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Published at 7th of November 2020 06:38:47 PM

Chapter 5

Compared to the imperial harem that was full of embarrassment, Emperor Changlong was in high spirits once he had met with Hua Changkong.  

This descendant of a subject with outstanding service intended to be a civil official. He was handsome, and most importantly… this child was too good at speaking. He resembled his father in that respect.  

He was unlike the other military officials, impulsive and direct with their words. Yet, he was also unlike the civil officials, whose words hid a deeper meaning. When he praised others, it seemed sincere. His gaze made the emperor feel like he appreciated and revered him.    

“As we attacked Ke’er City, Father was seriously injured. Just when all the soldiers believed defeat was inevitable, the backup and supplies that Your Majesty had sent arrived.” Hua Changkong’s eyes held a trace of redness. “This action of Your Majesty not only determined the outcome of our war with Jinpo Country, but also gave my gravely-injured father continued hope.”

At this point, Hua Changkong was at the brink of tears. He raised his clasped hands toward Emperor Changlong. Although Emperor Changlong had yet to say something, he could sense the youth’s concentrated gratefulness.  

“We and Yingting have known each other since our youth, and are as close as brothers. He guards the borders of Great Jin and protects the country for Us. After knowing that he had received a heavy injury, We were unable to sleep and eat well. Fortunately, he is safe and secure. Only then could We finally be at ease.” Emperor Changlong still felt regretful. In regards to skill in leading an army and fighting in war, Hua Yingting was a genius that appeared every hundred years. What a pity that after this injury, he could no longer fight in a war.

But that was fine too. Yinting had defended the frontier for so many years, and had countless old injuries. It’s about time for him to retire. Thankfully, Yingting’s eldest son was brave and skilled at battle. Since he had his father’s capabilities, if he helped his father defend the land of the Great State of Jin, Emperor Changlong would be at ease.    

Emperor Changlong kept Hua Changkong for a long period for a chat. He even had him stay for a meal. Hua Changkong’s passionate yet not obvious flattery made him very comfortable. As such, he kept the youth for another two hours, before having the Head Eunuch, Zhao Sancai, personally escort him outside.

“Third Young Master Hua, please watch your step,” said Zhao Sancai, hunched over¹ as he sent Hua Changkong out of Chenyang Palace. Hua Changkong cupped his hands toward him. “General Manager Zhao, no need to see me out.”

“Third Young Master is too polite. This old slave has not seen Defender General for many years. Today, this old slave has the fortune to escort Young Master outside. May Young Master do me the honor and allow me to accompany you a bit longer.” Zhao Sancai was full of smiles. “For these past many years, His Majesty has always thought of Defender General. Young Master has just arrived at the capital. If there is anything your honored self needs or is unfamiliar with, please inform this old slave.”  

Hua Changkong knew that Zhao Sancai was representing the emperor, showing his intention to be close with the Hua clan. He promptly expressed his thanks, his words making it seem like he considered Zhao Sancai as one of his own people.    

From afar, Ji Minghao watched as his imperial father’s trusted head eunuch spoke with someone, a large smile on said eunuch’s face. Once he approached for a better look, he grew speechless.    

Wasn’t that the person who had wanted Tian Ruidong and those idle young nobles to apologize and compensate him yesterday?  

“Your Highness Prince Ying.”    

“This gentleman is…”  

“Your Highness,” said Zhao Sancai as he faced Prince Ying, very respectfully yet without the same intimacy he had offered Hua Changkong. “This is the third son of Defender General, Hua Changkong.”  


Who did General Manager Zhao say this person was?  

The son of Defender General?!  

Then could the county princess who had thrown up blood in the carriage yesterday… be the only daughter of the Hua clan?  

Ji Minghao felt somewhat regretful. If he had known that Tian Ruidong had made trouble for the daughter of Defender General, he would rather make a detour. He would definitely not have meddled in other people’s business.     

If he hadn’t done this, then his consort-mother² wouldn’t have had to spend effort thinking up this plan: how to persuade his Imperial Father to reconsider betrothing the Hua clan’s daughter to him. In the first place, the Hua clan and himself were unwilling.

However, although he did not want to be in-laws with the Hua clan, it did not mean he had the courage to offend them!  

At this moment, Prince Ying felt helpless. And he broke down. Once again, he looked at Hua Changkong’s soft and gentle smile. He felt as though evil intentions hid beneath it.    

