♫ 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 44 Ridiculous! To have a palace maid screaming such things out in the open. Such crudeness. It’s my incompetence that is to blame. Not your fault. Get on up. Did you look into Ai’er’s background? Ai’er was investigated before she was sent to punishment bureau. She’s just a petty chore maid in the ice bureau without much of a background. Her family is all gone and no one should have instigated this. At first it was just some rumors. Now whether Imperial Noble Consort had an liaison. Must be investigated in the open to make an official end to the rumors. The evidence has been kept at Yangxin Hall all along. As for the witness, it’s only Suoxin so far. Who can testify that Imperial Noble Consort is clean. Noble Consort Jia once recommended that Suoxin should be sent to punishment bureau for strict interrogation. Imperial Noble Consort is someone you care about. Suoxin is her close attendant. If they interrogate, they will use torture. Torture can end a life. Emperor, you will have to make the call on this one. As for other things, don’t overthink it. In a couple of days, it’s your birthday celebration. Don’t let all matters stress you. I shall go first. Yes. Mistress. Li Yu whispered to me he already looked through those items. There’s nothing off. And His Majesty is upset to see those items, so they were already confined. Greetings to Imperial Noble Consort. They are? Replying to Your Highness. Empress Dowager asks the matrons to serve you. Suoxin, I must take away. For what? The ice bureau maid Ai’er had kept a personal belonging of Great Monk Anji’s disciple’s. During her punishment she yelled you and Great Monk had an liaison. This matter is open to the public hence we must ask Miss Suoxin to make a trip to the interrogation bureau. To interrogate the incident of assassin that night. I don’t know this Ai’er at all. Based only on her nonsensical yell, you can take away my personal attendant? All the guards who were on duty that night have been interrogated. Miss Suoxin can’t escape it either, naturally. I must go to prove you’re innocent. Suoxin. I will look into this quickly and bring you out. Mistress, don’t worry. You follow me. Your Majesty, it’s time to change. Today is your birthday celebration. A family banquet has been set up at Chunhua Palace to celebrate for you. If we don’t go now, we will be late. Dress me. – Dress His Majesty.
– Yes. How about Yikun Palace? Replying to Your Majesty. Suoxin already went in punishment bureau. The guards that night all saw someone who resembled the monk coming out of Yikun Palace. Only Suoxin hasn’t confessed. Now the only one who can prove Imperial Noble Consort’s innocence is Suoxin only. Did they use torture? Not yet. Use torture. Must use torture. Yes. I will tell them now. It’s almost time for the banquet. Why hasn’t His Majesty come still? He’s always been most in the mood for it in the past. – He’d come so early.
– Hailan, don’t look anymore. – Empress Dowager hasn’t come either?
– Imperial Noble Consort won’t come today. Don’t put that up there anymore. Clear it all. Yes. Actually it should be Imperial Noble Consort who oversees His Majesty’s celebration. How come we see no shadow of her? Concubine Shu, you sure ask something you already know. Concubine Shu, today is His Majesty’s birthday celebration. Later, you must not mention Imperial Noble Consort and ruin his mood. Everyone says Yikun Palace had an assassin because someone was having an liaison with Imperial Noble Consort. But I don’t believe that. Have you seen Imperial Noble Consort, Sister Yu? His Majesty won’t let me and Yongqi go see Sister. I hear Suoxin went into the punishment bureau too. This time, I don’t know how she is. Great Monk is of an elite status. I hope he won’t be implicated too and gets punished. What I worry the most is still Sister. Birthday. Birthday. Matron. Imperial Noble Consort, do you have an order for me? Today is His Majesty’s birthday celebration. I made some snacks His Majesty usually likes to congratulate him on his birthday. I would like to trouble you to deliver them to the banquet. Your Highness, you’re being confined. By the rules, items can only come into Yikun Palace and not go out. I know the rules. But today is his birthday celebration. His Majesty and I have been together for over a decade. If I don’t express my sentiment a bit, it seems discordance to decorum. – I will upset His Majesty.
