This chapter is rough, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. As if we didn’t already see enough hints that Yun Zhong Ge doesn’t have Da Mo Yao‘s easy stakes, this chapter cements that this novel is serious and pulls no punches. The power is about to shift in Chang An big time, and the consequences will have far reaching ramifications even down to the personal level. Yun Ge and Meng Jue’s blossoming relationship will soon come up against the age old choice of “power or beauty”. We’re also reminded once again what a precious situation Emperor Liu Fu Ling is placed in, and how hard it is not just for him, but for everyone around him in the Palace. We finally meet our final lead of this novel, Shang Guan Xiao Mei, Liu Fu Ling’s young Empress. She’s one of the most fascinating and unforgettable characters in this novel, and it’s just chilling that Tong Hua chose to introduce her to the readers this way. My heart just breaks for this little girl.
Chapter 15: Worthy of Pity
The Princess intended to get closer to the Emperor during the visit to Gan Quan Palace. She wanted to chat some more with him once he was in a better mood. Who knew that she somehow offended the Emperor, so much that the brother who was close to her since childhood started to distance himself from her.
At Gan Quan Palace, the Emperor was cold to her but very solicitous of the Infante of Guang Ling. When the Infante of Guang Ling returned to his territory, the Emperor sent him off personally, bestowing rewards and even titles on the Infante’s sons.
But to her? All her usual rewards were gone, and she could no longer enter the Palace at will. She cried and threw a fit, but none of that worked.
When she returned to Chang An, she asked for interesting things to be found to present to the Emperor, who glanced at it and then set it aside. Soon, her poor relationship with the Emperor spread far and wide, and quickly the visitors to her estate dwindled.
In the past, when it was a month away from her birthday, people would start delivering presents. This year there was barely anyone.
The Princess sat in her room being sad. Ding Wai Ren came running in happily to announce that the Infante of Yen had just sent expensive birthday presents.
When her royal father was alive, the Infante of Yen fought for the Crown Prince position, so she was always wary of him. He sent presents every year but she rejected it every year. Who knew he would send a present after she had lost favor with the Emperor.
She still didn’t want to get close to the Infante of Yen, but this time she didn’t want to reject his present. “Accept it, and treat the messenger well.”
Ding Wai Ren smiled “It’s good to see someone not brown nosing, why don’t you write a letter back to the Infante of Yen?” The Princess thought “Alright, to thank my royal brother for having the heart to send a present.”
Ding Wai Ren prepared the ink “Princess, how do you want to celebrate your birthday this year?” The Princess said distastefully “You see the situation. Usually the Emperor remembers but this year he hasn’t said a peep. I am in no mood for a party.”
Ding Wai Ren replied “The officials who are not trying to be toadies have sent presents, like Lord Shang Guan and Lord Xang. You can’t just say thank you to them. You and the Emperor are full blooded siblings, and the Emperor lost his mother when he was young and you helped raise him. When his temper lessens you two can patch things up. Princess you shouldn’t be too distressed about it right now. Both Lord Shang Guan and Lord Huo have said they will talk to the Emperor about this.”
The Princess smiled and looked slightly mollified “You are right, I should have a birthday party otherwise those toadies will just laugh at me. Invite Shang Guan Jie, Xang Hong Yang, and Huo Guang. With those three in attendance, the party won’t be too shabby and no one dare laugh at me.”
Ding Wai Ren quickly said yes, but inside he knew the Emperor was very odd and his moods impossible to predict. What he just said to the Princess was what Huo Yu said to him, but neither believed it. He wondered if he should go sell this news to Meng Jue, who was just a stupid businessman who paid anything for news to gain more information about the rich and powerful.
To celebrate the upcoming Weaving holiday, Yun Ge and Xu Ping Jun had been making holiday biscuits since early in the morning. Initially they planned to go out to celebrate with some of Xu Ping Jun’s female cousins.
Liu Bing Yi initially agreed, but after he chatted with someone Meng Jue sent over, he forbade them from going and said he wanted to spend the holiday with them.
The girls set out plates of snacks, and then Xu Ping Jun handed Yun Ge an embroidered pouch with little white clouds sewn on. It must have taken a lot of time and Yun Ge was really touched “I didn’t make anything for big sister.”
