Chapter 230: Expedition (Part 1)
Two days after Ye Mei and sibling fled, Emperor Yong Le slaughtered the entire Ye family on the offence of the Ye family colluding with Lu Zheng Xuan’s rebellion. It was much easier dealing with the Ye family than the Lu family as the Ye family relied on the Lu family for support and thus when the Lu family fell, one Ye family was unable to make any waves. Even though when Ye Mao Cai was alive, he had lots of connections and followers, under Emperor Yong Le’s iron hands, everyone could see clearly it clearly and fear was born, thus one dared not be as arrogant as before.
Ye Mao Cai’s crimes was fixed personally by Emperor Yong Le and would be beheaded at noon. Speaking of which, Ye Mao Cai was not accused wrongly. In the stuff that Shen Miao exchanged with Ye Mei, she had picked up a few that was related to the Imperial family and handed it over to Empress Xian De. In order to control the Imperial family, Ye Mao Cai had made a lot of secret moves and all these things became important evidences for convicting the Ye family.
As for being beheaded at noon, the Imperial family prestige this time was huge.
The Mo Yun Army that was following Ye Mei and Jin Xing Ming would frequently send news back indicated that their escape was very smooth. Most of the people had believe the newly recognised siblings of the Ye family had died at the cliffs with the reason that one did not see clearly the roads when fleeing and fell off the cliff, dying without a full body. Even though Great Liang’s soldiers did continue searching, they were unable to discover any traces of them.
Everyone else had thought that no one in the Ye family survived but there was one who did and it was Ye Hong Guang. Shen Miao instructed Mo Qing to arrange but Ye Hong Guang had not woken up till now and Gao Yang said that it depends on Ye Hong Guang himself to wake up. There might be a scenario that he would continue to sleep forever.
As for Xie Jing Xing, he returned on a rainy night.
In a burst of autumn rain, Shen Miao was reading under the lantern as the raindrops hit the windows and created little pattering sounds. The weather had gradually cooled down and the tea on the table quickly became cold.
The doors was pushed open and a little of the wind and rain outside was also brought in. Shen Miao turned her head back as Xie Jing Xing closed the doors and walked in. His clothes were somewhat wet because of the rain and as he took of his coat, he saw SHen Miao staring at him and his lips could not help but curl as he head towards her side and pinched her face, “It is not good. My Furen has become silly.”
Shen Miao pushed away his hands, “Why do you come back now? Why did you not even pass a message?”
When Xie Jing Xing left, it was for a number of days and he did not even send a message over. Even if Shen Miao had a good temper, she would be somewhat annoyed. At least send over a message that he was safe and sound. The entire residence did not know his whereabouts, making one have a headache.
Xie Jing Xing coaxed her, “I am afraid if one spoke to you then one would want to return back. One has no choice with Imperial Older Brother’s matter as it cannot be delayed.” He grabbed onto Shen Miao’s shoulder and said with a smile but not a smile, “If one knew early that Furen missed me so much, I would have returned sooner.”
“You might as well not return.” Shen Miao’s anger was not dissipated.
Xie Jing Xing thought for a moment and put up an appearance of great justice, “How about this? In order to compensate Furen, I will be in your mercy today and would never struggle.”
SHen Miao could not help but laughed, “You are sick.”
When Xie Jing Xing saw her laughing, she then said, “Well coaxed. But upon my return, one had heard about a matter.” He looked at Shen Miao, “You let Ye Mei escape?”
“Not let her escape.” Shen Miao said, “She wanted to go to Ming Qi and also stole Great Liang’s secret that Ye Mao Cai collected. One thing think that would use that to rely on Ming Qi’s nobles. I had exchange her things and gave her some military maps and defense plans as one thought that it would play a bigger role. It might be the case that with these, she could even become an Empress.”
Xie Jing Xing was slightly startled and afterwards understood her intentions as his eyes glittered, “This method of Furen’s is indeed very malicious!”
Ye Mei was filled with joy as she looked for Ming Qi’s nobles with these ‘precious’ things. With such an important thing like defense maps, as long as those nobles were not foolish, they would definitely make use of it and present it to Fu Xiu Yi for merits. However who would know that these military maps and defense plans were all drawn by Shen Miao? As long as Fu Xiu Yi followed what was on it to fight, one feared that he would not even know how he died.
Shen Miao raise her brows, “I am a malicious woman that has snake’s organs. So what of it?”
“Very good.” Xie Jing Xing said leisurely, “I like malicious woman.”
