It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 103 Capital
The eunuch who sent the message said respectfully, “Wangfei, that’s exactly the case. The imperial palace envoy is greeting Wangye in the front. Wangye asked me to send a message to Wangfei so that Wangfei can prepare early.”
The eunuch said like this which showed that the trip to the capital was a certainty. Since the room was full of her own people, Tang Shishi did not hide her true thoughts and frowned for a long time, “Why did Empress Dowager suddenly think of summoning us to go to the capital? The vassal monarch can’t return to the capital without an imperial edict. In previous years, Wangye spent the festival in Xiping.”
“The imperial palace envoy from Jinling said that Empress Dowager was very pleased to hear that little Junwang was born safely. Niangniang thought that she had not seen little Junwang, and she long to see him. It just happened that the New Year is coming soon, and Niangniang wanted to let Wangye and Wangfei enter the capital with little Junwang to celebrate the lively New Year in the imperial palace.”
Tang Shishi still frowned. Empress Dowager Yao’s statement was flawed. Zhao Chengjun and Empress Dowager Yao have no blood relationship at all. What did Zhao Zigao’s birth have to do with Empress Dowager Yao? More importantly, it had never happened in the original book.
Tang Shishi had not checked the plot for a long time, but she was certain that Zhao Chengjun’s early entrance to the capital was not mentioned in the book. When he entered Jinling, it was when he rose to rebel and seized the throne by himself.
Tang Shishi did not know the specific year when Zhao Chengjun rebel but looking at the placing in the table of contents, it was unlikely to be now.
This was the second time the plot has derailed drastically after Ji Xinxian replaced Tang Shishi as Zhao Zixun’s concubine. According to the original plot, Tang Shishi thought that without her interference, Tang Shishi would not meet Jing Wang at the relay post station, would not offend Zhao Zixun early, would not follow to the paddock for autumn hunting, and similarly would not be labeled as Jing Wang’s maid. Tang Shishi would be a beautiful and harmless target that was sacrificed to Zhao Zixun by Lu Yufei as a means of competing for the favor. She became Zhao Zixun’s concubine early and naturally, she would not have anything to do with Zhao Chengjun.
In this way, Zhao Chengjun would follow his original path, never married for life, and die young, let alone the existence of Zhao Zigao. Since there was no newborn in Jing Wang’s mansion, Empress Dowager Yao would not summon Zhao Chengjun to the capital. Therefore, the incident of returning to the capital to celebrate New Year did not happen at all in the original book.
Now, however, due to the little interference of Tang Shishi, the deviation of the result was becoming bigger and bigger. Tang Shishi left Zhao Zixun but became Jing Wangfei by an unexpected turn of events and gave birth to Zhao Chengjun’s biological son. Empress Dowager Yao was not at ease with Zhao Chengjun, nor with Tang Shishi. She simply called them back to the capital in the name of the child to personally test them.
When Tang Shishi thought of this, her heart was complicated for a moment. Any minor changes might lead to a completely immovable outcome. Up to now, too many things have been changed, and Tang Shishi was not sure whether it would develop according to the plots of the original book, and whether the big ending written in the book would still happen.
If not, what would happen to her and her child?
Seeing that Tang Shishi’s complexion was not good, he thought that Tang Shishi was worried about the safety of the journey, and reassured, “Don’t worry, Wangfei. Wangye summoned elite soldiers from the military camp to accompany Wangfei and little Junwang on the journey. With Wangye personally keeping watch, the road should be safe and smooth. Wangfei only needs to wait with ease.”
Tang Shishi’s expression was still bad as before and said, “I’m not worried about the journey, but about my child. He’s only seven months old and it’s thousands of miles away from Xiping to Jinling. What if he has a headache or fever on the road?”
This was indeed a very serious problem, but what could they do with Empress Dowager’s decree? The maids advised, “Wangye loves little Junwang the most and Wangye will definitely arrange these things. Just in case, Wangfei can bring along a few more imperial physicians, and more medicine with you.”
For today’s plan, this was the only way. Tang Shishi and the maids figured out what to bring and what medicine to prepare for the journey, it was a complete mess. Yan’an courtyard was too busy until no time to rest. However, other places were not as peaceful.
Lu Yufei just had a miscarriage, and her body was naturally not suitable for traveling. For the sake of the Lu family’s usefulness, Tang Shishi personally went to the Yinian courtyard and conveyed the news to Lu Yufei, “Shizifei, Empress Dowager sent a decree a few days ago to let us go to Jinling to celebrate the New Year. Originally, this kind of occasion should have taken you along, but you just lost your child, and your body is in poor health. If you are tired on the journey, it will not be worth the loss. Therefore, I have discussed this with Wangye. Wangye will bring Shizi to the capital to meet Emperor and you will stay in the mansion. Firstly, to nurse your body and secondly, to take care of the whole mansion from top to bottom.”
