An internal attendant rushed up.
“Heed my decree. Prince Zhao Liyou has committed a grave sin. He has been imprisoned yet he attempted to send out a secret message to rebel against his father. The truth is out and he cannot be pardoned. He shall be given poison.”
The internal attendant bowed. Empress Zhangsun was shocked. “Your Majesty…”
The Emperor waved his hand. “Empress, you do not need to try to convince me. I have already given Prince Zhao a chance.” He turned and stared at the Crown Prince. “In Prince Zhao’s letter, he asked the death soldiers to listen to the Crown Prince’s command in order to help him connect to the outside world and escape prison. Crown Prince, it seems like your relationship with Prince Zhao is pretty deep.”
Empress Zhangsun’s eyes froze over. The Crown Prince kneeled in fright. “I do not know anything about this.”
The Emperor snorted, “You don’t know anything yet Prince Zhao placed his last hope on you?”
“I have been framed.”
“He is using his own life to frame you?” The Emperor almost blurted out that it was a similar case with Hong Yide. Were they all giving up their lives to frame the Crown Prince? However, he stopped himself just as the words were about to leave him. After all, he was the one that said that Hong Yide’s case had been concluded.
Empress Zhangsun threw Prince Han a look.
Prince Han summoned his courage and spoke up, “Imperial Father, there may be an explanation as to why Prince Zhao would use his life to frame the Crown Prince. Prince Zhao never thought that Imperial Father would forgive him after he committed such a big crime. When he was captured back to Chang’an, he must have believed that he was doomed. Since he knew that he would not be able to survive, he chose to bring someone down with him. Therefore, he intentionally wrote a secret letter and made it such that it would be picked up by an Imperial Guard. Then he could have a quick death and have another scapegoat.”
The Emperor was not convinced. “Even if he wanted to bring someone down, he should have chosen you. After all, you were the one that captured him back alive.”
“Precisely because I was the one that captured him, so Imperial Father may not fall for it if he conspires against me. But if he got to the heart of the matter, the Crown Prince was the one that recommended me. Hence, the Crown Prince must be the one that Prince Zhao hates.”
The Emperor narrowed his eyes. “Is that all?”
Prince Han cried internally. He could not think of anything else at the moment.
Fu Rou stepped forward. “Your Majesty, I think that if Prince Han had been set up, the end result would be hurting a prince. However, if the Crown Prince was the one that was set up, it would shake the entire nation.” She felt that there was something suspicious about this matter.
Prince Zhou, who had initially left himself out of the matter, looked at her.
The Emperor seemed to be thinking it through. “Shaking the nation?”
Prince Han immediately put in effort. “That’s right. Imperial Father, how can the Crown Prince collude with Prince Zhao?”
Empress Zhangsun felt like it was time to remind him. “That’s right, Your Majesty. Don’t forget what Grand Emperor said before he passed on.”
The Emperor’s expression slowly warmed up. Back then, he did not selectively listen to Hong Yide. Now, he naturally could not just listen to Prince Zhao. They were all people that wanted to bring harm to Great Tang.
“Crown Prince, you may rise. I believe that you would not conduct such enraging acts.”
“Imperial Father is wise.” The Crown Prince thanked and got up.
Soon, the internal attendant returned to report. In the rectangle tray that he held, the wine cup was empty. This meant that Prince Zhao had died.
“Empress.” The Emperor suddenly called. Empress Zhangsun’s heart skipped a beat. “Your Majesty.”
The Emperor spoke, “You are the head of the six palaces. I want to ask you how you are intending to deal with Concubine Xi.”
Empress Zhangsun lowered her eyes. “Concubine Xi is no longer worthy of holding her position as concubine. She should…” Although Prince Zhao had rebelled, Concubine Xi had also been implicated but there was no need for her to die. “Be demoted to just a lady.”
The Emperor was unsatisfied. “For raising such an evil and scheming son, how can she have the face to continue living as his mother? You spoke to me numerous times about tidying up and adhering strictly to the palace rules. Is this what you mean by tidying up? To allow the mother of a rebel to enjoy the contributions of Great Tang’s citizens?”
Empress Zhangsun could not rebut. “I am incapable and did not handle this appropriately. I will follow Your Majesty’s judgement.”
The Emperor spoke coldly, “Heed my decree. Concubine Xi raised a rebel. She is at fault for not teaching her son well. She shall be given a white silk (Meaning to hang herself).”
