♫ 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 41 Lament. [ Empress Xiaoxian’s Memorial Tablet ] Yonghuang, why do you not shed one tear for your official mother? I was thinking, I thought you were extremely sad. And so I need to help Royal Father manage the funeral for Royal Mother. I don’t dare to be overly sad, in order not to mess up my duty. Is that so? Yes, Royal Father, Eldest Brother has been saying that he’s the eldest and he needs to assist you. So he doesn’t dare to lament overly much, and he’s been leading us in our funeral preparations for Royal Mother. So…Yongzhang, you saw your big brother, so you didn’t even shed half a tear, is that right? Royal Father, these days since Royal Mother passed away, you’ve been drowning in sorrow. It pains me, and I also feel that I must be clear-minded and controlled in order to share Royal Father’s burdens, hence I don’t dare to exhaust myself in sorrow. Alright. At this time, you’re thinking of me suddenly. Please, Royal Father, be consoled. May Royal Father please be consoled. Don’t let sorrow harm your royal health. Unfilial son! Unfilial son! Your Majesty, may your anger be dissipated. Empress Xiaoxian is your official mother and she has died. Why don’t you feel sorrow! This excuse of sharing my burden is purely a questionable motive! Impure in thought! How can I have you ingrates as my sons? May Royal Father’s anger be dissipated. Your son does not dare! Your Majesty, Yongzhang is just worried about you. He’s got no other motives, Your Majesty. Noble Consort Chun, you’ve got Yongzhang already and I gave you Yonghuang to raise. But you raised a child like this one for me! Your Majesty, I know my mistake. Your Majesty. Your Majesty, Yonghuang and Yongzhang are just worried about your health. They are not intentionally unfilial. They are already like this unintentionally. Imagine if they were actually intentionally so! I just regret I didn’t let you raise Yonghuang then. In that case, he wouldn’t be like this today! Royal Father. You want to say something else? You thought I didn’t know? Empress Xiaoxian died. You…thought you were the most senior among the princes, so you thought you could take on the heaviest responsibility and harbor greedy intentions! Is that right? Royal Father, I certainly never had such intentions. May Royal Father see it clearly. You dare to say you don’t have them? These days of mourning. You never regarded yourself as the eldest and thus extraordinary? I saw these all things and heard them all! You don’t deserve to be my son! No sense of filial devotion! I didn’t. Your Majesty, even if Yonghuang did have those thoughts, Yongzhang never had any greedy intentions. Your Majesty, Yongzhang is only fourteen years in age. What does he know, Your Majesty? It’s you being the mother that is the cause of such confused sons! Yongzhang rivals Yonghuang in every petty thing, trying to steal the crown prince seat! And you too, Noble Consort Chun! Don’t think I don’t know what you’re thinking! Your Majesty, I wouldn’t dare. Your Majesty. Subjects serve the ruler. Sons obey fathers. Wives follow husbands. These are unchanging rules. You three forgot all about them completely didn’t you! Noble Consort Chun, I’ll make this clear to you now. Yonghuang’s words and actions are disorderly! Yongzhang has no virtues! Those two will never inherit my empire, do you understand! Royal Father, forgive me! Royal Father! Royal Father, forgive me. Royal Father! Yongcheng is much better than you two. He’s got potential. – Royal Father, forgive me.
– Your Majesty, please calm your anger. Your Majesty. Your Majesty. – Mother! Mother!
– Elder Sister. Noble Consort Chun, Elder Sister! Drag Noble Consort Chun out so she’s not an embarrassment! – Mother Chun.
– Mother! [ Zhongcui Palace ] Slowly. Easy. This way. Don’t stand there, hurry and get the royal physician! Quick, get some water! Mistress. Mistress, wake up. Mistress. Where am I? Sister, Mistress is awake. Mistress, you’re finally awake. You startled me so much! Mistress, are you alright? Where am I? We’re already back at our palace. No. Wasn’t I at Guande Temple? I… Where’s Yongzhang? The Third Prince and First Prince have been kneeling outside Yangxin Hall since they returned from Mount Jing. Empress Dowager. Help me, quickly! Mistress. Slow down, Mistress! – Empress Dowager!
– Mistress. – Mistress.
