Chapter 176: Must Have Her Die
The empress didn’t put on her usual heavy makeup today or wear her preferred jade and pearl accessories. She had on very light coverage and put some gloss on her lips, appearing wan and sallow, evoking pity in the eyes of those who saw her.
The emperor was used to a stunning empress glowing with good health. The unexpected plain sight of his consort pricked his heart with pain as he ran his hand down her smooth locks.
“My darling, my sweetheart. Look at you, you’re so run-down after a day. Are you angry that I’m incompetent, that I couldn’t get née Qin for you?”
The empress had laid her head down on the emperor’s knees, her hair cascading down his lower legs. She tilted her head up and responded weakly, “How would I ever fault Your Majesty? I only sigh that my fortunes are too weak to overcome the one that the Soothsayer says has a good life chart.
“Except, I also don’t understand why the Soothsayer first said née Qin’s flesh can maintain looks, but then suddenly said her life chart is exceedingly good and is a talisman that can protect Great Yan. These words conflict and seem very contradictory.”
“Indeed, I think so too. Perhaps people removed from the mundane world don’t think too much. That née Qin can maintain looks is true, but so is her life chart being a talisman for the nation.”
The emperor’s health had gradually improved thanks to taking the Soothsayer’s pill. He was in fine spirits and showed increasing vigor in the bedroom. Having personally experienced the potency of the Soothsayer’s pill and knowing of her reputation, he devoutly believed her words. Therefore, when she said that Qin Yining was born of great fortune, and that her presence would ensure stability for the nation, the emperor didn’t doubt it one bit.
Besides, he was just planning on having fortune tellers spend the word that “Qin Yining is the reincarnation of a vixen spirit in the mortal world, here to cause trouble. She must be executed to ensure Great Yan’s longevity”. But the Soothsayer announced the girl’s true life chart before he’d done anything. This proved how clairvoyant the Soothsayer was and how she had a clear grasp of everything.
If this wasn’t the case, how would the Soothsayer possibly have such good timing to declare this before he’d given the imperial decree? In the emperor’s view, the Soothsayer was a loyal one who was thinking of protecting Great Yan. That she happened to save née Qin as well was just a coincidence.
He was the son of heaven and quite willing to believe in idea of a mascot, having been beaten down by Great Zhou for so long. As for whether or not the existence of a little girl like Qin Yining could really ensure that Great Yan wouldn’t fall… did it matter?
The empress had spent many years by the emperor’s side and naturally understood what was going on in the emperor’s mind. He only needed to flick an eyebrow for her to know his thoughts! The son of heaven naturally didn’t know that the Soothsayer had never said Qin Yining’s flesh could improve looks. It was something the empress had made up after threatening the Soothsayer. She also couldn’t very well say, “The Soothsayer promised me this and then tricked me!”, so the empress could only mutely endure the loss this time.
“It’s naturally so if Your Majesty has spoken.” The empress was enduring it, but that didn’t mean she was happy about it. Aggrieved tears rolled down her face. “I feel that my birth chart is a bad one. Your Majesty criticized Wang Yuxian earlier, which spelled the doom of one of my father’s few students. There aren’t that many men in my family either, so we can only look to my father’s students to hold up the family. Wang Yuxian was demoted and I was mocked in the imperial harem for it. I wanted to cheer up through improving my looks, but we can’t do anything to née Qin. I really am so sad.”
The emperor’s heart was completely melting with the empress’ soft and tender tones. “Yurou, my dearest darling. What will it take to make you happy? I promise you whatever I can do, but you really can’t have née Qin. I need her to ensure our nation’s safety. What if you try using someone else?”
A spark of inspiration struck the empress.
“I was thinking of that as well. The Soothsayer says we need a great beauty, and don't we have a lot of those in the palace? In my eyes, Consort Shu is exceedingly beautiful and also born in the six month. She should be close enough to née Qin?”
The emperor had long since forgotten who Consort Shu was, much less her looks. He immediately nodded at the suggestion. “Do whatever you’d like, you little minx. I care not a whit. It’s fine even if you use all of the imperial harem for your beauty, much less a single Consort Shu.”
“Really?” The empress sparkled with delight and sit up with her arms around the emperor’s neck.
“Naturally.” The emperor kissed the beauty in front of him with a loud smack. The empress instantly smiled with satisfaction and started fooling around with the emperor.
