Published at 21st of November 2020 07:51:12 PM
Hua Liuli was already used to having sympathetic gazes upon her . Since her youth until now, countless people had looked at her in such a way, so she had long since grown used to it .
Before she arrived at the capital, her mother had told her a rumor regarding the court . Twenty-one years ago, two of the imperial concubines and the empress became with child . For some reason, a rumor suddenly spread in the imperial harem: the emperor would confer the title of crown prince to the eldest imperial prince .
Whether the empress and the two imperial concubines had believed this rumor stood as anyone’s guess . In any case, Prince Ying and Prince Ning were born on the same day, at the same hour . But the crown prince was born seven days later .
Hua Liuli found this rumor unreliable . As long as one had a brain, one wouldn’t believe it . The current emperor wasn’t muddle-headed or incompetent . How could he make the just-born Prince Ying the crown prince?
Prince Ying and the crown prince had sat together for less than five minutes, and she could already tell that they didn’t get along . Prince Ying’s unwilling and enduring appearance resembled that of a sparrow wanting to pick a fight with an eagle .
He had ambition, yet his capabilities were insufficient . Still, he kept waiting for the time when he could grab the eagle down with his claw .
She stopped reaching for the pastries . Eating too much made her feel a bit stuffed .
In the eyes of bystanders, it was the crown prince blocking Prince Ying, after which County Princess Hua finally grew unafraid and stopped eating .
“County Princess, drink some water,” said Yuanwei, handing a cup of warm water to Hua Liuli, full of concern . Master and servant resembled pitiful victims of bullying, daring to get angry but not showing it .
Prince Ying was speechless .
He clearly didn’t do anything, so why was it that in front of this master-and-servant duo, he was some heinous evildoer?
“May County Princess not misunderstand . This prince came today to apologize to you . There is no other meaning besides that . ” Since birth, Prince Ying did not have a good temper . But as he faced Hua Liuli’s timid gaze, all of his anger vanished . “May County Princess take care of yourself . Once the Dali Temple brings this assassin to justice, this prince will visit you again . ”
Then he turned to face the crown prince . “Crown Prince, I still have matters to attend to . I’ll take my leave . ”
The crown prince did not urge him to stay . He grunted in acknowledgement and said, “Watch your step . ”
“Where are you going?” said the empress dowager as she stepped into the room . Behind her trailed a few palace maids carrying trays . “You’ve already come, so why don’t you stay and have a meal with this grieving one?”
Hua Liuli rose to her feet, making her way toward the empress dowager .
“This grieving one just had someone look for you in the side palace hall and didn’t expect you to be here . ” The empress dowager held Hua Liuli’s hand, leading her along . “I had the seamstress make some clothes recently . They’re all for you . Go to the back and try them on . ”
As Prince Ying looked at the trays full of brightly-colored clothes, he grew a headache for some reason . However, in the empress dowager’s presence, he still carefully curried favor with her . As a result, he stood at the side with a smile, feigning patience .
“This light pink color is not bad . If matched with a white cloak, County Princess Hua would be the most beautiful young lady in the rear palace . ” The crown prince looked at the pile of clothes a few times . “Imperial Grandmother, why aren’t there any for me this time?”
“What don’t you have at your Eastern Palace?” The empress dowager gave Hua Liuli a hug . “What’s more, you people are stinky young men . Now that I have such a charming young lady, it’ll be a waste to use such cloth on you people .
“Liuli, what do you think?” After lecturing her grandson, she didn’t forget to find an ally .
“Your honored self is correct . ” Hua Liuli was very quick to join a team, becoming a member of the empress dowager’s without the slightest hesitation .
As she turned her head, she noticed the tray of light refreshments on the table . She had eaten more than half of them .
In a flash, she pressed her hands on top of her belly, letting her smiling face grow a bit pale, a bit weak . A sense of “although I am very weak, I’d still work hard to seem strong” was very important .
Prince Ying noticed Hua Liuli’s action . All of a sudden, his heart softened . A faint sense of regret filled his heart .
If she wasn’t Hua Yingting’s daughter, marrying her might not be too bad .
“Come, pick one first and try it . I’ll have the palace maids send the rest to your room . ” The empress dowager was very insistent on dressing up Hua Liuli . To the extent that Hua Liuli changed clothes twice a day, yet the empress dowager still felt she lacked clothes .
