Chapter 31.1: Truth

Fu Rou did not expect the Emperor to find out about the fight between Sheng Chumu, Yan Zifang and Prince Zhou. They were reprimanded harshly. Thankfully, Ma Hainiu was present and the Emperor assumed that she was the start of the fight and did not investigate the matter further. However, as a result of this, Fu Rou had already returned to the palace by the time Sheng Chumu brought Fu Tao to meet the Fu family. 

The Fu family was pleasantly surprised yet feel a slight sorrow when Fu Tao returned safely. After all, Third Madam was no longer around and their family could never be reunited again. They were lucky that they did not lose anyone else. Fu Tao’s biggest regret was not being able to send his mother off on her last journey. He could only cry in front of her memorial tablet as he kowtowed and offered incense. When the dead is in their final place, those that live on could only continue on their days. 

After doing everything he had to do, Fu Tao was about to leave. Fu Yin chased after him, stopping him in the garden.

“Third Brother, why do you have to leave? Can’t you stay? I… I may…” She was going to be married soon.

“I can’t stay because I have something very important to do. Also, do not tell anyone that I came back to see you all.” He could not let his identity be known.

Fu Yin found it weird. “Why?”

“I am currently working in Lu Yunji’s army and took on the name Xi Tao. If the Lu father and son knows my true identity, it will not be good for me.”

“Lu Yunji?” Fu Yin was shocked. “Isn’t that Brother Chumu’s enemy? Why are you working for Brother Chumu’s enemy?”

Grief and indignance appeared on Fu Tao’s face. “The Lu family is not only Sheng Chumu’s enemy. They are also our enemy.”

“I don’t understand.” Fu Yin shook her head. “Third Brother, what are you saying?”

Fu Tao became serious. “Younger Sister, listen to me. The Lu family was the one that started the fire that killed our mother.”

Fu Yin’s eyes widened. “What! Do you mean that the Lu family were the ones that plotted for the huge fire to happen? But, why?”

“I don’t know. That is why I am investigating. If it is true, I want the Lu family to pay with their lives.” He will do whatever it takes. 

Fu Yin bit her lips tightly before saying, “I also want to seek revenge for Mother.”

Fu Tao patted Fu Yin’s head. “Younger Sister, leave the revenge to me. You should be filial to Father, First and Second Madam. We can reunite after I have taken revenge.”

Fu Yin felt like a mess. “What if they realise that you are there to take revenge?”

“I have thought of it.” Fu Tao was not afraid. “If I get found out, I will just deal with them at all costs. Killing one won’t be enough. Killing two is the plan. If I can kill Lu Yunji, I would be satisfied.”

Fu Yin cried out, “No, I already don’t have a mother, I cannot lose you, Third Brother…”

Fu Tao grabbed onto his sleeves as he clumsily helped Fu Yin to wipe her tears. “Don’t cry, your beautiful face is turning blotchy like a calico cat. I am just saying it but it won’t be easy for them to figure it out. Moreover, my teacher is still helping me.”

“Third Brother…” Fu Yin grabbed tightly onto Fu Tao’s sleeves. Fu Tao carefully removed Fu Yin’s hand. “I promise that I will be back.”

Fu Yin’s tears caused her vision to blur as she stood under the tree in a daze. The door to the garden opened and closed once again. Fu Tao was gone. She could not help but think back to the past when she had always disliked her mother for being petty. Before her mother died, her mother even asked her second sister to bring out her dowry so as to ensure that she would not marry in shame. She understood her mother’s love for her. She had always felt terrible for misunderstanding her mother and not being a considerate daughter. Now that she knew the truth, she was determined.

She wiped her eyes dry as she looked briefly at her bracelets. Eventually she took them off, She could not allow herself to live in happiness while her third brother risked his life. She could not keep hiding under her sister’s wings and enjoy an easy life. Sorry, Du Ning. 

 

In the cold and lonely Eastern Palace, it was like the night would never end.

Although the candlelight was bright, it could not shine into the hole in Sun Lingshu’s heart. She was numb as she took down her hairdo. All of a sudden, she saw the Crown Prince enter. Her face immediately lit up as she rushed to stand in front of him. He was here. Like every other time they quarrelled, he would always come to tell her that he would treat her better. However, what greeted her was a bone-piercing chill.

The Crown Prince did not even glance at her and walked right past her. He opened her cupboard and started to look for something. Sun Lingshu walked to stand beside the Crown Prince as she forced a smile, “Your Highness, what are you looking for? Let me help you.”

