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   Chapter 74 Seeking Proof

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 18421

Updated: 2018-08-24 19:31

Yun Shang was shocked. What did Lady Shu mean by this? Whenever a concubine in the Palace got pregnant, Prince Jing would order Lady Shu to get rid of the unborn child? Yun Shang could only feel coldness spreading from the bottom of her heart.

Although Prince Jing was an adopted son of the late Emperor, he was still a Prince. It would be unwise to assume that he did not covet the throne. Moreover, Prince Jing was a valiant warrior. Most of the country's territory was either conquered or guarded by him. However, if the Emperor had a son, the throne would surely belong to his son. As Prince Jing desired the throne, the best option for him would be to prevent father from having a male child. Prince Jing was over twenty years younger than the Emperor. If father had no heir of his own, after father's death, the throne could only be Prince Jing's.

Yun Shang had been thinking that Prince Jing's biggest opponent in the Imperial court was the Li clan. She was expecting Prince Jing to take action in the court. On the contrary, he had carefully set up a plan with Lady Shu in the Imperial household. While Yun Shang had figured out the alliance between Lady Shu and the Prince, she hadn't managed to understand their plan. Now Yun Shang realized that Prince Jing was the wiliest person she knew. She could also see that he knew how to achieve his goal while maintaining his composure.

If this only concerned other people, Yun Shang would watch the fight from a distance. But now the situation was different, as Lady Jin was pregnant as well. In this Palace, if someone else, even the Empress, wanted to harm Lady Jin's child, Yun Shang felt sure that she could prevent it. But if she were up against Prince Jing, Yun Shang was unsure that she would be able to secure a complete victory.

Lady Shu and her maid walked further and further away. However, Yun Shang stood still for a long time. Her mind was registering what she had just heard, and she was thinking of how she would deal with it.

A long time passed before Yun Shang came out from behind the trees and returned to Qingxin Palace.

When Yun Shang went to Qiwu Palace to pay her respects to the Empress the next day, she saw that Hua Jing was there, too. Yun Shang paid her respects in a courteous manner and stood in front of the two. Perhaps because the Empress was pregnant, Hua Jing was in a great mood as well. She did not say anything about what happened at the banquet. Yun Shang stood there for a while before deciding that she needed to be elsewhere. Yun Shang had originally intended to return to Qingxin Palace, but when she was half way there, she changed her mind and headed for the Palace gate.

Having left the Palace, Yun Shang went straight to Prince Jing's mansion. When she arrived, the guards at the gate saw her and opened the gates to the mansion without asking any questions. However, it was only after entering Prince Jing's mansion that Yun Shang discovered that he had gone to drill the soldiers at the training ground outside the city.

"Princess, the Prince should be back soon. I'll serve Your Highness a cup of tea while you wait here." The butler said in a low voice, then turned around and ordered the attendants to make tea.

Yun Shang sat for about an hour before Prince Jing returned to the mansion. He was accompanied by Wang Jinhuan.

Yun Shang looked at the two men. Prince Jing was wearing black today, but Wang Jinhuan was wearing red as usual. Although she had seen them together several times, Yun Shang always felt surprised that two such different men could actually became friends.

"Oh, our young Princess is here? I heard that Lady Zhao took a letter written with her blood to the Palace yesterday to implore the Emperor to issue an order for Hua Jing to divorce the Emperor's Son-in-Law. How did that turn out? What a pity. I wasn't there. It must've been quite a display." As soon as Wang Jinhuan saw Yun Shang, he delightfully sat by her.

Prince Jing nodded to Yun Shang, "I'll change."

There was the "I" again, thought Yun Shang, distracted. Why had he done away with royal etiquette when speaking to her?

"Hey, hey, I asked you. How did it turn out?" Wang Jinhuan pulled at Yun Shang's arm.

Yun Shang's turned and smiled, "You really wish for pandemonium, don't you? The Empress was there, so how could she allow Lady Zhao to get what she wanted? However, even if it was only up to my father, he wouldn't have condoned it. After all, Lady Zhao had no proof. She could only lean on what the monk said. Yet, she wanted to place the blame for the Emperor's Son-in-Law's captivity entirely on Hua Jing. She had no evidence, so any person would find her plea ridiculous. Besides, Hua Jing is still the Emperor's daughter..."

