Zhao Bi Xuan found the first opportunity to mention the title exchange matter, seeing the Emperor only indifferent to it, she sent a letter to her family, so her father could hand the seal of the official heir over to her brother. Zhou Yun Sheng saw her really following his expectations and couldn’t help but laugh mockingly a few times. A stroke of the brush, the standard affair, but he also directly promoted Zhao Ji Dong from a 5th rank in the Imperial Hanlin Academy to a holder of a bachelor’s degree.
When the imperial edict arrived at Wen Yuan March, Fang-shi and Old Marquess Wen Yuan were naturally ecstatic, Li-shi, Zhao Xin Ran and the others were stamp with fury, hating that they couldn’t send people to the March to beat some sense into them.
“My poor Xu-er ah! That’s obviously your title, but that uppity slut stole it from you, how can you gain a foothold in the capital when you grow up?! His Majesty must be muddle-headed, how could he let a concubine oppress the first wife, and allow a common son to seize the title. To treat the clan rites as nothing, how does he… …”
“Enough!” Not waiting for Li-shi’s rant to finish, Zhao Xuan gloomily cut her off. He was now feeling very irritated, because of that Jezebel Zhao Bi Xuan, Qi Yi Ning was being so dismissive of social customs, he really wanted to tie him up and teach him a good lesson. But no matter how angry he was, he still couldn’t listen to others slander that man.
“You dare criticize the Emperor, do you have a few extra heads? Watch what you say from now on, or I won’t be able to protect you. I’ll give Xu-er my title in the future, if you’re still not at ease, I’ll write a memorial to the Emperor right now to request it.” He looked down and stroked his ornamental thumb ring.
“You’ll give the Duke Yu Gou title to Xu-er? What about your heirs?” Li-shi was alarmed.
“I won’t have any heirs, so I’ll be able to pass the title to Xu-er.”
“Why wouldn’t you have any heirs? What do you mean… don’t tell me you don’t intend to marry and have children… oh no, were you injured at the border? My poor son, how could you be born under such an evil star?! *sobs*” Li-shi repeatedly questioned, feeling more and more convinced that her last guess was the truth, she couldn’t help but burst into tears.
After her previous marriage arrangement ended, Zhao Xin Ran was given another marriage by her older brother. The bride-groom’s official post was not high, but he had no parents and brothers, his body was clean, and he had no concubines. Plus he was her brother’s subordinate, he was naturally loyal to him and followed his advice- the wife is the master of the household. So there were no bothersome common children, no concubines to stir up trouble, and not to mention, more days of leisure. So nowadays she was very complacent. Hearing the news, she had rushed over to comfort her mother, only to learn that her older brother had been injured and couldn’t bear heirs. Also overcome with grief, she laid her head on her mother’s shoulder and wept silently.
Six year old Zhao Xu chased a passing cricket into the room. He walked a few laps around the two huddled people, then also burst into tears, pushing the servants into a flustered flurry.
Zhao Xuan simply didn’t want to pay attention to the hurricane passing through the house, he just went for a stroll through the bustling streets with a gloomy face. He debated sneaking into the palace at night, to peel off that man’s clothes and thoroughly chide him, the more he thought about it, the more countless wicked thoughts rose up from his heart.
“Big Brother Zhao, did you come to join me for a drink?” Suddenly, someone beckoned him from above, looking up, it was actually the Gong Prince, Qi Jin Yu.
Because of their childhood encounter, the Gong Prince was always very congenial with him, often slipping out of the palace to play with him, left and right shouting ‘Big Brother Zhao’, very affectionate. Without the slightest bit of princely haughtiness, he actually tried to meet with him as an equal. At that time, Zhao Xuan was looking for a foothold to the top, so it was a mutual exchange of greetings. This friendship was originally a political investment, but in the end it didn’t pay off. Instead, it was the Emperor who raised him up, until he finally became today’s Duke Yu Gou. No matter how arrogant Zhao Xuan was, even he knew how to show basic gratitude, so he naturally wouldn’t be easily won over by the Gong Prince. And now that the person sitting on the throne became the one his heart longed for, it was even more impossible for him to be swayed. He could bully that man, but no one else was allowed to touch him.
