The Devious First-Daughter - Chapter 642
Chapter 642 An Invitation from the Empress in the Palace
The news of Prince Yi’s appointment as the Crown Prince sent a shock throughout all levels of society . No one thought that the Emperor would appoint a Crown Prince out of the blue .
It had been so many years . The Emperor’s intention was apparent to everyone, and it was clear that he was enemies with Prince Yi . To suddenly appoint Prince Yi as the Crown Prince was the Emperor’s show of weakness . Moreover, the news from the Lord Guardian’s Manor had spread . Nearly everyone in the capital found out that the Emperor had stolen his minister and younger brother’s wife .
It was an unethical crime that made the perpetrator look worse than a beast . To think that the Emperor would conduct himself like this! It was unbefitting of a monarch .
Thus, the stubborn court officials submitted an official complaint of misconduct, though they didn’t dare to impeach the Emperor . They first impeached Chief Hua of the Imperial Academy of poor character . He had failed to educate his adopted daughter and stop her from marrying three different men . He also treated his daughter as a tool to cling to the rich and powerful, allowing her to marry anyone as long as they could bring wealth and honor .
In ancient times, women tended to die fighting for their honor or following their husbands in death . It was the norm to have only one husband in a woman’s lifetime . And yet, Hua Yueying was still living despite being married thrice . It was unethical and enraging . The court officials demanded that the Emperor issue an imperial decree and punish Hua Yueying and her family .
For a while, everyone in society was demanding the punishment of the Hua family . Chief Hua, who had always appeared refined and courteous in front of everyone, became akin to a rat on the street overnight . Never mind going to the court, he couldn’t even leave his manor . The moment he stepped out, he would be covered in an unstoppable rain of rotten eggs and vegetables .
Next thing he knew, Hua Qiuying’s fiance came to end the engagement . He said that he couldn’t marry the daughter of such a shameless family . To draw a line from Hua Qiuying, he went on to say that he had fallen into her trap that day at the palace . It was Hua Qiuying who tricked him into entering the room . He wouldn’t have gotten engaged with a woman like her otherwise .
His words made Hua Qiuying sound just like her sister, Hua Yueying . Everyone thought that marrying a daughter of the Hua family was unadvisable, for they would just be marrying a harlot rather than a wife . A daughter of the Hua family would plunge one’s house into chaos and cause her husband to lose focus in work . Hua Yueying had even put the Emperor and Prince Yi into such a state .
Some even said that Hua Yueying was the reason that the Emperor refused to make Prince Yi the Crown Prince all these years .
“Master, His Highness said not to prepare and take so much stuff over . He’ll only spend the night there when he can’t return, but he’ll come back whenever he can,” Lanning said, happily packing things up alongside Ning Xueyan . “Master, you shouldn’t pack that much either . Otherwise, His Highness wouldn’t be able to return even if he wanted to . ”
She was even teasing Ning Xueyan, evidently in a good mood . She had been much livelier since Ning Ziying’s case was brought to court .
Ao Chenyi had just been appointed as the Crown Prince when the Emperor coughed up blood and fainted, rendering him unable to hold court sessions . Thus, the impeachment documents were sent to Ao Chenyi . He, as the Crown Prince, had to live in the Eastern Palace . However, both he and Ning Xueyan found it more comfortable to live in Prince Yi’s Manor so they chose not to move so soon .
Ao Chenyi told Ning Xueyan to just bring a few necessities to the Eastern Palace . He would stay there if he was preoccupied and couldn’t come back in time . Otherwise, he would still return to Prince Yi’s Manor . He was just busier lately, being a newly-appointed Crown Prince at a time when the Emperor was in trouble .
Besides, Ning Xueyan knew that news of the three princes of Annan’s rebellion would soon reach the capital and a commotion would break out . The people and layout of the Eastern Palace were unfamiliar to them . They might as well stay in Prince Yi’s Manor and deal with contingencies there . So, she agreed with Ao Chenyi’s suggestion . He would stay in the Eastern Palace now and then, while she remained in Prince Yi’s Manor and kept everything the same .
Hearing Lanning’s teasing, a gentle smile appeared on Ning Xueyan’s small and fair face . She knew that Ao Chenyi was worried that it would be inconvenient for her to suddenly live in the Eastern Palace . Moreover, the Eastern Palace had been set in the palace for years and most of the servants there were the Emperor’s men . They would have to eliminate at least a portion of these hostile forces before they could live there safely .
“What’s the situation in the palace? Did the Emperor’s condition improve?” she asked . Yu Jian had visited and spoken to Lanning earlier, likely passing on Ao Chenyi’s message . She was napping at the time, so Lanning didn’t disturb her .
“The Emperor’s condition seems quite serious . I heard that the cause was his injury many years ago . His illness flared up because of the poison this time, and he even coughed up blood and hurt his heart and liver . I don’t remember it that well; all I know is that he’s not in a good condition . He’s comatose most of the time . Even when he wakes up, he’ll just be coughing up copious amounts of blood . The Empress is serving him on his sickbed . ”
Lanning stopped smiling and explained to Ning Xueyan in a low voice .
An unreadable emotion flitted across Ning Xueyan’s eyes . The Emperor seemed to be in a dire condition! In his attempt to harm others, he had harmed himself as well . It was he who prepared and consumed the poison . He would probably be fine if it wasn’t for the scandal exposure angering him . With all these factors added together, coupled with his fury, his illness weighed on him like a mountain . He was poisoned, too . It seemed that he was in grave danger this time .
