Xiao Hua sometimes felt a little unwell during their journey. They made several stops, and in the end it took them over a month before they reached the capital.
Their residence was already prepared within the outskirts of the city. It was a three compound pavilion along with a little courtyard. The long journey was hard on them, especially with the two children. Although the people had done their best to make the journey comfortable, they inevitably felt a little weary when they arrived.
Especially Xiao Hua, who seemed a little carsick. She had thrown up several times on the road. They found a doctor to examine her but he also couldn’t give an explanation. Once they arrived, they rested for a day and after seeing things still not improving, they invited another doctor over.
The doctor felt her pulse and said he suspected she was pregnant. It was too soon to tell and they needed to wait a few more days before he could confirm it.
Actually there wasn’t any need for further examination. Xiao Hua was already pretty clear about her body. During the trip, Xiao Hua already had some doubts when her period was late. Asking for a doctor was merely to confirm her suspicions. Based on the timing, she should have gotten pregnant during the time at the East Yuling alley.
What happened next was naturally to rest and nourish the fetus. The news was also sent to the Jing Prince’s side. He was extremely overjoyed.
Before long, Nana He and Matron Xu were sent over along with Ding Lan. The palace maids who had taken care of Yi Yi and Zhuo’er also came along.
Having not seen them for a long time, Xiao Hua was naturally pleasantly surprised and full of tears. For some reason, her pregnancy this time didn’t cause any other side effects apart from crying easily.
She became very emotional, and would start tearing up at the slightest thing. This scared the two children into not daring to misbehave in front of mom anymore. Zhuo’er brought his sister along every day and stayed by his mom’s side. Even if they went out to play, they would also look worriedly at Xiao Hua, seemingly afraid she would start crying again.
This made Xiao Hua not know whether to laugh or cry. She told the two children that mom was fine, it’s just that they’re going to have a younger brother or sister soon.
Yi Yi asked where this younger brother was and Xiao Hua pointed at her stomach. The two children were stunned and confused.
In the meantime, the Jing Prince also entered the capital.
The first thing he did was naturally to pay respects to the father he hadn’t seen in a long time—Emperor Xi.
In his memories, Emperor Xi was a very robust and healthy man. Although he wasn’t young, he still often practiced horseback archery and martial arts. His body had been trained until it was full of vigor. Even though he was over fifty he still looked middle aged. Unexpectedly, having not seen him in a while, this sturdy person had changed into a feeble old man. Not only was he extremely thin, his hair had also turned white.
The Jing Prince hadn’t seen Emperor Xi much, perhaps a little over ten times. His memories of his youth were a little blurred, but he never forgot Emperor Xi’s look of disgust when he found out his muteness couldn’t be cured.
What a disgrace!
He and his insane mother were both a disgrace in Emperor Xi’s eyes.
Now he had no choice but to lay weakly in bed and look upon this person that he once thought a disgrace.
“You’ve done very well.” Emperor Xi said: “You’ve managed the Jing Province very well.”
This sort of praise at this time seemed inexplicably preposterous.
But it no longer mattered. He had long outgrown the years when he needed someone’s praise, and he was no longer like the past where he hoped for this person he called father to praise him instead of loathe him.
“We will proclaim you as the crown prince. You must properly learn how to govern from the two ministers.”
“Father’s edict shall be strictly carried out.”
Emperor Xi waved his hand for the Jing Prince to leave. As he lay back in bed, he felt a little at a loss.
He was very unfamiliar with this grown son of his. However, he knew that this was the most correct decision he had ever made.
The nation surnamed Luo could only be surnamed Luo, and cannot be changed to Xiao. Even if there was more support in court for the crown prince’s heir, Emperor Xi wouldn’t permit such a thing to happen. He had already prepared to choose one of his remaining sons. Since the Jing Prince’s muteness was cured and he was also quite capable, it was finding great fortune within misfortune.
The current emperor’s body couldn’t support his thoughts for too long, and he soon grew tired. Zheng Hai Quan carried a bowl of medicine over and after drinking Emperor Xi soon fell asleep.
In the side hall, Imperial Physician Zhou still remained without leaving the Violet Imperial Hall. From the time Emperor Xi fell unconscious to the time he truly fell ill, he had done his utmost to treat him. That always rigid and severe face of his finally showed some reaction when he heard that the Jing Prince had entered the capital. He knew that he was finally free.
