Chapter 230: Expedition
Two days after Ye Mei and sibling fled, Emperor Yong Le slaughtered the entire Ye family on the offence of the Ye family colluding with Lu Zheng Xuan’s rebellion. It was much easier dealing with the Ye family than the Lu family as the Ye family relied on the Lu family for support and thus when the Lu family fell, one Ye family was unable to make any waves. Even though when Ye Mao Cai was alive, he had lots of connections and followers, under Emperor Yong Le’s iron hands, everyone could see clearly it clearly and fear was born, thus one dared not be as arrogant as before.
Ye Mao Cai’s crimes was fixed personally by Emperor Yong Le and would be beheaded at noon. Speaking of which, Ye Mao Cai was not accused wrongly. In the stuff that Shen Miao exchanged with Ye Mei, she had picked up a few that was related to the Imperial family and handed it over to Empress Xian De. In order to control the Imperial family, Ye Mao Cai had made a lot of secret moves and all these things became important evidences for convicting the Ye family.
As for being beheaded at noon, the Imperial family prestige this time was huge.
The Mo Yun Army that was following Ye Mei and Jin Xing Ming would frequently send news back indicated that their escape was very smooth. Most of the people had believe the newly recognised siblings of the Ye family had died at the cliffs with the reason that one did not see clearly the roads when fleeing and fell off the cliff, dying without a full body. Even though Great Liang’s soldiers did continue searching, they were unable to discover any traces of them.
Everyone else had thought that no one in the Ye family survived but there was one who did and it was Ye Hong Guang. Shen Miao instructed Mo Qing to arrange but Ye Hong Guang had not woken up till now and Gao Yang said that it depends on Ye Hong Guang himself to wake up. There might be a scenario that he would continue to sleep forever.
As for Xie Jing Xing, he returned on a rainy night.
In a burst of autumn rain, Shen Miao was reading under the lantern as the raindrops hit the windows and created little pattering sounds. The weather had gradually cooled down and the tea on the table quickly became cold.
The doors was pushed open and a little of the wind and rain outside was also brought in. Shen Miao turned her head back as Xie Jing Xing closed the doors and walked in. His clothes were somewhat wet because of the rain and as he took of his coat, he saw SHen Miao staring at him and his lips could not help but curl as he head towards her side and pinched her face, “It is not good. My Furen has become silly.”
Shen Miao pushed away his hands, “Why do you come back now? Why did you not even pass a message?”
When Xie Jing Xing left, it was for a number of days and he did not even send a message over. Even if Shen Miao had a good temper, she would be somewhat annoyed. At least send over a message that he was safe and sound. The entire residence did not know his whereabouts, making one have a headache.
Xie Jing Xing coaxed her, “I am afraid if one spoke to you then one would want to return back. One has no choice with Imperial Older Brother’s matter as it cannot be delayed.” He grabbed onto Shen Miao’s shoulder and said with a smile but not a smile, “If one knew early that Furen missed me so much, I would have returned sooner.”
“You might as well not return.” Shen Miao’s anger was not dissipated.
Xie Jing Xing thought for a moment and put up an appearance of great justice, “How about this? In order to compensate Furen, I will be in your mercy today and would never struggle.”
SHen Miao could not help but laughed, “You are sick.”
When Xie Jing Xing saw her laughing, she then said, “Well coaxed. But upon my return, one had heard about a matter.” He looked at Shen Miao, “You let Ye Mei escape?”
“Not let her escape.” Shen Miao said, “She wanted to go to Ming Qi and also stole Great Liang’s secret that Ye Mao Cai collected. One thing think that would use that to rely on Ming Qi’s nobles. I had exchange her things and gave her some military maps and defense plans as one thought that it would play a bigger role. It might be the case that with these, she could even become an Empress.”
Xie Jing Xing was slightly startled and afterwards understood her intentions as his eyes glittered, “This method of Furen’s is indeed very malicious!”
