My Lord. Bai Yutang has left? I told him to wait for further news at the Isle of Hallow. Her Highness has gone to bed? Not yet. She’s still in the library and says no word. What a pity. My Lord, I’ve something to say. I’d be uneasy if I don’t say it. Then say it. Her Highness had undergone various troubles and sufferings. Now the truth comes out. But His Majesty is reluctant to accept it. I see Her Highness’s distress and I can’t remain silent anymore. Royal Guard Zhan. Instructor Gongsun, let me hear him say. If you can’t remain silent anymore, what will you do? If I were still a cavalier, I’d go to the palace and bring His Majesty to our office, and have him apologise his mother. But now you’re no longer a cavalier. To be honest, if His Majesty has no heart and sense of morality, I’ll give up my Fourth Class Royal Guard post. Royal Guard Zhan, you shouldn’t do so! Royal Guard Zhan! What a good speech! My Lord! Zhan Zhao deserves the name Zhan Zhao. Such a man of uniquity. You don’t want to remain silent. I too don’t want to stay quiet. Tomorrow, I’ll request an audience with His Majesty. If His Majesty still turns a deaf ear to my objection, I too will give up my Kaifeng Prefect post. My Lord! Though I have no Chivalry to come back to like you, I still can come back to Luzhou and live my life as a farmer, can’t I? My Lord, this matter is important. Please think twice. Instructor Gongsun. For what reason have we studied and become public officers? If we can’t uphold justice, how can we save the people from abyss and fire? If we can’t bring justice to Her Highness today, how can we bring it to ordinary people in the future? If I’ve to be a coward so as to protect my post and fortune, I’d choose to live an impoverished, but honoured, life. Your teachings will be in my mind for the rest of my life. If all public officers are as good as you, our government would be more effective and our Song Empire would be more prosperous. However, before I enter the palace, there’s one thing I need to do. Instructor Gongsun. My Lord. Bring my warrant to take Guo Huai from the prison to our office. I’ll deliver a judgment on him in the court. We won’t wait for Empress Dowager Liu? We can’t. If His Majesty won’t punish the empress dowager, I won’t let Guo Huai go unpunished too. Hear the judgment. Guo Huai, as Keeper of the Inner Palace, you should have carried out your duties faithfully. But you aided your superior in her Inner Palace intrigue. You bribed a nurse to help you conduct great crimes. You forced Kou Zhu to commit suicide and concealed your sinful deeds. By virtue of the law of Great Song, I hereby sentence you to death. Officers! Here! Tiger-headed guillotine! Sir! Bao Zheng! I’m Inner Palace Keeper! You can’t execute me! His Majesty ordered me to deal with you according to the law. How can’t I execute you? Open — the — knife! Kill! You executed Guo Huai? Your Majesty, Guo Huai was guilty of unforgivable crimes and was punished in accordance with the law. But I know you thought that I will spare the empress dowager and will let Guo Huai be at large too. You then passed the sentence without delay. Your Majesty is intelligent. I said you can deal with Guo Huai in so far as you let the empress dowager go. Your Majesty, it’s impossible for me to do. You! You really won’t stop? You want to interfere with private matters of the House of Zhao? Don’t you know that I could barely sleep last night because my mind was full of the conflicts between the benevolence of a natural mother and a foster mother? Why do you force me to do what you want? Your Majesty, the case of crown prince replaced by wild cat is not just a private matter of the House Zhao. But it concerns the government and the Song Empire. Removing Empress Dowager Liu and replacing her with Consort Li is not merely your personal matter. But it deals with the cultivation of morals and ethics. You said you rule the nation with kindness and filial piety. But when you can’t observe filial piety, how can you teach another to observe it? You may say that I’m fearless. But I’m not brave enough to put the pressure on you. Moreover, the guilt of Empress Dowager Liu has now been proven by solid evidence. If you don’t punish her, then you’ll be punished by criticism across the country. Bao Zheng, don’t you fear that I’ll remove you from office? Take my headgear or even my head, if you want to. But I can’t let the people condemn you for being an ungrateful ruler. Bao Zheng, you! Guo Huai had confessed? I’ve also known that the blind lady is Consort Li of the Cold Palace or my own mother. The nightmare that has haunted me for more than thirty years now comes true. Why did you do it? She gave birth to a crown prince before me. The emperor would appoint her his empress. Maybe