Wife Doting Addiction：My Abducted Tsundere Husband - Chapter 180
Chapter 180: A Storm Is Brewing
At night, Xiao Lie had just entered his manor upon returning from Su Jiu’s place when Ding Fei came forward and said, “Your Highness, we’ve found out the culprit behind the assassination of Lady Su!”
Xiao Lie stopped in his tracks, and turned around as he asked coldly, “Who is it?”
“It’s someone from Prince Zhao Manor!”
“Prince Zhao Manor? Why does Xiao Jing want to kill Ah Jiu?” Xiao Lie looked at him with a piercing gaze, even though his face remained calm and composed.
“I have yet to find out the reason.
I’ve only found out that Prince Zhao Manor had welcomed a new concubine today, and I know her! She’s the daughter of the old Official Lan, Lan Zhihui!” Ding Fei reported.
Xiao Lie squinted his eyes and thought, Lan Zhihui? Lan Zhihui had used to be from the Ji Manor and had disappeared for a long while after being evicted by Ji Yuxian.
So it turned out that she had gone to Xiao Jing’s manor.
Could she be the one who wanted to kill Su Jiu? “Also,” Ding Fei continued, “The assassins sent by Prince Zhao Manor had been caught by Eldest Young Master Ji and were sent to the Chang Manor!” Xiao Lie smiled.
“He had acted quickly! Is there anything else?” “Chang Zheng had visited the Vice Minister Xie Manor today after noon time.
“He must have gone to look for Xie Shiyun for help to seek revenge for his son, but he had indeed overestimated his uncle! Xie Shiyun is Xiao Jing’s lackey.
How would he dare to go against Xiao Jing?” Xiao Lie laughed coldly.
“Should we send some people to protect Lady Su?” Ding Fei asked.
Xiao Lie’s gaze darkened as he laughed abruptly.
“There is no need, His Highness Prince Zhao would probably be caught up with some other troubles for a while, and he won’t have time to care about Ah Jiu!” The man’s good looking face exuded elegance as he devised a strategy in his mind.
He gradually broke into a smile, before turning around to enter the hall.
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COM Emperor Zhao Ping had been inviting Lord Yun Nan into the palace for a game of chess after his morning meeting these few days, and today was no exception.
Emperor Zhao Ping had mentioned specially for him to bring Princess Yu Long along into the palace that day.
Lord Yun Nan and Princess Yu Long had let the servants report their arrival to the Emperor before they entered the Royal Study.
Xiao Lie was present as well.
They exchanged greetings before the Emperor smiled and said, “Since I’m playing chess with Royal Highness, Lie’er can bring Princess Yu Long for a walk around the palace.
Princess Yu Long has arrived in the city for several days and has never taken a closer look in the palace!” Princess Yu Long’s eyes flickered as she glanced at Xiao Lie.
“Sure!” Xiao Lie answered politely.
He looked noble and gentlemanly while being dressed in an embroidered robe representative of his prince status.
“Princess, please follow me!” “Sorry to trouble you, Your Highness!” Princess Yu Long smiled warmly.
Lord Yun Nan’s gaze darkened as he watched the two of them leave.
He seemed to have understood Emperor Zhao Ping’s intention, but he chose to feign ignorance as he had tea with the Emperor and continued with their game of chess as per normal.
Lord Yun Nan held onto a white chess piece as he pondered about his next step and said, “I have been in the city for several months, and I should be heading back to Diannan City!” “Oh! There is no hurry!” Emperor Zhao Ping seemed to be in a good mood recently.
He laughed as he continued, “There is nothing much going on in Diannan City! Your Royal Highness had rarely visited the city, so you should just stay here for a year or two!” Xia Cang’s handsome face broke into a subtle smile.
“Yes, Huan’er was just reunited with us.
I have been afraid that he would not be able to adapt if we bring him back to Diannan City right now.
As such, we had postponed our trip back to the north!” “Diannan City will have a new leader in the future now that the Crown Prince has been found! Your Royal Highness must be relieved now!” Emperor Zhao Ping smiled lightly as he placed a chess piece in the center of the chessboard.
Lord Yun Nan’s eyes flickered as he heard his words.
“Yes, I have been thinking about it these few days.
Huan’er can stay in Shengjing City if he doesn’t want to go back to Diannan City.
I am not worried about him since the Emperor can take care of him here!” “If you are willing, I can build a Crown Prince Manor for him right now!” Emperor Zhao Ping suggested immediately.
“Thank you, Emperor, for your great kindness!” “Haha!” Emperor Zhao Ping looked up and chuckled.
“To be honest, I wish that Princess Yu Long can stay in Shengjing City.
Look, I have two sons who have yet to marry their main consorts.
