Chapter 64: Swiftly Rising to Fame
The day, in which Ling Xiao would receive his title, has arrived quickly.
The Emperor had sent Ling Xiao’s ceremonial robe beforehand together with many of the rare treasures in the palace. Many people were discussing about the Emperor’s action of sending such valuable things to him.
There was no lack of people who praised Ling Xiao for it, to try and curry favor. Yet, it was also true that the Emperor really was acting extremely doting toward Ling Xiao.
Ling Xiao could also tell how much the Emperor really liked to visit him.
Ever since Ling Xiao returned to the palace, besides the time used to deal with government affairs, the Emperor would spend the rest together with Ling Xiao in his courtyard.
The Emperor apparently planned to stay for a long term, as he slowly moved his apparatus for work and belongings over, one by one.
Today was finally the day in which he was conferred the title of King Consort. As the main character of today’s event, he had been woken up by the maids at dawn.
Still in a daze, his face was washed and his mouth was rinsed. After eating a bit of congee, a thick ceremonial robe was worn on him and then he was pushed into a sedan chair.
In this world, men were regarded as superior to women.
As such, the male consort ceremony was grander compared to a woman’s.
Once a man is fancied by the Emperor and if the latter decided to confer him a title, then, no matter what was the man’s rank before, a consort ceremony would always be held for him.
It was essential for the court’s civil and military officials to witness the ceremony in which one was conferred a title. After all, the Emperor would usually grant the male consort some political power during the celebration.
The power given could be great, insignificant or even dispensable, as it all depended on the Emperor’s will.
On the other hand, a woman would never obtain political power. At most, she can become the Empress, who will only supervise the harem, without interfering in politics.
A male consort is special and different, and has caused the sovereigns of Mu Country to use extreme caution when conferring the title.
Many of the men, who were fancied by an Emperor, still had a very hard time trying to become a consort in their lifetime. Most of the male lovers failed and remind in the palace to attend to the Emperor. They were known as ‘Xiang Gentleman’.
Ling Xiao’s current title, ’King Consort’, was almost the same as ‘Imperial Concubine’.
In this Empress-less palace, he was considered the one ranked the highest.
However, even if his rank was the highest, as long as the authority to supervise the harem remains in Concubine Xian’s hand, then he would never surpass her.
But even so, everyone else already knew that it was of no importance, since he was already the Emperor’s absolute favorite.
When Ling Xiao was still only an eunuch servant, hearing about the Emperor’s intent on making him the King Consort, had stunned him.
‘The Emperor would make him a consort’ was that hard to believe in!
Afterwards, Ling Xiao understood.
Although the Emperor was making him a consort, he would not give him any political power whatsoever!
The Emperor was showing him affection while also keeping him in the palm of his hand, not allowing him to ever leave his side.
As he reached that conclusion, Ling Xiao also knew already…
No matter how grand the conferring celebration was this time, the Emperor would not grant him power.
Since Ling Xiao already thought it will be so, he was rather indifferent to the whole ceremony business.
He was only a puppet being used in a performance for the people.
When he reached the scene, all the officials were already there.
In the great hall, the Emperor sat on his golden Dragon Throne, wearing a golden dragon robe. An intimidating dragon power was emitted from his entire body. All the while civil and military officials stood on his left and right, leaving a single path in the middle that had a sumptuous red carpet spread on the ground.
Ling Xiao was led by his arm to enter. Everyone within knelt and respectfully and loyally called out, “Long Live King Consort!”
The tone of that call completely woke up Ling Xiao, who was still muddle-headed from just getting out of bed.
His eyes widen in surprise and he looked around. He did not know most of the officials in the hall, yet among those he did know, one of them was Lan Wei.
He kept silent as he observed the scene and stepped onto the beautiful red carpet, walking step by step carefully to the Emperor.
He was wearing a ceremonial robe dyed entirely in red today, which thickly bounded him with three to four layers.
The layer on the very surface was a bright red shawl, embroidered with many flowers and dragged behind at least two meters long. Its borders were golden.
Inside was a gorgeous scarlet male skirt; the inner one was long while the outside one was sort, adding up to two layers.
The skirt was arranged to look like it had many more layers, and it made Ling Xiao’s body look rather slender.
The Emperor sat on the Dragon Throne and watched Ling Xiao approach, unable to take his eyes off. Though he originally loved it when Ling Xiao wore plain white clothing, now that he was dressed entirely in red, it looked very seductive.
The splendid red outlined his appearance, his soft eyes made him even prettier.
The Emperor’s gaze deepen as he watched Ling Xiao kneel before him. The latter then loudly shouted, “Long Live Your Majesty!”
