua Mu passed away, he told her that she was the Princess of Mo. If Madam Xuan was her mother like she had claimed, then she should be the Empress of Mo. But why then did she say that she was the empress’ maid instead?
An and Kang took the lead, escorting Madam Xuan to Hua Zhu Yu’s tent.
Upon seeing her arrive, Hua Zhu Yu said, “Master Xuan.” Then she got up and went over to help her to a seat.
“Xiao Yu, I’ve been well staying at the temple. Why did you want to see me here?” Madam Xuan asked in a clear voice that was both soothing and amiable. Her face was hidden behind a veil, exposing only a pair of deep eyes.
“Master, did you know, father has passed away,” Hua Zhu Yu said in a low voice.
Madam Xuan nodded slowly and said, “I’ve heard about it on the way here.” Her eyes then traveled past Hua Zhu Yu to stare at the sword mounted on the stand behind her. The sword had once belonged to Hua Mu.
That was all she had said. There was no grieving or sadness. But Hua Zhu Yu could still recognize the look of desolation in her eyes.
“Please pardon the offence for inviting you here Master. It’s just that I had something important I needed to ask you,” Hua Zhu Yu explained. She then shot An and Kang a look. Knowingly, they quietly withdrew from the tent.
“Master, you once told me that the Empress of Mo passed away after giving birth to Prince Mu Feng. You also said that you were my mother. But before father passed away, he told me that I was the Princess of Mo. If that’s the case then are you the Empress of Mo? As for Huangfu Wu Shuang, he’s not really the Prince of Mo, isn’t he?” Hua Zhu Yu asked candidly upon seeing the kind regards Madam Xuan had for her father from the look in her eyes.
Madam Xuan retracted her gaze from the sword to fix her eyes on Hua Zhu Yu silently. With her face veiled, Hua Zhu Yu could not read the expression on her face clearly but a complicated look seemingly flashed within the depth of her eyes.
They continued to look at one another for a long time without speaking and the room fell into a dead silence.
Madam Xuan suddenly let out a sigh and slowly said, “That’s not the case. He indeed is the Crown Prince of Mo.”
Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t quite understand. If that was true then did her father Hua Mu lie to her?
“You’re saying that Huangfu Wu Shuang is really the Prince of Mo? Then what about me?” Hua Zhu Yu asked.
Sitting in her seat, Madam Xuan gazed at Hua Zhu Yu and slowly explained, “He’s the Crown Prince, I’m the Empress and you, naturally you are Hua Mu’s daughter. Hua Mu said that you were the Empress’s daughter and the Princess of Mo? ha ha …….I knew he would say that. He had been planning to restore his country for many years. He was determined to make you Huangfu Wu Shuang’s Empress. He most likely told you that because he was afraid you wouldn’t lend a hand to Huangfu Wu Shuang otherwise.”
Hua Zhu Yu gazed at Madam Xuan quietly and listened to her explanation. After a moment of silence, she let out a sigh of relief and said, “I see. I knew that I couldn’t possibly be a princess. It’s for the better. Father was too worried. He was hurt by Ji Feng Li. As his daughter, how can I not avenge him? Master, you have come all this way, you must be tired. I’ve prepared a tent for you. Please rest early.”
Madam Xuan placed her hand over Hua Zhu Yu’s and gave it a squeeze as she nodded and said, “Alright, master will retire then.”
Hua Zhu Yu saw Madam Xuan off before turning around and taking a seat again. Her fingers rested on the table and gently tapped as countless thoughts occupied her mind.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
That night, Hua Zhu Yu paid a visit to the nearest mountain to check out the terrain. The night view from atop the mountains was quite beautiful. From where she stood, she could see Ning City down below, gorgeously illuminated by the numerous lanterns each household had lit, giving off a warm glow in the night alongside the brilliant stars lighting the skies. This lovely scene, she knew, would instantly shatter the moment the city was stormed and what would ensue would surely be a sea of blood.
Originally, she had invited Madam Xuan to the army camp in order to reveal that Huangfu Wu Shuang wasn’t the Prince of Mo so that she could put a stop to this war. Unexpectedly, Madam Xuan not only claimed that he indeed was the prince but that she was the Empress and he was her child.
Although Hua Zhu Yu did not want to believe that she was the Princess of Mo, she believed that her father did not lie to her. Indeed, in this life, her father had lied and kept things hidden from her countless times. But before he passed away, she could see that he had spoken from the bottom of his heart.
The one who’s most questionable was Madam Xuan. Perhaps her claims were driven by a desire to see her country restored and the power and appeal of a princess was certainly incomparable to that of a prince.
Hua Zhu Yu closed her eyes and silently contemplated what her next step should be.
In the quiet night, she suddenly could detect the faint scent of epiphyllum flowers. It was seemingly present, but as the wind came through it disappeared without a trace, as if it was never there in the first place.