– But… I know asking you to send something out out of the blue is troubling you. It’s nothing for me, but even if I deliver them there. His Majesty’s side may or may not accept them. It’s up to His Majesty to accept. But to deliver them is my wish. Or you won’t need to send to the banquet. Send them to Concubine Yu and that will do. Since that’s the case, then I will send it to Concubine Yu for arrangement. Thank you. Come. Silver pin. Let me try it instead. Birthday. Imperial Noble Consort, your well wish for His Majesty is surely fine. I am just following protocol. I shall go now. Thank you. Birthday. Zither and flute playing in harmony. Peach and plum welcome Spring with smile. Don’t worry, Your Highness. I shall see to it that it gets delivered to Concubine Yu’s hands. Empress Dowager and Emperor are here. Ten thousand peace to Empress Dowager. To Emperor. Everyone sit. Thank you, Empress Dowager. Emperor, today is your birthday celebration. All your side worries, set them down. Let us be merry together. Yes, Royal Mother, let’s start the celebration. Royal Mother, let me toast you. May you be healthy and well in all matters. Emperor. So pretty. Your Majesty, I will toast with tea instead of wine. Wish Your Majesty for long and healthy life. Wishing Your Majesty for long and healthy life. Noble Consort Jia, you’re pregnant, You must take care. Concubine Yu. Get on up. This is birthday present prepared by Imperial Noble Consort for His Majesty. Imperial Noble Consort asked you to hand it to me? Yes. Imperial Noble Consort made the snacks for His Majesty personally. She said to give it to you and once you see it’s fitting, to make the arrangement to your judgement. Thank you. Yexin. I take my leave. Imperial Noble Consort is confined to the palace. She’s gone through such trouble. Zither and flute playing in harmony. Peace and plum welcome Spring with smile. Mistress, you mustn’t. This is for His Majesty. Birthday. Birthday. Birthday. Birthday. Mistress. Go get Guard Ling. Yes. Emperor. I know what you’re worried about. Anhua Hall’s monk is a cultivated man. He shall not be touched recklessly in order to evade harm to respect. If someone truly harbors evil intention, then that’s just one person who is lacking in cultivation. It does not concern others. I understand Empress Dowager’s meaning. I am managing the six palaces right now. We are treating Anhua Hall with same respect as before. Just that for prevention, I’ve disallowed wives from going there. So it was only Suoxin who went to be interrogated? What about the guards that night that yielded proofs? Let’s not make this matter too large. I will remind punishment bureau. I am speaking to Emperor and you keep interrupting. I understand. Emperor. Noble Consort Jia has always been a straight-talker. She can speak ahead of herself. Please don’t find fault. Your Majesty, I arranged a new drum dance for you. Alright. If this matter can’t be carried out well, it will make heads drop. Will it be too bold? Can it be done? Actually I’m not sure either but now, Imperial Noble Consort’s been house confined. And Suoxin’s locked up in punishment bureau. In order to save them, we must take the risk. And this matter, Concubine Yu and I are both not fitting. Hence, I need to trouble you, Eunuch Li. Alright. For Suoxin and Imperial Noble Consort, I shall do it. Later, I will find a way to sneak out. You get the word to Concubine Yu that before I get back, she must delay His Majesty. Don’t allow him to go back to Yangxin Hall. I got it. Noble Consort Jia, this drum dance is great indeed. You’re thoughtful. Thank you, Your Majesty. Emperor, I think today, you’ve drunk enough. Don’t get too drunk now. Yes. I am not good with wine. I shall go back first. Bidding well to Empress Dowager. Your Majesty, Empress Dowager seems a bit drunk. Allow me to escort her back. I think I’m a bit dizzy from the wine indeed. Li Yu, I think Emperor drank quite a bit too today. Yes. Today, His Majesty is happy and he did drink more than usual. You should hurry and accompany him. I am fine. Yes. Everyone. I am tired. I shall go back to Yangxin Hall first. You all enjoy. Your Majesty. Your Majesty, this dance is only half-way danced. If you leave, this banquet, what happens to it? – Where’s Li Yu?
