Emperor Shang directly sat on the dragon chair, while his personal attendant, court eunuch Xu, moved to his side, ready to serve. Shang Wuxin took the First seat* without saluting, nor showing a shred of respect. That kind of attitude was just too rampant, but it was meant to be like that in the first place.
Eunuch Xu glanced surprised at the crown prince, who was behaving so strangely, he could be mistaken for a different person. He was even more shocked by the emperor’s lack of reaction, but he was merely the emperor’s servant. Thus Eunuch Xu lowered his head, afraid of seeing or hearing anything he shouldn’t. Though he stood there for a very long time, he truly didn’t hear a single sound. The emperor should have already been berating the crown prince; the crown prince should have been arguing back. Then the father and son would part on bad terms, and within two days, the whole palace would know that the crown prince had angered the emperor again. Yet now something seemed to be different.
Shang Wuxin was looking at the emperor, who was watching her. There was a hint of warmth in his heavy gaze, though it was hidden so well, even the emperor himself hadn’t realized it was there.
“Not saluting upon meeting me, who gave you the courage?” Emperor Shang opened his mouth first, but as soon as he started talking, it was to scold. Though unfortunately, Shang Wuxin wasn’t like the former crown prince, who could only look at the emperor dejectedly. Furthermore, she didn’t bother giving an explanation. After observing Emperor Shang, she had noticed that he was restless with worry.
Shang Wuxin looked at the seemingly angry Emperor Shang, then stood up without warning, startling both him and eunuch Xu. Eunuch Xu went so far as to move in front of the emperor, blocking him from whatever harmful thing the unfathomable crown prince was about to do. On the other hand, Emperor Shang remained the same.
However, Shang Wuxin simply left the royal study without giving them so much as a glance. The purpose she came here today had already been reached. Even though some matters were still unclear, she got the basics. As for her Imperial father, she smiled wordlessly.
“Crown Prince!” Seeing the crown prince walking out of the study safe and sound, Wu Wei calmed down. If the emperor had decided to punish him, she wouldn’t have been able to help. Instead, had she rushed in, she would have become a burden to him. With these thoughts, Wu Wei resolved to improve her martial arts as quickly as possible and become his support.
Shang Wuxin glanced at Wu Wei and found that the guards hadn’t further harassed her. Without pausing her steps, she kept walking away from the royal study. As for the numerous Imperial guards, none of them were brave enough to irritate her. The crown prince dared to bring a maid to a meeting with the emperor without any explanation. He didn’t even bother saluting, yet he wasn’t punished. Moreover, his personal maid was so difficult to deal with. Many people suspected that the former crown prince had been concealing his strength and biding his time. From this day on, many people in the palace started dreading the crown prince, whom they had previously looked down on the most.
“Eunuch Xu ah, you tell me, did I do something wrong!” Emperor Shang was staring at the shut golden door, feeling anxious for a short moment, but he could only speak his thoughts to his attendant. As soon as he stepped out of this study, he could not say anything, and could not show anything on his face.
“How could Your Majesty be wrong?” Eunuch Xu earnestly replied. He knew the reason for many of His Majesty’s actions. If only…
Emperor Shang smiled. Even if he made a mistake, no one would dare say anything. Nevermind. Thinking of the crown prince’s behavior just now, he suddenly came to a decision.
Meanwhile, Shang Wuxin brought Wu Wei out of the Imperial Palace and sat on the carriage, ready to return to the Crown Prince’s residence. Right then, their carriage got obstructed by some people. Wu Wei, who was in the driver’s seat, looked icily at the lot blocking the path, but the one leading them was the eldest prince, Shang Chenzhao.
Wu Wei lowered her head as she couldn’t let her discontent show, but she was unaware that Shang Wuxin had already perceived her state of mind.
“What is it?” Shang Wuxin lifted the curtain slightly and asked the eldest prince Shang Chenzhao. Her manner was graceful even while sitting in a plain carriage. In fact, because of her radiance, the common carriage also seemed to become nobler.
