Chapter 351: Why wouldn't she take revenge?
The court and the commoners were in a huge uproar once they learned of the crown prince's impending marriage. Imperial marriages were a big deal to begin with, much less one that involved Emperor Tianhui, the imperial uncle's estate, and Great General Mu's estate. Nobody expected that Long Tianmo would actually marry a notorious girl like Mu Liuyue, but everyone seemed to realize that this was actually the best decision!
With Emperor Tianhui's reliance, the imperial uncle's support, and Great General Mu's military power, the crown prince was standing at loftier heights than he had ever before. He was more than capable of presenting a front for the Tianning imperial family to challenge His Highness Duke of Qin. After Han Yunxi came back from her meeting with Mu Qingwu, she started hearing all sorts of news about the crown prince day after day.
Everything needed to govern the world revolved around those three parties. Han Yunxi didn't understand the power plays between men, nor was she interested in Tianning's affairs of state. Rather, she was more disappointed and regretful for Mu Qingwu's sake. He was Tianning's most skillful young general and General Mu's sole successor, as well as being the more outspoken voice in the imperial court. Oftentimes, he directly remonstrated his superiors when he felt something wasn't right! Someone so young and outstanding had thoroughly submitted under outside pressure. Han Yunxi had just left her poisons in the study when Zhao mama arrived with the latest news from the palace.
"Esteemed wangfei, I heard the empress dowager gave the general's estate another hundred rolls of silks and satins as well as ten chests of jewelry for the bride's betrothal gift."
Han Yunxi had to furrow her brows. Just yesterday, she'd heard the empress dowager was planning to give 15,000 taels of silver and a big pile of precious items as betrothal gifts! And now, they were adding even more presents today. The national treasury was suffering from a deficit while severe famine had overtook parts of the country. Yet the empress dowager had plenty of riches in her own private coffers!
"Esteemed wangfei, the empress dowager isn't that rich-but the imperial uncle certainly is!" Zhao mama said. She was afraid that Han Yunxi wouldn't believe her words, so she'd added that little detail. But how could Han Yunxi not know?
"Water can carry a boat as well as sink it. Someone like that won't stay in office for long!" Han Yunxi said coldly.
Zhao mama didn't understand her words, but complained anyway, "Esteemed wangfei, you shouldn't have saved the crown prince back then. It was simply helping out our enemies!"
If they were going to complain, they might as well blame Lady Tianxin for saving Empress Dowager Li in the past. Without Empress Dowager Li, Emperor Tianhui wouldn't have ascended the throne, and none of the current events would exist. Still, complaining was useless!
"Don't worry, His Highness isn't afraid of them!" Naturally, neither was Han Yunxi.
She had been visiting General Baili's estate over the past few days, and was planning to make another trip today. But when she realized that one of Baili Mingxiang's poisons was due to flare up today, she couldn't bring herself to go and just watch-especially when nothing could be done to stop her symptoms. Moreover, Mu Qingwu's matter was weighing on her mind as well, so she decided to take a stroll instead.
"Zhao mama, call out Xiaoyu'er! Let's go sightseeing!"
Zhao mama and Su Xiaoyu both enjoyed going out. Soon enough, mistress and servants had dressed themselves in low-key clothing and took to the streets in a carriage. Because Han Yunxi had been busy, she didn't have time to properly look after the girl. Today she examined her carefully and noticed that she had a special air about her even when cleaned up and dressed in servant's' robes. Xiaoyu had said she was an orphan who didn't know her parents. Judging from her facial features and disposition, Han Yunxi guessed that her parents couldn't be commoners. Perhaps Su Xiaoyu's family had met with some sort of misfortune.
Because Han Yunxi had been an orphan back in her original world as well, she took pity on Su Xiaoyu and treated her kindly. "Xiaoyu'er, have you ever missed your father or mother?" Han Yunxi asked.
Su Xiaoyu's heart grew guarded, but her face was all innocence and pleasant surprise. "Can I go look for them?"
Han Yunxi was delighted. "Did anyone say that you couldn't?"
