The Third Mistress
The Fourth Year, Second Month and Third Day of Jing Long’s Year,
Today is the seventh year anniversary of her becoming a eunuch. Seven years ago, the eleven year old her make use of the palace’s management loophole to become a eunuch for reasons she must not tell others. After two years, the previous emperor died. Emperor Jing Long inherited the throne and continues to rule to this very day.
She remembers the chaotic scenes during the previous emperor’s death. She was just a nameless pawn then and had been chosen by the management to express sorrow and grief in the previous emperor’s funeral. She was made to wear mourning clothes for so many days.
Now, she is still a nameless pawn and is still grieving and is still wearing mourning attire.
This time she is really mourning, things are really hard for her.
Song Zhaoyi who has recently dies had been Tian Qi’s mistress for half a month. Half a month ago, Tian Qi put up quite an effort and bribe away quite a number of money to be assigned to serve Song Zhaoyi.
Don’t underestimate her for being only a fourth-ranked Zhaoyi. She was only a little Cairen when she first entered the palace. Half a year later, she managed to attract the emperor’s favor and was soon carrying the dragon’s child. The emperor was delighted and promoted her to be a Zhaoyi. Since she was pregnant, it doesn’t matter if the child were to be a boy or a girl, the least she could be in the future was a Jieyu.
Because of that, the competition to become Song Zhaoyi’s people becomes intense. Tian Qi was then a 6th ranked eunuch in the Eunuch Department. She had to spend half of her savings to become a Jiancheng, a eunuch in the fifth ranked position. Wearing the hat of a fifth ranked eunuch, she can serve Song Zhaoyi in her Tian Xiang Tower from close distance. Just as she came to that position, Song Zhaoyi’s former eunuch made mistakes and was dismissed by her. Because of that, Tian Jiancheng is the subject of a lot of people’s envy.
Tian Jiancheng has good looks, sweet mouth and an alert brain, Song Zhaoyi liked her a lot. Within half a month, the two were compatible with each other and Song Zhaoyi considered her as a rather close confidante.
Her future prospects were so bright, but who would’ve thought that Song Zhaoyi would die during childbirth?
Not only the mother died, the child did not survive too. Poor little prince. He looked so healthy, but when they pulled him out, he was no longer breathing.
Tian Qi cries like she is going to die. More than two hundred liang of silver. She hope his grandfather helps her beg for forgiveness from her grandmother. God, why do you hate me so?
Deep inside, there is also that heart ache from losing the Zhaoyi, after all, that lady didn’t treat her bad.
Speaking about this mistress, Tian Qi suddenly remembers her two previous mistresses. She used to serve a Meiren and a Cairen. They were both beauties that can attract the emperor. Unfortunately, both died within one month of Tian Qi’s service for them.
Tian Xiang Tower was the place where Song Zhao Yi used to live in. Now that she is dead, even her coffin is placed here. Song Zhaoyi died without leaving any offspring, the only one she ever had is lying on top of her chest right now. Since her position is low, no man attends her wake. These can only be done by eunuchs.
Tian Qi volunteers to keep vigil beside the coffin. After all, she was the highest ranked servant in Tian Xiang Tower and was also the one Song Zhaoyi was fond of the most.
In that cold, chilly spring night, she keeps vigil next to the coffin all by herself. It is not a pleasant experience. Perhaps, even the Gods think the Zhaoyi died in an unfortunate manner. The night air turns chilly, even her fingertips feels like it is made of wood at the moment.
Since it is early spring, charcoal stoves and fireplace has been taken out. Even though it is cold, she does not want to bother people to install it for her. There is a small container full of burning paper in front, but it isn’t warm enough for her.
She kneels there, her hands tightly clasps together. Wind blows from outside. She shrinks herself, trying to stay warm.
She wants to cry.
The money she has saved for seven years, she used them to take shortcuts, but the shortcuts all dies one by one. One dies after another, and another, and another….. and another. Life is so bitter and tiring.