Let me know which one you like, and I will let Princess Yu Long be wedded to him!” “Emperor, you must be joking! Both princes are distinguished and exceptional men, and they’re out of Yu Long’s league!” Xia Cang replied politely.
“I am not joking! Yu Long has been in Shengjing City for so long, who do you think she likes more?” Emperor Zhao Ping asked.
Xia Cang pondered over it for a while before saying softly, “I’ve heard Yu Long say that His Highness Prince Rui is a gentle and elegant man with extraordinary good looks!” Emperor Zhao Ping laughed heartily.
“Yu Long has good taste! To be honest, I think highly of him as well!” Xia Cang looked up and smiled knowingly at Emperor Zhao Ping.
“I had previously promised Lie’er to let him pick the main consort that he fancies, but since this is the case, I will ask Lie’er about it.
If he agrees, I will arrange for the date for them to be married.
We should get their wedding done since you all are still in Shengjing City!” Emperor Zhao Ping said with satisfaction.
“Sure, we will let the Emperor decide!” the king and his subject continued on their game of chess as they chatted with each other joyfully.
Meanwhile, Xiao Lie and Yu Long walked slowly side by side in the Royal Garden.
It was an end to the wilting of the flora and fauna in April as the summer started.
The plants in the Royal Garden had blossomed, and it was a flourishing sight.
Yu Long was dressed in a splendid peony-patterned imperial costume, gorgeously wrought with gold and fixed with silk buttons.
Her hair was adorned with a peony jade hairpin while being coiled up high.
She was clean-cut looking and ravishing at the same time, which made the flowers in the garden look pale in comparison.
“I’m embarrassed for troubling you to take a walk with me in the palace, Your Highness!” the woman raised her head slightly to look at the tall and noble-looking man.
Her eyes sparkled as she spoke with a smile.
“Princess, you are being too polite.
You are a guest in our city, and I must host you, Princess!” Xiao Lie replied gently.
Yu Long laughed and raised her brows.
“Your Highness, you did not seem to behave so distantly when you were with Su Jiu.
Can you don’t act aloof with me as well?” Xiao Lie’s lips curled into a smile.
“Princess, you are Chang Huan’s kin, so you are naturally a friend of mine and Ah Jiu!” Yu Long lowered her gaze and smiled lightly upon hearing Xiao Lie’s intimate tone when he talked about Su Jiu.
“I envy Su Jiu sometimes.
She has so many friends around her even though she’s a commoner; Huan’er’s reliance on Su Jiu exceeds those that he has for his own family!” “Ah Jiu and her friends have been through thick and thin, so they’re naturally different!” Xiao Lie’s gaze turned tender, and his voice became gentle as he talked about Su Jiu.
“Yes, Huan’er has told me about his experience in the Dragon Conqueror Gang.
To be honest, I am full of respect for Su Jiu.
She may have been a mountain bandit, but she is full of passion and ambition.
Her carefree spirit is something that you and I cannot comprehend due to our statuses!” Yu Long laughed and said.
“Ah Jiu is different from the other mountain bandits.
Moreover, the Dragon Conqueror Gang today is no longer a group of bandits!” Xiao Lie replied flatly.
Yu Long smiled apologetically.
“I don’t mean it that way, Your Highness.
Please don’t be offended!” “It’s alright!” Xiao Lie’s face turned slightly glum as he walked across the wooden bridge to the opposite.
Yu Long followed behind him and said, “I’m getting a bit tired, Your Highness.
How about we take a seat at the pavilion!” “Sure!” Xiao Lie nodded slightly and strode towards the pavilion.
The pavilion was surrounded by a lake.
The water was clear, and lotus flowers stood beautifully among it.
A slight humidity could be felt among the cooling wind, and one could not help but feel refreshed as they enjoyed the breeze.
Yu Long sat lazily on the chaise lounge by the water.
She appeared more feminine than usual as she asked, “Your Highness, do you normally have the time to enjoy the scenery in the garden?” “No!” Xiao Lie answered softly as he stood with his hands behind his back.
“Then I am blessed!” Yu Long giggled.
She stood on the wooden fence in an attempt to pick a brightly-colored lotus flower in full bloom among the waters.
Her hand had just touched the flower as her body leaned forward beyond the fence.
However, just after she had managed to pluck the flower, she abruptly lost her footing.
As a result, she inevitably fell backward.
“Princess, be careful!” Xiao Lie yelled and reached out for her waist.
Yu Long grabbed hold of Xiao Lie’s arm, and immediately turned around to lean onto his shoulders as she panted, “That was close!” Xiao Lie’s brows knitted together slightly when he noticed the woman leaning on his body.
He immediately stepped back and said, “This wooden fence had been slippery.
