Chapter 12 – The grim Yama, king of Hell, Prince Ying
March's warm spring, with grass growing and various birds flying. How warm was the soft wind.
Several dozen fine horses sped along the offical road.
Every horse had a person riding on it that was wearing a wide, black-colored bamboo hat with a high peak. (1)
And at the very front of this procession was a tall male dressed in a black-colored robe, under his hat that had a screen, a silvery light shone from a face mask. Through the thin fabric hanging down from the brim of that hat, you could see a pair of mysterious black eyes. Now, dense black clouds seemed to have amassed in those pupils, it was a haze that could not be dissolved. And also, his lips were pursed, giving everyone a kind of cold, handsome illusion.
At his side, Fire Spirit (2) was just in the midst of giving him the secret reports for the past several days. Every time he finished speaking about one matter his eyes would become even more gloomy.
"Your Highness, these several days, everyone in the Capital is fervently investigating you and the Chu family's engagement. The matter of bestowing this marriage, I'm afraid, it has already spread through the entire Western Xuan (3)."
"Her Majesty the Queen is very angry. She sent three secret orders in a row, telling you to quickly enter the imperial palace to have an audience with the Emperor."
"And recently, His Majesty's mood seems to be very cheerful. He rewarded our Prince Manor a lot of precious treasures."
"Yesterday, Retired Emperor had already left the Capital. Once again, his whereabouts are unknown. Water Spirit was also unable to find any trace of him."
Without a doubt, this masked cold man with a gloomy expression that could drip out water was the grim Yama, king of Hell, Prince Ying, that Chu Qing-Yan was talking about. This era's Emperor and Empress Liang's oldest son called Xiao Xu.
Xiao Xu coldly smiled, "Looks like this time, returning in triumph from the fighting front, there seems to be lots of pleasant surprises waiting for this king!"
Fire Spirit's face was full of indignation, "Your Highness, originally, we should have returned in triumph from the fighting front to the imperial court several days ago. But His Majesty suddenly ordered us to suppress the bandits, as a result, you missed the best opportunity to ask for a favor from Retired Emperor. Nowadays, the entire Western Xuan knows you must marry that daughter from the down and out Chu family. Those people in the palace are certainly looking forward to see you being made a joke!"
How could Xiao Xu not understand this point. Exactly because he understand this too well, was the reason his mood was so bad.
This group of people already reached the Capital.
Fire Spirit saw Master's face submerged in ice, couldn't help but to ask, "Your Highness, should we first go to the imperial palace? Maybe on His Majesty's side, you can ask for a favor to rescind the engagement."
Xiao Xu cast him a glance and said, "Do you think this matter can be resolved through asking for a favor?"
Fire Spirit immediately stopped and stared blankly. Once he recalled His Majesty's treatment of Master, his heart instantly became cold. Now, he saw Master get off the horse and walk towards Welcoming Spring courtyard. Fire Spirit immediately asked, "Then Master, aren't you going to first enter the imperial palace to see the empress?"
"No need, first, cover up the movements of this king's return. Don't let anyone know."
"Yes!" Fire Spirit complied.
From the back door to enter the Welcoming Spring courtyard, it was different from the front courtyard with lots of noises and birds. The back courtyard was pure, cold and silent. And once Xiao Xu appeared, two black-clothed people appeared at the head of the flight of stairs. They stood there and respectfully bowed, and one of them said, "Master, subordinate has already informed honorable Water Spirit. Right now, she is in the room waiting for you."
Xiao Xu nodded, he climbed the staircase and Fire Spirit's group also quickly caught up with him. This was one of their secret meeting places, completely obscured, no one else knew about it.
Once he pushed open the door, it was a room unlike others with fragrant incense. This room was decorated simply but still seemed grand, permeated with a faint expensive air.
A beautiful woman in red stood in the center of the room, those natural charming eyes with an allure that came from the bones, would make a person's heart soften when looking towards her. Only, once the woman dressed in red saw the person that came in, the alluring smile on her face immediately was put away thoroughly. That foxy charm was already replaced with a firm and stern expression. That careless smiling expression changed into a respectful intent. The person stood straight, then bent her head and kneeled down, "Water Spirit pays her respect to Your Highness."
"Get up." Xiao Xu said in a low and deep voice. He had already turned around to sit down on the master seat in the room.
She heard her family's Highness's tone was even and indifferent, but having followed by his side for many years, she knew Master's expressionless face covered by the cold mask seemed to have become a little bit colder. Water Spirit couldn't help but to glance at Fire Spirit who stood on the side, and Fire Spirit, who caught her meaningful glance, only shrugged his shoulders. So, Water Spirit was able to guess that His Highness's bad mood was closely related to the Chu family and His Majesty bestowing a marriage for him. She started to hesitate whether to tell him about the latest news she had just gathered. She knew His Highness would certainly be furious because of this news. Because, the most recent news she received seemed not to be too hopeful.
