Chapter 663 - The Palace On Fire


They couldn’t find her even though they had searched several times.

Duan’er was on tenterhooks and was so anxious she stomped her feet. What should I do?

“Elder Sister Duan’er, we can’t find the princess.”

“Go look again.”

“Could something have happened to Her Highness?”

“Don’t jinx it. Her Highness will be fine.”

“But…” The little maid was so anxious she was about to cry.

Duan’er made herself calm down and think properly. She asked that girl, “You’ve looked everywhere?”

“Everywhere!”

“What about the west courtyard?”

The maid thought for a moment and shook her head. “We came over from over there and didn’t see the princess.”

“Which means you didn’t look there?”

She nodded.

Duan’er glared at her furiously and snatched the lantern from her before she hurried there. When the group arrived at the west courtyard, they saw Jing Xuan in the courtyard, together with Wei Yi.

The two of them had their heads upturned, looking at the Kongming lantern that had just started drifting up into the sky. The lantern floated higher and higher, further and further away…

“Your Highness, we finally found you!” The maids crowded around her as they gave a collective sigh of relief. If something really had happened to the princess, even if they had ten heads each, it wouldn’t be enough heads for Concubine Xiao to chop.

Jing Xuan narrowed her eyes at the group. “Why are you making such a fuss? You’re all dismissed.”

The maids all took a few steps back, leaving Duan’er to take the lead. She spoke softly, “Your Highness, why don’t you quickly go back to your palace? If Her Ladyship knew that you were with this fool she would be furious. After all, Her Ladyship had already commanded that he was to be locked in the room and nobody was allowed to let him out.” It was a reminder!

Jing Xuan was visibly unhappy. She scoffed, “If she forbade people from letting him out, all the more would I want to let him out.” Her words seemed like they were deliberately provocative.

“Your Highness, please listen to this servant. You’d better…” Duan’er fretted.

Jing Xuan ignored her and looked at Wei Yi instead. That fellow acted as if there was nobody around, looking single-mindedly at that Kongming lantern.

Duan’er wailed in desperation, “Your highness, please, let’s go back.”

“I already told you to scram!” Jing Xuan shouted.

Suddenly, someone exclaimed, “Oh no! That Kongming lantern fell down!”

Everyone looked up. The lantern that had originally floated high up seemed to have torn. It suddenly caught fire and plummeted down. Carried by the breeze, it floated in the direction of some palaces.

Ah! Everyone panicked. It wasn’t merely a minor problem if one played with fire in the imperial palace and it started burning! 

A few seconds after the Kongming lantern dropped onto a building, the clash of a gong rang out. Dong! Dong! Dong! Every strike was ear-splittingly loud. “Fire, fire…!”

The imperial palace was entirely constructed out of wood and this was the dry season of the 8th lunar month. With a single spark, everything could go up in flames like tinder.

The maids were all at their wits’ end, their faces filled with fear. They were done for! They wouldn’t be able to compensate for this even if they had ten lives each!

However, Wei Yi was not afraid at all. He wouldn’t mind even if the entire palace were burned down; he only felt that it was a waste of that Kongming lantern that he had made.

Jing Xuan similarly felt that it was a great pity to have lost it. She patted Wei Yi in consolation, “Don’t worry, next time, we’ll make a better lantern.”

Wei Yi nodded.

The fire reached up to the sky, illuminating half the pitch-black night sky into a fiery orange. Soon after, there was a commotion at the edge of the crowd and they separated in two to open up a path. “Greetings, Your Ladyship.”

Concubine Xiao stalked towards them, her face filled with fury and her glare looked like it could kill. When she saw her own daughter standing there calmly with Wei Yi, the tiny thread of fear in her eyes disappeared and she clenched her fists angrily.

……

After about the time it took to drink a cup of tea, the great hall of Zhangzhi Hall was filled with kneeling people. None of the maids nor eunuchs dared to make a squeak.

Concubine Xiao sat in the principal seat while Jing Xuan stood in the middle of the hall. Around them was only silence, everyone waiting with bated breaths as they shivered in fear.

