Let Me Pursue You – Chapter 92
Shaohe’s eyelashes trembled slightly, and she smiled quietly: “I have no worries about my life, and I have no unfulfilled wishes. I don’t know how Your Highness concluded that I need someone to save me.”
“As the daughter of the empress, you have never received the slightest privilege that a di State Princess deserves.” Xi Ju stepped back a little, leaned against the wall of the carriage, then continued, “You have been a sacrifice piece for the imperial family since you were sixteen. Among the pair of di twin sons of old Marquis Ningyuan, the eldest son who was supposed to inherit the title did not participate in the court battle because of his timidity, which pleased His Majesty. Back then, His Majesty married you as a reward and barter in order to control the Marquis Mansion. Unexpectedly, his surly younger brother actually coveted his own sister-in-law.
“A brother born from the same mother but is different from his elder brother like day and night. Many years of unreconciled feelings and finally run into this opportunity, then in a moment of hatred, this younger brother did not hesitate to kill his elder brother secretly. Therefore, you become widow shortly after getting married.
“Such a family scandal, old Marquis Ningyuan, the insider, chose to keep silent, saying that the eldest son died suddenly of an old illness, and soon he also passed away with this secret. But what others don’t know, you unlikely not to know, you were very naive back then and told the truth to His Majesty.
“After His Majesty knew about it, he was very afraid of this ruthless young man who killed his own brother to get the title. Therefore, he planted several trusted aides in the Marquis Mansion, taking advantage of your status as a widow in the mansion, deliberately arranging a staged incident to lure the newly appointed Marquis Ningyuan into doing something inappropriate towards you, and then having someone discover and stop it at the last moment. Afterwards, His Majesty used this as a reason to appear angry, issued an order to demote Marquis Ningyuan to Count, claiming to have made the decision on your behalf.”
He smiled when he said this: “At the beginning you didn’t know the truth, and I’m afraid you thought that your father treats you very kindly.”
Shaohe’s expression was very indifferent. What Xi Ju said was indeed true, but these were too far away from her, so far away that they were like a pasty shadow of her previous life, and it didn’t sound painful, as if it was just someone else’s story.
Xi Ju continued: “In order to appease you, His Majesty allowed you to move out of Count Mansion and live in the Princess Mansion as a widow. Three years later, you got the chance to remarry, but Lu Zishu bluntly refused. In fact, you can’t blame him entirely for this matter. If you are the favored di State Princess, a mere Assistant Minister, so what if you make him a male companion? But in the heart of His Majesty, you’re not as good as an Assistant Minister. His Majesty thought about his official career, and didn’t want to destroy his future by making him the emperor’s son-in-law. Therefore, his merciless refusal is actually ordered by His Majesty.”
The smile on the corners of Shaohe’s lips remained unchanged, and she still did not speak.
“Later, Yuan Ci Xian and Lu Zishu’s relationship gradually deepened. I personally went to Shangzhou to kidnap her and returned without success, but this crime fell on your head in the end, and no one has cleared up your grievances until now. Yuan Ci Xian, Lu Zishu, and your father, which one doesn’t know that you’re not the real murderer? But among them, who has stood up and said a word for you? Including this marriage alliance with my Nanzhao, if the partner is changed to Yuan Ci Xian, do you think with Lu Zishu’s ability, there is really no way to stop it? He chose to give up, only because you are not Yuan Ci Xian.
“Zheng Yun, if you don’t fight, you will have nothing. They will always treat you as you weak and gullible, and they will never give you half a point of care. It’s true that until now, I am still a predator to you, but what Great Zhou is stingy to give you, I can give you even more. If you want to be famous, I can make you the most glorious empress of Nanzhao. If you want to devote yourself to cultivating Buddhism, I can promise not to have a husband-and-wife relationship with you. If you want to make those who sacrificed you pay the price, I can lend you my power. If you can’t fight, I can fight for you in every way.”
Shaohe looked at him quietly, and after listening to him, she was silent for a while before saying: “Your Highness’s long speech that first poke someone’s sore feet before giving them sweet dates is indeed very brilliant. If I’m as naive as I was in the Marquis Mansion back then, afraid my heart is already moved. But what you say you want to give me is not what I want.”
She laughed when she said this: “To be honest, it seems to me you are now like a naughty kid jumping up and down asking for sweet. You are still young and have the drive to fight, but I don’t have it anymore. I’m old, I’ve lived enough, and I don’t want anything. Now that you know my secret, why do you still think that there are things in this world worthy of me striving and feeling nostalgic for?”
Xi Ju’s eyes lit up when he heard this, and he burst into a strange color, then stared at her closely: “You really are the unusual person in Sheluo’s mouth.”
The smile on Shaohe’s face froze, and he continued: “Zheng Yun, I don’t know your secret, how can I be sure about such an incredible thing? But now I believe it.”
She suddenly turned pale, and looked at him with trembling lips: “You are testing me.”
This childish tirade, from the beginning to the end, was not to persuade her to cooperate with him, but to confirm her secret.
Xi Ju pulled the corner of his mouth to show that she was correct.
Of course he was testing her. He first became interested in Shaohe when Lu Shi Qing was in Shuzhou for disaster relief last year. At that time, the spies he arranged in Great Zhou found out the secret letter sent by Shaohe. He was very surprised when he heard the news.
