Translated by Shiny
41. Court Assembly
Originally, the Nation of Jin was just a small border state. It was only in the hands of Cheng Qianyu and Cheng Qianye’s father, Marquis Jin Wei, that it had risen to prominence. Hence, even the monarch’s palace wasn’t excessively luxurious and just a bit more impressive than others, nothing more.
Under the palace wall, there were several young palace maids playing a game of tossing sachets in a brief moment of leisure. The small sachet flew through the air in an arc and got caught on a branch from the osmanthus tree amid a silvery exclamation of “Ah!”
The palace maids dressed in qu yuan1 robes clustered around beneath the sturdy osmanthus tree and looked up at the sachet hanging on the branch.
“What should we do?”
“It’s too high up, we can’t reach it.”
A man dressed in black lightly kicked the tree trunk with his foot, shaking the tree and causing the sachet to fall down.
The palace maids picked up the sachet and turned to look at the back of the young figure who had already walked a distance away and began gossiping quietly.
“Look, that’s him.”
“My Lord’s new darling? I heard he’s a slave? He doesn’t look as good as Xiao Xiu or Lu Yao.”
“I think he’s quite handsome. Tall, cold and aloof, like a lone wolf. That must be how he captivated My Lord.”
Mo Qiao Sheng went to the bedroom where Cheng Qianye was and knelt down in salute.
Cheng Qianye was passionately writing up an official document as she said without looking up, “Get up, I got a small bed in here for you, you can sleep there at night.”
Mo Qiao Sheng didn’t get up, simply lifting up his head and calling out softly, “Master.”
“What is it?” Cheng Qianye stopped writing and lifted up her head to look at him.
“I…..” Mo Qiao Sheng avoided her gaze for a moment. “This is the harem.”
“Are you afraid that others might criticize you?”
“No!” Mo Qiao Sheng lifted up his head. “I’m afraid that it might damage Master’s reputation.”
Cheng Qianye laughed and looked down, continuing to write again. “My reputation is like that anyway, Xiao Xiu also used to stay here before.”
“After coming back this time, I have a lot of important and difficult issues to handle. With you protecting me by my side, I feel more at ease.”
Cheng Qianye put down her writing brush and beckoned to him, “Come here.”
Mo Qiao Sheng went over to the desk and Cheng Qianye showed him the scroll she had just written on.
“In every war, every soldier can gain military merits. Those who can get one head can eliminate their status as slaves.”
Reading this sentence softly, Mo Qiao Sheng was unable to help himself from extending a finger and pressing it against the neat handwriting. His finger quivered as his heartbeat sped up, slamming against his chest.
“Are you happy? This is for you, and for all the other slaves like you.”
Mo Qiao Sheng looked at that figure standing with the official document in front of him.
That person’s eyes were shining with light as his warm voice spoke softly. Like kindling a charcoal fire, every word he spoke seemed to land one by one, igniting his smouldering heart.
“Qiao Sheng, I loathe this perverted system from the bottom of my heart.” Cheng Qianye gazed fixedly at the table. “I am determined to abolish it.”
“I have always wanted to get rid of your status as a slave and eradicate slavery. However, this isn’t something easy to accomplish. These aristocratic families have twisted roots and gnarled branches.2 This matter which violates their interests is not at all easy to deal with.”
“Let’s take things easily. First, we’ll use this military merit and peerage system and start with this war away from the capital and slowly break through this solidified caste system.”
Cheng Qianye spread open her fair and beautiful fingers. “Our Jin Nation is only so big now. If our army grows and our territory expands with our new policy maturing day by day, we can turn around to clean up these old fogeys from here, and at that time, they won’t be able to do anything to me.”
Mo Qiao Sheng’s slender finger gently streaked across the twenty ranks of nobility written on the scroll; Officer, Higher Officer, Noble Officer, Grand Officer…. Great General, Marquis Within the Passes, All-Penetrating Marquis.3
Cheng Qianye stood beside him. “Qiao Sheng, look, primary officers can receive a field and a small house. Guaranteed a basic life. The higher you rise, the more your rewards. But the higher the rank, the harder it becomes to advance.”
Mo Qiao Sheng’s finger glided over the words, finally halting on the last rank, “All-Penetrating Marquis”, and pressing down hard.
He pursed his lips.
Cheng Qianye knew what he was thinking even without words.
