♫ 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 39 I fear that Her Highness the Empress is like a lamp that has used up its oil. I fear that she’ll be dying soon. Hope Her Highness the Empress has abundant luck and will be blessed by the heavens. What nonsense are you speaking? Royal Mother is still in the prime of her life? How can she be like a lamp that’s out of oil! It’s obvious that your medical skill is lacking and you are spouting nonsense! Jingse, your mother is critically ill. Only that Qi Ru who has served us for many years would dare to say this. Your Majesty. Regardless of Her Highness’ condition, you must quickly notify the the Internal Affairs Department Have them prepare the lucky wood in the capital. It’s also good to rush it. I will do according to what Royal Mother has said. Qi Ru, do a good job of attending to this. If there are any movements, report to me immediately. Yes. Noble Consort Xian, Her Highness is gravely ill from falling into the water. You and Noble Consort Chun set off now to take care of Her Highness. Yes. The rest of you can go back. Yes. Jingse, come with me. Are you okay, Mistress? – I’m fine.
– Be careful. Congratulations. After all these years, you have finally benefited. Thank you, Noble Lady Ling. Mistress, why is there a hydrangea flower missing from your head? After finding out that Her Highness the Empress fell into the water, I was flustered and don’t know when I lost it. I really deserve to die. His Majesty gave the hydrangea flower to me on the Double Seventh festival. Do you want me to help you to find it? Forget it. It’s chaos out there now. If you go out just because of a flower, His Majesty won’t be happy. If I don’t wear it, His Majesty won’t notice either. – Hailan.
– Noble Consort Chun, Sister. Go and get a pot of nice tea. Yes. Wait outside. Yes. I was waiting for you. Her Highness the Empress is critically ill. I’m very worried upon hearing this. Come. I wanted to discuss something with you. Did you hear what Imperial Physician Qi said? He said that… He said that after they retrieved Her Highness the Empress from the water, she kept saying, “measure for measure”. I was thinking, could she have accidentally overheard our conversation? Or…after hearing our conversation, she was angry and jumped into the water? We heard a sound and didn’t check. Tell me, do you think we won’t be pardoned for not saving her? You are thinking too much into this. We really didn’t hear anyone crying for help. How could we have known that someone fell into the water and that it was Her Highness the Empress? That’s right. What if the Empress regains consciousness and comes after us? How could that Imperial Concubine Mei speak without using her brain? She has really created troubles for us. She is usually a calm person. I wonder what’s wrong with her today. Who knows what’s wrong with her? If Her Highness the Empress really were to come after me. What should I do? Look at the Empress’ condition now. She won’t be able to come after you. Why don’t I go and kneel for my crime now? Ultimately, Imperial Concubine Mei wasn’t cautious in what she said. How do you expect me to be calm? Her Highness wouldn’t dare to look for you. She just heard Imperial Concubine Mei saying “measure for measure” and then fell into the water. She couldn’t recall this after she was rescued. Although His Majesty is concerned about Her Highness the Empress but if he hears this, he will be suspicious about the evil deeds that Her Highness the Empress has done. That’s right. Thus, even if Her Highness the Empress regains consciousness, she wouldn’t dare to look for you again. This is good then. If I don’t do this, my child will not be implicated. Don’t worry. Your Majesty, Her Highness the Empress has regained consciousness. I’m going to take a look. You can leave. Yes. Empress, you are awake. Your Majesty. After going through all this, I know I am near my end. But when I opened my eyes, I could immediately see that you are by my