Chapter 6 – Enemies On A Narrow Road, Red-Eyed Love Rival
The imperial garden’s peach blossom forest is a good place for a stroll to aid digestion, as well as a good place for lovers to meet up.
That year, when great Chen was destroyed, I, returning from the frontlines, was dragged by Xiao Huang, who wanted to go see the peach blossoms in the imperial garden. Every year during March, the imperial garden’s peach blossoms were dark crimson and fragrant, piled up like brocade, layered like red clouds. It was precisely the season when crab apples wept blood.
A pity that the outside world was intoxicated by the fire of war. Great Qi‘s army was in the midst of its attack against the imperial city, the beat of the wood striking upon the city gate one by one, was like a heavy hammer ruthlessly smashing down on the people’s will, smashing their will and courage until both trembled uncontrollably. Naturally, we did not go.
Having eaten and drank my fill, with no child from a previous marriage to demand my care, I could only feel that the spring day was bright and sunny. Under Tian Bing Qing’s accompaniment, I wandered around and finally ended up at the peach blossom forest. Delicate fragrance entering my nose, a curtain of red clouds filling my eyes, I only felt the ease of my heart. I thought to myself, if Xiao Huang knew that being a great Qi prisoner meant a full belly and being able to appreciate beautiful scenery, would he regret it deep down?
Being able to run into Qin Yu Zheng in this kind of place, it is simply enemies on a narrow road.
Four palace maids trailed behind Qin Yu Zheng. I remember that compared to my age, she was still wanting by a year, but at this moment, she was dressed as a married woman. With a stretched neck, she was impatiently watching the little stone bridge that faced the peach blossom forest. With her intensity, she could even be the Amah Rock.
It was as Tian Bing Qing and I moved to pass by her from behind that we saw this strange scene and could only agree with that age-old saying: where is there a place that living things will not meet.
You see, Qin Yu Zheng, as the eldest daughter of great Chen‘s royal prince Rui from his first wife, used to be stuck-up and ride upon my head. I had thought that great Chen having been destroyed, this girl, no matter what, would follow in the dire straits of the imperial family? Who would have imagined that after raising Xiao Huang outside while bearing hardships and tiredness, going around in a circle to become a captured, lowly prisoner and brought back, this girl, who compared to me could only be lowlier and not superior, unexpectedly, would have Tian Bing Qing advance forward and greet: “Appearing before imperial concubine Yu!” causing me to feel like the clear skies had cast down a bolt of lighting to strike upon my head. My bewilderment gave birth to the illusion that it was currently night instead of day!
–She, Qin Yu Zheng, has become Feng Zhao Wen‘s imperial concubine?
This was simply the world’s biggest joke!
Back then, didn’t she desperately try, by any means possible, to marry Yan Ping and become his wife?
I once hated her to the bones, wringing my brain to the limits in order to retaliate against her. I could never have imagined though, that in a place I didn’t know about, destiny had long ago given her a ruthless smack.
What news could be more pleasing than this?
I honestly could not stop myself from letting out a”pu” sound of laughter . Hearing it, she slowly turned her body around, elegant eyebrows slightly wrinkled, and very unhappily glared at me. The imperial maid at her side loudly rebuked: “Audacious! Appearing before imperial concubine Yu but still not kneeling? Which palace are you from? What is this impropriety?”
Facing that imperial maid, Tian Bing Qing gave a glare, “Lowly servant, you dare to lecture the people from his majesty’s palace?! Someone come, drag her down to the punishment room!” His deference during earlier’s greeting could no longer be found.
Taking his words as a bluff to defend me, I gave him a grateful look, not expecting a black-clothed man to abruptly appear from behind and, as though she were a baby chick, carry that imperial maid away. That imperial maid cried heaven and Earth, begging her “imperial concubine Yu.” Unexpectedly, her “imperial concubine Yu” has improved during these three years. She did not argue with Tian Bing Qing, only watching as that imperial maid was carried further and further away. Only then did she indifferently say: “Eunuch Tian, why bother with a little girl?” A pair of needle-like eyes came pricking over my way: “This miss….looks very familiar ah!”
In my mind, I was secretly relieved. Luckily I’ve never thought about escaping, or else I’d once again be pursued and definitely killed on the spot. How would I even survive? Seeing Qin Yu Zheng’s needle-like eyes, I gave a hehe laugh. I nearly forgot–this person has never seen me wear women’s clothes!
