In Ning Shen palace, Yi Chongren was eating with the three children. Huo Yunkai had already started to help his father with work, and today, he had finally found time to eat a meal with yifu. The two children hadn’t seen their big brother in many days so they were very happy. Huo Yunkai saw that yifu was in a decent mood, so the worry in his heart diminished a bit. He also didn’t know what father was planning to do with yifu, but father instructed Lu Tao to look after yifu, so he wasn’t too worried.
The four people were in the midst of eating when a guard called from outside: “The emperor has arrived—”
Yi Chongren put down his chopsticks and stood up. Huo Yunkai also stood up. The two children,who had yet to learn palace etiquette, didn’t move, curiously looking towards the entrance of the courtyard.
Huo Feng entered, and before the two paid their respects, he said: “No need to be polite.” He looked at Yi Chongren, “So you were eating.”
Yi Chongen followed his words and asked: “Has your majesty eaten yet？”
“No. Looks like I came at the right time.”
Huo Feng walked to Yi Chongren’s side naturally and someone immediately brought a stool. Sitting down, Huo Feng looked at the table of dishes, and seeming to be in a good mood, asked: “Are you used to the food here yet? Before going to Jade City Pass, I let them change the imperial chefs. I don’t know if they suit your taste.”
“Pretty good. Thank you, your majesty, for your concern.”
Yi Chongren replied neither servile nor overbearing and sat down. The swift palace servants brought over bowls and chopsticks for his majesty, and someone already instructed the imperial kitchen to make more dishes. Huo Feng picked up his chopsticks, picked some food, and put it in his mouth. Chewing slowly, he frowned slightly: “It’s a bit spicy. I remember you don’t like spicy food.”
A look of bewilderment slid through Yi Chongren’s eyes. Then, he heard Huo Feng say: “Someone come. Go to the imperial kitchen and tell them to bring some non-spicy dishes to Ning Shen palace.”
“Your majesty,” Yi Chongren sounded, “This commoner can eat food that’s a little spicy.” What was more important was that the three children liked eating spicy food. Also, how did this person know he didn’t like spicy food?
Huo Feng pushed three non-spicy dishes in front of Yi Chongren and said: “I asked the former prince minister. He said you can’t eat spicy food. When we were heading back to the capital, I didn’t see you eat anything spicy either. You always let the imperial kitchen prepare whatever the children like to eat, but don’t forget to order what you like to eat. I didn’t bring you back to the capital to be wronged.”
Yi Chongren tightly pursed his lips, heart feeling strange. He stared at Huo Feng, wanting to see the deeper meaning in those eyes. Huo Feng picked some spicy dishes as if nothing was wrong and ruefully said: “These few years, I’ve become able to eat spicy food.” Saying this, Huo Feng pinched Baozi and Douzi’s noses with each hand, “What are you looking at father for? Eat. If you don’t eat well, father will punish you.”
Baozi immediately shoved a spoonful of rice into his mouth, and then asked about something he never really understood: “Father, why did you become imperial father?”
Douzi nodded from the side. Daddy’s title kept changing so the children were confused. Yi Chongren tried to restrain himself from smiling, and Huo Feng laughed openly, saying: “You’ll understand once you grow up.”
Daddy also said this. The two children stopped pondering over this question and continued shoveling food in their mouths. If they didn’t eat well, daddy would punish them. There was joy in Huo Yunkai’s eyes. Father and yifu were getting along well, so naturally, he was happiest.
As Huo Feng ate, he asked his eldest son if he’d been adapting well over the last few days, and Huo Yunkai replied to each question. Yi Chongren didn’t make a sound, silently eating the three dishes Huo Feng placed before him. After a while, the imperial kitchen sent over some new dishes, all not spicy. Huo Feng had a good appetite, so he ate three bowls of rice.
After eating, Huo Feng let Huo Yunkai take Baozi and Douzi to digest, and he entered the house with Yi Chongren, clearly having words he wanted to say. Closing the door, Yi Chongren brewed some tea for them. The atmosphere in the room was calm. Huo Feng drank a cup of tea, put down the teacup, and looked towards Yi Chongren. Yi Chongren raised his eyes.
Yi Chongren’s heart skipped a beat. Huo Feng’s gaze was too scorching.
Yi Chongren waited for him to continue speaking.
