Chapter 197 – Concubine Xiao’s Ruse
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don’t read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Jing Xuan felt extremely sad and tears streamed down her cheeks. Yet, it didn’t stop her from complaining. “Since imperial mother already knew, why didn’t you tell me? You would rather let this daughter of yours flail around like a fool?!”
“I have lost so much face that I feel too embarrassed to even meet people when I go outside!” Jing Xuan cried.
Concubine Xiao’s complexion darkened, her heart filling with distress on behalf of her daughter. She sat down beside her and patted her hand to comfort. She softened her tone as she spoke. “I only knew of it afterwards. I thought to tell you today after the banquet, so you could give up on her.”
Jing Xuan continued to cry.
“Today, you have embarrassed imperial mother in front of everyone and I have yet to even lecture you on the matter. Now, be a good girl, and dry your tears. This is not the time to cry!” Concubine Xiao sighed heavily afterwards.
Jing Xuan wiped her tears and glanced at her mother. Concubine Xiao’s face was wrought with worry and appeared preoccupied. Jing Xuan sniffled and asked, “What is the matter?”
“It’s related to the matter with Qujiang!” Concubine Xiao got up and continued to sigh. “Just now, I went to see your imperial father and learnt that Qujiang came to the capital this time to propose a marriage under the order of their king.”
“A marriage proposal?” Jing Xuan’s tears dried as fast as she could make them fall. “Since they are seeking a marriage, why do you look so conflicted?” She inquired for more details.
“This time, the marriage partner is Qujiang King. Your imperial father was very concerned about how to handle this matter. He naturally can’t randomly choose a woman for that. In the past, your wedding with Yuanzu fell through, but now that you are older, and judging from the tone of his voice just now, he seemed inclined to send you to Qujiang.”
Hearing that, Jing Xuan became terrified immediately. She hurriedly rose and stepped forward, grabbing her mother’s wrist. “Imperial Mother, I absolutely don’t want to marry over to Qujiang. You know that Qujiang King is more than 50 years old. How can Imperial Father be so heartless? Imperial Mother, you must help me!” Her tears fell again as she spoke urgently.
Concubine Xiao raised her hand and stroked Jing Xuan’s head. She looked regretfully at her daughter. “Xuan’er, of course, I don’t want you to marry far away. Unfortunately, this matter is related to the peace between Qujiang and Great Lin. As a princess, it is your duty and I have no control over it. But, rest assured that I will still talk with your father about regarding your wish.”
“Then, if Imperial Father still insists on marrying me, what should…” Jing Xuan’s words became stuck in her throat as she worried and she felt increasingly uncomfortable thinking of the other possibility.
From the moment she was born into the imperial family, no matter how noble her identity as a princess was, she knew that her wedding would never be hers to choose. First of all, she was a valuable chess piece that could help stabilize the imperial court or gain the loyalty of an official, a minister or a great character. Second, she could be a sharp sword that he could send to another country on the pretext of marriage. All these were things that all princesses had to go through.
And Jing Xuan was no exception to this rule. Yet, she didn’t expect that after escaping from her wedding to Yuanzu, she would end up getting married off to the old Qujiang King instead. She tugged her mother’s sleeve while crying desperately.
Concubine Xiao only had this one daughter and could not bear being separated from her due to such circumstances. She gripped Jing Xuan’s hand and calmly stated. “Don’t worry! Imperial mother will absolutely not let your father marry you there.”
“But if Imperial Father sends a decree, you won’t be able to do anything!”
“Then before he gives the order, I will use that method to stop him.”
“Hmmm?” Jing Xuan didn’t understand her meaning. Her heart was filled with sadness, so she didn’t care about anything else and buried herself in her mother’s chest to cry.
The next morning.
Concubine Xiao personally boiled a bowl of ginger soup that she brought along with her to Fuyang hall. Qi Zhen was currently looking through the memorials. He was absent-minded and showed an oppressive expression. Besides him, Old Eunuch Zhang leaned over to inform him, “If Your Majesty is tired, how about resting for a moment?”
“We are not tired. We are simply troubled about Qujiang’s marriage proposal.”
“Can it be that Your Majesty is considering which princess to send in marriage?”
“You old thing, our mind has been seen through by you.”
Eunuch Zhang smiled. “This old one has followed Your Majesty for dozens of years already. If I can’t understand Your Majesty a bit, this old one would have lost the qualifications to stay by your side!”
Qi Zhen put down the memorial and sighed. He raised his head and looked at his attendant’s face. “Then, tell me, is it a good idea that if I sent Jing Xuan?” He asked.
Eunuch Zhang mulled over the question. He bowed and spoke his thoughts. “Princess Jing Xuan is an intelligent person. She is quick-witted and adorable. In addition, she was born with beauty. If she married to Qujiang, it is naturally a good thing. Although it is true that the princess has her qualities, her temperament is a little bit too carefree and she is rather prone to being quite impulsive. To marry her to a faraway country with no one to rely on, I’m afraid that there are bound to be many accidents.”
Qi Zhen nodded and he was fraught with worries once more.
“Unfortunately, amongst my daughters, only Jing Xuan is at a marriageable age.”
‘What a headache!’
At this moment, Concubine Xiao timely arrived.
“This Concubine pays respect to his Majesty!”
She bent her knees in salute as per etiquette.
Qi Zhen raised his head. “No need for courtesy.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!”
She ordered people to bring to her the ginseng broth she had boiled. She took the bowl and placed it on the emperor’s table. Then, she sat on the mat near him. With a kind smile, she gently said, “Your Majesty, I heard from the maids that you’ve been reading memorials the whole night, so I made some ginseng soup for you.”
“You are too considerate.”
Qi Zhen took a sip of the soup before putting it down.
Concubine Xiao narrowed her eyes at the pile of memorials. She then gently shifted the subject. “Yesterday we spoke of sending Xuan’er to Qujiang. I don’t know if you have already made your decision?”
Qi Zhen wasn’t a fool, and Concubine Xiao was quite obvious about probing him on this matter. He tightly frowned. “About this, we would have to discuss with the chancellor. As of now, the decision hasn’t been made yet.”
‘That’s good!’ It meant that she still had some leeway to work on this matter.
Concubine Xiao raised her phoenix eyes. “Your Majesty, although Xuan’er is a princess and her marriage is decided by you, you should also know that I only have this one daughter. If she is sent to Qujiang, I will feel forlorn.”
She showed a sour expression.
“Amongst all my daughters, Xuan’er has a lively personality which we are very fond of. Unfortunately, too many things are at stake, so I hope that you can understand.” Whether it was under the influence of Concubine Xiao’s gentle voice, Qi Zhen spoke to her in a soft voice and didn’t use that awe-inspiring voice he used to assert his control over the imperial court.
Concubine Xiao argued in a bitter voice. “This Concubine understands, but your Majesty should know that Qujiang King is already in his fifties, and Xuan’er is only 17. Since you love Xuan’er, how can you have the heart to marry her away like this?”
“We know, but apart from Xuan’er, who can take her place?”
He was also distressed about it.
Concubine Xiao’s eyes immediately brightened as she whispered. “This Concubine knows someone.”
“Could it be that you forgot about Empress Xuanshu’s niece, Kong Yu?”
‘Kong Yu?’ When the name was mentioned, Qi Zhen immediately remembered.
Concubine Xiao slyly continued to explain her idea. “The Kong family is the queen’s maiden family. They can be considered relatives to the imperial family. In addition, Kong Yu’s age is no longer young, but she is still a maiden. Your Majesty can bestow upon her the title of princess and marry her to Qujiang. It’s a feasible method.”