“Greetings to imperial concubine Yu. Felicitations to imperial concubine Yu for being in his majesty the emperor’s good graces, preserving your glory and wealth. May you have endless happiness and longevity!”
Hearing the half-true-half-false tone of my well wishes, Qin Yu Zheng’s gorgeous face became part blue and part white. She hesitantly pointed an unsteady finger at me, “You……You…….in the end, who are you?”
Tian Bing Qing remained as silent as a mussel, putting on a well-behaved appearance. He closed his mouth tightly, looking elsewhere, and just like that, refused to tell her.
–This little palace eunuch was definitely doing it on purpose!
I was secretly rejoicing in my heart when a group of imperial guards came walking across that little stone bridge. The leading person, wearing the clothes of a fourth rank military official, as outstanding as jade, was precisely Yan Ping.
Truly, as they say, when one wants to watch a good play, someone will build a stage and perform.
Watching the play by myself, of course I didn’t mind adding a bit of firewood: “Reporting to imperial concubine Yu, back when great Chen had still not been destroyed, this lowly one remembers that royal princess Yu Zheng had set your heart on the youth named Yan Ping, and refused to marry any other. How is it that after a separation of three years, you have cast him aside for another?”
The bit of blood that remained on Yu Zheng‘s fresh and beautiful face completely disappeared, as though she had seen a ghost. Pointing at me, even her lips began to quiver: “You….in the end, who are you?” Gasping in a breath, her voice became stern and imperial, “Already past the palace gates but you dare to slander me, this royal one?”
En, slandering someone, this kind of business, I’ve always accomplished it to my heart’s desire.
I slanted my shoulders and trembled for a bit, appearing extremely scared. With a plop sound, I knelt onto the ground, and in the midst of Tian Bing Qing‘s stunned gaze, knocked my head twice towards Qin Yu Zheng, sobbing: “Imperial concubine Yu, this guilty one no longer dares to! May the respectable you spare this guilty one!”
This trick was often used against me by Qin Yu Zheng in the past. Put to use a hundred times, it would be effective a hundred times, and each time, it would call forth Yan Ping‘s scolding. It was now my turn to test the effectiveness of this trick!
Out of the corner of my eyes, Yan Ping was coming over with large strides, appearing very stiff. Facing Qin Yu Zheng, he slightly bent over in a bow: “This official pays respect to imperial concubine Yu! Imperial concubine is not at Yu Xu palace respectfully waiting for the emperor; here, at the peach blossom forest, what anger are you trying to unleash at a passerby?”
There was a hint of a reprimand in his tone, which was seldom there.
In the past, Yan Ping has nearly never gotten angry at Qin Yu Zheng before!
I wiped away a nonexistent tear and extended a hand towards Tian Bing Qing: “Xiao Tian, I’ve knelt until my legs has gone soft. Pull me up!” It’s all because of that bastard, Feng Zhao Wen! Being able to see Yan Ping get angry at Qin Yu Zheng however, I feel like even if I were to die, it would be with my eyes closed in contentment.
Tian Bing Qing pulled me up, patting the dust off my knees while whispering a reproach: “Miss, his majesty royally decreed that you are not required to greet the imperial concubines within the palace. How could you kneel?”
It’s not like I’m his mother. It’s only the empress dowager who isn’t obliged to greet the imperial concubines in the palace right?
It’s a pity that I was born a few decades late. Feng Zhao Wen‘s mother has already died by a few decades, so from what I’ve heard, the present empress dowager within the palace is the previous Qiemperor’s second wife, who was only able to bring up a single princess. As such, she is nothing more than a nice, decorative item.
“An Yi, why are you here?”
Yan Ping looked at me dazedly, even the expression of his eyes were very straightforward. Up and down, he gave me a once over. Then, as though not satisfied, he did it again.
I gave my own coarse face a stroke. Compared with Qin Yu Zheng‘s as-delicate-as-water face, my face fell short by far. And yet I was ostentatiously wearing women’s clothing everywhere. It’s indeed a bit unpleasant! Nowadays however, I no longer feared that he would dislike me. Giving a hee hee laughter and cupping my hands in greeting: “This lowly one was appreciating the scenery and carelessly disturbed imperial concubine Yu‘s mood! Is this something you have to care about, General Yan?!”
In an instant, his face became wretchedly green!
Seeing this miserable appearance of his, I stepped forward a couple of steps and patted his rigid shoulders. Lowering my voice to a whisper that only us two could hear, I reminded him: “GeneralYan, you and Qin Yu Zheng are mutually in love. Clearly, it is his majesty the emperor who placed his blade between you two and robbed you of your love. I can understand all of that! However……openly and fearlessly having a tryst in the middle of the peach blossom forest, should this matter spread, it would be very inappropriate right?”
