How to Become a Demonized Empress Who Ruined a Kingdom
Wu Ke ‘kindly’ told me that the morning court was as no good as the vegetable market; His Majesty had always allowed the officials to be outspoken and honest. He must have worked too hard lately and was scared that I would ruin the current balance the moment I sit in the morning court.
I readied myself to get bombed by the officials. I even prepared a handkerchief, so that I could use them to stuff my ears with once things get loud. Who would have known that the ministers would all be so wary to speak? None of them seemed to be willing to talk.
In the end, one of them bravely stepped forward and it was an imperial censor. He blabbered on and on and on before ending it with something that pretty much implied, ‘Even though the emperor is unable to manage the court at the moment, you should just manage the back palace and leave the court to us men. Just take care of your sick husband and raise your own child. Mind your own business.’
I was dumbfounded.
I heard that since His Majesty was unconscious, the court was divided into gangs. They had been fighting with each other non-stop. It had only been two days and they had already patched up and unite against me.
Ever since the Great Qi united all the kingdoms, all the ministers in court were consists of members of the noble families and scholars from poor households. Those people were interweaved together to form this court.
Although I mostly stayed out of politics, I was the direct witness of His Majesty keeping everything at balance.
I sat in Qin Zheng Palace, battered and covered in dirt. After I returned to the back palace, I could not help but mourn when I saw Feng Zhao Wen in deep sleep. We left the palace together, but now, I had to deal with this mess all by myself. I was too lazy and did not bother to learn how to scheme from Feng Zhao Wen. He was sleeping so soundly, what should I do?
I pulled his earlobe before threatening him, “Your Majesty, the rebelling party has surrounded the palace for two days, if you still don’t wake up, me and our child will die…”
Tian Bing Qing had been crying until his eyes were swollen for the past two days. He seemed to have grown numb to my way of threatening people. He simply stared at the unconscious emperor.
The Head of Imperial Physician, Shi Qing, protected his beard with one hand while checking the emperor’s pulse with his other hand. I started to become more and more discourteous to this teacher of mine, this past two days. I grabbed him by the sleeve and demanded, “Just when will the emperor wake up?”
Just like usual, he lied to me with a bitter face again, “His Majesty is only unconscious, his pulse is stable. He is only unconscious because he lost too much blood.”
In this world, the type of people who lied the most were physicians.
I could sense Shi Qing’s eyes flickering. I stared at his now sparse beard. His words were not reliable at all. I might as well send him to the prison so that he could keep General Hu Guo company. Perhaps, he would get more honest when hungry.
A servant came in to report that Consort De had tried to commit suicide because the empress wouldn’t let her meet the emperor.
At this moment, the thing I feared hearing the most was death. I flew into a fit of rage, “If she wants to die so much, do not stop her! Prepare for her funeral arrangement!”
The maid who came in to report that immediately turned pale. She kowtowed while retreating outside.
Anger was pooling in my head. So many things needed to be dealt with, so many stumbling blocks… It was now that I felt that I could not live without he who was lying on the dragon bed.
Had anybody else felt this before? The feeling when your life was connected to a complete stranger’s. You felt the ache when he was in pain and when he was struggling for his life, you were left all alone, hopeless and with no idea on how you would live on.
I swept my swollen eyes over the mountains of memorials on top of the dragon desk. When I sat beyond a veil in Qin Zheng Hall again, I was more than eager to give those blockheads a good beating, all those who kept sending memorials to criticize everything just because the empress was in charge of the court now. I ordered a couple of them to be hit, while praised some, like the Minister of Rites for minding his own business and kept doing his job. They were definitely the kind that the emperor treasured.
Killing the fowl to warn the monkeys was a really effective method. Other than a couple of them who were hell-bent on protecting those in the prison, the rest got the warning and got on with their lives.
(TN: Killing the fowl to warn the monkeys means using someone as an example to scare off the others.)
When I went back to Zhong Hua Palace, I caressed His Majesty’s face with a broken heart. “In the past, I’ve always looked down on myself. I didn’t think I have anything good in me. I was flamboyant and rash, I didn’t know anything about loyalty and virtue. I thought I was the biggest bastard. But now, those officials who acted all loyal, only to change tune at the most crucial moment, are the biggest, baddest bastards of them all.”
