Next time I fall in love with a C-novel and decide to translate it, I really ought to pay closer attention to page length. My Yun Zhong Ge project clearly got away from me. Even if the pen is mightier than the sword, my will was not mightier than my ability. I do want to finish the remaining two chapters of the novel to at least provide a bookend of sorts. Not much of a consolation but at least I tried. Back in drama adaptation land, word is the script is finished and filming will begin in late March or early April. I’m not holding my breath for it and the casting rumors tossed out by Yu Zheng change week to week depending on his whim. Even his purported choice for Liu Fu Ling (Chen Xiao) is also being touted for loverboy Yang Guo in Yu Zheng’s remake of Return of the Condor Heroes. Hard to have the same leading man in two dramas overlapping in filming. I don’t have a particular opinion among the current crop of names being discussed since my dream cast that I’ve been using pictures for on my translation are clearly never going to do it. At least I had fun imaging them in the roles as I translated. Last we left off, Yun Ge found out Liu Fu Ling died by poison and blamed Meng Jue, who didn’t exactly try to defend his innocence. She almost poisoned him as well but changed her mind at the last minute, then ran off to weep at her Ling gege’s royal tomb before almost becoming a sword sandwich. Xu Ping Jun saved her but needed Meng Jue’s help to bring her back from the brink of death. Meng Jue borrowed Liu Fu Ling’s flute and good lord are these two still vying for Yun Ge’s heart even when one is dead? Now we come to the climax of the final resolution where the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, finally comes out. By now the character count has been significantly depleted with the death of Hong Yi and Liu Fu Ling, and sadly someone we all love and appreciate will be paying a steep price for the wrongs committed. This is riveting stuff so let’s get the truth train rolling.
Chapter 56: This Love Has Become a Memory We Chase
Yu An learned martial arts since he was small so his recovery was quick and in a few days he was able to be out and about. Yun Ge remained wan and uttered not a word. Her visage appeared confused, as if she was looking for something. She often furrowed her brows and cocked her head, as if listening for something, searching for something.
Seeing Yun Ge like this reminded Dr. Chang of when he first met her. At that time, there was someone beside her carefully taking care of her. But now the only people coming in and out of the room was him and Yu An limping with a crutch. Yun Ge is still the wife of Lord Meng, as decreed by the Emperor. The Huo Estate came by with some money and medicine, but no one from the Meng Estate or the Empress ever came. Wasn’t the Empress as close to Yun Ge as sisters? If her younger sister was sick, the older sister never came to visit?
That relationships between people could be so cold and made Dr. Chang shiver. He decided not to mention those people and Yun Ge spent all her time in the little dilapidated courtyard.
“Ms. Yun, what are you listening for?” Dr. Chang placed the medicine down and tried to test her to see if the high fever left any damage to her brain since she always seemed to be listening for something. Yun Ge shook her head and picked up the medicine and drank it.
“Where do you want to go after you’ve healed? If you are willing, you can stay with me and learn medicine from me, if you don’t mind. And you can see patients for me and learn on the job.”
Yu An was chopping wood in the yard and stopped to hear Yun Ge’s response. Yun Ge sat there silently and raised her head to look out the window. Her eyes were filled with confusion. After some time, she opened her mouth and was about to say something.
Suddenly the door to the courtyard was thrown open and a small court servant rushed inside panting “Mrs….Mrs. Meng. Please come with me to the Palace right away.”
Yu An coldly scoffed “There is no Mrs. Meng here, you’ve come to the wrong place!”
The little court servant didn’t know Yu An and he had been serving in Shu Fang Pavilion since he entered the Palace and had never been spoken too thusly. He was so angry he almost flipped out and he jabbed his finger at Yu An intending to berate him. But then he was afraid of offending Yun Ge so coldly huffed “I won’t talk with a lowly peasant like you.” he rushed forward and bowed to Yun Ge “Mrs. Meng, Brother Fu Su ordered me to take you into the Palace. He said it was very important.”
Yun Ge said nothing and the little servant almost started crying “You have to come. I don’t know what the important matter is but Brother Fu Su was covered in sweat and looked like he was about to cry.”
Yun Ge’s heart shook. These days Xu jiejie (Big sister) didn’t send any news. To act so out of character, something must have happened! She jumped up “Let’s go.”
