Chapter 238: Resignation (II)
Consort Lin looked down at the girl kneeling in front of her, barely able to conceal the jealousy in her eyes.
She’s seduced the emperor so much that he only thinks of her! This is why the emperor’s ignoring all the years I’ve served him and making her empress instead!
The consort knew that her background was inferior, but so what?! That wasn’t a reason for her to back down! When it came to depth of feeling and understanding of the emperor, who could boast of those more than her?
“What fault does younger sister Qin have? Oh don’t speak of such things, like I’m being mean to you.” Consort Lin paced back and forth, waving her fan slightly instead of letting the girl rise. “I hear that you grew up in the mountains? Have you ever read a book?”
Qin Yining opened her mouth, but elected to remain silent. The consort didn’t really want to hear her answer anyways. She just wanted to insult the girl.
Indeed, Consort Lin continued without a pause. “Our emperor is widely learned and well read. He started writing poems when he was seven and had beautiful calligraphy at eight. If you don’t have some thoughts rattling around in your brain, it might be difficult to serve the emperor properly.”
Standing off to the side with her hands and head down, a cold smirk blossomed on Gu Chang’s lips.
Li Yanyan however, frowned. “Consort Lin speaks very truly, but a woman is virtuous when she does not flaunt her skills. Serving the emperor isn’t taking the scholar examinations. Nothing else matters as long as the emperor likes younger sister Qin.”
“Younger sister Li has quite a silver tongue.” Consort Lin sniffed disdainfully. “It looks like the Duke of Anguo has a strong friendship with Grand Preceptor Qin.”
Li Yanyan smiled faintly in return. “In response to Your Highness, it’s true that I am good friends with younger sister Qin.”
“It’s rare to see such a deep bond of sisterhood. But younger sister Li speaks truly. A wild brat from the woods can’t even read that many words, to say nothing of manners and rules. I suppose it’s enough that she’s passably pretty and won’t mar the beauty of the palace.”
Li Yanyan seethed with these words and she frowned ferociously down at the ground. However, Qin Yining interjected before the other girl founds the words to respond with.
“The honorable Pure Consort speaks truly. This subject is crude and indeed unworthy of serving the emperor. But His Majesty is highly knowledgeable — how would he be so shallow as to only judge a woman by her looks? Please be careful of your words, Your Highness, and refrain from conjectures about the emperor’s thoughts.”
Making wild conjectures about the emperor was a highly punishable label that offended Consort Lin more than anything Li Yanyan had said.
A knot of irritation in her throat, the consort sniffed disdainfully. “The daughter of Wise Pan An is uncommon alright. Your glib tongue isn’t something that just anyone can possess. Is this how you bespelled the emperor?”
“The emperor is wise and noble, how would he be bespelled with just a few words? Or is His Majesty someone that muddleheaded in Your Highness’ eyes?”
“How! How dare you! Servants, slap her!” Consort Lin was beet red with anger and called loudly for her eunuchs to punish the girl.
Jiao-mama hastily ran in front of Qin Yining when she saw the situation take a turn for the worse. She smiled placatingly. “Please quell your anger, Your Highness. No matter how angry you might be, it isn’t the thing to do to punish the selection girls in the Jade Hall, no? The emperor is sure to be angry if he finds out. What will Your Highness do then?”
“Please stay out of my business when I’m teaching the selection girls a lesson, Jiao-mama.” Consort Lin relaxed her tone slightly, not daring to really offend the emperor’s wet nurse, but not softening her attitude one iota either. She glared viciously at her confidante.
The eunuch stepped forward and drew his hand back for a resounding slap.
How would Qin Yining possibly allow herself to suffer like this? Ideas and consequences whirred through her mind as she grabbed the eunuch’s wrist, forcing him to stop right by her cheek.
The eunuch cried out with surprise and pain. Qin Yining had her fingers locked tightly around his pulse and was steadily applying even more pressure. He’d never met someone who would return his blows when being punished. Afflicted by twin sensations, he looked back piteously at Consort Lin.
