Lu Tianbi could do nothing but stand there and stare as the love of her life fled from her. Her heart ached at the sight of the slammed doors, where he had stormed out of, as if the room was on fire. He didn't even look back at her.
What exactly happened? She could not picture what upset him like this. Now that she had thought about it, Hu Dengxiao was originally speaking to the Crown Prince. But when she came in, Hu Dengxiao had suddenly walked off to the bookshelves, seemingly fetching the Crown Prince something.
"Your Highness, why did he just—"
"It pains him to do this." Yu Zhen could feel the accusation radiating from her eyes.
Lu Tianbi gaped at him. "I…don't understand."
Yu Zhen settled his parchments on the table. He firmly glanced at her. "You know exactly what I mean."
Lu Tianbi's heart sank. She shook her head, suddenly regretting asking him. "Nevermind, Your Highness, I do not want to know."
Yu Zhen calmly met her gaze. He spoke in a low, collected voice. "Let him go, Lu Tianbi."
"You were supporting us just a few days earlier!" Lu Tianbi exclaimed, turning to him in pure disbelief. "You are a man of your words, Your Highness. So, why are you doing this?"
Yu Zhen's cold gaze melted a bit. Her voice had cracked. "Think about this carefully. You are the Prime Minister's daughter. You are considered the sole heir to his position."
Lu Tianbi's eyes flared. So what? So what if she was the Prime Minister's daughter? She did not behave and live like one! Unlike her peers in high society, she did not spend her childhood learning poetry, art, and instruments.
Her father had trained her to be a warrior. She was forced to pick up the sword when she wanted to learn the brush, and was forced to lift a spear when she wanted to learn embroidery. There were so many aspects of her life that were shaped by the Prime Minister.
Yet, Lu Tianbi did not let the title of a Prime Minister's daughter hold her back. He wanted her to settle down and get married the second blood stained her pure, white bed sheets for the first time. But what did she do?
Lu Tianbi ran off to join the military, earning a name for herself as the most outstanding female General of the current generation.
"Hu Dengxiao is an orphan from the slums, picked up on the sidewalk like a pet, by the graciousness of your father."
"Your father treats Hu Dengxiao as a guard dog. His sole purpose was to protect you."
"Hu Dengxiao is the heir to nothing. You are the heir to the Lu fortune."
Lu Tianbi gaped at him. "For his contributions in the military and to the country, Hu Dengxiao is now a respectable man praised by many! His annual income from being your advisor is more than enough, Your Highness!"
Yu Zhen folded his hands in front of him, like an older brother ready to chide his younger sister. "This relationship will harm you both."
Lu Tianbi's face grew warm with irritation and pain. She turned her back to him, hiding the tears that had streaked down her face. "Father told you, didn't he? That he had a conversation with Hu Dengxiao in the dead of the night."
"Yes, and I know you are well aware of the topics that were discussed."
Lu Tianbi gritted her teeth. The orphanage—the one that Hu Dengxiao came from—was under the management of the Prime Minister, who was their biggest benefactor.
"If you want Hu Dengxiao, then succeed your father."
Lu Tianbi furiously turned around, her bottom lip trembling out of frustration. "I never said I wasn't planning on it."
"He will never let you succeed him without a husband."
Lu Tianbi let out a shaky breath at his words. "I will speak to him."
Yu Zhen pinched the spot between his brows. It was not his place to intervene. But he was their friend, and his goal was to guide them to a happy future. It was his repayment towards her for being one of the most royal people he knew.
"Marry a weak, lower-class aristocrat who would never dream of power," Yu Zhen said.
"My father will never accept that."
"So make him accept it." Yu Zhen gave her a stern glare. "You are no longer that weak little girl of the past who does not have the courage to go against her father."
Lu Tianbi slowly nodded her head. She wiped her tears away, knowing he was right. As always. But sometimes, she would forget her strongest qualities.
"Now go," he mused. "Enjoy your argument."
Lu Tianbi laughed in response, the sound broken, but happy. "Thank you, Your Highness."
Lu Tianbi hurriedly walked out of the private study, ready to hail down her father for a civilized discussion. Well, as civilized as a Lu can manage—which consisted of a few minutes of civil discussion before voices were raised and hands slamming on the table.