Lu Yufei was resting on the bed. It was only the ninth month now and she already wearing cotton-padded clothes and covered with a thick brocade quilt. Lu Yufei had already prepared for this outcome a long time ago when she heard the decree was sent to the mansion. Of course, Lu Yufei wanted to follow to the capital, but her body has to be here. So, how could she go to the capital? Pregnancy was like a big war on the body. Lu Yufei’s body was at a big loss because of her accidental miscarriage and use of medicines. This month, she even has difficulty walking on the ground. So, how could she take the carriage on the journey?
Even if Lu Yufei rushed to the capital by force, her complexion would look extremely awful and probably not suitable to meet Empress Dowager. It was better to stay in the mansion to recuperate and get well as soon as possible, so she could get pregnant and have children earlier. This was the top priority for Lu Yufei.
Lu Yufei regretted it for a while and accepted it very fast, “I understand. Thank you Wangfei for your consideration. I should have served Wangfei but now I have caused Wangfei to worry about me and I really feel sorry for it. From Xiping to Jinling mountain, Wangfei has to take care of Wangye and the second brother. I am afraid that you cannot attend to other things at the same time. I just hate that my body is not strong enough and can’t share Wangfei’s worries. I don’t know who will be serving Wangfei along the way?”
It was true that Lu Yufei was in poor health. She cared more about who would be following along than unable to go due to her discomfort. It would take two months to travel from Xiping province to Jinling. After Zhao Chengjun entered Jinling, he would spend a lot of time celebrating the New Year and socializing in the capital. This round trip would take at least half a year.
When Zhao Chengjun went to the capital, Zhao Zixun as Shizi was bound to follow. Since Lu Yufei could not get pregnant, it did not matter if Zhao Zixun was not around for half a year. The question was, which woman would Zhao Zixun take with him?
Tang Shishi came here to visit Lu Yufei while the other women had plans in their hearts, and all follow along. At the moment, there were Zhou Shunhua, Ren Yujun, Ji Xinxian, and also the dowry maids including Yingtao standing in the room and everyone was staring at Tang Shishi impatiently.
Tang Shishi’s next sentence was related to their life or death and honor after their death. If they could accompany them, then this meant that they could be favored by Zhao Zixun alone in the next six months. Half a year was enough time to get pregnant and once they were pregnant, the rest of their lives would be rewritten accordingly.
No one wanted to miss such an important opportunity. But now, the turning point that could change their destiny was in the next sentence of Tang Shishi.
The women waited without blinking, and Tang Shishi also paused for a moment. The accompanying people could not be sloppy. There were no other women around Zhao Chengjun and Tang Shishi was named by Empress Dowager to follow along. So, she did not have to worry about Zhao Chengjun but instead, she has to consider who to favor for her adopted son.
This feeling was really amazing.
After weighing the plot in the book, Tang Shishi said to Lu Yufei, “You just need to take care of yourself and don’t have to worry about other things. However, there can’t be no one serving Shizi. Let’s Ren…”
There was joy on Ren Yujun’s face. Before her happiness was over, another woman took the lead from her and said, “Wangfei, I’m willing to serve Wangfei.”
Ren Yujun was clearly stunned. The other women also exchanged glances, and their faces were marvelous. Ji Xinxian snorted and said eccentrically, “Sister Zhou, aren’t you pregnant? Why do you still want to follow to the capital?”
“That’s right.” Tang Shishi answered with a smile. “Going to the capital is different from going out to a temple to pray. Not to mention the bumps on the road, but also exposed to cold and wetness on the journey and without a fixed place to stay. I’m afraid it’s not conducive for nursing the baby. Sister Zhou’s pregnancy is less than three months. What if you get tired and miscarriage along the way? I think Sister Zhou should stay in the mansion.”
How could Zhou Shunhua be willing? First of all, she could not give this advantage to other women, and again, she was not pregnant after all. If Zhao Zixun left for half a year, then would not Zhou Shunhua’s fake pregnancy be completely exposed?
At that time, there was only Lu Yufei in the mansion, and unsure how Zhou Shunhua could survive. In any case, Zhou Shunhua must follow to the capital this time.
Zhou Shunhua lowered her eyes and motionless under the mocking eyes of everyone, “Thank you Wangfei and Shizifei worries, but I have been away from home for six years. I don’t know when I’ll go to Jinling next time. My grandmother is very old, and as a granddaughter, I should return to the capital to fulfill my filial piety and fulfill my duties as her grandchildren. Besides, I also want to thank Empress Dowager in person.”
Zhou Shunhua came from Duke’s mansion and Empress Dowager Yao and many women suddenly had nothing to comment on. After all, Zhou Shunhua was the legitimate daughter of the Duke’s mansion. What could they say? Could they stop Zhou Shunhua from being filial, or stop Zhou Shunhua from being filial to Empress Dowager?
