It seems I still cannot resist spending some time in the day with the translations, but I confess I love short, easy to translate chapters. But I think the next few ones will be quite emotionally intense so I may be a bit more careful.
Concubine Jing carried a small bowl containing a green brew and walked daintily to the daybed. The person on the couch had just completed a foot bath and head massage, and was now reclining comfortably with his eyes closed, his body covered with a soft fox fur quilt as he enjoyed the faint herbal fragrance from the burning incense.
“Your place is still the most comfortable,” After swallowing the green brew that had been brought to his lips, the Liang Emperor stretched his body and opened his eyes. “I have wronged you these few days.”
“This concubine’s temperament is too laid back to take any offence.” Concubine Jing smiled gently. “I’ve only had my privilege of paying my respects in court revoked. Should this concubine feel like she is missing out? This concubine understands that His Majesty is looking out for her, so her heart is at ease. Besides, being confined here means having to perform less court ceremonies so this concubine feels more at ease and relaxed.”
“Only you can think so,” The Liang Emperor removed the bowl she was carrying and held her hand tightly. “Aren’t you worried about Jingyan?”
“With Your Majesty’s august wisdom, this concubine has nothing to worry about…..” Although Concubine Jing was smiling, after saying this, she couldn’t help her voice from trailing off.
“In the end, you’re still worried,” The Liang Emperor smiled and gestured for her to draw nearer. “Let me tell you, Jingyan will be alright. Now that the case has been clearly investigated, I will make it up to him.”
Concubine Jing’s expression remained unchanged, but her lips lifted in a slight smile. The Liang Emperor was surprised that she didn’t take the opportunity to express her gratitude and quickly asked, “What’s wrong?”
“The source of Jingyan’s troubles today is because he is unlucky. He cannot receive too much of Your Majesty’s favour. In future……Your Majesty, it would be good if you loved him a little less.”
The Liang Emperor frowned, his temper piqued. He reprimanded her, “What are you talking about? Jingyan earned all that favour himself. I have never shown him any favoritism. Besides, if I wanted to bestow favour on him, I would naturally enable him to bear it. Why do you think so much?”
Concubine Jing lowered her head and didn’t say more. She just continued to silently massage the Liang Emperor’s wrist, but worry continued to linger faintly in the eyes that were deep as autumn waters.
“Alright, I know you’re afraid now so soon after the event,” The Liang Emperor relaxed his tone. “It’s not surprising that you’re worried. Jingyan has a straightforward nature. He tends to behave impulsively and will say whatever’s on his mind. He knew that I would be displeased if he spoke in defense of the old Chiyan case, but he still spoke out, regardless. This gives me better peace of mind than those who think too deeply. But I never expected Xuanjing Bureau to be so bold this time, and failed to defend Jingyan, wronging him. Fortunately the heavens protected him and younger brother Prince Ji managed to witness Xia Dong, otherwise who knows what evidence Xia Jiang would have fabricated by forcing a confession out of Su zhe.”
“Su zhe?” Concubine Jing wore a slightly curious expression. “The one Jing Ning mentioned…..the Mister Su who defeated the Bei Yan martial arts expert with three boys……”
“That’s him. You’ve also heard of him?”
“This Mister Su is a guest of the court. How is he also involved?”
“You may not know this, but this Su zhe’s real name is Mei Changsu, known throughout the land for being unsurpassed in his knowledge and talents. Rumor has it that many in the capital have tried to court him. Jingyan must have also had some association with him, so Xia Jiang must have wanted to make use of this association to accuse him of being Jingyan’s accomplice. Think about it. What’s Jingyan’s position? And with his kind of temperament, could Xia Jiang actually get anything from interrogating him? But unlike him, this Mister Su is a scholar who is physically weak. Once within Xuanjing Bureau walls, wouldn’t Xia Jiang easily have his way with him?”
Concubine Jing inhaled softly and replied, “Then hasn’t this Mister Su suffered needlessly? Is he alright?”
“How could he be alright? Meng Zhi mentioned that he had undergone some torture……He is a distinguished scholar. I will personally appease him, lest the world says that we did not take care of him here in the imperial court.
“Hearing how Your Majesty speaks of him, this person is of no ordinary character. It’s unfortunate that this concubine has not had the opportunity to meet him.” Concubine Jing smiled as she said these words without thinking.
