The Rebirth Of An Ill-Fated Consort


Chapter 102.2 - A Turning Point (Part II)

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Chapter 102 : A Turning Point (Part II)

After Jiang Xin Zhi and the Zhao family received news that Jiang Ruan had been sent to Ci Ning palace to be treated, they were all momentarily stupefied. Empress Dowager Yi De lived high up[1] and usually looked down upon others, and today was the first time she had met Jiang Ruan. Yet now, she acted conspicuously different. She even personally allowed her to stay in Ci Ning Palace, which meant that in her heart, Jiang Ruan was not simply just the legitimate daughter of a regular official.

[1] 居高临下 (jūgāo-línxià) – refers to one’s arrogance due to a high social standing/rank.

Jiang Quan and Xia Yan both waited outside. Jiang Su Su longed to receive news of Jiang Ruan’s death, however, she heard that Empress Dowager Yi De had summoned the physician to treat Jiang Ruan. This was a rare honour that one could tell from a glance thus she could not help but clench both her hands into fists, a streak of hatred flashing through her eyes.

Jiang Quan’s expression was complicated. Currently, Jiang Ruan had gained merits for coming to the rescue of the Empress Dowager and this credit would eventually be counted towards the Jiang fu. Yet it just had to be Jiang Ruan. Recently, Jiang Ruan had showcased extraordinary splendours and buried Jiang Su Su’s radiance. Deep down, he had never treated Jiang Ruan as his own flesh and blood[2], and so the more Jiang Ruan shone, the more she hindered Jiang Su Su’s pathway and the more unsatisfied he was. As of now, Jiang Ruan would definitely be ahead of Jiang Su Su by a head. He had wholeheartedly wished to help Jiang Su Su lay out a flat path which made Jiang Ruan’s actions truly intolerable!

[2] 骨肉 (gǔròu) – refers to kin/kinship.

While following various trains of thought, Jiang Quan’s face did not reveal any hint of worry- just an unperturbed expression, with some disgust. Consequently, he replied to the low-ranking eunuch who had reported the news with, “This official sincerely gives thanks to Empress Dowager’s piece of goodwill. However, it is just that my daughter is boorish and is unable to bear this grace. Gonggong[3], please report to the Empress Dowager to ask for permission to bring this official’s daughter back to the fu.”

[3] 公公 (gonggong) – term to refer to an eunuch employed by the imperial family with an official position.

Upon hearing Jiang Quan’s words, pride flashed in Xia Yan’s eyes. However, that low-ranking eunuch was astonished. Normally when one’s own daughter was injured, a typical father would at least ask about the injury, but this father opened his mouth only to request to bring his daughter back. The low-ranking eunuch was also someone who had become experienced from facing challenges in the palace, so at one glance, he had a clear understanding about the situation. Jiang Quan’s eyes only contained distaste- there was no warmth. Thinking of Empress Dowager Yi De’s special regard towards Jiang Ruan, the low-ranking eunuch raised his whisk and said, “Alas this servant does not dare to relay these words. Eldest Jiang Miss has a imperial physician to treat her in the palace, and I am afraid that even if you bring her back to the fu, you will not be able to find such a skilled physician. Furthermore, this servant is only is here to relay the message. If Jiang Daren has anything further to say, you should personally go to Empress Dowager to tell her.”

His defiant att.i.tude, deliberate or not, was meant to suppress. The servants in the palace could not be offended and Jiang Quan was renowned in the palace for being upright and respectable. So, when he was mocked, his face immediately flushed but he was unable to utter any words. The low-ranking eunuch glanced disdainfully at Xia Yan and scoffed at them in his heart. It’s really curious how this Jiang couple were able to give birth to such a clear-minded young miss as Jiang Ruan.

Jiang Xin Zhi couldn’t see Jiang Ruan’s injury personally so even though he knew that she was being treated by the imperial physician, he was still anxious. He didn’t know why Jiang Ruan had to block the sword for Empress Dowager Yi De. He felt reproach in his heart; even though saying this would mean high treason, he didn’t want Jiang Ruan to take a risk even if the Emperor’s life might be in danger.

