Chapter 41.1: Surrounded by Four

“You! Get out!” Prince Zhou jutted his chin at Sheng Chuling, his eyes burning with anger.

“No!” Grand Prince Liang shouted, “He is an assassin! Guards!”

“Aren’t you leaving?” Prince Zhou raised his voice further.

Sheng Chuling knew that Prince Zhou liked Fu Rou. Since he had appeared, he should be able to protect Fu Rou. Hence, Sheng Chuling left. He had to rush home to inform Sheng Chumu.

Grand Prince Liang was fuming and stomped. “Lige, I am your uncle!”

“If you weren’t my uncle, do you think you would still be alive? This is the Royal Palace, not Da An Palace where Imperial Grandfather stays. You are not allowed to behave in such an unrestrained manner!”

Although Prince Zhou’s face was cold, deep down, he was ready to kill someone. No matter how much protection, it was not enough to protect Fu Rou from this pervert. Luckily, he had gone to look for Fu Rou tonight and heard that Imperial Concubine Sun had summoned Fu Rou to Yudan Palace. He had found it fishy and came to take a look. If he hadn't, something might have really happened. 

Grand Prince Liang was cowardly at heart. “I will get back at you!” He pushed Prince Zhou and quickly left. 

Prince Zhou and Fu Rou were the only ones left behind. They were speechless.

After a while, Prince Zhou sighed as he took off his coat and walked over. “About tonight, Grand Prince Liang is at fault. He should not dare to bring it up. However, I don’t think he will just let you off like this.”

Fu Rou’s face was pale. “I know.” She silently pushed away Prince Zhou’s hand, which had moved to place the coat on her.

“Your Highness, please help me to call for two internal attendants to accompany me back.” She also could not accept his kindness.

Prince Zhou’s tone was sharp. “It was stupid enough for you to have gotten tricked into coming to Yudan Palace in the middle of the night. Now, you think that two internal attendants can protect you better than I can?” He did not allow her to argue as he placed the coat on her and tied the ribbon. “Let’s go.”

The two of them walked, one in front of the other. When they finally reached the main door of the Court Lady Department, Fu Rou broke the silence. “I kind of understand why Her Majesty was so strict about poison being taboo.”

Prince Zhou did not reply but he was listening.

“Because the Royal Palace is a place where the strong mistreats the weak. There are schemes and traps everywhere. Every corner is filled with laments of the weak and filled with resentment. After staying in here for long, even the kindest person will start to have evil thoughts. They will think of solving their unspoken resentment with a cup of poison. To understand other people’s pain is to understand one’s own pain.” 

For a moment, she wanted to disregard everything and bring Grand Prince Liang down with her at all cost.

“Do you think it is worth it?” Deep down, Prince Zhou already knew her answer.

“It is not worth it.” Fu Rou’s answer was as he expected. “As long as there are things I love that still remain on this earth, it is not worth it.”

“Since you don’t think it is worth it, then you should persevere. Do only the things that you think are worth it.” He did not know when but she had become his light. Every time he thought of her, his temper would dissolve and he could be himself. 

“I will.” Fu Rou straightened her back and walked into the Court Lady Department.

Prince Zhou stood by the door for a while before leaving. No matter how Fu Rou felt towards him, he had decided to get his Imperial Father’s approval before Grand Prince Liang could. He was going to protect the woman he loved.

 

The next morning, there were three men kneeling in front of the Emperor. It was the first time that the Emperor thought that being a matchmaker was really not easy; he could neither laugh nor cry.

The first one who came was Prince Zhou. Prince Zhou had ignored the fact that the Emperor was discussing the Treasure Map with Yan Zifang and demanded an audience. Next, it was Sheng Chumu. Sheng Chumu did not care that the Emperor was talking about marriage with Prince Zhou and said that he had an extremely urgent matter for him to solve. Lastly, it was the person who was there first, Yan Zifang, who had cut Sheng Chumu off and knelt before the Emperor requesting for only one thing.

Surprisingly, they were all three outstanding men. One was his son, one was a Duke’s son and the last was once the so-called leader of the oceans. They were all requesting to marry the same woman. The new Siyan appointed by the Empress, Fu Rou!

Prince Zhou expressed that he had been moved by Fu Rou. Sheng Chumu said that he and Fu Rou had already pledged themselves to each other. Yan Zifang was the most shocking. He said that he had a childhood engagement with Fu Rou and had a Pendant of Longevity as proof.

However, Concubine Yan was earlier than any of them. Moreover, Prince Zhou was his son, so the Emperor was bound to be biased.

He made a decision. “This Fu Siyan is not such a simple lady. One prince and two generals have fallen for her at the same time. Since you want me to make a decision, then I will make a decision. I have decided to let Fu Siyan…” His gaze landed on Prince Zhou.

The internal attendant, who had been running in and out all morning, ran in once again. He reported, “Your Majesty, the Grand Emperor has sent someone.”