I wanted to vie for the empress post. Or maybe I was just envious of her. Wasn’t she your only sister in this grand palace? Why was you envious of her? Struggles for power are common in the Inner Palace. I’ve seen and learnt about them throughout my life. You’re emperor but you still don’t realise the importance of power? I may not realise it, but I’m sure I realise the principle of humanity. Is it worth becoming an insincere and deceitful person for gaining power? How many lives had been destroyed in a blink of your avarice? Throughout these twenty years, I’ve regarded you as my own mother. But you led me to all these conflicts and pain. How could I decide? How should I behave? I knew the end of the road will be like this, but I still took that road. When you say all these things to me, I believe you’ve made a decision. I thank you for raising me for twenty years. I’ll go to the Kaifeng Prefectural Hall and bring my true mother back home. Your Majesty. Father. Your Majesty, when you’ve known the truth, I’m no longer your father, but your uncle. This servant hereby pays respect to you. Second Father, please rise. I fear that you might be upset by Lord Bao and have him punished. I then invited the Eighth Prince to rush into the palace. Please pardon us. Bao Zheng honestly objected. How could I punish him? What will you do next? I’ve ordered Bao Zheng to bring my mother to his office. I’ll bring my mother back home. Your Majesty is sagacious! Father. Uncle. Do you know that my heart is full of pain and confusion? I know so well. I know your pain is unbearable. But you must stay strong. Your Majesty, Your Majesty, empress dowager, empress dowager… What happens to her? Say at once! Empress dowager hung herself to death! Your Majesty, the emperor is waiting for you at the main hall. You should change your dress without delay. High Eunuch Chen, do I have to change my dress? I’m not compelling you. But when the emperor is here to bring you back, the Inner Palace customs require that you change your dress to the empress dowager uniform. Royal Guard Zhan. Zhan Zhao is here. Do you think I need to change my dress? I know you are angry at His Majesty. Now the truth comes out and your wish comes true. Whether or not you need to change your dress is no longer important. But what you can’t avoid is meeting with His Majesty. I’ve just come. My mother must be very angry. I hope Uncle and Officer Bao would help me reconcile with my mother. A mother and her child is bound by love. There’s nothing to worry about. Officer Bao. Your Majesty, I can’t interfere with private matters of the royal household. You! Lord Bao, a good public officer shouldn’t get hurt because of the emperor’s words. I daren’t feel so. But I want Your Majesty to prepare yourself. Her Majesty feels so distressed. Just a few words wouldn’t soothe her feeling. I decided to bring my mother home too late. It’s completely my fault. I’ve no objection if mother will punish me. Her Majesty the Empress Dowager arrives. Chen Lin, bring Her Majesty to the seat. And let’s discuss the problems calmly. Sire. Sister, your blindness has been cured. Why don’t you open your eyes? Your Majesty, Her Majesty refuses to change her dress. I don’t know what to do now. Sister, if you have something in your mind, please tell us. It’s not good to make His Majesty and everyone feel inconvenient. Eighth Prince, I’ve no intention to put you all in trouble. But when His Majesty doesn’t accept me as his mother, why should I see him? Mother! Wait! Now I don’t accept you as my son. Before we accept each other, I don’t consider myself as a royal and your mother. Uncle! Sister, if His Majesty doesn’t accept you, how could he come here? Please take a pity on me and forgive your son. At least, he’s the ruler of this empire. Eighth Prince, sorry for being frank. I don’t care whether or not he’s emperor. An emperor doesn’t need parents? I had conceived him for about ten months. I had sustained a great deal of sufferings in order to save him. I had faced false accusations and had been confined in the Cold Palace. I had been granted a white silk to hang myself to death. I had drifted from place to place without shelter. I had cried for him till my eyes became blind. But when he knew that I’m his true mother and that I was waiting for him at Lord Bao’s office, he refused to bring me back home and was reluctant to accept the truth. How can’t a mother in such situation be so hurt? And how can… how can I forgive and forget? I deserve death! I’m sorry for letting you down. My fault deserves death penalty! I’m not begging your forgiveness. But I’m begging you to at least open your eyes and see if I’m different from the one you saw in the Cold Palace twenty years ago. Please see if I look like