Concealed by Brocaded Clouds, Frost on the Roads: Volume 01 Chapter 04

June 10, 2021 Oyen 1 Comments

Bonus ko-fi chapter~

Chapter 4: Last Night Wutong, Urgent West Wind
translator & editor: Oyen

Sitting on the chair brought by the maid, Su Quanhong leaned over to feel Ruan Wushuang's pulse. As soon as he put it on her wrist, his face changed a lot. There was an incredible expression on his face and he didn't speak for a long time. He just hold his breath and paid attention.

For a long time, the air was almost frozen. Ruan Wushuang's voice came from behind the curtain. “Imperial physician Su? What's the  matter?” Su Quanhong then put down his hand, stood up, bowed back and replied. “Second princess, I have something... I want to ask the second princess…”

Ruan Wushuang already felt that something was wrong. She slowly supported her waist and got up. Mo Zhu held her, and Mo Ju rolled up the curtain. Su Quanhong only felt a faint fragrance coming slowly, and his head drooped more and more.

Ruan Wushuang replied faintly. “Imperial physician Su, please speak straight!” Su Quanhong saw Mo Zhu and Mo Ju sideways and did not speak. Ruan Wushuang understood what he meant, only saying. “Uncle Su, please tell me. Mo Zhu and Mo Ju are not outsiders, so you don't have to avoid it!”

Su Quanhong opened his mouth and asked. “Has second princess ever taken some supplements or drugs from foreign countries in recent days?” Ruan Wushuang raised her eyes slightly and examined his expression, as if pondering his meaning. After a long time, she shook her head slowly. “No!” The supplements and medicines she used have always come from his hands, which made her feel at ease, and also made her stomach not appear too big, so as not to cause unnecessary trouble.

Su Quanhong frowned and was puzzled. “How could this be?”

Ruan Wushuang waved her hand, motioning Mo Zhu and Mo Ju to retreat. Then she opened her mouth. “What's the matter?”

Su Quanhong replied. “This subject just felt the pulse of the princess and found that the pulse was very strange. According to reason, the princess should give birth in the middle of next month. But the pulse of the princess shows that you will give birth later.”

Ruan Wushuang understood what he meant. Originally, she was using his medical skills and the power of the Imperial Physician courtyard to cover up the birth date of her baby. Su Quanhong tried his best to announce that she was in good health and would give birth prematurely. But at this time, the diagnosis said that she would give birth late, so in this way, it was a good thing for her. There was no need to worry about Baili Haozhe's suspicions, and there was no need to worry about announcing premature birth. After all, according to the medical books, premature children and full-term children were still different. It was said that experienced people could see it at a glance.

But why? Ruan Wushuang raised her head, still calm as usual, her eyes showed the meaning of inquiry, looking at Su Quanhong, as if looking for an answer.

Su Quanhong whispered. “I heard that there is a strange medicine in the Western Regions that can delay children's development, but it won't do any harm to children… But I only overheard my master mention it decades ago. It is said that this strange medicine is rare in the Western Regions, and even fewer people know about it. Therefore, I have never seen any specific herbs.”

Ruan Wushuang nodded, but she was very surprised. It turned out that there was still this kind of medicine in the world. Was it just a coincidence, or did someone do it on purpose? If it was deliberate, who could prescribe medicine in the heavily gated Second Prince's Mansion? Now it was the time when the Eldest Prince’s faction and the Second Prince’s faction were incompatible with each other. It was probably harder than reaching the sky to break through the layers of guards in the Second Prince's Mansion! Besides, if someone prescribed medicine to her, it was better to poison Baili Haozhe directly, it would be faster!

Suppressing all kinds of speculation from the bottom of her heart, she asked, "what's so special about this medicinal herb?” Su Quanhong thought about it for a long time before he replied, “I don't know the details. In general, this strange herb is either strange in appearance or special in smell. This medicine has a peculiar smell and is very different from the common herbal medicine. These are only what this subject's master heard at that time, and then he accidentally mentioned it in a chat with this subject. This subject...what this subject knows... It’s just this kind of herbal medicine. The rest... the rest... Second Princess, please forgive me, this old subject... this old subject…”

Ruan Wushuang waved her hand. “Enough, let's stick to the original plan!”

Emperor Jingren's condition got worse, and the imperial physicians were helpless. On this day, Ruan Wushuang followed Baili Haozhe to greet him by the bed, only to see that Emperor Jingren's cheeks were sunken, his complexion was sallow, and there was no trace of anger in his whole body. After Ruan Wushuang became pregnant, Empress Ruan made an edict and ordered her to take care of her body without going to the palace to greet her. Therefore, they rarely go to the palace to greet them. This time, she hadn't entered the palace for nearly a month. Looking at it now, she also knew in her heart that the time was running out for Emperor Jingren.