“It’s not easy for you to meet him. Just ask Jingyan to bring him in to visit you.”
“Let it be,” Concubine Jing shook her head, “He’s neither a relative or a court official. Palace rules are strict. There is no need to make things difficult for (Empress) niang niang.”
“You, you’re too obedient. But you’re not wrong. It’s better to avoid unnecessary trouble,” The Liang Emperor paused to think it over. “How about this? Tell Jingyan to bring him along to the hunting grounds for the March Spring Hunt. There are less obstacles outside the palace. You can meet him then.”
“Is Your Majesty bringing this concubine along to the March Spring Hunt?”
The Liang Emperor gave her a baffled look. “Who else would I bring along?”
Concubine Jing’s eyes shifted imperceptibly, but she finally lowered her eyelashes and said in a low voice, “This concubine will obey.”
“How is this an order? Shouldn’t you be thanking me for such favour?” The Liang Emperor reached out and drew her close into his embrace, “You need not fear. If I choose to favour you, who would dare to do anything to you?”
Concubine Jing gently caressed the Emperor’s lapel and murmured, “This concubine is no longer young. All these years in the palace, she has seen many who were favoured fall from favour. As long as this concubine can serve Your Majesty, she has no other desires. It’s just that…..”
“It’s just that you can’t stop worrying about Jingyan, can you?” The Liang Emperor smiled as he tucked the stray strands of hair on her cheek behind her ear. “I have recently realized that Jingyan has many good traits which I had never noticed before. But this child is too stubborn and needs some guidance. Ah, that’s right, that Mister Su is a knowledgeable person. Jingyan should consult him more. I heard Jinghuan used to visit him regularly……”
Concubine Jing didn’t think much of it and replied indifferently. “Jingyan’s first loyalty should be to the court. Although we should respect such reputable scholars, there is no need to deliberately court them.”
The Liang Emperor’s eyes suddenly flashed with a gleam of light, and after a long while, he said with great deliberation, “Does Jingyan want to remain merely a prince who only manages court affairs?”
Concubine Jing was alarmed. In a rare instance, she forgot herself and suddenly sat up straight and looked steadily at the Liang Emperor.
“You need not panic. I just wanted to raise this with you,” the Liang Emperor spoke gently, “I know that you’ve both been wronged in the past and never harboured such thoughts. But it’s not too late to think about it now. Jingyan has never formed a faction in court, and I like that he is fair and just. But he still needs someone by his side…..this time, he almost fell into another’s trap. Isn’t it because he lacked someone who could help him think things through?”
Concubine Jing lowered her head and pondered for a long while before saying slowly, “This concubine understands that Your Majesty bears great love for both of us mother and son. This concubine will pass these words on to Jingyan. But what that child dislikes the most is……Your Majesty probably already knows……if he chooses not to listen, this concubine won’t be able to do much about it…….”
“That pig-headed child!” Though the Liang Emperor was scolding him, he was actually laughing instead. “Alright. It’s not a big deal. I will look after him. Both of you have been under house arrest these few days and haven’t met. Let Jingyan come in for the next two days, and you try to pacify him for me.”
“What’s there to pacify?” Concubine Jing couldn’t help smiling. “Even children from small families cannot avoid punishment, let alone him, a prince? Enduring such suffering will increase one’s wisdom, so this is also beneficial to him. If he really complains, it means that this concubine did not teach him well.”
The Liang Emperor found these words pleasing to the ear. Feeling relaxed and at ease all of that day, he couldn’t resist lying back as Concubine Jing massaged his waist, and soon fell into a deep sleep.
Since he said that Jingyan could enter the palace, Prince Jing wasn’t too formal about it, and entered the palace on the third day. Empress Yan was fully aware that the Emperor had remained in Zhiluo Palace for the past two days and understood that the “house arrest” was in name only but because she didn’t want to court a rebuff, she turned a blind eye from Zhenyang Palace.
Since Xin’er’s execution, there had been no spy in Zhiluo Palace. Concubine Jing had been very cautious and thorough in ferreting out any others, so when mother and son were at ease when speaking here.
Concubine Jing brought her son to the warm room and asked as she served him a slice of custard cake, “Is that Mister Su alright?”
Xiao Jingyan raised his head and glanced at his mother. Putting down the cake, he said, “I don’t know yet.”
“This son went over yesterday but didn’t get to see him.” Prince Jing frowned. “When he was ill previously, this son was also unable to meet him.”
