She Can Only Remarry Once He Dies
Zhang Ning Palace’s palace banquet had ended up as a joke. Things in the palace spread very quickly. Within half a month, the situation had already spread through the entirety of the inner palace, and everyone thought of Imperial Concubine Li as a laughingstock. She had become a topic of discussion during meals and idle time.
The three girls who had fallen into the water were picked up by their families, but when Zhu Kongshan asked whether they would ask for an explanation from the Yu Palace, they all said: “Everything will be decided by His Highness Prince Sheng.” They then quickly left without an extra word.
After returning back to the palace, she asked Xuan Tianmo, and Xuan Tianmo told her: “Those three were the first to do something wrong, and they could only blame themselves. Regardless of what was done, Feng Yuheng would not fall.”
Zhu Kongshan also told Xuan Tianmo about what Noble Lady Yuan had analyzed. It was clear that he was a bit more interested in this piece of information, but he only wanted Noble Lady Yuan to set the foundation. To put it in his words: “Women’s work should be handled by women. I am a dignified prince. Dealing with old ninth is the most important thing. It would not be good to only focus on making trouble for Feng Yuheng.”
Zhu Kongshan thought about it and also felt the same way. What sort of dealings could a grown man have with a young girl? As for her, she also needed to support Xuan Tianmo at home.
That night after dinner, Noble Lady Yuan made another trip to Zhang Ning Palace. At this time, Imperial Concubine Li was drinking tea. This tea was awarded to her after she had reclaimed her position. It was too much better than the tea that she had been drinking in the past. Today, she was in a bad mood, and she was asking Zuo’er: “Is it the case that this One interacted with people too seldom in the past, such that I don’t even know how to host a palace banquet? But I really don’t think that having music and dancing is that good. During every palace banquet, I find the dancing and music to be annoying. Also that Feng Fendai, bringing a shoddy child along. Say, will the fifth prince really cause trouble over this matter?”
Zuo’er both felt pity and helpless towards Imperial Concubine Li. She truly could not say anything about the palace banquet. It was not as though she had not advised Imperial Concubine Li to interact a bit more with others in the past, but it was completely pointless. That was why she only spoke on the matter of Feng Fendai, saying: “In truth, what the Feng family’s young miss said was correct. Your Highness really should give up on that idea about Princess Yu. If this was found out by His Highness the ninth prince, this servant will say something inauspicious, but he even dared to whip a favored concubine to death. If he ended up at our Zhang Ning Palace, it would be more than we could endure. Of course, this is something that must be considered with His Highness the ninth prince. As for Feng Fendai, Your Highness, there’s no need to be scared by her. Even with His Highness the fifth prince protecting her, Your Highness is also His Highness the sixth prince’s birth mother. You must know that His Highness the sixth prince is much more influential than His Highness the fifth prince in court.”
Hearing her say this, Imperial Concubine Li felt much more at ease, only saying: “That’s good, that’s good.” But she did not mind too much about the ninth prince having whipped a favored concubine to death, simply saying: “If A-Heng can be shown that person’s explosive violence, it might be possible to have her reconsider her decisions.”
“Your Highness!” Zuo’er stomped her foot. Why was Imperial Concubine Li completely blind on this subject? Why had she latched onto Princess Yu? She wanted to advise against it some more; however, she saw a palace maid walk in and salute, saying: “Your Highness, Noble Lady Yuan is waiting outside and asked to meet.”
Imperial Concubine Li angrily slammed the table, “Why has she come again?” But after thinking about it, she said: “Let her in. This one really wants to know what she has planned for me this time.”
Very quickly, Noble Lady Yuan was invited inside. Carrying a box of accessories, she arrived in front of Imperial Concubine Li and respectfully saluted.
Imperial Concubine Li also gave her face, saying: “Elder sister, quickly get up.” She then granted her a seat.
Noble Lady Yuan warmly sat down then said: “I forgot about something when coming to deliver those gifts to younger sister that day.” After saying this, she extended the box forward and opened it. Inside was a jade bracelet. It was not new, and it looked to be a bit aged.
Imperial Concubine Li was puzzled, “What are you giving me this thing for?” Though she said this, she continued to stare at it. The more she looked at it, the more familiar it appeared. She could not help but become curious, asking: “Is this something from the Liu manor?”
Noble Lady Yuan heard her say it like this and let out a sigh, saying: “Younger sister has a good memory. This bracelet was left behind by grandmother. When we were younger, we often saw her fiddling with it. It was originally part of a pair. When I entered the palace, one was given to me. Originally, they said that the other one would be given to younger sister when you entered the palace, but wasn’t grandmother quite sick at that time! The family was busy, and this matter was forgotten. A few days earlier, father had the servants tidy up the warehouse and found it, thus it was brought into the palace and put in my place. They wanted me to find a chance to give it to younger sister. Although this is something old and cannot be compared to the nice things in the palace, in any case, it’s a memento from our family. I know that younger sister does not have much of a good opinion of the Liu family and feel that the family did not help but. Elder sister will not say anything further. I just hope that younger sister will think a bit more about grandmother. She really did love you dearly.”
Noble Lady Yuan threw these words out, and Imperial Concubine Li immediately recalled their kindly grandmother in the Liu family. She was also the one who loved her the most in that manor. Her impression of this bracelet became even more vivid, and she could even remember her grandmother holding her hand, saying that this bracelet would be given to her when she got married. At that time, she really loved this bracelet. Seeing it again now, she could not help but tear up and feel extremely emotional.
