Chapter 210: Allies (II)
The prince thought for a moment. “Jialan, help Miss Qin to your room for some rest. You two girls can also use this time to catch-up.” He was implicitly giving permission for a deeper friendship to form between the two girls.
“I just so wanted to chat with elder sister Qin.” Weichi Jialan took Qin Yining’s arm with a smile. “You got heatstroke because you rushed here to save my mother. I don’t know how to ever thank you.”
“The elder princess shouldn’t be so polite.” Qin Yining smiled and returned a pleasant courtesy.
As neither of them knew the other’s age, both accorded the other the more respectful title of older sister. The two walked out together, Jiyun bringing up the rear along with the princess’ maids and mama.
“Your Highness,” said the prince’s heir. “We should go out and welcome the empress. It wouldn’t do to have her wait long.”
The Prince of Ning knew that his firstborn was right, but in his current enraged state, he itched to slice and dice the trampress. Who wanted to welcome that bitch?!
“She harmed my princess consort and wants me to dance attendance upon her?!”
Commandery Princess Jialan had just helped Qin Yining down some steps when they were met headlong with a bewitching figure dressed in red, surrounded by a crowd of attendees. Who was it if not the empress??
But this development made Qin Yining breath a sigh of relief. This wasn’t a result of her refusing to go, it was the trampress barging in to where she shouldn’t be. If the prince wanted to blame someone for this coincidental meeting, it would be the fault of the empress’ arrogance in treating the Ning Manor like her own residence.
The commandery princess’ expression clouded upon seeing the empress. She surreptitiously let go of the Qin fourth miss’ hand and walked up to curtsey. “Greetings and good health to Your Majesty.”
Qin Yining seemed to have frozen with fright, dropping to her knees a beat later. “This subject greets Your Majesty.”
The crimson red pleats of the empress’ skirt swayed with her sashay, a golden dangle at the end of her peony hairpin moving in time as well. It made her appear noble, elegant, stunning, and opulent.
She cast a sidelong glance at Qin Yining and Jialan on the ground, saying lazily, “Hmm? I didn’t know that Qin misses had friends in so many places. You’re best friends with Commandery Princess Jialan? How did I never know of this close friendship before?”
The princess had her head lowered as her hand balled into a tight fist beneath her embroidered handkerchief. Her mother had been plotted against and this prancing, haughty personage was the culprit! How could she not hate the empress?
As mature and steady the princess usually was, she couldn’t hold her tongue at this time. She retorted coldly, “Your Majesty is overworked and overburdened with managing the imperial harem. How would you possibly know everything? If you did, you’d be one of the gods!”
And don’t think you’re actually that omnipotent, or you’ll soon depart from this world!
The empress snorted dismissively. “The princess has gotten quite a sharp tongue after a few days. It looks like birds of a feather flock together. Be careful of being used when you befriend the young fox from an old fox’s den!”
Jialan shook her anger while Qin Yining kept her head down. She was wondering whether to speak up when she heard the Prince of Ning’s voice. “This prince thinks both the old fox and young fox are cute things. They’re much better than a thousand-year-old vixen that will be the downfall of the nation!”
The prince had brought his sons out to the covered hallway and made their greetings to the empress. Though they observed all the pleasantries, anyone could tell that the line of ‘thousand-year-old vixen’ was aimed at the empress!
Legends spoke of how King Zhou of the Shang Dynasty had brought about his dynasty’s downfall because of his lasciviousness.  He’d angered the mother goddess Nuwa by making lustful comments about her beauty, who’d in turn sent the thousand-year-old vixen spirit to the mortal world to tempt the king and bring utter disaster to his nation.
The current situation of Great Yan actually bore several similarities to this myth.
The emperor had bumped into the traveling empress when travelling to pray to the Doumu goddess at the Celestial Nunnery. He’d been so taken with the stunning empress that he’d immediately added her to the imperial harem, bestowing upon her favor that he showed no one else. They didn’t conceal the fact that they’d cemented their love before the goddess, and it was quite a love story for a time.
But after that, the emperor grew increasingly tyrannical and incompetent. He did everything the empress wanted and oppressed loyal, wise subjects on her behalf. The empress was ruthless and cruel beyond imagination, making her overlap almost completely with Daji, the malevolent fox spirit that’d captivated King Zhou.
Rumors like these were rife in the streets, but very few actually made it into the empress’ ears. The Prince of Ning was exceedingly bold to speak of it before her.
The empress went white in her anger and responded frostily, “It looks like this seat shouldn’t have come today? I heard that the princess consort suffers ill health in her old age and took sick after merely visiting the palace. I thought that since we’re all a family, I would make some time and look in on her. But is this how the Ning Manor treats this seat?!”
