Fu Rou returned to the palace. In front of the palace guards, she personally carried Prince Qin, who was sleeping soundly, and brought him to his palace. When she ensured Prince Qin was settled down, she wanted to return to the Six Offices to handle some matters. However, when she walked past the Imperial Garden, she saw a lot of people looking in the same direction. She found out that Concubine Yan wanted to punish Wei Song and she rushed to Concubine Yan’s palace.
When Fu Rou arrived in the main courtyard, she saw Concubine Yan sitting in front of the palace door. A group of palace personnel surrounded her like they were revering her. Down the stairs, there were two lines of concubines and female officials. They all looked distressed. Although it has not been long since Fu Rou entered the palace, she had once been puzzled as to why Empress Zhangsun was so strict. However, as she saw Concubine Yan bossing everyone around, not caring about what was right and wrong, she finally understood Empress Zhangsun’s benevolence.
Yu He peered down from above haughtily. “Wei Song had personally punished internal attendant Zhi He, causing Zhi He to be unable to escape when Fu An Palace caught on fire and he was burnt alive. Concubine Yan will be punishing Wei Song with a hundred strokes of the cane according to palace rules. This punishment will be carried out in front of everybody.”
Wei Song was furious and shouted, “You want to condemn me, so you are making up a story!”
Concubine Yan ignored him. “There is a mix of good and bad people in the Six Offices and it should have been settled a long time ago. Today, I have invited my various sisters to be witnesses for me. Although Zhi He was wrong, Wei Song should not have carried out the punishment on his own.” She turned to look at Supervisor He. “Supervisor He, am I right?”
Supervisor He flattered her. “Your Highness is right. If anyone makes a mistake in the palace, they should be sent to the office to be dealt with. By locking him up, it means that they are punishing them according to what they deem fit. Wei Song should be punished.”
Concubine Yan looked around. “I am not someone that makes decisions without consulting others. If anyone has anything to say, please speak freely.”
“Your Highness.” Fu Rou walked up and was about to speak her mind.
Concubine Yan had already received the news. “Court Lady Fu, you have just returned and you are already joining in. Aren’t you tired?”
Fu Rou’s expression did not change. “I am in charge of the Six Offices and ensuring that people keep to the palace rules is part of my duties. Your Highness, please do not rush to punish anyone. According to the palace rules, before someone is punished, there is still one thing you have to do.”
Concubine Yan asked, “What?”
“Asking the accused.” Fu Rou asked Wei Song, “Do you admit to your crime?”
Wei Song spoke loudly, “I am the chief of Fu An Palace and I was ordered by Imperial Concubine Wang to deal with the thief. I did not do anything wrong. I do not plead guilty!”
Fu Rou said, “Since Wei Song said that he was acting on orders and Imperial Concubine Wang has passed on, there is no way to prove it. Your Highness should understand that there are things amiss with this. Since there are things that are amiss, the punishment should be withheld.”
“Court Lady Fu, you do not make sense.” Supervisor He was trying to get on Concubine Yan’s good side. “Since there are things amiss, nobles should make the decision. Amongst everyone, Her Highness has the highest status. Naturally, we would look to Her Highness to make the decision.”
“Her Highness does indeed have the power to make the decision.” Fu Rou’s tone changed. “However, I would like to remind Your Highness that everyone's watching to see whether your decision is fair and kind. Do think twice.”
Concubine Yan looked fierce. “I wanted to be kind. However, I cannot tolerate these people who dare to challenge the system. If I let them go this time, it will be a disaster in the future. I can only punish each one I catch severely. Wei Song took the liberty to deliver his own punishment and should be punished. Now, in order to escape the punishment, he is arguing and pushing the blame on Imperial Concubine Wang. To blame the soul of the deceased is yet another crime. With two crimes, he should be punished. His punishment shall now be changed to three hundred strokes of the cane.”
All the noble ladies were startled and started muttering amongst themselves.
Li Baolin murmured to herself, “I told you not to come but you refuse to listen to me. Now you are even arguing with Concubine Yan. Aiya, this is really making me so anxious.”
Fu Rou’s face fell. “Your Highness, you are using someone’s life to demonstrate your power.”
Concubine Yan was feeling happier and happier. “I manage the harem and I have the power. I made the decision to punish him. As a female official, what can you do? You are not that capable yet.” She had already lost out to Fu Rou when it came to talking. Today, they were setting a new score; a pity that Wei Song was the scapegoat.
Yu He took the opportunity to shout, “Begin!”
The internal attendants held heavy rods as they raised it up high. They prepared to punish Wei Song. Fu Rou yelled, “Wait!”
Concubine Yan became fierce. “Court Lady Fu, if you continue to obstruct, I will punish you for being impolite.”
Fu Rou did not relent. “Although Your Highness is determined to punish Wei Song, heaven is kind and kindness comes from above. “
Concubine Yan narrowed her eyes. “I have already made up my mind and will not show kindness to Wei Song!”
