Palace Full of Delicacies

Chapter 91 - Sacrifice to the Heavens (Part Two)

Chapter 91 - Sacrifice to the Heavens (Part Two)

With the ceremony concluded, the officials could return home and reunite with their families, while the imperial family members ascended the tower to offer sacrifices to the heavens. The female members of the imperial family went to Ci’an Palace.

The Empress Dowager hosted a banquet, welcoming all consorts, and Furen of the royal family.

Due to Su Yu’s busy schedule with matters related to offering sacrifices to the heavens, the arrangements for the banquet were left to De Zhaoyi and Shu Zhaoyi.

Both came from prominent families and while their arrangements for the banquet may not have been exceptionally outstanding, they had at least not made any mistakes. The Empress Dowager nodded in satisfaction and praised them a few times.

In the Da’an imperial family, apart from the noble sons who could become emperors or Qinwangs, all other ordinary children belonged to the imperial clan.

The titles within the imperial clan were passed down through generations, and even for those holding titles like Junwang, usually, after five generations, there would be no titles left.

Therefore, the Furen who could attend the palace banquet were usually closely related to the imperial family in their households.[TL_Note: Furen-> married women/Madam]

At this banquet, most eyes were focused on King Li’s family. King Li had recently been blessed with a noble son, officially proclaimed the Eldest Prince, and his third Ce Fei, who had borne the child, was now elevated to the Qinwang Wangfei.

She was now adorned in the robes of a Wangfei, seated dignifiedly, just below the Empress Dowager.

The rank of a Wangfei was comparable to that of a Guifei. With Su Yu, who currently held the highest position in the Palace, absent from the event, it was only natural for King Li’s Wangfei to occupy the highest position at the table.

The banquet began with a few casual words from the Empress Dowager, after which she allowed everyone to enjoy their meal without restraint. The Furen of the Capital were accustomed to the Empress Dowager’s kindness and were all smiling as they ate and engaged in quiet conversation.

“Are you getting used to living in the Capital these days?” The Empress Dowager turned to Li Wangfei and asked with a smile.

“Everything in the capital is fine, I merely somewhat miss the child.” Li Wangfei smiled, her expression somewhat complicated. With her Wangye rarely at home these days, she had no way to inquire about the child’s well-being.

However, since being appointed as the main consort, her days in the Wangfu had suddenly become much more comfortable, which brought her a considerable amount of relief.

“If you miss the child, just send a message to the Palace and come see Aijia.” The Empress Dowager naturally understood Li Wangfei’s feelings. She gestured towards a dish to bestow her.

“King Li is a filial son, whenever he has time, he will accompany Aijia for a chat. You should also come often, if there’s anything you don’t understand, feel free to discuss it with Aijia.”

Seeing the dish brought over by Lin Gugu, Li Wanfei stood up in gratitude. She grew up on the coast of the South Sea and had never been to the capital before.

Seeing the Empress Dowager made her feel a bit nervous at first, however, after witnessing the Empress Dowager’s kindness, her heart settled. Thinking that the Empress Dowager’s sons were also cats, and two of them at that, she felt much closer. She thought she might come to the Palace in the next few days to chat with the Empress Dowager.

The two side consorts[TL_Note: Ce Fei] of King Li, along with their children, were also present at the palace banquet. However, being side consorts, although they were not as lowly as concubines, they were still far inferior to the main consort. They could only sit together with a group of clan women.

“Look at her smug look.” The eldest side consort spoke indignantly, tearing at the handkerchief in her hand.

She was obviously the first to enter the household and also the first to give birth to a son. Why should someone who just entered the household a year ago be made the main consort!

“Someone's belly is so lucky that she gave birth to a noble son.” The second side consort sneered.

“Mother, I want that one.” King Li’s eldest son tugged at his mother’s sleeve, pointing to the pastries in the distance.

“Eat eat eat, you just know how to eat. I’ve told you to perform well in front of the State Teacher, you are so disappointing!” The Eldest Ce Fei gritted her teeth.

Beneath the serene atmosphere of the palace banquet lay the jealousy and intrigue among the women. However, none of this had to do with Su Yu who was currently busy preparing the offerings.

