Translated by gingercat
Edited by gingercat
Without exception, they were all already resting, resting in the same room as their consort. All the eunuchs who had been ordered to run this errand, returned without accomplishing anything.
At Yong Wang’s residence, after the people left, Yong Wang ordered his people to shut the door.
He turned his head to look at Consort Yong and asked, “We’re really not going to do anything?”
Consort Yong leaned on the bed with a lazy posture. She had already changed out of the qinwang consort dress she wore during the day into a set of red undergarments. This set of undergarments showed off her great figure with long legs and a thin waist.
Consort Yong was taller than ordinary women, but not stocky. She had a slender frame, which was just right, neither fat nor thin. Her hair was untied and pulled loosely behind her head. A couple of strands of hair framed her fair face, making her appear especially charming and attractive.
Compared with Consort Yong, Yong Wang seemed to be a lot more anxious. His eyes were faintly bloodshot, and there was a circle of redness on his forehead. This was from knocking his head against the ground at Qianqing Palace earlier. All in all, he was in quite a pathetic state.
In an unprecedented awkward position, Yong Wang never expected that one day he would fall into the hands of Jin Wang.
But he had nowhere to vent his grievances. It wasn’t like he could deny that his men had gone looking for Meng Huoxian. Everything Meng Huoxian said was true, only a small part of it was false. Him hiding in the Imperial Guards was not arranged by Yong Wang, but by Jin Wang.
Back then, Yong Wang only happened to know of the secrets at the right time and had planned to follow the current. He didn’t mean to use this to attack the crown prince, it had only happened in passing. But this was better. At least there was Jin Wang to block it for him.
But he didn’t expect that today, Jin Wang would dig such a big hole for him to jump into, giving him a bruised nose and swollen face. He still had no idea what was to come tomorrow.
“Everyone else is making a move, but we must remain still. You must remember to hold on to your grievances. Father Emperor is prone to suspicion. If he believed that it was done by you, there would be no point for him to continue investigating. See? What happened just now was because someone wanted to fish in troubled waters.”
Yong Wang sat down on the bed. “What do you think happened at Qianqing Palace?”
Consort Yong smiled nonchalantly. “Anyway, it’s definitely not a trivial matter. Wait and see.”
After Empress Wei fainted, Zhao Zuo wanted to follow them to Kunning Palace but was persuaded against it by Li Dequan.
Li Dequan said that the matter between the crown prince and the crown princess must not be leaked out. Now that the matter is under investigation, he must stay calm and not do anything rash.
There was truth to his words. The current situation was simply too bizarre. His Grandfather Emperor had also never treated him like this before.
When Zhao Zuo came back, he found that his father and mother consort were making trouble. At first, it was only the crown prince beating the crown princess, who only cried silently. But then the crown princess could no longer endure and fought back, resulting in a full-on brawl between the couple.
If this was before, no matter what, Zhao Zuo would’ve stepped forward to put a stop to all this and may even help his mother consort. But now, he didn’t want to do anything. There was only one thought in his mind: he was finished.
The Easter Palace had come to an end.
If it was only his father who met with a mishap, the Eastern Palace could have still been salvaged. But the problem was that something had also happened to his mother consort. Both the crown prince and the crown princess had an affair. One had an affair with the concubine of his Father Emperor while the other had an affair with a guard.
And he, as their eldest son, would have a stain on his body that could never be washed away. His parent’s sins were enough to prevent him from inheriting the throne.
Zhao Zuo grew up in the deep imperial palace. He understood people’s hearts, but was even better at playing with people’s hearts.
If the opponent and he were switched, what would he do? He would make a mountain out of a molehill, spread rumours around, and make a big fuss. At the same time, he would put in all his efforts to investigate the other’s life experiences and pour dirty water on whatever he could.
After all, the crown princess was in trouble for having an affair. Who knows if she had relations with other men as well in the past? People were always good at jumping to conclusions and exaggerating things with their imagination.
This time, he wouldn’t even be able to clean himself by jumping into the Yellow River. His Grandfather Emperor was also suspicious by nature. Now bearing the shame of the imperial family, he would either be exiled or suddenly die of an illness.
What could he do?
Behind the door, the crown prince and crown princess seemed to have finally exhausted themselves and stopped fighting.
