Chapter 251: Jealousy
Weichi Yan spun in several circles with delight and clapped Qin Huaiyuan’s shoulders roughly. “Beloved subject, We thank you greatly! We thank you on behalf of the people of Great Yan!”
Qin Huaiyuan hastily knelt on the ground. “This subject would never dare. As a subject of Great Yan, we naturally need to think of the country. I am just offering what little strength I have, how would I dare let Your Majesty thank me in this way? As the ruler of the nation, Your Majesty holds the world in the palm of your hand. Besides, Your Majesty is kept busy from dusk to dawn with the affairs of the nation. To be able to share one of your burdens is a great honor for your subject.”
Qin Yining was on her knees as well, committing her father’s pretty remarks to heart.
The emperor only felt extremely comforted that someone was finally acknowledging and recognizing his hard work and efforts. This was truly a sublime occurrence! When he next looked at the marquis, he felt not only the respect of a student for a wise teacher, but the gratitude of having someone truly understand him.
“Please rise, beloved subject Qin.” Weichi Yan then looked approvingly at Qin Yining. “Xuan Su has benefited greatly from the marquis’ personal tutelage. You are the smartest woman in the dynasty.”
Qin Yining hastily made a responding curtsey. “This subject doesn’t dare. I haven’t seen much of the world and only know how to play with some minor details. I am unworthy of Your Majesty’s compliments.”
The emperor had to laughingly shake his head at that. He knew that he didn’t have much aptitude for politics, and that sometimes the Qin fourth miss saw things more clearly than him. If she only knew how to play with some minor details, then wasn’t he someone who couldn’t handle even that?
But Weichi Yan wasn’t the sort to blow something out of proportion and quickly put it out of his mind. Much more lighthearted after coming up with a plan, he spent a few moments discussing the altar to be set up tomorrow.
When everything was decided upon, he left along with Qin Huaiyuan.
Qin Yining sent them off to the door. When they reached the flower-hung gate, Weichi Yan turned back to urge, “Go ahead and head on back, there’s no need to send Us off further. There are many trees and flowers here, so there must be many bugs and pests as well. Be careful of being bit. We will have servants create an enormous net and wrap up the entire tower with it.”
Lu-gonggong and the other accompanying palace servants all looked at Qin Yining with vastly different gazes and much more respect than before.
The Qin men however, were immensely put out. Was the emperor still trying to make a Qin daughter into his mistress?
When Weichi Yan finally left, Qin Yining, Jiyun, and Qiulu wordlessly turned in for the night.
At the same time in the Regal Phoenix Palace, Empress Li Yanyan was sitting cross-legged on the luohan bed next to the window, gazing off into space in her crimson-red pajamas.
Li-mama, a servant who’d been at Li Yanyan’s side before the marriage, tried to comfort in low tones. “Don’t think too much, Your Majesty. The emperor must be worried about the sheer number of commoners at Xuan Su Temple. He rushed there in case any trouble broke out. No matter how beautiful that Qin wench is, she’s just a nun now. The emperor made her that himself, so what trouble could she possibly stir up? No matter what, you’re empress now.”
Li Yanyan trailed her undecorated hand down the long locks hanging in front of her chest, plaintive bleakness in her eyes.
“Though that’s the case, His Majesty’s heart is still with that girl. Starting with the selection, I’ve seen how differently the emperor treats née Qin. I’d thought that I only had the life to be an imperial consort and couldn’t vie with née Qin. But the heavens pitied me and I am the emperor’s only official wife. Since the heavens have gifted me such an illustrious husband, why do they not bring his heart back after the wedding…”
Warmth and heartache suffused her heart when Li Yanyan thought of the emperor’s delicate features, genteel bearing, and warm smile.
The royal couple was about to turn in for the night and were exchanging sweet nothings when a eunuch suddenly reported that something had happened at Xuan Su Temple. The emperor had left her without another word…
Li Yanyan’s burning heart had been plunged into an icy cavern.
She knew that her husband wasn’t hers alone. But it was one thing for the imperial consorts and concubines to vie with her, and something else entirely when a nun did so as well!
She picked up a mirror and assessed her soft features beneath the candlelight. When she thought of Qin Yining’s face, one so stunning that even fellow women envied her, ruefulness and jealousy surged in the empress’ heart. What friendliness she’d felt for the Qin fourth miss before were no longer.
“It looks like I must let her know what her true position is.”
Li-mama smiled with lowered eyes. “You are the mother of the nation, Your Majesty. Most certainly you can teach a small nun a lesson. Besides, the Prince of Ning’s life hangs in the balance. The only one who can be commander-in-chief and take on Great Zhou is your father. The emperor has much to rely on the duke for. And you are the duke’s beloved daughter, so the emperor will naturally treat you differently.
Li Yanyan’s only response was a smile tinged with resignation and pride for backing from a strong family.
At this time, a young eunuch reported from outside, “Your Majesty, the emperor has returned to the palace.”
Li Yanyan rose quickly. “Hurry, get ready to receive His Majesty.”
The eunuch hastily blurted out the rest of his message when he saw how excited the empress was. “In response to Your Majesty, the emperor has gone back to the Hall of Moral Cultivation. He says that you don’t have to wait for him.”
The empress’ smile froze. It took a tremendous amount of effort to keep her disappointment under wraps and wave a demure hand instead. “I see. You are dismissed.”
Does he not even want to see me after visiting née Qin…
Flames of jealousy threatened to set Li Yanyan on fire.
News of the holy girl setting up an altar to petition the heavens was soon public knowledge.
Grand Steward Zhong, a disguised Huzi, and Mu Jinghu in blue robes set off before the sun rose, making their way to the royal residence.
They’d thought that they’d set off early, but a crowd was already gathered at the main doors when they arrived. It was apparent that these people had come even earlier.
Just waiting around was quite boring, but they’d lose their spots if they walked off. They could only converse lowly to pass the time and wait for the ceremony to begin.
A slight drizzle started just past the hour of the dragon. It didn’t grow heavier, but neither did it stop. It just continued on in irritating fashion.
There was no place to stay out of the rain, but everyone refused to leave. Thankfully it was the dead of summer, so a slight drizzle wasn’t too unbearable.
Time passed slowly until the main doors were open and someone called out, “Everyone, don’t push or shove. The same rules apply. Someone will repeat the holy girl’s words, so it’s all the same whether you’re in the temple or not. Don’t step on each other and don’t barge into the holy girl…”
Everyone was here to see how their holy girl would petition the heavens, so those at front set a frantic pace in. The ones at the back wanted a good spot as well. Steward Zhong, Huzi, and Mu Jinghu were jostled this way and that. Someone bumped their hats off and another tugged on their clothes. Huzi even came close to losing his fake mustache.
The three spent a good deal of effort before securing a place on the bridge. They could glimpse a hundred nuns sitting in a circle on the square in the distance. An altar and sacrifices were already set up.
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