Concealed by Brocaded Clouds, Frost on the Roads: Volume 01 Chapter 03

10:43 AM Oyen 2 Comments

I still have 3 extra chapters for ko-fi goals, but just make do with this one chapter first, sorry for delay~

Chapter 3: Quite a Few of Flowers on the Branch
translator & editor: Oyen

After chatting with Empress Ruan for a long time, the sky had darkened when they returned to the mansion, and it was time for dinner. Housekeeper Sun greeted them, saluted and asked. “Does my prince want to have a meal?” Although both of them had been married for almost half a year, they seldom eat together. 

Baili Haozhe looked back at Ruan Wushuang, slightly mused for a moment, and said, “Serve the meal!”

Housekeeper Sun busily gave the order, then Baili Haozhe called out. “Wait, arrange to go to Hanxin building!” Hanxin building was located to the east of the whole palace, which was the closest to Ruan Wushuang's quarter. It was full of flowers and plants all around. At this time, the red plum was in full bloom, making a beautiful scenery.

The petals swayed slightly with the wind, and the air was scented with plum blossoms. Around the Hanxin building, only the flowers’ fragrance was felt. Ruan Wushuang walked slowly through the corridor, the sky had already darkened. The maid brought an octagonal lantern and walked in front, leaving only a yellowish stall under her feet, such as a clear spring in August. She could vaguely see the peonies on the embroidered shoes blooming on the branches.
The wind was howling around, vaguely blowing in through the cloak, very cold, but it seemed to have a sweet smell. She clenched the heater in her hand, with only a little warmth, and her fingertips were still cold.

Seeing her coming, Hanxin’s imperial guard and maid in front of the door saluted and opened the door for her. A carbon furnace had been lit in the room, which kept the room warm. He was standing by the window, changed into an azure-blue brocade robe, standing like an orchid and jade tree in the wind. From the back, there was a sense of loneliness and desolation.

Mo Zhu and Mo Ran untied the cloak for her, and then they retreated. Ruan Wushuang approached and called. “My prince!” 

Baili Haozhe turned his head, looked ordinary, and replied gently, “Come here! Let’s eat!” On the table, spoons, chopsticks, dishes and cups had been arranged, and several dishes of dried fruits and candied fruit had been placed.

Baili Haozhe clapped his hands, and the servant presented the hot dishes one by one. The order was coral chinese cabbage, butterfly shrimp slices, hedgehog mushroom dishes, five shredded chicken, three fresh duck buns, smoked pork belly, bass meatballs stir fried with bird nest, yellow pea, kidney bean roll. Ruan Wushuang looked at it, but her heart could not help but ripple: it was her favorite dish in the prime minister's residence in the past.

She picked the shredded chicken and tasted a few mouthfuls. The taste was the same as what she used to eat in the prime minister's residence. She raised her head in surprise. Baili Haozhe was also looking at her, facing at her from the opposite, his eyes were like black glass gems, very deep and bottomless.

Baili Haozhe smiled slightly. “Eat more! The craftsmanship of Master Liang in the prime minister's residence is really worthy of its reputation.” Finally having the answer, Ruan Wushuang was surprised. It was clear that there was something in his sentence, but how did he get Liang Bing to the prince mansion? Did her parents know? Did he know that she was vomiting these days that she has almost no appetite because of pregnancy? But he spent very little time in the mansion!

However, she still gave a faint smile on her face, and replied. “It’s a lie to say this craftsmanship is excellent only because Wushuang has been accustomed to eat it since childhood. Therefore I am used to it.” While talking, she picked up a duck bun and handed it to his plate, lifting her head and continued. “Try it too!” Then, she saw him smile, picked it up, put it in his mouth, and tasted it.

Although the windows and doors were closed tightly, there were still a few gusts of wind infiltrating in. There was no incense in the house, but the light aftertaste of plum blossoms. Both of them were silent. Although Ruan Wushuang only tasted a few mouthfuls, she lost her appetite, but after all, she ate a lot more than usual. So she picked a rose plum and ate it. It was so sour that she couldn't help but frowned. But she really loved the taste! Just like the mother said that it was normal for pregnant women to eat sour food. If at ordinary times, she was afraid that this sourness could make people sour to death.

