[Was busy this week and almost couldn’t meet the schedule. I had to do this chapter to two parts. Ahh. Okay, hope you like it.]
All the people in the palace were in a panic. The emperor’s condition was unknown, but the prince was helped out by the guards with blood on his forehead. The thunder in the cold freezing winter roared loudly one by one making the official Ministers outside the Tiren Palace were so scared that their faces became pale, feeling as if the sky was about to collapse.
Once the guards bowed their heads and retreated, the ministers who had been shivering in the cold wind for a long time surrounded him. Most of them didn’t dare to say anything, looking at him with respect and cautious, waiting for Yong Shan to speak with their ears perk up. Occasionally a few courageous ones opened their mouths and spoke a broken language. “Your…Your Highness?”
“The emperor he…”
The young Crown Prince stood stiff for a while. Only when the cold wind blew on his cheeks, did he seem to sober again. Not long after, he raised his sharp dark and white eyes, and swept them slowly for a round.
His gaze was gentle with a faintly suppressing aura, and at this time, he seemed to have an extra power that was able to calm down people’s hearts.
Only after seeing the people around him calm down, did Yong Shan say reservedly, “Father Emperor only has a slight illness. After the imperial doctor Chen took his pulse, he is now resting. You are all important state ministers, and you have your own tasks. Don’t wait here anymore. Come back and pay your respect when Father is getting better.”
His tone was deep and low, but bearing the hidden meaning of the calmness of the past, sounding a bit sad and dejected.
Looking at this young prince, everyone could not help but relax a little, and the tension of their nerves was slightly relieved.
Someone asked in a low voice, “Your Highness’s forehead, I don’t know if you want to…”
“Oh.” Yong Shan raised his hand and stroked his forehead, his skin was numbly cold, and he didn’t feel any pain. It was probably because of the cold weather that his blood clotted quickly. After touching it, his fingertips still remained dry, and he smiled bitterly. “I wanted to stay inside and serve my father. But he refused to allow me, and then I kowtowed too hard. The golden brick floor of Tiren Palace, ah, a moment of losing self-control tend to make everyone laugh…”
“No, no, that’s how close the relationship is between the father and son.”
“The Crown Prince is truly a pure filial son.”
Yong Shan had a lot of thoughts in his mind, and there was no time to add another interjection to the audience. He raised his head to look at the sun hiding up high behind the clouds above his head. Even though the snow wasn’t falling, the weather was still so cold with a murderous intentions.
At this moment, he didn’t know where to go.
Back to the Prince’s Palace? How should he act when he met Yong Qi? Yong Shan knew that he had to do something, but he hadn’t thought about it yet. The more anxious he was, the less he could make a careless decision. Which was why it would be better not to meet before he made a decision.
Shu Fei’s side was probably like an ant crawling on a hot pot, looking forward to news.
Yong Shan subconsciously remembered the things in the past where his mother would make things hard for him, adding problems after problems.
He stood silently in front of the palace gate, with an expression of discouragement which was rare on his face. Other ministers didn’t know what was on his mind, they all thought he was worrying about Emperor Yan’s condition, and sighed a few times, but still dared not leave without permission. This was the best opportunity for them to show loyalty in front of the new future monarch, and some of the ministers with a little brain also silently accompanied him in the cold wind.
The imperial doctor Chen, who just came in and saw the scenes, was stunned for a moment before he shuffled over toward Yong Shan. Seeing the blood on his forehead, he couldn’t help feeling startled. He squeezed in the crowd and separated Yong Shan further, then spoke word by word in a low voice, “What is the Crown Prince doing while standing in the wind? On such a cold day, there is still blood on your face. Let this minister give Your Highness a treatment.”
Then he invited Yong Shan to a small resting pavilion.
It was a special place for the imperial Doctors who had to spend the night in Tiren Palace. There was also a charcoal fire and a prepared box of medicine. The items prepared by the envoy under the instructions of Emperor Yan were of course the best things.
After sending away all the servants who were waiting to serve them, the imperial doctor Chen asked Yong Shan to sit down, then he personally took warm water to help him clean the wound with the medicine.
Yong shan let him deal with it silently. His face, which was like a craft of art out of a jade, had no trace of change while his starlike eyes watched the old doctor Chen taking water, wiping his wounds, and taking ointment out of the box with complicity.
“Doctor Chen.” In the condensed silence, Yong Shan suddenly moved his lips with difficulty.