The little court servant happily ran out and prepared the carriage to return to Wei Yang Palace. Yu An and Dr. Chang couldn’t convince her to not go. Yu An had no choice and handed his little dagger to her “This dagger is small and can be hidden in the sleeve or waist band.” Yun Ge initially didn’t want to bring it but seeing the worry in Yu An’s eyes, she took the dagger and concealed it “Big brother Yu, I’ll be quick and return shortly.”
The carriage stopped at Wei Yang Palace at dusk and the sky was streaked with red in an eerie way. It reflected on all the carvings on the Palace but made Yun Ge’s heart feel even more uneasy. It made her feel like around her was only lifeless emptiness. It made the body exhausted, even walking through the corridors it was tiring. She never wanted to return to this place ever again.
The sun hadn’t set yet and the door to Shu Fang Pavilion was already tightly shut. Yun Ge was surprised and pointed at the door, turning to the little court servant. He scratched his head and replied “It’s been like this for many days now. I heard…….the Empress wanted to move out of Shu Fang Pavilion but the Emperor wouldn’t agree. The two of them………these days the Empress no longer oversees the workings of the back Palace. Other than going to Chang Le Palace to pay her respects to the Great Dowager Empress, she quietly sits inside weaving and overseeing the Crown Prince doing his homework.”
The door opened with a creak and when Fu Su saw Yun Ge, he jerked her inside “You’ve finally come!” He turned and glared at everyone around “Watch the door! Do not let anyone in or out. Otherwise it’s death!”
Yun Ge followed behind him “What happened?” Fu Su said nothing and continued to bring her deeper inside passing door after door. After the final set of guards and door, Yun Ge finally saw Xu Ping Jun.
Xu Ping Jun’s face was like death, her lips stark white and a few midwives were trying to deliver her baby. Yun Ge rushed forward to the pallet and clasped her hand tightly. “Jiejie, you…..” When Xu Ping Jun say her, her face appeared to change color and she tried to pull back her hand. Yun Ge didn’t understand and asked “Jiejie! Jiejie? It’s me!”
Xu Ping Jun’s eyes were filled with tears but she turned her head and refused to look at Yun Ge. Yun Ge softly said “No matter what I did wrong, now is not the time to have a temper tantrum. The baby is almost here. You can’t be angry. The most important thing is to let the child be born safely.”
Xu Ping Jun said nothing and her tears came tumbling down one after another. Yun Ge walked away and asked Fu Su “Where is the royal physician?”
Fu Su replied quietly “Wrote a medicine prescription and I sent him away. The Emperor and the Empress recently fought and he’s still angry. Now Consort Huo handles all the back Palace management. I’m not worried about the prescription, but I don’t want them to linger. Her Royal Highness has been very weak recently and I can’t take any chances.”
Yun Ge took Xu Ping Jun’s pulse and asked to see the prescription.
Suddenly Xu Ping Jun’s body jerked from the pain and she was covered in sweat “…..ba…..by….” Yun Ge wiped her seat and gently said “Don’t worry, the baby will be fine. You will also be fine.”
Yun Ge checked the baby’s position and she shuddered. Why was she breach? And early! Xu Ping Jun’s body also seemed off. Yun Ge started to fret and quietly said to Fu Su “My medical skills isn’t good enough, go get Meng Jue.” Fu Su’s heart sank and he rushed off without a word.
Yun Ge took deep breaths to calm down and sat down on the pallet and cradled Xu Ping Jun in her arms. “Jiejie, don’t be scared! I’ll be here with you. This time we will also get through this. Take deep breaths……..”
When Meng Jue arrived it was already dark. Inside Shu Fang Pavilion, all the lamps were lit but the atmosphere was of deep unease. Hearing from Fu Su that Meng Jue was here, Yun Ge made no move and continued to speak quietly into Xu Ping Jun’s ear.
Meng Jue also acted like he didn’t see Yun Ge and walked over to the pallet to check Xu Ping Jun. He furrowed his brows and was deep in thought, saying not a word. Yun Ge saw his silence and also registered his countenance and all the goosebumps went off. The fear she had pushed down came rushing up. With his medical skills, how he could be looking so hopeless?
