Chapter 21 — The Crown Prince’s Impermanence
Consort Xin lifted her gaze to Emperor Shang and spoke as if she’d been wronged. “Your Majesty, what chenqie1 said were all true. Not only did Crown Prince leisurely stroll in, late, but he also took to insulting chenqie.”
She wanted the emperor to pass his judgement—preferably in her favor. However, she was unaware that her impertinent remarks had caused the faces of several people in the Great Hall to pale.
Emperor Shang neither answered her nor reproached her. His indifference almost made her eyes redden, but fortunately, after years of experience residing in the palace, she was able to quickly readjust her mood and even continue on what she had been saying.
“Crown Prince displayed such ignorance towards proper courtesy; how could he possibly shoulder the great responsibility that comes with his title?” The instant these words were spoken, even her own son, Third Prince Shang Cheng Ying, shot his mother a look.
Unfortunately, Consort Xin’s eyes and rationality were both shrouded by jealousy. Her love for Emperor Shang was genuine, but it was a pity that she was never anything in his eyes.
Towards this, she was tolerant, because Emperor Shang did not love anyone else either. However, when Empress Qiu showed up at the palace, Emperor Shang’s doting and tender side surfaced.
How could Consort Xin not be jealous? Now, seeing the crown prince, whose appearance held some resemblance to Empress Qiu’s, hatred tempted Consort Xin to bring death upon him.
Her words shocked the Great Hall into silence. Then, most of the onlookers became interested and felt entertained as they waited to see if Emperor Shang would punish the crown prince or defend him.
The indolent expression that was originally on Shang Wuxin’s face turned into an icy one. Her deep phoenix eyes flashed with a wicked gleam.
She didn’t think that a trifling, little concubine would dare to rebuke her while they were in the Great Hall—it appeared that the original ‘crown prince’ really didn’t have any dignity.
Huan Mo Che and Leng Yu Feng were the first ones to notice that the aura around Shang Wuxin had chilled and became oppressive. In their hearts, the two men felt that Consort Xin was truly a fool.
Regardless of whether the crown prince was favored or not, it was not a concubine’s place to decide such things. Nonetheless, Huan Mo Che was curious to see how the crown prince would handle this.
“Who are you?” Shang Wuxin asked as she picked up a cup of tea from the table and slowly enjoyed the drink.
Consort Xin didn’t expect her provocation to elicit that sort of question, causing the expression on her beautiful face to crack. She pointed a polished finger at Shang Wuxin and said, “Benfei2 is your elder. Does Crown Prince insist on sustaining an arrogant attitude?” She even swept a gaze over the present officials, prompting them to open their eyes to see the crown prince’s lack of conduct.
“Pft!” Shang Wuxin lazily looked up and glanced at her. “Elder? You’re nothing but one of fuhuang’s3 consorts; a mere concubine, really, and yet you dare call yourself an elder? Or could it be that you wish to replace bengong‘s4 late muhou5and seize her title as the Empress?If so, then bengong might consider recognizing you as my elder6!”
Consort Xin paled, and even the other concubines and officials were panicking slightly. Who didn’t know that in Emperor Shang’s eyes and ears, Empress Qiu was a taboo topic? Those who mentioned her were met with miserable consequences, so although His Majesty had yet to erect a new Empress, not a single official dared to suggest otherwise.
Now that the crown prince accused Consort Xin of wanting to replace Empress Qiu, they could only imagine what would happen to Consort Xin. Sure enough, Emperor Shang’s eyes turned cold in a moment, and he regarded the consort with eyes full of disgust and murderous intent.
“You… You’re sputtering nonsense!” Consort Xin looked at Emperor Shang, terrified. “Your Majesty, chenqie does not harbor such ambitions, Crown Prince is speaking nonsense!”
“What bengong hates most is when others point fingers at bengong, and even more so when someone challenges bengong’s dignity, but Consort Xin has managed to accomplish both. Tell me, what should bengong do?” Shang Wuxin put down the teacup that was in her hand, her tone chilling.
She commanded, “Wu Wei, slap her face! Wu Ju, Consort Xin’s finger is quite detestable!” Shang Wuxin’s words had just left her lips when Wu Wei and Wu Ju walked out from behind her and moved towards Consort Xin.
The corners of their lips were curved into evil smiles. This Consort Xin had the guts to mistreat their master—they’d been holding themselves back for ages!
“You dare?” Consort Xin exclaimed fearfully, but unfortunately, neither Wu Wei nor Wu Ju wanted to waste words on her.
Moreover, although they were both just maidservants, they acted solely on the crown prince’s orders, so the moment Wu Wei reached the consort, she gathered force into her palm and PAH! PAH! gave Consort Xin two slaps on the face.
Wu Wei possessed notable strength, so the impact made Consort Xin feel like even her teeth were rattling.
Wu Ju didn’t wait for her to cry out before she reached out and snapped the finger that was used to point at the crown prince.
Ka-cha! Consort Xin’s finger drooped at an awkward angle. It turned out that Wu Ju had actually shattered the bone, so the imperial physicians wouldn’t be able to fix it either.
“Ah!” Consort Xin let out a pained cry while the officials in the Great Hall were all frightened by the crown prince’s cruel methods.
Which part of the crown prince was incompetent and which part of him was cowardly? If his maidservants were already this merciless, the degree of his own cruelty could only be left to one’s own imagination.
“Mufei!” Princess Shang Qin Mi rushed over to Consort Xin’s side and, seeing her agonized mother, faced the crown prince and angrily shouted, “How can you treat my mufei7 like this!”
In response to the princess’s accusation, Shang Wuxin said unhurriedly, “Despite being a trivial little concubine, Consort Xin dared instigate the relationship between fuhuang and bengong. Her offense calls for punishment. The imperial harem shouldn’t be meddling in political affairs, yet Consort Xin tried to abet Imperial Father into revoking bengong’s position as the crown prince. What’s more, fuhuang’s love for muhou is immovable, but now Consort Xin wants to sit in the Empress’s seat. Say, huangji8, why can’t I give her a small punishment?”
Shang Qin Mi couldn’t utter a word. Although she knew that the crown prince was simply making groundless claims, she had no way to refute. Moreover, now that Empress Qiu was involved, not only would fuhuang not help, he might actually berate mufei instead.
“Fuhuang, do you think erchen9’s actions were appropriate?” Shang Wuxin looked up at Emperor Shang, seemingly unafraid of his sharp gaze. In the eyes of tveryone else, the crown prince’s aura was even more fierce than the emperor’s.
“For Crown Prince to partake in easing zhen’s cares and burdens, zhen10 feels very gratified!” Emperor Shang answered apathetically, and with that, the matter became a thing of the past. Nobody paid heed when Princess Qin Mi escorted Consort Xin back to her seat.
Still, no one could figure out Emperor Shang’s intentions or what he thought of the crown prince, but there was one point that everyone saw clearly: the former crown prince was but a guise, and now that the guise was shed, his true nature was revealed. From now on, they would have to be more cautious towards him.
VIN: Explanation of Shang Wuxin’s verbal abuse: Compared to a concubine, a consort is of higher status, but they essentially serve the same purpose, so SWX was mocking and degrading Consort Xin.