by Qing Lu
Translated by Grenn
Chapter 24 – The Emperor arrived
“No need to greet and welcome us!” The door was pushed open suddenly, following that, came an impetuous, overbearing and majestic manly voice. Almost at the same time, inside the 500 meters room still brightly lit by candles, Mo Bai lightly flapped his sleeve and, unexpectedly, what remained was a weak candle light, the rest of the candles were all extinguish.
Zhuo Qing was pushed towards the screen by Mo Bai. She didn’t manage to react and still had the tray carrying the medicine in her hands. Hasty and urgent footsteps could be heard. Zhuo Qing lifted her eyes and only saw a lofty figure swiftly walked in. The man had his back turned to Zhuo Qing since he arrived, so she couldn’t see his appearance. She only saw his dark grey and long gown with dragons and auspicious clouds embroidered with golden threads on his cuffs. The simplicity of it brought out the feeling of luxury to it greatest and, at the same time, it highlighted his domineering and respectable grandeur.
The man entered through the doors. He saw Lou Xiyan sitting with his back half leaning on the cushions. His complexion dropped and he roared in a low voice, “You lie down properly. What are you doing sitting like that?!”
“Where’s the imperial physician?” In such a big room, only Mo Bai and a maid could be seen. The man immediately flipped out, “He doesn’t want to live or something? To run somewhere else at this moment?!”
Zhuo Qing lightly covered her ears. This was the so-called aura of the sovereign king, the royal appearance?! This Emperor’s temperament appeared not very good. She still knew her place compared to before. She lowered her head and closed her eyes, regaining her composure.
Lou Xiyan lightly stroked his forehead and laughed in a low voice, “I just drank my medicine and I’m already a bit better. But, your shoutings is making my head hurts!” Not only was his temper bad, but his voice was also loud!
She opened her eyes to look at Yang Hongtian. Yang Hongtian snorted coldly. “You can’t differentiate good from bad. Once I heard you were ill, I came here without stopping to rest. You collapse so easily!” In the whole Qiong Yue, perhaps, even among the six countries on the continent, only Lou Xiyan would dare to speak to him like this.
Lou Xiyan immediately straighten his sitting position, he cupped his fists and sternly replied, “This subject is terrified. I don’t dare to trouble you to console this subject.”
“Lou… Xi… Yan!”
Lou Xiyan lightly raised his eyebrows as Yang Hongtian’s eyes sligthly narrowed. The two of them look at each other face to face. Zhuo Qing inwardly guessed that their relationship as ruler and subject was truly unconventional, following next, they couldn’t be having a fight. Unfortunately, she was disappointed as she saw Yang Hongtian sat down on the bed. Lou Xiyan’s complexion was indeed gradually better. He softly asked, “Are you satisfied with the present I gave you?”
“What present?” Lou Xiyan was astonished!
“Ah, her…” He lifted his eyes and looked across Yang Hongtian’s shoulders. He glanced at Zhuo Qing who was standing behind, very docile and well-behaved. He lightly smiled and replied, “Very satisfied.”
‘Very satisfied? But Xiyan seldom gives that kind evaluation to a woman.’ “Did you enjoy her?”
Was she pork chops to be eaten?! What did he think women were?! Zhuo Qing’s head was filled with black lines…
Zhuo Qing’s gloomy appearance amused Lou Xiyan. Lou Xiyan changed the subject by lightly coughing. “Koff, koff, koff…”
“What, you’re still coughing!” Yang Hongtian frowned and gently patted Lou Xiyan’s back. “You are not young anymore. You should have a first wife. It would be good for your Lou family as there will be someone to keep the incense burning in front of the temple! About the matter with you and Xuan’er…”
Lou Xiyan didn’t wait for Yang Hongtian to finish speaking. He softly sighed and replied, “With my half dead appearance, who followed me will suffer. The matter about the first wife isn’t a priority.”
Lou Xiyan merely said what he wished to say which attracted Yang Hongtian’s anger. “Don’t talk nonsense! Xuan’er is able to follow you and it’s also her blessing. You don’t seem to like Xuan’er, but you still need to choose a wife.”
Unable to accept the words, Lou Xiyan found an excuse to change the subject. “Bei Qi and Di Nu are in constant war all year long. This time, Bei Qi is coming to Qiong Yue to make the customary deferences to us. From what I see, they are coming to ask for help.”
“An easy fight! Bei Qi wanted Qiong Yue to undertake this task. I want to see what they are willing to pay as a price for our help. You don’t need to trouble yourself with this matter.” Knowing that Lou Xiyan was unwilling to talk about the matter with Xuan’er, Yang Hongtian also didn’t pressure him. In the whole world, he could compel anyone, except for one person, Xiyan. He gently patted Lou Xiyan’s shoulder, then got up and continued, “Take a good rest. Take care of your health properly. I’m going first. You don’t need to go to court for the next few days.”
Yang Hongtian headed towards the screen. Suddenly, he halted as he had a glimpse of a maid in the inner corner. There was only Mo Bai beside Xiyan, when was there any maid? That woman had her head lowered from the start. Yang Hongtian also didn’t examine her carefully before he left.
