Chapter 55: Prison

Moonlight shone on a pavilion. It was General Zhenhai’s pavilion. There were two people in the pavilion. One of them was Yan Zifang, who had just obtained his authority. The other man was someone that looked like Chen Ji, Fu Shui. 

“I thought that heaven had sent me a god that did not need repayment to help me avenge my parents. Now I know. You handed Hong Yide to me, not for me to deal with Lu Yunji, but to deal with the Crown Prince.” Yan Zifang poured himself a cup of wine. 

“Where is Lu Yunji now?” Fu Shui laughed lightly as he poured himself a cup as well.

“Justice Office’s Prison.” Yan Zifang replied. 

“Then it works out.” The end result was the most important. 

“Who exactly are you?” Yan Zifang asked.

“Didn’t I tell you? My name is Fu Shui. The Fu Shui in Fu Shui Nan Shou (覆水难收 which means there is no use in crying over spilt milk.).” His name even had a deeper meaning.

“Why did you use Hong Yide to harm the Crown Prince?” Yan Zifang asked once more. 

“I don’t like him.” He was being ambiguous once again. 

Yan Zifang could sense it but did not give up easily. “There are so many officials in the entire Chang’an. You could have handed Hong Yide to anyone and they would be able to gain credit. Why did you choose me?”

Fu Shui thought about it. “Because we are the same kind of people.”

Yan Zifang was curious. “What do you mean?”

Fu Shui smiled. “We’re fugitives.”

“Every time I ask you a question, your reply is even more difficult to comprehend than a fortune-teller. You are so secretive, how can we be good friends?” Yan Zifang quite admired him.

“Are we considered friends?” Fu Shui was mildly surprised. `

“You handed Hong Yide to me and helped me obtain a thousand gold pieces and a sword. I have been promoted to take charge of Chang’an West City. You invited me to drink such a rich imperial wine. In my eyes, we are considered friends.” No matter what the other person’s real intentions were.

Smiling, Fu Shui lifted his cup and knocked Yan Zifang’s cup and downed the drink. 

 

Under the clear and refreshing autumn weather, a flock of wild goose flew south.

Fu Rou walked towards Lizheng Palace. She was slightly inattentive. She heard Xinnan say that Sheng Chumu was about to set off on his journey today morning. Although Empress Zhangsun had given her a token to leave the palace, something happened to the Crown Prince the previous day. In a fury, the Emperor had locked him up in the Imperial Prison and the entire court had been shaken. At a time like this, as a Siyan, how could she leave the palace?

Sun Tan was crying and pleaded for the Crown Prince. Zhan Xuanzhi, who had always been strict with the Crown Prince, was also against the imprisonment. Zhan Xuanzhi also mentioned that Prince Zhou should be removed from the investigation team. The Crown Prince was not part of the investigating team and should not have appeared in front of Hong Yide but everyone’s attention was on Prince Zhou. They all believed that there was a conspiracy. However, this made the Emperor even angrier. It was clearly the Crown Prince acting on his own will yet Prince Zhou had been implicated. Only Prince Zhou was aware that this may not be as simple as Hong Yide’s revenge. He recommended Fang Xuanling to take over the interrogation and the Emperor agreed.

Empress Zhangsun personally begged the Emperor to let the Crown Prince go but the Emperor resolutely rejected her. He felt that the Crown Prince’s recent behavior was too disappointing. Empress Zhangsun then asked the Emperor if he wanted to dispose of the Crown Prince. The Emperor actually fell silent. It was rare that the relationship between the Emperor and Empress became frosty. 

Fu Rou believed that Sheng Chumu would eventually understand her need and stubbornness to gain her own freedom properly was all for their lifetime of happiness. She even thought that it was the right time for him to leave. Ever since the Cangshan Mountain incident, she had an unknown intuition that an invisible whirlpool was growing bigger and bigger. If he was gone, at least she did not need to worry that he would be involved in it. It was a kind of blessing. 

When Fu Rou entered Lizheng palace, there was no one else around. Even Wei Song was absent. Empress Zhangsun was seated by the window. She held a book in her hands but her gaze was looking out and her heart was far away. Fu Rou did not make a sound as she waited on quietly.

