Gong Sang Mo speaks up, "I will handle them. Perhaps, this will be Yu Jian's first personal army."
Murong Cang understands what Gong Sang Mo is implying and nods in appreciation. That will be the best outcome.
As they chat, Feng Ran steps forward, "Princess, something has happened these past few days."
"What is it?"
"On the second day after you left, we found poison inside the emperor's tea."
"How did you handle it?" With Feng Ran around, Yun Qian Yu isn't worried about Yu Jian falling victim to poisons.
"We didn't make it known to the public. Just His Majesty already ingested a bit of the poison. It was a slow-moving poison, it would take 10 days before it starts showing it's symptoms. I already sent people to eye the person who put the poison in the cup."
"They are going to make a move," Yun Qian Yu says in a low voice.
"They are purposely waiting for you to return," Gong Sang Mo says.
"They want to take care of all of us in one move," Yun Qian Yu smiles icily.
"Why don't we….."
"Let's return intrigue with intrigue," Yun Qian Yu suddenly says.
The four people understand that this ought to be a good way of dealing with this. The person standing behind everything ought to jump out soon.
They continue chatting for a long time before retreating to their own rooms.
When she returns to her own palace, Yun Qian Yu stands at the entrance and stares at the empty name plat. She smiles to herself; this is considered alright.
This place will not be a place where she would grow old in. In a few years from now, Nan Lou Kingdom will have a wise ruler, and this place will be bestowed to one of his women. The palace will become lively and colourful once again.
What about her?
She lowers her head and enters the palace, in which she is greeted by four excited maids. "Where is Man Er, Mistress?"
"She is needed somewhere else. She will be here a few days from now."
Man Er is waiting for Yu Jian's people in Wolong Ridge. Only she knows how to open the secret passage.
Hong Su comes over from the kitchen, "You should go and clean yourself for now, Mistress. Your supper will be waiting for you afterwards."
"I really miss Hong Su's cooking," Yun Qian Yu says.
Hong Su returns to the kitchen happily.
Yu Nuo and Ying Yu prepare the bath water while Chen Xiang helps her take off the cloak.
After a comfortable bath, Yun Qian Yu eats supper before going to bed. She hasn't been sleeping properly for days.
On the next day, there is a big seat prepared next to the dragon seat in court. It is for Yun Qian Yu. This has been prepared for her after the coronation ceremony. Murong Cang can sit on the dragon seat with Yu Jian, but Yun Qian Yu cannot.
Yun Qian Yu decides not to be courteous. After all, if she is giong to be attending the court for years to come, it is better if she can do it comfortably.
She is wearing a black dress paired with golden head gear as she looks at the people below them. Murong Cang isn't attending the court today.
From today onwards, he is handing the court matters to both of them.
"Long live Your Majesty!" the courtiers chant.
"All of you may get up!" Yu Jian has had a taste of this war for a few days already, so he is no longer intimidated. He looks very collected instead.
Afterwards, Yu Jian listens carefully to the reports from the ministers. He would ask for Yun Qian Yu's opinion before making a decision.
Yun Qian Yu will only speak if something is wrong. Most of the time, she keeps quiet.
Even though the ministers are not happy at having to listen to a little girl's order, they have no other choice. Who told the emperor and the Retired Emperor to trust her so much?
Today, Grand Tutor Jiang who usually keeps to himself, suddenly speaks up. "Your Majesty, Princess Hu Guo, this official has a suggestion to make."
Since the person already drags her name into it, might as well…. "Go on, Grand Tutor," Yun Qian Yu says.
"Although the emperor has ascended the throne, he is still very young. Perhaps we should pick a tutor and a couple of study companions for the emperor to help His Majesty study better. Perhaps, it will help him rule on his own even earlier."
"This official agrees!"
"This official agrees!"
"This official agrees!"
Yun Qian Yu looks at the people kneeling below, suddenly having the desire to laugh.
It has only been her first day and people are already so restless. The power of the person behind everything must be really big as to make Grand Tutor Jiang personally step out like this.
Yun Qian Yu looks at Lu Zi Hao, who is the only person not kneeling, "Why don't you agree with them, Scholar Lu?"
Lu Zi Hao cups his fists towards Yun Qian Yu, "It is not that this scholar disagree with them. It's just that this scholar cannot think of any Grand Tutor that is suitable to help teach His Majesty."
Someone quips in, "Isn't Grand Tutor Jiang good enough?"
Lu Zi Hao simply smiles, "Of course he is good. But everyone knows about his health problems. There are times where he cannot even attend the morning court. How is he going to enter the palace everyday to teach His Majesty?"
