Chaos Of Beauty

Chapter 24 — Imprisoned Moon
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Chapter 24: Imprisoned Moon

Strolling around the palace, she often gets this feeling, as though all things that can be described with the word “magnificence” has all gathered here. Of grace, great elegance, air of royalty, every little grass and tree overflows with remarkability. Fiddling with the flowers whilst walking and stopping around, Gui Wan strolls through the imperial garden, three days in the palace, yet she feels as though she spent three years here, calm on the surface, but actually long sunken into loneliness inside.

These three days, there was not the slightest news of Lou Che, and within the palace, a blockade seems to have been conducted regarding such news, no one knows that the once doted Lady Consort Ying has already disappeared. What’s more laughable is, word from the imperial court has spread, rumours of Prime Minister Lou returning to his hometown for some time. Her steps coming to a stop, Gui Wan looks into the distance, her eyes regrettably catching onto the red walls, completely cut off from the outside world, her eyes turns towards another spot, abruptly finding, the red walls are everywhere, running endlessly with no gaps.

“Madam, is your body not well?” De Yu follows by her side, seeing Gui Wan stand there motionless, he worriedly asks.

“No,” Once again raising her foot, Gui Wan walks onto the tree lined path, asking without turning her head, “Is there still no news?”

“No. May Madam relax a little, no news right now is also good news, Prime Minister Lou has a solid foundation, almost half of the imperial court shares closely related power relations with Prime Minister Lou, not to mention Prime Minister Lou is also on friendly terms with each military governors, even if his majesty holds most power within the Capital, he cannot do anything with Prime Minister Lou.” His gentle voice persuading her, each sentence making fair points.

“Prime Minister Lou is on friendly terms with military governors?” Gui Wan was surprised, this is the first time she heard of this, entering deep thoughts, she says in a refreshingly direct manner: “De Yu gong-gong, may I trouble you with a matter, no need to search within the Capital, care to pass on a message to San Niang, full efforts on investigating for any news in Nan Jun and Luo Ling.”

Nan Jun and Luo Ling? De Yu freezes, these are the two biggest states in the southern area, there were once rumours of Prince Duan fleeing to that area, but the Emperor fears the powers of the military governors, and dares not to make a move, does this have any relations with Prime Minister Lou? Carefully thinking about it, he seems to have thought of something, raising his head, he finds that Gui Wan had wandered far off, hurriedly following after her, he lowers his head saying: “Madam, then I shall go carry out the tasks now, but Madam……”

“I’ll be continuing to stroll around for a while, you go ahead first.”

De Yu bows, slowly withdrawing away, in the eyes of outsiders, there is nothing strange about this sight, no one is aware that the deputy head eunuch who is currently on the rise in power within this palace actually stands on Madam Lou’s side of the political stance.

With no one following along by her side, her surroundings immediately felt more deserted, Gui Wan wanders aimlessly, not wanting to returning to the Empress’ Palace. The Empress’ aid this time more or less carries the flavour of a debt of gratitude, if matters between two sisters are to be calculated through debt of gratitude, then that would be rather dull and pointless. Lightly sounding a sigh, she turns her head to actually find herself arriving at “Cheng Kun Palace”, a faint smile floating to the surface of her face, Gui Wan steps inside.

Walking into the inner chamber, she sees the little prince being surrounded by a few palace maids and eunuchs, once that child sees Gui Wan, a joyful smile spreads, spreading out his little arms, calling out: “Aunt Wan, Aunt Wan.” The palace maids and eunuchs sees the situation and all withdraws aside.

Taking a few steps closer, the little prince had already fluttered over, one grab seizing hold of Gui Wan’s skirt, with bright rosy red cheeks, clear and moist big eyes, particularly drawing out people’s tender love. Gui Wan waves off everyone around them, until no one else were in the room with them, only then did she reach out and lift up the prince, lightly giving his cheek a little peck, a smile faintly spilling out.

This child is the current Emperor’s only prince, the Empress’ biological son. The original laws of imperial court has specified, once a prince is born, he must be separated from his mother, and every day, only two hours can be spent visiting the prince, due to missing her son, who knows how many tears the Empress has spilled. This child’s innocence is in full bloom, likeable to others, what’s even more predestined is, since the very first time he saw Gui Wan, he just loved to stick to her, Gui Wan laughingly sighs, could it be that this thing called “blood ties” truly be as miraculous as such?