Zhuo Qing secretly sighed. ‘That man’s attacking nature is really strong.’ Earlier, he merely swept a glance at her and she already felt his black eyes producing a ruthless and tyrannical aura.
After confirming that Yang Hongtian left, Zhuo Qing immediately put down the tray in her hands. Lou Xiyan thought she would ask about some questions, but he didn’t expect she didn’t ask anything, instead, she hurriedly walked towards the outside doors. Lou Xiyan rapidly asked, “Where are you going?”
Zhuo Qing didn’t turn her head. She only murmured some words. “Finding something to eat.”
Lou Xiyan stared blankly for a good moment before he recovered his spirit. He didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. She went out in a rush as if fire was burning behind her just to go find something to eat?!
A while after Zhuo Qing left, Jing Sa lightly pushed the door and entered. In his hand, he was holding a picture scroll. He stood next to the screen and said in a soft voice, “Master, the investigation has been complete.”
Following his words, a exhausted groan came out from the bedroom. “Come in and tell me the details.”
Jing Sa entered the bedroom. Next, he unfolded the picture scroll while he explained, “The Qing sisters have long enjoyed a good reputation. Many person in the Capital are collecting their picture scrolls. This splendid painting is from last year poetry gathering where the three Qing sisters were composing poems.” On the picture scroll, there were three women standing in front of a short table. The woman in blue clothes was holding in one hand a cattail-leaf fan and her other hand was grinding an ink stone. The posture was graceful and the smile was elegant. In the middle of the picture, there was a purple clothed woman properly taking the pen, desirous to write something. Her eyes that were rising upward was full of confidence. Behind her, there was another figure, a petite green clothed woman, with her hand holding a handkerchief. On her face, there was a soft smile. She was a delicate and charming person. Three people with three different kinds of bearing with each of them having an immortal beauty and wonderful appearance. It was merely a picture, but it already made people unable to stop from looking.
Looking by the appearance, the woman in the middle should be Qing Feng. In the picture she posed as a noble and virtuous woman, with a dainty appearance. In reality, she was wild, intractable and icily arrogant. He looked at the smile of the flowery woman in the painting turned into a nightmare. Lou Xiyan’s complexion became increasingly ice-cold. In a calm voice that brought a chill, he asked, “Who hurted her face?”
Jing Sa and Mo Bai looked at each other. In the end, they erased the extremely small trace of astonishment in their eyes. Their master who always enjoyed not showing his feelings, he seemed excessively stirred up today. Their thoughts were somewhat correct. Jing Sa slightly lowered his head and said the truth, “She did it to herself. The three Miss from the Qing family didn’t wish to be delivered to Qiong Yue as gifts. Hao Yue’s king arrested their parents to threaten them. Unexpectedly, their parents died in prison for unknown reasons before they set off on their journey. They disfigured their face and, previously, tried to suicide by hanging, but they didn’t succeed. They were saved and were directly deliver to Qiong Yue.
‘Suicide?’ He didn’t believe Qing Feng would suicide. From what he saw of her, if this cool-headed and arrogant woman was to encounter such a problem, she would certainly not choose to kill herself! He reckoned something and asked, “What others features do the Qing sisters have?”
“Madam Qing was Hao Yue’s famous tattoo master. In Hao Yue, almost all the nobles’ daughters around the age of 15 would invite Madam Qing with the intention of getting a floral tattoo between their eyebrows. At one-month old, the three Qing sisters had their name inscribed on their body by Madam Qing. Therefore, if she was really Qing Feng, the name “Feng” should be inscribed on her body.”
“Finding the name “Feng” being bestowed on her body is quite simple.” Mo Bai frowned. Regarding that distinctive feature, Jing Sa could search for it. It was the same for other people, they could search for it.
Jing Sa shook his head and firmly replied, “That distinctive feature, only the Qing sisters have it. It is said that Madam Qing had an ultimate skill that can make the name on their body invisible in normal times. It will only appear depending on their mood, excitement or when their temperature rise. She only used that skill on her daughters’ body.”
“Find an opportunity to check if the name “Feng” appear on her body.” This woman’s behaviour and bearing were completely different from a normal person. At the very least he need to confirm if she is Qing Feng or not.
Jing Sa’s was stiff and didn’t replied for a long time. Lou Xiyan felt something was peculiar with Jing Sa. He asked in a soft tone, “Where is the tattoo?”
“On the chest…”
 In the raws, 贵族千金在及竿之时 (guì zú qiān jīn zài jí gān zhī shí) was used. 贵族 can easily be found in dictionary as nobility/aristocrats. 千金 doesn’t referred to 1000 pounds of gold this time, but to daughter. Now, here come the main interest of this foot note, 及竿 (jí gān). It was an error of character which took me a while before finding the correct translation. Instead, it should be 及笄 (jí jī).
In ancient China, there is a form to address people by their age group and gender and 及笄 referred to 15-years-old girls. Whereas, 束发 (shùfà) referred to 15-years-old boy. If you read Chinese, you can read the details here.