Published at 7th of August 2017 09:58:04 PM

Chapter 4
Chapter 4 Demoted from Zhengfei to Cefei (unedited)

Zhengfei: primary, legitimate consort of a wang

Cefei: side, secondary consort of a wang

“Emperor and Empress arrive!” Following the high pitched sounded announcement of the court eunuch, the Emperor of Southern Yue who wore a bright yellow dragon robe, Emperor Jiaxiang, along with the splendidly dressed Empress, strolled into the palace hall.

Jiaxiang: Jia means excellent, auspicious, or joyful; Xiang means happiness, good luck/omen; it’s also the name of a county in Shandong province, China.

Sese also along with everyone did the ceremonial kowtow, once got up, the majestic Emperor Jiaxiang had sat up on the dragon chair, the pair of dragon eyes were deeply concentrated at Ye Wuyan’s body.

Ye Wuyan raised his head, the father and son were looking at each other.

Emperor Jiaxiang’s deep and serene black eyes were filled with great astonishment. After four years; the pale, thin and weak son from the memory had been reborn, he had grown into a real man.

Ye Wuyan’s black eyes were nevertheless placid, without any emotional fluctuation.

Emperor Jiaxiang’s heart shook fiercely. Through Ye Wuyan’s eyes, he vaguely saw another pair of clear eyes. What a resemblance ah, this pair of eyes, his heart was filled with a burst of pain all of a sudden, he raised his hand to hold his chest.

“Reporting to the Emperor, this time sixth Imperial Son had brought peace against Wushi Country, a big raise for our almighty Celestial Empire, truly is a remarkable contribution ah!” The Prime Minister, Xiao Qingming, stood and presented a memorial to the Emperor.

Celestial Empire: the original words that was used was 天朝 (tiāncháo), a reference to the chinese imperial court by chinese envoys or by barbarians who paid tributes to China.

“Wushi Country has been strong and fierce, for the sixth Imperial Son to able to defeat them this time, he truly serves as an exemplary soldier.” Sese’s father, Jiang Yan, also seized the opportune moment to step forward and presented a memorial to the Emperor.

Having heard what was said, the rest of the officials also joined in harmoniously.

Ye Wuyan watched all sorts of looks before him indifferently, a trace of ridicule flashed within his phoenix eyes.

The reason why he had gone into military campaign in that year were not without the deed of these people before him who had added fuel to the fire both overtly and covertly. They had thought that by moving him to the border region, they could eliminated him. They naturally hadn’t considered that in spite of everything, he could still come back alive.

Now, this bunch of old foxes saw the wind and set the helm. What kind of the thought filled their mind, he was naturally clear, so he couldn’t help but to feel that they were somewhat laughable.

See the wind and set the helm (idiom): fig. Act pragmatically; to be flexible and take advantage of the situation.

“Someone come, issuing an imperial edict!” Emperor Jiaxiang lowly stated.

The palace hall immediately filled with stillness, only Emperor’s majestic voice was heard reverberating within the palace hall.

“Sixth Imperial Son has an accomplishment of bringing peace in the west against Wushi Country, he is conferred as Xuan Wang, bestowing him a thousand liang of gold, ten huof pearls, reign over ten lords of ten thousand households. By the Emperor himself…”

Xuan: fine (beautiful) jade; Wang: prince or vassal king.

Liang: it refers to the Chinese tael, a part of the Chinese system of weights and currency, a unit of weight equal to 50 grams (modern).

Hu: a dry measure used in former times, it amount to about 51 litres.

Lord of ten thousand households; could also means the highest Han dynasty ducal title (marquess).

Emperor Jiaxiang reared four sons. Presently, the ones that still alive were only third Imperial Son, fifth Imperial Son, and sixth Imperial Son, the rest of the imperial sons had died an early death. Third Imperial Son and fifth Imperial Son were both the legitimate sons of the current empress. Third Imperial Son had been conferred as Crown Prince two years earlier. To this day, fifth Imperial Son still hadn’t been conferred as wang. No one expected that sixth Imperial Son, Ye Wuyan, would surpassed fifth Imperial Son, being conferred as wang ahead.

Empress Ming who sat up beside Emperor Jiaxiang, her expression somewhat darkened, however in a flash, it became calm again. Yet her pair of lily-white hands were nevertheless clenching tightly.

Ming means bright or clear.

“This child-subject thank Imperial Father for the bestowed gifts.” Ye Wuyan took a step in front of his seat and stated heavily, his handsome face still didn’t have any trace of being emotionally moved.