Ye Mei was filled with joy as she looked for Ming Qi’s nobles with these ‘precious’ things. With such an important thing like defense maps, as long as those nobles were not foolish, they would definitely make use of it and present it to Fu Xiu Yi for merits. However who would know that these military maps and defense plans were all drawn by Shen Miao? As long as Fu Xiu Yi followed what was on it to fight, one feared that he would not even know how he died.
Shen Miao raise her brows, “I am a malicious woman that has snake’s organs. So what of it?”
“Very good.” Xie Jing Xing said leisurely, “I like malicious woman.”
“Afterwards I have made another identical copy of those things that I gave to Ye Mei.” Shen Miao said, “I will give it to you later. Ming Qi and Great Liang would at the end fight and at that time, with these things, you would know what Ming Qi is planning, making things easier.” She thought about it and added, “It is best to give Fu Xiu Yi some sweetness at the beginning so that he would believe that these things are real. After he has investigated that it is real, he would definitely use it to arrange the manpower. At that time, one that can beat him at his own game and it would be even more effective.”
Xie Jing Xing smiled, “You are indeed quite good.”
“When are you leaving?” Shen Miao asked.
After remaining silent for a moment, Xie Jing Xing then said, “You know?”
“How long do you think you can hide it?” Shen Miao sighed. Seeing that Xie Jing Xing was not speaking, she instead smiled, “Consent.” She then poured a cup of tea and handed it to Xie Jing Xing, “Using tea in the absence of wine to wish you a smooth success.”
Xie Jing Xing was startled but he took the teacup and looked at Shen Miao.
“If you win, gift me a wish when you return.” She said.
“What wish do you want?” Xie Jing Xing’s brows raised and there was a smile in his eyes.
Shen Miao thought about it and said, “Let it be owed first. I have not thought about it and will inform you once I have decided.”
“Alright.” XIe Jing Xing snapped his fingers, “I too have a wish that you must satisfy me now.”
He carried Shen Miao on his shoulder and walked towards the back, “Accompany me to bath.”
Shen Miao, “…”
A lot of the flowers in Wei Yang Palace had fallen.
During spring, it was filled with dense lush flowers but in the autumn, it would be empty and would look particularly bleak. However the palace maids had found some flowers and those big purple, white and yellow buds had signs of blooming, somewhat melting some of the cold here.
However it would be chilling in the autumn days so how would a few pots of flowers change it?
As the autumn rain drifted in, some of it was blown into the room. Tao GuGu closed the windows properly and placed two small brazier before gently retreating.
Emperor Yong Le was half leading against the couch.
He was actually very handsome and even though he always had a cold appearance and had no expression, his beauty was neglected. What people saw was the indifference of an Emperor’s inhumanity and his deep means. Stripping away the identity of Emperor Yong Le, no one knew what kind of person XIe Chi was.
Perhaps there were two exceptions. First was Xie Yuan, Prince Rui, and the other was Empress Xian De. In the past, Empress Dowager Jing Xiao was considered one but she had since departed so it was useless to say more.
Empress Xian De was brewing flower tea at the moment.
With the collected petals, the first snow that was buried under the tree and adding a spoonful of honey as a small fire slowly heat it up, a light sweet scent was slowly disperse from the small pot. With the freshly baked osmanthus pastry that the Imperial Kitchens sent over, it was so warm and sweet that the sweetness entered one’s heart.
Empress Xian De picked up a cup of tea and handed it over to Emperor Yong Le.
“Last year ChenQie came to collect the first snow with Qiu Shui.” Empress Xian De tasted it and smile, “It is sweet. This year when it is snowing in winter, ChenQie will collect again. If the Emperor likes it, one can also come along to take a look.”
Emperor Yong Le looked at her and paused for a moment before speaking, “This winter, if Zhen is here, one will accompany you.”
Empress Xian De’s hands trembled and a large drop of tea spilt over and landed on the back of her hand, making her say “ah” with the pain.
When Emperor Yong Le saw it, he easily picked up the handkerchief by the side and took her hand as he rubbed and blamed her, “Why so careless?”
That water was not dried up but became even more.
Empress Xian De had cried.