"Hm, what a bore. All this commotion and yet that cruel Princess is not being overthrown. Did you know? That time I escorted you to the Princess Palace, I got lost when you asked me to leave. I wanted to jump out of the Princess Palace with my Qinggong*. That's when I heard Princess Hua Jing discuss how to hurt you at the banquet." Wang Jinhuan grimaced and said hatefully, "What's with the grudges between you and Princess Hua Jing? You are sisters, even though not by the same mother, but you are still sisters..."

(*TN: A Chinese martial arts technique that supposedly helps one lift and travel in the air.)

Hearing this, Yun Shang turned to look at Wang Jinhuan, "Huh? You heard that?"

Wang Jinhuan quickly nodded, "Yes, you didn't know? I thought Luo Qingyan would have told you. Later that day, I rushed here to tell Luo Qingyan. I was thinking that since you were close to Luo Qingyan, he would inform you. But after I told him everything, he just left, saying that you were going to deal with it by yourself. I didn't think that he would show up at the banquet. Before this banquet, he received several invitations to parties. Yet, he answered none. Who would've expected him to show up? I felt that it was because he couldn't leave you there alone. Hm, it must be that..."

Yun Shang stared at Wang Jinhuan, puzzled that he would say these things. After all, she was not that close to Prince Jing. As she opened her mouth to clarify, a cough interrupted her. Prince Jing walked in.

Yun Shang swallowed her question, took a sip of her tea, and then said, "The Empress is pregnant."

As soon as she finished, Wang Jinhuan jumped up, "What? The Empress is old. How can she be pregnant?"

After Yun Shang finished speaking, she stared at Prince Jing. Her eyes never left his face. The Prince calmly drank his tea as if... He already knew...

Wang Jinhuan seemed to realize that he had overreacted. He looked at Prince Jing and then Yun Shang before sitting down somewhat reluctantly with a light "oh."

Yun Shang didn't know how to respond. Everyone was silent.

After a while Prince Jing broke the silence. "How's your health?"

Yun Shang froze for a second before she realized that Prince Jing's question was probably directed towards her. She shook her head promptly, "I'm fine. The medicines you gave me worked well. I had someone check me upon my return. I was a bit weak because I tried to fight it on my own. After some sleep, I felt better. I'm all well now."

Prince Jing nodded, "Well, that's good."

Silence struck again. Wang Jinhuan looked at the two for quite some time before he intentionally coughed. He stood up, "Ah, the weather's great today. I'm going to enjoy the flowers. I'll leave you two to quietly sit here." He straightened up as he finished, and made several faces at Prince Jing before finally leaving.

For a moment, neither of the two spoke. A while later, Yun Shang said, "I came to see you today because of something I heard. I thought it might concern you, but I'm not sure if it's true. After much hesitation, instead of guessing on my own, I felt that I should just ask you in person."

"Oh?" Prince Jing put down his tea cup and stared at Yun Shang, "Huh, if it concerns me, there's nothing wrong in asking me. Tell me, what has troubled you so."

Yun Shang thought for a moment and said, "The Empress' pregnancy was never revealed to the public, but you already know about it, don't you?"

Prince Jing nodded, but did not say anything.

Yun Shang deliberated for another second, "Last night, I couldn't fall asleep, so I took a walk in the Imperial Garden. I ran into Lady Shu by coincidence, but she didn't see me. I accidentally heard some things about the Emperor's heir."

Prince Jing nodded again, "What things?"

"Lady Shu said that whenever a concubine got pregnant in the Palace, you would order her to get rid of the child within a few days." Yun Shang clutched the tea cup tightly and whispered.

Prince Jing froze and stayed silent for a moment. Then he whispered, "What she said was true..."

Yun Shang looked up at Prince Jing in surprise, "Why are you doing this?"

Prince Jing put down his cup, stood, and walked towards Yun Shang. He looked down at her, "What do you think of me? As compared to your father?"

