The Second Prince Rongxiang learned early in the morning that something had happened in the Blue Jade Palace. When he approached, the moment the smell hit his nose, he staggered and almost feel to the ground.
He knew that Emperor Xuan Cheng had an incredibly sensitive nose, and was affected by every little smell. Otherwise, Concubine Li would not have to spend excessive amounts of money purchasing spices in order to burn them every day…
And now, Concubine Li was actually producing such a foul body odour—to the point that she caused the Emperor to faint. This was simply a disaster. As of now, the situation was not clear. The Empress still held the Emperor’s seal in her palm1, and the Crown Prince had no significant tarnishes on his reputation. If Concubine Li fell out of favor, would he gain a further advantage?
With this fear and anxiety weighing on him heavily, Rongxiang went straight to the Blue Jade Palace early in the morning—as soon as he heard the news. He wanted to see what had happened, but he did not expect his father, the Emperor, to actually be there!?
Was it possible that this horrible mess could actually turn out for the better? A hint of excitement began sprouting in his heart. Rongxiang quickly walked into the palace, and when he had barely set foot inside, he was inundated with the foulest stench he had ever encountered. He grew dizzy, and before he could be greeted…he fainted…
The palace was thrown into a flurry of activity; it had become Yuxiang’s special duty to prepare and provide wet, scented handkerchiefs to all who entered.
Desperately holding the wet cloth over his mouth, Rongxiang stood in the greeting line; he could not help the cold, sinking feeling in his heart. His mother’s malodour was enough to have her removed to the Cold Palace2; it was truly a miracle she was allowed to remain here…
When Rongxiang heard that soaking in the hot springs for three hours would remove the smell, his eyes instantly brightened. He stepped forward and requested, “Father Emperor; I, your son and servant, am willing to escort my mother, the Imperial Concubine, to the Luofang Palace.”
Emperor Xuan Cheng thought, in his heart; the effect of this medicinal pill was unquestionable. Concubine Li’s appearance had reverted to its youthful vitality, and her gorgeous looks were enhanced. Not only did her beauty move his heart, but it gave him hope. Since there was a way to deal with the stench, if he also took this pill…could he also restore his youth? At that time, where would he have to worry about the power held by the Crown Prince?
With those thoughts, he endured the stench and returned to the Blue Jade Palace. He had not dared to believe that the odour could be remedied.
After listening to Rongxiang’s petition, the Emperor acquiesced, and then remarked, “You have a sincere heart and your filial piety is admirable, we will go up together.”
Rongxiang was extremely pleased, and Concubine Li also revealed a joyful expression.
Shortly after they began the journey to the Luofang Palace, a small eunuch quietly retreated and rushed back toward the Crowned Prince’s quarters.
Shi Qing was still being held within Qin Mo’s palm, so although he could not see the eunuch coming, it did not prevent him from excitedly listening to the small eunuch report on the situation. When he heard that the Emperor and Concubine Li were currently en route towards Luofang Palace, a solution quickly entered his mind.
In the Imperial Palace, Qin Mo lacked the means to kill the Emperor and escape the blame. However, at Luofang Palace, even if there were guards deployed, there were bound to be some exploitable weaknesses in his protection. Not to mention, the old Emperor had devised this trip hastily, so their planning could only be so meticulous.
When Shi Qing thought this way, he immediately felt that he had touched on the truth.
At this time, Qin Mo stood up. He wore wide robes with long, sweeping sleeves, and a jade crown restrained his dark, flowing hair. Although the Crown Prince’s appearance was quite ordinary, in this moment his bearing and temperament were truly outstanding. He stroked the jade pendant in his hand out of habit, and then issued an order, “Commander Ma, take your men and surround Luofang Palace.”
Shi Qing was excited; it was finally time to drop the net! But…did Qin Mo really want to carry the burden of committing regicide3? Shi Qing felt a bit awkward in his heart, but it was not long before he learned how silly he was…
When they arrived at Luofang Palace, Emperor Xuan Cheng did not waste any time, and led Concubine Li directly to the hot springs. The guards kept watch outside the palace, in the full light of day, while the beautiful young Imperial Concubine went immediately down into the water.
Emperor Xuan Cheng chose not to go down at this time; he sat on the side and watched quietly. Three hours was not long, but it was not too short either. However, compared to the recovery of one’s youth, it was not even worth mentioning.
