Let Me Pursue You – Chapter 76
Yuan Ci Xian looked back at him, her eyes flickered for a moment.
Lu Shi Qing continued to explain: “Nanzhao’s political situation is turbulent, and Xi Ju hasn’t been able to secure his Crown Prince’s position. It’s precisely because of this that he devoted himself to conquest, trying to conquer Diannan, and achieve the goal of subduing subjects internally and deterring neighboring countries externally. But from the time you were fourteen years old, when he planned to marry you, whether it was open attack or hidden ambush, Nanzhao has never succeeded. The war not only didn’t make Xi Ju stable as the crown prince, but it caused him to be frequently impeached by his ministers and complained by the common people. So now, he decided to change his strategy and turn the enemy into a friend with Great Zhou.”
Perhaps it was the piece of rough jade that the second prince of Nanzhao used to curry favor with Great Zhou that reminded Xi Ju, or maybe it was when Lu Shi Qing and him had the peace talks at the beginning of the year that gave him inspiration, and he found that now was indeed not the best time to compete with Great Zhou.
“His top priority is to use the power of our Great Zhou to stabilize his domestic political situation. But obviously, compared to him who frequently wages wars, our emperor prefers his second brother who knows how to curry favor. In case one day, his second brother won over our Great Zhou’s support and replace him, he must establish a deep enough relationship with our dynasty as soon as possible. Marriage is one of the ways.
“In this situation, it’s already considered a grace from our country to send an imperial clan daughter to go to Nanzhao, there’s absolutely no reason to marry a State Princess, but our emperor values profit. If Xi Ju can offer enough exchange conditions to make him happy, he won’t choose to keep his daughter. What’s more, Shaohe is marrying for the second time after all. Therefore, she naturally becomes Xi Ju’s first choice.”
A princess who married into a marquis mansion at the age of sixteen and had been widowed for five years had somewhat lost her value.
“But if the first choice is not the first choice, there is a second choice. Apart from Shaohe, your status is also very special. If you, as the only daughter of Diannan Prince, marries Xi Ju, in the eyes of his subjects, he this crown prince will controls Diannan sooner or later. Therefore, you can also make Xi Ju establish a strong prestige in his country. He didn’t pick you this time because I’m in the way. If now in order to protect Shaohe, I don’t hesitate to, lose His Majesty’s heart and even to be banished from the court, then next, when Xi Ju extends his hand to you, who can protect you?”
Lu Shi Qing, a person who didn’t like to show his emotions, after saying this, the hands that was holding Yuan Ci Xian couldn’t stop trembling, as if he was very afraid.
As if sensing his helplessness and struggle, Yuan Ci Xian endured the soreness of her nose, pulled out the hand that was held in his palm, and then held him instead.
Such a choice, she knew that it was more difficult for him than her.
Lu Shi Qing’s heart shook, he then pulled her into his arms, lowered his head and rested his chin on her shoulder, and said after a long silence: “Yuan Ci Xian, there is only one Lu Shi Qing, and it’s only enough to worry about you.”
Yuan Ci Xian nodded and didn’t say anything, but hot tears fell down in a blink of an eye.
In Zichen Hall, Xi Ju was throwing his bait towards Emperor Huining: “First, Nanzhao will resume regular tribute to Great Zhou, and will no longer passing it through Diannan Prince’s hands, but directly send it Chang’an.”
In the past, when Nanzhao paid tribute, it was first presented to Yuan Yi Zhi, and then he transferred it to Emperor Huining, which actually showed that he valued Diannan Prince and despised him. With this change, the old emperor’s heart naturally became clear and comfortable.
This straight-to-the-point method was to untie the other’s knots first.
Xi Ju continued: “Secondly, Nanzhao will resume the trade with Great Zhou that has been cut off for three years, and promise to unilaterally reduce or exempt forty percent of the commercial tax, and allow merchants from Pyu Kingdom and other neighboring countries to enter Great Zhou through our Nanzhao gate, so they can open its trade with Great Zhou.”
Emperor Huining froze slightly.
This mutual market move was not only a matter of money and materials, but to also allowed Great Zhou effortlessly open up business and even political affairs in the south of Nanzhao. It was really a rare opportunity.
