Ban Xiang feels like a crow has just passed over her head. She noisily reminds Mo Qi Qi, “But, Your Ladyship, that pearl is clearly….”
“Now that it is in my hand, it belongs to me now. As for the gift for the grand empress dowager, I have my own arrangement.” Mo Qi Qi gives her a sneaky smile.
Night comes, and the banquet to welcome the grand empress dowager has started. Chang Le Palace is full of merry air.
Mo Qi Qi does not go to look for Jun Qian Che and goes to Chang Le Palace by herself. She already went there once, so she already knows the way. No need to follow him around, like a little pet.
She accidentally stumbles upon the 7th wang outside Chang Le Palace. Mo Qi Qi suddenly remembers their promise and quickly calls for him, “7th imperial uncle!”
Jun Yue Hen pays her his respect, “Greeting, Your Ladyship.”
Mo Qi Qi drags Jun Yue Hen away to a secluded spot.
This happens to be seen by Jun Qian Che. His eyes turn icy as he steps into Chang Le Palace.
“What is wrong, Qi Qi?” Jun Yue Hen asks in concern.
Mo Qi Qi lets go of Jun Yue Hen’s arm before looking at him in guilt, “I’m sorry, Yue Hen! We promised to run away, but I had to break my promise. Everything is fine, now.”
A touch of desolateness flashes in Jun Yue Hen’s eyes before he simply smiles, “No need to feel guilty, Qi Qi. We promised to run away because we were worried about Dong Fei’s case. Who would have thought that the emperor would have exonerated you? Staying is right. After all, being the empress is every girl’s dream, and you and the emperor have become more and more loving as days pass—-”
“Stop!” Mo Qi Qi cuts him off. “Yue Hen, I am not staying for the empress’ position. Even though so many women want to be the empress, I don’t. I know that high places are cold. It seems glorious but the truth is the life is meaningless and empty!”
“Since it isn’t for the position, you must have chosen to stay for the emperor.” Jun Yue Hen’s voice becomes lower.
Mo Qi Qi quickly tries to explain everything to him, “No! Jun Qian Che and I are not meant to be, not for this lifetime and not for the next eight lifetimes! I am unwilling to leave him? Pft, there is nothing I want more than to tear him into pieces!”
“Qi Qi, you must not speak so carelessly!” Jun Yue Hen looks around uneasily.
“I just hate that Jun Qian Che. I am only staying because it is not the right time to leave. Once I want to leave, I will leave without even looking back!” Mo Qi Qi harshly says.
Hearing that, the sadness that lingers in Jun Yue Hen’s heart is immediately swept away. He looks at Mo Qi Qi in deep affection, “Whenever you want to leave, you just need to say it to me. I will definitely help you!”
“Uh, nicely said! Nicely said!” She looks away from Jun Yue Hen’s enchanting eyes. She’s afraid that if she looks on for too long, she will be taken by his beautiful eyes.
Mo Qi Qi and Jun Yue Hen walk back to Chang Le Palace separately.
Mo Qi Qi sits next to Jun Qian Che.
He looks at her before icily asking, “What took you so long?”
Mo Qi Qi smiles at him while replying, “Your Majesty, you know that women take a long time to dress up.”
Jun Qian Che does not pursue the matter.
The banquet starts and the dancing and singing commences. Mo Qi Qi specifically asks the dancers and musicians to follow her instruction and the result is a series of beautiful performances. Everyone watch the performances in a daze.
Mo Qi Qi has also added new cuisines to the menu, ones that she have asked the imperial chefs to learn prior. It receives a really good feedback from the crowd.
All the officials are busy buttering up to the grand empress dowager, all in all, the entire atmosphere is merry and joyful.
The grand empress dowager is really pleased with the banquet. “Aijia heard that the banquet this time is arranged by the empress. You have gotten so good at handling things, you are more and more thoughtful as days pass,” she praises Mo Qi Qi.
Mo Qi Qi gets up and respectfully reply her, “It is Qi Qi’s responsibility. As long as imperial grandmother likes them, everything is worthwhile!”
“Aijia likes it very much. This is the best banquet aijia has ever seen,” the grand empress dowager sincerely praises her.
Mo Qi Qi is happy that her hardwork is being acknowledged by other people. This is an honor for her. Now that the grand empress dowager has appeared, she is finally feeling some warmth in this palace.
Seeing his daughter getting praised, Duke Zhen cannot help himself from speaking, “Your Ladyship, your ability is indeed remarkable, but please pay attention to your health as well.”
The grand empress dowager laughs, “Seems like Duke Zhen is really fond of his daughter.”
Mo Qi Qi laughs as well, “Don’t worry, Father. Bengong only needs to give the instructions, everything else are done by the maids.”
“Sometimes, thinking is even more tiring than labour,” Duke Zhen says.
Mo Qi Qi smiles at him, “Using one’s brain actually helps with one’s health. It improves one’s memory in the old age. We need to move our brains and our hands more often.” Stop talking, Father! You are scolding the emperor for making me work! This is my responsibility as the empress, there is nothing hard about this!