Xu Ping Jun laughed “You made these dishes, no? I’ll eat it and take it as your gift. If you want to embroider something for me, tonight you’ll need to pray extra hard to the weaver girl.” Yun Ge laughed “Big brother, did you hear, Xu jiejie is mocking me for being bad at embroidery.”
Liu Bing Yi appeared distracted and was looking outside. When he heard Yun Ge talking to him, he turned and smiled at her.
Because farming was the backbone of the nation, the Emperors paid great attention to the Weaving holiday. The women folk would gather and compete on their sewing skills and play sewing games. Because of the beautiful legend of the weaver girl and the cow herd, this holiday was also called Lover’s Day. On this day, lovers would meet and pledge their troth to each other.
In the previous years on the Weaving holiday, the city was abuzz with activity and energy, with laughter ringing out well into the late tonight. Tonight it was extraordinarily quiet, the streets were empty and the homes were silent.
Yun Ge and Xu Ping Jun were just wondering what was going on when they heard the gong from outside and the loud announcement “Every family must stay inside. No one is allowed out. If anyone disobeys, it will be consider treasonous.”
Xu Ping Jun was so afraid she immediately wanted to bolt the door, but Yun Ge rushed out and even Xu Ping Jun couldn’t stop her. Liu Bing Yi grabbed Yun Ge’s hand “Yun Ge, Meng Jue will be fine, big brother promise you.”
Yun Ge stopped trying to leave and instead paced the courtyard “Is one of the Infante’s rebelling? The Infante of Yen? The Infante of Guang Ling? Or the Infante of……Chang Yi?”
Liu Bing Yi shook his head “Doesn’t look like that. If an Infante was rebelling, he would be attacking the city. The forces in Chang An would open the doors to lure them in and dispose of them. But by shutting the city gates tight, it looks like a sweep of inside the city.”
Yu An got a secret message and immediately went to inform the Emperor. His voice was quaking “Your……Your majesty, Lord Shang Guan has secretly moved the troops.”
Liu Fu Ling stood up. This day has finally arrived.
The Shang Guan father and son are both from the Yu Lin Army. Shang Guan Jie is the Left General, Shang Guan An is the Biao Qi General. After many years, the Yu Lin Army considers the Shang Guan family its head. Without the Emperor’s permission, the Shang Guan family can only move the Yu Lin Army.
The Yu Lin Army was his royal father’s creation, meant to attack the Xiong Nu and protect the Emperor. It has now become the tool for officials to vie for power. How would his proud royal father feel if he knew this had happened?
Liu Fu Ling gave a sardonic smile.
Huo Guang’s power is in the Imperial Army. His son Huo Yu serves there, and his two nephews Huo Yun and Huo Shan are both lieutenants. His son-in-laws Fang Peng Ming and Deng Guang Han are also the head of the Imperial guards. Huo Guang must have heard the news and the army he will move to counter this force will be the Imperial Army.
The Imperial Army is tasked with guarding the Palace and the royal family. The Emperor’s safety rests solely in the hands of the Imperial Army, and ought to only listen to the Emperor’s command. But right now, the Imperial Army listens only to Huo Guang. It was akin to Huo Guang tightly grasping Liu Fu Ling’s throat in his hand.
Royal father, years ago you killed mother because you were afraid she would manipulate power and harm me. What about now? What has happened with the Regents you hand picked for me?
Liu Fu Ling suddenly said to Yu An “Immediately go and bring my royal sister into the Palace. Tell her that I want to see her because it’s her birthday.”
Yu An said yes and rushed out, only to return moments later, his face ashen. “Your majesty, Fan Peng Ming brought Imperial guards and sealed the entrance to Wei Yang Palace and won’t let me leave or anyone to enter.”
“Come with me” Liu Fu Ling walked out and his eunuchs followed. Fang Peng Ming kneeled before him “Your majesty, we have news someone is rebelling. To protect Your majesty, please stay inside the Wei Yang Palace.” The veins in Liu Fu Ling’s hand throbbed “Who is rebelling?”
“General Huo is investigating right now, and will report once he has news.” Liu Fu Ling continued to walk out but the guards blocking his way refused to move. Their hands remained on their weapons and looked fierce. The eunuchs behind Liu Fu Ling immediately shielded him.
