Chapter 291: The Emperor And Empress’ Legacy
Everything changed when Long Heng took the throne. He was busy everyday replacing the court with ministers which he approved of. Because of that, Song Jiaoyue became the chancellor of the nation almost overnight. Long Heng also distributed portions of his military power to a few of his close subordinates. However, as an emperor experienced in warfare, Long Heng understood how he’d managed to find himself in this position, and understood that he had to take precautions to prevent others from trying to sabotage him even if he didn’t want to be the emperor. Keeping that in mind, he kept the most important aspects of his military power and refused to give it to others.
Bai Xiangxiu was also much busier now that she had become the empress. She was managing the entire palace like she was managing a slightly larger Prince Li Manor, so it wasn’t too strenuous for her. The main reason it had become so simple was because she didn’t have that much to do. Long Heng had used Prince Rong as an excuse to abolish the beauty pageant that was held once every three years. He also used cost cutting as an excuse to set the rule where emperors succeeding him must not have more than ten concubines. Palace maids were also allowed to leave the palace after twenty years of age to marry, and the palace would even pay for a portion of the dowry.
The cost the palace saved was immense because there were no longer any imperial concubines in the palace, and therefore no longer a need for a harem. Following the suggestion of the wise empress, the money saved was allocated for the education of the common children. Every child was given the chance for education for a bare minimum of five years until they read and write. Other funds were allocated for medical facilities. A doctor and one assistant was placed in every town to look after the poor.
These matters had been approved and implemented within the first year or two of their reign. To the people, their empress became known as the wise empress, and Long Heng the first of the wise emperors. There were still some kinks with imperial administration, the usual corruption and such, but the country only became better and better with time, thanks to the governance by a group of young and open-minded ministers.
Most importantly, their emperor was one who would accept any fresh ideas, as long as it was good. He even agreed to open the harbors to allow for trade, and didn’t refuse making those red-bearded foreigners part of his court. He was certainly a very odd one indeed. However, one must admit that this arrangement was way better than the past, when people had to sneak their way to the harbor to conduct trade. Many didn’t dare trade for unique-looking things for fear of prosecution. The market nowadays was filled with all sorts of unique and fresh-looking things. They imported all kinds of weird-looking seeds as well, vastly improving the citizens’ standard of living.
The second year of Long Heng’s reign also witnessed the event of Song Jiaoyue’s marriage. His wife was not very high-born, but she was very beautiful and virtuous. They seemed like a match made in heaven when they stood next to each other. They also seemed to love each other very much. At least Bai Xiangxiu could tell from her perspective that the Song family’s new madame was very satisfied with her husband. Her bashfulness and shyness when she was around him came from the bottom of her heart.
The couple soon had a child of their own. Bai Xiangxiu even joked that they might become in-laws when their children were all grown up. Because of that joke, Song Jiaoyue hoped every single day that his wife would give birth to a girl. Unfortunately, it came out as a boy. But it was a very beautiful looking child.
Still, Bai Xiangxiu was kept very busy. She no longer had any children because her body needed time to recuperate. The old madame originally wanted Long Heng to take a few more concubines because she felt that he wasn't being emperor-like with just one empress dowager and one empress by his side. She'd even picked out a minister’s daughter in secret.
However, the empress rejected her suggestion immediately, even though she was normally very obedient to the old madame. On this matter, she was incredibly unyielding. The old madame had wanted to take some time to persuade Bai Xiangxiu, but Long Lin, who was now capable of speech, was quick to intercept his grandmother. “Grandma, are you trying to find me a new mommy? What are you going to do if the new mommy poisons me? What if she feeds worms to baby sister? She's so weak... What if the new mommy hits baby brother? He’ll cry very loudly…”
The old madame had no idea how to answer him. I guess there's already enough children to keep me occupied. Things might really get out of hand if more of them come along. Moreover, there really is the possibility that the new concubine might lay her hands on my grandchildren… Even the thought was enough to send chills to her heart. And so, she decided that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wait for her grandchildren to grow up and be able to protect themselves before getting her son a few concubines.
Ten years of waiting later, her three grandchildren finally grew up, but Bai Xiangxiu gave her two more young ones instead. In the end, the old madame passed away with a peaceful smile on her face. She felt content with her sole daughter-in-law, because Bai Xiangxiu alone had given birth to more children than the entire harem of the previous two emperors put together. The old madame actually understood that children in the palace often died of unnatural causes due to the in-fighting between the noble ladies. However, her grandchildren were much closer than normal because they were all born from the same parents. Because of that, things would never escalate to the point where they would point knives at each other's throats.
Long Heng was very loving and respectful towards his empress. But one shouldn’t be fooled by the empress’ dignified and noble outer appearance in normal circumstances, because she would often jump into Long Heng’s arms when they were alone. It didn’t matter how long they’d been together, she’d often flirt with him like they were still newlyweds.
“Long Heng, I want to leave the palace~” Note: Bai Xiangxiu spoke this sentence with a very coquettish voice, so much so it could’ve immediately slain the young and vigorous emperor.
“Why?” Long Heng asked in a calm manner, but his serene demeanor was betrayed by his mouth, forming a grin of its own accord.
“It’s all because of that mother and daughter from the Bai family. They’re using my status as the empress to put on airs during the divorce between my sister and her husband. I want to inform them personally that the empress is not going to have a hand in this matter. Any more of this nonsense and I’ll break all ties with them.”
“How many times does this make already?”
“I would’ve broken all ties with them already if it weren’t for my younger brother.”
“I also want to go to the royal hospital and check their progress on apprentice recruitment. They only know how to put up appearances. One should never be nonchalant when lives are on the line.”
“You… you’d be better off being my minister than my wife.”
“Am I not doing this just to help you out? I would never have wanted to be a wise empress if it wasn’t for you. It’s quite tiring.” The country was now developing according to her knowledge of modern society, which was the accumulation of thousands of years of development. Slowly but surely, this country was starting to resemble her home.
“Are you sure that you want to go out tomorrow?”
Long Heng lifted her up and laughed. “Didn’t you say that I have the ability to stop you from crawling out of bed for three days? Why don’t we give that a try? I’ll let you go if you manage to climb out of bed. If you can’t, then just lie down in bed.”
“Long Heng! You… bully! Ah!…”
Despite her best efforts to the contrary, the wise empress was unable to leave the palace the next day. All she could do was recuperate in bed.
The legend of the wise emperor and his empress continued to spread amongst the people, even after many decades and centuries had passed. Everything they’d left behind became priceless treasures to their descendants. The Long clan’s bloodline always had at least one person who could hear the voices from the holy plant, the cactus. The cactus plant was now grown all over the country, including all of the noble and the commoner houses. From then onwards, the Long clan’s bloodline was said to be the bloodline of the gods, because they could hear the very hearts of all of their people!
This concludes the main story of DCF, but stay tuned for outtakes involving Xiaoshi, Ah Song, Yu Kuang, and cameo appearances from our dear Bai Xiangxiu and Long Heng!
A big shout out to the team who's made it thus far! Your friendly lead translator and TLC-er moi, etvolare! Translators mycyan, Ruyi, ying,Grace, Eudamonia (Mehxistence), timebun, tranzgeek, Grenn, and Guan Zhong. Editor Deyna! Full thanks to come when the novel well and truly ends. :)
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