♫The sounds from the sheng and xiao die away in the distance, in the sparse, declining light♫
(T/N reed instrument made of vertical pipes; end-blown flute) ♫ Memories of my past, my companions in youth.♫ ♫ Over boundless years, old affairs have become difficult to recall.♫ ♫ I’ve used a lifetime of truth to put up a pretense.♫ ♫ Parting without opening these cupped hands full of tears.♫ ♫ Clears my vision and permits me to resist♫ ♫ Perhaps when targeted by love it is not wise to separate♫ ♫ The morning wind can not dispel the aftermath.♫ ♫ Whose hidden tears made the blooming flowers blush,♫ ♫ And in the desolate and dreary torrential storms to painfully droop low,♫ ♫ Unwilling to blossom again alone?♫ ♫ The coming day belongs to the young.♫ ♫ As the glimmer of dawn becomes again the setting sun.♫ ♫ Who is this person who does not sleep soundly in the middle of the night?♫ ♫Sitting and watching the autumn wind puff out and penetrate the palace curtains.♫ ♫One strand held in remembrance, shackling sentiment and concern.♫ ♫ Always submerged in the fragrant incense of fleeting time♫ Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace Episode 22 In the past few days, how can the muscles in your hands not be aching? You’ve already made two sets of knee and elbow pads. Let me do this. It’s alright. I’ll do it. This is for Dowager Imperial Concubine Ji. After putting on the medicine sent in by Jiang Yubin, my hand’s much better. It’s just that it’s hard for him to come and take a look, even if he wants to. We’re downcast here and Jiang Yubin is still so caring. It’s a rarity in itself. Suoxin, actually you could be instead with Jiang Yubin. You needn’t have come in here with me to Cold Palace. No. My loyalty to you is more important than anything else. Sister. Sister! Seems like someone’s knocking on the door. Sister! Sister! Sister! Sister! Sister! Sister! Hailan? Sister. Hailan, what happened? What happened to your hand? It was the Empress, Noble Consort Hui….and First Attendant Shen. They bullied me, and they stepped on my hand. They punished me to kneel in the rain. Without you, I can’t endure it. Hailan, you suffered. Sister. But you have to learn to protect yourself, Hailan. I can’t protect myself, Sister. I am useless. Hailan, that’s not true. You’re very smart. You will be able to protect yourself for sure. Hailan, do you remember that day with the cinnabar incident, I was bullied, and it was you who pled my case to His Majesty. You were able to that day, but why couldn’t you today? That day, it was because I wanted to wash away your false accusation. And His Majesty cherished you, Sister. But today, those who bullied me are either high in power, or heavily favored by His Majesty. I am all alone. What can I even do? Hailan. If you can’t protect yourself on your own strength, you should borrow other people’s power to protect yourself. Other people’s power? Do you mean Empress Dowager? His Majesty? I’ve always been by your side, so Empress Dowager dislikes me. As for His Majesty… I’m afraid of His Majesty. Hailan. In need you must try it, be it His Majesty or Empress Dowager. I know you’ve always been scared of His Majesty. But you can’t just live in that dark shadow forever. I can’t. Without you, I really can’t do it. Hailan, I am in Cold Palace right now. I don’t have a way to protect you. You must learn to protect yourself. You have to treat it as though you no longer have me. Pushed to the edge of the cliff, one must rile up courage. You must live well so I can live assured in Cold Palace. Do you understand? Don’t get rained on here anymore. Hurry and return to your palace. Change your clothes and warm up your body. Hurry now. Hurry. Mistress, you are really so sad on behalf of Her Highness the Empress. It’s so late, and you’re still showing devotion to Buddha for Second Prince. Her Highness is so weary because of Second Prince. I should share her burden naturally. You’ve given your utmost to Her Highness the Empress. Can I not? Even if I have some selfish desires, getting rid of that Ula-Nara was to help ease a burden away from Her Highness the Empress too. Getting rid of Imperial Concubine Yi and Imperial Concubine Mei’s unborn children. It was to help secure Second Prince’s position too. It was good that Sulian helped me. We are doing work for her actually. Now Minister Gao is being valued by His Majesty, and Her Highness the Empress values you, so your position is secured too. I just hope I could have a child and I’ll be content fully. Mistress! Where are you? Mistress! Where are you? There! Hurry! Mistress! Mistress. Kneel here for two hours. Let the heavy rain wash away your filth. This is the plum flower sachet Noble Lady Hai made for the one in Cold Palace as a pair. Noble Lady Hai is wearing this sachet daily. Sister. Sister. Sister! Hailan, I