Chapter 213: Previous Lifetime I (Part 1)
The yellow sands were thick and the wind was blowing strongly. There were many wind and frost during the journey and the sun, moon and stars were just mere embellishments.
There were only a few scattered guards that were escorting and they were not respectful to the person in the carriage.
A young lady that looked like a maid walked over from the back of the carriage and jumped into it before handling a bowl of porridge to the person inside, “Your Ladyship, the porridge has somewhat cooled but it is still edible. There is no shop in front or back thus it is better if you take a mouthful.”
The female in the horse carriage was young but her expression was rather haggard. Her clothes were not very delicate and when one looked closely, it was the style of a few years ago and it was not fitting as she was thin. She parted the curtains and asked, “Where is one now?”
“After going a little while more, one would be able to be on the official road before night fall.” Bai Lu smiled, “This servant had asked those people and one would be able to reach Ding capital within five days.”
Shuang Jiang also smiled, “Upon returning to the Palace, Your Ladyship’s suffering will come to an end.”
“Suffering will come to an end.” Shen Miao laughed bitterly, “But the people who died would not return.”
She was talking about Jing Zhe and Gu Yu. Hearing that, Bai Lu and Shuang Jiang had sorrow in their eyes and they no longer spoke.
In order to win over an official, Jing Zhe became a concubine and in the first year when Shen Miao was in Qin country, she had gotten news that she was beaten to death by the official’s wife on some reason. As for Gu Yu… Shen Miao clenched her fist. She died in HuangFu Hao’s hands protecting her.
Five years. Five whole years. The five years in Qin country had grinded the last traces of arrogance and delicateness from her. She gritted her teeth and took in everything so that she could return back to her country and reunite with her pair of children. However the heavy cost of it was not something that an outsider could speak about.
How heard can this journey be? There were not many guards who were escorting and just by looking at this carriage, who would think that this belonged to an Empress of a country? At the beginning, those people that she brought over to Qin country were either dead or left in the five years. Just like the entire journey back, if there was no Mo Qing protecting, she would definitely not be able to return alive.
Shen Miao sighed. Fortunately all the sufferings were not in vain. Five years had finally passed.
Just as she was thinking, it was time for the carriage to continue its journey but instead of leaving, there was some noise in front.
She frowned slightly and parted the carriage’s curtain, asking, “What is going on?”
Mo Qing walked over from the front, “Had encountered a strange person who came over to request for water to drink.” Before the voice landed, one saw a gray clad tattered old man appearing behind him and spoken with joy when he saw Shen Miao, “Furen, one is going to die of thirst. Do give one some water to drink.”
This old man wore strangely and there was a stench emitting from his entire body. He stared at one straightforwardly, making one feel suspicious. It was not that one did not want to give him some water to drink but because of Shen Miao’s special identity, one fear that something would happen if one encounter an ill-intended person. Mo Qing instructed others to pull this old man away and not let him near Shen Miao. However Shen Miao laughed, “There is drought along the way and the Heavens did not pleased. One bowl of water is equal to a life. Give it to him. Ben… I do not lack of one bowl of water to drink.”
Since Shen Miao had gave her words, Mo Qing simply instructed someone to bring a bowl of clean water for that old man. The old man gulped it all down and patted his stomach before brushing the guard’s hands to stand up and bowed towards Shen Miao, “Furen is kindhearted and save this poor priest’s life. This poor priest must return the gratitude of this bowl of water.”
“Poor priest?” Shen Miao was startled before she smiled, “You are a Taoist Priest?”
“One’s secular name is Chi Yan.” That strange old man looked at Shen Miao and shook his head, “Furen’s physiognomy is extremely noble but one’s noble fortune is short and would not be able to receive noble luck.”
“What kind of nonsense are you talking about?” Bai Lu frowned and looked towards Shen Miao, “Your… Furen, it could a con-man. Don’t listen to his nonsense.”