But just such a short-lived old man, in his hands, was the power that the whole world was crazy about. She raised her head and looked at Baili Haozhe beside her, his brows dropped, his expression respectful, and she couldn't see anything unusual. She couldn't tell how he felt. Since getting married for so long, he had always been indifferent, seemingly neither close nor distant. There was no deliberate flattery, nor the indifference of the political affairs. Perhaps just like the thousands and tens of thousands of couples, had a mutual respect for each other as husband and wife. It was just that the power in the hands of this old man had tied him and her together, living in symbiosis, and retreating into sheer cliffs and precipitous rock faces, and to die without a burial site.

After a complicated set of court greetings and rituals passed, Emperor Jingren only slowly opened his eyes and moved his fingers slightly. Chai Yi, who was waiting by the side, immediately understood the meaning and said. “Second prince, second princess, the emperor knows that you have come to greet him.”

Baili Haozhe supported Ruan Wushuang with one hand and withdrew from the Chengqian palace with the servant. The moment he stepped outside the door, his palm that should have been hanging on one side was slightly clenched into a fist.

Only after exiting the gate of Chengqian Palace, the maid beside the empress greeted them and saluted. “Second prince, second princess, The Empress has asked both of you.” Baili Haozhe turned his head and looked at Ruan Wushuang, who was supported by Mo Zhu, then nodded. It seemed that her aunt's eyes and ears in the palace were really good. Less than half an hour after they entered the palace, her aunt knew about it and sent someone to wait here. Ruan Wushuang naturally felt Baili Haozhe's gaze, but she could only pretend not to know.

Chengqian Palace was not far away from Zhaoyang Palace, and they had already arrived in a short time. Aunt Mu greeted her from the main hall and saluted according to the rules of the palace. “Second Prince, Second Princess, please wait a moment. The Empress now prays to the Buddha in the Buddhist hall. "

Her aunt had been praying Buddhism for more than ten years. According to her mother, her aunt seldom went to Buddhist temples when she was in Ruan mansion. Getting older, she settled down and calmed down. Then, she began to be a vegetarian and pray to Buddha.

The maids soon brought tea and some snacks. Mo Zhu lifted the lid of the white jade cup and blew it gently, then presented it before Ruan Wushuang. Ruan Wushuang took it and took a sip of it. The tea leaf in the white jade cup began to stretch and dance lightly. Then the blueish smoke rose in a spiral. This was Yuqian Longjing, the new tribute.

Turning to look at Baili Haozhe, she saw that he seemed to be pondering, and his look was as dark as water. She didn’t know if it was because he saw Emperor Jingren's situation and worried about his future deployment.

It took a cup of tea for Empress Ruan to come out. The blue brocade was quite elegant, but the five-colored Phoenix on the coat was becoming dazzlingly beautiful. Looking rather warm, meeting both of them, she was quite harmonious. “Wushuang, please don't go to the palace around this time, you’re eight months pregnant. Don't work too hard. The child in your womb is more important.”

Baili Haozhe and Ruan Wushuang answered ‘yes’.

Three people chatted for a while. Empress Ruan suddenly looked solemn, waved to Aunt Mu and whispered a few words. Aunt Mu gave an agreed response and waved to the maid and the servant who were standing in the side hall, with their heads hung down, they bowed and went out. Aunt Mu closed the door herself.

Empress Ruan took a cup of tea and took a sip of it gracefully. Without raising her head, she said faintly. “Go and fetch the box.”

Aunt Mu answered and hurriedly folded into the Empress's bedroom behind the crystal curtain. Ruan Wushuang was surprised. Aunt Mu had been with her for decades. She had gone through a lot of wind and rain with her. At this time, she had no usual solemnity. As the steward of Zhaoyang Palace, aunt Mu paid most attention to the behavior of the maid and the servant.

Aunt Mu came out soon, with an chinese eaglewood box in her hand. They all said ‘one or two chinese eaglewood equals one or two golds’, which showed the preciousness of chinese eaglewood. But for Ruan Wushuang, who grew up in a rich family since she was a child, it was nothing more than that. Not to mention her aunt and Baili Haozhe who were in the imperial family. It could be seen that the precious thing was not this chinese eaglewood box, but the things in it, which must be extraordinary, otherwise her aunt would definitely not stand back and forth so solemnly.

