(T/N: whenever princes speak to the emperor, they say 儿臣. It means “[your] son[, this] humble servant.” In English, that’s a bit too wordy. I will occasionally shorten that to “your humble son.”)
“Treat them first,” Emperor Xing Wu ordered the imperial physician who had rushed over.
“Emperor father!” Long Xiang didn’t understand his emperor father; why would he grant such generosity to the Luo family? Because they were the Empress’s clan? So even if his elder brother’s child was gone–such an unforgivable sin–this could be forgotten because of Luo Wei’s self-inflicted act? (T/N: couldn’t find a way to translate “emperor father” without it being awkward. Suggestions welcome.)
“Your Majesty!” Xie Yu, who was only starting to recover from his serious injuries, came out from behind Luo Zhi Qiu and fell to his knees.
“Are you Xie Ming Yuan?” Contrary to what one might expect, Emperor Xing Wu recognized Xie Yu. Luo Zhi Qiu had vigorously recommended the talented and handsome young man before him more than once. It seemed that Luo Zhi Qiu indeed regarded this Xie Yu as important. When he went to the Western Mountain hunting grounds, he still let Xie Yu follow him around. (T/N: recall that characters can have courtesy names and also the names they were given at birth. Eg. Luo Wei is both Luo Wei and Luo Yun Qi).
“Ming Yuan,” Luo Wei was lying on a recliner while an imperial physician bound his wound for him. Hearing Xie Yu’s voice, he struggled to get up.
“Young master, you can’t move yet,” Zhao Fu hurriedly pressed Luo Wei down.
“Ming Yuan shut your mouth!” Luo Zhi Qiu said at that moment. “This matter has nothing to do with you.”
Xie Yu continued to kneel stubbornly on the ground.
“What do you have to say?” Emperor Xing Wu asked Xie Yu.
Xie Yu knew that the Luo family could not speak for themselves at this time, but he could come out to speak, and he also must speak. As long as one somewhat thought about it, he would know that Luo Ze had fallen into a well-designed trap. Furthermore, Luo Ze would have a hard time voicing his thoughts, because the Imperial descendant had died in front of him.
“Emperor father!” Long Xiang nearly stood in front of Emperor Xing Wu. “My brother’s child is gone. If you don’t punish the Luo family, this humble servant of a son will be the first to object! You would have the prestige of my Imperial family fall from the heavens to the earth?!”
“Fifth prince,” Xie Yu continued, “It is exactly because of the prestige of the heavenly Imperial family that all matters must be conducted equitably and rigorously, so as to set an example for the people in the land under the heavens.”
“Do you believe that I have conducted this matter unfairly this time?” Emperor Xing Wu asked.
Xie Yu kowtowed as he spoke: “This insignificant humble servant just went to see the carriage that Consort Xu rode in. It cannot be seen that the carriage is from the palace. There are no markings or symbols; how could General Luo know that the Second Prince’s consort sat within the carriage? Furthermore, General Luo was responsible for the perimeters of the hunting grounds. With the responsibility of guarding the hunting grounds, he must stop and question such a strange carriage by merit of both instinct and reason.”
“You mean that my consort’s miscarriage has nothing to do with General Luo?” Long Xuan asked. He was the family of the victim, but his manner of speech was the most plain among those present.
“Your Highness,” Xie Yu replied, “This lowly humble servant looked at the carriage carefully, and the left wheel at the front suddenly fell off. This was the reason for the carriage overturning. General Luo just stopped in front of the carriage but did not touch it. This humble servant thinks that the carriage’s overturning was only an accident. General Luo was only doing his duty.”
“Then losing my child was just an accident,” Long Xuan said. “For this reason, no one needs to take responsibility?
“General Luo has failed to protect,” Xie Yu said, “but this crime does not warrant death.”
“Then who should die?!” Long Xiang asked loudly.
Xie Yu didn’t respond to Long Xiang; this response was not his to give. He only stated a fact. His current identity kept him far from being able to make a final conclusion.
“Naturally, the person who waited on Consort Xu should die!” At this time, the wound on Luo Wei’s head had already been wrapped by the imperial physician. Through the thick white bandages, quite a bit of blood still seeped through.
“They surely should die,” Long Xuan said. “Those two were already executed.”