After a long while, Zhangsun sighed softly. “Do you know what book I am holding?”

“History of the Sui Dynasty.” When Fu Rou entered, she caught sight of the book title. 

“Sui Wendi established the Sui Dynasty and brought down the Chen Kingdom. He attacked the Turkic ethnic group and was named Sage Khan. He saw the Spring and Autumn Annals as well as the ancient books of the Han Dynasty were destroyed during the war and gave an Imperial edict to request for books. With every book donated, he would give a set of tough silk fabric. Therefore, the Sui Dynasty collected a lot of books and had about three-hundred and seventy thousand books. Under his rule, the Sui Dynasty’s territory expanded and consisted of over seven million households. Fu Siyan, what do you think of the founding emperor of the Sui Dynasty?”

“He had military might as well as intellect. He was a leader of great influence.”

“The country was rich and powerful, why did their dynasty come to an end after two generations?” Zhangsun liked that Fu Rou was very knowledgeable and could have deep conversations with her. 

“Because Emperor Yang of Sui was cruel.” Everyone knew this. “Emperor Yang of Sui caused the citizens to suffer. An uncountable number of people lost their families because of him.”

“You are wrong. That was Sui Wendi’s mistake” Zhangsun shook her head. “Think about it. Who was Sui Wendi’s first Crown Prince?”

“Yang Yong.” Fu Rou recalled what was written in the book. “Yang Yong was Sui Wendi’s first son. He was an eager learner and talented in poetry and speech . His personality was generous, warm and genuine. The book also wrote that he supported his kin and was sincere to his ministers. He was part of the military and helped build a strong foundation for the country for about twenty years. From what I can tell, his ability and experience in leading the country was pretty good.”

Zhangsun praised, “Alas, you are an avid reader. In the harem, I am afraid that no palace lady can answer as well as you do. Yang Yong should have been the Sui Dynasty’s second emperor. However, his younger brother, Yang Guang, was greedy and cruel. In front of his father, Sui Wendi, he was pretentious and tried to get on his good side. He continuously conspired against Yang Yong, resulting in Sui Wendi slowly disliking his eldest son. Eventually, Sui Wendi issued a decree to dispose of Yang Yong as the Crown Prince. He then gave the Crown Prince position to Yang Guang. Yang Yong felt indignant and wanted to meet Sui Wendi to tell him of the injustice. However, Yang Guang always stopped him. Eventually, Yang Yong had no choice and in order to see his father for one last time, he climbed up a huge tree and shouted for Sui Wendi. When Sui Wendi heard Yang Yong shouting from a tree, Yang Guang’s confidante, Yang Su, took the chance to defame Yang Yong. Yang Su claimed that Yang Yong had fallen into despair and was possessed by a demon. Sui Wendi believed him. Until the very end, Yang Yong never had the chance to meet Sui Wendi and explained his grievance. After Sui Wendi passed on, Yang Guang inherited the throne. The first thing he did was to kill Yang Yong. That was how the Sui Dynasty’s previous Crown Prince was eventually killed.”

Fu Rou exclaimed, “Father and son were tied by blood yet they could not even meet. Yang Yong is too pitiful.”

“Is Yang Yong the only pitiful one?” Zhangsun sighed. “The numerous citizens were pitiful. At that time, the Sui Dynasty was rich and powerful, inviting all sorts of merchants and unique items. Their grain storage had so much reserves that it would last them for years. All these were destroyed after they landed in Yang Guang’s hands. If Sui Wendi could have been more resolute and protected his Crown Prince, Yang Yong, and not listen to defamation, Yang Guang would not have become the Crown Prince. The world would then not have the cruel Emperor Yang of Sui. More than that, its people would not have fallen into such a tragedy. The position of Crown Prince is not just a household matter, it concerns the entire world and the future of Great Tang. At this very moment, Great Tang’s Crown Prince is imprisoned, yet, I can only read the History of the Sui Dynasty and feel distressed.”

Fu Rou persuaded her. “Your Majesty, the Emperor is a wise ruler.”

