It had happened in the first year of Taikang. Although the women and children of the Yangcheng Fang Family did not know the details, they had heard of it.
The crown prince had been sick and weak since childhood. Three years prior he had suddenly caught an illness and died. The emperor was greatly saddened and fell sick. At that time, Prince Qi had come to the capital to congratulate the empress for her birthday. On his sickbed, the emperor announced that Prince Qi should inherit the throne instead of the crown prince.
At the time, the news had sent the dynasty into an uproar.
The crown prince's sudden passing was not too sudden of a thing. Everyone did know, after all, that the crown prince was sickly since birth.
Establishing who would be crown prince was widely disputed, but the emperor went against popular opinion. He kept the empress' eldest son as crown prince. For many years the crown prince's body had been unwell, but numerous court physicians had maintained his health. However, succumbing to illness in the end was not much of a surprise.
The thing that sent the court officials into an uproar was that the the crown prince already had an heir, but the emperor had abandoned the imperial crown prince's son for Prince Qi.
At the time, the imperial crown prince's son was three years old. The emperor cited that a country required an older monarch. Even more, after he announced Prince Qi, he abdicated the throne and Prince Qi succeeded him.
Many court councillors begged the emperor at the Imperial City to rescind his edict, to follow the correct path.
The retired emperor fell faint because of the intensity. The new emperor personally went to console the councillors, and the two parties were in a deadlock for quite some time. A hundred-man commander of the Jinyiwei, Lu Yunqi, charged the court councillors with disobedience and commanded the Jinyiwei to send them away, or else they would be beaten to death.
The Great Zhou Dynasty had a policy of not punishing the nobles. The councillors did not believe that the Jinyiwei would dare to do such a thing. When they did not retreat, Lu Yunqi ordered the Jinyiwei to act, and a bloodbath too horrible to endure started.
"Although the emperor later found Lu Yunqi guilty, a year later the retired emperor pardoned everyone before dying of an illness. On his deathbed, he said that Lu Yunqi was loyal and honest and should be set free. He also married a princess, and, against precedent, continued in the Jinyiwei. In two years, he had already ascended to a Thousand-Man Commander in charge of Beizhen," said Manager Gao. When he said this, his voice suddenly lowered. "This means that no one is allowed to talk about what had happened on that day within the imperial family."
"Yes, Thousand-Man Commander Lu is merciless. The region he is in charge of is covered with Jinyiwei, leaving no stone unturned. There is definitely no chance for idle talk," said Lady Fang quietly. "Our Fang Family can withstand turmoil within the business world, but we could not endure those people's tormenting. "
Manager Gao nodded.
"Coming in contact with those people would result in a fatal injury; they, definitely, cannot be provoked," he said solemnly.
Because of the family's situation, even though the Fang Family's three young misses were daughters, they were not raised to be ladies who could not step out of the home. Rather, they were students of business and went to the exchange firm, so they were very clear on the pros and cons of the matters of the world.
Especially as part of a merchant family, they knew the consequences of offending the magistrates.
All of them were solemn, and Fang Jinxiu was also indignant.
"If Jun Zhenzhen wants to die, then she should die, but there's no need to implicate our family," she said.
"She does not know decorum. If she was doing it in order to find something interesting to talk about, then I will tell her about the consequences," said Lady Fang.
Manager Gao hesitated again.
"She.." he began, "also asked about Prince Huai…"
When this was said, Old Lady Fang's teacup fell onto the ground. The already nervous people suddenly began to tremble uncontrollably.
"That brute!" insulted Old Lady Fang coldly. "She should just die."
The crow and peacock made no sound  in the room. Fang Jinxiu did not understand why the words 'Prince Huai' made Old Lady so angry. Prince Huai sounded familiar, but she could not recall it right now. She helplessly looked at Fang Yuxiu.
Fang Yuxiu understood.
"Prince Huai was the former emperor's grandson," she whispered in Fang Jinxiu's ear. "After the former crown prince's died of an illness, his concubine hung herself, and their three-year-old son was bestowed the title of Prince Huai."
Fang Jinxiu swallowed a breath of cold air.
Discussing things about the imperial family was already a disaster, and Miss Jun actually had the guts to ask about the person who was supposed to become the emperor.
"That brute, does she want the Jinyiwei to execute our entire family?" she cursed. "Does she know what she's doing?"
Miss Jun looked at the low table in front of her and sighed. She released the teacup from her grasp and finally set it down. Her fingers were stiff because of the force she had exerted.
"Young Miss, if you want to ask about interesting things that had happened in the capital, we can find people outside to ask. They would know more than an exchange firm manager," Liu'er said.
Miss Jun shook her head.
"No, I cannot just ask anything," she said, looking at Liu'er with a smile. "What do things in the capital have to do with me, I am so far away."
Very, very far away, and it was also too dangerous. She hadn't reached the point where she could easily ask about it. She wasn't certain enough, so she could not ask.
She must endure.
This time she couldn't stand it and had already caused some trouble.
It was true that the capital was far away, so it really did not have any relation with them. Liu'er gave up on asking more.
"But Young Miss, right now we cannot go to the Ning Family. Are we really going to stay with the Fang Family?" she asked, face full of worry. "The ending of the sons and grandsons curse... Though they were words said in anger, but with everyone talking about it, it could have become a curse. This Fang Family is too unlucky."
Miss Jun couldn't help but laugh.
This little servant girl could say dumb and smart things, but they were applied to the wrong areas.
"You do not want to be here," she said, "and this family also does not want us to stay."
Even if they were to take a leaky boat, it would not be easy to find a ride.
The maidservants reported that Miss Jun had returned to the inner courtyard when Old Lady Fang's room had already become calm.
The shattered china of the teacup was picked up. Manager Gao and the three young misses were next door, going over the accounts. Lady Fang took out a pill from a porcelain bottle, then served it to Old Lady Fang.
"Mother, do not be angry. Zhenzhen does not understand how things works. I will go and speak to her," she said gently.
Old Lady Fang laughed.
"I am not angry," she said. "What is there to get mad about. If I were to get mad about everything, then I would have died eighteen years ago."
Eighteen years ago, Old Master Fang Shouyi had caught ill and died.
It was then when the Fang Family's misfortunes began.
Lady Fang had thought that they would not be able to endure it anymore.
"All these years, you haven't been dealing with it very well," said Old Lady Fang when she saw her facial expression.
Lady Fang frowned and said, "How could I just let go and close my eyes?"
Thirteen years ago, a loving husband and wife had been separated. Master Fang Nianjun had died from injury without a word.
Lady Fang's eyes were slightly red as she lowered her head and made a sound of affirmation.
"We should not think about things that have passed. It is of no use. We must look to the future and how we can live out our days," said Old Lady Fang.
When she said 'look to the future,' Lady Fang's expression became even sadder.
Her only son had not long to live. She felt only bleakness for what was ahead.
Grief and anger flashed through Old Lady Fang's eyes.
"A few days ago there came word that Divine Doctor Zhang appeared in Lingnan. I have already sent people to investigate. If we can find Divine Doctor Zhang, there may be a chance for Chengyu," she said.
 Crow and peacock made no sound: the place was deathly silent