She said softly in her mind, If you can get this rank of All-Penetrating Marquis one day, I will definitely bestow you with the title of Generalissimo. Stand shoulder-to-shoulder with me, sweep away all the corruption and injustice as we look over the world with majesty!
Concubine Xu and several maidservants went to Cheng Qianye’s bedroom with a bowl of bird’s nest porridge.
She felt somewhat nervous knowing that this person wasn’t actually her husband, but her sister-in-law, yet she had no choice but to assume an intimate appearance for others to see.
“Madam, look.” A maidservant standing behind her whispered softly.
Concubine Xu lifted up her eyes and looked. From their point of view, they could see a dark figure squatting within the shadows of the pillars outside the palace hall.
“It’s that man, My Lord’s….” Another maidservant said quietly.
“Is he crying?”
“My Lord is more and more overbearing, bullying people to tears.”
“After My Lord came back this time, he isn’t the same as he was before. I feel a little scared when I see him now.”
“This is forbidden, you mustn’t have discussions about Lord Husband in secret.” Concubine Xu turned back and reprimanded them under her breath.
She led the crowd and walked in front of the entrance, waiting respectfully for the doormen to announce her arrival.
Cheng Qianye was very kind and gentle to her. She let her have a seat before inquiring about her health.
Not long later, Mo Qiao Sheng came back into the palace hall and stood behind Cheng Qianye, his eyes slightly red.
Concubine Xu couldn’t help glancing at him several times.
They say that this man is the Princess’ male…. male pet. I don’t know how Princess treats him. Would Princess be unhappy with me coming over here like this?”
Cheng Qianye smiled and before everyone’s eyes, she suddenly took Mo Qiao Sheng’s hand and pulled him towards the table, firmly holding onto him.
Mo Qiao Sheng’s face instantly flushed red and everyone in the room bowed their heads.
“Is there something troubling my Beloved Concubine? Speak freely. I will definitely help you to the best of my ability. You are pregnant now and you must be peaceful, you cannot be so anxious as you are now.”
This delicate and gentle woman in front of her with the soft yellow lustre, why was her heart flooded with such deep black fear and anxiety?
“Hus…. Why does Husband say such words?” Concubine Xu sprung up to her feet in terror. “It is my great fortune to be able to give birth to Lin’er for my Husband.”
She fiddled with the handkerchief in her hand and tenderly stroked her bulging belly. “As long as this child can be born safely, there will be nothing for me to worry about.”
Cheng Qianye rubbed her fingers together. As soon as she had arrived in this world, she had gone to the battlefield and mingled with men. She was completely unable to comprehend the twists and turns between these harem women from the ancient times.
Nevertheless, she couldn’t bear to see a woman who was one the verge of giving birth in such a terrified state. She pondered for a moment before saying, “Do this, move over to Chao Wu Hall next to my place tomorrow. Set your mind at ease and wait for labour. If you need anything, send someone to look for me.”
Concubine Xu bit her lip and endured the tears welling up in the corner of her eyes. She crouched down and bowed gratefully before walking out of the hall.
The next day, the courtiers assembled at the main hall.
Cheng Qianye proposed to dispatch troops to reinforce Bianzhou.
One of the Three Excellencies; Wei Sibu stood up and spoke in a slow and orderly way, “Your Majesty is facing the land under heaven, ruling by virtue, and the people are living in contentment. This one had not thought that we would meet with war during this one’s life, but now, this one is hearing that Your Majesty wants to send reinforcements to Bianzhou. In Chen’s4 view, Your Majesty’s security is the most important thing.”
The head of the Nine Ministers; Feng Chang Zhao seconded his counsel and said, “Our Great Jin did not advance the previous year as the livelihood of the people hadn’t recovered from the locust plague from the year before the last year. The common people have been saved due to Your Majesty’s grace. Sending troops and resources such a long distance to Bianzhou now, they will have to travel through deep forests or the turbulent waterways. Even without joining the war, those passing away from illness would be endless. Your Majesty looks upon the world with benevolence and certainly would not be able to bear to see the valiant soldiers dying like this. In Chen’s view, Your Majesty’s security is the most important thing.”