Her tears dripped onto her back of her hand too and it was warm but seemed to be hotter than the tea that scalded her. She said, “Why does the Emperor say such heart wrenching things to make ChenQie sad?”
Emperor Yong Le paused and looked at her, “Qing Zhen…”
“Ever since ChenQie entered the Palace, one had sit on this position of the Empress very sensibly and know everything that one should know and should not know. ChenQie do not have half a resentment to air on what the Emperor does. But even if one come to such a point, Your Majesty will treat me like this too?” Her words were all complaints but her tone of voice was very calm, as if her heart was full of grievances but unable to be angry with Emperor Yong Le, “Emperor distain in coaxing me and just have to make me stay sober till the last moment. But does the Emperor know how painful it is to stay awake?”
Emperor Yong Le was silent for a long time.
After a long time later, he picked up the handkerchief and wiped the tears at the back of Empress Xian De’s hands, “Jing Zhen, in this lifetime other than Imperial Mother, the woman that Zhen let down is you alone. You are the only one that can stand by Zhen’s side.”
“Zhen clearly understand the feeling of being awake. Zhen have no other choice.”
Empress Xian De looked at the tea in her cup, “Your Majesty has decided?”
“Zhen has decided. That year Imperial Mother had also said before, hero come forth in large numbers in the empire under Heavens. Zhen cannot be a hero but before one life is gone, one is already satisfied for managing Great Liang to such a state and ended the Lu and Ye families. The rest of the road would be up to Xie Yuan to walk. All the things that come next, Zhen will not manage but…” He paused and continue speaking, “Zhen still hop that it would be like what Imperial Mother said, Great Liang would prosper, have a clean reputation and the Imperial position of the Empire would be stretched hundreds of years.”
“Jing Zhen,” Emperor Yong Le signed, “Zhen do not know when one would collapse and do not know when will one wake up. If that day comes, you must do the things that Zhen had instructed you. After that, you can live the days you want. Be it awake or confused, as long as you are happy.”
Empress Xian De’s head was bowed as she repeatedly stroke the edges of the teacup. After a long time she then looked at Emperor Yong Le and there was a little smile on her face, “Does the Emperor remember during the first time seeing ChenQie, ChenQie brewed flower tea for Your Majesty to drink?”
At that time it was Empress Xian De’s mother that brought her to the Palace to meet with Empress Dowager Jing Xiao as Empress Dowager was choosing a wife for Emperor Yong Le. That day, there were also other official’s daughters that came and they knew the four scholarly arts and performed in front of Emperor Yong Le but it was only for that high ranking position.
It was just here who sat at the corner and smiled quietly as she looked at everything, as if she was not concern about all of these at all. No matter if it was the high ranking position of an Empress or the young and handsome Emperor, nothing entered her eyes.
Empress Dowager Jing Xiao asked her what talents she had.
At that time Empress Xian De said, “This official’s daughter is dull and has no skills. Just on normal days at home, one would brew tea for Father and Older Brother and they all find it good.”
At that time, the other young ladies had looks of disdain. Things like brewing tea should be handed by servants. A noble young lady should practice on some talents. To only know how to brew tea, was one treating oneself as a maid?
Empress Dowager Jing Xiao was however very satisfied.
Afterwards Empress Dowager Jing Xiao said to Emperor Yong Le, “AiJia see that Jing Zhen is a good child. With the character of brewing tea, she is steady and has a clam mind, thus able to work with you for a life time. Be it storms, big waves or flood she would be able to endure hardship gladly. This is good and hard to come by.
When Emperor thought of Empress Dowager Jing Xiao’s words, he could not help but look at Empress Xian De.
Empress Xian De was gently blowing the petals that were floating on top of the tea.
Ever since Empress Xian De entered the Palace and after so many years, it was indeed like what Empress Dowager Jing Xiao had said, she was a person who was steady and calm. She would not ask more or meddle and just sit quietly. It was as if as the time flows, she still the same as she was initially, sitting at a corner with a cup of tea in her hands as she smiled gently and unchangingly.