After learning the identities of the Hua clan’s brother-and-sister pair, Prince Ying had an ominous premonition. At the end, his premonition would hit the nail on the head.     

In merely a day, rumors spread about Prince Ying and his cousin angering the daughter of Defender General, so much so that she threw up blood. The more the rumors spread, the more extreme they grew. Finally, the events became this: Prince Ying saw the Hua clan’s brother-and-sister pair returning to the capital alone. And then he had the intention to suppress them, to prove that his skill in leading an army was greater than that of Defender General.

Prince Ying felt very wronged. He merely liked to hunt. So how did it become him being jealous of General Hua’s abilities? Even if he were envious, there was no way he could just bully the children of the Hua clan. It wasn’t like he was stupid or anything.   

However, regular people wouldn’t think with this kind of logic. In any case, they felt Defender General risked his life in the battlefield for the commoners. And other people bullied his son and daughter. If Defender General learned of this, just how sad  would he feel?    

Temporarily, many rumors about Prince Ying appeared in the streets. Such as, after seeing beautiful women, he wouldn’t be able to look away or move. Such as, all the things in his estate were made of gold. Such as, he would scold seventy-year-old elderly women. Such as, he would steal the sugar-coated hawthorns from three-year-old children. He was bad to the core.  

The rumors spread like wildfire. To the point that when Prince Ying’s servants left the estate for errands, they dared not mention where they had come from, fearing that they would meet bad-tempered commoners who would beat them with their fists.    

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Ever since Hua Liuli had heard these rumors, she extended her fair and tender fingers, lightly opening the letter from her father and brothers. “The people in the capital are truly bad. They deliberately spread rumors, making it seem like our Hua clan made things difficult for that imperial prince. When I think of the fact that we must come into contact with these people in the future… Oh my heart. I’m truly scared witless.”

“His Majesty is in good health. In order to compete for the throne, it could be said that those few imperial princes in the capital have exhausted their schemes.” Hua Changkong set down his writing brush. Set aside the letter for the ink to dry. “This good knife that is our family just happened to be used against Eldest Prince.”    

“Why must these imperial princes cause such a disturbance? The crown prince is living well in the Eastern Palace. When would it even be their turn, these people who cluck and quack like chickens and ducks?” Again, Hua Liuli looked to the sky with a melancholic expression. “In order to gain power, they would disregard things like family bonds and affection. It truly makes one regretful and pains the heart.”

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“The fight between the imperial princes has nothing to do with us.” Then Hua Changlong added on purpose, “Just stay the way you are. Don’t wrong yourself.   

“In any case, we are a military clan. We don’t need to beat around the bush before we act.” An ambiguous laugh escaped his lips.  

“If we want to defeat an enemy, we must have them abide by our rules. Afterward, use our abundant experience to kill them.” Hua Liuli sighed with emotion. “For a girl as delicate as I, other than using this method, what other good methods are there?”

“Younger Sister indeed is the most intelligent person in our clan,” said Hua Changkong, his praise sincere. “We will walk our own path. We will pay no mind to how others walk.”

A modest smile graced Hua Liuli’s lips.    

“What a pity your intelligent brain serves as a burden to your health, making you this frail.” Hua Changkong shook his head in lament. “When I think of how poor your health is, I feel like a knife is being twisted in my heart. How about we roast venison for dinner?”    

“Alright,” said Hua Liuli, nodding. “Let’s also add a few pieces of fatty and non-fatty wild boar meat. It would taste even better.”  

The two siblings shared a look. Revealed satisfied smiles.  

The rumors regarding Prince Ying bullying the son and daughter of the Hua clan had spread for less than two days, before Prince Ying’s birth mother, Her Highness Consort Xian, dispatched people to send a mountain of gifts to the Hua estate. Along with these gifts was a Tian Ruidong with a chaste tree branch tied to his back³.    

Tian Ruidong felt regretful to the extreme. If he had known earlier that he would provoke this kind of trouble that day, he wouldn’t have drunk any wine. No, he shouldn’t have left his estate!

He had told his grandfather and father that he had not even touched a hair of that County Princess Hua. Unfortunately, he had lied too often in the past, so not one person in his family believed him. They even asked why it was that no one else had frightened County Princess Hua ill, yet he and his friends did. As such, it had to be their faults.