Meng Jue thought for a time and then started to write the prescription. Xu Ping Jun suddenly cried out “Meng dage….baby…..save the baby first!”
Her face was completely exhausted but her eyes shone with conviction and a type of pure strength. It reminded Meng Jue of his mother’s face when she hid him safely away before leaving. He solemnly nodded his head and crossed out the first two lines and wrote a new prescription. He handed it to Fu Su “You brew it yourself, don’t let anyone handle it.” Fu Su nodded.
Xu Ping Jun struggled through the night and finally the baby was born. With the birth of the baby all the anxiety from before evaporated and everyone inside the room started to smile.
“Congratulations to your Royal Highness, it’s a little princess.”
The midwafe held the baby and shook her a few times but still didn’t hear her cry out. She started to fret and quickly checked for breathing. Her face fell and without a word she started to cry.
Meng Jue rushed over immediately and took the baby. He used his hands to probe the baby tens of ways but couldn’t elicit a cry from the baby. His entire face was filled with darkness and regret as he turned to look in apology at Yun Ge and Xu Ping Jun.
Yun Ge stared at the baby in his arms. The pain of today, plus the scars of before, together it felt like a dull blade was stabbing at her heart slowly over and over.
Xu Ping Jun didn’t have any reaction, her face impassive and her eyes empty “Bring her over.” Meng Jue looked at her expression and couldn’t even say one word of condolence. He gently placed the baby down next to Xu Ping Jun. Xu Ping Jun gently touched her little face, her face filled with incomprehensible sorrow. Her tears finally came but with it came blood from her eyes.
The midwife screamed “She’s bleeding out!” and her body started to shake. Bleeding out after giving birth, the sign that Hell wanted to take more than one person. Yun Ge grabbed Meng Jue’s arm “Do something!”
Meng Jue didn’t say anything and took out his already prepared golden needles and inserted it into Xu Ping Jun. Yun Ge nervously watched him. Xu Ping Jun jerked Yun Ge’s sleeve and she quickly lowered her head to listen.
“Actually, my heart already knew. This time………this time I won’t make it…..it’s too painful! But this baby of mine is innocent. Can’t the Heavens spare her. This is karma, all karma!”
“No! Jiejie, you won’t…..”
Xu Ping Jun’s eyes told Yun Ge to stop talking “Hu Er is at Chang Le Palace. I want to see him.” Yun Ge immediately sent Fu Su to summon the Crown Prince.
“Yun Ge, you are a good little sister. But I am not a good older sister. I wronged you.”
“No. You are exactly the older sister I’ve been hoping for since I was small.”
Xu Ping Jun looked at her daughter beside her and her tears fell but there was an eerie smile on her face “Liu Xun took away your child, and how the Heavens are taking away his child. Everything is destined to be fair.”
Yun Ge’s heart was breaking and her tears finally fell “Jiejie, you have to hang in there. Meng Jue’s medical skills are the best. He’ll save you, and you need to raise Hu Er!”
Xu Ping Jun felt the strength in her body quickly seeping away, and all the pain that had been tormenting her all night was leaving her. Her entire body felt weak and numb. “Meng dage, you already know the conclusion so stop wasting your time. I have something to say to you both.”
Meng Jue stopped and tossed the rest of his needles on the ground. The clatter was loud and reverberated in the large empty room. He sat beside Xu Ping Jun “If you have any wish or ask, tell me and I will make it happen.”
Yun Ge heard his words and the sliver of hope she clung onto was shattered. She felt like her heart was slowly being scooped out but she couldn’t feel the pain. It only felt numb and cold. She didn’t understand why the Heavens wanted to keep taking the people around her away.
“Yun Ge, you wrongfully blamed Meng Jue. The person who killed your child is Liu Xun. To make sure there was no heir to threaten his position as the new Emperor, there was no way he would have allowed you to give birth to Liu Fu Ling’s child. If Meng Jue didn’t do what he did, both you and the child would be dead. The person who poisoned Liu Fu Ling is also Liu Xun. He asked me not to sew a pouch but instead sew a fragrant satchel. He also asked that I inscribe the poem of the former Emperor on it. His ultimate goal was to become Emperor. Him and Huo Cheng Jun…….”