Zhao Xuan inwardly sneered, but his expression was very genial as he walked into the restaurant. This was the capital’s largest and most elegant restaurant, the architecture was designed in the shape of a well, four rather simple buildings wrapped around a garden full of exotic flowers. When sitting upstairs, you could enjoy the gourmet food while appreciating the beautiful scenery, the taste buds and spirit both greatly satisfied. Several pavilions were arranged in the garden, surrounded by weeping willows, gentle breeze, and pleasant scenery. You could eat a meal there- reserving a single seat costs 12 silver- but there was still no shortage of dignitaries competing for a reservation.
“How come you’re not eating in the pavilion?” Zhao Xuan had eaten at this restaurant with Qi Jin Yu several times, but they always ate in the garden, never on the second floor.
“Someone reserved the whole thing.” Qi Jin Yu laughed.
Pupils flashing, Zhao Xuan smiled, “Oh, which immortal has descended to the mortal realm to make the shopkeeper deny even you, the majestic Gong Prince, a seat?” Although he asked this, he had already guessed this person’s identity. Recalling the man’s bright eyes and crimson cheeks, he couldn’t help but sigh inwardly – Indeed, he really is a Ninth Heaven god descended to the mortal world.
“Who else?” Qi Jin Yu pointed to the crown of his head, his meaning self-evident.
As it should be. Zhao Xuan picked up a wine glass and savored it, very contented.
“That said, Brother Emperor has been regulating the army a lot recently, he should reach the Northwest Army in a few days. Big Brother Zhao, you should be prepared for the worst. Big Brother Zhao shed so much blood in the Northwest, and grew accustomed to seeing swords and spears coming from the front, you might not know how to deal with the dark tides and schemes the imperial court’s wars can produce. And look at all the recent imperial court cleansings, look at how many people have lost their heads… Forget about the courtiers, even I’m on edge. I’m scared that I’ll be viewed as useless someday.” Qi Jin Yu gulped down his glass, his expression sorrowful.
This speech was deliberate, one, to drive a wedge between Zhao Xuan and the Emperor, warning him that if he stood together with the Emperor, beware of being killed off once his value was used up; two, hinting at him to become his ally. Qi Jin Yu worked hard on this plan for three years, he even sent his most beloved woman to seduce his enemy, but just as that supreme position was almost within his grasp, the Emperor suddenly went mad, rooting out his fledging wings in two or three yanks. On one hand, he was fearful of the other party’s decisive, swift, and ruthless methods, on the other hand, he was extremely reluctant to give up.
Zhao Xuan sighed gloomily when he heard these words, but he was sneering indignantly in his heart. This man was scheming against him on the front foot, and roping him in on the hind foot, did he take everyone else for a fool? If it was the past, he might go along with him out of boredom, but that was now impossible. He was the only one in the world who could touch that man, if others tried to meddle, he would make them pay a painful price.
Just as he thought this, the sound of rowdy teenagers came from downstairs, the two put down their wine glasses and looked down, it turned out to be Zhao Ji Dong leading a group of smartly dressed scholars into the restaurant. The group was led into the magnificent pavilion by a waiter and took their seats. A moment later, a young man holding an exquisite fan and dressed in a green scholar garment slowly walked in, and the clamor in the lobby abruptly quieted down. The dignitaries grew silent because they recognized him, but the ordinary diners forgot how to speak because this man’s appearance was truly peerless.
He was tall and lean like bamboo, his temperament elegant and frosty, proud, an extraordinarily handsome jade face, black eyes glittering like cold stars. He soundlessly stepped in, like a walking cloud, very enchanting. The diners admired the beautiful man, and as he walked further in, a few nobles rushed over to him, wishing to pay respects.
Zhou Yun Sheng waved, pointing to his scholar garments, hinting that he was out in incognito today, so they shouldn’t reveal his identity. The nobles bowed and nodded, giving light greetings.