Ning Xueyan never liked the Emperor, a man who was determined to kill Ao Chenyi . So, she simply nodded as she listened .
Xinmei lifted the curtains and stepped in . Having just returned from the outside, her forehead was covered in sweat . She looked like she was in a rush . The first thing she did was saluting Ning Xueyan and standing up . “Master, someone came to the manor earlier and said that the Empress has invited you to the palace . ”
The Empress’s invitation to the palace? This reminded Ning Xueyan of how, back in the Empress’ palace, the Empress and Lord Peace’s Madam tried to force her to accept Yun Luoluo . She frowned . She didn’t think there was any reason they had to meet at this time . They were in two different camps . Under such circumstances, their meeting might even complicate matters .
“Tell the palace messenger that I’m ill in bed . Once I recover, I’ll enter the palace and meet the Empress myself,” she said emotionlessly . She was holding on the sleeve of Ao Chenyi’s robe as she folded it . These used to be his favorite robes, the imperial ones with red spider lily embroideries .
Every time she saw him wearing these robes, he would give her a feeling of desolateness and sharpness . He felt so distant that she felt somewhat sorrowful . That was why she didn’t want to see him wear these clothes . She began to make ordinary robes for him and tucked these conspicuous robes—clothes that made people fear him on sight—away .
Now that he had become the Crown Prince, his robes no longer needed these dense, dark, bloody red spider lilies .
“That was what I told the messenger, too, but he said he wanted to meet Commandery Princess Xianyun too . He’s asking for your permission, Master,” Xinmei said, wiping the sweat on her forehead . She had already refused the eunuch earlier because it wasn’t a good time for her master to meet the Empress, but she didn’t expect the Empress to target Commandery Princess Xianyun instead . Unable to make up her mind, she had to ask her master for her opinion .
Those around Ning Xueyan still referred to Commandery Princess Xianyun by her bachelorette title, forgetting her title as Consort Yun . Nobody took her seriously as a consort anyway; she was still Commandery Princess Xianyun at the end of the day .
The Empress wanted to meet Commandery Princess Xianyun? Ning Xueyan put down the robe in her hands . She had long known that there was some sort of an agreement between the two of them . Back then, it was the Emperor who advocated for Commandery Princess Xianyun to marry Prince Yi . When they entered the palace, she also noticed the intimacy between the two .
The Empress’ lack of children, it seemed, was no coincidence either . The Emperor’s fear of the Empress Dowager, as well as the Lord Peace’s Manor, had driven him to leave the Empress childless and prevent the control of power by a relative . He didn’t want the new Empress Dowager to be as aggressive as the previous Empress Dowager and disturb the change of monarchs in the country .
The Empress seemed unreconciled to this . For many years in the palace, she had put on a show of impartiality toward Prince Xiang and Prince Fu as if she was a fair matriarch of a family . However, neither Honored Consort Ya nor Honored Consort Shu was an easy opponent . Regardless of who won the throne in the end, her position as Empress Dowager was unstable .
How should she remedy the situation when both weren’t her sons?
The two princes had mothers of high status, and all grown up as well . The Empress couldn’t raise them by her side . The best solution was another child, and this child should grow up with her . However, despite the birth of new princes in the palace all this while, she had never asked for any of them .
She watched the princes be born without doing anything, almost as if she wasn’t ambitious for more and didn’t care who the Crown Prince would be . It was as if all she wanted to be was an average Empress Dowager .
Ning Xueyan never believed this . The Empress saw how ambitious the late Empress Dowager and witnessed how she helped the Emperor win the throne, only to end up dead . She would never let herself repeat the Empress Dowager’s history, so she would conspire . And that conspiracy likely involved Commandery Princess Xianyun…
“Tell him that Commandery Princess Xianyun hasn’t recovered from her injury . If the Empress wants to see her, she’ll have to send someone to move her into the palace . But before that, she’ll have to get His Highness’ permission . ”
Ning Xueyan said softly . Despite her gentle expression, her eyes were cold . No matter what the Empress and Commandery Princess Xianyun were up to, she wouldn’t let them meet at this time . Commandery Princess Xianyun was a prisoner in Prince Yi’s Manor in the first place . She was also injured on the leg . If she was willing to stay put in bed and recover from her injury, Ning Xueyan didn’t mind leaving her be .
Something was up if the Empress was trying to meet Commandery Princess Xianyun instead of tending to the Emperor in the palace . Or was Commandery Princess Xianyun more important than the ill and comatose Emperor?
She pushed the responsibility onto Ao Chenyi . He had always been harsh and direct when confronting someone . Moreover, if the Empress and Commandery Princess Xianyun truly had an agreement of some kind, she would never openly inform the Eastern Palace and let Ao Chenyi find out .
“Yes, I’ll relay your reply right away!” Xinmei nodded and turned around to leave .
Ning Xueyan stopped her . “When you’re out, get a trustworthy maid to report to Commandery Princess Xianyun . Just say that the Empress sent someone for her . ”
It was better to let Commandery Princess Xianyun know than to block the news entirely . She had to know why the Empress wanted to contact Commandery Princess Xianyun . The dust had not settled yet, and the matters of the harem were crucial .
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