Empress Xian De felt Emperor Yong Le’s gaze and smiled gently, “Emperor, let us not think about other matters today. Since autumn has arrived, then let’s relax today and be like the past, drink some tea, play some chess, play some Qin and write some words. Alright?”
“Alright.” Emperor Yong Le said as he nodded his head.
He replied frankly and even his always indifferent and rigid face had a slight smile to it, making Empress Xian De surprise. After she reacted to it, as if she feared Emperor Yong Le would take it back, she quickly got up and said, “Then ChenQie would bring over that jade chess that Jing Xing previously gifted. After Jing Xing gifted, Your Majesty only played with ChenQie once. It is indeed a waste of such good chess pieces.”
Emperor Yong Le laughed, “Let Tao GuGu get it.”
“She does not know where it is.” Empress Xian De said, “ChenQie hid it. Your Majesty just wait here for ChenQie.” She lifted her skirt and somewhat jogged to the back.
Empress Xian De had always had a soft appearance and there was rare for her to be like this but it also displayed a long unseen young female. Emperor Yong Le watched her and as he looked, his gaze became somewhat lamenting.
His brows raised and he coughed violently twice. He took a handkerchief from his slevves to cover his mouth and use that handkerchief to wipe his mouth. It became so clean that nothing could be seen.
That handkerchief was on his palm and a little blush was exposed.
It was very eye-catching.
He paused and placed the handkerchief into his sleeves and watch Empress Xian De as she jogged over with that chess box and smiled.
Like nothing had happened at all.
In the following days, it was abnormally calm.
The calmness was like flowing water, as if nothing bad had ever happened. It was as if all the dust has settled and everywhere was peaceful.
These days Xie Jing Xing and Shen Miao were in Long Ye, shopping around during the day or playing the Qin and writing words. Occasionally when Xie Jing Xing was in the mood, he would pull Gao Yang over to compete and Shen Miao would study something else with Luo Tan. During the night, she would have discussion with Xie Jing Xing on those few military maps. Between both of them, one was good at attacking and the other was good at defense, thus during scheming, it would be advantages and compatible. Xie Jing Xing was overbearing and could not continuous methods of striking the enemies but there were risks if one were to attack directly. Every time when he argued with SHen Miao he would be so overbearing with his decision that he would bang the tables but Shen Miao could not be bothered about him. When it was in the middle of night, he would sneak back when there was no one around.
Shen Miao use the words at him and Xie Jing Xing would flip over and pin her below him before using another method for ‘punishment’.
The days passed steadily but everyone knew in their hearts that they were indulging before the separation. Once the war began, it was inevitable to separate and those days of separation would depend on the lingering memories that filled during these days.
That day had finally come.
In a rainy autumn night, Ming Qi crossed the border between two countries and launched an attack on the guards at the border. At the other side, Qin country used a water route and landed on a fishing village at the North of Great Liang and carried out a massacre on the shore. Taking that as a base, they entered Great Liang and launch a war.
The war had started. Be it that Ming Qi and Qin country was advancing secretly or keeping the entire world in the dark, it was anyways ‘living up to expectations’, unable to control one’s temper and was arrogant. To say it with such a fanfare, it showed that one had great confidence.
Would Great Liang fight or not?
Prince Rui submitted a request for an order of commander and Emperor Yong Le personally conferred and ordered three hundred thousand troops for an expedition.
This was not only counterattacking the invasion of other nations. It was a determination to break the three country situation and push the wheel of history forward.
Heroes would vie for supremacy under Heavens and there would be rising winds and scudding clouds. Chivalrous and outstanding people would take their stand and talents would emerge within generations. Since ancient times, heroes would come out during turbulent times and it was the same with wars.
The morale of the people in Great Liang was not diminished. Although they panicked at first, after watching Prince Rui in front of the expedition, there was a surge of noble aspirations and pride.
The date to set off for the expedition was fixed for tomorrow.
