Fu Rou was delivering food to a palace maid that had fallen sick. Her name was Xiao Lu. She was the daughter of an official that had been punished and was only thirteen years old. Her status in the Lateral Courts was even lower than normal maids. Naturally, she got bullied even more.
Xiao Lu was grateful. “Thank you for bringing me food, Sister Fu. I thought that no one would remember me and had intended to starve.”
“I thought that since the Lateral Court houses lower ranked palace maids and families of punished officials, everyone would take care of each other since they all came from unfortunate backgrounds. I never thought that it would be so cold.” Everywhere, the high would be praised while the low would get stepped on.
“Are they gossiping again?” Xiao Lu guessed.
“Just eat. Ignore them.” Fu Rou was able to ignore them.
Xiao Lu was not surprised. “I can’t be bothered with them. A group of pitiful worms that only know how to bully those more pitiful than themselves. I just need Sister Fu to take care of me. Sister Fu, just you alone is better than a thousand of them.”
“You are so young yet you know how to talk.” She made Fu Rou laugh.
“Sister Fu, I heard that you are great at studying and have studied all the books in the world. Is that true?” Xiao Lu’s eyes lit up.
“No it is not. The number of books and records in the world is as boundless as the ocean. I won’t be able to read them all even if I have ten lives. I can only read and learn whenever I have time.”
Xiao Lu pleaded, “Then can you teach me to read as well? In the past, my father hired a tutor for me and I learned a bit but I feel like I know too little.”
“When you don’t know enough then you will desire to learn. Okay, in the future, I will bring you along.”
Xiao Lu was delighted. “Thank you, Sister!”
“Bring me along too. Teacher, I finally found you.” Prince Qin entered.
Prince Qin’s sudden appearance threw the Lateral Courts into chaos. Even the head of department was alerted and quickly came down. With everyone watching him, not only was he not willing to leave, he even sat down to eat with Fu Rou at the same table. It made those that had secretly taken away Fu Rou’s food sweat nervously. In the end, Prince Qin only left because Fu Rou persuaded him to.
Before Prince Qin left, he expressed that he would return. Fu Rou was the teacher that his Imperial Mother had assigned him with. Although his Imperial Mother was no longer around, she had never taken back her order so he was still Fu Rou’s student. He was going to come whenever he wanted. This unintentionally gave everyone else an order. Whoever dares to bully Fu Rou would be going against him!
In just a few days, both Grand Prince Liang and Prince Qin had stepped out for Fu Rou. Hearing that Prince Zhou also liked her, this made the head of Lateral Courts, who had wanted to make Fu Rou’s life difficult, develop a headache.
Wei Song reminded Prince Qin that Qingzui Palace was peaceful. It would avoid the jealous attention from the palace maids and also avoid the path of the noble ladies.
The next morning, Fu Rou arrived early at Qingzui Palace. She was being led by a palace maid when she heard sounds of weeping. She looked in the direction of the cries and saw a room with a window. Through that window, she saw two wet nurses surrounding a child wearing a Qilin robe.
She asked in surprise, “Isn’t that the Imperial Grandson from the Eastern Palace?”
“Yes, that is him. He does not know how to do anything other than cry. I heard that he used to be in Lizheng Palace and the late Empress personally took care of him. However, after the late Empress fell critically ill, she was afraid of spreading the illness to him. She said that this place was peaceful and shifted him over here. Now, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess are mourning for the late Empress. After their period of mourning, they will probably bring him back to the Eastern Palace.” The palace maid seemed to recall something. “I won’t talk to you any longer, I have something to do. Since you are new here, you can walk around by yourself and familiarise with the place. If you want to find me, go to the room in the northwest corner.”
The palace maid left. However, Fu Rou could not move because of the child’s cries. She looked through the window.
All she saw was that the wet nurse that was carrying the Imperial Grandson became impatient and placed him back in the cradle. “Cry cry cry, all you know how to do is cry. Aren’t you annoying? You are already so old yet you don’t know how to call your parents. I think you were born a fool.”
The other wet nurse spoke, “Oi, you better be careful. Don’t let the Crown Princess hear you or she will tear your skin off.”
“The Crown Princess is mourning. She can’t hear me. Sigh, I think this foolish child is her retribution. She is always shouting about this and asking about that in the Eastern Palace. Previously, because of the investigation of some spy, I got beaten up for no reason.”
“With her as the master, who hasn’t been beaten in the Eastern Palace? Her suspicions are massive. Everyone seems like a spy to her.”
