Chu Yu walked out of Snow Shower Garden and headed towards her residence, the East Wing. On the way here she had forced herself to memorize the routes, so now she didn’t need anyone to guide her.
Returning to the East Wing, Chu Yu ordered for the file records of every male concubine in the palace to be brought in front of her. After giving out the order, she glanced at Yue Jiefei. He was standing besides her, and seemed to be debating whether or not to say something. Chu Yu laughed, “Ask whatever you want to ask, it’s fine.”
Yue Jiefei thought for a second, then said, “Princess, what are you going to do with Huan Yuan and Jiang Yan?”
Chu Yu frowned slightly. Right now she didn’t have an answer in her mind yet. Basing off what Rong Zhi had said, he seemed very confident in the original Princess of Shanyin, believing that Huan Yuan and Jiang Yan could do nothing to her. The problem was, she wasn’t the real princess; she was now at a loss in such a situation.
Pausing and thinking, Chu Yu pursed her lips and chuckled, “When a scholar plans a revolt, it’s never done within three years. There’s no need to bother with them, let’s look at the situation clearly first.
The files were sent over quickly. The information of the male concubines were recorded on silk scrolls, rolled up and wrapped in silk sacks. The names of the male concubines were written on the light cyan colored silk; Chu Yu could open any one of them and see all information on the person.
Although they were written in ancient Chinese and traditional characters, Chu Yu’s father studied ancient literature, so she had some contact with this type of writing. Not that she was any expert in it, but to understand these narrative words wasn’t too hard.
Chu Yu first opened the sack with Jiang Yan’s name on it. The scroll stated that Jiang Yan lost his father at a young age, was very talented, and even held small office. But later he was framed of bribery and cast into prison, where he wrote to petition his innocence. For some reason, his petition passed through multiple people and landed in the hands of the Princess of Shanyin. Reading the eloquent petition that was neither humble nor arrogant, the Princess of Shanyin was moved and got him out of prison.
Poor Jiang Yan! He just left prison, but immediately entered a more sumptuous jail. In the Princess of Shanyin’s harem, he couldn’t express his aspirations; he couldn’t use his talents.
Jiang Yan, Jiang Yan…… Chu Yu frowned, repeating this name again and again. Why did it feel familiar? After thinking about it for a long time, Chu Yu abruptly slapped the table, “I remember now, Jiang lang cai jin1 !”
Jiang lang cai jin was an idiom, used to describe a very talented person losing his talents. The origin of this idiom was this young man Jiang, this Jiang Yan at the princess’s palace! It’s said that this person was extremely gifted and smart when he was young, but after reaching middle-age, his writing and poetry slowly lost its brilliance. Therefor this allusion, known as “Jiang lang cai jin”.
Although Jiang Yan’s poetry wasn’t popular enough for anyone to be able to recite a few lines, but his “the most deeply depressing thing, is no other than parting” was very famous. Even the Deeply Depressing Press invented by Yang Guo from the wuxia novel Condor Heroes2 originated from this line.
Finally recalling the name of Jiang lang, Chu Yu couldn’t help but feel a preposterous sense of dislocation. This scholar that has left his name in history, that has become an illusion, was now at the Princess of Shanyin’s…… To be exact, he was now at her harem. But in the books she read in her before life, Jiang Yan being forced to become a male concubine was never mentioned. Maybe this was just someone with the same name.
The the time periods they were in were so close together; both lost their fathers at a young age and lived in poverty; with their backgrounds and situations so similar, it was hard to say they were two different people. As for the records…… History was recorded by man, and could be distorted by man. If one held power, he can tamper with history however he wanted……
Reading Jiang Yan’s information, Chu Yu thought for a long time but still couldn’t be sure. Anyway, no matter if this Jiang Yan was the one in history, she had made up her mind to release him from the princess’ palace, and let him swim freely in the oceans and fly unrestrained in the skies.
Chu Yu then read some others’ information and discovered that the male concubines in her harem came from all kinds of backgrounds, enough to write a “History of a Hundred Grudges”. According to each person’s condition, Chu Yu classified them in her heart and made some initial plans as to what to do with them. At last she came to Huan Yuan’s scroll. The pattern on the edge of the sack was exceptionally delicate; Chu Yu attempted to open the sack, but realized that this one was different from the others. It was sealed.
Was there a secret?
Chu Yu’s interest was suddenly hooked up.
Chu Yu fished out a bob3 from her sleeve–she didn’t want to bother with it so she didn’t put it up in a bun, instead using a silk ribbon to tie it up. But she kept a silver bob in her sleeve; Chu Yu herself didn’t know why she did that, for supposedly she didn’t need a weapon for self-defense; but still, it felt safer to keep something sharp close by–she started to use the end of the bob to tease the linen thread that sutured the sack. After a while, Huan Yuan’s information was exposed before Chu Yu for her to see.
When she unfolded the scroll, Chu Yu still had an easy smile on her face. But when she read the first few lines written on the scroll in red ink, her smile froze on her face.
So it was like this……
She didn’t know how long had passed, but when she placed down the scroll, she suddenly felt a little headache.
Jiang Yan was very easy to deal with. She could randomly write a letter and push him to some royalty or noble or government official. But this Huan Yuan was tricky stuff.
Chu Yu rubbed her knitted brows. After a moment, she was spirited again: wasn’t it just a few toyboys? If the Princess of Shanyin could manage them, she could manage them.
Chu Yu rolled the silk scroll up again, then cast a glance at Yue Jiefei, and said in a heavy voice: “Yue Jiefei, remember, everything you saw in this room today, do not tell anyone.” Although she wasn’t the true princess, she could act out an authoritative manner. Yue Jiefei felt cold in his heart, and at once claimed he didn’t dare.
Chu Yu pulled herself together. After a slight moment of hesitation, she reached for the last scroll: Rong Zhi.
Even Huan Yuan had such a background, then what about Rong Zhi, who enjoyed an extremely special position in the palace? Who could he be, and for what reason and through what way did he come to the princess’ palace? Why, when he disagreed with Huan Yuan, would he defend the Princess of Shanyin so strongly? And why did the Princess of Shanyin favor him so greatly?
As her fingertips touched the soft silk, Rong Zhi’s ebony and profound irises surfaced in Chu Yu’s mind. Calm and clear, with a hint of smile in them. Commanding herself not to think more, Chu Yu quickly drew the scroll out of the sack. But when she spread it out, she was stunned.
She had thought that after reading Huan Yuan’s information, she wouldn’t be so surprised. But Rong Zhi made her surprised again. Because, this piece of silk, was completely clean. There was nothing on it.
No name, no birthplace, no age, no description. Nothing, not even a single word.
This blankness turned into a dense and invisible net, gathering all her worries and suspicions together, bringing them to her mind.
What happened? Did she forget record it? Or…… was there nothing?
Chu Yu closed the scroll, her heart filled with questions. She ordered people to take away all the files and return them to their places. Her investigation was half success and half failure; she learned many things through these written recordings, but at the same time, she also had more questions.
1. Jiang lang cai jin: 江郎才尽, literal meaning the talents of a young man named Jiang were used up. “Lang” means “young man”.↩
2. Condor Heroes: 神雕侠侣, written by Jin Yong, one of the most famous wuxia novels ever written. Protagonist is Yang Guo; in the story he self-invented a set of palm techniques known as Deeply Depressing Press ← k i admit we played with the alliteration here :^) but it kinda is what it meant it’s one of those very hard to translate words and ik this is really weird but it sounds really really cool in Chinese…↩
3. Bob: 发簪, a type of hair accessory used in ancient China. Looks like a stick and can hold one’s hair in place.↩