Chapter 190: The crisis of selecting consort (2)
“No, you guys…”
“Thank you, prime minister!” “Nevertheless, prime minister is still the most impressive. As soon as prime minister attended to this matter, His Majesty has decided to select consorts!” “Yes, that’s right! Prime minister has really done a meritorious service ah!”
The praises from the officials shrouded Gu De, leaving him no time to discern anything. By the time Gu De understood their intentions, they had already dispersed and only their laughter could be heard from afar.
“This group of sly foxes!” sighed Gu De. These guys have really created trouble for him this time! They didn’t even wait for him to finish and just completely misinterpreted his words. He was certain that soon, the entire capital would know about Ming Yue Cheng selecting consorts. How should he explain this to the emperor then? Did this count as a beautiful misunderstanding?
However, Gu De’s helpless expression changed into a deep smile after a while. Perhaps this mess would make things take a turn for the better and maybe due to the pressure, Ming Yue Cheng would have no choice but to select consorts!
Before then, he (GD) should bring a bramble and ask for punishment and let Ming Yue Cheng prepare himself mentally.
- Bring a bramble and ask for punishment: to offer somebody a humble apology
When Ming Yue Cheng came back from the imperial garden, he noticed that Gu De was still standing in the imperial study. This stubborn old man was truly giving him a headache.
“Could it be that prime minister wants to stay in the palace and accompany zhen 1 to have a meal?” Ming Yue Cheng sat down half-jokingly, he propped his chin with one hand and stared at Gu De. In the past, whenever he slipped away, Gu De would have had already left by the time he returned to the study. However, this time he (GD) was still there, very persistent ah!
Gu De knelt down in front of Ming Yue Cheng as soon as the latter spoke. His face (GD) was creased like a fried dough twist, “Your Majesty, this servant beg for your forgiveness! Your Majesty, please have mercy ah!”
After saying that, he landed his head heavily on the ground and he refused to get up, making Ming Yue Cheng somewhat baffled.
“What happened? Prime minister, you should get up first and then speak!”
Ming Yue Cheng signaled for Fu Er to help Gu De get up, but unexpectedly he (GD) was nailed to the ground. He refused to get up no matter what. “Your Majesty, this old servant has let you down, this old servant deserves to die ten thousand deaths! This old servant’s death is not to be regretted, but this old servant’s worried about Your Majesty ah…”
This kind of making a terrible scene scheme was usually only used by women, but this time, it was copied indiscriminately by Gu De. Ming Yue Cheng really didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry. Could it be that Gu De had changed his strategy and tactics after hitting a wall a few times here? The stream of tears on his old face really made the scene look like Ming Yue Cheng was a muddle-headed monarch that was bullying him!
- To make a terrible scene: to throw a tantrum
- To hit a wall: to have the door slammed in one’s face
“Uncle Gu De, you should get up first, and then tell me about what had happened.” Seeing that Ming Yue Cheng had finally addressed him as ‘Uncle Gu De’, Gu De breathed a sigh of relief. It looked like this matter was not as severe as he thought. He hoped that he (MYC) would be able to understand his good intentions.
Gu De stood up, only then did Ming Yue Cheng notice that his eyes were quite red. This made his ever persistent heart waver a bit.
“Uncle Gu De, what exactly has happened that made you perform such a big rite towards zhen?”
After Ming Yue Cheng ascended the throne, he addressed Gu De as the prime minister and bestowed upon him a special privilege, which exempted him from kowtowing when he sees him (MYC). From the way Gu De behaved, Ming Yue Cheng deducted that something must have happened and it must be something big, so he wanted Gu De to explain the matter in person.
As expected, when Gu De told him what had happened at the palace gate counted by five and tens, Ming Yue Cheng’s first reaction was that he had been hoodwinked and duped by a group of old foxes.
- Count by fives and tens: to narrate systematically and in full detail
“Your Majesty, you see… I reckon that by now, all the people in the capital must be celebrating about you ‘selecting consorts’…”
The ‘helplessness’ in Gu De’s words made Ming Yue Cheng wish he could pry open Gu De’s brains to see whether he really had no intention of doing so at all, or if he did this on purpose.