"There are still other people. There are so many talented people in court."
"Everyone knows that His Majesty already learned the Four Great Books and the Five Classics when he was only five. His Majesty already learned History when he was eight. Zi Hao has been by His Majesty's side these past few days and discovered that His Majesty has also learned the Art of War, the Art of Agriculture, the Art of Medicine, Mathematics and even Astronomy. When we debate, he always surprised Zi Hao with how well he processed informations. A couple of days ago, His Majesty learned that the flood on the southern region is really bad this year, and so, he has started reading books about water conservancy. He read three books in just three days."
Lu Zi Hao momentarily pauses before saying, "In order to select a Tutor, we must pick one whose knowledge exceeds the emperor's. Can any of you here name one?"
The atmosphere inside the hall suddenly becomes still. There are indeed many talented people over there, otherwise, they wouldn't be standing there. Picking a specialist in one topic is easy, but to pick one with a broad range of knowledge will be a little hard.
When Grand Tutor Jiang hears that, he turns to Yu Jian in surprise. When he sees Yu Jian sitting on his seat calmly, he realizes that he does not understand that child. The calm and dignified way he conducts himself is unlike other ten-year-olds. It isn't entirely impossible for a ten year old to carry such a huge burden. Just look at Xian Wang. He enters the battlefield when he was only ten, avenged the death of his father, led the army to victory and earned himself the moniker 'the God of War.'
When the Grand Tutor thinks of that, he gets up and bows in front of Yu Jian, "Your Majesty, this official is indeed old and didn't think things through before speaking. Please forgive me, Your Majesty!"
"It is alright. The Grand Tutor is only thinking for zhen's sake. Zhenwill not blame you. If there is anything zhen does not understand, zhen will call you over to teach zhen."
Yu Jian is very modest and does not give the Grand Tutor a hard time over everything.
Grand Tutor Jiang is very pleased. Yu Jian is so generous even at such a young age; the kingdom will be prosperous in the future.
"Thank you for your grace, Your Majesty."
When those kneeling officials realize that the Grand Tutor has changed his mind, they slowly get up and return to their places.
Yun Qian Yu glances at Lu Zi Hao; indeed extraordinary!
"Although the service of the Grand Tutor is not needed, bengongagree with him about the peers. The emperor is still young, it is a good thing to have friends around his age."
When Yun Qian Yu says that, all eyes are on her in surprise. What is the point of having peers when the Grand Tutor is not there to teach them?
Lu Zi Hao looks at Yun Qian Yu as well, as though suddenly understanding something.
"Tomorrow, all of you should bring your sons over, but only those from the age of 10 to 15. Bengong and the Retired Emperor will personally pick His Majesty's study companions. The companions will stay in the palace and will return to their respective homes on the holidays."
Yu Jian's eyes light up.
Because of the Grand Tutor's suggestion, Yun Qian Yu suddenly realizes that Yu Jian does not have a single friend his age. Although a ruler will never have a true friend, Yu Jian is still young. It is better to let him experience certain things personally. At least, he will have no regrets in the future.
After the morning court, Yu Jian and Yun Qian Yu makes their way to the imperial study. Lu Zi Hao follows them from behind. He has been helping Yu Jian, these past few days.
"Are you really getting me my study companions, imperial sister?"
"Of course. I cannot possibly lie to the court."
"Then, will I have friends?"
Yun Qian Yu stops in her steps. She suddenly envy Yu Jian when she sees that look of anticipation on his face.
Lu Zi Hao looks at Yun Qian Yu, wondering how she is going to reply him.
"Yu Jian, to be friends with someone depends on your predestined affinity. You cannot make someone your friend just because you want to. Your identity is special. The companions that you are going to get might get intimidated by that and doesn't dare to befriend you."
Yu Jian's expression falters.
"It will indeed be good if Yu Jian is able to find a friend out of the lot. Through them, you will learn the ways of the world. You will learn that there are all kinds of people out there, seeking all kinds of things."
Yu Jian listens to her earnestly, "Oh."
"Honestly, it is not very hard to read a person's personality, even more so now when they are still young. They do not know how to hide it yet. Just remember: a mouth that does not spare people has an innocent heart, a heart that does not spare people has a sweet mouth. A person with clear conscious will not be afraid to speak in honesty, while a person with a sweet mouth with befuddle everyone with his sweet words."
Yu Jian looks somewhat confused.
"It is alright, you will slowly understand this once you get to know them better."