After frolicking around with the little prince for a while, playing games that children plays, he suddenly speaks up: “Aunt Wan, are you not happy?” This less than four years old child, actually has unexpectedly good observation skills.

Gui Wan places him down, stroking his hair, she smiles as she says: “That’s right ah, there are far too many troubling matters.” Towards other people, she would definitely never blurt out how troubled she feels, but facing this child who does not understand worldly matters, who also has no one by his side, she can completely believe that there is no need to be vigilant.

His little head tilting to the side, putting on a thoughtful expression on his face, eyelashes fluttering down and up like a fan, acting like an adult entering deep thoughts, prompting Gui Wan to be unable to hold herself back, laughing out loud, but the little prince’s following words actually completely cut off her lively laughter: “Aunt Wan do not be troubled, wait till I become Emperor……and I shall let Aunt Wan be wholeheartedly happy.”

Completely thunderstruck as she looks at the child before her, Gui Wan was speechless, only after a long while did she slowly speak up and gently ask: “Who was it that told you this?” Clearly a child yet to reach the tender age of four years old, how could he possibly be able to say such shocking words? Could it be that the imperial palace truly is as horrifying as such, even a child who has yet to learn to run is able to be contaminated? Once she thinks about how this child will also be stepping into officialdom in future, everyone trying to outwit one another, wave after wave of biting chills hits her deep down in her heart, the hand stoking his head slowly withdraws.

“It was Mother Empress who said it. In future, I will be Emperor.” Childlike speech with childlike words, within such adorable speaking tone there actually harbours future intentions.

It was the Empress? Afraid that because of Consort Yin’s pregnancy, she feels threatened, and only because of this would she speak of such matters with a child right? Gui Wan remains silent, watching the little prince bouncily expressing the Empress’ words with phrases that he is not yet familiar with, “Mother Empress said, I can do whatever I want to do……hei-hei……Aunt Wan?”

“It is not like that. The imperial throne is a mountain of blades, a sea of flames, how is it that easy?” Knitting her brows together, Gui Wan pulls a serious face as she lightly persuades, just that the child is just too young, he does not understand her words, continuing to smile joyfully.

Thoughts taking a turn, Gui Wan extends her hand, harshly pinching onto the prince’s cheek, paining him to the point that his child’s cry directly calls out, tears brewing up in his eyes, looking at Gui Wan in shock, tearfully calling out: “Hurt……wu……”

“Becoming the Emperor, this is what it’s like, but you cannot even say it hurts, you still want to be it?” Switching to a method that he will understand, Gui Wan tirelessly, earnestly, teaches him. How much she hopes to erase the deep imprint the Empress has carved into his little heart.

Unable to refrain from whimpering out loud, the Prince became like a rattle drum, “Wu……I don’t want to anymore……” Shaking his head side to side, with every drawing in of a breath, every weep, looking absolutely pitiful, suddenly seeing something, his mouth opens wide, the sound of his cries swallowed back into his stomach, simmering there as he dares not to move, seeming just like he has seen something terrifying.

Gui Wan immediately turns her head back, Zheng Liu is standing by the doors, a face of thoughtfulness as he stares at her and the prince, those orbs appears deep and still, a bottomless pit. Gui Wan’s heart crazily beats, soundlessly showing up like that, who knows how long he was stood there, how much he has heard?

The silent atmosphere continued on for a while, right at the moment Gui Wan hurriedly recovers her composure, when bowing in greeting, she glances at Zheng Liu, his face carries a slightly smile, filled with an air of Confucianism, the still and deep look in his orbs from just now disappears without a trace. Leisurely approaching them, brushing past Gui Wan’s body, his eyes set straight ahead, walking directly in front of the little prince, his big hand gently stroking the prince’s little head, tenderly saying: “What’s wrong, do you not recognise Father Emperor now?”

Because of sensing pain just now, the half hanging tears on his cheek trembles in movement, and his lips presses together, the little prince quietly says: “Father Emperor……” Within his baby-like voice and baby-like speech, there carries a seemingly aggrieved ambiguity.

“Such an intelligent child.” Zheng Liu raises his brows as he praises, retrieving his hand, his eyes sweeps around the room, finally settling on Gui Wan, “Madam Lou, long time no see.”

