The Crown Prince and Fu Shui were playing chess.
The Crown Prince already knew what happened with Shuangxi and Sheng Chujun. He did not blame Sun Lingshu at all. He simply wrote it as Sheng Chujun believing a despicable servant’s words and choosing to assassinate the Crown Princess. His death was deserving.
“Did the Crown Princess poison Sun Lingwei?” The Crown Prince only asked this now.
Fu Shui was about to set down a chess piece when his actions halted. “Since when did you suspect it, Your Highness?”
The Crown Prince’s eyes dimmed. “After Sun Lingwei passed away, the Crown Princess asked me a weird question. She asked me if Sun Lingwei’s death was worth it. I started to suspect it from that moment.”
Actually, it was not hard to guess. If the Han couple were to actually poison the jujube cakes, it would be like confessing without duress. At that time, he had been furious and did not think much of it. However, as time passed, he felt like something was wrong. Now, the bow had been pulled and he had no choice but to release it.
Fu Shui asked, “Since you were suspicious, why didn’t you ask the Crown Princess?”
“She is my wife and the mother of my child.” Sun Lingshu had changed. She became cruel and vicious all because of him.
He still remembered that petal rain. She was like a fairy descending on earth. If not for the precarious state that he was in, there would be no need for her to resort to such unscrupulous deeds in order to help him. Therefore, he could not abandon her.
Fu Shui suddenly said, “The Crown Princess could kill her own sister for you. Your love moves me. If one day, Your Highness needs me to die...”
The Crown Prince looked up abruptly and stared straight at Fu Shui. He cut him off, “That will never happen! I told you that we have to be close friends for life. It doesn’t matter if I am the Crown Prince or the Emperor, no matter how my status changes, you will be you and I will be me. We will play chess together and talk about our troubles. From the day when you appeared in front of me, I was grateful. Grateful that heaven returned my best friend to me. I said that I would protect you and will not let the same thing that happened to Chen Ji happen to you. I will do it and I will not change.”
Fu Shui was slightly moved. “What if you don’t change but I do?”
“If you do change one day, then hide it from me, don’t let me find out. Let me only remember our friendship.” He did not have any more wishes in this life.
Fu Shui was in a daze for a while before he laughed. “Your Highness, can you not give such a serious expression? You are scaring me.”
The Crown Prince smiled as well. “I have so many troubles and can only joke around to make myself feel more comfortable.” His sleeve accidentally knocked off a chess piece. He bent over to pick it up.
As Fu Shui looked at the Crown Prince, something shifted in his heart and he muttered, “Maybe you should consider shifting back tomorrow’s plan. One mistake and the entire game will be lost.”
As the Crown Prince straightened his back, his face was full of questions. “What did you say? Entire game will be lost?”
Fu Shui controlled his expression as he laughed to cover it. “I said that you have lost this game.”
“You are the one that lost.” The Crown Prince confidently placed one chess piece on the board. “Look, your huge dragon is gone.”
Fu Shui replied, “Mmhm, gone.”
It turns out the feeling of sorrow is like the warm fire being put out in winter. The fire has been extinguished and the heart has turned cold.
Fu Rou was in the main hall of the Eastern Palace. Yesterday, the Six Offices received the report that the Crown Princess’ servant, Shuangxi, was careless and fell into a well. She had drowned.
If it were other people, Fu Rou would not have suspected anything. However, this was someone she had crossed paths with before. In the beginning, when the Crown Princess had been targetting her, Shuangxi was her attentive helper and was extremely loyal to the Crown Princess. Moreover, Shuangxi accompanied the Crown Princess when she married into the palace. How could she die in such a strange manner?
Sun Lingshu walked out from the inner hall and sat down. She adopted an arrogant posture. “She was just a palace maid yet you came all the way here for her. There are so many things to do in the Six Offices, will you be able to handle everything if you attend to everything personally?”
Fu Rou could sense that she was not welcomed. However, she remained calm. “Shuangxi is different from regular palace maids. She entered the palace along with Your Highness. I should come over. Please do not be too sad, Your Highness.”
Hearing Fu Rou try to console her, Sun Lingshu recalled that she should be feeling upset and she frowned. “It is hard not to be upset. After all, she has served me for so many years.”
Fu Rou stared intensely at her. Sun Lingshu felt guilty. “Court Lady Fu, what are you looking at?”
Fu Rou pointed to her own face. “Here. How did Your Highness’ face get injured?”
Sun Lingshu touched her own face, it was the scar from the hairpin. She did not expect Fu Rou to notice even after she had powdered her face. She could only come up with an excuse. “Xiang’er accidentally scratched me yesterday. It is no big deal.”
“Didn’t the Imperial Grandson enter the palace yesterday?” As she was managing the Six Offices, Fu Rou was very alert. “Imperial Concubine Wang loves young children and requested for him to stay the night. Shouldn’t he still be at Fu An Palace now?”
“Yesterday, when I was carrying him to Fu An Palace, he was playing around and scratched me.” One lie could only be covered with another lie.
Fu Rou nodded. “You should not put face powder on your wound. Although it can cover it slightly, it is not good for the wound.”