Ruan Wushuang's heart moved. Since the beginning of the Baili dynasty, if the Emperors of the past dynasties had not named the crown prince, they would have always left an edict. The name of the prince who succeeded the throne was written on the edict and placed in a specific box. However, since the beginning of the Baili dynasty, only one Emperor was born in this way, and the rest were succeeded only after being named as crown prince. What kind of box the Emperor used to release the edict, the people who knew it were only the Emperor's confidant and the confidant in front of him.

Aunt Mu held the box with both of her hands, lowering her hands and stood waiting for Empress Ruan's orders. Empress Ruan looked at the distance, seemingly in trance in a very short time, and then recovered, her gaze swept lightly at Baili Haozhe, with some inquiry. She slowly turned his gaze to Ruan Wushuang and sighed, then he told Aunt Mu, “Open the box!”

The air was much heavier, which made people feel breathless. Just then, a sound of unlocking was heard, the box had been opened. Inside was a pair of bright yellow silk. Ruan Wushuang was shocked, turned her head, seeing Baili Haozhe was still a normal look, but his brow had been slightly frowned up. For some reason, she could clearly feel his anxiety. Although he was still calm, she had already felt his nervousness!

Empress Ruan sighed. “Take the edict to the second prince.” Baili Haozhe shook slightly, and his hands were already clenched into fists.

Aunt Mu soon held up the edict. Baili Haozhe took it with both hands, only to see the bright yellow silk and ink in different shades, which should have been written several times. Although the handwriting was messy, but the handwriting was smooth and round, it was indeed from his father’s handwriting. “I have inherited the throne for decades. I have always tried my best and dare not slack off. Now the national strength is getting stronger, the national treasury is abundant, the army is strong, and the people live and work in peace and contentment, and they are worthy of the ancestors of the Baili dynasty. Today, I knew that I was going to die, so I made the following edict: The eldest prince Baili Haoting is filial and virtuous, has excellent knowledge, and has the ability to govern the country, specially appointed as the crown prince and succeeded to the throne.”

Ruan Wushuang looked at Baili Haozhe, looking as usual, unexpectedly did not see the slightest wrong, as if on usual days as calm and ordinary. But his hand that unfolded the silk had been squeezed tightly, with great effort, and the tip of his hand showed a kind of bluish white, which slightly revealed a few traces of emotion.
She slowly supported her waist, got up, and approached Baili Haozhe's side. Her gaze quickly scanned the words on the silk, and there were several plaques given by Emperor Jingren in her family prime minister’s mansion, so she knew the handwriting of Emperor Jingren. This edict was indeed written by Emperor Jingren.

It turned out that what her aunt expected was not wrong at all. Emperor Jingren was prepared to pass on the throne to Baili Haoting. It was just how did this edict fall into the hands of her aunt? Ruan Wushuang raised her eyes inquiringly and looked at her aunt. Only to see the Empress holding the Persian tribute of the white cat, drooping her eyes, as if carelessly, slowly, gently, stroking the cat's glossy soft hair.

Inside the hall, the fragrance of liquorice and apricot was burned inside the incense burner, and the light and pleasant taste was gradually coming like mist and gauze. Ruan Wushuang looked at Baili Haozhe, who was silent, as if someone was scratching his heart with fingernails, unable to bear it. The imperial edict said: “The eldest prince Baili Haoting is filial and virtuous, has excellent knowledge, and has the ability to govern the country, specially appointed as the crown prince and succeeded to the throne.” She was afraid the words ‘filial and virtuous, has excellent knowledge and has the ability to govern the country’ were absurd. It was well known that Baili Haozhe’s military was far superior than Baili Haoting!

Back then, Baili Haoting was ordered to lead his troops to overturn the bandits on Changle Mountain, but he returned without success for half a year. Three months after Baili Haozhe took over, the bandits were eliminated. After Baili Haozhe was sent to the last place where officials wanted to go—— the breach of the Yellow River, to help officials deal with floods. He also did a very good job and was deeply loved by the local people.

But no matter how capable and outstanding, he had never been favored by Emperor Jingren. Emperor Jingren always viewed the elder as a designated crown prince, but Baili Haoting was too mediocre, so many first-rank and second-rank ministers in the court had always thought second prince Baili Haozhe would be the crown prince. The opinions of the two factions had been at a stalemate. In addition, Concubine Meng, who was still favored at the time, kept blowing in her pillowtalk on the sidelines, so the matter of establishing a crown prince was dragged on again and again.

She felt sour inexplicably, her hand slowly stretched out, her fingertips trembled, and she slowly grasped his wrist. He seemed to be taken aback, his body trembled, and he turned his head suddenly, with inexplicable emotions in his eyes, as if something was jumping.

