It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 3 Jing Wang
Zhou Shunhua felt guilty after seeing Tang Shishi did not speak for a long time. After all, she was only a seventeen-year-old girl, and she was far inferior to Empress Dowager Yao, Feng Momo, and the others.
Tang Shishi was able to move in the hands of Empress Dowager Yao, then came out unscathed, and also won the title as the leader for the beauties’ entourage. It can be said that Tang Shishi has a good sense of words and observations. Looking at Zhou Shunhua’s subtle changes in her expression, Tang Shishi became more and more certain of her guess.
Indeed, there are other people here. Moreover, Zhou Shunhua knew too.
She was covering for the assassin.
Based on the book and time, Tang Shishi guessed that Zhou Shunhua should have just finished arranged other people and returned to her room later. She wanted to pour a cup of tea to moisten her throat because she was thirsty from talking too much. As a result, through the reflection of the tea, she saw someone on the beam on top of the room.
Zhou Shunhua’s back was facing Tang Shishi before she entered the door, as soon as she saw Tang Shishi, she immediately drank the water. Zhou Shunhua intended to cover up, but Tang Shishi was here to expose her.
When the door was suddenly pushed open, why her first reaction was to drink the tea in the cup? The normal response should be to put a cup of tea on the table.
But Zhou Shunhua did not, and she was by herself, most likely she was worried that Tang Shishi would see the person on the beam on top of the room through the reflection of the tea.
When Zhou Shunhua was nervous incessantly, Tang Shishi suddenly smiled. Tang Shishi lifted her skirt while carrying her bag and entered the door, and said to Zhou Shunhua curiously, “Sister Zhou, do you know that many soldiers broke in from outside, apparently looking for an assassin.”
Zhou Shunhua clenched her fingers unconsciously. She saw the bag in Tang Shishi’s arms and changed the subject and asked, “Aren’t you going to Feng Momo’s room, why are you back?”
“I heard someone calling ‘there’s an assassin’ on the way to Feng Momo’s room. I thought it would be too dangerous for Sister Zhou to stay in the room alone, so I wanted to come back and to accompany sister.” Tang Shishi said without thinking, and walked into the room casually, Zhou Shunhua became speechless, and quickly stopped Tang Shishi.
Tang Shishi slowly raised her eyes and stared at Zhou Shunhua intently when she saw her movements. Zhou Shunhua retracted her hand in embarrassment, coughed, and said, “I’ll be fine by myself. It’s a kindness from Feng Momo to look for you, so many people can’t even have such a rare chance. Don’t delay, go quickly.”
Tang Shishi took a new porcelain cup with a smile, picked up the teapot, and slowly poured water into the cup, “Although her kindness is good, how can it be compared to our deep sisterhood feelings. I am more worried about Sister Zhou. It doesn’t matter if I don’t go to Feng Momo for the sake of Sister Zhou. We are the beauties sent from the palace anyway and the soldiers dare to offend Empress Dowager by breaking into the relay post station to search. What do you think of this assassin?”
Zhou Shunhua kept her face straight and said coldly, “How would I know.”
One cup of tea was poured, the candlelight swayed dazzlingly. No one appeared in the reflection of her tea.
Zhou Shunhua breathed a sigh of relief silently. She thought that her movements were very subtle, but Tang Shishi had been paying attention to her, and she could see it clearly. Tang Shishi was more and more certain that there was a person on the beam above their heads.
Tang Shishi poured the water and fiddled around but refused to drink it. Zhou Shunhua was annoyed by her actions, and said angrily, “You are being sneaky, what do you want to do?”
“The water is not clean. I want to wash the cup,” said Tang Shishi and poured the water on the ground. The ground was covered with black bricks, and the water slowly seeps into the ground. Zhou Shunhua glared at Tang Shishi coldly and her eyes seemed to say, what other tricks do you have.
Tang Shishi was planning to use the “unclean water” act to have someone come in to clean the room. Just as she was about to call someone, there were a series of rapid footsteps outside the room. These habits of walking sounded like coming from the people from the palace.
