T/N: Thank you patrons for sponsoring this chapter part.
Title: ChongFei Manual
Chapter: 168.4 out of 171
Empress Chen lowered her eyes and looked at the table in front of the emperor instead of looking at him. Her voice was smooth as she asked, “Your Majesty, are you agreeing?”
Emperor Chong Zhen walk out from behind his desk and stopped in front of Empress Chen. Only two steps separated them, but it felt as if they were at two different ends of the world. He gave an irrelevant answer, “Did you start the fire in Bao He Hall?”
After a moment of silence, Empress Chen nodded and said, “Yes.”
“Why did you do that?” Emperor Chong watched her as he finally asked the question that had been clogging his heart, “Have you really given up all hope towards this emperor?”
Empress Chen thought for a moment before she said, “Your Majesty, you don’t need to say these words. Your Majesty, you saved this consort. This consort is very grateful, but doesn’t have a reason to continuing living in the palace. If this consort continues to stay here, this consort will only do more foolish things.” She raised her eyes and looked at the man in front of her. In a flash, so many years had passed by. They actually looked like strangers in front of each other. The shadows of their past selves no longer existed.
“Your Majesty, you don’t need to compensate me for the things that happened in the past. I’ve already let go of past grudges. As the emperor, you have to shoulder and accept heavier responsibilities than the average person. Your actions were also reasonable. It’s only that my heart is small-minded and I can’t tolerate those choices.”
Emperor Chong Zhen quietly looked at her. He bitterly and painfully smiled, “So, you’re still unwilling to forgive this emperor.”
If she had let go past grudges, why wouldn’t she look at him? Why would she insist on going to an unpleasant place like Shan An Temple? There was no way he would agree.
Empress Chen didn’t respond.
Zhao Zhi Qing couldn’t resist holding her hand. His voice was low and had a slight begging tone as he said, “Wan Wan, this emperor was wrong. This emperor shouldn’t have neglected you, much less suppress House Chen behind your back. Could you please not leave this emperor? I’ll properly compensate you for the past. In the future, I won’t go to anyone else. I’ll disband the imperial harem and only be with you. I’ll abdicate my position as the emperor. We’ll travel the world together. Didn’t you use to say that you like the scenery in Wu county the most? We can settle down there. As long as it makes you happy, we never have to come back to the capital.”
Empress Chen looked at Zhao Zhi Qing for a long time before expressionless taking her hand away from his. “Your Majesty, it’s too late to say these words.”
She looked as if she had thought of something. Her eyes seemed lost in thought for a moment. Soon after, she said in a slightly regretful tone, “Back when I wanted to hear these words, you would be in Ning-shi’s bedroom. Everyone in the palace saw how much you valued her. You even granted her many special privileges. After Liuli’s life was saved from the poison and I wanted to investigate to find the true culprit, you blamed me for being overly suspicious. You accused me of panicking and treating everyone as the enemy. Now, Ning-shi is dead and I don’t have any other desires. Your Majesty, please take back your words. This consort just wants to peacefully live life. Your Majesty, please graciously permit this consort’s only long-standing wish.
Emperor Chong Zhen’s body trembled. His mood had plunged to a helpless all-time low from Empress Chen’s words.
She had gained her peace. But what about him? Who would be with him to pass the lonely and long second half of his life?
Emperor Chong Zhen’s voice was choked with emotion, “Wan Wan… this emperor doesn’t want graciously permit.”
Empress Chen froze for a moment. Soon after, her expression became cold and she said, “Then, this consort can only stay in Zhao Yang Hall and practice Buddhism. Your Majesty, please don’t blame this consort.”
The imperial study was quiet. Nothing could be heard from the outside. Eunuch Chu was holding his horsetail whisk as he stood outside the doors. He looked at the empty, azure sky above the imperial palace. He thought that if the empress could reconcile with the emperor, everything would be good again. During the past few days when the empress wouldn’t pay attention the emperor, the emperor hadn’t eaten much during his meals.
Emperor Chong Zhen raised his hand and briefly covered his eyes before firmly dragging his hand down from his face. His eyes were red and his voice was hoarse as he said, “Okay, this emperor agrees.”
Empress Chen lowered her eyes and said, “Thank you very much, Your Majesty.”
After Empress Chen left, Emperor Chong Zhen sat in the imperial study in a daze for a long time. It felt as if his entire body had been hollowed out.
When Eunuch Chu came into the study to bring tea and saw this sight, he was very frightened. He put down the colorful teacup and said, “Your Majesty? Your Majesty?”
Emperor Chong Zhen returned to his senses and looked around. Empress Chen had left a long time ago. He let out a long sight and in a mournful tone, he said, “Eunuch Chu.”
Eunuch Chu said, “This servant is here.”
Emperor Chong Zhen closed his eyes and said, “This emperor’s heart… feels too painful.”
* T/N: Just wanted to note it’s intentional that during parts of their dialogue they switch from the formal speech, “this emperor” and “this consort” to “I”.
Prince Jing’s residence.
Wei Luo discovered that babies really changed to fast. In only a short three months, little Zhao Xi had changed from a wrinkly little monkey to a beautiful baby boy that looked as if he was carved from white jade. Every day, Wei Luo would spend half the day playing with him. The little fellow liked Wei Luo the most. As soon as he saw her, he would start babbling happily and stretch out his short arms that resembled lotus roots for Wei Luo to pick him up. Wei Luo’s heart would melt every time she saw this.
This little fellow didn’t behave like Zhao Jie at all. Instead, he had the same personality as Wei Luo when she was a child. He liked to smile, cling to people, and act slightly mischievous. Wei Luo felt this was good too. Zhao Jie had a really strange personality. It wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing for their son to be like him.
As for the rest of the day… naturally, she had to spend it with a certain man.
As an adult, it was quite ridiculous of him to be jealous of his own son. In her mind, Wei Luo would criticize his shortcomings, but she wouldn’t dare to show this on her face. She could only obediently pander to him. It was probably because when Wei Luo showed that she cared more about their son than Zhao Jie, Zhao Jie’s face would sink and he would torment her once nighttime came.
With this in mind, how could Wei Luo dare to neglect him?