After instructing Su Yu on how to prepare the offerings, the State Teacher returned to the Anguo Tower and went straight up to the sixth floor.

The Emperor and the Qinwangs withdrew from the presence of the court officials and gathered on the second floor of the Anguo Tower. As the sun dipped below the western mountains, the imposing doors of Anguo Tower slammed shut.

The ceremonial sacrifice to the heavens would commence when the moon reached its zenith and lasted until sunrise. During this time, the noble sons of the royal family would not step out of Anguo Tower, and outsiders were naturally prohibited from approaching.

“This is the new tea I brought from the South Sea. Let’s brew a pot first, ba.” King Li took out an oil paper package from the sleeve of his gorgeous ceremonial robes. He wanted to bring a jar, but the clothes were too light and thin, so it could not fit in. He could only pack one packet instead.

“Let’s get it brewing, we’ll need it for the long night ahead.” King Ling, thought about the later part of the ceremony and couldn’t help but grimace as he instructed the servants on the ground floor to boil water.

“Pour me a cup first.” King Su felt his mouth watering just thinking about the table full of dried fish, so he asked the servants to brew a pot for him to drink first.

Observing the Wangyes’ reactions, Su Yu looked puzzled and whispered softly to An Hongche.

“Your Majesty, I’ll go prepare the offerings on the fourth floor.”

His Majesty the Emperor watched his dispirited uncles and brothers for a moment before glancing at the radiant and refined Su Yu. With a decisive gesture, he pulled out the Eldest Prince from his sleeve and tossed him to King Li, then followed his stupid slave upstairs.

Although he couldn’t be of much help, watching Su Yu cook was quite entertaining.

On the fourth floor, a stone chamber had been set aside specifically for Su Yu to prepare the offerings. Inside there were all kinds of utensils, kitchenware, condiments, and everything else he might need.

The spicy dried fish was already prepared and only needed to be cut into shreds. As for the fish balls, they needed to be made fresh. The State Teacher had already instructed him on the process, but Su Yu could set these aside for now. After being thawed, the smoked fish needed to be plated and sprinkled with some seasoning.

These tasks were straightforward and didn’t require much attention. However, the fish that had been slaughtered earlier in the morning needed to be cooked into dishes.

Considering the time required for the ceremony, Su Yu decided to slice the Qing Yu into pieces and marinate them, while the Ying Yu had its tendons removed and was set aside.

His Majesty the Emperor watched eagerly as Su Yu skillfully sliced and diced. Then, he leaned in close, resting his chin on Su Yu’s shoulder, observing his movements.

“Are you hungry?” Su Yu asked, picking up a small piece of smoked fish, removing the bones, and stuffing it into His Majesty’s mouth.

The Emperor opened his mouth and ate, savoring the fragrant fish meat with a hint of sweetness and sourness. Although he didn’t usually like sweet flavors, he found this level of sweet and sour quite acceptable, and after finishing one piece, he was still unsatisfied and wanted to eat another.

“This is a bit cold, so eat less of it.” Su Yu said helplessly, but still ended up cutting another piece for him.

The Emperor was happily holding a large piece of smoked fish slowly savoring it, when he noticed Su Yu taking out the soaked fish fins and starting to cut them into shreds. He furrowed his brows.

“Isn’t this meant for Zhen to eat? How could it also be used to offer sacrifices to the heaven?”

“The State Teacher said that the fish used for the sacrificial offerings must be intact, and no edible parts should be thrown away.” Su Yu scratched his head.

He originally intended to keep these fish fins for his own Sauce, but after listening to the State Teacher’s words, he dared not act recklessly. If the world fell into chaos because he hid food for the Emperor, it would be disastrous.

His Majesty snorted. How come he hadn’t heard that the offering to the heavens required the whole fish? In his childhood, when his younger brother pilfered half of a dried fish and ate it, the Imperial Uncle did not bat an eyelid and calmly took it to offer sacrifices to the heavens.

After putting the shark fins into the pot and simmering them over low heat, Su Yu clapped his hands. Everything that the State Teacher had instructed him to do was basically ready.