Whether the Jing Prince would spare his life, Imperial Physician Zhou didn’t have any assurances. After all, he knew way too much. However, he no longer cared about his safety at this moment. It was naturally best if he could survive, but if not, it was fine as long as his family was safe. Having stayed in the Violet Imperial Hall for so long, Imperial Physician Zhou felt that being able to leave was reason to celebrate, even if he had to die.
In this world, dying wasn’t that frightening. What was frightening was not being allowed to die despite wanting to.
The edict conferring the Jing Prince Luo Jing as the crown prince was soon passed down. The entire court fell silent.
If things went as planned, this Jing Prince would be the next emperor. Now that the edict was released, there was naturally nothing more to argue about. Even if Emperor Xi passed away, the Jing Prince would still be the next in line.
Because Emperor Xi was seriously ill and needed to urgently finalize his successor’s position, the crown prince conferral ceremony was rather rushed. When the Jing Prince was conferred the crown prince, the Jing Consort was also conferred as the crown prince’s consort, and a date was set for them to move into the eastern palace.
For Empress Xiao and the Jing Duke, things were already set and they were powerless to change anything. It wasn’t that they didn’t try anything secretly, but it was all to no avail. Now they consoled themselves by saying that although the future emperor didn’t have their blood, the Xiao clan would still have an empress.
Xiao-Shi’s parents used to be obscure members of the side branch, but since Xiao-Shi had become the crown prince’s consort, their popularity suddenly spiked.
Xiao-Shi’s parents were also a little dizzy at this development, but this blessing wasn’t quite so simple. They were clear in their hearts why they chose to marry their daughter to the Jing Prince back then. A daughter from a not favored branch family being married to a not favored prince. None would have expected that after all these years, the two of them would become the crown prince and the crown prince’s consort, the future emperor and empress.
Xiao-Shi’s mother had yet to meet her daughter after the Jing Prince returned to the capital. After the ceremony and once all the women moved into the eastern palace, Xiao-Shi’s mother submitted a request asking to meet the crown prince’s consort.
Ever since the Jing Prince was summoned to the capital, Xiao-Shi knew her good days had arrived.
As expected, the Jing Prince took her with him into the capital.
Xiao-Shi had laughed wildly in her heart several times. No matter how little you like me, the one who can stand at your side openly is only me, and not that bitch!
Everything happened according to her wishes. After the crown prince’s ceremony, it was her crown prince consort’s conferral ceremony. Once she moved into the eastern palace, she would become the mistress there.
The capital was different from the Jing Province. The crown prince couldn’t control his consort like he did back at the Jing Prince Estate. Madam Xiao’s request was soon passed to the crown prince’s consort, and she naturally knew who it was.
The next day, Madam Xiao entered the palace. When she saw her daughter for the first time in a while, she suddenly started crying.
“Oh, my daughter. Why have you gotten so skinny?”
Xiao-Shi’s firewood-like shriveled body was wearing the regalia of the crown prince’s consort, but it didn’t make her look imposing. Instead, it made her look as if she couldn’t hold up. Her expression was haggard, her skin sallow. Her words were listless, making observers feel shocked.
“Cough, cough….ever since going to the Jing Province, my health hasn’t been good and I would frequently fall ill. This trip to the capital also wore me out and my previous illnesses flared up again. Mom, your daughter is fine. I’ll be better after recuperating, you don’t have to worry.”
Mada Xiao cried for a while before quietly asking: “The crown prince treats you well currently?”
Well? What does well mean?
The things she ate, wore and lived in were all of the highest quality. Even his highness’s things couldn’t be compared to hers. Apart from not being intimate with her, apart from confining her for two years due to her actions, apart from solely favoring that person, and apart from the “rules” of the estate being overly strict, everything was well.
But Xiao-Shi understood that this was all on the surface, and there was no heart. Perhaps he had merely ordered his subordinates to come make the arrangements. This sort of treatment was very superficial. Outsiders felt it was incomparably glorious, but only she could understand the bitterness inside.
“Highness treats your daughter quite well.” Xiao-Shi could only say this.
Would her mom not understand her own daughter’s personality?