Soon, some people stopped outside and knocked at the door, “Miss Zhou, is Miss Tang here?”
It was Feng Momo’s people. Tang Shishi immediately raised her voice and responded, “I am here. Is it Feng Momo looking for me?”
Tang Shishi answered and opened the door. Outside the door, Sulan Gugu* who was Feng Momo’s people was standing behind the door threshold. She felt relieved quietly when she saw Tang Shishi standing there. Afterward, Sulan Gugu said impatiently, “Tang Shishi, Momo asked you to go to her room, why does it take you so long? Someone broke in tonight and Momo thought something had happened to you on the way there.”
(Gugu* – unmarried elderly maidservant)
Tang Shishi smiled shyly and said, “I was already on the way, but then I heard someone calling for an assassin. I was worried Sister Zhou would be in danger being alone in the room, so I came back to accompany Sister Zhou.”
Zhou Shunhua also heard when walking towards the door, and immediately answered, “Everything is fine here. After a while, I will go to the next room to sleep with Yujun and the others. The five of us will take care of each other and there will be no accidents. Since Momo asked for Miss Tang and have something to talk to her, I dare not delay Momo’s time, then go quickly.”
Zhou Shunhua’s words had cut off the reason why Tang Shishi wanted to stay and finally used Feng Momo to suppress her. In the end, Tang Shishi has nothing to say, but Tang Shishi’s goal has been achieved, there was no need to stay in the room and fight with her. Tang Shishi smiled and said, “Since Sister Zhou is safe, then I can rest assured. Let’s go now, I have to thank Sulan Gugu.”
Tang Shishi went back to the house and picked up the bag and followed Sulan Gugu in the other direction. When Tang Shishi took the bag, her eyes swept across the shadows unknowingly.
Tang Shishi followed Sulan along the corridor. At this moment, the doors and windows around them were closed and the ladies were shivering with fright, who dare to go outside to check. Tang Shishi asked Sulan, “Gugu, I heard there was an assassin around. Feng Momo and Gugu are the trusted aide of Empress Dowager. So, who is so bold to disturb Momo?”
Tang Shishi silently praised Feng Momo and Sulan. This made Sulan’s aggrieved heart much better, and her tone of voice also calmed down, “They are not willing to reveal the identity, but those who dare to be so arrogant in the relay post station are probably their own people.”
Tang Shishi pretended to be surprised and covered her mouth, “Gugu is referring to Jing Wang’s Mansion?”
Upon hearing these three words, Sulan became sullen and said, “A loose tongue may cause a lot of trouble. Something that you shouldn’t inquire about, don’t inquire about it.”
“Yes.” Tang Shishi lowered her eyebrows and agreed submissively. She looked courteous, but her eyes wandered around and notice someone was outside. Across the half-opened door, Tang Shishi saw five or six brawny men dressed up in soldiers’ uniforms standing in the yard with Feng Momo standing opposite them, the two sides stood across each side and seemed to be arguing about something.
Tang Shishi wanted to hear what they were talking about, deliberately slowed down, and pointed out the door with a look of surprise, “Gugu, look. Isn’t that Feng Momo?”
Sulan stopped walking and was startled. Tang Shishi had already left the ladies quickly, ran towards the door, and called out timidly, “Momo.”
Tang Shishi was embarrassed by her actions, but for the sake of her image, she still stood by the door with an innocent and panic-stricken face, looking blankly at Feng Momo, “Momo, why are you here? Who are these people?”
Tang Shishi was vigilant, if the group of brawny men moved a little, she would rush up to block any sword or arrow for Feng Momo.
Sulan perceived the situation was not good, and quickly stepped forward to pull Tang Shishi away. However, it was too late. Feng Momo and the group of brawny men had already noticed Tang Shishi, and the leader of the group looked up and down at Tang Shishi with a bad look.
