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Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 25.2

Translated by: Cozy Translations

Chapter 25.2 – Rebirth + Saving the Wife

Mu Huai had his hands crossed as he stood in the roadside inn’s square courtyard. He ordered the guards in a cold voice, “Find a place and bury her.”

The guards obeyed.

Yin Cheng followed Mu Huai out to the eastern suburbs, accompanying him to bury that pitiful palace maid.

When the coffin was lowered into the ground, the skies had also changed. Snow began to fall. At first, Mu Huai still looked quite composed, and Yin Cheng secretly let out a sigh of relief. But when that coffin was gradually covered with yellow soil, Mu Huai suddenly rushed forward in a frenzy. Pushing away the group of guards filling the plot, he leaped into the ditch.

Fiercely biting down on his teeth, his hands clawed at the dirt until he saw the coffin again. Mu Huai fiercely tugged on the ropes that secured the coffin with an explosive burst of power, as if he wanted to make that woman in the coffin come out again.

Only when his hands were cut by the rope did Yin Cheng’s expression instantly change. He also lept into the ditch and tried to stop Mu Huai’s terrifying behavior.

Yin Cheng’s voice had become higher by a few pitches as he reverted to the way he used to address Mu Huai, “Zhi Yan! The person is already dead, what is the point of digging her out from the coffin? Even if you were to carry her body out of there, she will never come back to life…”

Yin Cheng knew why Mu Huai was heartbroken.

Rong shi was born with a beautiful appearance. Even if you searched all of Bianjing, there would be few women that were more beautiful. To be able to serve him for so long, she must’ve also been an intelligent and quick-witted person.

Interacting day and night with Mu Huai, she fell pregnant with his child. Now that she had suddenly left this world, no matter how stone-cold Mu Huai’s heart was, he would still feel grief.

When Mu Huai heard this, his face became even uglier as his rage reared its head. Raising his fists, he looked as if he was going to punch Yin Cheng.

Yin Cheng dodged Mu Huai’s fists and calmed himself down, “If Your Highness were to feel better after hitting this subject, then this subject is willing to accompany you.”

Mu Huai had clearly lost all rationality. He angrily flung away Yin Cheng’s hands, then stood up and grabbed the shovel from the guard’s hands. Not caring at all about his bleeding palms, his countenance was extremely dark as he covered the coffin with dirt again.

Rong Xi had an unmarked gravestone. Mu Huai did not know much about her background, did not know who her parents were, only knowing that she was an orphan.

When the guards burnt money1 for Rong Xi, Mu Huai finally regained some rationality. He fixed his gaze on that unmarked gravestone for a long time when Yin Cheng asked him, “When does Your Highness want to return to the palace?”

Mu Huai’s voice was cold and calm as he replied, “The policy booklets are so many they’ve already formed a small hill, naturally I will return tonight.”

Finished, he shook his sleeves and walked towards the horse, not looking back at that unmarked gravestone again.

While riding the horse, Mu Huai saw the evening sun disappear. The large snow began in the suburbs of Bianjing. The eastern wind did not rest as the landscape in front of them was vast and empty.

Although the scenery was quite beautiful, Mu Huai knew that the day he was born, the heavens must’ve given him the red string of fate2

But now, that string had been cruelly cut off. His heart would never have room for another, only saving it for her.

******

Eleventh Year of Cheng Zhang, beginning of summer.

The sound of the cicadas was endless. Wu Emperor3 Mu Huai was disturbed from his sleep by the incessant chirping. This night air was full of hostility.

The people in the palace were so frightened they were shaking. In order to let Wu Emperor have a good rest, they went out to grab some nets to catch the cicadas.

One month ago, Great Qi had ended the years of war with the northern Yan country. The Yan country had become stronger in recent years, and the one who controlled the government was Empress Dowager Su who had thunderous means.

The two parties battled on for months without determining a victor.

Although Great Qi was slightly better, under the seemingly never-ending war, the troops had long lost their morale.

