Chapter 94.2: Powerplay

Xinnan was lying flat on the couch. Her face was exhausted and pale. She was no longer angry.

Concubine Yan rushed over. Seeing how Xinnan looked, the hope left in her disappeared. She turned back to glare furiously at Official Zhuang and internally scolded her for being a fool. The first stupid move of hers was to not observe Xinnan properly and did not realise that she was suicidal. The second stupid move was that she did not know when to report it and actually reported it in front of the other concubines.  

Before this, in order to establish her prestige, she momentarily became strict. Today, all the concubines had come to plead for Xinnan. Concubine Yan had made it sound nice and mentioned that she was going to grant Xinnan a pardon. In the end, the situation turned into one that she could not redeem. Having killed the daughter of the Empress, she now had such a bad reputation. Who would dare to truly follow her?

Zhong Yutang came up to report, “When I rushed here, Her Highness had already passed away.”

Yan Zifang cut in, “Looking at Her Highness, she must have taken poison.”

Concubine Yan was burning with fury. She directed her anger at Official Zhuang. “What have you been doing? Who gave you the guts to drive Her Highness to her death?” At this point, she could only find a scapegoat.

Official Zhuang was aghast. “I did everything according to your instructions…” First, starve the Princess for a few days until she has no energy to act wildly.

Yu He stepped up to slap her. “Atrocious! How dare you push the blame to Her Highness?”

Officials Zhuang kneeled and did not dare to say anything more. 

Yan Zifang suddenly said, “Your Highness asked the Rites Office to teach the princess etiquette. This has been a rule in the palace since a long time ago. It is not the first time the Princess has been taught, why would she commit suicide?”

Yu He agreed, “When the late Empress was around, the Princess had also been instructed strictly by Rites Official Situ because of her stubbornness. The Princess’ death is not Your Highness fault.”

Concubine Yan was delighted. Finally, someone was thinking for her.

“Maybe the Princess did not commit suicide but was murdered by someone. Princess Xinnan’s personality is rash and she would occasionally be intolerant towards others. Perhaps…” Yan Zifang paused.

Zhong Yutang cut him off, “Maybe someone hated her and took the chance to put poison in her food, making it seem like Princess Xinnan had committed suicide because of Your Highness’ punishment. They would kill the Princess and frame Your Highness.”

Concubine Yan thought that he was reasonable. “With such intentions, the person must be malicious.”

“The murderer must be in the palace. Your Highness, please hand this issue over to me, I will investigate thoroughly!” Zhong Yutang spoke and glanced towards the palace maids who were crying outside. 

Concubine Yan understood. “I will have to trouble you, General Zhong.”

Zhong Yutang ordered, “Men! Bring all the palace maids back to interrogate them!”

The imperial guards brought the frantic palace maids away. Official Zhuang saw and shrunk in fright.

Yan Zifang noticed, “Your Highness, Official Zhuang was appointed by you to teach the Princess…”

Zhong Yutang was discourteous and cut Yan Zifang off once more, “Because she was appointed by Her Highness, we should arrest her for interrogation in order to bring justice to Her Highness.”

Official Zhuang climbed up to hug Concubine Yan’s leg. “I am extremely loyal to Your Highness! Whenever I help Your Highness to do things, I have never let anything leak…”

Concubine Yan’s face changed. Yu He lowered his voice, “Audacious! You are a female official. It is your duty to serve Her Highness!”

“General Zhong, I will not protect anyone. You can go ahead and investigate properly.” She was just giving up a tiny pawn. Concubine Yan would not even blink for the loss.

Official Zhuang was horrified. “Your Highness! Your Highness, please be gracious! Even if I have no achievements, I have put in a lot of effort all these years. When Your Highness first entered the palace…”

Yu He took out a silk handkerchief and stuffed it into Official Zhuang’s mouth. “General Zhong, this woman spouts nonsense and knows how to lie very well. You should teach her a lesson before she goes around spouting whatever she wants.”

“Please rest assured, Your Highness.” Zhong Yutang looked coldly at Yan Zifang. He tilted his head and left.

Yan Zifang saw but did not pay heed. “Your Highness, since this is a murder, shouldn’t Her Highness’ body be placed in the Imperial Guard Office?”

Concubine Yan nodded. “Let’s shift her to the Imperial Guard Office. Quickly examine the body and protect the princess’ honour.”

 

Fu Shui arrived at Ganlou Palace and greeted Chief Cao, who was standing guard at the main door. Chief Cao smiled lightly, “Imperial Physician Yang, you don’t have to be so courteous.”

Fu Shui was modest. “It is thanks to Chief Cao that we are where we are today. I should be grateful." He looked in and vaguely saw Concubine Yan’s figure through the screen. She was currently feeding the Emperor medicine.

Chief Cao looked at where Fu Shui was looking. “Are you looking for Her Highness for something?”

“I guess I came at the wrong time.” Fu Shui smiled, “I just came to tell Her Highness that using Sheng Chuling as a bait was useful. Sheng Chumu has taken our bait and we can get rid of him tonight.”

Chief Cao was in a daze as he looked at Fu Shui. Fu Shui smiled, “Chief Cao, why are you looking at me like that?”