What should he do now? Now he has been placed in this awkward position, and if you rode a tiger, it was hard to get off. Don’t tell him that he had no choice but to really start ‘selecting consorts’?
- If you ride a tiger, it’s hard to get off: impossible to stop halfway
“Your Majesty, there are some words that I don’t know whether it is appropriate to say or not…” Gu De hesitated for a moment and put on an ‘awkward’ expression.
“Speak!” If the person standing in front of Ming Yue Cheng now wasn’t Gu De, or if he (GD) and the Chu family weren’t acquainted with one another, then he (MYC) certainly wouldn’t have waited so patiently. Instead, Gu De would have already been dragged down and beaten with the plank eighty times as punishment!
“As you have been reluctant to select consorts and there’s no master in the harem yet, there are some rumors in the city saying that you…”
“Saying that you like men…”
After Gu De hesitated for a while he finally uttered those few words, causing Fu Er to choke on his saliva instantly. “Cough, cough, cough…”
“Eunuch Fu, take it easy, I just stated a fact!” That’s exactly what the people are saying out there!” Speaking up to this point, Gu De’s expression changed into one of earnest and well-meaning advice. “Your Majesty, you are now the sovereign of Nan Feng, so each and every move of yours is being watched by the citizens. If the harem remains uninhabited and there’s no successor to the royal family, this would only bring about unrest in the country and make the citizens restless ah!”
- Earnest and well-meaning advice: to persuade patiently
What Gu De had said was reasonable, how could Ming Yue Cheng not not understand? Since things have reached this stage, he couldn’t avoid the matter of selecting consorts anymore. It seemed that from now on, he had no choice but to counter a move when he sees one.
“Your Majesty, Your Majesty?” Gu De’s heart skipped a beat when he saw that Ming Yue Cheng was not uttering a word and just frowning there. Could it be that he (MYC) got angry? Gu De knew that if those words were said by someone else instead of him, then most likely, that person would have been dragged down already and punished! This time, he relied on his seniority. However, he really hoped that Ming Yue Cheng could understand the essential relation between the harem and the imperial court, and for him to take up his role as the sovereign seriously.
“Prime minister, zhen understand what you’re trying to say. Since it’s already like this, zhen will let Prime Minister be in charge of this matter to select consorts! The first and second round should be done according to the old rules, as for the final election round in the palace, zhen will oversee that in person!”
“Yes! This subject will do as Your Majesty commanded!” Gu De’s heart finally relaxed after hearing Ming Yue Cheng say those words. Just as he was about to turn around and leave, he suddenly thought of something. “Your Majesty, if you don’t like for it to be so rowdy in the harem, then picking one is enough! The headcount doesn’t matter, the most important thing is choosing someone that’s virtuous! The citizens want nothing more but an empress, who could be a motherly figure for the country, and Nan Feng lacks a prince to carry on the royal family. But, this subject wishes all the more for Your Majesty to be happy…”
The meaning behind Gu De’s words was already very clear. In regard to the matter of selecting consorts, he was not like the other officials, who wished for the harem to be filled with all the more women. Ming Yue Cheng wasn’t lascivious at all, which in Gu De’s opinion could be considered as a good thing. There were many examples of how indulgence in lust resulted in the eventual destruction of nations. Ming Yue Cheng had lost his mother when he was a child and hadn’t received much love from his emperor father. Moreover, he was sent away at a very young age to be a hostage at the enemy country. If he could meet someone he likes and spend the rest of his life with her, then that would be a very happy thing.
Gu De knew that Ming Yue Cheng, as the emperor, could not have a monogamous marriage all his life. But, as his elder, Gu De still hoped for this solitary monarch to obtain his very own happiness.
After saying those words, Gu De bowed respectfully and then slowly retreated.
As Ming Yue Cheng watched Gu De’s not-so-tall figure disappeared at the doorway, his (GD) last few words were still echoing in his (MYC) mind. So, actually, there were still people around who really cared about him! No matter how many things Gu De had done against his (MYC) will, he still did those out of good intentions! In this world, if you have people treating you sincerely, then you should cherish them. Otherwise, it would be too late for regrets after you lose them. This was what his mother Miao Chu Yun had once said to him.
