While things were boiling over outside, Yan Yan and Luo Huai Yuan withdrew back into the Xianyun Hall and minded their own business.
During the New Year’s festival, there were many banquets at the palace. As a prince and consort, Yan Yan and Luo Huai Yuan had to attend almost all of them. After a few times, Yan Yan also became experienced. She no longer sat there from start to finish. Instead, she would take opportunities to go get some air when no one was watching. After all, this sort of banquet lasted a while and it was truly dull.
The air was filled with cold moisture, making every breath feel refreshing. When Yan Yan figured it was about time, she went back inside from the backdoor. The palace maids she encountered on the way merely assumed the fourth consort had gone to change.
When she returned to her seat, it didn’t attract any attention. Lu Xiu Ling gave Yan Yan a glance but then ignored her.
Today was the last day the people from Ryukyu, Korea and other nations would be in the capital. Therefore, Emperor Xi put on a grand banquet to see them off. The location was still the same as during New Year’s Eve, but this time there were no people from Fusang messing things up.
Yan Yan felt extremely bored and dully sipped the alcohol at her table. This alcohol was especially for women. It was sweet and sour and extremely tasty. Yan Yan had unknowingly finished a jug.
The palace maids serving her saw that her alcohol jug was empty and brought another one over, helping her refill her cup.
There was a group of performers dancing to music. The dancing was truly nice to look at initially, but after seeing it repeatedly it wasn’t a big deal anymore. Yan Yan had looked into it before. They seemed to only know those few dance routines, and the movements were pretty much similar. Their arms and waists were soft without any strength. Yan Yan would rather have someone go perform a sword dance.
It wasn’t clear if she had drank too much, but Yan Yan felt a little warm and stuffy. She couldn’t help but fan herself with her hand. The palace maid filling up her alcohol wasn’t expecting it and the wine was knocked over due to her suddenly raising her arm.
“Fourth consort, this servant didn’t do it on purpose.”
That palace maid used a handkerchief to wipe Yan Yan off in a panic, but unfortunately the alcohol had quickly seeped into her clothing, leaving behind a rose-red stain.
Yan Yan waved her hand. She didn’t blame her.
The empress seemed to have noticed something and spoke quietly to the palace maid by her side.
Xiang Ping walked over and asked what happened.
That palace maid quietly explained the situation. Yan Yan helped speak up for her: “It didn’t have anything to do with her. This seat accidentally bumped into her.”
“You must be more careful in the future, why aren’t you thanking the fourth consort for her magnanimity?”
“Thank you, consort.”
Xiang Ping spoke again: “Fourth consort, the weather is cold and you can’t wear wet and stained clothing. How about this servant have this lass take you to get changed?”
Yan Yan thought this made sense. It was better to mind her appearance at such an event, so she stood up.
There were several private rooms at the Jiying Hall used for drunk people to rest and sober up. That palace maid led Yan Yan away from the side hall and the two walked along the walkway.
On the way they ran into a eunuch. That eunuch was around thirty years old, his face pale and hairless. The corner of his eyes had some slight wrinkles from smiling. Seeing Yan Yan, he seemed a little surprised. He glanced at the two of them before lowering his head and clasping his hands, standing against the wall. When the two of them went past, he raised his head and looked at their fading figures.
They arrived at an empty room. That palace maid bolted the door and helped Yan Yan take off the outer layer of her ceremonial robes.
This palace maid probably didn’t have any experience serving someone intimately. She only realized she had no spare clothes prepared after taking off her clothes. She immediately turned red from embarrassment and stammered to Yan Yan: “Fourth consort, it’s all this servant’s fault for not considering things thoroughly.”
Yan Yan saw this palace maid was around thirteen or fourteen, her round face still filled with childish innocence. She wasn’t a harsh person to begin with so she wouldn’t criticize her.
“This seat’s personal palace maid Yi Meng is waiting by the side doors. Go tell her and have her bring a set over from the Xianyun Hall.”
The palace maid was filled with delight and hurriedly left after asking for forgiveness.
