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   Chapter 222 New Storm in the Imperial City

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 24652

Updated: 2018-10-31 00:26

"So, is Hua Jing dead?" Yun Shang took a handful of millet as she asked in a casual tone. She was playing with the parrot that Prince Jing had given her as a gift earlier that morning.

Ning Qian clenched her teeth to suppress her agitation. She was so upset that she stamped several times. Judging from Ning Qian's childish behavior, Yun Shang understood that Hua Jing was still alive. As she was in a good mood today, the Princess wasn't upset with the unfavorable result. Then she said in a somewhat nonchalant manner, "It doesn't matter if Hua Jing is still alive. I will end her life sooner or later. But this incident will certainly spur the Empress to take action. We were lucky that Ya Xi was not with Hua Jing yesterday. The other gigolos mean nothing to us. Our plan will not be affected even if the others are expelled from Hua Jing's Palace."

Ning Qian sighed after hearing that. Her shoulders sagged in defeat, "You're right, Your Highness. Hua Jing's injuries and the expelling of the gigolos will not affect our plan. However, there is another complication. Though Quingsu escaped the guards, he returned later. He used the chaos in the Princess's Palace as a diversion to kidnap Hua Jing. This was unexpected. What's worse is that they left the Imperial City before anyone could notice what Qingsu had done."

Yun Shang stopped playing with the parrot when she heard Ning Qian's report. She turned to look at Ning Qian and asked in disbelief, "Escaped the Imperial City?"

Ning Qian nodded before quickly adding, "As the Emperor of Yelang is dying, Qingsu must have planned to return to the State of Yelang. I have sent our men to chase him. Considering that the other Yelang Princes covet the throne as well, they must have predicted his return and set traps for Qingsu. Qingsu is now caught in a dilemma. Ambushes lie ahead and troops are in pursuit of him. He may not be able to reach Yelang safely with the half-dying Princess. Hua Jing is the Princess of the State of Ning, after all. He stabbed her in the presence of many witnesses. Emperor Ning, the Empress, and the Li Clan would seek justice. Even the new Emperor of Yelang will not excuse his behavior. That is if Qingsu doesn't usurp the throne."

Yun Shang stayed silent. She was in deep thought and stared blankly at the bird cage in front of her.

When Prince Jing returned to his mansion, Yun Shang reported the new developments to him. Then she voiced her concerns, "I wonder what is wrong with Qingsu! Why did he return to kidnap Hua Jing? His trip to Yelang is filled with challenges. Why would he want to burden himself with caring for Hua Jing who is seriously injured? Did he not think that the abduction would enrage the Emperor of Ning? Since he is trying to win the crown by garnering political support, why did he take a step that would drive a wedge between him and Emperor Ning?"

Prince Jing spoke after pondering. "You devised plans to force Qingsu into visiting Hua JIng at her Palace, didn't you?"

Yun Shang's silence was the answer to the Prince's question. In her heart, the Princess didn't think it inappropriate to set up Hua Jing and Qingsu. She did plot to make this happen. She issued the order to add the incense in Hua Jing's chamber. Anyone who breathes the scent of the incense will be overwhelmed with feelings of multiplied desire and fury. Aware of the effect of the scent, Yun Shang had expected Qingsu's craziness and attack on Hua Jing. But she never imagined that Qingsu would abduct Hua Jing. That had come as a big surprise to her. Since she couldn't understand his motivations, Yun Shang found this puzzling.

Prince Jing stared at Yun Shang as she was contemplating the situation. He smiled and shook his head, "I would do the same thing if I were Qingsu."

After hearing the Prince's statement, Yun Shang lifted her eyes to look at the Prince. Her expression conveyed her confusion. "Why? Please tell me." That was the question Prince Jing could read in the Princess's eyes.

Prince Jing smiled before explaining, "As Qingsu had already hurt Hua Jing before many witnesses, there would be every reason for the Emperor to arrest and punish him. Qingsu's abduction of Hua Jing does not add to a greater crime. Although it will be cumbersome for Qingsu to care for Hua Jing on the way to Yelang, he would be secured with a hostage under his control. After all, he didn't achieve his aims in Ning. Hua Jing is a Princess. She's the Empress's daughter and Grand Councilor Li's granddaughter. The Emperor, the Empress, and Grand Councilor Li will send assassins and guards in pursuit of Qingsu. He is, therefore, in great danger. Hua Jing would be his leverage if he gets caught. Maybe Qingsu will explain his actions and pacify Hua Jing while they are alone. In that case, he would turn an enemy into a supporter. Wouldn't that be nice for him?"

Yun Shang sighed after she thought over the Prince's explanations. She had anticipated various consequences, and had prepared for every eventuality accordingly. But she had never given careful thought to the fact that humans are the most complicated animals under the Heavens.

"Don't torture yourself for this oversight. You were successful in removing a threat. You should be happy. Why do you still look so worried?" Prince Jing lay on the bench that Yun Shang enjoyed lying on. He took some grapes from the stool by his side in a casual manner and popped them into his mouth.

Yun Shang let out a sigh. "I planned to kill Hua Jing. But the abduction was indeed beyond my expectation. I really have no idea what will happen in the future."

"What are you afraid of? You are smart. Hua Jing has been taken to a foreign country. She has no one working for her. What worries you?" Prince Jing's words startled Yun Shang. Was the Prince... praising her?