“No matter how wise someone is, there are times where they are confused and need someone to give them advice. However, now he does not even want to listen to me. He simply thinks that I am covering up for my son. An overprotective mother will have failures for sons.” Zhangsun knew that she could not speak hastily. If not, it would produce the opposite of what she wanted.

“Then…” Fu Rou paused. “Let him be the one that comes.”

“This is a national affair, who dares to say more? Even if they dare, they will not be able to convince the ruler of the world.” 

Sun Tan and Zhan Xuanzhi were ordered to be dragged out of this morning’s court assembly by the Emperor. 

“Maybe, there is someone.” Fu Rou thought of something. 

Zhangsun’s gaze was hopeful. “Who?”

 

The Crown Prince was kneeling in Lizheng Palace. When Fang Xuanling interrogated him, he refused to speak. The Emperor was furious and personally questioned him. However, he still refused to speak. When Hong Yide died, no one else was present at the scene and everything was blamed on him. Hence, no matter what he said now, people would think that he was giving excuses.

The Emperor called on Yan Zifang. “Ever since Hong Yide was locked in the Justice Office until his death, he never once confessed. You were the one that caught him, did he say anything to you?”

Yan Zifang replied, “Hong Yide said that he had been captured by Lu Yunji in the past and thought that he was destined to die. He never thought that Lu Yunji would be greedy and he was allowed to live when he gave Lu Yunji all his family’s valuables. However, I do not know why Lu Yunji wanted to expose the route to Hong Yide. He also never mentioned what price he had to pay for the route. Hong Yide said that Lu Yunji asked his nephew, Lu Hanxing, to contact Hong Yide. Lu Hanxing was the one who gave Hong Yide the Empress’ route back to Chang’an.”

Fang Xuanling intercepted, “When Lu Yunji and Lu Qi were locked up, Prince Zhou went to check on Lu Hanxing. Apparently, Lu Hanxing had a severe illness and died a few days before that.”

The Emperor sneered, “What a coincidental illness. His death is also too coincidental. Crown Prince, what do you think?” 

The Crown Prince hesitated, “If Lu Yunji dares to conduct such disgraceful actions, I would request for Imperial Father to give me a sword. I will personally behead Lu Yunji.”

“If he dares?” The Emperor was unhappy that the Crown Prince was biased towards the minister that he was closed to. “Even until now, you never forget to help speak up for Lu Yunji.”

“I have been framed and imprisoned. I understand the misery of coming up with many different excuses. Hence, I could not help but think that although Lu Yunji treats me well, he is first and foremost your minister. He is a Duke of Great Tang. If Lu Yunji has committed a crime, he should definitely be severely punished. But how can we determine Lu Yunji’s faults just based on what Yan Zifang has said? If it becomes an injustice, it will be a irrecuperable loss for Great Tang.”

The Emperor snorted, “You are already imprisoned. You should not speak without thinking.”

The Crown Prince rebutted, “Precisely so that is why I cannot remain silent.”

The Emperor’s expression became fierce. “Say that again?”

The Crown Prince was unafraid. “In the past, I had been dragged into Hong Yide’s case and told you my suspicions honestly. Now, I have been implicated once again. Am I supposed to give up what I truly think just to protect myself? Can being careful with my words ensure my life? I am your son and will not just resign to my fate. If Imperial Father wants to punish me for this, I am willing to accept the punishment.”

As the Emperor saw how unbending the Crown Prince was, he started to look at the Crown Prince differently and his expression softened. 

Yan Zifang saw this and suddenly said, “Your Majesty, Hong Yide also said something else. However, it implicates the Crown Prince. I once had a personal animosity against Hong Yide and hesitated whether to say.”

The Emperor was serious. “This matter is serious. Quick say!”

“Hong Yide said that amongst his valuables, he had a pair of Green Jade Dragon Ornaments from the Warring States Period. It is rare and extremely valuable. Lu Yunji specially took out the Green jade Dragon Ornaments and gave it to the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince really liked it and placed it in his study room…”

As Yan Zifang finished speaking, the Crown Prince was furious.