Luo Tan looked at Gao Yang. Ever since she came to Great Liang, she had experience many things with Shen Miao. Previously she had some misunderstanding with Gao Yang but later it was resolved. Even though Gao Yang was a person who loved to tease others and was not the jade like gentleman that he appeared to be… He treated her well and was considered a good person.
Luo Tan originally wanted to follow Gao Yang to Ming Qi because she previously secretly followed Shen Miao to Great Liang. Now it had been so long and with Fu Xiu Yi beginning to deal with the Shen family, naturally he would not let the Luo family off. Luo Tan wanted to move forward or retreat with the family.
But in Luo Sui’s letter, it instructed her to remain in Great Liang. First was that Luo Tan would not be any help when she return and might even be implicated and it would not be good. Second, Shen Miao would be remaining in Long Ye and with Luo Tan with her, there would always someone to take care.
One could not return to Ming Qi and it was indeed true that one could not leave Shen Miao alone in Long Ye. Thus Luo Tan could only remain here. She watch as Gao Yang start to pack up his stuff as he place some medicine and herbs into boxes and instructed people to carry those boxes out.
Luo Tan sat on a chair and silently watched his every move.
After Gao Yang packed, he looked up and saw Luo Tan staring at him without blinking her eyes. He felt inexplicably strange and said, “Normally you will be noisy, for you to be this quiet today, is one in a bad mood?”
“You will be leaving tomorrow.” Luo Tan said, “During the journey, one must protect the Prince well.”
Gao Yang choked, “Me protecting him? It is more like him protecting me.”
“But you are his subordinate.” Luo Tan said awkwardly, “Of course, you should also pay more attention to yourself.”
Gao Yang was startled and upon hearing clearly what she said, he smiled slightly.
Luo Tan would always bully Gao Yang all day and it was also true that Gao Yang was also very fond of bullying her. These two people would fight all day and it was rare for them to talk nicely. Luo Tan’s personality was very open and it was rare for her to remind others of things. It was considered very rare to speak to Gao Yang like this.
Gao Yang approached her and deliberately asked, “Pay more attention to what?”
He was born with a handsome appearance and had always been a gentleman thus when he approach, there was some naughtiness in his smile. Luo Tan strangely blushed and pushed him away as she said angrily, “What else to pay attention to? Pay attention not to die.”
“Is it that you will feel good if I am dead?” Gao Yang fanned himself, “Then the entire Gao residence would be occupied by you. The servants would be ordered around by you, the gold and valuables would be used by you and those shops and…”
“Wait. Wait.” As Luo Tan listen, she felt that his words were getting stranger and quickly interrupted his words, “Who would cherish your things? There are no shortages of it in my Luo family. Anyways, you treat me as a fool right? These are all your Gao family’s things and have nothing to do with me. When you die, how would these things belong to me? You are crazy.”
Gao Yang said, “What does it have to do with you? Don’t you know it yourself?”
“Know what?” Luo Tan wonder and tempted to asked, “Could it be that… This is what my Father gifted to you? And you are actually my Father’s people?” She slammed her mouth shut and said in alarm, “My Father send you here to monitor me?”
Gao Yang, “…”
After a while, he then signed resigned and knocked Luo Tan’s forehead, “Normally you are quick witted but why be so stupid now?”
Luo Tan said, “Hey! Speak clearly!”
Gao Yang suddenly put a finger on Luo Tan’s lips and made a ‘shh’ action. Luo Tan was startled and only felt that the area where Gao Yang’s fingers was touching started to become warm and gradually burned to her face…
“Slowly thing about the relations you and I have. Tell me when I return.” Gao Yang place a medical book on Luo Tan’s head, “Now help me sort this up frist.” Finishing he started to pack up.
Luo Tan looked at his back view but unexpectedly not kick up a fuss. She pouted and obediently pack up.
“Is it done or not?”
“Almost done. Almost done.”
“Ow. It hurts.”
“Just left the last bit. Don’t worry, I will do it lightly.”
Outside the doors, Cong Yang, Mo Qing, Jing Zhe and Gu Yu were all red-faced. Jing Zhe said, “Ah. I remembered that there are still some clothes that were not dried. I will go and hang it up.”