Rongxiang kept watch outside, and his heart was very anxious. He was afraid that the smell on Concubine Li’s body would not be removed completely—what would this mother and child do…if he lost the Emperor’s favour, he was still too weak to fly on his own. How could he fight with the Crown Prince? Rongxiang’s mind was filled with many thoughts, and his eyes glanced over to his temporary defense of the palace; a faint wisp of treasonous thoughts wound their way up into his mind.
If…if…no! He quickly shook his head, and rejected those thoughts from his mind. However, the seed had already sprouted, and taken root in his heart.
Even though it should take three hours, after Concubine Li had soaked for only one hour, the disgusting stench had already begun to fade. Emperor Xuan Cheng had discovered this phenomenon even sooner than Concubine Li. His muddy eyes suddenly brightened, and he stood up straight from his chair.
Concubine Li did not understand at first, but when she saw the Emperor’s expression, she knew that the hot springs had truly achieved a miracle.
Emperor Xuan Cheng was excited. He was holding the other Zhu Yan Pill in his hand, and he watched Concubine Li with the eyes of a downright fanatic—not only because of her delicate white skin, but even more so because of the success of this experiment.
Two hours later, Concubine Li came out of the water. Her skin was creamy and smooth, her face like a peach blossom, her whole body emitted a pleasantly cool fragrance—she was a beauty unmatched in her generation.
She moved towards the Emperor, fell to her knees, and softly called, “Your Majesty the Emperor…”
Emperor Xuan Cheng helped her up excitedly. Her skin was delicate and smooth to the touch, and that pleasing cold fragrance wafted towards him; everything about her caused him to be choked up with emotions, he could scarcely express himself, “Imperial Concubine my love, how do you feel?”
Concubine Li understood what he was asking, smiled softly, and whispered, “This concubine’s body feels good everywhere. My body is relaxed, and it seems as if there is an endless store of fresh energy.” When she finished speaking, she stretched out her finger and placed it onto the emperor’s chest, where she playfully drew a circle. Then she continued her sultry flirting, “Your Majesty the Emperor, why not take your pill without delay?”
Her words echoed the thoughts that were in the Emperor’s mind. When he had seen the initial change in Concubine Li, he was already deeply interested. He was much older than the Imperial Concubine. Concubine Li was already depressed from just a few frown lines around her eyes—the Emperor’s suffering was far worse than that. He had tinnitus, blurred vision, pain in his limbs, and more…sick and troubled, It was these things that had greatly contributed to the old Emperor losing his sense of security. He was in a constant state of panic that the young and promising Crown Prince would seize his throne.
But now, he was unexpectedly given the opportunity to restore his youth. Surely this must be Heaven’s gift; a sign that God wanted him to continue ruling?
Concubine Li had already come out of the water. Emperor Xuan Cheng smiled at her, opened the medicine box, took a large sip of water, and then swallowed the fragrant brown pill.
When she saw that Emperor Xuan Cheng had taken the pill, Concubine Li hurried to make him comfortable, and then told him, “Your Majesty the Emperor, when the pill is first swallowed, the taste is good, but after taking it the body will start to heat up, and you’ll sweat profusely, it could last for a while…”
“Thud!” Before Concubine Li could finish speaking her last words, she was shocked into a complete silence.
Emperor Xuan Cheng, who had just taken the pill, had gone completely stiff and then collapsed backwards. He landed hard on the ground; his eyes were both wide open, he was foaming at the mouth, and his body twitched unceasingly.
Concubine Li was completely dumbfounded, and it was in that moment a figure entered the yard. She managed to snap out of it, and her first thought was to kill the intruder to prevent them from divulging the secret of what had happened. When she took a closer look, she realized that it was actually her son, Rongxiang.
Rongxiang came in, and began to speak, “Father Emperor, I, your son and servant am here to…”
Before he could even speak the words he had planned, he discovered that something was wrong, and suddenly turned pale.
Concubine Li heard Rongxiangs’ words, and her heart plummeted to the depths. She was finished—finished!
In almost the next instant came the sound of neat and orderly footsteps, the clanking sounds of armour knocking together, and the crisp percussion of weapons striking the ground. Within a moment, the Imperial Guard had entered the hot spring area of the palace and surrounded them.
Concubine Li was, once again, rendered foolish. She, Rongxiang, and the poisoned emperor…the three of them being in the same location meant that the cause for arrest would be ready-made. Even though it had no connection to her, at this moment it was not clear, and the medicine that was taken by the Emperor had come from her…
Her body felt like it was falling into an ice cellar. She did not know until now that she had fallen into an abyss where they could lose their very lives.