“Nonsense! Even if Hong Yide and Lu Yunji had an exchange, why would Lu Yunji mention me to him for no reason? My study room? Imperial Father, this is a premeditated conspiracy!”

Yan Zifang turned solemn. “I also did not believe Hong Yide. Like what the Crown Prince said, how would Hong Yide, this rebel, know anything about the Eastern Palace’s study room? Even if Lu Hanxing did not control his mouth and accidentally let slip when he met with Hong Yide, Lu Hanxing is just Lu Yunji’s nephew. How would he know the interactions between Lu Yunji and the Crown Prince?”

The Emperor immediately instructed Chief Cao to investigate the Eastern Palace’s study room.

Soon, Chief Cao walked in fearfully. He held two Green Jade Dragon Ornaments in a tray. 

The Emperor was so angry he could not help but laugh. “No wonder Hong Yide had to die.” 

The Crown Prince kneeled. “Imperial Father! I have been wronged! These jade ornaments were indeed given to me by Lu Yunji, but I did not know…”

The Emperor pointed angrily at the Crown Prince as he raised his voice. “Men! Bring the Crown Prince…”

Fu Rou suddenly appeared. “Your Majesty, the Grand Emperor’s illness has taken a turn for the worse. He is asking for you.”

The Emperor was stunned as he rushed to see the Grand Emperor. 

 

With the elder brother gone, the second brother took charge. After Sheng Chuling played a filial son to his mother, he prepared to return to his room to sleep. However, he saw his third brother rummaging in his room like a thief.

He snuck up behind Sheng Chujun and pinched his ear. “You stinky brat. Elder Brother had just left and instead of studying or training, you learned to be a thief! This peace knot is for me to coax Xinnan. Hand it over!”

Sheng Chujun placed the peace knot in his clothes as he begged. “Second Brother, please have mercy! Princess Xinnan has already fallen for you. Even without the peace knot, she won’t run away. I am different. I still have no signs of success and she begged me to give her another peace knot. How can I not give it to her? Second Brother, please help me.”

Sheng Chuling made an oh sound as he became interested. “Who is she?”

“I can’t tell you!” Sheng Chujun covered his own mouth. “Her family is very strict. If this is known, I will never get to see her ever again.”

“Oh, it seems like you are serious this time. Okay, I will let you go.” Sheng Chuling did not pursue further. After all, the three Sheng brothers were all unusually stubborn when it came to relationships.

Sheng Chujun broke into a smile. “Thank you, Second Brother!”

Sheng Chuling stuck out his palm. “Don’t mention it, fifty taels.”

Sheng Chujun cried out, “You want fifty taels for this broken thing? You are robbing!”

Sheng Chuling pinched his younger brother’s ears once again. “The price has increased now. A hundred taels. Are you going to buy it or not? Return it if you are not buying it!”

Sheng Chujun gave a miserable face. However, he recalled how Sun Lingwei had begged him pitifully for a peace knot when he went to Fu An Temple this morning. The Crown Prince had gotten into trouble and she was worried for her elder sister, the Crown Princess. He would regret it for life if he missed out on such a kind woman. His lifetime of happiness was definitely worth more than fifty taels.

“I will buy it! I will buy it! I will buy it!” Sheng Chujun took out a banknote.

Sheng Chuling laughed as he let go. “Stinky brat. When you successfully chased her, remember to give me a huge red packet!” Success often depends on luck. This peace knot has turned into a family treasure.

 

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Coca's Thoughts

Just a recap. Fu Shui (someone who looks like Chen Ji) handed Hong Yide over to Yan Zifang. It is strange since Yan Zifang doesn't even know Fu Shui. But Yan Zifang gladly accepted since he wants to screw over Lu Yunji for revenge. Meanwhile, Hong Yide wants to get revenge for his family, so he wants to kill the Emperor. But since he can't kill the Emperor, he tries to screw over the Crown Prince instead. Some of these characters have so much hatred that they would sacrifice themselves in order to get rid of the enemy.

We don't know who Fu Shui is (yet), and why he wants to harm the Crown Prince. He also looks like Chen Ji (the actor, in case you guys forgot). Dun dun dun...what do you think will happen now??