Kill the Princess Consort of Prince Yu
Ming Qin had an absolutely delightful spring, and her joyous spirit continued on into the scorching summer despite the ear-splitting cicada chorus.
Murong Wan was a bit awkward but an easygoing and amiable kid.
Her mentor and senior brothers were too preoccupied to lecture her, while the ruffians and rogues in the marketplace ceased their harassment of the vendors.
But the best part was Murong Yan!
Not only did she generously share her lunchbox with Ming Qin, but she also allowed her to doze off with her head resting on her lap.
Whatever was said, Murong Yan always replied with a gentle smile.
In case of any trouble, she was patient and gave advice.
Ming Qin recently heard that she had always lost to her senior sister when they played chess.
Murong Yan even held her hand and played chess with her, helping her win against her unsuspecting senior sister.
“Wow, now that you have a powerful supporter, you’re bullying your senior sister?” Song Shu Qing arched an eyebrow and asked.
“That’s not bullying!” Ming Qin laughed proudly, then marveled in astonishment, “The county princess is truly incredible.
She anticipated every move my senior sister would make.”
Song Shu Qing snorted, “You forgetful little one, captivated by beauty and forgetting your senior sister.
Next time, it won’t be so easy for you to win.”
Although she always underestimated Ming Qin’s chess skills and was caught off guard this time, it was genuinely terrifying how the County Princess Chongwen was able to discern her habits and discern the winning opportunities just by replaying the game with Ming Qin.
“Good Qin Qin, when will you introduce me to the County Princess Chongwen?” asked Song Shu Qing, propping her head up.
Ming Qin looked at her warily and nervously said, “What are you planning to do, senior sister? I’m telling you, you can’t mistreat the County Princess!”
Song Shu Qing sighed dramatically, “Qin Qin is heartless now that she has a new beauty in her life.
I’ll go play chess with the County Princess, and then who would dare to mistreat her?” She pointed to her slender arm to emphasize her frailty.
Furthermore, only her foolish junior sister would think that the County Princess Chongwen was harmless.
This is what people call “self-censorship.”
“Oh, and speaking of business, the Gouzi Jian is releasing students tomorrow, and our master wants you to secretly enter the palace and guard the Eleventh Prince,” said Song Shu Qing, her tone becoming serious.
“After that, I won’t be in the capital, so I have to ask you to temporarily hand over the task of protecting the prince to Cao Yun.”
“Why are we suddenly going into the palace? Is there something important going on?” Ming Qin asked, puzzled.
Song Shu Qing hesitated for a moment as if she had something to say, but then shook her head and said, “Be careful tomorrow.
If you encounter the Crown Prince, remember to be cautious and not act impulsively.
Think carefully before taking action.”
On the following day, with her face covered, Ming Qin spotted her master’s wife, Gu Yun, whom she hadn’t seen in a long time, on the beam of the Imperial Study.
Gu Yun’s revealed eyes were beaming with a faint hint of crow’s feet, and she waved gleefully at Ming Qin.
Ming Qin reciprocated with a smile and a wave, acting as if seeing her master’s wife there was no surprise at all.
Being a fellow covert operative, Gu Yun was not only adept in the use of poisons but also an expert in concealed weaponry.
Her duties included guarding the emperor secretly.
The two women exchanged silent gestures on the beam while the emperor below was affable, showing interest in the Eleventh Prince’s education, creating a pleasant atmosphere.
After approximately the time it takes to burn a stick of incense, Ming Qin heard some commotion from outside, and her back instantly stiffened.
Gu Yun’s eyes also became sharp, and she pulled a hidden weapon from her sleeve, ready for any situation.
“The Crown Prince has arrived!” the eunuch at the door yelled.
A few moments later, two figures strolled in leisurely.
The youth at the forefront was barely handsome, with pallid skin and no hint of blood on his face.
He wore a headpiece of jade on his jet-black hair and a purple robe embroidered with nine golden dragons, exhibiting a proud and poised demeanor as he stepped through the doorway.
The man trailing behind the young lord was adorned in armor, with a prominent scar slashing across the left side of his face from forehead to chin.
He followed without a word.
Upon entering the Imperial Study, they did not kneel before the Emperor, seated high on his dragon throne, but simply stood there, their gaze drifting idly.
A hush descended, and the still tender Murong Wan swallowed nervously.
After a prolonged silence, Murong Xiao, sounding rather disinterested, spoke up, “Father, why have you summoned me today?”
His voice was soft, but cloying.
