[Chapter 4 - Could it be that you secretly like Sha Da] The complicated Liu family
[Chapter 4 - Could it be that you secretly like Sha Da] The complicated Liu family
An hour later, Lord Liu emerged from the study in a daze; the scroll reel(1) still in his hands . His wife saw the state that he was in when he arrived home, and rushed to ask: “Does the emperor not want to help in the matchmaking?”
Lord Liu shook his head: “No, the emperor agreed to it, and even said the painting is too ordinary and that the royal painters will redraw the painting . ”
“Then why are you frowning? Here I thought that my cousin has gotten us involved and we will be blamed again . ” Lady Liu breathed a sigh of relief .
“As a woman, why do you have to say so much . ” Lord Liu said unhappily, placed the scroll reel on the table, and announced, “Go and get a servant(2) to find a good craftsman and get this scroll mounted; I want to hang it in the central hall .
Lady Liu, baffled, treated him as if he has a fever: “It’s a painting of the princess of Gao Li, why do you want to hang it in the central hall?”
“That painting has been left in the palace already; this is personally written by the emperor; it’s a title that has been bestowed upon me . ” Lord Liu carefully untied the cord .
“The emperor even bestowed you a title?” Lady Liu is overjoyed, and hurried forward to regard it; only to see that on the gold speckled paper, a few large and elegant words are written; a majestic feeling extends from them .
The World’s Best Matchmaker(3)
Lord Liu’s feelings are very complicated currently; he is joyous, but also feels that it’s truly hard to brag about these few words . Afterall, he is an official in the royal court, and not a dressed up matchmaker, wearing a flower over their ear, walking in the streets of the capital .
In the study, after looking over the painting sent over by Gao Li, the royal painter asked: “What does the emperor wish to change about this painting?”
“The more beautiful the painting is, the better . ” Chu Yuan said, “There’s no need to care about how it looks like initially . ”
The royal painter received the order and retreated; only then did Shen Qian Fan walked out from behind the screen, and doubtfully asked: “Your Majesty really wants to help to matchmake the Xi Nan King?”
“It is a meager matter . ” Chu Yuan put down his tea cup, and replied absentmindedly, “ He is not young, and should consider marriage . ”
Shen Qian Fan: “ . . . . . . . ”
Must he even concern himself with such matters?
“In the Liu family, the only loyal person is probably him . ” Chu Yuan continued .
“What about Zuo Cheng Xiang?” (4) Shen Qian Fan asked .
“Liu Yi Shui? He’s shifty - it doesn’t seem like he is corrupt, but he can’t be said to be honest either . ” Chu Yuan said, “If he knows how to act appropriately, however, we don’t wish to act on him this time . ”
Shen Qian Fan nodded: “Once the Lius are eliminated, I’m afraid that not only a few people will go down; at that time the subjects will inevitably be in panic . It will be good to have Liu Cheng Xiang to mediate from amongst them . ”
Internally, Chu Yuan sighed deeply, and leaned back on the royal throne and closed his eyes slightly .
Liu Shi is from the maternal family of Empress Tai; the entire family is complicated; the people in the capital are all speculating secretly that the Liu family on Zheng Yang street is becoming more and more domineering, almost to the point of being more arrogant than the royal palace . The head of the Liu family, Liu Gong, was originally stationed and commanded troops in the north east; the late emperor Chu spent an entire ten years just to reduce and reclaim the military power from him . Furthermore, on his deathbed, the late emperor Chu summoned all the officials and generals to him, and passed the throne to Chu Yuan --- and not His Highness Chu Xiang, whom the Liu family has always supported .
And the first act that Chu Yuan executed, after ascending the throne, was to relegate this half brother of his(5) to commoner status and placed him on a small island in Xi Nan . Exiled alongside him was the fifth son of Liu Gong, Liu Jin De, the prefectural governor of Liao .
With such incidents, the relationship between the Liu family and Chu Yuan can’t be more obvious .
However no one’s a fool; no matter how many disputes and grudges are held internally, the two sides are cordial on the outside . After Chu Yuan has been emperor for a year, Liu Gong resigned of his own initiative, saying he wants to go back to Liu manor to live out his years and raise his grand kids .