“Fu Er, the palace’s going to be bustling with noise and excitement soon.” Ming Yue Cheng leaned on the dragon chair, unable to describe the feeling in his inner heart at this moment. Feng Qi Qi’s face appeared in his mind, her smile and her frown were all missed by him.
“Your Majesty, if you don’t like this… Then after you take a wife, you can just bestow her a title and leave it at that!”
Fu Er’s heart ached for Ming Yue Cheng. However, he knew that if he (MYC) didn’t select consorts, then this would bring turmoil to the country. There was a need for a successor from the same royal bloodline to carry on this dynasty. If Ming Yue Cheng continued to persist in this matter, then not only the imperial court but also the citizens would start criticizing. This was the involuntary ‘grievance’ that those born to be an emperor had to endure.
“Ha ha…” smiled Ming Yue Cheng lightly. “Fu Er, wouldn’t that just be wasting the lady’s precious time?!”
“Your Majesty, to be able to serve you is the people’s blessing.” Fu Er stepped forward and poured some tea for Ming Yue Cheng. “Your Majesty, you should also think for yourself. Since that dream can’t become a reality, you ought to think in the interest of the country and the royal bloodline.”
The ‘dream’ that Fu Er talked about was referring to Feng Qi Qi. How could Ming Yue Cheng not understand that Fu Er was indirectly persuading him to let go of his feelings? But, was it really that easy to let go?
It wasn’t long before the news about Ming Yue Cheng ‘selecting consorts’ was spread. The citizens, who were still worrying about the unoccupied harem, could finally relieve their hearts this time. Henceforth, the entire capital became lively again.
Those families, with the intention to participate in the election, did everything they could to dress up their daughters, in hope that their family’s daughter could fly to the top of the branches and become the phoenix. After Ming Yue Cheng ascended the throne, he made drastic reforms to the country and then he also conquered Xi Qi in a very short period of time. Thus, in the citizens’ eyes he was the embodiment of a hero.
- Phoenix: symbolize the empress
Of course, heroes should be matched with a beauty. At present, those lady-in-waiting candidates have long heard of Ming Yue Cheng’s ‘glorious achievements’, and how outstanding and graceful this young emperor was. Hence in their hearts, they naturally wanted to marry him and become his woman.
In just a while, the prices for all the jewelry, clothing and cosmetics in the capital have doubled. The biggest beneficiaries this time were of course Feng Qi Qi’s Tong Bao Zhai and Jue Se Fang.
As this was the first time Ming Yue Cheng was selecting consorts, most of the lady-in-waiting candidates came from official families. The young ladies from official families were naturally well-off and rich, not to mention how those officials were willing to spend loads of money on their daughters for the purpose of getting elected. As a result, Tong Bao Zhai and Jue Se Fang became their first choice.
“Ming Yue Cheng’s going to select consorts?”
When Feng Qi Qi received the news, she was surprised. It wasn’t just her, even Gu Yun Wan was very surprised by this. After all, Gu Yun Wan understood his (MYC) character quite well, he’s usually very stubborn. In the past, Gu De had forced him to ‘select consorts’ and he simply abandoned the state affairs and ‘fled’ to Bei Zhou. Why did he agree so easily this time? This was truly too bizarre!
While Gu Yun Wan was pondering over why Ming Yue Cheng changed so drastically, she was also stealing glances at Feng Qi Qi, hoping to see some kind of reaction from her face.
On the contrary, Gu Yun Wan found the outcome quite disappointing. Feng Qi Qi didn’t show even the slightest bit of disappointment, jealousy nor other expressions. It seems that Feng Qi Qi really only treated Ming Yue Cheng as a friend, as opposed to his painstaking efforts.
When Feng Qi Qi heard that Ming Yue Cheng was going to select consorts, she felt happy for him. Apart from being happy, she was also a bit worried. Being in that position, it was still a question whether he could meet a girl that was to his liking. ‘It was lonely at the top’, she wondered if Ming Yue Cheng had already realized this.