Baili Haozhe took a sip of wine and looked up just to see her frowning. She was always dignified and elegant, and unexpectedly so cute. His heart moved slightly, and he blurted out. “Is it sour?”

Of course it is sour ah! She said in her heart, but still covered her mouth with her sleeve, and replied softly: “En, it's a little sour!”

He also picked one, took a bite, swallowed it hard, and nodded with the same look. “It's a little sour!” Looking at his endured expression, Ruan Wushuang suddenly felt that he was like a naughty child at this moment. She wanted to laugh a little, but couldn't laugh, so she had to hold back.

Baili Haozhe drank the wine in one gulp and went to remove the sour taste in his mouth. Playing with the delicate white jade cup with his fingertips, his eyes seemed a little confused. “When I was a child, I played with my elder brother. At that time, there were several red bayberry trees in the backyard of the mansion. In the summer, the red bayberry was ripe, and my elder brother tricked the attendant into taking me to pick it. The two of us climbed the tree and picked plums from the tree to eat... My elder brother always eats first, pretends to be delicious, and then deceives me to eat. As a matter of fact, plums are not yet ripe, so they are naturally sour and astringent, but how can children understand this truth?” There was a trace of regret and melancholy in the tone.

Ruan Wushuang listened, thinking about her childhood. Because she was a daughter of his middle-aged father and already had two sons, he had been very fond of her since childhood. The elder brother and the second brother were many years older than her. When she was a little more sensible, both of them had grown up and regarded her as both a sister and a daughter. But never had fun together, growing up, in her memories only had a group of servant girls and maids.

Baili Haozhe’s mother had died of illness when he was still in infancy. Although he was adopted by her aunt, it couldn’t be compared with his own mother. Moreover, she heard that her aunt was lovely as a flower when she was young, but she was much more competitive than now. In those days, the crown prince's mansion had many wives and concubines, and there was some jealousy. How much thoughts were really spent on Baili Haoting and Baili Haozhe, only her aunt knew.

Baili Haozhe looked up and drank the newly poured wine in the cup. After several more drinks, he slowly stood up, went to the window and pushed the window hard. A cold wind came in front of him and made his clothes tumble. Ruan Wushuang fixed her clothes and stood up slowly, supporting her waist with her arm, saying, “Prince, it's very late. Let's have a rest early.”

Baili Haozhe clapped his hands and the maid came in. He didn't turn his head and said, “Send the princess back to her room!” Mo Zhu and Mo Ran came in and helped Ruan Wushuang tie up her mink fur cape, and handed her a gold-plated hand warmer.

Ruan Wushuang stepped out of the door, and turned around, Baili Haozhe was still standing by the window, just like when she came, standing in the wind, but the loneliness and bleakness lingered in her heart.

On the 15th of the first month of the year 21 of Shengjia, the Lantern Festival.

News came from the palace that concubine Meng was demoted to the cold palace. His son Baili Haoyu was named the ruler of Lingnan, and he was given a fief in Yunnan, Guangxi, and other places in Yunnan and Guangxi. Although he was granted the title of ruler in name, everyone knew that Baili Haoyu was secretly sealed and demoted, so far he had no chance with the throne.

Baili Haozhe did not return overnight, and did not return to the room until the afternoon of the next day. She set the endgame of the chess according to the book and was solving the chess. There was green smoke in the golden incense burner, and the room was filled with dim warmth. The afternoon sun passed through the pattern of magpies in spring, spilled in obliquely, swaying on the gauze curtain, and fell on the carpet.

He seemed to be extremely tired, and opened the curtain to enter. And she was looking down and thinking, a ray of light outside the window was falling on the chessboard. Her snow-white fingers were like crystals tribute from Persia, luminous and translucent. Holding the black chess piece, thinking frowningly, she didn't seem to notice him coming in.