Everyone thought that Liu Gong capitulated; but Chu Yuan knows in his heart, that even if Liu Gong had gone back to Dong Bei(north east), ignoring that he is in fact still in the capital, he is still the one who controls the Liu prefecture; in this court, as long as they can gain favor with the Liu family, every official and general will listen to Liu Gong’s schemes --- save for two people . One is the person who just came to arrange for matchmaking, Liu Da Jiong; his relationship with Liu prefecture is distant; this is because he is very honest and straightforward, and isn’t ambitious; only dedicated to fulfilling the duties of his office, he has kept out of this business . The other person is Zuo Cheng Xiang Liu Yi Shui; strictly speaking, he can be said to have come from the same hometown as Liu Gong; for the Imperial Examinations, he received tutelage under someone else . He is also cunning, and so no one knows what he is truly thinking .
“Your Majesty, General Shen . ” Eunuch Si Xi reminded from outside, “It’s time to have dinner . ”
“It’s already so late . ” Chu Yuan came back to himself, though he has as little appetite as before . Upon thinking that Shen Qian Fan has rushed here from far away, however, and has probably long been hungry; hence he ordered for dinner to be served, and even accompanied him in drinking cups of wine until the sky has turned entirely dark . Only then did he get Si Xi to send him out of the palace .
“If I’m an court official then there’s a need to send; I am a general and a soldier, so there’s no need to trouble eunuch already . ” Upon reaching Chong De gate, Shen Qian Fan smiled, “Please return . ”
“That’s also good, then General Shen, please go back and rest early . ” Eunuch Si Xi chuckled, “I should also go and serve medicine to the emperor . ”
Shen Qian Fan nodded, and turned to leave; but was halted by someone halfway .
“ . . . . . . . . Painter Zhang?” After seeing who they are, Shen Qian Fan heaved a sigh of relief; being approached so silently, he thought it was Lord Liu who wanted to talk about matchmaking .
“General Shen . ” Painter Zhang’s relationship with him has always been good, and so he did not restrain himself, “I heard from Xiao Fu that general had a dinner with the emperor, and so I knew to wait for general here . ”
“With everything going well, why are you waiting for me?” Shen Qian Fan is puzzled .
“There is a small matter I wish to ask of general . ” Painter Zhang said, “this morning I was summoned to the study by emperor; there was a painting of the princess of Gao Li; it was considered that she wasn’t drawn beautiful enough, and a new painting is requested . ”
“You can just simply draw a new one, unless you want me to help?” Shen Qian Fan can’t help but laugh .
“I have finished painting it, but that princess of Gao Li looks ordinary, and the original painter has probably beautified it; now that it was changed by me once more, I’m afraid there’s little resemblance . So I wish to ask, general, do you know about this matter? If you can tell me what the emperor wishes to use this painting for, I at least have a guide on what to change; in the current situation, I’m not certain of this . ” Painter Zhang said everything at once, and is now out of breath .
Shen Qian Fan helped him to recover his breath, and said: “The painting is sent by Lord Liu . ”
Painter Zhang had a sudden realization: “Oh, so it’s for matchmaking . ”
Shen Qian Fan held in his laughter: “You only need to care about drawing, there’s no need to care about the resemblance . “ It’s not the emperor that is marrying anyway, and no matter whether she’s beautiful or ugly, Xi Nan King will not agree; all this commotion is for nothing .
“Yes, yes, yes, this will do; then I will present this painting to the emperor now . ” Painter Zhang happily said, and couldn’t help showing off, “This painting of mine has turned out well; it’s drawn based on the most beautiful person in the world . ” Any standard of beauty will be matched by this; any matchmaking arranged using this will be successful .
Shen Qian Fan patted his shoulder, and turned to return to the general’s manor quickly .
In another town called Fu Duo, Duan Yao is currently playing with his insects in the guestroom, when four to five people came in from the window suddenly; he sent a dart flying at once .
“It is me, your servant . ” The subordinates barely dodged the dart; their hearts thumping .
“It’s you guys?” Duan Yao said, puzzled; the assassins from Xi Nan manor; why did they follow them all the way .
“Something happened in Xi Nan manor . ” In the group of servant there is a person called Duan Nian; he’s Duan Bai Yue’s right hand man .
“Has teacher come back to life?” Duan Yao asked nervously .
“If that old fellow has come back to life, the first thing he will do is to find you to settle past issues . ”
Duan Bai Yue pushed the door open and walked in .