However, Feng Qi Qi could not intervene with these things, and could only hope that Ming Yue Cheng would be happy! On the following days, Feng Qi Qi started designing a new set of jewelry. She was planning to give this to Ming Yue Cheng as his wedding gift.
This was the first time that Gu Yun Wan saw Feng Qi Qi designing a present. After seeing those beautiful jewelry designs on the drawing, she couldn’t help exclaiming in admiration, “Qi Qi, what a beautiful set of jewelry! It’s up to par with Tong Bao Zhai’s jewelry!”
Su Mei couldn’t help but laugh when she heard Gu Yun Wan’s words. “Miss Wan, you’re probably not aware of this yet, right? Tong Bao Zhai belongs to our miss!”
“What?!” Now it was Gu Yun Wan’s turn to be surprised. Her eyes widened and her mouth turned into an ‘o’ shape. All that flashed through her eyes was admiration. “So, it turns out that you are the famous Guang Hua gongzi? Heavens ah! Guang Hua gongzi is actually a woman? I had no idea at all! Ming Yue Cheng did mention this before, but I thought he lied to me! I can’t believe it’s true!”
Gu Yun Wan’s personality was relatively strong. But, no matter how strong a girl behaved, the love for beauty could still be found in a tiny part of their heart and Gu Yun Wan was naturally no exception. Perhaps there were no women in this world that could withstand the allure of Jue Se Fang and Tong Bao Zhai.
At this moment, Gu Yun Wan was looking at Feng Qi Qi in a different light. Besides astonishment and admiration, there was also a kind of regret not having met earlier!
“Qi Qi, you’re really perfect! Now I know why everyone loves you so much!” She said and sighed from the bottom of her heart. Unexpectedly, these words were heard by Feng Cang, who had lifted the curtain to come in. “Who loves my family’s Qing Qing?”
Hearing the jealousy in Feng Cang’s words, Gu Yun Wan stuck out her tongue and ran away from the scene. Su Mei also smiled and went out, leaving the couple alone.
“Qing Qing, what were you girls talking about earlier? Who loves you?”
“Nothing special… Little Wan was just saying that I’m loved by all, running into me makes the flowers bloom and encountering me makes the cars boom!” Feng Qi Qi shook her head helplessly upon seeing Feng Cang filled with jealousy. He was usually calm and rational, but when it came to matters related to Feng Qi Qi, he would become impulsive. Right then, he pulled her into his embrace and praised her incessantly when he saw those designs on the table.
“This set of jewelry is beautiful! Did Qing Qing give it a name yet?”
“Peacock Flying to the Southeast…” Originally, Feng Qi Qi hasn’t thought of a good name yet. However, for some reason, now that she looked at this set of jewelry again, this name came to mind and was blurted out by her.
“ Peacock Flying to the Southeast? That’s not bad.”
While Feng Cang was talking, his lip moved to Feng Qi Qi’s ear and he breathed softly. “Qing Qing, Ming Yue Cheng’s going to select consorts and choose an empress.”
“Yes,” hummed Feng Qi Qi softly twice. Her cheeks flushed slightly when she felt the heat coming from her ears, making her heart tickle and her body numb.
“After Ming Yue Cheng takes a wife, I can finally be at ease.”
Feng Qi Qi didn’t expect Feng Cang to say something like that in the end. It looked like he still remembers those words that Ming Yue Cheng had said before ah! This guy… he’s really petty! “It’s all a thing of the past, isn’t it?”
“No. That guy won’t give up so easily. So, I’m feeling a lot of pressure ah!”
Feng Cang didn’t tell her the words in his heart directly. In his opinion, regardless of whether it was an attack out in the open or a hidden attack, he could counter a move when he sees one and shoots the people harboring evil designs towards Qing Qing down. But this Ming Yue Cheng, he was just watching from a distance and was the ‘if you are happy, then I am happy’ kind of person. In fact, this type was the most difficult to ‘deal with’.
- Zhen: I, used by the emperor ↩