“That cannot be true.” Fu Rou stood up in shock. Her expression was one of alarm. “You are trying to sow discord! Has Prince Han and Consort Han ever did anything wrong to you? How can you treat them like this?!”
Xiahan paused for a moment. “When Xiong Rui died, they did not do anything!”
“That’s because they could not do anything!” Fu Rou wanted to leave. “You are unreasonable!”
Xiahan grabbed onto her. “You promised me that you would tell everything that I said to the Empress.”
“Every word that you have spoken is a lie.” Fu Rou will not be used by others.
Xiahan suddenly shouted aloud, “It was Prince Han! He was the one that tried to kill his own brother! He was the one that used me to plot against the Crown Prince! It was Prince Han! Prince Han is the murderer!”
Fu Rou turned to grab onto Xiahan’s shoulder. “Stop talking!”
Xiahan heard the sound of footsteps and gritted her teeth. She pushed Fu Rou away and smashed her own head against the wall. Fu Rou could not be bothered with the pain she felt in her own back and crawled up to look at Xiahan. Fresh blood flowed down her pale forehead. Her eyes slowly dimmed.
She breathed out her last breath. “Xiong Rui, wait for me…”
The image that appeared in Fu Rou’s mind was the one of Xiahan laughing and spinning as she held her sister’s wedding dress. Fu Rou felt angry and sad. How could someone be so cruel as to use the true feelings between Xiahan and Xiong Rui as a chance to kill and achieve their own motives?
When Fu Rou returned to Empress Zhangsun’s side, she told the Empress everything that Xiahan had said. On one hand, it was the promise that she made to Xiahan. On the other hand, she had faith in the Empress.
“How evil and malicious they are to drive a wedge between the royal family.” Alas, Empress Zhangsun was wise.
“I also felt that Xiahan was not speaking the truth. However, I had promised her that I would tell whatever she said to Your Majesty.” Fu Rou breathed a sigh of relief.
“Someone is making use of her.” Empress Zhangsun thought that this was extremely obvious.
“What a pity that she refused to say who it was before she died.” There was nothing Fu Rou could do.
“I heard that you are injured.” Empress Zhangsun gestured to Wei Song. Wei Song presented a tray. “This is a Golden-thread Heavenly Armour. It was given by the Western regions. It is light, flexible yet strong against swords. I am giving it to you to protect yourself.”
Fu Rou immediately rejected, “This is too precious. It should be given to a brave general to use in battle. I am always in the palace and have no use for this Golden-thread Heavenly Armour. I am afraid that it will go to waste.”
Empress Zhangsun was adamant. “Do you think that the interior of the palace is not a battlefield? Take it. I depend highly on you and want to protect you.”
“Thank you for the gift, Your Majesty.” Fu Rou accepted the Golden-thread Heavenly Armour.
“Fu Siyan, I do not wish for there to be any misunderstandings between the Crown Prince and Prince Han.” She would still say what needs to be said.
“Your Majesty, please rest assured. I will not tell anyone a single word of what Xiahan said.” Fu Rou thought about it and decided to say it just in case. “However, although there were only two of us at that time, Xiahan was shouting towards the end and tried to attract the attention of the prison chief. I am not sure if the prison chief heard her.”
Zhangsun nodded, indicating that she understood. After waiting for Fu Rou to leave, she instructed Wei Song to get ready to go to the Eastern Palace. She was afraid that the news would leak out. She was going to personally tell the Crown Prince everything to prevent them from falling for someone’s conspiracy.
The Crown Prince was lying on his bed. Sun Lingshu was attending to him.
Lu Yunji was telling him that Xiahan said that Prince Han was the mastermind before she passed on. The Crown Prince was startled. “Prince Han? How can that be?”
Sun Lingshu immediately fumed as soon as she thought of the Han Mansion. “Why not? Ever since Prince Han returned victorious, Imperial Father had looked highly upon him. His rewards are growing by the day. A person’s desire has no limits.”
“Crown Princess understands.” Lu Yunji agreed, “I am not being bold as to sow discord in Your Highness’ relationships but the truth is as such. Prince Han was the one who invited Your Highness to hunt. Prince Han was also the one who gave Your Highness the saddle. From what I heard from the Justice Office, that woman named Xiahan had touched Your Highness saddle before the hunt started, in order to mend it. May I ask Your Highness, who was the one that called for Xiahan before you set off?”