When he’d walked in, Qi Jin Yu had pulled closed the booth’s bamboo curtain, to prevent him from seeing them. Zhao Xuan stood behind the bamboo curtain, admiring the man through a gap in the curtain. Seeing him dressed in scholarly clothes, walking with the wind, he couldn’t help but sneer. In just a few days, the man once again began attracting the bees and butterflies, so carefree, it was obvious that he’d gotten over the past events. At that time, he really shouldn’t have let him have these days of freedom in order to cherish him.
Was he not memorable? Then from now on he’d be unforgettable.
Qi Jin Yu saw Zhao Xuan’s sneer and snickered with delight in his heart, even more convinced that the other man was dissatisfied with Qi Yi Ning. The two’s booth was directly facing the pavilion, just by glancing sideways, they would have a panoramic view of everything that went on in the pavilion. They watched as Zhao Ji Dong stood up to greet the other man, who walked over and patted his shoulder with his fan, his attitude very intimate. The surrounding scholars took in his appearance and bearing, as silent as the previous crowd, then chatted with him in quick succession after returning to reality.
Because the previous Emperor was particularly bias to appearances, as long as an official was handsome, he would promote them more frequently than their homely colleagues, and among the princes, he was especially fond of his beautiful third son. In order to support him, he didn’t hesitate to force the Empress to adopt him and give him the status of the first wife’s child. Shortly before death, he even wrote out an imperial decree to have the third prince succeed the throne, using modern words to describe him – he had a beauty complex. And as the saying goes, subordinates follow the examples of their superiors, so the people of Da Qi also adopted the previous Emperor’s beauty addiction. They always treated beautiful people generously, and attached great importance to their own appearance. Not only do the women wear extravagant dresses and makeup, even the men often apply powder, wear fancy hairpins, and shape their eyebrows before parading themselves around the city.
Beauties were everywhere, but it was still extremely rare to come across someone so beautiful. Everyone glanced at Zhao Ji Dong, who was almost a male version of Hui Yi Imperial Consort, then glanced back at the other man. Each of them sighed in their hearts, this person truly was Da Qi’s first beauty. They seemed to have forgotten, the previous Emperor had also admired and called the third prince with this title, just by recalling this, they could easily guess this person’s identity.
Soon the lively atmosphere returned, but still with looks of awe, there were several people overwhelmed by his beauty, feeling dizzy, and some who kept offering him drinks. Zhou Yun Sheng knew that his lover was watching him from the second floor, because his scorching eyes were almost burning holes into his clothes. How was he feeling right now? Seeing but unable to eat, his heart and lungs must be very itchy right?
Thinking of this, Zhou Yun Sheng felt somewhat exhilarated, and accepted whenever someone proposed a toast. Zhao Ji Dong was planning to help him block the wine, but gave up after seeing him eagerly accept the offers. After tipsiness set in, someone proposed a poetry competition, and immediately obtained everyone’s enthusiastic agreement.
“What’s the topic?”
“Oh, this topic’s quite novel.”
After some discussion, they asked the waiter to bring over some calligraphy materials, then removed the dishes on the table, spread a layer of felt, and began writing. These people were the capital’s most famous scholars, their talent and learning was extraordinary, not two quarters of an hour later, the brushes were put down one after another. Zhou Yun Sheng walked around to scan them one by one, then his complexion suddenly turned gloomy. Zhao Ji Dong was already worried about someone using the Emperor to write some unsightly exotic verses, seeing his expression suddenly change, his heart immediately shook. But just as he was about to ask what’s wrong, the Emperor suddenly flicked his sleeves and left without a word. Lin Ann also hurried after him, veiled anger in his eyes.
As soon as the man left, Zhao Ji Dong picked up the poem he was looking at, then his face suddenly paled. He wanted to severely reprimand the culprit. This kind of poem, even if the Emperor knew that it was describing himself, he wouldn’t overreact, but his heart certainly held a nest of fire. Fortunately, he didn’t make a big scene to demand apologies, so they could at least keep a bit of dignity today. Tearing the paper to pieces, he exasperatedly turned away, thinking to himself, after I go back I must send a letter to sister, to ask her to help appease the Emperor for me. As long as he didn’t take his anger out on him, anything was fine.
“What do you think that person wrote?” Qi Jin Yu’s smile revealed a bit of schadenfreude.
