IBTBTED Chapter 30
It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 30 The Past
Zhao Chengjun did not reply for a long time. Tang Shishi originally thought that Zhao Chengjun did not want to speak. After a while, she found that Zhao Chengjun’s body temperature was constantly dropping. Tang Shishi quickly touched Zhao Chengjun’s hand, which was already cold.
Tang Shishi was in a panic and quickly asked, “Wangye, how are you?”
At last, Zhao Chengjun seemed to be unable to hold it, leaning onto the tree next to him, and his face was pale. Tang Shishi was so frightened. She quickly helped Zhao Chengjun to sit down. Zhao Chengjun did not speak for a long time. Tang Shishi bravely touched Zhao Chengjun’s face, and the result was also ice-cold.
He lost too much blood, his lips were pale, his limbs were cold, and his pulse was very fast. Tang Shishi did not know how he got here alive. He did not make any sound previously. So, Tang Shishi thought he was all right.
As a result, it turned out to be so serious.
Tang Shishi looked around in a hurry and asked, “Where is the herb that can stop bleeding? Wangye, you wait. I’ll find it right now.”
“No need.” Zhao Chengjun stopped Tang Shishi’s movement, repressed his breath, and said slowly, “You don’t need to work in vain. Listen, I just notified them and someone will come soon. If the person who comes is Jiang Jiu, or the face you have seen in the study room, then follow them. If they refuse to take off their masks or refuse to report their identity, then they are spies. You don’t have to worry about me and run by yourself immediately. The woods are deep here, and they dare not search the woods wildly. You can be saved as long as you hide until dawn.”
Zhao Chengjun said these things in a low voice and sometimes had to stop before he could continue. Tang Shishi widened her eyes unknowingly, “Wangye, what are you doing?”
Why was this sounded the same as confessing his last words?
Zhao Chengjun had to prepare for the worst. He had lost too much blood now, and his vision was blurred. No matter who was the next person, he had no more power to resist them. The court in the first half of his life and the military in the second half of his life had long taught Zhao Chengjun not to put hope on the unexpected. The first to arrive may be from the Jing Wang mansion or the Tatars. Zhao Chengjun did not know how Heaven would arrange it. He only knew that he must take advantage of the present to arrange his affairs.
He should have died as early as the second year of Yongxi’s reign. Now he was able to live more than 11 years, he was already fighting his life with Yama. However, Tang Shishi should not die here. These people came for him and had nothing to do with Tang Shishi. She should have lived her life squeamishly and freely.
Zhao Chengjun lowered his head and breathed slowly. After he had enough strength, he continued, “When you go back, take this jade pendant to find Liu Ji and tell him that there is a letter in the secret compartment that explains what to do after my death. Let them do what the letter says. After these words are passed to Liu Ji, you can leave, and Liu Ji will help you arrange the entanglement and identity. After that, you will be free.”
As Zhao Chengjun said, he handed a jade pendant to Tang Shishi. After looking at it for a long time, Tang Shishi suddenly pressed Zhao Chengjun’s hand and pushed the jade pendant back to Zhao Chengjun.
Tang Shishi said, “Wangye, this is your personal jade pendant. If I take it back, it’s hard to say whether Liu Gonggong will believe me. It’s hard to say whether the people in the Jing Wang mansion can let me go, or even whether I can live till tomorrow. I won’t send a message on behalf of you, nor will I leave. If Wangye is really worried, then go back to the mansion and arrange it in person.”
Zhao Chengjun looked at her in surprise, “You…”
“Wangye, you are the backbone of the Jing Wang mansion.” Tang Shishi watched Zhao Chengjun closely, “If you are gone, many things will not develop according to your vision. There is no perfect plan in the world, only you can perfect it when you sit in the center.”
Zhao Chengjun did not respond, but he also did not continue to stuff the jade pendant to Tang Shishi. Seeing that his consciousness was getting weaker and weaker, Tang Shishi kept talking to him to try to arouse his consciousness, “Wangye, Shizi has not been found yet. He’s not at the foot of the cliff, then where is he?”
“Shizifei has not yet entered the door. If there is no Wangye to watch him, Shizi would escape the marriage again. He spoiled Zhou Shunhua like that. If no one in the mansion watches him, he would have done something like favoring his concubine and destroying his wife. Wangye, are you really relieved?”
Tang Shishi talked a lot about Zhao Zixun. She chose Zhao Chengjun’s most taboo, but he still closed his eyes and did not make any movement. Tang Shishi was full of enthusiasm and braving a big deal, “Wangye, do you have any regrets?”