But Xi Ju had something even more unexpected behind: “Third, I would like to promise that on the day of my accession to the trone, I will send my eldest son to Chang’an to study the Han learning for a period of three years. If he fails to complete his studies, he will not be allowed to return.”
These words seemed to be subtle, but in fact, it basically means that as long as he successfully ascended to the throne, he would send his eldest son to be a hostage prince for Great Zhou for three years. This was tantamount to giving the old emperor a reassurance pill, indicating that at least in the first three years when Xi Ju was in power, Nanzhao would not be able to make waves, even when Great Zhou deliberately restrict them, then he could benefit countlessly during these three years. Moreover, the political significance of this matter itself was immeasurable.
“The above has three conditions, one is for Shaohe State Princess to marry me, two is for Great Zhou to provide Nanzhao’s scarce medicinal materials in the mutual market, and three is for Your Majesty to sever contact with my second brother and support me as to ascend the throne. I wonder how Your Majesty will decide?”
Emperor Huining was shocked in his heart, but quickly answered with indifferent on his face: “Crown Prince’s sincerity, Zhen already understand, but this matter is very important, let Zhen consider it first.”
Xi Ju nodded: “That is natural. But If Your Majesty worry about Shaohe State Princess’s wishes, I have a trick.”
Emperor Huining slightly raised his eyebrows, motioned him to speak.
Xi Ju twitched the corners of his mouth: “I heard that Her highness once fell in love with Assistant Minister Lu, if Assistant Minister Lu got married soon, wouldn’t Her Highness completely stop thinking about it?”
Although Emperor Huining did not immediately announce the result of his consideration, the news of the Crown Prince Xi Ju’s request to marry Shaohe State Princess soon spread throughout every corner of Chang’an.
Early the next morning, Yuan Ci Xian had just finished eating breakfast when she heard that Lu Shuang Yu had come to visit. She wondered whether Lu Shi Qing still have something to say but couldn’t pull his face down so he to let his younger sister come instead. When she went to the main hall to see people, she saw that Lu Shuang Yu was very anxious. When she saw Yuan Ci Xian, she suddenly stood up and said without making a detour: “County Princess, please be merciful and help Shaohe State Princess!”
It seemed that Lu Shuang Yu was full of respect because she was asking for help. Yuan Ci Xian choked, and after a long silence asked, “Does your elder brother know that you came to me?”
Lu Shuang Yu buried her head and secretly twisted her fingers, shaking her head: “Brother refuses to help, so I want to ask County Princess to persuade him.” She seemed to be afraid that Yuan Ci Xian would have a grudge against Shaohe, and hurriedly explained, “Although Her Highness liked brother in the past, she never done anything out of the ordinary. I told you before that they are in love with each other, it’s actually a lie… Don’t hate her, okay?”
This girl probably thought that Lu Shi Qing’s refusal to help was because he was afraid that Yuan Ci Xian would be unhappy.
Yuan Ci Xian sighed: “At this time still County Princess this, County Princess that, you, can you call me sister-in-law?” After saying that, she pulled her to sit on the side.
Lu Shuang Yu pouted and dropped the honorifics: “Will you help me if I call you ‘sister-in-law’?” Seeing that Yuan Ci Xian didn’t answer, she played the sympathy card again, “Sister-in-law, Her Highness is so pitiful. Not long after marrying into the Marquis Mansion, she lost her husband and stayed widowed for three years. Finally, she had the opportunity to marry again, but she was rejected by my brother, and her temperament changed drastically because of it…”
Before she finished speaking, she was interrupted by Yuan Ci Xian: “What kind of drastic change? Why haven’t I heard about it?”
Lu Shuang Yu looked a little embarrassed. She shouldn’t be gossiping behind people’s backs, but right now she had no choice but to say: “Sister-in-law, do you still remember when you saved me at the Lu bridge? That time, Her Highness invited me to an outing and asked me about brother’s feelings. After I told the truth, she had no interest in playing anymore and wanted to go back to the city. Unexpectedly, when passing the bridge, the accident you saw happened. After falling into the water, Her Highness caught a cold, and it was a long time before I see her again, and I felt like she become a different person.”
Yuan Ci Xian frowned: “What do you mean?”