Ji Xinxian curled her lips with an insincere smile, and said, “Sister Zhou is truly filial. Her child is not stable, but she is anxious to return to the capital to show filial respect to her grandmother. If Madam Duke knows, unsure how moved she will be?”
Ji Xinxian’s words were full of irony, and the others laughed when they heard them. In fact, people knew that Zhou Shunhua was not pregnant at all. She was eager to go with them on this trip just to create the child or find an opportunity to “miscarry” the child.
It was indeed a “filial child and good grandchild”.
Lu Yufei interjected indifferently, “Beauty Zhou has a good life. She is favored by Shizi on the inside, she is supported by Duke’s mansion on the outside, and there is a thoughtful little padded jacket in her belly to share the worries for his mother. Unlike me, I have to do everything on my own.”
Seeing that they would quarrel if they continued on, Tang Shishi stopped in time and said, “Enough. You all serve Shizi together, just like sisters in a family. There is no need to distinguish each other so clearly. Since beauty Zhou is not afraid of miscarriage, then I have nothing to say. I’d better convey it to Shizi and let Shizi decide.”
Ji Xinxian frowned and was very dissatisfied, “Wangfei, it’s not that you don’t know Shizi often goes to Sister Zhou’s room. If it’s up to Shizi, wouldn’t it be easier for her?”
Tang Shishi smiled, “That’s Shizi’s affair. If you are dissatisfied, then talk to Shizi.”
Tang Shishi stood up after she was done speaking and said, “That’s all. I can’t leave Zhao Zigao too long and I should go back. Shizifei recuperates with ease, and I’ll come to see you next time.”
Tang Shishi showed her intention of leaving. The wife and concubines of Yinian courtyard could not say anything more. They could only salute and respectfully send Tang Shishi out, “Respectfully send Wangfei.”
After Tang Shishi left, Lu Yufei’s face immediately sank, and spoke bluntly to Zhou Shunhua, “I’m tired. See the visitors out.”
The women went out one after another. When they went out, Ji Xinxian deliberately squeezed through Zhou Shunhua’s side, then covered her mouth exaggeratedly and said darkly, “Aiya, I didn’t see Sister Zhou. I almost bumped into a pregnant woman. Sister Zhou, is your belly all right?”
Zhou Shunhua was provoked face to face by Ji Xinxian and her complexion was very bad. She thought of the bigger picture in the future and said patiently, “I’m fine.”
“That’s good.” Ji Xinxian said eccentrically, “If the child has an unexpected accident, I can’t afford it as I’m just a small lowly family of common people. Sister Zhou should be careful when you walk, don’t fall accidentally, and miscarriage the child.”
After Ji Xinxian finished, she let out a cold snort and swaggered off. Zhou Shunhua was so angry that her face was icy cold. Ren Yujun came from behind and said softly to Zhou Shunhua’s ear when she passed by, “Sister has good means. I admire you.”
Zhou Shunhua turned around and looked at Ren Yujun coldly. Ren Yujun smiled at her while walking away leisurely.
Tang Shishi gave the choice to Zhao Zixun, and as expected, Zhao Zixun chose Zhou Shunhua. The whole of Yinian courtyard was flying into a rage and many porcelains were broken in the afternoon. Later, Tang Shishi came forward fairly and picked Ren Yujun to go with him.
Tang Shishi’s reasons were readily available. Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun’s family were both in Jinling. Zhou Shunhua wanted to return to Duke’s mansion to fulfill her filial piety. Then, would not Ren Yujun want to return to Marquis’s mansion? Zhou Shunhua wanted to thank Empress Dowager, but Ren Yujun did not need to?
Zhao Zixun was speechless and could only agree.
Although there were still many people unable to go, Zhou Shunhua was no longer alone with Shizi in the end, and the group’s anger has calmed down a lot. Later, Ji Xinxian also came to Tang Shishi to make trouble, but Tang Shishi refused because there could not be too many accompanying people.
Ji Xinxian, Yingtao, and the rest were left to take care of Lu Yufei, and only Zhou Shunhua and Ren Yujun went with them. Tang Shishi has been preparing intensively for half a month. No matter how anxious and hasty they were, the departure date still fell on the tenth month.
At the beginning of the tenth month, the streets of Xiping were full of fallen leaves. Tang Shishi boarded the carriage with Zhao Zigao in her arms, followed by a mighty carriage convoy, and set off slowly to Jinling.
This was the first time Zhao Zigao went out. He stared at the carriage with grape-like eyes while making babbling sounds. Tang Shishi grabbed Zhao Zigao’s hand and said softly, “Gao’er, we’re going to Jinling.”
Zhao Zigao looked at Tang Shishi motionlessly, as if asking why they were going to Jinling. Tang Shishi stayed silent for a long time as she also did not know why she was going to Jinling, let alone how long they were going for.
This parting whether it was for honor or disgrace, and misfortune or blessing all were unknown.