Mo Qing was also trying to drive away this strange old man.
“Wait.” Shen Miao said, “It is rather boring the entire journey so let’s listen to what another would say.”
That old man pretending like he was praying, “There is a dark air between Furen’s brow and one fear that it is not good. When the journey is taken all the way to the end, one fear that it would be a bad omen. If one were to turn one’s horses at this moment, one will be able to avoid this calamity. Furen, this poor priest persuades you that this is a road to the Netherlands and if one were to walk on it, there would not any turnaround.”
“The more is said, the more ridiculous it is.” Shuang Jiang’s was green, “Who are you cursing?”
Shen Miao however had a good temper. She had stayed in Qin country for a long time and would be happy to see anyone from Ming Qi. Even if this old man was spouting nonsense, she was not angry and said with a smiled, “Many thanks to Taoist Priest’s reminder but one must take this route. My children are on this road so I have to return home.”
The strange Taoist Priest sighed deeply, “This is within expectations.” He looked towards Shen Miao, “With this water encounter, one will gift a fate.” Finishing, he took a red string from his sleeves and wanted to come up to gift it to Shen Miao but Mo Qing stopped him. He could only pass the red string to Mo Qing and only when Mo Qing saw that it was nothing, he then handled it over to Shen Miao.
“This red string is this poor priest’s thanks to Furen. Furen should tie it at the wrist and it would become one’s way of accomplishing matters.” He said solemnly, “Furen must remember that the ways of Heavens are cryptic and matters originate from people. This poor priest can see one’s fate but cannot change one’s fate. The person that could change Furen’s fate is not this poor priest. The Heavens take pleasure in the welfare of the living, there will be calamity and there will be karma. This red string represents that there will be a day where Furen would find one’s explanation to it.”
Finishing, he laughed a few times before turning around to stride off.
This Taoist Priest was mysterious and strange and the prophecies that he said were all extremely inauspicious thus Bai Lu and Shuang Jiang were somewhat unhappy. Bai Lu said, “Your Ladyship must not place that strange person’s words to heart. Most likely his brains are not clear.”
“Don’t wear this thing.” Shuang Jiang also said, “It is unlucky.”
However Shen Miao looked at it and felt that the red string was very adorable and she inexplicably like it so much that she tied it onto her wrist with a smiled, “Since it is a way of accomplishing matters and strangers coming together by chance is also a fate so one will wear it. If it is false, it is alright, if it is real and effective, won’t it be good?”
Since she had said as such, Bai Lu and Shuang Jiang could not say anything more. Mo Qing headed to the front of the entourage and started onward again.
The faraway sand and wind had almost cover up their shadows but on the road ahead, there was no sight of the strange old man.
Upon returning to Ming Qi, it was not like the ‘suffering will come to an end’ that Shuang Jiang said.
The world changes all the time, the situation would change and people’s heart would also change.
As an Empress, other than the position, it was not any different. Sometimes when she thought about it, she felt that there was not any better than the days she was humiliated in Qin country. In the Qin country, those injuries were placed on the surface but in Ming Qi, it was all in the dark. It was like when one suffered hidden loss, one could not speak of it and had to laugh with others.
Shen Miao sat in Kun Ning Palace and looked at the withered Hong Xiu Cao and her expression was wan.
Hong Xiu Cao was sent in by Mo Qing, saying that it was a rare herb. It looked very pretty, like a female’s sleeve that was swaying in the wind thus it was named as Hong Xiu (aka Red Sleeve). One did not know why was it withering and Shen Miao had no mind to manage it.
One had returned to Ming Qi for many years and her life in the past years had not been good.
There was an additional Mei Furen in the Inner Palace and Mei Furen was charming, intelligent and gentle, just like a mystery that made other’s gaze land at her and not leave after a long time.
In the beginning, it was not that there was no heartache, after all the man she had loved used this kind of look at another female. She had thought that he would treat everyone coldly but afterwards realised that it was not true. It was just that person was not her.