Yan Ping continued watching me sadly……..a mandarin duck who has been separated from its loved one to a different part of the world will often show this kind of suffering, anguished expression. He probably rarely meets anyone who understands his situation, so it is normal that he would reveal his true feelings.
–I’m truly such an understanding person. The kind of good person that is also magnanimous, not remembering old grudges!
Touched by my own broad-minded heart, I conveniently threw my arm around his shoulder, prepared to teach him a few clever and surreptitious plans for trysting with an imperial concubine. That way, the green hat upon Feng Zhao Wen‘s head could be dyed an even deeper shade. Before I could begin however, Tian Bing Qing had dragged me away: “Miss, be more perceptive!”
I just knew it, Feng Zhao Wen didn’t leave Tian Bing Qing to accompany me for any good reason. Besides monitoring me, could it be that he has some other motive?
Another voice shouted out, shrill to the point of being unbelievable: “An Yi……An Yi…..you’re actually still alive? In the end, are you a man or a woman?”
Qin Yu Zheng rushed forward, firmly grasping onto Yan Ping‘s sleeve. A pair of eyes, nearly spouting flames, stared at me: “Brother Ping, why is she still alive? She is a woman? She is truly a woman?”
–That’s why they say, too big of a shock can cause one to go crazy ah! A crazy royal concubine bathed in fire!
In front of this many imperial guards and servants, Qin Yu Zheng publicly placed a green hat upon his majesty the emperor’s head. What kind of expression would Feng Zhao Wen have upon hearing this news?
I’m really looking forward to it, really delighted to see it happen!
“Imperial concubine Yu!”
“Imperial concubine Yu!”
Next to my ear, four or five voices coincidentally cried out at the same time. I secretly counted, this call of “Imperial concubine Yu,” besides being dragged out in a helpless tone by Yan Ping and shouted out by Tian Bing Qing with a difficult face, it was called out several more times by the three imperial maids that remained at Qin Yu Zheng‘s side……
It could clearly be seen that the masses’ eyes were ablaze. Qin Yu Zheng publicly giving his majesty the emperor a green hat was unacceptable!
Qin Yu Zheng bit her lip, trembling. Unwillingly, she let go of Yan Ping‘s sleeve, the rim of her eyes suddenly turning red. Looking at me, it was as though she was seeing the enemy who had killed her father and stolen her husband!
Under her close and incriminating look, I almost suspected that I was Feng Zhao Wen, who had done the heartless act of separating mandarin ducks. Only such an act is capable of receiving this kind of bitter and resentful gaze.
I took a big step backwards, threw out my hand, and immediately broke off the relationship between Yan Ping and I: “Royal princess Yu, you’ve misunderstood. I really am not trying to steal your brother Ping.…I realize it now, your brother Ping can only be yours alone. No one can even think about dipping a single finger in!”
Behind Yan Ping, the crowd of imperial guards’ complexion became extremely odd. Needless to say, the eyes that they used to watch Qin Yu Zheng and Yan Ping were extremely lively!
…..I admit that I did it on purpose!
In fact, all that about not recalling old grievances, disregarding old grudges, and so on is just a bunch of fleeting clouds ah, fleeting clouds….my dad has said, “Receiving grievances, you must fully give back in kind! If someone kicks you, at the very least, you have to give him a punch to balance it out! Obviously, if the situation is in your favor, it’s best if you advance and step on him a couple more times! This way, he will not dare to bully you again!”
The lessons that my dad has put his heart and soul into teaching me, of course I’m executing them with determination!
Sobbing, Qin Yu Zhen ran far away……..
Imperial concubine Yu‘s entourage chased after her with quick steps
Sympathetically, I looked at Yan Ping, who was wretched in the midst of his dejection. Once upon a time, he bewitched the noble women of great Chen. This also includes this humble one’s manly heart. In those days, did he ever place anyone into his heart ah? Always carrying that appearance, like indifferent clouds and clear winds, I had once believed that his heart would not be moved by any woman…….
Now he has deep feelings for Qin Yu Zhen. Destiny ah, how it teases people!
But the one destiny teases is not me, so I don’t care how many more times those two people are teased. This is also good, giving me many opportunities to watch that kind of good play, the kind about separating mandarin ducks and imperial concubines wishing to go beyond the wall.