Yan Yan didn’t realize that when she took her outer layer off, that palace maid had also taken off her jade pendant. It was not placed along with her clothes on the table, but had been secretly taken away by that palace maid.
After that palace maid left, Yan Yan saw there was a bed on the side and went to sit down. After sitting for a while, she felt it was very hot and stuffy. Yan Yan thought it was probably due to the alcohol and reproached herself for drinking so much.
She wanted water but realized there wasn’t any in the jug. She could only lie back in bed dizzily.
The doors were suddenly opened and a eunuch walked inside.
He stood in the room and sniffed. His gaze fell upon the incense burner in the corner of the room. He looked at Yan Yan whose face was flushed and seemed barely conscious. He couldn’t help but curse quietly.
Without any time to overthink things, he stepped up and lifted the person on the bed before hurriedly leaving.
Luo Huai Yuan was bored to death as he gazed sluggishly at the performance in the hall.
Someone squeezed over to his side and quietly spoke a few words.
He turned his head and looked over, and realized it was the head eunuch by old fifth’s side. That person gave him a look before turning and leaving. Luo Huai Yuan pondered, looked around and realized no one was watching him before taking his leave.
They found a secluded place where Eunuch Fu simply and concisely summarized the situation.
“This servant figures something is probably going on. To prevent anything from happening, this servant took the fourth consort to a different room. The remaining matters needs to be considered by the fourth prince.”
Luo Huai Yuan turned pale with fright. He also couldn’t figure out why this eunuch would help him, and merely looked at him doubtfully.
Eunuch Fu smiled brightly: “Many thanks to the fourth consort that day for helping my household’s highness out of a predicament!”
Therefore, good deeds are repaid with kindness?
After a pause, Eunuch Fu was afraid the fourth prince didn’t understand and spoke again: “The crown prince embarrassed himself in front of the crowd that day so the empress suffered a loss of face in front of his majesty. She would definitely not be resigned and would seek to get back at Senior Concubine Xu’s side. This servant is guessing that the second or third prince will soon be lured over. Therefore, fourth prince highness should make plans sooner rather than later.”
Luo Huai Yuan also understood his meaning and no longer doubted him. He cupped his hands and hurriedly left.
He went to the room Eunuch Fu pointed out. There was a low-ranked eunuch outside the door. Seeing that it was him, the eunuch didn’t stop him and led Luo Huai Yuan inside. The eunuch then swiftly vanished.
When Luo Huai Yuan entered, he saw his precious treasure laying on the bed as expected. Her clothes were a mess and her little face was flushed. She seemed as if she were drunk, but this wasn’t actually the case.
He swallowed heavily and called out great aunt1 in his heart, hurrying forward to help straighten her clothing. Unexpectedly, as he tried to pull it up she pulled it down. Luo Huai Yuan was sweating from exhaustion and wasn’t able to complete this arduous task. Instead, his breathing became rushed and he felt himself about to lose control.
“My great aunt, if this were any other time, this big bro would naturally love to satisfy you. But time is extremely short. You behave and don’t mess around. Once we get back, you can do whatever you want, ok?”
Yan Yan whimpered with her nose. Her eyes were glazed and she wanted to take off her clothing due to the heat. How could she realize someone was speaking?”
“I’ll f your burning c*nt, Empress Xiao.2 You old lady just wait properly for this daddy. If I don’t take revenge for this, this granddaddy will change my surname to yours.” Luo Huai Yuan cursed in his anger.
At this time, a quiet voice calling highness sounded outside the door.
Luo Huai Yuan listened carefully. It seemed to be Xiao An Zi’s voice. He hurriedly opened the door.
“Why are you here?”
Xiao An Zi’s face looked bewildered. “The fifth highness’s Eunuch Fu said your highness asked for this servant to come find you here. Did your highness not say that? Was he lying to me?”
Luo Huai Yuan had no energy left to ridicule his personal eunuch anymore. Why wasn’t he as impressive as that other guy? He leaned over to Xiao An Zi’s ear and gave him some instructions.
Xiao An Zi’s expression was bewildered but he didn’t say anything before hurrying off.