Hua Liuli was willing to be tossed around by the empress dowager, and started to choose a set of clothes .
After she had looked through all of them, Hua Liuli selected the one the crown prince had chosen earlier . She didn’t have much hope regarding the sense of aesthetics of men, but during such times, she must give the crown prince face .
Probably because she didn’t like Prince Ying and he didn’t like the crown prince, she didn’t have to think too much about this sense of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend . ”
Seeing Hua Liuli carefully go through the clothes over and over, yet finally settling on the one he had selected, the crown prince felt he had subtly won . The Hua clan’s little daughter truly made others happy .
In Prince Ying’s opinion, the ugliest thing in the pile of clothes was that light pink dress . There were neither pretty flowers embroidered on nor any decorative pearls and precious jade stitched on . Not to mention, the color was too bland .
He glanced at the crown prince . If your taste is bad, then don’t give a suggestion .
But once Hua Liuli had put on the dress and came back outside, Prince Ying once again felt that the Hua clan’s daughter truly was beautiful . She’d still appear so good-looking with such an ugly dress .
However, if she changed into a dress with many colors and flowers, she would appear even more good looking .
Regarding aesthetics, Prince Ying was very confident in his own taste .
With the empress dowager around, Prince Ying maintained the act of being good brothers with the crown prince and shared a meal together . But after that day, Hua Liuli did not see those two again .
Every three to five days, the imperial princes would come pay respects to the empress dowager before morning court resumed . But at that time, Hua Liuli would still be in bed “recuperating . ” By the time she got out of bed, the imperial princes would already be attending court .
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In her eyes, perhaps the empress dowager took afternoon naps due to waking up too early every day .
Being the empress dowager wasn’t easy . Even if she was the most noble woman in the imperial harem, she still must abide by protocol .
In the blink of an eye, Hua Liuli had stayed at Shoukang Palace for more than ten days . The empress dowager feared she would grow ill from staying inside Shoukang Palace every day . As such, since it was sunny outside, she ran with the opportunity and said, all smiles, “If one takes a stroll after a meal, one would live a long life . ” Then she turned around and lay down on her bed for a nap, perfectly satisfied .
Hua Liuli was speechless .
When it came to double standards with the imperial clan members, they would never treat themselves badly the slightest bit .
The morning sun of winter did not feel very warm . On the palace path, Hua Liuli raised her head . Looked at the towering palace walls and stopped in her tracks .
“County Princess, what are you looking at?” asked Yuanwei, rushing forward as soon as she saw her master stop .
“I’m trying to see how high the walls are . ”
“It doesn’t matter how high the inner walls are,” whispered Yuanwei by her ears . “This slave has already examined them . These walls seem high, but they are not thick enough . A ballista can penetrate them .
“The most sturdy walls are the ones surrounding the imperial palace . Those cannot be penetrated by an external force . If people want to break in, they must coordinate with spies inside the palace,” said Yuanwei, serious . “Moreover, there’s no use entering through the main gates . The northwest gate has a secret passage . However, it’s very dangerous . Whether or not the spy is successful in opening that door, their reputation will be tarnished . ”
Hua Liuli held a hand to her chin, appearing to be lost in thought . A good while later, she turned to face Yuanwei . “If outsiders heard what we were saying, do you think they’d think we are conspiring against the imperial family?”
Not a word left Yuanwei’s lips .
Wasn’t this a habit learned from following her Mistress as they protected the border?
“Aiya . ” Then Hual Liuli coughed dryly once, pressing a hand to her chest . “I still feel weak today . ”
“County Princess, your body is weak . This slave will support you . ” Master and servant averted their gazes from the walls, pretending like their prior discussion never happened .
“Hua Liuli, stop . ”
Hua Liuli looked at Yuanwei . That voice sounds familiar?
Yuanwei shook her head . Just hearing their tone and it’s clear they’re not friendly .
The two turned around, looking at the Commandery Princess Jiamin coming their way in large strides .
“Greetings Commandery Princess Jiamin . ” Hua Liuli smiled at her . “Why has Commandery Princess asked me to please stop? How may I help you?”
Commandery Princess Jiamin was speechless .
When did she ever say “please?”