Princess, you should be more careful and let the palace maids pick the lotus flowers if you like them!” Yu Long held the lotus flower in her hand as she gave it a sniff.
She looked up and laughed.
“Did I scare you? Have you ever met such an indecent Princess like me?” She raised her brows dashingly.
“I am not prim and proper like other women, and I had acted presumptuously in front of you, Your Highness! I hope I didn’t give you a shock!” “No, you didn’t!” Xiao Lie smiled casually.
He was no longer surprised about how other women behaved ever since he met someone like Su Jiu.
Yu Long leaned against the wooden fence as she ran the lotus flower through the water.
She turned around to look at him with a smile.
“That’s why I am envious of Su Jiu, who can live the kind of life she wants.
Your Highness, you must bring me along the next time you look for Su Jiu! I love to drink just like her, and I must compare how well I can hold my liquor against her.
” Xiao Lie watched the lake outside of the pavilion as the sun shone onto his lean and tall body, casting a long and slender shadow onto the ground.
The Emperor and Lord Yun Nan had finished their game of chess when both of them returned.
Lord Yun Nan led Yu Long and bade their goodbyes, before leaving the palace.
Xiao Lie had wanted to retreat thereafter, but the Emperor stopped him and said, “Don’t go yet, I have something to tell you!” “Sure!” Xiao Lie stopped in his tracks.
“Lie’er, how do you feel about Princess Yu Long?” Emperor Zhao Ping sat on the Dragon Throne as he flipped through the memorandums and asked casually.
Xiao Lie frowned slightly before he calmly replied, “The daughter of Lord Yun Nan is certainly an exceptional person.
Otherwise, Brother would not have fancied her!” “Don’t mention your Brother before me! I had previously agreed to his request for him to marry Teacher Zhang’s granddaughter and had even proceeded to give hints to Teacher Zhang.
However, he changed his mind immediately upon the arrival of Princess Yu Long.
Since then, he has put me in a difficult spot!” Emperor Zhao Ping snorted.
“Maybe Brother is serious about the princess!” Xiao Lie said flatly.
“Even if he is serious about the princess, I cannot possibly let Yu Long be wedded to him due to his fickle-mindedness!” Emperor Zhao Ping retorted coldly.
He paused momentarily before saying softly, “However, I notice that the princess treats you differently.
How about you? What do you think?” Xiao Lie knelt on one knee in the next instant as he said, “I hope that Father understands that I have no intention to be with the princess!” “Oh?” Emperor Zhao Ping’s eyes rolled about as he said with a laugh, “Yu Long is a beautiful, talented, and decent woman! I feel that the two of you are a good match for each other!” “Father…” “Lie’er!” Emperor Zhao Ping interrupted Xiao Lie the moment he opened his mouth to speak.
The Emperor said meaningfully, “Lie’er, I hope you understand my high expectations for you when I arrange for Yu Long to be married to you.
” Emperor Zhao Ping got to his feet and sauntered over slowly as he continued softly, “Lord Yun Nan had postponed his trip back home because he wanted to let Yu Long be married in Shengjing City in a bid to display his loyalty.
How can I reject his effort? Furthermore, Yu Long is of noble and distinguished status, and she can’t be married to any man other than either Jing’er or you.
The citizens of Diannan City have always had little sense of belonging to Daliang Country.
Hence, it will be of great aid to unite Diannan City and Daliang Country should the princess be married into Shengjing City.
” “I understand, but I already have someone that I fancy! I plead for Father to let the princess be married to Brother instead!” Xiao Lie insisted without hesitation.
He was well aware of his father’s meaning behind his words.
Whoever that married the princess would become the heir to the throne in the future.
However, he would rather give up on the position.
Emperor Zhao Ping was slightly taken aback when he heard Xiao Lie.
“You have someone you fancy? Which official’s daughter is she? How come I’ve never heard you talking about her?” “I’ve known her since she was a civilian.
I’m serious about her, and I won’t marry anyone else except her!” Xiao Lie said slowly.
“Civilian? She’s a commoner?” Emperor Zhao Ping frowned and peered at him.
“Yes, Father had promised me previously that I would get to pick my main consort! I hope that Father will not go back on your words!” “Lie’er, you are a prince, and you have the highest popularity among the officials.
Do not disappoint me!” Emperor Zhao Ping said in a deep voice.
“I plead for Father to fulfill my happiness!” Xiao Lie stood his ground with serious determination! The atmosphere became awkwardly silent as Emperor Zhao Ping’s facial expression turned glum.
“Lie’er, you can marry her as your concubine if you are serious about her, but you certainly have to marry Yu Long!” “I’m afraid that I cannot adhere to your command!” Xiao Lie said decisively.