Although the leader was a soldier, his brain was not stupid, he immediately realized she was the beauty sent by Empress Dowager Yao, a spy in disguise. Unexpectedly, Empress Dowager and the little Emperor were quite willing to choose such a stunning beauty.
However, no matter how beautiful the people are, once they got involved with the Empress Dowager Yao, in his eyes they were just a skeleton. The brawny man retracted his gaze and barged, “These officers are on official business now, don’t let us wait. Call out all of your people immediately, and we will search one by one.”
Feng Shishi of course refused. She said coldly, “Presumptuous, we are court ladies. We followed the order of Empress Dowager to serve Jing Wang to open up branches and leaves for the Imperial family. How can you recklessly collide with the beauties of Jing Wang’s Mansion?”
Each of those men scoffed, the leader sneered and said, “I don’t care who you are, since you are on the territory of Jing Wang’s Mansion, you must abide by Jing Wang’s rules. Don’t talk nonsense. I have been ordered to arrest an important person. If you still give us trouble and don’t tell them to come out, I won’t be polite just because you are females.”
Feng Momo had never received this kind of treatment before, but she has nothing to say but to bow her head down. After all, this was not the Imperial Palace, and Momo could not put on an imposing manner. Feng Momo held back her anger, and asked, “It’s fine to let the females come out, but you have to explain what your identities are and who are you arresting.”
The brawny man sneered and said, “It has nothing to do with you.”
It looked like the more they talked, the more they were in a deadlock. Out of nowhere, a fire suddenly lit up outside, and the sound of horses’ hooves everywhere, quickly surrounded the relay post station.
The leader brawny man quickly cursed “Darn!”, then quickly turned around and walked to the gate. He was only halfway there when the gate of the relay post station was pushed open, and suddenly the bright flames from outside reflected half of the courtyard.
Several of the brawny men changed their unyielding manner, bowed their heads and clasped their fists, and knelt at the gate, “Master.”
The people from inside and outside the yard were stunned by the unforeseen accident, the fire was so bright, Tang Shishi subconsciously reached out to cover her eyes. Through her fingers, Tang Shishi barely saw a man walking through the flames into the courtyard. He was wearing a red cloak, black attire, and leather boots on his feet.
There were obviously many people around at this moment, but there was silence inside and outside the yard, only the crackling sound of torches could be heard. The man was extremely tall with wide shoulders and long legs, standing in front of the crowd, he has a strong sense of presence that could not be ignored.
The earlier brawny man mustered up his courage and said, “This subordinate pay respect to Master. Master, why are you here?”
The man’s appearance was indifferent, and the flames from the fire reflected on his face, giving out a contrast of light and dark, unknown of his anger. He spoke indifferently and asked, “Haven’t found him yet?”
The brawny man lowered his head and kneeled on the ground, “This subordinate is incompetent.”
Tang Shishi and Sulan stood by the side door, so happen covered in the shadow. Originally, Sulan wanted to take Tang Shishi away, but at this moment she had completely forgotten her actions and seemed to be shocked. Tang Shishi could not help to be startled and slowly returned to her senses.
No wonder the female protagonist fights with the maidservants, the side imperial concubines, the empress, and the new concubines, all the way from the prince’s mansion to the imperial palace, without regrets all her life just for him. It turned out that this was the male protagonist, Zhao Zixun.
No wonder so many women went after the emperor, he was very good-looking.
This man did not show any emotions in his expression when he heard the brawny man’s words, but the people around him were frightened and nervous. This man glanced across the courtyard and said indifferently, “Then continue to look for him. Even if you have to demolish this place, even if you have to dig three feet in the ground, you must catch him back.”
The brawny man knew that his Master was really angry when he heard this. The last time his Master was this angry was when the Huns attacked the border town and burned the granary.
The brawny man took the courage and said, “Master, please calm down. There are still females from the palace inside the relay post station, which is inconvenient. Besides, the person may not be here…”
When Tang Shishi heard this, she said in her heart that was not this the opportunity Heaven has prepared for her, would not she be struck by lightning if she did not take this opportunity. Tang Shishi immediately stepped forward, knelt on the side, and said loudly, “Shizi, this girl knows where the assassin is.”
