Crossing the Crowd to Chase Love

Chapter 114

Chapter 114

WARNING: The author bashes Japan (& other countries, but mostly Japan) a lot in this chapter. I have included a warning before the majority of it and a tldr at the end of the section if you wish to skip it.

I had a ceremonial cape draped over my entire body and my head supported a phoenix crown weighing three catties. It painfully pressed down and I felt like my neck could snap at any moment. Under the protection of an assembly of respectful palace eunuchs, I took calm and collected steps with the distinctive gracefulness and noble bearing of an empress into Xuan De Hall.

The New Year’s banquet was currently being held in the main hall with civil and military officials neatly sitting on either side. Upon my arrival, they all stood up to salute.

Xuanyuan Zong Zhi’s head bore the golden dragon crown and he sported the dazzling dragon robes, his entire person radiating with the dignity of the emperor He faintly smiled at my entrance and rose from the Dragon Throne to lead me to it, where we sat down, side by side.

I don’t remember when it was established, but the Empress of Tian Chu had the right to engage in politics and her authority in morning court was no less than the Emperor’s.

Half a year ago when our large household had returned from traveling the world, we were greeted with an imperial edict from the old emperor regarding inheritance. Despite never taking the position of Crown Prince, Zong Zhi had been directly appointed from his title as the Prince of Qi to the eminent status of the Emperor. I naturally then became Empress.

Shi Yi’s position as the principal husband could not be shaken. The old Emperor had finally understood that and conceded. Thus, Zong Zhi became the sole emperor in the history of Tian Chu to ascend the throne as a concubine. But no one dared to look down on him. Shortly after his ascension, he punished an entire faction of dishonest courtiers. From then on, whatever the Emperor ordered, his loyal subjects obeyed.

Xuan De Hall was luxuriant, with sixty-four large chandeliers suspended from the ceiling that illuminated the hall as if it was day. Indeed, it was a dazzling array of light that painted the room in glorious splendor.

Imperial banquets were naturally grand, breathtaking, refined, and luxurious; otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to display the imperial family’s prestige and honor.

I caught sight of Yun Shi Yi among the subjects. He was currently watching me with eyes expressing his affection. Lightly smiling at him, my eyes wandered. Min Zhi, Shi Wei, Jing Yan–they were also all among the crowd. Jing Yan was currently the prime minister, Shi Wei was the head of the Bureau of Military Affairs, and Min Zhi had entered the Hall of Government Affairs.[a]

After I became Empress, Shi Yi seldom went on long voyages. Even if he had to travel overseas, it would only be to the several small countries near the coast. He was currently the one who called the shots in Tian Chu’s markets, with wealth that rivaled a nation’s. But he donated the majority of it to charity and was highly regarded in both Tian Chu and the surrounding countries.

“Greetings to His Imperial Majesty and Her Imperial Majesty.” The leads were present. Under the loud cry of the palace eunuch in charge of ceremony and etiquette, all the attendees stood up and performed the rites.

“Rise, my dear officials, and be seated!” Zong Zhi’s crisp voice rang out, but it seemed to contain a gloominess and depth that revealed a venerated emperor’s aura amidst its indifference.

I glanced at the delicacies on the table, my lips faintly pressing into a lovely smile. Ever since Shi Yi led the merchants to call for plants to be grown in greenhouses, the average commoner could also eat fresh vegetables in the wintry twelfth lunar month.

I saw quite a few court officials swallow their saliva, most likely hungry. But the Son of Heaven hadn’t touched his chopsticks thus no one dared to have a taste. I wanted to discreetly remind Zong Zhi, but he directed some words towards Xiao Xi Zi, who was by his side: “The foreign envoys may have their audience now.”

Every New Year, summoning the foreign delegates for an audience was a mandatory event at the imperial banquet.

