Let’s See What Fate has in Store
Inside Heavenly Hall, the Emperor held a file in his hand, asking the kneeling supervisor of the Astronomy board: “Many days ago, did you not say the star of the Phoenix arrived. What of that star now?”
The supervisor solemnly replied: “The star of the Phoenix entered the capital and has become brighter, while steadily advancing along its course. If there is no movement in ten years, it will… take the main seat.”
The supervisor’s words trailed off towards the end. For the new star of the phoenix to take the main seat, the previous star had to first vacate that seat. As for this new star of the phoenix’s emperor, it would not be the current great Tian Wu Emperor. It would be a new one.
A new Emperor being instated meant the old Emperor… had passed away.
Tian Wu Emperor nodded, “Birth, aging, sickness and death are all part of the human cycle of life. It’s just that we want to live a few extra years. Whatever the outcome, I must pave an even path for that child… You may go.”
“Yes.” The advisor bowed and left.
Tian Wu Emperor put down the file in his hand and whispered to himself: “Ming’er, I really do not know if that girl you chose is skilled or not. If just the Feng family could harm her, it is possible she won’t become anyone of importance.”
With a sudden movement, Tian Wu Emperor waved his hand, gesturing for everyone to leave. Only after he was the only one remaining in Heavenly Hall did a person’s shadow suddenly appear in the middle of the hall.
“Your Majesty.” The person knelt down on oneknee and reported: “Prime Minister Feng entered Xiang palace.”
Tian Wu Emperor frowned in anger, “Idiot unable to recognize good from bad! Having just Ming’er was not enough, he really wants for his eldest daughter to ascend the position of Empress? Hmph! We must go take a look. Let us see just how good the prospects of the third child he chose!”
Waving his hand again, the hidden guard disappeared.
“Guards!” Tian Wu Emperor stood up, “Escort Us to Winter Moon Palace!”
This was the thirty-sixth time this year Tian Wu Emperor went to Winter Moon Palace, as he clearly remembered every single time. Every time he returned, he would draw a mark on a column in his bedroom in Zhao He Palace.
Along the way, Tian Wu Emperor sat on a sedan. Supporting his head with his hand, he asked grand eunuch Zhang Yuan: “Tell Us, will imperial concubine Yun see us this time?”
Zhang Yuan wiped his forehead after breaking out in cold sweat, replying: “Emperor, let’s see what fate has in store.”
Tian Wu Emperor slapped the top of Zhang Yuan’s head: “You really are becoming more and more bold! Can you not be a bit more hopefuly for Us?”
Zhang Yuan felt very wronged: “How could this servant not be hopeful for your Majesty! This servant earnestly wishes for Winter Moon Palace to open its gates for your Majesty every day, but imperial concubine Yun’s personality is not one you are unfamiliar with. How many years has it been, yet how many visits has she granted you?”
“What if this time is different?”
“That is why this servant said we must see what fate has in store!” As Zhang Yuan spoke, he used his fingers to count: “You have already filled out seven marks in Zhao He Palace. This will be the eighth mark, and it is already the beginning of Autumn. Thinking about it, it is almost full…”
He slapped him again.
Zhang Yuan held his head, saying: “Your Majesty, if you beat this servant silly, there will be no more competent people to serve you.”
“Then We will call Zhang Guang back!”
“Ah, your Majesty! If you call back this servant’s master, then there will be nobody to serve his Highness the ninth prince.”
Tian Wu grunted and glared at Zhang Yuan, “Then you will be kept around for a little while longer. When We are old and can no longer go to court, we shall see what use you are then.”
Zhang Yuan was very smart and made himself clear: “Either way, regardless of where your Majesty is, this servant will follow.”
Tian Wu was coaxed in to a rare smile by this servant; however, as the sedan approached Winter Moon Palace, his expression sank once again.
“What if We don’t go.” Tian Wu began to hesitate.
Thinking back, Zhang Yuan was already accustomed to Tian Wu’s muddling about, so he did not even call for the sedan to stop and simply advised him: “Give it a try. What if she let’s us in.”
Tian Wu nodded, “Then let’s try.”
But reality proved that there was no what if. The gates of Winter Moon Palace remained closed tight today as it had for many years. It did not matter how many times Zhang Yuan called out, all of the imperial servants replied with the same thing: “Imperial concubine Yun has said she is not meeting with the Emperor.”
There was nothing more Zhang Yuan could do. He could only retreat and gesture to the Emperor: “Your Majesty, the column in our Zhao He palace will be getting another mark.”
Tian Wu, however, was not discouraged. Ordering for the servants who carried the sedan: “Go towards the West! Go around to the moon viewing platform.”
The servants carried the sedan in the direction of the moon viewing platform. On that side, there was a small door. Tian Wu recalled that there were a few times that this door was left unguarded. If he moved a little more carefully and did not alert the hidden guards of Winter Moon Palace, he could enter.
At the small door, he got off the sedan and ordered for his servants to retreat. He went towards the door alone. Sure enough, there was nobody guarding this door. Tian Wu was presently celebrating on the inside and prepared to open the door and enter. However, a figure in white clothing suddenly floated out from inside.
He retreated a few steps, his expression sinking.
“Hmph! Do you know who you stopped?”
The figure in white stood still. It was a cold-looking woman with a sword in her hand. She looked at Tian Wu Emperor with an expressionless face.
“Since you know that We are the Emperor, you still dare to stop us?”
“Would the Emperor please pardon this mistake. This servant only obeys imperial concubine Yun. If your Majesty insists on forcing your way through, it can only be done over this servant’s dead body.”
Tian Wu was frustrated.