am in Cold Palace now. I have no way to protect you. You must learn to protect yourself. You must treat it as though you no longer have me. At the edge of the cliff, one must rile up courage. If you live well, I can live assured at Cold Palace. Do you understand that? Greetings to Noble Lady Hai. Sister is here. Greetings to Elder Sister Imperial Concubine Chun. Sister, you’re very different today. Usually you care the least about your decoration. After a few days of being ill, you don’t only seem better, you are dressing more attentively too. A new life after an ailment. Yexin told me while I was sick you came to visit me, so I came today to thank you especially. You don’t need to be so cordial. You’re better now, Sister, and I’m really happy. As you know, since Ruyi went into Cold Palace, I’ve lost a partner I can discuss things with. Sister Chun, if you don’t shun it, I will accompany you. Sister Chun is here. Sister Jia is here too. Noble Lady Hai is here too? Greetings to Elder Sister Imperial Concubine Chun. Greetings to Elder Sister Imperial Concubine Jia. I heard you were sick a few days ago. Now you’re better, so indeed you should come out a bit. Your adornment seems different from before too. Sister Jia is right. I should come and walk around more. Enough. Let’s not stand. Have a seat and chat. Sister Jia, are you coming from Yangxin Hall? I was chatting with His Majesty, but His Majesty summoned the royal physician to ask about Second Prince’s illness. So I had no choice but to come out too. Second Prince is ill and His Majesty can’t manage other things. Of course. They are all princes, but His Majesty’s too biased. Sister Chun, His Majesty hasn’t seen Third Prince for several days either, right? My child, how can he be compared to Her Highness the Empress’ main heir? We can’t have other children unloved just because there’s a main wife son. You talk like that, and I am really going to have to worry for my baby in my womb. You can’t say that though. If you are pregnant with a prince, then it would be His Majesty’s first prince after succession. He will be honored like no other. Can’t be more honorable than the heir of the main wife still. If we didn’t have this main wife, we concubines here could be seen by His Majesty too. You can’t talk like that. I’m just jesting. What are you doing? What are you doing? I am the new physician in Royal Physician’s Court. I went to look at some matron’s illness. I got lost so I came here. This is the Cold Palace. You can’t be so lost as to come here! Yes. – Hurry and go.
– Yes. Let’s go. Eunuch Ma. Eunuch Ma, what’s the food today? Three pretty good ones, for Dowager Ji, and Ula-Nara pair. By the way, you have to watch it. Don’t let various non-related personnel come by here, right? I will take care of him next time he comes. Meal time! My Mistress rewards you. Thanks to Mistress Hui. That the Ula-Nara’s food, right? It is. As you instructed on the top, it’s all clean, non-poisonous good stuff. No one can find fault in it. – Mistress’ arrangement can naturally be without fault.
– Yes. Let her eat some pain then. [ Xiefang Hall ] The Second Prince is still the same? Of course. His asthma is getting worse and worse. By the way, Kexin, you must make sure to let the Momo Song know Yongzhang must be quiet. – Don’t let Second Prince hear him and get incited again.
– Yes. That Empress’ tears have fallen enough to fill a crock. I bet she regrets it so much now. What do you mean? I heard from Yonghuang that since Second Prince went into the study hall, Her Highness the Empress aspires her son to be a dragon and pushes him to study day and night. She forced all the illness on him. Afterwards, the Empress doesn’t dare to ask about studies anymore. But Second Prince seems to have gotten himself sick. He forced himself to study while ill. That asthma never got better. I also heard Her Highness the Empress has been transcribing the scriptures with her own fresh blood. To think this is all to pray for blessings and longevity for the Second Prince. Doing that really work? If it really worked, why would we need the royal physicians? I heard Qi Ru gathered the entire team of physicians in royal medical court to have them look at Second Prince. But no matter how they examine him and treat him, over and over, they finally just said we can only try to preserve and drag this into next summer before the symptoms turn. If he can’t endure that long, it’s his fate then. Mother. Mother! What is it, Yongzhang? Mother, my doll is ripped! No problem. If the doll is ripped, throw it away. I’ll sew a new one for you, alright? No, I want this one. Sister Chun. If Third Prince truly likes it, keep it. Third Prince, once your mother sews it back together, she will give it back to you. Is that alright? Alright. Greetings to Your Majesty. – All rise.