“I will only marry her!” Emperor Zhao Ping looked at him coldly and laughed.
“I am curious about her now! What kind of woman is she that made you so obsessed with her?” “I am not being impulsive, I have made this decision after giving it a good thought! If Father is agreeable, I will bring her into the palace tomorrow to meet Father!” “Ha!” Emperor Zhao Ping laughed coldly.
“Looks like you have already made up your mind long ago, and hence asked for the decree to let you pick your consort! You have tricked me!” “I dare not!” Xiao Lie lowered his head and said immediately.
“You are dismissed!” Emperor Zhao Ping turned around and picked up the memorandums from the table as he said expressionlessly.
“Noted, I will retreat now!” Xiao Lie got up and walked out of the Royal Study.
The sun shone through the bright yellow glazed cornice and cast dim shadows onto the man’s body.
They made the man’s silhouette look even taller and muscular.
His expression was stern as his gaze remained calm and composed.
He ambled as he made up his mind to cut off all means of retreat, and he was confident with his decision.
Liu Wen, the palace aide to the censor-in-chief, had returned from the morning meeting in the afternoon.
Administrative Official Chang Zheng immediately served him tea when he saw him.
“My lord, you must have had a hard time!” Liu Wen sat down and slowly sipped on his tea.
Chang Zheng hesitated for a while, before scanning their surroundings and saying softly, “My lord, I have thought about it, and I decided that I have something to report to you!” Liu Wen looked up slightly and asked, “What’s the matter?” “There was an anonymous memorandum for the impeachment of Prince Zhao among the memorandums this morning!” Chang Zheng muttered in a low voice.
Several ministers in the imperial court would submit memorandums of impeachment to the Emperor during the morning meeting.
Those who were afraid of people seeking revenge on them would submit anonymously to the imperial censor.
The administrative official would then tidy up the documents, before handing it over to the censor-in-chief, after which Yao Bing would filter and check through them before presenting them to the Emperor.
The administrative official did not have the authorization to look at the memorandum’s content.
On the other hand, the censor-in-chief was an important official position, as he was someone that the Emperor had personally appointed, and he must be a person with high integrity and honesty.
As Liu Wen had supported Prince Zhao and was trusted by Xiao Jing, his expression transformed immediately when he heard Chang Zheng.
“…What was the impeachment about?” “It accused His Highness of collusion with the officials to detain the food supply meant for disaster relief, persecute loyal ministers, and get rid of subjects who went against him, on top of more than ten other crimes!” “This is ridiculous!” Liu Wen said hatefully, “Who would be so daring to slander a prince? He should be charged!” “Yes, I am fearful as well! As such, I have come to report to my lord immediately!” Liu Wen looked worried as his eyes flickered and looked at Chang Zheng.
“These memorandums of impeachment were usually sealed and kept.
How did you manage to see it?” Chang Zheng lowered his gaze and replied, “It was a coincidence.
I was tidying up the memorandums today when I accidentally spilled a cup of tea over them.
This particular memorandum had become wet because of it.
I was terrified and had wanted to sun it to dry, and because of that, I had to open it.
That was when I saw His Highness’s name, and I hurriedly read its content.
” “I see!” Liu Wen looked dead serious as he said softly, “We can find out who was the one who wrote it judging from his writing!” Chang Zheng pondered over it for a moment before speaking, “I’m making a wild guess that the words appeared to be written by Vice Minister Xie!” Liu Wen shook his head immediately.
“That’s impossible! Vice Minister Xie had always been in a good relationship with His Highness! How could he have submitted an impeachment against him?” “My lord, you must not have been aware.
His Highness had taken fancy to one of Vice Minister Xie’s favorite concubines during Vice Minister Xie’s birthday celebration.
As a result, Vice Minister Xie had no choice but to part reluctantly with that concubine and took her in as his goddaughter instead to give her to His Highness as a gift.
He must have borne hatred ever since, and hence slandered His Highness in secret!” Chang Zheng explained slowly.
“Oh? There was such an incident?” Liu Wen asked in surprise.
“Yes!” Liu Wen glanced at him tentatively.
“Isn’t Vice Minister Xie your uncle? Are you now placing righteousness in front of family ties?” Chang Zheng knelt on the ground immediately.
“I have always wanted to swear allegiance to His Highness, but I didn’t have the chance to do so.
As such, I have taken the risk this time to destroy that memorandum of impeachment, in hopes that my lord will speak in favor of me in front of His Highness!” It was not an unusual affair in the imperial court for one to betray his family and friends in exchange for power and wealth.
Liu Wen chuckled as he helped Chang Zheng onto his feet.
“Of course! Master Chang is loyal and devoted to His Highness.