“Your Majesty, I finally believe that you have discerning eyes,” I sincerely praised him.
Perhaps, the emperor was tired of dealing with the court and the hooligan ministers that came with it. Maybe that was why he wouldn’t wake up.
I whispered to his ears and promised him, “Your Majesty, I promise you. I will make those bullies and blockheads meet the previous emperor.
Perhaps he would be willing to wake up, now?
Tian Bing Qing burst into tears and kowtowed on the ground, “Your Ladyship, you must not commit a massacre!”
I really wanted to kick him out for eavesdropping on a private conversation. Had there been no lack of trusted people to take care of the emperor, I would have sent him to the prison to eat Buddhist mantras!
Shi Qing looked at me like I was a crazy wife who just lost her husband. He wanted to check my pulse, but I pushed his hand away.
Rather than pitying me, he should pity his own beard.
On the next day, I attended the court and the agendas were all about the tax in Hexi, the drought in Hedong, Jiang Nan’s flood and the threats of Saibei’s bandits. The entire world was bursting with calamities. There was not a single day of rest. Everything felt absurd. What did these people and these things had anything to do with me?
There were so many people in this world, but there was only one that I was intimate with. The thought of him no longer being in this world was so painful.
After the court ended, E Huang ran over breathlessly, in tears. She choked out, “The emperor—“ My eyes turned blurry from tears.
I’ve always thought that the gods treated me rather okay-ish, but now, I’ve realized that the worst possible outcome had came true. It was as though I was bathing in a bucket of ice, my entire body felt cold. My heart almost stopped and I felt numb.
As I rushed through the long pathway of the back palace, the entire world seemed to have darkened. My old nightmare returned again. I felt as though I was alone in this world, without a place of origin and without any destination.
Everyone inside Zhong Hua Palace were weeping as I strode in. Only now did I realized how hard it was to say that one word.
I walked over to the bed where Tian Bing Qing and Shi Qing were standing. They were shocked when they saw me. I squeezed myself between them, my eyes misty and blurry.
I tried my best to survive the thunderstorm without realizing that the winds were strong and the waves in the river were high. Even if I lived through it, I may not be happy. I pointed at Feng Zhao Wen, gritting my teeth as my tears fell, “You liar…. Feng Zhao Wen, you are a liar…”
Tian Bing Qing rushed to stop me, “Your Ladyship, you are being discourteous!”
I kicked him away before wiping my tears. I laughed bitterly, “Discourteous? He is dead! What is the point of being courteous? Feng Zhao Wen, you actually dared to lie to me! You actually dared to leave me! Alright, wait for me! I will settle the score with you, in the afterlife!”
Shi Qing looked at me with bulged eyes, as though he was looking at someone insane.
“Don’t think I wouldn’t be able to find you in the afterlife!” My lower abdomen suddenly hurts. I took a deep breath, “You deceived me into falling in love with you, until I wanted to grow old with you. It had only been a couple of months and you already casted me aside…. How could you do that?”
A low voice could suddenly be heard, “When did zhen ever cast you aside?”
I wiped my tears with my sleeve and almost bit my own tongue in shock. I pointed a trembling finger at him, “A- A talking corpse….” I rushed to him and pinched his arm, “Just keep being dead if you are dead, you actually dared to become a zombie?” I angrily pointed at him, “Even in death, you don’t want me to settle the score!”
But, he felt warm. Zombies weren’t warm, were they? His Majesty was truly extraordinary in everything he did.
I dropped backwards as the man in the dragon bed opened his eyes. He helplessly sighed, “An Xiaolang, when will you get rid of this nonsensical behavior of yours?”
I trembled as joyful tears burst out of my eyes. My body relaxed a little, only to tense up moments later. I bit my lips hard, until I drew blood.
The man on the bed looked at me in shock. He laughed, “Alright, zhen will not blame you. Stop biting yourself.”
I could only choke out two words, “It hurts!” I held my stomach as I screamed in pain.
The pain totally came at the worst timing ever.