At this moment, the military moved. Instead of stepping forward and arresting them, they separated from the middle, left a passage, and stood respectfully in saluting positions.
Concubine Li stiffly shifted her line of sight, and watched as a figure clad in dark armor gradually approached.
He wore a black coat, as well as matching black pants, all made of exquisite silk with red embroidery. He was like a scarlet bird ready to take off, and even the crown on his head could not stop the momentum of his whole body. His looks were mediocre, but his deep, black eyes were filled with a breathtaking and terrifying strength.
Crown Prince Rongcheng.
Concubine Li never knew that the Crown Prince that she had looked down upon so much actually had such mettle. Closely linked together, his plan was so well-structured and meticulous, holding her soul, hooking her by her desires, and luring her step-by-step into hell until she was beyond redemption.
Qin Mo looked at Concubine Li and smiled with ridicule. Afterwards, he removed his gaze, acting as if he had no intention of wasting time on a corpse.
He looked at the poisoned Emperor Xuan Cheng, and immediately ordered, “Imperial Physician, quickly give Father Emperor a diagnosis and treatment,” then he turned around and looked at Rongxiang, and spoke again “Murdering your father in the pursuit of power, arrest this traitor who ignored the bonds of family. “
Rongxiang instantly sobered up, and began struggling and begging for mercy. However, his voice was cut off as his mouth was covered with a thick strip of fabric. Finally, he could only bitterly glare at Rongcheng, filled with bitter remorse and hatred down to his bones.
The Imperial Physician had been taking Emperor Xuan Cheng’s pulse during this time. Suddenly, his face whitened like paper, and he threw himself onto his knees, “Your Highness, the Emperor, the Emperor…has passed away.”
The Crown Prince stood watch beside the Emperor’s body, his face full of grief and remorse, “Father Emperor, your son arrived too late!”
Some Ministers who were stationed nearby heard the news from the eunuchs; they all rushed over, kneeled down and cried.
In a full half hour later, someone finally stepped forward, kowtowed, and staid, “Your Highness, the late Emperor is already gone. The responsibility of the throne must now pass onto your shoulders, you must not be too sad.”
The Crown Prince was still grieving. Emperor Xuan Cheng had only just passed away; it seemed like his sorrows would be endless.
At this time, there were ministers who moved out of the line, kowtowing, and speaking, “This country cannot be one day without a ruler. This world will not tolerate a temporary ruler. Please, Your Royal Highness, heaven and earth desires it, inherit the First Emperor’s Will, ascend the throne, become Emperor.”
Then, all of the ministers present kotowed, and they shouted, “Long live the Emperor!”
In the midst of this loud shouting, Qin Mo was brought back to the system space. Shi Qing had not yet recovered, and was still immersed in the reversal of the final climax. In a sense, the Crown Prince did kill the old Emperor, but, in the eyes of all, he was innocent. However, he could no longer be considered innocent…
An ice-cold query broke into Shi Qing’s train of thoughts, “Is the task considered completed?”
Shi Qing immediately regained his composure, and answered “Successful completion, reward of 1000 points. Due to time-limited nature of tasks, and completion four days in advance, an additional reward of four hundred points will be awarded.”
When he finished speaking, Shi Qing was very excited. What a good day, our task actually received 1400 points, and that means that the system receives 700 points. Great!
He could not help but exclaim, “Qin Mo, you are too powerful! They were throwing themselves around for only one medicinal pill.”
Qin Mo stroked the jade pendant in his hands, once again indulging in his new habit, and softly said, “Not a medicinal pill.”
Shi Qing was perplexed, so he looked up at Qin Mo, just in time to see his mouth slightly curved, exposing an unidentifiable smile, “It was desire.”
I said this after my last chapter of PUP, but I will be working on chapter 9 right away before I go back to PUP again, so expect a [slightly] shorter delay. Probably. Whew, this was a long one.
I know it was a little awkward, but I opted to try to echo the very formal way of addressing the Emperor. It was only for a short time, since this was a short arc. Unfortunately it’s hard to convey in English. I might outline, in the table of contents for this novel, the length of each arc—for those who are curious.
- I think, when he talks about having the emperor’s seal it could be two things. Either literal, because she’s the Empress and mother of the heir she has his seal, or figurative, because she’s the Empress and mother of the heir she has his ‘seal of approval’…or something. I don’t feel like talking more about it, but I hope you get what I mean.
- Cold Palace: usually when this shows up in novels with similar settings, it is a place where concubines are banished to for either wrongdoings or falling out of favour
- Regicide: the killing of a king [monarch]