The Crown Prince did not look up. “I want you to help me find Chen Ji. Can you find him for me?” He then took out a purple robe from her cupboard and turned to leave.

Sun Lingshu stood stunned for a while before stumbling to chase after him. She followed behind the Crown Prince and saw him stand in front of Chen Ji’s grave. He covered the grave with the robe and sat on a random spot on the ground.

“It is cold at night, I brought an extra robe for you. This is not a reward, I am giving you this as a friend. You just have to thank me, you don’t have to bow.”

“When you were alive, you were so noisy, I feel like if I don’t come and talk to you often, you will not be able to take it. You might even scold me in your grace. What a pity you can no longer play chess with me. However, with your lousy abilities, you are so far from me and I beat you all the time. There isn’t much point.”

“Today, at Ganluo Palace, Imperial Father spoke a lot to me. I know that he is trying. He said that he has high hopes for me that is why he gave me the name, Chengqian. Actually, I know all of this. I am aware. But just because this is the royal family, relationships change. One has to live with caution. If not, one would not even be able to survive and the people that kill you are the ones closest to you. As I look at Imperial Father’s kind face, I am actually scared to death!”

“I saw that Imperial Father was in a good mood and wanted to plead on your behalf to change your surname. However, as soon as I mentioned it, he said that you had to die. Not because of what had happened but because I am the Crown Prince. Not only can power kill someone, status can also kill. Chen Ji, if you knew that you had died because of something like status, would you find it laughable? I want to laugh but...I can’t.”

Sun Lingshu stared dumbly at the Crown Prince’s back. He could talk to a coffin for the entire night but was not even willing to glance at her. When Chen Ji was alive, the Crown Prince would still occasionally accompany her even if it was a short period. She had once thought that without Chen Ji, the Crown Prince would spend all his time with her. She never thought it would be the opposite. Now, she was equivalent to air in the Crown Prince’s eyes.

Shuangxi consoled herself by saying that once her child was born, the Crown Prince would become a father and everything would be better.

Sun Lingshu could no longer bring herself to hope. However, it was at least a reason for her to continue surviving. She believed that heaven would not be so cruel as to never give her a good day. 

 

On this fine day, the atmosphere at Lizheng Palace was light and happy because Empress Zhangsun was much better. She could even stand up to walk around. 

Wei Song smiled, “It is all thanks to the Crown Prince. He served you medicine attentively for days and nights. We are moved by his filial piety.”

Empress Zhangsun’s heart ached. “It is all because of you all. I said to ask him to go back and rest, why didn’t you do as I said? We cannot let him fall ill because of this.”

“The Crown Prince was not willing to leave and we could not do anything about it. After that, it was only because the Emperor ordered him to return to the Eastern Palace to rest and the Crown Prince could not disobey. Oh right, yesterday night, the Emperor asked the Crown Prince to stay at Ganluo Palace and talked to him for a long time. They talked happily and when the Crown Prince left Ganluo Palace, there were tears in his eyes. This morning, the Emperor bestowed numerous gifts on the Crown Prince.”

Empress Zhangsun was finally reassured. “Hearing this is better than any medicine.”

Wei Song replied, “Everything is great now. Your Majesty is getting better and is blessed with good fortune. There is nothing that can bring Your Majesty down. Even if occasionally bad things happen, misfortune will turn into blessing.”

“Now that I am better, it is like you drank one kilogram of honey. You can’t stop saying things to make me happy.”

“I am merely stating facts. Look, Your Majesty got better and auspicious signs are appearing in the palace.”

Empress Zhangsun got excited. “What auspicious signs?” 

"A locust tree near Huayin Palace recently welcomed a pair of white magpies. They built a nest and made lovely calls as if they were singing."

The Emperor suddenly entered and smiled, “Something like that actually happened? Empress, let’s go have a walk and take a look at this auspicious sign. Maybe it will help remedy the root of your illness.”

As soon as Empress Zhangsun caught sight of the Emperor, her eyes turned into a smile and she looked like a young shy girl.

It was rare for the royal couple to stroll the gardens together. Their entire entourage was majestic as they quickly reached Huayin Palace. They could see the locust tree. However, everyone heard bird cries and saw Li Baolin holding a bamboo pole as she hit the nest on the tree. She scared off the two magpies and the nest fell to the ground.

Empress Zhangsun’s expression soured as the Emperor raged at Li Baolin, “What are you doing?”

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