Court Lady - Chapter 40.2: Crickets and Ants
In the evening, Sheng Chumu accompanied Fu Rou to the palace gates before reluctantly bidding farewell to her.
“What day is it now? The cowherd boy and the weaver girl were banished to opposite sides of the Milky Way by the Empress Goddess. You and I are the living examples of them and the high walls of the palace is the Milky Way.”
“Then who is the Empress Goddess?” Fu Rou had already accepted her fate.
“Isn’t it obvious? It is the Empress…” Fu Rou quickly brought her hand up to clasp Sheng Chumu’s mouth. “You are so bold, you even dare to complain about the Empress.”
“I will even dare to go against the Emperor for you, not to mention a few complains.” Sheng Chumu was fearless and declared, “Rou’er, when I please the Emperor and there is an opportunity, I will ask for permission to bring you out of the palace.”
“Is it so easy to please the Emperor?” Everything was always down to opportunities.
“You may not know but the Emperor looks highly upon me. We can be together soon. Please just bear with it for a while longer.” Sheng Chumu was not only fearless, he was also proud of himself.
Fu Rou laughed, “Is it me bearing it or you?”
Sheng Chumu also laughed, “Hehe, we will bear it together.” He pointed to his lips. “Kiss me and I will let you go.”
“This is not appropriate in front of the palace gates. If someone spreads a rumour, we will no longer be able to see each other.” Fu Rou had the foresight and she took more precaution.
Sheng Chumu did not press her further, knowing that she was right. He stared foolishly after her but did not enter the palace. He could bear the distance between him and her. However, the palace was merciless and he was afraid that he would lose her forever if he did not take action now.
When Fu Rou returned to her quarters, her underling, Li Zhangyan, informed her that the Imperial Concubine Sun had requested her audience at Yudan Palace. Fu Rou was puzzled but these were people of a higher rank than her and she could only be more cautious as she obeyed the orders.
Fu Rou walked into Yudan Palace but no one was there and only the candle lights danced in the dark. She was about to turn back to question the internal attendant that brought her here. To her surprise, the internal attendant had not followed her in but had quickly closed the door behind her. Fu Rou jumped in shock and rushed to open the door only to hear the sound of metal locks. She had been locked into the room.
“Fu Siyan’s beauty is well regarded. Under the misty candle light, you are even more stunning.” A well dressed man walked towards her from the inner depths of the palace.
Fu Rou swivelled around quickly. The man before her appeared smart and proper but he wore an evil grin. His eyes shone in the dark and a nasty look crossed his face. Fu Rou immediately guessed that he was Grand Prince Liang. He used Imperial Concubine Sun’s name to lure her out. It was well known that Grand Prince Liang was unscrupulous and Fu Rou had heard about the incident of how he demanded for Princess Xinnan’s servant, Zhenzhu.
Fu Rou wore a determined expression as she bowed respectfully. “Your Highness, I received Imperial Concubine Sun’s orders to come here. Since Her Highness is not here, please excuse me.”
“Fu Siyan, you must be mistaken. It was me who called you here, not my mother.” Grand Prince Liang smiled, “I heard that you were a beauty in the palace and I have always wanted to see you. It was a coincidence that I saw you and General Xuanwei Chumu together today. He was an expert in womanizing in the past but he changed after he met you. I am very curious and wanted to meet you.”
Grand Prince Liang stepped towards Fu Rou and circled her as he spoke. He breathed in deeply and sighed, “What a nice fragrance.”
Fu Rou remained calm as she stepped backward and stealthily pulled out her hairpin.
Grand Prince Liang smirked and continued, “I cannot compare to General Xuanwei. As a royalty, my education and martial arts has always been taken care of. But can a little girl like you win over me?” He wore a dirtier smile and chuckled, “However, it is alright. It is more fun to play with someone with a feisty personality like you.”
Fu Rou glared coldly at him. “I cannot compare to you based on strength. Even if I exchange my life for you, a royal born like you will not bother about me and see me as a mere ant.”
“Since you are aware, why don’t you take the opportunity? If I favor you, even an ant can rule the world.” Grand Prince Liang bragged.
“If Your Highness is going to use force on me, I will have no other choice but to beg for death. However, before I die, I have a question for Your Highness. Can Your Highness show me some mercy and answer me?”
When Grand Prince Liang took another step towards her, Fu Rou placed her hairpin threateningly up to her neck.
She remembered Sheng Chumu mentioning that Sheng Chuling was on duty in the palace tonight. Because of her position, she also knew the guards’ patrolling schedule and locations. She could call for help but her chances were slim and she could only delay for time now.
Grand Prince Liang stopped in his tracks. He wanted to have more fun with her. “What question do you have for me?”
“I would like to know what kind of place Liangzhou is?” Fu Rou closely observed the oil in the lamps and calculated the time.
Grand Prince Liang could not guess what her intentions were and replied, “Liangzhou? Humph, that dogshit place. Its land is barren and the weather there is harsh. The food is also terrible and their women are not pretty.”
“How is it compared to Chang’an?”
“It cannot compare to Chang’an at all. One is the heavens and the other is the ground.” Grand Prince Liang scoffed.
Fu Rou took a deep breath.
Grand Prince Liang suddenly became suspicious. “Is this your final question before you die?”
Fu Rou nodded.
“Why?” Grand Prince Liang could not understand her.
Fu Rou smiled, “If I draw my hairpin across my neck, my life will be taken by you. Of course I am curious about what will happen to you.”
“What?” Grand Prince Liang blinked in confusion. “What will happen to me?”
“Isn’t Your Highness’ residence in Liangzhou? Isn’t it only natural for Your Highness to return to Liangzhou once I die?” Fu Rou laughed while warning Grand Prince Liang subtly.
