Thank you Karen S. (aka my first donor!) for your support once again. Second sponsored chapter threshold has been reached, will probably release it tomorrow along with a regular chapter. Thank you also to maguiling for your donation and progress towards the third sponsored chapter.
Everyone said the Jin Prince was deeply favored by his majesty when they heard about him getting summoned back for the festival.
As for the crown prince’s side, they cursed Senior Concubine Xu several times. But this time truly had nothing to do with Senior Concubine Xu, it’s just that others didn’t realize it.
The Jin Province was around six to seven days away from the capital, and the Jin Prince arrived on the last day of the eighth month.
When he returned, the Jin Prince was still the same as before. He brought over ten carriages of offerings along, and also included many gifts of filial piety for Emperor Xi and Senior Concubine Xu. The Jin Consort also came along this time, as well as their three children. There was a seven year old little mistress, a five year old little mistress and the four year old heir.
Once they arrived, they organized themselves outside the palace’s Jin Prince Estate before the Jin Prince brought his whole family into the palace.
The Jin Prince went to pay respects to Emperor Xi while the Jin Consort took their children to Fengqi Palace to pay respects to Empress Xiao.
“The little heir is already so big. Come and let your royal grandmother take a look.” Empress Xiao spoke with a face full of affection.
The Jin Prince’s little heir was in the wet nurse’s arms. Hearing someone calling him, he turned around for a look. Seeing that it was someone unfamiliar, he buried his head back into the wet nurse’s chest.
“Empress, this kid was timid from birth….”
“No matter, he’s just a kid. Rong’er, go bring the little heir over for this seat to take a look.”
Although the Jin Consort’s face was smiling, it seemed to imply some difficulty. However, it wasn’t convenient to say it out loud, and she could only watch helplessly as her son was taken into Empress Xiao’s arms.
The little heir was still rather well behaved. He seemed to be on the verge of crying, but ultimately held back his tears.
“So well behaved. Bring some cakes for the little heir to eat.”
Yan’er carried over a plate of rose gelatinous cake to the little heir’s side. The little heir saw the red cakes and felt they were very novel. He wanted to grab one but glanced at his mother before timidly withdrawing his hand.
The Jin Consort smiled rigidly, “He’s timid….”
The older little mistress on the side suddenly spoke, “Aiya, little bro is about to cry. Come, big sis will take you to go play. We can’t cry inside royal grandmother’s palace.”
The second little mistress ran over and pulled the little heir over to their older sister’s side. Only then did the Jin Consort let out a breath of relief.
“Take the children to go play. Take care of them.”
The crowd of people surrounded the three children as they left.
“Apologies empress. Children really aren’t sensible.”
“No harm, no harm.”
After chatting idly a little longer, Empress Xiao said: “Alright, the Jin Prince should be about done with his majesty. You guys should hurry over to the Chunluan Palace. The senior concubine is probably waiting.”
After the Jin Consort left the hall, Empress Xiao’s personal high-ranked palace maid Rong’er sneered: “This Jin Consort is really petty. Does she really think our empress would do something to the little heir?”
Empress Xiao raised her brows and said while smiling: “If there’s even the slightest risk, a mother wouldn’t take any chances with her children.”
Didn’t they enjoy making others uncomfortable? Well, she would make them feel uncomfortable as well. Although everyone knew that Empress Xiao wouldn’t be foolish enough to act within her own palace, there was still that sliver of doubt.
“That oldest little mistress is already not simple at such a young age. The second oldest is only five, but knew exactly what to do after she spoke.”
“Heh, which child in the royal family can act their age? Those who are slightly more stupid are long gone. She’s already so old and only has a single son, of course she would be protective.”
After leaving the Fengqi Palace, the Jin Consort let out a breath of relief.
“Qiao’er, well done. It’s all thanks to you.”
The oldest young mistress smiled proudly, “Mother, I’m just a child. Not being sensible is expected.”
The Jin Consort revealed a gratified smile, “The two of you older sisters need to properly protect your younger brother. That empress doesn’t have any good intentions.” Speaking to this point, the Jin Consort gritted her teeth in hatred.