His voice was slightly husky and carried a minor sex appeal, causing the Emperor’s eyes to darken. Without moving his gaze away, he waved his hand to the eunuch by the side, ordering him to read out loud an edict, which was already written long ago.
“Hear out His Royal Majesty’s imperial edict! Family name Ling, born Xiao. Bright and acute, possess high moral and multi talents. Both his integrity and capabilities has won Our heart. On this joyful day, he shall be conferred the title of ‘King Consort’ and due to his many abilities, shall also be giving the position of High Official of the Ministry of Works and its authority, which will give him the right to join Our court. The former Minister of Works, Liu Qing, will assist and obey him from this day onwards. We announce this to the world! Let it be known to all!”
High Official of the Ministry of Works?
Ling Xiao raised his head, utterly stunned at the announcement. His eyes met with the Emperor’s serene double pupils eyes, which cause his heart to suddenly beat faster. He quickly lowered his head, knelt on the ground and respectfully raised his hands to receive the imperial decree.
“Ling Xiao thanks Your Majesty for your grand grace! May Your Majesty live for many years!”
He did not know why, but when the edict solemnly landed in his hands, he felt as if he was burned by a sweet hot potato, causing him to jump a bit in alarm.
“Stand up.” The Emperor spoke.
Ling Xiao stood up and looked toward the man sitting on his throne, only to see the latter beckoning him to approach.
“……” Ling Xiao obediently held the edict and walked up the flight of steps, until he was in front of the Emperor.
The Emperor reached out and pulled Ling Xiao into his embrace. His eyes swept over the ministers, as he heavily said, “From hereafter, We will have no other King Consort. He will also have the highest authority in the High Official of the Ministry of Works as Our minister. You are all to treat him like you treat Us, understood?”
The moment those words came out, the entire court was in bewilderment.
Treating the King Consort the same way they treat the Emperor? Never before such a thing has happened in Mu Country! The Emperor is attaching too much importance to the newly appointed King Consort!
Some of the old officials of the court already had their mouths open, preparing to talk back.
However, not giving them the chance, the Emperor narrowed his eyes and spoke first, not allowing them any second thoughts.
“We are merely notifying you, not consulting with you all.”
“……” The entire court fell into silence. Satisfied, The Emperor raised an eyebrow. Then he had Ling Xiao sit with him on the Dragon Throne.
The golden Dragon Throne was very broad, on top of it was a soft pad so sitting on it was quite comfortable.
But to Ling Xiao, it was like sitting on pins and needles.
The Emperor was too strange today!
He is holding all the political power tightly and controlling the present conditions around him so well, yet how could he let a man with unknown origins like Ling Xiao, become his court official? And even treat him as an equal…
Ling Xiao frowned. He forced himself to smile as he listened to the Emperor and the other officials talk while his train of thought had long departed and is now far away.
That night, the Emperor arranged a banquet in the Imperial Garden.
As the main character of the event, Ling Xiao had to show up.
He didn’t know whether the Emperor did it intentionally or not, besides the current court officials, he has also invited Fu Yujun and his men to the banquet…
Right now, Fu Yujun was sitting below…
While Ling Xiao was sitting by the Emperor’s side, held in the latter’s arms.
Ling Xiao seamlessly sized him up and noticed that he was a lot thinner than before. Although his appearance had been fixed up a bit, his face was still very white and his cheeks sunken. He could see that the current him was not living too well.
Just when he thought so, he suddenly felt pain from his hand. Ling Xiao turned around, only to see that the Emperor was looking unhappily at him.
Ling Xiao swallowed down a cry in his throat. He struggled slightly, and said, “Your Majesty, you’re hurting me.”
“……” The Emperor relaxed his grip on Ling Xiao’s hand and pulled the other towards himself, so that Ling Xiao was now sitting even closer to him than before, as he asked, “Where were you… looking at just now?”
“Do you remember what We had said before? We are your man.”
Ling Xiao was stunned for a moment, then immediately understood what happened. He couldn’t help but find it funny, “Your Majesty, are you jealous right now?”
The Emperor raised an eyebrow, pulled Ling Xiao closer and did not let go.
Ling Xiao pursed his lips and softly said, “Your Majesty, from the very beginning to the very end, Ling Xiao did not have him in my heart.”
While speaking, Ling Xiao’s eyes showed how frank he was, as he faced the Emperor without evading him.
The Emperor’s eyes flashed brightly, and after a while, he finally released Ling Xiao. It appeared as if the Emperor has taken Ling Xiao’s words to heart.
Ling Xiao sighed in relief and did not dare to look at Fu Yujun again.
