Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 36
Translated by: Cozy Translations
Chapter 36 – Little Goblin
If Rong Bing’s case file from that year was unable to be found, then someone had most likely destroyed it.
The lights inside the Court of Judicial Review’s main hall dimmed. The junior attendant inside the hall saw the Crown Prince had no intentions of returning back to the palace, and under Hong Guang’s orders, he lit up the candles inside the hall.
Seeing his shadow fall on the wooden desk, Mu Huai recalled how in his past life, the Empress’s maternal family, the Di clan, was considered to be quite generous.
Even up until Di Zhuo’s death, he was healthy and had always held the position of Great Qi’s Ministry of Rites’ Chief Minister. During the decade or so Mu Huai sat on the throne, Di Zhuo never committed any wrongdoings despite being a royal relative with a great deal of power.
The position of Chief Minister of the Ministry of Rites was different from other positions at court. This was a high-ranking position, a second-ranking official, but the actual power wielded was not much. It doesn’t control the military, nor does the position require one to meet foreign delegates or local officials from the other provinces. However, the Chief Minister of Rites was in charge of planning large events for the imperial family. There were many opportunities to embezzle1 funds.
In his past life, Rong Xi was chased out of the palace by the Empress.
Although Mu Huai held a grudge against that matter, when Zhuang Emperor was about to pass away, he had specially instructed Mu Huai to treat the Empress and the imperial concubines that were still alive kindly. Zhuang Emperor knew that Mu Huai had a stubborn personality and would not marry a woman he did not like. Thus, in his past life, Zhuang Emperor had said that if he did not want to marry Di Shiyin, then things will be planned according to his wants.
However, he must never find trouble with the Empress. Just let her sit stably on the seat of the Empress Dowager, and let her live out the rest of her life peacefully.
Zhuang Emperor had also said that the Empress was his di mother, after all, and thus he cannot be unfilial to her.
Mu Huai was indifferent towards Empress Di, but with Zhuang Emperor’s last words, he still agreed. After he ascended the throne, due to Rong Xi’s matters, he was not overly respectful and filial towards Empress Dowager Di, but he allowed her to occupy the seat of Empress Dowager, raising her in her luxury robes and precious jewels.
Mu Huai had a firm grip on his power and control of government affairs. Empress Dowager Di’s maternal family was not considered very powerful, and she was very clear that Mu Huai was not close to her. During the second year after he was enthroned, Empress Dowager Di finally gave up on the idea of having him marry the daughter of the Di family. Taking the opportunity while they were still in the prime of their youth, she had the two daughters married to other people.
Mu Huai saw the day was getting dark, left under Hong Guang and Xue Rui’s respectful farewells. Watching the golden glow of Bianjing’s spring sun setting, and the colors blending together to create a beautiful landscape, he rode the sedan back to Yongxi Palace.
Even as he sat on the sedan, his thoughts were uninterrupted.
Since he could not investigate that year’s case file, then he might as well take this opportunity to have them investigate Di clan’s family background. If the Di family was clean, then he would not harm loyal subjects. If the Di family was not clean, then he would bring up both old and new debts and have them pay in full.
After all, Rong Bing was Rong Xi’s father. If he were a commoner, then he would have to respectfully call Rong Bing ‘father-in-law’.
When they arrived at the Xuanhua Gate’s watch tower, it was already night curfew. When they entered the palace, the Eastern Palace’s eunuch found him.
After Mu Huai returned to the palace, he was in an okay mood as he asked, “What is it?”
The eunuch lowered his head and respectfully answered, “Your Highness, Deputy Minister Yan and Steward Cheng are waiting for you at the Administration Chamber.”
When Mu Huai heard Yan Juxu’s name, his heart sudden leaped.
He fought to keep his voice even as he answered, “I got it.”
If ordinary officials wanted to stay in the palace past night curfew and when court was not in session, then they must receive the Emperor’s decree. However, the occupation of huangmen shilang2 had a unique power. As long as it’s before the palace gates are locked, then they could freely enter and exit Yongxi Palace at will.
Because huangmen shilang was the closest official to the Emperor and thus had a unique identity, the people in the palace also termed it xilang.
Mu Huai walked along the familiar path towards the Administration Chamber. The trees in the palace had already began to bud. His surroundings were filled with signs of new life.