– Thank you, Your Majesty. Noble Lady Hai, I rarely see you dressed so colorfully. I dressed more brightly to come to Xiefang Hall, hoping all the princes will like it when they see me. Yes. Third Prince loves Lady Hai. You normally dress so modestly, dressing so colorfully now and then does put others in a good mood. You live alone in Yanxi Palace. Can you get used to it? I’m used to it, but also not used to it. What do you mean? Before I had Sister accompany me but now I’m alone, so I’m not used to it. But if a person looks at her shadow for a long time, she gets used to it too. Forget it. You are all tired. Go back to your palaces. I’m going to visit Yonglian. Bidding farewell to Your Majesty. You’re good. Slowly. Don’t trip. More slowly. Look at you. His Majesty finally spoke a few words to you, and you mention Ruyi again to upset him. His Majesty was upset? I didn’t see that. Mistress. This reed flower, when you put it in a bottle, it looks very pleasing. Get me a bottle later. Also, have they delivered the winter clothes from Internal Affairs Office yet? Not yet. When I went there, I heard from the sewing gugus there that in a few days, it will be the “Chongyang Festival”.(T/N ninth day, ninth lunar month) His Majesty instructed them to sew a long-life blanket for Empress Dowager. I heard they are sewing pearls and gold threads into the image on top of it. And they took it to the senior monk to bless it first. They are rushing to get it delivered to Empress Dowager before Chongyang Day. They are busy with this so they can’t manage other things for now. The Emperor is anxious about this? Of course. I heard His Majesty goes to the embroidery room personally every two days to see it. Your Majesty. All the gifts for Empress Dowager’s birthday are here. I saw them. Very beautiful and meaningful. Qin Li, you do good work. Thank you, Your Majesty. The long-life blanket’s larger portion is done. Just that the top, the feathers of the phoenix, no matter how they sew it, it doesn’t shine. If we want it brilliant and bright, we can add more colors, and mix in some gold threads. What’s the difficulty? They did sew that. And they showed it to Empress Dowager, but she said it was tacky so it was sent back. The servants minds’ have nearly gone dry but no solution yet. Fools. Can’t even get such normal household matter done. No wonder Royal Mother is angry. I’ll go look just how hard these phoenix feathers are. Yes. Empress Dowager is long-lived. She’s used to seeing all kinds of flowery things. Plus this blanket is to cover her body. If it’s too splendid, it will stinging to the eye at night. Empress Dowager won’t like it and it will seem tacky. What should we do then? Look at the phoenix, it sports an air of pride. And it has hundreds of clusters of flowers by it. So when you choose your colors, you needn’t be overly-sumptuous. You just need to pick dark purple silk thread. For every eight shares, mix in one share of silver threads to make one share. Then the colors will be soft without dimming. Under the light, it won’t be glaring. But under the candlelight, it will have a soft and warm hue. Then would it be not very formidable to use silver thread only? That’s why we need to sew on each of the feather strands, some purple crystal beads and tourmaline beads. Purple crystal color can enhance the dark purple threads. And tourmaline has a calming effect. It’s also known as “longevity stone”. So with that, the colors can cover the splendor of the silk threads. Finally, use ample amounts of beeswax stonesby the phoenix’s head. (T/N amber) Beeswax stone signify auspicious prayer. Empress Dowager shouldn’t object. Then could you sew on it for us to see so we can learn? I already sewed it there. Greetings to Your Majesty. – You may all rise.
– Thank you, Your Majesty. I was just wondering where such a smart sewing girl came from. It was you, Hailan. I’m dull. I’m a joke to Your Majesty. I can see it. The feather you sewed has balanced colors without being overly-sumptuous. Royal Mother will surely like it. How did you come up with it? I saw the Buddhist beads Empress Dowager usually holds. They’re made with purple sandalwood and tourmaline. Qin Li, tell the maidens to come out. So I thought of using this color scheme. I thought if Empress Dowager doesn’t like it, she wouldn’t be holding it by her so often. Everyone can see it but you’re the most thoughtful. How come I never knew you were so thoughtful? I hide my thoughts in my mind and they are not easily seen. Whenever I come to this sewing room, I think of you in the old times. A fragrant orchid’s character, with a pure heart. (T/N hui are cymbidium orchids which carry inflorescences with multiple flowers.) These days, I’ve not treated you well. Today I have time to spare, so let me visit with you in your palace. Come. [ Jin Bao ] Who’s serving His Majesty in bed tonight? I hear it’s Noble Lady Hai. If she can serve him in bed… I’m lower than she is. Mistress, what are you talking about? In