Gu Yu quickly said, “I will also go and help.”
Cong Yang also said, “I will also go and sun the quilt.”
Mo Qing nodded his head furiously.
In an instant, the four of them scattered like birds and beasts.
Only Tie Yi, who was up on the tree, was unmoving like a mountain.
In the room, Xie Jing Xing was helpless as Shen Miao finally tied the last string and patted his hand with satisfaction, “Done!”
Xie Jing Xing looked at the series of knotted red strings on his wrist and his head ached. He was perfectly fine so why the need for so many red strings that female wore? However Shen Miao still rest her chin on her hand and was in all smiles, “With so many, it would not be broken anymore.”
He had not spoken yet when Shen Miao stood up and sat on his lap, shocking Xie Jing Xing.
The wine jars in the room were empty and the entire room was filled with alcohol scent. Shen Miao drank till her face was red and was as delicate as a flower. It was rare for her to smile so sweetly as both of her hands cupped his face and she kissed his face.
Xie Jing Xing was already calm and collected as from when Shen Miao was drunk till now, she had already kissed him dozens of times. As long as Shen Miao was drunk, one could basically see a different kind of female. It seemed to be like lecher who would tease innocent young ladies.
A grad Prince Rui who had lived for so long and had experience in teasing countless of females but there was only one female that teased him. It was moreover a female who would not acknowledge it when she woke up.
“This face is indeed good.” Shen Miao said, “Can be made as the most popular courtesan.”
Xie Jing Xing stared at her expressionless for a while before saying, “Thanking Furen’s appreciation.”
Shen Miao was satisfied, “Bestow you some money. Go and buy some clothes.” She searched her sleeves and took something out before throwing it to Xie Jing Xing’s hands.
It was the jade tablet that Xie Jing Xing gave to her in Ming Qi.
Xie Jing Xing had yet to see it clearly when Shen Miao waved his hands, “No. No. No. Had taken wrongly. This is given by my husband.” She then quickly collected it back.
“Husband?” He raised an eyebrow, “You still remembered you have a husband.”
Shen Miao looked at him, “Remembered. My Husband looks better than you.”
Xie Jing Xing, “…”
“But he will be going off on an expedition.” She then buried her head into Xie Jing Xing’s shoulder and found a comfortable posture. She then yawned, seemingly somewhat sleepy and said in a daze, “So I drank. Like that when he is leaving, I would be drunk and not wake up, thus would not be able to see.”
“Why don’t you want to see him?” XIe Jing Xing frowned.
Her voice gradually weakened, “Because one do not want him to be immerse in relations between a female and male but if I see him leave, I would be reluctant…” When she spoke till the end, her breathing became even and she really fell asleep.
Xie Jing Xing found it funny but at the end gradually put his smile away. He lowered his head to look at the female in his arms and paused for a moment before whispering, “Actually you can be a little willful.”
Shen Miao did not answer him.
He picked Shen Miao up and placed her on the bed before covering her with the quilt. He then extended his hand to her to hold her and sat by the edge of the bed and did not do anything. He just watched her sleeping face, as if he was satisfied with this.
In the middle of the night, Tie Yi called out from outside, “Master, time to set off.”
He paused for a while before leaning over to the female’s forehead for a kiss.
Then he strode out the doors.
After closing the doors, Shen Miao slowly opened her eyes.
Reluctant to watch him leave awake but also reluctant to miss him like that when drunk.
Separation was always a sad and reluctant matter.
To let him go without any burden and then return like a hero.
The footsteps outside the door were light and steady. There were other people but one could still differentiate which one she wanted to hear.
Those footsteps slightly paused in in front before gradually drifting away.
The long dark night was about to pass and the dawn was coming, welcoming a new day.
She did not know how long she had been sleeping before she sat up. After waiting for a long time, Jing Zhe came in with a basin of water and exclaimed in shock when she saw her sitting, deep in thought, “Furen is awake?”
“En.” She answered, “I will be making a trip to the Palace.”