It was bright and sunny the next day, a stark contrast to the tense atmosphere in the capital of Beimin as the commoners nervously glanced at the Imperial Army guards traversing the streets.


The news of the Empress Dowager going missing had spread like wildfire. A large group of guards from the Imperial Army had been dispatched overnight to search all the way from the capital to the suburbs and countryside, combing through every house and business.


No matter how baffled the civilians were, they were frightened to the point of not daring to say a word when they saw the groups of soldiers and their solemn expressions.


Only after noontime, when the number of soldiers wandering the street had dwindled, did the commoners dare to begin gossiping.


“Why did the Empress Dowager go missing? To think that she was abducted; we’ll simply become a laughing stock if the other countries get wind of this!”


“Exactly, Beimin has disgraced itself. To think that someone could sneak into the imperial palace and abduct the Empress Dowager with how stringent the security is.”


An old man with white hair coughed. “We can’t be sure that she was abducted. Prince Hao’s wedding is just around the corner, but with the Empress Dowager gone missing, do you all think that the wedding can still proceed as normal?”


The crowd was enlightened after his reminder. Some even slapped their thighs. “That may really be possible! Perhaps the Empress Dowager left on her own? She clearly objects to Prince Hao marrying Grand Tutor Kong’s goddaughter. I wonder what the previous status of that woman is.”


A middle-aged man heartily laughed. “I’ll let you in on a secret: I heard that she was originally scrubbing chamber pots in the Palace Side Quarters.”


His words shocked everyone. A lowly maidservant who was only fit to scrub chamber pots is about to leap to the status of Princess Consort Hao! How could the Empress Dowager possibly agree to that? So that’s why she left in a fit!


As long as the Empress Dowager isn’t found, Prince Hao won’t be able to proceed with his wedding.


Everyone began sighing. One trouble after another!


A man dressed in cloud-patterned robes sat at the corner of the second floor, silently listening to the clamour. The Empress Dowager going missing is good news for me. The wedding will be postponed indefinitely until she is found.


At this moment, Qin Ling, dressed in his coarse clothes, came to the second floor and stopped in front of Yun Ruofeng. “This subordinate managed to find some information. Su Xi-er isn’t in the Prince Hao Residence, but the imperial palace. As for which specific part of the palace, this subordinate doesn’t know.”


Yun Ruofeng placed his teacup down, and said in a calm voice. “Apart from the Prince Hao Residence, Pei Qianhao also stays in the side hall of the Dragon Heaven Palace. Perhaps Su Xi-er is there.”


“This subordinate will infiltrate the imperial palace tonight and search for some information.”


Yun Ruofeng waved his hand. “No need, this Prince has my own arrangements. Don’t alert them; we’ll wait for Su Xi-er to come out.”


“Wait? What if she doesn’t come out?” Qin Ling was perplexed. Why is Prince Yun so sure that Su Xi-er will leave the palace?


“Silently observe how the situation unfolds. Pei Qianhao’s skill in scheming and his acute senses will make it hard to bring Su Xi-er away once he is aware of our presence.” Yun Ruofeng’s voice was faint as his gaze became increasingly distant.


Having been given such an order, Qin Ling could only do as he was told, bowing as he left the second floor.


Yun Ruofeng continued to silently wait, watching the Imperial Army guards traversing the streets below.


Looking at the weather, Yun Ruofeng saw that the sun had already begun its descent. It’s long past noon; that person should have arrived by now.


Just then, the elegant voice of a man broke his train of thought. “Prince Hao’s invitations have just been delivered, but Prince Yun is already here. Let’s not mind the fact that the one invited was Nanzhao’s Emperor.”

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Rakumon's Thoughts

Translation: Rakumon

Edit: Lunarlark


Rakumon's Corner:

Woah, who correctly guessed that it was Situ Li?