“Afterwards I have made another identical copy of those things that I gave to Ye Mei.” Shen Miao said, “I will give it to you later. Ming Qi and Great Liang would at the end fight and at that time, with these things, you would know what Ming Qi is planning, making things easier.” She thought about it and added, “It is best to give Fu Xiu Yi some sweetness at the beginning so that he would believe that these things are real. After he has investigated that it is real, he would definitely use it to arrange the manpower. At that time, one that can beat him at his own game and it would be even more effective.”
Xie Jing Xing smiled, “You are indeed quite good.”
“When are you leaving?” Shen Miao asked.
After remaining silent for a moment, Xie Jing Xing then said, “You know?”
“How long do you think you can hide it?” Shen Miao sighed. Seeing that Xie Jing Xing was not speaking, she instead smiled, “Consent.” She then poured a cup of tea and handed it to Xie Jing Xing, “Using tea in the absence of wine to wish you a smooth success.”
Xie Jing Xing was startled but he took the teacup and looked at Shen Miao.
“If you win, gift me a wish when you return.” She said.
“What wish do you want?” Xie Jing Xing’s brows raised and there was a smile in his eyes.
Shen Miao thought about it and said, “Let it be owed first. I have not thought about it and will inform you once I have decided.”
“Alright.” XIe Jing Xing snapped his fingers, “I too have a wish that you must satisfy me now.”
He carried Shen Miao on his shoulder and walked towards the back, “Accompany me to bath.”
Shen Miao, “…”
A lot of the flowers in Wei Yang Palace had fallen.
During spring, it was filled with dense lush flowers but in the autumn, it would be empty and would look particularly bleak. However the palace maids had found some flowers and those big purple, white and yellow buds had signs of blooming, somewhat melting some of the cold here.
However it would be chilling in the autumn days so how would a few pots of flowers change it?
As the autumn rain drifted in, some of it was blown into the room. Tao GuGu closed the windows properly and placed two small brazier before gently retreating.
Emperor Yong Le was half leading against the couch.
He was actually very handsome and even though he always had a cold appearance and had no expression, his beauty was neglected. What people saw was the indifference of an Emperor’s inhumanity and his deep means. Stripping away the identity of Emperor Yong Le, no one knew what kind of person XIe Chi was.
Perhaps there were two exceptions. First was Xie Yuan, Prince Rui, and the other was Empress Xian De. In the past, Empress Dowager Jing Xiao was considered one but she had since departed so it was useless to say more.
Empress Xian De was brewing flower tea at the moment.
With the collected petals, the first snow that was buried under the tree and adding a spoonful of honey as a small fire slowly heat it up, a light sweet scent was slowly disperse from the small pot. With the freshly baked osmanthus pastry that the Imperial Kitchens sent over, it was so warm and sweet that the sweetness entered one’s heart.
Empress Xian De picked up a cup of tea and handed it over to Emperor Yong Le.
“Last year ChenQie came to collect the first snow with Qiu Shui.” Empress Xian De tasted it and smile, “It is sweet. This year when it is snowing in winter, ChenQie will collect again. If the Emperor likes it, one can also come along to take a look.”
Emperor Yong Le looked at her and paused for a moment before speaking, “This winter, if Zhen is here, one will accompany you.”
Empress Xian De’s hands trembled and a large drop of tea spilt over and landed on the back of her hand, making her say “ah” with the pain.
When Emperor Yong Le saw it, he easily picked up the handkerchief by the side and took her hand as he rubbed and blamed her, “Why so careless?”
That water was not dried up but became even more.
Empress Xian De had cried.
Her tears dripped onto her back of her hand too and it was warm but seemed to be hotter than the tea that scalded her. She said, “Why does the Emperor say such heart wrenching things to make ChenQie sad?”
Emperor Yong Le paused and looked at her, “Qing Zhen…”
“Ever since ChenQie entered the Palace, one had sit on this position of the Empress very sensibly and know everything that one should know and should not know. ChenQie do not have half a resentment to air on what the Emperor does. But even if one come to such a point, Your Majesty will treat me like this too?” Her words were all complaints but her tone of voice was very calm, as if her heart was full of grievances but unable to be angry with Emperor Yong Le, “Emperor distain in coaxing me and just have to make me stay sober till the last moment. But does the Emperor know how painful it is to stay awake?”
Emperor Yong Le was silent for a long time.
After a long time later, he picked up the handkerchief and wiped the tears at the back of Empress Xian De’s hands, “Jing Zhen, in this lifetime other than Imperial Mother, the woman that Zhen let down is you alone. You are the only one that can stand by Zhen’s side.”
