Fu Zhiyu had lived in the shadow of this man for a long time in his previous life. He greatly deviated from the setting of the original book, so it became extremely difficult to deal with this kind of enemy. Later, he fumbled around and almost lost his life in the struggle. Only then did he pull himself together and gradually gain some advantages.
However, in the original text, Fu Zhiyu and Fu Lingxiao were truly equal opponents, the same kind of people, with a bodhisattva’s face and a snake’s heart, extremely good at disguising themselves.
Fu Zhiyu in the original text still was genuine sometimes, but this man completely lived under the mask. His appearance and his heart were too different, so he was very difficult to deal with.
But things have changed now.
“Help me dress.” Fu Zhiyu got up from the bed and said to the palace maid at his bedside who immediately came closer in response.
He was just a poor sick man now, so he should do whatever he needed to do.
Fu Zhiyu got dressed slowly. The weather was cold. He also put on a white fox fur, looking like a white fluffy dumpling.
Fu Lingxiao was more difficult to deal with than Fu Rongye, and the people he had placed here were more useful than Fu Rongye’s people. For example, the maid who just helped Fu Zhiyu dress was Fu Lingxiao’s person, much closer than the eunuch from Fu Rongye, and the information the Crown Prince got should also be theoretically more detailed.
Fu Zhiyu had known about it a long time ago, and even Consort Yun had noticed, but they didn’t do anything. This kind of a spy had an unexpected effect. In the previous life and now, the spy could convey the information you wanted them to convey.
Thinking of this, Fu Zhiyu stepped out of the door of his bedchamber and then showed a simple, harmless smile.
“Crown Prince Brother,” he greeted, “How come you have time to visit me?”
Fu Lingxiao was sitting in the hall, drinking tea. His appearance was not outstanding among the princes, but his features were soft and he looked very kind. He spoke gently, as if he was incapable of getting angry.
“I’m late, I should have come yesterday,” Fu Lingxiao waved his hand with a smile, as if he was really a kind brother, “Xiao Jiu, come, sit down first. This snack was specially made by the imperial kitchen. It’s your favourite.”
Fu Zhiyu looked down at a whole plate of abalone pastries.
This snack was delicious, but greasy. Fu Zhiyu usually liked to eat one or two pieces, but he had just recovered from a serious illness, so it was not suitable for him to eat this.
Fu Lingxiao was really Fu Lingxiao; he enjoyed making things difficult for him as soon as he arrived.
“Did I like this before?” Fu Zhiyu sat down and pushed the abalone pastries on the table forward, “I don’t remember very clearly. I can’t help it, the doctor said that there is some serious memory damage, and it’s a great blessing that I can remember Crown Prince Brother nowadays.”
Fu Lingxiao’s smile froze for a moment.
But he quickly pulled himself together and continued: “When I heard in the palace that Xiao Jiu had an accident, just like Father Emperor, I was very worried and anxious. I went to Mother Empress’s Buddha hall to ask for a peace talisman. Father Emperor is investigating this matter and will see it to the end. I don’t know who in the palace has such a vicious heart, Xiao Jiu is so smart and cute, how could someone harm him!”
Fu Zhiyu felt goose bumps rising on his arms, instantly understanding Fu Lingxiao’s intention of coming here.
Fu Lingxiao didn’t believe that he was really stupid. This man was extremely suspicious. He thought Fu Zhiyu was pretending, and he suspected that the reason why Fu Zhiyu pretended was that he felt that he was not yet able to take down the person who had harmed him and had to show weakness temporarily.
Sure enough, Fu Lingxiao’s next sentence came. He stretched out his hand and stroked Fu Zhiyu’s head, asking, “Is there anyone Xiao Jiu has offended in the palace? Crown Prince Brother will definitely help you take the revenge, so as not to let these bad guys go unpunished and defile the palace.”
He had even guessed that it was most likely the Eighth Prince who did it. Only this one had such a grudge against Fu Zhiyu and also had the ability and motivation. But cleaning up the traces before the emperor’s investigation was probably impossible without the credit of the Third Prince.
Fu Zhiyu could almost imagine Fu Lingxiao’s thoughts. The man was as excited as a wolf smelling blood. He wanted to be the winner of this fight between the snipe and the clam(1), overthrowing the Xue family in one fell swoop just like in the previous life. But now Fu Lingxiao, just like the emperor, had not had any strong evidence, so he came here to help things happen by his own hand.