It was not that he could not force his way through. He trusted that his own hidden guards were much stronger than the girls of Winter Moon Palace, but he also knew that once he forced his way in, he feared that imperial concubine Yun wouldn’t just not meet him. He could tolerate never being able to meet his most beloved, but he had no way to tolerate being hated.
“It’s fine.” He waved his hand and sat back in the sedan, exhausted, “Tell imperial concubine Yun to take care of herself. If there comes a day when she has thought it through and wishes to see Us, even if We are already in the grave, We will definitely climb up once more for her.” After saying this, the once grand Tian Wu Emperor appeared to have instantly aged ten years, the years suddenly catching up with his body and his age fully showing.
“Your Majesty.” Seeing Tian Wu was about to leave, the hidden guard woman in white called out and said: “Imperial concubine had something she wanted this servant to tell you.”
“Oh?” Tian Wu’s spirit immediately recovered, his body leaning forward, as he anxiously asked: “What did she want to say to Us?”
The woman in white replied: “Imperial concubine said, his Highness the ninth prince has good eyes, but she can only help to this degree.”
Tian Wu froze for an instant, then blankly said: “So it was not something for Us.” A lonely feeling filled his heart. Raising his hand, the sedan was raised and turned around. “Go back and tell your imperial concubine, so long as she is happy, We will do anything she wants. Ming’er, We will protect, along with that girl.”
After he finished speaking, the sedan went forward. After a while, they left the Winter Moon Palace’s property.
Zhang Yuan did not speak again along the way. He knew that the Emperor needed quiet at times like this. This sort of silence would only end at morning court the next day, when he could finally return to normal.
One hour later, Xin Lan Palace
Highest ranked imperial concubine Bu Bai Ping was presently ladling spices into the incense censer. At her side was a eunuch who reported: “The Emperor went to Winter Moon Palace again. Imperial concubine Yun still did not meet with him.”
Bu Bai Ping shrugged and smiled, “This Emperor of ours really loves that grape he can not eat. Imperial concubine Yun has accurately judged his character. For this many years, she still refuses to meet with him.”
The eunuch also said: “The Emperor has waited for this many years, as this servant sees it, that imperial concubine Yun does not have many good years left.”
“Hmph!” Bu Bai Ping suddenly snorted, putting the entire box of spices into the censer. In an instant, the aroma filled the air and made everyone feel dizzy.
A young palace servant quickly went to tidy up the incense censer. Bu Bai Ping leisurely walked back to her bedroom and sat before her bed. “Will she run out of good days? It has been around seven years, yet the Emperor still so devoted to her. This imperial harem has almost become the cold harem. It has been seven years since I last saw imperial concubine Yun. For seven years, she has not set foot in the imperial harem. Is this not marrying after the death of imperial concubine Yun!”
Feng Yu Heng rose early that morning and changed into a set of flexible and tight clothing. Wearing a pair of soft cloth shoes, she began running around Tong Sheng pavilion.
Wang Chuan followed her around. While running, she asked out of curiosity: “Could it be that young miss could not sleep?” She looked up to the sky as she asked, “It just reached daybreak.”
Feng Yu Heng told her: “After this, I will always come out at daybreak to run five laps around Tong Sheng pavilion. Then I will do some weighted exercises. I want to quickly train this body’s muscles.”
Wang Chuan looked at this large Tong Sheng pavilion then heaved a sigh, five laps! Second young miss was going to die at this rate. However, after thinking it over, the intention was good. Training the body was not a bad thing. Second young miss already knew a little martial arts. If she could improve her internal power, she would have more control in a life or death situation.
Thus, she no longer tried to dissuade her and only told Feng Yu Heng: “Then this servant will accompany young miss in training.”
Feng Yu Heng did not refuse. Training more was always good. As she ran, she also remembered about Zi Rui and could not help but ask Wang Chuan, “When will Huang Quan train Zi Rui?”
Wang Chuan replied: “They woke up an hour before you did.”
“Uh…” She was a little worried, “Could Zi Rui wake up?”
“Second young master takes the initiative in waking Huang Quan up every day. The one who can’t wake up is Huang Quan…”
Good, Feng Yu Heng felt a little more proud of Zi Rui.
“The weighted exercises young miss spoke of, what are they?” Wang Chuan did not really understand the terms that came out of Feng Yu Heng’s mouth.
Feng Yu Heng did not directly answer this question. Instead, after she ran one lap, she pulled out two sandbags from some unknown place and tied them to her legs. Like that, the following four laps were run with sandbags attached.
After the five laps were completed, she pulled out two odd strings from some unknown place. Tying them to a tree, she pulled on them, alternating between arms.
After that, she picked up a large rock from the woods and began lifting it with one arm. She raised it two hundred times, alternating between arms.
From jumps, sit ups, push ups…
After a series of strange exercises, Wang Chuan finally understood the training of her family’s young miss.
After a full two-hour period1, or two hours in modern terms, Feng Yu Heng completed her morning training. At the same time, she told Wang Chuan: “The same training will be done again at night. Every day will be the same. Also, for breakfast, I will only eat a boiled egg. For lunch and dinner, there must be beef, the lean kind. Do you understand?”
Wang Chuan wiped her sweat and nodded, “This servant will go inform the kitchen.” She turned, preparing to leave, when she saw Feng Xiang Rong coming over with a servant, “Hm, the third young miss came.”
1: The term here is 时辰, which was used in the past. As the text explains, it was two hours long.
TN: The star of the phoenix is probably related to the seat of the Empress. If it gets mentioned again, I will be keeping it as star of the phoenix for continuity sake.
TN2: The Emperor uses We and Us because he’s the Emperor.