“Your Royal Highness.”
Yong Shan’s dark pupils flickered, staring straight at the old minister, and then asked in a very light tone, “This wound, is it curable?”
The imperial doctor Chen looked at him kindly, and slowly said, “What is your Highness saying? Your Highness is still young, and such a small injury will be healed in a few days. This minister dares to speak a bold sentence that, Your Highness has a strong physical body, stronger and much tougher than the emperor when he was young.”
“Will it leave scars?”
“Look at what?”
While answering Yong Shan, the imperial doctor Chen did not stop his hands. He skillfully applied a the medicine to stop the blood and pain relief ointment to Yong Shan’s forehead, and said, “Look at how the wound is being treated. If it is well treated, it won’t leave any scars. Your Highness should not scratch around these areas for the next few days. If you don’t treat it well, it will really leave a small lump.”
Yong Shan took a deeper look at him, and the corners of his lips slowly curled up and his handsome face suddenly became incredibly soft.
He seemed to be more relieved than before, and started asking about his family’s matter. “I’ve often seen you in the palace before, but haven’t had the chance to talk with you. How many children do you have in your family?”
“I have no children.”
“Hehe, Weichen* was also counted as a wild person when he was in his youth ah. A wife and four concubines, but…” The imperial doctor Chen laughed mockingly, “Although the third concubine finally gave birth to a son, since it was a difficult born, and with frail flesh and blood that fated to be no successor in line, the baby still died before he was two months old.”
[T/N: * your humble servant.]
Hearing it, Yong Shan was also sad and signed.
The imperial doctor Chen, who was depressed only for a moment, wrinkled and smiled, and said in the tone of the person who had overcome the past, “It’s also fate. In fact, if I think more about it, it may be a good thing. Pity all the parents in the world, which child is not a debt collector from their previous lives? We parents have to take care of them ever since they were born. While we are alive, we still worry whether they’re having a good life or not. Even if we spend our whole life working hard trying to keep them safe, in the end, when the time comes and once I close my eyes, it still worries me whether the family would turn upside down. Main wife, the concubine, the son and daughter, and the more family members, the even more troublesome when fighting. Alas, the bigger the family business, the more troubles it brings. Being a man is not easy.”
Yong Shan did not make a sound, and the words of the old minister were slowly chewed in his heart, as if a thousand weight of olive branch was smashed on him.
Only a long while later did he smile, and responded indifferently, “En, it’s not easy.”
After the imperial doctor Chen helped him apply the ointment and put on the gauze, and told him not to let the wound touch the water, remember to change the dressing accordingly, and so on, only then did he hobble away.
When Yong Shan got out of the warm pavilion where the charcoal fired, a cold wind rushed toward him, causing him to frown slightly from the cold. He had already decided not to go to Shu Fei’s palace for fear troubles would come down at him again, and just simply went back to the Prince’s Palace.
Chang Defu had seen him and Yong Lin rushed to see Emperor Yan every early in the morning and when he came back, he was wrapped in a circle of gauze around his head making Chang Defu turn pale with fright. He followed Yong Shan with his waist bowed from behind, step by step and dared not to ask indiscriminately.
When the maidservants saw the Master of the palace coming this way, they were naturally careful, almost all of them knelt and waited.
Yong Shan went into the study room and sat down before taking two sips of the hot tea. His bottomless black eyes stared at the door of the room, losing in thought. When he recovered after losing his composure for a moment and saw Chang Defu’s appearance, he smiled softly, “Looking at you like this, did you see a ghost? Has Yong Qi woke up yet?”
As soon as he spoke, Chang Defu quietly breathed a sigh of relief, and replied with a smile, “His Royal Highness Yong Qi has just woken up and has been freshened up as well. This servant saw that it has become cold today, so I invited him to stay and read in a warm room first. If there are other things needed to talk about, he has to wait until Your Highness comes back.”
“Has he eaten?”
“Eaten. The food had been all prepared, stewed on the stove, inside…”
“Enough. I ask you a sentence, and you answer a bunch. There is no need to tell me about such trivial matters.” Yong Shan cut his words indifferently, and asked in a deep voice, “Is he in the room?”
Yong Shan no longer cared about Chang Defu as he stood up, and walked to the bedroom where he had spent the sweetest moment of his life not long ago.
Inside the room was still as warm as spring.
It seemed that the tapestries on the windows and doors had been replaced with double layers, and when Yong Shan entered the room, instantly he got a feeling as if immersed in warm water.