– Empress Dowager! Mistress. Greetings to Noble Consort Chun. Gugu Fu, I need to see the Empress Dowager. Noble Consort Chun, what happened at Guande Temple, the Empress Dowager already knows. His Majesty is furious and no one can dissuade him. Empress Dowager told me to relay this message to you. If you want to preserve your dignity and preserve the Sixth Prince and Fourth Princess, you must stay docile and stay at your palace. Gugu, please. I beg you, let me see the Empress Dowager. I will only say a few words. Noble Consort Chun, it’s about to rain. You should go to Yangxin Hall and take the First and Third Princes back. Don’t cause more trouble. Alright. Then I will come greet the Empress Dowager another time. Mistress. Mistress. Mistress! Mistress. Has everyone gone? Yes. She failed in teaching her son well and she doesn’t know to stay docile. I can’t help her either. Empress Xiaoxian left and who doesn’t want to give it a fight? All the consorts and concubines want to be the new Empress. All the princes want to fight to be the crown prince. Generations of Emperors shunned this part the most. They themselves courted their own disaster, and now she wants me to save them? But this incident was strange. When we were in Guande Hall, the First and Third Princes showed no signs of sorrow at all, as though the two brothers had a tacit understanding. You look into it in detail. Yes. Mistress. Mistress! – Hurry and get up, little child.
– Mother! You’ve been kneeling for two hours and His Majesty shows no signs of inviting you in. Mother, has Royal Father abandoned me? He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t. Mother. Mother. Mother. Mother. It’s stormy. You all should return. Gugu Yu Hu, please I beg you. Please announce us. Let the children see His Majesty, if only just to apologize. His Majesty has no intention to see you. First Prince. Third Prince. His Majesty has already sent a decree to punish your teachers and classmates. Your teachers are to forfeit three years’ worth of pay. Your classmates, flogged with fifty strokes. You two princes should return with Noble Consort Chun. Repent quietly with your doors closed to calm your souls. Royal Father! Royal Father, I will never dare to again! Royal Father! Royal Father! I will never dare again. – Mother is here.
– Royal Father… – Your Majesty.
– Royal Father… Don’t abandon us, mother and son. Let go. Royal Father. I don’t dare. Let go. Royal Father, I don’t dare… You got chilled from being in the rain that day. Drink some medicine. These days I’ve been sick… has anyone come to see me? Usually…my Zhongcui Palace is full of guests. Now that my son and I are in trouble, they all evade us, far away. Mistress, people are cold like that. Getting your health back is the priority. What about Consort Jia? She didn’t come either? Her Highness Consort Jia is pregnant, so naturally she doesn’t move much. Also… also, the funeral now is being led by Consort Jia’s Fourth Prince as the princes’ representative. Yes. That day at Guande Temple, His Majesty reprimanded Yonghuang and Yongzhang. But he complimented the Fourth Prince. That Fourth Prince is still only nine years old, but everything he does, he does it well. So His Majesty keeps complimenting him. Suyu, Suran, you two usually love to go to other palace maids! – What is that noise?
– Then get out! It wasn’t us. We’ve been wronged. – Dexi, Defu.
– It wasn’t us, we’re being blamed by mistake! For Empress Xiaoxian’s funeral, you two did the most bargaining. Kick them out too. We’re innocent. We’re wrongly accused. I’m innocent. I’m completely innocent! What’s wrong? What’s going on outside? Help me get up. Mistress, don’t panic. Let me tell you slowly. What’s wrong outside? Empress Xiaoxian recommended you as the acting Empress before she passed away. The entire palace talked about it. His Majesty suspects people around you intentionally spread rumors of it. So he’s having Eunuch Jin Zhong investigate each and every one of your servants. He’s kicking anyone out that he doesn’t seem pleased with. How can this be? Your Majesty. Your Majesty is attacking my palace. It’s Noble Consort Xian. Did she make this happen? Noble Consort Xian is busy with funeral matters. She hasn’t got the time. But when you were ill, at first the royal physician wouldn’t come. It was Noble Consort Xian who made the royal physician come. She is so good-hearted? You and Noble Consort Xian used to be close. If it were not for Empress Xiaoxian’s passing, you wouldn’t have grown distant from her either. Mistress. I think you should shut the door and take time to think. Once His Majesty isn’t angry, everything will be alright. I think it’s too late. Yongzhang’s road to the crown prince’s seat is cut off now. It’s my fault. It’s my retribution. Mistress. Don’t be too upset. It’s my retribution. I keep feeling my back is sore and my head’s dizzy. Is there something wrong? May Your Highness be assured. Your fetus is entirely well. It’s just that you are overly-fatigued and stressed. Hence you feel unwell. This funeral is exhausting. I will prescribe some stabilizing potions. May Your Highness please take them on time and manage your balance. Thank you for your trouble, Physician Qi. I will go then. Lixin, walk him out.