“All envoys may have an audience with His Imperial Majesty of the Celestial Empire, the holy Son of Heaven.” Xiao Xi Zi’s shrill voice passed down the Emperor’s order, where it then traveled from the imperial guards on duty by the entrance to post after post, passing the order farther and farther……

Approximately half a quarter hour later, a group of several hundred people entered the main hall. It seemed they had rehearsed this before as they walked in a very orderly fashion. All sorts of clothing could be seen in the formation, just like an exhibition on the dress of minority and ethnic groups.

Tian Chu’s diplomatic relations had widened considerably with the strengthening of the age of navigation. Our envoys had spread to most of the nations on this continent and traveled to Fusang in the east, and to Da Qin, South Africa, and even the Americas in the west. Nearly all races could be found in this hall.

“Long live His Imperial Majesty, the holy Son of Heaven, long live niang niang.” The envoys shouted in stiff Mandarin and uniformly kneeled.

Zong Zhi swept his eyes over the dense crowd before him a few times before indifferently ordering: “All may rise!”

“Many thanks to His Imperial Majesty, the holy Son of Heaven. Many thanks to niang niang. Long live, long live.” The envoys had all been trained in etiquette by the Ministry of Rites and deeply bowed with lowered heads, their attitude reverent and respectful, not even daring to flick their eyes upwards for a quick glance.

From that, I could see how impressive Tian Chu was, and couldn’t help but to sigh. If modern China was half as domineering as Tian Chu was, then they wouldn’t be fighting over the Diao Yu Islands with Japan for decades. The year I transmigrated, the problem was still unresolved.[b]

Following that was the presentation of gifts brought by each country’s respective envoys. Xiao Xi Zi called out each nation in turn from a list in his hands.

“The envoy from Gan Pu offers twenty pieces of high-quality emerald jadeite and ten pieces of red jadeite. The envoy from Xian Luo offers a gold pagoda with nine sections and a depiction of Guan Yin carved from jade. The envoy from Gao Li offers ten tiger hides, fifty fine Mongolian horses……”

Hearing Gao Li mentioned, I recalled that modern-day South Korea had a thicker skin than the land, claiming the Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and the four great Chinese inventions were theirs, and that they were the origin of humans in the Eastern Hemisphere and the primogenitor of ancient Chinese civilization.[c] Being shameless to this degree was truly sickening.

“The envoy of the country of Wo offers twenty Wo swords……”

Hearing the country of Wo mentioned, I was startled for it was actually Japan. Ancient Japan was poor, backwards, and covered in tattoos, just like savages. Despite receiving assistance from the Tang dynasty, they were located in the far corner of the East Sea so transportation and communication was inconvenient. Their situation had improved, it wasn’t enough.

This Wo blade was actually a technique from the Tang dynasty, and the sharpness of a Tang sword was unmatched. In my original space-time, the Tang blade technique vanished during the wars of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, but became famous in the islands of Japan. Later in history, how many Chinese did the Japanese slaughter with the weapons of the Tang dynasty?!

Xiao Xi Zi finished reading from the gift list and deferentially bowed before the Emperor and Empress.

“To all delegates, if you have a matter to discuss, please speak frankly. Those without issues, please withdraw to the side hall and enjoy the banquet.” Zong Zhi gave me a glance. Perhaps seeing that I wasn’t in too good of a mood, he spoke in a manner that was almost dismissive.

***If you don’t want to read the author insult Japan through RZ, skip this section.***

(It’s long. Really long.)

But it was hard for the envoys to meet with the emperor, so how could they have nothing to say? The first to harden his resolve and step forward was the envoy of Wo. Performing the rites, his clear voice sounded: “This humble envoy of Wo, Official Xiao Quan salutes His Majesty, the Holy Son of Heaven and salutes niang niang. Since the formation of the dynasty, my humble country has been a close friend of the Celestial Empire and claimed itself as loyal subjects of the Celestial Empire. Presently, this son is facing difficulty and beseeches our mother nation for assistance.”