side. I’m really very happy. Don’t say such negative things. You only suffered a shock by falling into the water. You will be well after recuperating. I’m not blessed to protect the life of the official eldest son. Today… Jingse already has a good prospect. I’m begging you. If I’m gone, don’t let Jingse mourn for three years. She is no longer young. In the past, I couldn’t bear to marry her off. I can’t delay this now. Jingse is our only legitimate princess. I will definitely consider this. Thank you, Your Majesty. I have another request. Empress, lie down and talk. Lie down. Your Majesty, I know that I don’t have long to live. This seat of the master of the harem. Please choose my successor. Noble Consort Chun gave birth to a son for you. She’s virtuous and gentle and tender. Her virtues are plenty to be the central palace. Empress. This is not for you to consider. The name, “Empress” is just a name and an identity. You are also someone next to me. Hence, regarding this matter, I should consider it. I would like to say something else. Regarding Noble Consort Chun and Imperial Concubine Shu, if you want to chose either of them to take over my place, I’m not worried. But there is something you absolutely can’t do. Noble Consort Xian was born an Ula-Nara woman. You know that she was very devoted toward the late Empress of Jingren Palace. A woman with such a descent, she must not be the head of the palace. Empress, rest now. Don’t talk about this. Your Majesty. It has been a long time since you called me by my name. Do you still remember my name? How could I not remember it? It’s Langhua Fudi. It means the splendid woman. Langhua. You are just like your name. Sister, what are you doing here so late in the night? You don’t have much time left to wait on Her Highness the Empress. I came to stand outside of the Qing Qiao Fang , to offer some respect is good too. (T/N Young Sparrow Ship) There is something I don’t understand. Just because of the word “fear”, you are willing to help me a lot. Of course, I’m afraid. Imperial Noble Consort Zhe Min died in labor with her baby girl and everyone says it was done by the
Empress. Yours and Imperial Concubine Yi’s babies. Imperial Noble Consort Huixian’s death. I’m so scared of all. I’m a coward and dare not take actions. Sister, you’re resolute. If it were me, I would’ve been too scared and chickened out already. Your Majesty, in my life, there were times when I wasn’t satisfied. I was scared too. Scared? You were my legal wife (Princess Consort) before and now you’re the Empress. What is there to be scared of? As for bitterness, perhaps there are some things that are not satisfying to you. Since I was little, I was taught how to be a good wife. How to be a good wife and mother and homemaker. But I know that I wasn’t your first choice as the official wife. Isn’t that so? The one you were already fond of since early on was that Ula-Nara woman. I was only someone the late Emperor and Royal Mother forced you to take on. You blame me? I don’t dare. Just that I am startled and restless. I’ve never had a complete husband. I never had his heart completely. But I can’t resent. I can’t hate. I can’t lose my status. I have worked hard to become a good wife. But I am just a woman. I want my husband’s love. Am I not good to you? You’re my legitimate wife. You’ve got sons and daughters and you are the master of the central palace. What else is there? Your Majesty is good to me. But this kind of good, is the good a husband gives to wife, but not a deep love. All the concubines piled together and I stand on the summit. I have nothing to lean on. If your heart changes, what I have that seems stable would all disappear. Empress. I never heard these words you’re saying now. I never knew you felt this scared and this restless. You’re my main wife. I honor you. I protect you. I endure you. You bore two legitimate sons for me and I cherish you especially so. Hence, some things, I have shut an eye to. Feigning ignorance. What? Other