T/N: Thank you patrons for sponsoring this chapter part.
Title: ChongFei Manual
Chapter: 151.2 out of 171
Wei Luo peeled another chestnut. She had purchased these freshly cooked chestnuts on the way to the palace and they were still giving off heat. They smelled good and tasted sweet. She and Zhao Liuli both enjoyed eating these chestnuts. “Liuli, do you know about that matter with Noble Consort Ning?”
(T/N: Below are pictures of roasted chestnuts. The sweetness comes from being cooked in sugar water.)
Zhao Liuli nodded. “Imperial father has imprisoned her in the Golden Hall. No one is allowed to visit her.”
Wei Luo hesitated for a moment before she added, “Then, do you know…”
Zhao Liuli’s expression didn’t change much. She lightly said, “En. I know that Noble Consort Ning was the one that poisoned me. Actually, I hate and resent her, but I know that imperial father will definitely punish her for me. Moreover, my health has already recovered, so I don’t want think about something that happened so long ago. Anyways, if I wasn’t poisoned, I probably would have never met older brother Yang Zhen.”
Wei Luo curved her lips into a smile, “You’re very good at letting things go and being positive about the past.”
If she was in Liuli’s position and someone had harmed her, she would payback the person a thousand times over. She would torture the person until death became more appealing than living.
Noon quickly arrived. Zhao Liuli and Wei Luo walked to Zhao Yang Hall.
Thirty-six dishes covered the table. Empress Chen and Emperor Chong Zhen had already sat down. On the side, the palace servant girls had their heads lowered with nervous expressions. Zhao Liuli and Wei Luo stepped forward to pay their respects to the emperor and empress.
Seeing Wei Luo, Empress Chen’s expression slightly improved. She said with a faint smile, “Ah Luo, did you come into the palace to see Liuli? Come, sit down and have a meal with this empress.”
Wei Luo nodded her head in agreement. After sitting down, she glanced at Emperor Chong Zhen, who was sitting in the head seat. The emperor didn’t look any differently than usual.
After lunch started, Wei Luo discovered that her earlier impression was wrong.
Emperor Chong Zhen picked up a slice of fish marinated in vinegar and soy sauce and placed it on a small, flower-pattern plate that was in front of Empress Chen. He said, “Wan Wan, this emperor remembers that you use to like to eat fish the most. This fish was delivered from Sichuan early this morning. It’s fresh and tender. Try it.”
Empress Chen glanced at the fish on the plate and suddenly called a palace servant girl over. “Replace this plate with a new one.”
Emperor Chong Zhen’s expression slightly stiffened.
The palace servant girl was put in such a difficult position that she almost wanted to cry. She didn’t dare to offend either of them. Seeing that emperor didn’t say anything, she finally brought over another clean plate.
Zhao Liuli gave Wei Luo a look that said, “See, I just knew they were going to be like this.”
Wei Luo silently nodded. No wonder Zhao Liuli couldn’t stand eating with them. If Liuli had to keep eating every meal in this type of atmosphere, Liuli would definitely be driven to madness. However, she could happily watch this play of “the emperor has changed his mind, but the empress refuses to acknowledge his love” and feel completely untroubled.
During this period where they silently ate lunch, Emperor Chong Zhen tried adding more food to Empress Chen’s plate and she had the plates taken away each time. Whichever dish he picked from, she would stop eating from that dish for the rest of the meal. The emperor had ample patience and never got angry with Empress Chen.
After the meal, the place servants brought bowls of blood-red bird’s nest soup with red dates. When a bowl was placed in front of Empress Chen, the palace servant trembled and knocked the entire bowl of soup over.
The palace servant’s face turned deathly pale and she kneeled down to kowtow. “Your Majesty, please spare me.”
Emperor Chong Zhen hurriedly grabbed Empress Chen’s hand. A few drops of the hot soup had splashed on the back of her hand. He used this thumb to check. “Is it hot? Does it hurt?”
Empress Chen furrowed her eyebrows and suddenly took her hand away from his grasp. She said to the palace servant, “You can withdraw. Go to Qiu Mama for your punishment.”
