TCPCHW Chapter 59
The Crown Prince Chases His Wife
Chapter 59 Longevity Festival
On the day of the Longevity Festival, Emperor Hui led his concubines and other princes and princesses to pay homage to Empress Dowager Xiao in Shou’an Palace early morning.
Empress Dowager Xiao was not Emperor Hui’s biological mother, but as her legitimate mother, Empress Dowager Xiao could still bear the homage of gratitude on Emperor Hui’s birthday.
It was worth mentioning that Taizi Feng Zhan was not present due to his busy schedule. Moreover, Taizi sent someone to inform early in the morning that the staff of Taizi Mansion and some courtiers would discuss official matters and would enter the palace later today.
When the second prince, Feng Xian, received the news that Taizi would be late in his Chonghua Palace, his heart was filled with resentment and envy.
Taizi Feng Zhan, who was granted a high position of power at a young age, wielded great power. On the day of his imperial father’s birthday, he would be late even for his birthday banquet due to official duties, without any fear of being accused of being unfilial.
However, nowadays, in both the imperial court and the public, no one dared to comment on Taizi’s words and deeds.
This was power.
Empress Dowager Xiao did not entertain Emperor Hui and others for too long, and just after a cup of tea, Emperor Hui and his party left Shou’an Palace.
Emperor Hui and Empress immediately went to the Fengtian Palace to receive congratulations and gifts from their imperial relatives and various civil and military officials.
To prepare birthday gifts for the emperor, everyone racked their brains and tried their best to find rare things. Even if they could not win the emperor’s praise, it would be good to leave an impression or two in front of the emperor.
However, the birthday gifts prepared by two people were somewhat unusual. One was Ning Wang, Feng Sui, who lived in Wanning Temple, and the other was the third prince, Feng Yi, who had just returned to the palace.
Ning Wang was brought back to the capital by the Northen Yamen Imperial Army two days ago, but perhaps due to concerns about Empress Dowager Xiao’s aversion to Ning Wang, he was not permitted into the palace.
Instead, he was placed in a post house and guarded by the imperial army day and night.
Ning Wang, Feng Sui, was the late emperor’s beloved son who he had gotten in his middle age. He was twenty-six this year.
Today, Ning Wang was wearing a moon-white brocade robe embroidered with dark patterns with silver thread, with a tall and slender figure, but was slightly thin, which made him look even more elegant.
His appearance was only slightly similar to his elder brother, Emperor Hui, but Feng Sui’s facial features were more like those of the Imperial Concubine Li back then, with profound handsome features but not rough.
In the palace hall, Ning Wang held up a rattan woven calligraphy and painting box with both hands and presented it. Li Fuquan took the box and presented it to the emperor. He opened it and found a set of scriptures inside.
Ning Wang bowed to Emperor Hui and said, “My dear brother, I have clean hands and don’t have many valuables in my sleeves. I can only copy a few Buddhist scriptures to congratulate my brother on his birthday.”
When the late emperor appointed the title of Ning Wang, he granted Qingzhou as a fiefdom to Ning Wang. Unexpectedly, since the death of the late emperor, Ning Wang had been imprisoned in Wanning Temple by Empress Dowager Xiao and had not established a vassal state yet, so he was raised by the imperial family. It was indeed not an exaggeration to say that he has clean hands.
Emperor Hui looked at Ning Wang Feng Sui. The younger brother of the emperor looked indifferent, but it was unclear whether he was as desireless as he appeared on the surface.
“Ning Wang has a heart.” Emperor Hui motioned to Li Fuquan to accept the gift.
The third prince, Feng Xian, presented a roll of brocade with a wishful cloud pattern. Li Fuquan took it and asked the palace servants to unfold it in the palace hall. On the brocade, there were countless “longevity” characters in different handwritings.
Third Prince Feng Xian saluted Emperor Hui on the throne, “Imperial Father, during this year, I have been visiting famous mountain and ancient temples in various states in Great Xia. I have invited ten thousand monks with excellent moral cultivation in the temples to write down ten thousand words of longevity. I have also invited eminent monks to chant sutras and bless my imperial father. I wish my imperial father a long life.”
Emperor Hui was greatly pleased and repeatedly praised him.
After the ceremony, the emperor and empress returned to their palace to change their clothes.
The Ministry of Rites announced that today in the evening, a birthday banquet was held in the Fengxian Hall to entertain the imperial families, officials, and their family members. The emperor planned to reward the courtiers after the banquet.
In the evening at the Fengtian Hall in the Imperial City.
The musicians of the Jiaofang played the ceremonial music, and the symphony of musical instruments was melodious and beautiful.
In addition to the empress, imperial concubines, princes and princesses, imperial family members, nobles, and civil and military officials all came to the table one after another with their families.