Emperor Ning indeed became furious at Qingsu. Of course, he wrote a letter to the Emperor of Yelang, in which he requested severe punishment for Qingsu. This letter was delivered to the State of Yelang immediately. Emperor Ning ordered troops to chase Qingsu as well. Due to Qingsu's actions, there was stricter guard at the border between Ning and Yelang. The commoners lived in uncertainty. It seemed war was inevitable.

Lady Jin was in a good physical condition now. As the delivery was imminent, she planned to return to Laifeng City for childbirth. Emperor Ning decided to accompany her to Laifeng City. He ordered servants to make preparations. Yun Shang was so worried for her mother that she decided to travel with her mother. Prince Jing gave his consent. But the Prince insisted on escorting her to Laifeng City and spending some time with her there.

Prince Jing seemed to be behaving unusually since their marriage. Yun Shang had sensed it already. He liked to give her many little gifts, such as amusing objects and cute animals. He even followed her wherever she went. His devotion had led the servants to believe that the Prince and the Princess Consort were really a perfect match.

Yun Shang felt anxious at Prince Jing's request to keep her company in Laifeng City. She intended to turn the Prince down. Anticipating her response, Prince Jing said in a serious manner, "Who will be in the Imperial City if both, the Emperor and I leave?"

Yun Shang lowered her head to think for a little while. "The Empress

h a baby in her arms. "Congratulations, Your Majesty! Lady Jin gave birth to a little Prince."

A little Prince...

Yun Shang was delighted. She went nearer to see her little brother. He was ruddy in the face, and was sleeping tight.

"Although brother seems thinner than normal new-born babies, he is quite healthy. He will be blessed by the Buddha." Yun Shang said in a pleasant tone. She turned to look at Emperor Ning. The Emperor seemed in a trance as he stared at the baby.

Yun Shang was perplexed by the Emperor's behavior. She said to him with a smile, "Your Majesty, please give a name to my brother."

Emperor Ning pondered for a short while. Then he said, "Chenxi. I want to name him Chenxi."

Chenxi literally meant the sun in the morning. Yun Shang grinned. That was a really nice name. Even she felt all warm, as though touched by the sun, when she heard the name.

Yun Shang stepped into the inner chamber while Emperor Ning was watching his lovely son. The inner chamber smelled of blood. Lady Jin was lying on the bed with her eyes closed. She seemed to have fallen asleep. But Yun Shang knew that her mother was not sleeping as her eyelashes were quivering. She tiptoed toward her, and sat on the bedside.

"Brother looks cute. He will be a handsome Prince when he grows up. A lady-killer. His Majesty named him Chenxi. The sun in the morning. Do you like it, Mother?" Yun Shang said gently.

Lady Jin slowly opened her eyes. A smile emerged on her lips. "That is a nice name." But Lady Jin was so tired that she fell asleep soon.

Yun Shang still felt worried after Lady Jin's delivery. Prince Jing was in the Imperial City now...

It had been many days since Prince Jing had returned to the Imperial City. Yun Shang knew nothing about the situation in the City. Even Ning Qian had not sent a letter with her report. Yun Shang wondered what was stopping her.

A letter finally came from the Imperial City on the fifth day after Chenxi's birth. However, it was to Yun Shang's surprise that this letter was sent neither by Ning Qian nor Prince Jing. It was from Lin.

Lin was a servant at the Huanyi Bureau. Since he had been loyal to Yun Shang before her poisoning at the age of eight, she intended to promote him and find a job for him in her Palace. But Lin had refused the Princess. He rationalized that if he worked for the Princess in her Palace, he would not have access to much information lest people worry that he leaks it to the Princess. It was better that he kept a distance from the Princess by continuing to work at the Huanyi Bureau. He was nobody in the Huanyi Bureau, but he would be useful one day. It was beyond Yun Shang's expectation that Lin was able to play a key role at this critical moment.

According to Lin's letter, the Empress had reinforced the security in the Imperial Palace on the pretext of stolen valuable items. Thousands of guards had been assigned to protect the Imperial Palace. Even a rat could not escape the guards! The Empress even worried about a breach by outsiders who were good at Qinggong*. As a result, she had dispatched tens of thousands of bowmen on the the wall of the Imperial Palace to dissuade outsiders from sneaking into the Imperial Palace.

(*TN: A Chinese martial arts technique that supposedly helps one lift and travel in the air.) So panicked was the Empress that she had even cancelled the monthly visit by the servants' relatives. She was afraid that the servants in the Imperial Palace would secretly pass on something from the Imperial Palace to their relatives who lived outside.

In Lin's opinion, all these arrangements were by no means normal. As ordinary servants were not allowed to leave the Imperial Palace either, they were unable to send information to people outside. It was lucky that Lin found a way around the Empress's arrangements. As he worked for the Huanyi Bureau, the department that washes all the imperial clothes, he needed to collect water from a river outside the Imperial Palace. Lin was able to send the letter with the help of the river. The Empress must know nothing about the river, otherwise she would have guarded the river, too. Yun Shang had told Lin how to contact her secret guards. Lin tired his best to make contact with Yun Shang's men, and told them how he was able to send the letter.

The content of the letter was indeed beyond Yun Shang's expectation. Something terrible was going to happen in the Imperial City. It seemed that Prince Jing must have held back the bad news from her on purpose lest she worried him. But, how about Ning Qian? Before Yun Shang left the Imperial City, she had asked Ning Qian to take orders from Prince Jing...

Yun Shang had been worried about the Prince for all this time. The contents of the letter only served to put her on edge. 'I must return to the Imperial City secretly and immediately.' Yun Shang thought...

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