Huo Feng said: “It’s the beginning of a new era and the state is in chaos. Whether inside or outside of the palace, the land can’t be considered to be at peace. Chongren, no matter what I say, I do not disdain you. I have been hurt by those rebels and have hated them. But you also know that if these people in the palace aren’t kept in check, they will easily become rebels. And as I live in the palace, it’s difficult to avoid using others for certain matters. I need a trustworthy person who can keep those people in check for me.”
Yi Chongren’s expression turned cold and a sneer flashed in his eyes. What was the point of speaking so tactfully, he just wanted him to resume his old trade and become a eunuch. Huo Feng saw this misunderstanding with a glance. He reached out to grab Yi Chongren’s hand, but was avoided by the other.
Yi Chongren coldly said: “Your majesty overestimates this commoner. This commoner came from the Hu An guards, part of the rebels. Is your majesty not afraid of attracting criticism?”
Huo Feng stood and walked before Yi Chongen, put both hands on his armrests and leaned over. Yi Chongren couldn’t retreat, and his gaze became even colder. Huo Feng bent down, meeting Yi Chongren face to face, and holding back a certain type of desire and anger, said: “You convicted me before I even finished speaking. Are you still blaming me for humiliating you in the past? I was wrong, I apologize.”
Yi Chongren couldn’t help but feel dumbfounded by Huo Feng’s deep voice. He once again felt this disorientation that often cropped up after he encountered Huo Feng again. The two people’s breaths seemed to intertwine as Huo Feng approached, and Yi Chongren tilted his head to avoid the scorching heat radiating off of Huo Feng. But soon, his heart regained its coldness. That identity was something he hated and wanted to forget, but that person in front of him kept reminding him.
“Chongren,” Huo Feng took Yi Chongren’s hand. Yi Chongren drew back as if he was scalded, but couldn’t escape his grasp. “Can you listen to me?”
It was me, not us(zhen). Yi Chongren turned his head with surprise in his eyes that could no longer be concealed. After a while, he spoke: “May your majesty speak.”
The future is long. Huo Feng released the hand that Yi Chongren kept trying to withdraw and returned to his seat, saying: “I can’t completely trust any of the servants in the palace, including Lu Tao. Whenever I look at the people by my side, I am reminded of Zhang Zhong and the others. What’s most important is that it’ll take a while to eliminate all the noxious influences of the previous dynasty. It’ll be hard to ensure there are no remnant rebels in the palace. I’m afraid it’s difficult to defend against arrows in the dark. If Baozi and Douzi……”
Yi Chongren’s eyes turned cold, and after contemplating for a while, he looked towards Huo Feng: “What does your majesty want this commoner to do?” What that person said wasn’t wrong. Southern Chu had been under the control of eunuchs for a century, so at the dawn of a new dynasty, it was difficult to ensure there wouldn’t be anyone who brought disaster upon the court. If it was for the children, so what if he became an eunuch again?
Huo Feng knew that if he mentioned the two children Yi Chongren would agree. He said in a deep voice: “Be my imperial attendant. Take part in politics, manage the court, and meet the emperor when necessary.”
Yi Chongren had something different in mind. How was this any different than the duties of the Hu An guards? Huo Feng looked straight in Yi Chongren’s eyes and said: “I need your tactics and abilities to clean up the inner court, find those unresigned remnants, and eliminate hidden dangers for the crown prince’s future ascension. The new dynasty is beginning, and I need someone to set new rules for these inner servants. Other than you, no one can reassure me. There’s only one “walk before the emperor” position and that’s for you. After a hundred years, this position won’t exist any more.”
Frankly, this official position was made for Yi Chongren. Huo Feng’s words and eyes were like a fire, igniting Yi Chongren’s heart. He never expected that this was what Huo Feng was planning. Heartbeat a bit irregular, Yi Chongren subconsciously wanted to avoid Huo Feng’s gaze. But after all, he was Yi Chongren, so he wouldn’t avoid. He mentioned what wasn’t right: “How is this any different than the Hu An guards? This will only make the common people dissatisfied.”
Huo Feng nonchalantly said: “There will definitely be opposition but you can ignore it. I had this idea because it’s you; if it were someone else, I’d fear they’d become the next Zhang Zhong.”
Yi Chongren seemed to smile yet not smiled at the same time and asked: “Why does your majesty trust this commoner so much?”
A flame that could burn Yi Chongren appeared in Huo Feng’s eyes: “Because you are Yi Chongren.” These words were spoken resolutely. A peculiar feeling once again slid through Yi Chongren’s heart, and he gradually stood up, the corners of his lips curving upwards.