She pondered for a while, and then said after deliberation: “Although Her Highness has experienced the loss of her husband before, she doesn’t seem to be affected much. Her temperament was not particularly lively, but she can also talk cheerfully. But after that time, she became more restraint and dull, and the whole person was like… was like she had aged ten years all of a sudden. Her eyes were different, her tone of voice was different, her look was particularly strange.”
Yuan Ci Xian frowned deeper, and suddenly remembered something: “I heard that after Her Highness fell into the water, she often went out on horseback trips with the noble children in the capital because it was advised by the imperial physician to strengthen her body. Do you know about this?”
Lu Shuang Yu sighed: “What kind of imperial physician’s advice? It’s Her Highness herself who wants to go out with everyone. But you don’t know, the young ladies in the capital secretly don’t like her very much, they thought she’s not fun, and getting along with her is very tiring and awkward.”
“Since you said that she has a very restraint temperament, why does she suddenly want to go out with everyone?” Yuan Ci Xian asked.
“Because Her Highness said, maybe my brother like this.” After she said that, she glanced at Yuan Ci Xian, “I didn’t believe it at first, and thought that my brother would definitely like gentle young ladies, but now it seems that Her Highness is not wrong.”
Yuan Ci Xian choked, and suddenly got up and said: “I have something to do, you go back first.”
Lu Shuang Yu also stood up, “Where are you going?”
When Yuan Ci Xian arrived at Princess Mansion in Anxing Lane, Shaohe was offering incense in the Buddhist hall inside the mansion, and when she heard her coming, she went to the main hall without hurrying, and smiled at her: “Why is County Princess here?” Her tone was flat, and the question didn’t seem to be asking.
Yuan Ci Xian remembered that yesterday at Ziyu Pavilion, she clearly saw Shaohe have mood swings, but now she had not seen it even a tiny bit.
She pondered all the way here about how to express the uncontrollable doubts in her heart, but now she was exhausted physically and mentally, and felt that she couldn’t going around in circle, so she said bluntly: “Your Highness accidentally fell into the water at Lu bridge in early spring two years ago, do you have a strange dream after that?”
Shaohe seemed to be stagnant for a moment, shaking her head and said: “County Princess thinks, what strange dream should I have?”
Yuan Ci Xian frowned, as if trying to distinguish whether her words were true or not. But she suddenly smiled and denied the previous answer: “Maybe it can also be regarded as a dream.”
Yuan Ci Xian immediately asked: “So in your dream, did Xi Ju propose to you?”
Shaohe smiled, shaking her head.
She felt something stuck in her throat for a moment. Just at this moment of silence, they suddenly heard a report from the servant, saying that the imperial decree had arrived.
Shaohe seemed to be very calm. She said “I know” and continued to talk to Yuan Ci Xian: “Last year at the Ghost Festival, I asked County Princess if you believed in reincarnation. County Princess didn’t answer me at that time. What about now? ”
After a moment of silence, Yuan Ci Xian raised her eyes and repeated what Shaohe said before: “I believe in reincarnation, and I also believe in karma.”
Shaohe smiled: “But you are different from me. The karma that you believe in is about sowing seeds and reaping what you sow, it means to have repayment, and to have respond. And the karma I believe in… is fate.” After she finished speaking, she turned around, seemed to be ready to receive the decree.
Yuan Ci Xian suddenly couldn’t help calling her: “Your Highness.” When Shaohe stopped, she hesitated then said, “Those who believe in fate can only accept their fate, those who don’t believe in fate can go against the heavens to change their fate. Why don’t you try again? If you don’t want to marry far away, maybe I can help you. When you get married you must pass Diannan, I can try to ask father…”
“No need.” Shaohe turned her head and smiled, “Why bother County Princess to take the risk to help me? For me, it doesn’t matter if I marry him or anyone else. What I mean by “fate” is not that I have to marry Xi Ju, but that I will never be able to marry him.” (tn: him means LSQ)
Relieve one life, guard him for two lifetimes, but she was no match for her menacing force, which conquered the city and seized the pond in just one day.
This is fate.
After Shaohe finished speaking, she walked step by step towards the gate of the mansion.
The morning sun shone on her tied-up hair, faintly revealed a glaring white strand.