I [Imperial] Am Not This Kind of Man - Chapter 13
No one would pay much attention to such a minor matter as one of Qin Nuo’s negligible palace maids dying.
The grand mourning process proceeded. Three days of mourning over the deceased finally came to an end. Then, it was time for the wake1. The imperial relatives took turns keeping vigil, so they could all finally catch a break. During the long period of kowtowing and wailing, many of the imperial relatives and court officials had fallen sick. Moreover, Qin Nuo had heard that a marchioness2 had carelessly had a miscarriage.
Amidst the anticipation of a great number of people, the decoration of Emperor Jingyao’s coffin which contained his body was finally finished. On a bright and sunny morning, it was transported to Longevity Hill3 on the northern part of Shengjing and buried in the “dragon’s cave”4
The end of the funeral also meant that the era of the person had completely come to an end. Next was the comparably more important ceremony of the new emperor’s ascension to the throne.
The crown prince who had the general support, Qin Cong, ascended to the most respected position; and the crown prince consort Shen-shi5 was conferred the title of the empress.
Since the mourning period was still not over6, the ceremony for the new emperor’s ascension to the throne was not conducted in an extravagant manner. After conducting the series of ceremonial rites such as offering sacrifices to the gods and to the ancestors in the Ancestral Temple7 according to convention, Qin Cong—who was formerly referred to as the fourth prince—became the supreme ruler of Da Zhou’s imperial court. The name of the era8 was changed to “Yongguang” 9; however, they would still have to wait until the next year before they could officially use it. The remainder of this year would still be Jingyao’s era.
With the new emperor’s ascension to the throne, the imperial palace also needed to be rearranged and re-assigned. The imperial younger brothers could not continue to reside within the imperial palace. As for Qin Nuo and the others, they were about to bid this court farewell as well.
On the third day of the new emperor’s succession to the throne, Qin Nuo received the title that he had been anticipating for a long time.
Commandery King Chun10.
Of the late Emperor Jingyao’s princes, aside from the crown prince, the third prince Qin Jian was conferred the title of “King De of Blood”11, the sixth prince Qin Xin was conferred the title of “Commandery King Duan”12, the seventh prince Qin Xun as “Commandery King Shu”13, the ninth prince Qin Nuo as “Commandery King Chun”, and the tenth prince Qin Ze as “King Yan of Blood”14. The rest of the princes were still too young and it would be inappropriate for them to receive their own mansion and be bestowed the title of “king”. The new emperor felt tenderness towards his younger brothers; hence, he went out of his way to send out an edict that before they were conferred titles, they would all continue to reside within the imperial palace as they had in the past.
In any case, the area around Qin Cong’s knees was vacant15 and his crown prince consort had not given birth to any children yet. Only his imperial concubine had given birth to a son, and that son had died young. Even Empress Huo had stated with a smile that it was much livelier in the imperial palace with more children around.
Being titled as “Commandery King” was within Qin Nuo’s expectations; however, the fact that Qin Ze was actually titled as “King of Blood”, which was a rank higher, greatly surprised him. The third prince Qin Jian’s title wasn’t that surprising. He was the oldest among the various princes, his maternal line was esteemed, and Emperor Jingyao had doted on him a lot. Moreover, he had made a huge impression during the funeral: not only did he weep and bawl while supporting himself on the coffin, but he had refused to leave and rest despite fainting countless times. In the end, even Empress Huo had been unable to bear watching any further. Several times, she had taken advantage of his unconscious state and dispatched people to send him down. Yet, after he woke up, he would instantly charge out with all his might to continue keeping vigil for the emperor—the palace workers were unable to even hold him back. This had continued throughout the entire funeral. The imperial relatives and important court officials watching had inevitably wound up internally praising the third prince for being the most sincere and the most dutiful.
Under this kind of atmosphere, it was only to be expected that Qin Jian would be bestowed the title of “King De of Blood”. Nevertheless, why was Qin Ze bestowed the title of “King of Blood”? Because of the Ge family’s loyalty and devotion to the Huo family? Soon, Qin Nuo’s questions were answered.