When they got to the Chunluan Palace, the Jin Prince hadn’t arrived yet. Senior Concubine Xu saw her daughter-in-law and her grandchildren arrive, and immediately took a seat within the hall, arranging tea and snacks while holding the little heir and calling him “my obedient little grandson”.
This mother-in-law wasn’t too picky with her. The Jin Consort spoke a few words and had her people bring forward the offerings for Senior Concubine Xu.
Senior Concubine Xu complained about it being a waste of money, but still had a joyful expression.
The two of them chatted idly before the empress’s behavior from earlier was brought up.
Senior Concubine Xu frowned, her face full of hatred. However, she still judged the matter objectively and said: “The empress isn’t that foolish. She wouldn’t make any moves on her own turf.”
“Daughter-in-law knows. But the people in the palace are also vicious. Who knows if someone would borrow the empress’s place to commit crimes? If something truly happened, they could just blame it on her. Daughter-in-law doesn’t dare take this risk.”
The Jin Consort was speaking from experience. A few months again she was schemed against by one of the senior concubines in the Jin Prince Estate. She wasn’t able to discover who framed her, but the fact was that the eldest son of the Jin Prince Estate was no more.
The eldest son’s mother, Senior Concubine Zhu, wanted to swallow her alive. The Jin Prince also treated her coldly. She told them she was framed, but the person had died at her place. Unable to find the true culprit, the bucket of feces was hung around her head. If it wasn’t for them coming to the capital, the Jin Prince would still be completely ignoring her.
Senior Concubine Xu also knew about this matter, and consoled: “Don’t think too much. This concubine knows you were framed for that matter. This seat will persuade Jin’er later. It’s more important for you guys to be harmonious.”
The Jin Consort wiped away her tears and said gratefully: “Thank you mother concubine. The one who cares about daughter-in-law is still you.”
A eunuch outside announced the Jin Prince’s arrival.
The Jin Prince strode inside with powerful strides, giving off a heroic air. He could be counted as an extremely handsome man.
After entering, he first kowtowed to the senior concubine in salute before asking: “What is mother concubine and consort talking about?”
“This child, still going through so much etiquette after arriving at your mother’s place. This seat is speaking with your consort about what just happened at the Fengqi Palace.” Senior Concubine Xu had her son take a seat while explaining what happened with Empress Xiao.
The Jin Prince frowned but his words were similar to those of Senior Concubine Xu. However, being made to feel uncomfortable by someone was ultimately rather annoying.
The family chatted idly for a bit before Senior Concubine Xu said she had something to discuss with the Jin Prince, and had the palace maids take the Jin Consort and their children out.
Only two trusted aides remained within the hall.
“You should show her a nicer expression. She is your consort after all.
The Jing Prince declined to comment, “The reason she had such a big reaction to the Empress, wasn’t it because of her guilty conscience? Pointing at someone else and saying that person wouldn’t be dumb enough to act on her own turf, not realizing she was being too smart for her own good.”
“What happened to Cheng’er was really done by her?”
The Jin Prince Estate’s eldest son Luo Cheng wasn’t born of his first wife, but was innately talented and intelligent. He was studious and ambitious. Senior Concubine Xu was quite fond of this little grandson. Unfortunately he died prematurely before coming of age, making Senior Concubine Xu heartbroken for several days.
The Jin Prince laughed coldly, “If it weren’t for this prince giving Duke Cheng some face, she’d definitely be done for!”
Senior Concubine Xu frowned, “Enough, enough. You also know to give Duke Cheng some face, so you should treat her better.”
“Alright mother concubine, let’s not talk about this for now. Did you ask father for this time’s summons? What did the empress and crown prince’s side say?”
Senior Concubine Xu said: “This time wasn’t due to this seat begging his majesty. He brought it up himself. Others may not be able to tell, but this seat could see that his majesty doesn’t really like the crown prince these days. He definitely realizes that you’re the one he favors and called you back.”
The Jin Prince frowned and felt his mother was assuming too much.
As her child, Senior Concubine Xu naturally knew what he was thinking, “Enough, don’t be so doubtful. It doesn’t matter what the reason is, being able to come back is a good thing. Don’t slack off on that business.”
“Your son is naturally aware of this.”