Fang Peng Ming crawled forward a few steps “I know its hard for Your majesty to hear this, and I am willing to die for daring to oppose Your majesty, but all I want is for you to be safe inside the Palace.” The Palace was surrounded by Imperial guards all ready to strike, just waiting for Fang Peng Ming’s order.
Yu An cried as he said to Liu Fu Ling “It’s late, please will Your majesty go rest inside.” Liu Fu Ling’s hand remained fisted and shaking, but he turned and walked inside.
Liu Fu Ling grabbed a cup from the table and was about to smash it, when he stopped and put it back. Yu An cried “Your majesty go ahead and smash it! Let your frustration out.”
Liu Fu Ling turned and he had a strange smile on his face “My uselessness, why harm innocent items? I shall go rest! The outcome is already set, so I need to be ready to reward Huo Guang tomorrow for quelling the rebellion.”
Yu An was stunned “The Imperial Army might have the locational advantage, but in terms of skill and prowess, the Yu Lin Army is perhaps even stronger. There is a chance both sides might annihilate each other.”
Liu Fu Ling smiled and said gently to Yu An “There must be a traitor next to Shang Guan Jie. Fang Peng Ming was certain in the way he spoke to me. If Huo Guang was only investigating, Fang Peng Ming would never dare speak this way to me. Shang Guan JIe’s every move must be within Huo Guang’s control. If Huo Guang hasn’t made a move, he was just waiting for the right time.”
Liu Fu Ling walked into his inner chamber “My only hope now is that my royal sister, who has lost favor with me, can remain outside this fray.”
Yu An heard this and he shivered with cold sweat. He already knew about the Princess’s birthday banquet and how she invited Shang Guan Jie, Huo Guang, and Xang Hong Yang.
Yu An opened his mouth but when he saw the Emperor’s lonely figure, he said nothing. The Heavens must be kind! The Princess is just a defenseless woman with no power now. Nothing must happen to her, nothing must happen to her…………
The Princess didn’t invite a lot of guests, but everyone was important and powerful. The Shang Guan family, the Huo family, and even the elderly Xang Hong Yang showed up personally.
At the banquet, everyone was in a very good mood. After days of being lonely, the Princess was happy to be surrounded by people again.
Shang Guan Jie and Shang Guan An kept drinking and shooting glances at Huo Guang. After tonight, tomorrow the court of the Han dynasty will belong only to the Shang Guan family. Huo Guang and Huo Yu also drank to themselves, knowing everything was within their control.
Shang Guan Jie was pleased and poured another cup for Huo Guang “Brother Huo, let’s drink another one.” Huo Guang thought he used his daughter Huo Lian Er to get information about the Shang Guan family. But Shang Guan Jie took advantage of that, so the message Huo Lian Er passed to her father Huo Guang was misdirection that Shang Guan An gave his unsuspecting wife.
Right when the banquet was getting even merrier, suddenly the sound of soldiers rushing in reached the guests. Huo Yun came into the banquet leading the Imperial Army forces. Everyone was in full armor and covered in blood splatter. “General Huo, the Yu Lin Army tried to rebel and left their base without the Emperor’s orders and tried to enter Wei Yang Palace.”
In a split second, the entire banquet descended into silence.
Watching the Imperial Army surround the banquet hall, Shang Guan Jie’s expression changed immediately while Shang Guan An shouted “Impossible!”
Shang Guan Jie tried to rush forward to grab a weapon and Huo Yun immediately shot an arrow at him. Shang Guan Jie grabbed the arrow sticking out of his chest and smiled bitterly towards Huo Guang “You….you were always…..more vicious…..” and he fell backward on the ground, with his eyes wide open still staring at Huo Guang.
All the ladies at the banquet started weeping and screaming when the army entered, but seeing Shang Guan Jie die right in front of them, everyone was shocked into silence. Eyes stared wide open at the scene before them.
Shang Guan An gave a roar of rage and flipped the table in front of him, using it as a weapon as he charged Huo Guang. In that moment, Shang Guan An, who had become weakened by power and politics, suddenly regained a spectre of his former warrior self.