Zong Zhi was taken aback: “What troubles are you facing?”

Hearing the Emperor’s question, Official Xiao Quan eagerly lurched forward, buttocks jolting. He only stopped when Xiao Zhou Zi barked out Impudent! and then continued in an overly fawning manner: “Your Majesty, niang niang, my humble country urgently needs experts and books regarding farming, medicine, architecture, and other fields from the Celestial Empire. The virtues of the holy Son of Heaven are widely spread, lighting up ten thousand li. His Majesty will surely not allow the people of my humble country to suffer.”

The more I heard, the more furious I became. Our ancestors had allowed these ungrateful bastards to learn our advanced techniques and theories and then they turned around and killed us.

“Quiet!” I didn’t wait for Zong Zhi to speak and coldly denied Official Xiao Quan: “How could such a lowly official like you be allowed to act so presumptuously in my Tian Chu’s Great Hall? Someone come! Have him expelled.”

The Wo envoy was nothing to look at. At less than 1.6 meters tall and with bow legs, he looked utterly wretched. I knew from reading my past world’s history books that the majority of Japanese prior to World War II generally had this kind of trait. Later, after seeing Westerners drink milk to enhance their characteristics, the Japanese Prime Minister had his countrymen drink milk every day to improve their constitutions. As expected, after a few decades, the bow-legged defect became rare in the Japan.

Please forgive me for judging someone by their appearance, but no one would be happy when confronted with a country that was formerly their enemy.

The imperial guards knew my command was tantamount to one issued by Zong Zhi and stepped forward from their posts to force Xiao Quan out without waiting for the sacred order to be issued.

“Niang niang, what mistake has this foreign subject committed? Please state it clearly, do not let this foreign subject be made to exit in confusion.” Xiao Quan shouted and knelt on the ground, refusing to rise.

I halted the guards and rebuked the Wo envoy: “You should have looked for a mirror before you came. A repugnant appearance like yours with a head like a buck and eyes like a mouse[d] can still represent a country? It is evident you are looking down on my Tian Chu. To then dare be so impudent–have him taken out and beaten a hundred times.”

Xiao Quan straightforwardly cried out his injustices: “It turns out niang niang dislikes this foreign subject for being ugly. Confucius says: Judging someone by their appearance means losing Zi Yu.[e] This foreign subject has reached the conclusion that this subject does not have Zi Yu’s great talents, but this subject is very familiar with the Book of Songs and the Book of Histories and proficient in many schools of thought. Hoping niang niang will see that this foreign subject’s heart is full of loyalty towards the Celestial Empire and pardon this subject. If niang niang thinks this subject is too ugly, this subject will change to a beautiful one to greet niang niang tomorrow.”

Fury overwhelmed me, making my head spin. This damned Japanese devil was too inhuman. Did he think I’d go into heat at the sight of an attractive man and rush to take him into my harem? His goddamned island was filled with either female prostitutes or male gigolos, absolutely filthy!

Zong Zhi held my hand underneath the table and whispered: “Zhu’er, there is no need to anger yourself over this insolent man. I will have him punished later as an outlet for your anger and then send him back to Wo.”

The other envoys regretted that Xiao Quan had scrambled to be the first to respond to the holy Son of Heaven and were currently full of envy. Seeing him suffer to this extent, schadenfreude oozed from their eyes.

I noticed the gentle smile Shi Yi was directing towards me. My heart immediately warmed and the rage that had overtaken me mostly snuffed out.

Xiao Quan was not dumb. Realizing that he had spoken wrongly, he hastily kowtowed in trepidation.

I cleared my throat: “Listen, Xiao Quan. Since the previous dynasty, your country has received quite a few benefits from my Tian Chu, taking a generous amount of medical knowledge, military tactics, agricultural methods and skills, and even artisans. Now even your country’s capital imitates the architecture of my Celestial Empire. It is because we have given you too much that we cannot give any more.”