Naturally, there was no response. Tang Shishi knelt down under the tree and warmed Zhao Chengjun’s hands in vain. She said in a low voice, “I have.”
“My mother is obviously a legitimate wife. She helped Tang Mingzhe so much back then, but now, she lives a lonely life. She is trampled under the feet of a concubine and swallows her voice. I have worked so hard to become Qi Jingsheng’s wife and read his favorite books, learned his favorite skills, and pleased the whole Qi family up and down. However, in the end, concubine Su just blew a pillow of wind in Tang Mingzhe’s ears, and my marriage was taken by Tang Yanyan. For what reason they can do that?”
It was raining at night. The rain got her clothes wet. Tang Shishi felt a little cold. She slowly hugged her knees and shrank in the corner next to Zhao Chengjun and the trees, “I’m not convinced. I don’t believe my life was born to be humiliated. I entered the palace without any resistance. On the day of resolving my marriage contract, Qi Jingsheng and the Qi family’s sisters came, but I sat in my boudoir and never went out from beginning to end. I want to return to my hometown in glory. I want to make a name for myself in the palace. I can be a pampered concubine, a female official, or given to a minister as a wife or a concubine. As long as I can gain power, I can smile and say to Tang Mingzhe that he has to sell concubine Su, and he has to follow it. For this reason, no matter what I have to pay for it, I am willing.”
“Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun despised me for being utilitarian. They stepped on top of ten thousand people since they were born. They have everything. They have never felt poverty or embarrassment, taxation or corvee, nodded and bowed, and they have not tasted the taste of being manipulated by fate. Of course, they could be kind, generous, and indifferent to fame and wealth. But I’m not. I have many dreams to realize. I’m not reconciled to spending my life in such a mediocre way. I don’t want to die in other people’s hands just like an ant.”
In fact, Tang Shishi was also very tired. The cold and fright exhausted her strength greatly. Tang Shishi leaned her face on her knee, and her voice gradually became quieter, “Wangye, you are a prince when you were born. Do you have any moments that you are not reconciled?”
Tang Shishi held her knees and naturally did not see Zhao Chengjun’s eyes move slightly. Zhao Chengjun seemed to be soaked in ice water. His consciousness was sometimes clear and sometimes unclear. He vaguely heard a woman ask him, are you not reconciled?
Not reconciled? Of course, he has.
His mother, no, he could not call her mother, but an Imperial Consort.
Imperial Consort Gonglie and Shizong met each other at the age of six and had been a childhood sweethearts for ten years. Unfortunately, because of the rules of the ancestors, they could not make a daughter of the noble family the imperial concubine. Shizong could only accept Gonglie as his side concubine. For many years, Shizong and Imperial Consort Gonglie were deeply affectionate and stayed in Imperial Consort’s Shen Palace for more than half a month. Together, they gave birth to three children, the eldest Zhao Chengshuo, the second Zhao Chengyong, and the younger Zhao Chengjun.
Among all the children, only Zhao Chengjun was the most favored. When he was initiated when he was a child, Shizong repeatedly said “This child is like me”. He studied and practiced martial arts, all of which were taught by Shizong.
Zhao Chengjun was granted Jing Wang at the age of ten, which was the earliest one among the princes. Shizong bypassed the three sons above and Zhao Chengjun was the first to bestow the title Wang. Later in the second year, for the sake of reputation, Shizong named the eldest son Zhao Chengting as Chu Wang, the second son Zhao Chengshuo as Xiang Wang, and the third son Zhao Chengyong as Teng Wang.
Shizong’s preference for Zhao Chengjun could be clearly seen from his title. In the first thirteen years of his life, his status was distinguished and pampered, respected by his father, and doted by his mother. Both his elder brothers loved him, and both the Taifu* and the courtiers praised him. Everything about Zhao Chengjun was top-notch, but at the age of thirteen, everything ended abruptly.
(Taifu* – one of three high-ranking positions who assist the emperor or the officer who counsels the prince)
During the Shizong Dynasty, Empress Yao was nothing but the name of the Empress. Before his marriage, Shizong did not know Empress Yao at all, and he rarely went to the Empress’s palace after marriage. However, Empress Yao really had a good fate. She was pregnant with a child on the first night of her marriage. She was the eldest daughter of the Emperor, Princess Nanyang. Five years later, Shizong was drunk and rested in Empress Yao’s palace. Empress Yao became pregnant again and had a son. This was the eldest son of the Emperor, Zhao Chengting.