The low-ranking eunuch was ready to leave after he finished conveying the message. When he walked to the door, he ran into Xiao Shao and bowed in a hurry. Xiao Shao waved his hand and took out a small blue porcelain bottle from his bosom and threw it to him. “Yu Ji ointment[4],” he said briefly.

[4] 玉肌膏 (yu ji gao): referring to whitening cream, lit. jade skin ointment.

Yu Ji ointment was a good thing that even the concubines in the palace could rarely use, thus this small bottle was very valuable. It could remove scars on women’s bodies. Although Xiao Shao did not say for whom, the low-ranking eunuch also understood that the recipient should be Jiang Ruan who was currently resting in the Ci Ning Palace. Although he doubted the relationship between Xiao Shao and Jiang Ruan in his heart, he still replied with a smile. “Don’t worry, w.a.n.gye. This servant will surely take it.”

Xiao Shao glanced at him faintly, then turned around and walked out of the palace gate.

* * *

Jiang Ruan slept surprisingly well in the Ci Ning Palace that night.

When she woke up, two beautiful palace maids attentively helped her change her clothes. Jiang Ruan moved her body, but she didn’t feel any pain from her chest wound.

The palace maid said with a smile, “Miss, you’re awake. The wound is not deep. It will be fine as long as it’s bandaged well.” Then she explained in a low voice. “The imperial physician previously said that it would leave a scar. Fortunately, Xiao w.a.n.gye sent the Yu Ji ointment, so there is no need to worry. You won’t have any scars.” There was envy in her tone.

Jiang Ruan looked at her in surprise. Xiao Shao sent her the Yu Ji ointment? She pressed the centre of her forehead. The favour she owed was becoming bigger and bigger.

Since her rebirth, she would reward the other party equally when she took advantage of them. For example, supporting Liu Min was to get a useful ally in the future. Getting Gu Yi’s help was also making use of Gu Yi’s love of beauty. But, Xiao Shao came to help her many times. Even if it was to repay her kindness of the past, from what he had just given her, he had already paid the favour in full. She had no idea how to reciprocate Xiao Shao’s straightforward help.

After thinking about it, she simply put the matter aside. She asked the palace maid, “Who else was injured last night?”

The palace maid reported a long list of names. Jiang Ruan was relieved when she heard that none of her acquaintances was on the list. Then the maid mentioned one incident related to someone she knew; Jiang Dan had panicked and fallen into Zuo Langzhong’s[5] arms last night. Zuo Langzhong was young and promising. Unfortunately, Jiang Dan’s clothes were torn during the chaos last night and Zuo Langzhong felt especially soft-hearted when seeing a pretty and delicate girl weeping. Hence, he agreed to take responsibility for her after the event.

[5] 郎中 (lángzhōng) – doctor (Chinese medicine).

The palace maid said, “Your fu’s Fourth Young Miss’ wedding is perhaps already set.”

Jiang Ruan raised her eyebrows. With new eyes she reflected on the cowardly and timid Fourth Younger Sister. It was a gamble for her to think up such a scheme during last night’s chaos because if she was not careful, she would lose her life. But she dared and Jiang Dan’s luck was good. She won the bet, didn’t she?

Seeing Jiang Ruan in a trance, the palace maid continued, “Deputy General Jiang came to see you. However, he left in a hurry due to some matters. Empress Dowager should be back soon. While Miss was unconscious, the Deputy General and Empress Dowager were very worried.”

Jiang Ruan thought for a moment. “What about my father, mother, and sisters?”

“Empress Dowager ordered them to go back to the fu first.” The palace maid answered.

Jiang Ruan lowered her eyes. Empress Dowager asked Jiang Quan to return to the fu. Did this mean that she already felt some dislike towards Jiang Quan? If this was so, it was very good. She smiled faintly and looked at the palace maid apologetically. “I’m a little hungry.”

“The meal is ready. This servant will now serve the food.” The palace maid said with a smile.

* * *

In the imperial study, the Emperor suddenly smashed the paper weight on the table to the floor. “So, it was the Tianjin’s people last night?”