the palace, who’s served His Majesty in bed more than you? Your Highness the Empress, Second Prince’s illness is getting worse. These days, you must tend carefully to this matter’s essential details. May you cure him, Royal Physician Qi. I dare not be even slightly remiss. Also, Second Prince’s illness must be most watched against things that prevent inhalation. In autumn, there are more reeds and sand. You must be careful. I will. My good son. Grow nice and well in mother’s tummy. Second Prince is very ill. If he can’t endure through this, then that’s a gallop for you. (T/N then her son may be leading candidate for Crown Prince) The First Prince is not favored and the Third Prince is incompetent. Now Second Prince only has his fate left. I don’t know if heaven will preserve the Second Prince. As long as your child is born and it’s a male, the heavens will only preserve your son. Greetings to Your Majesty. Second Prince is asleep. Let’s give him his medicine later. We are both here. I don’t know how things are with Her Highness. Then you go and accompany Her Highness the Empress for now. I will stay here. Alright. Let me go back and check. You watch Second Prince closely and once he’s awake, give him his medicine. Your Majesty, Second Prince is very ill. I dare to ask. Shouldn’t Your Majesty be with the Empress more? The Empress is completely devoted to Yonglian. She’s cautious day and night. I haven’t been spending nights with the Empress lately. Actually Second Prince is being looked after at Xiefang Palace. The Empress going back and forth is an inconvenience. The Empress is very aware of the palace rules and she is always teaching Yonglian rigorously. Anytime he has a spare moment, she forces him to study. Even though it pains me, there’s no choice. To add further, Yonglian is ill now. If we move him, it might just add to his illness. Your Majesty does indeed value the son of your main wife more. Son of the main wife is naturally important. But I hope you can have a child soon too. It’s so fragrant. I always think your decor here is simple with a faint fragrance. It’s not a common fragrance. What exactly is it? This is foxtail millet from after the spring. I put that together with calamus leaves into the pillow. These pillow scents, though faint, they last a long time. When you’re asleep on them, you can get rejuvenated by these floral scents. Sister Ruyi taught me this too. I’m tired. I won’t speak anymore. Your Majesty, rest up. His Majesty shuns my mentioning of Sister. But in his heart he must miss her. Sister’s injustice. Do I tell His Majesty? Will His Majesty believe me? It’s Noble Consort Hui and the Empress both on one side. I have no proof. If I say it recklessly, will I be able to rescue Sister? Yonglian! Yonglian! Yonglian! What’s that sound? – What’s that sound?
– I don’t know. Your Majesty. Your Majesty! Your Majesty…Your Majesty, something bad has happened. I-It’s a serious matter. Xiefang Hall. Xiefang Hall? Is it Yonglian? – Is it Yonglian?
– Your Majesty. – Your Majesty, don’t get chilled.
– May you be consoled. I-It’s the Second Son. The Second Son is already a dead prince! (T/N lit. hong) How? Your Majesty, please be consoled. Her Highness the Empress already rushed over from Changchun Palace. Yonglian is my legitimate heir. (T/N considered heir apparent as the Empress’ only son, the “legal wife”) He needs to succeed me. How can it be Yonglian? Yonglian is my legitimate heir. He’s my legitimate heir. Yonglian. Yonglian! [ In Qianlong Era, tenth lunar month and twelfth day of the third year (November 23, 1738). Second Royal Prince Yonglian dies. Posthumously named Crown Prince Danhui. ] Special Note: The Qianlong Era is not the same as Qianlong’s actual start and end of reign. The Era began February 12, 1736, not his date of accession of October 8, 1735. Your Majesty. It’s my fault. Yonglian was weak. I still made him read and write. I diminished his vigor. It was I who killed Yonglian. Empress, you were being the example for the harem. Yonglian is gone. What use is being the example to me now? I really don’t wish to live any longer. I grew up in the palace. I know children in the palace are feeble and difficult to raise alive. Getting to twenty years in age, many already die before that. But I never thought that today we would lose Yonglian. The pain pierces me. He’s my main heir who was supposed to inherit the throne. Please be consoled, Your Majesty. Your Majesty. Why was there a reed inside the room? It harmed Yonglian. Reed flowers are abundant in the fall. Who would’ve thought the breeze was strong at night and reed pollen flew into Yonglian’s room. It’s too hard to prevent that. I regret. It was I… It was I who reduced the servants at Xiefang Hall. If I had not done this, if I hadn’t penalized Yonglian for being the main heir. If…. If I had more people watching him, then he wouldn’t… It was I who killed Yonglian. Don’t blame yourself. Yonglian. Second Prince? How? Second Prince, since he contracted