Chapter Fifteen (Part 1)
Yan Shi Ning waved her fan anxiously.
Pei Jin pulled Yan Shi Ning onto his lap and he whispered in her ear. ‘Wife, you don’t need to worry. My spies have secretly investigated everyone in the manor. Now that Su Yue is gone, you’re free to climb walls or roll on the ground.’
‘Who’s worried?’ Yan Shi Ning asked. Pei Jin reminded her of embarrassing childhood memories and she jumped off his lap. ‘What climb walls? It was you who provoked me to climb walls. What roll on the ground? It was you who forced me to roll on the ground.’
Pei Jin smiled happily at the sight of an angry Yan Shi Ning.
Yan Shi Ning ran to sit on the chair opposite Pei Jin. She worried pointlessly, Pei Jin had a dangerous stomach and anyone that dared to wrong him was unlucky.
‘Huang Guo’s messenger sent Su Yue the poison,’ Pei Jin said. ‘I asked Bei Dou to check her chamber long ago. In the past I didn’t hesitate to eliminate spies sent to the manor. But she was Huang Guo’s spy… out of consideration Consort Chen was my adoptive mother, I acted like I didn’t know about Su Yue spying on me. I had her followed and I slowly thought of ways to return her without offending Huang Guo… that was two years ago. After I came back from Southern Jiang I could only avoid her and I waited for the right opportunity to chase her back to Huang Guo’s manor.’
‘Big brother, how are you going to deal with Huang Guo?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘As long as my wife is happy I’ll use all my abilities,’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning didn’t know how Pei Jin could talk nonsense while looking serious.
‘Wife, you can see that Huang Guo doesn’t want to only spy on me anymore,’ Pei Jin said. ‘If I didn’t deal with Su Yue then I don’t know what would have happened to us.’
Yan Shi Ning remembered the bottle of poison and her heart shivered fearfully. ‘Big Brother, the poison… is Huang Guo’s scheme?’
Pei Jin nodded and Yan Shi Ning took a deep breath. ‘But in the morning didn’t big brother said Huang Guo… if big brother can’t have children then what’s the purpose of you climbing high?’
In the morning Pei Jin whispered in Yan Shi Ning’s ear, ‘Huang Guo always wanted me to climb high, but I don’t want to.’
Each time Yan Shi Ning remembered Pei Jin’s words, her heart pounded continuously. She thought the battle for the throne was only between seventh prince and crown prince. She didn’t know there were court officials who secretly supported Pei Jin. Although Huang Guo resigned, Huang Guo’s influence in the imperial court wasn’t insignificant.
Yan Shi Ning didn’t know why if Huang Guo was secretly supporting Pei Jin then why Huang Guo sent Su Yue to poison Pei Jin.
‘Shi Ning, you should know in this world there’s something called puppet,’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning stayed quiet for a while and thought about the meaning of Pei Jin’s words.
Pei Jin smiled at the sight of Yan Shi Ning’s revelation expression. He leaned back on his chair and he thought about Consort Chen. When Consort Chen was alive, Huang Guo’s desire was for him to become emperor. But Consort Chen didn’t want him to be caught in the deep web of battles. Consort Chen only wanted him to grow into a healthy and carefree man. After Consort Chen died, Huang Guo resigned and to other people it appeared like Huang Guo didn’t have any influence left in the imperial court.
When Pei Jin was eighteen years old, Huang Guo asked him, ‘who do you think suits being emperor?’
‘I don’t know,’ Pei Jin said.
‘What if you are emperor?’ Huang Guo asked.
‘I don’t suit,’ Pei Jin said.
‘I think you suit more than them,’ Huang Guo said.
Huang Guo persuaded some court officials to support Pei Jin, but Pei Jin avoided associations with them.
Yan Shi Ning thought many people who were in Pei Jin’s position, a prince who was unloved was suddenly elevated high in the sky would make their heads spin. But Pei Jin wasn’t like them. Pei Jin knew the day Huang Guo elevated him high in the sky would also be the day Pei Jin would fall onto the ground, shatter bones and flesh.
Ten years ago Pei Jin hid behind a screen and heard Huang Guo said something cryptic to Consort Chen, ‘Boys fight, elders win. Destroy roots, pursue ambition.’
Initially Pei Jin didn’t want to believe the meaning behind Huang Guo’s words until Bei Dou told him that the poison Huang Guo’s messenger gave Su Yue was Diao Jing Ji.
Pei Jin realised the poison was intended for Yan Shi Ning. If Yan Shi Ning couldn’t have his children, Huang Guo wanted Su Yue or another woman Huang Guo sent to have his children. Only then would Huang Guo have absolute control while he would be a powerless puppet who could die unexpectedly anytime and Huang Guo would steal the throne.
Pei Jin thought Huang Guo’s scheme was good. Luckily he evaded Huang Guo’s scheme. He put aside his deep thoughts and saw Yan Shi Ning was standing in front of the window brooding.
‘Wife, what are you thinking about?’ Pei Jin asked.
Yan Shi Ning thought about the cruel battles in the palace. But she didn’t expect one day the battles would involve her. If Pei Jin didn’t discover the scheme in time then the consequences would be severe. Heavens, she only entered Pei Jin’s manor for two days and was faced with such a depressing situation.
Yan Shi Ning looked depressingly up at the sky and spoke softly. ‘I’m thinking about my mother’s wish for me to live a safe and carefree life. But I fear I can’t grant her wish.’
Pei Jin stood in front of Yan Shi Ning. ‘Do you regret marrying me? It’s useless to regret now. It’s your fault for not running away before the wedding.’
‘It’s your fault for wanting to marry me!’ Yan Shi Ning said through gritted teeth.
Pei Jin flicked Yan Shi Ning’s forehead. ‘If you didn’t marry me, I fear your chances of living a safe and carefree life would be less.’
‘What?’ Yan Shi Ning asked confusedly.
‘Perhaps this is a hard path,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Are you scared?’
Yan Shi Ning tilted her head back, looked at Pei Jin for a while and spoke in a fierce tone. ‘I’m married to the scariest person in this world. Big brother, do you think there is anything else for me to be scared of?’
Pei Jin laughed.
‘But Huang Guo invested in his scheme for years,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Will he be willing to let go of it?’
Pei Jin looked at the gardens outside the window. ‘Of course not. But right now that’s not the biggest worry.’
‘What else is there?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘Tomorrow you need to go to the Yan Manor,’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning had forgotten about visiting her maiden family home after the third day of marriage.
End of Chapter Fifteen (Part 1)