“Cry then cry. This place is so secluded, no one will hear. Let’s go out to drink some tea and save ourselves from this annoyance.”
The two wet nurses left just like that. They left the child to cry alone in the cradle.
Fu Rou saw that there was no one around and could not take it. She walked into the room and shook the cradle, attempting to humour the Imperial Grandson. The Imperial Grandson slowly quietened down.
At this moment, there were footsteps outside the door. Fu Rou thought that the two wet nurses were back. They would definitely not be happy to see her and she hid behind a screen. Unexpectedly, two internal attendants came in instead of the two wet nurses.
One of them said, “Hurry. Do it while there is no one else around.”
The other replied, “How do we do it?”
Fu Rou was startled by this.
“Haven’t I taught you earlier? Use a pillow to cover him.”
The other was clearly more cowardly and his voice trembled, “I can’t do it.”
“Fool. This is the chance of a lifetime. If we kill this child, the Crown Prince has no descendants and with his disability he will definitely be abdicated. When the new Crown Prince is elected, you will be awarded for having huge contributions. Didn’t you say that you want to be higher than Chief Cao? This is an extremely rare chance.” This person only knew how to talk and push things to others.
“But...but I am extremely terrified. Why don’t you do it?”
“It is too late to back down! You are already here. If you don’t kill him, when you return, they won’t let you live. Do it quickly. This child is just a small thing. Cover his mouth and nose until he has no more air. Then cover him with a blanket. There are many children who get strangled in their sleep because the people taking care of them were not careful. With the wet nurses as scapegoats, what are you afraid of? Hurry!”
Fu Rou could not bear to listen anymore. She dashed out of the screen and pushed down the two internal attendants. She carried the Imperial Grandson and ran out.
As she ran, she shouted, “Help! Guards!” However, her cries for help were like a stone that is thrown into the ocean. There was not a single person around.
Eventually, Fu Rou managed to run out of Qingzui Palace and saw two imperial guards standing in front of her. She sighed in relief. “Come and help! Someone is trying to kill the Imperial Grandson! They are chasing after me!”
The internal attendants running after her shouted at the imperial guards. “The plot has been exposed. Hurry! Help me catch that woman! If anyone else hears about this, we will all die!”
The imperial guards turned to chase after her aggressively. Fu Rou quickly made the decision and ran into another corridor with the Imperial Grandson. She hid in a side room. Her heart was pounding as she could not fathom what had just happened. Empress Zhangsun’s corpse had yet to turn cold and there was already someone targeting the Eastern Palace. They were not even willing to let an innocent child live.
Han Mansion? In her frenzy, the possibility floated through her mind. However, she immediately rejected it. It was not possible!
All of a sudden, the child in her arms started crying and attracted the group to the door.
“Open up! If you are smart, you better hand the child over and we will let you live.”
She did not know who they were and did not care to know. They were all as bad as each other.
Fu Rou pressed her back against the door. “Killing the Imperial Grandson is an extremely unforgivable crime and will cause your entire family to be killed. If you all are willing to turn back to the right path, hurry up and turn yourselves in. Maybe your family will be spared.”
“What nonsense is she saying? Kick down the door and kill the both of them.”
Fu Rou used false words to try and intimidate them. “Don’t try anything. I have a knife with me.”
“Don’t talk about a knife, even if you have a long and sharp sword, killing you would be easy.”
Fu Rou chuckled coldly, “Killing me is easy. But before I die, not only will I cut myself I might even cut the Imperial Grandson. Didn’t you all want to kill him without leaving behind any trace? Didn’t you want to strangle him with a pillow and blame it on the wet nurses? If the Imperial Grandson was known to be murdered and even have a few scars on him, the case will be blown up. The Emperor will definitely pursue the matter. As the saying goes, you cannot run away from the arm of law. I want to see how capable all of you are to escape from the law.”
There was silence on the other side. A person with a sharp voice asked, “I wonder which sister is inside? There is no palace maid as knowledgeable as you in Qingzui Palace.”
“I wouldn’t dare to be the sister of someone that commits such a crime. My name is Fu Rou.”
“Fu Rou? Are you the Fu Siyan that once served the late Empress?”
“Yes.” At this point, there was no point in hiding her identity.
“Aiya, so it is Fu Siyan. This is all just a misunderstanding.”
“When did murder become a misunderstanding?” Her eyes swept around the room, attempting to find another escape.
“Palace Maid Fu, in order to help Consort Han, you went against the Empress and was punished. We are all helping Prince Han and are on the same boat.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Dun dun dun....