father. Mother! Mother. No, no. I won’t easily give in. If it can be forgiven so easily, parents around the world would no longer dare to have children, and virtues of humanity would become lost. Sister, what should we do to make you accept His Majesty? How should we punish him, so that you can forgive him? I’m willing to be punished by mother. Before I accept you, don’t regard me as a royal. Lord Bao. Bao Zheng is here. If an ordinary citizen is guilty of being ungrateful, how would he be punished? Your Majesty! I don’t care how he will be punished. If you all want me to accept him, Lord Bao must pass a judgment on him on grounds of ingratitude first. I… Officer Bao, don’t be indisposed. I command you to hold a session and deliver a judgment on me for ingratitude without delay! I… I hereby receive the royal command. This is one of the most worrisome things in my life as a public officer. And the thing like this has never come to pass in the history. Why don’t you refuse? How can I refuse? Now, there’s a royal command assigning this ungrateful child case to me. Refusal is impossible. The empress dowager is the prosecutor. The emperor is the defendant. There had never been and there won’t be any judge like you. It seems like the case doesn’t worry you. I think you’ve got a way out. I’m not as experienced as you. And I’m not well-versed in law like Instructor Gongsun. But I know how the empress dowager thinks. Let us hear your explanation. The empress dowager isn’t different from all other mothers. She said she doesn’t care how the emperor would be punished for ingratitude. But deep in her mind, she worries about him so much. I get it too. Why don’t we rely on this point? Just give some light penalties to His Majesty and the empress dowager wouldn’t mind him any further. I now know what to do. Wang Chao, Ma Han! Here! Hold a session right now! Sir! Bao Zheng, Lord Prefect of Kaifeng, hereby pays respect to Your Majesty. Please rise. Thanks, Your Majesty. I hereby pay respect to Your Majesty and Your Highness. Lord Bao, please rise. Thanks, Your Majesty. Officers! Here! Hold a session! Sir! [Court chant] Power and might. Today, I have been commanded by the emperor to address an ungrateful emperor case. In the history of criminal law, there has never been a public officer trying his emperor. But when an emperor commits an offence, his penalty shall be the same as that for his subjects. Under the law, equality shall be upheld. I shall now handle this case in keeping with the law of Great Song. Instructor Gongsun. Here, My Lord. The acts in question constitute what offence and are liable to what penalty? My Lord, failing to maintain one’s own parents, refusing to look after one’s own parents, denying one’s own parents, abandoning one’s own parents, are the offences of ingratitude. The offenders are detained, corporeally punished, fined or beaten. An offence done upon the ignorance of fact faces no penalty. An offence done without intention faces light penalty. By virtue of the law, I hereby sentence the emperor to twenty beatings! Lord Bao! Lord Bao, how can a public officer beat his emperor? I know, a public officer cannot beat the emperor. But I am executing a royal command of the emperor. Lord Bao… Your Majesty. I don’t mind. Officer Bao, please carry out the law. I receive your command. Officers! Here! Help His Majesty remove his robe! Sir! Maintain your manners! Lord Bao… Royal Guard Zhan. Here, My Lord. Enforce the punishment on my behalf. I understand. From olden times, no public officer has ever beaten his emperor. But, as commanded by the emperor, I must beat the emperor. Wang Chao, Ma Han, Zhang Long, Zhao Hu! Here! Take the dragon robe up here! Sir! Now, I beat the dragon robe as if beating the emperor! Beat! Without Officer Bao’s wisdom, I’d have experienced the penalty in person. I don’t deserve the compliment. Your Majesty, Bai Yutang invaded the palace and stole the jade out of imprudence. Now, he has atoned for his wrongdoing. I beg you to pardon him. Sure. He protected my mother and Second Father. His offences are nullified. Thanks, Your Majesty. Now, I’ve reunited with my mother. It’s me who should be punished. After coming back to the palace, I’ll issue a self-condemnation. My subjects would take my fault as a lesson and observe filial piety. Good! It’s truly the luck of the land when the emperor upholds kindness and filial piety. As for Kou Zhu, Qin Feng, and Yu Zhong, I’ll establish shrines in honour of their loyalty. Your Majesty is sagacious! [Nameplate] Kaifeng Prefectural Hall. May the emperor live for ten thousand years, ten thousand years, ten thousand of ten thousand years. May the empress dowager live for one thousand years, one thousand years, one thousand of one thousand years.