Yong Qi was sitting on a long heatable brick bed and reading a book with his back turned to the door. Feeling a cold wind escaping in when the door was opened, he couldn’t help turning his head back.
Seeing that Yong Shan was back, his eyes flashed slightly with joy, and instantly brightened. After seeing his face clearly, his eyes became surprised again, as if he was about to ask something. Yong Shan waited for him to speak, but Yong Qi only bit his lip, restrained everything with a blush, and turned back to pretend to read intently.
“What are you reading?” Yong Shan took off his mink fur sleeveless jacket and walked to his back and looked sideways.
Yong Qi seemed to remember what happened last night. He didn’t even dare to look at Yong Shan with his eyes. Hearing his question, he only flipped the book in his hand to the front and let him read the words on the cover.
Yong Shan laughed and said softly, “My brother is really diligent. In the cold winter, he still endures the cold wind and frost and reads Lao Zhuang.”
His calmness made Yong Qi no longer as reserved as he was at the beginning.
“It’s very warm inside, how can there be any cold wind and frost?” Yong Qi’s gentle voice was still very nice to listen to. “I’m just not sure when I will be able to listen to Grand tutor Wang’s lesson again. I only want to take a look in advance. If he asks questions, I wouldn’t answer with nothing.” He suddenly overturned the topic and asked Yong Shan, “What happened to your forehead?”
Yong Shan only lightly and causally mentioned a statement, “In the recent three disasters and six fortunes, people either hurt their legs or bumped their heads. Is my elder brother’s neck better?” As he asked, he touched Yong Qi’s soft and white neck.
Yong Qi shrank his already because red neck as if the touch made him itchy, “Don’t be like this, it’s too improper.”
“We’ve done many more improper things before and you’re still afraid of this now?” Yong Shan smiled ambiguously, his eyes that could intoxicate people seemed to have an irresistible power force. He cornered Yong Qi with this gaze as he slowly approached with a smile. Sitting down on the warm brick bed, tightly next to Yong Qi, he asked in a low voice, “How many times did my brother come last night? I originally wanted to count, but then I was so busy that I forgot.”
Yong Qi didn’t dare to meet the scorching gaze that made him tremble, and turned away awkwardly. His neck was itchy, someone still put his fingertips on his skin and slowly rubbed it, reminding him of the pleasure of being rubbed and squeezed over and over again last night.
Yong Qi shuddered, holding his breath patiently through gritted teeth.
“Where is the word my brother promised to give me? Have you written it?” Yong Shan asked in a low voice in his ear.
“Where? Show me.”
Yong Qi turned his head and unnaturally stretched out a finger, pointed towards the small cabinet near the bed, and whispered, “I’ll get it for you.”
Seeing through his intention to take the opportunity to escape, Yong Shan hugged him and kissed him twice, “I dare not let my brother do the work, I’ll just go take it myself.”
He personally went to take the white scroll on the small cabinet, and for fear that Yong Qi would be gone again, he returned to his original position with one hand was put around Yong Qi, and the scroll was placed on the thick mattress with the other hand. He spread out the scroll slowly in front of the two of them, and smiled softly. “Let me see what my brother wrote. This is a rare color. You can’t just write it carelessly. If there is one stroke that is not well written, you have to start again…” As he said, looking down at the unfolding scroll, the smile on his face suddenly froze.
Yong Qi was really not careless, and he wrote every stroke very carefully.
Four shocking black characters appeared on white background of the finest rice paper, from top to bottom―The love of the sages is impartial.
[T/N: Lit: 聖人不仁, The sages are not benevolent. I’m matching with the previous chapter translations.]
Noticing the person next to him suddenly stiffened, Yong Qi’s heart slightly shrank. He turned his face to look at Yong Shan, and asked in confusion and anxiety, “Is it not nice to look at?”
Yu Shan was silent.
When Yong Qi saw him like this, an inexplicable fear advanced, and his limbs wanted to escape despite what he thought otherwise. Yong Shan clamped his waist firmly with his arms that looked like cast iron, staring at the character, and after a while, a light smile slowly emerged on his face as he asked Yong Qi, “Brother’s words, of course, are good. But why did you pick this sentence to write?”
Yong Qi looked at him suspiciously for a moment, and then he raised his chin to the book set aside in a gesture, and said, “I don’t know what to write, I just flipped through it and wrote one sentence. If you don’t like this sentence, I will pick one from [Mengzi] and write you another one?”