The seats of the imperial families and nobles were close to the throne, and below were the seats of the courtiers and their families.
Right Prime Minister, Qin Wenzheng, his wife, Song Mei, his legitimate son, Qin Ming, and his legitimate second daughter, Qin Nian, took their seats. But the family was not even complete. As the legitimate eldest daughter of the Right Prime Minister, Qin Yan was now titled a princess, and her seat was arranged above Qin Wenzheng.
Except for Qin Ming, everyone from the Right Prime Minister Mansion was unhappy about this.
Just a few months ago, they all thought that Qin Yan, a little girl, would be at their mercy when she returned to the capital. Who would have thought that Qin Yan would confront them head-on from the first day she entered the capital, without even a trace of sentiment?
Now, Qin Yan was the first-grade princess who built her mansion, and they all heard that Qin Yan recently joined the staff of Taizi Mansion. As Qin Yan’s father, Qin Wenzheng could only meet Qin Yan a few times when he went to Taizi Mansion on official business. The father and daughter never even exchanged pleasantries except for official business.
However, Song Mei, who was the equal wife of Prime Minister Qin, and Qin Nian, the so-called second daughter of Prime Minister Mansion, were not even worthy enough to hold the same status as Qin Yan.
It had only been a few months, but it felt like time had passed for decades, which made people sigh.
In the evening, Emperor Hui, dressed in a bright yellow dragon robe, and Empress, dressed in a gold and silver filigree phoenix embroidered dress, came to Fengtian Hall.
Everyone stood up and saluted.
“Your Majesty and Empress.”
Emperor Hui and the queen entered the palace, walked slowly up to the Fengtian Hall, and took their seats.
“You may rise.” Emperor Hui said.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Everyone returned to their seats.
At this moment, there were still many empty seats in the main hall, except for the Empress Dowager, who should have been on the left side of the throne, who had not been present yet, and the seat of Taizi Feng Zhan was still empty.
Everyone had different thoughts, but Taizi’s great power was already a fact.
Emperor Hui on the throne instructed Li Fuquan, “Give the wine.”
In the past, the drinking utensils at palace banquets were custom-made, such as wine pots and wine cups, which used the same workmanship.
But today, the drinking utensils that the palace maids bring to each seat, except for the ordinary civil and military officials and their officials, were still per the usual rules. The drinking utensils that the palace maids gave to the imperial families, noblemen, and their families, were different for each seat.
The wine pots and wine cups were either white jade, sapphire, colored glass, or porcelain of various colors… The serving maid filled the wine cups on the table with the wine in the pot and then stepped aside. Emperor Hui observed the marvelous expressions on everyone’s faces, raised the white jade wine cup in his hand, and spoke, “Let’s drink together.”
Emperor Hui raised his head and drank the wine, put down the cup, and squinted at the reactions of everyone in the banquet.
Some low-ranking courtiers without much thought, savored the imperial wine with pleasure.
The closer they were to the throne, the more anxious and uncertain they became.
The emperor was suspicious. They also knew that His Majesty was assassinated during the Autumn Hunting not long ago. Shortly afterward, the Taizi Mansion used the Longevity Festival as an excuse to summon all the princes, marquis, and their families to the capital to celebrate His Majesty’s birthday. However, His Majesty was not celebrating his birthday this year but instead mobilized everyone to enter the capital to test their reaction. Hence, they dared not disobey.
At this moment, they were in a heavily guarded palace, and they had to drink the wine given by the emperor. Otherwise, they would directly indicate to His Majesty that they harbored ulterior motives in their hearts.
The princes and marquis, who were slow to move, drank the wine in their hands one after another. Seeing this, their family members also raised their heads and drank all the wine in their cups.
The wine passed through their intestines with no sharp pain in the abdomen, so it was not a poison, fortunately…
At the banquet, using wine as a deterrent, Emperor Hui watched with satisfaction as everyone put down their wine cups and announced the beginning of the banquet, “Today, everyone drink freely without any formalities.”
The palace music changed to a new momentum, and the atmosphere in the palace hall began to change from the subtle stagnation just now to gradually becoming more and more lively.
But some people ate without tasting the food and became worried.
Today’s lively birthday banquet, for them, was a grand feast.
At this time, a palace attendant entered the palace hall, “Your Majesty, the Empress Dowager, and the Yizhou Wang are still chatting at the Shou’an Palace and will arrive later.”
After saying this, the palace attendant of Shou’an Palace bowed and left.
Emperor Hui didn’t look too happy.
The Empress Dowager delayed attending the banquet, and even the Yizhou Wang was so arrogant.
Yizhou Wang probably just entered the capital. When he entered the palace, he first went to Shou’an Palace to pay respects to Empress Dowager Xiao, rather than meeting himself, the emperor.
