Extra Story 1: Empress Dowager and Lord Shen1It’s an extra story, which tells what would happen if the plan suggested by Lord Shen of feigning Empress Dowager’s (shen Fengyue’s) death had succeded and Chu Xi didn’t have any plans for killing them. You can also consider it as a parallel world if you want to.
Narrow, dark, and thin air—the first sensations that greeted Shen Fengyue when he woke up.
According to his memory, he should be lying inside a specially crafted golden coffin.
Yes, it was indeed a coffin, and it was made of gold.
He thought he must have been out of his mind to believe Lord Shen’s ridiculous idea of faking his death. For Lord Shen, Shen Fengyue went to great lengths to put on a performance, pretending to be seriously ill, taking fake pills to die, waiting for three days of mourning, and then getting buried. Even waiting for Lord Shen to bring a shovel to dig him up.
Why hadn’t Lord Shen come yet? Shen Fengyue couldn’t even turn over; he had to maintain a flat lying position, which was really tiring.
After an unknown amount of time, there were three knocks from above the coffin.
DA, DA, DA.
Then, a familiar voice came from above, “Empress Dowager, are you still alive?”
Empress Dowager Shen, “…”
The person put their ear against the coffin and asked again, “Empress Dowager, are you still alive? Please don’t be really dead.”
Shen Dowager, “…” How annoying, I suddenly don’t want to speak.
Not receiving any response from the person inside the coffin, Lord Shen immediately cried, it was so fake that there were no tears coming out.
“Oh, my Empress Dowager, why did you really die? Why couldn’t you wait for me? I’m deeply grieved. Since the Empress Dowager has passed away, let me accompany you—”
The large burial chamber was filled only with his loud wailing, making it particularly chaotic. Shen Fengyue couldn’t bear it anymore and slapped the coffin lid above his head.
“I want to share a bed with you in life and rest together in death…” Lord Shen’s voice stuttered, “Empress Dowager?”
Shen Fengyue lazily slapped the coffin lid and said, “Stop pretending. Besides this palace, there is no one else here. Who are you performing for? This palace is still alive, hurry up and dig me out, or I’ll suffocate for real.”
Lord Shen sighed and started using the shovel to pry open the coffin. The golden coffin was pried open a gap, and with a strong push, the coffin lid fell to the ground, revealing the person inside.
The moment the coffin lid was lifted, the sight suddenly became bright. The burial chamber was lit by numerous candles, making it as bright as daylight.
Shen Fengyue took deep breaths of the much-needed fresh air and tried to get up, only to find that he couldn’t move flexibly because he had been lying for too long. So he said, “Help me up, I can’t move after lying for so long.”
Lord Shen reached out and hugged Shen Fengyue out of the coffin, supporting him to try and move.
After Shen Fengyue moved a bit, his attention shifted to Lord Shen, noticing that there was some dust on his face and even some scratches. He was puzzled, “What happened to your face… There shouldn’t be any traps in my tomb.” He had specifically instructed Chu Xi not to set up any traps in his tomb ‘before he died’ so that Lord Shen could easily come in and dig him out.
“Oh, this, it’s nothing.” Lord Shen touched his face, seemingly unconcerned, “I just slipped out of my own tomb and came to find you.”
Shen Fengyue was utterly confused by this explanation, and Lord Shen patiently clarified everything.
Originally, his plan was for Shen Fengyue to fake his death, resign from his position, and the couple would retreat to a peaceful life in seclusion. But later, he thought it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to resign either, so he decided to fake his death as well. He pretended to cry and accidentally bumped himself to death against the coffin while crying, giving the appearance of a loyal and devoted servant who had died tragically.
Shen Fengyue listened and fell silent for a while.
“…” Well, this reason is certainly quite extreme.
“So you died too, and you escaped from your own coffin?”
“Yes, I made some arrangements beforehand.” Lord Shen nodded, feeling quite proud. Then he changed his tone, filled with righteous indignation, “The Emperor is really heartless. He buried us so far away. I had people surveying for a long time before locating the position of your tomb. Empress Dowager, you’ve suffered. I came late.”
Shen Fengyue: “…” So, you dared to involve the grave robbers as well?
Not wanting to listen to his nonsense anymore, Shen Fengyue said, “Did you bring the bag I asked you to bring?”
Lord Shen took the cloth bag out of his pocket, and Shen Fengyue put all the rings, bracelets, and hairpins on his head inside it. They packed up all the burial goods in the coffin and cleaned out the entire burial chamber. Afterward, Shen Fengyue planned to leave, but he noticed Lord Shen staring fixedly at his golden coffin.
“This coffin looks quite valuable…” Lord Shen remarked.
This remark infuriated Shen Fengyue. He pinched Lord Shen’s cheek and said, “Enough already, let’s go. You’re even coveting my coffin. Have some dignity.”
After looting their own burial goods, they bought a small courtyard in a famous retirement destination and hired a young maid and a young servant to live there and enjoy their life in seclusion.