Luo Wei pushed Zhao Fu away and knelt in front of Emperor Xing Wu. “Your Majesty, your humble servant just can’t understand how a noble concubine carrying the imperial seed could bring these two and come to the Western Mountains?” (T/N: imperial seed, lit.: dragon seed. It was believed that the imperial family was of the heavens and were descendants of the dragons).
“She wanted to see my older brother. Can’t she?” Long Xiang spoke.
“The Western Mountains hunt lasts only three days. Is it impossible to be away from him for one day?” Luo Wei replied with a question.
“Luo Wei,” Long Xiang said. “Aren’t you too much?! Are my brother’s family matters something you can ask about?!”
“Your Majesty,” Luo Wei said to Emperor Xing Wu. “Your humble servant merely wants to understand this death. Your humble servant wants to know how the little Imperial grandson can be gone like this. Your humble servant’s second elder brother has never held hatred for the Second Prince, and furthermore he could never fail to understand that the crime of harming the son of the imperial household would invite the extermination of his family and the confiscation of their possessions. How could he disregard his family?”
Emperor Xing Wu had only just been disturbed by Luo Wei’s scene earlier, and his repressed anger at losing his little imperial grandson had abated quite a bit. He listened to Xie Yu’s speech, and though this speech was not long, every phrase of it continuously struck at the crux of the matter. Suspicion had already begun to rise in the emperor’s heart regarding Lady Xu’s affairs. Now that he had also heard Luo Wei speak, his suspicion escalated, and he looked at Long Xuan to say: “Why would Lady Xu only bring two people to exit the palace, and why would she appear at that mountain pass?”
Long Xuan sighed in his heart. Sure enough, he could only hurt the Luo family’s skin and hair this time, but had no way to deal them internal injuries. The favor Luo Wei received from the Emperor exceeded his expectations, enough to have the Emperor regard the pain of losing his grandson as unimportant. And this Xie Yu–Long Xuan glanced at Xie Yu quietly kneeling at the side. He knew that this person could have great use, but he did not think that today this person would become his enemy.
“Emperor Father.” Standing at the side, Long Xiang’s face had become red. “My elder brother had been accompanying your imperial carriage the entire time, how could he know of sister-in-law’s matters?”
“Didn’t the Fifth Prince just say that Consort Xu wanted to see the Second Prince?” Luo Wei immediately made a rejoinder.
Long Xiang was somewhat tongue-tied. After hearing the news that his little nephew whose life had just been protected by the imperial physicians not long ago was lost, there was only one thought in Long Xiang’s mind. He only thought that someone should pay with a life, and had not had the chance to consider any other matters.
Long Xuan also knelt down at this time, and spoke to Emperor Xing Wu. “Emperor Father. Lady Xu has a bit of a temper. After becoming pregnant, she became very dependent on your son, this humble servant. She said to your humble servant of a son that day that she wanted to follow him to come to the Western Mountain hunting grounds. Your humble son thought her body did not suit leaving the palace, and did not agree.”
“Then Lady Xu secretly escaped?” Emperor Xingwu asked, and rage dyed his face again.
Long Xuan replied, “Your humble son coaxed her, only thinking that your humble son should go to the Western Mountains.”
“You do know how to care for others,” Emperor Xing Wu stared at Long Xuan with anger.
Long Xuan’s expression was both a bit sad and a bit awkward. “Your humble son thought that she would care for his child, and would not willfully take rash action. Your humble son did not expect…”
“Enough!” There were no tables and chairs here for Emperor Xing Wu to kick, and the monarch of a country lifted a leg and kicked Long Xuan to the ground.
“Brother!” Long Xiang rushed forward to protect Long Xuan, who had fallen to the ground. He shouted at Emperor Xing Wu: “Emperor Father, what fault does my brother have?!”
These matters were clearly the Imperial household’s family affairs, but at this moment they had no choice but to clear them up in front of numerous officials and servants.
“Lady Xu.” Emperor Xing Wu asked, “Is that Xu Huo’s daughter?”
Long Xuan kneeled again and said, “Yes.”
Emperor Xing Wu gritted his teeth. “Shanghang’s Xu clan really can’t produce a single good thing!”
Luo Wei kept to the side, his entire body ice-cold. Long Xuan actually even abandoned Lady Xu!
“This humble son knows his sin, requesting the Emperor Father to quell his anger,” Long Xuan said to Emperor Xing Wu as he knocked his head upon the ground. When he lifted his head again, his face was already filled with grief. “It’s because your humble servant of a son is without fortune!”