I will report the incident as it is to His Highness!” “Noted! Thank you, my lord!” “Without further ado, I shall go meet His Highness right now!” Liu Wen said sternly.
“Noted, my lord! Please have a safe trip!” Chang Zheng bowed humbly, and his lips curled into a malicious smile when he heard Liu Wen’s footsteps going off in a hurry.
During the morning meeting the next day, the palace aide to the censor-in-chief, Liu Wen, suddenly submitted a memorandum to impeach Xie Shiyun for corruption during his deployment to Yunzhou as the governor.
He accused him of harming other people and disregarding the law! Xie Shiyun was astonished.
Many years had passed since he was the governor of Yunzhou, but how could it be brought up out of the blue? Moreover, Liu Wen and himself were part of the party supporting Prince Zhao, and they had always gotten along well with each other.
Why was he blowing the whistle on him all of a sudden? Liu Wen was a trusted subordinate of Prince Zhao.
Could it be Prince Zhao who was trying to sabotage him? That should not be the case! Confused, Xie Shiyun knelt in fear.
“I have been wrongly accused, I plead for the Emperor to investigate this!” The Emperor looked at the memorandum, which clearly stated Xie Shiyun’s doings during his service as Yunzhou’s governor.
It included the details of his corruption with the other officials, deceiving his superiors, and misleading his subordinates, resulting in several misjudged cases.
Enraged, the Emperor immediately ordered for Xie Shiyun’s official position to be stripped off.
He was also to be confined at home while the imperial censor and Ministry of Justice carried out investigations on this matter! Xie Shiyun was horrified, and he broke out in a cold sweat as he knelt and gave thanks profusely.
Prince Zhao, who stood in front of Xie Shiyun, glimpsed at him and smiled coldly.
Whoever that dared to go against him would only end up on the road to destruction! Xie Shiyun walked out of the palace in a daze and coincidentally bumped into his brother-in-law, Chang Zheng.
“Master Chang!” Xie Shiyun quickly caught up with him.
Chang Zheng turned around and frowned.
“I’ve just heard about your incident, and I was feeling worried.
” “What do you think this is about?” Xie Shiyun sighed heavily and looked dejected, a total opposite from his usual arrogant self.
Chang Zheng mulled over it for a moment, before saying softly, “It must be Lan Zhihui’s doing.
She must have stirred things up and manipulated His Highness’s thoughts!” “That’s impossible! I had agreed for Zhihui to be sent to Prince Zhao, as she said that she will help me using Prince Zhao’s influence after she is favored by him!” Xie Shiyun frowned and said.
“The outcome of helping my lord was to result in the stripping of your official position?” Chang Zheng laughed coldly.
“Didn’t my lord see what happened to Bo’er? That woman was malicious and had seduced you in an attempt to be connected with His Highness.
It was all within her plans.
She had killed Bo’er, and now she is planning to kill you so that her past doings would never be found out and she could continue to be His Highness’s concubine in peace!” Xie Shiyun’s expression changed immediately as he gritted his teeth and rebuked, “She was indeed that evil and ruthless woman!” “Do you understand now, my lord?” “Then what should I do?” Chang Zheng heaved a sigh.
“What can other people do if His Highness is bent on killing you, my lord? As you have said before, what can other people do to him since he’s a prince?” Xie Shiyun pleaded in trepidation, “Master Chang, I have thought about seeking revenge for Bo’er previously.
Now that I am imprisoned, you need to help me with the consideration that we are relatives!” Chang Zheng pondered about it for a moment before replying, “The good thing is that it’s been a long time since your doings in Yunzhou, so there should not be any evidence still present.
I will help to take note since I work with the imperial censor, and I will inform you immediately if I notice anything, my lord!” “Sure, sure! Thank you, Master Chang!” Xie Shiyun’s face turned pale as he bowed respectfully to Chang Zheng.
Chang Zheng smiled and turned around to leave.
Qiao An returned home in the evening, and Xiao Lie was around as well.
The few of them sat in the pavilion.
Su Jiu was seated on the wooden fence, with one of her legs curled up.
She held a willow branch in her hand to tease the fishes swimming in the water.
Qiao An poured Xiao Lie some tea.
The tea’s fragrance filled the air as it trickled into the cup.
“Your Highness, there is something fishy about the incident in the morning meeting today!” Xie Shiyun and Liu Wen had both supported Prince Zhao.
They could not have possibly gone against each other in the imperial court even if they were at loggerheads.
Unless it was schemed by Prince Zhao.
It could be that Xie Shiyun had a conflict with Prince Zhao, and Prince Zhao had the intention to get rid of him.
