The Rebirth Of An Ill-Fated Consort


Chapter 51

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Chapter 51: Mo Cong’s Ident.i.ty

In her memory of her previous life, although w.a.n.g Zi Ling had garnered the top score in the imperial examinations, the Emperor had only appointed him to a previously vacant sixth-rank court position as Shi Du, one of the officials tasked with compiling, editing and reviewing the literature and history of the dynasty, in addition to tutoring duties. After this, for some unknown reason, he had made no further contribution or advancement. However, Jiang Ruan had once heard Eighth Prince say that, although this person's talent and learning were outstanding, it was also clear that his field of knowledge was rather narrow. Moreover, he was fond of seeking connections with those in power. Although, in the capital, the w.a.n.g family were considered members of the n.o.bility, in truth, they no longer lived up to their name and were considered nothing but empty vessels.

There was no need to talk about Jiang Chao. In contrast to him, Mo Cong was highly talented. His father, Mo daren, was the Minister of the Imperial clan[1], and Mo Cong was the youngest son. He was gregarious, excitable and inclined to have less regard for propriety, which could admittedly cause headaches for others. However, his opinions on political affairs were considerably advanced, and must have sounded fresh to the Emperor who had to constantly listen to the safe and conventional views of his gaggle of court officials. After Mo Cong placed second in the imperial examination, he was appointed as a fourth-rank junior minister in the Ministry of Horses[2], where he was only two ranks lower than his father. Mo Cong was friendly towards others, and he received favour from the different factions in the imperial court. With someone like this, it was difficult to ascertain which faction he supported, and it could be said that he was neutral. In her past life, he gave the Eighth Prince endless headaches.

[1] Zong zheng ( 宗正 ) – Minister of the Imperial Clan, one of Imperial China's Nine Ministers, who managed royal affairs (including managing unruly Imperial kinsmen and maintaining their genealogy). It was established from the Qin Dynasty and it usually was a close trusted relative of the royal family. Read more about the Nine Ministers.

[2] Tai pu si ( 太仆寺 ) – the office in ancient China responsible for the breeding,

raising and training of horses.

Of course, neither of these two could compare with Liu Min, who had managed to quietly surpa.s.s both of them. The Emperor[3], unlike others, did not believe that one became more muddle-headed as one grew older. He was highly suspicious by nature. Not only that, in order to maintain a firm grasp over his court, he often acted unpredictably. While Mo Cong and w.a.n.g Zi Ling had the support of their long-standing families, Liu Min was born dirt-poor. Moreover, he was upright and plainspoken when he interacted with others. This kind of person could be appointed to a position without cause for concern. Liu Min was also highly talented. Thus, this young upstart in the imperial court very quickly became the most trusted official by the Emperor's side. If, in this lifetime, Jiang Ruan managed to win over such an important person, it would be tantamount to having someone speak on her behalf in the palace.

[3] Jiu wu zhi jun ( 九五之尊 ) – 九 is nine (9); 五 is five (5). In ancient China, numbers were divided into positive and negative numbers. Odd numbers were positive, and even numbers were negative. Among the positive numbers, nine is the

highest and five is in the middle. Therefore, 'nine' and 'five' symbolise the authority of the emperor.

Most importantly, during that earlier time, Liu Min had steadfastly supported the Crown Prince. He placed great importance on tradition, customs and ceremonies, and turned a blind eye to the friendly advances of Eighth Prince. However, circ.u.mstances would only be in Liu Min's favour in three years' time, and a lot could happen in three years. What Jiang Ruan wanted to do was to help this future Imperial Grand Tutor, who was currently living in poverty, so that his golden opportunity would arrive sooner.

Seeing that Jiang Ruan was still sunk in contemplation, Lu Zhu pursed her lips and spoke abruptly, as if she had suddenly remembered something. "There is some good news. Zhou momo woke up today, and she looks like she is in much better spirits."

From the time Zhou momo had fainted previously, Jiang Ruan had ordered Bai Zhi and Lian Qiao to look after her. However, she had not regained consciousness, and they did not know whether it was due to the recurrence of some old malady. On hearing this news, Jiang Ruan's facial expression relaxed somewhat, and she said, "That is indeed wonderful. I will visit her."

* * *

The night sky was full of lanterns which had been hung up to mark the pa.s.sing of the year, but had yet to be put away. They brightened the normally pitch-black night with a warm, red glow. Ordinary people strolled along the streets, and the pavilioned stages temporarily erected by travelling performance groups could be seen in all directions. It was extraordinarily lively.

In Dong Feng Lou, the purple and gold, pearl-beaded curtain separating the private room from the rest of the establishment was lowered. It concealed the doorway securely even as it occasionally flickered with dazzling brilliance.

Within the room, a single person leaned against the window, indifferently looking down at the hustle and bustle of the crowds below. The lamp light shone on his profile, which was as elegant as a jade carving. His long eyelashes were lowered, so that no one was able to clearly read the emotion in his eyes. His clothes were as dark as night, but they were unable to conceal his cold temperament, or his innate grace and elegance.

The curtain was abruptly lifted as a n.o.bleman in green clothes walked in. He was handsome and upright, and his face was wreathed in smiles. To the young n.o.bleman clad in black, he said, "Aiya, I have not seen you for a long time. Why are you in such a rush this time?"

The black-clad youth made no move despite the other's entrance, and only said, "The Emperor does not know."

"You are the only person under the heavens who dares to flout imperial decrees so brazenly," the green-clad gentleman said as he sat at the table in the middle of the room. He poured himself a cup of tea and drained it in one gulp before sighing. "If only you'd arrived earlier, I wouldn't have had to eat and drink in the company of that bunch from the Imperial Academy." This person was Mo Cong.

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The black-clad youth shook his head, and asked, "How was the preliminary round of the imperial examination?"

[4] T/N : As explained previously, 'lao' = old, but it is also a form of address for someone older than oneself (usually from the older generation), and denotes a degree of familiarity. It can be used derisively, which may be the case here, as I suspect Lao Ba refers to Eighth Prince. ('ba' = eight').

"The controls have tightened in recent days as well." The smile vanished from Mo Cong's face, and his expression turned serious. "My sister says that, lately, the Yang family has been behaving really overbearingly in the palace. Is this the beginning? Ah[5] Shao, why don't you transfer some 'Jin Yi Guards[6]' to me; at present, something is not right in the Imperial Academy, and I am uneasy about Jiang Chao."

[5] Ah ( 阿 ) – used in addressing those close to oneself e.g. someone named 'Ming Rui' would be addressed as 'Ah Rui'.

[6] Jin Yi Guards (锦衣卫) – 锦 = brocade, 衣 = clothes, 卫 = guard.

The black-clad youth pursed his lips. "All right." After a pause, he added, "And keep a close eye on the Jiang family."

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Translated by : shl

Edited by : Anks & Ely

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