Every time she hears this type of speaking tone of his that sits in between being playful and being serious, Gui Wan feels a slight sense of conflict within her heart, containing a smile as she says: “Troubled your majesty with such lingering thoughts.”

“Are you still this calm till this day? Looks like Madam is also a heartless person.” Zheng Liu lowly laughs, the little prince is evidently shrinking back, yet he does not think of him as disobedient, “Prime Minister Lou’s whereabouts are unknown, Madam is taking it easy, exactly is it the heart that holds no longing, or is it being wise to protect yourself from troubles?

“Your majesty is speaking too heavily, did Husband not return to his hometown? Where has the words ‘whereabouts unknown’ come from?” Taking out the smokescreen that he had released to counter-block his questions.

Zheng Liu deep orbs stares into Gui Wan for a while, before heartily laughing out loud, “What a great mouth of eloquence……” Just when such words were being spoken, the palace maids and eunuchs outside the doors returns to the room upon hearing the sound of speaking, seeing the Emperor they were all rendered shock, kneeling down on the ground in a uniformed manner.

Gui Wan secretly sighs in relief, watching as the palace maids hurries to take care of the Prince, taking the opportunity in wanting to withdraw out of the hall, she was just about to bow in signal of her leave, when Zheng Liu suddenly speaks up: “Madam Lou, it is rare of you to have a short stay within the palace, I am missing the friendship shared between monarch and subject with Prime Minister Lou, why not allow me to provide great hospitality for Madam this once?”

“Your majesty is of a supremely honourable position, how could I trouble your majesty?” This demonic Emperor of deeply unfathomable thoughts, joy and anger indistinguishable, who knows what exactly he is plotting.

“Is Madam rejecting my good intentions?” Slowly taking a step out, Zheng Liu raises his voice, seeming to be rather displeased.

From her peripheral vision, Gui Wan notices that the few palace maids within the room have already turned their heads over, strangely looking over at her, knowing deep inside that if she continues to reject him it will attract criticisms, she braces herself, with the posture of a weak and fragile willow, she replies, “Gui Wan dares not, thanking your majesty’s magnificent grace.”

Expecting her to answer like such all along, Zheng Liu does not even turn his head back as he leaves the palace halls. Gui Wan takes a few steps forwards, from her ears she hears the little prince gently calling out Aunt Wan, carrying an apologetic look she glances back at him, hundreds of different feelings mixing together within her heart, in the end she turns her head, following Zheng Liu’s figure in leaving.

Outside the courtyard there is only Zheng Liu alone standing there, beside him not a single person is following by his side, Gui Wan slowly paces up to him, more or less with feelings of reluctance, her heart filled with unwillingness. Just that Zheng Liu just had to be standing sideways, without any care at all, his eyes looking into the distant, his eyes blurring into a leisurely faint colour, a look full of deep thinking, Gui Wan accompanies him, standing by his side, quietly estimating him, but does not say anything to interrupt him.

“Madam,” Zheng Liu suddenly turns his head, directly meeting Gui Wan’s eyes, the corner of his lips forming a slight curve, “Can you guess, where Prime Minister Lou is right now?”

Gui Wan receives a slight shock from his sudden turn of his head, under inferior precautions, she deeply looks into the deep and quiet area between his brows, seeing his eyes slightly flash, his mind seeming unsettled, busily shifting his eyes, his line of sight slightly turning away, she casts her eyes to the scenery behind Zheng Liu’s figure, “Your majesty, I am unable to answer this question.”

“Minister Lou truly is ruthless ah,” Before Zheng Liu’s figure made a move, the wind blows against his sleeves making it float up, even the hidden air of untamed nature on his body raised up three points in the wind, “In the crucial moment, to actually leave you behind also, I really cannot not admire him.”

Towards Lou Che’s destination point, she seems to have practically already gotten a vague idea, Gui Wan feels a chilly air flood into her heart, yet her mouth frankly replies: “Your majesty is worrying too much.”

Carefully looking over Gui Wan, deep down Zheng Liu could not refrain from being secretly surprised, thinking of her pinching the little prince’s cheek just before, asking that question “Becoming the Emperor, this is what it’s like, but you cannot even say it hurts, you still want to be it?” His heart throbs, the coldness in his eyes secretly gathers up, a stern look passes by his face, and he turns around, walking ahead.