It would’ve been better had he not turned back. When he did, he thumped down to both knees in fright.
“Your, Your Majesty…”
Everyone had been gathered around Qin Yining with their backs to the doors of the hall. They hadn't noticed when the emperor had arrived at all, and didn’t know how long he’d been standing there watching. Qin Yining’s line of sight had been blocked by the crowd, so she hadn’t an inkling either.
Consort Lin’s heart skipped a beat when she saw Weichi Yan’s black expression, his hands behind back. She’d heard that the emperor liked née Qin very much so, but I’ve served by his side for so many years. I won’t lose out to a newcomer no matter what!
Having reassured herself, Consort Lin prettily lowered herself to the ground. “This consort greets Your Majesty.”
“These subjects greet Your Majesty.” Li Yanyan and Gu Chang curtsied as well.
A ripple of bowing and curtsying palace servants fanned outwards. All of them hunkered in on themselves, immensely worried that they’d be caught up in the wake of imperial anger.
The furrows between Weichi Yan’s brows grew even deeper, lending a few imposing touches to his refined, genteel appearance.
He strode up and took Qin Yining’s uninjured left arm, helping her rise. Then, in front of everyone’s disbelieving eyes, he bent down to dust off the hem of her skirt.
The Qin fourth miss compressed her lips and took a step backwards, but Weichi Yan refused to let her get away and followed her closely, still holding onto her arm. He turned back to Consort Lin.
“Why are you here?”
Having yet to receive the imperial command to rise, the consort didn’t dare move and responded to the ground with a smile. “In response to Your Majesty, I was out for a walk today and happened to pass by Jade Hall. I decided to pay a visit to the younger sisters soon to join us.”
“What has she done wrong that you would have the servants hit her?”
The consort hastily responded, “She has no grasp of manners and was slow to greet this subject. I just wanted to teach her the rules.”
“Teach her the rules? By insulting her as well as her father, one of Our beloved subjects and Our teacher? Who gave you the courage to do so?!”
Color drained from the consort’s face and she kowtowed in abject fear. “Please forgive me, Your Majesty, I was just…”
“You. Slap yourself thirty times and confine yourself to your residence for reflection afterwards. You are not to set a single foot outside without Our decree. Do you understand?”
Stunned, Consort Lin raised her head and looked dumbly at Weichi Yan. “Your Majesty!” This would cause her to have absolutely no standing in the palace from now on!
She looked pleadingly at Li Yanyan and Gu Chang beside her, but the two were so terrified by imperial anger that they didn’t dare make a peep.
“Remain kneeling here when you slap yourself. Go on then!” Weichi Yan added.
Ashen-faced, the consort looked to Qin Yining for help in the end. We’re all going to be neighbors in the future and need to coexist together. The girl would help her save some face so life could go on, right?
But the Qin fourth miss didn’t say anything, just looked at the consort calmly.
Consort Lin took off her pure gold nail guards and biting her lips, tears brimming in her eyes, she gave herself a self-pitying, dainty little slap.
“That was too light.” Weichi Yan remarked coldly.
Consort Lin set aside all thoughts of finding a way out of this. She closed her eyes, grit her teeth, and put her weight into slaps from both hands. The blows rang out clearly and her cheeks very quickly reddened.
Thirty slaps passed by quickly. At the end of them, Consort Lin was disheveled, her hairpins falling out and tears streaking her face. She touched her forehead to the ground in a grand gesture of obeisance and walked backwards with her back hunched. It would be more accurate to say that she fled Jade Hall, as if having no more dignity to face anyone with.
Weichi Yan pulled on Qin Yining’s hand. “Come with Us. We have questions to ask of you.”
Ahem! It appears that we have an incoming Christmas greeting from ROS, courtesy of the fabulously talented Yuuko! Check this Twitter post for more details on how YOU can be a cameo in it!
Previous Chapter Next Chapter