Chapter 206 – Love Within the Peach Blossoms
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Mo Ruo completely sobered up. Despite the leftover tea on his face, his expression looked grave and anxious.
“There’s no way to reverse the decision?”
His temper was unlike Jing Rong’s. It was impossible for him to remain calm and composed. If he was the one sitting in court today and heard the news, he would surely have flipped a table in anger. He wouldn’t have given a damn about hierarchy or even kinship.
Jing Rong shook his head and continued in a serious tone. “No one can make my imperial father reverse his decision. You know how he is, always adhering to the principle of one word from the Son of Heaven is worth the Nine Tripod Cauldrons. If you want to have him cancel his decree, it would be very difficult.” He quietly sighed.
Mo Ruo balled his hands, his anger completely dissipating what was left of the alcohol muddling his mind. His anger was accompanied by a feeling of powerlessness. “What about you? Are you going to watch Kong Yu marry the old king of Qujiang? Even if you don’t love her, shouldn’t you help her out? We are still childhood friends in the end.” He put emphasis on the last point.
Jing Rong remained unmoved, sporting the same stern expression. “You think I haven’t tried to help her? The past two days, I’ve sought my imperial father countless times, pleading for him to rethink twice. You should understand that if I wasn’t his son, I would already have been dragged off to the market to be beheaded!” He said with his voice deepening.
He wasn’t jesting when he explained himself. It was true that he went to Fuyang hall numerous times the past two days, hoping that his actions would make the Emperor changed his mind. Unfortunately, the Emperor seemed convinced by Concubine Xiao’s pillow talk.
His decision remained greatly influenced by her whispers on how Kong Yu was the best candidate. In addition, this matter had disturbed his mood and he just wanted to settle this quickly.
With one imperial edict, he granted Kong Yu the title of Princess Huiwen, sending her to marry in Qujiang.
The edict will be proclaimed which would become a foregone conclusion.
Even if Kong Yu was unwilling, she had no choice but to obey. They could only lament that Empress Xuanshu died seven years ago and could no longer protect her beloved niece. They could only blame Jing Xuan who had a great imperial mother that paved an easy road for her to escape this disaster.
Although Mo Ruo collected love affairs endlessly, had a fickle heart and was a hopeless romantic, he still considered Kong Yu as his friend. So, how could he abandon a friend in need?
He was anxious, feeling the crisis. “She only has you in her heart. How can you let her be sent to Qujiang?”
Jing Rong lowered his head. The feeling of distress could be seen in the depth of his eyes. “I know! I know she doesn’t want to marry. If it wasn’t because of me, she wouldn’t have remained unmarried until this day, and Imperial Father wouldn’t have chosen her to be Qujiang’s bride.”
He felt incredibly guilty, that was a fact. If he didn’t take Kong Yu’s desire as a joke and clearly rejected her, her marriage wouldn’t have been delayed until now. It was his fault. He recognized it, no need to hide it.
Mo Ruo stood up. His tightly clenched fists beat the table. His face showed his desire as a man to protect the fairer sex.
“I’m going to find Kong Yu. I have to see her!” He was about to dash out, but Jing Rong stopped him.
“She already went into the palace.”
Mo Ruo abruptly turned back. “What?”
“Imperial Father already send people to escort her into the palace.”
Two hours ago, when the imperial edict arrived at the Kong Mansion, Madame Kong was hitting the wooden fish in the prayer room with one hand while holding a necklace made out of 99 buddha pearls with the other. She was immersed in chanting Buddhist sutras, shrouded in the smoke of incense. The mama standing outside had to announce her presence three times before Madame Kong finally noticed her. Her sight fell on the Buddha statue inside. “May it be!” She spoke three words, but when they fell into the mama’s ears, it made her heart feel squeezed.
When Madame Kong’s words were transmitted to Kong Yu, the mama expected that she would burst into tears and blame her mother for not doing something about it. Unexpectedly, Kong Yu didn’t vent, neither did she cry nor did she say a word. Instead, she looked at her reflection in the copper mirror, gradually turning into a devastating beauty with makeup. Then, she put on new clothes.
The whole time, she wore a faint smile, but it couldn’t hide the bitterness and pain within her.
The horse carriage came, she went in, the same smile still present. Did she accept her fate? Was she willing to marry to Qujiang? Wasn’t she bent on Jing Rong? Didn’t she want to be Prince Rong’s consort?
She raised the window curtain. It only took one hour from the moment they received the edict and now, she was already on her way to the imperial palace.
On this day of spring, the streets, bordered by all kinds of flourishing peach blossoms trees, were covered in petals, falling one by one, covering the carriage as it ran amidst the drizzle of flowers.
The petals danced and floated, ending their final course on Kong Yu’s head, shoulders and in her opened palms. As the petals landed into her hands, Kong Yu felt the dewdrops coldly seeping under her skin. The coldness seemed to awake a memory from years ago.
“Ah Rong, quick, look at this. It’s so pretty,” spoke a tender and childish voice that had yet to mature and brimming with hope.
That year, Kong Yu was nine, holding in a hand a small bouquet of peach flowers. She was facing a small stream. Leaning at the base of the peach tree was Jing Rong who hurried there at her call. Jing Rong was only eight, but he didn’t have the smiling expression a child of that age should have. His face seemed frozen into a sullen expression that made others feel distressed for him. Kong Yu happily sat next to him and scattered the flowers on his small shoulders.
“Do you really like peach blossoms a lot?” His eight-year-old voice sounded bleak to the ears.
Kong Yu nodded. “When Ah Rong grows up, can you plan lots and lots of peach blossoms trees for me?”
Jing Rong didn’t agree or disagree at that time, but now, he did plant rows of peach blossoms trees, all because of Kong Yu.
Looking at the petals in her hands, her mouth curled into a brilliant smile. Slowly her fingers curled, clutching onto the petals.
She entered the palace and was ushered by the palace servants to Fuyang hall. Upon her arrival, she saw the almighty emperor and Concubine Xiao who was smug about her successful plan. Like a puppet, Kong Yu greeted them as courtesy demanded before obediently taking a seat at the side. She listened to Qi Zhen’s speech.
His words were to put her at ease for her marriage to Qujiang. From now on, the Kong family would have no worries for a lifetime, enjoy wealth and fame, all because she was granted the title of Princess Huiwen. Naturally, Concubine Xiao said a few words, but whatever she said, it all went through Kong Yu’s ears.
From start to finish, she had her eyes lowered, staring at the petals in her hands. Her smile had never left her, causing Qi Zhen and Concubine Xiao to think that she might even be willing to marry.
From a certain point of view, it was a great honor for a declining family to suddenly have a princess amongst their members, not to mention that princess would soon become Qujiang’s imperial concubine.
After a while, she was led out of Fuyang hall.
Outside, it had started raining.
Plic! Plac! Plop! Plop!
The raindrops fell in pitter-patter on the roof tiles, sliding down the slanted roof, free falling and splashing water when they reached the puddle on the ground. Droplets fell onto Kong Yu’s skirt.
A servant opened an umbrella and held it above her head. “Princess, the Emperor has ordered us to send you to Shaoxin hall.”
‘That’s right!’ She almost forgot. She was now a princess and the palace would now be her new home before she was to be wed to Qujiang.