Failing to understand, Gui Wan can only helplessly follow after him, walking along the meandering gravel pathway, the air still carries a chill, under hastiness, inhaling it into the mouth, the frosty chill is like knives, she holds onto the snow fur collar, wrapping it tighter, secretly complaining about this Son of Heaven’s eccentric temperament.

Accompanying Zheng Liu strolling around the garden, in which not a single word was spoken along the way, only silently walking. This garden is originally a place of few people, thus they were met with no disruption, up until they came up to a pavilion, did Zheng Liu finally come to a stop. Gui Wan carefully looks all around, turns out it is the garden beside Chong Hua Hall, recalling the scenes that played out within this hall, her mood also feels conflicted, noticing that Zheng Liu is suddenly inside the pavilion, sitting on the stone bench, leaning back on the stone pillar, and actually have his eyes closed in resting, she was absolutely speechless, Gui Wan steps into the pavilion, not knowing whether she should speak up or not, deep down she was secretly annoyed, not knowing whether this is the Son of Heaven’s intent to purposely put her in a difficult position.

“Your majesty……” Lightly calling out, yet he actually did not show the slightest response, Gui Wan walks closer, raising her voice a little, “Your majesty……”

Zheng Liu continues to lean against the pillar with his eyes closed, turning a deaf ear, Gui Wan also could not do anything about it, even if she continues calling out to him, he would still ignore her, she could only sit on another stone bench by the stone table, enduring the chilly spring air as she waits. Fortunately, it is a flourishing time of newly sprung flowers, the wind brushing against her face carries a very faint fragrance of sweetness, just sitting here in company, for a long time, they spent their time each enjoying their own entertainment.

Not knowing how much time has passed by, from afar one can see a purple shadow approaching, upon closer inspection, it is Li gong-gong, that face that usually appears very detestable to her, right now, because he is the solution to her dilemma, Gui Wan actually feels delighted, faintly smiling as she waits for him to jog up to the pavilion.

Li gong-gong upon seeing Gui Wan here, was slightly stunned, his face not looking happy, and also appears a little complex: “Your majesty……your majesty……”

Slowly opening his eyes, Zheng Liu appears to be high spirits, opening his mouth in asking: “What’s the matter?”

“Your majesty, Minister of Punishments, Minister of Personnel, Minister of Labour, these several senior officials are waiting to be summoned outside Yu Shu Hall, stating that there are urgent matters to address.”

“Oh?” Zheng Liu seems a little interested, “What do these old ministers want to do now?”

Raising his head, Li gong-gong’s eyes were signalling that there is an outsider present, thus making it inconvenient to answer, but actually sees Zheng Liu smiling with hidden intentions, illustrating his approval, greatly startled, he rapidly glances over Gui Wan, once again bowing his head, “They are objecting your majesty’s establishing of the central academy, specially coming here to put forward their advices.”

Standing up, Zheng Liu straightens out his clothing, turning his head to the side, he smiles in asking: “Madam, say, should I or should I not go see them?”

Originally thinking she could get away whilst they discuss matters, who would have known that she would actually be questioned by Zheng Liu regarding such matters, the establishing of this academy holds the motives of him gathering his imperial power, the senior officials of the imperial court’s unwillingness is also reasonable, in discretion, she replies saying: “Your majesty, haste does not bring success.”

Eyes darkening, Zheng Liu gathers up his chilly air, staring at Gui Wan for a while, the comfortable smile leaving his face.

Being tormented for a half the day, both of Gui Wan’s legs had gone a little numb, watching Zheng Liu and Li gong-gong leave from afar, a few words still drifts towards her within the wind, Li gong-gong sows discord, discrediting her own words. But Gui Wan was not angered, deep inside she was considering, a strategy to get rid of this Li gong-gong. Thinking for a long time, she already has everything planned out[1], standing up to return to the palace.

Originally thinking that this little episode was just a whimsical move of the Emperor’s, and will naturally pass away after going through it, who would have known that all of this is but only the start of her suffering. Up to this point after a few days, the Emperor actually graces the Empress’ Palace Hall, wanting her to accompany them on the same table without exception, not that they did anything in particular, only chatting, enjoying tea, playing the zither, reciting poetry, drinking wine, painting, everything done on the whim, randomly without plan.