The Crown Prince recalled. “It was Consort Han.”
Sun Lingshu added more fuel to the flame once again. “So she has a part to play. In order to get the Crown Prince position, Prince Han and Consort Han want to kill Your Highness. Your Highness, you can’t just let this go.”
The Crown Prince fell silent for a while. “I know. As long as I am the Crown Prince, I can never have a day of peace. But what can I do if I don’t bear with it? You all don’t know how much Imperial Father and Imperial Mother both love Prince Han. Now that that seamstress has already died, there is no evidence. If I tell them that Prince Han wants to hurt me, they will never believe me. Instead, they will scold me for being suspicious of my own brother. My position will be worse.” He already knew that in order to protect his Crown Prince’s position, he could not rely on his father or mother.
“You are also their biological son and their eldest son. Now that the criminal has committed suicide for no reason, a dead person cannot testify. Prince Han clearly wants to hurt you. It is not that you cannot stand Prince Han. No matter how biased they are to Prince Han, they will have to speak fairly.” Sun Lingshu had already forgotten that the Crown Prince was the one who recommended Prince Han to lead the troops in the first place.
“How bold! It is very common for a prisoner to fear punishment and commit suicide in prison. What do you mean no reason? Upon knowing that they cannot live, they try their best to pull others down with them. They will speak without thinking and try to conspire against Prince Han. This is clearly nonsense. As the Crown Princess, you can’t differentiate from right and wrong nor can you stop your own mouth. You only dare to say that the Emperor and I are biased behind our backs! Who gave you such courage to tell tales in front of the Crown Prince?” Empress Zhangsun’s voice resounded in the room as she walked in. Her expression was fierce. “Guards, come and slap the Crown Princess!”
Sun Lingshu knelt in fright. Lu Yunji kneeled as well. “The Crown Princess spoke unintentionally. Please calm down, Your Majesty.”
“Lu Yunji, you move in and out of the Eastern Palace so easily. Do you want me to ask His Majesty whether it is appropriate to so openly support the Crown Prince?” Empress Zhangsun threw Lu Yunji a cold look.
Lu Yunji could only claim that he did not dare and quickly take his leave. Meanwhile, an internal attendant was slapping Sun Lingshu quickly.
Empress Zhangsun ignored the Crown Prince’s pleas. It was only until Sun Lingshu’s face was filled with red marks did Empress Zhangsun call to stop. “On account of the Crown Prince’s injury, I will keep the punishment light today. In the future, if you ever dare to run your mouth and sow discord between the Crown Prince and Prince Han, I will not hold back on punishing you. Get out!”
Sun Lingshu did not dare to say another word as she bowed and backed out of the room.
Empress Zhangsun looked at the Crown Prince. “Rumours are often more dangerous than a blood-covered blade. Crown Prince. You, Prince Han and Prince Qin are all my flesh and blood. You are all biological brothers that will still be related even if your arms are cut off. You must definitely not believe rumours that intentionally try to sow discord.”
The Crown Prince frowned but did not say anything. Empress Zhangsun asked, “Crown Prince, why aren’t you saying anything?”
“I don’t know what to say.” The Crown Prince got angry as soon as he spoke. “I also don’t know if I have any position in your heart. If you care about me in the slightest, then please seek justice for me.”
Empress Zhangsun was confused. “How will I seek justice for you?”
“You don’t want me to listen to those rumours that intentionally sow discord and I will respect your advice. However, I have gotten injured this time. The Han Mansion has to take responsibility for not taking care of me. During the hunt, Prince Han instructed someone to protect me. However, when I met with the accident and shouted for help, there was no one around. Shouldn’t this person be punished?” He had to bring someone down! If not, he would have difficulty bearing with this.
Empress Zhangsun asked, “Who?”
“Sheng Chumu.” He was going to settle the old and new score together!
Empress Zhangsun was stunned. “Consort Han’s younger brother?”
“I cherish Prince Han as my brother. But this time, if I weren’t so lucky, I am afraid I would not have been able to open my eyes and see you again. If you really care about me, you have to seek justice for me. It is a way of…” He understood clearly that his mother cared deeply about his relationship with his brother. However, she was not as kind towards others. “Consolation towards me.”
Empress Zhangsun fell silent for a moment before nodding in agreement. As long as she could protect the Crown Prince and Prince Han’s relationship, she would do anything.
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