Zhao Zuo moved his stiff body and looked up at the bright moon in the sky. With his hands clasped behind his back, he said with a bleak expression, “Watch them closely.”
A nearby eunuch bowed his head and said, “Yes.”
The night breeze was cool. Zhao Zuo walked forward at a slow pace without any lanterns lit. The eunuchs who served by his side followed from far away.
The Eastern Palace was very quiet. Once it reached this time of the night, the Eastern Palace would always be filled with silence. But tonight, there was a sudden rush of footsteps. Zhao Zuo lifted his eyes. The owners of the footsteps soon appeared in front of him with anxiety on their faces.
“Your Highness.” The visitor cleared his throat and said, “Something bad happened. The people of Qianqing Palace are spreading the word that someone attempted to assassinate His Majesty by poisoning him.”
Zhao Zuo’s heart jumped, “How is Grandfather Emperor?”
An unspeakable sense of joy filled his heart. If something happened to his Grandfather Emperor, his father wouldn’t lose his crown prince position. But on second thought, if something really did happen to his Grandfather Emperor, his father may have to bear the burden of angering his own father to death. This assassination and poisoning may even be blamed on their Eastern Palace!
With the earlier incidents today, it was inevitable that the Eastern Palace would lose power. Even a cornered dog would jump the wall, so before losing all their power, it was conceivable for them to make a last-ditch effort. What a vicious method!
“His Majesty is fine.”
Hearing these words, Zhao Zuo let out a sigh of relief, but still felt a faint sense of loss in his heart.
“That’s good,” he heard his own voice say.
“His Majesty already ordered people to go to the various residences of the princes. As for whether there would also be people dispatched to the Eastern Palace, only time would tell.”
Zhao Zuo nodded. A glint flashed in his eyes. “Tell him that he has done well.”
From far away, there seemed to be a faint sound of hurrying footsteps, getting closer and closer.
Zhao Zuo turned around and walked back in a hurry. As he walked, he messed up his clothes and hair bun. He was even ruthless enough to give himself two scratches on his face.
The people from Qianqing Palace soon arrived. They saw the eldest imperial grandson standing before the crown prince’s room, dejected. His current appearance could only be described as being an absolute mess.
His hair and clothes were all messed up, and even his face was hurt. The usual grace and elegance were nowhere to be seen.
Li Dequan whispered, “…When the people arrived, His Highness Jin Wang was eating noodles with His Highness Xiaobao and Side Consort Su. His Highness Jin Wang drank a lot during the day and it’s likely that he didn’t eat anything. As soon as he had left Qianqing Palace, he made a trip to the imperial kitchen, woke Old Tu up, and asked him to make a bowl of noodles. You’re aware of what the imperial kitchen is like. The little highness is still young and likely didn’t eat a lot during the banquet. Side Consort Su is also pregnant…
“… As for His Highness Yong Wang, he was already resting with Her Highness Consort Yong. Same with His Highness An Wang. As for the Eastern Palace, His Highness Crown Prince started quarrelling with the crown princess upon returning. His Highness Crown Prince even got physical and none of the servants dared to pull them apart. When the eldest imperial grandson went to pull them apart, he injured himself in the process…”
Li Dequan spoke a lot, while Emperor Hongjing listened in silence.
After a while, Emperor Hongjing said, “So, none of Zhen’s good sons are suspicious, including that one from the Eastern Palace.”
Li Dequan didn’t dare to speak. His entire forehead was covered in sweat. Ever since the evening started, his forehead hasn’t been dry once.
He naturally understood that they were all suspicious, but that wasn’t enough. According to reason, the one from the Eastern Palace is the most suspicious, but who knows whether that is the result of someone framing them.
The Eastern Palace has been misfortunate this entire evening. It wasn’t unlikely for someone to throw another stone down the well.
But Li Dequan didn’t dare to say any of this. Who knows what His Majesty was thinking in his heart? He has served Emperor Hongjing all his life, but this was the first time he had seen His Majesty look like this.
Like a trapped beast. A fearsome beast that had aged, with cloudy eyes, dull claws, and blunt teeth, who could only make an empty show of strength.
All in all, he was getting old. If all this had happened a few years earlier, Li Dequan would have dared to say a few more words. But now, even if he was beaten to death, he didn’t dare to say anything.
Emperor Hongjing sneered but didn’t say a single word. The hall returned to its previous suffocating silence again.