Zhao Chengting took up the name as the eldest son and was supported by the rites and law. Shizong fought for a long time, but he had no choice but to make Zhao Chengting the crown prince. Later, Shizong died of serious illness and the crown prince ascended the throne. After many years, Empress Yao finally became Empress Dowager. The first thing she did was to order Imperial Consort Gonglie to be buried with the former Emperor.
The court had always had the custom of burial of concubines with the former Emperor, but this was only for the low-ranking concubines who had not given birth and were not favored or even the court ladies. Imperial Concubine Gonglie was the daughter of the Guo family of Wuding Marquis, the founding hero. She had been extremely favored even after she had been in the palace for many years. She also gave birth to three princes. She could not be buried in either reason or law.
However, Empress Dowager Yao insisted that Imperial Consort Gonglie hanged herself to protect her three children. However, the retreat of Imperial Consort Gonglie did not satisfy Empress Dowager Yao. Empress dowager Yao’s appetite grew bigger and bigger. She even messed around with Emperor’s heirs during winter by reducing their charcoal consumption. The third prince Zhao Chengyong lost his father and then his mother. He was already weak. After suffering from a cold, he was forced by Empress Dowager Yao to be unable to see an imperial physician, and then he died a month later.
Overnight, Zhao Chengjun lost three relatives one after another. In the eleventh month, his father died of illness, and his mother was buried in the same month. In the twelfth month, the third brother who loved him the most suffered a cold and died.
Imperial Consort’s burial was shocking, and the third son of the Emperor just died. Afraid of being blamed, Empress Dowager Yao hurriedly drove Imperial Concubine Gonglie remaining two sons to the frontiers, regardless of whether they could get on the road or not. Zhao Chengjun was fourteen years old and had a high fever at that time and was stuffed into the carriage to the frontier. The place where he was going to was still the most remote and dangerous, the Northwest.
Empress Dowager Yao made no secret of her intention. She just forced them to die differently.
Zhao Chengjun had a high fever on the road time and time again and almost died several times. But he just survived, and it was not until the eighth month of the following year that he finally recovered. However, after that time, Zhao Chengjun’s health was greatly damaged, and he coughed all year. While Zhao Chengjun was sick, he recuperated in the Xiping province. Before he could recover, he heard the news from Xiangdi that his second brother, Zhao Chengshuo, was infected and died of the plague.
Among his mother and his three brothers, he was the only one left now. He could not even go to see his second brother for the last time.
Zhao Chengjun was seriously ill at that time. When he woke up, he completely changed his personality. The fourth prince, who was once proud and favored in the court died, and the one who survived was Jing Wang who licked the blood on the tip of the sword. Zhao Chengjun abandoned the delicate habit of being raised in the court, went to the battlefield with his sword, fought with the Tatars to death, and gained a firm foothold in the Northwest through his blood-soaked achievements.
Did Zhao Chengjun have any regrets? Of course, he has. The remains of the second brother lingered in Xiangdi, the cause of death of the third brother was unknown, and the soul of his birth mother remained in Dingling for a long time, while his enemy sat high in the palace, enjoying the honor of the Empress Dowager.
How could Zhao Chengjun not hate? How could he not complain? Empress Dowager Yao was still alive, and the descendants of that woman still occupied the Dragon chair. How could Zhao Chengjun willingly die like this?
Zhao Chengjun’s fingers moved slightly. However, Tang Shishi was frozen and could not feel these slight changes at all. She kept warming Zhao Chengjun’s hand and talking to him. In the end, she did not know what she was talking about.
Tang Shishi did not know how long after that, the rain became smaller, and her consciousness floated with it. Tang Shishi had pain in her head and felt that she might be ill.
In her daze, footsteps suddenly sounded from outside the woods. Tang Shishi woke up in a flash, and she instinctively checked out Zhao Chengjun first. However, Zhao Chengjun closed his eyes, his face was pale, and he was quiet and unconscious.
Tang Shishi’s mind aroused slowly. She struggled to hide herself and Zhao Chengjun under the bushes. After finishing these things, she was almost exhausted from exhaustion. As Tang Shishi was about to hide, she caught a glimpse of Zhao Chengjun’s sword in the corner of her eye. She thought about it and picked it up.
The sounds of footsteps were so many and mixed, she did not know who saw them and shouted, “Come here, they are over here!”