Xiao Quan was stunned and forgot to be afraid: “Niang niang, the subjects of my humble country needs your distinguished nation’s medical skills to treat diseases and also needs the method to your high-yield rice paddies. The Celestial Empire is the mother nation; how could you look on as your people starve?”

I was surprised: “How would our Tian Chu look on as your country’s people starve? Xiao Quan, why are you speaking nonsense with clear eyes? Tian Chu merchant trips carry foodstuffs, silk, porcelain, tea leaves, and a great deal of luxury goods to Wo each year. What are your eyes for?”

“But, but niang niang, those need to be bought?” Xiao Quan mumbled. Not knowing how to respond, he unexpectedly spoke foolishly.

All of the court ministers bristled with anger, and Shi Wei coldly sneered: “Do you mean Wo should reap without sowing and have the Celestial Empire provide offerings?”

I deadpanned: “Your country is rich in gold and using gold to exchange for foodstuffs is proper. What Sir Yun said is reasonable. Or do you wish for my Tian Chu to raise you for nothing?”

Xiao Quan quickly responded: “No, no, my humble country only needs books on medicine and agriculture. We only wish to fill our bellies and treat illnesses. Hoping the Celestial Empire can send us doctors and craftsmen.”

Yun Shi Yi stood up. As a merchant, he put his interests first. As long as his country was happy and prosperous, what did the fates of the people of other countries mean to him? If the productivity of other countries improved and their farming, porcelain, and silk industries received remarkable growth, then who would he sell his merchandise to?

“Your Majesty, niang niang, the Wo envoy’s demands are unreasonable. This subject has traveled to Wo before. The commoners are covered with tattoos and they are rough in demeanor, ignorant of the arts and sciences, and eat raw meat. Why not have them study the way of Confucius and enlighten them with virtuous conduct? We could give them the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism, Buddhist scriptures, and send monks to Wo to preach them Buddhist teachings, delivering all of them from suffering.”

Eldest Cousin really knew my thoughts! I cast an appreciative glance at Yun Shi Yi.

“What do my dear ministers think?” Zong Zhi cast a glance at all of the civil and military ministers present. Although he was questioning them, it was merely a routine. All that were in attendance were experienced. Who would be willing to set himself against the Empress for a tiny little country?

“Your Majesty is benevolent. This subject has no opinion.” The officials all voiced their praise.

Zong Zhi indifferently announced: “The matter is settled. Wo envoy, zhen will not give you agricultural texts or other such works. However, zhen will grant you five thousand Confucian classics and five thousand Buddhist scriptures. Urge your countrymen to learn how to conduct themselves with integrity from Confucius and Buddha.”

Sweat dripped off Xiao Quan’s face in his anxiety and he continuously used his sleeve to wipe it: “Your Majesty, niang niang, Confucian classics and Buddhist scriptures are very good, but they cannot be compared to how valuable food and medicine are. My humble country requires texts on industry and craftsmanship and also needs a large amount of artisans and experts……”

Tian Chu’s craftsmen and professionals weren’t only coveted by Wo. Out of all of the foreign envoys present, not a single one wouldn’t want them. But they were not as shameless as Xiao Quan, nor did they have something wrong with their brains like he did. I was baffled that Wo had sent such a buffoon to Tian Chu as their ambassador, but that was something that didn’t concern me.

Xiao Quan was still dilly-dallying: “If……if this envoy cannot obtain your distinguished nation’s technology, I will surely be punished by my Lord when I return. I hope Your Majesty and niang niang can be merciful.”

Zong Zhi’s face sank: “Your words are clearly accusing zhen and the Empress for not being benevolent enough?”

Overwhelmed, Xiao Quan hastily tried to explain himself: “No……no……”

Wang Jing Yan stood up: “Your Majesty, the envoy of Wo has spoken rudely, dared to look down on the Confucian classics Your Majesty has bestowed, and is deserving of death. It is unsuitable to see blood during the New Year celebration so he should be pulled outside and given twenty blows, then driven out of Tian Chu.”

