Translated by happysloth

Chapter 2 Part 1

After Ming Huazhang came in, even the atmosphere in the room changed.
Ming Shuo, who was lying in her mother’s arms, sat properly, trying to put on a dignified and ladylike appearance; Ming Yu still leaned against Old Madam Ming’s side to fulfill her filial piety, but her movements and expressions became more obvious, almost like she wanted to announce that she was a filial daughter.

Not to mention the servant girls.
All of them were shy, smiling tenderly, and giving amorous glances.
They couldn’t help but stare at Ming Huazhang one after another.
Only Ming Huashang maintained her salted fish appearance almost like even if Mount Tai collapsed before everyone’s eyes nothing you did could affect her.
She quietly yawned while no one was paying attention.

After so many years, she had gotten used to it.

Dragon and phoenix twins have always been a good omen.
After the birth of the pair of fraternal twins in the Ming family, word spread quickly.
Almost every time a guest came, she and Ming Huazhang would be called out to say hello to the guest.
The other young ladies envied her for having an elder twin brother, but in fact, Ming Huashang and Ming Huazhang were not close with each other.

Ming Huashang had never met her mother, and Ming Huazhang was taken to an outer courtyard for his upbringing early on.
Since Ming Huashang could remember, there were almost no memories of her playing with Ming Huazhang.
They only met while paying respects to the elders.
The two were not much closer than ordinary cousins.

This was not because Duke Zhen treated them differently.
On the contrary, Duke Zhen was extremely indulgent towards both brother and sister.
Whether it was food, clothing, shelter, and transportation, he gave them whatever they wanted.
Even their education was thorough; using large sums of money, he invited the best tutors to teach them the Confucian Six Arts1 and the four arts.
He whole-heartedly tried to cultivate them into a modest nobleman and a talented young lady becoming a model among all dragons and phoenixes.

But the brother and sister pair had completely different personalities.
The elder brother Ming Huazhang was diligent and self-disciplined.
After finishing his studies, he even requested extra classes.
From the Four Books, Five Classics of Confucianism, and Confucian Six Arts to equestrian, archery, and martial arts, there was nothing he couldn’t master; in comparison, Ming Huashang was an expert in self-forgiveness, from the four arts to needlework and feminine arts, she learned what she could, but if she couldn’t, she would let it be.
Duke Zhen couldn’t bear to force his daughter, and his heart softened whenever Ming Huashang acted spoiled.

As a result, under such doting, Ming Huazhang grew up to be a renowned jade young master who excelled in both civil and martial arts and was the dream lover of half of the girls in Chang’an and Luoyang, while Ming Huashang grew up to be a salted fish.

Ming Huashang used to wonder, why was there such a big gap between siblings with the same parents? Now she understood, it turned out the problem was herself.
Who could’ve known, the real daughter, Su Yuji, who will soon show up, was also a very talented girl.

Ming Huashang was letting her imagination run wild and didn’t notice that her yawning action was a bit big.
After Ming Huazhang greeted Old Madam Ming and took his seat, the maid served him tea attentively.
When he put down the teacup, he nodded slightly to thank her, but his onyx jade-like eyes flit across her without any fluctuations.

This was just due to his upbringing.
As for the tea served to him, whether it was a man, a woman, or even an animal, it doesn’t make any difference.
He was as cold as a piece of jade.
Even while being in such a warm and fragrant environment, he was still cool.
Only when he glanced at the girl across from him, his gaze froze, and the tip of his brows slightly furrowed.

Because of Ming Huazhang’s actions, everyone in the room looked toward her.

Ming Huashang was in the middle of a quiet yawn.
She barely closed her eyes all night and the charcoal fire in Old Madam Ming’s room was roaring.
She felt cocooned by this comfortable warm fragrance, and she became more and more sleepy.
But now that she was still paying her respects, it would be too shameful to be caught falling asleep.
Ming Huashang pinched herself hard to remind herself not to doze off and then looked up to find that everyone was looking at her.