“It’s better to not know these kinds of things.” Zhao Xing feigned disinterest, then took his leave a few minutes later. He walked into a secluded dark alley and raised his hand in a sharp gesture. Immediately, a black-dressed man appeared out of thin air and whispered something into his ear.
Rice powder like face, irresistible scarlet lips. To see your flower woven hair from a distance, to smell your sweet perfume is to know the different smells of spring … … a whole poem of lewd speech and unrestrained phrases, what a daring guy! Giving a ferocious smile, he ordered the black-dressed man to find the author and crush his ten fingers, to make sure he couldn’t lift up his own brush for the rest of his life. Afterwards, he stealthily snuck up behind Qi Yi Ning, diverting the attention of the body guards around him before knocking him out and carrying him away.
When Zhou Yun Sheng woke up, all he saw was darkness, and his neck was aching furiously, he couldn’t help but grumble in annoyance for that man’s too heavy hand. He tried getting up but found himself too weak to move, he must’ve been knocked out by a first class drug.
“Are you awake?” A hoarse voice sounded in his ear, immediately followed by a huff. “You made me very irritated today.”
“Who are you to actually dare to repeatedly put your hands on me? Just wait until I find you, I’ll definitely make you wish for death!” The best way is to suffocate you! Zhou Yun Sheng gloomily threatened in his heart.
“Wish for death? That’s a nice phrase.” Zhao Xuan chuckled deeply, then lifted the jug in his hand and asked, “Do you like to drink? And you also like to listen to poetry, right? I’ll compose a song for you. There’s a beauty, ah; I saw them and can’t forget them. If I don’t see them for a whole day, I’m driven into madness thinking about them … … when will I see acceptance; and relieve my restless anxiety? But we’re not allowed to fly, so I’ve fallen into ruin. I’ve fallen for you, can you feel it?” Zhao Xuan grabbed one of Zhou Yung Sheng’s soft hands and laid it on his wildly pounding heart, then he overturned the jar of wine into his mouth.
Zhou Yun Sheng smelled the wine and quickly turned his head away, but it still filled his mouth, some wine flowed into his trachea, making him cough violently.
“You actually, posses, such dirty thoughts, towards me, you, lecher, you better hope I don’t catch you!” He threatened sporadically, but in actuality, he was wishing that he could quickly overcome the drug, and kiss this person until his lips bled.
Zhao Xuan was silent, watching his coughed flushed cheeks in obsession, wondering, if he removed the black cloth blocking his eyes, would they be filled with sparkling teardrops? That scene would certainly be extremely beautiful. He lightly pressed the cloth, and sure enough, it was a little damp.
“You’re so beautiful. If you don’t confuse everyone around you, would I become like this? If you must pass blame, you can only blame yourself for attracting all the bees and butterflies. Don’t you remember what I said in parting last time? But you still got into trouble just a few days later.” Zhao Xuan reprimanded while pouring more alcohol into the Emperor’s mouth.
Zhou Yun Sheng sputtered a few times, even his nostrils were seeping wine, really miserable. Even worse, he couldn’t withstand all the liquor, and was feeling his consciousness gradually slip.
“I love you, can you accept me?” Zhao Xuan laid down beside him and pulled him into a tight embrace.
“Pervert!” Zhou Yun Sheng tried to hold on onto his last bit of soberness.
Zhao Xuan didn’t know what the word ‘pervert’ meant, but the context wouldn’t make it a compliment. Chuckling, he fed the other man more liquor with his mouth, then he stripped him to the skin and explored him thoroughly, waiting for him to fall asleep before ripping off the black blindfold. He softly kissed his tear stained lashes, his heart overflowing with tenderness.
“Only now are you the most compliant.” Letting out a snort of laughter, he wrapped him tightly in his jacket and delivered him to a carriage parked in a dark alley. Lin Ann was pulled into the alley by a black-dressed man and immediately cried tears of joy when he found the Emperor lying unscathed in the carriage. What is going on? Why is Da Qi’s dignified Emperor repeatedly being abducted? If that sneak thief is found, he’ll definitely be cut into a million pieces!
