Chapter 22 – The paper wedding contract throwing everything into disorder
The image was a picturesque road paved with green slabs and bamboo trees shading it. Specks of moonlight were drowned out, giving off a deep night scene within. When boots stepped on the green slabs, shadows would cover it. Step by step, as if what was stepped on was not a road, but rather the silence of the night.
The rigid imperial palace, besides the uniformed pace of the patrols, the sounds of the wind blowing on the leaves, no other noise could be heard.
The bold and powerful two words 'Imperial Study' above his head gave off an imposing gloss.
Eunuch Cao went in first, after a short period of time, he came out of the palace hall's door and respectfully bent down to welcome him to enter.
Xiao Xu, without looking around, directly stepped into the 'Imperial Study'.
A bright lantern was placed on the edge of a table in the palace. It lit up the entire palace hall within, also illuminating the person with a brush, writing on the table.
The bright yellow dragon robe seemed to have absorbed all the light, the light flowing on that robe. The golden silk was like the brightest flow of fire in the night, making it so that people didn't dared to look straight at it.
"Your son pays his respect to Father the Emperor." Xiao Xu's emotionless cold voice sounded within this palace hall, neither servile nor overbearing.
The person writing didn't speak, the brush in his hand continued to move. As if he didn't hear the person in front of him paying respect to him.
Time gradually passed, Xiao Xu also didn't become anxious, maintaining a standing position, waiting for the person in front of him to finish his painting.
When only a few brushstrokes remained for the picture he was painting, the Emperor of Western Xuan seemed to have finally noticed his existence. His tone was dyed with traces of displeasure, "After much coaxing and pleading, you only entered the imperial palace just now. Is it because after a year outside, your temper is now accustomed to being lazy right?"
"Your son doesn't dare." Xiao Xu replied evenly.
This was the second time tonight that he had repeated this sentence.
Others might say that this was the closest relative to him in the world, as for him, he had become an alienated stranger.
The corner of Xiao Xu's mouth hooked up slightly, a faint self-mockery appearing on his lips and disappearing just as quickly.
Western Xuan's Emperor didn't notice Xiao Xu's mood, he only heard the same cold and cheerless tone Xiao Xu had as in the past. And he swallowed the words of criticism at the tip of his tongue. After all, in this year or so, he had helped Western Xuan to recapture a lot of territory taken over by the hard-to-deal-with Nomadic tribes. If he was too strict with him, then maybe those people under him would also not accept this. As a result, Western Xuan's Emperor paused a bit when he saw that side profile with the silver mask, his heart dropped the thought of lecturing him. After all, this son no longer had the qualifications to vie for power with Ran'er (1).
Thus, Western Xuan's Emperor slowly changed his tone, only his expression from before still remained, "Xu'er you are also no longer small, you can't continue to be this willful. It's time for you to get married and start a family."
Xiao Xu lifted up his eyebrows, his gaze looking straight at Western Xuan's Emperor, finally, he had arrived at the main point.
Coming in contact with Xiao Xu's gaze that had clearly surmised everything, Western Xuan's Emperor became somewhat distracted. He knew this eldest son's thoughts had always been crystal clear, it could be assumed that he already knew about this matter. However, thinking of having to explain to You-Yue, he cleared his throat. His gaze shifted away, pretending that he didn't see and in a tone not allowing another opinion, said, "Before, I picked several ladies from good families, but due to many reasons, the marriage was delayed. Father emperor and your mother the queen are both very anxious on your behalf. Just by chance, this time, your grandfather the Old Emperor returned to the capital and helped you select a family. Her character and appearance are both good, also very much compatible with you. So, this time, father emperor finally felt reassured. Although the other side’s age is still young, however, none of this is a problem. Wait a few years and then the marriage ceremony can be held."
Xiao Xu pursed his lips, character and appearance are both good right? In all likelihood, Father Emperor probably doesn't even know what the person looks like!
Seeing that Xiao Xu remained silent and didn't answer, immediately, Western Xuan Emperor's face sank, "What? Is it possible you have an objection to this marriage? I, the Emperor, am telling you, the marriage has already been bestowed down, a ruler cannot take back one's words. I cannot tolerate you being in charge of this decision!"
This should be Father Emperor's real meaning right?