It would be better if Fu Zhiyu had clues or evidence, but even if he really didn’t, if he, the victim, accused the Eighth Prince, Fu LIngxiao would also be able to do a great deal as the Crown Prince. The two princes of the Xue family would lose a layer of skin and it would greatly improve the current stalemate between him and Fu Rongye.
But Fu Zhiyu was not going to play this game.
“Crown Prince Brother, what are you talking about?” Fu Zhiyu tilted his head and blinked, “Father Emperor told me that he hadn’t found out anything. In fact, I think it might be just an accident. Everyone in the palace is very nice, how could they harm me?
Mother Consort also told me that she was already overjoyed when she saw me wake up. Although I forgot some things, Mother Consort says that she is happy, so I am happy.”
“I’m going to tell Father Emperor not to pursue it anymore. It makes people in the palace panic. Several palace maids around me have been punished for this matter. If Mother Consort hadn’t stopped it, some imperial doctors would have been hit with a rod. In fact, what does it have to do with them? It was just my carelessness,” Fu Zhiyu interrupted the Crown Prince’s words and then delivered his own holier-than-thou speech. He sighed softly, looked up at the sky outside, his eyes empty, and tried hard to channel the Empress Dowager’s spirit, finally adding, “Let bygones be bygones. Now that things have gotten so big, I just feel guilty.”
Fu Lingxiao was so confused by him that he didn’t speak for a long time.
Probably he was fooled by Fu Zhiyu’s saintly stance; for a moment, he wondered if this person was really stupid.
If it weren’t for a brain problem, how could someone say such a thing?
Fu Zhiyu had to have an ulterior motive for making such a big show and playing dumb. The Crown Prince originally thought that he was advancing by retreating. Who knew that this one retreated and then retreated again, without any bottom line. It was useless to pretend to be a pig to eat a tiger in this palace (pretend to be weak to defeat the enemy); the opportunity was too fleeting. Consort Yun and Consort Xue had been at odds for a long time. Although Consort Xue’s family was prominent, the emperor was biassed, and at every important juncture it was Consort Yun who won. Now that Liuli Palace actively revealed its weaknesses and didn’t fight back, the situation was really unpredictable.
Fu Lingxiao felt that he had enough of the sanctimonious talk, but Fu Zhiyu was still going on.
“Mother Consort also begged for the peace talisman at Longquan Temple. It’s very effective,” Fu Zhiyu pulled out a red rope with a wooden sign on it. “I brought this for Crown Prince Brother. I hope Crown Prince Brother will meet less illness and less disasters.”
Of course, this thing was different from the one that Consort Yun begged for for Fu Zhiyu. This was made in bulk at Longquan Temple. At the end of the year, it would be distributed to the people together with the alms. When Fu Zhiyu left the temple, he grabbed it casually, and now it came handy.
Look what a kind, innocent and lovely child I am.
Fu Zhiyu looked at the sky, immersed in the play, and somewhat understood the refreshing feeling of his mother consort every time she finished acting. At least for now, Fu Lingxiao should be quite disgusted.
Fu Lingxiao’s smile was already a little stiff. Holding the rough peace talisman was like holding a hot potato, and he left after sitting for a short while.
Fu Zhiyu didn’t eat the plate of abalone pastries, rewarding it to the palace maid next to him. He made himself a cup of tea and sat down by the window.
Outside, it was beginning to snow.
Fu Zhiyu reached out and caught a snowflake, watching it slowly melt in his hand.
Consort Yun arrived in a hurry at this time and asked him with bated breath as soon as she came in, “I heard that the Crown Prince just came? Did he give you a hard time?”
Fu Zhiyu shook his head and asked rhetorically: “Is Father Emperor still coming tonight?”
“Tonight, please help me delay him for a while. I have something to tell him,” Fu Zhiyu said, bowing his head and taking another sip of tea, “You have to do a full set of acting.”
Consort Yun frowned and asked, “What’s the matter?”
Fu Zhiyu helped her sit down, patted her hand soothingly and said, ”Let me talk to Mother Consort slowly.”
Consort Yun touched his hand, only to feel that his hand was cold, and asked, “Why is your hand so cold?”
“It’s snowing outside. I stretched out my hand and touched the snow,” Fu Zhiyu said. His voice gradually became smaller as he murmured, “If I remember correctly, this is the last snow this winter.”
- From the proverb “When the snipe and the clam grapple, it’s the fisherman who benefits”.