“What did you say?! The empress chopped up Consort Shu and steamed her flesh, as well as fried Honored Concubine Xiang in a big pot of oil!?” The teacup in Qin Yining’s hand slipped from utter shock, startling Riceball so that it buried its head into Qin Yining’s lap. The girl absentmindedly stroked Riceball’s furry head and murmured in a daze, “That monster, that animal!”
Bingtang nodded with a pale face. “I also thought it was simply too ludicrous when I heard it. Apparently, the empress invited the emperor to taste the two concubines when the flesh was cooked through. This servant… blargh!” She didn’t even finish before leaning over and dry heaving.
Qin Yining also felt a roiling of nausea in the back of her threat. She ultimately kept the contents of her stomach down after tremendous effort. She’d escaped disaster, but the empress had ended up pointing her spear at the imperial harem instead. Was the emperor this decrepit to allow the empress to do whatsoever she wished?
“Consort Shu’s father is the Left Attendant Gentleman of the Bureau of Punishment, Master Yuan, and Honored Concubine Xiang’s father is the Assistant Inspector of the Chief Surveillance Bureau, Master Wang. How will they just let this matter rest after losing their beloved daughters? The Bureau of Punishment and the Chief Surveillance Bureau… ai. The emperor is truly trash. He’s not thinking about anything else, just favoring that trampress of his!” Qin Yining grit her teeth, feeling distressed by the loss of two young lives. She both hated and resented the empress, her expression growing quite ugly.
Songlan and Qiulu were next to her, their faces also drained of color. Even Jiyun, someone who’d seen much of the world, felt a chilly wind scrape through her heart when she heard this.
“If it wasn’t for your timely reaction, miss, you probably wouldn’t be here by now.” Songlan wiped off a forehead of sweat.
Qin Yining nodded and placed the snow-white Riceball on the eight-sided table. She looked into the bunny’s clear eyes and thought deeply for a moment, the look in her eyes slowly settling to down to determination.
“Don’t worry, aren’t I fine? The trampress’ viciousness is helping me see things clearly. She took her anger out on others this time because she didn’t get me, but she’ll definitely keep trying for me. She can’t do anything to me, but who’s to say she won’t harm our family?” The fourth miss rose, her hands tightly clutching the hem of her shirt. “I must strike first!”
She had to kill the trampress first, or there would be no peace for the Qins!
Her words were highly treasonous, but she was speaking to a group of confidantes. Songlan and Qiulu were highly loyal to her, Bingtang had a blood feud with the empress, and Jiyun was loyal to Pang Xiao, so she had an intrinsic hate for the Great Yan empress. This was why Qin Yining could speak so freely.
“You’re right, miss.” Bingtang nodded. “The trampress’ cruelty and ludicrous actions are beyond belief. If it wasn’t for her entrancing the emperor and raining down destruction onto the nation and people, father wouldn’t have colluded with the Clearists. It was a pity that the trampress was only half-dead from the poison and gradually recovered, ending the lives of my entire family.”
Everyone knew of Bingtang’s circumstances. Qiulu and Songlan flanked the girl, patting her shoulders and lowering their heads in shared sorrow.
The former Tang daughter sniffed and forced a smile on her face. “I’m only saying this to remind you to be careful, miss. Don’t do anything unless you’re certain you can take her life with one blow. The trampress doesn’t act with reason at all. If you don’t kill her and give her the opportunity to strike back, you won’t be able to take suffer consequences. If matters really do develop to that point, it’d be better for you to hide first and slowly strategize in the shadows. Otherwise, it really wouldn’t be worth it to pay the price of your entire family.”
Qin Yining nodded and clasped Bingtang’s hands. “I understand everything you say. Don’t worry, I won’t harm a jade vase in order to shoo a rat, but I won’t let her off for this either.”
Bingtang nodded heavily. “Tell me to do whatever you need, miss. I may not know anything else, but I know how to create poisons.”
Qin Yining smiled slightly decided to tease the girl. “My Bingtang is so wonderful, I’ll have great need of you in the future. Don’t cry yourself silly. What will I use to kill the trampress if you forget how to make poisons?”
“How would I cry myself silly?” Bingtang rolled her eyes at Qin Yining as a smile finally broke through her tears.
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