Abnormal Change in the Capital
Xuan Tian Hua and the others were completely unable to understand how the two horses had fallen; however, with the horses collapsing, the carriage naturally would not be spared. The person inside ended up falling out as expected.
The group looked forward with wide eyes. Unfortunately, the moon on this night was dark. The entire area was dark, and they were quite far away. Even for someone with a certain degree of ability like Xuan Tian Hua, it was impossible to get a clear view of that person.
In their rush, a sudden beam of light was pointed at where the carriage had fallen. The light was not as broad as moonlight, and it was as if it had been specifically made to illuminate people. It was shaped like a column and was pointed directly at the target.
Xuan Tian Hua did not have time to think about this light. He just looked at where the light had landed and saw that the person that had landed had also turned to look back at them.
It was a man with a tired look, but in the instant that he looked up, the tired look disappeared and was replaced with a sly smile.
Both the face and the body very closely resembled the third prince, Xuan Tian Ye; however, the look in his eyes was different. Although Xuan Tian Ye secretly and overtly plotted all kinds of things and tried every day to usurp the throne, his eyes contained more fury. It did not contain this sort of treacherous slyness.
As the group felt startled, they saw the person raise his hand and wipe his face. In that instant, the face that closely resembled Xuan Tian Ye suddenly changed into an unfamiliar face.
Xuan Tian Hua subconsciously muttered: “Appearance changer.”
Feng Yu Heng facepalmed, “There really is such a thing?” But she immediately regained her serious demeanor. Everyone exchanged glances, and the look in their eyes all said the same thing: Sure enough, we’ve been tricked!
Xuan Tian Hua tugged at Feng Yu Heng and urgently said: “Quickly run!”
Just as he said this, he heard a voice come from the head of the procession, “You want to run? It’s not that simple!”
In an instant, hidden lookouts charged out from all sides and surrounded the five people. Everyone in the procession had a sword, a cold light emanated from each one. A conflict seemed to be on the verge of breaking out at any moment.
At this time, inside the county princess’ manor back inside the capital, Feng Zi Rui was acting spoiled while holding his third sister, “In a while, we will need to go and stand vigil. Third sister, bring me out for a trip! Let’s go quickly and return quickly. We won’t be noticed.”
Xiang Rong pouted and pinched his chubby and round cheeks. She shook her head and said: “If you insist on eating the red bean cake from that store, I will have a servant go and buy it. We will need to go over there to stand vigil in under one hour. If we came back late, father will be even angrier. Why bother angering him any further?”
“Third sister!” This child really knew how to soften people up. He knew what Xiang Rong was least able to endure, thus he desperately drove his face into her embrace. He was like a chubby ball, and he was extremely cute. “Third sister, you know that we just want to go out for a walk. I’m begging you to take me. Is that okay? Look, mother is resting. Maternal grandfather is also resting. If we go out quietly, we can just tell the servants that we are going to the Feng manor. How about it?”
Xiang Rong loved this little brother the most. Holding him in her embrace, she wanted to dote on him more. With Zi Rui using this sort of trick to beg her, the little girl was unable to refuse. There was nothing that she could do aside from nod.
The two snuck out of the manor like thieves and got in the carriage. The driver of the carriage had a bitter expression and said: “Young master, third young miss, if county princess was to find out about this, this old servant will end up being cursed.”
Zi Rui patted his shoulder: “Don’t worry! If elder sister blames you, I will definitely support you. Let’s go. Let’s go buy pastries!”
The driver helplessly got the horses going, and the carriage began moving along the capital’s main roads.
Zi Rui had not returned to the capital for a long time and wanted to see the city. Lifting the curtain with his small and chubby hand, he was unwilling to put it down. Xiang Rong could only accompany him and look outside too.
But when the carriage left the road in front of the Feng manor and arrived on the main road, after half a stick of incense in time, she found that something seemed to be off. There seemed to be something different about the capital tonight. It was normal for guards to patrol the city at night, but she had met all of the patrolling guards before. They would carry around lanterns and have swords at their waists, and the clothes that they wore were made of cloth. Tonight, however, the patrolling guards were wearing heavy armor, and their swords were not sheathed. Instead, they were in their hands. The lanterns that they held were also much brighter than before, and… she carefully thought back. The lanterns that the governor arranged for the guards were usually longer in shape, so why were these lanterns round?
This odd feeling accompanied her as the carriage continued to head toward the Westside of the city. The further West they went, the stronger this feeling became, and the more she noticed these heavily armored guards. Even Zi Rui noticed and asked out of curiosity: “Could it be because the flood has just passed, thus the capital is not too secure, and there is such a need for such a strict patrol?”
Xiang Rong knew at heart that things were not like this. The flood had occurred outside the city. There was no flood in the capital. The refugees outside had been settled, thus it was impossible for any problems to have arisen. There was a problem with these heavily armored soldiers.
It was still not too late in the day, and some people could still be seen wandering the streets. Restaurants and tea shops continued to do business. The pastry shop that they were going to visit also closed rather late. They managed to buy the final five red bean cakes that Zi Rui wanted to eat.
Zi Rui wanted to stay out a little longer but was refused by Xiang Rong. She used the Feng family’s funeral as an excuse to tell him: “After all, it’s grandmother’s funeral. We already snuck out to buy pastries. If we go anywhere else and are seen, it would be bad if rumors began to swirl.”
Zi Rui was an understanding child. With Xiang Rong saying this, he did not make any further requests. He took the initiative to tell the driver: “Let’s go back to the manor!”
