Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 24
Translated by: Cozy Translations
Chapter 24 – Canary In a Cage
The day Rong Xi was expelled from the palace, the guards were thrown into a panicked frenzy. At the time, they did not know that Mu Huai actually did not go to Qinzhou, he only created an illusion for Li Rui. Halfway there, he secretly reversed directions and quietly returned to an outpost west of the capitol.
They were originally assigned to Mu Huai when his legs had yet to recover. These guards were all mute death warriors and would usually only obey Mu Huai’s commands. As such, they had little communication with Rong gugu who took care of Mu Huai. Moreover, the person who expelled Rong Xi was the empress.
Before Mu Huai left, he did not leave instructions for them to look after Rong Xi either. Rong Xi originally did things diligently by Mu Huai’s side, and whenever she would leave Quyun Palace to take care of any errands, she usually acted alone and did not need anyone to follow her.
The guards recounted the events from that day to Mu Huai.
When he heard this, Mu Huai’s gaze became extremely icy. Then he recalled how Rong Xi was unusually talkative that night, as well as her strange words about the future and whatnot. In his heart, he slowly formed a guess, the matter of her being forcibly expelled by the empress was not as simple as it seemed.
Although Noble Consort Li was not dead, she was no different from being so.
The empress no longer had anyone to suppress her, thus her actions had become more brazen. He was clear that the empress wanted to matchmake him with Di Shiyin, wanting him to marry her.
Thinking of the Di clan’s two daughters, Mu Huai felt a sense of disgust welling up inside. His brows furrowed.
That woman wanted to run? It won’t be that easy.
Even if he had to turn over all of Great Qi, he will dig her out. If he could not find her within Great Qi, then even if he had to send people to the neighboring countries, he will find this woman and bring her back.
After he finds this woman, he will definitely strictly punish her.
He wanted to tie up her slender arms, no matter how that woman will cry and beg him, he would not soften his heart. He wanted that woman to be unable to leave the bed for three days. After he captures her back, he will imprison her in the Eastern Palace, never to leave the palace for even half a step.
He wanted that woman to know, as the canary he’s raising in his cage, even if she were to be able to fly away, he would definitely capture her and put her back in this cage to live for the rest of her life.
But if he couldn’t find her…
Thinking of this, Mu Huai suddenly felt fear grip his heart and he didn’t dare to think further.
There’s no way he wouldn’t be able to find her.
Mu Huai forced himself to calm down.
He was a little happy, thankful that Rong Xi knew how to conceal her appearance. Otherwise, if that breathtaking beautiful face were to be exposed outside, he did not dare to think of the consequences that would happen if some evildoers targeted her.
Under the moonlight, Mu Huai’s slender fingers were still stained with the blood of his enemies.
His fingertips shook unconsciously as a calm expression was restored on his face.
His voice was thin and cold as he ordered the kneeling guards, “Within five days, bring that woman back. Alive, I want to see the person; dead, I want to see the corpse.”
As the astrologists observed the skies and the stars, the Ministry of Rites finally settled on an auspicious day for the Crown Prince’s ceremony.
A while ago, Mu Huai had completely revamped the imperial exams to restore their impartiality. The whistleblower commoner woman’s husband, Yan Juxu was indeed a talent. He actually placed within the top three and became Great Qi’s zhuangyuan1.
The day the rankings were released, Mu Huai was in one of the taverns nearby. Finding a room upstairs, he secretly observed the events with Yin Cheng.
There was an old master of an official’s family that wanted to steal a son-in-law for his family’s daughter. Seeing how Yan Juxu was a zhuangyuan and also had handsome looks, he sent his servants out to block Yan Juxu’s road.
Yan Juxu was not a native of Bianjing. He was originally a live-in son-in-law of the commoner woman’s family. The two people married long before coming to Bianjing to take the exam. Not one to disregard the old in favor of the new2, Yan Juxu sternly refused the old master’s matchmaking, even saying that he would not take any concubines in this lifetime, only having one wife.