This question was somewhat puzzling, but Yun Shang understood what he meant. She was silent for a moment, and

then answered, "You are very courageous and resourceful."

Prince Jing smiled, "I deem myself to be comparable to your father in all respects. I was three-years-old when I was brought to the Palace. When your father ascended the throne, I was seven. It was then that your grandfather, the former Grand Tutor, praised me for having the talent to run the country. He said I was well-suited to the role of Emperor as I always cared about the people's peace and security. I did not try to compete with your father for many reasons. First, I am an adopted son of the former Emperor. Second, I did not have any power over the Imperial court. No one was willing to follow me..."

"But you still desire the throne, don't you?" Yun Shang did not expect Prince Jing to tell her all these things. She was stunned for a long time before she asked softly.

Prince Jing smiled and turned away from Yun Shang, "Who wouldn't want it?"

"But you're afraid that it's too hard to meddle in the Imperial court, and that your actions might alert my father and his ministers. So you've deliberately planted your informers in the Imperial household, right?"

Prince Jing said with a smile, "Yes, Li clan is in power in the Imperial court. I have been leading troops all year round, and it is not easy for me to do anything too openly in the Imperial court. Besides, Li clan has never been a threat to me. Because they all rely on the Empress. If anything happens to the Empress and she can't support them anymore, or if the Empress is never able to bring a male child to the Imperial family, then the Li clan will collapse instantly, and I won't even need to do anything to them."

The depth of Prince Jing's schemes surprised Yun Shang. She deliberated for a while before finally saying, "My mother, Lady Jin has been pregnant for three months. Why haven't you done anything to her yet?"

Prince Jing turned to look at Yun Shang. A gentle smile appeared on his face. He looked somewhat puzzled and kept silent for a moment. Finally he seemed to mutter to himself, "Why? I'm also wondering why."

Yun Shang didn't understand what Prince Jing meant. She looked at Prince Jing doubtfully, but saw that Prince Jing had regained his usual composure. It seemed that she had perhaps imagined the confusion he showed only a short while ago.

"What about the Empress..." Yun Shang asked.

Prince Jing echoed her words. "The Empress?" Then he shrugged. "I don't need to do anything about her."

Seeing that Prince Jing seemed so certain, Yun Shang went blank for a second. What's this supposed to mean? Yun Shang then remembered Lady Shu's explanation from the night before. She had said that many people at the Palace wanted to stir up trouble for the Empress. And it was a possibility that an enemy of the Empress would harm the child before it was born.

Thinking about all that she had heard, Yun Shang gained greater understanding of the current situation. She raised her head to look at Prince Jing and said, "I understand. Thank you for your honesty."

Prince Jing stared at Yun Shang for some time before he nodded and smiled, "Will you now see me only as someone who is coveting the throne? Will you find my schemes too sinister?"

Yun Shang shook her head, "It is said that ruthlessness is the mark of a truly great man."

Hearing this, Prince Jing paused for while before his face lit up with a smile, "Ruthlessness is the mark of a truly great man. That's well said."

Yun Shang got up and took her leave. Prince Jing followed her to the gate of the yard. As she walked further and further away, he muttered to himself, "I seem to know why I failed to use my schemes against Lady Jin. It is probably because of you."

Hearing this, Yun Shang stopped and turned to look at Prince Jing in astonishment. He pretended as though he hadn't said anything. He looked at Yun Shang with a smile, "I'll see you off here." Then he turned and walked back into the yard.

Yun Shang stood at the gate for a long time, long after Prince Jing had disappeared into the shadows. She felt as though she were in a dream.

"Tut, tut. It is probably because of you... Oh my god, Luo Qingyan. I had never thought that you would say such a thing. I almost fell off the roof when I heard you. Did you know that? I always wondered if you were gay. I used to think that maybe you fell in love with me because I am such a charming person. And perhaps, that's why you were unwilling to have contact with women. I even felt guilty about it, and felt sorry for the girls that liked you so much. Every time you looked at me so affectionately... every time I was the only one beside you... I even thought of accepting your love for me..." Prince Jing was standing in his study. His face stayed blank as he gazed out the window. Sensing an incredible opportunity, Wang Jinhuan taunted the Prince.