Xiao Lie’s gaze shifted from the young woman to him as he sipped on his tea and said, “Prince Zhao’s concubine, Lan Zhihui, had manipulated him to kill Chang Zheng’s son.
Chang Zheng had been aware that his son’s death was Prince Zhao’s doing, and he had visited Xie Shiyun a few days ago to seek his help!” Qiao An was stunned as realization dawned on him.
“Could it be that Xie Shiyun had refused to help Chang Zheng, and hence resulted in Chang Zheng bearing hatred for him? As such, he had devised such a plan!” “Chang Zheng may only be a seventh-grade administrative official and a lowly-ranked officer, but he works with the imperial censor.
He has the access and authorization that other people don’t!” Xiao Lie said.
Qiao An seemed to have understood that Chang Zheng had schemed to create friction between Prince Zhao and Xie Shiyun on purpose.
He was making use of Prince Zhao to get rid of Xie Shiyun! Chang Bo was a good-for-nothing young master who was ignorant and incompetent, but his father, Chang Zheng, was shrewd and not to be underestimated.
“I had recommended to Father today for you to take over the position of vice-minister, but in view that you had only just started work in the imperial court and is considered inexperienced, you may receive criticisms from the other officials.
However, Father has high regard for you, and you will have to gain more merits and achievements for the time being!” Xiao Lie said flatly.
Qiao An nodded slightly.
The Emperor must have been aware of Prince Rui visiting his manor every day, and that he was working for Prince Rui, However, he was still inclined in promoting him.
This proved that the Emperor had intended to pass the throne to Prince Rui, and was already helping to accumulate Prince Rui’s power and influence.
Additionally, Xiao Lie had promoted him because of Su Jiu.
Although Su Jiu did not have a family of high social status, she still had the support of the Dragon Conqueror Gang.
It would be easier for Su Jiu to become Prince Rui’s consort if Dapao and himself secured their influences in the imperial court.
“Xie Shiyun will not be able to survive this time.
I will help the imperial censor to dig out the evidence of his corruptive behavior.
Furthermore, Wu’an had reported a situation of a disaster yesterday as the flood broke in spring and caused several landslides.
Many citizens were affected and have suffered heavy losses.
Master Qiao, you can request for the decree to be deployed to handle the disaster, and I would have settled the rest when you have returned.
” This would give the most immediate results.
Qiao An replied sternly, “Noted.
I will not disappoint you, Your Highness!” Su Jiu turned around and glanced over at them.
The lilac flowers outside the pavilion had landed on her plain white dress as if rouge had been faintly spread across the fabric.
They looked like sparkling iridescent clouds, which complimented her delicate features beautifully.
“Is Master An going to aid with disaster relief again?” “Don’t worry, the officials at Wu’an are all honest people with integrity.
There will not be obstacles this time, so he will be fine!” Xiao Lie looked elegant as he laughed, and he got up to place his teacup next to her lips intimately.
Su Jiu picked up the teacup as her eyes rolled.
She said, “There may be someone who can help with regards to Xie Shiyun’s corruption case!” “Who?” Qiao An looked over at her.
Su Jiu raised her brows and smiled.
“Zhu Hecheng!” During Xuzhou’s disaster incident last year, Zhu Hecheng had colluded with Xuzhou’s officials and embezzled the food supply meant for disaster relief.
Su Jiu had gotten to know from Ji Yuxian that Zhu Hecheng worked for Xie Shiyun.
There must be monetary transactions between the two of them.
Furthermore, Xie Shiyun must not have worked alone.
“Maybe we can reap a greater reward through investigating Xie Shiyun!” Su Jiu’s eyes sparkled as she said craftily.
“Zhu Hecheng had become more careful nowadays, after being stripped off the right as a royal merchant.
We would have to strategize in detail if we were to work on him!” Xiao Lie said unhurriedly.
Su Jiu bit onto her lower lip lightly, thinking of an alternative method.
She was aware of a shortcut to get hold of the evidence about Zhu Hecheng and Xie Shiyun’s collusion.
That shortcut was Ji Yuxian.
She had gained a certain level of understanding about Ji Yuxian within the year that she had stayed in the Ji Manor.
He had something on several officials, including Xie Shiyun.
Xie Shiyun had worked for Prince Zhao.
He had yet to be in despair about him, and would most likely find a way to approach him.
Once they ended up in estrangement, Prince Zhao would certainly kill him to hide the evidence that Xie Shiyun possessed.
As such, the time is short, and they would have to settle Xie Shiyun’s matter before Prince Zhao could act.
Should she approach Ji Yuxian? Su Jiu hesitated.
“You don’t have to be involved in this matter.
I’ll find a way!” Xiao Lie caressed Su Jiu’s head and smiled tenderly.