What’s more, there was also the faint sound of footsteps. Hua Zhu Yu vigilantly turned around and saw two figures emerging from the shadows of the trees under the bleak moonlight.
Walking in front was an old man in grey robes and behind him was another man with a white veiled hat on. As they came into view, Hua Zhu Yu recognized the old man. It was Xijiang Yue’s A’Gui. He was also the same person that had saved her outside of Liangzhou that day. The man behind A’Gui must be the gongzi(Childe) in the carriage that day, Hua Zhu Yu thought. To meet them here tonight, Hua Zhu Yu felt it was quite unexpected.
“Gentlemen, please wait a moment,” Hua Zhu Yu said as she walked up to them.
A’Gui stopped to look at her and asked with a smile, “Who is this Miss and what can I do for you, I wonder?”
Hua Zhu Yu wrapped one hand over her fist and paid them a greeting. “Old man, you may not recognize me but I’m Silver-Faced Asura. That day, outside Liangzhou City, you had graciously saved my life and I have yet the chance to repay you for your help. Little did I expect to have the chance to meet you today. ” The fact that Hua Zhu Yu was Silver-Faced Asura was no longer a secret so she didn’t need to hide it.
A’Gui stopped and looked at Hua Zhu Yu in surprise. “I heard that Ying Shu Xie was originally a woman. I thought it was just a rumor but it turns out to be true.”
Hua Zhu Yu lightly smiled and asked, “This gongzi must be the one in the carriage that day?”
Under the moonlight, the man stood quietly in plain white robes. In his hand, he held a jade flute which gleamed with a lustrous sheen under the silver moonlight. He merely nodded at Hua Zhu Yu and did not speak.
A’Gui said with a smile, “This is my household’s gongzi.”
“All this time, I’ve been in the dark in regards to benefactor’s name. I don’t know if I would have the honor of being enlightened tonight?” Hua Zhu Yu asked, directing her gaze at the man in white whose veil continued to sway softly in the wind.
A’Gui waved his hand and said, “You are too courteous Ying Shao1. My gongzi is surnamed Rong, named Luo.”
At the mention of his name. Hua Zhu Yu was taken by surprise as she did not expect the person to save her that day to be Nan Bai Feng(Southern White Phoenix), Rong Lou. Though she knew Rong Lou was the master of Xijiang Yue, she did not expect him to appear in Liangzhou at that time.
“I have long heard of Rong gongzi’s distinguished name. I wonder what brings gongzi to the mountains in the middle of the night?” Hua Zhu Yu asked. This Nan Bai Feng(Southern White Phoenix) Rong Lou, no one has seen this person’s face, whether this person was male or female, young or old, both were unknown. But taking a closer look tonight, this person seemed to be a young man.
Hua Zhu Yu always found this Rong Luo to be quite an enigma. She felt as though he had some kind of connection with her. At the beginning, he had saved her outside of Liangzhou City. However, that could’ve just been a coincidence. But then he had gone to Mian Yue Lou(Sleeping Moon Hall) in Qing Cheng City that day to bid for Dan Hong which puzzled her.
A’Gui said in a deep voice,” I’m sure you are aware that my gongzi opened Xijiang Yue for the purpose of helping the people solve their worries and lending a helping hand to the kingdom. Hearing that there’s a war at Ning City, we decided to come observe the situation. However, you are also here, could it be…..you’re helping Huangfu Wu Shuang restore the kingdom to the previous dynasty?”
Hua Zhu Yu smiled wryly and pondered for a moment how she should answer. “That’s not exactly the case,” she said before asking, “Did the two of you come just to observe or do you intend to stop the war?” During the war between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, Rong Lou had personally delivered food and other army provisions to the Southern Army. It could be seen that Xijiang Yue truly shared in the kingdom’s worries.
A’Gui stoked his chin cryptically and asked, “What does Ying Shao think?”
“A’Gui, you may step down. I have a few words to discuss with Ying Shao,” Rong Lou, who had been quiet this entire time, suddenly spoke, coughing between words, his voice hoarse and gruff.
Hearing this, A’Gui withdrew silently.
Rong Lou then walked forward and stood not too far away from where Hua Zhu Yu was. With his arms crossed, his white robes fluttering beneath the moonlight, he gazed down the mountain quietly. He had an aloof, unperturbed air to him and when he walked passed her, she could detect a light scent of epiphyllum flowers from his body.
Hua Zhu Yu smiled lightly at the thought that Nan Bai Feng(Southern White Phoenix) Rong Lou would use such a sweet fragrance.
“If Ying Shao wants to help Huangfu Wu Shuang invade Yu City, my Xijiang Yue can also lend a hand. Xijiang Yue’s power and influence reaches far across the lands, it’s a powerful organization.”
Hua Zhu Yu knew that Xijiang Yue’s power was not to be underestimated but what surprised her was that Rong Lou would willingly help her and Huangfu Wu Shuang take the throne.