Tian Qi feels like fate is poking fun at her. How helpless.
And so she cries again. Tears blurs her eyes. She kneels while closing her eyes shut before bursting to tears. She is all alone in this place right now, what is the point of holding herself back?
If someone stumbles upon her, she can just tell them she couldn’t contain her grief.
She cries, stopping for a while to wipe her eyes with a handkerchief before continuing to weep.
The funeral hall is cold and deserted. White cloth fills the entire hall, blown by the wind that enters through the big door. Candles wouldn’t stop flickering. It is as though something is receiving the departing souls.
She is kneeling in the hall, her slender back shaking, all hunched up as she sobs. The entire hall is filled with her voice, “Mistress…. Why did you die, mistress…..” she pauses as she chokes up. “What should I do now that you’re dead?”
This is the scene Ji Heng sees the moment he enters the hall.
Hearing that person’s grief, his face darkens. Yesterday was the 2nd day of the 2nd month, an auspicious day. When he heard that Song Zhaoyi was about to give birth, he was delighted, thinking they were about to be graced with happiness. He never thought both mother and child would pass away in one go. He waited for an entire day in front of the chamber where she gave birth. When the sun went down, he received the news that both mother and son couldn’t be protected. He could not believe it. His entire body staggered and he had to be escorted back to Gan Qing Palace.
In the end, he could not meet Song Zhaoyi for the last time.
He had already seen her once today, in the middle of the day, but he still gets restless at night. Gan Qing Palace is cold and silence, so he decided to take a walk. Before he knows it, his steps brings him to Tian Xiang Tower. A eunuch who stands guard in front of the funeral hall wanted to announce his arrival, but he stopped him before he gets the chance to.
He does not want to disturb the passing souls.
The moment he walks into the hall, Ji Heng is greeted with the back silhouette of Tian Qi. He can hear the sound of her weeping and rambling. It sounds a little miserable, a little mournful, a little……. noisy.
There were a lot of people crying when he visited the funeral hall earlier that day, but they were all half-hearted. Now that the entire hall is empty and silent, to be able to cry like that, that person must be truly sad.
Ji Heng silently sighs. He didn’t think someone will be so sad and heartbroken over Song Zhaoyi’s death. Her soul up above should be comforted a little.
This servant is so loyal and sincere.
A eunuch behind Ji Heng, Sheng An Huai sees Tian Qi who is immersed in her grief. He wanted to reprimand Tian Qi and inform her of the new arrival behind her, but just as he was about to do that, Ji Heng raises his hand to stop him.
Ji Heng steps forward and stops beside Tian Qi. He stares at the coffin, not putting much thought as to where he is standing at.
His shoe is stepping on a partially wet handkerchief yet he is not aware of that. An Sheng Huai notices that but pretends not to, only an idiot will dare to tell the emperor that he is stepping on somebody else’s thing during times like this.
Ji Heng stands in there for a while, his heart bursting with indescribable emotions. In the end, he only sighs for a long time.
The sound of his sigh is overrun by the sound of Tian Qi weeping, so she didn’t really noticed his presence. She continues shutting her eyes. Her entire face is covered with tears, so she outstretch her hand to grab her handkerchief.
Before her hand even touches the ground, it comes in contact with a fabric. Tian Qi has been crying until she is muddle-headed, so she didn’t think too much and candidly use it to clean her face.
An Sheng Huai who sees it from behind stares at her action with bulged eyes.
The impact of the scene is too much. An Sheng Huai forgets everything, even forgets to reprimand the eunuch as he watches the scene unfolding in a daze.
Tian Qi did not stop with just cleaning her face. She brings the fabric to her nose and blows into it.
After having his moment of silence with Song Zhaoyi, Ji Heng originally wanted comfort the grieving eunuch and reward him for his loyalty. He looks down and finds out that that sad beyond comfort eunuch is using his robe to blow his nose into.