Chapter 126.1 – Zhou Ling Long
December 30, 27th Year of Emperor Chong Ming
There was only one month left before the Chinese New Year. During this time, An Zi Ran only received one letter from Jun Zi City. Head Steward Fu had penned the letter, and it reported the situation of the little bun and the laowangye*. The gambling house’s business was only mentioned in a few simple sentences, which evidently meant that nothing big had happened.
[*T/N: Reminder, the laowangye is Fu Wu Tian’s grandfather]
However, news that Fu Yuan Fan was keeping an eye on Tian Long Gambling House has spread.
After An Zi Ran and Fu Wu Tian left Jun Zi City, Fu Yuan Jian came around looking to cause trouble with Tian Long Gambling House, but he did not gain anything from doing so. Fu Yuan Fan was still a prince after all. Although Fu Yuan Jian was backed by the Zhao family, he did not dare to cause too much of a scene, and in the end, the matter was settled by leaving it unsettled.
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But this was only one of the reasons. In fact, there was another more important reason.
A problem had occurred in the harem.
Emperor Chong Ming’s beloved Yan-fei* caused a huge wave in the harem.
[*T/N: Reminder, Yan-fei was the beauty that made the emperor go crazy for her for a whole month, which was unprecedented due to the emperor’s lascivious nature. Yan 艳 should be the title conferred to her by the emperor, which means “colorful / splendid” and fei 妃 is the suffix for “imperial concubine.”]
Relying on Emperor Chong Ming’s favor, she straightforwardly challenged several of the most respected imperial concubines in the harem. Furthermore, Fu Yuan Jian’s mother, Yun-fei, was the first one to get implicated.
Yun-fei was born in a military family, and she inherited her father Zhao Gang’s direct, upright, and unyielding character. This kind of character was Emperor Chong Ming’s least favorite, but because he needed her father, Emperor Chong Ming was still considered polite to Yun-fei. The two have always treated each other respectfully, and there were seldom any disagreements between them.
This was up until Yan-fei challenged Yun-fei, and Emperor Chong Ming actually disregarded Zhao Gang’s face* and rebuked Yun-fei in public. Furthermore, he restricted her and ordered her not to leave the Qin Palace for two months. For the emperor to so openly side with Yan-fei, this caused a great disturbance in the harem.
[*T/N: The Chinese concept of “face” encompasses honor, dignity, reputation, respect, etc.]
Fu Yuan Jian was worried about his mother, so he did not dare to cause any trouble during this time.
Therefore, Emperor Chong Ming could not be bothered to pay attention to Fu Wu Tian’s whereabouts. For the sake of a beautiful concubine, he had pushed himself onto the top of a crashing wave.
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But everyone was also very curious about how Yan-fei was able to make the emperor so crazy for her.
Emperor Chong Ming loved beauties, so the more beautiful a woman was the more likely she was to attract his attention. However, even though Yan-fei was a beauty, her appearance was definitely not the best amongst the many beauties in the harem. As a matter of fact, her looks probably ranked somewhere in the middle or lower. But she was able to get the emperor to make so many exceptions for her, and he even punished Yun-fei, one of the Four Concubines, for her.
“Wangye, what kind of person do you reckon this Yan-fei is?”
The two were strolling slowly through Bailian Xiang, when An Zi Ran suddenly thought of the news that second uncle had sent, and he became curious about this Yan-fei.
Fu Wu Tian crossed his arms behind his back and gazed out into the fields with his dark eyes, “What kind of person is she, this prince does not know, but there must be some mystery behind this person.”
An Zi Ran arched an eyebrow, unsurprised.
Even someone who was not very familiar with Emperor Chong Ming could see that there was something weird about the whole thing, so for someone who was close to the emperor, Fu Wu Tian could certainly see it. It was just that he could not understand what methods the other party used.
“The women in the harem are full of tricks, but no matter how novel the woman, Emperor Chong Ming should have already seen a lot.”
“Regardless of what methods she used, the more chaotic the imperial family gets, the better it will be for us.” A strange light seemed to flash across Fu Wu Tian’s eyes, like he was looking forward to the future.
An Zi Ran noticed and abruptly chuckled.
That’s right. Although they didn’t know the reason, the longer this situation persisted, the better it would be for them. By the time they publicize the production of cotton, it would be too late for the other side to react.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
The two of them walked as they talked, and they soon came to Landlord Zhou’s neighborhood without realizing it.
Landlord Zhou lived in a courtyard. The area of the courtyard was only about half the size of Xu Manor, but it was even more austere than Xu Manor.
[*T/N: 庄院 zhuang yuan – 庄 refers to the holdings of a landlord in imperial China. 院 is a courtyard.]
An Zi Ran and Fu Wu Tian did not approach the courtyard, and they were about to make a detour when the conversation between two peasant women not too far away caught their attention.
“Have you heard, yesterday a bunch of people resigned from working for Landlord Zhou again.”
“Of course I’ve heard. My son had already quit his job half a month ago. At that time, Landlord Zhou refused to let him go, saying that if he resigned, he would not give him his salary.”
“Pei, what a monster!”
[T/N: pei – to spit in contempt]
“If it were before, then it’s definitely impossible for us to just let things go, but now it’s all good. The salary from the Imperial Fu Palace is more than double that of Landlord Zhou’s, and my son can also receive one month’s worth of salary and food in advance. Our family doesn’t have to care about those few copper coins anymore. If anything, we can just think of it as giving to charity. I really want to see what Landlord Zhou will do without any workers to tend his fields.”
“Landlord Zhou must be anxiously spinning around in circles right now.”
“Then let him spin. Who told him to sell his younger sister in exchange for glory? Now, retribution has finally come.”