The banquet was planned to continue until a very late hour, however Ling Xiao was tired from the long day and couldn’t stay awake much longer. Therefore, he had asked the Emperor for permission to leave and then the Emperor told Xiao Lizi to lead him back first.
Ling Xiao quietly left the scene.
However, on the way back, he was stopped by Fu Yujun.
Fu Yujun called out to him, his tone full of happiness.
Ling Xiao stopped in his tracks and couldn’t help but frown.
With his current identity, meeting Fu Yujun wasn’t too good a thing and might cause trouble for Ling Xiao.
“King Consort.” Xiao Lizi somewhat warningly called out to Ling Xiao from behind him.
Ling Xiao turned to look at Xiao Lizi, then glanced at Fu Yujun who was rapidly approaching. After he thought for a bit, he clenched his teeth and then moved closer to Fu Yujun.
“King Consort?” Xiao Lizi frowned. He flung his horsetail whisk, then followed anxiously.
“Ling Xiao.” Fu Yujun looked at Ling Xiao who walked in front of him, his eyes gentle and emotional.
Ling Xiao paused, then retreated a step, “Call me ‘King Consort’, Shao Country’s Monarch.”
“……” Fu Yujun made a bitter smile, “Are you satirizing me? How could you not know how I obtained that title.”
“It doesn’t matter how you became a Monarch. There are many kinds of Monarchs out there and you are just one of them. You have the responsibilities and duties as one. You should have not come to see me, Fu Yujun.” Ling Xiao said as he frowned.
Fu Yujun grimaced in pain, “I know, but I couldn’t control myself.”
Ling Xiao blinked. There was nothing but complicated feeling surrendering the matter.
“Ling Xiao, I…”
“That is enough.” Ling Xiao interrupted Fu Yujun, preventing him from saying anymore words he couldn’t take back.
Fu Yujun, who had been interrupted, had a helpless expression on his face. Originally, Ling Xiao didn’t plan to deal with him and just directly leave, but his heart went soft a bit when he saw the man.
He then added, “From the very start, I had only treated you, Fu Yujun, as a brother and nothing else. Stop trying to destroy our friendship. It is not something you can bear on your shoulders nor is it something I want to. So stop making things awkward for me.”
He couldn’t bear to continue looking at Fu Yujun’s mournful expression, so Ling Xiao quickly left with Xiao Lizi.
“Xiao Lizi.” Walking to a certain point, Ling Xiao stopped and call for Xiao Lizi behind him.
Xiao Lizi heard and obeyed, walking forward to respectfully wait in front of Ling Xiao.
Ling Xiao coldly smiled, “I know that you will report what you heard and saw just now to the Emperor. I will just remind you to properly convey, word for word, what happened. If I find out that you deviate from it, and added details to make it more interesting…”
Ling Xiao threateningly whispered in Xiao Lizi’s ear “…You know what I am capable of.”
Xiao Lizi was filled with cold sweat as he hurriedly crouched on the ground, “Xiao Lizi understands, Xiao Lizi understands…”
“What is going on here?” Ling Xiao had wanted to chide him a bit more, but a gentle and soft voice from the side suddenly drifted in.
Ling Xiao turned around to see a man dressed in governmental official clothing.
The man wore a gentle smile while lazily leaning against the wall. His long hair was scattered behind him, while some of the front hair locks were casually tied together with a string behind.
There was not much thought put in the man’s way of dressing, yet he did not look sloppy at all. He only looked casual, confident and at ease.
The man’s appearance was somewhat similar to the Emperor’s. His outstanding image was not very different from the Emperor as well, as it stole people’s gazes.
Ling Xiao stared at him, a bit flabbergasted in his heart.
He knew this man, rather, he should say that he had known this man in his past lifetime.
This person was the Emperor’s Imperial Uncle, King Xiao Qin—Mu Xiuning.
He also liked Mo Qi in his past lifetime.
After Mo Qi became the Emperor’s concubine, the King had met with Mo Qi several times and came to like her.
However, in this timeline, he did not have the chance to run into Mo Qi yet, as she has already fallen from grace. It made Ling Xiao believe that he would not have any interactions with this man, but who could have guessed that they would meet again here…
“You can leave first.” Mu Xiuning told Xiao Lizi.
Xiao Lizi was frightened by Ling Xiao to the point he didn’t know what to do. With someone to rescue him, he instantly crawled up and ran away.
“……” Ling Xiao watched Xiao Lizi’s frantically escaping figure, he was very speechless.
Mu Xiuning lightly smiled, “Just look at you. You scared the hell out of the poor guy!”
While he spoke, his tone was incredibly gentle and soft, like a burst of spring wind that scattered the haze within one’s heart, soothing his fretful heart.
His title means a free and generous relative (or someone held dear).