Chapter 7: Face Smacking the Prime Minister’s House
Although he thought this, Ling Xiao did not dare to say it. Trembling with fear as he knelt on the ground, his eyes swept slightly forward, and he discovered that he could only see the Emperor’s hem. There weren’t any eunuchs or imperial guards accompanying him.
Ling Xiao was puzzled. Why was it that this Emperor always ran around by himself in the Imperial Palace?
The first time could be considered a coincidence. The second could be said that it was because they were in the Imperial Garden, so the chance of meeting was too high. Then what about this time? He had obediently stayed in Chu Xiu Palace, and yet he still ran into him?
Could it be that he was here to look at the Palace Women of Chu Xiu Palace and do an inspection in advance?
“You may stand.”
Just as he was thinking this, the Emperor spoke, and Ling Xiao did not dare to disobey.
Lifting the hem of his clothes, he stood up. However, he still didn’t dare to stand straight, slightly hunching over to show plenty of respect to the Emperor.
As he did, he heard a ‘clang’ sound, staring blankly as he accidentally dropped the jade pendant in his hand, and it landed right in front of the Emperor’s feet. Ling Xiao debated if he should go pick it up now or later.
However, before he had finished thinking, the Emperor had already bent his waist to pick it up. With the jade pendant in his hand, he examined it carefully before lifting his head to look at him.
“Raise your head.”
Ling Xiao was startled, wondering what the Emperor’s intentions were as he slowly lifted his head.
His eyes were directly opposite the Emperor’s profound ones, and their gazes briefly interlocked.
As the Emperor approached him, Ling Xiao hurriedly forced his own gaze downwards.
“You look pretty charming, but not like a eunuch.”
The Emperor’s line of sight glanced at Ling Xiao’s lower body and Ling Xiao’s whole body went stiff. Moving the corner of his mouth as if the flesh and skin on his face were being tugged, Ling Xiao said, “Your servant entered the Palace not too long ago.”
The Emperor’s gaze dropped to the jade pendant in his hands, “Is that so.”
Ling Xiao lowered his head in a salute.
“Come with Us.” The Emperor was silent as he walked in front with his hands behind him, the jade pendant still in his hands.
Ling Xiao frowned, hunching his back as he followed behind him with small quick steps.
The Emperor turned slightly to glance at him, “Although you haven’t been here long, you’ve learned etiquette quite well.”
Ling Xiao broke into a cold sweat. The salute and quick steps had all been learned in his past lifetime throughout the years he was staying in the palace. Back then, when he first entered the palace, although he had been instructed verbally, who would actually know all of these many complicated etiquettes? The older generations of Elders and Eunuchs all knew that the new eunuchs would inevitably be impudent. As a result, they would not arrange for the new ones to appear in front of His Majesty for the most part, only allowing them to stay in the side palace halls in order to gain some experience.
In his last life, Ling Xiao had been infected by Mo Qi’s halo, so he was also seen by the Emperor as a new eunuch. However, he had also made many mistakes in front of him and suffered both corporal punishment and verbal abuse. All of these things were recalled by Ling Xiao clearly.
Consequently, when he saw the Emperor in this lifetime, Ling Xiao showed an excessively perfect salute on reflex, forgetting that he had actually just entered the palace, and making the Emperor suspicious.
Ling Xiao’s complexion turned deathly white as he wondered how he should reply. Making up a lie naturally wouldn’t work. What this Emperor hated the most was lies, but how could he state the truth?
Fortunately, they arrived at their destination at this crucial moment.
The Emperor also did not ask further about it, and Ling Xiao quietly felt relieved. Crossing Chu Xiu Palace to the main hall of the harem, they arrived at their destination, the Imperial Study, where the Emperor usually handled his official business.
Ling Xiao frowned. Why had the Emperor brought him here?
Just as he began to consider this, Steward Xu who was dressed in red-clouded clothing, along with two other small eunuchs, approached and saluted the Emperor.
The Emperor lightly nodded his head, “You may stand, has that person arrived?”
Steward Xu nodded, “They have. The Lord Prime Minister and Young Master Lan Wei have both arrived and are waiting inside for Your Majesty.”
