Chapter Twenty-Three (Part 1)
A rumor spread throughout the Dian Kingdom about the assassination attempt in the palace.
Some citizens speculated a foolish enemy kingdom dared to send assassins to kill their emperor and princes. Their purpose was to seize the kingdom. Those citizens heard the emperor ordered the northern army to move back thirty li and seize three territories of an enemy kingdom.
Other citizens gossiped about how seventh prince heroically used his body to save the emperor. They thought although seventh prince was stabbed, he was also the person who benefited the most from the assassination attempt.
In the palace, seventh prince was recovering in bed while Consort Mu took care of his injury. Seventh prince and Consort Mu’s servants reported to them about the rumors spread outside the palace. Seventh prince and Consort Mu smiled with each other and they rewarded their servants.
The crown prince’s supporters were worried about seventh prince’s heroic reputation so they spread a rumor outside the palace that seventh prince was the person who sent the assassins to the palace.
In contrast to the chaos in the palace, the atmosphere inside Pei Jin’s manor was tranquil.
Since the day Pei Jin returned from the Chi Ruan chamber he followed his father’s order and stayed home with Yan Shi Ning. Of course he stayed home while Yan Shi Ning was in an inconvenienced state otherwise he would have taken her sightseeing.
That morning Pei Jin was sitting in Bei Dou’s chamber and rubbing a herbal remedy on his knees. The shattered stone pieces pierced through his knees deeper than expected.
‘It appears it’ll leave a scar,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Why won’t you more attentive that day?’ Bei Dou asked.
‘If I didn’t kneel on the shattered stone pieces then how can I feign shock that day?’ Pei Jin asked. ‘Isn’t it good that I’m learning from seventh brother’s tactic? Besides, I’m happy I got to see how worried little lion was about me.’
Pei Jin remembered that day he returned home from the palace, Yan Shi Ning saw the blood stains on his knees and she was worried enough for her soul to float away.
‘I didn’t think Pei Zhang would use his body to save the emperor,’ Bei Dou said.
Pei Jin pulled his pants down and stood to wash his hands. ‘Seventh brother was certain he wouldn’t die. A shallow stab isn’t going to harm his healthy body.’
‘It’s a pity he was rewarded,’ Bei Dou said.
Pei Jin smiled. ‘That’s uncertain.’
‘Why?’ Bei Dou asked suspiciously.
‘My imperial father isn’t a fool,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Imperial father saw that seventh brother could have easily pushed the sword away but seventh brother chose to let the sword stab him. It’s a pity imperial father hates other people acting in front of him the most. Seventh brother’s heroic display was only rewarded by imperial father’s disdain. Imperial father is naturally a suspicious person. It looks like he is favoring seventh brother by letting seventh brother stay in the palace to recover… but imperial father purposely detained seventh brother in the palace to make it easier for him to investigate who sent the assassins. If seventh brother had behaved and focused on recovering in the palace, he would have earned imperial father’s trust… a pity Consort Mu impatiently sent servants to spread news about seventh brother’s heroic deed and made imperial father more suspicious of seventh brother.’
Bei Dou listened to Pei Jin’s explanation and he realised his assumptions were naive.
‘The crown prince is more intelligent than seventh prince,’ Pei Jin said. ‘After the assassination attempt the crown prince acted like his body’s weak and stayed in the Eastern chamber to rest. It made the empress angry enough to break off fingernails. I’m uncertain whether the crown prince is truly giving up his position or if he’s waiting for a good opportunity to retaliate.’
‘If you had let me enter the palace to assassinate the crown prince then you wouldn’t be as troubled as you are now,’ Bei Dou said.
Pei Jin knew if he had let Bei Dou wield a sword at the palace that day then the crown prince would no longer be under the same sky as them.
‘Bei Dou, I didn’t send the two assassins to kill people,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Then what was the purpose?’ Bei Dou asked.
Pei Jin looked out the window and he saw the cloudy sky and the palace in the distance. ‘I merely wanted them to be in a chaotic state. If imperial father is more suspicious of them then they would be too busy retreating to cause trouble for me. Indeed being a carefree prince isn’t bad.’
Pei Jin picked up a fan Yan Shi Ning gave him and waved it in front of him to blow away the worries in his head.
Of course Bei Dou didn’t believe Pei Jin’s simple reason. According to the news Bei Dou received, the emperor was suspicious of seventh prince and the crown prince. The emperor also demoted all the court officials that were secretly cooperating with Huang Guo. That news startled him. He realised if Pei Jin had listened to his advice and cooperated with Huang Guo then no one in Pei Jin’s manor would be safe.
‘You knew long ago the emperor was suspicious of Huang Guo’s motives,’ Bei Dou said.
Pei Jin looked at the words beautifully embroidered on the fan and smiled. ‘In the past I wasn’t certain but after imperial father demoted their positions, it confirmed my intuition. Twelve years ago Huang Guo’s sudden resignation would make people suspicious.’
Bei Dou thought that Pei Jin’s strategic skills were better than he expected.
‘I’m going back to my chamber to play with the little lion,’ Pei Jin said.
Pei Jin walked to the door but he remembered something he forgot to ask Bei Dou and turned his head around to face Bei Dou. ‘I almost forgot why I came here.’
Bei Dou was curious what else Pei Jin wanted to discuss.
‘Honestly, how long does a woman’s inconvenience time last?’ Pei Jin asked. ‘Last time I asked, you said it lasts for four to five days. But it’s past six days, why isn’t my wife well?’
Bei Dou glared at Pei Jin, he wanted to vomit blood. Heavens! What was he? A woman? How was he supposed to know? He brushed his sleeves to vent his anger and left his chamber.
Pei Jin watched Bei Dou leave in an angry state. Afterward he rubbed his chin and realised the little lion wasn’t inconvenienced.
End of Chapter Twenty-Three (Part 1)