Part of a Memories of a Graceful Reflection translation project at fruitydeer.com.
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Source: 猶記驚鴻照影 by Feng Ning Xue Wu // Translated By: Xin (fruitydeer)
Sorry for the unannounced absence. If you follow my other translation project on this blog, you’ll know that I’ve been quite busy with personal things lately. I’ll be posting back-to-back Sun/Sat updates this weekend and the next to make up for missed weekends last month!
We’re back in palace today, which we know is never a good sign for Murong Qing. A brief recap will be under the cut for those who need a quick refresher.
We learned several chapters ago that Murong Qing's younger sister, Murong Yan, is with child and must marry the crown prince. It's a favorable union for Yan'er and also adds to Murong Family's power and stability, but there are caveats. The Murong Family finds itself in a peculiar position. They have now solidified their position as the most powerful clan following the imperial family, but this kind of power wields both glory and risk. Further, Murong Qing notes that she may one day find herself at odds with her sister if their husbands choose to go head to head for the throne.
Chapter 017: The Seventeenth Time
Yan’er and the crown prince’s grand wedding was held as planned. Magnificent to the greatest extent, it was the most popular event of the times.
And with this unprecedented celebration of marriage, Murong Family’s glory by means of imperial favor was completely unshakable.
I sat quietly, looking at the subtle arc of my brows in the copper mirror. Shu Ying stood behind me as she took great lengths in helping me get ready.
“Young Miss, do you think this bun still needs an orchid blossom pinned onto it?” She looked at me carefully, her head tilting to the side as she contemplated.
I couldn’t help but tilt my head and laugh: “No need, you have already dressed me to the point where I can’t even recognize myself.”
She laughed, her eyes curved: “That’s because Young Miss is naturally beautiful. If it were someone else, I wouldn’t even have the skills.”
While saying this, she took out the clothing that had been prepared early on and helped me get changed.
There was a vibrant yellow bi xia luo (碧霞羅)1 with phoenix embroidery. Beneath it was a hazy teal dress of silk with floral patterns scattered about. Each stitch and every thread displayed the utmost glory and opulence. This was among the dowry items that Mother personally prepared for me.
Such splendid attire was not something that just anyone could afford to wear.
I pondered for a moment, then said: “Shu Ying, prepare something else instead.”
Shu Ying became anxious: “Young Miss, I know that you’ve never loved these flashy colors, but today is the Mid-Autumn Festival.2 This will be the first family banquet that you and the Third Highness will be attending since getting married. Master, Madam, Miss Yan, and all those princes, princesses, and niang-niang will all be present, so you can’t just not wear makeup, dress as per usual, and simply go just like that.”
I smiled and shook my head. Only if I entered the palace wearing only robes of white would it be a true blunder for such an occasion, in which it would be impossible the attention of others: “Go and find the pink silk dress I wore on the the day of the natal visit then.”
Shu Ying was a little unwilling, but still tended to me with diligence while helping me change. When I was finally done up, she looked me up and down, left and right, then smiled satisfactorily and nodded: “Young Miss is a natural-born beauty, anything looks good on you. If you hadn’t refused to wear that other dress, you would definitely be able to surpass everyone else.”
I couldn’t keep myself from laughing. In protecting her mistress, my Shu Ying was capable of turning even black to white.
I naturally understood that my looks were not bad, but amongst the women in the palace, who was not beautiful? No need to even mention Yan’er and Qing fei niang-niang, whose fame had long been famous in the capital.
For today’s banquet, however, one should avoid impropriety. It was best still to avoid attracting attention.
I entered the palace with Nan Cheng Yao. At Qing He Hall, the Sacred One had yet to make his presence; only the several princes gathered in waiting.
With only one glance, I was able to spot Yan’er at the center of the crowd. In a sea of beautiful purples and brilliant reds,3 only she would be daring enough to pick a soft silk dress that was the color of the white moon. Simple and elegant, like a goddess of the moon. There was a vague loftiness to the expression on her face, but her beauty was so breathtaking that it could shake one to their core.
Wrapped around her waist was gauze of golden silk. An auspicious cloud attached to it covered her slightly bulging belly. With this measure, the overly simple and plain dress had become one that was not too lacking in propriety.
I smiled. Looks like the His Highness the Crown Prince was treating her quite well, even indulging in her willfulness on an occasion like this.
Yan’er also spotted us amidst the crowd. Her line of sight never moved away, but neither did she come over as she continued to accompany the crown prince at his side, her demeanor one of perfection.
It was the crown prince that noticed her gaze. He smiled, leading her to rise and walk towards our direction: “Third [Younger] Brother, you’ve come.”
An indifferent smile hooked the corners of Nan Cheng Yao’s lips. Following decorum, he half-rose and bowed, his posture indolent yet bearing full points in grace: “Greetings to Crown Prince, Crown Princess.”
I followed at his side and curtsied, and the crown prince hurriedly reached out to help us up: “We are all one family, there’s no need to practice these turgid greetings.”
I lifted my gaze and looked over. Nan Cheng Mian was not as outstanding in appearance as his younger brother. However, he looked amiable and benevolent, respectful and courteous; even his voice was both polite and gentle.
I once heard father privately tell a few ge-ge4 that, when it came to governing the world, Nan Cheng Mian would be a humane ruler. But should the world come upon troubled times, he would lack the aggression to pass judgement on important matters.
Nan Cheng Yao, as per usual, smiled indifferently, not expressing any opinions.
I sighed ever so slightly in my heart. Governance and chaos. It was quite possible that much of this was greatly dependent on the whims of the person before my eyes.
Perhaps Nan Cheng Mian had long since been accustomed to the lackadaisical nature of this brother of his and did not seem to think much of it. He turned to me gently and said: “I’ve heard about Third Wang fei from Yan’er long ago. Now that I’ve finally had the fortune of meeting you, you and Third Brother are indeed an impeccable pair.”
I replied with a tempered smile: “Your Highness the Crown Prince praises too much.”
Just as I was in the midst of speaking, all I heard was the voice of a eunuch ring from beyond the palace halls: “The Emperor has arrived, Gui fei niang-niang has arrived.”
A faintly discernible fragrance drifted into the air. Arms linked with the Son of Heaven, the splendidly dressed Qing Gui fgei gracefully and steadily walked into Qing He Hall.
- I could not, for the life of me, figure out what style of garment this is. All that came up in my searches was that this is some type of ancient clothing. Feel free to use your imagination to conjure up some sort of gauzy, silky outer garb for Murong Qing.
- Traditions during the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, includes gathering with your family to admire the moon while eating mooncakes.
- 奼紫嫣紅: Metaphor. Fig. Beautiful flowers; here it’s describing people dressed beautifully and opulently.
- 哥哥 // Ge Ge: Can refer to older brother or older male figure.