Qiao An looked at them as he got to his feet and chuckled.
“Your Highness, please take your time to have a chat with Chief! I’ll take my leave!” Qiao An walked along the stone path after he left the pavilion.
Li Xin walked over from the opposite direction while carrying a plate of fruits.
She quickly bowed as she saw Qiao An.
“Greetings to you, Master An!” Qiao An smiled.
“We are on the same side from now on.
You don’t have to be so polite.
” “Noted!” Li Xin’s round and fair face broke into a radiant smile.
“Is this for Chief? You don’t have to go over at the moment! His Highness is talking to Chief, and they won’t want to be disturbed!” Qiao An instructed.
“Sure!” Li Xin nodded lightly.
Qiao An gave a slight nod and strode off.
Li Xin stood there for a while as her eyes flickered.
She did not listen to Qiao An’s instructions and instead, continued walking towards the pavilion with the fruit plate after Qiao An had walked a distance away.
The sky had gradually turned dark, and the evening breeze started to blow.
The slanting light of the setting sun hung in the sky like a piece of colorful ribbon.
Xiao Lie hugged Su Jiu from behind as he muttered in a low voice, “Ah Jiu, you have to trust me that no matter what happens, you’re the only person in my heart, and I only want you to be my Lady Rui.
” Su Jiu’s eyes sparkled and glazed over as she looked up at him.
“Why, did the Emperor oppose our relationship?” This was within her expectation.
“He was only shocked that I’m in love with a commoner, but he did not object to it violently!” Xiao Lie tautened his arms and hugged the young woman’s lithe body into his embrace tightly.
He rested his chin onto her shoulder as he breathed in her light and delicate fragrance.
His heart felt soft and light, like the ripples created across a pool of water.
Su Jiu blinked.
“He was only aware that I’m a commoner.
What if he realized that I was a mountain bandit?” Xiao Lie sighed.
“That’s why I’m telling you that no matter what happens, I won’t give up on you, and neither should you give up on me!” Su Jiu nodded.
“I won’t give up as long as you don’t!” “Unless I’m dead!” Xiao Lie turned Su Jiu around to face him and stared at her intently.
The last ray of sunset disappeared within his eyes as his gaze darkened, and he kissed lightly onto Su Jiu’s forehead as he said in a deep voice, “Unless I’m dead, or I’ll never let go!” “Don’t talk nonsense!” Something stirred in Su Jiu’s heart as she said softly.
“Ah Jiu!” the man’s warm and provocative breaths were emitted onto her forehead as his gaze grew darkly abstruse.
He held her chin with his long and slender fingers as he kissed onto her brows and the corner of her eyes, before gradually moving downwards.
He brushed his lips across her soft and supple cheeks, her sharp nose, and her moist lips before he took a deep breath and attempted to deepen his kiss… “Young Master, Your Highness!” Someone yelled all of a sudden, which jolted both of them awake from their entanglement.
The previous sensual atmosphere instantly dissipated.
Su Jiu abruptly turned around and saw that it was Li Xin.
The environment was dim, and Li Xin only noticed their intimate body postures when she entered the pavilion.
Her face flushed red as she quickly turned around and stammered in fear, “I did not interrupt on purpose! Miss, please forgive me!” Su Jiu chuckled and got out of Xiao Lie’s embrace.
“It’s alright!” Su Jiu was not sure why, but she felt relieved upon being interrupted by Li Xin.
Li Xin turned back around and saw the elegant man under the dim shadows, causing her to blush even more deeply.
She placed the fruit plate on the table and said, “The nanny has told me to serve fruit to you, Miss.
” “I’m not going to have them, I’m hungry! Is dinner ready?” Su Jiu asked.
“Dinner is ready, and we are waiting for Young Lady and Your Highness to serve them!” Li Xin hastily answered.
“Then let’s go for dinner!” Su Jiu turned around and looked at Xiao Lie.
“Sure!” Xiao Lie smiled adoringly at Su Jiu and held her hands to leave the pavilion.
Li Xin bit onto her lower lip before following after them.
Ji Yuxian had returned home late for the past two nights.
However, there were always freshly made cakes and snacks left in the study room every time he was back.
The cakes and snacks were delicately made and were changed every day.
Jin Feng looked at them as he smiled and said, “The Fourth Young Mistress is very considerate towards you, Eldest Young Master!” Regardless of how Ji Yuxian fancied Su Jiu, Su Jiu had already accepted Prince Rui, and both of them were unlikely to reconcile.
Jin Feng wished that Ji Yuxian could move on as soon as possible.
The Fourth Young Mistress might be a concubine, but she was a demure, thoughtful, and meticulous lady.
She did not fight with the rest of the concubines or try to grab attention during her stay in the manor these few years.