Seeing the confusion still in Yu Jian's eyes, Yun Qian Yu says, "There is a saying amongst the common people: the real friend is the one that scolds you in front of you and the dog is the one who scolds you behind your back."
Lu Zi Hao is torned between feeling impressed and tentative. The implication behind her words….. Are these the things an emperor should be learning?
Yu Jian's eyes light up, "I understand."
Yun Qian Yu simply smiles.
To be able to find a friend is indeed based on one's destiny; just like her and Wen Ling Shan. Two people who have nothing in common actually found each other in Ya Xuan!
Lu Zi Hao is momentarily stunned. It is just one smile from the beauty and yet it feels as though it is gentle enough to melt an iceberg. So delicate and elegant.
Even the sharp-minded her has this side: the warm and gentle side.
Yun Qian Yu turns around to look at the handsome figure slowly walking towards them. Gong Sang Mo is carrying a box. Yun Qian Yu, who is an ardent lover of grapes can already smell it's scent.
Gong Sang Mo's gentle calling seem to have snapped Lu Zi Hao out of his trance. He lowers his head.
"Scholar Lu has been working hard these past few days." Gong Sang Mo glances at him, a warm smile on his face.
"It is this official's responsibility," Lu Zi Hao sincerely says. He indeed appreciates Yun Qian Yu. She is the most beautiful and the smartest girl he has ever seen. But he also knows that no matter how hard he work, he will never be good enough for her. With that mindset in mind, he is able to separate feelings and appreciation.
Gong Sang Mo and Lu Zi Hao are both smart people; they naturally understand each other's meanings.
Lu Zi Hao retreats two steps, keeping some distance between him and Yun Qian Yu. Gong Sang Mo simply smiles. Lu Zi Hao is the type of person who really knows life. He is not the type that will go around grasping things he cannot get.
"Why did you enter the palace so early in the morning?" Yun Qian Yu stops walking and wait for Gong Sang Mo to catch up to them. Then, they walk side by side.
"I'm here to bring you your grapes. You haven't eaten them for days," Gong Sang Mo says in consideration.
Yu Jian who is forgotten behind simply says, "The friend is abandoned when the lover comes!"
Lu Zi Hao laughs before saying, "You should be happy, Your Majesty."
"Why is that so?" Yu Jian looks at Lu Zi Hao. Honestly, he is happy for his sister. Just, the feeling of being forgotten isn't that good, that is all. He wonders what Lu Zi Hao means when he says that.
"Princess Hu Guo dotes on you so much. Now that she is getting together with Xian Wang, Xian Wang will treat you well as well. Isn't that your gain?" Lu Zi Hao says.
Yu Jian raises his eyebrows. His Brother Sang Mo have always treated him well, but he seems to be treating him even better now that his imperial sister is here.
At that moment, he can hear Yun Qian Yu saying to Gong Sang Mo, "Yu Jian is learning swordsplay. I am not very good with swords and I don't want him to be taught by others. If you have time, you should come to the palace often to teach him swordsplay."
"Alright, I will enter the palace after the morning court, from now on. I will teach Yu Jian before he gets back to reading his memorials. He is a child, he needs to move around a little, he shouldn't be reading all the time," Gong Sang Mo agrees without even thinking about it.
"How is it? This official was not wrong, right?" Lu Zi Hao whispers to Yu Jian.
"You are indeed right. Then, I shall lend him my imperial sister a while longer," Yu Jian feels like he is very generous already.
Lu Zi Hao simply laughs. No matter how smart the emperor is, he is still a child.
They are currently heading towards Yun Qian Yu's palace for breakfast, just like usual. Lu Zi Hao does not know that. Although he has been following Yu Jian for a couple of days, Yun Qian Yu hadn't been around then. Yu Jian had been eating breakfast with his grandfather.
"Your Majesty, where are we going?" he whispers to Yu Jian.
"We are going to imperial sister's palace for breakfast," Yu Jian replies as-matter-of-factly.
"Er, then this official should retreat first. This official will be waiting for you in the imperial study," Lu Zi Hao quickly says.
Before Yu Jian even gets to react, Gong Sang Mo speaks first, "Come and join us, Scholar Lu. There is something we need to talk about afterwards."
Lu Zi Hao feels very conflicted.
Yun Qian Yu speaks up, "Don't even bother cooking up excuses, Scholar Lu. You will regret it if you don't come. My cook's cooking is even better than the ones at the palace!"
"Yes," Lu Zi Hao knows that they have something to say to him.
Yun Qian Yu's palace is not luxurious at all. It looks elegant and simple, mostly dominated with the color blue. Lu Zi Hao notices that Yun Quan Yu frequently wears blue dresses, seems like that is her favourite color.
