Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
The lady quietly walked forward as she gestured towards the young girl. The young lady stepped forward and explained to the utterly confused officers,”Fufeng PaG.o.da Clan, Saintess Fei Yan. May Your Majesty be blessed with longevity and happiness.”
The Saintess of Fufeng Clan. Meng Fuyao recalled Yao Xun mentioning how the Fufeng Saintess' position was equivalent to that of the king. Somehow, this name Fei Yan sounded very familiar, but Meng Fuyao couldn't recall where she had heard it.
Fei Yan waved to the young lady, and that young lady presented a snow-white box. “Allow me to present this Raksasa pearl from Raksasa sea on behalf of Fufeng. Raksasa pearl is known for its soothing properties, as well as its ability to stabilize the meridians and solidify energy. If supplemented with Fufeng's Dragon Oil, it will be useful for inner and external injuries as well as helping one to breakthrough.”
Meng Fuyao's eyes lit up, and she laughed. “Oh? Dragon Oil?”
That young lady donned in gold bracelets nodded proudly. “We have plenty of unique treasures, and a majority of them are beneficial to the pract.i.tioner's inner energy. Dragon Oil is but one of them.”
Meng Fuyao chuckled. “How fascinating.” She looked up and made eye contact with the silent Fei Yan.
Fei Yan gave her a shallow, unreadable smile.
Behind her, Zhangsun Wuji knitted his brows slightly.
After the end of the coronation ceremony, the official requested for Meng Fuyao to come up with an era name. After some thought, she casually said, “Duan Ming then.”
“Your Majesty is wise!” The officials bowed to her. Meng Fuyao revealed an ambiguous smile as that few honor guests couldn't help but shake their heads.
Xuanji, Duan Ming Era. The very first thing the Empress did was move the previous emperor from his palace to another palace. That new palace faced the temple where the memorial tablet of Xuanji's ancestors was placed, located in a deserted area. Meng Fuyao never once went to pay her respects and only got the soldiers to guard the place. There were a couple of times where Feng Xuan wanted to see her, but she declined, saying she wasn't free. Even when the other princes and princesses requested for an audience, they were faced with the same rejection.
The princes and princesses were still locked up in that temple. They were not allowed to return back to their palaces, not allowed to make noise nor any requests. Meng Fuyao merely left them hanging there without saying anything or doing anything.
On the 16th of the fourth month, the Third Prince, who attempted a coup d'etat, failed. He was placed under house arrest, and when the Empress went for a visit, the Third Prince spat out accusations about the incompetence and underhanded manner she had gotten the throne. The Empress listened without a word and clapped as she praised, “What an eloquent piece!”
To which, she stood up. “Such an eloquent piece requires time, effort, and patience devoted to it. How can it be corrupted by the conflict of power? You may stay here and take your time with it. Also, since you proclaim to be well-equipped with morals and talent, I'll give you a question related to politics. If you can do it, I will let you out and bestow you the t.i.tle of Regent King.”
“Really?” The Third Prince's eyes lit up.
“Of course,” she replied solemnly.
“What's the question?”
The Empress stroked her chin and smiled at the third prince, staring at him till chills ran down his back. ‘Looking at America amidst the inflation of corn prices in the global financial crisis' was the question she gave.
On the 18th of the fourth month, the Empress withdrew all positions given to the various princes and princesses by the previous emperor. One of the princes, the Eleventh Prince, defied the imperial order and secretly gathered his forces, liaising with the force in the Xiao Ao Green Forest to murder the officers in the northern borders. It was his intent to create a disadvantageous situation for the Empress.
However, unfortunately, the moment he acted, he was stopped and attacked by the enemy forces that too resided in the Xiao Ao Green Forest. The Eleventh Prince was forced to run for his life, hoping that the new leader of the Eternal Sky Clan would protect him. But because of his past deeds of aiding the new leader to his position, he was killed by the vice-leader, who could have been the next leader, if not for him.
To die in the hands of those he had played in his hands.
On the 20th of the fourth month, the new Empress rolled out new policies, abolis.h.i.+ng Amethyst Cape Knights and the Iron Guard, consolidating the authority to investigate and arrest under the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice was completely restructured, policies regarding the army changed. Authority over weapons, soldiers, and horses was consolidated under one party, and forced labor was removed. Policies regarding taxation were redefined, and the national funds, as well as corruption, were all thoroughly investigated. A total of 28 new policies regarding criminal law, political involvement, conscription, agriculture, imperial exams, education, and economy were established. For officials that refused to comply or carry out the policies, execution was their punishment! Corrupted officials, execution was their punishment! Spoliation of evidence in a legal proceeding to protect the perpetrator, execution was their punishment! Deceiving the Empress or high ranking officials regarding the real situation on the ground, execution was their punishment! Liaising with others for corruption purposes, execution was their punishment! In total, 81 officers were executed. The eunuch was weak from reading the imperial decree.
There were many more heads that were dismembered without hesitation! Executions took place every day, meaning that heads rolled freely on the ground. Someone commented that there would be a lack of officials with all the killing and so the Empress swiftly changed the system to imperial exams, where even those poor and without background had the chance of becoming an official as long as they had the talent.
