T/N: Thank you patrons for sponsoring this chapter part.
Title: ChongFei Manual
Chapter: 142.1 out of 171
The princes had sharp eyes and already saw that the situation was amiss. The sound of their chattering suddenly quieted down and they also temporarily stopped making toasts and drinking. They quietly looked at the emperor and empress. Normally, a consort shouldn’t attend this type of family gathering. However, Noble Consort Ning had become more and more favored during the past years and Emperor Chong Zhen had given her a rare honor by allowing her to attend. This was why she was able to proudly sit here.
Emperor Chong Zhen put down his xi jiao cup that was decoratively carved with pine trees, bamboo stalks, and plum trees. The smile on his face had completely vanished. He half turned his body towards Empress Chen’s direction and said, “The banquet is only half over. If the empress leaves, what will these children think?”
(T/N: Below is a picture of a xi jiao cup carved with only leaves.)
Seeing that Empress Chen’s expression didn’t look good, he changed his tone and said, “If you’re really not feel well, an imperial doctor should be immediately called over without delay to check.”
“Thank you for your concern, Your Majesty. This consort is just feeling dizzy and will feel better after resting for a bit. It’s not serious.” Empress Chen’s words were as deferent as usual, but there wasn’t any warmth in her eyes. It was as if she viewed talking to Emperor Chong Zhen as only a type of duty. She didn’t smile until she looked at Wei Luo and said, “Ah Luo, help me walk back. We haven’t seen each other in a while. I have words that I want to say to you.”
Wei Luo looked at Zhao Jie. Afterwards, she obediently stood up, walked to Empress Chen’s side, and supported her with her arm. “Sure, daughter-in-law also has things to say with imperial mother.”
Emperor Chong looked at the two of them walking away and suddenly felt that this family banquet had become dull. His expression slightly sunk, but he didn’t say a word.
Zhao Jie arranged for two people to follow after Wei Luo and Empress Chen and protect their safety.
Seeing that mood had become stiff, Ninth prince Zhao Zhen suggested that everyone think of a phrase with the prompt being “New Year”. Emperor Chong Zhen didn’t voice an opinion and seemed to tacitly agree. As a result, the princes and princesses racked their brains to think of something. If they could think of a good phrase and gain Emperor Chong Zhen’s favor, it would be the absolute best.
Ninth prince confidently started, “An impoverish era is setting, the opening of a beautiful season.”
After ninth prince, it was twelfth prince. Twelfth prince was young, so he used a famous poet’s words, “The sound of firecrackers ends a year, the spring breeze brings warmth.”
The other princes also said their lines. When it was Zhao Jie’s turn, he turned the wine cup in his hand and indifferently said, “Keeping guard until the bells ring, holding a candle to welcome the New Year.”
Although the words were simple, he continued to speak in an uninhibited and heroic manner,
“The winter air longs for the arrow, the spring scenery waits for the rooster’s cries, Losing interest in the overflowing jar, observing over the fence,
There will be a thousand years, paying respect at the emperor’s door.”
Emperor Chong Zhen nodded.
After a few rounds of this poetry game, seventh prince was the one that was fined the most. Emperor Chong Zhen commented, “It seems that old seven has been slacking in his studies. Even little twelve is doing better than you.”
Seventh prince was so ashamed that his entire face was flushed. “This imperial son has failed to meet imperial father’s expectations and will definitely painstakingly study after returning home. Won’t…”
Emperor Chong Zhen waived his hand. He didn’t feel like continuing to listen to these words, “Never mind. You only have a mouth that says things without following through. Just sit down.”
After three rounds of wine, the family banquet was almost over. The group of people prepared to go up to Sheng Xue’s third level to admire the fireworks. Just as Emperor Chong Zhen stood up, Noble Consort Ning came over to lend an arm to support him in walking upstairs. Seeing that he still hadn’t expressed his position about the issue, she couldn’t help mentioning again, “Your Majesty, this consort’s words from before… Zhang-er…”
Emperor Chong Zhen turned his head to look at Noble Consort Ning, “Consort Ning, this emperor has already considered the matter about old five. Let the matter drop. If you keep asking, this emperor will feel annoyed.”