Finally a little eunuch hurriedly ran in to report, “Your Ladyship, the fire has been extinguished. However, the Office of Service is investigating everywhere and questioning people to find out who released the Kongming lantern. In a short while, they would likely come here to ask questions.”

Bam! Concubine Xiao slammed a palm heavily on the arm of the chair.

Everyone else in the fall lowered their head and kept their mouths sut.

Concubine Xiao’s eyes focused on Jing Xuan. “Why did you go see that fool?”

“...”

“Speak!”

Jing Xuan still refused to open her mouth. Concubine Xiao stood furiously and walked in front of her, disappointed. “Now that you’ve created trouble like this, what would you have Mother do with you?”

“This was solely my fault.” She faced Concubine Xiao squarely. “The palace caught fire and the Office of Service is investigating. Why don’t Mother just hand me over? Daughter is responsible for it anyways.”

“Don’t speak up and take the blame for that fool. This seat will deal with you later.”

“What? Would Mother want to hand over Wei Yi instead then?”

“He was the one who released the lantern.”

“Haha.” Jing Xuan laughed coldly. “If you didn’t abduct him into the palace, then none of this would have happened. Mother did all these for Imperial Brother’s great cause, and wouldn’t even let off a fool. Rather than the fire from the Kongming lantern, Mother’s behaviour is much worse.”

“You…”

“Did I speak wrongly? You locked Wei Yi up in the palace in order to use him to blackmail 7th Imperial Brother.”

“Pah!” This time, Concubine Xiao didn’t think twice before she delivered the slap. Jing Xuan fell heavily to the ground from the force of it, her palms scraped bloody.

Nobody around them dared to step forward to stop her.

Concubine Xiao stood in front of her like a demon, looking down at her. “This seat gave birth to you and you’ll always be my child. I don’t hope to count on you to help your Imperial Brother, nor this seat. However, the way that you only think on behalf of other people is truly disappointing.”

A trickle of blood seeped from the corner of Jing Xuan’s mouth. She didn’t feel the pain, just felt utterly disillusioned. She wiped away the blood from the corner of her mouth and looked at the crimson stain on her hand. Her bloodshot eyes held a bone-piercing chill. “The heavens will be just. They won’t let a single person always be dominant, nor would they let one forever be downtrodden.”

Ah! Concubine Xiao was suddenly struck by a bolt of fear. She felt as if something had blocked her throat, making her unable to speak.

Jing Xuan’s laughter echoed throughout the hall. How terrifying! She slowly raised her head and met her own mother’s gaze. “Didn’t you want to make use of Wei Yi to achieve Imperial Brother’s great cause? If you handed him over, he would surely be caned to death. Then, your plan would go to bust.”

Concubine Xiao sighed deeply. “Do you really want to protect him that badly? Alright, this seat will let you have your wish and not hand him over. However, someone must still take responsibility.”

“What do you mean?”

“Whoever made the mistake should bear the responsibility.”

Eh? Concubine Xiao shot someone a look and two eunuchs dragged in a thin and frail body. That person had half their body dragging along the ground, fresh blood creating a blood trail from where their legs touched the ground. Their body was streaked with blood, the skin on their buttocks clearly split open from a brutal thrashing. How terrifying!

Sui’er was simply tossed on the ground and stayed there sprawled, unable to move and breathing faintly. This person was practically dead already!

Jing Xuan looked on in disbelief, feeling like she had suffered a savage blow to her heart. It hurt so badly tears immediately sprung from her eyes.

Concubine Xiao moved forward and ground her foot against the back of Sui’er’s hand. “This seat had already taught you a lesson, but this lass still can’t manage to remember it. I asked you to take good care of that fool, but you allowed the princess to go see him. It seems like you never took this seat’s words to heart. In that case, why would I keep you?”

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ChouFleur's Thoughts

Sighs. Another cannon fodder down :/

Translator: Choufleur, Editor: Aruthea