Sheng Chujun got his hairpin back and was rushing through the garden. He had to quickly get out of here. All of a sudden, someone dashed out from the narrow path beside him and they almost collided.
He held the person’s shoulders and could not help but be surprised. “Shuangxi?”
As soon as Shuangxi saw him, she immediately grabbed onto his wrist. “Sheng Chujun, Hurry! Hurry and go to the Sun Residence. Tell Master and Madam that the Crown Princess was the one that set the poison!”
Sheng Chujun was in disbelief. “Repeat what you just said!”
Shuangxi shouted, “It is true! I heard it personally! The Crown Princess was the once that poisoned the cakes with arsenic and framed Consort Han…”
Imperial Guards appeared, chasing after her aggressively.
Shuangxi hid behind Sheng Chujun in fright. “Save me...I know that that Crown Princess poisoned her own sister. She will kill me to silence me…”
“Bastard!” Sun Lingshu appeared from behind the guards. “You dare to steal my things and still accuse me. How dare you say such malicious things to frame your owner!”
Two imperial guards surrounded them from behind Sheng Chujun. Shuangxi was not prepared and was dragged away by them.
“I am not lying! Everything that I said is real! Believe me, I am telling the truth!” Shuangxi continued to struggle and shout. However, she had no power to resist.
Sheng Chujun did not move. He only looked at Sun Lingshu expressionlessly. So the Crown Princess was the true murderer of Lingwei and his elder sister, and he had just spoken up for her in front of his elder brother! He could not believe it but everything now made sense.
Sun Lingshu tried to cover it up. “Shuangxi has been serving me for so many years, yet I have failed to see her true nature. I could have forgiven her even if she stole or lied. But in order to make excuses for herself, she actually dares to slander me and say that I killed Lingwei. I will not tolerate this. Sheng Chujun, you won’t believe the nonsense Shuangxi said right?”
Sheng Chujun fell silent for a long while. Just when Sun Lingshu was about to lose patience, he spoke, “If I pretend to believe you, things may still be repairable. But I don’t want to pretend and I am not willing to. I don’t care if I can walk out of the Eastern Palace alive today. Because the murderer of my lover is finally standing in front of me. If you want me to pretend to hear nothing and turn and leave, I can’t do it! I just want to ask a question that I have asked myself every single day since Lingwei died. Why? Lingwei is so innocent and pure. She would never hurt anyone, why did you kill her?”
“Okay, since you don’t want to pretend, I don’t have to pretend in front of you either.” Sun Lingshu chuckled bitterly, “Everything was because of you. You said that she is someone that would never hurt others but you are wrong. Ever since the days she liked you, she hurt me. She betrayed me. She could have fallen for anybody but why does it have to be you? Why must it be Consort Han’s younger brother?”
Sun Lingshu slowly got agitated. “She clearly knew that I was fighting with Consort Han and Consort Han has been humiliating me. Why did she want to treat the sister that has doted on her like this? How could she be so heartless?”
Sheng Chujun stared at her. “Lingwei always said that you were a good sister. She had no idea that you had already turned into an evil witch and would do anything to achieve your goals. And what grudge do you have against my sister that you have to punish her with death?” He lowered his eyes and drew his sword. “However, it is alright. After you die, you can suffer in purgatory.”
Sun Lingshu’s eyes trembled slightly. “They wronged me first…”
All of a sudden, an arrow was shot into Sheng Chujun’s chest.
Holding a bow in his hands, Fu Shui stood atop a man made mountain. He coldly ordered. “Sheng Chujun is trying to kill the Crown Princess, kill him!”
Imperial guards immediately surrounded Sheng Chujun and attacked him mercilessly. The heavily injured Sheng Chujun let out a long hiss and swiped viciously, making the guards retreat temporarily. He then stuck the sword into the ground and with his very last breath, he flung his hand out. The purple sparrow hairpin flew past Sun Lingshu’s face.
Sun Lingshu let out a startled cry as she held her face and panicked. “What are you all doing? Hurry and kill him! Kill him now!”
At that very moment, Sheng Chujun’s head drooped down. He was still standing but was no longer breathing.
Sun Lingshu glared at Sheng Chujun’s body and hugged herself. “Perhaps what he said was true. If he was willing to pretend to believe me, tonight would have ended differently. Why was he so stupid? Why would he risk death just to accuse me?”
“Because he loved too strongly.” Fu Shui picked up the purple sparrow hairpin and handed it over to Sun Lingshu. “Because he hated too strongly.”
Sun Lingshu took the hairpin. “Loved too strongly? Hated too strongly?”
“Once a person loves or hates too much, they will turn into someone crazy and have no regard for any consequences.” Fu Shui informed the guards to get rid of Sheng Chujun’s body.
“Wait.” Sun Lingshu walked up to the body. She trembled as she placed the hairpin in Sheng Chujun’s hands. “I don’t regret killing you but I still want to thank you. Thank you for not disappointing Lingwei.”
Out of nowhere, the faint sound of a flute being played filled the air, mourning for the loss of a young life.
Fu Rou looked at Prince Zhou who was playing the flute.
