Practicing her swordplay, Hua Zhu Yu’s training had disturbed the birds resting in the treetops as they fluttered their wings and took flight into the high skies. With each move she made, the tree branches stirred, causing petals of flowers to flutter in the air and drift to the ground.
Once she was done, she recollected her sword and received the brocade handkerchief Long Yu handed her to wipe off the sweat on her forehead. She then asked in a clear voice, “Has His Majesty returned?”
Long Yu shook her head and replied, “Not yet.”
Hua Zhu Yu frowned and decided to return to Tao Yuan Ju. Huangfu Ying and Huangfu Shu had already been fed milk and were currently both lying in the cradle, sleeping soundly. She leaned over and gave their tender cheeks a light kiss before heading for a bath.
After her bath, she changed into male robes that were light red in color. These days, she had been donning male attires because it was more convenient for her when training. She was probably the most un-empress-like Empress of all times.
The sun had set and dusk had fallen yet Ji Feng Li had still not returned.
A few days ago, no matter how busy he was with state affairs, Ji Feng Li would always be by her side. He would even bring the memorials to Tao Yuan Ju and go through them there. But since her recovery, he had been acting a little strange. Only once she had fallen asleep did he return and once morning came he had already gone to court by the time she woke up. Thus, these days they rarely saw each other and she felt a little uneasy in her heart. Tonight, she decided she was going to stay up and wait for his return.
In the corridor, a primrose was in full bloom but in the darkness, it gave off an indignant impression. In the lonely courtyard, spring is nearing its end, the ground is covered in fallen pear blossoms no one pays a visit(verse in poem ‘Spring Complaint). Hua Zhu Yu suddenly felt like an indignant wife left all alone in her room. But she would never truly become one. She got up and quickly left the room without bringing along any maidservants.
Once she arrived at Qin Zheng Hall, it was already late into the night. The bright lights from inside the hall poured out, reflecting the vermilion railings of the corridor where a group of eunuchs were standing. From inside the hall, there was the faint sound of a qin which sounded especially ethereal and moving in the deep night.
Ji Feng Li’s head eunuch, Zhao gong gong, was taken by surprise at the sight of Hua Zhu Yu. He quickly made his way over anxiously and bowed. “Why is niang niang here? I will go announce your arrival to His Majesty,” he stated, his voice seemingly tensed.
Hua Zhu Yu’s brows slightly furrowed but she calmly smiled and said, “No need, since the Emperor is busy, ben gong(this Empress) will not disturb him.”
She then turned and left. At a corner where no one saw her, she turned around and went back, avoiding the guards and jumping up onto the roof top of Qin Zheng Hall. Lying on the eaves, she held her breath, quietly lifted a glazed roof tile and took a peek inside. She had done these kinds of things many times before so her movements were smooth and easy.
The interior of the palace hall was illuminated by bright candlelights. Hua Zhu Yu saw Ji Feng Li seated in front of the dragon table but instead of reviewing memorials, he was currently listening to music. From above, she couldn’t make out the expression on his face. However, the teacup in his hand was tilted yet he hadn’t noticed. It would seem he was lost in the song.
Hua Zhu Yu became slightly upset. She had thought he hadn’t returned because he was kept up with state affairs. Yet she finds him here enjoying music. Her eyes swept across the hall and converged on the woman playing the qin. No wonder! It turns out he wasn’t only enjoying music but also having a private meeting with a beauty.
The woman playing the qin was none other than Wen Wan. She had on a gorgeous dress that hugged her graceful figure. Her long black mane was combed into an intricate bun, making her appear all the more gentle and lovely. Once the song came to an end, Wen Wan said in a low voice, “Your Majesty, before leaving, this female subject would like to ask you something. Has Your Majesty’s heart ever been moved by Wan’er?”
Up on the roof, Hua Zhu Yu took in a sharp breath of air, thinking she could be catching cheaters tonight. If Ji Feng Li says “yes” and then embraces Wen Wan, if that was the case..…
Hua Zhu Yu’s burning gaze was fixed down below. Her ears stretched to hear Ji Feng Li’s answer but after a long while he was still silent. Taking a closer look, it appears he wasn’t lost in the song at all but was actually in a daze, his mind completely somewhere else.
