This release is brought to you by Juliana!
Nightfall. Second night watch(9-11pm).
Hua Yin Palace….
Inside the Empress Dowager’s palace hall, all the servants were dismissed except for Yu Kou Zi who remained behind, waiting at her side.
Within the hall, three individuals were seated, the Empress Dowager, her younger brother, Wen Ru Kai and Prince Zi Ning, Long Li Yu.
Wen Ru Kai sneered, “From the Emperor’s actions at Yan Yu Tower, it seems he no longer places the Wen Family in his eyes.”
“He went there on business and yet he saw you there accompanying courtesans. How could he not be angry? Ru Kai, don’t blame me(ai jia) for saying this but your third son is foolish like no other. He deserved to be beaten!” The Empress Dowager’s gaze lowered, her line of sight fixed on her fingers resting upon her knee. Her red nail polish had yet to dry. Under the dim candlelight, it glistened like blood.
Long Li Yu asked, “Imperial Mother, uncle, why do you think Long Fei Li visited Yan Yu Tower?”
The Empress Dowager chuckled lightly. “Perhaps he went there in pursuit of the assassins as he said, perhaps it’s merely a cover, who knows.”
Waiting beside her, Yu Kou Zi said subtly, “My Prince, his words can’t be trusted, this slave is still here ah.”
As soon as the words left his lips, the Empress Dowager immediately scolded, “Watch your mouth.”
That night, the one who had fought with Long Fei Li over the military map in the Nian Residence was precisely Yu Kou Zi! Under the orders of the Empress Dowager, he went to steal the map. However, the Empress Dowager was not aware of Minister Nian’s scheme, that there were two maps hidden, one real, one fake. Her spies had located the fake map and she subsequently sent Yu Kou Zi to steal it.
That night, Yu Kou Zi spotted someone walking out from Minister Nian’s study and he assumed it was one of the Emperor’s men. Long Fei Li had deliberately concealed his martial arts skills so Yu Kou Zi never imagined that it was the Emperor who he had fought with.
If Yu Kou Zhi had been able to steal the map from Long Fei Li, he would’ve gotten his hands on the real map.
Wen Ru Kai frowned slightly. “Elder sister, you don’t seem to be worried.”
The Empress Dowager looked up at Wen Ru Kai and calmly replied, “Of course, there’s no rush. With the current situation, it’s difficult to predict the outcome but once Xi Liang and Xiong Nu go to war, the situation will be completely different. Nian Yong Hua is ambitious, he’s colluded with the Xiong Nu for some time now. His adopted son Nian Song Ting holds military power. Once the war commences, if he doesn’t take the opportunity to rebel, till when will he wait?”
Wen Ru Kai nodded in agreement. “It’s best if both sides suffer a loss.”
Smiling, Long Li Yu reassured, “Uncle, don’t worry. If Long Fei Li wants to defend his country, he must topple Nian Yong Hua. It’s inevitable that both sides will suffer.”
“Yu’er,” the Empress Dowager glanced at Long Li Yu and advised, “Don’t fall careless, you must remember to keep to the rules. You mustn’t provoke the Emperor all the time. Once victory is ours, then you can do whatever you wish to him. But you mustn’t lose your sense of propriety at this time.”
Long Li Yu nodded. “Yes, Imperial Mother.”
As he spoke, the image of Xuan Ji’s angry face surfaced in his mind and his eyes sank. Nian Xuan Ji, one day, I(ben wang) shall have you begging for mercy beneath my body.
“Elder sister,” Wen Ru Kai said in a low voice, “Over the past few years, the Emperor’s party and influence has grown considerably yet it seems he doesn’t keep Nian Yong Hua in check deliberately. He even elevates our power in court concurrently. Do you think he’s aware of that incident?”
The Empress Dowager shot him a look and sneered, “The Emperor secretly opposes me but I am his biological mother. With the countless officials and common people watching, he who’s renowned as a gracious, kind-hearted man, would he dare act unfilial? That year, everyone who knew anything is already long dead. How can he possibly find out? He can only think that my love for Yu’er is too great and that I want to protect the Wen Family. For the time being, it’s unlikely that he would think of me as a tiger who would prey on her own cub.”
“What you said is reasonable. As for Yu Zhi’s matters, what did Fang Chu Fan say?”
The Empress Dowager leisurely replied, “Humph, what could Fang Chu Fan possibly be thinking? Among the three Feudal Lords, his family holds the lowest status. He wants to forge ties with the Imperial Family now so that he can hold his head high. I shall give him a helping hand, assist him not only in finding love but also promise him a higher position. Once Yu’er ascends the throne, Yu Zhi is still the Emperor’s sister and he shall be granted an additional prefecture to govern. With both power and title, what could he possibly say? Once our plan is set in motion, how could he not lend a hand once the time’s right?”
The lights gradually grew dim as the third night watch arrived. At this time, Long Li Yu and Wen Ru Kai had already withdrawn. Only the Empress Dowager and Yu Kou Zi remained in the side hall of Hua Yin Palace.
“Yu Kou Zi.” The Empress Dowager slowly opened her eyes. “Come, let’s head to the secret chamber to take a look.”
“Yes, Your Highness.” Yu Kou Zi assented in a low voice and extended a hand for the Empress Dowager to hold onto.
Under the faint guiding light of the lantern, two dark, elongated shadows were casted on the ground.
Who could’ve imagined that a secret chamber such as this existed in the Empress Dowager’s palace hall.
The chamber was lit with a dozen or so candles, a stark contrast to the dark corridor leading up to it. This chamber was positioned in the deepest corners beneath the palace hall. Simply furnished, there were bars of a prison cell in the corner, along with torture instruments hanging all around the walls.
But that was nothing. Outside the prison cell was a large, round vat. The moment the candles were lit, the person inside the vat was illuminated. This person had not a single strand of hair on her head, her eyes were nothing but empty sockets of black and red, her face lined with countless scars and red, blistering scabs, a shocking sight to behold.
This person had been disabled, her hands and feet had been chopped, her eyes gouged, her face sliced up numerous times with the sharp blade of a knife.
“Su Ru, how have you been lately? I’ve greatly missed you,” the Empress Dowager softly said with a smile as she took a seat on a soft-cushioned chair in front of the vat.
“Thanks to Empress Dowager’s great blessing, this servant is still alive.” A voice sounded from the vat as the woman inside tilted her head towards the Empress Dowager.
Her voice sounded hoarse, as if she had been stabbed in the throat with a sharp weapon. It was difficult to hear yet there was seemingly a calmness in her tone.
“It seems I’ve said something foolish. That’s right, how could you possibly die? I certainly won’t let you die, your son has yet to pay respects to you….Su Ru-ah, rest assured, your son will soon come and accompany you, I have soon made preparations for a vat to be personally made just for him.”
“To craft a large vat for that presumptuous dragon, I will likely have to expend a great amount of money. But I’ll make sure it’s of highest quality as to not wrong your son given his identity.”
- Ai gia= a pronoun the Empress Dowager use to refer to herself. But I have just used “I” in the translations so that it flows easier
- Wang Ye is the title given to the male relatives of the Emperors, including brothers, uncles, nephews etc. So ben wang is a pronoun they use to refer to themselves. It roughly translates to “this prince,” but I have opted for “I”.
- Also just to clarify, Long Fei Li isn’t the Empress Dowager’s biological son. However, she said he was her biological son because that’s probably what the world thinks but in truth it’s not true. Long Fei Li is Su Ru’s son.