She did not want to come but the sounds from the flute were so miserable that it did not feel human. She thought of Tutor Qian and the sorrowful way he sang back then. In the end, he was gone. Now, she could no longer ignore this pipe sound and had to come over and take a look. It would be for the best if she was overthinking this. However, if he had something on his mind, perhaps she could help him resolve it and prevent misfortune from happening. Time will never stop moving and cannot be turned back. Life was precious.
Prince Zhou seemed to notice her as he lifted his eyes to look at her. He continued to finish playing the song.
“Which palace rule did I break such that Court Lady Fu is alerted?” He was going to remember which one and break it a lot more in the future.
“Your Highness…” Fu Rou thought about it. “...has disrupted people’s dreams.”
Prince Zhou laughed at himself. “I must definitely be punished for this offense.”
“I am joking.” Fu Rou, however, spoke seriously, “The tune that you just played seemed to hide intense misery. Your Highness must be feeling unsettled.”
“Court Lady Fu, you are also concerned about me?” Does this mean that he still had hope?
Fu Rou did not reply but instead asked, “What happened?”
“Nothing happened. I just recalled stuff that happened in the past.”
He recalled the time when Fu Rou had just entered the palace and embroidered the harmonious lotus for his mother. He recalled the peaceful days when Tutor Qian was by his side, when Sheng Chumu was rumoured to have died in battle and how she begged him to bring her out of the palace with tears in her eyes. He remembered staring at her from afar as she broke down in front of Sheng Chumu’s cenotaph.
“Fu Rou, answer one question of mine.”
“Please ask your question, Your Highness.”
“Sheng Chumu’s feelings have changed and he no longer loves you. If he dies one day, will you still be as heartbroken as you were in the past?”
“Don’t say anymore.” Ultimately, she was not willing for others to talk about things that hurt her.
“Court Lady Fu, you are extremely bold, you actually dare to ask a prince to stop talking. But do you think that you and Sheng Chumu can return to how you were in the past if I keep quiet? You know that you have been hurt, why can’t you forget it? Why can’t you let your wound heal? I really don’t understand a stubborn woman like you. Do you know how I feel when I see you so persistent in carrying out your stubborn ways?”
“I am a persistent person and you already knew it.” Then why did he have to keep trying and make it impossible for them to be friends? “There is no reason for liking a person. Even if Sheng Chumu is a wound in my heart, it is a wound that belongs to me. I don’t want it to heal and I don’t want others to touch it.”
“If your wound does not heal, it will only hurt more with time.”
“I am willing to let it hurt. The more it hurts, the more I can ingrain him in my bones.”
Prince Zhou fell silent as his gaze grew more and more intense. Fu Rou was extremely uncomfortable. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
He was determined. “I want to look at you properly so as to ingrain you in my bones.”
Fu Rou turned and left.
When Prince Zhou returned to his study room, his mother was there. His mother always appeared in Lingxiao Palace at unusual times.
“It has been long since I heard you play the flute.” Concubine Yan smiled before turning serious. “There is news from the Eastern Palace. Do you know about it?”
Prince Zhou nodded.
“As soon as the Crown Prince kills Prince Han, the Emperor will abdicate the Crown Prince. Both the Crown Prince and Prince Han will be taken down and no one will be able to stop you from being the ruler of Great Tang.” All her patience and concessions over the years were finally becoming worth it.
“All credit goes to you for being able to reach the stage it is at today.” He did not know everything right from the beginning. However, Hong Yide’s death made him suspicious.
As an outsider, he could tell that there was someone sabotaging the relationship between the Crown Prince and Prince Han, causing it to deteriorate. Everything then fell into place. Wouldn't he be the person that benefited most from this? However, since he was not the one that set this up. There could only be one person; his mother!
Concubine Yan spoke warmly, “I know that you feel as if you have been pushed to a place where you cannot choose. However, son, this is reality. Everyone's the same. If you are not at the highest position, you will be controlled by others and can only feel suppressed. Don’t worry, after you become the Crown Prince, you will become the Emperor. You can then rest assured and don’t have to feel that way anymore.”
Who asked the Empress to be so overbearing and try to stifle her all the time? The Emperor was the same, if he were any further ahead, how would she and her son live? In addition, just a slight instigation could make the Crown Prince try to get rid of his own biological brother. He would not even have a hint of brotherly relationship with her Ge’er!
Prince Zhou replied blandly, “It is late. Mother, you should head back to rest.”
“Okay, I will go back. You should rest early too.” As Concubine Yan was leaving, she recalled a matter. “Sheng Chumu is like Prince Han’s arm. They always enter and leave court together. Will the assassins be targetting him too?”
“Yes.” With this answer, he fell deep into the mud.
He knew his mother did this for his sake and also understood that his current position was difficult and will be even more difficult in the future. Hence, when his mother told him about this chessboard, he did not have huge objections. He smoothly agreed to becoming a chess piece.
“Sigh, poor Court Lady Fu is going to be depressed again. But a short pain is better than a long pain right?” Concubine Yan looked at her son.
Prince Zhou lowered his eyes, remaining expressionless. He spoke politely, “Have a good night, Mother.”
He understood his mother’s efforts. However, there was also a limit to how much he could tolerate. Ultimately, he still hesitated when it came to these evil plots and the innocent lives that were implicated.Previous Chapter Next Chapter