Chapter 33.1: Instigate

The Crown Prince opened his eyes and realised Sun Lingshu was lying on his chest. He vaguely remembered getting drunk the previous night. Grand Prince Liang asked his men to send him back to the Eastern Palace. The internal attendant then asked where he wanted to rest and he replied with the Crown Princess’ quarters. Prince Han’s words had touched his heart. As the saying goes, not for the sake of the monk but for the Buddha. He was going to be a father.

The Crown Prince stretched out his hand and shifted Sun Lingshu’s head, allowing her to sleep more comfortably. He saw how well she slept and could not help but brush her cheek. On the day of their marriage, Sun Lingshu’s face was as bright as a red apple, it was moist and healthy. Now, not much time had passed but she had lost a lot of weight.

The Crown Prince’s gaze fell onto the bump on her belly. It was actually very tough on a mother to give birth to a child. His hand subconsciously shifted over. A foreign warmth blossomed in his heart. Maybe, he could become a good father. 

Sun Lingshu woke up and saw the Crown Prince. She quickly sat up. It was obvious that she was uncomfortable.

“Did I squash you? It is all my fault. I fell into too deep of a sleep. Is your shoulder numb?”

“It is okay.” The Crown Prince got off the bed and picked up his clothes.

“I…” Sun Lingshu paused, “Let me help you.”

The Crown Prince stopped her. “There is no need.”

“But Your Highness…”

The Crown Prince called for a palace maid to help him wash up and change. Every time he saw Sun Lingshu make a move to stand, he would ask her to sit.

Sun Lingshu thought that the Crown Prince was still angry with her but only came because he was drunk and made a mistake. Hence, she did not dare to go against him.

After the Crown Prince finished washing up, he was about to talk to Sun Lingshu when an internal attendant came in to say that Zhan Xuanzhi  was seeking an audience.

As Sun Lingshu watched the Crown Prince leave, she felt as if her heart was being torn apart. When he came over last night, she was extremely delighted. Despite him calling for Chen Ji in his sleep, she was still satisfied. However, when day came, she woke up from her dream.

It seemed like the Crown Prince had also woken up from his dream.

Zhan Xuanzhi conveyed the decree that he was going to be the right hand man of the Crown Prince and specially came to greet him. 

The Crown Prince was not particularly fond of Zhan Xuanzhi and felt like he always speaks in a way that fishes for compliments. However, he had to obey his Imperial Father’s orders.

“With you by my side, in the future I will be able to listen to...a lot of your unique speeches.”

Zhan Xuanzhi could sense what he was trying to imply. However, his expression did not change. “Your Highness, loyal advice will forever be annoying to hear. However, loyal advice can rectify Your Highness’ mistakes and protect your future.”

“I know. Didn’t Imperial Father send you here precisely because you like to admonish? I am also someone that takes admonishment well. In the future, if you have anything to say, you can tell me. If you are right, I will reward you.” The Crown Prince decided to accept him.

“Your Highness, can you really take my admonishment?”

“Yes I can.”

“Then can I say something now?”

“Sure. What would you like to admonish?”

“I would like to admonish your proud and arrogant behaviour. If you do not change, there will be a disaster!”

Zhan Xuanzhi, how presumptuous of you!” Just because he gave him three colours, does that mean he could start a dye workshop?

“Your Highess is the one that is presumptuous. Grand Prince Liang has been doted on by the Grand Emperor. He is the one that has been indulged and allowed to do whatever he wants the most. Your Highness studies politics in your free time and should know that you should interact with someone like Prince Han who is well-read and moral. Why did you go and look for Grand Prince Liang? Grand Prince Liang’s residence is a place where corruption is concealed. As the Crown Prince, you did not bring any guards and went by yourself. You even got drunk. Is this how the heir to Great Tang should behave? How can you face His Majesty? He has put in so much effort and has high expectations of you. What right do you have to be everyone’s role model?”

Zhan Xuanzhi did not hold back at all. He warned the Crown Prince strictly and the Crown Prince woke up from his good dream.

 

Sun Lingshu sat on a couch by the window and completely focused on sewing a set of small clothes. The Crown Prince had rested in her quarters the previous night. Although he did not want her to help him change and his tone was still cold, he showed a hint of consideration, causing her heart warm up.

All of a sudden, a loud explosion from something hitting the ground. Sun Lingshu was shocked and went out to see what was happening. The door of the side palace was wide open as the study table had been flipped. The Crown Prince was sitting on a stool with a furious and pained expression. However, his eyes looked empty. 

“Your Highness, did I do something wrong that made you angry?” Sun Lingshu stood by the door and asked timidly.

The Crown Prince’s gaze fell to the bump on Sun Lingshu’s tummy and forced himself to say, “It has nothing to do with you. I just feel irritated and could not help but burst out in anger.”

“Did Lord Zhan say something?” In the morning, the Crown Prince had rushed to meet Zhan Xuanzhi. Sun Lingshu naturally assumed it would have something to do with him.

“You know him?” The Crown Prince had indeed been frustrated after being lectured by Zhan Xuanzhi. He blew up, abandoned Zhan Xuanzhi  and came back.