In the end, the war between Qi and Yan ended with Yan ceding three of their states.

Although the troops of Qi returned in victory, they also brought back heavy news that caused Wu Emperor to fly into a rage.

On the journey back, General Yin Cheng’s arrow wound flared up, and he passed away suddenly. He was only thirty-five.

It has already been eleven years since Wu Emperor ascended the throne. He made outstanding achievements while governing the country. Before he was even enthroned as emperor, he had annihilated Jin country, and recently he had also eliminated the northeastern Ye kingdom as well. Now he had gained a part of Yan kingdom’s territory, and could be considered as an outstanding person in military strategies.

He was just and strict. Although he was the respected emperor, he never spent his days extravagantly.

Mu Huai was heavy-handed when it came to politics. No noble clans nor powerful officials dared to contradict him in court, and due to this, Qi slowly became a powerful country in the central plains.

But only the senior eunuch serving Mu Huai knew that this heroic, bold, and decisive monarch who was only thirty-three, had weak bones to due years of harsh training.

When Wu Emperor had just ascended the throne, he had a habit of not sleeping for several days. He would stay alone in Ganyuan Hall, revising the booklets until late at night, seeming as if he did not need to sleep at all.

Every seven days, Wu Emperor would pick a day to sleep until shen shi (3-5 PM) after court ended. When he woke up, he would eat some dinner, then continue revising booklets.

Abusing his body like so, Mu Huai finally broke his own body.

A few years ago he was still able to bravely fight on the front lines, personally going to battle. Now as he just entered his thirties, he was already dying from his illnesses, relying on medicine to survive each day.

Outsiders unaware of this guessed that for Wu Emperor to fall into his current condition must’ve been due to how ruthless he was when he was younger in killing his enemies, and thus contracted a bad aura.

But all the commoners in Great Qi knew that the current Holy One was a rare wise monarch.

At night, the senior eunuch set out from the Department of Service and when he arrived outside the hall, he held his breath as he cautiously entered Ganyuan Hall.

Wu Emperor had one hand holding a book. His face was pale and his spirit was obviously weak. The senior eunuch didn’t dare to disturb Wu Emperor’s sleep, and carefully placed the freshly painted utility belt on the desk. Finished, he raised his hands to salute Wu Emperor and left the hall.

It was rumored that Wu Emperor cherished this old utility belt very much. Even after stitching it up many times, he still did not throw it away. He was clearly the respected and noble emperor, and there were countless objects more finely crafted and beautiful than this utility belt, but he only cherished this one.

Wu Emperor had a withdrawn personality and was difficult to reason with. When he finished court and returned to Ganyuan Hall, he liked to be alone and did not like others to disturb him.

The maids and eunuchs who serve him all prepared refreshments and pastries beforehand. When Mu Huai would call upon them, they would listen to his orders with extreme caution. The current monarch did many strange things.

The oddest thing, however, was after Wu Emperor ascended the throne, he did not take in any concubines nor did he set up an empress. The only people in the inner palace that had some position was only Empress Dowager Di and the late emperor’s concubines and princesses.

Some people said that Wu Emperor only loved his country and did not love beauties. Others said that Wu Emperor was a broken sleeve4.

Either way, the reason why he refused to take in any concubines was an unsolved mystery in Yongxi Palace.

When the guard Cheng Song had arrived outside of Ganyuan Hall, Mu Huai was already awake and called for him Cheng Song to enter.

Under the faint light of the candles, Mu Huai’s face looked a little haggard. He asked Cheng Song, “Did Yan Juxu’s family accept my5 consolation gift?”

Cheng Song shook his head and replied, “Replying to Your Majesty, Madam Yan refused to accept it.”

After hearing this, Mu Huai’s face turned slightly green, giving him a sickly look, “Since that’s so, just let itb e.”