Hearing what he said, the Emperor walked forward two steps, Steward Xu followed behind him precisely. Ling Xiao kept pace with them at first, but, after seeing Steward Xu glared at him, he stopped following them.
The Emperor looked back, then turned to Steward Xu, saying, “Let him come with us.”
Steward Xu’s complexion was greenish black as Ling Xiao cast his gaze downwards unobtrusively and followed behind the Emperor.
“Your Servant pays his respects to Your Majesty. May Your Majesty live a thousand years.”
“Your Loyal Subject Lan Wei pays his respect to Your Majesty. May Your Majesty live a thousand years.”
Two formal greetings were heard the moment they stepped into the room, one voice was aged, while the other was still young and innocent.
Sneaking a glance, Ling Xiao saw that the ones kneeling in front of the Emperor were Lan Wei and his father.
They were old acquaintances of his in this world since he had always lived in the Prime Minister’s Household before entering the Emperor’s Palace. Prime Minister Lan Kan was fifty years old with grizzled hair and beard, he was also an experienced state official. Although he was usually considered loyal and devoted, he cared a lot about power.
Lan Wei was his one and only son.
Why had the Emperor summoned both of these men in addition to himself?
Ling Xiao didn’t understand it, but then he saw Lan Wei slightly raise his head and just so happen to look directly at him.
Lan Wei’s eyes went wide as he stood up, stunned: “It’s you!”
The Emperor raised an eyebrow and looked at Lan Wei. Lan Wei was pulled by the Prime Minister by his clothes and he immediately went back to kneeling on the ground.
The Prime Minister’s complexion was deathly white as he begged for forgiveness: “This old one’s son isn’t sensible and it’s because your servant did not instruct him well. Your servant request for His Majesty’s forgiveness.”
The Emperor turned around and looked at Ling Xiao. Although Ling Xiao pretended to be calm and collected, in his heart he was fully scolding the simple and mindless Lan Wei.
The Emperor looked at him with interest, and his mouth quirked a bit as he turned back around. Walking to his seat, he sat down, saying, “You may stand. So the Prime Minister’s young son is straightforward and sincere, We quite admire that.”
When the Prime Minister heard this, he let out a breath as he pulled Lan Wei to stand.
“We called the two of you here because We wanted to request two things of Our beloved official.” Saying that, the Emperor looked at Steward Xu, and Steward Xu acted without being told explicitly. Walking in front of the Prime Minister, he handed him a slip of paper. Ling Xiao recognized it as the paper he had handed in last time: the letter between Lan Wei and Mo Qi.
Ling Xiao raised an eyebrow, knowing that the Prime Minister’s whole family was about to fall into a disaster, and his attitude became like that of watching a good show.
After the Prime Minister finished reading the content of the letter, his complexion went deathly white, and he dragged Lan Wei with him as he kneeled again with a “bang”, “Your Majesty, there must be a misunderstanding about this letter!”
The Emperor picked up the tea that was on the desk and drank a mouthful. As if he hadn’t heard the Prime Minister’s words, he merely said, “This is just one thing. The Prime Minister should look at the other before saying anything.”
The Prime Minister’s complexion turned paler, and he trembled visibly.
The Emperor handed the Eunuch another thing, and Ling Xiao stared blankly as it was the pendant that the Emperor had just picked up from him.
Alarmed, Ling Xiao’s heart became a bit scared.
Steward Xu took the jade pendant and handed it over to Lan Wei. Next, the Emperor said while looking at Ling Xiao, “If We are not mistaken, this is the jade pendant that the Late Emperor rewarded to Our beloved official’s son, Lan Wei, and was made from the finest Warm Jade. The Prime Minister should make sure Lan Wei keeps it well so that he doesn’t lose it again.”
Saying that, the Emperor moved his eyes away from Ling Xiao to look at Lan Wei.
Lan Wei clasped the jade pendant, his face ashen.
With trembling lips, the Prime Minister said, lowering his body even more, “My son’s carelessness in losing the jade pendant was because your servant did not instruct him well, your servant request Your Majesty to please forgive him!”
The Emperor lowered his head and lightly blew the tea in his hands, leisurely drinking it without responding to the Prime Minister.
This made the Prime Minister even more terrified, and he hastily said, “Your Majesty, this matter, your servant can explain.”