Noble Consort Ning was startled. It was only now that she realized he hadn’t forgotten. He was deliberately not expressing an opinion. Scared, she explained, “Your Majesty, please quell you anger. This consort was too anxious and temporarily lost my senses out of concern… If this topic causes Your Majesty to be unhappy, this consort won’t mention this again.”
Emperor Chong Zhen watched her and said words that had an unclear meaning, “If you’re worried about old five, this emperor will send people to check up on him.”
Noble Consort Ning wasn’t a fool. She could hear that his “to check up” wasn’t as simple as showing concern. There was definitely another meaning behind those words.
And so, she quickly said, “Zhang-er made a mistake. It’s only naturally that he’s confined at home. This will be a good opportunity for him to reflect on his behavior. This consort was slow-witted and shouldn’t have doubted Your Majesty’s intention.”
There wasn’t much of an expression on Emperor Chong Zhen’s face and he didn’t respond.
Noble Consort Ning was worried that Emperor Chong Zhen was annoyed by her earlier words, so she hastily said words to curry favor, “Let this consort help Your Majesty up the stairs.”
Emperor Chong Zhen nodded. He didn’t seem as if he was blaming her.
The view from Sheng Xue’s third floor was excellent. If they stood here during the daytime, they could see all of the buildings in the palace. There was no moon tonight and the clear lake surface didn’t gleam with reflected light. The night was darker than usual until a loud explosive noise was heard from the lakeside. A brightly multi-colored firework suddenly blossomed in the sky. It was followed by firework after firework and the sounds overlapped each other. These fireworks lit up the sky above the lake as if it was daytime.
Wei Luo accompanied Empress Chen as they left the lake and walked to Qing Xi Palace. Just as they reached the bottom of Zhao Yang Hall’s stairway that led to the entrance, they saw that fireworks were being set off at the lake. Standing at the top of the staircase, they could see part of the fireworks show. At this time, Empress Chen wasn’t in a hurry to enter the hall. She stood by the entrance and surveyed the scene from an elevated position. Her eyes were overflowing with melancholy.
Wei Luo called out, “Imperial mother, weren’t you feeling unwell? It’s windy outside. It’ll be easy to get sick if you stay outside for too long.”
Empress Chen returned to her senses, turned around to face her, and smiled. In a calm and relaxed tone, she said, “Who said I was feeling unwell? I’m feeling perfectly fine.”
Wei Luo blinked. Didn’t she say those words herself?
Empress Chen didn’t mind saying the truth to Wei Luo. As she started walking into Zhao Yang Hall, she honestly said, “I was only lying to the emperor. If I didn’t say that, how would I be able to return here so early?”
She saw down on the ironwood arhat couch and called Wei Luo to her side. “Ah Luo, you’re this empress’s daughter-in-law, so this empress will treat you as a trustworthy person. This is why I’m telling you this.”
Wei Luo sat down across from her. After thinking, she asked, “Imperial mother, do you dislike attending the family banquets?”
“It’s the same each year. Other than eating, it’s poetry games. There’s nothing new.” Empress Chen ordered people to bring tea and water. Perhaps, it was because she was thirsty. After she picked up the brightly color cup that had a pattern of daffodils and auspicious symbols, she drained the cup of jasmine honey water in one gulp.
She paused after drinking, then she let out a heavy sigh and said, “Actually, it’s not that I dislike it. I just felt that it was especially unpleasant to look at Consort Ning tonight. If I had to continue to sit there, I would lose my self-control in front of the children. That’s why I thought about leaving early.”
Wei Luo took a sip of the jasmine honey water. It was tasty and refreshing, with just the right amount of sweetness. She asked, “Why does imperial mother dislike Noble Consort Ning?”
Right after she said these words, she felt that her question was stupid. Was there any woman that would like someone that stole her husband?
However, Empress Chen’s words following words left her stunned.
(T/N: Starting from advance chapter part 143.1, the posting schedule on Patreon will match the website’s schedule. Instead of waiting until the entire chapter is complete on the website, a new advanced chapter part will be released on Patreon every time a new chapter part is released on the website. This is mostly to keep me from procrastinating ^^;;.)