Empress Zhangsun opened her mouth once again but ended up not saying anything. As the internal attendant was about to leave to carry out the Imperial Decree, Fu Rou stepped out once again and said, “Wait. Your Majesty, have you heard this saying?”
“Speak.” The Emperor was extremely unhappy but he wanted to know what she wanted to say.
“An uneducated child is a father’s fault.”
The Emperor’s face fell. “Are you trying to say that Prince Zhao’s rebellion is my fault?”
“I would not dare. However, as a father, you didn't know about Prince Zhao’s rebellion. How would Concubine Xi, who stays in the harem and has difficulty even talking to her son, be at fault? So much as to be punishable by death?”
The Emperor was furious. “Good! Very good! I have been too generous and kind these past few years. Even a court lady dares to point out my faults!”
Empress Zhangsun coaxed, “Please calm down, Your Majesty.”
“Empress, the people that you instruct are certainly different. Do you also want to point out and scold me for being a father that does not know how to teach my children?” The Emperor was furious.
Empress Zhangsun kneeled down. “Your Majesty!”
Upon seeing their mother kneel, the Crown Prince and Prince Han kneeled quickly. The Crown Prince said, “Imperial Father, Imperial Mother definitely has no intentions of criticising you. Imperial Mother has managed the harem for so many years and has been generous and kind to the various concubines. Moreover, Concubine Xi has always been respectful. Imperial Mother just could not bear to see her be punished.” His Imperial Mother could not fall!
Prince Han added, “Fu Siyan has a straight, direct and slightly impetuous personality. Imperial Father is a wise ruler and looks upon numerous citizens. You don’t have to be concerned with the careless words said by an ignorant court lady.” Even if he clashed with Chumu, he had to protect Fu Rou.
“Even a court lady dares to speak so brazenly in front of me.” The Emperor turned to glare at Fu Rou. “Who gave you such courage?”
Prince Zhou finally kneeled down. He was calm as he replied on her behalf, “Her courage was given by you, Imperial Father.”
The Emperor was stunned. “What did you say?”
Prince Zhou spoke at an unhurried pace, “When the Imperial Grandson was born, Imperial father wanted to reward Fu Siyan for saving the Crown Princess and the Imperial Grandson from the difficult pregnancy. During the banquet, Imperial Father said that since she was a Siyan, you would grant her the permission of speech. From that time onwards, Fu Siyan was allowed to speak in front of Imperial Father. As the son of heaven, your words are law.”
“That’s right, Imperial Father, you should forgive Fu Siyan.” Prince Han backed Prince Zhou. As he spoke, he turned his head to look up at Fu Rou who was still standing upright. He hurriedly tugged hard on her sleeve.
Fu Rou kneeled but kept her back straight. She spoke respectfully, “In the first three years of the early Tang Dynasty, Li Daliang admonished the Emperor and spoke about his good and bad points. Not only did the Emperor not get angry, he was actually happy and praised him for being blunt and revealing exactly what he was thinking. The Emperor even encouraged him to continue being earnest and stay honest to the end. Many people said that the Emperor was one of the best rulers as he was able to accept admonishment and he was one of the most generous rulers since ancient times. Although my rank is low, I love my country. Regardless of gender or seniority, I am a citizen of Great Tang and should be loyal to my country and hence I have to speak frankly.”
She took a deep breath before continuing, “When Prince Zhao rebelled, not only did he betray his father, he also betrayed his mother. For parents to have such a child, they will feel pain and anger. If Your Majesty feels this, Concubine Xi must feel the same. Prince Zhao has already been executed. Will Your Majesty’s heartache be resolved if you kill Concubine Xi too? Wouldn’t it just be a greater heartache? After all, Concubine Xi has served Your Majesty for many years. If Your Majesty orders her to be killed in a moment of anger, would you really not regret it in the future? I hope that Your Majesty can think twice.”
Prince Han muttered, “Amitabha, please stop talking…”
Fu Rou’s expression did not change. “I have finished what I wanted to say. If Your Majesty thinks what I said was nonsensical and worthless, then please grant me death.” Now, she submitted to him.
The Emperor sat down and looked at her in silence for a moment. He suddenly said, “Prince Zhou, you have a good eye. What a pity that her fate is set and she cannot serve anyone of the Royal family. She can only remain as a court lady.”
The Emperor stood and walked out. As he walked past Empress Zhangsun, he paused. “Let Concubine Xi be demoted to a lady.”
A weight lifted off Empress Zhangsun. “Thank you for your benevolence, Your Majesty.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Omg... Fu Rou has so much guts. Life in the palace is not easy...