Following that, the Emperor got more and more quieter by the day, yet she felt more and more flustered by the day, her heart hung high up, coping with his occasional aesthetic mood, towards his intentions, she became increasingly confused, unable to find the relevance.

“Madam Lou,” A palace maid walks up to the inner chamber, reporting, “The imperial sedan has arrived, may Madam go to the outer courtyard in accompaniment to enjoy the flowers.”

Again? Gui Wan puts aside the book, her face showing a look of resentment, leisurely getting up, she follows the palace maid and heads outside, her heart muttering her complains, what exactly does he want to do now?

With the palace maid she walks out of the hall, at the end of the corridor they run into the Empress, Gui Wan slows down her pace, the Empress that has always been carrying a cosy smile these past few days, held a face of no emotions right now, the moment their eyes met, she diverts her eyes away, lips slightly parts but closes again, pausing with hesitance, but in the end no words comes out of her mouth, her gracefulness tenses up and relaxes again as she flutters past.

Such silent stuffiness hits Gui Wan with deep feelings more so than that of speaking out loud, sounding a lamenting sigh. Walking along the corridors, turning a corner of the corridor, before she had even stepped into the garden, Li gong-gong’s voice already reaches her ears: “Your majesty, the plans of the central academy has come down to nothing……this Lou Che is indeed abominable……” Once half of his words were spoken, he sees the palace maid and Gui Wan’s figures, he immediately shuts his mouth, standing to one side.

Gui Wan gazes over, Zheng Liu sits in the garden, golden robes and embroidered belt, a hand supporting his jaw, pouring for himself as he drinks, looking pleasant and content. A few days of close communication, she is fully aware this person’s sense of joy and anger cannot possibly be detected with common sense, Li gong-gong’s words just now still lingering the ear, her mind tightens up her awareness level, stepping into the garden, smiling, she bows in greeting, “May our Emperor live and reign for ten thousand years.”

Hand half tilting, the cup spilling out a few drops of heavenly wine, Zheng Liu raises his eyes, “Madam needs not be so courteous.”

Hearing that elegant yet lazy tone of speech, she faintly senses his extremely poor mood. Gui Wan regulates her breathing, from the corner of her eyes, she sees Li gong-gong’s cold smile, an appearance of taking pleasure in other people’s misfortunes, this even more confirms her speculations. In fact, since early this morning, she has already received the news from De Yu, Lou Che leaving the Capital has been confirmed, the Emperor’s plans to establish the central academy has abruptly been rejected through a petition from the military governors, one can only imagine the annoyance in his heart right now.

“Madam, come accompany me in drinking a cup.” Raising the jade cup that had already been placed on the table, personally filling up the cup, he beckons Gui Wan over.

There is only one seat by the table, Gui Wan had no choice but to sit down, accepting the cup personally filled by the Son of Heaven, unable to help but to feel somewhat anxious; the jade cup comes in contact with her lips, icy cold, the soft liquor trails down her throat, warmth running into her body, lightly tasting up to there, she places down the cup, praising: “Mellow and not strong, fragrance oozing into the heart, Xi Fu Feng Xiang, indeed lives up to its reputation.”

“Madam has great wine taste, one drink and you can make out the wine flavour.”

Gui Wan secretly found it laughable deep inside, the tribute wine sent into the palace this year, was prepared by the Prime Minister Estate, just that the abundance of Xi Feng wine jars were particularly unique, only because of this did she pay more attention in remembering it, and can also causally speak of it right now.

“This year Yong Zhou paid tribute with seven jars of Xi Feng wines, said it is Xi Fu Feng Xiang, Long Ao Jiu Tian, of unspeakable value.” The corner of Zheng Liu’s lips raises up, exhibiting a feeling of pleasure, half squinting his eyes, those orbs locked onto Gui Wan, “Only today did I find out, amongst the seven jars, two jars have already entered the Prime Minister Estate’s wine cellar.” (Xī Fǔ Fèng Xiáng / 西府凤翔 — Phoenix circling the air above the west estate; Lóng áo Jiǔ Tiān / 龙翱九天 — Dragon soaring the nine heavens)

“Your majesty is the monarch of yesterday and tomorrow[2], possessing the entire world, why would you care about a mere two jars of wine?” Gui Wan smiles as she answers with ease.