– Yes. Physician Qi, this way. Greetings to the Fourth Prince. Yongcheng is back. Greetings to Mother. Hurry and rise. Here. You must be famished, Son. Eat slowly. Tell me how the funeral went today. Mistress, today the Fourth Prince led the princes to make the greetings, and he was so calm and formidable. Even His Majesty praised him. His Majesty heard you were fatigued from pregnancy, so he had the Fourth Prince come and greet you. My son makes me so proud. Your royal father complimented you again? Mother, since the First and Third Princes got cast aside, I do it even better, and Royal Father is very consoled. He complimented me yesterday and again today. I’m very used to it already. Come. I’ll tell you this. Don’t be haughty. The more it’s like this, the more cautious you should be. Now it’s your turn to be the sole outstanding one. My turn? Your older brothers. Some are dead and some are deposed. In terms of seniority and nobility, it’s your turn to be the crown prince. What did you say? You’re the first prince born upon His Majesty’s ascension. You’re a very precious prince. Your Royal Father has such high aspirations for you. Or else how would he compliment you so much? I really can? As long as you work hard to learn, and court your royal father’s affection, listen to me well, and you and I will surely succeed. As long as it’s your wish, I shall make it happen. Great son. Eat another. I’ve wanted to see you for many days in a row, Sister. But you keep your doors shut and won’t see me? Too many incidents at the palace. I must be careful. Not just you, but I’m not seeing others either. You know everything then? Do you blame me for ruining the First Prince? You clearly knew His Majesty detests others vying to be crown prince. First Prince and Third Prince, for the seat of crown prince, they fight in the open and compete in the dark too. Everyone sees it. I only let Yongqi, before His Majesty, mention the competition for power in the Ming Dynasty. Just that. Competition in Ming Dynasty is clearly about First Prince and Third Prince fighting for the crown prince seat. You let Yongqi mention that to His Majesty. You already calculated that His Majesty would become suspicious of Yonghuang and Yongzhang. His Majesty is easily suspicious, but if he would believe in his own sons, then I have no other measure. Furthermore, First Prince is no longer the child under your wings from back then. He sees you only as a pawn. Why do you treat him sincerely? Yonghuang is mistaken in momentary calculating. Unfortunately, Hailan….since His Majesty denounced him, Yonghuang has been sick in the his manor for over a week without the ability to get up. He’s a child both of us treasured before. Sister, the men you love, might one day abandon you for other women. The child you adored might use you for his own gain. You treasure love too much, and that will be your biggest undoing. In the harem, love is hard to come by. If you let go of even that little love, what else do we have? Sister. I don’t ask that you forgive me. I am devoted to your cause completely. I just hope my actions and words, you can understand. [ Yikun (Palace) Gate ] Let’s go. Mistress, Her Highness Consort Yu. Greetings to Noble Lady Ling. Her Highness the Noble Consort Xian is already resting. May you come another day. I saw Her Highness Consort Yu leaving just now. Noble Consort Xian is resting so soon? The matters of the six palaces are tiring and my mistress is feeling fatigued. Hence Consort Yu left early. Then when Her Highness is awake, please let her know I came. Be assured, Noble Lady Ling. Mistress, don’t be too concerned. You’re not the only one Noble Consort Xian isn’t seeing. She’s evading all the consorts and concubines. Noble Consort Xian is being very careful. Actually Her Highness Consort Jia is also a contender for the empress’ seat. Everyone’s going to Qixiang Palace right now. Do you think Consort Jia has potential to earn the empress’ seat? Her Highness Consort Jia has given birth in succession, and she’s favored by His Majesty. Actually, no matter if it’s Noble Consort Xian or Noble Consort Chun who gets promoted to Empress, it’s no matter to us. But if it’s Her Highness Consort Jia, she is not one who is easy to get along with. You may be her first target. Perhaps we should lower our heads first and regard it as saving silk for the rainy day? Fine. Let’s go to Qixiang Palace. Mistress, Consort Yu’s action, if it’s for your sake, you can’t find fault in her. Wouldn’t I know that? Even though I know Yonghuang calculates me, what I think of is that little one. That Yonghuang who studied at my knee. That Yonghuang who called me “Mother”. What I am sad about is that he was such a great child. He’s gone in the end. Greetings to Your Highness Consort Jia. Oh, it’s Noble Lady Ling. Seeing how you made your greetings, that was from a noble lady. But I feel like you still seem to be that servant who served our mistress back then. Miss Lixin is being funny. When we used to serve Mistress together, we