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Chapter Ninety-Two: Mourning
While the reputation of the Crown Princess was not good when she died, because she had given birth to a son for the Imperial Family, even though her status as the crown princess only existed in name, the effect of her hanging herself was enormous in Jing.
It seemed that the Imperial House was cursed these recent years as people had continuously died. Someone said in private that it was because the Crown Prince had died at a bad time, a time that would bring bad luck to those close to him, so after he died, that was why so many other people in the Imperial House had died.
Yan Jin Qiu changed into a somber robe and sat with Hua Xi Wan to wait for the decree from the Imperial House. While the Crown Princess was of the same generation with them and they did not need to put on mourning attire, she had still been the crown princess and they could not allow any detail to be missed.
Theoretically, if the Crown Princess passed away, the members of the Imperial House should immediately go visit, but the situation was not the same now. The Crown Princess had not died with a good looking method, and there had been slanderous rumors about the Crown Princess a few days before. The cautious members of the Imperial Family did not want to be the first to pop out, so they waited for the Emperor to send a decree.
Since the one who died was the Emperor's daughter-in-law, regardless of whether they were truly grieving or pretending, they didn't need to compete for first at this time.
The news that the Crown Princess had hung herself did not leak to the common people. Otherwise, the Imperial House would have been shamed. So two hours later, no one was surprised when the news circulating among the common people was that the Crown Princess had passed away due to sickness.
In Zhu Que Palace, the Emperor looked at the white mourning hall. After a long silence, he suddenly staggered and blood seeped from the corner of his mouth.
"Emperor!" Ma gonggong's expression changed, and he immediately went forward to support Qilong Emperor carefully.
"Shut up!" The Emperor imperceptibly wiped away the blood at the corner of his mouth and then put the handkerchief with the blood into his sleeve. "Announce zhen's decree—order all noblewomen above third grade in Jing to mourn for the Crown Princess."
Ma gonggong released Qilong Emperor's hand, taking a step back and then bowing. "Should the wangfei and junwang fei in Jing also…"
"The Crown Princess was the future empress and of peerless status. Since she has passed away, they should come to mourn her."
Ma gonggong buried his head lower. "This servant will pass on the decree now."
The Emperor waved his hand and slowly turned to walk out of Zhu Que Palace. The farther he walked, the calmer his expression was until he came to Cheng Zhang Palace. He raised his head to look at the dragon pillar in front of the palace gates, the intimidating dragon, the glittering scales, the sharp claws. A moment later, he lowered his head and smiled disdainfully to disguise the loneliness in his eyes.
In the past, he had done anything and everything to get the throne, eliminated others and became the one honored and glorified. Now, he had truly become someone who was alone. Was it retribution for having killed his brothers in the past?
While in a daze, he seemed to have heard the cry of an infant. His mind immediately shook. He turned to the palace maid behind him and said, "Where's the imperial grandson? Have Xiao Mazi deliver him to Guang Yang Hall."
The palace maid stilled slightly and said tentatively, "Emperor, Ma gonggong has left the palace to deliver the decree."
Hearing this, the Emperor finally remembered that he had Xiao Mazi leave the palace.
"Then send someone to get the imperial grandson. Be careful, do not drop or bump him." He inhaled slowly. No matter what, at least he still had this child.
"What, Father-Emperor is having the qinwang fei mourn as well?" Princess Rui He sneered and said, "Just a widowed crown princess—what face does she have?"
Just as she finished talking, she heard a servant outside say that Cheng Zhang Palace's chief steward Ma gonggong had come to announce a decree.
Princess Rui He's expression immediately became ugly. However, the cold treatment she had received in the past days had taught her how to judge the circumstances. So in the span of a few breaths, the hate and discontent on her face disappeared without a trace as she stepped out of the inner room.
It was normal for the palace to decree for noblewomen above third grade to mourn. But it was slightly inappropriate to have people like the princess and qinwang fei mourn as well. Even if the Crown Prince had been alive, the Crown Princess did not qualify for all the womenfolk in the Imperial House to mourn for her, much less when the Crown Prince was dead. She wasn't the empress dowager or the empress.
Also, there had been those rumors about the Crown Princess before she died. The Crown Prince also had a terrible reputation. What nobility did the Crown Princess have that the wang fei and princesses had to go mourn for her?
After the imperial decree came, some of the older members of the Imperial Family almost couldn't breathe. Some of the old taifei could not stand due to "illness" and had their juniors go into the palace to pray and mourn for the Crown Princess.
Qilong Emperor's action caused discontent among the Imperial House members, but out of consideration for the unfortunate events that had occurred to the Emperor in this year—the death of his son, adoptive mother, and daughter-in-law, and the actions of his own wife—people gritted their teeth and swallowed their anger. Those alive should not argue with those who had passed away.
Xian Wang Fu naturally had received this decree. After Ma gonggong left, Hua Xi Wan found that Yan Jin Qiu's expression wasn't right. She knew that he was slightly discontent with this decree and said, "While I have not had many interactions with the Crown Princess, the Lin Family and the Hua Family are in-laws. I can be said to have a close relationship to her. It is right to burn some more incense for her."
"I understand." Yan Jin Qiu touched the silver hairpin in her hair with a smile. After ordering Bai Xia and the others to take care of Hua Xi Wan, he sat with Hua Xi Wan on the carriage to go to the palace.
After the two of them went to the Crown Princess' mourning hall and paid their respects with incense, they went to Cheng Zhang Palace to visit the Emperor. However, the taijian on duty at Guang Yang Hall said that the Emperor was not well. They did not insist and left after bowing in front of the hall gates.
