Chapter 52.1: Return

Grand Prince Liang whistled a tune as he walked towards a wine house. His gang of friends, including Lu Qi, were already there. 

Lu Qi immediately offered a drink to Grand Prince Liang and thanked him for saving him in front of the Emperor. 

“Good, drink up!” Grand Prince Liang drank the wine and smiled brightly. “Lu Qi, one cup today is not enough. I will have a marriage coming up soon. You will have to offer me three cups of wine.” 

His friends all asked Grand Prince Liang about his marriage. 

“Grand Emperor has always complained that my residence is missing a wife and was urging me to get one. However, you all know that I am not a simple person. My wife will have to be someone who is of high status and is outstanding. It wasn’t easy and I had to look for a long time.” Grand Prince Liang excitedly announced, “However, hard work paid off and I finally found someone. She is Lu Qi’s younger sister, Lu Yingying. I can not let the daughter of a duke go.” 

Lu Qi’s face hardened. He had not imagined that Grand Prince Liang would want his sister. Being in a good relationship with Grand Prince Liang was one thing, giving his sister off was another. Grand Prince Liang’s character was not good. 

“This… Your Highness. The opinions of our parents are of utmost importance. We should not be deciding my sister’s marriage by ourselves.” Without much choice, Lu Qi replied. He could not throw his sister into the lion’s den. 

Grand Prince Liang could tell the hidden meaning behind Lu Qi’s words. Displeased, he questioned, “What do you mean? You are rejecting me even though I want to help you out?” 

Lu Qi’s expression immediately changed from a hesitant one to a stern one. He firmly added, “I heard that my father already has plans for my sister’s marriage. I am afraid that my sister will not be able to serve you well.” 

Grand Prince Liang glared at Lu Qi and smirked. He threw his wine cup down and left the wine house in anger. Lu Qi rushed home to inform his father. 

Lu Yunji frowned and said, “Although it wasn’t a good thing that Grand Prince Liang wanted Lu Yingying, you were too rash to reject him immediately.”

“If I didn’t reject him directly, would I wait until he officially asks her for marriage?” Lu Qi felt that he had done the right thing. “Who isn’t aware of Grand Prince Liang’s ways with girls? Instead of becoming Grand Prince Liang’s wife, it would be better to just be a commoner and live a peaceful life.” 

“I will not allow Yingying to marry such a man. However, Grand Prince Liang is in charge of the investigation of Cangshan Mountain and we must not offend him or the consequences will be severe.” Lu Yunji was afraid they would become the victims of the villain. 

Lu Qi was still stubborn as he stated, “I only have one sister. Despite how severe the consequences are, I cannot allow her to give her happiness away.”

Lu Yingying was completely shocked when she coincidentally overheard his words while testifying for Lu Hanxing’s death. She had not thought that she would be dragged into the situation by helping Fu Yin. Grand Prince Liang was the Emperor’s brother and had the support of the Grand Emperor. This was going to be hard to resolve. 

 

Fu Rou stepped out of her horse carriage and stood in deep thought. She wanted to return but did not think it would be so soon. 

The tall walls of the palace stretched out on both sides and separated itself from Chang’an city. She would be stepping into the stormy sea once again but she had to persevere through it. She had never thought of running away and she walked forward with determination and no regrets to fulfill her promise. 

Chumu would understand her as she understands him. On the surface, he appeared playful on the surface, he had never imagined that he had inherited his father’s heroism. Sheng Chumu would not be able to withstand being helpless in front of injustice. 

Prince Zhou extended his arm out for her to take but Fu Rou jumped off the carriage on her own and entered the palace gates to Lizheng Palace. 

Empress Zhangsun was relieved when she saw Fu Rou. Master Yuan had been right, Fu Rou was blessed with good fortune. Not only did she want to reward Fu Rou, she wanted to keep Fu Rou constantly by her side and doubled Fu Rou’s salary.

Fu Rou was calm and remained humble. She roughly talked about what happened to her while leaving out Yan Zifang, Lu Yingying and Sheng Chumu. 