Fu Rou shook his head. “Your Highness has misunderstood. I was not referring to you when I said that kindness comes from above. I was referring to Empress Wende. Her Majesty is benevolent and will forgive Wei Song.”
Concubine Yan sneered, “Wei Song brought up the late Imperial Concubine Wang, now you are talking about the late Empress Wende. Do you have problems hearing and fail to understand me? To make an excuse using the dead and ruining their name is a crime! Although you are the head of the Six Offices, you have to be punished when you commit a mistake too. Yu He.”
Yu He respectfully replied, “Here.”
Concubine Yan was thinking how she could finally vent her anger. “Take her down with Wei Song. She shall be punished with two hundred strokes of the cane in order to appease Empress Wende’s soul.”
Yu He also pretended to be almighty. “Men, take down Court Lady Fu!”
Fu Rou was calm and confident as she took out a handkerchief from her chest pocket and lifted it. “I have Empress Wende’s personal order. Who dares to be impolite?”
Everyone was stunned.
Li Baolin hid right in the back. She changed her voice to urge, “Receiving Her Majesty’s personal order.”
Immediately, there was a flurry as everyone kneeled on the ground. In front of so many people, Concubine Yan could not disobey the rules as well. She had no choice but to let Yu He support her to a kneel. “Receiving Her Majesty’s personal order.”
Fu Rou spoke, “This was written personally by Empress Wende and there is a record in Lizheng Palace. You can check to verify. Her Majesty is kind and benevolent. She wrote the word pardon on this to pardon one person from a crime. Wei Song.”
Wei Song was excited. “Here!”
Fu Rou handed the handkerchief over. “This is Her Majesty’s pardon for you.”
“Thank you, Her Majesty!” Wei Song kowtowed as he took the handkerchief. “Her Majesty is benevolent. The Six Offices will remember this deeply!”
Everyone spoke simultaneously, “Her Majesty is benevolent. The Six Offices will remember this deeply!”
Concubine Yan was so angry, her whole body trembled with rage. However, she could not show it now. Wait! Just wait! When her son becomes the Emperor, whoever that has gone against her will pay!
When Fu Rou returned to the Six Offices, she gathered all the female officials. She deliberately called for Supervisor He.
“Remove He Linghua’s female official uniform.” This Supervisor He has been influenced by all sorts of bad things. She does not operate fairly and caused the Managerial Department to be a mess. Today, she will no longer tolerate it.
Palace maids stepped forward to remove Supervisor He’s uniform.
Supervisor He glared at her, “Court Lady Fu, I was only answering truthfully in front of Concubine Yan today. I did not break any rules. What right do you have to remove me? You are doing this out of a personal grudge!”
“I took away your position not because you attempted to flatter Concubine Yan today. It is for other things.” Fu Rou looked behind Supervisor He. “Superior Xu.”
Superior Xu has always been Supervisor He’s right-hand woman. However, Fu Rou could tell that she was different from Supervisor He. There was a hint of suppressed anger in Superior Xu’s eyes.
Superior Xu stepped up and handed a book of accounts to Fu Rou. “He Linghua made use of her position as supervisor to receive bribes. When a female official is to be punished, they just need to bribe her and they would not need to be punished. Those that were not willing to flatter her would be hit even if they did nothing wrong. It is recorded clearly in this book.”
Supervisor He was flustered. “Xu Sanming, to think I treated you like my own sister! You traitor, you will suffer!”
Fu Rou was cold. “The person who takes bribes and bends the law will suffer. Remove her official uniform and lock her up.”
Supervisor He was dragged away.
Superior Xu was uneasy. “Under the pressure of my senior, I have also done many wrong deeds. I do not dare to continue holding the position of superior. Please let me stay in the Lateral Courts as a normal female official.”
Fu Rou replied, “There is nothing better than understanding one’s mistakes and being willing to change. I have seen your work. You have been a superior for five years and the things that you do are still considered fair. The Managerial Department rectifies the entire atmosphere in the palace and cannot be looked down on. You have to be more cautious and disciplined in the future. You must not repeat the disaster that happened with the previous supervisor, He Linghua.”
Superior Zheng was in slight disbelief. “Previous? Court Lady Fu, do you mean…”
Rites Official Wu smiled, “Congratulations, Supervisor Xu.”
Superior Xu was delighted and bowed deeply. “Thank you, Court Lady Fu! In the future, I will set an example with myself and correct the atmosphere in the palace.”
Fu Rou accepted with a smile. Concubine Yan was now holding all the power. She did not know how long she could hold on for. However, for as long as she is in this position, she would handle things impartially and not give up on righteousness.
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Empress Zhangsun and Empress Wende is the same person. I don't know why they have so many names/titles. It's sooooooooo confusing. -_-"