Chapter 1245: [YeXi] Unexpected

When Han Yunxi cried out for injustice, the clueless Rui’er instantly followed along. “Imperial father, imperial mother was wrongly accused!”

Han Yunxi almost laughed. He truly is my birth son!

“How were you wronged?” Long Feiye asked.

“Your Majesty, whether chenqie is worthy to be the empress or the crown prince’s mother, chenqie doesn’t know. But chenqie definitely didn’t spend extravagantly for the crown prince’s birthday banquet while neglecting the disaster victims.”

Before Han Yunxi could finish, Baili Yuanlong cut in angrily, “Esteemed Empress, everyone has a feast on their table tonight. A single person’s meal could fill ten stomachs! What is this if not extravagance? There are people in the north without a home to return to and soldiers who have difficulty even getting one meal. Yet this chicken soup is only to be consumed in a few mouthfuls? Heheh, and this isn’t wasteful? It’s extremely excessive!”

“Is there anything else?” Han Yunxi asked him coldly.

He laughed back. “Esteemed Empress, this birthday banquet is already too much. Does esteemed empress doesn’t consider it a waste?”

When everyone was waiting for Han Yunxi to argue using her usual logic and reason again, she openly admitted it instead. “Your Excellency Baili speaks superbly! With disasters still raging  in Northern Li, it is a colossal mistake to hold a grand banquet! A wrong beyond wrongs!”

For a second, everyone thought they had misheard. Under their scrutiny, Han Yunxi pulled Rui’er up with her before walking to Long Feiye. On the sidelines, Zhao mama and Mu Linger finally made their entrance from both ends and stood on either side of Han Yunxi and Rui’er. 

Mu Linger personally opened up the covers for Long Feiye’s dishes, but none of the kneeling people could see what was going on. Smiling, Mu Linger and Zhao mama then carried the bowls down for the officials to have a closer look. Inside there was nothing but clear soup with seasonings. There wasn’t a speck of fish, meat, or even tea leaves. Both the courtiers kneeling on the ground and the ones in their seats were stunned. Baili Yuanlong and Baili Lixiang could only gape as if frozen in place, their eyes unmoving. The Xiao Clan members were wearing ugly expressions as well.

Who would have expected a table of piping hot dishes to be reduced to something like this! Han Yunxi was...clearly fooling with them!

Was she doing it on purpose? One could only blame these people for jumping to conclusions! Han Yunxi wasn’t so idle to try such tricks. She was simply using this chance to warn them. Zhao mama personally picked up the bowl of fragrant chicken soup and Han Yunxi said, “Crown prince, help ladle soup for your imperial father.”

Rui’er was very obedient and carried over an empty bowl in two hands, which Han Yunxi ladled with chicken soup. Everyone was bewildered by the sight, wondering what her intentions were. But they didn’t dare press her.

With Zhao mama and Mu Linger’s assistance, Han Yunxi and Rui’er walked down the row of seats starting with Baili Yuanlong and the rest to open up their covers and give them a spoonful of soup. After finishing a cycle, they returned to Long Feiye with an almost empty bowl of soup. Zhao mama respectfulled set back the thoroughly cooked piece of chicken with medicinal ingredients back on his table. 

With this, Han Yunxi and Rui’er fell back on their knees. Everyone watched the mother and son in silence. Without a doubt, even the smallest actions send waves through their hearts! 

Han Yunxi said sincerely, “Your Majesty, the matter of a crown prince’s first birthday is an important rite of etiquette than cannot be forgotten! What are the rites? As chenqie sees it, to share the joys and bitterness of the common people! Today Northern Li is suffering from disaster and the citizens are in sorrow. Thus, the crown prince’s birthday banquet is to share their sorrows! For the feast tonight, chenqie only asked the kitchens to prepare a pot of whole chicken soup to entertain the emperor and various officials. This will tell the world that our imperial clan is concerned with the suffering of the north and always keep their people in mind.”

Long Feiye nodded seriously, while the Baili and Xiao Clan clans, along with ten or so high-officials, all felt sweat soak their backs and their limbs grow soft. Their hearts were faltering! Baili Yuanlong’s expression was beyond description, while Baili Lixiang’s face was still frozen in one of abject shock! However, many of the kneeling courtiers were also wearing expressions of joy as they regained their respect for the empress. Han Yunxi’s next words were beyond expectations as well while taking the Baili and Xiao Clans by surprise.

“Your Majesty, chenqie consulted Mu Linger recently about adding these seasonings to the dishes to make delicious-smelling soups. Using the crown prince’s birthday as pretext, I tested our various officials. Chenqie believes that those who dared to speak out tonight are loyal and good officials with the people in their hearts.”

This…

Is Han Yunxi praising us? She’s not going to pursue our crimes of smearing the empress?

Baili Yuanlong glanced at Xiao An, who returned his look. The two of them grew even more fearful! If Han Yunxi tried to blame them, they could appeal their innocence by pleading ignorance and show off their integrity by saying they’d rather die than not speak openly.

However!

Han Yunxi had played them all and complimented them instead? This was too unsettling! Just what was she aiming for? Even the old, shrewd Xiao An had to admit that he couldn’t see escape the empress’s palm. If they didn’t know what they were up against, how were they supposed to fight, much less win? 