Madam Xiao cried and said: “You even keep things from your mother. Do you think I can’t tell well from bad? Is there something that isn’t convenient to say? It’s fine, don’t you worry. With the empress and the Xiao clan here, we won’t let our Xiao clan’s daughter suffer.”
Xiao-Shi’s tears finally spilled out as she told her mom slowly about the situation with her and the Jing Prince.
Madam Xiao cursed her daughter for foolishly hurting her husband’s heart while saying that this Jing Prince wasn’t tolerant enough. Her daughter had clearly changed, so why couldn’t he just forgive her?
Xiao-Shi told her mom a lot, including the foolish things she had done. Once she finished speaking, Madam Xiao also didn’t know what to do anymore.
She didn’t realize that there was still this sort of dispute between her daughter and the crown prince. Back then, before her daughter’s marriage could be arranged with her cousin, the clan decided for her to become the fifth prince’s consort. She also knew that her daughter hadn’t been willing, but since this was something decided by the Jing Duke’s estate, they could only comply. She had thought her daughter’s mind would calm down after a few days, but never expected so many things to happen.
Madam Xiao saying the fifth prince wasn’t tolerant enough was only her speaking out of anger. In reality, she was quite afraid in her heart. She understood that the past Jing Prince, the current crown prince, had already been extremely lenient. If what happened in the past was reported to his majesty, even if her daughter was part of the Xiao clan, her outcome wouldn’t have been a good one.
Madam Xiao didn’t know how to criticize her daughter anymore for making mistakes at every turn.
The crown prince didn’t mistreat her daughter. When he was conferred the crown prince, her daughter became the crown prince’s consort, and wasn’t replaced by anyone. During her life in the Jing Province, the crown prince also hadn’t mistreated her. The only time he had made a fuss was when her daughter obstructed the matter of offspring.
If this matter had occurred in the capital instead of the Jing Province, her daughter would have died a hundred times over.
“You are really muddleheaded!”
Xiao-Shi wiped her eyes and smiled bitterly, “Things already happened so it’s no use talking about it. In the end, he still didn’t allow that bitch to take my place for the sake of appearances.”
Speaking to this point, Xiao-Shi laughed mockingly, “I should be grateful that the one he favors is a lowly brat. Her status isn’t enough. If it was that Qiao-Shi instead, your daughter’s crown prince’s consort position would probably have been switched out already.”
The crown prince didn’t have many women. This time, Xiao-Shi was conferred the crown prince’s consort, and the previous Senior Concubine Qiao was also the crown prince’s virtuous wife. Yu Jiao and Yu Rong became the crown prince’s virtuous beauties.1 There was another crown prince’s virtuous wife who was temporarily not in the eastern palace. No one knew her whereabouts.
While the crown prince and his consort’s conferral was based on the emperor’s edict, the rest of his harem was conferred titles by the crown prince himself. Everyone in the eastern palace knew that there were two crown prince’s virtuous wives, but they only knew of Virtuous Wife Qiao. The other, Virtuous Wife Tao, had never been seen.
“He’s kept her pretty well hidden. I refuse to believe he can keep her hidden forever!”
Xiao-Shi only revealed a sinister expression on her otherwise dull face when Xiao Hua was mentioned. Madam Xiao had never seen her daughter like this and her heart trembled in fright.
“You mustn’t do anything foolish. Everything is under watch within the capital.”
“You daughter naturally knows this. How could I give that person something to use against me. If I make a mistake, wouldn’t I be handing my position over to her? He probably longs for this to happen. I definitely won’t do as he wishes.”
Madam Xiao wiped her tears and said: “It’s good that you can understand this. In the end, this isn’t the right way to go about it. It’s better to coax the crown prince over and give birth to an heir.”
Xiao-Shi no longer dared to think in that direction. She understood clearly how stubborn that person’s attitude was. She definitely wouldn’t go humiliate herself.
Thinking of this Virtuous Wife Tao, Xiao-Shi had some misgivings in her heart.
It’s impossible for her not to have come along when everyone in the Jing Prince Estate had moved to the capital. Where on earth did she disappear to? Why hadn’t she appeared yet?
Madam Xiao spoke a little longer with her daughter before leaving.
After Madam Xiao was sent out, Xiao-Shi pondered for a moment before having her palace maid call Virtuous Wife Qiao over.