The pitch black hair as if ink was only slightly tied up in a bun and inserted with a delicate jade hairpin, which was not like the usual tassels. There was a special charm in his eyes.

Baili Haozhe slowly approached, and there was no incense in the room. Perhaps it was because he was so close that the smell of jasmine on her body had come faintly. She sat by the golden ray, glowing as quietly as glass. A string stretched in his body was slowly loosened, as if he had returned to a peaceful place.

Ruan Wushuang only heard his deep voice behind her. “Put it here!” Looking back, she saw Baili Haozhe standing beside her, his eyes like the shadow of an eagle's wings in the distance, staring at her with a smile, his eyes warm and focused. The python-pattern gold embroidery on the scarlet gown shines with a colorful luster in the light, which made people dizzy just like his smile.

He reached over her, picked up a white piece and put it on the chessboard. She was slightly surprised that he was also good at it. Although there was a warm smile on his face, he showed no mercy in the position under which white piece was placed. After a little thought, lifting her wrist, tucking her brocaded white fox fur cuff, and put a black piece in her hand. Until the night approached, the chess game was still deadlocked, and both of them still did not decide the outcome.

While he was pondering, she looked up at him and saw a touch of cyan in his eyes. Yesterday, one day and one night, there must have been a lot of infighting in the palace, and news was passed into her ears from the palace. Concubine Meng broke into Emperor Jingren's bedroom privately and asked Emperor Jingren to canonize Baili Haoyu as crown prince. Emperor Jingren refused. Concubine Meng unexpectedly colluded with the imperial guards to coerce Emperor Jingren into submission.

Emperor Jingren had been touching his sickbed since the handover in autumn and winter last year. The imperial physician courtyard had their hands bound and was unable to do anything about it. On lunar new year's eve, he didn't show up at the palace banquet, and his illness must be serious. Concubine Meng was originally the favoured one in the bedroom. Since Emperor Jingren's illness, she had been left out in the foyer, and had long been out of favor. In the face of the increasingly consolidated power of the eldest prince and the second prince, she couldn’t wait for the death of the emperor, otherwise it was impossible to act so recklessly.

Concubine Meng had always been at odds with Empress Ruan. If Emperor Jingren died and there was no edict indicating that her son Baili Haoyu succeeded to the throne, she was bound to come to a bad end. Because no matter whether the eldest Prince Baili Haoting or the second Prince Baili Haozhe inherited the throne, the position of Empress Ruan would only be more stable. And she, if lucky, would be bestowed an imperial concubine title, living under Empress Ruan for the rest of her life. And the greatest possibility was that he would be buried with him. So she couldn’t be the same as Empress Ruan, to agree with the change.

Mo Zhu’s voice rang through several heavy gauze curtains. “Prince, it's time for dinner. Would you like the meal to be served?” The servant girls and maids were all cautious, as long as Baili Haozhe was in the room, never stepping in without permission.

Baili Haozhe raised his head and looked at Ruan Wushuang gently, as if asking her for consent. She supported her waist and replied lazily. “Served it!” He didn't have a good rest for a day and a night, and played for several hours. Now as soon as he relaxed, weary was coming up immediately.

The maids came in, lit several red candles and incense lanterns in the room, and slowly retreated out. He was still wearing royal attire. She turned her head, took one of his robes and served him to change his clothes.

She bowed her head to help him unbutton, and because she was close, she could smell the familiar musk scent on him. Although she had been married for more than half a year, she was rarely so close during the day. The faster she wanted, the more clumsy her hands became, and she couldn't unbutton a button for a long time. It was the duty of the handmaids, but she did it automatically, and it seemed natural.

The maids walked around in the outer room, putting on the dishes and chopsticks, occasionally one or two clear collisions came in through the curtains. He liked seeing her in a tight state, he reached out and pinched the jade hairpin on her head, and gently pulled it out, and the black hair poured down like running water. She was taken aback, then raised her head, and saw that his eyes were as deep as night, but his face was getting closer.