"Who were the ones who just came?" In the slightly dim room, Qilong Emperor heard noise from outside and asked expressionlessly.
"Emperor, just now, it was Xian Wang and his wife coming to pay respects to you." Ma gonggong knew that the Emperor was not in a good mood, so his voice was much quieter than usual. "They heard that you were not well and bowed at the gates before leaving."
"Zhen recalls that Xian Wang Fei has great beauty. How is the relationship between husband and wife?" Qilong Emperor looked with narrowed eyes at the bow hanging on the wall. The bow was wrapped up in a black covering embroidered with lucky clouds. Because the room was too dark, he could not see the cloud patterns.
Ma gonggong hadn't expected the emperor to ask such a question. After a moment, he said carefully, "They say that Xian Wang Fei is beautiful on the outside, and intelligent on the inside. Xian Wang likes her very much and doesn't even have a concubine in the fu. They must be deeply in love."
"Deeply in love…" Qilong Emperor's tone was slightly wan, and when he said this, there was a hint of disdain. It frightened Ma gonggong into a sweat.
How come the Emperor was suddenly asking about Xian Wang and Xian Wang Fei?
"Zhen also heard this in the past and thought that it was just rumors. Thinking about it now, these rumors might have some truth." Qilong Emperor lowered his face slightly. "Tell me, out of him and Yan Bo Yi, who is more suited to be the crown prince?"
This was lightning on a clear day. Ma gonggong knelt down in fright and said tremblingly, "Your Majesty, forgive me. Your Majesty, forgive me."
Seeing him so afraid, Qilong Emperor showed some satisfaction on his face. He raised a hand to indicate for the other to stand. "Go out; zhen will only be reassured if you are watching over Zhu Que Palace."
Ma gonggong lowered his face and silently retreated.
The atmosphere in the mourning hall was extremely heavy. After the womenfolk offered up their incense, they sat and rested in the side hall. Because of how the Crown Princess had died so suddenly, while they all had their questions, no one dared to speak in this setting.
The Crown Princess was gone, and the moment her son had been born, lightning had struck the imperial tomb. That was a fate which was inauspicious. Adding on the rumors that he was not the Crown Prince's son, the child's status made him unsuitable to succeed the throne.
The imperial grandson could not succeed the throne, and the Emperor did not have any children of his own. Consequently, the next emperor would have to be picked from the Imperial House. In terms of bloodline, Sheng Junwang and Xian Wang were the most noble and appropriate. However, the rumors a while ago had been that Sheng Junwang had relations with the Crown Princess. Because Sheng Junwang had not attended to his duties properly, his position in court had been taken away.
Comparing the two…
Everyone glanced at Hua Xi Wan and Hou shi who were sitting side by side. Their actions were natural, as though there was no distance between them. They were really composed.
How could Hou shi not know what the women in the surroundings were thinking? She lowered her head and smiled coldly. She turned to look at Hua Xi Wan who had a sorrowful gaze. "Xian Wang Fei seems slightly thinner."
"It most likely is because the last days have been so hot and I have not had a good appetite." Hua Xi Wan's expression was worried. "Yesterday, I had bad dreams, but did not expect the Crown Princess to pass away from illness." When she said this, the rims of her eyes turned red. "My Hua Family and the Lin Family are in-laws."
When the people in the surroundings heard this, they finally remembered that Xian Wang Fei's older female cousin had married into the Crown Princess' family. From that angle, the two really were in-laws.
However, some people were still surprised that Sheng Junwang was so active in engaging Xian Wang Fei. Did even Sheng Junwang Fei think that Xian Wang had a higher likelihood of succeeding to the throne?
So everyone went to look at Yi'an Marquise in the corner. But this Yi'an Marquise was composed. Even when people probed her, she did not say anything, and people were not able to find anything to pick at.
Lu shi did not want to face these noblewomen who had their own aims, but she knew that ever since her daughter had married Xian Wang, she could not escape the fight for power. Their Hua Family would never go low to sell their daughter for glory and wealth, and naturally would also not bear to drag their daughter down.
If she could choose, she would rather her daughter marry into a normal prestigious family. Even if Xian Wang became the emperor in the future, she did not feel that marrying into the Imperial Family was a good choice.
When she thought of this, Lu shi glanced worriedly in Hua Xi Wan's direction. Hua Xi Wan coincidentally was looking her way. Mother and daughter imperceptibly exchanged a look before moving their gazes away calmly.
As a mother, she naturally would not bear for her daughter to have hardship. As a daughter, how could she bear to see her parents and brothers land in the bog for her?
It was just because they could not bear for each other to suffer.
When Ma gonggong came to the side hall, all the noblewomen that should have come were present. He quickly scanned the crowd and then walked in front of Hua Xi Wan to bow to her. "Greetings to Xian Wang Fei. This servant has come with His Majesty's orders to take care of matters for the Crown Princess' mourning hall."
The Crown Princess' funeral rites were managed by the Ministry of Rites, but if the Emperor sent someone to help out, showing how highly he thought of a person, it was a kind of honor.
Ma gonggong was the chief steward of Cheng Zhang Palace and the highest-ranking taijian in the entire dynasty. It really was generous of the Emperor to send him to assist.
In the eyes of other people, the Emperor's action might seem kind because the Crown Princess' death was unclear and the stain on her had not been washed away. But to Hua Xi Wan and Hou shi who knew the truth, QIlong Emperor's actions seemed laughable.
They really didn't know—with what emotions had Qilong Emperor sent Ma gonggong?
As a father-in-law or… as a man?
Translator Ramblings: So are you burying a lover or a daughter-in-law? Neither, the emperor is burying what was to him a vessel for him to have children.