“Zhen clearly understand the feeling of being awake. Zhen have no other choice.”
Empress Xian De looked at the tea in her cup, “Your Majesty has decided?”
“Zhen has decided. That year Imperial Mother had also said before, hero come forth in large numbers in the empire under Heavens. Zhen cannot be a hero but before one life is gone, one is already satisfied for managing Great Liang to such a state and ended the Lu and Ye families. The rest of the road would be up to Xie Yuan to walk. All the things that come next, Zhen will not manage but…” He paused and continue speaking, “Zhen still hop that it would be like what Imperial Mother said, Great Liang would prosper, have a clean reputation and the Imperial position of the Empire would be stretched hundreds of years.”
“Jing Zhen,” Emperor Yong Le signed, “Zhen do not know when one would collapse and do not know when will one wake up. If that day comes, you must do the things that Zhen had instructed you. After that, you can live the days you want. Be it awake or confused, as long as you are happy.”
Empress Xian De’s head was bowed as she repeatedly stroke the edges of the teacup. After a long time she then looked at Emperor Yong Le and there was a little smile on her face, “Does the Emperor remember during the first time seeing ChenQie, ChenQie brewed flower tea for Your Majesty to drink?”
At that time it was Empress Xian De’s mother that brought her to the Palace to meet with Empress Dowager Jing Xiao as Empress Dowager was choosing a wife for Emperor Yong Le. That day, there were also other official’s daughters that came and they knew the four scholarly arts and performed in front of Emperor Yong Le but it was only for that high ranking position.
It was just here who sat at the corner and smiled quietly as she looked at everything, as if she was not concern about all of these at all. No matter if it was the high ranking position of an Empress or the young and handsome Emperor, nothing entered her eyes.
Empress Dowager Jing Xiao asked her what talents she had.
At that time Empress Xian De said, “This official’s daughter is dull and has no skills. Just on normal days at home, one would brew tea for Father and Older Brother and they all find it good.”
At that time, the other young ladies had looks of disdain. Things like brewing tea should be handed by servants. A noble young lady should practice on some talents. To only know how to brew tea, was one treating oneself as a maid?
Empress Dowager Jing Xiao was however very satisfied.
Afterwards Empress Dowager Jing Xiao said to Emperor Yong Le, “AiJia see that Jing Zhen is a good child. With the character of brewing tea, she is steady and has a clam mind, thus able to work with you for a life time. Be it storms, big waves or flood she would be able to endure hardship gladly. This is good and hard to come by.
When Emperor thought of Empress Dowager Jing Xiao’s words, he could not help but look at Empress Xian De.
Empress Xian De was gently blowing the petals that were floating on top of the tea.
Ever since Empress Xian De entered the Palace and after so many years, it was indeed like what Empress Dowager Jing Xiao had said, she was a person who was steady and calm. She would not ask more or meddle and just sit quietly. It was as if as the time flows, she still the same as she was initially, sitting at a corner with a cup of tea in her hands as she smiled gently and unchangingly.
Empress Xian De felt Emperor Yong Le’s gaze and smiled gently, “Emperor, let us not think about other matters today. Since autumn has arrived, then let’s relax today and be like the past, drink some tea, play some chess, play some Qin and write some words. Alright?”
“Alright.” Emperor Yong Le said as he nodded his head.
He replied frankly and even his always indifferent and rigid face had a slight smile to it, making Empress Xian De surprise. After she reacted to it, as if she feared Emperor Yong Le would take it back, she quickly got up and said, “Then ChenQie would bring over that jade chess that Jing Xing previously gifted. After Jing Xing gifted, Your Majesty only played with ChenQie once. It is indeed a waste of such good chess pieces.”
Emperor Yong Le laughed, “Let Tao GuGu get it.”
“She does not know where it is.” Empress Xian De said, “ChenQie hid it. Your Majesty just wait here for ChenQie.” She lifted her skirt and somewhat jogged to the back.
Empress Xian De had always had a soft appearance and there was rare for her to be like this but it also displayed a long unseen young female. Emperor Yong Le watched her and as he looked, his gaze became somewhat lamenting.
His brows raised and he coughed violently twice. He took a handkerchief from his slevves to cover his mouth and use that handkerchief to wipe his mouth. It became so clean that nothing could be seen.
That handkerchief was on his palm and a little blush was exposed.
It was very eye-catching.
He paused and placed the handkerchief into his sleeves and watch Empress Xian De as she jogged over with that chess box and smiled.
Like nothing had happened at all.