There was a small smile on her lips, dimly and determined, with an unusual beauty. In Baili Haozhe’s eyes, it was like the flowers of early spring slowly blooming. His originally tense heart was strangely let go, just because of this smile, just because of the gentleness in her eyes, like an orchid, fragrant and soft.

Empress Ruan’s voice rang in a low voice. In the empty hall, like an evening drum and morning bell, there was an echo beating everyone’s heart. “Zhe'er, you read this edict, and you know it is your father’s handwriting, right?”

Baili Haozhe looked up at her and said nothing, but the expression on his face showed that it was indeed Emperor Jingren’s handwriting. Empress Ruan pondered for a long time, then smiled softly and added. “Say, what do you think we should do?” The air was very quiet, and occasionally there were a few ‘meow’ cries, but it became more and more silent in the inner hall, like a pool of stagnant water.

Baili Haozhe looked at the eyes of Empress Ruan with unflinching firmness. “Aunt, Zhe’er is at your disposal!” This aunt was so different from what he usually called her ‘Empress Mother’. When this sound came out, it represented a formal alliance between him and Empress Ruan.

Empress Ruan handed the Persian cat in her hand to Aunt Mu, stood up gracefully from the brocade couch, and came up step by step. The golden phoenix coloured glaze on her head was inlaid with fine carved jade pieces, and the tassels and pearls trembled in her hair. Looking at Baili Haozhe, saying word by word slowly. “This Empress’s family can help you ascend to the throne, but you must promise to this Empress for one thing.” The so-called transaction must be win-win. There was no reason for one party to help the other in vain.

Baili Haozhe looked at Empress Ruan calmly. “Aunt, please say, as long as Zhe'er can do it!” Empress Ruan's eyes lightly scanned Ruan Wushuang, moved to her belly, and then moved to the hand that she held tightly with Baili Haozhe. There was a burst of bitterness in her heart. It was hard to predict whether it was a grievance or a blessing or a curse. At that time, she also came here in this way, after experiencing many storms. What about the person holding her hand at that time?

Empress Ruan withdrew her gaze and stared at Baili Haozhe. “If you ascend to the throne, you must make the son born by Shuang'er the crown prince. If there is no prince, the prince selected by Shuang'er must be the crown prince, inheriting the throne of the Baili Dynasty. When the time comes, the person chosen by Shuang'er, you and the ministers shall not have any objection! The other most important point is that if you ascend to the throne, this life must not be deposed!”

Ruan Wushuang looked at her aunt in astonishment, and thought that her aunt would trade with Baili Haozhe for her future rights and interests. In this way, even if she couldn't give birth to a prince, she could still keep herself and Ruan family's prosperity. If she chose the crown prince, then the chosen person must be grateful to Ruan family. However, she was afraid only God knew whether this kind of agreement could be reached when she chose the crown prince on the day! Even if Baili Haozhe promised not to depose them now, but for such a long time in his life, who could guarantee it in the future? It was just... It was just the thing they could do now, they could only take one step at a time.

In fact, as early as the day when she married Baili Haozhe, the Ruan family had already tied up with him. Her aunt's request today was nothing more than to strive for more benefits in the transaction she was in. The so-called ‘look out for yourself, or heaven and earth will combine to destroy you’. What her aunt did today was to let herself and the Ruan family have more chips in the next few years or even decades.

Baili Haozhe didn't even wrinkle his brows, but turned his head slightly to look at Ruan Wushuang and replied simply. “Okay.” There were no other words. With his ten fingers entangled, Ruan Wushuang felt his hand squeeze hard. For many years to come, she recalled this moment, the only feeling she had was that his hands were big, strong, and warm, as if she could hold them like this and keep walking.

The orioles in the garden kept crying, their voices were extremely crisp, like a bamboo flute, melodious and pleasant to the ear. Occasionally, the wind blows, and other bird cries were also mixed. The wind blew through the woods, gently swaying the finely divided leaves, making a rustling noise without urgency, and couldn't tell which direction it was coming from and which direction it was going to go in. The fragrance of flowers blooming in the air, it turned out that it was early summer!

The inclined wind passed through the treetops, with a soft voice, gently brushing her dream-like lilac skirt, with the same color veil on the outside of her arm. The moonlight spread over the branches and shone into the house, flowing like silver to the ground.

Sandalwood was burning in the inner bedroom, which filled it faintly, locking everything into the misty white mist. She leaned against the brocade couch, and he sat beside her. Looking at the copper leak in front of the windowsill, the quicksand drips down. Neither of them spoke, and occasionally made eye contact, and she moved away. Her heart was so sour and soft that she couldn't say how she felt.