– Replying to Your Majesty. Eunuch Li went to escort Empress Dowager and hasn’t returned. Your Majesty. You are a bit dizzy. You should rest first before leaving. Your Majesty, may you leave after seeing the dance finish. So I can spend more time with you and put in my filial devotion. Royal Father. It’s your birthday celebration. Let me toast you one more. Your Majesty, I’ve prepared some great snacks. We haven’t brought them up. At least try them first. Alright then. Your Majesty, try that meat cake. Your Majesty, Imperial Noble Consort is inconvenienced to come congratulate you. She sent snacks she personally made through someone to wish for your royal peace. Though it’s simple. It’s made personally by Imperial Noble Consort. A token of her true sincerity. Birthday. Royal Father, I remember you love to eat Mother Xian’s white jade cream cakes. Snacks made by a criminal. I’m sure His Majesty won’t want to eat them. Yongcheng, hurry and toast to your royal father. Royal Father. It’s alright. I won’t drink anymore. You help yourselves. I am returning to Yangxin Hall. Bidding well to Your Majesty. Stop the carriage. Greetings to Your Majesty. Noble Lady Ling? Your Majesty, I don’t mean to interrupt but I have something to report to Your Majesty. That Ling Yunche. I told him to hold His Majesty back. This — Imperial Noble Consort is framed. May you be sage. Imperial Noble Consort isn’t someone who would. May you return justice to her. If you want to kneel, go ahead. Your Majesty. How are you back? Weren’t you escorting Empress Dowager back? Replying to Your Majesty. I escorted Empress Dowager back and thought Your Majesty was slightly drunk. I was afraid you’d get chilled by the night breeze. So I came to get a blanket to bring to you. Your Majesty, are you not feeling well? How are you back so soon? Birthday. Your Majesty. You’re looking at? Imperial Noble Consort sent birthday snacks to me. This ‘birthday’ character was placed atop the white jade cream cake. Imperial Noble Consort sent something out? This ‘birthday’ word, she is imitating my penmanship. She’s trying hard to tell me, if she means it, she can imitate my writing. And someone can also imitate her writing. Your Majesty, I can’t see clearly if you don’t speak clearly. Though it’s true. A word. Anyone can imitate one another. Imperial Noble Consort putting so much thought in it is to tell you her unjust plea. What’s the update on punishment bureau? I asked earlier. Suoxin said nothing. Your Majesty, you used torture on Suoxin. But the one you hurt is Imperial Noble Consort’s heart. How do I not know that? To prove she’s innocent, we must do this to Suoxin. Your Majesty. You’re holding that — His Majesty is moving carriage to Yikun Palace. May you please release Imperial Noble Consort. Please undo her confinement. Your Majesty. Depart. Go. Why do you do this, Mistress Ling. His Majesty already knows your intention. You should hurry back. Thank you, Your Majesty. Mistress, we’ve got nothing to do with Imperial Noble Consort. Why do you plea for her so desperately? It has no result. Noble Lady Chun has lost power and Noble Consort Jia was garnering power in strides. This Imperial Noble Consort was about to ascend to Empress. But a crime of affair comes out nowhere. Then guess it. Among the three, who would most likely become the future empress? That’s Noble Consort Jia who is most hopeful. But you’re begging for Imperial Noble Consort’s behalf. Isn’t that more offensive to Noble Consort Jia? No matter how I try, Noble Consort Jia will never allow me. Imperial Noble Consort, if there’s at least a thread of hope, I was not kneeling in vain today. She will remember this kindness of delivering coal in snow. I don’t gamble for anything else. Just that Imperial Noble Consort has been in the palace for so many years. She won’t easily let others push her to the end. Slower, Mistress. Miss Suoxin. Your leg isn’t as strong as your mouth. If we pull harder, it will break. I advise you to confess. Imperial Noble Consort did nothing. I have nothing to say. The proof is here and you won’t confess still? Proof? If you have proof, then you’re asking me to confess what? It’s clearly because you don’t have enough proof that you’re trying to coerce a confession. You’re still talking hard? Keep pulling. – You all leave.
– Yes. Greetings to Your Majesty. Get on up. Sit. Li Yu, put the item down here and then leave too. Yes. Ruyi, when you wrote this ‘birthday’ word on top of this baiyushuang (white jade frost) square cake, you deliberately imitated my handwriting. You are telling me that someone imitated your handwriting to frame you. Yes. I’ve already sent someone to investigate it. Thank you, Your Majesty. Your Majesty, what is that? These past days, I don’t even want to look at these things. Hence, I told Li Yu to store them and lock them inside Yangxin Palace. But earlier, at Chonghua Palace, you asked someone to deliver me some baiyushuang square cake. I know that you want to tell me something. Don’t worry. I will clearly investigate each of these. Your Majesty, This golden red plum note is indeed made to be used in Yikuan Palace. But outsiders can also get one. If I indeed have illicit affairs with Master, why would I write Suoxin’s name in the letter? If it gets caught, won’t I bring trouble to myself? As for this seven-treasure beaded bracelet, I have never seen it. I don’t know how it became the love token between me and Master. I’ve already had people interrogated Master of his activities that day. Master said that he was alone in his room that day and has never left, but no one can prove it. But there are some palace servants that claimed seeing you and Master privately talking. That your actions are more intimate compared to other imperial