Luo Huai Yuan turned back and saw the beauty on the bed with her clothes askew.
His heart thumped and he stepped forward joyfully but helplessly. He had just sat down when she wound herself around him. Her heated breath blew against his ear and her jade hand pulled at his clothes.
“Little fatty, I’m really hot….”
“Little fatty, I’m suffering….”
“Dearest, I’m suffering too!” Luo Huai Yuan scowled miserably and held her. “Behave, don’t move around. Be obedient!”
Lu Xiu Ling’s heart thumped and she whispered in disbelief: “What did you say?”
The eunuch next to her whispered once again.
Her face revealed joy and her emotions were complicated.
She snuck a glance at Empress Xiao, and seeing her turning away to speak to someone, Lu Xiu Ling quietly left.
She followed that eunuch to the rear hall and arrived at a private room. When she entered, the room was completely empty.
“Didn’t you say the second highness was waiting for me here?” Lu Xiu Ling said suspiciously.
She was about to turn her head when she felt a sudden blow and everything went black.
At this time, Xian An Zi walked out from behind the screen and worked with that eunuch to drag Lu Xu Ling onto the bed. They first took off her consort’s outfit before tying her limbs and gagging her mouth, stuffing her under the bed.
There was actually another girl on the bed dressed as a palace maid. If Yan Yan was here, she would recognize her to be the low-ranked palace maid that had just led her over.
The two hurriedly took off the palace maid’s outer garments and put Lu Xiu Ling’s consort’s outfit on her and put on her golden crown. They placed her on the bed facing inwards.
After tidying up the mess, they once again lit the incense burner in the corner and blew out the lamp in the room. The two closed the doors and left.
When the second prince entered the private room carrying that jade pendant, he saw the following scene.
A beauty was lying sideways on the bed. A pair of embroidered shoes were neatly placed at the foot of the bed. On their tips were a pair of dazzling beads.
The second prince wanted to speak but stopped, though he wasn’t suspicious. This was because the consort’s outfit clearly revealed this person’s identity.
Thinking of what that eunuch had said to him, the second prince felt both smug and excited.
“You’ve ordered someone to go fetch me? That’s right. Fourth brother is timid, dumb and fat like a pig. You’re definitely not satisfied marrying him. That makes sense….”
The second prince chattered, seeming a little incoherent. The hand holding the jade pendant was wet with sweat.
“….if I had proposed successfully that day and you had married me, we would definitely be living happily, like a divine couple….” The second prince’s expression became excited, “But why weren’t you willing? Did the Zhenguo Duke not permit it? You shouldn’t have listened to him…”
The person on the bed didn’t respond.
The second prince suddenly laughed in spite of himself, “I have always been controlled and calm, but ended up making a fool of myself. Luckily you are fast asleep and unaware.”
He walked over slowly and sat on the bed. He stretched his hand out and wanted to touch that person, but also felt it was a little impetuous. His hand reached out and then retracted over and over, all sorts of emotions welling up, unable to speak.
Suddenly, that person gradually awoke and turned back with a passionate smile. Those overbearing eyes had suddenly become tender like water. The second prince immediately lost his wits and leaned over.
The fragrance permeated the room, seeping into one’s soul.
The second prince was never one to indulge in debauchery, but this sudden desire invaded his mind. This sort of desire was extremely fierce, making him suddenly lose his reasoning. He impatiently took off his clothes and got on the bed.
Lu Xiu Ling had long awoken under the bed, right as the second prince walked in.
She was at first bewildered why she was tied up and stuffed in this sort of place. Unexpectedly, that person’s words wormed into her ears. At first she hadn’t realized who was speaking. Only when the fourth prince and marriage was mentioned did Lu Xiu Ling understand who it was.
These adulterers dared to have an affair in this place!
Lu Xiu Ling’s thoughts were filled with this notion. She naturally didn’t realize something wasn’t right. Then came an overwhelming grief that made her involuntarily shed tears.
By the time she thought to stop these adulterers and started struggling underneath, the movements up top were already getting heavy. The sounds were piercing. Lu Xiu Ling wasn’t a virgin and naturally knew what was happening.