Emperor Hui felt a chill in his heart. Yizhou Wang could only act like this because the Empress Dowager Xiao gave him the courage…
Seeing the strange look on His Majesty’s face, Imperial Concubine Xian, who was under the Empress, spoke at the right time.
“Your Majesty, I have asked the noble young masters and ladies in the capital to prepare some talent programs to celebrate Your Majesty’s birthday and I request Your Majesty’s permission.” Imperial Concubine Xian had reported this matter in advance, and Emperor Hui nodded in agreement.
Imperial Concubine Xian made arrangements immediately.
Soon, the young masters and ladies in bright clothes entered the palace hall, playing the zither and flute, or dancing with flowing sleeves, which was quite pleasing to the eye.
At the end of the hall, there were six desks, and several young masters and ladies were painting on the desks. One of them was A Yan, the fiancée of Shizi Xie of the Marquis of Yongding Mansion.
Everyone had also heard that Miss A Yan was a disciple of the Imperial Master Yishan. It was not surprising that she could show her face at such a palace banquet today.
Imperial Concubine Xian organized such a program for noble young masters and ladies to show their faces in front of the emperor, which also sparked a wave of goodwill among various noble families in the capital and gained their favor.
But how many waves could an imperial concubine without heirs make?
Not long after, there was a commotion outside the palace, and a palace attendant called out loudly, “Master Yishan has arrived.”
Everyone was surprised that it was the Imperial Master Yishan Master!
As soon as the voice fell, a clear-looking old man in a loose robe strode in.
Emperor Hui stood up and said, “Master.”
Yishan nodded, “Your Majesty.”
Emperor Hui had previously received news from Taizi that the master would enter the capital on the Longevity Festival. At this time, the master’s seat was reserved above Duan Wang.
“Someone, show Master to his seat.”
Yishan frowned as he looked around the banquet, but why didn’t he see anyone?
Everyone was whispering to each other.
“Master hasn’t entered the capital for some years.”
“It is an honor for us to be able to admire Master’s grace today.”
“That Shizi Xie’s fiancée, A Yan, is Master’s disciple. Is Master here to support her?”
“That A Yan is really lucky.”
Little did they know that A Yan, who was considered “lucky” by everyone, was shocked and anxious at the moment.
She didn’t know that Master Yishan would be here today. The painting she was about to complete at this moment was memorized based on the draft she had taken from Wanxue House in Meishan Mountain.
This was also the last usable rough draft she had not shown to Brother Changyuan and others.
But, wasn’t it the drawing of “Xiao Yanyan”? Master probably won’t remember it, she hoped so…
Not long after, the performance in the palace hall ended and the palace music started.
Emperor Hui clapped his hands and praised them, “Everyone is rewarded.”
Seeing that the emperor was very satisfied with the performance, Imperial Concubine Xian struck while the iron was hot.
“Your Majesty, I would like to invite Master Yishan to give some comments on the young masters and ladies’ paintings in the palace hall today. I don’t know…” Imperial Concubine Xian glanced at Emperor Hui and then turned to Yishan, who was drinking.
Master Yishan was the emperor’s master, who was knowledgeable in both ancient and current times, and skilled in military tactics and strategy. He excelled in all six arts, particularly in calligraphy and painting.
Imperial Concubine Xian’s proposal was a great compliment to the noble young masters and ladies who painted in the palace hall today. If their paintings were reviewed by Master Yishan, their status would naturally rise.
Imperial Concubine Xian had taken favor to the extreme.
Yishan was drinking wine impatiently, frowning when he heard this, and was about to refuse, when someone outside the palace hall suddenly called out, “His Highness Taizi has arrived.”
After the call was over, Taizi Feng Zhan, dressed in a black brocade with a golden thread embroidered five-claw golden dragon pattern and a golden crown on his head, entered the palace hall.
Everyone stood up and saluted, “Welcome His Highness Taizi.”
Feng Zhan stopped and said in a cold tone, “Exempted.”
Everyone stood up and returned to their seats, but Taizi did not continue to step forward, but turned sideways and looked behind him.
Then came Qin Yan, Princess of Zhaoren, who was adorned with a moonlit silver thread embroidered with dark patterns, and then An Wenjing of Grand Scholar Mansion.
They, along with several other courtiers, had just come from the Taizi Mansion after discussing official matters.
Qin Yan and An Wenjing entered the palace hall and were about to salute Emperor Hui and the Empress, but Emperor Hui suddenly spoke, “Exempted, show them their seats.”
It seemed that the rumors were true. Princess Zhaoren was indeed favored by His Majesty and couldn’t be offended.
At this time, Imperial Master Yishan suddenly laughed loudly and spoke, his voice like a loud bell, “Yanyan, just in time, you can help me see if these paintings are pleasing to the eyes.”