Su Xiaoyu was thrilled, but her eyes quickly dimmed. "Is esteemed wangfei chasing me out?"
Urk...she actually misunderstood me. Han Yunxi didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "How could I? I'm afraid it'll be hard for me to keep you if you ever really want to leave then!"
"But...there's no way to find them," Su Xiaoyu lowered her head sadly.
Han Yunxi had tasked the steward with looking into Su Xiaoyu's origins previously, but she was one of the many beggars who'd begged alms to survive. It was impossible to find any clues about her. Seeing Su Xiaoyu's disappointed expression, Han Yunxi prepared to comfort her when Zhao mama simply laughed rather heartlessly.
"Xiaoyu'er, you can eat and drink as you like with esteemed wangfei, so what's there to be sad about? Esteemed wangfei is the person who saved your life-your second parents. Why look for your father or mother?" Despite her ruthless words, Zhao mama actually treated Su Xiaoyu very well. She would give the child all the tasty things to eat. By now, Su Xiaoyu was chubbier than before.
Su Xiaoyu looked up, her confusion showing on her face, unsure of how to reply. Han Yunxi couldn't help but to laugh at the sight. "Alright, alright. Let's not talk about that anymore. Come on, I'll take you guys to pick out some jewelry."
Women inevitably gravitated to food and clothing when they went shopping. Han Yunxi was no exception. She had already found a nice jewelry store filled with goods when preparing for the empress dowager's birthday banquet. Unfortunately, she didn't have enough time to pick through all the offerings last time. Today she was still thinking of the same store.
The store was called Golden Jade Fate, and specialized exclusively in head ornaments and hairpins. All of its goods were wholly unique and one-of-a-kind, with no reserves in stock. If the shopper wasn't fast enough, their favorite design would be gone forever. By the time Han Yunxi and company reached the front doors with their carriage, they saw six saber-wielding guards standing in front of the entrance.
"Esteemed wangfei, what important personage came today? They actually brought six guards along with them," Zhao mama said, surprised.
There was an art to saber-wielding guards. Judging by the appearance of these six, their master must be related to the imperial clan. Han Yunxi darted a glance at them and felt her good mood wane. The guards had completely blocked off the entrance, meaning they'd sealed up the entire establishment against other shoppers.
"Let's come back another day. We'll go to the Han Estate instead," Han Yunxi didn't like getting involved in trouble. But before they could leave, they heard a sudden cry of pain.
"Esteemed wangfei, it's the mistress of the shop!" Zhao mama had visited this store before, so she recognized the voice at once.
Immediately, the voice spoke up again with another pained cry. "Ah...! Have mercy! Miss Liuyue, this commoner really can't do it..." The voice trailed off into sobs, making the rest of the speaker's words unintelligible, but Han Yunxi hadn't missed hearing 'Miss Liuyue.'
"Miss Liuyue?" she said doubtfully.
"Esteemed wangfei, Mu Liuyue's behaving atrociously again! Let's have a look, quick!" Zhao mama loved commotion. She not only got out of the carriage, but dragged Su Xiaoyu off with her as well!
In the past, Mu Liuyue used to always accompany Princess Changping and bully others. Zhao mama had ran into the girl a few times and disliked her immensely. Now that she was going to marry the crown prince, Zhao mama's impression of her had worsened. However, Han Yunxi's impression of the girl had always been worse!
Leaving aside all the insults and schemes that Mu Liuyue had tried against her, there was the fact that this damned girl's vanity had pushed Mu Qingwu to surrender to the crown prince this time. Han Yunxi's only regret was that she hadn't utterly destroyed Mu Liuyue from their last bet. After failing to fulfill the terms of their bet, Mu Liuyue hadn't even offered her an explanation, much less dared to show her face before today. Why wouldn't she take revenge now? When Han Yunxi descended from the carriage, she saw Zhao mama and Su Xiaoyu waiting by the side of the road.
"I thought you two went in already!" she teased.
