The Emperor did not step into the harem until three days later. These three days turned the world upside down. Lord Nanyang conspired a rebellion and had also been in correspondence with the southern barbarians. In the end, his whole family and his allies’ families were all killed. Being unfaithful and filial piety in colluding with imperial ministers, The Third Prince was hung, and his mother Consort Chun was poisoned. The two daughters of the general of Lord Nanyang had nothing to do with the rebellion, and was removed death penalty, but they were sent to Fulong Temple to pray for the imperial family immediately.
The Emperor was so heartless and cruel!
Changsi and Changnian went back to the palace and couldn’t wait to tell me everything they knew. We figured that as the uncle of the Emperor, Lord Nanyang paid efforts to fighting the Xu family, and the Emperor might had promised him something. However, when Xu's family collapsed, the first empress’s grandfather, old Prime Minister Shen, died suddenly, and Shen’s family went back to the countryside for more than ten years, then Shen’s family, protector of the kingdom collapsed with no one mourning for them. Lord Nanyang could already see the Emperor's personality. He had no choice but to be as careful as the old General Lin.
General Lin had never been the Emperor’s confidant, but Lord Nanyang, instead, had been the Emperor's biggest support. General Lin may think of the Emperor as his king, but in the eye of Lord Nanyang, the Emperor is his nephew.
A guy that doesn't see the Emperor as the king never ends well.
The daughter of the Lin family, Consort Xian, bore no sons and daughters, but Consort Chun had a prince. This prince gave Lord Nanyang hope, but also brought him trouble.
With this hope in mind, Lord Nanyang did a lot of inappropriate things when he was guarding the south. He thought the Emperor knew nothing about it, because he didn’t make any movement. Is that possible? It was just because he had been in the south for too long, and it was not easy to dismantle his forces without any sacrifices.
Not easy, but not impossible. Last year before the Emperor started a war with the north, he called Lord Nanyang back in the name of defending the capital.
Lord Nanyang was no fool, but the Emperor at this moment was no longer the slump prince. He reluctantly returned to the capital and the Emperor gave him a big house.
Without military power, a commander means nothing. He recalled the endings of Family Sheng, who were expelled, Family Xu and Chen, who were all killed. He didn't want to wait for death. It was obvious that the Emperor's wanted him back to the capital to watch out for him. Since the war in the north started, he could no longer go back to the south, and his little secrets will eventually be uncovered no matter how careful he was.
Lord Nanyang had no way back. Having survived wars and death, he’d rather be killed than be insulted, so he chose to attack.
The Emperor was just waiting for this: If he killed the illustrious Lord Nanyang immediately after General Lin died in the war, other generals might have second thoughts. Moreover, Lord Nanyang was his uncle. He had long pretended to be in good relationship with his uncle. Killing him would be a slap on his face. Now that Lord Nanyang created a chance for him, the Emperor might as well take it.
Then we know what happened: Lord Nanyang thought he had killed the Emperor, rushed into the palace, tried to support The Third Prince as the new Emperor, and then deal with the other princes. He never expected that the Emperor would deliberately let him into the palace and declare that The Third Prince was the new Emperor. Now Lord Nanyang ambition was caught in action, and he committed suicide immediately.
This plan was indeed perfect. For dramatic effect, the Emperor even brought the princes into this. Believing their father had died, the princes burst into tears. The youngest one, Changnian cried so hard that he had a fever and keep having nightmares when he came back.
The Emperor is really decisive and hard-hearted.
In order to have Lord Nanyang take his soldiers into the palace with ease, the Emperor even let us be held hostages by them without any precaution. If they had bad intentions, or if Consort Chun wanted to take revenge on someone, what would happen in the harem? Did the Emperor consider this?
He might, but he didn’t care. He is not a husband, a father, a nephew or cousin. He is an Emperor.
At first, we pitied The Third Prince for being killed because of his family’s wrong doing, but in fact the real him shocked everyone. "... that kid seemed obedient, and couldn’t answer one academic question of the Emperor, but indeed he was really good at writing. One day, the Emperor happened to see one of the pages of his writing. He hated secrets and dug into this. It turned out that he had had connections with his grandfather for a long time. Consort Chun went through a lot and several people followed her."
Consort Shu couldn’t get out of bed or eat fancy dishes. She felt bored and scolded the Emperor for being so cruel. Every time! Don’t we matter to him? ! Cough, cough, cough..."
After these three uneasy days, the Emperor went to Weiyang Palace unshaven, looking tired and old. He embraced me upon entering the door and sighed softly near my ear: "Jiaojiao, my uncle is gone."
I didn’t move. He hugged me and said to himself: "In the past, my mother imperial consort always told me about my uncle. She said that he was a generous man and that I looked like him, not my father."
"Then the empress beaten my mother imperial consort to death in front of me. My mother told me not to cry and I didn’t. She was covered in blood and drugged away with eyes open..."
"... On the night of the seventh day of her death, I had a fever and my uncle sneaked into the palace to feed me medicine. I’ve never seen him but recognized him on first sight... He said he would go for a war and went here to see me... He held me in his arms. My father never held me... He said he will win the war and become a general. Then no one would be able to bully me when he returned..."
"He died! My uncle died!"