On the way back, Zi Rui began to feel a little tired and did not continue to look at the scenes of the capital. Xiang Rong, however, had become spirited. Lifting the curtain to look outside. But she only dared lift the curtain a sliver and only dared to expose her eyes. Even if this was the case, she still managed to see someone familiar.
She squinted her eyes and looked at the alley opposite from them. Although the carriage was moving quickly, she was still able to clearly see a round lantern suddenly drop to the ground. A longer lantern then appeared, revealing a familiar face, Bu Cong.
She saw Bu Cong for just an instant, and the carriage had already moved quite a long distance in just that bit of time, but she was still able to clearly see Bu Cong’s face. There was also the two lanterns being lit up. It was the person that was holding a round lantern that suddenly died. Someone had stabbed a sword through his chest. The person fell, and the lantern was put out. A substitute then replaced him.
Xiang Rong’s heart began to race and immediately put down the curtain. Her hand was slightly trembling.
Zi Rui saw that she was a little off and asked her with some confusion: “Third sister, what happened to you? Your complexion looks really bad.”
Xiang Rong shook her head, “I’m fine. Let’s quickly go back. We absolutely must not delay standing vigil.”
Zi Rui nodded and took the initiative to tell the driver: “Have the horses move faster!”
The driver was very happy that the young master wanted to quickly return home, thus he used the horsewhip and increased the pace of the carriage.
When they finally arrived in front of the Feng manor’s entrance, Xiang Rong brought Zi Rui to the entrance and handed him to He Zhong, saying: “Send the young master to the mourning hall.”
Zi Rui was puzzled and asked her: “Third sister, what about you? Are you not going in?”
Xiang Rong lied to him and said: “Elder sister wants to go back to the county princess’ manor to get changed first. You should go over first. Third sister will be over in a moment.” After saying this, she gave him a push, “Go quickly!”
Seeing He Zhong lead Zi Rui through the front yard and begin to walk toward Peony courtyard, Xiang Rong quickly left the manor and ran toward the county princess’ manor. Arriving at the entrance, she asked the imperial guards: “Second sister hasn’t left the manor, right?”
The soldiers standing guard were stunned then said: “She has gone out. She left a long time ago. County princess left with her two maidservants before third young miss and young master went out. She left riding a horse.”
“She’s not in the manor?” She was feeling panicked. Stomping her foot, she simply climbed back into the carriage.
The driver was stunned: “Third young miss, where are you wanting to go now?”
Xiang Rong lowered her voice and said: “Quickly, we are going to the Chun Palace.” The driver was startled and was clearly a little shocked, but Xiang Rong suddenly became sharp and warned him: “Let’s go quickly. Don’t ask too much.”
The driver felt a chill and suddenly felt that the third young miss felt a bit like the second young miss, thus he did not ask too much and quickly hurried the horse in the direction of the Chun Palace.
Xiang Rong silently hoped that nothing would happen. In any case, the carriage had successfully arrived at the Chun Palace’s entrance. She lifted the curtain and looked to see if anyone had followed them. She then quickly got out of the carriage.
The guards in front of the Chun Palace recognized Xiang Rong. After all, she had come before. Also, during the flood, she had gone all around looking for clothes. She had been through the entire capital. Although it was a little late in the day, she was still county princess Ji An’s younger sister. For her to come at this time, something had definitely happened, but… but his Highness was not here!
Before Xiang Rong could speak up, a guard asked her: “Third young miss, is there something that you need his Highness for?”
Xiang Rong nodded: “Yes, I am looking for his Highness for something. Quickly, quickly help me pass this along.”
“His Highness is not in the palace!” The guard stomped his foot, “How about third young miss comes into the palace to wait for him!”
“Not here?” Xiang Rong was nearing the verge of collapse. Something had clearly happened in the capital, but her second sister and his Highness the seventh prince were both missing. How could this possibly go well?
She stood in front of the Chun Palace and thought for a bit then finally made another decision. Turning around, she climbed back into the carriage and ordered the driver: “Let’s go to the Yu Palace!”
The driver felt that the third young miss had definitely gone insane. Although he did not dare ask why they had to go to the yu Palace, his intuition told him that something really might have happened. Otherwise, it was impossible for third young miss to become so panicked. Thus he quickly moved his whip and hurried the carriage toward the Yu Palace.
Xiang Rong had gone to the Chun Palace before, but this was her first time visiting the Yu Palace, and she had come on her own. Fortunately, she had spent a lot of time at Feng Yu Heng’s side. They had also eaten together. There would not be too much of a feeling of unfamiliarity.
Finally, the carriage stopped in front of the Yu Palace’s entrance. Xiang Rong leaped out of the carriage and looked up; however, she felt that this Yu Palace’s entrance seemed to be a little off.
They were both palaces, but there were more than three times as many guards compare to the Chun Palace. The guards all had stern expressions, and this allowed her to connect all of the changes in the capital. She was a little nervous. Standing in front of the entrance, she felt a little at a loss.
Fortunately, there was someone that recognized her and went forward to ask: “Are you the Feng family’s third young miss?”
Only then did Xiang Rong manage to recover and remember her goal, thus she quickly said: “It’s me. I have an urgent matter to tell his Highness the ninth prince. Is he in the palace?”
Thank the heavens and thank the earth, the servant nodded, “His Highness is present. Third young miss, please follow this servant.”
She followed this person into the Yu Palace. She did not have time to look around too much. She did not know how long she had walked before hearing the sound of singing and music coming from ahead. Following this, there was a person speaking. He said: “Ninth brother, is this sword really an antique?”
This voice caused her to become startled, and she suddenly stopped in her tracks…