Chief Cao sighed, “Imperial Physician Yang, you are calm and composed when you speak and are dazzling. You really look like the previous emperor. For a moment, I felt as if I was transported to the past.”

Fu Shui was not surprised. “A grandson would naturally resemble his grandfather. I have things to do. Can you help me tell Her Highness regarding Sheng Chumu?”

Fu Shui turned to leave. Chief Cao stared at his back view for a long time. 

At this moment, Concubine Yan was talking to Yu He while feeding the Emperor medicine.

Yu He reported, “Prince Zhou has found out about Princess Xinnan.”

Concubine Yan sighed, “Is he in a bad mood?”

Yu He spoke with intention, “His Highness is too soft-hearted. If he was as heartless as Fu Shui, it would simplify things.”

Concubine Yan frowned. “Fu Shui has his soft-hearted times as well and he is soft-hearted in the area where he should not be.” Her son just placed high importance on relationships, he was not tolerant to his enemies.

Yu He was silent.

Concubine Yan continued, “As we slowly reach our goal, we have to be decisive. We cannot let any of Zhangsun’s sons live. Especially Li Chengqian, who has been the Crown Prince for years. Letting him live will pose a huge problem. Now the Emperor is unconscious and Li Chengqian and Li Tai are both in the palace, this is an extremely rare opportunity.”

Yu He was in a difficult position. “Fu Shui hardly ever requests anything. But once he does, he is extremely serious. If we ignore his objection and do something to Li Chengqian, I am afraid…”

Concubine Yan narrowed her eyes. “For someone to die, it does not mean we have to do anything. There are times when not doing anything, or doing minimal things, is sufficient.”

Yu He understood what she meant. “Fu Shui has been very busy recently. He should not be visiting the Internal Attendant Prison. The relationship between the Crown Prince and Prince Han is fragile and cannot be agitated. If we just do something small, we can make both of them suffer.”

Concubine Yan was comforted. “Very good.”

But not all things would go as smoothly as Concubine Yan wished. For example, that very night, the Imperial Guards Office caught on fire and burnt the room that Xinnan’s corpse was in…

When Concubine Yan heard Zhong Yutang report, she could not help but become furious.

“Recently, the weather has been very dry and it is easy for fires to break out.” Zhong Yutang did not want to take responsibility. “I used the quickest fire rescue team to put out the fire and put it out before the fire got any worse. If I did not do so, the consequences would have been dire.”

Concubine Yan was furious, “It is okay to burn anything but it actually burned the room that Xinnan’s body was in. Did we manage to retrieve the Princess’ body?”

Zhong Yutang shook his head. “That was the area that was affected the most. Not to mention the corpse, even her bones will be difficult to find.”

There has already been small talk regarding Xinnan’s death. With what happened today, there was no way for her to make up for it. As she thought about this, Concubine Yan was extremely unhappy.

Zhong Yutang immediately used Yan Zifang as a sacrificial victim. “This is all because Yan Zifang shifted Princess Xinnan’s body to the Imperial Guard Office without asking me. If I knew that the Princess’ body was there, I would have instructed them to be more careful.”

Yan Zifang was dissatisfied with looking weak and attacked back coldly. “I would have stayed silent but since General Zhong wants to push the blame on me, I have to tell the truth.”

Concubine Yan raised her brows. “What truth?”

Yan Zifang said, “The reason why the fire grew so big so quickly was because there was a huge stash of wine in the Imperial Guard Office. General Zhong enjoys drinking and would drink during every meal. When the fire came into contact with the wine, it caused the body to be burned until nothing was left.”

Concubine Yan’s gaze was piercing as she stared at Zhong Yutang. “Is what Yan Zifang said true?”

Zhong Yutang was in an awkward position. “This...my subordinates demanded to pledge their loyalty to me and gave it to me to celebrate my promotion. I had intended to give them back in a few days. I never thought…”

“Stop talking!” Zhong Yutang had been personally selected by her, now she had no choice but to suffer in silence. “And the issue with Xinnan’s corpse cannot be known to others. Hurry and find a replacement body. General Yan, please oversee this.”

Zhong Yutang’s expression was horrible.

Yan Zifang accepted. “Yes. I will handle it properly. From what I see now, Princess Xinnan might not have committed suicide but she was actually murdered by Official Zhuang. What does Your Highness think about Official Zhuang committing suicide for her crime?”

Concubine Yan smiled. “No wonder Fu Shui always praises you for being capable. You dare to think and act. Let’s go according to your suggestion.”

Yan Zifang took his leave. Zhong Yutang wanted to fight for himself. “Your Highness…”

Concubine Yan’s expression was cold. “Aren’t you leaving! You can’t even do something so small. How can I count on you to do bigger things!”

Zhong Yutang was dejected as he left. Yu He stepped up. “Please don’t be angry, Your Highness, don’t hurt your health.”

Concubine Yan shook her head and let out a deep breath. Ever since Xinnan’s incident, she had been feeling unsettled. However, she did not know why. She hoped that she was thinking too much. Xinnan was just a princess. In the future, the entire world would belong to her son and she would have power. Everyone would be beneath her.

 

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Coca's Thoughts

In the drama, Xinnan supposedly dies in a fire.