Shen Fengyue changed back to men’s clothing after a long time, which made Lord Shen sigh with nostalgia. However, after being scolded and tidied up by his wife, he didn’t dare to make such comments again.
One day, they made an appointment to dine at a well-known restaurant. The restaurant’s interior was elegantly designed, avoiding extravagance, and the serene sound of a qin accompanied the diners, creating a soothing atmosphere.
The dishes and drinks were quickly served, and as they were about to start eating, they overheard a loud conversation from the adjacent table. They were discussing a topic that gradually became familiar, centered around two names they knew well.
“Hey, have you heard? When the Empress Dowager was being mourned, Lord Shen fainted on the spot from excessive grief and passed away!” said a man in a blue robe.
The other man in black was astonished, “Is it true?!”
“Of course, how could it be false? I heard that Lord Shen and the Empress Dowager had a special bond as master and servant, so…” The man in the blue robe poured wine while speaking.
The man in black crunched on a peanut from a dish and exclaimed, “Tsk, tsk, tsk, Lord Shen’s feelings were so deep…”
Shen Fengyue lost interest in their gossip midway, but unexpectedly, Lord Shen suddenly spoke up, “Lord Shen’s feelings for the Empress Dowager were truly touching. I really admire him!”
The two men were immediately drawn to him, and they began to discuss the topic even more fervently, feeling like they had found kindred spirits. They seemed ready to become sworn brothers right then and there.
Unable to stand it, Shen Fengyue stuffed half a pastry into Lord Shen’s open mouth, successfully silencing him.
“Tsk, you can’t keep your mouth shut even while eating?” He glared at him.
As it was given by his wife, Lord Shen obediently swallowed the pastry. He licked his lips and his eyes lit up, “Is this the same pastry that my wife took a bite from?”
This fact seemed to excite him greatly.
Shen Fengyue, “…”
After that, he said, “I want another one.”
Shen Fengyue, “…” Why are your priorities so crooked?
Absolutely not, never, especially not in public. Shen Fengyue felt he needed to maintain some dignity.
After lunch, Lord Shen exchanged contact information with the two gossiping men, planning to meet up for a proper conversation another day. Then he pretended to have urgent matters and accompanied his wife for a stroll to aid digestion.
While walking, Shen Fengyue suddenly remembered, “Since we’ve left the palace, we should change our names and identities. I’ve decided to use the name Shen Fengyue.”
“Hmm?” Lord Shen was curious, “Is there any special meaning behind this name?”
Shen Fengyue smiled, “It is said that great individuals bear this name.”
Lord Shen didn’t understand the meaning behind the name “Shen Fengyue,” but as long as his wife smiled and approved, he was completely enamored and readily agreed.
Yes, whatever his wife said was good.
“What name do you want to change to?” Shen Fengyue asked.
After thinking for a while, Lord Shen contemplated and finally said, “I think Shen Muyue will do.”
Lord Shen, admires, Shen Fengyue.2Shen Mu Yue [Shen for Lord shen and here the character used for mu can be translated as admire then Yue from Fengyue.
As soon as Shen Fengyue heard the name, he knew what this person was thinking. He lightly hit him in exasperation.
“Wife’s surname is Shen, is it because you mean to follow the husband’s surname’?” Lord Shen moved closer to him, grinning mischievously.
“Then why did you want to take the surname Shen?”
“I just wanted to, is that not allowed?”
In the end, Lord Shen suddenly said, “Can I hold your hand?” Without waiting for Shen Fengyue’s response, he simply reached out and held his hand.
Shen Fengyue, “…” What if I had refused? Would you still not hold my hand?
Lord Shen interlocked their fingers, holding him tightly.
“What is it?”
“What is it now?”
Lord Shen said, “I want to be with you forever… forever and ever.”
“We should share a bed in life and rest together in death.”
“It’s a promise.”
Shen Fengyue looked up at him, smiled, and said, “Okay, it’s a promise.”
Only then did Lord Shen stop insisting and smiled along with him.
Hand in hand, they walked along the riverbank during the beautiful spring of March. The grass grew lush, and the birds chirped joyfully. The willow trees by the river had sprouted fresh green leaves, and wildflowers bloomed along the path. The gentle breeze carried a refreshing scent, and the sky was clear with light clouds. Their silhouettes were closely intertwined as they strolled together.
Just like the year when Emperor Chu passed away, when one bowed respectfully to support the other, and the other offered the hand, strolling side by side in the vibrant imperial garden.
The gentle breeze lightly lifted a strand of hair near Shen Fengyue’s temple, and Lord Shen finally had the qualification and position to reach out and tuck that strand of hair behind his ear, revealing his beautiful profile.
This is what true happiness is.
To have one person’s heart, and to remain together until the hair turns white.
- 1It’s an extra story, which tells what would happen if the plan suggested by Lord Shen of feigning Empress Dowager’s (shen Fengyue’s) death had succeded and Chu Xi didn’t have any plans for killing them. You can also consider it as a parallel world if you want to.
- 2Shen Mu Yue [Shen for Lord shen and here the character used for mu can be translated as admire then Yue from Fengyue.