Huo Yu grabbed a sword and shielded his father. Huo Lian Er cried out “My lord husband, my father promised not to kill you. Please stop, please stop…..”
Shang Guan Am’s legs were shot by two arrows and he wobbled. Huo Yu’s sword swung forth and Shang Guan An’s head went flying through the air. His head rolled on the ground and his wide opened eyes stared at Huo Lian Ar, as if asking her why she caused his death?
Huo Lian Er collapsed on the ground, her face wet with tears “No…..no……..” Huo Cheng Jun and Huo Lian Er do not have the same mother and were never close, but facing such devastation, Huo Cheng Jun was sobbing as well. She wanted to go assist her sister but her mother grabbed her. The Imperial Army escorted the two ladies out of the banquet.
Hup Guang looked at Xang Hong Yang, whose two servants were trying to protect him. Xang Hong Yang suddenly laughed and motioned for his servants to move aside. He grabbed his cane and stood up “This old man won’t need younger brother Huo to waste his time on me. Years ago at the beside of the former Emperor, the four of us kneeled before him and made a vow. Back then I knew today would come. We have been officials in court for the past thirty years, so I hope younger brother Huo will at least leave me an intact corpse.”
He looked at the Princess who was collapsed weakly on the floor and sighed “Will younger brother Huo please do remember the vow you made to the former Emperor, do remember it, do remember it…..” and then he rushed forward and bashed his head against the stone column, dying immediately.
His two servants followed him and expired on the spot. Ding Wai Ren crawled over to plead with Huo Yu for his life, but a swift sword silenced him forever. In moments, the banquet hall of the Princess’s estate was littered with corpses.
Huo Guang was still holding the cup of wine Shang Guan Jie poured for him, and he smiled at Shang Guan Jie’s dead body before drinking it. Huo Yun ordered the soldiers to take all the female servants into custody. The soldiers found the birthday gift from the Infante of Yen to the Princess as well as their communication. Huo Guang said “Hold the Princess and wait for the Emperor to decide what to do with her.”
No one dared make a sound. In the silence, Huo Lian Er’s sobbing sounded even louder. She finally accepted that her husband Shang Guan An was dead by the hands of her brother. She got up from the ground and staggered over to Huo Guang.
She stared at her father “Daddy, didn’t you promise me. Didn’t you promise me?” Huo Guang gently replied “Lian Er, there are many good men out there. Shang Guan An hasn’t been good to you these past years because of me, I will make it up to you.”
Huo Lian Er’s tears kept falling, dropping onto the pile of blood left by Shang Guan An. “Daddy, will you spare Jing Er? Xiao Mei is the Empress, so daddy won’t touch her. But what about my son Jing Er? He is daddy’s grandson, please will daddy spare his life?”
Huo Guang turned his head and said to Huo Yu “Take your sister back home.” Huo Lian Er’s eyes were filled with unending despair. When Huo Yu went to assist his sister, she grabbed the sword around his waist and put it on her neck.
Huo Yu didn’t dare make a move “Sister, your last name is Huo, and you are still young, you can have more kids.” Huo Lian Er stepped back and smiled at her father “Daddy, you promised me, you promised me………”
Her arm moved and a flash of blood sprayed out. The sword fell, followed by the body. Both just so happened to fall beside the head of Shang Guan An. She used the knife that just killed her husband to kill herself, as if giving an answer to her husband’s final dying rage.
Yun Ge and company didn’t sleep that night. Chances are very few people in Chang An slept that night. When the prohibition was lifted, Yun Ge went to find Meng Jue. Liu Bing Yi and Xu Ping Jun didn’t feel safe about Yun Ge leaving so they accompanied her.
Usually the streets of Chang An was bustling by morning time, but today it was eerily empty. Everyone stayed home and locked their doors. Even the money hungry Uncle Chang stayed home and didn’t open his business.
Only Yi Ping Ju opened for business, as if nothing had happened. Yun Ge felt in awe, no wonder they were a hundred year old business. They were used to the ups and downs of Chang An. Xu Ping Jun was also in awe of their fortitude.
Liu Bing Yi smiled “During the Crown Prince Wei revolt, when the armed forces of the Crown Prince Wei and Emperor Wu of Han were battling for five days in Chang An, the streets of Chang An ran red with blood. It was Yi Ping Ju that was the first business to open its doors after it was all over. What happened today can’t even begin to compare to the devastation of that incident.”
