Sheng Chuling saw that Grand Prince Liang was showing no mercy and hitting Xinnan hard. He was anxious for her to let go. However, she hugged on to him tightly, not wanting to let go.
“I think I see it now. So you are an illicit couple.” Grand Prince Liang was laughing. “Xinnan, don’t blame me for not showing mercy if you hug another man without a care for your reputation!”
Sheng Chuling had wanted to just take the punishment, but now Xinnan was implicated. Grand Prince Liang was not holding back as he hit them. All of a sudden, the rope that was binding him tore. Sheng Chuling kicked Grand Prince Liang and snatched a sword from the guard beside him. He pulled Xinnan behind him. Sheng Chuling shouted, “Don’t come over! If not I will really kill!”
Fu Shui suddenly hollered, “Sheng Chuling is kidnapping Princess Xinnan!”
The Crown Prince immediately realised this and instructed, “Sheng Chuling is kidnapping the Princess. His behaviour is inappropriate. Everyone, punish him!”
Grand Prince Liang grew excited. “Kill him! Let’s go!”
The guards surrounded them. Sheng Chuling pushed Xinnan away. “They want to kill me. Stay away from me.”
Xinnan did not budge. “Do you still remember the peace knot you made for me? Let’s stay safe together or die together!”
Sheng Chuling wanted to push Xinnan out but as he saw the various swords pointed at them, he quickly pulled Xinnan towards him as he used his back to block a sword.
“Stop right there!” Empress Zhangsun’s furious voice sounded. Xinnan stumbled as she hugged Empress Zhangsun’s leg. “Imperial Mother! Save me!”
Empress Zhangsun saw the bloody scars all over Xinnan and shouted, “What is going on?”
The Crown Prince remained expressionless. “Sheng Chuling kidnapped Xinnan. I was afraid Xinnan would get injured so I instructed the guards to surround Sheng Chuling.”
Xinnan argued angrily, “The Crown Prince is lying! Imperial Mother, they were hitting Sheng Chuling. I thought that it was unreasonable and wanted to stop them but Grand Prince Liang hit me as well. Sheng Chuling rebelled in order to protect me.”
Zhangsun’s gaze landed on Grand Prince Liang. “Grand Prince Liang, what do you have to say?”
Grand Prince Liang was unperturbed. “Sister-in-law, how would I have known that Xinnan has an illicit affair with a guard? She saw that Sheng Chuling was getting hit and turned into a crazy woman. She scolded me and the Crown Prince. Everyone here saw it. She did not care about honour. Everyone here can be witnesses, she was the one that jumped on Sheng Chuling and took the hits for him. As an uncle, I was furious and hit her twice to teach her a lesson.”
Xinnan was speechless. “Grand Prince Liang, you!”
“Did I wrong you?” Grand Prince Liang pursed his lips. “Do you dare to swear to your ancestors that you don’t have anything to do with Sheng Chuling? If you can, I will take off my clothes and let you hit me back for just now.”
Empress Zhangsun bellowed, “That’s enough! The princess has suffered a shock. Hurry and help the Princess.”
Xinnan wanted to continue speaking. However, she saw Empress Zhangsun’s stern look and could only obediently allow the palace maids to help her back.
“Sheng Chuling is a guard of the Eastern Palace. Why did you tie him up and hit him?” Empress Zhangsun did not forget to find out what happened.
Grand Prince Liang replied, “He did not listen to orders and looked down on the Imperial family. He was extremely hateful therefore…”
Empress Zhangsun cut him off, “I am asking the Crown Prince.”
The Crown Prince was cold. “In order to ease my feelings of melancholy, I invited Grand Prince Liang. I promised to let him use the Eastern Palace’s guards. Sheng Chuling disobeyed Grand Prince Liang’s orders. That means he disobeyed me and should be punished.”
Sheng Chuling bore the pain as he walked forward and kneeled. “Your Majesty, in order to entertain himself, Grand Prince Liang ordered us to take off our armour. He then made us ride horses and fight his guards with bamboo spears. The bamboo spears were sharp and several guards were injured. We entered the Imperial army to protect the Imperial family and the city, not to become toys that fight against one another for someone else’s entertainment.”
The Crown Prince was fierce. “As an Imperial Guard, you did not listen to orders and have committed a grave sin. It does not matter what excuse you give.”
