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Chapter 167: Beautiful Bones and Enchanting Flesh
To the emperor, the empress was his G.o.ddess and the apple of his eye. He loved her more than anything and could never bear to see her suffer. Although he was wary of Elder Statesman Cao and dissatisfied with some of what the statesman had done, that had nothing to do with his beloved empress.
"My dearest darling, don't be sad. My heart hurts so much at the sight." The emperor gently rocked the empress like he was coaxing a child. "I reprimanded w.a.n.g Yuxian for his own good. It had nothing to do with your father. How dare Consort Shu and Honored Concubine Xiang taunt you? The imperial harem interfering with matters of court is a grave taboo. Do they not want to live anymore?"
"Your Majesty." The empress laid her head down softly on the emperor's shoulder. "I've occupied your favor all by myself ever since entering the palace. Naturally, they're jealous. I understand why they feel this way, but you are still in the prime of your life, Your Majesty, and I am slowly becoming a faded flower. I truly am afraid that you'll meet a new love some day and cast me aside."
Tears trickled down the sides of her cheeks as she spoke and plopped onto the emperor's imperial robe, wetting the cloth.
The emperor supported the empress' slender waist with one hand and gently caressed her long hair with the other. "How would that ever happen? I'm the one who's old. You're still as young and beautiful as ever, just like when I first met you."
However, the empress shook her head and placed both hands on the man's shoulders, sitting up straight to gaze at him with deep devotion.
"Why would you say that, Your Majesty? You're the son of heaven and have unending fortune and lifespan. And you're not old at all. You've become more and more vigorous with the Soothsayer's pill. I…" She ducked a blus.h.i.+ng head.
The affirmative words and the empress' shy demeanor made the emperor feel as if he were floating on clouds. He did indeed feel a great surging of manhood ever since taking the divine pill and was highly confident that he could live to a hundred years old.
The empress hesitated. "Your Majesty, I'm not a son of heaven like you, nor do I have a heavenly aura protecting me. I've grown old. Look at the corners of my eyes." She caressed her smooth and pretty face. "Your Majesty, I know of a medicine that can revitalize my looks. The Soothsayer told me a few days ago, but the key ingredient is a bit hard to obtain."
The emperor was relieved that the empress was no longer focused on him demoting w.a.n.g Yuxian. He quickly picked up the new line of conversation. "Yurou, what ingredient is that? I own everything beneath the heavens and the four seas. As long you want it and it exists in the world, you shall have it!"
The empress blushed charmingly. "The Soothsayer said that this ingredient is both hard and easy to procure. It's present in the capital, but it might be difficult to really get ahold of it."
"Tell Us about it, We will take care of it for you!" The emperor greatly enjoyed how cutely the empress acted whenever she wanted something. It gave him an immense sense of accomplishment.
"Your Majesty," the empress' tone became even more gentle. "The Soothsayer said that I need the charming heart, beautiful bones, and enchanting flesh of a yin beauty born in the year of the earth rabbit, the month of the earth dragon, and the day of the fire chicken. 1 These ingredients must be pounded into a pulp with a pestle to be used in the medicine."
"Oh?" The emperor was a bit taken aback that the medicine needed a live person, but smiled after a moment's thought. "That won't be hard. I'll send out a decree to look for someone with this birth date. A yin-beauty? Then a great beauty is called for?"
The empress saw hope dawn when the emperor agreed without another word. She tugged his sleeve anxiously. "The Soothsayer has actually already identified the person. But I'm worried it would place you in a difficult position, Your Majesty, so I didn't say anything."
The emperor laughed heartily. "You clever little thing! Come, tell me. I'll obtain her to be your medicine no matter who she is!"
"Then I'll tell you, but you mustn't be mad at me or misunderstand my intentions."
"What, do I know this person?"
"Yes." The empress nodded. "She's none other than the official daughter of the Marquis of Anping, née Qin. She was born in the year of the earth rabbit, the month of the earth dragon, and the day of the fire chicken. The fifth day of the sixth month is her birthday. Your Majesty can have someone else confirm the calculations if you don't believe me."
The emperor fell silent for momentary contemplation. "Qin Meng has only this daughter. It wouldn't be too appropriate to have him offer his daughter as medicine."
The emperor still remembered how Sun Yu had rather commit suicide than offer his brains. He
was opposed to a recurrence on a basic level.