A few carriages were parked in front of the Crown Prince residence’s vehicle, but the very first one belonged to the eldest prince. His carriage was lavishly decorated with rare pearls hanging off of it. He also had several bodyguards by his side. If one compared his display with the crown prince’s, they would believe he was the crown prince instead. The real crown prince seemed inferior and unpresentable next to him. At this moment, the common folk had gathered in the streets to watch the show, while keeping their distance. Everyone knew that Shang’s crown prince was sickly, timid, and incompetent, but no one had ever seen his face as the former crown prince had almost never set foot outside his home. Looking at the eldest prince provoking the crown prince now, many citizens were waiting to witness the crown prince losing face.
Pride filled Shang Chenzhao’s mind as he stood outside his carriage, looking arrogantly at Shang Wuxin. So what if he was the crown prince? Their royal father didn’t like him, and he didn’t have a mother to back him up. He was practically unable to keep the Crown Prince’s position for long. Thinking of this, Shang Chenzhao’s expression appeared even more confident as he sneered at Shang Wuxin.
Regarding Shang Chenzhao’s expression, Shang Wuxin didn’t have any emotional reaction whatsoever. Shang Chenzhao was wearing a very showy purple robe. Unfortunately, the purple color didn’t bring out his nobleness but instead made him look like an upstart. His countenance was relatively stalwart, but his under eye shadows were too heavy, and his eyes couldn’t conceal a thing. Shang Wuxin felt it was a waste of time even to look at such a person.
She put down the curtain. Shang Chenzhao was the type who wouldn’t amount to anything, just an inconsequential person. He wasn’t worth her attention, but if he didn’t know his place, she wouldn’t mind carving him up. She was only afraid that the taste of killing her elder brother would be too good.
Noticing that the crown prince had put down the curtain, Wu Wei understood his meaning. She directly grasped the harness, preparing to drive the carriage around the blockade. However, her attitude made Shang Chenzhao’s anger rise. Whenever he’d met the crown prince before, he had been so submissive, yet he was unexpectedly ignoring him now. Even his ugly maid dared to behave like that. Could it be because he hadn’t taught his Imperial younger brother a lesson recently?
“Since the Crown Prince is inside, why not come out to meet this Imperial elder brother?” Shang Chenzhao wanted to directly grab that sickly crown prince and throw him down the carriage, but seeing his bodyguards’ expressions, he knew he couldn’t do that in public with so many onlookers around. Still, he was very used to mocking him. “Or is the Crown Prince so timid, that he’ll tremble in fear even just coming out of the carriage?”
“Hahahaha!” The officials’ sons and the bodyguards behind Shang Chenzhao all roared out in laughter. Someone threw in, “Who knows, maybe the Crown Prince pissed his pants in fear. Who doesn’t know the Crown Prince is as timid as a mouse!”
The common folk were watching as the eldest prince humiliated the crown prince. Even the Imperial guards dared to join in since they knew what kind of reputation he carried. It made for a lively show.
Wu Wei gripped her fists, wishing nothing more than to murder these people who were ridiculing the crown prince, but she was unable to deal with so many at once. Granted that she managed to beat up the eldest prince, she wouldn’t have a good ending. She wasn’t afraid of bearing the consequences, she rather feared of implicating the crown prince. Since it happened at the Imperial Palace, Wu Wei understood that it was difficult for the crown prince to make a move.
“Since you’re aware that This Prince is the Crown Prince, how come none of you followed basic courtesy? Or did Imperial consort Qin teach the eldest Prince like that?” A cold voice with a sharp tone sounded from inside the carriage. It was deep and melodious. Just the sound of it intimidated the laughing people into a halt and made the common folk curiously gaze at the Crown Prince’s carriage. Having such a voice, just how attractive would his appearance be? Perhaps the rumors were wrong.
“You*, you want This Prince to salute you?” Shang Chenzhao asked incredulously. It had always been his Imperial younger brother greeting him whenever they met each other. Now he dared make him salute. Had he gone insane? “Who do you think you are, actually asking me to salute you!”
Shang Chenzhao had barely finished saying those words when he heard a collective gasp from around him. No matter how powerless the crown prince was, how could a mere prince speak that way to him? Such words were treason. Even the commoners were looking at the eldest prince with uncertainty.
Notes: Edited by Lili. Man, she really fixed up this chapter. We’ll be using pronouns in bold for when the emperor is referring to himself… I can’t always translate zhen as This Emperor.
*First seat: It has to do with ranks. The higher the rank, the closer they can sit to the emperor.
*You: The eldest prince totally dropped all honorifics here.