On the day after the titles were bestowed, news arrived of the new emperor’s arrangements for their positions in the bureaucracy.
Since Emperor Taizong16’s time, Da Zhou loathed the idling of the imperial clanspeople. Thus, after they came of age, they would all be assigned a position. However, to this day, it was nothing more than a position in name only. The princes and kings17 who were of age would go to a languorous government office and “work” there, receiving a salary without any effort.
Qin Nuo was assigned to be the inspector of the imperial guards in the Shence Unit Forbidden Army18. This was a position that made no difference whether it existed or not. Qin Xun had received the same position. It might have been out of consideration for how the two of them were ignorant and incompetent (in terms of studies) with a fondness for physical combat.
The sixth prince, Qin Xin, received the position of manager of the treasurers in the Ministry of Revenue19. It was a prospering occupation. On the other hand, Qin Jian was appointed as the chief manager of the compilers of history and literature in the Veneration of China Embassy20. It was a decorative position, with the guarantee of being credited in the compilation of future ancient records. It could be said that this was a position that was both extremely non-demanding and honorable.
Qin Ze’s assignment was vastly different from everyone’s expectations.
“Tenth Younger Brother is usually the most doted on by Father Emperor, so there is no one else more suitable than you!” Qing Cong, the new emperor of Da Zhou, grasping his younger brother’s hand firmly.
According to Da Zhou’s etiquette, there should be a three-year mourning period after one’s father passes away. Among them, events of entertainment and celebration such as marriages and banquets were prohibited. Of course, there was no way that the Son of Heaven would adhere to the mourning period etiquette for so long. So, the days substituted the months. He only needed to adhere to the mourning period etiquette for twenty-seven days. However, most of the Sons of Heaven would select a member of the imperial clan to take his place to complete the entire process of what children had to do during the mourning period.
Now, the one who received this honor was Qin Ze.
He would keep watch over the emperor’s tomb in place of the Son of Heaven!
When he thought about how he wouldn’t be able to see this fellow who he had spent all his time together with for three consecutive years, Qin Nuo truly was a bit wistful…Not! He was finally free from that gloomy gaze. And he was about to leave this treacherous imperial palace. Qin Nuo simply felt an unprecedented happiness. The sky was blue, and the waters were clear.
These days, he had taken advantage of the free time during the mourning period to find a chance to discreetly meet Fan Juan and inquire about the events that followed (after they executed their plan).
Fan Juan informed him that her explanation to Qin Ze was that Virtuous Consort Ge went to find the Empress to report about things. Yet, not long after she had left, the Ninth Highness had woken up. He had made his way out of the room in a muddle-headed manner and she had been unable to hold him back; hence, she had no choice but to let him leave.
Apparently, Qin Ze didn’t suspect a thing. At least, he didn’t take his anger out on Fan Juan.
“However, these days, Tenth Highness’s expression has been unfathomably gloomy. This servant does not know what he is thinking. Furthermore, this servant has heard that he has privately talked to the supervising eunuch Chen Hu several times these days.” Fan Juan was also extremely uneasy.
“Let him do as he pleases. You [casual] and I [casual] shall not speak of this matter ever again.” Qin Nuo exhorted.
In regards to this matter, he had completely chosen to let things happen naturally and even exacerbate things. Empress Huo had already determined the nature of the matter as a case of suicide and buried it as such anyway. The Ministry of (Confucian) Rites had also specifically given an imperial decree commending Virtuous Consort Ge’s determination to die to protect her chastity. There was no way that they would slap their own faces and flip the old case. If Qin Ze was able to find anything in the future, then he could do whatever he wanted. In any case, they were both kings. Who was afraid of him?!
The day when he could leave the imperial palace that he had awaited finally arrived. Early in the morning, Li Wan had gotten out of bed and attended to Qin Nuo to help him change his clothes and freshen up.