“Your Majesty!” Wen Wan called out. Snapping out of his daze, Ji Feng Li placed the teacup down on the table slowly and asked, “What did you just say?”
Wen Wan’s eyes rippled and turned misty as she repeated, “Your Majesty, have you ever liked Wan’er?”
Ji Feng Li faintly replied, “This question, I have given you an answer a long time ago. If you want to hear it again, I don’t mind repeating it. Never! It’s getting late, you should quickly leave the palace.”
“Your Majesty, you are the ruler of a kingdom, you can have imperial concubines. Even if Your Majesty doesn’t like this female subject, I am willing to enter the palace as an imperial concubine and be at your service to help extend the royal family line with lots of children and grandchildren. Your Majesty, please don’t make Wan’er leave,” she quickly pleaded, her beautiful face wet with tears.
Listening on the eaves, Hua Zhu Yu’s heart trembled. How could she forget, Ji Feng Li was the Emperor, bearing the heavy responsibility of extending the royal family line. In the past, which emperor did not have three palaces, six courtyards and numerous descendants?
Ji Feng Li coldly said, “Wan’er, you’re a smart woman. Why must you be so stubborn? In this life, zhen will only have one woman and no one else.” He clasped his hands and slowly walked towards Wen Wan. “Certain matters, if I don’t bring them up, it doesn’t mean that I’m unaware of them. Back then, when the wedding with the Empress was set, if not for someone secretly disclosing the news, it would’ve taken at least 10 days before Huangfu Wu Shuang found out. So how could he have made a move so fast? That day when the Third Princess poisoned Bao’er with the Ice Cloud Grass, who was the one that secretly gave her the idea?”
Wen Wan’s face instantly paled.
“Seeing that you weren’t aware of Huangfu Wu Shuang’s plan, I didn’t investigate any further. But you shouldn’t have harmed Bao’er. Min Guan is also a good place, you should quickly set off! ” Ji Feng Li said with a wave of his sleeve.
Wen Wan had nothing else to say. She quietly knelt on the ground and kowtowed to Ji Feng Li before slowly retreating.
Hua Zhu Yu was surprised that it was actually Wen Wan that had sent the news to Huangfu Wu Shuang that day. She then heard Zhao gong gong reporting, “Your Majesty, Imperial Physician Gui has returned to the palace, he is seeking an audience outside.”
Ji Feng Li suddenly raised his head and said in a loud voice,”Quickly send him in!” In his voice there was a faint trace of excitement. If it had been a woman that had come, Hua Zhu Yu would’ve even suspected that Ji Feng Li liked her.
“This old official, A’Gui, greets Your Majesty.” As soon as A’Gui came in, he knelt down and paid his respects.
Ji Feng Li waved his hand and said, “You may rise. How did it go?”
“Fortunately, I’m able to live up to Your Majesty’s expectations.” A’Gui said as he got up and took out a dark pill from a small wooden box.
Ji Feng Li took the pill. After bringing it to his nose to take a whiff he placed it in his mouth.
A’Gui suddenly stopped him and asked, “Your Majesty, are you certain you want to do this?”
“I’ve already thought it through long ago,” Ji Feng Li said and then proceeded to swallow the pill in his mouth. He then lifted the teacup and took a shallow sip.
Hua Zhu Yu’s heart suddenly shook. Could it be the poison had not been completely resolved? Did A’Gui leave the palace to look for medicine? As these thoughts flashed through her mind, Ji Feng Li suddenly flung his sleeve. Not good, she thought. She pushed with her arm and propelled herself up from the rooftops. A brush flew through the opening on the roof and she could feel the cool splatter of ink on her face. If she had been a little slower, she feared that this red brush would’ve already hit her face.
It seems Ji Feng Li had noticed her and thought she was an assassin!
