Hong Yide was wandering around the forest frantically. There was no one with him. They had all died from the arrows shot by the reinforcement army. He could no longer continue running as he leaned on a tree to catch his breath. However, he noticed someone walking out from behind the tree.
“Who is it?” He was startled.
“It’s me.” That person was calm and composed. His appearance was similar to Chen Ji but their demeanour was different and his eyes were cold.
“Fu Shui.” Hong Yide breathed a sigh of relief. “I should have listened to you. Now I am trying to escape.”
Fu Shui clapped and two figures appeared behind him. There was even a horse. “You are really stupid, but I won’t watch you die. Go, my men will protect you.”
Hong Yide was overjoyed. “You are loyal. I will repay you for this.”
Fu Shui smiled. “You will have the chance.”
Hong Yide got on the horse and galloped out of the forest. He startled Lu Qi, who was leading the manhunt.
“The rebel! Quickly kill him!” Lu Qi chased after him relentlessly.
After Lu Qi finished his fight with Sheng Chumu, he went to question those that they had captured. It was only then that he found out that Lu Hanxing hated him and had leaked his route to Hong Yide. He knew that he could not let Hong Yide escape alive. If not, the news on how he and his father had accepted Hong Yide’s bribe would leak out. When that happens, they won’t simply be eating prison food but their heads would roll.
Lu Qi’s gaze was menacing as he urged his horse and took out his bow. He aimed at the back of Hong Yide’s head.
Unexpectedly, an arrow brushed the side of his body.
He turned back. But before he could find out who shot at him, he was shocked to see a flurry of arrows aimed at him, causing him to break out in cold sweat. He narrowly managed to survive but got shot in the stomach, falling off his horse. He rolled down a slope and knocked into a stone. Before he lost consciousness, he suddenly realised that Hong Yide had an accomplice.
Meanwhile, the Emperor felt uneasy as he sat in Concubine Yan’s Palace.
Concubine Yan spoke warmly, “Your Majesty, please calm down. Both the Grand Emperor and Empress are blessed with good fortune. Nothing will happen to them.”
“This is all my fault. If I made the decision back then, to give Fu Siyan to Prince Zhou, the Empress would not have needed to go to Fengtian Monastery. This would not have happened.”
Concubine Yan felt even more apologetic. “Just because Prince Zhou wanted a palace lady, the Empress had to specially make the trip. I feel even more guilty.”
The Emperor recalled the promise he made to Concubine Yan and felt awkward. “My dear, I promised to fulfil Ge’er wish. I never thought…”
Concubine Yan cut him off. “Your Majesty, now the most important thing is for the Empress and the rest to come back safely.”
“Yes, yes.” The Emperor suddenly asked, “Eh? Doesn’t Prince Zhou come over every night to accompany you to copy Buddhist teachings? Why do I not see him tonight?”
Concubine Yan’s attendant replied, “His Highness heard that the Empress met with trouble on their way back to Chang’an and was extremely anxious. He rode out of the palace immediately. He said that as the younger generation, he could not just sit and wait. He has headed to Cangshan Mountain to personally join the search.”
“This child is always so sincere. His personality is like mine, I like him.”
“The Crown Prince should be the one that is most similar to Your Majesty. The Crown Prince is composed and has your style.” Concubine Yan was not willing to let her son steal the limelight.
“Oh right, where is the Crown Prince? His mother has gone missing. Is he still in the Eastern Palace?” The Emperor sent people to the Eastern Palace to check.
The internal attendant came back to report that the Crown Prince was extremely anxious upon hearing that his mother had gone missing. He was currently offering incense and praying for the Empress to return safely.
The Emperor was unhappy. As a man, he only knew how to pray when things happened. Couldn’t he be like Prince Zhou and gone out personally to help and put in effort for his Elders? He was only proactive when it came to hunting.
As Concubine Yan heard the Emperor complain, she served him some warm tea. “Your Majesty, you cannot blame the Crown Prince. The Empress is his biological mother. The Crown Prince must be very worried. His biological mother has gotten into an accident and the Crown Prince is extremely frantic. It is understandable that he may make some mistakes.”
The Emperor shook his head. “In the future, he will have to rule Great Tang. How can I rest assured if he makes mistakes easily?”
“Your Majesty is talking about the future ruler. I am timid and do not dare to say much. Please do not talk about this area of things with me in case other people were to misunderstand.”
There were rules in the internal palace. They were not allowed to interfere in government affairs.
“Concubine Yan, you are very good. You know how to avoid the topic. I should not bring it up.”
Without knowing how much control the Empress had, Concubine Yan and her son had to tread carefully. Concubine Yan was neither proud nor impatient. “Your Majesty, please have tea.”
Fu Rou fell onto the ground as the night pearl rolled away.
She could not go any further, she had no more strength. The cave looked like a mouth gushing with blood, ready to swallow her at any moment. She thought of her parents, elder sister, second brother and younger sister. Ever since they came to Chang’an, they spent very few days together, making her miss the days back in Guangzhou very often. In her memory, even Third Madam was cute and slightly petty. It was really happy to have the family so close and always interacting. She then thought of Chumu, who made her happy as well.
She closed her eyes and felt as if a soft breeze was blowing against her face. She smiled slightly, “Chumu ah, Chumu. Ever since meeting you, my entire life has changed. Because of you, I entered Han Mansion and then the Royal Palace. Now, I am the Empress’ Siyan. Although it has been difficult, the days have been exciting. Regardless of how this ends, I will always be thankful for you. You are like a warm breeze that blew into my life….breeze?”
Fu Rou’s eyes shot open. There’s wind! If there’s wind, there must be an exit!
Her desire to live suppressed everything else she was feeling as she straightened herself and picked up the night pearl. She started walking once again. Very soon, she saw light shining in. She excitedly pulled apart the vines that were blocking the light. The harsh sunlight shone into her face, making it hard for her to open her eyes.
When her eyes adjusted to the light, she calmed down. She assessed her surroundings and realised that this exit was different from the one they had entered.
However, before she could truly bask in happiness, a tiger walked out from amidst the grass. She felt as if her soul left her in fright. She did not even realise that she had dropped the map as she only thought of escaping from the tiger. Even her newfound energy depleted and she fell to the ground once more. No matter how she tried, she could not pull herself up. She heard the low growl of the tiger as it neared her. Her consciousness started to flicker.
In her heart, she was screaming for Sheng Chumu!
As if her cry has been heard, a pair of male boots appeared in the distance. The miserable growl of the tiger was heard next before silence fell over the area once again.
She faintly knew that the man had helped her get rid of the wild animal and wanted to take a look. However, she felt her whole body being lifted into the air when the man picked her up. Then, she lost consciousness.
Previous Chapter Next Chapter