“My father occasionally talks about him. He said that Zhan Xuanzhi is more direct and says things that people do not like to hear…”

The Crown Prince suddenly lifted his hand. “You should not speak about matters of the court.”

Sun Lingshu immediately took a step back in shock. “Yes.”

The Crown Prince stood up and took big strides outwards. As he walked past Sun Lingshu, cold air blew past.

Sun Lingshu looked down and bit her lip, her heart dropping to rock bottom.

She wondered when she would ever receive her husband’s love. It seemed like whatever she said was wrong. Yet, she did not understand what she had done wrong. The only thing she regretted was Chen Ji's death. If only Chen Ji was still alive. At least Chen Ji could make the Crown Prince happy and she could see his smile.

The Crown Prince was not depressed like Sun Lingshu. He decided to go and look for Zhan Xuanzhi to try and appease him. In his mind, he thought about his parents’ faces and their expectations for him. He was the Crown Prince. Before he could become the Emperor, he had to bear with all these rigid rules and the people that enforced these rules on him. Only this way, would Chen Ji not have died a meaningless death.

Zhan Xuanzhi was initially fuming and was ready to look for the Emperor to request for a change in post. He did not expect the Crown Prince to return and greet him with a huge bow. The Crown Prince admitted that Grand Prince Liang did not do certain things well and he will try to interact with him less. Seeing how the Crown Prince accepted his advice, the knot in Zhan Xuanzhi's heart unravelled.

At this moment, Prince Han had sent people to invite the Crown Prince over as he had obtained a good piece of calligraphy.

Zhan Xuanzhi believed that Prince Han had set up his own literature school and was in the midst of writing his geography book. He even received the appraisal of the Emperor. There were a lot of talents in Prince Han’s residence. Moreover, Prince Han was the Crown Prince’s real [1] brother and if they got along, it would make their Imperial Mother happy. It would also give the Crown Prince a good reputation. 

Zhan Xuanzhi was pleased that the Crown Prince immediately agreed to go.

However, as the Crown Prince left the palace, he saw Grand Prince Liang. He was feeling frantic and looked left and right. All of a sudden, he saw Sheng Chumu standing on the other side of the palace gate and thought of a plan.

“General Sheng.” The Crown Prince waved.

Sheng Chumu noticed the Crown Prince and bowed. “Your Highness.”

Sheng Chumu had just forced Chuling into the palace, requesting him to explain the situation with Ma Hainiu to Fu Rou. He was taking precautions to prevent his useless second brother from escaping. Not only had his two brothers failed to handle Ma Hainiu, they even created more trouble for him by approving Ma Hainiu as his wife on paper with their signatures. If Fu Rou were to know about this, she would think that he truly did something so wrong that his own brothers were on Ma Hainiu’s side.

“Prince Han invited me over to appreciate some calligraphy, do you want to come along?” Actually, the Crown Prince was using Sheng Chumu as a shield.

Sheng Chumu seemed to hesitate. “Okay, I was just going to look for my sister.”

The Crown Prince suddenly lowered his voice, “Later when Grand Prince Liang comes over, help me block him.”

Sheng Chumu was stunned but Grand Prince Liang was already in front of them. Grand Prince Liang got off his horse and spoke in an extremely welcoming tone, “Crown Prince, you drank quite a bit last night. Did you have a headache when you got up today?”

The Crown Prince smiled painstakingly, “I am okay. Thank you for your concern, Grand Prince Liang.”

Grand Prince Liang noticed that the Crown Prince’s expression was slightly awkward. “We are a family, there is no need to stand on courtesy. Where are you going now?”

The Crown Prince replied, “Prince Han’s residence.”

“Let me go with you. After we visit Prince Han’s residence, we can head over to my place.” Grand Prince Liang gave a suggestive look. “I still have a lot of interesting things to show you. I assure you that you will enjoy it.”

“Your Highness, Prince Han invited a group of talented scholars today to discuss geographical matters. I am afraid that it will take up an entire day.” Sheng Chumu suddenly understood why the Crown Prince had asked him to help.

The Crown Prince added, “We might even have to have dinner in the Han Mansion. It is going to be boring but if Grand Prince Liang goes, things might be more exciting.”

Grand Prince Liang hesitated as he was reluctant to discuss geography for the entire day.

“Your Highness must have forgotten. Grand Prince Liang does not like dull and heavy events.” Sheng Chumu could tell the Crown Prince's intention. The Crown Prince pretended to come to a realization. “Oh yes, then I should not force you.”

“Your Highness, Prince Han is still waiting for you, we should not delay any longer.”

The Crown Prince immediately nodded. “Right, it is not good to be late.” He smiled apologetically at Grand Prince Liang. “Grand Prince Liang, let’s talk next time.”

“Mmhm, I have no interest in geography. However-” When Grand Prince Liang was brought back to reality, he was shocked to realise that Sheng Chumu and the Crown Prince were already a distance away. “Eh? Crown Prince? Crown Prince…” Weird, why did it feel like the Crown Prince was deliberately avoiding him? They had enjoyed themselves yesterday.


1. same biological parents

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