“Seven jars of Xi Feng wine, the Prime Minister Estate owns a share of two jars; I possess the entire world, don’t know whether the Prime Minister Estate also wants to take a piece of the share?” A sharp flash sweeps past his orbs, he stares into Gui Wan’s eyes with gentleness lightly floating on the surface, but is also hidden with unlimited feistiness and biting chills.

The wine that she has drank is like a little ball of fire in her stomach, warming up her entire body, but being stared at by Zheng Liu like that, waves of chills runs through her. Gui Wan raises the wine flask on the table, gently pouring him some wine into his empty cup, seeing the translucent colour of the liquid within the cup, she laughs like the refreshing breeze, one hand holding the cup, one hand supporting the bottom, she slowly delivers it to Zheng Liu, “Your majesty, legend says Yong Zhou is the land the phoenix is born from, phoenix circling the skies of the nine heavens, hundreds of birds entering the court, that is the true Son of Heaven. No matter how many birds there are within the woods, could it be that they can rob the phoenix off its elegance? Your majesty is worrying too much.”

Zheng Liu gaze remains locked onto Gui Wan, observing her expression, that elegant smile fades away, seeming to be thinking over her words, shortly after, a faint smile finally spreads, so pure it cannot possibly provoke mixed thoughts. Extending his hand to accept the cup of wine being delivered from across the table, right when Gui Wan’s hand was about to let go of the cup, he abruptly hooks onto her fine jade-like finger, a gentle use of strength, also holding intolerance towards rejection, fingers crossing over one another, he completely buckles up their fingers together, no gaps exposed. Two hands holding that one cup, the jade cup slightly tilts, fine drops of wine spilling onto Gui Wan’s forefinger, her brows immediately knits together, wanting to retract her hand, Zheng Liu tightens his hold, not at all giving in to her intentions. A gentle lowering of the head, taking a drink of that sweet and smooth as silk Xi Feng wine, upon seeing the bottom of the cup, he still does not let go, lightly raising their interlocked hands, watching the drops of wine that had just dripped onto Gui Wan’s hand, slide down following his movements, Zheng Liu once again lowers his head towards Gui Wan’s fair finger.

With one gentle movement, a pair of red lips and a jade finger forms a picture together, filled with slyness, Gui Wan’s heart had almost stopped beating, a numbing feeling spreads from her forefinger, looking at that area of spilled wine Zheng Liu extremely ambiguously placed a kiss on, somewhat alarmed, even she herself could not react in time, when her hand had already forcefully flung away, breaking free from Zheng Liu’s fastening, the jade cup flies aside upon release, smashing against the ground, the shattering sound of clear jade rings. Zheng Liu was stunned, looking at Gui Wan, his gaze focused, deep, and relentless.

“Clear but not light, concentrated but not brilliant, sour, sweet, bitter, spicy, fragrant, a harmonisation of various flavours, but not overpowering, a clear and elegant fragrance, sweet and nourishing, like moon like wine.” Zheng Liu melodically says with tender affection.

Calmly retracting her hand, acting as though the incident just now did not happen, Gui Wan although angry, did not show any signs of it, tightly pressing her lips together before going along with his words: “Indeed a great wine.”

“What I speak of, is but not the wine……” Deep orbs staring at Gui Wan, Zheng Liu seemingly real, seemingly fake.

A soft sound of a cough coming from Li gong-gong’s mouth, abruptly breaking though such sentiment filled with traces of ambiguity, Li gong-gong pretends to sooth his throat, softly calling out: “Your majesty……” Before he even finished speaking, he catches glimpse of Zheng Liu’s half real half fake expression, and actually felt a chill, that feeling of being struck by horror from before, once again rises within him.

Zheng Liu rather unnaturally gathers up that expression of his, once again displaying that complicated yet elegant behaviour, a deep voice asking: “Does Madam still remember our bet?”

“Gui Wan dares not to forget.” Such deep memories of that type of killing intent, she is only afraid that she cannot possibly forget it in her lifetime.

“Since that is so, can Madam tell me, who has won right now?”

“The two year deadline has not yet arrived, how could your majesty speak so lightly of winning or losing?”

“Madam’s words really are filled with confidence, you just said that I possess the entire world, so how could I possibly lose?”