The internal envoy from Zhili; Han Qianju said, “Nowadays, the hearts of the people from our Great Jin have acclimatized and the borders are secure. My Lord stands high at the top of the imperial court, so why go to Bianzhou, a place surrounded by big powers and constantly plagued by the disasters of war? It is simply a waste of resources. According to this Minister’s judgement, it is best to have Minister Xiao return as soon as possible.”
They all talked uproariously. In a word, they were all against sending reinforcements.
When the voices gradually subsided, they suddenly heard a cold snort.
Everyone turned around to see that it was Zhang Fu who had been the number one advisor for the old Marquis Jin Wei. Zhang Fu shook his sleeves and said, “You gentlemen cherish your feathers, only thinking about the fact that Bianzhou has been constantly embroiled in the flames of war with big powers on all sides, so you are unwilling to set food inside. Isn’t our Nation of Jin also surrounded by big powers? Have you ever considered what would happen in the case that My Lord abandons Bianzhou and allows the Quanrong to capture Bianzhou and destroy Li Wenguang? Who do you think their next target would be?”
Zhang Fu brandished his sleeve. “They will either go south and deal with the states of Song and Wei, or come north and point their finger straight at our Jin Nation!”
Wei Sibu replied, “Zhang Gong’s5 words are incorrect. To govern a nation, one must establish the government with propriety, treat the people with benevolence and have a friendly relationship with one’s neighbors. This way, the nation will be as steady as a rock and even if there are violent countries, there is nothing to be afraid of!”
Zhang Fu sneered and said, “Later on, when the Quanrong come to attack our city walls, why don’t we request Official Wei to meet them at the city gates and employ this set of etiquette and test out whether you can persuade them to retreat!”
Wei Sibu’s face flushed red with anger and he pointed his finger at Zhang Fu. “You…. You…..”
Official Helan Yanzhi stepped forward and respectfully cupped his fists together. “Zhang Gong speaks rationally. In Chen’s opinion, Bianzhou is the territory of our Great Jin and we cannot surrender it submissively for nothing.”
Imperial Censor Shentu You, who was relatives with Helan Yanzhi through marriage, stepped forward and supported his in-law.
For a moment, the main hall was filled with endless discord.
The Supreme Commander of the army, Minister Wu Mian, bowed to Cheng Qianye who was sitting down quietly on the throne said, “My Lord, if we are to send troops in support to Bianzhou, we will have to dispatch the imperative soldiers who are guarding our frontiers. There are no troops that we can send in such haste, no?”
The hall was filled with silence for a moment and numerous gazes converged on Cheng Qianye.
Helan Yanzhi took the lead and said, “We can allocate 8000 soldiers from our Helan family’s fiefdom to aid in My Lord’s mission.”
The rest of the ministers remained silent.
Cheng Qianye tapped the armrest with a finger and did not respond for a moment before opening her mouth to directly proclaim her decision.
“I have made up my mind, we will dispatch 50,000 slaves as soldiers in cooperation with the 8000 soldiers from the Helan family to Bianzhou.”
“In addition, from this day forth, we will announce to the whole nation that for every war, we will carry out the new policy of the military merit and peerage system.”
“Zhang Fu will take over Zhili’s internal envoy, Han Qianju’s post and manage the affairs regarding the military supplies.”
1. Err, I dun really know how to describe or name this in english. Picture of the style below.↩
2. (盘根错节 – pán gēn cuò jié) – Idiom; complicated and difficult to deal with.↩
3. Oof, these titles were super hard to translate. During the warring states era, they came up with a military merit system where they bestowed soldiers with noble titles according to their contributions, with a total of twenty ranks. The lowest rank is just above that of a commoner while the highest rank, All-Penetrating Marquis is below the monarch. Like a prime minister or smth. Cheng Qianye and the rest of the feudal lords hold titles such as Marquis, Duke, King and Prince but these titles are different as they are considered monarchs. The warring states period pretty much started with the end of the then royal family after which several dukes, princes and the like split up and started ruling over their territories independently, thus retaining those titles. Their rank is pretty much like emperor, but their current territories and power aren’t big enough for them to actually use that title as of yet.↩
4. (臣 – Chen) – This Official/Subject/Minister / I, Your Servant [Form of self-address used when speaking to a sovereign.]↩
5. (公 – Gong) – A respectful designation for an elder / A respectful salutation.↩
TL Note: *cough cough* I’m back… But good news~ We’re back to daily updates yaaay~ As always, thanks and I’m sorry…. <3