Even after so many days, even thinking about it tore her apart. Xu Ping Jun almost couldn’t breathe and Meng Jue quickly contained her nerves.
“Ping Jun, please rest. Whatever you want to say, I will tell Yun Ge” Meng Jue looked up at Yun Ge and finally revealed it all “………..Liu Xun and Huo Cheng Jun, when did they get together, I don’t know for sure. Probably when Liu Fu Ling fell ill that first time. Huo Cheng Jun must have heard from Huo Guang about what he did. She then told that secret to Liu Xun, who knew a lot of low life type of people. That is how he got the idea and skills to mix that fragrant satchel.”
Xu Ping Jun continued with gasping breaths “It wasn’t when Liu Fu Ling was sick. Huo Cheng Jun told me it was when I was severely injured on that ice slide attack and was home convalescing. Liu Xun accompanied her out on the Lantern Festival and bought her a lantern. She purposely showed it to me. That lantern had eight sides and was embroidered with Chang Er leaping for the moon. She told me that Liu Xun often told her that she was more beautiful than even Chang Er…..
Yun Ge saw her face stark white and cut her off “Jiejie, stop! Stop talking about it and thinking about it.” That year, the Huo family assassins were not aiming for Xu Ping Jun, but she was injured in the attack and almost died. While his wife was healing at home, Liu Xun and Huo Cheng Jun………….the happy loving marriage that Xu Ping Jun thought she had was in fact all lies.
Meng Jue furrowed his brows and said nothing. Xu Ping Jun’s body being unwell, Huo Cheng Jun must know. That is why she purposely came to tell Xu Ping Jun all these things. This deadly tactic of hers, she learned from her father Huo Guang. To kill without needing to draw one’s own sword or draw blood.
Xu Ping Jun smiled, but her smile in her wan face made her seem even sadder “Okay, let’s not talk about them. Yun Ge, Meng Jue….he really wanted to heal your cough. That year, he really did not know Liu Fu Ling already had poison in his body. Actually, many things I long suspected but was too afraid to probe. I kept it from you. Meng Jue kept it from you because he didn’t want you to kill Liu Xun for revenge, afraid you’ll get hurt. I kept it from you also because I didn’t want you seeking revenge on Liu Xun because I don’t want him hurt. Please….don’t be angry………” Xu Ping Jun’s eyes were filled with tears.
Meng Jue gently said to Xu Ping Jun “You know Yun Ge’s personality. She will never be angry at you. So don’t be filled with regret over this. You will always be a good older sister in her heart.”
Xu Ping Jun clasped Yun Ge’s hand “Yun Ge, promise me, forget everything that happened in the middle. Just remember when we first all met. We were so happy then. Everyone was happy…….you and Meng dage can be together now, you guys need to be happy together now……….”
Yun Ge’s palm was on Meng Jue’s hand. What felt like a lifetime had passed since the last time their hands were clasped. He looked at her. She looked back at him. Neither of them said a word.
“Yun Ge!” Xu Ping Jun wanted to get up but her body had no strength and she fell back into Yun Ge’s arms. Yun Ge appeared to wake from a dream and she quickly said “Jiejie, Jiejie……..”
Meng Jue tightly clasped Yun Ge’s hand and said to Xu Ping Jun “Everything I ever said to you, I will keep my promise for my entire life.”
Xu Ping Jun stared at Yun Ge and she hesitated before turning her hand around and holding Meng Jue’s hand. Xu Ping Jun smiled peacefully and slowly closed her eyes “Hu Er……” Meng Jue quickly said “One day as his master, a lifetime as his father figure. I will never let the Huo family harm him.”
Xu Ping Jun wanted to say “thank you” but realized that everything Meng Jue did for her, it wasn’t anything that could be expressed with a “thank you”, so she remained silent and her tears continued to fall. “Hu Er, why is he not………here…….not……….”
Xu Ping Jun’s voice got smaller and lower and was harder to hear. Her hand on top of Meng Jue and Yun Ge’s hand suddenly fell to the side onto the pallet with a thud. It sounded like thunder to Yun Ge’s ears and her entire body shook. She tightly embraced Xu Ping Jun, her heart filled with so much sorrow and pain but not a single tear would fall. Her entire body shook violently like she was in the middle of a blizzard.
