Chapter 1 – Mother Consort
Majestic soldiers were stationed at the city walls, the morning sun was spreading across the sky, and the dull ancient bell was ringing. The new emperor’s enthronement ceremony took place on a fortunate day. The emperor, dressed in a black dragon robe with golden threads and auspicious clouds, slowly ascended the high platform under the gaze of countless people, with his luxurious robe trailing behind him.
The emperor turned around and spread his hands wide at the highest point, while civil and military officials bowed their heads and kneeled in prayer.
“– Long live the emperor!“
The hall was filled with deafening voices.
The new emperor, Jing Yuan‘s heart, was tumbling with various emotions as he gazed at the kneeling civil and military officials. How many times had he come back from the brink of death, and now the world was truly his.
The enthronement ceremony was drawing to a close, and the little eunuch who had been following him had been promoted to chief steward, reminding him in hushed tones of the next step. But Jing Yuan’s thoughts had been elsewhere for a long time, flying to the harem. He wanted to see his mother, Consort Xiao, no, from now on she is the noblest and most exalted status of the Empress Dowager.
The emperor was born to a sinful harem concubine and was the son of the late emperor whom the late emperor despised the most. He was afraid he would have been killed by the harem concubines’ schemes and tricks if it hadn’t been for the concubine’s favour.
Jiang Shining, the youngest daughter of Jiang Zhen, the governor of South City, was the original name of the former Emperor’s Consort Xiao. She has had a slightly chubby face, cicada-like eyebrows, and a smile as lovely as the beauty in the picture scroll since childhood. The late emperor cast a glance at her, allowed her to enter the palace at the age of seventeen, and the imperial family lavished her with attention. Within a few years, she was promoted to concubine. However, the first time concubine Xiao became pregnant, she was falsely accused by other concubines and lost the opportunity to be promoted.
Following that, concubine Xiao met Jing Yuan, the least favoured seventh prince, who was only four years old at the time. She pleaded with the emperor to give him to her to raise, which angered the late emperor to the point that he did not set foot in the concubine’s palace for a year.
The concubine regained favour two years later and gave birth to the ninth prince, Jing Xuan.
Jing Yuan was worried that after giving birth to her own child, concubine Xiao would abandon him, but she treated him as her own and raised him as her eldest son, never being biassed and always caring for him. Jing Xuan was still young, but he watched as concubine Xiao, who had never fought before, had to arm herself in order to protect her two sons. Jing Yuan was well aware that his father did not love him, so he could only rely on his status as the son of his adoptive mother. While Concubine Xiao sacrificed almost everything for his future, she eventually raised both of them through ups and downs.
Finally, Concubine Xiao was promoted to Imperial Consort Xiao a year before the late emperor died, and Jing Yuan had matured. As if destined for the imperial throne, Jiang Yuan gradually convinced the ailing late emperor that his momentum had run out and that he needed to appoint him as crown prince. On the other hand, Jing Xuan had logically become the Prince and was one of the many brothers who had received the best ending and treatment.
As time passed, Jing Yuan counted down the minutes. Shouldn’t the harem concubines have finished worshipping the new Empress Dowager by now? When he went to see his mother later, he imagined how proud she would be. They had finally triumphed over all the adversity and evil schemes to emerge as the true winners in the end.
Jing Yuan ordered the eunuch to dress him as soon as the ceremony was finished; he couldn’t wait another second.
Aunt Su Ye, who served Xiao Mother Consort, barged in with a pale expression and several guards failed to stop the woman who had gone insane.
“What’s the matter, Aunt Su Ye? What does mother consort have ordered?” Jing Yuan frowned and motioned for the others to let her in.
Aunt Su Ye, who had sore legs, knelt in front of Jing Yuan.
“Your Majesty, Your Majesty……!” She howled, “The Empress Dowager has passed away-!“
Jing Yuan’s head exploded with a violent thunderbolt, and the voices of those around him vanished in an instant. His mind had gone blank and he rushed towards the harem palace.
From the main gate to Jiang Shining’s Jinghe Palace, all he saw were rows and rows of crying and trembling palace maids and eunuchs kneeling. When Jing Yuan arrived at the palace, he found her lying on the bed in the Imperial Empress’ luxurious robe, her skin as tight and fair as it had been ten years before, but those beautiful eyes that could steal one’s soul were no longer open.
” —-Mother Consort!” The new emperor called out in grief.
He knelt beside the couch, and the eunuchs who had followed him did the same, falling to their knees. The emperor trembled as he reached out his hand to grasp Jiang Shining’s long and slender fingers, only to be stung by the coldness in his palm.
Because of the great shock and grief, the emperor trembled, pressed his cheek against the back of Jiang Shining’s hand, and temporarily lost his clarity and sanity. Only then was he able to obliquely remind others that the new emperor, who was poisonous and bold, was still quite young.
The room was full of eunuchs and palace maids knelt on the ground. They did not dare disturb the atmosphere and were scared to death. Another set of footsteps came from the front hall at that moment, followed by the eunuch’s persuasive voice.
“Prince Xu, don’t do it…”
Jing Xuan, dressed in the prince’s red robe, had already rushed in by lifting the curtain before the voice of the subordinate beside the emperor fell.
“Mother Consort, Mother Consort!”