Yun Ge shivered in the cold morning air. This was the first time she experienced the bloody history that resided underneath the glamour of Chang An.
A pretty girl in white suddenly stopped them and pointed to Yi Ping Ju “Young master is upstairs, please follow me.” They followed the girl into Yi Ping Ju and she took them a back way upstairs. She opened the curtains and invited them inside.
Meng Jue was standing beside the window looking down at the street. When he turned around, his face looked tired and he said to Liu Bing Yi “From today forward, Huo Guang is the real Emperor behind the scenes.” What he said was so shocking everyone was silent.
Liu Bing Yi appeared to understand Meng Jue “Who did you originally want to be the victor?” Meng Jue smiled and rubbed his forehead. He said to the white robed girl “San Yue (March), you take Yun Ge and Ping Jun to grab a bite to eat, then make me a cup of tea.”
Xu Ping Jun and Yun Ge looked at each other, and then walked out with San Yue. Meng Jue told Liu Bing Yi to sit “Mutual destruction would be the best ideal, or if one side won but the price was too high, that would be fine. But now Huo Guang won so easily, his viciousness is beyond even what I imagined.”
Liu Bing Yi said “I can only see the surface, care to tell me everything?”
Meng Jue explained “Shang Guan Jie wanted to use the Princess’s birthday bash and assassinate Huo Guang on his way home. But Huo Guang knew it, and used the banquet to gather Shang Guan Jie, Shang Guan An, and Xang Hong Yang together and kill them all. Afterwards they took the heads of Shang Guan Jie and Shang Guan An to the Yu Lin Army waiting to ambush them. The army immediately lost their direction. Those who remained loyal were killed, the others pointed fingers at the Shang Guan father-son for moving the Yu Lin Army in order to rebel against the Emperor.”
“How come Shang Guan Jie didn’t keep some Yu Lin Army soldiers in the Princess’s estate to help him arrange things.”
“He did, but because Huo Guang knew in advance, his Imperial Army soldiers killed them all and no one was able to send a message. Huo Guang knew this banquet would end in a bloodbath but he still brought his wife and daughter. Shang Guan Jie had his Yu Lin Army right outside, but seeing Huo Guang bring his family, he thought everything was in his grasp.”
Liu Bing Yi asked “How did Huo Guang know Shang Guan Jie was preparing to assassinate him?” Meng Jue drank his tea “Shang Guan An’s wife Huo Lian Er sent a secret message, but it was all fake and she didn’t know it. She ought not to feel guilt for her part, the real traitor even Huo Lian Er and Shang Guan An could have never suspected.”
“Who was it?”
“It was Shang Guan An’s beloved Concubine Lu. She constantly opposed Huo Lian Er for many years, so Huo Lian Er could have never suspected that Concubine Lu was placed by her father Huo Guang beside Shang Guan An. Shang Guan Jie found out Huo Lian Er overheard his planning so he used her to pass the wrong message to misdirect Huo Guang. But he never knew Huo Guang had another source of information. He never knew his son Shang Guan An would tell the real plan to his concubine.”
Liu Bing Yi laughed “Since history started, all the powerful families decayed from within. If Shang Guan An even let slip once when he was in bed with his concubine, Huo Guang would easily guess any plot.” Meng Jue nodded. Liu Bing Yi sighed “It’s best Huo Lian Er never knew the truth, less pain this way.”
Meng Jue gave a sarcastic smile “You wouldn’t be saying this if you saw how Huo Lian Er died.” Liu Bing Yi suddenly looked serious “Of the four Regents, Huo Guang is most careful about his reputation. Yesterday at the banquet, other than Huo family confidantes, clearly no one else made it out alive. Since you knew something could happen, why did you go? Aren’t you afraid Huo Guang would eliminate you, too?”
Meng Jue smiled bitterly “Huo Guang must already be suspicious of me. If I didn’t go yesterday, it would be even worse.” Liu Bing Yi laughed “Always walking by the river banks, of course you’ll get your feet wet.”
Meng Jue looked concerned “Until things have settled down, keep an eye on Yun Ge.” Liu Bing Yi nodded “I don’t need you to tell me. What’s happened inside the Palace?”