Yu Zhen refocused his attention on the task at hand, but was eventually distracted by the relationship between his closest friends. He let out a sigh. What a pair of star-crossed lovers these two were. They had all grown up together, training side by side. In the blink of an eye, they were now grown up, and living lives of their own.
"I suppose love brings out the stupidity in people," Yu Zhen murmured, knowing the statement also applied to him, who remained in Wuyi even after the collapse of the Emperor.
Even when the letters urgently claimed the Emperor would die any day now, Yu Zhen had remained in Wuyi, just to court Li Xueyue a little bit longer. All of his responsibilities were temporarily forgotten when he was around her.
"At least, Hu Dengxiao will be more level-headed." Yu Zhen shook his head and decided to shift his attention to the documents at hand. This wasn't his problem to shoulder, nor solve.
- - - - -
"A-a dagger shaped like a crescent moon?" Marquis Qin sputtered out in disbelief. Just a few moments ago, he was surprised by the abrupt invitation from the Crown Princess. But who would've thought, there would be an even larger surprise.
"I… I do not understand, Crown Princess," Marquis Qin breathed out in confusion. With shaky hands, he wiped the sweat gathered on his brows. They were under the shade of a gazebo located in the middle of a pond. One misstep near the edge and one would fall into the waters.
Marquis Qin lifted his gaze to the beautiful, and poised Princess. She calmly sipped her tea, her long lashes lowering when she focused her attention upon the jade teacup. She was so stunning that his breathing became labored. Such a perfect, graceful thing…all of her beauty was surely wasted on that brute of a Crown Prince.
"Crown Princess, I do not believe there is a dagger like a crescent moon," Marquis Qin added on in a shaky, dubious voice. He was often calm and collected when it came to business trades like this.
Scamming people was his specialty, after all. But there was something unnerving about being in the center of a deep pond, in a gazebo supported only by four pillars. There wasn't a fence surrounding them to keep them from falling into the water. He could drown to death here.
"How about this?" Marquis Qin anxiously said. Her lack of responses were beginning to displease him. But she was silent and demure.
Marquis Qin preferred those types of women, for they screamed the loudest in bed. Speaking of…he suddenly recalled a little girl, the quietest and most obedient he had ever seen. Her pleas for him to stop still rang in his ears, sweet yet ear piercing. It was where his theory was confirmed.
"Crown Princess, I will have my people scourge the lands for the finest blacksmith, and he shall decorate the hilt of a normal dagger with designs of the midnight sky?"
Marquis Qin carefully analyzed her expression, but was disappointed to be met with literally nothing. She didn't have any trace of emotion on her face. It was unnerving. His heart was racing at the thought of displeasing the wife of one of the wealthiest men in this entire country.
With the Crown Prince's deep pockets, his Wangfei can buy out a small Kingdom if she wishes, with a lot more money to spare.
"What do you think of that idea, Crown Princess? Since the design would be unique, and not many would decorate a weapon this way. You will be starting a trend in Hanjian."
Marquis Qin studied her expression as he grew more and more nervous of her silence.
"You would be a trendsetter, Crown Princess. How delightful would that sound?"
The Crown Princess placed her teacup down.
Marquis Qin held his breath, hopeful and eager for what she was going to say. He could not believe that a young woman about half his age was bringing him to the edge of his seat.
Marquis Qin did not care if she was the cause of his cold sweat. All he cared about was making a business connection with the Crown Princess, the future Empress of this Kingdom.
If he was the first to bite into the fruit, no one else would dare to take her business from him. All of the other merchants would be warned off, once they discovered her preferred trader was Marquis Qin himself.
When she pursued her rosy red lips, his attention fell to it in a heartbeat. His mouth went dry at the sight of her sudden smile. It softened her entire appearance, giving off the illusion of a goddess escaping heaven.
"S-seeing your satisfaction, I will inform my men to hurriedly look for—"
The Crown Princess lifted her gaze and uttered two words that caught him off guard.
Please go to https://www.qzxyzy.com/The-Rise-of-Xueyue/
to read the latest chapters for free