She was also humble, and she was a decent woman.
Ji Yuxian glanced at the delicate snacks left on the table, but he did not touch them.
He sat behind the humongous desk before asking flatly, “Is Xiao Lie investigating Xie Shiyun?” “Yes!” Jin Feng nodded sternly in the next instant.
“I feel that Prince Rui’s intention with getting involved all of a sudden was to promote Qiao An!” It would be best if Prince Zhao could be implicated, but he felt that Prince Rui’s real intention was to aid Qiao An to take over the position of Vice Minister of Revenue.
He was planning for Su Jiu to become Lady Rui smoothly.
The flames from the candlelight were reflected in the man’s clear eyes as he looked emotionlessly out of the window.
“When the time comes, let’s hand over what we have to Prince Rui!” the man said softly all of a sudden.
Jin Feng was stunned.
“Young Master is intending to help Prince Rui?” The Young Master had always been at loggerheads with Prince Rui because of Su Jiu.
Why was he helping him this time? Moreover, it would increase the chances for Su Jiu to become Lady Rui if he helped him! Ji Yuxian did not answer his question, as his gaze grew increasingly dark and intense.
He understood why Jin Feng was shocked.
He too was even unsure why he had suddenly wanted to help Xiao Lie, but if she was to marry that man, there would be many obstacles ahead of her.
He would just want her path to be smooth-sailing.
Even though she might not be his anymore, he was reluctant to see her being mistreated.
She only had the support of the Dragon Conqueror Gang behind her.
As such, the members of the gang had to become powerful and influential to ensure that she would not get bullied.
Ji Yuxian only headed to his bedroom when it was late into the night.
It was still slightly chilly as summer had just started.
The lights along the corridor flickered as the courtyard remained silent.
Ji Yuxian suddenly felt like his courtyard had always been so quiet as if she had never appeared in his life, and that their memories seemed to merely be illusions.
The moonlight cast vague shadows onto his red robe.
The man was handsome and beautiful as if the heavens had bestowed favor on him.
Despite that, he was fated to be lonely.
“You are dismissed!” the man said slowly.
“Noted!” Jin Feng moved swiftly and left quickly like the wind.
The servants had already turned in, and the Ji Manor was enshrouded in silence.
Half an hour later, a shadow appeared all of a sudden and disappeared into the study room.
Almost at the same time, Jin Feng’s brows knitted slightly together as he followed the shadow and stopped outside the study room.
Su Jiu? What was she doing here? Jin Feng’s eyes rolled around as he leaped onto the roof and waited quietly on top.
The candlelight had already been extinguished when Su Jiu entered the study room.
The room was illuminated only by the moonlight as it faintly sparkled.
Su Jiu had hesitated for two days, and she decided that she was not able to face Ji Yuxian.
As such, she was planning to steal the evidence of Xie Shiyun’s corruption as per what she had previously done.
Su Jiu intended to start searching from the bookshelves, but ten minutes had passed, and she had found nothing after combing through both opened and concealed shelves.
She searched through Ji Yuxian’s desk, and there was nothing as well.
Where could he have hidden them? Su Jiu bit onto her lower lip and pondered about it for an instant.
Just then, she remembered the secret passage in the study room that led to the bedroom.
She had previously used it when the nanny had poisoned her.
She walked to the back of the folding partition and spun the sapphire inkstone on the wooden cabinet.
A secret door quickly appeared on the wall.
Su Jiu entered it in a jiffy.
The secret passage was lit with a luminous pearl and was not in complete darkness.
Very quickly, she entered Ji Yuxian’s bathroom within his bedroom upon exiting from the secret passage.
The bathroom was filled with mist, and the Chinese palace lanterns in all four corners of the room were enshrouded in steam as they shone dimly.
The man seemed to have drunk wine before he slept, as the aroma of alcohol had seeped through the vapor in the bathroom.
The bedroom was quiet, and it looked like Ji Yuxian had been asleep at this time.
Su Jiu heaved a sigh of relief.
A pool made from white jade was located beside the bathroom, and across it was a jade table where down blankets were placed.
On its side was a red wooden bookshelf.
Su Jiu had wondered in the past about the bookshelf’s purpose.
An idea struck her right at that moment as she removed her shoes and socks, before getting down into the pool and wading over to the bookshelf.
A secretive item would most likely be hidden at such a location.
The water level only came up to her waist.
Su Jiu stared at the bookshelf intently, unaware of what was happening underneath the water.
Suddenly, she was tripped over by something, which made her slip into the pool.
A loud splash was heard as the man glided over quickly like a fish.
He caught hold of Su Jiu’s waist, and they sank towards the bottom of the pool together.