“Crown Prince, your eighth brother has met his end in Qiongzhou,” the Emperor fixed his gaze on Murong Xiao, speaking slowly as though struggling, attempting to discern a flicker of regret on his child’s face.
“Is that so? How distressing,” Murong Xiao feigned surprise, pressing a hand to his chest.
His lips twisted upwards in a faint smirk as he teased, “But pray, how did my dear brother come to reside in Qiongzhou?”
“Surely you know why he was exiled there,” the Emperor ground his teeth, striving to contain his fury.
As he looked at his son’s disingenuous expression, the old Emperor’s visage turned icy.
At last, he could hold his wrath no longer and berated, “You have gone too far to attain your desires!”
“Too far?” Murong Xiao’s gaze fixed upon the Emperor like a snake eyeing its prey, his tone cold as he demanded, “Far enough for you to give me what is rightfully mine?”
“When you commanded the assassination of the Prince Consort eleven years ago,” the Emperor’s eyes brimmed with sorrow, as if witnessing a heart-wrenching scene, and he gasped slightly for breath, “you sealed your fate to never attain what you desire.”
Ming Qin’s controlled and steady breathing on the beam faltered upon hearing this, and she tightened her grip on her sword.
Below the beam, Murong Xiao stared at the Emperor with widened eyes, as if his father had spoken utter nonsense, and he raised his voice, “If I hadn’t killed the Prince Consort and let my sister mourn, wouldn’t you have arranged for her to marry someone else?”
Then, his expression turned grim, his eyes darkened, and he spoke with gritted teeth, “I begged you to give me my sister, but you always refused.
It drove me to resort to this, to lock her up and make her hate me.”
His voice grew more passionate and fervent.
Upon hearing the Crown Prince’s words, Ming Qin’s pupils quivered.
She tried to quell the brewing murderous intent within her, but her master’s signal to stop only forced her to grit her teeth.
“You madman!” The Emperor’s body shook as he pounded the table, coughing in his excitement.
Murong Xiao laughed, ignoring the Emperor’s accusations completely.
His eyes grew red with excitement and madness, as if he had thought of his greatest masterpiece.
“But soon, it will all come to fruition.”
Approaching the dragon throne, Murong Xiao touched it with satisfaction and spoke with a cold, syrupy voice, “I will soon become the most revered person in the world, and no one can stop me, isn’t that right, Father?”
He reached out to touch the Emperor’s reddening neck as he coughed.
In an instant, a sharp, jarring sound of metal colliding filled the air.
The man behind the Crown Prince unsheathed his sword and swiftly deflected the small knife hurtling towards Murong Xiao from above.
The knife veered off its course and lodged itself halfway into the wooden table, its jade-green blade radiating an eerie purple hue.
With a watchful gaze, the swordsman shielded the Crown Prince behind him and fixed his eyes on the pillar where Gu Yun was hiding.
“Remain calm, Xiao He,” Murong Xiao’s voice was cold and unfeeling, despite the tense atmosphere.
“They dare not harm me.”
Murong Xiao retreated slowly, then abruptly turned around, revealing a disturbing smile.
“I am overjoyed to see Father today.
His proximity to the grave fills me with excitement.”
Pausing briefly, he flashed a grotesque grin that split his face wide open, never once glancing at the trembling figure of Murong Xiao in the corner.
As soon as Murong Xiao and Xiao He left, the Emperor slumped against the back of his chair, seemingly drained of all strength and suddenly appearing incredibly aged.
After soothing Murong Xiao with a few words in a hushed tone, the Emperor struggled to remain upright until the boy had departed, before finally resting his head against a soft pillow and shutting his eyes to recover.
After a while, He Jing Shou and Gu Yun materialized by the Emperor’s side.
With a respectful tone, He Jing Shou inquired, “Your Majesty, what good comes from needlessly subjecting yourself to such hardship?”
The Emperor kept his eyes closed and asked, “Will your disciple tell Chongwen what she heard today?”
He Jing Shou and Gu Yun looked at each other, uncertain.
“I don’t know the depth of the relationship between the Princess and Ming Qin, so I cannot be certain,” he said.
“If we can deepen Chongwen’s hatred towards the Crown Prince, then the plan will have another layer of assurance,” the Emperor said weakly, coughing a few times.
“Do you blame me for plotting against your disciples?”
“How could we, Your Majesty?” He Jing Shou and Gu Yun hurriedly kneeled down.
“Everything we do is for the greater good.”
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