When the Emperor heard Lu Yunji and Lu Qi’s request for an audience, he knew that they were here to reject the engagement. After all, Grand Prince Liang had a reputation of being a playboy.
As he expected, Lu Yunji immediately got to his knees. Instead of thanking the Emperor for releasing him from prison, he claimed that a misunderstanding had happened and his young daughter had personally made an engagement with Grand Prince Liang. However, she had not gone by the customs and respected traditions. She was not worthy to be Grand Prince Liang’s wife.
Without wasting any breath, the Emperor asked, “Lu Yunji, do you not like Grand Prince Liang?”
Lu Yunji was shocked and he replied, “I do not dare to have that thought.”
The Emperor scoffed, “Then go back and prepare. Once the period of mourning is over, have your daughter marry into Grand Prince Liang’s residence.”
As much as he did not like Grand Prince Liang, it was his personal reasons. If the Lu family disregarded Grand Prince Liang, they would be disrespecting the Imperial family.
Lu Qi boldly exclaimed, “Please forgive me for being so blunt but this matter will not be appropriate!”
Afraid of Lu Qi’s rashness, Lu Yunji stopped him and cried, “Your Majesty! I am old and useless already. Please allow me to return to my hometown to be farmers with my son and daughter.”
“You even suggest returning to your hometown.” The Emperor turned towards Lu Qi and asked, “Lu Qi, let me ask you, why did you say that the matter was not appropriate?”
With resolve, Lu Qi answered, “Grand Prince Liang may not be a good match for my sister. Grand Prince Liang is famous for being rough towards women. In Chang’an, everyone knows that Grand Prince Liang has beaten many women to death. I only have this one sister and I cannot bear to…”
Lu Yunji panicked and interrupted, “Shut up! Do you want to die?”
“As an older brother, even if I do not treasure my life, I cannot watch my sister give her life away to the devil!” Although he was normally on good terms with Grand Prince Liang, they were only using each other for their own benefits.
“You have spoken well. I will grant your request.” The Emperor called for men and ordered, “Drag Lu Qi out and cane him until he dies!”
Lu Yunji immediately begged, “Please have mercy, Your Majesty!”
However, the Emperor had the intention to kill and he wanted to use Lu Qi to tame Lu Yunji.
The sounds of the canes did not stop and Lu Yunji’s heart beat furiously as he bowed towards the Emperor profusely. There was nothing else he could do.
After a while, the Emperor said, “I understand that you want to be a kind father and Lu Qi wants to be a good brother. Although both of you are very bold, you were not wrong. However, the Grand Emperor is also a good father and I also want to be a good brother. Is the Grand Emperor and I wrong in this sense?”
Lu Yunji remained on the floor and he stammered, “Your Majesty, I….”
“My father has recently passed away. When he was dying, Grand Prince Liang told him that he fell in love with a woman and will settle down. The Grand Emperor was ecstatic and he praised Grand Prince Liang twice. This was the Grand Emperor’s last wish and the last thing that I can do for him as his son.”
Lu Yunji gritted his teeth and pleaded, “I am willing to donate all my riches to the country and resign as a Duke. I beg you…”
“Lu Yunji, you have served me for many years. On account of that, I am giving you two choices. First, become Grand Prince Liang’s father-in-law happily. Second, disrespect me along with the entire Imperial family. All men of the Duke Chen Residence will be beheaded and the women sent to be prostitutes.”
Lu Yunji could see the resolve in the Emperor’s eyes and knew that no matter what he chose, his daughter would end up in the hands of Grand Prince Liang. It was only a matter of an official or unofficial route. He had no choice but to choose the proper route.
In the beginning, Lu Qi was still keeping track of how many beatings he had received but he lost count towards the end. Yet, he refused to cry out in pain. He would rather die than to allow his sister to be trampled on by Grand Prince Liang. His mother was dead and his father had to go out for battles frequently. His sister was incredibly valuable to him and he had watched her grow up.
All of a sudden, the official received an order and stopped the caning. Lu Qi struggled to open his eyes and he saw his father leave the Emperor’s hall slowly. He asked hopefully, “Father?”
Lu Yunji helped Lu Qi up and sighed, “Don’t talk about it, let’s go home.”
Lu Qi’s heart fell. There was no more hope.
The country’s mourning was supposed to last three years but since the Emperor was sympathetic to his citizens, he changed it to a month. Hence, for the next thirty-six days, there could not be any festive drinking or marriages.
Lu Qi had still been hoping for a three year mourning period. Three years was long and with that time, and he might be able to think of a plan. Unfortunately, thirty-six days flew by very quickly.
Empress Zhangsun had managed to persuade Grand Prince Liang to marry Lu Yingying to be his main wife instead. Once the mourning period was over, the palace started to prepare for the joyous occasion of Grand Prince Liang’s wedding. At this point, the arrow was already on the bow.
On this day, Lu Qi invited a person from the Precious Jem Shop to prepare wedding jewelry for Lu Yingying. The boss of the shop dug through his collection of jewelry and introduced each piece in detail.