“This seat has the feeling something happened between his majesty and the crown prince, but I’m unable to find out what it is.” Senior Concubine Xu frowned. “Perhaps this seat is overthinking things.”
“Mother concubine, is the information accurate? No matter how I look, royal father doesn’t appear to be….”
Senior Concubine Xu lowered her voice, “That mole was placed by your mother over twenty years ago. He delivered the information right before he died, it cannot be wrong. Your father, at most….” She held up three of her jade fingers.
The Jin Prince muttered: “Then we must speed things up.”
“Don’t let that side catch wind of anything.”
“Mother concubine can be at ease. Your son isn’t that stupid.”
Senior Concubine Xu nodded her head in approval.
The crown prince naturally couldn’t be compared to her son. Apart from slightly lacking in status, what part of him was worse?! But the victor wasn’t clear yet. They definitely had to let the empress that bitch and her bastard son die without a proper burial!
A large banquet was laid out for the mid-Autumn Festival. The monarch and his officials dined together and admired the full moon.
The Jin Prince was once again in the limelight during the banquet. Not only did he present unrivaled gifts in a show of filial piety to Emperor Xi, which made everyone astonished and the emperor pleased, he also received many toasts from the emperor who made his favor clear.
In comparison, the crown prince sitting to the left of the seat of honor was clearly less outstanding.
Emperor Xi’s actions were also rather thought-provoking. In the past, no matter how much he favored the Jin Prince, he would still leave the crown prince some face. Whenever he toasted the Jin Prince, the crown prince would receive one too. Whenever the Jin Prince was complimented, the crown prince would be mentioned as well. But this time he seemed to have been completely forgotten.
The civil and military officials, the aristocracy and the nobility present were all intelligent people, and could naturally infer some clues. They pondered over things a long time after the feast. The crown prince on the other hand returned to the eastern palace and smashed the things in his study.
Empress Xiao was also full of worry. Her smile which she had kept up the entire night finally cracked after returning to the Fengqi Palace.
When exiting the palace gates, the Jing Duke1 happened to run into the Cheng Duke. Everyone around immediately kept their distance.
“Cheng Duke, please go ahead.”
The Cheng Duke glanced at the Jing Duke who was yielding the right of way and smiled, “Jing Duke, it’s better if you go ahead.”
Did this old thing think he didn’t know what he was up to? Tonight his majesty gave the crown prince a hard time. If the Jin Prince’s father-in-law forced the Jing Duke out of the way afterwards, it would definitely reach his majesty’s ears the next day. Both he and the Jin Prince would get the reputation of being domineering.
“How about you go ahead?”
“Aiya, the two of you are so slow. What’s the point of yielding back and forth? Such a wide path, if you don’t go, I’m going to go first.” The Chengen Marquis yelled from behind.
The Jing Duke yielded and he passed through them. After walking a few steps, he looked back at the Cheng Duke, “Together, together.”
The Cheng Duke cursed this stupid pig in his heart, but could only leave together with the Chengen Marquis.
The Jing Duke revealed a profound smile behind them.
You may be sly and cunning, but that can’t make up for your idiot teammate.
Senior Concubine Xu was of negligible birth, and only after being conferred senior concubine did her household get conferred the Chengen clan title. Her father, the Chengen Marquis, had always been a clueless master. Although he wouldn’t bully people due to his position, his brain was a little simple, and he had dragged the Jin Prince down quite a bit.
But since he was family, he couldn’t be thrown aside. Therefore, the Jin Prince had cleaned up quite a few messes behind him.
“You are really a pig!”
Only after getting to his horse carriage and seeing no one around did the Cheng Duke curse.
“What is it this time? Don’t think you can insult me just because your daughter is my grandson’s wife!”
The Cheng Duke saw the Chengen Marquis’s confused appearance and hated that iron couldn’t become steel, “His majesty just treated the Jin Prince favorably. What would he think if the two of us stopped giving the Jing Duke any face!?”
The Chengen Marquis looked doubtful, “Aren’t you overcomplicating things? It’s fine, it’s fine. This one’s daughter is the senior concubine. His majesty has always favored her, no harm done.”
The Cheng Duke almost fell over in anger, “I can’t be bothered with you!”
