Fu Rou had just swept the leaves into a pile when the cold wind blew it all over the place again. She could only use her hands to pick up the leaves and place it in the basket. Empress Zhangsun had passed away and she was released from prison. She had been reassigned to the Lateral Courts.
Here was where palace maids stayed. There were also some women from noble families that had been punished to become servants. She was still considered lucky that she only became a regular palace maid that had to work in the Lateral Courts.
Fu Rou was extremely mournful that she did not get to see the Empress for the last time and she had passed away under such unhappy circumstances. However, she had no intentions of returning to Lizheng Palace and she slowly became used to the tough yet simple life in the Lateral Courts.
Every few years, the Lateral Courts would release a few palace maids. As long as she did well here, maybe she would have the chance to regain her freedom. At the same time, she could avoid the plots and schemes that she hated.
After picking an entire basket of leaves, she leaned against a bamboo pole to catch her breath.
“Oi, are you already thinking of slacking off?” An older palace maid appeared from nowhere.
“The superiors assigned everyone to take care of one section. I am in charge of this area while you are in charge of that.” She was doing work meant to be done by three people.
“Eh, are you trying to pick a fight? In the Lateral Courts, the rules are based on seniority. I am a senior in the Lateral Courts and you are new. You have to do anything I ask you to.”
Another palace maid clicked her tongue and walked closer. “Look at you, aren’t you embarrassed? How can you say that she is new. She used to be a female official and was extremely favoured by the Empress. Do you think you can order her around? She came from high up there.”
“I don’t care how much you were favoured in the past. Even a phoenix turns into nothing more than a chicken after losing everything. I am the leader of this section. If you disobey me, watch how I will punish you.” The senior palace maid lifted her hand and looked like she was about to slap Fu Rou.
“What are you all doing?” An internal attendant suddenly turned round the corner and shouted as he saw the scene in front of him. “Is this your house? You all are speaking so loudly. If you annoy the noble ladies, how many lives do you have to pay?”
A majestic figure walked around the corner and past the internal attendant. He kept walking.
The internal attendant shouted, “General Sheng, wait for…”
As the senior palace maid saw Fu Rou looking at Sheng Chumu’s rear view, she walked behind Fu Rou. She pushed her and lifted her hand, about to hit her.
Fu Rou grabbed onto her wrist. “Who are you to hit me? Even if I did not follow the rules, according to the palace rules, you can only record it and report it to the Managerial Department. Punishing palace maids is the duty of the Managerial Department. You are in no position to abuse it and deal out punishments on your own.”
“Aiya, do you think you are the head of the Court Lady Department? You keep talking about rules. Today, I am going to personally punish you, what can you do about it?”
The senior palace maid wanted to grab Fu Rou but Fu Rou struggled violently. Another palace maid walked up to help and Fu Rou was eventually held down by them.
The senior palace maid took a hairpin from her hair as she gritted her teeth. “Aren’t you arrogant just because you have a pretty face? If I draw ten scars across your face, let’s see how arrogant you can be!”
Fu Rou snorted, “You dare!”
“Ha, in the Lateral Courts, there are so many people that try to use their beauty to gain favours with the rich. Until their death, they never ever manage to be favoured even once. Do you really think you can seduce a prince? You should give up!” Her hairpin shot towards Fu Rou’s face.
A hand suddenly appeared, grabbing tightly.
“You hit the nail on the head. This woman doesn't know anything else but she is skilled in seducing princes. I am one of the princes that have gone crazy for her.” Grand Prince Liang appeared, his tone not changing. “You all must be extremely bold to bully the lady I like. You are so ugly and only know how to be jealous of other people’s pretty faces. I have always loved beautiful jades and hate all ugly, evil and jealous women like you. People like you are a waste of food. You should just kill yourself.”
The two palace maids were so shocked they started kowtowing in fright.
Fu Rou spoke, “Your Highness, they have done wrong and should be handed to the Managerial Department to be punished. It goes against the rules to dish out your own punishment.”
“You are so stubborn and by the book. Aren’t you annoying?” Grand Prince Liang sighed, “No wonder you almost got disfigured.”
The palace maids immediately begged Fu Rou to save them. However, Grand Prince Liang bellowed for them to “Get lost” and they ran away in fright.
Fu Rou wanted to leave as well. Grand Prince Liang reached out to stop Fu Rou. “Stop right there. I never said that you could leave.”
Fu Rou cautiously took a step back. “Your Highness, what other instructions do you have?”
Grand Prince Liang took a step closer. “I can’t talk to you if I have nothing to ask?”