“If this commoner still refused, then I would be too ignorant of kindness.” Yi Chongren raised his robes to kneel and take his orders, and Huo Feng quickly reached out his hands to support him. Yi Chongren didn’t squirm or panic, looked directly at Huo Feng’s eyes, and opened his thin lips: “This official will not fail you.”
Huo Feng laughed, deeply laughed, and grasped both of Yi Chongren’s hands, not letting go, instead tightening his grip: “I believe you.”
The trust of the emperor is often accompanied by foul wind and bloody rain, so no emperor would always trust a single person. Yi Chongren understood this point. But at this time, he didn’t think about the dangers he’d face in the future. This man was the emperor but also the father of his two sons. Perhaps from the moment he decided to save the Huo family, his fate became entangled with that man. Dangerous or not, since he already made the decision, he would follow through to the end. He was Yi Chongren, the Yi Chongren who wandered in front of the gates of hell countless times. What was there to fear about danger.
On the way back to his palace, Huo Feng’s mood could only be described with the word pleasant. However, nothing was revealed on his face. He knew how all the officials would react once he issued this imperial decree. But his arrow was already on the string so it had to be released. For countless days and nights, he gnashed his teeth with rage thinking of that pair of eyes and that harsh mouth, unable to restrain his anger. Time and time again, he vowed to take revenge on that person and return the shame cast on him back to that person with interest, but he never thought about how he’d return it. In other words, he subconsciously avoided it. Until he saw that person riding a horse in Jade City Pass, saw how that person genuinely smiled at the children, he finally knew the reason why he couldn’t stop thinking about that person for the past six years; what he wanted to get revenge on.
Raising his eyes to look at the night sky, a pair of eyes once again appeared before him. But this time, that person’s eyes were so clear, lacking the cover of demonic powder, appearing as bright as the stars, making people unable to look away. That was Yi Chongren, Chongren.
Huo Feng, who had moved Yi Chongren, didn’t immediately issue the imperial edict. He had already passed this matter to Zhang Deyuan, Xieming, and the other old officials. Most of these people were saved from the butchers of the rebels by Yi Chongren, so naturally they wouldn’t object. As they saw it, this position actually wronged Yi Chongren. As long as someone took control of the inner court, in accordance with the law, if he wasn’t the empress, he would never be able to leave the title “a certain palace eunuch” ,“a certain eunuch”. This was a wound on Yi Chongren’s heart, a wound destined to remain unhealed. However, this position was already the best arrangement for Yi Chongren. Taking part in politics and walking in front of the emperor were honors that could only be enjoyed by officials of the third rank or above, not to mention, Yi Chongren was also in charge of the inner court.
When Huo Feng proposed this resolution, the group from “Lin manor”, led by Zhang Deyuan, were very pleased. His majesty still had Chongren in his heart. With these people’s support, adding to the fact that Ruan Xingtian and his other trusted officials would definitely not object, Huo Feng didn’t care about whoever would disagree.
On the 19th day of the 9th month of the Kangzheng, Huo Feng held a grand ascension ceremony in the imperial palace. Yi Chongren held the hands of the two children, ignoring the stares around him, and stood with Huo Yunkai, watching that man walk to the throne step by step while covered in bright yellow robes to become the true emperor. Not thinking about what type of role he’d have to play after that man became the emperor, when that man turned to accept the homage of the officials, Yi Chongren, who was kneeling, saw that man looking towards him with a deep gaze. He noticed that the more he looked at the man, the less he could see through him.
“Long live the emperor—–”
Huo Feng raised his hand: “You may rise—”
Standing on the imperial stage, looking down at the packed officials below, Huo Feng’s heart shook. So there was a day he’d reach this step, reach the highest position in the land. Without thinking, Huo Feng accurately found a figure in the crowd and that person was also staring at him. Amidst all those eyes, Huo Feng and Yi Chongren’s gazes seemed to stick together, yet also seemed to meet for only a moment.
Lu Tao walked out from the side with the bright yellow imperial edict scroll. Standing a position below the emperor, Lu Tao unfurled the imperial edict and read it out loud. When he had just read half of the edict, gasps sounded from all around. Even Yi Chongren was dumbfounded. And once Lu Tao put away the edict, the entire court was in an uproar.
Huo Feng sealed his eldest son, Huo Yunkai, as the crown prince and a day was set for the crowning ceremony. He sealed his second son, Douzi, as Prince Anping, a first rank prince; He sealed his adopted son, Baozi, as Prince Heshou, a first rank prince. The two late prince consorts were sealed as empress and imperial noble consort.