Sun Lingshu was courteous. “Thank you for your reminder, Court Lady Fu.”
Fu Rou pretended not to be paying attention. “So how did Shuangxi die?”
Sun Lingshu was extremely alarmed. “Didn’t they report it? The internal attendants were collecting water when they found her body in the well. Perhaps she could not see the well properly and had fallen in last night.”
“That does not make sense. It is not like Shuangxi had just entered Eastern Palace. She is already very familiar with this place. She should know very well that there is a well there.”
Sun Lingshu was unhappy. “Are you here to console me or interrogate me?”
Fu Rou remained calm. “I would not dare. I simply think that it is strange. The Six Offices manage various kinds of things. Anything that happens in the palace, regardless whether it is a small or large issue, will implicate the Six Offices. However, you are also right. The Six Offices should not be investigating. If there are any doubts surrounding a palace maid’s death, the scroll should be handed over to Chief Cao from the Internal Attendant Department and they should be the one in charge of investigating things. The Six Offices will cooperate with them. Oh right, Prince Han is also the official in charge of Internal Affairs, a copy should be handed over to him as well.”
Sun Lingshu pretended to be composed as she took a sip of tea. She accidentally scalded her tongue and hissed in pain, throwing the cup down.
“Ah, my clothes are wet. Let me go and change. Please wait a moment, Court Lady Fu.” Sun Lingshu felt as if Fu Rou had noticed something amiss and wanted to look for Fu Shui to discuss with him.
Fu Rou looked coldly at Sun Lingshu as she left the hall in a hurry. Fu Rou drank her tea as well.
Strange. The tea was warm. Moreover, the two cups were served one after the other. How could one be scalding hot while the other warm?
When she entered the Eastern Palace, she had noticed that something was not right. The place was heavily guarded and the number of guards had increased. She had barely sat and she already saw two patrolling groups go past. Everyone had swords on them as if they were ready to draw their swords at any time. In addition, the Crown Princess was hardly depressed but seemed more panicky. She had just asked a few questions and the Crown Princess was already startled. Shuangxi’s death was extremely suspicious and the way the Eastern Palace was behaving made her feel as if something big was about to happen. She felt like she should not stay here any longer. However, at a time like this, the more anxious she seemed, the more suspicious she would appear. Hence, she drank her tea and sat calmly.
Sun Lingshu entered from the inner hall. This time, when facing Fu Rou, her expression was completely different. “I don’t have many good people by my side. Shuangxi was someone I had taught for so many years, thinking that she could become my confidante and help me handle family matters. Who would have known that she would leave me like this. If things were to be blown up to the Internal Attendants Department and they want to investigate, my reputation would be ruined.”
Fu Shui told her to watch Fu Rou’s expression carefully. If Fu Rou persists that Shuangxi’s death is suspicious or she beats around the bush, it would mean that Fu Rou knows something is up. If Fu Rou rushes to leave, it would also mean the same thing. This was the most critical period for the Eastern Palace and they could not let her go if that was the case. If not, there would be consequences.
Fu Rou replied, “Your Highness, you have misunderstood. I said that if a palace maid’s death is suspicious, we would have to hand the matter over to the chief of the Internal Attendants Department to investigate. However, Shuangxi fell into the well by accident. Although it is a pity, things are clear and there is no reason to hand the matter over to the Internal Attendants Department.”
Sun Lingshu silently breathed a sigh of relief. “You are right.”
From afar, there were guards passing by again. Fu Rou glanced out. Sun Lingshu immediately took note of her every move and tested, “Court Lady Fu, are you in a rush to get back?”
Fu Rou looked back at her and answered seriously, “I am in no rush. Today, I came mainly because there are things from the Six Offices that I need to report to Your Highness.”
As she spoke till here, she gestured for her accompanying palace maid to bring over a stack of books. She then talked endlessly to Sun Lingshu on the Eastern Palace’s expense, rules for selecting palace maids annually and practices regarding their stock of gold and silver etc.
Sun Lingshu usually only cared about the Crown Prince. Whatever Fu Rou was telling her was causing her to become confused. As she saw the sun start to set, she yawned.
Fu Rou asked, “Are you tired, Your Highness?”
“I am not tired but I already know everything that you said.” To outsiders, she was a valiant female master.
“That’s good.” Fu Rou looked at the sky. “Oh, look at me, once I start talking I cannot stop. It is already so late. I wonder if you have any other instructions for me, Your Highness?”
Sun Lingshu thought about how Fu Rou chattered on and on. She guessed that Fu Rou did not find anything strange and sent her off. She did not want to ruin the huge event that was going to happen today.
“I don’t have anything for you. Court Lady Fu, you have many things to do, I won’t keep you back any longer.” Sun Lingshu got up and personally sent Fu Rou off.
Fu Rou found it strange but did not say anything. She followed her to the front steps. “Your Highness, you don’t have to send me off. I will take my leave now.” Fu Rou walked down the steps and headed towards the Eastern Palace’s main gate. Her steps were unhurried.
Sun Lingshu looked at Fu Rou’s back view for a while. She could not see any indication of anything suspicious and turned to head back into the palace.
All of a sudden, a shriek pierced through the cold air.Previous Chapter Next Chapter