His lips slowly pressed against her forehead, and the warm heat came slowly. Then he slowly leaned down, and his lips slid down again, to the corners of her eyes, the temples of her ears, the tip of her nose, the side of her lips...

She pushed him away unsteadily, and turned around, feeling that a few strands of hair had been entangled, and he had noticed it, and looking down, he could not help but be stunned, and unexpectedly entangled with the buttons on his clothes.

Ruan Wushuang only saw his hand reach out, pulling her hand, and surrounding it in his strong waist. He bowed his head and was helping her with her tangled hair. Unexpectedly, there was a kind of unspeakable beauty and ambiguity. Her breath became more and more unstable, but her face was burning like a fire.

The crimson gauze hung in layers, and it was completely dark outside. More than a dozen red candle incense lanterns lit the room like day. She and his figure dragged on the carpet, overlapping with each other in a broken light and shadow.

The maids had set the dishes. A few little maids once in a while looked up and saw the silhouette of overlapping shadows printed on the layers of dark cloud gauze curtains. Because of the strict rules of the mansion, they didn’t dare to look at it again, so they followed the crowd, blushing, and standing by the door.

The green willows by the Taiye pond were covered with beautiful flowers. As soon as the wind blows, the willows flutter like flowing water. Empress Ruan was standing on the Jiuqu bridge and feeding the koi leisurely. “Imperial physician Su reported to this Empress's family yesterday that you are in good health and your child may be born prematurely.”

Ruan Wushuang took a white jade cup with green twigs swaying in the wind pattern from the maid, and drank a sip of tea elegantly, leaving the fragrance around her mouth. Longjing, worthy of a tribute, was as green as jade, and it looked more and more green against the white jade tea cup.

Ruan Wushuang smiled. “Thanks aunt for the blessing. Imperial physician Su was loyal to her aunt, so he naturally had to do his best and take good care of her.” Su Quanhong was promoted all the way from an ordinary Imperial physician to the chief of Imperial physician courtyard, naturally with the support of Empress Ruan. Moreover, in the deep palace, the Empress really needed a person who was proficient in medicine.

Emperor Ruan smiled slightly when she heard the news, and the golden phoenix crown on her head trembled slightly. “Look at your stomach, it's only been more than seven months. This Empress looks, you're bigger than when this Empress was pregnant with Ming Ying and Ming Yan, it may be a big fat child.”

Ruang Wushuang’s hand moved, the tea in the white jade cup had been splashed out slightly, her hands were hot a little bit. At this time, a servant came over and reported. “Empress, the eldest prince asked to see you!” Empress Ruan nodded, threw her bait on the surface of the pool, and looked at the thousands of Koi competing for food. After a pause, she replied. “Let him in!”

Baili Haoting came wearing royal attire, gentle and elegant, with a calm bearing. After a few steps, he knelt down to Empress Ruan and saluted. “This subject greets mother Empress!” 

Empress Ruan smiled and replied. “You may disperse! Have you been to see your father Emperor?”

Baili Haoting glanced at Wushuang and replied gently. “I have mother Empress, I have already been to the Chengqian Palace.” Chengqian Palace was all of the Emperors’ bed chambers. Baili Haoting turned his head and replied. “My younger brother and sister are there too!” Wushuang stood up supporting her waist, gestured to salute, Baili Haoting smiled and replied. “You may disperse! You may disperse! As my sister-in-law, no need for formal courtesy! Congratulations sister-in-law, for having a son early!”

Wushuang replied indifferently. “Thank you elder brother!” Since Baili Haoyu was crowned as a ruler and sent to the territory, the situation between North Korea and China has become increasingly clear in the past few months, divided into the Eldest Prince’s faction headed by Baili Haoting and the second Prince faction’s headed by Baili Haozhe. And the situation became a fire and water, open and secret battles continued. At this moment, his smiling congratulations contained a bit of sincerity, and he was afraid that only he knew.