Prince Zhou and Sheng Chumu’s expressions changed immediately. There was no need to mention how Prince Zhou knew. He personally experienced it last night. However, Sheng Chumu heard this from his brother. He went to investigate and found out that Lu Qi was the one that instigated Grand Prince Liang. The real person that they were targeting was him. 

The Emperor patiently allowed them to enter.

The Grand Emperor’s internal attendant greeted politely, “The Grand Emperor said that Grand Prince Liang is getting old, yet he does not have anyone by his side that knows how to attend to his comfort. On behalf of Grand Prince Liang, the Grand Emperor would like to request for someone to serve him.”

The Emperor thought that this was an easy matter. “Which person would he like?”

“A palace lady from the Court Lady Department, Fu Siyan.”

The Emperor was shocked. He did not expect that the Grand Emperor would bother with the matter of a palace lady. It seems like he had to handle this carefully.

“Fu Siyan is under the Empress. It is up to the Empress whether a palace lady can leave. I will not bother. The Empress can make the decision.” He threw the hot potato over to his wife. All he wanted was to not burn himself.

 

When Consort Han heard about this, she immediately asked Sheng Chumu to visit her.

“Elder Sister, don’t worry. With Prince Zhou, Grand Prince Liang, Yan Zifang and me, it is a four choose one situation. I have half the chance.” Sheng Chumu remained calm. 

Consort Han did not think so and was anxious on his behalf. “Do you really think you have a fifty percent chance of winning? Let me tell you. You probably don’t have any chance of winning. Much less a fifty percent chance!” This was not simple at all. Otherwise, why would the Emperor push the decision to the Empress and the Empress was using her illness as a way to procrastinate on making the decision? It was not easy at all.

“Grand Prince Liang’s father is the Grand Emperor. Prince Zhou’s father is the Emperor. Your father is just a Duke. How can he be compared to the Grand Emperor and Emperor? Just based on status, Grand Prince Liang and Prince Zhou triumphs over you. Amongst the four men, Imperial Mother will not even consider you, much less Yan Zifang who used to be a pirate. This situation is not a four choose one. It is a two choose one. Imperial Mother has to make a decision between Grand Prince Liang and Prince Zhou.”

Sheng Chumu did not make a sound. He studied military techniques before. How could he not know this? However, he was not going to give up on himself.

“If Imperial Mother ignores the Grand Emperor and the Emperor and allows you to marry Fu Rou, it would be the day where disaster befalls the Duke Lu Residence.”

“Elder Sister, can’t you help me think of a solution?” Sheng Chumu’s eyes shone. “Enter the palace and help me beg the Empress?”

“There is no point in begging.” Consort Han sighed, “If I did not force Fu Rou to enter our Han Mansion back then to be a seamstress, she would not have been selected by Imperial Mother to enter the palace. The situation today would not have happened. Chumu, I have let you down.”

“Elder Sister, you make it sound like there is absolutely no hope.” Sheng Chumu’s eyes were filled with determination. “Heaven never blocks out one’s way. I will not let Fu Rou marry another man!”

Ultimately, Consort Han still believed that there was no hope. “Imperial Mother is dignified and you cannot offend her. Fu Rou is a good lady. However, now that things have reached this stage, you should not force it. There are so many other ladies that admire you, why would you need to worry about not being able to marry? Look at Lady Ma. She comes to Han Mansion everyday for you.”

Sheng Chumu was stunned. “She is still here? I thought you had already scared her away.”

“Initially, I thought I could scare her off. I did not expect her to persevere. She seems to be quite infatuated with you.” Consort Han was surprised as well.

“Infatuated? If you complete that sentence, it is infatuated and delusional! Don’t mention her. Every time I hear her name, I get annoyed.” Sheng Chumu waved impatiently.

“For you, she has been learning etiquette and embroidery. She even memorises books word for word. I don’t know how many times her fingers have been hit by a ruler.”

“Elder Sister, I have seen many women in my life but I have never seen one as shameless as her. She holds the antidote in one hand and shamelessly demands for the guy to marry her. The only reason why I am willing to deal with her is for the antidote. If not, I would have chased her far away.”

Consort Han’s expression soured. Sheng Chumu turned and saw Ma Hainiu standing outside the pavilion.

Ma Hainiu was frowning. “Sheng Chumu, I heard whatever you just said. What explanation do you have for yourself?”

Sheng Chumu laughed, “If you heard everything, what is there for me to explain? I won’t explain.”

Ma Hainiu gritted her teeth. “Fine! Fine! I finally understand. You can rest assured. I don’t need you to chase me. I will stay far away from you in the future!” She turned and left.

Sheng Chumu shouted, “Don’t run away! What about my antidote? Since you have given up, you should be magnanimous and give the antidote to me. Even if you are a pirate, you have to be upright!”

Ma Hainiu turned back sharply, with tears running down her face. Her expression was one of sorrow mixed with anger. Sheng Chumu froze and watched her run away.

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Coca's Thoughts

Aw, I actually feel a bit bad for Ma Hainiu. But if you want a partner, you should find someone that wants to be with you...