After negotiating with Lu Shi Qing at the Shangzhou post station, he was convinced that this person would become a strong enemy in the future, so he was planning an assassination in his heart, preparing to cooperate with Ping Prince again, and get rid of him quickly. But this news, which he didn’t even have time to say, leaked into Shaohe’s ears.
Although he found it strange at first, it could be considered a coincidence, but he couldn’t help but keep an eye on her in his heart, and arranged a maid to sneak into the Princess Mansion to investigate Shaohe’s daily life and contacts, to see where she got the information.
But for several months, he found nothing, and even found out that this princess devoted herself to practicing Buddhism and didn’t care about political affairs at all.
It wasn’t until the war broke out that he heard about Yuan Ci Xian’s visit to fetch the jade ring, and Shaohe had been waiting in the mansion as if she had expected it.
Except for the Yuan family and Emperor Huining, no third party knew about the source of that uncut jade, and even Lu Shi Qing found out after the fact. Since it was impossible for Shaohe to understand the cause and effect, how could there be any reason to predict Yuan Ci Xian’s coming intention early?
After this incident, suspicions abounded in Xi Ju’s heart, so he started to investigate Shaohe more seriously, and he learned a lot of strange things about her. For example, her temperament changed drastically after she accidentally fell into the water the year before last.
Filled with doubts, he took the information to Sheluo, a highly respected priest in Nanzhao, and heard the rumors about the “unusual person” for the first time. Sheluo told him that if this person could be brought into his palms, his ascension to the throne and even conquering Great Zhou would be just around the corner.
At that time, he still couldn’t fully believe such a strange thing, so he went to Great Zhou with a half-belief and half-doubt mentality. Since then, he had been repeatedly probing until finally getting answer just now.
Shaohe’s face was completely bloodless, and she figured out the whole story almost immediately.
It turned out it wasn’t Yuan Ci Xian. It wasn’t Yuan Ci Xian who created her tragedy in order to change her life. She was the one who provoked Xi Ju. It was herself who brought her step by step to where she was today.
There was a miserable smile on the corner of her mouth, and she looked up at the man opposite her.
Xi Ju smiled at her, and said with great interest: “It’s okay if you don’t want to say it now, I still have some patience.”
Seeing this, Shaohe quickly regained her composure, shook her head and sighed: “Have you ever heard a Han saying ‘?” After that she paused for a while, then continued, “You are very smart, but you can’t change Heaven’s will. As you think, I am indeed not an ordinary person, but you don’t have to wait, and you don’t have to rack your brain to pry my mouth, because I don’t know anything about what you want to know.”
Xi Ju narrowed his eyes slightly, staring at her without saying a word.
Shaohe continued to say calmly: “As you said, I was very naive back then. Soon after being bluntly rejected by Assistant Minister Lu, I cut my hair and became a nun, and entered Chang’an Wangji Temple. Afterwards, disillusioned by the world of mortals, I stopped caring about the secular world and went away toto devoted myself to worshiping the Buddha, never returned to the capital until my death. What happened to Great Zhou, what happened to Nanzhao, and what happened to Tubo and Pyu Kingdom, I am in the vast Gobi, how would I know? If I really knew so much, how could I let myself fall into such situation in this life?”
The smile on Xi Ju’s face gradually froze.
As she spoke, she reached out and took the brush and paper from the table in front of her, and said while drawing: “There are many rare murals in the Thousand Buddha Caves in the Hexi Province, and I can draw every one of them from memory. If you don’t believe what I said, you can send someone to check it out, or you can go to Chang’an to inquire carefully whether I have been to Dunhuang in my life.”
After Shaohe finished speaking, it was like she found joy in sorrow after continuous stimulation, and smiled with some relief: “But no matter what, I am already the Crown Princess of Nanzhao. It’s probably too late for you to regret it now.”
The next day, the marriage team arrived at the Imperial City of Nanzhao, Crown Prince Xi Ju married Shaohe into the East Palace with the ceremony of a State Princess. More than a month passed, and in the final month of summer of Sixth month, good news came from Nanzhao Palace that the Crown Princess was expecting a child.
When the news reached Chang’an, Emperor Huining, who was talking with Lu Shi Qing, was overjoyed.
Lu Shi Qing knew what the old emperor was happy about. When Xi Ju was asking to marry Shaohe, he had written a letter as proof, saying that as long as he successfully ascended the throne, he would send his eldest son to Chang’an and volunteered him as a hostage for three years.
Now, it seemed that the eldest son was almost born, and he was indeed Shaohe’s child, the bloodline of Great Zhou.
He said a few words of congratulations to the old emperor indifferently, and continued to accompany him while flipping through the official documents in his hand. A moment later, the serving eunuch who had just come to report the good news hurriedly entered the hall again, all the way to Emperor Huining’s side, and leaned over to whisper a few words.
Emperor Huining raised his eyebrows after he listened, and asked in a low voice: “Is there really such a coincidence?”
The eunuch bent over and replied, “Yes, Your Majesty, this is truly a double happiness.”
Lu Shi Qing didn’t pay much attention to the rustling of the two of them, and was calmly picking up a brush to drew circles on the official document, when he suddenly heard the old emperor call him: “Zishu.”
He raised his head and answered, “What is Your Majesty’s order?”
“The servant of your house just come to ask when will you return to the mansion, he said that Ci Xian is pregnant.”
There was a crisp sound of “pop” in the spacious Zichen hall.
The official document in Lu Shi Qing’s hand fell to the ground.