Apparently, the Empress had told one of the officials while smiling amicably, “Ah? Killing too many? Don't worry about it. There isn't going to be a lack of supply of people who want to be officials. Kill one, and I'll fill one. I'll make sure that every turnip has its hole. Oh, the turnip in your hole has certainly been there for a long time. Should I change a turnip?”
From then on, officials kept their mouths shut, afraid that one day, their ‘turnips' would be replaced.
The disarrayed political scene was, naturally, not something that could be resolved in a short period of time. But regardless, the iron fist that the Empress had waved in their faces had instilled fear in them, shattering any budding deviant behavior in them. Various government departments and organizations began functioning normally as new policies were slowly introduced without a hitch.
After she settled the government affairs, Meng Fuyao turned her attention to her siblings that were currently under house arrest. On the very first day, she requested her siblings to write political commentaries.
A myriad of political commentaries was handed up, of which one was t.i.tled: ‘I am so silly'.
“I am so silly, I really am. I only knew that father had 14 children, yet I did not know that there was one still roaming outside. That night, I even discussed with the Visor whether I should finish her off. I almost did, but ninth sister found out and stopped me from it. I refused. I want to be the emperor. Ninth sister tried to convince me against it, but when I came back, I saw that it was a floor of corpses. I knew that I lost my chance. I even asked around. Indeed, the chance was lost. I panicked and escaped out of my residence with my knights. I ran and ran till midnight. I reached the valley, and there were many people waiting for me there with weapons glistening in the night. I said, very well, it finally ended. I grabbed my blade and started stabbing. But at the end of the day, I am not destined to inherit the throne and even ended up her. There isn't even medicine given for my hemorrhoid… I am so silly… I really am.”
Meng Fuyao almost spat out reading this. Solemnly, she commented on the Twelfth Prince's answer sheet: “Copying is a shameful act. Zero.”
Then, she perused through the rest of the commentaries and kept them aside.
On the second day, she ordered the servants to not serve any food to her siblings, starving them for three entire days. Then, she got someone to deliver 10 buns over. In total, there were 20 royals in there, meaning that two people would have to share one bun. Of course, whether two people would share one bun was an unknown. She ordered Ji Yu to record down the reactions of the people after the buns were delivered to them.
The next day, Ji Yu submitted the records. She glanced through and compared the records to the political commentaries that had been handed. In the end, she took out three from the pile to put aside.
The next day, she ordered Ji Yu to quietly call some people to chat. They were called out and returned mysteriously. Ji Yu recorded down their reactions and handed it to Meng Fuyao. This time, she only took out one record.
After everything was settled, she wanted to relax and decided to go out for a stroll without any bodyguards; only Lord Yuan Bao.
The relations.h.i.+p between Zhangsun Wuji and Meng Fuyao was rather civil recently—neither cold nor close. The extent of conversation they had basically revolved around, ‘Morning, have you eaten? Ah, yes, I have eaten. Oh, what did you eat? I forgot.' But then again, given that Meng Fuyao had just ascended the throne, there was plenty to do, with not much time left for the development of the relations.h.i.+p. Currently, the only development between the two was: Lord Yuan Bao had been granted permission to accompany Meng Fuyao.
Zong Yue had already returned to his country, with ease. Regardless, Meng Fuyao's forgiveness was his greatest fortune, and those painful memories could only be left to time to slowly heal the wounds.
Meng Fuyao wore a mask as she shopped around with Lord Yuan Bao. Seeing candied fruit, Lord Yuan Bao refused to move and gestured to Meng Fuyao to buy it. She took out some money, ready to pay for it, but suddenly, a peculiar voice commented, “Ah ho ho, an idiot! Ah ho ho, an idiot! A rat eating candied fruit!”
Meng Fuyao, shocked by the unsolicited comments, turned back to see an ostentatious parrot hopping around on the candid fruit rack. As it hopped around, it impudently mocked Lord Yuan Bao. “Ah ho ho, a white rat! Ah ho ho, an idiot! A white rat eating a candied fruit!
Lord Yuan Bao's fur immediately stood up, and as he scolded angrily, “Zhi Zhi!”
That parrot had a weird yellow feather sticking out on the top of its head, as though a yellow steam was coming out from his head. With one eye closed, it gave Lord Yuan Bao a side glance. “Ah ho ho, you understand human language?”
Lord Yuan Bao puffed out his chest with pride. But then, the parrot continued with contempt, “Ah ho ho, so what if you can understand human language? Ah ho ho, it's only rare if you can speak it. If you have the ability, say a few sentences for me? Say it, say it—” It suddenly lifted its wings and head up, imitating Lord Yuan Bao's proud posture. It stayed in position and mimicked Lord Yuan Bao's cries. “Zhi Zhi, Zhi Zhi!”
Lord Yuan Bao, who had never faced such despise, exploded with rage. He pounced forward with his “360-degree rotation flying kick,” of which the parrot avoided with ease. The parrot continued ridiculing him. “Ah ho ho, rat, so what if you are white? So what if you understand human language? I have different colors, and not only can I understand, but I can also speak. I am a million times better than you! Ah ho ho!”