Feng Momo, Sulan, including the brawny man, did not expect that Tang Shishi would run out. They were completely stunned. This man had known that there was someone by the side door, but he had been reluctant to pay attention to it. Now, he finally noticed and turned around.
His anger could not be contained and said slowly, “Oh? What do you know?”
“Just now, this girl went back to the room to pick up something, and accidentally found there was a person hidden inside.” As she said, Tang Shishi extended her arm to point to the direction of the room, as if she were afraid people would not know which room she lived in, “it is that one.”
Without the need for the man to say, the subordinates behind him immediately rushed in and walked toward the room pointed by Tang Shishi in an orderly manner. Soon, a man in black jumped out from Zhou Shunhua and Tang Shishi’s room and ran into the night without looking back. When the soldiers saw the person run, they moved faster and faster, a group of men with torches quickly chased in that direction.
The brawny man kneeling on the ground was in a cold sweat. He did not dare to wipe his sweat, let alone get up. He stuttered and said, “Master, please calm down. Shizi is young and ignorant. Please forgive him.”
Tang Shishi waited happily for the male protagonist to admire her. The first time she and the male protagonist met was so beautiful and righteous. He must have been impressed by her and would remain in his memory forever. Tang Shishi was thinking about how to “accidentally” reveal her name to the protagonist, but she was taken aback when suddenly she heard the brawny man said “Shizi”.
Shizi was not sensible? Was not this man Shizi, Zhao Zixun?
When Tang Shishi was still dumbfounded, Feng Momo finally came back to her senses. She took two steps forward and bowed to the incoming person, “This old slave, greet Your Highness. After all these years, how is Your Highness?”
When the man saw Feng Momo, his mouth showed a very faint smile, but there was no emotion in his eyes, “It turned out to be Feng Momo. It has been a long time. Thank you for your concern. I have not seen Empress Dowager for a long time, how is Empress Dowager’s health recently?”
“The Empress Dowager’s phoenix body is healthy. Your Highness is thoughtful.”
Tang Shishi became more and more confused as she listened to Feng Momo and the man exchanged indifferent greetings. She could not help and quietly ask Sulan next to her, “Sulan Gugu, why did Momo call him His Highness? Can the Shizi be called Your Highness?”
The Tang family was the richest family in Linqing. Tang Shishi did not understand the official behavior, but after three years of training in the palace, she learned a lot of skills, including address etiquette. Whether the title was big or small, if you said a wrong word, either get away with a smile if you are lucky or maybe beheaded if you are unlucky.
That was why Tang Shishi studied very seriously. In her impression, only Prince of the First Rank and princes can be called Your Highness, and not Shizi.
Sulan hurriedly twisted Tang Shishi’s arm, and even Feng Momo scolded, “Tang Shishi, don’t be rude.”
However, the man had already heard it, his mouth was smiling, and he gave Tang Shishi a doubtful look, “Who is this?”
Neither Feng Momo nor Sulan answered him. Tang Shishi vaguely felt that the matter was beyond her control. She barely supported herself and said, “This girl is Tang Shishi, on the order of the Empress Dowager, come here to serve in Jing Wang’s Mansion.”
After hearing this, the man said nothing, turned, and strode out. The brawny men did not dare to talk a lot, they got up quickly and left with the man.
They came suddenly, and they left also suddenly, like a gust of wind, whistling and disappearing. Tang Shishi listened to the sound of horses’ hoofs going away, slowly stood up, and asked in a low voice, “Momo, was the person just now, Jing Wang?”
“What Shizi!” Feng Momo glared at Tang Shishi angrily, and said, “That is Jing Wang.”
Tang Shishi was taken aback and covered her mouth in surprise, “Jing Wang?”
Tang Shishi was completely lifeless. She thought he was the male protagonist, so she ventured out to report the assassin. If this was Jing Wang, the one in the room…
That was the real male protagonist, Zhao Zixun!