Xiao Xu expressionlessly agreed, "Your son doesn't dare."
Affection for 'blood as if water' only left these four words behind.
Having heard what was said, Western Xuan's Emperor stroked his beard in satisfaction, only now did he put down the brush in his hand. Then, with hands behind his back, he waked to the front of Xiao Xu. Suddenly, his hand extended out and patted his shoulder.,"Like this, is I, the emperor's, good son. You must believe that Grandfather Emperor did this for your own good. Therefore, you mustn't get angry. You should get along nicely with that Miss from Chu family and live the life. Maybe in a few years, you can give Grandpa Emperor a plump great-grandson."
Xiao Xu's lips moved, in the end, he didn't say anything, as if he silently agreed.
Wanting to get a sentence of praise from him, he must give up all possibility of walking up to that imperial throne. From Father Emperor's perspective, as long as he didn't resist all his decisions and unconditionally made way for his most beloved son, it was the very thing he ought to do!
"Enough now, this year, you have also worked hard. Next month is your Fourth Younger Brother's birthday, at that time, you should also bring that Miss Chu over for your mother the empress to have a look. So she will stop always nagging at I the emperor's ear." Seeing that Xiao Xu didn't have any objections. Western Xuan's emperor's mood became much better, and in a placating matter, he patted him several more times on the shoulder.
Having resolved this huge matter in his heart, Western Xuan's Emperor also had the mood to properly inquire about his conduct and deeds outside for this year. After he finished listening, he was both happy and worried. Happy because Western Xuan's territory once again expanded, worried because this eldest son was so outstanding, in the future, how could Ran'er surpass him?
"If there are no other important matters, your son asks to be excused first." Western Xuan's Emperor's complicated expression didn't escape Xiao Xu's eyes. His pupils darkened a bit, soon after, he lowered his head to say.
This choice just so happened to be what Western Xuan's Emperor wanted. This eldest son had never been close to him, after they finished chatting over serious business, there wasn't any topic they could talk about. This matter made Western Xuan's Emperor recall his fourth son Xiao Ran, this child, no matter what time, would always be able to make him laugh. He was sensible, clever and smart. Even the cabinet ministers in the Imperial Academy all praised him to the high heavens. Thinking of this, Western Xuan's Emperor's mood once again improved. He nodded and released Xiao Xu to leave.
This time, You-Yue wouldn't be so agitated over the matter of Xu'er's marriage with Chu family's Miss. Even though his feelings for Xu'er were nothing special, however, he still understood this son. The matters he handled, he never had to worry about. He kept his word and would never disobey his orders. Looks like tonight, he could let You-Yue heave a sigh of relief completely.
The clear blackboard above his head, several large words were particularly well-defined.
Fairness, Honesty, Benevolence and Peace.
As if mocking silently.
Xiao Xu no longer stayed, and without turning his head, he left the imperial study.
Eunuch Cao watched that tall and straight body, and then turned to look at the smiling expression at the corner of His Majesty's mouth. He couldn't help but to lower his head.
This kind of thing had already happened too many times, he had already gotten used to it.
Only, even he as a spectator didn't feel this was strange, then the people in the match ought to be numb by now and didn't notice it anymore.
The Western Xuan Emperor's steps were relaxed as he walked out of the imperial study, towards the most luxurious and refined palace hall in the inner palace——walking to the Moon Palace (2).
There lived the most beloved and favored imperial concubine of Western Xuan's Emperor. Fu You-Yue was also the concubine mother to the fourth prince that Western Xuan's Emperor dotted on the most.
Everyone in Western Xuan knew Empress Liang had the most prestige in the inner palace, but the one with the most power was Concubine Yue.
Many things, from tonight on, would change.
And Chu Qing-Yan, who was strolling on the street at this moment, wasn't aware of the things waiting for her after tonight's matter.
And Xiao Xu also was unaware of this.
1) Ran'er: Whenever you see ''er', it's the Chinese pingyin spelling for the character child. In this case, Ran is the person's first name and adding ''er' to the first name is an intimate way to call his son 'Ran child'. I'll be using ''er' a lot, so just add child whenever you see a first name with ''er'.
2) Moon Palace: You-Yue the Yue in the concubine's name is the character for moon. So this palace hall was named after the concubine.