Chapter 67.1: Treacherous

The sandalwood gave out a string of distinct smoke. The Crown Princess was arranging flowers. Pine branches and chrysanthemums were the main highlight while reed grass was used to decorate. The entire set up looked noble. Consort Han sat by the side, sipping tea with her eyes lowered. One small sip, another small sip. She looked graceful and carefree. One could not be bothered while the other had nothing to say.

As Consort Han drank her tea, she cursed Prince Han in her heart. Prince Han had taken credit for Sheng Chumu and expressed that he may have done something wrong. He should not have presented the <<Broad Geography>> book on the first court session that the Crown Prince attended after hurting his leg. It seemed like he was trying to steal the Crown Prince’s limelight. The Crown Prince was unhappy. Hence, he wished for Consort Han to accompany the Crown Princess. He wanted her to chat, give a gift and laugh with her, in hopes of salvaging some of their brotherhood. 

Ever since the Crown Prince was injured, Consort Han had never visited. First of all, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess had made use of the situation to make her husband suffer. Secondly, they were petty and had caused her younger brother to suffer. She recalled how this couple had forced her husband to go onto the battlefield. She did not even complain. In the end, because of some nonsense spouted by a seamstress, the couple started to have the intent to hurt them and was dictating what was right and wrong. 

The truth was ever since the Crown Prince married Sun Lingshu, the relationship between the Eastern Palace and Han Mansion had deteriorated. Sun Lingshu only knew how to convince the Crown Prince by making use of their couple relationship. Sun Lingshu has already given birth to an Imperial Grandson and gained the Crown Prince’s love. She should have cheered up. Why does she still have such a sinister aura? Ultimately, Consort Han was from a military general family and she could not stand the Crown Princess.

However, as Consort Han saw that her teacup was almost empty, she thought of her husband’s plump face and round eyes. Her heart softened. 

“I haven’t been feeling well recently and could not come and greet Your Highness and the Crown Prince. I hope you do not blame me.” She would bear with it. Who told her to be a good wife.

“Why would I blame you, Consort Han?” Sun Lingshu wore a superficial smile. “I am glad. The Crown Prince and Prince Han went to hunt and the Crown Prince returned severely injured. He frightened me to death. Thankfully, Prince Han is safe. I am glad on your behalf.”

Consort Han could not stand it. “That’s right. When Prince Han went to Qi City, I was on the edge and could barely sleep. But I felt a lot better when I thought that we were helping the Crown Prince and you with your troubles. This time, the Crown Prince has gotten injured. We found it hard to eat or sleep peacefully. After all, we are related.”

Sun Lingshu sounded sluggish as she changed the topic. “Consort Han, did you know the seamstress, Xiahan?”

“This…” Is she for real? Consort Han sighed. “There are so many people in the Han Mansion. It is not easy to know all of their characters.”

Sun Lingshu immediately mocked, “It is so difficult to judge a normal person’s character, much less an assassin. I am in charge of the Eastern Palace and understand how you feel. It is not easy taking care of your residence.”

Consort Han opened her mouth and ultimately forced herself to smile. She gestured for a palace maid to present the gift. “The Crown Prince is busy. I should not disturb you. This is a one hundred year old ginseng. It is a small gift for the Crown Prince to replenish his health.”

Sun Lingshu glanced at it expressionlessly.

Consort Han got up and left. She knew that if she continued bickering, this conversation would never end and she did not want to stay in the Eastern Palace any longer. 

The next morning, Sun Lingshu presented the gift box to the Crown Prince. The Crown Prince paled as soon as he saw what was inside. He flipped the entire box and a dried tiger’s claw fell to the floor.

“Ridiculous!” The Crown Prince fumed.

Sun Lingshu exchanged glances with Fu Shiu before adding angrily, “Consort Han personally sent this over. She said that since your leg was not well, we should make soup with this tiger’s claw. Replenishing one’s shape according to another.”

“Although my leg has some problems, my teeth are still sharp.” The Crown Prince swiped his sleeve and walked away.

Sun Lingshu smiled at Fu Shui. “That was a good idea.”

The previous night, Fu Shui had supported the drunk Crown Prince from Grand Prince Liang’s place. He coincidentally saw the old ginseng that Consort Han had given. Sun Lingshu took the chance to complain that she was worried that the Crown Prince’s heart would soften as soon as he saw the gift. Fu Shui then gave her this idea.

Fu Shui replied, “Everything we’re doing is for the Crown Prince.”

Sun Lingshu nodded. “That’s right. As long as the Crown Prince is well, we will be well.”

 

The Emperor went to the recuperate at the Hot Spring Palace and instructed the Crown Prince to take over ruling the country. The Crown Prince took action against the Literature School. He openly promoted the authors that contributed to the book but immediately demoted anyone who made a slight mistake. He then used completely irrelevant issues to sack people. Everyone in the Literature School was complaining to Prince Han but Prince Han could not do anything. He could not ask Consort Han if she had said something wrong to the Crown Princess that would make the Crown Prince behave so harshly.