Voices came from outside the room and Liu Shi entered with a smile calling out “Royal mother”. The maid saw first what happened and tried to stall him but Liu Shi reacted quickly and rushed forward past Fu Su “Royal mother! Royal mother! Mom! Mom! Mom!………..”
Hearing the heartwrenching screams and cries from Liu Shi, the news of the Empress dying in childbirth spread out from Shu Fang Pavilion.
In the darkness of Wei Yang Palace, the lamps were lit one by one in each of the rooms.
The servants of Zhao Yang Pavilion were used to keeping news from Shu Fang Pavilion, but this time no one dared withhold this news. Despite it being the middle of the night, all the servants noisily gathered outside.
Liu Xun sleepily turned over in with an annoyed “humph” while Huo Cheng Jun half got up and said with annoyance “Drag them away!”
The servant was banging his head loudly on the ground and announced through tears “Your….Majesty, Your Majesty, the Empress has…….passed away.”
Liu Xun awoke immediately from his slumber and flipped over the outside part of the bed with Huo Cheng Jun on it and landed on the ground. Wearing his sleeping clothes and no shoes, he jerked open the door and lifted his foot to stomp on the servant “What nonsense are you saying!”
All the servants and maid in and out of the room were all splayed on the floor, each of them bowing their heads on the ground. Liu Xun stared at the head maid with a look hiding his fear and filled with pleading. She averted her eyes and looked down “Your Majesty, the Empress went into labor early but the baby was breach and the delivery was very perilous. After struggling all night, she delivered the baby and finally her strength gave out. Mother…….and baby both died. Will Your Majesty please put the welfare of the nation first and take care of your health and endure this loss………”
Liu Xun only felt that her voice was getting smaller and smaller. Until he slowly could hear nothing at all. He looked around him and saw people bowing their heads on the ground and sobbing and running around. It appeared to be chaotic. But he felt like the world was strangely quiet, so quiet he could hear his own heart beat. It sounded like cymbals, getting louder and louder.
He took steps outside and someone stopped him. He turned around and a very beautiful woman’s mouth appeared to be opening and closing very quickly. Beside her a maid was carrying a robe. That distasteful woman pointed at his feet and appeared to say something. He pushed the woman away in annoyance and ran outside.
It appeared to be snowing. His body was shaking with layer after layer of cold. But he wasn’t scared. When he got home there would be a fire burning. That year it was also unusually cold. The entire town was snowing and he didn’t have an inner layer, just an outer coat. Everyday he would wander around town, cock fighting to win money to buy food. At night the guys loved to squeeze into his dilapidated shack, not because his shack had smaller cracks than others so would let in less wind, but because his shack had a fire going to cook meat. Ping Jun would go get wood from the mountains everyday and when she returned, she would secretly sneak him the biggest pieces.
That little girl, when she saw him with his group of friends, she would quietly stand in the side of the road. Hei Zi and those guys would whistle at her and she would have a basket on her back and nervously stand there. Her nose would be so cold it was adorably bright red and so funny looking. Her sleeves had large patches and on her feet was a pair of old too large male shoes. It was likely her brother’s old shoes, and it was also ripped so her toe would stick out. When she saw his eyes look down at her feet, her face would redden and she would try to shrink her toes back into the shoes…….
He suddenly stopped.
In front of him wasn’t his dilapidated shack, it was a grand resplendent Palace. It can shield the snow, it can block the wind, but the coldness on his body was getting worse. Countless people rushed forward and kneeled before his feet. Some raised their heads to speak, others had their heads down sobbing. But he couldn’t hear anything. He brushed past them and ran into the room, passing door after door until he finally saw her. His heart relaxed and the snow stopped, his body warming up. Wasn’t she sleeping there just fine? His world was still at peace.
He smiled and walked forward when a child kneeling before the pallet suddenly stood up and rushed towards him with tears flowing. His heart thundered – in that split second, a earth rending cry reached his ears and pressed down until he was dizzy. He reached his hand to embrace him in confusion “Don’t cry. Don’t cry! Your mom will be fine!”
The child pushed him out with angry rage “You get out. You get out! Mom died because she was so angry at you! She died because of you! You go back to Zhao Yang Pavilion. Zhao Yang Pavilian’s Consort Huo was born from a higher class family than mom, is prettier than mom, you go find her……….”