Her spirits wilted.
Suddenly, the doors were knocked open with a crash. Empress Xiao’s anxious voice sounded out.
“Hurry and go take a look. Don’t let them commit a sin.”
A eunuch hurriedly entered and then turned back in terror, scowling miserably.
“Empress, it’s already too late….”
Through the open doors, the lewd sounds rang out and entered their ears.
Empress Xiao’s face turned red and pale as she clutched her chest, seeming unable to take it. She gave her orders in a fluster: “Why aren’t you closing the doors! You all aren’t allowed to disclose anything. Those who disobey will be beheaded! Call his majesty over. Tell him this seat has something to discuss.”
The palace maids and eunuchs who had come with her were deathly pale and their legs were shaking.
Screwed. They were really screwed. When this sort of scandal happened, the first to be silenced were servants like them! Oh, second prince. How could you do something so immoral? Even if you really wanted to, it shouldn’t have been in such a place!
Before long, Emperor Xi hurried over.
Along with him came an anxious Senior Concubine Xu as well as the Zhenguo Duke whose expression was frozen and seemed to contain anger.
How could this sort of thing be kept secret? The movements were conspicuous at the western side hall. Empress Xiao hurrying over in fright had already attracted the attention of the noblewomen.
When Zheng Hai Quan reported the matter, Emperor Xi had smashed his cup on the spot. The Zhenguo Duke had been rather curious about what had happened, but his heart leapt when Emperor Xi gave him an obscure glance. When Emperor Xi left using the excuse that he was tired, the Zhenguo Duke followed along.
The Zhenguo Duke was a respected senior to Emperor Xi so he couldn’t bear keeping things from him. He was bound to find out sooner or later anyway. Furthermore, when this sort of thing happened, the prince would at most suffer a loss in reputation. However, the woman would have to die to preserve the royal family’s dignity. Yan Yan was the Zhenguo Duke’s granddaughter. For the sake of comforting him, this death sentence would have to be proclaimed by him.
Emperor Xi’s face was dark and he pointed at the door: “That bastard is inside?”
Empress Xiao was dazed as she leaned against a palace maid. Seeing Emperor Xi arrive, she hurriedly calmed herself and stepped forward. However, she was overly frightened and her tears flowed before her words: “Majesty, this one has neglected her duties. To actually let such a universally shocking thing happen.”
Senior Concubine Xu heard the lewd noises coming from within and her face was in disbelief.
“Impossible, impossible. My son couldn’t have done something like this!”
Empress Xiao walked over and held senior concubine’s hand. Her face was filled with sympathy: “Little sis senior concubine, this seat also didn’t think so. However, however….”
She choked up and swallowed before saying: “A palace maid saw old fourth’s wife and that child Jin’er entering this room one after the other. Feeling something was wrong, she secretly reported it to this seat. When this seat hurried over, it was already too late….”
Senior Concubine Xu flung the empress’s hand away, her eyes bulging: “It’s definitely you, isn’t it!? Xiao Yue Min, just how have I offended you? You persistently try to harm me. After causing the death of two of my children, you’re trying to harm my son….”
Senior Concubine Xu was already a mess. She no longer cared about her dignity or what she could or couldn’t say.
Luckily there were no outsiders present. Apart from the palace maids and eunuchs, there was only the Zhenguo Duke present. Emperor Xi revealed an angry expression. Zheng Hai Quan hurriedly motioned for someone next to him to cover Senior Concubine Xu’s mouth.
Senior Concubine Xu also wasn’t a simple person. Her expression suddenly changed and she appeared distressed: “Majesty….” She pounced over into his arms, crying incessantly like rain on pear blossoms.
“My second prince, my second prince, my son wouldn’t do such a thing….”
Emperor Xi lowered his head and grabbed the jade hands on his collar. Her fair and slender fingers were now stained with blood. It seemed that in her terror, Senior Concubine Xu had broken her inch-long nails.
He squeezed her hands, glanced at Empress Xiao and looked back at the door.