However, even if Water Spirit didn't say it, Xiao Xu would also start to ask.
"Water Spirit, in the end, what is this bestowed marriage about?" Xiao Xu coldly asked. He had just retaken the land previously lost, and was going to return to the imperial court in triumph from the battles. Originally, he thought he could have several days of peace and quiet. But he never expected that what awaited him was an unknown engagement document. Although he was rarely angry and not easily angered, however, this time, his heart also couldn't help but be a roaring sea of angry thoughts.
Hearing her family's Highness's flat tone, Fire Spirit and Water Spirit's lower body unconsciously trembled slightly. Having followed by His Highness's side for many years, even though they couldn't grasp all of His Highness's moods, however, it was very clear. Whenever Master's tone became lower and more tranquil, this represented that his mood had become even worse. None of them dared to stand out and become his cannon folder.
Only, the unfortunate Water Spirit that was called out by name had no choice but to take a step forward. And Fire Spirit at the side, showed his teeth to her, with his lips pursed in a smile of someone hitting a person when they are down. Immediately, she rapidly reviewed the news she recently received in her mind once through. Afterwards, she strictly reported the news, "To answer Your Highness. Last month, Retired Emperor showed himself and returned to the imperial palace, saying to His Majesty the Emperor, you are almost twenty years old. It's time for you to get married and establish yourself. If you don't get married soon, then no one will want you. Afterwards, under His Majesty's questioning, Retired Emperor grasped at what could be regarded as a makeshift road, to say that the Chu family had a daughter that was clever and lovable. She can become the eldest prince's imperial concubine. As a result, His Majesty, on that same day, drew up the imperial edict to bestow this marriage, like slamming down the auctioneer’s hammer. One part has already been issued to the Chu family last month, the other one is waiting for you to return in triumph to the imperial court before being issued."
Finished speaking, Water Spirit subconsciously took a glance at His Highness in front of her eyes. It seemed as if the silver-colored mask on His Highness's face had become even more cold.
No one wanted him? Regarded as a makeshift road? The corner of Xiao Xu's mouth twitched. Did Grandpa Emperor again learn some hideous mess of fortune telling from around the country? Normally used to cheat those ignorant ordinary people was fine, this time, he even went so far as to cheat his own grandson!
Only, when he heard Water Spirit mention that on the same day, the Emperor of Western Xuan had issued the imperial edict to Chu family, his moist lips tightened a little.
"Chu family?" Xiao Xu said in a low voice. If it wasn't for this time's bestowed marriage, perhaps he would have already forgotten about this Chu family.
The family that once was well-known in Western Xuan, fell from grace in that huge battle ten years ago.
"Your Highness——" Water Spirit didn't know if she should mention it or not, only, as a responsible and diligent subordinate, Water Spirit felt that she really needed to report the news she had just gotten to His Highness.
"What's the matter?" Xiao Xu tossed her a glance.
"Your Highness, after that Chu family knew His Majesty had bestowed the marriage, not only weren't they deeply grateful, moreover, Elder Madam Chu fainted on the spot before the Chu family could accept the imperial edict." Water Spirit's tone carried a trace of resentment. These people were simply too undiscriminating, their Highness's identity was very noble. In their hearts, his existence was like that of a god, but was disdained like this by the Chu family. A blaze was ignited in Water Spirit's eyes.
Once Water Spirit mentioned this subject, Xiao Xu only frowned slightly. It's not like he didn't know the Capital city's assessment of him. Shady, ruthless, cruel, and a terrifying, ugly appearance, there were also rumors of him killing his wife. Therefore, Chu family's attitude wasn't unexpected for him. The entire Capital city, no, even in the entire Western Xuan, perhaps nobody dared to marry their maiden daughter to such an infamous man like him.
Seeing that her family's Highness's expression didn't change, then recalling the intelligence she just saw on that letter, Water Spirit was even angrier in her heart on behalf of His Highness. As a result, she continued to say.
"Granted, even if Chu family can't differentiate good from bad, they actually passed over the young ladies in the Manor of marriageable age (4). Don't know where this not fully two to six years old Ninth Miss came from, to use as His Highness's bestowed marriage partner. Simply bullying people too intolerably!"
Xiao Xu frowned, his tone sinking lower, "Not fully two to six?"
1) wide, black-colored wide bamboo hat with a high peak: I'm imagining the hats in the last three images on this of character from ancient Chinese dramas.
2) Fire Spirit: I decided to translate the names he gives to his right hand man and woman, because it seems like code names 🙂 Anyhow, he is so not creative, he named them after the elements.
3) Western Xuan: The country where this story is set, and also, he should be the crown prince of this country since he is the eldest child and the son of the official wife otherwise known as the empress…other countries will be introduced later.
4) Marriageable age: In ancient China, this could be very young, but I'm going to guess around 14 to 15… I think back then, they could get engaged around 12.