He had been holding her hand, as if from the moment of Zhaoyang Hall, he had not let go, nor was he willing to let go again, it was true at this time. The slender fingers slid back and forth on her white and delicate skin, as if they were savoring the delicate touch of warm and moist jade bit by bit. The room was very quiet. But quiet with a few traces of indescribable intimacy and tenderness.

After a long time, Mo Zhu knocked on the door gently from outside. “My Prince, Imperial bodyguard Xu is here!” After hearing it, she lifted her head, and he was staring at her, their eyes intersected. His eyes were dark and deep, with a clear reflection of her in there, but she couldn't see the bottom,  but his eyes were like the thin sun in the afternoon of winter, soft and winding.

“I'm going!” He whispered in a low voice. She raised her face, fresh and clean as the first lotus after the rain, there was a trace of panic in the water-like eyes. He could clearly feel the temperature of her palms dropping.

He slowly let go of her hand, unaware of the slight movement of her fingertips, as if trying to keep him. Slowly got up, relatively silent, she also supported her waist. Standing in front of him, she gently helped him straighten the purple gold crown, buckled the buttons of the royal suit, and straightened his belt.

He watched her every move quietly, with unspeakable uneasiness and sadness in the air. Mo Zhu’s voice rang again. “My Prince!” He raised his arm slightly, stopped her from continuing, and instantly took hold of her delicate hand, holding it tightly, as if she was like a firefly, and she was about to disappear.

Lowering his head, he spoke like a sleep talking. “Pack up at once and go back to Ruan’s mansion!” She smiled quietly and said nothing, only smiled and shook her head at him, both of her watery eyes seemed to be covered with a misty mist. As soon as he tightened his heart, he reached out and touched her bulging abdomen, his head lowered, and his breath mingled with her. “I'll pick you up.”

On May 20 of Shengjia year 21st, Emperor Jingren ordered the second Prince Baili Haozhe to be the crown prince and acted in governmental affairs. Baili Haoting was conferred a title as the Lord of Wu Yue and went to the fief from now on. As a result, the struggle for the throne between the both princes had come to an end. What the ordinary people did not know was that on the night of the 19th, in the thick fog, the forbidden army led by Baili Haozhe once fought against the guards defending Emperor Jingren, and a massacre pierced the entire palace.

In the inner bedroom of Chengqian Hall, Emperor Jingren covered his chest and looked at the well-dressed Empress Ruan, gasping for breath. “You… you…… back…” Under the yellow and apricot covers, Emperor Jingren looked as pale as paper, and the once elegant appearance had long disappeared in the smoke clouds of the past.

Empress Ruan reminanced the flower appreciation feast decades ago. The day she met him for the first time—— she was only fifteen years old, hiding under the willow trees in Taiye pond, and the warm wind that day followed. After a few days, the smoke made people soft and drunk... His long sleeves and fluttering clothes suddenly appeared in front of her eyes with graceful manners... A few days later, the Emperor's edict came down to the mansion. It turned out that it had been decades since then.

“Your Majesty, don't you want to see this Empress? On the Taiyi pond’s side before, your Majesty... No, didn't the sixth princes at that time say that I was beautiful, dignified and incomparable? Isn't that why you got the edict of the former Emperor at that time? How come you don't even want to see me again now?” Empress Ruan raised her beautiful eyebrows and smiled softly and coquettishly.

Emperor Jingren closed his eyes, and all his expressions were hidden in thick yellow cover. Suddenly, he opened his eyes and gave a long sigh. “Jin’er, now, everything... everything... has been as you wish!”
Jin'er was Empress Ruan’s nickname. He only called her when he was newlywed. In the following decades, she never heard of this nickname again. Now such a simple address, even after such a long time, when he called it out again, it was so free and at ease.

However, she couldn’t be free and at ease, she couldn't do it. Empress Ruan took a deep breath, all with a strong smell of herbs, coldly reminding herself that it was no longer effective. But she was not reconciled, she was not reconciled. “Say, why did you lie to me? Why did you lie to me when you had your beloved Ou Jingzhi?”

Emperor Jingren moved his lips slightly, but he still did not speak and slowly turned his head.

Empress Queen sat down on the white marble floor, and two lines of clear tears slowly crossed the corner of her eyes and dripped down along her cheeks. The whole body jade flower ornaments shoke, dragged it to the ground with wide silk twill sleeves, and everything was the most honourable and glorious! But it was nothing!

Ten days later, Emperor Jingren and imperial concubine Meng were buried. The crown prince Baili Haozhe succeeded the throne, crossing over the year as well as the change of reign to welcome a first year of the new Emperor’s reign.


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