things. Forget them. In a few days, it will be Imperial Noble Consort Zhemin’s birthday. She died in labor. I want to know. Her death, was it done by a human or by the heavens? Y-Your Majesty. A few years after she passed away, there were rumors that I was jealous that she bore the eldest son. So I made her die in labor. So you thought so too? I — I swear. With Fuca’s hundred years of glory and wealth, I swear. Imperial Noble Consort Zhe Min’s death was not my doing at all. Then what about Imperial Noble Consort Huixian? She did many evil deeds and killed royal heirs. But framing Ruyi to enter the Cold Palace. You had no hand in it? What all did you do to Ruyi? I — I didn’t. I just didn’t like… how she raised Yonghuang and she wanted the legitimate wife’s title. So I believed she did evil. I swear. I swear! You’re confused. If swearing is truly useful, why would we need iron rules? Your Majesty, all I did was to preserve Great Qing’s bloodlines. To be honorable to Fuca clan and the glory it exchanged with blood. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t have pushed anyone to death. I wanted Ruyi to be my legitimate wife. (Princess Consort) So you’ve treated her as a foe. Imperial Noble Consort Huixian’s father Gao Bin, you shunned him too. So early on, you sent them expensive bracelets to prevent them from getting pregnant. Even when Ruyi went into the Cold Palace, you thought of all ways to kill her. So all these things..you already knew. But you endured until today to ask me. Yes. I didn’t want them to get pregnant before me. I hate the Ula-Nara woman for cursing my Yonglian to death. So I continued to torment her when she was in the Cold Palace. But the snake issue in the Cold Palace and Ula-Nara’s white arsenic incident, I really didn’t know about them. Who’s framing me? Who’s trying to harm me? No one’s harming you. And no one can. These years, everything you did, I know some. To be an empress, you can be said to be capable. But if I expose you, you will become a filthy blot on my reign. And be cause of the Imperial family being the laughing-stock of the world. Because of that only. You’re my wife. Years of attachment aren’t light. Your mistakes, on the account of the Imperial family’s reputation, and Fuca’s reputation and our children, I won’t mention it. Your Majesty’s royal grace is immeasurable. You are sage and wise, but you are also cold and heartless. Those close to you will be hurt by it. Since we’re here now, all the wrongs I committed I will shoulder myself. But in the future, whoever ascends the seat of empress, her ending will not be better than mine today. Then I shall keep these eyes open, and watch from above. Watch from the sky. This life’s not settled yet and Empress, you already think of the next life. No wonder in your unconscious state, you kept crying out, “measure for measure”. But today, this retribution, upon whom has it fallen? Are you eating the evil fruit of your own growing? Your Majesty. Empress, rest well. Your Majesty! Your Majesty! Li Yu. You’ve served the Empress and I for so many years. Do you deem the Empress to be an evil person? Your Majesty, though Her Highness the Empress is the master of the six palaces, she’s also an ordinary woman, filled with love and hate, joy and sadness. I still remember that the day I married her, the Empress said to me that she wished the hundred years of glory of the Fuca clan to accompany me. That she would bear a daughter and son for me, and be a diligent wife. Careful, Your Majesty. But the Empress and my legitimate children. There’s only Jingse left, and even Jingse will marry far away. Of our decades of fate together, is there only suspicion and resentment remaining? Your Majesty is sad. You are very concerned and you are devoted, accompanying the Empress all along, but you must be careful of your royal body too. Your Majesty. Your Majesty! Your Majesty! Your Majesty. Her Highness the Empress has passed away! Royal Mother! Royal Mother! – Royal Mother.