[T/N: Mencius, Chinese philosopher.]
Yong Shan laughed, feeling helpless, “I don’t want those sour things in [Mengzi]. I must punish my brother to rewriting another one, and I want the four words of Jiaou Tiancheng.”
[T/N: 佳偶天成: a good match as if made in heaven.]
Yong Qi was so embarrassed that he lowered his head and said, “All nonsense again.”
With such a disturbance, the fear disappeared. After watching Yong Shan take the scroll away and put it aside, he couldn’t help asking, “Can I go see my mother? You promised it yesterday.”
His pleading eyes looked at Yong Shan cautiously.
On the face of the new Crown Prince, the usual complex expression which Yong Qi couldn’t understand appeared again.
Yong Shan was silent. After watching Yong Qi’s longing become more and more obvious, his confidence was more and more shaken because of his silence, and his pleadings became more and more tragic, only then did he smile as if he had teasing him enough, “I am the Crown Prince, of course my words count.” (I’ll keep my promise)
Yong Qi’s originally worried eyes suddenly brightened happily.
“Can I go now?”
“En.” Yong Shan smiled and said, “Go ba. It’s windy on the road, brother, be careful.”
Yong Qi was so grateful that after changing his clothes he went out quickly.
Yong Shan wrote on a piece of paper and ordered him to take it with him, then ordered the guards to protect Yong Qi on the road. Seeing the energetic Yong Qi eagering to go out, he called Yong Qi back again, took a look at him up and down, then touched the clothes on his body. After feeling that it was okay, then he squeezed the thickness of his cloak, and said casually, “It’s too thin, you should change to thicker one. Someone come and get a thicker fur cloak.”
Yong Qi was neatly dressed, not only was he not feeling cold, but also feeling a little sultry. Just as he was about to decline, a servant brought over a thick fur cloak.
Since he had a good and gentle temper and after thinking that he shouldn’t have trouble with Yong Shan at this time, he took the fur jacket and changed it in silence.
Only then did Yong Shan wave his hand, “Go ba.”
Seeing that he was being so kind, Yong Qi’s views toward Yong Shan had changed a lot more than usual. His round eyes glanced at him, and he seemed a little bit reluctant to go. The two quietly looked at each other for a moment before Yong Qi turned his head and went away.
Losing the warmth of the heater buried under the ground and the warm brick bed that he was just sitting on when he reached the door, Yong Qi shivered as the cold air rushed to him and completely wrapped him up and down.
It seemed as if Yong Qi had been plunged into the ice hole from the warm stove, shaking violently, and his breath was also misty white.
Only then did he understood that there was a real difference between the inside and outside of the room. Fortunately, Yong Shan was thoughtful and had him change for a thicker fur jacket one before coming out, otherwise he would really suffer from the cold.
Chang Defu ran after him, smiling and saluting, “By His Highness Crown Prince ordered, this servant will escort Your Highness Yong Qi over there. The sedan chair has just been prepared, waiting outside. Alas, it was so cold today, I’m afraid there will be another good snowfall.”
Yong Qi looked up, and sure enough the sky was overcast as if it would fall down at any time.
Because he was too eager to see Li Fei, he didn’t pay much attention to the weather. With a thick fur cloak, he walked outside the palace gate, got on the warm sedan chair, and watched the scenery moving all the way, passing through the palace and the courtyard.
After being away for a while, Yong Qi, who grew up here, felt that the huge and complex palace was a lot unfamiliar. Although the scenery had not changed much, everything was still different.
The road he used to use to go see his mother now was no longer the familiar road in the past.
While sitting in the sedan chair, he watched the servants lift him in a strange direction. The road was full twisted and turns as he went further and further. Outside the sedan chair, there was no longer a close follower of his own. Seeing Chang Defu rubbed his hands and followed him with his voice turning hoarse from walking, the feeling of without the freedom to act engendered within his own body.
Just as he heaved a sigh at himself, the sedan chair arrived and stopped at the front door of a palace gate. The place where the signboard used to be held up above the palace gate was empty. The scarlet paint on the door had been frozen and there were cracks over the years with one piece fell from the east to the west, and the dead grass that slipped along the wall showed lifelessness.
Only a few fierce looking palace guards carrying with swords guarding outside the door could remind the outsiders that there were still living people inside this palace.
This place was indeed the Cold Palace.