He Xiao Qi rushed forward and grabbed Liu Shi. “Crown Prince do not be disrespectful!” He added an apology “Your majesty, the Crown Prince is so distraught and his mind is jumbled…….” Liu Shi kicked and fought to escape but he was no match for He Xiao Qi. He finally grabbed He Xiao Qi’s neck and sobbed into his arms “Uncle Xiao Qi, Mom……..mom……..” Xiao Qi was sobbing as well but he was so worried about what Liu Shi would say in this state that he carried him and backed out of the room.
Liu Xun slowly walked to the pallet and kneeled down and picked up her hand. But her hand was cold, it could never warm him again, it would never reach for him again. He pressed her hand against his face and let the ice coldness seep inside. He raised his head and looked at Yun Ge “Why didn’t you guys summon me? Why didn’t you let me see her one final time? Why?” Under his seemingly calm words was rumbling thunder.
Meng Jue wanted to grab Yun Ge but it was too late.
Yun Ge’s movement was so light that she appeared to float like a green cloud towards Liu Xun. And Liu Xun was hoping to hear Xu Ping Jun’s final words that he also rushed towards Yun Ge. He saw Yun Ge’s lips move but couldn’t make out what she said. His subconscious reaction was to lean towards her to listen when Yun Ge suddenly unsheathed a blade and pressed it straight against Liu Xun’s heart. Thank goodness Liu Xun had powerful martial arts and his body instinctively reacted and he jerked himself aside. He avoided Yun Ge’s kill stab but her every move thereafter was so swift and unexpected, with each move aimed to kill. One stroke after another she attacked Liu Xun, who lost the upper hand and was just defending himself. Many times he almost avoided her blade tip but he lost out to Yun Ge’s blade.
He had retreated to the wall but he forgot that beside him was Xu Ping Jun’s pallet and he momentarily lost his footing and balance. Yun Ge used this perfect opportunity to explode a thousand blade attacks like flower petals and each petal was aimed directly at Liu Xun’s throat. Liu Xun’s shut his eyes tightly and before him flashed all his memories with Yun Ge. He couldn’t believe that he was about to die in her hands.
Suddenly a hand darted forward and in the very last second, tightly grabbed the blade. The blade was arrested right on Liu Xun’s neck and he wasn’t injured, but that hand was sliced by the blade and blood was dripping on his white robe.
The guards outside heard he commotion and called out for the Emperor but Liu Xun didn’t answer them. They rushed inside and tightly grabbed their sword, not sure of what to do in this life-death moment.
Meng Jue’s hand was holding the blade and he calmly said to Liu Xun “Your majesty, please tell them to retreat. I’m sure Your majesty will not want anyone to hear what is about to be said.”
Liu Xun, with the blade pressed against his carotid artery, could not nod so he just ordered “Everyone retreat.” The guards could not defy his orders but didn’t want to leave him there. They retreated to right outside the room and more and more guards arrived to completely surround the pavilion.
Meng Jue said to Yun Ge “If you kill him, don’t even think about walking out of here alive tonight.” Yun Ge’s hand on the blade didn’t move an inch as she considered how to get Meng Jue to move aside “I never thought about leaving here alive.”
Liu Xun wanted to see Yun Ge’s expression, he couldn’t imagine the look on Yun Ge’s face when she wanted him dead. He kept thinking the person with the blade pressed to his neck was someone else. But he couldn’t lower his head so he asked in a raspy voice “Yun Ge, how did you find out everything?”
Meng Jue snorted in derision “You thought you planned it air tight, but you didn’t even pull it over Liu Fu Ling’s head.” Liu Xun and Yun Ge’s bodies shuddered at the same time and the blade on Liu Xun’s neck lowered a fraction, and both Liu Xun’s neck and Meng Jue’s hand started to bleed.
Liu Xun didn’t dare move another inch “It’s not possible! It’s not possible! If he knew………how could I still be alive? How could he have let me live?”