“Clang.” The Emperor placed his teacup on the desktop, the sound was neither heavy or light as he looked at the Prime Minister. His face was chilly, “Then Prime Minister, explain it to Us.”
The Prime Minister swallowed his saliva as he said, “A few days ago, my son met a man and woman. The woman was named Mo Qi, and her appearance was beautiful, while the man was named Ling Xiao, he was Mo Qi’s manservant and was very clean and reserved. When my son saw the two’s poverty-stricken and distressed appearance, compassion grew within him, and he brought them back to my house to take care of them. Before too long, my son became on good terms with Mo Qi, and your servant also allowed her to go out on her own.”
“A while ago, Your Majesty was selecting Palace Women. Your servant had seen that this woman, Mo Qi’s appearance was beautiful and naturally dignified, and so thought of offering her to Your Majesty. However, your servant knew that Your Majesty had always loathed things like this being offered as tributes, so we let her enter the Palace to start as a Xiu Girl and go through each stage until she reached Your Majesty. Your Majesty, your servant was utterly sincere!”
“My son and Mo Qi are like brother and sister, so my son was afraid she would receive grievances in the Palace. As a result, he wanted some people to pay attention to her from time to time and ensure her safety, take care of her a little, and making sure she didn’t accidentally overstep her boundaries! Asking for Your Majesty to note this clearly!”
“Ling Xiao is that small eunuch behind Your Majesty. He had disappeared after Mo Qi entered the palace, and your servant also did not know his whereabouts. Who would have known that he would be here? That is why this old one’s son was so shocked.”
“The Prime Minister’s words were arranged very well based on the letter. In fact, nothing out of place could be seen.” The Emperor said.
The Prime Minister wiped his sweat as the Emperor looked at Lan Wei, “Then what do you have to say?”
Lan Wei went blank, clenching his teeth and saying, “Your… Your Loyal Subject’s… version is the same as Father’s with no difference. Every word is true!”
The Emperor’s face went cold.
Taking this opportunity, the Prime Minister added, “Your servant also asks for Your Majesty’s kindness!”
The Emperor leaned against his chair, with his hands clenched, as he looked at the two kneeling men.
“Thank you for the trouble. Prime Minister and Young Master, you may return.”
The Prime Minister and Lan Wei saluted, but Lan Wei still had something on his mind, as he frowned and clenched his teeth. In the end, before he departed, he asked, “Your Majesty, your loyal subject still has one more matter to ask Your Majesty.”
The Emperor looked at him, “Say it.”
“How is Your Majesty planning to handle Mo… the Palace Woman??”
The Emperor raised an eyebrow as the Prime Minister secretly gave Lan Wei a stern glance, but he smoothly said, “Your Majesty, this Palace Woman? Mo Qi is this world’s strange woman. Your servant can guarantee that your servant’s son has a completely platonic relationship. She and this one’s son are like brother and sister, hope Your Majesty doesn’t blame him.”
“Since it is offered by the Prime Minister, then, of course, We shall take good care of it.”
The Prime Minister let loose a breath and saluted the Emperor before turning around to leave.
The Emperor unhurriedly opened his mouth and added, “That’s right, the Prime Minister is old in years and has taxed his mind and body for Us. We feel deeply comforted and hereby approve a two-month vacation for the Prime Minister to properly take care of himself and rest.”
“Wha…” The Prime Minister was dismayed, turning around to kneel, “Your Majesty! Your servant…”
“Steward Xu.” The Emperor interrupted him, “Send the Prime Minister home to rest.”
“Yes.” Steward Xu replied and lifted his horsetail whisk as he walked in front of the Prime Minister: “Please, Lord Prime Minister.”
After Lan Wei and the Prime Minister left, the Emperor’s gaze fell on Ling Xiao.
Once again alarmed, Ling Xiao knelt in front of the Emperor.
Zhen = Imperial “I”, so I’ll be using Us, We, Our
Ai Qing = A high ranking official (old) and a way for the Emperor to refer to his subjects (old). So: Beloved Official
The difference between “Your Servant” and “Your Loyal Subject” is the the former is for people who actually work for the Emperor, while the latter is for his citizens he rule over.