I Couldn't Ask - Extra 1
Extra 1 – Flowers That Were Not Removed Yet
I often wondered why my Emperor Father always had a serious demeanor and was so unhappy.
In principle, he ruled over such a large country, had three thousand beauties in the harem, and had a large number of children—he held everything anyone could have dreamed of in his hands.
My Consort Mother, Consort Qiushu1, said that he was not like this before. But when I wanted to ask further questions, she suddenly closed her lips and would not say another word.
I thought it definitely had something to do with the dead Empress Zhao Min. I heard that when she died, Emperor Father suspended the imperial court for half a month. He locked himself in his study all day and would not see anyone.
Half a month later, Emperor Father wrote down an imperial edict and made her Empress Zhao Min. He completely disregarded his critically ill Empress Liu.
My Consort Mother was finally summoned because of Empress Zhao Min’s death after she had fallen out of favor for more than two years.
Consort Mother knew very well that she was only a dancer, but she had an unparalleled weapon to compete for favor—she resembled Empress Zhao Min.
The momo2 who served me said that Consort Mother’s expressions were very similar to Empress Zhao Min’s. It could be said that it was exactly the same.
And I happen to inherit her appearance. So, Emperor Father often brought me to his side and he could always forgive me no matter what I did wrong.
He always looked like a kind father in front of me. However, he was so stern when I wasn’t there. All my brothers and sisters were afraid of him, but I was not.
Emperor Father taught me things that men should learn, such as horseback riding and archery.
He said that he liked to see me galloping on my horse in the hunting ground, being assertive and brash.
He was using Consort Mother and me to see the person he really wanted to see.
When I was eleven years old, the Empress seat that had been vacant for so many years had finally ushered in someone—General Sun’s younger sister, Sun Wanwei.
Empress Sun was only nine years older than me. She was dull and stupid, and did not have any good points except for being a pretty face.
Emperor Father married her for the sake of the power behind her. He would have married her even if she was an ugly woman.
Every time I saw this Empress Sun walking alone in the Imperial Garden, she looked lonely. I felt a little sorry for her.
With the support of her maternal family behind her, I guessed she could have stay in this position until she died. But what I never expected was that two years later, my Emperor Father raided General Sun’s home and directly gave Empress Sun a glass of poisoned wine.
General Sun accompanied Emperor Father on campaign battles for many years, but he never thought it would come to an end like this.
For a period of time, the people in the imperial court were in a panic, especially those old officials who assisted my Emperor Father in seizing power. It was not until Emperor Father read the crimes committed by General Sun one by one that they suddenly came to a realization.
But with so many crimes, how long did it take my Emperor Father to send someone to collect them?
No one dared to speculate.
When I was seventeen years old, Emperor Father’s health steadily deteriorated. He no longer went to the harem, but ordered me and Consort Mother to go to his bedroom to take care of him and accompany him.
Sometimes I would hear him mumble the words “Qiufu”.
This was Empress Zhao Min’s name.
Although I understand his deep companionship with Empress Zhao Min, I also felt it was unworthy of Consort Mother and myself to take her place.
I did not understand. It was a second marriage to a princess from the previous dynasty. How could my father remember her after so many years?
It took me many years to understand that Empress Zhao Min died when Emperor Father loved her the most. This was undoubtedly the most fatal blow to Emperor Father.
Emperor Father summoned Aunt Zhuo Ran when his health was failing. She was the one who had served Empress Zhao Min and knew all of her habits.
“Your Majesty, you are mistaken. The princess’s favorite flower was actually the white camellia, not the wintersweet,” Aunt Zhuo Ran tearfully said as she lowered her head.
My Emperor Father was silent for a long time. Just when I thought he was about to end this topic, he suddenly let out a very light sigh.
He looked at the wintersweet trees growing so well outside of his palace and said, “Then cut them down.”
He was blaming himself for even getting his beloved’s favorite flower wrong.
In the end, Emperor Father did not last to the spring of the next year.
On his deathbed, he told my brothers, “Don’t bury me with Empress Zhao Min. Zhen does not want to disturb her peace.”
The entire country mourned when he passed away. The sky in the capital was a hazy gray and snow was falling.
I slowly walked in the snow and realized what my father had done.
He just didn’t want her to hate him anymore.
I couldn’t help but remember the question I had once asked my Emperor Father when I was a child—
“Emperor Father, why are you always so unhappy?”
He said, “She has not forgiven me yet.”
Some snowflakes fell into my eyes, and the road ahead could no longer be seen clearly.