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So what if they were idle and hedonistic? Even if they idled about all day, engrossed in enjoying the pleasures of life, rode a horse in the city center, and kicked over vendor booths without compensating said vendors, they were still idle and hedonistic people with status.      

Even idle and hedonistic people had dignity. Had perseverance. He could not accept being accused wrongly like this.

However… his father and grandfather had even more status than his idle and hedonistic self did. What’s more, this implicated His Highness Prince Ying. Other than going to the Hua estate in a well behaved manner, and carrying a rod on one’s back and asking for punishment, what better method was there?    

He had long since known that the emperor truly regarded the Hua clan as important. Yet, never had he expected it to be to this extent. The moment Tian Ruidong had stepped through the front doors of the Hua estate, he grew fascinated with the luxurious decorations and architecture. It truly was three steps, a scene, five steps, a painting. Much better than the decorations and architecture of his own estate.      

It wasn’t as if his Tian clan lacked money. 

His aunt was Consort Xian of the imperial palace and also gave birth to the eldest prince. Her status was different from those of other imperial concubines. As the paternal family of Consort Xian, they naturally could not hold back Consort Xian and Prince Ying.

Once he had entered the main hall, Tian Ruidong saw a man, the one who had said he would complain to their family heads, approach him in large strides. On his face was a harmless smile.      

“Brother Tian, what are you doing?” Hua Changkong personally untied the rope that had kept the chaste tree branch in place, throwing the branch aside. Then he supported Tian Ruidong to sit. “Back then, when I had said I would pay a visit to your distinguished estate, it was merely a joke. Brother Tian, you mustn’t think I was serious.”  

Tian Ruidong could only smile bitterly. In his heart was unspeakable suffering. For you not to inform our family heads about that matter is even scarier than if you do. Even His Majesty the emperor and Her Majesty the empress dowager already know of this. 

He didn’t dare to treat Hua Changkong’s words as truth, and insisted that he must apologize to County Princess Hua face to face.  

The Great State of Jin was open in its customs, and the separation of the sexes wasn’t severe. With Hua Changkong present, if Tian Ruidong apologized to the Hua Clan’s daughter in person, it would be respectful to her.       

“Brother Tian, why must you be this polite?” A sigh escaped Hua Changkong’s lips. He turned his head to the servant girl outside the door and said, “Summon Young Miss.” Then, with his gaze cast down, he looked at the worried-to-the-max Tian Ruidong. He picked up a cup of hot tea to moisten his lips. 

Very good. Once this matter passed, many idle and hedonistic young nobles should be too afraid to ride a horse in the city center. Would be too afraid to kick over others’ vendor booths.  

Restless, Tian Ruidong waited for a good while, before he heard  a servant girl outside the door say, “County Princess has arrived.”    

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Tian Ruidong couldn’t help but feel curious. Just how did this frail, often-ill, and unable-to-be-frightened county princess look like?  

He turned his head toward the door to look through it. And he only saw two maidservants escorting a young lady in a white cloak. Her skin was paler than even the snow that had accumulated in the garden. Fine hair as dark as ink was arranged in a simple bun. A deep red head ornament⁴, its dangling section lightly swaying by her forehead, capturing the attention of those who saw it, their eyes following it.   

Before she had even reached the doorway, the girl’s legs shook a hint. Then she coughed softly a few times into her hand. Her eyes even moistened.     

Looking at the delicate girl before him, Tian Ruidong thought hatefully, those beasts actually rode horses and frightened this kind of immortal fairy. They truly are rotten!  

At this time, he decided to selectively forget that he was also part of those “beasts.”

Thank you Ivanna for the 2 ko-fis! Since I don’t know which novel you read, I’ll shout you out on all of them.

The title is 负荆请罪.  “Carrying a rod on one’s back and asking for punishment” is the literal interpretation of this idiom. What it figuratively means is “to offer a humble apology.” In this context, both the literal and figurative definitions are used, so I went with the literal for the title.

Chapter Supplement:

Head Ornament (额坠)

Man, I love this brother and sister duo LOL

“Very good. Once this matter passed, many idle and hedonistic young nobles should be too afraid to ride a horse in the city center. Would be too afraid to kick over others’ vendor booths.” 

So they caused a huge fuss for the commoners’ sake. I also like how HCK and HLL are so in tune with each other. Her brother acts along with her lament, and then bam! Switches to asking about bbq LOL. They’re certainly meat lovers.

The next chapter will be out September 12, 2020.


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