The empress dowager scoffs coldly, “Duke Zhen, the empress is the mistress of the back palace. All banquets, big or small are her responbilities. In the past, the empress is not very familiar with how the palace works, aijia has to do all these on her behalf. Now, she has been here for two years, it is time for her to learn these things.”
Duke Zhen looks like he still wants to speak and Mo Qi Qi immediately cuts him off, “Imperial mother is right! This daughter will learn more from you!”
“Let’s give a toast to the grand empress dowager! It has been hard on imperial grandmother, traveling so far to pray for the kingdom!” Jun Qian Che stops that conversation at just the right time. Everyone has seen Duke Zhen’s misconduct. Although they did not say anything, they probably will understand why, if Duke Zhen is to be weeded out in the future.
Jun Qian Che is not accommodating Duke Zhen because he fears him, but because he knows Duke Zhen will invoke public outrage.
Everyone’s attention are diverted somewhere else. They all get up and offer the grand empress dowager a cup of wine.
Mo Qi Qi secretly sighs in relief, lucky Jun Qian Che changed the topic in time before things get bigger.
After that, all the concubines, kings’ consorts and princesses hand over their presents to the grand empress dowager.
When Mo Qi Qi’s turn arrives, she takes out a beautiful box and hands it to the grand empress dowager, “Imperial grandmother, Qi Qi knows that your journey to Foshan was tiring and long, it must have taken a great toll on your skin. It is a heartbreaking thing to be happening to such a beautiful person like you. Chenqie has especially made you rose oil, rose water, milk cream and eye cream to protect your skin. Once you use it, your skin will become supple and glowy, like a baby’s skin. I hope you like this, imperial grandmother!” When she opens the beautiful box, one can see little jars and bottles.
A maid takes it to the grand empress dowager and she picks up a bottle before smelling it, “It smells so good! Did you make it yourself, Qi Qi?”
Mo Qi Qi nods, “Yes. Do you like it, imperial grandmother?”
“Of course! Aijia loves it very much! This is very thoughtful of you, empress,” the grand empress dowager really likes it.
“If it suits your skin, Qi Qi will make more for you, imperial grandmother!” Mo Qi Qi smartly says.
The grand empress dowager happily nods, “It has been months since we last meet, the empress has gotten even cleverer.”
Mo Qi Qi goes back to sit next to Jun Qian Che and the banquet goes on. The banquet is very enjoyable this time, from the performances to the meals. No wonder everyone wants to become a minister.
Jun Yue Hen’s eyes are on Mo Qi Qi. She has changed a lot. She has become a lot more noticeable, a lot more charming.
Mo Qi Qi raises her head and her eyes are interlocked with Jun Yue Hen’s. She gives him a beautiful smile before raising a cup, as though saying, I carefully selected this wine. It is very good. Drink more.
Jun Qian Che turns his head to look at her at that very moment.
Mo Qi Qi awkwardly rubs her own lips, “Hehe, chenqie’s teeth is itchy.”
Jun Qian Che does not reply her and finish his wine in one go.
She secretly chokes inside, he is like half-man and half tiger. Her heart feels so tired. Had she not suspected that her way back home is located in the palace, she would have run long ago. She does not want to be his empress. She is like a puppet; bullied and oppressed.
Jun Qian Che’s mood is very bad tonight. Ever since he saw Mo Qi Qi dragging Jun Yue Hen to a secluded place, his heart plunged to the bottom of his stomach. Fury is suppressed inside him. And now, Mo Qi Qi dares to exchange meaningful looks with Jun Yue Hen right in front of him. Does he, this husband, even exist in her eyes?
Jun Qian Che drinks up a couple more cups.
After the banquet ends, everyone disperse back to their home.
Mo Qi Qi drags her tired body back to Feng Yang Palace, ready to take a bath and go to bed.
For the past few days, she has been restless over this banquet. Just like what Duke Zhen said, although she only needed to order people around, exerting one’s brain is tiring just the same. She looks casual but she honestly spent a lot of efforts on everything. She knows that if she messes up, people will act up and use her incompetence against her and Mo Clan. Now that the banquet has ended, she can finally be at peace.
Now that her worry is put to rest, her entire body suddenly feels tired and exhausted.
Ban Xiang prepares hot water and sprinkles rose petals in the tub. Mo Qi Qi sits there and relaxed.
After bathing and combing her hair, Mo Qi Qi sits on her bed, yawning and ready to go to sleep.
It is during that moment that an announcement can be heard from outside, “Greeting, Your Majesty.”
Mo Qi Qi helplessly sighs, “It is so late, why is he here? He does not want to let other people live anymore.” She feels so upset on the inside, but she still curtsies in respect when she sees him. She is under his roof, so she has no other choice but to lower her head. No matter how one look at it, he is like her parent who provides her with food and shelter.
“Chenqie greets Your Majesty,” Mo Qi Qi curtsies in front of Jun Qian Che who has just walked in.
Serene: This chapter was brought to you by Mckenzie!