The scent of jasmine gently floats through the air, calming one's nerves.
He walks over a soft blue rug as his eyes falls on paintings on the wall. Lu Zi Hao finally understands why the Retired Emperor appreciates this princess so much.
This entire palace is full of exquisite things.
Hong Su has already prepared breakfast. Yun Qian Yu had told her to prepare more food before leaving for the morning court, as she knew there are going to be a lot of people here for breakfast.
Yun Qian Yu enters her chamber to change and to do her hair with the help of Ying Yu and Yu Nuo.
When she walks out, she is now wearing a simple blue dress.
Her hair that is let loose makes her look very gentle, like she is water.
Gong Sang Mo, Yu Jian and Lu Zi Hao are already seated by the time she walks out.
Lu Zi Hao gives the dishes a taste. He finally realizes that Yun Qian Yu wasn't exaggerating when she said that her cook is better than the ones at the palace.
He looks at Yu Jian who is eating excitedly; completely different than a couple of days back.
When he sees the way Gong Sang Mo takes care of Yun Qian Yu, he is a little surprised. He, just like everyone else, found out about Gong Sang Mo's feeling for her back during Yu Jian's coronation day.
But, knowing is one thing and witnessing it with one's own eyes is entirely another thing. Yun Qian Yu does not need to pick any dishes up. The moment she chews on a dish, another dish will be placed on her bowl. Yun Qian Yu seems to be eating in relish, it is clear that the dishes he picked are her favorites.
One is picking the dishes happily while another is eating without constraint; what a view.
Lu Zi Hao quietly lowers his head and continues eating. He cannot bear to look on, his heart feels bitter.
After breakfast, Chen Xiang serves everyone with jasmine tea before retreating out of the room, leaving only the four of them there.
"Bengong has a request, Scholar Lu," Yun Qian Yu says, going straight to the point.
"Please speak, princess. This official shall help you the best he can." Lu Zi Hao knows that this is coming. This meal is not for free.
"Yu Jian is still young and does not have much experience with politic. Bengong is usually busy with a lot of things and will not be able to be with him all the time. There are not many people in court whom can help us, other than you. Bengong would like to ask you to keep an eye on Yu Jian when bengong is not around. If he does something wrong, feel free to say it like it is. Yu Jian is open-minded and can handle criticism."
Lu Zi Hao remains frozen. Isn't she basically asking him to become the emperor's Grand Tutor?
"Your Highness, I'm afraid…."
"Your range of knowledge is definitely not a problem. The most important thing is his experience in court. We cannot openly make you the Grand Tutor and we are sorry for that. But we will be very thankful towards you if you agree to this," Yun Qian Yu sincerely says.
She knows that those people encouraged the Grand Tutor earlier on because they wanted to even out the power. They also wanted to select the people who would surround Yu Jian so that they could easily influence him.
Yun Qian Yu will not allow that to happen! Yu Jian is very smart, but he is still a child. His ability to recognize people is not very good. He can be easily corrupted.
Yun Qian Yu naturally does not want the seedling that she has carefully cultivated to be led astray by other people. When she is not around, she needs someone to guide him in her place.
Besides, what she said to Lu Zi Hao are not empty promises. Once Yu Jian has his own children, they will need their own Grand Tutor. That position will go to Lu Zi Hao.
Even though Yun Qian Yu does not directly say it, Lu Zi Hao is not a fool.
"Since Your Highness trusts this official, this official will do his best to help His Majesty," Lu Zi Hao bows before them.
Yun Qian Yu gives Yu Jian a look. The child gets up and bows before Lu Zi Hao, "Greeting, teacher!"
"You don't have to do that, Your Majesty," Lu Zi Hao quickly stops Yu Jian.
"Imperial sister once said that graces should be repaid and feelings should be returned. Although this student cannot openly address you as 'Tutor', this student knows that a teacher is like one's father!" Yu Jian's clear voice reverberates inside the hall.
Lu Zi Hao's heart warms up, "Alright. This official will repay Your Majesty's kind heart as best as he can!"
Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo exchange a smile. This has been Gong Sang Mo's idea. He does not want to see her getting so tired. Now that there is this labourer doing half of the work for her, she can get a little more rest.
Feng Ran walks in from outside in a hurry. "Mistress, Xi shizi'spersonal guard, Feng Yue is here. Seems like something big has happened."
"Bring him in!"
Yun Qian Yu turns to look at Lu Zi Hao, who takes the hint and says, "This official will be escorting His Majesty to the imperial study."