“Open the doors. With such loud movements outside, that bastard is still able to keep going?!”
No one heard the implications in his words apart from the Zhenguo Duke.
Even if it was someone’s scheme, so what? The mistake was made and the royal family couldn’t permit something that goes against convention.
The Zhenguo Duke felt his heart tighten.
His Ah Yan.
She used to be a tiny white bundle.
That tiny little thing only knew to persevere at martial arts. The Zhenguo Duke actually didn’t like his daughter’s personality. However, the old woman was stubborn about it, and he had also seen how the old woman was shunned by the noblewomen back in the day. Therefore, he didn’t prevent it.
Children didn’t know how much their parents did for them. Who didn’t want their daughter to be well?
Afterwards, his daughter gave birth to his granddaughter. The Zhenguo Duke was truly happy for a long time. When his granddaughter matured, her personality gradually developed and her innate talent for martial arts was revealed. She also revealed the might and decisiveness that those of the Shen household should possess. The Zhenguo Duke was overjoyed.
The hopes and expectations he had for his daughter was transferred onto Yan Yan.
This was why he was so angry at Yan Yan’s suffering back then, to the extent of not letting Shen Yi Yao off. Apart from hating iron for not turning to steel and apart from feeling heartache about his foolish daughter, he was also completely biased towards Yan Yan.
It was human nature to have biases. The Zhenguo Duke never concealed his favoritism of Yan Yan.
The military man and martial arts maniac who didn’t even know what his own old spouse liked knew that his granddaughter was a baby girl who needed to wear nice shoes and pretty jewelry. Every now and then he would urge his old spouse to prepare some for his granddaughter. For the sake of finding Yan Yan a female master, the Zhenguo Duke who never “used his authority for private gain” sent word via his subordinates and Lady Hui ended up appearing.
That day was still vivid in his mind, when that extremely dazzling woman threw out those heroic words: “If you’re afraid of losing scram back to Fusang. A tiny speck of a country dares to make a clamor in my Grand Xi! Do you think our Grand Xi has no one?!”
But was she about to wilt?
The Zhenguo Duke felt pain like his heart was being dug out.
All sorts of thoughts flashed through his brain before he made up his mind secretly.
Even if the heavens collapsed this time, he would protect Ah Yan! He believed Ah Yan wasn’t someone who would do such a thing. She must have fallen into someone’s scheme!
All sorts of noises sounded from inside the room. The second prince didn’t seem to have any intentions of complying.
The sound of eunuchs pleading rang out followed by the second prince roaring like an animal. Then a startled cry sounded out.
A eunuch stumbled out, joy and sorrow both present on his face: “It isn’t, it isn’t….”
“Can’t you speak properly!?” Zheng Hai Quan stepped up and gave him a kick.
“It isn’t the fourth consort….”
“Then who is it?”
They didn’t have to die!
This was what all the palace maids and eunuchs were thinking.
The Zhenguo Duke, Emperor Xi and Senior Concubine Xu’s hearts loosened up. Empress Xiao’s expression was alarmed before it became complete astonishment. She put her palms together and wept in gratitude: “The heavens have blessed us, the heavens have blessed us!”
Afterwards, she said angrily: “Which palace maid reported the matter earlier? To be able to say such nonsense. Have her dragged out and beaten to death.”
Suddenly, a stammering voice sounded out: “Royal father, mother empress, what are you doing here? Why is there such a large gathering?”
They saw Luo Huai Yuan appear from a nearby private room.
The crowd looked at him in astonishment. He shrunk back timidly and explained: “My wife accidentally got drunk. I’m staying with her while she sobers up.”
The Zhenguo Duke revealed a joyful expression. He walked over and grabbed his shoulders. “You are with Ah Yan?”
The Zhenguo Duke released his hands, and spoke in a quiet voice: good kid!
Luo Huai Yuan winked smugly: grandpa is overpraising!
The Zhenguo Duke shifted his eyes to the side.
Luo Huai Yuan nodded: was it a good show?
It! Was! Great!
The Zhenguo Duke revealed his teeth. This daddy’s heart almost exploded due to this little bastard!