When the sun set in the west, the crescent moon was hiding in the skies.
Mu Huai’s thoughts drifted back to his past life, the day Yan Juxu committed suicide.
Yan Juxu was indeed a talented and capable official. He was similar to the high-ranking Premier of other dynasties in the same era. In the stable position of being only under one and above ten thousand3, he also need to firmly hold onto his power and was adept at making power plays.
Although in his past life Mu Huai did not know that Yan Juxu had never had treasonous intentions after Yan Juxu died, ever since Yan Juxu had been promoted to Great Qi’s Chancellor, he had also given Tai Jian a lot of power in order to keep a system of checks and balances.
Mu Huai had allowed Tai Jian and the other imperial censors to become more and more brazen. If he didn’t like an official, he would secretly send down an order to have these imperial censors point their verbal spears and impeach the officials he wanted to get rid of during court.
That day he had sat alone on the dragon throne in Jiazheng Hall. His cold eyes stared at Yan Juxu who was being drowned in scoldings and humiliation by the imperial censors. Those censors never held back when attacking an official, daring to say anything and everything.
Saying he had the heart of a wolf, saying he played dirty tricks to accumulate power.
In the end, they had told him, the Emperor, if he were to let Yan Juxu, such an official remain, then he would definitely bring great disaster to Great Qi, a harbinger of bad luck. Yan Juxu had stood in the hall with a slight frown, and though he tried hard to remain calm and indifferent, his eyes had turned red.
After being an official for so many years, how could he be unaware that this was all being done under Mu Huai’s orders.
Mu Huai’s expression was cold and stern. Sitting on the luxurious and noble dragon throne, the bead curtain in front of him let out cold clicks as he asked him in a cold voice, “Yan Juxu, do you admit your crimes?”
The power of an emperor makes others feel fearful.
Yan Juxu looked at Mu Huai who sat above, and answered in an unusually calm voice, “Replying to Your Majesty, this subject does not admit.”
Mu Huai coldly sneered. Throwing the memorial on the desk to the ground, he bellowed furiously, “Since you don’t admit, then tomorrow, scram back to your residence and reflect. Zhen wants you to ask yourself whether you really had that intention or not.”
The same night he returned to his residence, Yan Juxu chose to commit suicide.
Mu Huai was clear that he had committed suicide because he had chosen wrongly and handed over his loyalty to such a cold, emotionless, and overly suspicious monarch. He [YJX] was grateful for his [MH] kindness but also felt his heart turn cold by his cruelty.
Yan Juxu was the same as Mu Huai; both held very deep and sentimental feelings for Great Qi and wanted to return the central plains back to its glorious days.
They wished that the yellow river was clear and the sea calm4, that the citizens would be safe.
The year Mu Huai passed away, Yin Cheng had perished at war, and it was akin to him losing his hands and feet.
When Yan Juxu committed suicide, he had lost his most able official.
Under the glow of the moonlight, Mu Huai’s thoughts were in turmoil when he arrived outside the hall and saw a youth with a gentle bearing wearing a set of indigo official robes standing outside.
When he stopped, the youth detected his presence.
That youth was Yan Juxu. When he saw Mu Huai, he bowed in respect, “This subject greets Your Highness.”
Mu Huai pressed down on the complicated feelings inside his heart. Nodding his head, he gestured for him to rise.
Yan Juxu had a gentle appearance. Determination shone in his eyes but he also carried the ambition and sincerity of a new official.
Mu Huai strode in the hall, vowing that he would not repeat the same mistakes in this life.
Cheng Song, his palace attendant in his past life, was already waiting inside. This year, Cheng Song was still just a palace steward. Mu Huai almost forgot that Attendant Cheng who had served him during his later reign actually existed at the same time as Yan Juxu.
Speaking of which, although Cheng Song was not as talented as Yan Juxu, he was an official that Mu Huai had heavily relied upon after becoming emperor.
The year Mu Huai passed away, his personality was especially surly and withdrawn. Cheng Song was obviously not a eunuch and had official matters to tend to, but he acted more like the eunuch serving him.
Given a second chance at life, Mu Huai felt some melancholy seeing the two senior officials’ youthful faces.