Zhao mama was wearing a meaningful smile. "Esteemed wangfei, there are six guards in front of the entrance. This old servant has no way of going in without your help."
Han Yunxi grew amused. "Then let's not go in. Have her come out instead." Having said so, she strode towards the front door until the saber-wielding guards blocked her way.
"Don't you have any eyes? Can't you see we're guarding this spot?" one asked.
"What do you mean, 'guarding?'" Han Yunxi asked, a picture of innocence.
There were thousands of retainers and guards in Tianning's capital city. Not all of them recognized Han Yunxi's face on sight. The current guard simply looked her up and down with a lewd glint in his eyes. With a grin, he said, "You're actually rather attractive. Unfortunately, I'm on duty today and don't have time to dote on you. Hurry up and leave! Don't make me regret it."
"Sir, I'm pretty formidable myself, you know. Take another look. Be careful you don't lose your life!" Han Yunxi's dainty smile was free from guile.
The guard gave a start, before patting his chest in exaggeration. "Aiya! I'm so scared!"
"Let me in and I promise you'll be alright," Han Yunxi smiled deviously.
Suddenly, more screams sounded from inside the store. The guard immediately stood at attention and exclaimed, "Hurry and get lost! I don't have the time to fool around with you!"
Han Yunxi didn't move, but instead asked curiously, "What are the origins of the person inside? Let me take a peek, maybe I'll know them."
"Know them? Heheh, it'll scare you to death if I tell you! Hurry and scram, didn't you hear me? Beat it!" the guard waved his hand at Han Yunxi impatiently.
Han Yunxi crossed her arms in front of her chest, calm and unperturbed. By now, Zhao mama had approached them with her sincere words of advice. "Little brothers, you should act low-key if you want to be respectable. My household's mistress definitely has more formidable origins than the person inside. It's for the best if you all get out of the way."
The guard laughed loudly upon hearing Zhao mama's 'advice'. "Hear this! My household's mistress is the young Miss of the Great General's estate and the current crown prince's consort-to-be!"
Zhao mama stared at him before she suddenly burst into laughter as well. "Hear this! My household's mistress is the eldest young Miss of the Han Clan in the north of the capital city!"
The other guards only laughed at her words.
"The Han Clan's eldest young Miss? Whoever's heard of her?"
"Heheh, it couldn't be that this Han Clan is related to the imperial clan in some way?"
"You think so? Amongst the imperial clansmen, the only one with a 'Han' surname is..."
Abruptly, the six guards realized their error and shut their mouths.
The Han Clan in the north of the capital city? There was only one Han Clan in the capital, and they were a family that practiced medicine. Their eldest young Miss was none other than...
Suddenly, the guard who'd flaunted himself at Han Yunxi trembled in fear as he fell to his knees. "Blessings to esteemed wangfei!"
The other five guards moved to copy him. "Blessings to esteemed wangfei!"
All six of them were new guards hired by Mu Liuyue. Like their mistress, they had the same temper and tendency to bully the weak. But they never expected to run into an iron wall today in the streets!
Nobody trifled with Qin Wangfei! She was famous for being difficult!
"I'm not feeling very blessed," Han Yunxi yawned lazily. "Zhao mama, wait upon these men well!"
"Yes!" Zhao mama was waiting for those very words. She slowly approached one guard, who was so frightened that his face had turned white.
He shook his head and stuttered, "Esteemed wangfei, have mercy! Have mercy! This humble one was wrong! This humble one had eyes but didn't see Mt. Tai and deserves ten thousand deaths! Esteemed wangfei, have mer-"
In the midst of his pleas, Zhao mama grabbed him by the ears and pinched. Immediately, all of his words turned into piteous wails. "Ahhhh...aHHHhhh...ahhHHHhhhhhh!"
Zhao mama had served in the palace for over a decade, so she was quite skilled in pinching people. The cries of the guard grew louder and louder like a shriek of a banshee. Soon enough, a crowd gathered around the store's entrance, drawn by the commotion. Meanwhile, the girl inside the store had heard the racket and rushed outside in a flurry...