As the days passed, it got closer to the end of the year.
The commoners were starting to rush to purchase new year's goods and thus the streets would be filled with bustle every day. Life would go on smoothly so normal people would not be able to know what was in the minds of noble people. It was like how the eagle and sparrow saw the skies, it was destined to be different.
Ever since Emperor Wen Hui had been shocked by the wildly ambitious 'casual chat' with Prince Rui, he was more and more inclined with an alliance with Qin country. It was just till now there was no conclusion to Princess Ming An's case, thus there was still a line between them. However with Emperor Wen Hui's increase sincerity, HuangFu Hao's attitude was somewhat soften.
All the different departments of Ming Qi's official could be dispatched by HuangFu Hao, that even the Bureau of Investigations would time to time be interrogated by HuangFu Hao. No matter what the result was, Emperor Wen Hui had gave HuangFu Hao enough face. Even though one was unable to discover the cause of Princess Ming An's death, HuangFu Hao did not think that Ming Qi deliberately cover it up since he had witnessed the process of the investigation. It might be that Princess Ming An had offended some powerful character else how would there be no traces left?
Not mentioning about the matter with Princess Ming An, the words that Prince Rui said to Emperor Wen Hui finally reached to HuangFu Hao's ears. If one were to say from the beginning that HuangFu Hao represented Qin country, he clearly had the intention to form an alliance with Ming Qi but purposely put up airs in an attempt to seek more personal benefits. When he heard the words from Prince Rui, HuangFu Hao could not sit still.
If Prince Rui represented Great Liang and really had the intention get the few cities that produces ore in Ming Qi, just like what Emperor Wen Hui worried, Great Liang would not need those mere cities but the entire Ming Qi. That meant that Ming Qi was in danger. Without the lips, the teeth would feel the cold. Just one Qin country was not power enough to deal with Great Liang, moreover it would be the Great Liang that had absorbed Ming Qi's military, weapons and wealth. At that time when Great Liang take care of Qin country, the Qin country would not have strength to fight.
The purpose of the alliance between Qin country and Ming Qi was to contain Great Liang.
HuangFu Hao sent this information back to Qin country. Even though the Emperor of Qin was furious that he had lost a Princess in Ming Qi without rhyme or reason, but comparing a Princess and the entire country of Qin, it was insignificant. Thus the Emperor of Qin let HuangFu Hao temporarily put the matter of Princess Ming An aside and form a good alliance with Ming Qi.
When HuangFu Hao gotten the message from the Emperor of Qin, he started to enter the Imperial Palace of Ming Qi more frequently. One had the intention to strike an alliance and the other was worried that there would be no help thus they click quickly and on the surface had joyous and harmonious relations. The relationship between Emperor Wen Hui and HuangFu Hao had became much closer.
Emperor Wen Hui had the intention to support the Crown Prince and previously wanted to get Shen Miao to marry the Crown Prince but who knew that he suddenly glimpse upon Great Liang's ambitions and dared not take action with the Shen family. Now that HuangFu Hao came over, it was good to let HuangFu Hao have more interactions with the Crown Prince so that so that the Crown Prince and inherit the relations with HuangFu Hao.
The matters in this world is inextricably linked. Normally the relations that would be even touched by a eight foot pole but now there were various connection. Intelligent people would find their usefulness in these relations but normal people would be lost in it if they were not careful enough.
In the residence of the Minister of Land.
Shen Dong Ling was drinking tea at the moment.
High grade Ye-er Qing (type of tea leaves) that was grown in the dangerous peaks of the southern country that one small handful would cost a few hundreds of silver. Her posture when she appreciates tea was beautiful and she was wearing the Southern Jiang's brocade robes and had family bracelets on. She was very pretty and delicate that when one take a glance, one would see that she was a charming woman that live like a noble.
No one would have though that not too long ago, she was still a obscure Shu daughter of the Shen residence that would not leave the courtyard all year round that even the servants did not know that she was a young lady of the Shen residence. Not to say when Ren Wan Yun was the head of the household, there was not even oil in the dishes for ten days to half a month.
