Towards the end of the month-long national mourning, the 1,382 people involved in the assassination of the Eastern Palace were dealt with one after another. Those who should be beheaded and those who should be exiled, none of them were spared.
This was already the result of Wei Ming’s lenience, otherwise, rivers of blood could have flowed in Yujing.
In the end, it was the turn of Wang Xiang Wei Mao. Wei Ming believed in his youngest son after all. Even if Wei Zhao didn’t find any evidence in his favour to prove his innocence, Wei Ming still chose to imprison him, the lightest punishment compared to the great crime of murdering the Crown Prince.
Many people were dissatisfied with this outcome that didn’t meet their desired goals.
Wei Ming and Jun Feili had lost their eldest son and had to imprison their youngest son. Instead of the thrill of revenge, there was only endless sadness.
Wei Zhao had always suspected that the real culprit was someone else, but he had been busy for almost a month, using all his forces, both in the light and in the dark, and the results he found were still completely different from his own suspicions. He really couldn’t find a shred of evidence that could testify against Wei Lan.
Could it be that he and Rong’er were wrong? Were their suspicions of Wei Lan unfounded from the start? Wei Zhao always felt that he had missed something that he shouldn’t have missed, but he had checked again and again, was stumped to find nothing new, and could only accept the current result helplessly.
The good thing was that Wei Ming had only imprisoned Wei Mao, and despite losing his personal freedom, Wei Mao’s life was still safe. This provided Wei Zhao with enough time to continue his investigation, and unless the matter was really Wei Mao’s doing, he would always be able to find out the clues.
Wei Lan had been planning hard for years in order to remove all the obstacles in one fell swoop and make himself the sole heir to the throne.
Because he knew very well that with the existence of Wei Xuan and Wei Mao, he would always be the most neglected one in their family. He was fed up with this, and only by getting rid of them would he have a meaningful presence in this family.
However, although Wei Xuan was dead, there was a posthumous child left behind. If Xie Xiang gave birth to a son, with Wei Ming’s love and respect for Wei Xuan, who could guarantee that he would not think of appointing him the Taisun, which would be extremely detrimental to Wei Lan.
There was also Wei Mao. The great crime of conspiring to murder the Crown Prince couldn’t make Wei Ming kill him mercilessly, which Wei Lan hadn’t thought of beforehand.
No matter what, no matter how meticulous the plan was, it was impossible to leave no traces. As long as Wei Mao was not dead, he was still a hidden danger. But he was confined to his residence, with no contact with the outside world, so Wei Lan couldn’t find an opportunity to kill him.
According to Wei Lan’s original plan, after getting rid of Wei Xuan and Wei Mao, his next target would be Wei Zhao and his son.
Both the Fourth Uncle and the Fourth Brother disliked him, something Wei Lan had known for a long time. But he didn’t care, he disliked them as well. But Wei Ming trusted Wei Zhao, and Wang Qin held half of the country’s military power, more powerful than he had ever been during the Yongjia era.
Wei Zhao had never believed that Wei Mao was the real culprit in Wei Xuan’s death. If Wei Mao died, Wei Zhao wouldn’t be able to overturn his case; but Wei Mao was imprisoned, and the emperor clearly wanted to keep him alive, so it became difficult to tell how things would develop.
Wei Mao has been locked up in the cell of the Minister of the Imperial Clan’s office for most of the month. Although there was no shortage of food and clothing, and there was no worry about cold and heat, as long as Wei Ming didn’t decide what to do with him, he always had something to fear in his heart.
He was still fantasising from time to time that Fourth Uncle might be able to find evidence to prove that he had nothing to do with the death of Crown Prince Brother, but he waited and waited, and what he finally got was the news that he was sentenced to be imprisoned, which was like a bolt from the blue, unbelievable.
Xie Xiang and Wei Xuan were childhood sweethearts. Their feelings for each other were extremely deep. The two were married for more than ten years. Xie Xiang gave birth to three daughters in a row. The emperor and the empress didn’t say anything, but the ministers of the court were very critical and repeatedly asked the Crown Prince to take a concubine and give birth to a male heir to continue the family line. Wei Xuan resisted this pressure and always stood by Xia Xiang, which touched her very much.
Xie Xiang was the daughter of Princess Yuankang, and Wei Mao was her little cousin whom she watched growing up. Although she was heartbroken by Wei Xuan’s death, it was hard for Xie Xiang to accept that Wei Mao was the real culprit behind Wei Xuan’s murder. She didn’t believe Wei Mao would do such a thing.
When Princess Yuankang learned that Xie Xiang was grieving so much that she might even have a miscarriage, she brought Xie Xiu into the palace to comfort her and said, “Ah Xiang, don’t think too much, the most important thing for you now is to take care of your body and give birth to your child safely.”
Xie Xiang’s face was expressionless and she was silent. Xie Xiu had already sent the palace maids out and said in a low voice, “Yes, sister, this is a critical moment, don’t do anything foolish without thinking straight. This is a lesson to learn from Wangfei Zheng.”
Princess Yuankang’s eyebrows furrowed in displeasure and she said, “Ah Xiu, what are you talking about? Wangfei Zheng has no children, and Ah Xiang has three daughters and an unborn child in her womb, how can she be the same as Wangfei Zheng? Don’t talk nonsense.”
Xie Xiu’s words were refuted by Princess Yuankang, but she wasn’t annoyed and said quietly, “Mother, where am I talking nonsense? The Crown Prince is no longer here, and the Eastern Palace will soon have a new master. With the character of Wangfei Zhao, do you think Ah Xiang’s life will be better?”