When the two returned to the second floor, the Wangyes, who had been sitting upright, were nowhere to be found. Their dark silk robes were scattered all over the floor, and several large cats were happily playing with the kitten on the soft cushions.

On the table was a one-foot-square white porcelain water jar, filled to the brim with tea.

The yellow and white chubby kitten emerged from under the table, struggling to swallow the last piece of spicy shredded fish, then climbed onto the edge of the water vat in an attempt to take a drink.

The Emperor reached out and lifted his little brother, who was about to fall into the water vat.

“Stealing food again?”

The chubby kitten blinked and opened its mouth to show that it hadn’t eaten anything. There happened to be a small piece of shredded fish trapped in the gap formed by the missing tooth, and as the cat opened its mouth, it fell out with a plop.

Su Yu smiled and poured some tea water into a saucer for his brother-in-law to drink.

“Your Majesty, why did you brew so much tea?”

The Emperor raised an eyebrow.

“After offering sacrifices to the heavens, any sacrifices that have not been taken away by the ancestors must be eaten before sunrise.”

Eat, eat all of it? Su Yu couldn’t help but widen his eyes.

In his opinion, offering sacrifices to the heavens should be a sacred ceremony, no different from ordinary ancestor worship. It was just because he did not want to waste precious ingredients that he suggested to the State Teacher to use the fish meat for something else.

He never thought that it would be necessary to eat the sacrifices after offering sacrifices to the heavens!

“Do you think the rivers and mountains are so easy to defend?” The Emperor harrumphed.

Eating the dried fish was quite arduous. At first, a few pieces were enjoyable, but as they continued, it became unbearable and the State Teacher forced them to finish them all.

As the moon reached its zenith, nearing midnight, the State Teacher summoned everyone to ascend to the top.

Su Yu had only ascended to the fifth floor before, so he knew nothing about the two floors above the Anguo Tower.

The Wangyes put on their ceremonial robes, and King Li picked up the large jar filled with tea. His Majesty the Emperor grabbed his son and held Su Yu in his arms, jumping up one level at a time with agility.

The State Teacher would often leave his guests and go up to the sixth floor. Su Yu had always been curious about the sixth floor. Since it was a place where the State Teacher often went, it must have been a place used to deduce star maps or hone his divine powers.

Beyond the empty fifth-floor practice room, there was the mysterious sixth floor. The hollow round hole in the middle of the Anguo Tower ends abruptly on this floor, where the State Teacher was waiting for everyone.

Snow-white, snow-white everywhere! A white plush carpet covers the entire sixth floor and looks very soft and warm!

In the center of this soft velvet carpet, there was a big bed measuring one-foot square with a rounded top, covered with thick cushions and a plain brocade quilt. It looked very soft and comfortable at first glance.

In addition to this big bed, there are also two soft couches of different shapes, a hammock, one rocking chair…

The extraordinarily handsome State Teacher stood quietly on the plush carpet, effortlessly lending an ethereal charm to the otherwise dull palace chamber, which had the tendency to induce drowsiness with a single glance.

“Let’s go.” The State Teacher changed out of the elaborate, overly long robe into a more conventional snow-colored silk robe, only that the gold thread embroidery on it wasn’t a cloud pattern, but a more complex pattern that looked like some kind of talisman. With a gentle gesture, the mechanisms on the sixth floor’s ceiling hummed to life, and a circular opening appeared, allowing the clear moonlight to pour in.

The author has something to say:

Small Theater:

Cat Gong: This dried fish is awful, it tastes the same every year, bleh!

State Teacher: (Glaring coldly)

Thirteenth Uncle: (Rasing paw) I’ve already eaten ten, I need some water

State Teacher: (Raises paw, whack!)

Seventeenth Uncle: (Raising paw) Twenty-one, I can’t eat anymore, just hit me instead, ba _(:з)∠)_

State Teacher: (Raises paw, whack!)

Younger Brother: (Raising paw) Imperial Uncle, is there any more? I want to eat one more (⊙ω⊙)

State Teacher: (Raises paw, pets head)

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