Lu Yingying was wearing a criminal’s outfit as she kneeled in front of the Emperor. Every time she met the Emperor, she was treading on thin ice. This was including the time she met him just after she got married.
The Emperor’s expression was unfathomable. “I heard that you surrendered.”
Lu Yingying lowered her eyes. “Yes.”
“Back then when your father and brother had been imprisoned, you wore your father’s armour and kneeled for several days and nights. You almost died. Today, Grand Prince Liang was part of the rebellion. You had already escaped yet you turned back to surrender yourself. In other people’s eyes, they all think that you are a kind and virtuous woman.”
The Emperor suddenly slammed his hand on the table and lifted a document with trembling hands. His gaze was strict. “The good things that you have done were all written down! This is the document that Grand Prince Liang wrote to accept his punishment. The first half was all about him realising his mistake and his regrets. The second half was all his angry complaints about you. The Grand Emperor directed the marriage and the Empress ignored her own health to personally prepare the wedding. This was a huge blessing. If you were even a little grateful, you should have done your part after you married into the Liang Residence. Not only did you not serve your mother-in-law well, you were rude to her. You made use of Imperial Concubine Sun’s kind and timid personality to contradict her all the time. You did not even serve her medicine after she fell sick from quarreling with you.”
Lu Yingying was astonished. “Although I am young and may not understand things, I have never…”
“How dare you try to argue in front of me! No matter how indignant Grand Prince Liang is, would he lie in his last words?”
“Last words?” Lu Yingying was shocked, “Grand Prince Liang…”
Chief Cao supplemented from the side, “Grand Prince Liang has already taken poisoned wine.”
Lu Yingying covered her mouth as tears streamed down her face. “In the end, was he filled with hatred towards me?”
The Emperor only took it as if she was pretending. “Grand Prince Liang has committed suicide and paid for what he did. However, these matters are separate. You neglected my younger brother. Although he is no longer around, I will deal with you on his behalf. Lu Yingying was not filial to her mother-in-law and her actions have been contradictory. She has gone against the Seven Articles. Seeing how you did not take part in the rebellion, I will help my brother divorce you. You are to be chased out immediately!”
The internal attendant pulled Lu Yingying, who was palpitating in fear, to stand and brought her out of Ganlou Palace forcefully. He pushed her to the ground once they were out. Lu Yingying crawled up and seemed to drift like a ghost, without caring which direction she was heading into. She drifted until someone blocked her path.
It was Fu Rou. She was holding a set of clothes in her hands.
“Do you remember the first time we spoke face to face? On that day, I lend you my clothes. This should be the last time.” She hoped that she could be free from today onwards.
Lu Yingying cried, “When you saw him for the last time, did he hate me?”
“No.” Fu Rou placed the clothes over her shoulders. “In the end, not only did he admit to his mistake, he knew how to forgive. He left with the hope for you to live on happily. Yingying, because of your kindness and Grand Prince Liang’s love, the world is a better place. The both of you showed me hope.”
Li Baolin was walking in the garden when she saw a small cluster of bright yellow winter jasmine blooming by the lakeside. As she looked at these beautiful flowers, she stopped to look at them more closely.
All of a sudden, she felt raindrops on her face. She lifted her head only to realise that dark clouds had filled the sky. She rushed to a pavilion, only to bump into an internal attendant who was also trying to avoid the rain. The circular fan she was holding fell to the ground.
The internal attendant quickly picked it up and handed it over. “Please forgive me, Your Highness.”
When Li Baolin saw the internal attendant’s face, she was startled. He was the internal attendant that intentionally threw a letter on the ground on the night that Prince Zhao sent the secret letter.
A dark look flashed across the internal attendant’s eyes. “Your Highness, do you recognise me?”
Li Baolin refocused as she smiled slightly and took the fan. She spoke smartly, “I am looking at you because I don’t recognise you. You do not look familiar, did you just enter the palace?”
The internal attendant smiled and replied, “I have been in the palace for the past seven to eight years. However, I have always been serving the various chiefs in the Internal Attendant Department and did not have the fortune to send things or messages to the various concubines. As a result, I have never really shown my face to Your Highnesses and no one really recognises me.”