The difference from the past and now was like clouds and dirt. Humans seeks one's way up just as water seeks its way down. Even though the residence of the Minister of Land did not looked as powerful as other official families, it was considered to be very wealthy. There was no one that could live with only that little money from court. Before marrying into the residence of the Minister of Land, Shen Dong Ling had always thought that the Wang family was following Prince Zhou and only later learn that the real master of the Wang family was the Crown Prince. Being a Minister of Land but had such an abundance of wealth like this, it was not because the Wang family had some dealing with the salt smugglers but the money would naturally flow into the residence of the Crown Prince and these are only some fathers from a flying goose. Just these few feathers was able to let the family stay in Ding capital without worrying at all shows how profitable the business of privately selling salt was.
If one were to say that the matter of money was an unexpected surprise to Shen Dong Ling, then Wang Bi himself made Shen Dong Ling very satisfied. Wang Bi looked honest but was in fact savvy and was considered highly ranked under the Crown Prince. At the beginning Shen Yue did not look up to Wang Bi and did not know that it was her that had no eyes. Shen Dong Ling was born with beautiful looks, had a soft temperament and the most important thing was that she could always make some suggestions for Wang Bi's matters. However she would not interfere too much and would always keep a cautious distance. The more she did that, the better Wang Bi treated her. When marrying a wife, one would want to marry one who was virtuous and besides being virtuous and smart, it was even more valuable for one also understanding other people's views. Wang Bi had felt very fortunate that Shen Dong Ling and Shen Yue had exchanged their marriages. The family of the Minister of Land only had Wang Bi, the only sone and Wang Bi was very capable that almost everything in the Wang family was decided by Wang Bi. Naturally Shen Dong Ling became the matriarch of the Wang family. The servant would be very respectful to her and if Ren Wan Yun was still alive, one feared that she would faint in anger. That Shu daughter that she view like ants was not even more comfortable then when Ren Wan Yun was in the beginning and naturally Wan YiNiang was like the boat that floats when the tide rises and lived a wealthy lifestyle.
Today it was the same.
Wang Bi came back from outside and handed the pastry in his hands to the maids before saying, "One passed by Guang Fu Zhai and conveniently bought some cakes for you to eat."
"Husband is considerate." Shen Dong Ling smiled at him as she poured a cup of tea for him. Her every move was delicate and tender, most likely because she was after all a daughter of a YiNiang, there would be some amorous feeling. She smiled as she said, "Husband looked very happy today. Is there something good that happened?"
To Shen Dong Ling, Wang Bi did not hide most things from her because Shen Dong Ling was not one who would talk and could occasionally help to share his worries. Currently Wang Bi and Shen Dong Ling were newlyweds and would be in their honeymoon period. Wang Bi said, "His Majesty let HuangFu Hao have more interactions with the Crown Prince and most likely want to have good relations with Qin country. By giving the Crown Prince this favour, it can been easily seen that His Majesty wants to support the Crown Prince. When man attains the Tao, even his pets would ascend to Heavens. We are the Crown Prince's people so when the Crown Prince ascend to the throne in the future, we would have credits for our efforts." He smiled towards Shen Dong Ling, "Do you think it should be celebrated?"
Shen Dong Ling's mind turned and immediately showed a surprise happiness expression, "Really?" Afterwards she looked at Wang Bi with some admiration as she spoke softly, "Husband is really powerful. It is this one's past fortune to be able to follow Husband."
To be looked with such admiring gaze by a charming and seductive female, any male's vanity would be greatly satisfied. Wang Bi smiled, "This is easy to satisfy." He then sighed and spoke with some regret, "If a while ago, His Majesty bestow marriage upon Fifth Shen Young Lady to His Highness the Crown Prince, the Crown Prince would have the military power of the Shen family and it would be more advantageous. If so then our winning chances would be even higher. Now even though one have some relations with Qin country at the moment, in terms of military power…" He sighed again, "It is often the most important thing."