Princess Yuankang fell into deep thought when she heard it; indeed, Xie Xiu’s words weren’t unreasonable. The emperor only had three sons; the eldest son had died and the youngest son had been imprisoned, leaving one, Wei Lan, as the obvious choice for the new Crown Prince, and it was only a matter of time before Shangguan Cha became the new Crown Prince’s Consort.
By then, Xie Xiang and her three daughters would be living in the palace; even if they were not treated harshly, their conditions would be far worse than they were now. It was a pity that Xie Xiang didn’t have a son, otherwise she would have had the opportunity to leave the palace and enjoy her life until her son grew up, instead of ending up in the palace.
Xie Xiang’s term was still early and the imperial doctor couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl, so Princess Yuankang could only pray sincerely for her youngest daughter to give birth to a son. Only then would her future not be dark and bleak.
No, a son…
Princess Yuankang suddenly woke up; the son of the Crown Prince was definitely not as simple as an ordinary county lord…
After a long silence, Xie Xiang slowly said: “Mother, Sister, I understand what you say. And I also know that Father Emperor is particularly concerned about the child in my womb, but…”
Even if she gave birth to a son, even if His Majesty really wanted to make him the Taisun, what meaning would all this have for her?
Wei Xuan was dead and would never return, and she would never have him in her life again.
“Ah Xiang, what are you talking about? You say His Majesty pays special attention to the child in your womb?” Princess Yuankang keenly grasped the key point in her daughter’s words and asked nervously.
Xie Xiang nodded, “Yes, when I was pregnant with my first three children, the Imperial Hospital always requested to check my pulse once every ten days as a rule. But this time, Father Emperor had a decree that the pulse would be checked once every three days, and the results would be sent directly to the imperial court.”
The so-called risk of miscarriage was actually exaggerated by the imperial doctors because Wei Ming attached too much importance to the foetus and they were afraid of the slightest negligence. They magnified any minor problem, so that in case of an accident, they would have an excuse.
Princess Yuankang stood up and paced back and forth around the chamber, saying in a deep voice, “Ah Xiang, tell me the truth, did His Majesty say something to you?” Normally, a father-in-law and a widowed daughter-in-law couldn’t meet, but Wei Ming was still Xie Xiang’s uncle, so it was fine.
Xie Xiang thought for a moment and said softly, “Father Emperor only told me to nurture the baby with peace of mind, and that if I give birth to a boy, I will be blessed in the future.”
“Ah Xiang, are you really stupid or are you pretending to be stupid?” Princess Yuankang’s tone suddenly became stern, “His Majesty said that much, you cannot possibly not understand…” Xie Xiang was already the Crown Prince’s Consort, it was self-evident what her future blessings could be.
Xie Xiang raised his head and looked at Princess Yuankang in a daze. After a long time, she said, “Of course I understand what Father Emperor is going to do. But I don’t know if the child is a boy or a girl. Even if it is a son, I am not sure that I can safely guard him that far. It’s easy to dodge a spear in the open and hard to avoid a stab in the dark. The Crown Prince has been plotted against by someone and I don’t know who the real murderer is. How can a child who has just been born live a safe and smooth life? I would rather have a daughter, just like her sisters.”
Only if she had a daughter, as the former Crown Prince’s Consort, would she be truly safe with her children, and no matter who came to power in the future, even if it was for the sake of reputation, they wouldn’t deal with mother and daughters who were no threat at all.
Xie Xiu didn’t expect Xie Xiang to have thought this far, so she didn’t say another word. Indeed, the son of the previous Crown Prince and the son of an ordinary prince would give the next emperor a completely different feeling. If you meet a narrow-minded one, you could be in trouble at any time and it would be hard to survive.
Princess Yuankang tried to relax and comforted her daughter: “The child is not yet born, it is too early to say anything, so rest with peace of mind and wait until the child is born.”
Back home, Princess Yuankang and her son Xie Qiu discussed for a long time whether the Xie family would be able to support Xie Xiang’s child to the throne if she were to give birth to a son, given the emperor’s intention to appoint him the Taisun.
Xie Qiu thought about it and finally frowned and said, “Mother, this matter is very difficult. Even if His Majesty is willing to make him Taisun, even if the Xie family devotes all its strength to it, the chances of success are not high.”
Although the Xie family was the family of Gong Song, one of the eight founding gongs of the country, Empress Xiaoduan Ming Xie Yi had brought the Xie family to the pinnacle of power, but at the same time, since Xie Yi the rapid decline of the Xie family had started.
After Xie Yi’s death, Wei Su spared no effort in fighting against the Song family, and had it not been for the Gong Song of that time, Xie Zhou, who was married to Wei Su’s sister, Princess Chongqing, it would have been doubtful whether the family’s title would have been preserved.
In Xie Zhou’s generation, almost no one in the Xie family had a post in the government, even Xie Zhou himself held a fictitious position.
Xie Zhou had two sons; the elder, Xie Song, who was born to his first wife, inherited his title, but also had no real position. The second son, Xie Bai, was born to Princess Chongqing and was made Hou Yichun and married Princess Yuankang, but also had no real position.
In Xie Qiu’s generation, his cousins were in a similar situation as their parents but this time it wasn’t because of the emperor’s suppression, but because of their own lack of ability. Although Xie Qiu himself was a brilliant man, he wasn’t strong enough to support the Taisun’s ascension to the throne.