Meng Jue shook his head “Huo Guang used this opportunity to clean out the Imperial Army as well, getting rid of leaders who didn’t agree with him. Right know only he knows what’s happened in the Palace. Huo Guang set it all up so he can announce that Xang Hong Yang, Shang Guan Jie, Shang Guan An, the Princess, have all conspired with the Infante of Yen to rebel.”
Liu Bing Yi laughed again “Who would believe that? The Empress is Shang Guan Jie’s granddaughter and the future Crown Prince will be half Shang Guan family blood, plus Shang Guan Jie has no connection with the Infante of Yen, who has his own army and his sons are all grown. Even if a dog ate half of Shang Guan Jie’s brain, he would not depose Liu Fu Ling and support the Infante of Yen as the new Emperor.”
Meng Jue laughingly asked “History shows that most “rebellions” are rooted in nebulous reasons, and is whatever the victor claims it to be. Who cares what the truth is, what whether it makes any sense. The common people won’t care about the intricacies of royal family politics.”
Liu Bing Yi quieted and looked out the window “Life is so full of irony. Ten years ago – Li Guang Li, Consort Zhao, the Infante of Yen, Shang Guan Jie – they all conspired to set up Crown Prince Wei as rebelling. Back then, could they have known their own ending? Some died during the incident. Consort Zhao didn’t even get to see her son ascend the throne. Shang Guan Jie did succeed in ruling the court, but today he gets crowned as a rebel. None of them can smile until the very end, and today you and I are here discussing their life and death. Who knows what fate will await us in the future?”
[Oh, I wish I could answer your question, Liu Bing Yi. Then maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much later down the road.]
Meng Jue smiled “Using Huo Guang’s hand, he actually avenged what happened to your family. You ought to be happy.” Liu Bing Yi gave a cold laugh “Have you ever heard of someone being happy because another person avenged them? If I planned this, I might be happy, but I’m not even a chess piece.”
Meng Jue smiled “Right now I’m in a pile of trouble while you are free and clear. The person who ought to be depressed is me, not you.” Liu Bing Yi thought about it and then smiled, back to his usual lazy, carefree self.
Meng Jue opened the window and looked out at the blue sky “The enjoyment of life lies in the unknown. It’s the process and the journey that is worthwhile, the result is only for another person to see. The experience is what makes a life. Because tomorrow is unknown, that is why it is filled with possibility. That is what I want to capture, that possibility.” When Meng Jue said this, he lost of some of usual gentleness and added a rare fervor, reaching out his hand as if he wanted to grab the sky.
Yun Ge knocked on the door “You guys done talking?” Liu Bing Yi opened the door and took Xu Ping Jun’s hand and walked downstairs with her. Yun Ge asked “Where are you guys going?”
Xu Ping Jun turned around with a smile “Aren’t you hoping we third wheels will leave?” Yun Ge wrinkled her nose and was about to say something when Meng Jue pulled her into the room and enveloped her into his embrace.
Yun Ge was so nervous her heart was pounding, not sure if Meng Jue was going to do anything. But Meng Jue only quietly held her, his head resting on her shoulder, as if he was really tired.
Yun Ge chided herself and calmed her heart down. Her arms reached out and encircled Meng Jue. He said nothing, and she said nothing.
They silently held each other, letting time pass them by.
Wei Yang Palace.
Liu Fu Ling listened as Huo Guang enumerated the many crimes of Shang Guan Jie in plotting a rebellion with the Infante of Yen.
The Infante of Yen has long plotted to rebel. There was plenty of evidence without needing to manufacture any. Shang Guan Jie and Shang Guan An have gotten close to the Infante of Yen, plus they moved the Yu Lin Army. The Princess is guilty based on physical evidence of her communications with the Infante of Yen, plus her maid provided testimony.
After Huo Guang produced iron-clad evidence, he asked the Emperor to immediately attack the Kingdom of Yen to prevent the Infante from launching his forced.
Faced with Huo Guang’s solicitous attitude, Liu Fu Ling was his usual cold and dispassionate self “Do as you suggested. Have the army dispatched and attack the Kingdom of Yen. Announce in a decree that only the Infante of Yen is at fault, his progeny will be spared. Since you have so much evidence, you must have someone planted around him. I need not worry this will grow too big and affect the citizens.”
