Lu Yingying sat in the garden as she stared blankly at the plants around her.
In her memory, it seemed like ever since she came to Chang’an, she never had the time to just look at her own garden. Because she was Lu Yunji’s daughter, she received numerous invitations from other families. She would meet one duke today, another lord the next day. Following her father’s wishes, she associated herself with the noble ladies of Chang’an and was always busy.
Over time, she started to get irritated; especially after her father and brother returned. There were so many banquets, so she always had to rush around. She was so tired and asked her father to allow her to rest for a few days. Who would have known that things would change so quickly?
With her father and brother in prison, her cousin, Hanxing, had gathered all the valuables in their house to exchange for money. Her invitations disappeared along with the valuables in her house. To be honest, she did not care. She also did not care about the rumours of her father and brother bullying citizens and robbing them for their personal gain. Everyone in their residence was shaken and the servants were in no mood to work. Weeds grew in the garden, yet no one removed them. She still did not care.
All she knew was that her mother had passed on after giving birth to her and it was her brother that carried her to look for their aunt, saving her life. She also knew that her father doted on her and allowed her to do whatever she wanted in order to reduce the gap left by her missing mother. To others, Lu Yunji and Lu Qi might be nasty. However, to her, they were the best father and brother in the world. She was willing to give up her image for them.
Hence, Lu Yingying no longer sat in a daze. She walked into her father’s study room. The study room was empty, with all the valuable antiques sold. All of a sudden, her gaze landed on her father’s armor beside the screen. She remembered every tear and stitch that mended it. She also remembered the droplets of the enemies’ and her father’s blood. If she remembered all this, then the Emperor would as well.
Lu Yingying knew what she had to do.
The next morning, Lu Yingying put on the armor and appeared in the palace. She was going to beg the Emperor to spare her father and brother on account of their contributions throughout the years.
However, the Emperor had just locked Lu Hanxing up as well for bribing other officials to plead for Lu Yunji. He was in the worst mood and rejected Lu Yingying. Lu Yingying kneeled in front of the palace for an entire day and into the night.
Her determination was recognized by quite a few people as her being filial.
When Sun Lingshu heard this, she was fuming. Ever since they were competitors for the position of Crown Princess, she had subconsciously been comparing herself to Lu Yingying. Lu Yingying looked innocent and carefree, receiving the love of many. Moreover, she still hasn't forgotten the way the Crown Prince looked at Lu Yingying. Although the Empress had already given up on the idea of getting Lu Yingying to be the Crown Prince’s concubine, Lu Yingying may be playing tricks.
Hence, Sun Lingshu went to check out the situation. However, when she saw the Crown Prince speak to Lu Yingying with a look of concern in his eyes, she could not help but feel uneasy.
She was feeling down when she went to greet Empress Zhangsun. Unexpectedly, the Empress did not show much concern but merely told her to be more magnanimous as the main wife. If she was not able to attend to the Crown Prince well, she should make arrangements. Other than the day that Sun Lingshu told her the joyous news of being pregnant and the Empress showed her concern, the Empress did not care much about her thereafter. Not only that, Empress Zhangsun even asked her to think from the Crown Prince perspective and find other ladies for the Crown Prince.
At this moment, Fu Rou entered.
Empress Zhangsun asked, “Head Seamstress Fu, did you hear about Lu Yingying kneeling in front of the palace?”
“Yes I heard she kneeled for an entire day and night.” Although Fu Rou could not bring herself to like Lu Yingying, she could not hate her as well. Putting her feelings aside, they were both females and she admired Lu Yingying’s filial piety.
Sun Lingshu could not stand it any longer. “Imperial Mother, how can you allow her to kneel in front of the palace? She is the daughter of a criminal. What she is doing is clearly making things difficult for Imperial Father.” She accidentally let her jealousy show in her voice.
Empress Zhangsun stared deeply at Sun Lingshu.
Sun Lingshu felt uneasy. “Have I said something wrong?”
Empress Zhangsun replied, “No. However, as people from the harem, we should not interfere with court matters. Even if someone asks us, there is no need to answer. Remember this. Anyhow, you are pregnant and shouldn’t tire yourself. Return back to your palace to rest.”
Sun Lingshu anxiously excused herself and left.
“This daughter-in-law of mine-” Empress Zhangsun stopped what she was saying and waved at Fu Rou, indicating for her to leave.
No matter what, Lu Yingying was kneeling for her father. It was a moving act of filial piety. However, Sun Lingshu looked at her as if she was a thorn by her side and wanted to punish her harshly for selfish reasons. She had no consideration for human relationships and was extremely narrow-minded. In reality, Empress Zhangsun was extremely disappointed in Sun Lingshu.
Fu Rou left Lizheng Palace and headed to the Seamstress Department. As she walked, she wondered if Empress Zhangsun had seen through Sun Lingshu’s intentions. In her opinion, ever since Sun Lingshu became the Crown Princess, she had always been on guard when facing others and accumulated resentment. Hence, she resorted to underhanded means to get her revenge. On the other hand, Lu Yingying did not care what others thought of her and did not even bother looking for the culprit after getting water thrown on her. She was not ashamed of kneeling for her father and brother and was able to judge right from wrong. Her sincerity could be felt.