– Your Highness the Empress! How can you just leave? You said you would watch me marry. Royal Mother! Royal Mother. Your Highness the Empress. How do you just leave, abandoning us? Where is our master now? Noble Consort Chun, you must not mourn too much. We’re just a bunch of people all lamenting here. But we need you to give orders, so we can make arrangements for the Empress. The Empress passed away so suddenly. We are not at the palace, but we must make all things formidable. Yes. All things by your order, Noble Consort. Has everything been arranged? Yes. The fleet and the servants will all be in mourning white. Noble Consort Chun’s gone to the Young Sparrow Ship to arrange the funeral. She’s diligent. You be with me. Yes. [ Emperor Qianlong’s thirteenth year in reign. Empress of Fuca Clan dies. Posthumously named Empress Xiaoxian. (April 8, 1748, age 36 by Western Calendar) ] Her Highness Consort Jia said that the Empress falling into the water was suspicious. Are there any clues yet? What does this mean? My mistress found this near where Her Highness the Empress fell into water. I’m not sure which mistress dropped it and is this a coincidence? Tell me, do you think it’s linked to Her Highness the Empress falling into the water? This bead flower is so familiar. I think it’s — The Empress passed away, but there were many things she wouldn’t acknowledge. Even if she didn’t acknowledge them on her deathbed, she did what she did nevertheless. I know the Empress cared about me. She cared about the title. She cared about being the main wife of Great Qing. She cared about Fuca Clan’s glory. All these things were things she couldn’t let go. The Empress used Fuca’s hundred years of glory and support to swear to me. Imperial Noble Consort Zhemin’s dying in labor. Snakes in the Cold Palace. Colluding with Imperial Noble Consort Huixian to kill royal heirs. And your white arsenic incident. She was unwitting of all. I don’t believe it. Sulian and Lianxin were Her Highness the Empress’ closest servants. Perhaps we could summon Sulian and Lianxin to ask. Attendant! Present. Summon Sulian and Lianxin. Yes. Your Majesty, you needn’t summon Sulian anymore. Sulian already hit herself on the pillar and died, to die alongside the Empress. Sulian died for the Empress? Yes. Her Highness the Empress’ passing away on the Young Sparrow Ship has a lot of important matters to do. Lianxin couldn’t find Sulian, so she had no choice but to ask me to look for her together. Who knew that we would find her by the stone bridge in the garden onshore. When we found her, she had already hit herself on the pillar by the bridge and died. It’s a glorious honor to die for one’s master. Why would Sulian do it in secret? Li Yu, go have Yu Hu carefully examine Sulian’s corpse…and Lianxin. Lianxin is anxious and she followed me here, so she’s outside now. – Have her come in.
– Yes. Bidding good night to Your Majesty and to Noble Consort Xian. Lianxin, the Empress wasn’t ill just a day or two. You and Sulian lived together. Did you already know in advance she wanted to die for her master? Sulian had always worried about her elderly mother at home who is ill, and she wanted to leave the palace to care for her. Sulian worried about her family, then why would she suddenly die for her master? Could it be because she knew too much and she felt guilty? Eunuch Li, Sulian was the Empress’ servant. If she is with offense, then what becomes of Her Highness the Empress? If Sulian wanted to commit suicide, she wouldn’t need to be so worried about her family. Yes, yes. Your Majesty, I misspoke. Lianxin. What all did Empress and Sulian do? You must know a thing or two. Since I returned to serve by Her Highness the Empress, so many things I couldn’t know because I wasn’t close by. I served the Empress for many years and I do know her temperament. The Empress loved her children, and she was angry at you when Crown Prince Danhui died. And she shunned you because you were once the selected main wife. But I felt, so many things, she wouldn’t have done. Why wouldn’t she have? The Empress may have done some things out of personal bias, but there are many things she wouldn’t have done. Because she was afraid if she had done them, they would bring down the glory of the Fuca clan she so cared about. And the seat of the Crown Prince that she longed for, day and night. Ruyi. The Empress’ funeral. We will need you to work on it. It’s getting late. You should go back and rest now. Sulian served the Empress for so many years. I need to talk to Lianxin about some arrangements upon the death of the Empress. Yes. Lianxin, you can say these words for Her Highness the Empress and that’s a rare thing. This bead flower is very familiar. How did this maiden die? Her forehead is fragmented and her cervical spine is fractured. It’s plausible that she accidentally tripped and her head hit the staircase, or it’s plausible she was killed by someone. You are both the best autopsy examiners. You can only do this chore well today but not speak of it, on pain of death. We understand. – The funeral must be done carefully in all aspects.
– Yes. – We’re not in the palace right now but this has to be formidable.