For some reason, she always felt that there was something wrong with her. It seemed to be a boundless chaos, rising from the bottom of her heart. The cushion on the stone chair was an apricot yellow silk cotton cushion, soft and warm, sitting on there, but Ruan Wushuang felt as if she was sitting on thin ice, not leaning over. Baili Haoting looked at her with a smile, unexpectedly let her have unspeakable panic, a vague fear appeared in her heart.

Empress Ruan looked at the back of Baili Haoting's departure, wiggled her fingers gracefully, and moved back to the left and right. Sitting down, she said slowly. “Wushuang, a crown prince position is related to the rise and fall of the Ruan family in the next ten years. Now the situation is clear, and that charming fox's son is hopeless. Only Baili Haoting and Zhe’er can inherit the throne. What do you think of this matter?”

Seeing that koi fish in the pool was still fighting for food, Wushuang hesitated slightly and whispered. “Aunt, this is the end of the matter. It's inevitable. If this time Haozhe can't become a crown prince and inherit the throne, then only someone will be sacrificial knife and altar, and I will be fish meat.”

In ancient times, the struggle for the throne was paved with flesh and blood. If Baili Haozhe were out, even the entire Ruan family would decline. There was really no way back!

Empress Ruan turned her head and looked straight ahead, looking dull, as if she was silently lost in thought. For a long time, she suddenly laughed, and her voice was very dull. “Wushuang, this aunt tells you the truth. In fact, Zhe’er doesn't have to go to great lengths to perform in front of the Emperor. Emperor’s mind—— I have already guessed it, and he won't let Zhe’er succeed. If he had planned to let Zhe’er succeed him to the throne, he would not have married you to him.”

Ruan Wushuang looked at her inexplicably. After a long time, she got to know something, and suddenly she was surprised. “Aunt…”

Empress Ruan smiled sadly, but there was no usual grace. “People all over the world always think that the Empress is under one person, above ten thousand people, and how many people know the pain—— The Emperor is the Emperor, and he is not just your husband. He is the man sitting on the Dragon chair! The most precious chair in the world is the Dragon chair of the son of Heaven. In fact, when you sit on it, you can’t lean on, it's empty, and whether it's comfortable or not, only the Emperor knows in his heart… Besides, you can't rely on anyone! Yes, who can the Emperor rely on? Which side does the Emperor rely on? The Emperor can not rely on, no one can be relied on, so he has to rely on himself!”

“You know why your aunt, after giving birth to Ming Ying and Ming Yan, has been unable to have children for decades, because the Emperor won’t let me. As long as he won’t let me, which woman in the harem can get pregnant? Even if she is pregnant, the harem has plenty of ways to make it impossible for her to give birth…”

Empress Ruan looked at the distance, turned her head and gazed at Ruan Wushuang, with a heavy sadness. “Do you know? Wushuang, this is the harem, this is the fate of the women in the harem!”

Sister Ming Ying and sister Ming Yan were born when her aunt was still a crown princess. Since her aunt took charge of Zhaoyang Palace, there had been no news of pregnancy in the next 20 years. According to the aunt's body and age, it is not impossible to get pregnant. It turned out that the emperor did it intentionally. No wonder her father mentioned it again and again before that glory and splendor was nothing but a cloud of smoke before his eyes. It seemed that, of course, her father had most already known about it. So letting her have nothing to do with the imperial family, had been refusing the Emperor to pick her husband in the imperial family for marriage.

“Our Ruan family has held military power for generations. Although the court has a minister of military affairs, it is nothing more than a false name. Since the reign of Emperor Gao, the Ruan family has been the Emperor's right and left hand. At that time, the Emperor asked the former emperor to marry me to him, he just wanted to use our Ruan family’s power. Later, he finally became the emperor as he wished—— he spoiled me, according to the eyes of the world. Countless jewels and silks, as long as there is a tribute, they are ordered to be delivered as soon as possible to Zhaoyang Palace to let me choose. I choose first and the rest could be filled in the treasury or rewarding other concubines. But he just won’t let me get pregnant again because he is afraid of our Ruan family’s power... and water can carry the boat and also overturn the boat…”

Ruan Wushuang’s heart was shrouded in ice, so this was the so-called love. Had it not been for her aunt's heartfelt words today, she would have thought that the Emperor doted on her aunt. But after all, the Emperor was an Emperor, and no matter how he spoiled her, it was just a cover for people's eyes and ears. It was just that people had feelings, and they would feel it after a long time.