Zhou Yun Sheng woke up to find himself lying in his bed in the Palace of Heavenly Purity, surrounded by the bright yellow canopy and a fragrance that resembled ambergris. Rubbing his forehead, he half sat up, felt his body aching, and couldn’t help but curse inwardly.
Lin Ann heard movement and quickly ran into the inner hall, begging for forgiveness.
“Get up. Keep quiet about what happened today.” The Empress Dowager was still staring at his throne, if his regular disappearances were spread out, not only would the Empress Dowager not look for him, she would immediately host an official meeting to elect the Gong Prince as king. Even though Zhao Xuan most likely knew about his concerns, he still acted so recklessly. Fuck, he got him so drunk he couldn’t even remember what day it was today, and he couldn’t taste anything. Trying to recall the evening, he felt like he had a pleasant dream, but further pondering left a blank space.
Feeling extremely resentful, Zhou Yun Sheng was itching to hang Zhao Xuan upside down and whip him, however, after probing 008, he noticed that he received a string of source code after each kidnapping. Feeling that it was a kind of psychological balance, he decided that there wasn’t any harm in allowing it a few times.
Zhao Xuan walked out of the house with a gloomy expression, but came back beaming, his rare smile making Li-shi and company gasp in horror.
“What are you looking at me for, eat.” Seeing his sister looking at him with sorrowful eyes, he tapped on her bowl, then carefully opened, “You don’t need to bicker over the March, from now on, we’re drawing a line with that other family. I wasn’t joking when I said that I’ll pass on my title to Zhao Xu. I’ve already written it in the accounts book, and I’m presenting it to the Emperor tomorrow.”
“Xuan-er, you really can’t have heirs?” Li-shi asked through tears.
“Ay, unless that person can give birth.” Apparently recalling something amusing, he let out a soft chuckle, his eyes full of mirth.
Zhao Xin Ran and Zhao Xu couldn’t help but gawk, they had never seen such a gentle expression on their older brother.
Li-shi listened to her son’s wording and quickly questioned, “Unless she can give birth? Do you have a favorite person? Please tell mother, I’ll go to their family and help propose a marriage for you tomorrow. No matter what family background she has, noble or civilian, we don’t care.” Her son was almost thirty, his temper was unyielding, and he had a blood curdling aura that would make even the Gods and Buddhas retreat, as long as he was willing to get married, Li-shi didn’t dare make a fuss. And finding out that his body was unharmed, her last vestiges of grief also dissipated.
“Mother you don’t have to interfere, I’ll figure this out on my own. He has a very stubborn temper, I still need to teach him some more.” Recalling how that man had cursed him out in a slurring voice, Zhao Xuan’s lower body felt tight again. He was obviously so drunk he was verging on unconsciousness, but he still stubbornly flung ferocious words at him, saying that he’ll suffocate him, crush him to death, bite him to death, and so on, but that only made him more excited. How could such a wonderful person exist? He really didn’t know how to love him properly.
Deep in thought, he once again shook his head and chuckled.
Li-shi and Zhao Xin Ran looked at each other, feeling several layers of goose bumps pop up. They had never seen their son (older brother) in such a relaxed and affectionate mood, could he be possessed by an evil spirit?
In the twinkling of an eye, a few months passed, and the Empress Dowager saw her son being pushed aside in the imperial court more and more, gradually becoming an Idle Prince. Feeling very anxious, she quickly sent down an imperial decree to push the wedding forward. Luo Zhen was a high ranked official in the Ministry of Appointments, he was deeply rooted in the inner workings of the imperial court, and well-connected, if they had him assist them, her son could re-accumulate some power.
Qi Jin Yu was very reluctant, but he had to in order to secure his future prospects.
However, he didn’t expect that the originally very pleased with the marriage Luo Zhen was also now feeling remorse. A few years ago, the Emperor was very licentious, often slacking off imperial court duties to indulge in his imperial consort, so the inside and outside of the imperial court was frequently disordered. Because of that, he felt extremely disappointed, and deeply felt that the late Emperor had picked the wrong heir. If the Emperor didn’t come to his senses, the chaos of self-inflicted disaster was imminent. He knew why the Empress Dowager and the Gong Prince chose his daughter for a marriage candidate, so he’d secretly observed them, and started feeling that the Gong Prince was a fine seedling, and if he gave him 5 or 6 years to mature, he might be able to replace the Emperor.