Yun Ge’s eyes was filled with incomprehensible shock and sadness and she murmured “No, it cannot be, he wouldn’t……”
Meng Jue said “You never cared about Yun Ge and Xu Ping Jun’s affection for you, and he destroyed what I worked so hard to do. Of course I wouldn’t have kept it a secret for you. Once I discovered what you did, I immediately told Liu Fu Ling. I thought he would have you executed right then and there, who knew he would………..do nothing. Not only did he do nothing, he still insisted on passing the throne to you.”
“You’re lying! He wouldn’t! Ling gege wouldn’t………” yun Ge shook her head and screamed, her blade shaking in her hand, seemingly ready to slice into Liu Xun’s throat.
Meng Jue held down the blade and said very sternly “Yun Ge! He was your Ling gege, but he was the entire world’s Emperor. For your sake and his sake, he ought to have executed Liu Xun. But for the sake of the entire world he cannot kill him! Since Liu Fu Ling’s death was already unavoidable, if he also killed Liu Xun, then that would only play into Huo Guang’s hand. Liu He is too kind and honorable, he might not be Huo Guang’s match. One misstep and the world will descend into chaos. If he didn’t kill Liu Xun, he would only have wronged you. If he killed Liu Xun, he would have wronged the entire world that needed him!”
Yun Ge hollered “I don’t want to listen to you, all I know is that he caused Ling gege’s death!” She finished and stabbed the blade forward. Meng Jue’s hand trembled with the pain and he couldn’t hold off Yun Ge’s thrust anymore. But he couldn’t hurt her so in anger he attacked the blade and bent it sideways before releasing it. “Fine! If you want to kill him, then kill him! You don’t want to live anyway! The Han dynasty is currently at war with the other tribes. If you killed him, then at most the world will descend into confusion and the ordinary people will suffer. At most tens of thousands will die. Let those tens of thousands accompany you to your grave. The one who will not rest well in the afterlife is Liu Fu Ling. I’m not going to feel bad about peasants suffering. Why does that have to do with me?”
Meng Jue turned and sat down, taking out a handkerchief and lowered his head to bandage his cut, not even sparing a glance at Yun Ge.
Yun Ge wanted to stab but the blade wouldn’t move forward. What would be destroyed was the years of hard work Ling gege built, what would be killed would be thousands of heartbroken families. She wanted to retreat, but there was so much rage and anger inside her. The person in front of her caused her and Ling gege to be separated by death forever more. Even her child was taken from her before it even let out one cry.
The sword in her hand shook.
Liu Xun’s body was tightly pressed against the wall and Yun Ge’s hand continued to shake uncontrollably. The bleeding cut on his neck continued to seep blood until his entire white robe turned red.
Suddenly, Liu Shi walked through the door and his eyes widened in alarm. He yelled out “Dad! Auntie? You…..you…….”
With a resounding clatter Yun Ge’s sword fell on the ground. Liu Shi ran towards her and asked with some fear “Auntie, why did you………”
Yun Ge knelt down and pulled him into her arms “From now on don’t call me Auntie.” [Liu Shi calls her "Gu Gu", which means she is the sister of his father.]
“What should I call you then?”
“Auntie, I am your maternal Auntie, not your paternal Auntie” [Yun Ge now wants Liu Shi to call her Yi Mu, which means she is the sister of his mother. Before Yun Ge called Liu Xun Big brother which is why Liu Shi called her Gu Gu, but now she's making it clear she's severed ties with Liu Xun and is only related to Liu Shi as the sister of his dead mom Xu Ping Jun.]
“Auntie won’t be able to visit you in the Palace anymore. You have to live well by yourself. Don’t forget your mom and grow up to be a good man. Don’t let your mom be sad in the afterlife”
Liu Shi started bawling and grabbed Yun Ge’s neck “Auntie, please don’t leave me.”
Yun Ge’s tears fell on his neck “You only need to remember, as long as you are well, Auntie will always watch you from afar, and your mom will always be watching you as well.”
Yun Ge hardened her heart and pushed Liu Shi aside and walked towards the door.
Within a day so much had changed and Liu Shi only knew bits and pieces of what had transpired. He couldn’t bear it anymore and started crying loudly there and there. His maid walked up and wiped his tears, comforting him “Crown Prince, you are a big boy now, you must be strong!”
Yun Ge looked back at Liu Shi with tears in her eyes “Don’t cry, you are going to be the Emperor one day. The Heavens will give you the entire world to make up for what you’ve lost.”