At this moment, Baili Yuanlong and Xiao An felt true terror for Han Yunxi from the bottom of their hearts. Baili Lixiang finally recovered some of her senses, but still felt muddled inside. Han Yunxi went completely against convention to wreck all of her plans and arrangements! Besides continuing to kneel, she had no idea what to do or expect next.

Some of the kneeling officials were frightened, while others celebrated. The ones still sitting at their seats were filled with emotions, too. Those who knew the truth were naturally unafraid, while those who had no idea were as comparably terrified as Baili Yuanlong and Xiao An. The esteemed empress only said the the kneeling courtiers were upright officials, but didn’t mention anything about them! This contrast made them seem like enablers only interested in protecting their self-interests!

A single birthday banquet and its empty-plated feast had seen through all of these officials and their schemes!

“All of you, rise and return to your seats!” Long Feiye said coldly.

When the empressa and crown prince got up, all the officials thanked the emperor for his grace before doing as they were told. Long Feiye picked up his bowl, which only had a mouthful of soup, and smiled. “This is the tastiest soup Zhen has drank since taking the throne.”

He finished it in one gulp and declared, “My beloved subjects, have a taste yourselves!”

Those with chicken soup stood up to drain the contents, while those without stood up to join them with awkward expressions. Once the soup was done, everyone assumed that Long Feiye would go back to questioning the courtiers who remained seated, but he didn’t. The incident seemed to pass by just like that, leaving everyone completely in disbelief.

Baili Yuanlong and Xiao An couldn’t believe that the emperor and empress would let them off so lightly. Baili Lixiang suddenly remembered something and gave a sharp look to a eunuch standing on the sidelines. He nodded and quickly scurried off.

But as soon as he reached the door, Xu Donglin stopped him.

“Where are you going in such a rush?” Xu Donglin asked.

“This servant...this servant needs the restroom,” the eunuch was shaking so much that his teeth chattered.

“As it happens, I need to go too. Let’s go together,” Xu Donglin said.

The eunuch’s panic was written all over his face, so all he could do was join Xu Donglin in the bathroom before coming out. 

“Do you have anything else to take care of?” Xu Donglin asked.

“N-n-nothing else,” the eunuch shook his head.

“Then go back and serve the guests. Esteemed empress already did a headcount, so anyone who slips away in the middle of the banquet will suffer a severe punishment!” Xu Donglin warned. The eunuch all but half ran, half stumbled his way back into the hall. 

Time was needed for news of the palace to spread outside via word of mouth. The truth of the birthday banquet’s “wasteful extravagance” had already been exposed, but the people outside were still ignorant of the facts! This very eunuch had just helped Baili Lixiang spread a different piece of news beforehand to the scholars leading the riots. Heaven knows what they were doing now!

Once inside the hall, the eunuch wanted to signal Baili Lixiang somehow, but she never looked his way. Meanwhile, the entire hall was completely silent as they waited for the crown prince to start his one-year-old raffle game.[1] The wide table before him was covered in all sorts objects for a total of 66 unique items. There were various stamps, books of the classics, brushes, ink, paper, inkstone, abacus, coins, accounting books, foodstuffs, toys, etc. Rui’er was currently standing in front of the table to study the selection.

Everyone knew the crown prince was a child prodigy. Even if he wasn’t, the empress would train him well to grab the stamp before he turned one.[2] Thus, the crowd wasn’t too concerned with his pick. They were still pondering over the previous events. All of the courtiers who remained seated was wondering how the emperor would deal with them, while Baili Yuanlong and Xiao An’s faction were still fearful of consequences from Han Yunxi.

What started out as a simple banquet had turned into a night of horrors and hunger that exhausted the guests both physically and mentally! 

And yet, Han Yunxi, Long Feiye, and Gu Qishao were all watching little Rui’er with bated breath. Han Yunxi hadn’t instructed Rui’er to pick anything specifically, while Long Feiye had simply told him to pick what he liked. If Rui’er didn’t liked stamps or refused the throne in the future, he would let his child have his freedom. After all, Han Yunxi was still young enough to bear him more brothers.

They held high expectations because they really had no idea what Rui’er would choose. Moreover…

Han Yunxi and Long Feiye had made a bet as well as Gu Qishao with Gu Beiyue. Tang Li and Ning Jing had their guesses too! 

Under the hall full of trepidation and unease, the courtiers with their hearts hanging in the air might be in a very interesting mood indeed if they could read the minds of their superiors right now.

Just what would Rui’er choose?


1. This is a tradition in Chinese families. When the baby turns one years old, the family presents him with a box of common items for him/her to choose in order to predict his/her future. For example, a baby who chose car keys might grow up to be a race car driver or earn enough to drive a good car (if they’re expensive keys). A baby who chose money could grow up to be a rich CEO or earn a good salary. For reference, this translator chose a pen at her first birthday and well--look at where I am now, writing up a storm, haha!

2. Remember, the symbol of authority for an emperor is the jade seal, literally a giant stamp made of jade. For the crown prince to choose a stamp would mean he might be destined to rule the throne as his father’s future successor.

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Ruyi's Thoughts

ok readers, if you haven't read ahead yet, time to place YOUR bets. what will rui'er choose?

and if you've done this before, what did you choose and did it come true? :D