But seemingly overnight, the Emperor sobered up, and used his powerful might to cleanse the imperial court, even more commendable, he didn’t willfully slaughter the innocent, and he kept and promoted all the genuinely talented people. He was particularly charitable to talented people, and had his own set of employment philosophies. He subverted the teachings of previous rulers, putting only those who deserved it in important positions, and at the same time, he didn’t alienate those of lesser talents, he just placed them in the most suitable positions, letting them serve in the imperial court or in their home state- wherever they had the greatest effectiveness. He was very assertive, so he was unlikely to follow the advice of just any courtier, and would therefore avoid falling into the snare of selective listening. With such a brilliant and wise Emperor, the country finally felt secure.
Now that the Emperor was awake, strategizing, and winning battles a thousand miles away, not to mention the current greenhorn Gong Prince, even if he suddenly turned 20 years older, he would still not be the Emperor’s opponent. If the Empress Dowager was still counting on Luo Zhen to guide the Gong Prince’s hand, or help him usurp the throne, he couldn’t agree, he wouldn’t even dare think of it. Therefore, Luo Zhen now felt a huge headache whenever he thought about this marriage, and was looking for any opportunity to turn it down.
But he also knew that this convenient opportunity was a mere fantasy, and he had no choice but to force himself to prepare his daughter’s dowry. However, when the wedding was around the corner, his daughter was attacked by bandits on her way to pay rites to Buddha, and was kidnapped. Fortunately, an official returning to the capital for debriefing was coincidentally passing by, and the many powerful retainers surrounding him defeated the bandits to rescue her.
But when Luo Lan was barely home, she suddenly fell seriously ill. While searching for doctors, Luo Zhen secretly investigated these matters. The Emperor was not only constantly regulating the imperial court, he also performed vast purges of the dishonest military leaders stationed in the capital, making the extremely volatile capital and the surrounding areas finally harmonious and peaceful. Moreover, nearby states haven’t met with any recent disasters, why would roving bandits appear for no reason?
A few days later, the results of the investigation was delivered to Luo Zhen’s hands, making him shocked and enraged. The person who touched his daughter with this Black Hand was none other than his own niece, Duke Jing Guo’s second daughter, Luo Wen. She had been infatuated with the Gong Prince for a long time, thinking that since she and the Gong Prince were cousins, they were very close, and as the grand Duke Jing Guo’s daughter, her status was honorable, if the Empress Dowager was going to pick a wife for the Gong Prince, she would naturally chose her.
She absolutely hadn’t expected the Dowager Empress to directly skip over her and pick the second branch’s Luo Lan. The Luo Wen who loved to compare herself to Luo Lan since childhood found this very unfair, so she employed a few hoodlums to pose as bandits and kidnap Luo Lan for a few days. She would be returned a few days later, but would naturally be disgraced, her proper lady’s reputation destroyed, then the princess title would go to her.
Luo Zhen repeatedly read over the report, feeling like he’d eaten hundreds of flies, nauseous. But after all was said and done, this matter was a family scandal, so he couldn’t publicly disclose it, he had no choice but to present the evidence to his older brother, hoping he would strictly discipline his daughter.
But Duke Jing Guo’s character was very narrow-minded and short-sighted, otherwise, how could he raise such a daughter like Luo Wen? He repeatedly promised to severely punish her, but in fact, was secretly wringing his hands.
The wife is the master of the household-嫁過去就是當家做主的正房太太- unsure of translation.
At that time, he really shouldn’t etc. –Update- Thanks KazeYuki for the translation.
Rice powder like face, etc- A tentative translation of a snippet of this poem by Liu Huan. It’s from New Songs from the Jade Terrace. Considering how scandalized everyone is by it, I probably translated it wrong lol
Suffocate- Zhou Yun Sheng always threatens to ‘suffocate’ his lover. Update- I’ve been informed that it could taken as slang for ‘blue balling’ someone lol
The poem Zhao Xuan recites is Wenjun Melody by Sima Xiangru- translation stolen from here.