Tonight, Mu Huai had prepared to discuss with these two about revising Great Qi’s laws. Mu Huai felt a rare sense of peace and comfort when working together with Yan Juxu. The two people had similar styles; the moment they conducted official business, they would wholeheartedly focus on that, not feeling any exhaustion.
Cheng Song was different, but he tried to conceal it to keep up. However, after two hours, Mu Huai could hear the tiredness from his voice.
Zirui Hall’s clock had rung, the sounds of the bell reverberating. This was Bureau of Astrology’s last time ringing the bell for the night.
Mu Huai only realized how late it had become after hearing the bell. He had forgotten to send someone to the Eastern Palace to tell his little liangdi and the rascal in her stomach to eat dinner first.
Mu Huai was about to call for someone when he saw the eunuch from the Eastern Palace being led in by the guard and bringing in two food boxes with him.
Mu Huai frowned and asked in a confused voice, “What’s going on?”
Yan Juxu and Cheng Song were sitting on the chairs and cast a glance towards each other. The eunuch from the Eastern Palace respectfully answered, “…Replying to Your Highness, Rong liangdi had sent this slave here to bring supper for YOur Highness.”
Mu Huai didn’t bother to lift his head as he continued reading [Great Qi’s Laws] on the desk. His frown deepened a few degrees as he unhappily admonished, “What supper, I never have the habit of eating supper.”
The junior eunuch stood in his original spot. Just as he was torn on what to do, Mu Huai suddenly came back to his senses. This eunuch seemed to have mentioned Rong Xi.
He lifted his eyes and looked at the eunuch, asking, “Rong liangdi had you bring this?”
The junior eunuch nodded respectfully, “Yes…it’s from Rong liangdi.”
Mu Huai’s voice grew much more amicable as he ordered, “Bring it in.”
The junior eunuch obeyed.
Given the usual appetite of men, these three pieces of snacks could each be eaten in one bite. One didn’t need to be worried about inelegant eating manners nor delaying business matters due to eating.
The little liangdi was very thoughtful. Most likely, she had heard that there were still two officials in the hall, so there were three servings of snacks. She even had the eunuch bring forth three cups of warm chrysanthemum goji berry tea.
Smelling the sweet scents of the snacks, Mu Huai’s heart also felt very warm.
The formulation and implementation of the new laws could not be finished in an instant. Therefore, after Yan Juxu and Cheng Song finished eating, he had them return back to their residences to have a good rest.
The candles on the redwood altars in the four corners in the Eastern Palace were lit.
Under Dan Xiang’s meticulous care, Rong Xi had finished bathing and washing her hair. When her whole body was scorching due to the hot water, she felt as soft as cotton, drained of her energy.
Her half-damp hair was spread across the bed as she curled up. Her cheek laid against the bunched-up blanket. Closing her eyes, she was in deep thought.
The day Di Shihua had left the palace and returned to her residence, Di Shiyin had also returned to the Minister’s estate that night. Ever since then, the Empress had not called for her to enter the palace.
That day, she had seen Di Shihua’s angry expression and knew that she had succeeded in disturbing the two sisters’ relationship. However, with Di Shiyin not entering the palace, she no longer had the opportunity to stir up trouble and lure Di Shiyin into her trap.
As she ruminated, she failed to realize that Mu Huai had already returned.
The moment he entered the inner hall, Mu Huai saw the woman’s curled up body in an alluring pose that caused his throat to run dry.
Mu Huai couldn’t help but think of the times before Rong Xi became pregnant. He loved this position the most.
This finicky woman was always so reluctant and her body would often tighten up before she would finally burst out into sweet and sticky gasps.
Such a pose not only evoked feelings of pity from him, but moreover, he started to harbor some evil ideas.
What a little demonness.
Thinking of this, Mu Huai immediately picked up the woman on the bed. He could not have her unintentionally seducing people liek this again.
Rong Xi didn’t realize that Mu Huai was here and was startled. After returning to her senses, she found herself sitting on the man’s sturdy legs. Mu Huai circled his arms around her waist, his hand lightly resting on her stomach.
Sniffing the refreshing scent coming from her, he saw her peachy face slowly turn pink.
Mu Huai’s cold eyes slowly turned deep and heavy as he asked in a blaming tone, “Do you really treat me as a monk?”
Translator’s comments: Ooh, I wonder what’s the story behind Rong Bing’s death.
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