Peace did not last for many days in the palace before the dark wave surged violently once again.
Yu He and Zhong Yutang brought the imperial guard army to search everywhere. They said that Fu Rou had an ulterior motive and was impolite to Concubine Yan and they were capturing her for her crime. The people in the Six Offices were frantic. No one knew that it was Fu Rou that took away the Emperor’s Seal and caused Concubine Yan to be unable to place the seal on the imperial decree that she worked so hard to fabricate. Moreover, Prince Zhou’s request for all the ministers and officials to gather had already been sent out. It will be extremely disgraceful if they could not produce the imperial order for succession by then. Hence, Concubine Yan could not care anymore and openly looked for her.
Fu Rou hid in a desolated garden. The good thing about being a court lady was that she knew the Royal Palace like the back of her hand. Imperial Physician He had recently drowned in this place and Concubine Yan had instructed for the garden to be locked up. She would not guess that Fu Rou would dare to hide here. Fu Rou looked down to see the small pouch that she was gripping tightly. She could not help but laugh bitterly. She never thought that there would be a day where she would be able to touch the Emperor’s Seal.
This thing was really so heavy, it made her frantic. However, Yu Minchen, who was in charge of guarding the Emperor’s Seal, had said that he could not make a move or it would alert their opponents. The only thing that he could do was to hand it over to her. He would try his best to help her as much as he could. She was startled as she thought that he would not believe her. After all, Concubine Yan was now in control of the internal palace. Even the imperial guards were under her control. Unexpectedly, Yu Minchen said that before the Emperor fell sick, he had sent out an imperial decree to suppress Prince Zhou. However, Chief Cao had intercepted and taken it away saying that the Emperor had changed his mind. From that moment, he started to suspect that there was something going on with Chief Cao. It was then that Fu Rou found out that Yu Minchen was an agent that Empress Zhangsun had put in place.
All of a sudden, there were murmurs.
Fu Rou silently walked to the back of the garden’s door. She peered out through a crack. She saw quite a number of guards run in a particular direction. She made a guess as to where they were going and her expression changed. It was Concubine Qiao’s palace. She knew that things were bad.
As Concubine Qiao saw the imperial guards search the entire palace, she was fearful. What she feared came through as she saw several guards rush into her palace to search.
“Why are you all searching even my bedroom?” She tried her best to look angry.
“We are acting on Concubine Yan and General Zhong’s orders. We cannot leave any place left unsearched.” One guard remained persistent.
“I am His Majesty’s concubine and my bedroom is where His Majesty and I sleep. Who are you to barge in? Aren’t you all afraid of blaspheming the Emperor?” Concubine Qiao refused to let them through.
“What are you all standing around for?” Yu He walked in.
Concubine Qiao froze before putting on an amicable and friendly expression, “Chief Yu, you came just in time. These imperial guards do not know their place….”
“Concubine Qiao, you are a close sister to Concubine Yan. Since Fu Rou offended Concubine Yan, you should be leading the cooperation. You won’t be going against her right?” Yu He sneered.
“This…” Concubine Qiao’s face froze, “Of course not…”
Yu He tilted his chin at the imperial guards. The imperial guards rushed in and searched the cabinets.
Concubine Qiao was slightly anxious and Yu He could tell. “Your Highness, please rest assured. We won’t damage anything. They look clumsy but are actually very meticulous.”
Concubine Qiao forced a smile but continued staring at them. She saw one of the guards move to the bed and bend down to knock the wooden frame. He gave a suspicious look and continued to knock it a few more times.
Yu He noticed, “What is the matter?”
Concubine Qiao’s expression was frantic. She was panicking internally and did not dare to continue looking. She averted her gaze.
“Court Lady Fu!” She blurted out. Yu He immediately turned around. “Where?”
Concubine Qiao pointed at the main gate. “There!”
Yu He looked over and saw Fu Rou standing outside the door, looking around. As soon as their gazes locked, she turned and ran.
Yu He shouted and ran, “Stop searching, hurry and chase her!”
All the imperial guards ran out and followed Yu He on the chase.
Concubine Qiao breathed a huge sigh of relief. She walked into the bedroom and closed the door. When she reached her bed, she opened the wooden frame.
“It is alright. You can come out.”
A person came out from under the bed. She had round eyes and a face like cotton wool. It was Princess Xinnan. Fu Rou had given her the pill to fake her death and she managed to escape from Concubine Yan. After that, Xinnan had been staying in Concubine Qiao’s palace. Concubine Qiao had been convinced by Li Baolin. If Concubine Yan were to become the Empress, no one would be able to live well. She agreed to take in Xinnan out of consideration for her own daughter.
“It is alright?” Xinnan had been frightened to death.
“They were trying to catch Court Lady Fu. But she knew that you were here and purposely exposed herself to draw away their attention.” Concubine Qiao’s guess was accurate.
“As expected of Court Lady Fu, my Sister-in-law--” Xinnan sighed. She suddenly refocused. “They are looking for her and she exposed herself to save me. Then…”
Concubine Qiao nodded. There was nothing they could do.
Ultimately, Fu Rou could not escape the imperial guards’ pursuit and was brought to Concubine Yan. Luckily, she had hidden the Emperor’s Seal before things happened. Concubine Yan could not get her to talk and ordered Yu He to capture all the female officials from the Six Offices. If Fu Rou remained silent, she would start to kill the female officials.