The palace servant thanked her for her benevolence as she withdrew from the hall.
Empress Chen half rose from her chair and with a courteous and alienating attitude, she said, “This consort is going inside to change clothing and won’t be able to attend to Your Majesty. Your Majesty, please forgive me.”
Emperor Chong Zhen embarrassedly took his stretched out hand back and helplessly said, “Wan Wan, this emperor…” He truly wanted to make things up to her.
Unfortunately, Empress Chen had already gone to her inner room without waiting for his reply.
After leaving Zhao Yang Hall, the emperor went to his study.
Eunuch Chu shook his horsetail whisk and said, “Your Majesty, those two palace servant girls have been found.”
Emperor Chong Zhen opened a report at his convenience, briefly looked at it, and asked, “Have they been questioned?”
Eunuch Chu said, “Yes, and they confessed to everything.” After he paused and glanced at the unpredictable emperor, he added, “Ning-shi was indeed the mastermind behind Princess Tianji’s poisoning.”
Emperor Chong Zhen closed the report, shut his eyes closed, and said, “Overturn Consort Shu’s conviction.” He stopped for a moment, then he slowly said, “As for the Golden Hall… Send three feet of white silk and a cup of poisoned wine. Let Ning-shi choose for herself.”
(T/N: Sending three feet of white silk is telling her commit suicide by hanging herself.)
Eunuch Chu made a noise of acknowledgment, thought of something, and said, “Your Majesty, today is still within the fifth prince’s three month confinement period. Does Your Majesty want to write a decree to end the confinement period?”
The emperor said, “There’s no hurry. This emperor feel annoyed just by seeing him,”
Eunuch Chu didn’t say any more words before withdrawing from the room.
An hour later, Eunuch Chu led two young eunuchs with him as he entered the Golden Hall. He looked around and couldn’t help sighing with sorrow. A consort’s glory and splendor was truly tied to the emperor. When a consort had his favor, she could have anything that she wanted. When a consort lost his favor, she became nothing. She could only live in this simple and crude place that didn’t even have any decent furnishings.
Ning-shi absent-mindedly sat by the window as if she had lost her spirit. It had only been a few days, but she had lost a lot of weight. Hearing footsteps, she hurriedly turned her head and subconsciously looked behind Eunuch Chu. Seeing that the emperor wasn’t there, she inevitably showed her disappointment. Right now, the emperor wasn’t even willing to see her.
The two young eunuchs placed the white silk and poisoned wine on a small table with three curved legs. Eunuch Chu lowered his eyes and said, “Ning-shi, His Majesty has said that he will allow for your body to remain intact on behalf of your many years of service to him. You can choose yourself.”
Ning-shi had already seen the items on the trays before he spoke. Her face had become paler and paler. A long time later, she finally found her voice, “Did His Majesty really say this?”
She had stayed here for a few days and had originally though that the emperor was only temporarily angry. After he calmed and based on concern from mutual affection of many years, he would definitely release her from here. After all, he had favored her so much in the past. How could she have expected that after this bitter waiting period, she had only waited to see white silk and poisoned wine?
Eunuch Chu didn’t reply and only looked at her with pity.
Ning-shi sat up on the couch. She still couldn’t believe his words.
Eunuch Chu urged her, “Choose one. I still have to go back to report this after its completed."
Ning-shi’s heart turned into ashes. She suddenly rushed to doorway as if she had gone insane. “No. I want to see His Majesty… I want to see His Majesty.”
Eunuch Chu gestured at the nearby eunuchs and the two young eunuchs quickly stopped Ning-shi and brought her back. Eunuch Chu poured a cup of wine and very politely said, “If you don’t choose, then I’ll help you choose.”
Eunuch Chu grasped Ning-shi’s chin, forcibly poured the poisoned wine into her mouth, and tilted her chin upwards to force her to swallow.
After everything was done, Eunuch Chu threw away the golden wine cup and watched as Ning-shi slowly fell to the ground.
Ning-shi’s face became paler and paler and it slowly became distorted. She was in so much pain that she couldn’t make a sound. Once she stopped moving completely, Eunuch Chu led the people away and returned to the study to report that the matter had been concluded.