Fu Rou spoke up, “Your Majesty, Sheng Chuling did not do anything wrong. Confucius has taught this and he said if a leader is a good role model, even without orders, his followers will know what to do. However, if the leader is not proper, even with orders, his followers will not obey. Grand Prince Liang is not proper and ordered Sheng Chuling to do something that is barbaric and has no justification. It is completely understandable that Sheng Chuling does not want to obey.”
Empress Zhangsun nodded, agreeing with her. She ordered for someone to help Sheng Chuling to the Imperial Physician Office. She then turned to Grand Prince Liang. “Grand Prince Liang, return to your residence. You are to remain there and reflect for three days. If not, I will report this to His Majesty and let His Majesty make a decision.”
Grand Prince Liang left dejectedly.
“Crown Prince, just what are you trying to do?” Empress Zhangsun was disappointed and heartbroken.
“What am I trying to do?” The Crown Prince was extremely stubborn. “I want to be a good Crown Prince but my leg is disabled. During court, an official said that I should give up my position to Prince Han. I could not do anything to them. At Lizheng Palace, Imperial Mother said that it was not Prince Han’s fault so I could not do anything to Prince Han. I can only remain in my Eastern Palace and find a way to entertain myself with Grand Prince Liang. I never thought that a guard would disobey an order and create such a huge commotion. Now, I cannot even handle a guard in my own Eastern Palace. A disabled Crown Prince is so worthless and is bullied by everyone. If you have no other instructions for me, my leg has been causing me pain. Forgive me for being disrespectful and taking my leave first.”
Without waiting for Empress Zhangsun to speak, the Crown Prince turned and left.
Sun Lingshu wanted to chase after the Crown Prince but Empress Zhangsun called her to stay. “Crown Princess, when Xinnan was getting hit, were you present?”
Sun Lingshu was frightened. “I...I wanted to persuade him but…”
“Were you present?” Empress Zhangsun’s face remained stern.
Sun Lingshu had no choice but to tell the truth. “...Yes.”
Zhangsun’s tone was sharp. “You are the Crown Princess. When you see that he is doing something absurd, you should persuade and stop him. However, you did not do your duty as a wife. When the Crown Prince was interacting with Chen Ji, you and your father brought it up to the Emperor and caused the Crown Prince to fall out of favour with His Majesty. When the Crown Prince fell out with his brother, Prince Han, not only did you not try to mend their relationship, on the contrary, you kept targeting Consort Han. You even complained to the Crown Prince and made things worse to the point that it could not be taken back. Today, Xinnan was hit. As her sister-in-law, you simply watched and did not do anything, causing her to be full of injuries. Ever since the Crown Prince married you, the Eastern Palace has been filled with troubles.”
Sun Lingshu flinched. “I am useless.”
“You are not useless, you are guilty. You are impatient, jealous, foolish and selfish. How can someone like you be worthy of the position of Crown Princess? How can you be the female master of the Eastern Palace? Today, if I want to dispose of you and chase you out of the Eastern Palace, it will only take a single sentence! Don’t think that just because you married into the Eastern Palace, your position as Crown Princess is stable. From now on, you better act cautiously and follow the rules. If you dare to instigate the Crown Prince to disregard his brotherhood with Prince Han, or intentionally fight against Consort Han, I will make you become the world’s biggest disgrace and throw you back to the Sun family.” Empress Zhangsun’s expression was icy as she turned and walked away.
Sun Lingshu fell to the ground. After a long while, Shuangxi helped her to stand.
A stony look flashed through her eyes. “Ever since I entered the Eastern Palace, I have not had a peaceful day. I have always been struggling. I finally managed to give birth to Xiang’er and the Crown Prince started to treat me better. But what did she say? She is going to make me return to the Sun Residence as the world’s biggest disgrace?”
Shuangxi was worried. “It will not happen. Her Majesty was just…”
“Scaring me?” Sun Lingshu shook her head. “The Crown Princess position looks glorious but it is actually the most pitiful position in the palace. The Emperor, his concubines, the Crown Prince, the princes and even Consort Han who married into the family first can step over me. But why do I have to suffer this grievance?”
Shuangxi did not dare to respond.
“Go. Check who was the one that reported to Imperial Mother. If it was someone that Consort Han had secretly placed here from before, there is no need to report to me. Kill them.” Sun Lingshu slowly started walking. “I have managed to survive until today. I will continue to press on. I will survive until the day the Crown Prince inherits the throne. I don’t believe that I cannot even deal with Consort Han!”
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Both the Crown Prince and Crown Princess have the victim mentality. Be prepared for more drama...