Shi Wei crushed a tea cup that was previously on the table into shards with his hand and jumped up: “We should directly drag out this offensive envoy and send him to the Court of Judicature and Revision. Have him sentenced to be in exile three thousand li away on the charge of holding the royal clan in contempt and have him work at Da Jue Mountain.”

Zong Zhi’s eyes were cold and he indifferently interjected: “No need for that trouble. Throw him into death row in Shun Tian Hall and have him stay there indefinitely. Guards, arrest him.”

Xiao Quan turned white with fear and in his haste, forgot to choose his words well: “You can’t have such disregard for human life! I am the envoy of Wo. If our two countries are going to war, you can’t kill the messenger. Ah no, I don’t mean war. You guys……you guys can’t treat me like this.”

Min Zhi abruptly stood up. Not waiting for the imperial guards, he stalked over to Xiao Quan in a matter of a few steps and grabbed him by the back of his collar like a chick, lifting him up, before striding towards the entrance, where Xiao Quan resembled a ball as he flew through the doors.

Xuan De Hall finally calmed down. No matter if it was the ancient era or modern times, the Japs were all extremely repulsive. I had to find a time to thoroughly get rid of this hidden danger. Let’s see if they would then still dare to noisily argue over the Diao Yu Islands in the future.

Zong Zhi swept his eyes over the foreign envoys still in the main hall and nonchalantly decreed: “Today, the Wo envoy was utterly discourteous and zhen has decided to teach them a tiny lesson. Military Affairs Commissioner Sir Yun, heed my command. Zhen appoints you as Grand General. Set off with two hundred thousand elite soldiers to Wo and raze them. Are you willing?”

“This subject is willing.” Shi Wei accepted the command in a loud voice.

I smiled. The Japs of this era were incredibly weak! Sending two hundred thousand elite troops? Oh my god, I don’t even think the entirety of the old and young in Wo even added up to this number.

According to historical data, the Japanese civil war that occurred during the Tang and Song dynasties was merely a confrontation between several thousand people versus a little over ten thousand. Compare that to the Three Kingdoms, where battles picked at random would have troops numbering in the hundred thousands. Even at his weakest, Liu Bei still had fifty thousand soldiers, ah! He was against eight hundred thousand troops at the Battle of Chi Bi. The two situations were simply worlds apart.

***End of the skip. tldr: The envoy of Japan (Wo, in this time period) asks for books on medicine and agriculture. Being prejudiced from hating Japan & finding the envoy ugly, RZ refuses him. Things escalate, YSY advises ZZ to give them books on Confucianism and Buddhism instead; WJY and YSW call for the Wo envoy to be beaten. ZZ decides to throw the envoy in prison indefinitely with MZ physically tossing him out the hall. ZZ then declares war on Wo and tells YSW to raze the country to the ground.***

The delegates looked on in a daze as, because of such a small matter, the army had been sent to eliminate another country. Although they still wanted to speak, they all hurried to close their mouths, afraid they would utter something taboo. It was a small matter if they themself died, but implicating their home country would be a larger matter.

“Take them to the side hall to enjoy the banquet.” Zong Zhi waved his hand at the envoys. As it was a banquet held for the court of Tian Chu, the representatives of these small countries were not eligible to participate.

The diplomats didn’t even dare to breathe deeply as they respectfully headed towards the side hall.

The curtain finally closed on the foreign envoys’ audience with the holy Son of Heaven, and Zong Zhi called for the banquet to start.

The nation was currently at peace and the ruler and his ministers shared the same joy, drinking wine until deep into the night, all enjoying themselves fully before naturally dispersing.

I was a little drunk and Zong Zhi carried me back to Shu Ning Palace, presenting me with his red lips. He kissed me for a while: “Zhu’er, tonight should be Min Zhi’s turn. How have you forgotten?”