Huo Guang replied “I shall do my best.” Liu Fu Ling continued “The Infante of Yen and the Princess are my siblings. Even if they are guilty, I cannot face my royal father if I kill them. Just have them placed under house arrest.”
Huo Guang wanted to say something but Liu Fu Ling placed his Imperial Seal before Huo Guang “If you don’t agree, then you can use this seal to announce your own decree.”
Liu Fu Ling’s eyes were strikingly similar to his father, Emperor Wu of Han. Usually his attitude was calm and detached, so he didn’t look as much as like his father. But right now, his eyes were sharp and fierce, hidden with intensity and rage. It was the same look Huo Guang had witnessed often when he was young.
Huo Guang startled and unconsciously took a step back and kneeled on the ground “I wouldn’t dare.” Liu Fu Ling took back the Imperial Seal and said nothing.
Things have come to this, and the most he can do is limit the damage on the common people because of political fighting. A moment later, Liu Fu Ling said “Send a decree to add forces to the area near the Infante of Guang Ling so he doesn’t do anything. We need the Infante of Yen to arrive at Chang An within the next three days to admit he was wrong, otherwise the consequences you must know what it will be.”
Huo Guang solemnly nodded “I will do my best. What about the Kingdom of Chang Yi? Do you want me…..”
“Don’t worry about the Infante of Chang Yi.” Liu Fu Ling finished talking and walked out.
Yu An followed behind Liu Fu Ling and saw that he was headed towards Shu Fang Pavilion (the residence of the Empress). He went there maybe once a year, so why was he going today?
The serving girls outside the Pavilion were all new, not a single familiar face left. Yu An silently cursed, that vicious thorough Huo Guang. The serving girls saw the Emperor and all bowed before leaving.
Liu Fu Ling indicated for Yu An to open the curtains covering the bed pallet, but there was a hand tightly gripping it, so Yu An couldn’t pull it open. Liu Fu Ling indicated for Yu An to leave.
‘Xiao Mei, it’s me, open the curtain.” A moment later, the curtain opened a sliver and a tear stained face appeared “Is it big brother Emperor? My nanny said my grandfather, my grandmother, my dad, my mom, my younger brother, my Aunt Lan, they are all dead. Is that true?”
Liu Fu Ling nodded his head. Shang Guan Xiao Mei’s tears fell even more and she wanted to sob out loud, but she was afraid to make any noise “Didn’t my daddy tell me that if I came to live in the Palace, they would all live very well?”
Liu Fu Ling said “Xiao Mei, I’m going to be very direct with you, you have to listen carefully. You are thirteen now, you are an adult. An adult can’t just cry. When your other grandfather finishes with what he needs to do, he will come see you. If you are still crying, he won’t be happy, and if he’s not happy………….”
Xiao Mei curled into her blanket, like a snail wanted to retreat into its shell. But she didn’t have a shell, she could only wrap her arms around herself “I know. If my grandfather is not happy, he might kill me, too.”
Liu Fu Ling startled “Looks like you really grew up. If your grandfather asks you if you miss your parents, what is your response?”
Xiao Mei wiped her tears “I’ll say that I’ve lived in the Palace since I was six, rarely seeing them. I know they are nice, but I never experienced their affection. I miss my mom, but now I’m closer with the sisters who take care of my daily needs.”
Liu Fu Ling nodded “Smart Xiao Mei. In these years, you’ve learned a lot inside the Palace.” Liu Fu Ling got up and walked out. Xiao Mei called out “Big brother Emperor, when are you going to come see me again?”
Liu Fu Ling halted in his step, but didn’t answer her questions, continuing on his way.
The room was large, almost like there was no border, but Xiao Mei stared at his figure until he got further away and finally disappeared from view.
Only the lightly waving curtains reminded her that he really came here today.
Xiao Mei put the curtains back down and grabbed the edge of her robe and shoved it in her mouth. She sealed her mouth tightly while her tears rained down. Her hands tightly fisted as she hit the blanket over and over again, but still she made no sound.
Outside the curtain, the sweet smell of incense wafted over. The room remained silent.