Commandery Princess Jiamin was an expert in riding and shooting, with a terrible temper to boot . In a few steps, she was before Hua Liuli . Pity her little servant girl . In order to keep up with her, she ran until she gasped for breath, yet didn’t dare to complain at all .
“Just how much did we walk?” said Commander Princess Jiamin unhappily, after hearing the pants of her servant girls . “Why are you people so useless?”
Hua Liuli thought, wow, this blunt commandery princess actually learned how to scold someone indirectly . What an improvement!
The little servant girls didn’t dare to respond, head lowered and letting Commandery Princess Jiamin scold them as she pleased .
“Once we return home, you need to practice riding and shooting . When I see the looks of you people, I get angry . ” Then she turned to Hua Liuli and said, “County Princess Hua, I wasn’t talking to you before . ”
And Hua Liuli merely gave off a smile that said, “I know, I understand . ”
“The reason I came to find County Princess today was to give you a few words of advice,” said Commandery Princess Jiamin, getting right to the point . “Her Highness Consort Xian would never allow you to marry Prince Ying . You should not delude yourself . ”
For a moment, Hua Liuli wore a blank expression . “What does Commandery Princess mean?”
She had met four of the imperial princes . The crown prince was the most handsome among them all . Fifth Prince was as warm as jade . But in the end, the one the commandery princess fell for was the Prince Ying who could not be considered that handsome?
Even if it was each to their own, such things had nothing to do with other people . Hua Liuli did not like meddling with other people’s business as well . But the marriage between her and Prince Ying didn’t even go through the discussion phase, yet Commandery Princess Jiamin still said she wanted to marry Prince Ying . Just who was she insulting?
She had even thought that Commandery Princess Jiamin came to take revenge for losing face during the plum blossom appreciation banquet . Never had Hua Liuli imagined it was actually about her stealing her man?
What a pity . A good pretty girl not only was stupid, but also had terrible taste in men . Truly difficult to live .
“I have a straightforward personality . I don’t like to hide anything, and I say things directly,” said Commandery Princess Jiamin . “A delicate and useless woman like you does not match His Highness Prince Ying . ”
“Has Commandery Princess ever met His Majesty?” asked Hua Liuli .
“What are you trying to say? My mother is Princess Shunan . She is His Majesty’s younger sister . Naturally, I meet His Majesty often,” replied Commandery Princess Jiamin, somewhat curious .
“Then His Majesty is truly magnanimous toward your honored self . ” Hua Liuli smiled in an exceptionally sweet manner . “Commandery Princess speaks in such a blunt manner and acts in such a thoughtless way, yet has never angered the emperor . His Majesty is truly a wise ruler that is only seen every thousand years . ”
“You’re talking nonsense . My whole family is faithful and true to His Majesty . How could we ever be disrespectful toward him at all?”
“It’s my misunderstanding . ” Hua Liuli smiled to the point of her eyes becoming crescents . “It turned out that Commandery Princess isn’t someone who doesn’t know courtesy . ” What “straightforward personality?” Wasn’t this merely examining the dishes before selecting? Currying favor with the strong and stepping on the weak?
How could such a weak girl like herself stand such a thing?
“You’re still purposely mocking me?!” Commandery Princess Jiamin was enraged .
Hua Liuli widened her eyes . Said in a disbelief, “Elder Sister Commandery Princess, why must you think like this?
“I’m still young . Since my youth, I have been sickly, and I seldom have a chance to meet other people . If I said anything wrong, please do not take it to heart . ” Hua Liuli covered her mouth, a light laugh escaping her lips . “I heard Prince Ying was straightforward and imposing . He should like a straightforward girl like you, right?”
“Hua Liuli, don’t think I’m above hitting women!” Jiamin had always disliked delicate women who would fall from a gust of wind . But never had she expected that in this world, there would be someone as annoying as Hua Liuli . Each word, action, and even smile pissed her off .
She felt like written on Hua Liuli’s body were the words “if you have the ability, then hit me . ” It infuriated her to the point that she had a headache .
“What are you people doing?” said Prince Ying, walking from the side door of the palace wall .
Commandery Princess Jiamin, who did not have enough time to hide her anger, looked at Prince Ying, then at the Hua Liuli who wore an appearance of “I’ve been wronged but I won’t talk about it . ” And she felt for the first time that this was a true cheap person in front of her .