asthma, his health kept getting worse. When fall started, his illness reactivated and it never improved. The Empress kept forcing him to study while ill. And so what use is it for her to come later to transcribe the scriptures with her own blood? It is clearly the Empress who killed the Second Prince. His Majesty must be heartbroken. The main heir dies early. Of course His Majesty is lamenting. He’s already named the Second Prince posthumously as Crown Prince Danhui. Yes, His Majesty always cherished the legitimate heir. But who would’ve thought? With an evil mother as the Empress, it’s hard to preserve his life. Sister, don’t pity those who do evil. Don’t forget it was Empress and Noble Consort who framed you. Now, it’s only karma. I won’t forget, naturally. I just feel heartache for the child. I only pity you. Since that day after I heard what Noble Consort Hui said, I only focus on rescuing you now. Hailan, now you are being favored by His Majesty. You must watch yourself first. Don’t be reckless. Sister. What’s wrong? Is your joint swelling getting worse? It’s nothing. I can endure it. I’ve gone to the royal medical court and spoken to the doctors. But none of them are willing to come to the Cold Palace. There’s a junior physician named Jiang Yubin there. He’s Suoxin’s hometown compatriot. Suoxin sought him out through Ling Yunche before. He sent us some medicine. But he can’t come to Cold Palace either. Can you go see him and see if you can come up with a way together? Don’t be reckless though. Second Prince. Don’t blame the heavens. Blame your mother, that’s who you should blame. She is cruel and harmed others. Now she reaps what she sowed. She harmed you. Go smoothly. Mistress. Mistress. Someone’s coming this way, I think. Hurry and go. Princess. Slow down, Princess. Princess, don’t run so fast. Xingxuan, you go watch the Princess. – Don’t let her trip and fall!
– Yes. Princess, slow down. Since Crown Prince Danhui died, Mistress, you not only have to manage the harem affairs for Her Highness the Empress, you have to look after Princess Hejing too. You must be so exhausted. It’s so late, but the Princess wants to come out to the Imperial Garden. Mistress, you have to accompany her too. Her Highness the Empress trusts me, so she entrusts the Princess to me. Mother Hui. Mother Hui! Mother Hui, look. I just picked it up. What funny thing is this? Where did you find this? Over there, up ahead. Let me go see if there’s more. Princess. Shuangxi, is there anyone burning joss papers in the palace lately? It’s the Cold Palace up front. Who’d burn joss papers here? Mistress, could someone have cursed Crown Prince Danhui? Don’t talk nonsense. I didn’t. Crown Prince Danhui left in such a rush. I kept thinking it was strange. Who’d curse the crown prince? Other than the one in the Cold Palace, who else would hate Her Highness the Empress and her son the most? Mistress, I think this thing isn’t auspicious. If it’s really the one in the Cold Palace, she sure is daring. She is just troublesome alive. I should get rid of her for good with this chance. This is the perfect tool here. But it all needs to wait until Her Highness the Empress is better. Now Crown Prince Danhui has died, all eyes are on your tummy. If you bear a prince… I wish I could give birth to a prince too. But if I bear a princess, what do I do then? It won’t be the case. The clan heir apparent asked the clan fortuneteller to look into it. You’ve got a male image and you will surely have a boy when pregnant. This child is coming at a great time. Now, Crown Prince Danhui died before yours arrived. It’s like abdicating the seat for him. Even the gods are helping us. ♫Intoxicated by the falling flower petals in the plum garden♫ ♫ as if this life were our first time we have met.♫ ♫ Black silken hair reflecting the frosty moonlight,♫ ♫ Hands joined together, for our innumerable mortal lives.♫ ♫ The burden of concern on my mind has paled rose-kissed cheeks,♫ ♫ Yearning now turns into confusion.♫ ♫ Glistening teardrops cover the pledge,♫ ♫ joining hands for a lifetime, when in the past did he change it?♫ ♫ Flowers start out blossoming in splendor, but are easily destroyed♫ ♫ Who is that plucking on qin (zither) strings?♫ ♫ When love becomes deep, people are prone to separate.♫ ♫ Alone, I sing the sad song of parting.♫ ♫ Twilight is tardy, spring is late.♫ ♫ With graceful reasoning, like it had been empty dream, with sighs.♫ ♫ Let it flow away with the river of time.♫ ♫ Vast years apart, with no clear date of return or hope, ♫ ♫ Regretfully not admitting the care held deep within my heart.♫ ♫ Moonlight flows like water, washing away the pretentiousness of the past affairs.♫ ♫ Sincerity now is the only thing left to depend upon.♫ ♫ In the endless night, I cannot put down the gray hairs to pursue youth.♫ ♫ Nor dare to look at you quietly from afar.♫ ♫ If we can have another lifetime together, may we both be commoners.♫ ♫ Reunited, and again pledging faithfully to stand by each other.♫