Emperor Jiaxiang expected Ye Wuyan to smile. This one son was conferred as wangand bestowed with gold, yet he didn’t have the slightest emotional movement. In the end, he would only be happy with what kind of thing! The dragon eyes swept over the orioles and swallows on the seats across the way, he smiled.

Orioles and swallows: a bevy of young girls; a crowd of women chattering together pleasantly

To count it, this one son of his was also twenty two years old this year, he should consider about his marriage affair.

“Wuyan, you and the Marquess of Ding’an’s esteemed daughter has been engaged for eight years. Zhen had selected a good day, ten days later, your marriage shall be held.” Emperor Jiaxiang stated heavily.

Zhen: I; my; the sovereign; we (used by a royal person in proclamations instead of I). The original generic first-person pronoun, arrogated to the emperors during the reign of Shi Huangdi.

Sese heard it and was startled. She had never thought that the Emperor would actually set their marriage straightforwardly at the night banquet, Daddy must have mentioned it to the Emperor.

She looked at Ye Wuyan with some apprehension and happened to see Ye Wuyan slightly furrowed his brow.

Would he refuse, or agree?

If he refused, perhaps she would be embarrassed for now. However, henceforth, she could thoroughly extricated herself.

If he agreed, although it would preserve her reputation, but later…

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For a moment, Sese didn’t know whether she was hoping for him to refuse or agree.

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Her heart was waiting in apprehension, Ye Wuyan’s brief moment of rumination were like thousands years of ordeal for her.

Finally, Ye Wuyan brought the corner of his lips to a smile and began to speak indifferently: “Reporting to Imperial Father, this child-subject heard that Young Lady Jiang is the talented girl of the imperial capital, this child-subject has been in military life for many years, not accustomed to literary talent, aware of not to measure up to Young Lady Jiang, therefore asking Imperial Father to withdraw the engagement.”

He actually refused!

Sese suddenly felt her heart at ease, she was freed. Yet the supposed happiness in her heart was nowhere to be found, instead she felt a slight sense of lost in her heart.

She had known that he didn’t want to marry her, but she didn’t want him to directly refused her like this. He was no longer that juvenile from few years ago, didn’t need to suffer a wrong in the general interest, dared to directly confront against the Supreme Ruler’s mightiness.

The Emperor didn’t become angry because of Ye Wuyan’s refusal, he merely gave a faint smile. His son, after all had grown up. However, he couldn’t agree to his request. The jade words that came out from his gold mouth, how could it be easily altered?

“My imperial son, Young Lady Jiang has waited for you for years, you must not let Young Lady Jiang down, you are to be married ten days later!” the Emperor said heavily.

Ye Wuyan also no longer persisted, he bowed and said: “This child-subject comply. There’s still one other matter, this child-subject was able to made peace with Wushi this time, was thanks to the help of the troops that was sent by Northern Lu Country. Northern Lu Country intends to be tied in marriage with Southern Yue through me, wants the Princess —Yi Yingxiang— to marry this child-subject. Asking Imperial Father’s gracious permission, to be married together on the same day as the Young Lady of Jiang household.”

Jiang Sese’s heart sank, as it turned out, he finally agreed to marry her, was to ask the Emperor to promise his and Yi Yingxiang’s marriage. The Emperor had met his own meaning, naturally would promise him in this matter.

Sure enough, the Emperor raised his eyebrows, furrowed his brow to think deeply for a moment, then faintly laughed and said: “This is not a difficult matter, since it’s like that, then just wed her and Marquess of Ding’an’s esteemed daughter on the same day in the same place.”

“But, Imperial Father, how to allocate their rightful positions? This child-subject has promised the Emperor of Northern Lu Country that Yingxiang will be zhengfei.” Ye Wuyan asked in low voice, the edges his lips were still curved in the unchanging smile, however there was an anticipation inside his eyes.

Having heard what was said, the Emperor’s face darkened heavily.

Northern Lu Country was located north of Southern Yue, the territory was more extensive than Southern Yue. Just because the northern was bitterly cold, Northern Lu Country couldn’t be regarded as prosperous, however in the recent years, there was a sudden rise in Northern Lu Country’s strength, must not be belittled.

“Since it’s like this, then could only wronged Marquess of Ding’an’s esteemed daughter to be cefei!” Emperor Jiaxiang dryly stated, he rejoiced inside his heart that when he had granted the marriage, it was merely to grant the marriage, never indicated that he wanted the esteemed daughter of Jiang to be zhengfei.

