Immersed in her sorrow, Tan Ge didn’t even notice Su Xi-er’s footsteps. Only when the latter suddenly called out her name was she pulled from her thoughts. Even then, she could only stare ahead as her heart felt like it was being tied into knots.
Her appearance caused Su Xi-er to furrow her brows. “Tan Ge, what’s wrong?”
Tan Ge was on tenterhooks. Doesn’t she already suspect me? Why did she come back to the Imperial Library? And why does she still want to talk to me?
“Chao Mu is no longer around. You’re the only palace maid in charge of sweeping the Imperial Library.” Su Xi-er sighed as she observed her.
“She died in my arms.” Tan Ge muttered as she tightly gripped the handle of the broom.
Su Xi-e’s gaze sharpened as she looked at Tan Ge. “Chao Mu died in your arms?”
“Yes, I saw her die with my own eyes. She slowly stopped breathing... and stopped smiling.” Grief flickered across Tan Ge’s eyes as she continued. “That night, I left my room, preparing to go to the Imperial Kitchen to collect the dumplings. When I passed by your room, I noticed the door wide open, and Chao Mu lying on the ground in front of it. When I ran over, she told me that the water in the pot was poisoned, and that someone was after you. She also… wanted me to tell you that she would no longer be able to collect dumplings from the Imperial Kitchen with you.”
Pain seized Su Xi-er’s heart. Even as she died, Chao Mu still remembered our promise to go and collect the dumplings at the Imperial Kitchen together.
Tan Ge’s gaze deepened. She intensely stared at Su Xi-er, shouting at her, “Su Xi-er, why weren’t you in your room that day? Why did you promise Chao Mu to collect the dumplings together? That poison was clearly meant for you; it was your fault that Chao Mu died!”
Tan Ge couldn’t control her emotions by the end of her sentence, tears involuntarily streaming down her face. Chao Mu was so pure, yet she still died. If Su Xi-er had properly stayed in the Palace Side Quarters without attracting Prince Hao’s attention, Commandery Prince Xie wouldn’t have targetted her, and none of this would have happened. Now that things have come to this point, everyone is to blame!
“Chao Mu died because of me, but she would have never suffered such a fate if nobody poisoned the water. Tan Ge, what exactly is your relationship with Commandery Prince Xie?”
Discerning Su Xi-er’s intention, Tan Ge bleakly laughed. “You are very smart. Commandery Prince Xie did indeed threaten me to kill you!”
Su Xi-er silently watched Tan Ge as her expression distorted from her agony.
“The Tan Residence’s estate and feudal lands were sold off by the local government, and everyone in the family was banished, including the elderly and children. What could I do besides watching on helplessly? And my disappearance from the Imperial Library? It wasn’t because of being kidnapped by a man dressed in black, but because Commandery Prince Xie wanted me to witness the demise of the Tan Residence with my own eyes!” Tan Ge’s laughter became broken, her eyes becoming lifeless as she went on.
Taking in her current state, Su Xi-er stated, “The person who poisoned the water in my room was you; you were forced by Commandery Prince Xie.”
“It wasn’t me,” Tan Ge slowly replied. She lifted her sleeves, revealing the patch of skin that had been ruined. “Commandery Prince Xie poured some medicinal powder on my arm that caused my skin to painfully fester. He threatened me with the powder, but I continued to hesitate, despite the many opportunities I had to kill you. The last chance he gave me was 11 pm on the day of the Winter Solstice palace banquet.”
Tan Ge bitterly smiled. “But I didn’t make a move, and that was why I was punished. The Tan Residence has been ruined, but I was powerless to do anything. Su Xi-er, why did you provoke Commandery Prince Xie? Do you know how scary he is?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I really can't help but pity Tan Ge ;_;