“Because I want you.” I sweetly smiled.

“You said it yourself. I will not be courteous then.”

Caught in another kiss from Zong Zhi, I was dazedly carried into the bathroom where clothes were thrown off and I found myself soaking inside the white marble pool.

“My Empress is still this beautiful!”

Zong Zhi softly sighed, seating me on his legs before lowering his head to my chest.

“En……this side too……” A burst of pleasure spread through me, and my hands wrapped around him.

A palace eunuch bowed as he entered, placing a bowl full of peeled lychee on the marble platform. “Zhu’er, feed me.” He placed a lychee in my mouth and then pushed his forward.

Recently, my men have become enchanted with me feeding them with my mouth. I often didn’t even have time to swallow anything delicious before it was snatched by them.

“Your Majesty, it seems it is not your turn today?” Min Zhi entered the bathroom and spoke rudely to Zong Zhi. But the latter didn’t pay him any attention and continued to kiss me. We had a rule. In private, all could be said or done and Zong Zhi could not use his status as Emperor to pressure the others.

Min Zhi took off his clothes and entered the bath, lifting me from Zong Zhi’s lap. “Zhu’er is mine tonight. Even if you are the Emperor, you must abide by the rules.”

Zong Zhi snorted: “Zhen is the Emperor. You do not need to tell me how to act.”

“Your Majesty means we should all congregate tonight?” Yun Shi Yi stepped inside. Accompanying him was Shi Wei and Jing Yan, with even Nuan Chun silently following behind.

Yun Shi Yi had a unique status. As the Empress’s principal husband, no one dared to obstruct him inside the palace. The several men released themselves from their fetters in succession and entered the pool.

“Eldest Cousin!” I aimed a sweet smile at Shi Yi and crawled over to him, looping my arms around his neck to give him a kiss. Min Zhi wasn’t pleased and held me from behind, one of his hands roaming my body. Soon after, an extremely stiff rod entered me, slowly twitching inside.

I raised my butt, allowing that hard thing inside me to start sending tingles down my body. I felt incredibly good and could never have enough of this feeling. My chest felt tight–Zong Zhi and Shi Wei had both took one of my breasts into their mouths. Jing Yan and Nuan Chun also crowded around, stroking my shoulders and legs from time to time.

I was still kissing my most beloved Eldest Cousin. I held him even tighter as delicate moans spilled from my mouth and into his.

Until Min Zhi poured his boiling essence inside me……Shi Yi then pulled me firmly into his lap and used his thick enthusiasm to fill my emptiness. Zong Zhi moved behind me, fondling my body, before turning my head for a long kiss.

At the same time I received such pleasure, I brought them happiness.

The six men showered me with their love, one after the other. I savored their limitless affection and also reciprocated. Living like this was so beautiful. Having transmigrated was a true blessing.

[a] 政事堂 Hall of Government Affairs, essentially the cabinet or state council

[b] The Diao Yu Islands (aka ‘Senkaku Islands’ by the Japanese, ‘Pinnacle Islands’ by the West) is a group of islands located near China, Japan, and Taiwan. It’s hotly disputed between China v Japan and Japan v Taiwan as to who owns the island, with Japan currently having control. (Wikipedia)

[c] Dragon Boat Festival (China) = Dano (Korea), celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month each year. Mid-Autumn Festival (China) = Chuseok (Korea), celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month. Both of these festivals are also celebrated by many other Asian countries. Four great Chinese inventions are paper, printing, gunpowder, and magnetic compasses. I don’t know anything about the other claims in this paragraph.

[d] Head like a buck = head is small and pointed; Eyes like a mouse = eyes are small and round

[e] Zi Yu was a disciple of Confucius that the latter thought was very ugly so didn’t properly teach. He later ended up being a very moral person and started his own school, and Confucius regretted judging him by his appearance. (Wikipedia)

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