That official’s family’s old master could only regretfully leave.
Mu Huai saw everything as he sipped his wine.
Yin Cheng who was sitting across from him looked at the xie die hanging on Mu Huai’s waist. Seeing how he had been wearing it every day as of late, it seems like he viewed this item quite preciously.
But although this xie die was quite simple, it was more suitable for men to wear than the usual belts and hooks.
Yin Cheng asked Mu Huai, “What does Your Highness think of Yan Juxu?”
Mu Huai set down the wine cup, “Can use.”
The relationship between the noble families were very quite complicated. Mu Huai wanted to raise his own people and inject some fresh blood into the court.
Yan Juxu was a tried and true scholar, the wife he married was also the common daughter of a businessman. He did not have a large clan backing him, nor was he a native of Bianjing.
He was as blank as a sheet of paper, no one was more suitable.
After Mu Huai beheaded Li Rui, the seat of Privy Councilor was vacant. Currently, the Vice Councilor was temporarily taking care of the affiars.
Since Yin Cheng had returned to Qi from Qinzhou, then he would have Yin Cheng sit on that seat sooner or later. Mu Huai and Yin Cheng were related by blood, and naturally had a close relationship ever since they were children.
All these years, other than the deceased Shun Fu, the only other person he trusted was Yin Cheng.
But ever since he had been made into a titled prince and then the Crown Prince, Yin Cheng no longer called him Zhi Yan like before. He would no longer call him his nickname Man Ya, like how Consort Xian did when they were children.
In the end, a subject cannot overstep the boundaries when talking with his monarch.
Later that woman became his servant. Mu Huai could not help but admit that although Rong Xi had not served him for a very long time, he definitely had a certain level of trust towards her.
She was like a calming pill for his heart.
Spring was approaching, and today’s weather was especially clear and fresh.
The Imperial Household Department switched out the plaque saying Quyun Palace for Eastern Palace. Actually, many people in Yongxi Palace knew long ago that his Quyun Palace was built according to the Eastern Palace’s specifications.
Mu Huai stood upright as he looked up at the plaque bearing the words ‘Eastern Palace.’
Beside him was Yan Juxu who was now a scholar-official3. Mu Huai placed him as a close official, and he took great pleasure in discussing matters with him these past few days.
Yan Juxu was well-versed in politics and rich in intelligence. He was both reliable and humble, a rare official that is adept at governing. Although Yan Juxu was older than Mu Huai by several years, he was blessed with looks like jade and was a clear-faced handsome man.
Yet Mu Huai, at just twenty-one years old, had already become Great Qi’s Crown Prince.
The two people stood side by side outside of the Eastern Palace, becoming one of the palace sceneries.
Although the palace maids passing by were scared of Mu Huai’s infamy, they could not help but admit that this Crown Prince was extremely good looking.
He had an arrogant and domineering aura around him, extravagant and regal.
Mu Huai was currently talking and smiling with Yan Juxu, but that smile was very shallow, not one that came form the heart.
There was still no word of that woman’s whereabouts, and his heart felt as if it was hanging on a thread. Not too long later, Mu Huai’s attendant had a heavy expression on his face as he walked towards the two people.
Yan Juxu was adept in reading the room. Knowing that this attendant probably had some private matters to discuss with Mu Huai, he took the initiative to leave.
Mu Huai’s heart beat faster, though his expression was like normal, “How is it, did you find that woman?”
The guard took a deep breath and hesitantly replied, “Rong gugu…“
Hearing those three words, Mu Huai’s lips slightly hooked up.
In the end, he still caughtt his woman.
Suppressing his eagerness, his voice was calm as he asked again, “Where is she now? Did she enter the palace?”
Seeing how the guard’s avoided looking at him with poorly concealed fear on his face, a bad rose up in Mu Huai’s heart. His tone became more serious as he urgently asked, “Hurry and reply, where is that woman?”
When the guard heard this, he finally truthfully answered in a trembling voice—
“Replying to Your Highness, Rong gugu…she…she’s dead.”
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