Duan Yao: “ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ”
“How is it?” Duan Bai Yue asked .
Duan Nian replied: “As expected, after Your Lord has left for a few days, there are a break in at Treasure Tower . ”
“All those fake letters are stolen?” Duan Bai Yue smiled .
Duan Nian replied: “Yes . ”
“Very good . ” Duan Bai Yue nodded, and continued, “Since you are here, go to the royal capital with us; remember to never reveal your tracks . ”
Duan Yao poked dead a small bug, and pouted internally .
Of course, even you are going there sneakily; much more the servants are too .
When can he then return to Xi Nan .
The spring chill got colder and colder; there doesn’t seem to be any hint of warmer weather . Duan Yao wrapped himself into a bun, and stayed in the horse carriage all day, refusing to come out .
Duan Bai Yue, on the other hand, is not in a rush; he even got into some refined pastimes occasionally, and even went to the opera house to listen to some songs .
Duan Yao: “ . . . . . . ”
In an blink of an eye, twenty-something days has passed, and Duan Yao was dragged out in the middle of the night again and “retrieved” a royal missive from the messengers’ rest stop .
“Originally this was meant to be sent to Xi Nan manor . ” Duan Bai Yue said as he sat at the table and unsealed it; so it doesn’t count as stealing .
Duan Yao rolled his eyes, and come over while holding a cup of red tea: “What is it this time?”
Duan Bai yue opened the royal missive .
Duan Yao was shocked: “Emperor Chu wants to even get involved in your marriage matters?” Why does he have the same interests as the ladies from the manor .
Duan Bai Yue unrolled the scroll reel .
Duan Yao got even more flabbergasted: “Emperor Chu wants to get the leader of Wu Xue to get marry you?”
“Wu Xue? This is the princess of Gao Li . ” Duan Bai Yue knocked his head .
“Princess of Gao Li and the Wu Xue leader are siblings?” Duan Yao took the painting and placed it against the light to see, “This is obviously the leader of Wu Xue . ” The most beautiful person in the world; theirs looks are certainly quite good .
Duan Bai Yue laughed, and threw the royal missive and scroll into the lit brazier, and called Duan Nian in: “ Did you hear of any news?”
“There’s one thing . ” Duan Nian first nodded, then hesitated, “But subordinate has not investigated it yet . ”
“Just say it first and see . ” said Duan Bai Yue .
“Allegedly the ruler of Ah Nu, Sha Da, is already in the capital . ” Duan Nian replied .
Duan Bai Yue frowned: “Him?”
Is this anything to be surprised about . Duan Yao decried at his side, you too came here sneakily, if you can do this why can’t others?
“It should be him; he is temporarily staying in a pawn shop; our men found out about this out of the blue . ” Duan Nian said, “Moreover his brother, Gu Li, was recently assassinated in an alley in the capital; Emperor Chu was investigating it, but to no avail . "
Duan Bai Yue shook his head, and stood up: “Let’s go . ”
“Go where?” Duan Yao became alert; it’s now the middle of the night .
“The capital!” Duan Bai Yue walked out hastily .
Duan Yao’s eyes glazed over; what kind of person is he, to be going to the capital now .
Duan Nian was also surprised; it seems like he’s really doing this .
“I guess he secretly likes that Sha Da . ” Duan Yao placed the insects into his pockets angrily, “So once he heard that he is in the capital, he got so excited that he couldn’t sleep, and wants to meet him as fast as possible . ”
(1)Scroll reel: 卷轴 (juan zhou) - a way to carry scrolls around in the past
(2) servant: 小三子 (xiao san zi) - internet tells me it means a young person/kid in nanjing dialect and errand boy in shanghai dialect, so I’m going with the latter .
(3) The world’s best matchmaker: 天下第一媒 (tian xia di yi mei) - a closer translation would be “the world’s number one matchmaker” but it seems a bit too clunky .
(4) Zuo Cheng Xiang: 左丞相 - cheng xiang(丞相) is a position right below the emperor - one of the most powerful positions in the court . Zuo(左) means left . Kind of like the left hand of the emperor? Can’t think of an equivalent english phrase so it remains as it is .
(5) half brother: 同父异母 - lit . same father different mother . I used half brother instead for fluency .