This chapter has been brought to you by me, and WanderingGummiOfDoom.
Chapter Eighty-Three: Moves
Ning Wang and Yan Jin Qiu exchanged courtesies before they entered Chao Yang Hall one after the other. Those who were mindful saw this and couldn't help but think, did this Ning Wang want to push Xian Wang to the throne? But looking at Xian Wang, he didn't seem to want to accept Ning Wang's favor?
There were those who then took a look at Sheng Junwang's expression. This person had the same expression as usual, a straight face, and they found it boring. The younger people who were usually lectured by their elders and compared to Yan Bo Yi always felt terrible when they saw Yan Bo Yi's serious face.
Some young people were the "other children" whom elders liked to mention. If they got a say, this Yan Bo Yi was a fake gentleman. He was said to respect his wife, but there were many concubines in his fu. They didn't know how he wasn't embarrassed to be praised so.
After the people were seated, a taijian came to clap and open the way. Everyone stood up again to welcome the Emperor and Empress.
The Empress walked next to the Emperor dressed in a dress of the hundred birds paying respect to the phoenix. Hua Xi Wan saw that every one of her steps was steady and that the phoenix gold hairpins in her hair swayed rhythmically yet the sway was almost the same with every step.
After the Emperor and Empress were seated, they stood up. Hua Xi Wan listened to an official of the Ministry of Rites recite a birthday speech that the Emperor had written for the Empress. The general meaning was the Empress was good, the Empress was wonderful, the Empress was virtuous.
After the speech, the Emperor and Empress sent up three cups of wine in tribute to the heaven and earth. Then they drank a cup to each other before everyone toasted them. After a whole bout of ceremony, they could finally sit on their seats to drink, eat and watch performances. However, they had to pay attention to their manners.
Hua Xi Wan used her handkerchief to cover her mouth and said in a small voice by Yan Jin Qiu's ear, "How come the Empress Dowager did not come today?"
Yan Jin Qiu picked up a pickled duck tongue for her with a calm expression. "The Empress Dowager is not feeling well and is resting in the palace."
Hearing this, Hua Xi Wan became silent. In past years, even if the Empress Dowager did not feel well, she would still show herself at the Empress' birthday feast before leaving. Hua Xi Wan hadn't expected the Empress Dowager to not even attend this time. She hadn't heard any news that the Empress Dowager had been unwell before this. This… the Empress Dowager was purposefully humiliating the Empress. A few days ago, the Emperor had the Imperial Guard surround the Fang Family, and now he had written a speech for her before reciting it in front of so many people. Their lovey-dovey really wasn't well-concealed.
However, were the Emperor and Empress really so much in love or just pretending for other people?
There was nothing good about this banquet. Hua Xi Wan was too lazy to watch the Emperor and Empress act. She leaned against Yan Jin Qiu to use him as concealment and avoided having to talk. Just as the banquet was about to finish, something happened.
Originally, while the banquet had been slightly fake, it had appeared well on the surface. But if a taijian suddenly fainted and died at the banquet, then it was not good.
Even though the taijian's corpse had been quickly carried out, it was not an auspicious omen for such a thing to occur on the Empress's birthday. Also, who died suddenly and without cause? Was this a warning from the heavens?
Hua Xi Wan had heard of a situation like this in her past life. The doctor said that this was due to a problem of the blood vessels in the brain and heart. But the people here did not know, so it was easier for them to categorize it as something supernatural.
The one who felt that this was the worst thing to occur was probably the Empress. Even though Hua Xi Wan could not see much emotion on the Empress's face, as a woman, Hua Xi Wan was sure that the Empress was feeling displeased now.
Princess Rui He walked out of Chao Yang Hall with a dark expression because the taijian who just died had been serving her. It would be hard for anyone who encountered such a situation where a person suddenly fell down and died. The servants behind her had their heads by their shoulders and were afraid that she would vent her temper on them.
"Don't you find this suspicious? Why was it the taijian who served Princess Rui He that died suddenly?"
"Is it retribution? Did you hear that rumor?"
"Rui He Fuma died without justice, and Princess Rui He possibly…"
The day after the banquet, rumors spread outside. The general meaning was that Rui He Fuma had died unjustly and was taking revenge on Princess Rui He.
When Hua Xi Wan heard these rumors, she was speechless. Regardless of whether it had been the princess who killed Rui He Fuma, even if she did, the person on whom he would exact vengeance was Princess Rui He. What was the use in killing a taijian?
Not two days later, the rumors changed. The general meaning was that this was a warning against the Empress. The heavens were discontent with the Empress, therefore such an unfortunate matter occurred at her birthday banquet.
Then there were officials who accused the Empress' paternal family of disgraceful conduct, and considering the warning from the heavens, the Empress did not have the virtues to be the empress.
In a few short days, a very simple matter suddenly became related to the matter of deposing the Empress. Hua Xi Wan felt that, without a mastermind, how could it develop so?
She was not the only one. Even Yan Jin Qiu hadn't thought that it would develop like this. After he discussed it with his advisors, there was no result, but he decided not to act.
For him, a sonless empress was better than an empress who might have a child and was favored. If Empress Fang was deposed, the Emperor would definitely marry a new empress. That would not be good.
At night after he and Hua Xi Wan ate together, and the two were chatting inside their comfortable blankets, Hua Xi Wan said, "I heard that many people were asking the Emperor to depose the Empress. Is that true?"
Yan Jin Qiu nodded.
"Is it the Emperor who wants to depose the Empress?" Hua Xi Wan frowned. "If the Emperor did not think this, he would have pushed the matter down when the first official spoke up. Why would he allow this matter to develop?"
Yan Jin Qiu laughed lightly. "Who knows—maybe."
In Zhu Que Palace, the Empress and the Crown Princess sat facing each other. Because her pregnancy had progressed, the swelling of the Crown Princess' belly had grown. The Crown Princess who had always been careful and timid in front of the Empress started to become casual.
"Why has Mother Emperor come to find this subject?" The Crown Princess was holding a small article of clothing in her hand as she looked with a smile at the Empress. "What do you think of this clothing?"
The Empress said with a cold smile, "What did you do?"
"Mother-Empress, what are you saying? What did this subject do?" The Crown Princess smiled brightly, and her index finger moved on the cloth. "This subject doesn't understand what you are saying."
"Only you know if you understand or not," the Empress said with a cold smile. "You are too young to fight against me!"
"Haha." The Crown Princess covered the smile on her face and laughed. She laughed until the Empress' expression turned impatient before she stopped. "This is so wondrous. You want to keep the child and eliminate the mother—am I not allowed to fight back?"
In the eyes of other people, the Emperor and Empress were the most noble couple in the world, but in her eyes, they were the most disgusting pair. One had taken her innocence while she had been drunk, and another treated her like she was something to be molded. Even if she was something pliable, she still had her personality.
She had not lived enough; she did not want to die.
"Good, very good." Hearing this, the Empress said gravely, "I want to see what you can do!" After saying this, the Empress turned to leave.
The Crown Princess covered her stomach and suddenly shouted in pain, "Someone come, come!"
To deal with the Empress, she didn't need to use any skill.
Translator Ramblings: The empress forgot that the child is more important than her right now.