Fu Rou frowned. “The country is in mourning. Please be mindful, Your Highness.”
“Why? Are you afraid that I will eat you? Back then, I was blind that’s why I liked such an unromantic woman like you. Take this.” He threw a small bottle to Fu Rou.
Fu Rou caught the bottle. “This…”
“In the past, I stole...er, no. I borrowed a medicinal pill from you.” Grand Prince Liang looked slightly hurt. “I had wanted to give it to my Imperial Father, but he declined. Now that I have no use for it, I am returning it to you.”
Fu Rou found it strange. “...Thank you, Your Highness.”
“What is there to thank me? It was yours to begin with.” Grand Prince Liang did not think he did anything special.
“I am not thanking you for this medicinal pill. I am thanking you for helping me out just now.” As for this medicinal pill, she had no use for it as well. Initially, she wanted to give it to Sheng Chumu, but now they were strangers.
“It is nothing.” Grand Prince Liang was very relaxed. “When I got poisoned by the enemy’s weapon back on Cangshan Mountain, you were the one that saved me.”
Fu Rou found it strange once again. “It is such a small thing, I thought Your Highness would have forgotten about it.”
Grand Prince Liang was unhappy. “My brain is perfectly fine, do I seem like I am very forgetful?”
Fu Rou smiled.
Grand Prince Liang was still unhappy when he returned to the Liang Residence. The Emperor had summoned him and smelt the alcohol on him. The Emperor lectured him and punished him to reflect at home.
“You lost the Empress but she is not my wife. Why should I be mourning like you? I merely drank a bit. It is as if I committed a grave crime. Reflect at home?” Grand Prince Liang grumbled to himself as he turned towards the sky. “Imperial Father, now that you are no longer around, I am worthless. I have turned into a punching bag! If you are up there in heaven, open your eyes and take a look!”
The lady that he was currently pampering, sashayed in. “Your Highness, who did you ask to open their eyes? Isn’t my eyes big enough? Which vixen have you caught your eye on now?”
Grand Prince Liang slapped the woman. “Bastard. Who are you to insult my Imperial Father?” He turned around to grab a whip.
The lady was frightened as she ran away. She suddenly saw Lu Yingying and pushed her towards Grand Prince Liang. Lu Yingying was caught off guard and knocked into Grand Prince Liang. The lady took the chance to escape.
“Bitch, you are nothing good either!” Grand Prince Liang pushed Lu Yingying to the ground as he raised his whip and started to hit Lu Yingying.
Lu Yingying subconsciously lifted her hand to cover her face. She exposed a bracelet on her wrist.
Grand Prince Liang froze. That bracelet had just been given to Lu Yingying by Imperial Concubine Sun that morning. She even spoke numerous good things about Lu Yingying to Grand Prince Liang. It was only then that he realised Lu Yingying had been accompanying his mother whenever he was not in the residence. No wonder, his mother had been energetic recently and her complexion seemed to lighten. Grand Prince Liang was slightly moved.
In the end, Grand Prince Liang threw the whip to the side and returned to his room.
Lu Yingying was shocked as she crawled up. Sounds of things being thrown around the room filled her ears. She could not help but walk to the entrance of the room. She saw Grand Prince Liang punched the wall. The wall was fine but he was injured. His hand had split open and was bleeding.
“Your Highness, why would you do that?” Hurting others and hurting yourself.
He turned back and laughed bitterly, “Everyone's the same. They all call me Your Highness, but they all look down on me. You are no different from them...no. You are more cruel than them. They only look down on me whereas you are always humiliating me. You are my consort yet you only think of your adulterous partner.”
“Your Highness’s hand is injured. Let me help you wrap it.” There were few things she could do.
“I don’t need you to pretend to be nice!” He rolled his eyes.
She looked at the shattered porcelain on the ground and started to pick them up.
“You don’t have to pick them! I get angry as soon as I see your face. You are ruining my eyes!” Actually, his anger seemed to have lessened. He was more frustrated.
Although she does not complain when she gets hit, it does not mean that she liked to be beaten. “I don’t dare to ruin your eyes. I will take my leave.”
“Wait!” He shouted. She turned back to look at him calmly.
He suddenly lowered his voice. “You see that your husband’s hand is injured. How can you take your leave as if nothing happened? Are you that heartless? Hurry and help me wrap my wound before I die from loss of blood!”
On his mother’s behalf, he could bicker less with her.
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Is Grand Prince Liang slowly redeeming himself?
I honestly did not expect him to help Fu Rou.