Guan Liang Han and Xiao Shao tacitly admitted that it was so.

Tianjin kingdom was located in the north of Great Jin and its territory wasn’t vast. Since it was close to the sea, it did very well in transoceanic trade. Furthermore, they currently maintained a non-aggression relationship with Great Jin though at one time Great Jin had wished to make it an annex. Tianjin’s territory was small, but its steel smelting technology was excellent and their soldiers’ weapons were much better than those of Great Jin. The late Emperor once tried to attack Tianjin, but the latter unexpectedly resisted the troops of 400,000 soldiers of Great Jin and dragged the war out for a whole year. At that point, once the Great Jin’s troops’ supplies were completely exhausted and its people had no way of living due to the heavy taxes, the late Emperor finally realized that neither side would win and ordered the troops to withdraw. Since then, they had been on guard and didn’t act to invade, instead choosing a peaceful coexistence.

But then, last night, Xiao Shao and Guan Liang Han had interrogated the prisoners for many hours. Although this squad of had been unyielding, their speech revealed that something was amiss. Xiao Shao ordered the Jin Yi guards to check. What he found was that these were from Tianjin.

*** You are reading on ***

“How dare such a tiny land be so presumptuous!” The Emperor was furious.

Xiao Shao looked at He Yi with indifference. There was no warmth in his gaze at all. Her heart palpitated at his cold and indifferent eyes and felt a little timid. However, when she thought of what happened last night, resentment emerged in her eyes. She looked up at Xiao Shao’s handsome and cold face, asking, “What’s the relationship between Xiao w.a.n.gye and Eldest Jiang Miss?”

This unfathomable question made Xiao Shao baffled about her intention. With knitted brows, he asked her coldly. “What does this have to do with Princess?”

Princess He Yi’s eyes reddened and her whole body was chilled by his aloof words. She answered grievously. “You know perfectly well that I like you.”

“Princess, please speak cautiously.” Xiao Shao’s eyes suddenly turned chilly. “I have no other thoughts about Princess.”

“What about Jiang Ruan,” Princess He Yi couldn’t help but ask harshly, “Do you like her?”

Xiao Shao’s frown went deeper as if he couldn’t understand her words. However, there were more pressing matters at the moment, so he just gave Princess He Yi a cold look and turned to leave. Such action was acquiescence in Princess He Yi’s eyes. After a brief shock, she suddenly covered her face and burst into tears.

* * *

After Jiang Ruan had breakfast, Empress Dowager Yi De returned to the Ci Ning Palace. Seeing her like this, she asked, “Are you feeling better?”

Jiang Ruan smiled. “To answer Empress Dowager, I’m feeling much better.”

Empress Dowager Yi De looked at her from head to toe and saw that her spirit was much better than yesterday. Feeling relieved, she sat down on the soft couch. Her close maid came with a cup of tea. Empress Dowager Yi De took the tea and took a sip, then looked at Jiang Ruan quietly.

The girl in front of her was clever and pure. Although she had a charming look, her eyes were clear and without impurities. What was so rare about her was the calm indifference in the face of favours or humiliations. It took frivolity out of her beauty and made her serene and n.o.ble.

She asked casually, “Does Jiang Quan not treat you well?”

Jiang Ruan seemed surprised by this question. She thought for a moment and answered with a smile. “Not at all. It’s simply because this subject was raised in the country, thus hasn’t been very close to Father since childhood.”

She didn’t complain incessantly nor did she lie that Jiang Quan had treated her very well. Instead, she told the truth and used her words to justify Jiang Quan. Her speech was very proper.

A faint smile rose on Empress Dowager Yi De’s lips. “Since the relationship is not close, there won’t be sadness upon separation.”

Jiang Ruan was taken aback and looked at Empress Dowager Yi De with doubt.

Empress Dowager Yi De looked at the ruby on top of her nail guard. “Jiang family’s girl, aijia is going to stay at the imperial temple next to the royal mausoleum for three years. Would you like to join me?”

*** You are reading on ***

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