Li Baolin pretended to come to a realisation. “No wonder. Then why are you in the Imperial Garden today instead of the Internal Attendant Department?”
“Your Highness, look at the weather recently, it is as if it had seen a ghost. It can be extremely sunny one moment and be flashing with lightning the next. It rains like it is pouring water. Chief Cao was worried that the road would be slippery and Your Highnesses would slip and fall. Hence, he instructed me to check the various small paths to see if there are any that needs to be repaired or swept and quickly report them.”
Li Baolin praised him. “You look young but seem pretty capable.”
The internal attendant was no longer on guard. “In the royal palace, if we are not capable, the days will not be easy. I don’t want to hide from you but I am also good at pruning flowers and trees. In the future, if Your Highness needs any help, feel free to call me.”
Li Baolin remained friendly. “You speak really well. What is your name?”
“My name is Zhi He.”
Outside Ganlou Palace, the Emperor was standing under the roof as he watched the pouring rain. Fu Rou walked up to him and greeted him politely, “Thank you for being lenient and forgiving Consort Liang, Your Majesty.” Deep down, everyone knew the intention of Grand Prince Liang’s final letter.
“What a huge spring rain to start a good year.” The Emperor drew out a long breath. “Grand Prince Liang was Grand Emperor’s favourite son. He was arrogant, ruthless, reckless and treated women like weeds. Yet, he was willing to admit to his mistakes before he died. I am certain that he doesn't truly feel like he has done me wrong but he just wanted to save Lu Yingying. That is why he purposely sucked up to me.”
“Your Majesty…” Fu Rou did not know what to say.
“It doesn’t matter if he was real or was pretending, after all he was willing to admit to his mistakes. He has been preposterous his entire life. However, in the end, he knew how to love a woman and tried his best to protect her. As his elder brother, I am heartened.” The Emperor turned and walked into Ganlou Palace.
Fu Rou bowed deeply towards the Emperor’s back before lifting her umbrella and walking down the steps. She walked through the pathway and listened to the sound of raindrops falling on the oiled paper umbrella. It was rare that she was feeling happy. She was not Lu Yingying and did not experience what Lu Yingying had gone through, but had learned to strive to remain as herself.
When she was about to reach the Six Offices, the rain subsided to a drizzle. Fu Rou lifted the umbrella slightly and suddenly saw Li Baolin standing in front of her, with a serious look on her face.
“I have something to tell you.” Li Baolin pulled Fu Rou back to her Huayin Palace.
After Fu Rou listened to her, she felt anxious. “Why didn’t you tell me something so important earlier?”
“Prince Zhao’s rebellion and his exposed secret letter is something that heavily implicates anyone who is even slightly involved. In the past, I would never have gotten involved.”
Fu Rou laughed, “Then what gave you the courage now?”
Li Baolin became awkward. “I forced myself. The royal palace is so big and there are so many internal attendants. Yet, I happened to bump into him in the Imperial Garden. I don’t know if he knows something and was trying to test me. I am afraid that I would be silenced before I can say anything.”
“You have done well.” Fu Rou rejoiced that she was quick-witted. “Did you see him purposely throw the letter onto the ground before alerting the guards to it?”
Li Baolin nodded definitively. “In order to catch the attention of the guards, he threw a stone to make a sound.”
Fu Rou fell silent for a while. “I understand. I will handle it.”
Li Baolin was worried. “Be careful, the Internal Attendant Department is quite powerful. It will not be good if the Six Offices go against them.”
Fu Rou smiled slightly, “He is just a low-ranked internal attendant, why would I go against the entire Internal Attendant Department?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I feel bad for Grand Prince Liang. :( Despite him being such an evil person, he learned how to "love" in the end. In the drama, he actually could've gotten away but he returned to his residence for Yingying (because he didn't want to leave her behind). He was really disappointed when his servant told him she left willingly with Yan Zifang. But with all the evil stuff he had done, it wouldn't really be fair if he had a good ending when so many good characters have already died. Sigh.