Towards that type of self-confidence, that is more like arrogance, belittling others, Gui Wan laughingly says: “Could it be that your majesty does not know that worldly matters are half reliant on people, half reliant on the heavens? To win or lose, in the end you can only wait and see.”

“That’s right, half reliant on people, half reliant on the heavens,” Zheng Liu slowly stands up, with three points of arrogance, “Until the final outcome, who knows who wins or lose? I am also curious, could it be that Lou Che really has a stone heart?”

Hearing him mention Lou Che, once again gaining a sense of foreboding, Gui Wan raises her head to look at Zheng Liu, just happening to meet eyes with that interested smile displayed on his face.

“Do I still not have a move requiring the use of this crucial chess piece here?”

“Your majesty must be joking, Gui Wan still doesn’t have the heavenly position to place down chess pieces right?” Well aware that this very moment is no longer the time to be pretending ignorance, it is better to put things clear.

Taking two steps closer, Zheng Liu devilishly raises Gui Wan’s chin with one hand, gently caressing as he appreciates the fine and smooth feeling in his hand, deeply dark orbs staring into Gui Wan’s eyes, tenderly saying: “Madam is too modest. This Xi Feng wine really lives up to its reputation, I seem to be a little drunk now.” Surprised at the words he blurted out himself, he instantly releases his hands, lightly throwing back his sleeves, Zheng Liu takes a step away, diverting his eyes elsewhere, his behaviour returning to normal, an extraordinary splendour passing by his eyes.

“Since this bet is still going on, I shall also give it my utmost efforts. Madam, Lou Che took away my consort, right now Jing Ye is vacant, over time, would this not arouse suspicions? Since Madam is spending a short stay in the palace, why not move into Jing Ye, that way, I can also continue to be notified of Prime Minister Lou’s previous repeated offenses, is that not right?”

Knowing that he is referring to the matter of Lou Che taking away Consort Ying from Jing Ye, lightly gritting her teeth in hatred, Gui Wan says nothing.

“Madam’s demeanour is no less than that of the moon, then let us name Jing Ye main hall as ‘Yin Yue Hall’ (Hidden Moon Hall).” His cool voice seeming to carry no feelings, ordering the palace’s Head Eunuch Li gong-gong.

Li Yu raises his head in panic, not daring to answer. The names of halls within the palace are only named for consorts, but what is this situation before his eyes? Just getting the feeling that the Emperor actions today are far beyond the usual, unpredictable, suddenly receiving a sharp sweep of the eyes from Zheng Liu, his heart trembles, hurriedly nodding his head saying yes, how could he dare to have any questioning intentions?

Gui Wan finds it laughable as she watches this scene, originally thinking she had escaped from being imprisoned within the Prime Minister Estate, looking at it now, she had only went through a change of cage. Pale resentment showing, she sits and quietly waits.

Turning to get a glance of Gui Wan, Zheng Liu’s face displays unclear intentions, holding his hands behind his back as he takes his leave. Li gong-gong was left dumbstruck for a moment, hurriedly trotting along after him, wanting to speak up to inquire about the matter just now, but sees Zheng Liu’s gloomy look showing no signs of dispersing, eyes filled with complexity, he immediately shuts his mouth, silently walking.

This Emperor with eccentric personality, joy and anger never truthfully displayed, exactly what is going on with him today? Such obvious mood swings that even his servant is able to sense it.


[1] The proverb used for having everything planned out is called xiōng yǒu chéng zhú / 胸有成竹 which literally translates to having a complete [image of] of bamboo embedded in one’s chest (heart) - before painting bamboo, the image of bamboo is already in one’s heart.

[2] The monarch of yesterday and tomorrow is quite a strange translation that I looked up for jiǔ wǔ zhì zūn / 九五至尊 which literally translates tonine-five of supremacy, I know the nine-five makes no sense right now, but upon a little bit of searching up I found that one explanation for it is that, because back then the highest number was nine whilst five was the number perfectly in the middle, the numbers nine and five thus became a symbol of the Emperor’s authority. I guess you can interpret this as nine being the highest, thus the Emperor being this superior human/son of heaven that you look up to, whilst five being in centre, thus the Emperor (as egotistical as it sounds) being attention seeking and self centred the important figure that everyone/thing revolves around.

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