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
This little incident had drawn the attention of the Imperial Guards who quickly drew their swords and went to surround the hall. When they saw that the intruder was Hua Zhu Yu, they quickly all knelt down frightfully. Most likely, no one had ever seen an Empress sneaking around on the rooftops like her.
Sittin on the eaves with her black hair hanging behind her back, fluttering freely in the wind, Hua Zhu Yu coldly stated, “Not quickly withdrawing? Ben gong is moon-gazing and you’re dampening the mood.”
The Imperials Guards were flustered. “……..” Empress, must you moon-gaze on the roof of Qin Zheng Hall?
The crowd of guards quietly retreated. Moments later, a figure floated onto the eaves.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, his voice sounded with a hint of a smile.
“Can’t I enjoy the beautiful moon?” Hua Zhu Yu said, looking up at the night skies, not sparing him a glance.
Ji Feng Li silently looked up at the skies. It was the end of the 4th lunar month; the moon had greatly waned and there were barely any stars lining the skies. The corners of his lips curved slightly and he went to hug her. However, Hua Zhu Yu pushed him away and rebuked, “Keep a little distance from me!”
Ji Feng Li remained silent for a while, then listening to her he stepped back a few steps. “Is this distance enough? Any farther and I’ll fall.”
Hua Zhu Yu turned her head and ignored him.
“I’m about to fall.” In his light voice there was a trace of playful tone.
“Fall, it’s best if you fall into the arms of a beauty and let her help you extend your royal family line with lots of children and grandchildren,” she remarked. .
A low chuckle sounded in the night. Hua Zhu Yu angrily shot him a glare. Standing there on the eaves in his bright golden dragon robes, he faced the winds, his wide-sleeves fluttering in the air. The skies were bare with little moonlight and stars. But looking at him, one would doubt whether the moon had fallen to earth. In this world, only he would have such an aura of command and radiance dressed in those dragon robes.
Glancing at Hua Zhu Yu’s face, Ji Feng Li’s smile froze and he quickly walked over to her, taking out the brocade handkerchief to wipe the ink marks off her face. “Does it hurt?” he asked softly as he gently wiped.
“What do you think?” she angrily retorted.
“Little fool!” He chided softly in her ear. Before she could react, he had already pulled her into his arms and leaned down to capture her lips affectionately, taking her breath away, and her soul.
“People will see us!” Hua Zhu Yu protested as she tried to push him away. Who goes around kissing on the rooftops? Moreover, he was the Emperor. There were so many guards around who could see them. He may not feel ashamed but she did. However, her protests were lost in his lips. Suddenly, she felt her body become light. He had picked her up, holding her in his arms.
“What are you doing?” Hua Zhu Yu asked softly.
His lips drew close to her ear. His breath was unsteady as he said, “Naturally, I’m going down. Unless Bao’er wants to on the rooftop……”
Hua Zhu Yu’s face suddenly turned crimson red. She peeped through the opening of his arms and found that the guards and eunuchs had all quietly retreated. They were just about to get down from the eaves when Zhao gong gong’s shrill voice sounded, “Your Majesty, Chancellor Lan has something urgent to report!”
Ji Feng Li’s brows tightly knitted together.
“To come in the middle of the night, Lan Bing must have something important to discuss. Go quickly,” Hua Zhu Yu softly said.
Ji Feng Li sighed. His warm fingers gently rubbed her red lips then he leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Bao’er, wait for me to come back!”
After watching his figure disappear, she turned around and jumped down from the eaves. But she didn’t go back to Tao Yuan Ju and instead headed to the Imperial Physician Hall. There she found A’ Gui prepping medicine.
“Imperial Physician Gui, what medicine did you find for the Emperor?” Hua Zhu Yu did not beat around the bush and asked him directly upon entering.
A’Gui put down his pestle and bowed in salutation. He said in a somewhat difficult manner, “Niang niang, His Majesty has specially asked me not to tell you about this matter. Therefore, I can’t say it directly. However, I can tell you that His Majesty’s health is very good. You don’t have to worry. The medicine His majesty takes is for the sake of niang niang. “
“For me?” Hua Zhu Yu was confused. Ji Feng Li taking medicine, what did it have to do with her?