“Nonsense!” Grand Prince Liang rebuked, “Do you think your measly death can decide a Grand Prince’s whereabouts? Beauty, you think too highly of yourself.”
“I do not dare to be so bold. My life is worth no more than a weed. However, it can become the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.” Fu Rou cleverly continued, “When the Emperor was enthroned, he gave titles to numerous men. For the stability of the country, laws were enforced for them to follow. By now, there are few noblemen who have not retired back to their residences. Your Highness, you are the most notorious among them.”
“I am the most notorious? Isn’t Prince Han Litai and Prince Zhou Lige both still in Chang’an?” Grand Prince Liang was confident.
“Prince Han and Prince Zhou are both the beloved sons of His Majesty. But you are just his brother. Your Highness, you should ask yourself how important you are to His Majesty. If you are not that important in his eyes, and you commit a grave crime, do you think that your position in Chang’an can remain stable?”
Grand Prince Liang jumped in shock. “I did not expect that you are not only beautiful, you are also capable of deceiving others. I may not be very important in the eyes of my brother, but I am important in the eyes of my Imperial Father. Even if my brother does not give me face, he has to give in to my Imperial Father. After all, my Imperial Father is his father too.”
“That is correct.” It seems like Grand Prince Liang was not ignorant after all.
“That is why there is still a need for me, the last straw.” Fu Rou held her hairpin in one hand and poured a glass of water with her other hand. “Everyone’s patience is like this cup, there is a limit to it. For the Grand Emperor, the Emperor can tolerate your presence in Chang’an. On the surface, the Emperor is abiding by his filial duties properly.”
When the cup of water was half-filled, Fu Rou suddenly stopped pouring and said, “Grand Prince Liang, you cannot always stay in your residence, do nothing, go out for a drink, create havoc and disturb the citizens. For a prince, this might not seem to be anything grave and the Emperor is benevolent in tolerating these actions.” Fu Rou continued pouring water into the cup, “It is fine if you create havoc outside. But Your Highness caused a situation with Princess Xinnan’s servant previously. After much contemplation, Princess Xinnan begged the Grand Emperor to save her servant. She is the Emperor’s beloved daughter and she must have complained to His Majesty after the event. Although the Emperor did not say anything, do you think he will have nothing against you after that?”
Fu Rou maneuvered her wrist and allowed water to drip into the cup.
Grand Prince Liang took a side glance and observed the half-filled cup. He said, “This cup is only half-filled, it can still hold some more water.”
“Although my life is nothing more than an ant, it is worth something. Although I am a mere sixth-ranked Siyan that Your Highness does not look highly upon, you bullied the weak and forced the death of a ranked personnel. You are going against the laws of Great Tang. The Emperor abides by the laws of Great Tang closely and although he might not bother over the death of a mere servant, he would be against your unruly actions of not obeying the law. This concerns the law of this country. Furthermore, I am favored by the Empress and was just recently promoted to a Siyan. If my death is not investigated, how would it reflect on the Empress? In order to ensure the harem is ruled strictly, the Empress worked herself until she fell sick. If Your Highness creates trouble in the palace without regard for the rules in such a sensitive period, who would respect the Empress in the future? Everyone knows that the Emperor and Empress are loving to each other. If Your Highness gets on the bad side of the Empress…” Water overflowed the tea cup and spilled all over the table.
Fu Rou was calm as she placed the tea holder down. “Grand Prince Liang is the only one who can exhaust His Majesty’s patience.”
Grand Prince Liang fell silent for a moment and frowned. “You seem to make sense. If I end up being sent back to that disgusting place Liangzhou because of you, it would really not be worth it.”
“Your Highness is wise.” Fu Rou breathed a sigh of relief and continued, “The servants in Siyan Department would be worried if I am gone for so long. If Your Highness has no other instructions, I will take my leave. I will not tell anyone what happened here tonight.”
“You may leave.”
“Thank you, Your Highness.” Fu Rou bowed. All of a sudden, Grand Prince Liang pounced forward and stopped her.
Wearing a crooked smile, Grand Prince Liang snickered. “You are so ignorant although you can speak well. I want to test our kinship and see whether my brother will send me to Liangzhou because of you.”
Fu Rou’s heart jumped but she could not escape the grasp of Grand Prince Liang. In an instant, Grand Prince Liang tore apart her collar.
Fu Rou shouted, “Stop! Let go of me! Someone help! Help me!”
Grand Prince Liang burst out into laughter. “You speak so confidently but you are as cowardly as a rabbit! Shout all you want, I wonder who will come and be a busybody!”
Fu Rou struggled to retrieve the hairpin in her sleeve before raising it threateningly at Grand Prince Liang. Compared to being taken advantage of him, Fu Rou would rather die with him.
Grand Prince Liang dodged nimbly but his chin was scratched by the hairpin. He cried out in pain, “Bitch, you don’t know who you should suck up to. I have always obtained anyone I want! Sheng Chumu is going to have to wear a green hat !”
Grand Prince Liang gave Fu Rou a strong slap, and she fell onto the table helplessly.
Just as he was about to take another step, the doors suddenly opened and a figure seized his shoulder. Grand Prince Liang turned around and received a blow to his face.
It was Sheng Chuling. As per Fu Rou’s calculations, he had been passing by and happened to listen to her cries for help.
Grand Prince Liang and Sheng Chuling fought against each other, both of them equally on par. Grand Prince Liang shouted, “Someone help! There is an assassin! Someone help!”
Unexpectedly, instead of a guard, Prince Zhou walked into the scene. His eyes instantly narrowed when he caught sight of Fu Rou’s dishevelled self.