A swirl of a green skirt in the crowd and she was gone.
Qi Si hurried inside and whispered “Your majesty, should we go……..apprehend Yun Ge?”
Liu Xun was weakly slumped next to the pallet and appeared to be in a daze. Liu Fu Ling knew everything from the beginning? He…….he………it’s impossible! It’s impossible he knew everything!
Qi Si called out again “Your majesty?”
Meng Jue calmly said “Your majesty, in this entire world, other than the Crown Prince, the only other person the Empress worried about was Yun Ge. Why not let the Empress pass in peace and give the Crown Prince one more relative in this world.”
Liu Xun didn’t react to Meng Jue’s stare and looked towards the eyes-closed Xu Ping Jun and the snow storm in his heart exploded and he weakly waved his hand. Qi Si let out a sigh of relief and took everyone out of the room and told all the guards to return to their duties.
The maid said “Your servant I will take the Crown Prince to Chang Le Pavilion to stay for a few days.” [Shang Guan Xiao Mei lives in Chang Le Pavilion.]
Liu Xun said nothing and merely nodded his head.
Liu Xun saw that Xu Ping Jun’s hair was messy and he sat down on the pallet and grabbed a brush and gently fixed her hair.
Meng Jue watched him and felt only disgust and derision. Liu Xun isn’t an Emperor who came to this position without conflict, he walked through blood to arrive here. He survived and lived under plots and machinations. As smart as he is, the moment he made Xu Ping Jun the Empress, he must’ve known it would end like this. For his own sake, he placed a weak woman on the precipice of a blade’s edge himself. Knowing it was bound to happen, why all of this now?
Meng Jue bowed and turned to leave.
Liu Xun asked “She……when she was dying she really didn’t want to see me one more time?”
Meng Jue kept his head lowered but spoke directly “Yes, not once did she ask to see Your majesty. The Empress struggled all night but because she went into labor early, the baby was injured and was also in the wrong position. So the baby was born dead. The Empress was racked with sorrow and bled to death.”
Liu Xun’s eyes saw black and the brush in his hand dropped, splitting in half “A boy baby? Or a girl baby?”
“A very beautiful baby girl.”
Meng Jue talked and carried the baby girl wrapped in a blanket to Liu Xun, who made no move to take her. Meng Jue purposely dropped her and Liu Xun’s heart spasmed with pain. Even knowing she was already dead, he still caught her and pulled her into his arms. This baby who was so foreign to him, a baby that had barely any contact with him, at that moment she was imprinted in his blood. For the rest of his life he would remember this baby in his arms. The closed eyes, the slightly tilted lips, the pink baby skin, the soft body. From this day forward, there will always be a little girl in his dreams late at night, wandering in his mind, so frail and so cold, and he will never hear her call him “Daddy.”
Liu Xun closed his eyes and tightly clasped the baby, his body shaking uncontrollably.
Meng Jue kneeled down and said “I suddenly remembered one thing I need to inform Your majesty.” Liu Xun had no energy to speak and nodded.
“The Empress was in such a distraught emotional state and her sadness caused her to go into early labor. But the baby was breach. The royal physician wanted to use a medicine to make the baby come out faster. His method wasn’t wrong, because no matter what the Empress was in a dangerous situation. In that moment, no one could guarantee something wouldn’t go wrong.” Meng Jue stopped talking.
Liu Xun’s eyes shot open and he looked thunderous “Why don’t you finish what you were saying?”
Meng Jue respectfully replied “Your servant I don’t know what else to say after that. However Your majesty wants to handle it, then so be it. I shall retreat now.”
Liu Xun’s complexion turned from purple to white and finally to defeat. No matter what happened, no matter if what Meng Jue said was true, she went into early labor because of him. Now he was so powerless to even take it out on anyone. All he felt was cold, so cold, so very cold!
He held the baby in one hand and the other hand tightly grabbed Xu Ping Jun’s hand. Snow flakes like feathers floated down around him and in the entire world he was alone walking through the snow. No matter how powerful the storm was, the warm little house that could shield him could never be found again.
Ping Jun, you will never go gather wood for me again, is that it?
© 2013, ockoala. All rights reserved.