"I don’t have uncle anymore!"
He embraced me and murmured like a child. I didn’t realize he was having a fever until I touched his forehead.
The Emperor was ill for two days. He kept calling his mother imperial consort, his uncle and me. I took care of him for two days and when he got better, I chose a good day to execute Lord Nanyang and his family.
The day of Consort Chun’s execution, Consort Shu insisted on seeing her off. Consort Xian and I accompanied her, and there were crisp bird songs among the flowers and trees on our way.
Consort Chun freshened herself up, looking like a goddess in a beautiful white dress. She still seemed so proud and lonely, but the appearance of Consort Shu and Xian gave her complex feelings.
Consort Shu said: "Although I am not familiar with you, after all, I have known you for so many years. I came here to see you off. Is there anything I can do for you?"
Consort Chun laughed: "My family and my son are all dead, what else do I want? I can finally die." She seemed so tired, but smiled so calmly.
"Thank you very much. I am not a talkative person. I don't like making friends. I used to hate you and pity you. He was just using you against Xu’s family, and Shen Yunyao, she was just my shield. It was not worthy to be friends with you."
She laughed, with a blank in her eyes, "I am his cousin. He is the only bloodline left by my father’s only sister. We are family. We! We are family!"
She laughed out loud: "We are family!"
"We are family! Say it! We are family!"
Tears went down her face. She raised her head, and drank up the poison with a smile on her face.
The south and the north are all in peace. The Emperor spent more time guiding his sons, precisely, guiding Changsi. It was said that when the Emperor pretended to be killed, all the kids were crying except Changsi. He calmly gave orders and arrange things thoughtfully. The Emperor was surprised to see this and decided to guide him personally. Changsi was only ten years old, and the Emperor took him everywhere he went including the court and the imperial study to discuss affairs with imperial officials. After a year, he was promoted the Crown Prince.
Consort De was worried that the Emperor’s favor on Changsi might hurt the relationship of these children.
Her words made sense, but I can’t stop the Emperor. I could only pay more attention to The Fourth Prince and The Fifth Prince, but it turns out that we’ve thought too much.
The Fourth Prince was old-fashioned and believed that the Crown Prince should be the oldest son of the empress, and that an imperial minister should always be loyal to the Emperor. He would always scold the fifth prince for not acting like a Crown Prince, and even kneel down to persuade him to be serious and obey the rules, not to be frivolous, just like those loyal ministers in history books. Sometimes he would even shed some tears.
The Fifth Prince was full of guilt for Changsi, because the Emperor seldom pay attention to him after Changsi became the Crown Prince. He could finally read story books freely, tease maids and find interesting stuff with eunuchs. Maybe because his care givers, Noble Consort Wen and Jieyu song all engaged in art, this kid was quite artistic. At Noble Consort Wen’s birthday, he learned to make a set of shadow puppets and performed to her. Grown up without maternal love, Noble Consort Wen burst into tears, embraced the fifth prince and shouted, "My son!" Her tears destroyed her make up and wet three handkerchiefs. The next day, she learned that the fifth prince missed his homework for a month just to make these shadow puppets. Hearing the Emperor repeating my third uncle's complaint word by word, Noble Consort Wen was so ashamed that she couldn’t even raise her head.
Changnian... well, this little angle was busy telling gossip to me.
"My third sister went to see us practicing martial arts today, but she didn’t pay attention to us! She had been talking to the cousin from Jiang’s family."
“The cousin asked me to send a letter to my third sister. If I did this, he would treat me candies. I didn't take it. Candies will rot my teeth.”
"Third sister gave the cousin a pair of golden hairpin. They held hands!"
Changnian didn’t tell anyone else except me. I sensed the happy taste of love grew day by day on beautiful and decent Jiale. Finally, I couldn't step aside any more and told Consort Shu: "Jiale is eighteen years old. It’s time to marry."
Consort Shu said: "I know! But I couldn’t find the appropriate person for her!"
I asked: "What kind are you looking for?"
She replied: "Of course the one she likes! Do you remember she used to love Wu Song after she heard the story of him beating tigers told by Jieyu Song?! I searched all the children who are in suitable age for marriage in the chapel and found no one. It is really hard to find someone who has beaten a tiger."
"... She was only eight then!"
I told her about Jiale’s love story with Jin, and Consort Shu’s face lightened up. She immediately went to the practice grounds under the excuse of seeing the princes practicing martial arts. She hid herself faraway and saw them standing side by side and smiling to each other. The wind blew up their hair, they seemed a perfect match.
Jiale’s marriage settled this way. In this dynasty, there was no rule that the husband of the princess couldn’t be an official. My uncle and aunt were all very happy that Jin could marry the Emperor’s eldest daughter. My mother disagreed. She wanted Jiale to marry my brother’s son.
It rained a little on the tenth day of September, a perfect day for marriage. Jiale put on the wedding dress sewed by Noble Consort Wen herself, knelt before Consort Shu and me, and then stepped out of this palace where her mother had been trapped for twenty years.
With tears in our eyes, Consort Shu and me stood in the misty autumn rain and watched her walk away. Until her body faded out of our sight, Consort Shu said with a trembling voice: "Go. Far away. Never come back."