“Yes. Niang Niang, do you remember when you gave birth to the royal prince and princess? It was a difficult birth,” A’Gui slowly reminded.
Hua Zhu Yu’s heart shook. Difficult birth? For her sake? After carefully assessing A’Gui’s words, she felt as if she was struck by lightning. “You mean, His Majesty, he …he’s taking a drug so he won’t have any more kids?” her lips trembled and her words were almost incoherent.
A’Gui nodded, “This matter, it’s best if Niang Niang pretends not to know.”
Hua Zhu Yu wasn’t sure how she got back to Tao Yuan Ju. Her mind was preoccupied with thoughts of the drug Ji Feng Li had taken. Not just the Emperor, but even for ordinary people, the matters of descendants was taken very seriously. Yet Ji Feng Li had taken that drug. And just now she had even taken her anger out on him because of Wen Wan’s “extending the royal family line.” And he, for her sake, had already made a decision not to have any more children in this life.
No wonder! Since her health improved, he always left early and returned late every day. He was deliberately hiding it from her. It turns out he had been waiting for the pill from A’Gui.
At this moment, her heart was overwhelmed with sorrow but she was also touched and moved by his decision. For her, he wouldn’t even leave him room for retreat.
In the room, the red candlelights flickered. Hua Zhu Yu was sitting on the bed, like all the other wives, waiting for her husband’s late return. But she was not an indignant wife because she knew that no matter how late, the person she was waiting for would eventually return.
When Ji Feng Li finally came back and saw her still awake, he was evidently moved.
“Why aren’t you asleep?” he asked in a low voice
“I’m waiting for you,” she whispered.
The corner of his lips rose while his deep eyes shone brightly like the stars.
Hua Zhu Yu came forward and hugged his waist, nestling in his arms.
Slightly taken by surprise, he gazed down at her, his dark eyes glimmering with a captivating light.
His arms encircled her and hugged her tightly. The world seemingly spun as they both fell back onto the bed. His lips found hers and drew closer. The caress of his lips was gently yet passionate and she responded with equal fervor. Neither were drunk but both were intoxicated by the kiss.
In the past, the nights they had spent together, he was either under the influence of a drug or alcohol, or he was deliberately playing sick. It was the first time they had been together like this.
“Bao’er…” He called out her name in a low voice as his gentle kisses rained down her lips, cheeks, lashes and forehead.
“Bao’er, that night, I’m sorry.” He said as his heated gaze was locked on hers. She could see the guilt deep within his eyes along with his affection. Not only that night, but the previous nights when he wanted to keep her by his side, when he pretended to be sick, pretended to be drunk……
Hua Zhu Yu wrapped her arms around his broad shoulder and pressed her lips against his.
She knew that when she was in pain, he too was in pain, and it was no less than hers. Everything in the past has turned into smoke and dust. She only wishes that from this moment on, they will be together forever, until the sea runs dry and the stones go soft(idiom for forever, till the end of time)…..
Her kisses were like fireworks, igniting his passion and desire. He held her tighter, pressing his body against hers, his every touch full of love and affection.
Propping their heads against one another, mandarin ducks rest in each other’s lingering embrace.
Beneath the dim moonlight, it was a restless night as red candlelights flickered and faces lit with drunken joy.
Well, that’s it guys! That was the last chapter!( From the chinese raws, there seems to be a special chapter in the point of view of one of HZY child, however, it was not translated into vietnamese so I won’t be able to translate the special chapter.)This novel is finally done! Wooo! Comment below (or on novelupdates) and let me know what you think, it can be good or bad, since I know this novel is far from being perfect but it still holds a special place in my heart since it’s the first novel I’ve completed translating! Also, I’d like to thank everyone that’s stuck with me on this journey, I’m certainly not a fast translator and it took exactly 3 years for this translation to be complete. So thanks to all the readers and donors????????!! As for my next project, I’m still uncertain but I am currently thinking it will most likely be ‘Win the World’. I haven’t started yet so my next release will probably be in a couple of weeks! See ya’ll then! ????