These days, he had been commanding the servants in the palace to organize and store all kinds of goods and appliances in trunks. He had been so busy that his feet didn’t touch the ground.
Even though the king’s mansion already had everything, there was not a small number of little objects that were habitually used in daily routine. When he saw the twenty-four large trunks that filled up the whole courtyard, Qin Nuo was quite astonished, “Did I have so many things?”
“You [title of address for kings]21 are already considered as having less. Yesterday I went to the neighboring Ziyao Palace and saw that King Shu had more things than you, to say nothing of the scale of the luggage that His Highness King Yan had taken when he set out for the emperor’s tomb.”
“Alright then. Since Qin Xun has even more than me, I surely won’t be as offensively conspicuous.” Qin Nuo rubbed his nose and boarded the carriage.
When he sat on the carriage, he flipped through the register that the Imperial Household Department had sent over. After he was conferred the title of “Commandery King”, the assets under his name had increased substantially. It could be considered as the common people’s sense of “division of the family”. The Crown Prince Qin Cong inherited the family business passed down through generations, and the other brothers inherited a portion of the family property according to their status.
Allocated to him was one king’s mansion situated on Xiushi Lane22 in the east side of the city23; a hundred mu24 of land; three of the imperial holdings by the Huai River outside of the city25, each ranging from ten or more qing26 to several tens of qing; and an annual commandery king’s salary of eight thousand taels of fine silver, six hundred and twenty gold (bars), as well as two thousand rolls of thin, tough silk fabric. There was also an incalculable amount of goods such as salary millet and charcoal.
The carefree king’s life of eating, drinking, and playing has finally begun! Qin Nuo rolled around in the carriage in satisfaction. The carriage that commandery kings were assigned was also very high-grade. The interior was both spacious and comfortable. Several people could lie in it without any discomfort.
After traveling for a good while, the carriage shook and came to a stop. Li Wan’s voice resounded from outside, “Your Highness, we’ve arrived home!”
One phrase “arrived home” exhibited their elation extremely clearly. At long last, they did not have to continue enduring the days in the imperial palace.
Li Wan personally opened the carriage curtain and an attendant readied the flight of steps. Qin Nuo alighted from the carriage slowly.
As far as the eye could see, the door was vermillion and the walls were high, hiding one pavilion and kiosk after another from view. What a magnificent and impressive king’s mansion! Several attendants and servant women knelt in front of the door. They formed a dense mass; there had to be at least four or five hundred of them, all manpower that had been dispatched by the Imperial Household Department.
Xiushi Lane was a place where the imperial clanspeople were gathered. A great number of mansion estates stood within it. However, this commandery king mansion was located on the northernmost side. Any further than that would be the lively Jinhua Street27. Qin Nuo expressed that he was extremely pleased.
Amidst the people’s ardent anticipation, Qin Nuo entered the main (reception) hall28
The steward from the Imperial Household Department29 who was responsible for handing things over to them presented two thick registers to them: one recorded the entire mansion’s assets, from the household furniture to the household utensils and decorative items, whilst the other recorded every servant’s life contract, including their family backgrounds, appearances, and special skills.
They (the accounts) were truly too thick. And Qin Nuo was too lazy to flip through them. These should be handed over to the mistress of the king’s mansion to manage. Alas, the current Qin Nuo did not have a king consort. Hence, he could only hand it over to his original personal big palace maid, Dong Bo, for the time being. Fortunately, Dong Bo had a background of being a stewardess palace maid in the Imperial Household Department, so she could be considered as having a knack for handling these things.
Afterwards, Li Wan summoned some leading stewards in to pay their respects to their master. Qin Nuo gave them some routine instructions and then dismissed them, everything being the same as before.
He wondered how many of them were the pawns of other people. But, since he was a good-for-nothing king, he surmised that the pawns that were truly useful would feel it beneath their dignity to be placed by his side.
Four to five hundred servants and him as the sole master. He wondered if the feudal land’s annual output, salary millet, and silvers were enough to provide for so many people.
