When Rong Xiu opened his deep, profound eyes, they were filled with emotions. “When did it happen?”
“An hour ago. Lu Yun led some guards to search the Chu residence. They found a hairpin belonging to the Fourth Princess and decided that Ms. Liuyue is hiding Her Highness. Because Ms. Liuyue has yet to return, they took Lord Chu Ning away. They should be arriving at the palace any minute now.”
Yu Mo gave a quick account regarding what happened. He glanced at his master’s expression and asked tentatively, “Master, what should we do?”
Rong Xiu’s scarlet lips lazily rose into a perfect arc; the hostility on his face resembled the chilly spring. “They sure know how to pick the time.”
Yu Mo froze, but he reacted quickly.
The royal family would interrogate Chu Ning severely in Chu Liuyue’s absence. To justify the so-called evidence, they might make Chu Ning suffer more.
As Mu Qinghe was still in the city, they wouldn’t dare to act rashly even if Chu Liuyue returned. Thus, they took her father to make her suffer.
“You mean they plan to take advantage of this opportunity to retaliate?”
“With Rong Zhen missing and Si Meng exposed, the Empress is in danger. Naturally, she won’t give up this golden opportunity.”
For the Empress, it was no longer important if they could find Rong Zhen. However, it was crucial that they find the person who hid the princess. Obviously, they intended to pin all the blame on Chu Liuyue.
This way, Emperor Jiawen would direct his anger at Chu Liuyue.
The Emperor wouldn’t dare to act rashly on account of Chu Liuyue’s relationship with Mu Qinghe. Nevertheless, it would get the Empress off the hook and become her advantage.
Yu Mo asked worriedly, “They are hell-bent on killing Ms. Liuyue and Lord Chu Ning then?”
A smirk appeared on Rong Xiu’s lips. “That’s why they have the hairpin.”
Yu Mo drew a sharp breath. “You’re saying…”
Suddenly, they heard a low and furious roar.
Yu Mo looked up and saw a sturdy white lion appear before them—it was none other than Xue Xue.
Flames seemed to be burning in Xue Xue’s ice-blue eyes.
With a look from Rong Xiu, Xue Xue went to him and lay down at his feet.
“Since the Empress wants to make a scene, let her. The Fourth Princess must be feeling lonely and scared lately. Make sure you keep her entertained.” Rong Xiu’s voice was as cold and low as ever, yet it sounded lazy.
However, Yu Mo was terrified. Master has the princess? No, from the looks of it, Xue Xue has her under its paws!
The white lion licked its paw reluctantly.
Xue Xue found Rong Zhen annoying. Not only was she dirty and smelly, but she also squealed. Regardless, it didn’t dare to disobey its master.
How I yearn for that person’s return. At this thought, Xue Xue looked up and stared at Rong Xiu, who barely spared it a glance.
Xue Xue’s enormous head shook, and it went closer coyly.
Rong Xiu’s voice was distant. “She spent a long time playing with you, right? I think it was too much.”
Xue Xue stiffened instantly. Master knows!
All it did was spend a longer time in the forest with Chu Liuyue. After all, it had been a while since Xue Xue last saw her.
The lion got up sadly and left.
Yu Mo glanced at its enormous silhouette; he could feel its sadness.
The man coughed and withdrew his eyes. “Master, regarding Lord Chu Ning…”
“The Third Prince seems idle lately,” Rong Xiu suddenly said.
A stunned Yu Mo nodded. “Yes, Master. His Majesty refused to let him leave the Imperial City. Everyone feels that he has been stripped of his military power. Only a handful of people are in contact with him.”
Rong Xiu picked up a book next to him and flipped it casually. “That’s good. Have you made contact with the man from the Northwest Army?”
“Yes, everything went smoothly according to your instructions. His Highness is unaware.” Yu Mo was confused. “Master, aren’t you worrying about helping the Third Prince?”
Rong Jiu held the power to control the army. If things continued like this, nobody could predict what Rong Jiu would do.
“The ones who should be worried are the Empress and the Crown Prince.” Rong Xiu flipped a page nonchalantly. “Go. Inform my brother about the Fourth Princess.”
At the royal palace.
Emperor Jiawen sat on his throne with the Empress beside him. The latter was holding their daughter’s hairpin, weeping. “T-this belongs to Zhen Zhen. I gave it to her on her thirteenth birthday. Her nickname was engraved on it. My poor Zhen Zhen… I’m so sorry…”
Emperor Jiawen stared at Chu Ning sternly. “Chu Ning, what do you have to say for yourself?”
The commander lifted the hem of his robe and knelt on the floor. “Your Majesty, I don’t know where this hairpin came from, nor do I know where the Fourth Princess is now. However, I can guarantee with my life that this has absolutely nothing to do with Yue’er!”
Emperor Jiawen was in a dilemma. He knew Chu Ning well. The man’s willingness to lay down his life proved that he truly believed his daughter had nothing to do with this.
How would he explain the hairpin then?
“Lord Chu Ning, I beg you. Please tell us where Zhen Zhen is now.”
The Empress was grief-stricken as she looked at Chu Ning with a tear-stained face. “I’m willing to forgo everything as long as she’s well.”
Chu Ning tensed. “Your Majesties, I can’t confess to something I have not done.”
The Empress rolled her eyes and wiped her tears as she asked tentatively, “Then… then, is it possible that Chu Liuyue did this?”
Chu Ning glanced at her coldly. “Is this Your Majesty’s way of asking me to identify my daughter as the mastermind behind Her Highness’s disappearance?”
“I-I… That wasn’t what I meant. Zhen Zhen has been missing for days, so we are worried about her. I don’t want to push you, but can you explain why you have this hairpin?”
Emperor Jiawen finally spoke up after a long time. “In that case, we shall wait for Chu Liuyue to return from Tai Yan Academy and interrogate them together.”
The Empress quickly winked at Rong Qi as a hint for him to speak up.
Rong Qi immediately said, “Father, you can’t. Lord Chu Ning will definitely try to cover up for her. We should lock him up and interrogate him first. Then, Chu Liuyue will have no choice but to tell the truth when she returns.”
Emperor Jiawen frowned.
The Empress chided, “Rong Qi, the verdict is not out. This isn’t the way to treat Lord Chu Ning!”
He replied aggrievedly, “I’m doing it for Zhen.”
Emperor Jiawen was deep in thought. Finally, he said, “Take Chu Ning into custody!”