Jing Yuan let go of Jiang Shining’s hand as he stood up, regaining his loftiness and calmness, as if awakened by Jing Xuan’s voice. The pair of eyes that had been clouded by sadness and appeared foggy had regained their clarity, as if the person who had been sad at his mother’s bedside was no longer him.
Jing Yuan put his hands behind his back, slightly narrowed his eyes, and gently swept towards the people in the room with a powerful pressure until he filled the position in front of his mother and knelt by the bed.
“Where are the people who are serving the Empress Dowager in close proximity?” He said grimly.
“Your Majesty, the servant just caught a suspicious person in the backyard. After this subordinate identified, this person is none other than the palace maid Qiu Kui, who used to be beside the late emperor!” A guard hurriedly entered, bent his knees, and saluted.
The emperor remained silent, and the capable eunuch kneeling beside him gave an angry glare to the guards, commanding them to send people over. A palace maid was peeled from the door and thrown into the hall seconds later.
“Why are you inside the Empress Dowager palace hall, Qiu Kui?”
The hair and garments of the palace lady, Qiu Kui were dishevelled because of her struggle. She panted, raised her eyes, and stared at Jing Yuan. She was not only unfazed, but she also had a desperate chuckle in the corner of her mouth.
“The Emperor, you are so wise. Don’t you ever get confused about something?” This palace lady already knew she wouldn’t make it through the day. She didn’t cry or cause any problems, and she was extremely peaceful. “For three years, the late emperor was extremely ill and refused to seal the crown prince. You think, why did he change his mind half a year ago?“
Jing Yuan’s brows furrowed immediately. The maid burst out laughing when she saw this.
“The late emperor ordered Imperial Consort Xiao to be buried in person if she wanted you to be a crown prince!” She said to herself after laughing, “From the day you were canonized as the crown prince, the Imperial Concubine was supervised by the emperor every day to take poison. Until today she became ill… Don’t you know it at all? “
Prince Xuan, who was already crying beside the bed, opened his eyes wide and slowly turned his head in surprise as the new emperor’s brain buzzed.
“What exactly are you talking about? Mother Consort–!“
Qiu Kui gazed at Jing Xuan, her hatred for Jiang Shining and her sons clear in her eyes.
“Yes, Your Royal Highness. To blame, just blame your mother, who loves him like an adopted son!” she replied quietly. The emperor, the maidservant is here only to deliver you the news!” Qiu Kui shouted after saying this deadly phrase.
The soldiers were too late, and the maid had crushed the pill secreted under her tongue and poisoned herself.
The entire Jinghe Palace fell silent after Qiu Kui’s death. The minions knelt on the ground and buried their heads deeply, not daring to make a sound like they were choking with fear.
Jing Yuan’s actions were as merciless as the late emperor’s in dealing with the other three princes who had been hostile to him. Everyone knew that only Imperial Consort Xiao could cure him, but now that she’s dead and poisoned to death, it’s too late. To release his rage, Jing Yuan can kill all the palace’s minions.
Jing Xuan swayed at this point. Regardless of how gifted the royal son is, he is only seventeen years old. At this moment, he slammed his fist directly at Jing Yuan, then grabbed the collar of his dragon robe and shouted, “Jing Yuan, you return my Mother Consort! Return my mother Mother Consort!“
Jiang Yuan was well versed in letters and military technology. He didn’t even try to avoid the attack, and his white cheeks were immediately turned scarlet. Who would dare to yell at someone who wore the dragon robe from ancient times to the present, let alone the emperor’s elder? Jing Yuan is said to have great self-esteem and would not let his shortcomings be exposed. It’s difficult to foresee what he’ll do when humiliated in public like this.
Guards rushed forward to separate them. Jing Xuan was a lovely person who was friendly and kind. At the moment, only the chief eunuch, Zhang Qingning is the most senior official at the moment, Zhang Qingning desperately kowtows with tears in his eyes, holding the risk of losing his head.
“The emperor, the prince has lost his sense of anger, don’t be impulsive…”
Jing Yuan remained motionless, while Jing Xuan was torn away. He took two steps back in front of the bed before collapsing. Seeing Jiang Shining, who appeared peaceful and was sleeping, made him feel useless and weak, and he began to cry.
As usual, the emperor’s eyes were calm, and his face was cold and emotionless. He shifted his gaze to Jiang Shi, who was sound asleep on the bed. He didn’t even move his mouth muscles.
“Shoot all the servants close to the late Emperor’s side.” Every time he opened his mouth, he paused. The frigid wind cut through every syllable. He glanced at Jiang Shining as if he wanted to say something, but before he talked, his body trembled slightly and his eyes slowly closed. “Empress Dowager passed away due to illness. Minister Board of Rites had to have an audience and will be negotiating with me concerning Empress Dowager’s burial.”
Jing Yuan’s lips moved slightly as he watched Jing Xuan, who had slumped, as if he wanted to say something. But he was restless, as if his spirit had left with his mother; in this state, people could only see his frailty. How could he console his younger brother?
Jing Yuan strode out of Jinghe Palace, ignoring Jing Xuan’s stifled cry.
He desperately wanted to stay here all the time, to see Mother Consort, and to mourn like Jing Xuan, but he couldn’t.
He has now ascended to the throne of the Empire.
Jiang Shi gave up her life for everything he has now, and he will never be looked down upon, even if his heart is cut.