Chapter 131: The Emperor's Funeral
Translator: OnGoingWhy Editor: Vermillion
The next morning, the sun had just risen when the melodious sound of a bugle horn came from within the imperial palace and was soon followed by the dull and somewhat sorrowful ringing of a bell.
It was as if the slumbering imperial city had woken up at that moment. The lights of each and every household all lit up and many citizens walked out of their houses wearing thick layers of cotton overcoats. While exhaling clouds of white breath, they headed toward the Gate of Heavenly Mystery with their shoulders hunched up and heads tucked in.
On this march toward the Gate of Heavenly Mystery, the citizens were silent and the mood among them was sorrowful.
They were lamenting the ruthlessness of time and mourning the atrophy of life. The regretful demise of a mighty leader was a tremendous loss to the entire Light Wind Empire.
The citizens' reverence toward Emperor Changfeng were from the bottom of their hearts because having an emperor who made great efforts to govern the empire was a blessing to them. They were grateful for the period of prosperity brought by the emperor that allowed them to have a peaceful life.
That was the day of Emperor Changfeng's funeral, so the citizens of the imperial city woke up early in the morning to send him off. There were also many people from outside the imperial city who rushed over just to see the emperor for the last time.
As the sorrowful ringing of the bell created a melancholy mood, more and more people started to gather outside the Gate of Heavenly Mystery. With the soldiers standing guard at the entrance of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery, no one was able to enter. However, the people gathered there did not care. They only needed to wait at the entrance for the coffin carrying the body of Emperor Changfeng to come out.
Within the plaza of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery, the diligent eunuchs had already cleared a wide path on the ground filled with accumulated snow, for the funeral procession to smoothly travel on.
The crown prince was wearing a mourning garment and was looking toward the Main Hall with a sorrowful expression on his face. There were many civil and military officials standing behind him. They were all wearing white upper garments over their solemn attires to represent their mourning of Emperor Changfeng's demise.
With a solemn expression, King Yu was wearing a mourning garment like the crown prince. Civil and military officials were standing behind him as well, but there were also experts from the sects who were disguising themselves as palace guards. Even they were expressing their respect toward Emperor Changfeng because he was someone who inspired fear in their hearts.
The two groups solemnly stood apart as a group of court musicians wearing mourning garments slowly marched out from the Main Hall while playing a melancholic symphony.
Xiao Meng was wearing a white upper garment over his military attire as he solemnly supported his delicate wife, Ji Ru'Er.
Ji Ru'Er had an extremely complicated expression on her face as tears welled up in her eyes. After falling into a deep sleep for three years, she woke up only to find that her father had passed away.
Nevertheless, Ji Ru'Er was looking around her surroundings. She was looking for Ji Chengxue's figure but she soon realized that Ji Chengxue was not within the spacious plaza of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery...
"Where's Chengxue? Why isn't he here yet?" Ji Ru'Er used her frail voice to ask Xiao Meng.
Xiao Meng was filled with suspicion as well. Ji Chengxue should have successfully gotten out of danger the day before. How could he not appear on such an important day?
As the successor named in the posthumous edict, Ji Chengxue should be behaving even more zealous!
"Could something have happened?" Xiao Meng thought as his eyes flashed with uncertainty. However, he still forced out a smile and said, "It's fine, Chengxue might have been delayed by an important matter. He'll come soon enough. After all... he's the successor to the throne."
Even though Ji Ru'Er was still feeling somewhat uneasy, Xiao Meng's gentle smile influenced her and the corners of her mouth slightly curled up as she nodded.
Xiao Yanyu and Xiao Xiaolong were standing behind them and were feeling extremely happy as they watched the loving affection between their parents.
Xiao Yanyu was looking around but she was unable to find that familiar figure... According to her father's narration, the one who woke up their mother was their elder brother, Xiao Yue.
Furthermore, their mother had already revealed the truth of the entire matter to Xiao Yanyu and Xiao Xiaolong. Their resentment toward Xiao Yue was already long gone and had all turned into guilt.