"Well, now everything has come to a head. Luo Qingyan, you are truly mesmerized by the girl. Ah, just thinking about this makes me feel good. This young Princess must have been sent by the Gods to keep you in line since you have been acting out for so long. Seems like I should talk to her more often... But Luo Qingyan, she is your niece. She's twelve years younger than you. How can you do such a thing? Ouch ouch ouch..." A series of screams echoed through the mansion; each louder than the previous. After a short while, a dull thud reverberated through the mansion. In Prince Jing's study, a man dressed in red lay motionless on the ground.

"Luo Qingyan, you're good. Just you wait, I'll go to the young Princess to expose you..." There was quite some pain in Wang Jinhuan's voice, "My God! My arm! My arm is almost broken. Luo Qingyan, send for a physician..."

When Yun Shang returned to Qingxin Palace, Qin Yi and Qian Yin were eagerly waiting in front of the gate. As soon as they spotted Yun Shang, relief flooded the maids. They hurriedly stepped forward, "Princess, where has Your Highness been? Earlier, Your Highness left to greet the Empress without taking us along. We waited for Your Highness to return and yet, Your Highness didn't come back. We searched everywhere for you. We were so anxious!"

Yun Shang smiled, "No matter. Earlier on my way back from greeting the Empress, I suddenly remembered that I left in such a hurry that I didn't get to thank my Uncle for all his help. That's why I went to Prince Jing's mansion. But when I got there, Uncle was still at the training ground outside the city, so I had to wait a bit longer."

Yun Shang then shared with Qin Yi and Qian Yin the events of the previous night. The two maids were so riled up that they cursed Hua Jing for the rest of the night. They also became quite grateful to Prince Jing. Having heard Yun Shang's story, Qin Yi nodded and said, "It's only right to thank Prince Jing. Recently there have been multiple incidents, and Prince Jing has helped Your Highness every time. Speaking of, Prince Jing is Your Highness' lucky star."

Hearing this, Yun Shang remembered what Prince Jing whispered as she left. "It is probably because of you..." Yun Shang thought about it while walking back. She couldn't understand why Prince Jing would say that all of a sudden.

"Your Highness, Your Highness..." Qin Yi called out to Yun Shang who abruptly recovered from her daydreams. Yun Shang was surprised at herself. She found herself lost in thoughts related to Prince Jing more and more frequently these days. The idea gave her heart a shiver, "Huh?"

Qin Yi stared at Yun Shang for a moment and said, "Why does Your Highness seem so distracted recently?" Following the complaint, she then said, "Princess, I heard from master Zheng that Lady Zhao has really set off for the frontier on her own..."

Yun Shang nodded, "Lady Zhao is not a bad person, albeit eccentric. She is loving towards her son."

Qian Yin joined the conversation, "Every time I saw Hua Jing losing an argument to Lady Zhao, I couldn't help but feel great. It is surprising to see that there are people in this world who are completely unimpressed by Hua Jing. Even better though is that they can ensure that Hua Jing can't fight back in public."

Yun Shang smiled as well, "Qian Yin, have some people ask around about how things are going with Zhao Yingjie."

Qian Yin nodded, "I will send a letter in a moment."

Yun Shang agreed and sat on her soft bed. She picked up a random book, "Right, today after I left, did anything happen with the Empress?"

Qian Yin covered Yun Shang with a blanket and said, "It will be time for the winter solstice soon. I heard that the Empress and Hua Jing were planning to announce Her Majesty's pregnancy at the winter solstice celebration..."

Yun Shang chuckled, "She does know how to draw the most attention."

Speaking of the winter solstice celebration, Yun Shang remembered something that she ordered long time ago, "The things I asked to be prepared, are they ready? They're for... The winter solstice celebration..."

Hearing this, Qian Yin seemed very pleased with herself, "Yes, Your Highness. Everything is all set. On the day of the winter solstice, I shall deliver to the Empress a grand gift."

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