In the end, it was he who wronged Yan Juxu. In recent years, he had become more suspicious and believed in malicious rumors. After Yan Juxu had been promoted to the position of prime minister, his power grew, causing Mu Huai to believe that Yan Juxu was planning to commit treason.

In the end, he forced Yan Juxu to commit suicide to prove his loyalty. His [Yan Juxu] wife and children hated him [Mu Huai] to the core, but because he was the emperor, they could not say any words of dissent.

When he thought of this, Mu Huai waved his hand, letting Cheng Song leave.

He stood up from the desk and raised his head to look at the moon shining outside the window.

Last year, Mu Tao went to look at the imprisoned Mu Ji. Suspecting that Mu Tao and Mu Ji were in cahoots and afraid that they were wanting to rebel, he ruthlessly schemed to eliminate his own brothers.

Only later did he realize that Mu Ji did not have this notion, and Mu Tao visited Mu Ji purely due to childhood feelings of nostalgia.

Now, he doesn’t even have a son.

Mu Huai was aware that he did not have much longer to live. Inspecting the descendants of the Mu clan, he finally chose the least stupid-looking Mu Yuan to be the crown prince.

He let out a sneer only to feel a sudden pain in his head. Losing consciousness, he fainted on the spot.

The people in the palace were all afraid of him, and when it was time to go to court, they realized that Mu Huai had not made any movements for a long time now. Only then did they pluck up the courage to enter the hall, finding him unconscious.

When the royal physician took his pulse, a fearful face told him he did not have long to live.

When Mu Huai heard this news, he felt abnormally peaceful. After protecting Great Qi for so many years, although he was not tired, he felt a little sick of it.

After the royal physician left, Mu Huai sent someone to summon Mu Yuan.

Closing his eyes, he thought that perhaps death would be better. Maybe he would be able to see that woman in the afterlife.

Mu Yuan warily kneeled in front of his bed, quietly waiting to hear Mu Huai’s decree.

Mu Huai urged Mu Yuan to protect the country that the three generations of the Mu Clan had fought for.

Mu Yuan agreed.

But the remaining words completely shocked Mu Yuan.

Mu Huai spoke in a calm tone, “After you ascend the throne, order the Ministry of Rites’ minister to accompany the old attendants by my side to take a trip to the eastern suburbs of Bianjing. Move the coffin of the unmarked gravestone to the imperial tombs. The person laying in there was zhen‘s woman, surnamed Rong. Zhen wants to posthumously make her Empress, and be buried together with her.”

Mu Yuan’s gaze had changed, not knowing when a woman surnamed Rong popped up from. During the decade that mu Huai was emperor, he never had a concubine nor consort next to him.

Suddenly declaring a woman of unknown origins as empress, he was naturally taken aback.

But since this was Mu Huai’s will, after Mu Yuan regained his calm, he respectfully replied, “This subject-brother obeys.”

Mu Huai fell silent for a moment before adding, “Have the people from the Ministry of Rites be careful when moving the coffin, don’t damage it.”

Mu Yuan repeatedly nodded yes.

After Mu Huai had instructed Mu Yuan on some other matters, he felt his body slowly become heavier and heavier as his conscious ebbed away.

The day Mu Yuan left Ganyuan Hall, Mu Huai breathed his last.


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Footnotes

  1. Chinese tradition where you burn fake money for the deceased for them to use in the afterlife
  2. Ancient Chinese myth where a deity (most commonly believed to be Yue Lao) ties an ‘invisible’ red string around two people who are destined to be together.
  3. Mu Huai’s title as emperor is Wu
  4. Used to denote a gay male
  5. Emperors refer to themselves in third person as 朕 zhen
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Tangerine

We moved through these events pretty quickly, I suppose because the next part of the story is where it really begins but I would have liked some answers, some closure as to the cause of her death. Did he not suspect the empress or the Di sisters were behind it? After-all, the robbers were described as not caring for the money and being intent on killing her. Seemed pretty shady to me…

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