However, sadness filled Fu Yin’s heart and she turned around to wipe her tears silently. Lu Qi demanded the best jewelry for his sister but the more he did that, the more Fu Yin felt bad for Lu Yingying. Despite how unruly Lu Yunji and Lu Qi were typically, they were incredibly loving and protective of Lu Yingying. They could only try their best to give her the best wedding dowry to make up to her. Fu Yin looked at their actions and thought of her own family. If this were the case for her, her own family would do their utmost best as well.
“Yin’er, help me bring these to Yingying…” Lu Qi turned around and realized that Fu Yin was crying. He consoled, “This matter is already set and there is no use pondering over it. Stop crying. Even if you cry, don’t let Yingying see you.”
Fu Yin nodded, took the tray that was filled with jewelry and walked into Lu Yingying’s room. Without sparing a glance at the tray of jewelry, Lu Yingying instructed, “Let my brother make the decisions.”
Fu Yin was about to turn and leave but she suddenly turned back and hesitated to speak. “Did you… did Grand Prince Liang start liking you because you helped me the other day?”
“Yes.” Lu Yingying immediately answered. Fu Yin muttered, “You should not have…”
Lu Yingying coldly glared at her and snapped, “Yes, I should not have saved you. You murdered my cousin. It was your retribution to have bumped into Grand Prince Liang. However, I had to save you or I would not be better off than you in hell. I will not be celebrating your death because I will continue to live. Do you understand? I will not have to agonize over the fact that I caused my mother’s death, depriving my brother of his mother’s love and my father of his wife’s love. I learned that I should resolve things once they happen. Since it is over, that’s it and it will not harm anyone else. Therefore, if the situation happened again, I would have still saved you. Despite how much I hate you, I will not let my brother be sad.”
Fu Yin was stunned for a moment before she slowly made her way out of the room.
With Grand Prince Liang’s marriage approaching, the Crown Prince and his wife paid him a visit.
Grand Prince Liang immediately drank three cups of wine in a row as he laughed, “Crown Prince, please accept my apologies. If I had not been a big mouth that day and told you what Hong Yide said at the Justice Office, you would not have met Hong Yide and saw him commit suicide. It was my fault that I caused you to be imprisoned. Imperial Father even scolded me severely and called me dumb. I am very sorry.”
The Crown Prince replied, “It is not your fault. Hong Yide’s scheme was too malicious.” Furthermore, his Imperial Grandfather’s last words helped him and he was now more open to be on good terms with Grand Prince Liang.
Sun Lingshu also added, “Grand Prince Liang, the matter is over. Please do not put it on your heart. The Crown Prince is lucky and fortunate, and he was also able to discern his enemies and allies through this event.”
“That is right. We all learn with experience and we can grow from these lessons. Life is deep and mysterious. As the Crown Prince, any slight mistake may result in a detrimental state for you. Only those who are lonely and share adversity can rely on each other.”
The Crown Prince raised his cup and smiled warmly at Sun Lingshu.
“You two are acting so sweet in front of me, are you ignoring me?” Grand Prince Liang laughed.
“Aren’t you about to marry a wife? Lu Yingying is spectacularly beautiful and has outstanding features. Everyone will be jealous of you in the future."
Sun Lingshu also added, “She is a beauty indeed. The Crown Prince only met her a few times but he has not been able to forget her and has been continuously praising her.”
The Crown Prince’s expression stayed the same. “What do you mean I have not been able to forget her? You're the only one I have in my heart right now. There is no one else I have eyes for.”
Sun Lingshu’s heart raced and she blushed.
Grand Prince Liang burst out with laughter. “Look at this, look at this. You are flirting with each other with every few sentences. You are disregarding me, the guest. Ever since the Crown Prince was released from prison, he has been treating the Crown Princess with utmost care and love.”
The Crown Prince smiled, “A relationship that went through hardship is valuable. Once you are married to the right woman, you will realise that you can both spur each other forward and improve together as a couple.”
“Thank you for your advice.” Grand Prince Liang cupped his hands together. “I have another meeting and have to go first. You two can continue your date together.”
After Grand Prince Liang left, Sun Lingshu laughed, “Grand Prince Liang really does not have a care in the world. He left after a few words and did not even finish his food.”
The Crown Prince replied, “His personality is like that. Since he was spoilt by the Grand Emperor, he is immature. However, if you want to have fun with him, he can give you the time of your life.”
“Really? Then I will have to persuade you to visit him more often.”
“Zhan Xuanzhi wants me to cut my relationship off with Grand Prince Liang but you want me to spend more time with him? Bad company will influence each other. Is that appropriate?”
“I do not care about anything else. As long as Your Highness is happy, I will also be happy.” After such a long period of receiving the cold shoulder from the Crown Prince, Sun Lingshu now realized that she had to follow his will to gain his heart.
“You are the best to me.”
As she expected, the Crown Prince was in a good mood.Previous Chapter Next Chapter