And yet, the empress frowned pitifully. "What kind of words are these, Your Majesty? Everything beneath the heavens is yours, and so are the people. No matter how Qin Meng may be, he's still your subject. Isn't there a saying that a subject has to die if his liege wishes it? You don't want his death, just his daughter. It'd be evidence of a rebellious heart if he didn't offer her up."
These words were very crafty. Every single one of them touched on the emperor's bottom line. In his high position, the first thing he cared about was his untouchable, G.o.d-like status. The second was the loyalty of his subjects.
After all, hadn't Azure Justice appeared in the chaotic Duke of Ding aftermath, when all the Sun males were executed?
He wanted Sun Yu to give himself up for the country, but that scholar had dared ram himself to death!
He wanted the lives of the Sun males to pacify Great Zhou anger, but the females had dared cook up this justice alliance to foment rebellion, and even dared attempt to a.s.sa.s.sinate him!
He was the lord of a nation and ruler of all! Could he not give the order in something as minor as this? Even the Suns' Inst.i.tute of Luminous Charm was now in née Qin's hands. Although Cao Yuqing had made her investigations and confirmed that née Qin had nothing to do with Azure Justice, the girl was still the granddaughter of the leader of that rebellion.
Qin Meng was indeed loyal and only had this one child.
His imperial authority would not brook any challenge or belittling!
With the empress' deep understanding of the emperor, she'd more or less guessed what was going on in the imperial mind when she saw various expressions flicker through the majesty's face. She encircled the emperor's neck and rubbed her soft body against the emperor's.
"Your Majesty, don't you want me to be forever young and always be by your side, serving you like this? Don't you like me, Your Majesty?"
Her teasing successfully aroused the emperor's attentions and lewd thoughts started running rampant. The Soothsayer's divine pill would bestow vigor even when he was a hundred years old. If the empress aged well before that, what would be the joy in life then? Besides, his darling just wanted some medicine ingredients to maintain her looks. There was nothing over the top about that.
He smiled when his thoughts travelled here. "Alright then, it shall be as you say because I dote on you so. I'll think of a way to get the girl."
The empress bestowed a delighted kiss. "Thank you for your favor, Your Majesty."
The emperor's hand ran up and down the woman's body. "And what will you thank me with?"
"Your Majesty~" The tender voice tempted even the soul, making the emperor brush off all the pet.i.tions on the table with a broad sweep of the hand and placing the empress on it instead…
The guards and eunuchs on duty at the doors of the imperial study felt incredibly awkward. One of the young eunuchs was beet red and surrept.i.tiously took a few steps away, like he didn't want to hear what was going on inside.
The head eunuch found the awkward sight of his disciple quite funny. "Little Yuzi, what's with you? What are you squirming around for? Are there worms in you?"
Little Yuzi flushed an even brighter red. "Master. I, I, would like to visit the outhouse."
"You little monkey, can't take even this? Let me tell you something, this is nothing! Go on your way, don't embarra.s.s yourself staying here."
Little Yuzi scratched his head and scampered off, drawing laughs from the guards and a few eunuchs.
The young eunuch sprinted off to find a place to relieve himself, but hastily scrawled a note and sent it to the Eastern Palace using previously agreed upon methods when he saw that no one was around.
Weichi Yan received the note from another young eunuch during lunch. Color drained rapidly from his face with a single glance, and he almost knocked over the porridge bowl in front of him.
He was first shocked, then so furious that his body shook from anger. "Trampress, that trampress! She really should die!"
The Anping Manor had been celebrating over the past two days.
Elder Statesman Cao's prized pupil had been demoted and stripped of his minister position while the statesman himself had been reprimanded for incompetence. On the flip side, Qin Huaiyuan was an official of great merit after the successful peace talks and censuring the statesman. He was highly commended and strings of imperial gifts flowed into the manor these days. They ranged from gold, silver, and jade to even tokens such as snacks that the emperor found delicious. All of them made their way to the Qins.
This level of honor was something that many families wouldn't reach after several lifetimes. The old dowager was delighted from dawn to dusk and felt that her eldest son had brought great glory to her. The Caos' downfall also made her cool towards Cao Yuqing. Her attentions were bestowed on Qin Yining, and even née Sun, since the girl had caught the Great Zhou prince's eye.
Someone born as an earth rabbit is candid and straightforward, and prizes loyalty and relations.h.i.+ps. Someone born as an earth dragon is hardworking and takes the initiative. Someone born as a fire chicken will find it difficult to make progress in their career and will be plagued by scheming characters. ↩