What a waste! Qin Nuo couldn’t resist sighing again, “There is no need for so many people to attend to me.”
Smiling, Li Wan said, “It’s not a lot, it’s not a lot. Your Highness still has to marry a king consort, establish side concubines30, take in concubines31, and add little kings and little commandery princesses32. These people might not be enough.” After leaving the imperial palace, he was much livelier than before as well.
Qin Nuo glared at him, “Don’t speak nonsense.” When he thought of how he was going to marry a wife and sire children in the future, Qin Nuo felt that the idea was difficult to accept. Thankfully, he still had the three years of mourning to adhere to, so he didn’t have to face this kind of problem for the time being.
The steward from the Imperial Household Department below still hadn’t left. His gaze shifted and he chimed in, smiling, “Speaking of which, of the maids on this time’s register, several of them had been specifically supplied by our head steward. The other day, he had heard that Miss Lǜ had inattentively lost her footing and passed away. Your Highness’s side should not be lacking for people to attend (to you). Hence, when the manpower was being assigned, he took it upon himself to add two.”
The corner of Qin Nuo’s mouth twitched, “I thank the head steward for his consideration.”
The steward bowed in salute while showing a meaningful grin, “They’ve all been prepped beforehand. You [term of address for kings] may use them with ease of mind.”
Qin Nuo was taken aback. A split second later, he understood. The two maids who were sent this time ought to have been poured sterilizing medicine. After all, the late emperor had just died. As his son, he had to abide by etiquette of the mourning period. Yet it was impossible to truly expect the emperor’s sons and descendants to suppress their desires for three years. So, what they needed to do was not to create human life. As long as they did that, they were a filial son who had strictly adhered to mourning etiquette. Thus, this kind of female servant—who wouldn’t become pregnant with a child no matter how one messed with them—appeared at an appropriate time.
When he thought this point through, Qin Nuo felt uncomfortable for a moment. At the same time, he was glad once again that, in this savage and peremptory place, he had transmigrated into a male—and a prince, at that.
The imperial steward continued to say with a smile, “Every king has some in their mansions, except His Highness King Yan. After all, King Yan had no use for this (service) now…”
Qin Ze had gone to guard the emperor’s tomb. He was serving the mourning period in place of the Son of Heaven, so of course he had to adhere to the rules even more strictly.
Regarding this, Qin Nuo didn’t know what to say. He could only make two noncommittal replies. Finally, they finished taking over the matters of the mansion, respectfully presented a red envelope to him and sent off the imperial steward.
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- 停灵 (tíng líng) – literally “stop spirit/coffin”. It’s a time when the coffin is temporarily kept in the mourning hall for friends and family to visit before the body is buried. During this time, the deceased’s friends and family may keep vigil for the deceased. This usually lasts up to three days. It is also a way to determine if the individual is actually dead or not (e.g., faking it, in a coma, or unconscious). Here are some sites regarding Chinese funeral customs and practices: Wikipedia (Chinese), ThoughtCo, and Funeral Guide.
- 侯夫人 (hóu fūren) – lady/mrs./madam of a marquis/marquess. 侯 (hóu) is generally translated as “marquis” or “marquess”, with the difference being that the former is the French version and the latter is the English/U.K. version (Wikipedia). This title is the second of the five noble ranks.
- 万寿山 (Wànshòushān) –
Longevity Hill in the Summer Palace, Beijing
- 龙穴 (lóng xué). According to Baidu, this is a Feng Shui term referring to the point within a mountain where its energy veins converge; something like its “pulse point”.
- 氏 (shì) – maiden name/clan name/family name.
- 孝期 (xiàoqī) – literally “period of filial piety”. It is a period of time in which the living (usually descendants or relatives) are prohibited from celebratory events such as marriages and banquets. They are also prohibited from entering new homes.