Shen Dong Ling's mind turned and she conveniently leaned into Wang Bi's embrace and reached her hand out to place it on Wang Bi's chest and said tenderly, "Husband is too demanding on himself. To be able to do to this level, one would not be an ordinary person."
This was exactly what Wang Bi wanted to hear. He smiled, "You are really contented?"
"This Qie is contented with a man like Husband." Shen Dong Ling smiled delicately and asked inadvertently, "Currently one cannot let Fifth Younger Sister marry the Crown Prince?"
"Fifth Younger Sister?" Wang Bi was startled before saying, "Almost forgot that you both are sisters."
He said it unintentionally but it was particularly sharp when it was heard by Shen Dong Ling as he seemed to say that she was a Shu daughter while Shen Miao was a Di daughter and there was a difference between Di and Shu. Human's greed would change accordingly to the change of environment. In the past, Shen Dong Ling was busy ensuring her safety in the Shen residence and schemed for a good life for herself and could tolerate all the ridicules and sarcasm and would not have the energy to be picky about it. However she was now the Furen in the residence of the Minister of Land thus she was particularly sensitive to these things.
She buried her head in Wang Bi's embrace and did not let Wwang Bi see her sullen expression but still asked, "It cannot be done?"
"It is not that it cannot be done." Wang Bi said, "It is just that Great Liang's ambition is difficult to make clear thus many things need to be delayed as one still require Shen Xin's reputation. It is just that Shen Miao is currently not young of age and one heard that the Shen family is not willing to let Shen Miao marry into the residence of the Crown Prince. The key point of the matter is to resolve it as soon as possible. As time goes by, there will inevitably be changes and Shen Xin would have found a marriage for Shen Miao and married her off. At that time, the Crown Prince's place would have fallen through."
"Why can't the marriage be firmed up first?" Shen Dong Ling asked.
"Silly." Wang Bi said, "The Shen family do not want Shen Miao to marry the Crown Prince and Shen Miao herself also is not willing. If some tricks are used now, it would make Shen Xin dissatisfied."
"Isn't this bullying others with one's power?" Shen Dong Ling's lips twitched. However her words did not take Shen Miao into any consideration at all and made the bandits who imposed others on their demands as the aggrieved people.
"It can be said like this." Wang Bi said with a smile.
"Then on what grounds they can use power to bully others but not let the Crown Prince bully others with power?"
Wang Bi smiled, "The Crown Prince is virtuous and would not do such bullying."
"The Crown Prince cannot do these but other can do it? Just like ordinary people, those ordinary commoners. If everyone under Heavens request Fifth Younger Sister to marry to the Crown Prince, can this be considered as using the power of the commoners to bully others?"
Wang Bi initially thought that Shen Dong Ling was saying words of anger but who knew that when he heard what was at the back, his expression gradually became serious. He looked at Shen Dong Ling as Shen Dong Ling sat in his embrace charmingly, as if those words she said were just casually done.
But Wang Bi was an intelligent person and could hear some details in Shen Dong Ling's words thus he asked,"It could not be that you have thought of some ideas? Let's listen to it."
"Husband is really crafty. What benefit if I were to speak of it?" Shen Dong Ling asked.
"Mmm." Wang Bi pretended to think about it, "If it is good then I will think of ways to request an Imperial mandate for you." He was thinking that if Shen Dong Ling really had a way to get Shen Miao to marry to the Crown Prince, then he would have made a big achievement and in the future when the Crown Prince succeed the throne, he would be grateful for it. There would not be any loss to ask for an Imperial mandate for Shen Dong Ling.
When Shen Dong Ling heard of it, a glimmer of satisfaction appeared in her eyes.
She said, "I not doing to be a Mandated Furen but for Husband. Whatever Husband wants to do, naturally this Qie would support. Husband wants to help the future Monarch and this Qie is just a little female and can only show one's inadequacy." The playfulness she used while speaking was even more pleasing to Wang Bi's heart.
"Actually this method is very simple. One only need the Crown Prince of Qin country to cooperate." She said.