Fu Rou was temporarily locked in a storage room. The door was locked and she could not escape through the small ventilation window. She was feeling anxious.
There was a sound of a bird call. Yang Bo’s face appeared through the window.
Fu Rou was delighted, “Yang Bo!”
“I heard that you got captured and found a way to sneak in.” Yang Bo looked worried, “You ah. If you had just taken the pill to fake your death, you could have been living freely outside the palace now. Why are you still going against Concubine Yan?”
“There are some things that must be done.” Fu Rou knew that if she escaped her responsibility, she would not be able to escape the guilt. “Yang Bo, help me do something.”
“What do you need help with?”
“Concubine Yan and her group have forged an imperial decree for succession. All that is missing is the Emperor’s Seal. Prince Zhou has already called for all the ministers to gather and they are all waiting in the main palace. Think of a way to make the hundreds of officials expose them.”
Yang Bo trembled, “I will not get involved! When it comes to these kinds of things, a small mistake will lead to a horrible death. It is better if I remain out of it.”
Fu Rou spoke meaningfully, “Once their conspiracy succeeds, Great Tang will crash and the golden age will turn into a world of chaos. Not a single Great Tang citizen will be spared. If you stand out, you will be able to move the world and save the country. Yang Bo, ask yourself. Isn’t this the extremely rare chance that you have been waiting for?”
Yang Bo started to hesitate, “Even if I go to the main hall, will those ministers know who I am? I don’t have any proof. They won’t believe me.”
“You have proof.” Fu Rou believed in Yang Bo. “The Emperor’s Seal is in my hands. As long as you take the Emperor’s Seal and tell the ministers that this was personally handed over to you by the official guarding the Emperor’s Seal, even if they do not trust you, they will have suspicions. As soon as they suspect something, they will investigate. This will be our chance to turn things around.”
Yang Bo asked, “Where is the Emperor’s Seal?”
Fu Row lowered her voice and solemnly entrusted the task over to him. “It is buried under an old pomegranate tree by the pavilion next to the lake. Yang Bo, I am counting on you.”
Yang Bo repeated, “The old pomegranate tree next to the pavilion by the lake.”
Fu Rou was not suspicious of him. “Yes.”
Yang Bo suddenly tilted his head and shouted, “The Emperor’s Seal is hidden under the old pomegranate tree by the pavilion next to the lake!”
Chief Cao smiled as he appeared at the window. “Yang Bo, you have done well. From today on, you will enjoy wealth and rank.”
Fu Rou was shocked. Her eyes reflected disbelief. “Yang Bo, you…”
Yang Bo cut her off, “Do you still remember my good brother, Yang Hou? Because he helped the palace maid, Li Chun’er, bring arsenic to kill rats in the palace, he was beaten to death by Empress Zhangsun. A person’s life is not even worth rats. I swore to avenge him. The best revenge against Zhangsun is to help Prince Zhou ascend the throne and forever be above Zhangsun’s sons.”
Fu Rou’s eyes were filled with pain. “You are willing to throw away the citizens' future just for revenge?”
Yang Bo spoke, “No. It is like you said. I want to do something huge. I want to save Great Sui, which has been forgotten by people and become the hero of Great Sui.”
Fu Rou felt pathetic. “Do you know how the brutal Sui Court tyrannized the citizens? Do you know how many people have died far away from their homes because of the forced heavy labour? Because of your personal revenge, your personal gains, you caused hundreds of thousands of people to suffer what happened in the past all over again?”
Chief Cao turned to leave. “Why do you need to bother talking to her? Yang Bo, let’s go!”
Yang Bo paused for a while and ultimately forced himself to say, “The world is so big and has nothing to do with me. I am a practical person. I will be good to whoever treats me well. I will take revenge on anyone that has maltreated me. Court Lady Fu, you have always been good to me. This time, I have wronged you. When I succeed, I will repay you.”
Fu Rou’s eyes widened as she saw Yang Bo leave with Chief Cao. She slid down the wall in disappointment and hugged her knees. She thought that as long as she was true to others, she would be able to gain their sincerity in return. However, ultimately, she could not win over people’s desires. A human’s heart was hard to comprehend. She had overestimated herself.
She did not know how long she sat for. Bom bom bom! Someone was knocking on the window!
Fu Rou looked up. She never expected it to be Attendant Huang.
“Have you sided with Concubine Yan as well?” She was too foolish. This was Concubine Yan’s palace. How could Yang Bo have found a way in?
“Even if I want to, would Chief Cao let me? I have always been a thorn in his eye. If I gain power, won’t he come for my life? Now, I can only hang on this unreliable tree of yours. Fu Rou, you can’t quit now. Empress Wende looked upon you so highly. She was hoping for you to save everyone.”
She laughed bitterly when she heard this. “They have already taken the Emperor’s Seal away. What else can I do?”
“With effort, one can achieve anything. There is no battle that is guaranteed to fail.” Attendant Huang had been forced to be anxious.
This phrase echoed in Fu Rou’s heart. She suddenly remembered Chumu telling her something similar. When the battle was not in your favour, one had to make the best use of everything they got. In this palace, Concubine Yan and Prince Zhou’s true opposition was not her and Attendant Huang.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I did not expect Yang Bo to betray Fu Rou...
Remember how all those poor servants died in the past? It seemed like it wasn't significant, but it matters. Karma...
Also, what do you think Fu Rou's plan is?