It wasn’t a secret that Huo Feng recognized Baozi as his adopted son, but titles given to the two children in the imperial edict caused a wave of shock. Huo Feng never changed Douzi’s name. He never mentioned it, so Yi Chongren also didn’t mention it. And now, in front of the entire court of civil and military officials, in front of all the common people of the world, Huo Feng gave his son the name— Huo Enchong. And Baozi’s name also changed, no longer Lin Jiabao, but Yi Enbao. Of the two children, one was named Enchong, and one was named Enbao; One was surnamed Huo, and one was surnamed Yi.
At the end of the imperial edict, Huo Feng sealed Yi Chongren as imperial attendant so he could take part in politics, walk in front of the emperor, and control the inner court, a second rank official. This already wasn’t a question of overwhelming power. Even Huo Feng’s trusted aides felt their jaws drop. His majesty’s actions were too obvious.
Huo Feng didn’t care about the reactions of the officials. With a wave of his hand, this matter was set in stone, not to be changed. Just as a few officials wanted to petition his majesty to revoke the order, they saw Yi Chongren dressed in his official uniform at the celebratory banquet that night. Many people’s eyes went wide, in a trance, feeling like a deer in headlights.
Yi Chongren’s official uniform had a dark red base with purple and gold threads intertwining into beautiful patterns, especially on the neckline, cuffs, and hem, which looked even more luxurious. This was an official uniform? What kind of official uniform had such beautiful colors! And Yi Chongren seemed to naturally suit those colors. His face appeared even more fair and handsome, and paired with his icy expression, his whole person seemed enchanting yet holy, seemed seductive yet sophisticated. Quite a few people stared in rapture. Even the usually calm Ruan Xingtian and others were stupefied, not to mention others.
In contrast, Yi Chongren’s expression was the same as usual, natural and unrestrained. Although he was a court official, he was the dad of the two princes, so his position was beside the crown prince, Huo Yunkai. It also seemed to be the first time Huo Yunkai ever saw his own yifu like this and his eyes sluggishly followed yifu as he approached. He knew yifu was good looking but didn’t know he was this good looking! As expected, a man relies on his clothes as a horse relies on its saddle. It was clearly just an article of clothing, yet it could produce such a dazzling effect!
Someone coughed twice. The sound wasn’t very loud, but it was enough to sober up all those dumbfounded people. Once they saw the person who made that sound, everyone jolted in unison. The emperor was mad.
Huo Feng gritted his teeth in his heart. He was wrong. He shouldn’t have chosen that outfit for that person! When he was choosing a uniform for Yi Chongren, Huo Feng’s first thought was to use red and purple. He had never seen someone other than Yi Chongren who suited those two colors so much. But he never expected that that outfit would produce such an effect. Huo Feng was regretful, very regretful, but he couldn’t make Yi Chongren go back to change. This was already approved by the Ministry of Justice so it couldn’t be casually changed. If he really changed it, his guilty conscience would become obvious.
Yi Chongren’s gaze lightly swept across some people, and immediately, those people, who couldn’t help but stare at him, shivered and bowed their heads. The rumors of the former Lord Qianhu of the Hu An guards’ ferocity weren’t false. There were two nannies serving Baozi and Douzi, but they were still more used to being with daddy. Douzi was the first to stand up and run to daddy, yelling: “Daddy, Douzi’s hungry.”
Baozi also ran over, pouting: “Daddy, Baozi’s also hungry.” There were so many delicacies, but why couldn’t they eat?
Huo Feng glanced at Lu Tao, and Lu Tao immediately shouted: “Begin the banquet—–”
Yi Chongren picked up his chopsticks and fed the two children some food with a calm expression. Baozi and Douzi simply sat beside daddy. They wanted to stay with daddy.
Seeing Yi Chongren completely unaffected by all those gazes, Huo Feng picked up his wine glass and thought about how to quickly end the banquet. He should find time to talk to Yi Chongren about changing his official uniform. He could wear those red robes again when they were alone.
 Huo Feng uses 朕 now which is how emperors refer to themselves
 Huo Feng went from 父王 to 父皇. They both mean father but the 皇 means he’s emperor now.。
 是我，而非朕 This type of line shows up a lot in this novel lol. It’s the difference in referring to oneself more casually and formally again.
 御前行走 Literally means can walk in front of the emperor. It’s a special pass that lets someone meet the emperor whenever necessary.