The Empress raised a brow. A confession? Out of the blue? What could've triggered Lady Ge Beining? Why was she in tears as if the world was going to crumble any minute now?
"Confess to what?" the Empress curiously asked.
Lady Ge Beining lowered her head. "Y-Your Grace, I do not deserve this kindness of yours. I am nothing but a coward..." she whispered. Her voice cracked toward the end, for she was overwhelmed with unsaid emotions.
"You've provided me with so much, and all I do is get into sticky situations like this one, Mother," Lady Ge Beining sniffled out.
The Empress's gaze softened. She didn't think Lady Ge Beining would say such heart-wrenching things.
All of Lady Ge Beining's life, the Empress had taught her to value herself in the ranks of a Princess. Lady Ge Beining did not have to be useful. All she needed to do was live a blissful and happy life. That was all that the Empress wanted as a mother.
"Sweet child," the Empress gently murmured as she reached a hand out to caress Lady Ge Beining's face. "There was nothing you could do to prevent this. Your servants tried to harm you despite the fact that you've treated them so well."
Lady Ge Beining weakly dropped her gaze to the blanket as if mesmerized by the intricate embroidery.
The Empress quietly placed a hand upon Lady Ge Beining's shoulders. Lady Ge Beining slowly raised her head, like a sullen child being scolded by their mother.
She directly looked Lady Ge Beining in the eyes. "But answer one question of mine."
Lady Ge Beining rapidly nodded her head. "As you wish, Your Grace. I am willing to answer as many questions as you please."
"Why did you run from the intruders, instead of screaming out for the Crown Princess's guards who were just outside of the door?"
Lady Ge Beining's face crumbled. It was as she had anticipated. She had prepared herself for this startling question as it was the only loophole in her story.
"I panicked, Your Grace. When my life was in danger, my mind went blank, and the only thing I could think of was running out of the room. I am a coward who thought of no one else but herself…"
The Empress's face stiffened at this. She pulled her hand back and rose to her feet. "You chose your own life over the Crown Princess's, who will become the future Empress?"
"I'm a coward, Your Grace. For this, I deserve punishment, but anyone in my shoes would've done the same. Humans are inherently selfish by nature, and they value their own lives above all."
The Empress pressed her lips together. She was torn at a crossroad. She wasn't sure whose side to choose. One was the Crown Princess, her daughter-in-law. The other was Lady Ge Beining, the child she had raised since birth, and cared for as one of her own.
"But I did not run out in vain. When I climbed out of my window, I was trying to go through the other side of the house and make my way back to the guards, and notify them of what was happening, Your Grace."
Lady Ge Beining reached a hand out and daintily grabbed onto the Empress's sleeves. "They had the Crown Princess pinned down on the table and I was worried that if I screamed, they would've killed her on the spot. The only option was for me to run away and secretly get help, Your Grace."
The Empress glanced down at Lady Ge Beining. Conflict danced in her eyes. She needed more time to think this through. Holding back a tired sigh, she gently pushed off Lady Ge Beining's hand.
"You've had a troubling day," the Empress slowly said. "It is best for you to rest. I will come back for you when you are awake."
Lady Ge Beining tried her hardest not to frown. She knew the Empress was hesitant about who to side with. It seemed the Crown Princess had infiltrated the Empress's heart more than she had expected…
But Lady Ge Beining was not that worried. Aside from the Crown Prince, the person with the most power was the Empress. The Emperor was a sickly man who had been bedridden for a while now. It wasn't like he was going to make his appearance before the entire court anytime soon, when he could barely walk.
Eventually, Lady Ge Beining revealed a tiny, endearing smile. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears and she obediently nodded her head.
"Thank you, Mother," Lady Ge Beining softly said.
The Empress's heart was squeezed by Lady Ge Beining's gestures. It would have been a lot better if Yu Lingluo had an ounce of Lady Ge Beining's grace. Perhaps, the lady-in-waiting could teach the young Princess some manners.
"Sleep well." Without another glance, the Empress strolled out of the room. She watched the doors shut before walking down the hallways. This time, she hoped that the brute of a son wouldn't be in his estate.
That way, the Empress could finally visit the Crown Princess and hear her side of the story. Initially, the Empress wanted to visit the Crown Princess as soon as she had heard of the atrocity that occurred. But her son was so infuriated by the incident that he did not allow anyone to set foot on his estate.
Regardless if she was the Empress or not, no one would be able to truly defy the absolute order of the Crown Prince. Now that he had taken control of the majority of the courts, it would be difficult to oppose him.
"She needed rest as well," the Empress quietly said to herself. The only reason she didn't argue with the ruthless command was because she sympathized with the Crown Princess. It would be difficult to see or visit anyone, especially after going through such a traumatic thing.
The only thing that reassured the Empress was the fact the Crown Princess was supposedly untouched. All of the guards vouched for her innocence. The men were in between her legs, but their pants had not dropped yet, and their hands were nowhere near her womanhood. And before they could take another step, they were quickly apprehended by the guards.
"I can only hope her sanity will have a safe recovery, for she must've been so traumatized…" the Empress quietly murmured to herself.
She turned to her servants and was prepared to order a nutritious soup boiled for the Princess, but then hesitated.
Right now, the Crown Princess would be distrustful towards everyone. Most likely, she would not eat anything unless she knew it was prepared by her faithful servants. Even so, there would be no guarantee that the food was safe.
"Did you receive word of where the Crown Prince was?" the Empress said to the closest Eunuch.
"I was unable to verify the exact location, Your Grace. However, following his previous schedule, the Crown Prince should be in the courts listening to the bickering ministers who will have their doubts and suspicions of the Crown Princess's virtue."
The Empress halted in her footsteps. She pressed her lips together. The Crown Princess was so young, and it had been less than a year since she set foot in the palace. Yet, her pristine reputation was tarnished this quickly.
Whoever the culprit was, they would be severely punished. She would make sure of it.
"I see," the Empress coldly said. She continued walking down the hallways, in the direction of the Crown Prince's estate, directly opposite of where her son was.
Please go to https://www.qzxyzy.com/The-Rise-of-Xueyue/
to read the latest chapters for free