After speaking, he got on his carriage and left.
The Chengen Marquis stood for a long while, but still couldn’t figure out what the big deal was with walking on the road. He got on his carriage and left.
There had been quite a few people around the palace gates, and word of the event soon spread. Emperor Xi heard the rumors, and of course Empress Xiao and Senior Concubine Xu heard it as well.
Empress Xiao’s expression finally turned a little better while Senior Concubine Xu smashed the teacup by her hand.
But her father was her father. What could she do about it?
Senior Concubine Xu sent word to the Jin Prince in exasperation, explaining that the Chengen Marquis didn’t think things through enough. The Jin Prince’s expression darkened however. He felt that things had finally started looking up due to his schemes when he was dragged down again.
But since things had happened already, there wasn’t anything he could say about it. He could only observe the situation.
Outside of everyone’s expectations, Emperor Xi didn’t show any movement after the event.
He didn’t express any dissatisfaction towards the Jin Prince, nor did he turn around and give the crown prince face. He was extremely calm, as though nothing had happened.
He still summoned the Jin Prince to the palace every day, and occasionally went to speak with him in the imperial study. Otherwise he would have the Jin Prince take his family to accompany the senior concubine. He had even praised the Jin Prince in front of officials for his intelligence and hard work, saying his vassal state was extremely well managed.
All this caused great waves.
This blew over when one day in the Chunluan Palace, Emperor Xi suddenly said that the senior concubine was lonely, and ordered the Jin Prince’s children to stay behind and accompany the senior concubine. This by itself wasn’t a big deal, but combined with everything else, the entire palace, and even the entire court felt some changes.
That was to say, the wind was blowing in a different direction.
The Jin Prince had already stayed in the capital for over half a month. He was normally cautious, and would never stay in the capital too long. He would stay at most half a month before requesting to return to his vassal state. This time however, he didn’t show any movement.
The court was very calm, and all the aristocrats and nobility also kept their silence. Everyone had the same question—-
Would the Jin Prince still ask to return to his vassal state this time?
“Would the Jin Prince still ask to return to his vassal state this time?” The crown prince asked.
Empress Xiao sat there, the restlessness between her brows was hard to conceal.
“Since when did we have to place all our hopes on someone else? Mother empress, you are the grand and majestic empress. This humble one is the crown prince. But instead, we have to hope for a small vassal prince to hurry and return to his vassal state, and not cause trouble for us?!”
The crown prince’s words were very sharp. At least, Empress Xiao had been stabbed by them. She leaned weakly against her throne, her face pale.
“Mother empress, your son is unconvinced. Where is your son lacking in comparison? Why does royal father treat your son this way!?”
The crown prince was irritable to begin with, and he was a little hysterical at the moment. He paced back and forth in front of Empress Xiao, his face twisted.
Empress Xiao saw this and hurriedly said: “You shouldn’t panic, everything will be fine. Vassal princes aren’t allowed to remain in the capital for too long. If nothing happens in a few days, the court councilors will naturally present a memorandum.”
“Waiting, waiting, waiting, it’s always waiting. We can only passively take a beating. Your son is completely fed up with this.”
“Zhao’er, things are sensitive at the moment. You must endure.”
The crown prince understood this reasoning, but what could he do if he felt annoyed?!
Why did the grand and majestic crown prince have to suffer such grievance? He could endure looking at his royal father’s expression the whole day, but he still had to endure a concubine’s cheap son!
“Zhao’er, if you can’t endure at this moment, then all the efforts your grandfather and I put in will be in vain, as well as your own efforts. Would you be willing?”
Willing? No, he was not willing! He still longed for the day he could completely trample the Jin Prince underfoot….
No need to long for it, the time was almost here.
There were still two more years….
The crown prince recovered his calm, and his face returned to its normal dignified appearance.
“Mother empress, your son understands. I definitely won’t disappoint you.”
The male and female lead won’t be present in these two chapters, but it can’t be helped. Ah! Please don’t hit me. It’s only these two chapters. Once the waters calm, Repressed Jing can focus on raising the babies. Especially since the babies are too young. There isn’t much point in just watching Repressed Jing holding them. Let’s focus our gaze on the pivotal moments.