However, the Crown Prince’s nonsensical actions also angered Zhan Xuanzhi. Zhan Xuanzhi felt that the Crown Prince was not differentiating his personal grudges from his official duties and was behaving immorally to his brother. Zhan Xuanzhi felt that the Crown Prince had lost his rationality because of his selfish desires. The Crown Prince had been putting up with Zhan Xuanzhi but decided that he could not stand it anymore. He questioned Zhan Xuanzhi if he had turned to side with Prince Han.

Zhan Xuanzhi was startled. “Do I have a selfish motive or is there someone treacherous by your side?” He had already heard that someone, who looked a lot like Chen Ji, had entered the Eastern Palace.

The Crown Prince knew that he was referring to Fu Shui and could not help but become furious. “How dare you!”

Zhan Xuanzhi spoke, “You have yet to learn your lesson from Chen Ji. Now that you are managing the country, you have to send all members of the Eastern Palace out when you are commenting and reviewing the memorials. However, you let a herb picker remain by your side to prepare ink. If this is not treacherous, then what is? There will always be an ominous sign before a country falls!”

The Crown Prince was furious beyond belief. “How dare you curse Great Tang to fall?”

Zhan Xuanzhi did not give in. “Crown Prince, if you want Great Tang to flourish for a long time, you should immediately get rid of Fu Shui!”

“Zhan Xuanzhi! Do you really think you can bully me? Do you think you can kill anybody you want? You turn your back on me for your own selfish gains. When I ascend the throne, I will come for your head!” The Crown Prince spoke irresponsibly.

Zhan Xuanzhi was persistent. “Your Highness can have my head. However, as long as I am still alive, I have to get rid of the treacherous being by your side!”

Zhan Xuanzhi did not hesitate to censure. It threw the Crown Prince in a bad mood. Unexpectedly, before he could return to his study room, Empress Zhangsun summoned him and lectured him. Although she was not as harsh as Zhan Xuanzhi, she was upset that he targeted his biological brother.

The Crown Prince was boiling with anger when he returned to the study room. He let out his grudges to Fu Shui. He had simply suppressed a few scholars yet his mother had scolded him sternly. 

Fu Shui hid the perceptive look in his eyes and simply asked the Crown Prince if he had quarrelled with Zhan Xuanzhi.

The Crown Prince did not think much about it. So what if they quarreled? He was afraid of Imperial Father and Mother and even had to be wary of Prince Han. Did he also have to act carefully around servants from his own Eastern Palace?

Fu Shui then told the Crown Prince that Zhan Xuanzhi had left Chang’an. It was obvious that Zhan Xuanzhi had gone to the Hot Spring Palace to meet the Emperor and complain about him.

The Crown Prince was immediately annoyed. He knew that he had spoken too harshly. Once Imperial Father believed Zhan Xuanzhi, he would be extremely disappointed in him. 

Fu Shui saw how distracted the Crown Prince was and suddenly commented, “Crown Prince, you definitely cannot let Zhan Xuanzhi go to the Hot Spring Palace.”

“That’s right! That’s right! I have to stop him!” The Crown Prince was thinking the same. At most, he would just bow. 

“Understood. I will go and settle this now.” Fu Shui took the initiative to do the task and walked out. 

Very soon, Fu Shui returned and told the Crown Prince that the matter had been settled. Zhan Xuanzhi was already dead and a dead person would not be able to complain.

“Zhan Xuanzhi is dead?” The Crown Prince was frantic as he immediately felt something was wrong. “How can that be? All I asked you to do was to chase him to bring him back!”

“I pretended that I received your orders and asked the Imperial Guards to kill Zhan Xuanzhi.” Fu Shui replied honestly.

“You!” The Crown Prince shook Fu Shui’s shoulders. “What have you done?! Zhan Xuanzhi was specially appointed by Imperial Father to assist me. If I kill him, how am I any different from Prince Zhao?” This was going to cause a huge ruckus!

Fu Shui took out a memorial. “This was the memorial that Zhan Xuanzhi was intending to hand over to the Emperor. Please have a look.”

The Crown Prince took the memorial and read it. His frown deepened. In the memorial, Zhan Xuanzhi said that Fu Shui was the second Chen Ji. He was treacherous and nasty. He wanted the Emperor to deal with Fu Shui like how he dealt with Chen Ji.

Fu Shui asked blandly, “How did the Emperor deal with Chen Ji? I heard that it was Your Highness that personally killed Chen Ji to express your determination to turn over a new leaf?”

The Crown Prince denied, “It wasn't me! Chen Ji committed suicide.”

“If Chen Ji did not commit suicide, would you have killed him?” Fu Shui paused and sighed, “Chen Ji did not want to put you in a spot and chose to kill himself. He could die for you. I can do it too. I was the one that caused Zhan Xuanzhi’s death. If he did not die, I would have to die. If you think that I have done wrong, I will accept death as my punishment.” He flipped his hand over, showing the dagger that he already held in his hand. He moved to pierced it in his heart.

“Stop!” The Crown Prince immediately grabbed onto Fu Shui’s wrist. “I said that I will not let the same tragedy that happened to Chen Ji, happen to you. You are the only friend that I trust. You can’t leave me behind.”

Fu Shui looked at the Crown Prince, slightly moved. “Your Highness, you trust me so much. I am willing to die for you!”

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Coca's Thoughts

The Crown Prince is so foolish...