“Elder sister has been considerate… Father has also been considerate.” She had someone bring the box over and took the bracelet out. Slowly, memories began to well up, and her attitude toward Noble Lady Yuan also began to improve.
Noble Lady Yuan saw that her goal had been accomplished, and a smile crept onto her face. Looking all around, she said: “Elder sister has some intimate matters to talk about with younger sister. Could you have the palace servants leave first?”
Imperial Concubine Li’s mind was entirely filled with memories of the past. Thinking that Noble Lady Yuan would be speaking with her about the past and the Liu manor, she thought about it, and the two sisters had really not interacted too much at home. This bracelet made her want to chat a bit more, thus she waved her hand and dismissed all of the servants, including her personal servant, Zuo’er.
Seeing that there were no other people in the hall, Noble Lady Yuan inched a bit closer before saying: “In the end, we are sisters. Even if we argue and have our differences, we are still much closer than other people. Although there are many times when we act to serve our own purposes, we are still sisters. If our children became entangled in a conflict with other children, aside from our own children, the other one that would need to be saved, would he not be our nephew? Could it be that after I saved Mo’er, I would just watch Feng’er meet with a mishap for the sake of saving another prince?”
Imperial Concubine Li was a bit shaken. She had wanted to hear about things relating to the Liu manor; however, Noble Lady Yuan had changed the topic to this matter. But what she had said was correct. If the eighth prince and the sixth prince competed, they would be enemies. But if all of the princes are competing in one place, aside from her own son, if she still had the strength, she would definitely give her nephew a hand. These were blood ties!
She nodded, expressing that she agreed with what Noble Lady Yuan had said. Feeling the jade bracelet in her hand, her thoughts sank into recollections once more.
Noble Lady Yuan also knew how to cater to one’s preferences. With a quick change of pace, the topic returned to the Liu manor, as she said: “Remember before I entered the palace, grandmother once held my hand and said that our Liu family’s daughters of the first wife are destined to marry into the palace. Today, it’s you, and tomorrow, it will be your younger sister. You must remember that regardless of what happens in the imperial harem, even if you two appear on opposing sides, I do not care if you compete, after all, you are both flesh and blood, but as soon as anyone else steps in, you must work together to face them. You must not lose to outsiders.” While she spoke, she raised a handkerchief to wipe the corners of her eyes the continued: “I have kept grandmother’s words in mind this entire time! These past years, you have avoided the outside world and did not like to interact with others. I also did not ask too much. Either way, you also had a prince at your side. No matter how unprosperous your days were, you were still far better off than the ones who were without children. In addition to this, Imperial Concubine Yun won favor, and all of the women in the imperial harem have lived similar lives. Nobody could help anyone. It must be because of this that we sisters became distant. Also… elder sister must apologize to you about that play from that day.” She took the initiative to bring up this matter, “I really never thought that they would perform a play like that. I did watch the play, but I simply thought that it was a play about a battle in a residence. Who could have thought that they would perform it like that? When I heard people bring it up later, I began to feel troubled and worried that you would be angry.”
She had brought the conversation in this direction. It sounded a bit fake, and Imperial Concubine Li did not believe it much. But what had been said earlier about their grandmother’s words had resonated with her. When it came to that, Noble Lady Yuan had not lied because her grandmother had also said this to her before she had entered the palace. At that time, their grandmother was still sick, and she was not able to speak very well; however, she still endured and advised her of this. It was just that she had a loner’s personality and had been feeling sorry for herself over the years. It was natural that she and her elder sister would become distant.
Today, Noble Lady Yuan had brought up these words, which was enough to bring Imperial Concubine Li to tears. When looked again at Noble Lady Yuan, emotions that had not been shown for many years appeared once more.
This was the outcome that Noble Lady Yuan was looking for, and she could not help but rejoice internally. With this, she advanced to the main subject: “I have been remembering what grandmother said at that time.” She said: “His Majesty is getting old. To say something inauspicious, sooner or later, he will eventually pass on. Someone will need to inherit that throne. Younger sister, if the final two people competing for that spot are the eighth prince and the sixth prince, we would have fulfilled what our grandmother told us. You and I can also compete amongst ourselves for the sake of our sons. Even if we compete to the point of spilling blood, it would be forgivable. But right now, it’s clear that it’s not a competition between just the eighth prince and the sixth prince. In this, there is still the greatest problem, the ninth prince!”
Imperial Concubine Li’s heart tightened. With such a serious topic being brought up, she looked at Noble Lady Yuan a little cautiously: “Elder sister means to say…”
“Grandmother’s instructions were to face the opposition together.” Noble Lady Yuan strictly said: “The ninth prince is a common enemy. Only by working together can we fight the enemy together and win this battle.”
“Then what after we win?” Imperial Concubine Li asked her, “Won’t there still need to be a competition between the eighth prince and the sixth prince?”
“Then just let them compete!” Noble Lady Yuan was quite carefree, “That throne will be taken by whoever has the ability, but elder sister will say it once more. We are family. In the end, regardless of who is in that position, we will still need to help each other. The elder brother dearly loves the younger brother, and the younger brother loves the elder brother. Say, isn’t it this sort of reasoning?”
Imperial Concubine Li did not make a sound, as she continued to think about what Noble Lady Yuan had said; however, she then heard Noble Lady Yuan suddenly say: “We are sisters. As the elder sister, I am able to guess a bit of what younger sister is thinking. If younger sister really has taken a fancy to Feng Yuheng, find a way to get rid of the ninth prince. That would be the most pressing matter! Only with her husband dying can she remarry. Do you understand?”