sure laughed like that then. Seeing where you’re coming from, you must have gone to Yikun Palace just now. Did you get to see Noble Consort Xian? I didn’t go in. I fear Noble Consort Xian must be napping now. You believe that? I think it was because she didn’t want to see you. You used to fawn upon Noble Consort Chun so much before. Massaging her shoulders and legs and all? Now you’re changing your direction to curry favor with Noble Consort Xian. Can she possibly care about you? If it were me, I couldn’t get used to your bouncing around either. Where did this swallow’s mud come from, dirtying up my new shoe? What are you two doing? A chore like this was what Ying’er used to do. Look at my memory here. What Ying’er? It’s Noble Lady Ling. Consort Jia, I forgot to tidy up my mistress’s nails lately. I’m afraid my mistress’s nails will scratch up Your Highness’ nice shoe. Let me do it. Mistress always compliments how I wipe things clean. Get away. Think if you’re suitable to serve me first. What’s going on? Noble Lady Ling? You can serve Noble Consort Chun but not me? Fine then. I will go and tell His Majesty. Let you accompany Noble Consort Chun then. Let’s go. Your Highness Consort Jia. Lower me. Allow me…allow me to serve you earnestly, Your Highness. His Majesty remembers you saved Empress Xiaoxian. Besides the reward last time, he wants to reward you another ten rolls of satin and more appreciation. Your future is unlimited. Eunuch Li, you’re overly generous with praise. I am working in Yangxin Hall now. I ask for your kindness in watching over me. Yangxin Hall’s guards mostly come from large clans and notable families. You were an exception to start out with, and His Majesty cherishes Empress Xiaoxian. And he cherishes your contribution so he’s seeing you in a different light, – and you must take advantage of this chance.
– Yes. If His Majesty is in a good mood one day and grants you a marital match, that will be a great grace indeed. Eunuch Li, don’t joke with me. I have no intention to ask for marriage. Actually you’ve been favored for quite some time now. Why don’t I see you pregnant? You’ve endured so many years and you’re still just a noble lady. I feel sorry for you. Consort Jia has more sons and more happiness , and is blessed in this way. (T/N idiom) Not everyone can have your luck. I’m glad you know that. You’re lucky enough to serve His Majesty. Even if you get some to change their minds and attempt to delude the rest, you’re not suitable. Your Highness Consort Jia. It’s clean now. Greetings to Your Consort Jia and — Noble Lady Ling. Let’s go. Mistress, are you alright? Wipe it. Thanks. I’d rather be seen by His Majesty than by you. This is the road you chose after wanting it so badly. Fighting and competing with others daily and being shamed. Don’t you find this kind of life very tiring? This road isn’t easy to go on for sure. But it’s not harder than the roads before. Chunchan, let’s go. Respectfully sending off Noble Lady Ling. Filthy. So filthy! That Consort Jia is such a tyrant! Telling me I’m not suitable? I fought so much and begged so much. I’m still not suitable! Mistress. You have to have a child of your own. But I have drunk so much conception medicine and it’s useless! Since I became a Noble Lady, I am less favored. I haven’t seen His Majesty for some two or three months. Mistress, don’t rush. The more I see Consort Jia’s stomach, the more I get frustrated. Saying my waist is too thin and I can’t get pregnant? Chunchan. No matter what, I must have a child. Keep covered in spring and shed it in autumn. It’s getting warmer, but you mustn’t wear less. By the way, many are sick with colds lately in the palace. You ought to be careful, and come to the royal physician’s court if anything comes up. Yes. You should be careful too with so many chores in the physician’s court. Alright. See you later. Suoxin. Li Yu. What brings you here? Did you come to look for Mistress? She went to Cining Palace. No, I came looking for you. You’re looking for me? Is something the matter? I just came from outside the palace. I got a jade pin. Very nicely made. I got it especially for you. It’s alright. I am busy running around all day and I can’t wear nice things. What if I accidentally drop it and break it doing work? It’s not as good as a silver pin that can’t be broken. The velvet flower I gifted you before is already so old. This pin suits you. You try it on first. Li Yu, the velvet flower you gifted me before was to wish me safety and glory. I thought it was really nice. But this jade pin is too precious. I think I had better not. But… These years our fondness developed in surviving hardships together doesn’t lie in these items. Really? Naturally. By the way, why did Mistress Xian go to Cining Palace? You know how Her Highness Consort Jia felt insecure in her pregnancy? Empress Dowager keeps asking about it and wants my mistress to take special care. I admire Consort Jia. To be able to have children in a row is really lucky. – You admire it too?