As the court musicians marched out from the Main Hall, Lian Fu, wearing a white mourning garment, slowly walked out after them with a haggard face and his hair hanging loosely.
Lian Fu looked extremely exhausted. His eyebags were drooping and his eyes were bloodshot. The aura emanating from his body was also somewhat unstable.
However, no one minded. Perhaps he was exceedingly depressed.
Afterall, Lian Fu had a close relationship with Emperor Changfeng.
"Where's the third prince?" Lian Fu asked with a high-pitched voice as he lightly waved his horsetail whisk.
Yet, no one replied him. Instead, the crown prince and King Yu both stepped forward at the same time and performed a fist and palm salute toward Lian Fu.
Lian Fu gave the two of them a meaningful glance and then began carrying out some pre-burial ceremonies. These strict and solemn ceremonies were passed down throughout the generations of the Light Wind Empire's imperial family. Every single prince must follow them.
"Next, would the successor of the throne receive the coffin," Lian said as he waved his horsetail whisk once more.
However, after those words were spoken, the civil and military officials down below began whispering to each other.
The corners of Zhao Musheng's mouth curled up as he stood there in a calm and collected manner.
King Yu and the crown prince stepped forward once more. King Yu opened his mouth and said, "Chief Eunuch Lian, we can't miss the auspicious timing. Just let me be the one to receive the coffin."
"Why should you be the one to do it? If anyone is going to receive the coffin... it should be me," the crown prince said as he gave King Yu a cold glance.
The tension between the two became intense once more.
Lian Fu let out a soft sigh. The two princes were simply being too obvious with their attitude. From the fact that the third prince was not around, chances were high that he suffered a mishap. Otherwise, King Yu and the crown prince would not have stepped forward in such a sincere manner and fought over the chance to receive the coffin.
However, in this situation, one person must go forward and receive the coffin. Lian Fu was feeling somewhat troubled as well.
"Chief Eunuch Lian, you should make the decision... Father trusted you the most when he was still around," King Yu said as his gaze landed on Lian Fu.
"Your Highnesses, please be careful with your words. Receiving the coffin is too important to be casually decided. Let's wait a while more. If the third prince still haven't arrived by then, Your Highnesses will receive the coffin together," Lian Fu said.
King Yu stared blankly for a moment and then let out a chuckle. Ji Chengxue was definitely not going to come. There was no point in waiting, it was only a waste of time. Even though that was what King Yu was thinking, he still had to put up a show.
The crown prince was thinking the same way as well. The two of them looked each other in the eye and then looked away.
As time passed, the civil and military officials below were soon getting impatient and their whispers could be heard from time to time.
Lian Fu gave them a glance before looking away and sighing in his mind.
"Chief Eunuch Lian, third brother still hasn't arrived. This is a great disrespect toward father. How could such a person succeed the throne? The important task of receiving the coffin should be left to me," the crown prince said as he opened his mouth once more.
Not to be outdone, King Yu argued back as well.
However, while they were still arguing, the corners of Lian Fu's mouth suddenly curled up as he looked into the distance. At the entrance of the Gate of Heavenly Mystery, there were two figures slowly approaching.
"My dearest elder brothers, I am truly sorry for worrying the two of you. The task of receiving the coffin should still be left to me. After all... I am the true successor to the throne."
A cold voice came from afar and suddenly resounded within the ears of the crown prince and King Yu like the sound of thunder, giving them an incredulous feeling.
Zhao Musheng's pupils constricted. He was feeling somewhat puzzled as he stared closely at Ji Chengxue.
Xiao Yue was following behind Ji Chengxue with a solemn expression. They were both wearing mourning garments as they walked step by step toward the Main Hall.
Soon, Ji Chengxue arrived before Lian Fu. He gently nodded toward Lian Fu and then looked toward the crown prince and King Yu.
"I am not dead yet... Are the two of you feeling surprised?"
 auspicious timing () - (Shíchén) literally means time/hour of a day. However, when "time" is mentioned in such an occasion, people are usually referring to the "auspicious timing". When it comes to important occasions like one's wedding or burial, a person's eight characters are used to determine the "auspicious date"(), which also includes the hour.