- I made some presumptions on this part. This was the specific part in the raw: 循规蹈矩地走完了祭天太庙等一系列环节 (MDBG). 祭天太庙 (jìtiāntàimiào). 祭 (jì) – to offer a sacrifice to (gods or ancestors) / memorial ceremony / (in classical novels) to recite an incantation to activate a magic weapon / (lit. and fig.) to wield . 天 (tiān)- day / sky / heaven. Some other sources used for consideration: Baidu and sohu. 太庙 (tàimiào) – the Ancestral Temple (Baidu, Wikipedia).
- 年号 (niánhào) – reign title / era name (name for either the entire reign of an emperor or one part of it) / year number (such as 2016 or 甲子). Here’s a Wikipedia link or Baidu link if you want to read more.
- 永光 (yǒngguāng) – forever light/eternal time. It’s a Chinese era name that was actually used by emperors in history (Wikipedia).
- 淳郡王 (chúnjùnwáng). 淳 (chún) means “pure”, “honest”, or “genuine. 郡王 (jùnwáng) means “Prince of the Second Rank” or “Prince of a Commandery”. To avoid confusion, I’m going to translate these ranked princes as “kings” from now on.
- 德亲王 (déqīnwáng). 德 (dé) – virtue / goodness / morality / ethics / kindness / favor / character / kind (MDBG). 亲王 (qīnwáng) – “Prince of the First Rank” or or “Prince of the Blood”.
- 端郡王 (duānjùnwáng). 端 (duān) -end / extremity / item / port / to hold sth level with both hands / to carry / regular/start / origin (MDBG).
- 舒郡王 (shūjùnwáng). 舒 (shū) – comfortable/to stretch / to unfold / to relax / leisurely
- 燕亲王 (yànqīnwáng). 燕 (yàn)- swallow (family Hirundinidae) / old variant of 宴.; 宴 (yàn) – (bound form) feast / repose (MDBG).
- This is referring to children. There are no kids up to his knees.
- 太宗皇帝 (Tàizōnghuángdì). 太宗 (Tàizōng) – posthumous name given to second emperor of a dynasty (MDBG).
- The ranked princes would typically be referred to as “wangye” (kings/princes) or “X wang” (King/Prince X).
- Raw: 神策营禁军督察. 神策营 (Shéncè Jūn; lit. ‘Divine strategy’). 禁军 (jìnjūn) – forbidden army (imperial guards). 督察 (dūchá) – to supervise / to superintend / inspector / censorship (MDBG). Here’s a Wikipedia link about this army.
- He actually refers to Qin Nuo as “wangye”, but I tweaked it in this translation.
- 秀士坊 (xiùshìfāng)- Outstanding Individual Lane.
- 占地百亩. 亩 (mǔ) = classifier for fields / unit of area equal to one fifteenth of a hectare (666.666667 m²). 100 mu = 6.67 hectares. (100)(1/15 hectare) = 66,666.6667 square meters
- 顷 (qǐng) – unit of area equal to 100 畝｜亩 or 6.67 hectares
- 锦华街 (jǐnhuájiē).
- 正厅 (Zengtīng)- (reception) hall or a living room.
- 侧妃 (cèfēi) – literally “side concubine”. Kings may have 2 side concubines. As the side concubines are not the main/official wife, they cannot wear red (the reserved color of the official wife) nor can they enter the household they are marrying into through the main door during their wedding (instead, they enter through the side door). Moreover, their children are called “庶 (shù)” children since they are not born. Children born under the official wife would be “嫡 (dí)” children. Only sons would be registered in the family record.
- 侍妾 (shìqiè) – concubine; they are lower in status than the side concubine and are usually expected to “attend” to the husband. According to Nyanovels, the man may have countless concubines. They do not receive weddings.
- 小郡主 ( jùnzhǔ) – Princess of the Third Rank (literally “Master of a Commandery”). This title is usually granted to the daughter of a qinwang. I’m not sure if this is the correct title though, since Qin Nuo is a junwang so his daughter(s) should be “县主” (xiànzhǔ) – Princess of the Fourth Rank (literally “Master of a County”).
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