Concubine Jing couldn’t help feeling a little worried. “If he’s ill, it’s only right for you to visit him more often.”
Xiao Jingyan was baffled by his usually calm mother’s behavior, but based on his previous experience, he knew there was no point in asking. Concubine Jing’s reply would be along the lines of “He’s your most important advisor, you should take better care of him,” and so on.
“Don’t worry, Mother. I will visit him tomorrow. No matter what, I want to meet him. Thanks to him, we were able to rescue Wei Zheng. Even though he wasn’t in favour of it, he still exhausted himself planning the rescue because I insisted, and ended up suffering in Xuanjing Bureau…..”
“He wasn’t in favour of rescuing Wei Zheng?” Concubine Jing asked this question, but understood as soon as she thought it over. “Under the circumstances, he was right, but the both of you ultimately saw this through its most critical moments. It makes me relieved to know you have someone like this by your side.”
Prince Jing’s eyes were deep as he breathed a soft sigh. “Mister Su hid Wei Zheng away after the rescue, but did not tell me where, saying that it was better I didn’t know……But I would really like to meet Wei Zheng, to hear from him what happened then, how the Chiyan Army was wiped out, how Xiao Shu died, if he had said anything before he died, if he had any final wishes……”
“I heard that Wei Zheng was in the southern valley. I’m afraid he may not have been at Xiao Shu’s side……”
Xiao Jingyan pressed his lips hard to keep them from trembling. His eyes were red as he said softly, “Mother…..sometimes I find it very hard to believe that Xiao Shu died this way. Before I went to Nan Hai*, he even told me to bring him back a pearl as big as a pigeon’s egg for him to play marbles with, but when I returned, not a single one of his bones remained…..Even the Lin Mansion, where we used to play together so noisily, was razed to the ground overnight, becoming only a memory……”
*South China Sea
“Jingyan,” Concubine Jing bent forward to wipe away her son’s tears, saying softly, “As long as you do not forget him, he is still alive, alive in your heart……”
Prince Jing stood up suddenly and strode to the window where he stood silent, holding on to the window sill. After a long time, he said, “I don’t want him alive in my heart. I want him alive in this world…..”
“Such things cannot be demanded,” Concubine Jing gazed at her son’s trembling back, her eyes sad. “What is lost can never be regained. Even if Xiao Shu could return to this world, he may no longer be the Xiao Shu of before…..”
In his state of grief, Prince Jing did not pay attention to his mother’s words. He looked at the gurgling stream that wound around the garden outside and the wutong tree* with its sparse leaves as he thought of the future, and he strengthened his resolution to fulfil his vow of exonerating his close friend.
*Chinese parasol tree
Prince Jing murmured, “They are probably looking at me from somewhere……nothing will make me turn back and give it up.”
Concubine Jing’s face bore an unfathomable expression. She was on the verge of saying something but held back. She was a soft-hearted and considerate person. Before meeting Mei Changsu, perhaps it was better to remain silent.
“Jingyan, His Majesty mentioned yesterday to invite Mister Su along to the March Spring Hunt.”
Prince Jing turned around abruptly in surprise. “What?”
“I will also follow along in a carriage. His Majesty has granted permission for you to bring Mister Su to meet me.” Concubine Jing smiled faintly. “I’ve heard you speak so much about his shrewd and quick mind. How could I resist meeting such a person?”
Prince Jing’s gaze flickered. Concubine Jing’s intense interest in Su zhe was truly unexpected and went beyond mere curiosity. What’s more, Concubine Jing had a quiet and calm temperament, there wasn’t much that could pique her curiosity.
After a moment’s pause, Xiao Jingyan bowed to receive the order. “Since Father Emperor has already given permission, I will invite him along.”
So I was contemplating this chapter and thinking no matter how grown up JY was, he was still vulnerable. So glad he had a like minded mother with whom he could just bare his inner soul safely this way. I imagine it must have been so tough for him being all alone after Xiao Shu’s “death” to have nobody to confide in.
5 thoughts on “Chapter 136 : Worries”
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Thank you for the chapter!
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Thank you. Please don’t stop translating this great novel.
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The tender moments between Jing Yan and his mom are so heartwarming but also bittersweet when he expresses his grief over Xiao Shu 😥
Thanks for keeping up with the beautiful translations!