concubines. Your Majesty, I am managing the six palaces. My discussions with Master were all about the prayer matters and no romantic affairs. Master got involved in this because someone said that the assassin that trespassed into Yikun Palace was wearing the same white robe as Master. Just basing on that to slander Master is completely chasing the wind and clutching at shadows (groundless accusations). Ruyi, in chasing the wind and clutching at shadows, there is still a shadow. Since he can’t prove his innocence, I can only investigate. If he is innocent, then fine. If he has committed a crime, he must be severely punished to uphold the laws. What about Suoxin? If Your Majesty proves that Master and I have no illicit affairs, won’t Suoxin be pitiful? Don’t worry. Suoxin will be alright? I punished her to prove to the whole harem that you’re innocent. How come you must punish her to prove my innocence? Ruyi, I give importance to you and my affection with you is different from others. But the so-called innocence is not determined by my affection alone. I punished her so that everyone will believe that you’re innocence. You didn’t do such a thing. Suoxin has served you for so many years. I know that you two have a deep relationship. If despite severe torture, she still claims that you’re innocent, then everyone will believe that you’re innocent. Your Majesty is going to use employing severe torture on Suoxin to prove my innocence? I’m against it. Ruyi, your clean reputation is important, but is mine not? It’s easy to let Suoxin go. But these gossips will be like murky water splashed on you and Master. Moreover, my reputation has already been harmed by this gossip. Do you still want me to fall into this filth? After saying so much, Your Majesty still cares more about your own reputation. How come it became I’m doing this for my reputation? Ruyi, we are like one body. Your reputation is my reputation. Moreover, aren’t I doing this for you? To remove the dirt they placed on you? To preserve our reputation? Fine. Today is my birthday. I don’t want to mention unhappy things. Li Yu! Your Majesty. Put the items back and let’s return to Yangxin Palace. Your Majesty. There’s something wrong with this bracelet. What’s wrong? The seven treasures beads is composed of gold, silver, beeswax, coral, giant clam shell, pearl, and agate. And this bracelet is made up of chalcedony and not agate. Although these two have similar colors and textures, a cultivated person would never get them wrong. Hence, it’s impossible that this bracelet came from Master. Your Majesty, this bracelet isn’t the seven treasures beads of Master. Which means that Master and Imperial Noble Consort privately exchanging love tokens is completely false accusations by an outsider. As for who this outsider is… The women of my harem are either from Man, Mongolian, or Han descent. They surely won’t get this wrong. A person who will make such a mistake is a foreign woman who doesn’t know Buddhist cultivation. Yes. If it’s a cultivating person, how could she dare to slander Master and fabricate such lies? Only a person who disrespects the Buddhist teachings can dare use this to commit evil. Li Yu, go to Qixiang Palace tomorrow. Order everyone to write down the seven treasures using both hands. – If anyone has similar handwriting as Imperial Noble Consort, bring her to me immediately.
– Yes. Also, there is a red chalcedony ornament in the Internal Affairs Department. Deliver it to Noble Consort Jia. I have memorized them. What about Suoxin? Don’t worry. Once things have been clearly investigated, I will release her. Your Majesty still doesn’t completely believe that I’m innocent. Ruyi, an innocent person will be proven innocent without him doing anything. Once the evidences are complete, I will clear your name. Don’t get anxious. Thank you, Your Majesty. Did you see it accurately? His Majesty really went to Yikun Palace? Yes. I was sure of it before I reported it to you. Eunuch Li and Lord Lin were following him. Looks like this matter is done. You have been busying left and right all for Imperial Noble Consort, right? I don’t understand. How did you know that the confectionery peach is empty and found a seven treasure beads inside it? Look at the words in this note. Zither and flute being played in harmony. When I was learning zither before in my previous chambers, Sister once said that the beauty of a zither is not with the strings but with the wood. The wonder of a wood sound is not with it being compact, but with it being hollow. A flute is also a hollow musical instrument. Hence, I boldly made a guess that this confectionery peach might be hollow inside. Or else, something’s wrong with it. But, even if we found the bracelet inside the confectionery peach, how then did you know that what Imperial Noble Consort means is for us to exchange the bracelet we found with that one that Noble Consort Jia gave His Majesty? The seven treasures beads inside that confectionery peach used red chalcedony and not the agate that cultivating people use. I then thought, ‘Why did Sister give me a wrong bracelet?’ Sister is asking me to steal the sky and change the sun. Steal the sky and change the sun? Look at these last two words in this note. One is ‘spring’, the other ‘play’ (to play music). Before, Sister and I used to play word riddles. If you are going to make a puzzle using the word ‘spring’ and ‘play’, the bottom word of the first one is ‘sun’, and the other is ‘sky’. So the answer to the puzzle is ‘steal the sky and change the sun’. However, I can only guess Sister’s intentions. The person who can exchange the bracelets can only be Li Yu. For the rest, we can only rely on Sister to clear her own name. ♫ 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. ♫