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Chapter 4: Entering the Imperial Palace
Those beautiful black pupils that contained such emotions, compared to the spiritless appearance from before, it made him look much more quick-witted. Jing Shao merely smiled, watching helplessly. He wanted to tell him not to be so timid, but after thinking about it, in their previous life, it was he who had refused to listen to him. Arrogant and conceited, thinking everyone was beneath him, in the end, he suffered a miserable fate. After all, when a wall is about to collapse everyone would give it a shove. He couldn't help but smile.
"Your Highness, we have arrived at the entrance." The eunuch Chun Xi politely announced, soon after, the sedan halted and was lowered. Normally, they would be allowed to enter the inner imperial palace on the sedan, it was only that today they were paying a formal visit to the Empress's palace. They must exchange the sedan for a imperial carriage at the entrance gate. Surrounded by palace servants on all four sides of the carriage, the two inside were no longer willing to speak much.
After the morning court assembly, Emperor Hong Zheng went to the Empress's Luan Yi Palace. Together with Empress Wu, the two were waiting in the main hall to meet the newly wedded bride and bridegroom. At age forty, Emperor Hong Zheng was in his prime, he was a qualified emperor, calm and wise. Just sitting there, he exerted an imposing aura.
Looking at his imperial father who was now about 12 years younger, Jing Shao concealed his clenched fists in the sleeves of his pale blue robes. Slowly unclenching it, he, together with Mu Han Zhang respectfully offered the Emperor and Empress their greetings.
Emperor Hong Zheng praised Jing Shao before imparting a few words: " You are now an adult, from now on, think before you speak and act. I do not want to hear of a similar incident like that of your queen mother's tea table."
"Your child understands, thank you imperial father for your teaching." Jing Shao responded indifferently, his expression obviously showed his unwillingness to comply.
"On this happy occasion, your majesty don't blame him anymore," the Empress was naturally very observant, she quickly laughed, offering him a way to avoid embarrassment, "Today we get to see our daughter-in-law."
The palace maid who was standing on the side, quickly laid out a cushion in front of the the emperor and empress. Mu Han Zhang stepped forward, kneeling down in order to kowtow to Emperor Hong Zheng, then raised a cup of tea over the crown of his head in offering: "Imperial father please have this cup of tea." All of his actions and mannerism were completely, one hundred percent, up to standard with how literary gentlemans should behave.
Emperor Hong Zheng received the tea, drank all of it in one smooth movement, and laughed " I did not expect Mu Jin's second son to have such a graceful character." Delighted, he happily rewarded him with a pair of sheet fat jade.
"Thank you, imperial father." Mu Han Zhang expressed his thanks neither too humbly or haughtily. Turning to the side, he repeated etiquette and kneeled in front of the Empress, offering her tea.
The Empress smiled and took the tea leisurely, not at all in hurry to allow him up, merely turning to speak with the emperor: " Your majesty is very insightful. It is said that even before Mu jia's second son turned seventeen years old, he was already a very respected figure among the capital's young nobles.
"Is that so?" This time Emperor Hong Zheng seemed to be very interested, to be able to pass the imperial examination at age seventeen was rather rare. Previously, he had only seen the capable eldest son of the Bei Wei Hou jia, he never expected this one to appear. The son of a concubine, a hidden jewel. He couldn't help but feel a sense of pity, this person, if he had been allowed to take the imperial examination, he certainly would have been a gifted individual. Bei Wei Hou would have good means of governance. It was truly a pity.
"It is merely the joke of a few childhood playmates. It is not true." Mu Han Zhang had been kneeling for a long time, his body was becoming more and more uncomfortable, his complexion was beginning to pale, nonetheless, he had continued kneeling. It was only by timely interjected a sentence, that he was able to call attention to the fact that he was still kneeling.
"Oh! Child why is your complexion like this?" The Empress said, taking a quick glance at Jing Shao's reaction, who appeared indifferent, not even bothering to ask someone to help Mu Han Zhang up. Narrowing her eyes, she laughed and then gifted Mu Han Zhang a beautiful box full of priceless jewels.
Mu Han Zhang looked at the very generous gift, recalled what Jing Shao had told him in the sedan, and accepted it without hesitation. When he stood up, his vision turned black for a second and he swayed slightly. A palace maid was quick to step forward and support him by his arm.
"Since you are unwell, the both of you can return home." Emperor Hong Zheng gestured for them to be dismissed.
Mu Han Zhang refused any further support from the palace maid. Jing was unconcerned, he walked out without a word. Only heaven knows that, at this moment, he really wanted to carry Jun Qing in his embrace. However, they were still in the imperial palace, he could only hold back and feign impatience.
Once out of the imperial palace, stepping down the imperial carriage, Mu Han Zhang faced forward and looked at that person, who was walking away in large strides, his figure, cold and unfeeling. Mu Han Zhang smiled and laughed at himself mockingly. What did he expect? Sure enough, weren't those brief moments of tenderness just an illusion ?
In an effort to keep up, he quickened his pace. He did not even walk two steps before his vision suddenly turned black, he had not expected his body to be so unwell that he would fall. But he only felt himself fall into a warm embrace: "Jun Qing, what's wrong?" Only when he opened his eyes again, a few short seconds after, did he see Jing Shao's anxious expression.
[ Bitter Black Rabbit Time ]
[ Translator Notes ]
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