After many heartbreaking days, one gradually became numb. It was as if the pain and depression had gradually became hate and unwillingness because of Fu Chen.
Fu Chen would always take away Fu Xiu Yi’s favour and her child, Fu Ming, was clearly sitting in the position of the Crown Prince and was clearly talented and hardworking but afterwards became like a Prince that fell out of favour. Fu Xiu Yi could teach Fu Chen writing stroke by stoke and discuss about politics but would be so stingy and not even give an additional caring glance at Fu Ming.
When asked, he would say that Fu Ming was the Crown Prince and had to mature and be stable one should not be following around one’s Imperial Father all the time.
However every time when one saw Fu Ming’s disappointed eyes, Shen Miao’s heart was pierced by knives.
The Shen family was not good too. Luo Xue Yan’s illness became worsen and Jing Chu Chu unclear relations with Shen Qiu. Under such a situation in the Shen family, Shen Xin became much older.
Fu Xiu Yi seemed to be suppressing the Shen family and Shen Miao barely noticed it but how would the Inner Palace be clearly aware of matters of court? The only person that she would know from was Pei Lang but he was loyal to Fu Xiu Yi. Even though she had good relations with Pei Lang, but his loyalty would be first be with Fu Xiu Yi.
Shen Miao liked Fu Xiu Yi whole heartedly but her heart had turned into ice when she watched him and Mei Furen interacting. However be it in politics or position, she had to sit on this Empress position and had to seek opportunities for Fu Ming and Wan Yu.
Recently the XiongNu side and passed on news and Mei Furen seemed to be urging Fu Xiu Yi to send Wan Yu over for a marriage alliance.
This was the most unbearable thing for Shen Miao.
Mei Furen’s means and methods became more sophisticated and Fu Xiu Yi’s favour for Fu Chen was seen by everyone. Since the Shen family was not as strong as before, there were more people standing behind Mei Furen. Everyone would want to take the opportunity to step onto others when one was down. The younger brother of Mei Furen, Li Ke, was lately helping Fu Xiu Yi complete several major accomplishments for Fu Xiu Yi. As the tide rises, the boat would also rise. Mei Furen’s position in the Inner Palace was also climbing up.
Shen Miao knew what the officials were thinking. They were thinking of when the Crown Prince would be changed and when the Empress would be abolished.
But Fu Xiu Yi wanted face. She was his first wife so if Mei Furen want to go over her head, it would not be easy.
After much fighting, her entire heart became exhausted. If it was not because of her children, she felt that it is better to set this entire Imperial Palace on fire and it would be clean and the world would be in peace.
Bai Lu walked in and said, “Your Ladyship, the clothes for the Palace banquet is prepared, it is necessary to style one’s hair earlier.”
Shen Miao complied.
Shuang Jiang had died the year before. Mei Furen had good means that even the maids by her side were not let off. After turns and twists, only Bai Lu was left.
It was Ming Qi’s Palace banquet today. As the new year was approaching, Fu Xiu Yi wanted reward the officials and the most important point was to send Xie Jing Xing, the Little Marquis of the residence of the Marquis of Lin An. Xie Ding, the Marquis of Lin An, had died in the battlefield of Northern Jiang and now his son would be going for an expedition. Actually this opportunity was not good and it made one feel that it was somewhat tragic but Xie Jing Xing still accepted the request.
Shen Miao did not have any intersection with Xie Jing Xing and it was due to the unique relations between the Shen and Xie families. Ever since Xie Jing, the residence of the Marquis of Lin An only had Xie Jing Xing to take over the mantle. This was somewhat sad as in the beginning there was the Southern Xie and Northern Shen but now the Shen family was not like previous and the Xie family was declining, it really taught others of the meaning of the fox weaps when the rabbit died.
But Xie Jing Xing had his route to walk. Wasn’t Shen Miao’s route difficult too?
She said, “Style then.”