– Yes. The late Empress’ funeral is the most important matter now. Go check on it again. Yes. Sister. Sister Jia, you’re pregnant, so why did you still come? When I think about late Empress, I just feel so sorrowful that I can’t sleep. So I wanted to come and bow to the late Empress. Consort Jia, your respect for late Empress… it’s such an example to the harem. What am I an example of? Before the incident, what did you say, Sister Chun? Be the one to start and you will not lack a crowd. You must lead the horse. Sister. The late Empress is gone now. In many aspects, she who does it more colorfully might be the next empress. You’re both noble consorts, but you’ve got sons. Don’t let her lower you in comparison. Thank you, Sister. If that day truly comes, then I shall not forget your reminder today. – Kexin.
– Yes. Tell Noble Consort Xian she should rest early today. Tomorrow we can make funeral arrangements together. Yes. Her Highness said you should rest today and tomorrow you can make funeral arrangements. Send my gratitude to Noble Consort Chun for me. Yes. The late Empress just passed away. But someone else can’t wait to take the stage. In this time, someone needs to arrange things. Noble Consort Chun is a detail-minded person, so let her. Noble Consort Chun’s matters, we can let her be. But you mentioned earlier that His Majesty said that the Empress didn’t acknowledge various harms unto us. Do we let that go too? Hailan. The late Empress cared so much about Fuca’s glory. Some things, perhaps she really wouldn’t have done. Could we have misunderstood her? I actually feel for her clan’s sake, even if she did it, she wouldn’t have acknowledged it. Some things, even if she didn’t do them personally, A’Rou’s matter, Imperial Noble Consort Huixian’s matter, must be linked to her in some way. She’s gone now and we’ll never get to the bottom of it. These years of fighting and rivalry we’ve had with the Empress. Hailan, what will future days be like? Who is to know? Sister. Some things, one must really not overthink them. Other people’s lives, they go on and they may be able to live it peacefully. But our lives? One step into the Forbidden City, and we are destined to live each day as a repeat of yesterday. A life of never stopping. We can only do our best to survive. Or else, the ones who lie there tomorrow shall be we ourselves. These words. You taught them to me back then. I’ve remembered them all along. You mean there were some things Sulian might have known but the late Empress might not have been aware of? Sulian was the late Empress’ close servant. Her actions, wouldn’t they have been ordered by the late Empress? The late Empress was born into a noble family. How would she know about the various effects of plants and herbs, or the likes of luring snakes, she had no idea. You mean, other than Sulian and the late Empress, there are others involved and giving instructions? But the late Empress, other than Imperial Noble Consort Huixian, those being very close her, who else is there? Noble Consort Chun, and Consort Jia came by often too. But Consort Jia and Imperial Noble Consort Huixian got along on the surface but not in reality. Consort Jia doesn’t have a tactful way and says what she thinks. Noble Lady Chun only thinks about her children and nothing more. Then I don’t know either. It couldn’t be Old Madam Fuca’s instructions, right? Forget it. You’re willing to tell me this and that’s very good already. I will allow you to leave the palace. Have a good life. I thank Your Majesty very much. Your Highness the Empress. You and Wang Qin ruined my entire life. And I was unfaithful to you too. Let me beg you for forgiveness in the netherworld. Your Majesty. Sulian’s death, are there any clues yet? Yes. ♫ The dawn rises, sweeping over the beautiful woman,♫ ♫ glacially increasing frost to temples’ raven locks.♫ ♫ Lightly caressing the pillow’s edge with tears,♫ ♫ only to realize old dreams are like acts in a play.♫ ♫ Year after year, aspirations have merely served as situations that have already allowed one’s heart to regret.♫ ♫ Ruby lips, rosy cheeks pale with one’s youth brief as a flash in time, disastrous to pursue.♫ ♫ Gazing wistfully at the bright pearl moon through layer upon layer as it waxes and wanes.♫ ♫ Regarding the world as act after acts in a play, departing from one’s own self.♫ ♫ Reasons to leave the aging, worn pavilion, willing to become Zhuang Zhou’s dream butterfly, (T/N Zhuangzi, Warring States period philosopher)♫ ♫ balancing on the wintry edge of a plum blossom branch for a single day.♫