The palace was like a maze, the more people walked astray, the more they got lost. One would only be able to escape if they persevered with their original intentions.
Fu Rou suddenly halted and turned to find Yang Bo.
The midday sun shone down on Lu Yingying. Although it was not very glaring, after kneeling for an entire day without food or water, along with fifty kilograms of metal armor, one would lose strength very quickly.
All of a sudden, a dark shadow blocked out the piercing sun. Lu Yingying took a deep breath and looked up to see an internal attendant smiling warmly at her.
“Have a sip of water.” The internal attendant sneakily took out a small water flask, the size of a palm, and helped her to open it.
From that angle, no one could see that the internal attendant was giving her water nor would anyone see Lu Yingying drinking. Lu Yingying shook her head.
The internal attendant whispered, “If you continue like this, you might not even be able to last long enough for the Emperor to change his mind. When that time comes, who else is going to save Duke Chen?”
Lu Yingying froze before extending her hand out to take the water flask. She did not expect to be so thirsty as she finished it in a single gulp.
She handed the flask back in embarrassment. “Thank you. What is your name?”
The internal attendant smiled before jutting his chin out in a particular direction. “You don’t have to thank me. Someone asked me to do it.”
Lu Yingying looked over and saw a slender figure. “Who?”
However, the internal attendant had already left. Lu Yingying wanted to call him to stop when two attendants appeared from the other side. One of them said, “Lu Yingying, His Majesty is ready to see you. Come with us quickly.”
Lu Yingying was delighted and got up too quickly, almost falling as a result. Luckily, the other attendant supported her. She then staggered in the direction of Ganlou Palace.
Yang Bo, who had delivered water to Lu Yingying, ran to the small door. Fu Rou was standing by it.
“Head Seamstress Fu, do you have some kind of relationship with her?”
“We met several times but do not really have a relationship. Moreover, I hate her father but admire her.” Fu Rou smiled. “Thank you for your help, Yang Bo.”
Yang Bo looked at Lu Yingying as she was led into the palace. “The Emperor is finally willing to see her. Head Seamstress Fu, your sip of water has brought her great fortune.”
“No, her filial piety has moved him.”
After being led into Ganlou Palace, Lu Yingying kneeled on the ground. “Greetings, Your Majesty. I am the daughter from the Lu family. Long live Your Majesty.”
The Emperor’s expression was unreadable. “Someone asked me if they should remove the picture of your father among the <<Twenty-four Officials>> in Lingyan Palace. I remember when Yunji was young, he was already famous for his martial art skills and bravery. In the earlier days of the Sui Dynasty, the empire was in chaos. He fought with me to conquer the east and west, achieving numerous outstanding feats. Back then, Li Yuanji, the King of Qi, tried numerous times to assassinate me. If not for Yunji, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Lu Yingying bowed even lower, not daring to look up. “Thank you, Your Majesty, for considering the former days.”
“However, your father has been acting out his own selfish desire, he plunders cities and robs them, killing the innocent. That is why he is being punished today.” The Emperor continued in a low voice, “It is not something that can simply be resolved with you, a girl, wearing the armor and begging for mercy.”
“This armor is the one that Father always brings back from the battlefield. There are scars all over the armor and even holes that were created from being pierced through in some areas. These holes were then mended on the request of my father, using metal threads.” Lu Yingying placed her palms on the ground and struggled to raise her head.
“Are you trying to help your father show off his contributions?” The Emperor was unhappy.
“Yingying wouldn’t dare. I have read Saint Mengzi’s book. Mengzi said that humans are different from beasts because humans have four hearts; the heart to despise evil, the heart to yield, the heart to judge between wrong and right…”
The Emperor finished her sentence. “And the heart for compassion.”
“Even the common people have compassion, what more the mighty ruler? There is no way to repay my debt to my father for raising me. Although I am just a girl, I am begging Your Majesty to have mercy and let me die in place of my father.” Lu Yingying once again bowed to the floor.
The Emperor fell silent for a long while. “People must have compassion. Although Yunji has committed a crime, he has accompanied me for so many years. Your devotion to your father is also moving and makes me hesitate to kill him. Convey my order, release Lu Yunji and Lu Qi from the prison. I will not reward him for his achievements, but I will also not kill him for his crime of plundering cities.”
Lu Yingying shed tears of joy. She thanked the Emperor but remained on the ground for a long while.
The Emperor found it weird and ordered an internal attendant to check. It turned out that Lu Yingying had fainted. The Emperor felt that her courage was admirable and purposely requested for her to be sent home using the Imperial Sedan. He even sent the best Imperial Physicians after her.
When the news spread, Lu Yingying had turned into the most sought after daughter-in-law in Chang’an.
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