“I was chased after a tiger at Cangshan Mountain and lost my way. I lost consciousness after jumping into a river and when I woke up, I found myself on a boat. I caught a severe cold and was in and out of consciousness for very long hence I was unable to tell my identity to my saviour. A merchant saved me and he brought me to the south. When I arrived at Guangzhou, I told them who I was.” 

“So you followed the river stream… No wonder there was no news of you. I was very worried.” Empress Zhangsun smiled lightly. “You are the same as me. You like vegetables more… Sheng Chumu likes meat, right?”

Fu Rou was surprised and her expression revealed her nervousness. 

“You disappeared at Cangshan Mountain and reappeared in Guangzhou. At the same time, Sheng Chumu was also missing as his family reported that he was taking a long leave of absence. Although they said that he was taking a break, they did not specify how long it would be. I thought that you were already dead and did not think that you would return alive. Although you have received many rewards, you appear to be dejected and cannot even eat a meal well.” Empress Zhangsun’s eyes were sharp and she commented, “Sheng Chumu is really brave to take a female internal attendant.”

Fu Rou instantly kneeled down and apologised, “It is all my fault and Sheng Chumu had nothing to do with it. Please forgive us, Your Majesty.” 

Empress Zhangsun stared at her for a while before taking out a token. She said, “This is an entry token. You can leave the palace anytime you wish in the future. You will no longer be limited to once per month.” 

Fu Rou asked curiously, “Are you not going to punish me?” 

“You saved Grand Emperor, mine and Grand Prince Liang’s lives. This is a merit and not a crime, why should I punish you?” Empress Zhangsun looked at Fu Rou warmly. Who wasn’t young and in love before? 

“But Sheng Chumu…” 

“Is this related to Sheng Chumu?” Empress Zhangsun interrupted, “If anyone asks you anything about what happened, repeat what you told me to them.” 

“May I be bold to ask Your Majesty why you forgave me?” Fu Rou boldly asked as she knew she broke the rules. 

“I have forgiven a lot of people and most would celebrate their luck after thanking me profusely. You are the only one who asked me the reason why I forgive you.” Empress Zhangsun had a kind look in her eyes and explained, “That is because I am very glad that you have returned.”

When Fu Rou walked out of Lizheng Palace, she suddenly felt someone staring at her. “Who's there?” 

“Sister-in-law.” Sheng Chuling revealed himself. 

“Chuling, why have you secretly come to this place? This is not a place for you and you cannot walk around as you please. Be careful in case someone catches you.” Fu Rou knew that the palace had strict rules. 

“I definitely had to come after I heard that you returned. Elder Brother is missing and my entire family is looking for him. He went to Cangshan Mountain to look for you and disappeared. Do you know where he is?” 

“Chumu…” Fu Rou was just about to tell Sheng Chuling what happened when someone interrupted them. 

“Fu Siyan.” Prince Zhou had been waiting outside Lizheng Palace and he saw Sheng Chuling. He immediately interrupted the two and turned to Sheng Chuling. “The guards patrol in groups. Why are you here alone?” 

“I wanted to ask Fu Siyan whether she knew where Chumu was.” Sheng Chuling was loyal to his brother by standing on his side instead of Prince Zhou’s. 

“What a joke. If you do not know where your elder brother is, why would Fu Siyan know?” Prince Zhou stared at Fu Rou knowingly, telling her not to reveal the truth. 

Fu Rou also did not want to reveal too much in front of Prince Zhou and she informed Sheng Chuling, “I do not know where Chumu is, but I hope that he will return safely soon.” 

Sheng Chuling did not understand her hidden meaning and left dejectedly. 

“You have only passed the Empress’ test by walking out of Lizheng Palace safely.” Prince Zhou had his own selfish thoughts but he also had Fu Rou in mind. He cautioned, “Remember, do not tell anyone about you and Sheng Chumu leaving Chang’an or you will be harming both yourself and him.” 

Fu Rou was obviously aware of this. However, from Sheng Chuling’s actions, Sheng Chumu had not returned. She had not left for Chang’an much earlier than him, why was he so slow to return? 

 

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