“No need for Your Majesty’s concern.” How was this gloriously flaunting empress here to look after a sick person? She was here to admire her handiwork, and wasn’t she mocking that the Prince of Ning was also old by mentioning his wife’s age?
He certainly wasn’t the type to take this lying down. “Time treats no one kindly. Who can always remain young? You too are growing old, Your Majesty. You should take care of your body and mental health so that my royal brother will continue to favor you. Don’t stretch your hand out too far, or it might cut off!”
“How dare you!” The empress widened her beautiful eyes in anger and glared viciously at the imperial prince.
The prince didn’t back down a single iota. He didn’t invite her to take a seat and his attitude didn’t soften at all.
Self-pity and frustration welled up in the empress; tears almost fell. When she’d seen Qin Yining through the back door, she’d suspected that the Prince of Ning was in cahoots with the Qins. The prince’s untoward behavior towards her and complete lack of respect further cemented these thoughts.
But what enraged her the most was that label of ‘thousand-year-old vixen’.
She’d met the Soothsayer by chance when the nun hadn’t known her identity. The Soothsayer had read her fortunes anyway and said she was a ‘fairy descended into the mortal world, the treasured pearl of the dragons’. The empress was destined for a life of fortune and wealth, a regal aura of nobility around her, to command the world with a hand, and magnificence beyond belief.
The empress had felt some skepticism at first, but to think that all of the predictions had come true!
But as time went on, jarring notes began to strike at the empress. Why is my life playing out like Daji’s? She still treated the Soothsayer with utmost respect. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. After all, her fortunes had all been good.
So, it wasn’t just her thinking that she resembled a nation-destroying fox spirit? Even a crude buffoon like the Prince of Ning was throwing it in her face!
“So this is how the prince treats this seat! Disrespect to me is disrespect to the emperor! Do you want to mutiny?!”
“The empress is the empress alright. Women should just keep to household affairs. How much face do you have to represent my royal brother? Who the hell do you think you are!?”
“You, you crude, base buffoon!”
“It’s not the first day that I’ve been crude or base! I didn’t invite you here to look at me! Your Majesty comes to strut and prance around, crowing about how splendid you are. Do you take me, Weichi Jinming, to be just anyone’s punching bag?! Why don’t we bring this up to my royal brother? I’d like to see who he defends, you or his blood brother!”
Angry tears spun in the empress’ eyes, but she didn’t continue her tirade. Because of her years with the emperor, she knew that the imperial majesty had a very good relationship with the Prince of Ning. She might not actually succeed if she brought any tales of woe or abuse to the emperor.
Plus, her own family was at a critical juncture. It wasn’t the right moment to create more trouble.
The empress grit her teeth and ultimately left with a flurry of her sleeves. I’ll take care of him one day!
The prince’s heir asked worriedly after the empress stomped off, “Your Highness, this might not have been the right thing to do. The empress has the emperor’s ear. What if this results in all-out hostility?”
“F*ck this motherf*cking piece of shit! Am I afraid of that bitch?! She’s climbing to the top of my head, am I supposed to just take it?!” 
The Prince of Ning had his roots in the army, so his voice boomed like a bell when he raised it in admonishment. He didn’t care at all whether the empress could still hear him. He raised a foot and kicked a vase holding kumquats, spilling flowers and dirt everywhere after a loud clang.
Qin Yining and Jialan helped each other up while Jiyun carefully took a position behind Qin Yining.
The Qin fourth miss thought for a moment. “Your Highness, I think I should take my leave first. Bingtang can stay behind to tend to the princess consort. I will come pay my respects when Her Highness is better.”
The prince nodded. “Many thanks for your troubles today. Servants, show Miss Qin out.”
“Oh I wouldn’t dare.” Qin Yining left with Jiyun after a round of pleasantries.
As he looked at the departing Qin fourth miss, the prince’s heir whispered, “Your Highness, do you think something may be off about what happened today? The Qins have been at odds with the Caos for quite a while. This was quite a coincidence…”
The prince glanced at his son and slightly narrowed his eyes at the girl’s form. “If this really is a plot, I wonder if it’s the old fox’s or the young one’s.”
Qin Yining and Jiyun immediately climbed on their horses and hightailed it home after departing Ning Manor. At the same time, a servant came back in with a report.
“Your Highness, the Marquis of Anping requests an audience.”
The Prince of Ning raised an eyebrow with interest. “What a coincidence. The father comes when the daughter has just left. Was this planned? Well? Show him in already!”
I met up with WW translator Legion yesterday and we took a picture together, wishing everyone a Happy Halloween!