Marquess of Ding’an, Jiang Yan’s face naturally looked bad, yet he still smiled, stepped forward and said: “Xuan Wang has the disposition of dragon and phoenix, for this lowly woman to be able to marry into the wangfu, can be regarded as the good fortune from the past generation, it’s not being wronged. This small subject thank Emperor’s abundant grace.”

Dragon and phoenix: auspicious, extraordinary.

Wangfu: the official residence of a prince (wang).

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The Emperor nodded, smiled and said: “My minister, no need to stand on ceremony.”

Ye Wuyan stepped back and sat on the chair, the corner of his lips were raised to an expression filled with smile, he was looking at Princess Yingxiang of Northern Lu Country who was in the womenfolk section.

Yi Yingxiang was also filled with smile that reached to her eyes, they looked at each other with unbroken affections.

Ye Wuyan was totally unaware that while gazing at the bright moon, not far from her, there was a woman clad in blue who sat calmly, that woman was exactly Jiang Sese.

woman clad in blue

‘Their secret amorous glances entice them on, and desire flows across their gaze in autumn waves.’

This line was taken from the third verse of a poem titled “Pu Sa Man” (means Bodhisattva/Deva-like Barbarian) by Li Yu. The poem was also part of compiled poems in a book titled Chinese Erotic Poems, the complete translation of the poem is added in the footnote.1

Didn’t know why, Jiang Sese suddenly thought such line of verse.

Originally when the Emperor had granted the marriage, he didn’t stated clearly that Sese would be zhengfei, merely said to be wangfei. However, the marriage that was granted by the Emperor, when was it ever for the position of cefei? Now, he had just come back, he immediately demoted her, his unmarried wangfei, to the position of a cefei.

Wangfei: the consort of a prince (wang); princess consort. It’s a title that was mostly used only by the official wife (zhengfei) of the prince (wang). 

In fact, whether it was zhengfei or cefei, they were no more than an appellation. And for Jiang Sese, they didn’t have any difference. However, Sese also knew that in the eyes of common people, zhengfei and cefei are as different as sky and earth.

lit. as different as sky and earth (idiom): fig. night and day difference; a world of difference

Zhengfei is a wife, cefei is a concubine.

A man could have a lot of concubines, but could only have one wife. No matter how favoured you were as a concubine, you also could never be above a wife, for example — Mother.

Sese never understood, why Mother willing to marry Daddy as concubine. Although Mother were doing her utmost to fit in Marquess’ residence, but in Sese’s eyes, Mother and Jiang’s residence were completely incompatible. Although Daddy was very good toward Mother, however Sese knew that Mother was not happy at all.

At Jiang’s residence, the high-bred first madam were always mocking and looking down on Mother’s origin. Yet Mother never got angry, she merely smiled indifferently in face of everything.

Mother always talked to Sese about the ocean.

The view of the sea at the sunrise, the sound of the tides at the moonset. The sea was wide and the sky was tall, how free and at ease.

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Sese thought that her mother should go to look at the sea. Perhaps after looking at the sea, she could see Mother’s happiness.

Although Sese’s external appearance was calm, leisure and exquisite, but the one that flow in her vein was indeed the same restless blood as Mother. Merely because she had grown up at the Marquess’ residence, therefore the education and etiquette were suppressing the vibrant spirit that was dwelling within her.

She had sworn that she wouldn’t be like Mother, serving as a man’s concubine. It’s truly ridiculous, tonight, she was still reduced to a concubine, moreover it’s a concubine that would never be favoured. The worst of all, she also couldn’t refuse, because her marriage were related to the honour of the whole Jiang family.

She was a Young Lady as well as an educated and well-balanced esteemed daughter, she must not be wilful nor reckless, her self-cultivation didn’t allow her to do so, even Daddy and Mother wouldn’t agree.

Sese quietly sat there, her face was carrying a glittering smile —calm, elegant, and detached. She didn’t want people to see her as a resentful woman.

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1Deva-like Barbarian

Bright flowers and dim moon, enmeshed in thin drifting mist;
Tonight is a perfect time to steal out to her lover’s side.
Stockinged feet tread the fragrant steps,
As she holds in her hands her gold-sewn shoes.

They meet in a pathway south of the painted hall,
And she trembles for a moment in his nestling arms;
“Because it is so hard for me to come out,
I allow you now to fully indulge your love.”

A sound of brass reeds crips as the brittle clatter of cold bamboo,
As delicate jade fingers drift slowly through new music—
Their secret amorous glances entice them on,
And desire flows across their gaze in autumn waves.

In clouds and rain deep within the embroidered doors,
Never easy to express true feelings.
The feast finished, a void returns again,
In dreams bewildered within the spring rain.