“Why would you help me, Rong gongzi?” Hua Zhu Yu asked skeptically.
Rong Lou coughed for a moment, then quietly said, “I believe the Asura of the West2, Ying Shao has the ability to govern the world.”
“I don’t wish to rule the world, Rong gongzi. Moreover, in terms of ability, no one is more qualified to sit on the throne and govern the lands than Ji Feng Li,” Hua Zhu Yu said.
“Ying Shao really thinks so?” Rong Lou asked in a hoarse voice.
“Yes,” Hua Zhu Yu said with a smile. “I don’t wish to fight but at present Huangfu Wu Shuang holds the power in the army so it’s difficult to retreat.”
Rong Lou bent over and coughed violently. In the dark night, he sounded like he was suffering from severe pain.
Hua Zhu Yu narrowed her eyes and said with concern, “Rong gongzi seems to be sick. The air up here on the mountains is quite cold tonight, perhaps you should leave early.”
“No worries,” Rong Luo said as he stroked his chest. “It’s just an old illness relapsing, no big deal.”
Hua Zhu Yu knitted her brows and said, “Rong gongzi should take care of yourself.”
Rong Lou suddenly changed the subject and asked lightly, “I wonder what kind of person a lady like Ying Shao would fall for? Would you care to tell me?”
Hearing his sudden question, Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t help the rising sadness in her heart. She slowly walked over and took a seat on a rock near Rong Lou.
“Who is he? I heard that Miss had married the Left Chancellor and had even married off to Northern Kingdom in a peace alliance. I also heard you had married Eastern Yan’s Prince Rui and even Huangfu Wu Shuang.”
Hua Zhu Yu’s lips twisted into a wry smile as she furrowed her brows and said, “I didn’t think people in the Jianghu would know so much about my matters.”
“Xijiang Yue has quite a wealth of information,” Rong Lou stated frankly.
Hua Zhu Yu glanced up at Rong Lou. His white veiled hat had his face entirely covered. It’s rumored that Nan Bai Feng(Southern White Phoenix), Rong Lou was extremely mysterious, that no one even knew what he looked like or even if he was male or female. But accompanied by such a stranger, she suddenly had the desire to talk about it.
“The one I love,” she said as an overwhelming sorrow came over her, “he may….he may not love me anymore.”
Rong Lou’s fingers slightly shook as his figure stiffened. Both of them had fallen silent.
The cold night wind swept through, billowing their clothes in the dark night. Seemingly there was something else, something invisible floating silently in the air.
After some time, Hua Zhu Yu turned over to smile at him and said, “Rong gongzi, let’s discuss the matters at hand.”
“Huangfu Wu Shuang’s in charge of the army, is it because he’s the Prince of Mo?” Rong Lou asked suddenly.
“Yes, moreover, his reputation in the army is rising by the day. Only when it’s proven that he’s not the Prince of Mo will I have a chance. But the Empress of the Mo acknowledges that he is Prince Mu Feng.”
“Empress? Does Ying Shao believe that she’s really the Empress of Mo?” Rong Lou asked calmly.
Hua Zhu Yu recalled that when her father died, he had said, “A’Shuang….have you come to take me?” The Empress of Mo’s name had the character Shuang. It was clear that her father was in love with the Empress but can a living person come and take him away? When a person’s dying, he would look forward to seeing his loved ones that have passed away to come take him, right?
Hua Zhu Yu’s doubts were suddenly cleared. Frowning, she said, “The Empress of Mo has most likely passed away a long time ago.” Madam Xuan was not the Empress of Mo.
Rong Lou said, “In his younger years, A’Gui was a royal physician in the Imperial Palace. He’s well aware of many private matters in the palace and he’s certain that Huangfu Wu Shuang isn’t the Empress of Mo’s son.”
“Really? He’s Ye Fui Gui? Ye Rong Hua’s younger brother?” Hua Zhu Yu asked in surprise. Thinking back, this A’Gui did indeed look similar to Ye Rong Hua who father had assumed the identity of when he was in the palace.
Rong Lou nodded.
“In that case, I wonder if Rong gongzi would let A’Gui come with me?” Hua Zhu Yu asked.
Rong Lou smiled and said, “If it’s possible to expose Huangfu Wu Shuang’s real identity, I’ll do all that I can.”
“I’m very much obliged,” Hua Zhu Yu said with a smile.
- “Shao” has a similar meaning to “Xiao” in “Xiao Bao’er”. But I’m not sure why it’s placed behind the name rather than in front so I just left it as is. So “Ying Shao” pretty much means “Young Ying” and “Ying” is from her name “Ying Shu Xie.”
- He called her “Asura of the West” I think because she was known for fighting/guarding in the western borders
- Jianghu= martial world
- Also just as a reminder in case some people forgot, Xijiang Yue was the place or pavilion where people could send in missives on the 6th day of each month to seek help.