Ming Huashang’s expression froze.
She scanned her surroundings cautiously in a daze and happened to meet Ming Huazhang eyes.

She had just finished yawning, her eyes were glistening, and she was dumbfounded like a deer that was trying to play dead after being frightened.
Ming Huazhang looked away calmly.
Old Madam Ming broke the silence and spoke slowly, “Second miss, what’s the matter? Didn’t you sleep well last night?”

It seems that it was true, whatever you’re afraid of will come.
Ming Huashang bit the bullet and squeezed out a smile, and replied, “No, I only had a nightmare, so I was a little dazed.
I’ve made grandmother laugh.”

Old Madam Ming didn’t really care about these details, but since it was mentioned, she had to ask a few more questions since Ming Huazhang was present, “What kind of nightmare? Was it serious? Should we prescribe some medicine?”

Once Ming Huashang heard the word medicine she could already taste the bitterness.
Please don’t! Now she was most afraid of taking medicine.
Ming Huashang politely declined Old Madam Ming’s kindness, “Thank you, grandmother, no need for such trouble.
I’ll be better after I go back and sleep for a while.”

Old Madam Ming also knew that Ming Huashang lacked a heart of ambition like a ball of dough; what she did possess was a big heart2, especially when it came to eating well and sleeping well.
She nodded lightly and didn’t pursue it anymore.
Instead, she looked towards Ming Huazhang who was sitting on the other side, “Second young master, Taiping Gongzhu is going to hold a banquet at Feihong Garden, what do you think?”

Ming Huazhang was the only son of Duke Zhen, but before him, there was an elder brother who died early, so he was ranked second.

Ming Huazhang nodded, and said plainly, “Grandson knows.
I heard that this time the Empress had bestowed favor, permitting the crown prince and his sons to leave the palace to attend the banquet.
Grandson wants to go to the banquet to learn a thing or two.”

Ming Huazhang was willing to go, which was exactly what Old Madam Ming wanted, but she didn’t know that the crown prince’s sons were also going to go.

The crown prince had been under house arrest by the Empress’s order for more than ten years, even his sons and daughters weren’t treated any differently.
They were all locked in the palace and couldn’t connect with the outside world.
It seemed that Taiping Gongzhu was truly favored because she could make the Empress show mercy.

Even if it wasn’t the crown prince who left the palace, but his son, that would be enough.

Old Madam Ming asked, “Which junwangs are going?”

“Linzi Wang and the Baling Wang.”

Old Madam Ming responded with an “oh”.
Not knowing whether she was disappointed or relieved, “How about the imperial grandson?”

Ming Huazhang sat upright, with his slender hands resting on his knees, and the contrast against his crimson round-neck robe made his skin extremely white.
He sat beside the sandalwood table like a jade statue, “The imperial grandson must stay in the palace to fulfill his filial piety, so he cannot leave.”

Old Madam Ming nodded slowly.
She subconsciously pondered the meaning of the Empress’ move.
However, their Empress had been an Empress3 for twenty-eight years, an Empress Dowager for four years, and an Emperor for ten years.
Her scheming was deeper than the sea.
There was no way that Old Madam Ming could understand the Empress’ intentions.
She sighed and said, “Forget it, it’s a rare occasion to relax at the end of the year, so you should go meet a few people your age and relax.”



namely: rites or etiquette 禮|礼 (禮儀|礼仪), music 樂|乐 (音樂|音乐), archery 射 (射箭), charioteering 御 (駕車|驾车), calligraphy or literacy 書|书 (識字|识字), mathematics or reckoning 數|数 (計算|计算) / another name for the Six Classics 六經|六经 i.e.
happy go lucky 皇后 (Empress) not to be confused with 女皇 (also called Empress); 皇后 is the emperor’s official wife, whereas 女皇 is a female Emperor.
Except for this case, where the word Empress appears in this novel it’s referring to 女皇

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