– Of course. Who doesn’t admire blessing of children? Look at Noble Consort Chun. Though she’s implicated due to Third Prince, she still has Sixth Prince and Fourth Princess. Elder Sister Suoxin! I will go in first. I have chores waiting inside. Alright. To bear and raise children… I suppose I will never have that luck in this life. Why should I cause a delay for her? Your Majesty, your being angry at outsiders is nothing much. But Yonghuang and the Third Prince are your biological children after all. After the anger is gone, let it be gone. Yonghuang is sick and no one dares to be near him. The Third Prince is in despair too. So pitiful actually. I don’t care about all other things. But what I care about the most is that they dare to vie for the crown prince’s seat. Your Majesty, you are in your prime. The princes wouldn’t dare to have those intentions. Especially Yonghuang. Imperial Noble Consort Zhe Min passed away early on. I have my share of lacking in responsibility too. Yonghuang only has Your Majesty to lean on, and he wouldn’t dare. Even if they don’t dare, they still have that intention. Past Emperor Shengzu had many children. (T/N Temple name for the Kangxi Emperor, Qianlong’s grandfather) His eldest son, Yunti. He had the intention to snatch the legitimacy and was confined until death. (T/N usurp the heir’s position) With that prior example, how can I not be on guard? Of course I wish my children to be obedient to me, and follow my will. When I’m upset, how can they not be upset? But before the concubines and before the nobles and subjects, to be unlike in mind and heart with me, how can I endure it? I understand then. Before they are royal sons of yours, they are your subjects first. This logic you understand, but they don’t. I won’t eat anymore. Eat. Mistress, why is it that with Empress Xiaoxian’s death, His Majesty is so sorrowful and can’t seem to forget? Suoxin, you must remember. It’s only best when you are sincere and caring of each other when alive still. Suoxin, you’re not young anymore. You should leave the palace and marry too. Jiang Yubin is pretty good. I will suggest to His Majesty to grant you to marry him. But I still want to serve you a few more years. If I don’t marry you off soon, Jiang Yubin will hate me behind my back. I wish for you to leave the palace, and marry and live a peaceful life. Thank you, Mistress. Mistress. Mistress. Cining Palace sent many messages asking you to come immediately. Many times? Did they say why? I don’t know. Let’s go. Greetings to Empress Dowager. Fujia, what’s wrong? You’ve drawn my brows for decades. Why is it that I look so awkward? I know my error. Ruyi, since you’re here, then you come and draw them for me. Yes. You are quick and exact with your brush strokes and the same even now. No wonder the two princes were both overturned by your hand. I know that with the two royal princes getting punished and Noble Consort Chun becoming ill, to Your Highness’ mind, I am the one who has most to gain. Of course you’d suspect me. But may Your Highness be wise about this. I have no such intention. You have no such intention? Then who would it be? Empress Dowager, you know very well. His Majesty was furious in the temple. It was because the two princes held intentions they shouldn’t have. Such intentions, who can control it though? If I had the intention do commit something, that’s too obvious. It’s akin to setting myself on fire. Then you mean the two princes were at fault themselves? The princes might be temporarily confused. Especially Yonghuang. His biological mother passed away early on and as a young child, I taught him. If Your Highness must place the blame, put the blame on me, for failing in teaching him well then. Indeed you talk like an Ula-Nara woman. No holes at all. ♫ 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? ♫f ♫ 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. ♫ ♫ With graceful reasoning, like it had been empty dream, with sighs. ♫ ♫ 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. ♫