“So the emperor agrees to marry you to Zhe'er, which means that he has already planned to pass on the throne to Baili Haoting! After all these years, the Emperor still remembers his mother——Ou Jingzhi!” The last three words. Although the word was spit out as usual, the hatred seemed to come from the bottom of the frozen lake for thousands of years, and it was bitterly cold. The past so many years ago, as if it happened yesterday, was vivid in her eyes.

Empress Ruan suddenly laughed coquettishly. In her eyes, she only felt that she was extremely beautiful. “In this way, the power of our Ruan family will not threaten the throne. He can also give an account of the people he never forgets. What a plan to have the best of both worlds... Ha ha... Ha ha... It's a pity that I won't do what he wants! Over the past few decades, I thought he had forgotten. For my part, I treated Baili Haoting as if he was my own. It's a pity. It's a pity…”

Baili Haozhe arrived at the door, and the handmaid standing there, dropping her hands to her knees to salute. He waved his hand slightly, walking slowly from the outer room into the inner bedroom, quietly opening layers of gauze curtains.

The red sandalwood incense was lit in the room, and the curly smoke rose from the incense burner, overflowing out one by one, like a mist.

She was closing her eyes to rest, her long eyelashes like the wings of a butterfly, casting a shadow on her face as white as jade. Thinking back on her aunt's words just now, she felt inexplicably sad in the bottom of her heart. Originally thought that the ceramic glaze of fairyland had gradually begun to fade the colorful dazzling color, revealing the original dilapidated underneath.

Back in those days, her aunt was envied in the capital, and how many young men flocked to her. But the first emperor referred to marriage, and when she was only 15 years old, she married into the imperial family. For decades, everyone envied the scenery of wealth, but that was all.

What about Baili Haozhe? Why married her? Was it the same as today's Emperor who wanted to take advantage of Ruan family's power? So these days, Baili Haozhe’s gentleness was just acting? She couldn't help shuddering.

Suddenly, she felt that someone had covered her quilt very gently, and the action was very light, but it still alarmed her. Wushuang opened her eyes slightly, only to see that he was standing in front of her. Seeing her wake up, he smiled slightly and whispered. “Did you wake up?”

In fact, when he smiled, he was very good-looking, and there was always a small dimple on his right face, which relaxed the whole person's momentum. Unfortunately, he seldom smiled. Although facing her, very soft, very gentle, she could always vaguely feel a kind of unspeakable loneliness.

She shook her head slowly. “No!” Suddenly she thought there was something wrong with him. For one thing, it was afternoon, and he had never returned home so early; on the other hand, he looked extremely tired.

She saw him take off his boots and lie up next to her. Put one hand on her bulging abdomen and rub it back and forth. In Ruan Wushuang’s heart, such as tens of thousands of ants gnawing, intolerable to the extreme, struggling to get up.

His voice rang softly in her ear. “Don’t move.Lie down with me for a while.” Her heart softened as if a corner had collapsed somewhere, and she gave up struggling. For a while, neither of them spoke, and the room was quiet, with only the fragrance floating slowly in the air.

Being close to each other, she could clearly smell the smell coming from him, which was a kind of fragrance mixed with his unique flavor. She didn’t know why, her eyelids gradually got heavy...

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T/N: a little rant, after I finish translate this novel, I won't pick up any ancient setting novel for a while, because it's really consume my brain lol >_< Hopefully the translation can still be read well.
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2 comments:

  1. Thank you for translating! Looking forward how the story will,continue

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  2. 😂😂..thanks for the chapter

    ReplyDelete