498 A Female Commander
Even Hu Dengxiao did not know what to say. He was not aware of these letters. And who delivered those letters? Had the Crown Prince been cheating on him? Which other servant was he ordering to do these pesky tasks?
"Y-you see, Princess…" Hu Dengxiao stuttered out. He scratched the back of his head, kicking himself to hurry up and say something.
The long silence was not helping his case at all. But what could he say at a time like this? The letters were incriminating. They made it seem as if the Crown Prince had specifically ordered the very things that could ruin his Wangfei.
'Your loyal friend.'
Who exactly was that?
"I see," the Crown Princess coldly said. She pulled the letter away from his face and rose to her feet.
"So, this is how it is." Li Xueyue could not believe she had allowed herself to be tricked to this extent. How had she not seen it sooner?
Eat this. Eat that. Was this why he was pressuring her to eat so much? So that the infertility poison would go undetected when ingested in small amounts? So that she could be childless for the rest of her life?
Li Xueyue's eyes blurred with tears. What had she been thinking all this time? She had sobbed in his arms, cried her heart out, and sought comfort in the hands of the very person out to get her.
"Princess, please let me explain," Hu Dengxiao hurriedly said. He could see she was beginning to draw her own conclusions. It seemed the Crown Princess was not very different from Lu Tianbi, who loved to think the worst in every situation.
"The recipient of the letters might not be the Crown Prince," Hu Dengxiao rushed out. He needed to reason with her, or else, hell would break loose.
"For example, these letters could've been intercepted or stolen from somewhere or someone. Like—"
"I don't want to hear of it."
"Go and fetch the townspeople."
Hu Dengxiao faltered at her voice. It was lifeless and commanding. Stern and unyielding, she had the determination of a female Commander. He could picture it vividly.
Seated tall and proud on a horse, a sword raised to the crimson sky, as crows cawed, and the grounds trembled as soldiers marched onwards to the battlefield. He could picture her leading the army, a vicious sword swinging through bodies, as heads flew.
The Crown Princess was furious, more than she was heartbroken.
"And where shall you be, Princess?" he asked. Realizing how rude the question was, he quickly clarified.
"After your wishes are fulfilled, where shall I go to inform you?"
Hu Dengxiao wondered if she always spoke in circles like this.
"You're excused, Advisor Hu."
Hu Dengxiao was always quick to fulfill commands. He would do it with slight complaints, but he was swift on his feet. However, today was very different. He was reluctant to leave this room.
He was worried that something drastic would happen once she was gone from his sight. An angered woman was an unpredictable thing. What was she thinking? What would she do next?
"Once again, please let me explain—"
"There is no need, Advisor Hu." The Crown Princess smiled, but it did not reach her eerily cold eyes.
Hu Dengxiao shuffled on his feet. He could not find a way to stall time. Convincing a woman to calm down was not his specialty. From getting frequent smacks here and there from Lu Tianbi, he would know. Each time he tried to calm her down, it would only make things worse.
And in this moment, Hu Dengxiao did not want to risk that. With great reluctance, he bowed his head.
"As you wish, Princess."
- - - - -
Yu Zhen rested his chin on a propped up arm. He was seated on the staircase, legs spread, and eyes set forward in boredom. No one knew of the existence of this place except the very people that built it. Too bad they were long dead under mysterious circumstances.
Yu Zhen had kept his mouth shut, and anger at bay when Hu Dengxiao came in. It would be too risky to speak and continue pounding at the door.
He heard muffled noises in the background, before silence ensued.
What had happened?
Yu Zhen raised his head to the cellar door. A while ago, he heard a loud plop above him. Did she sit down on the floor? She better not. He would scold her for it. There was a perfectly fine chair right in front of the desk.
What were they talking about?
"I can't hear anything," Yu Zhen bit out. Their voices were muffled, and she spoke softly, almost as if she didn't want him to hear anything. Hu Dengxiao was also too far from the desk for his words to be audible.
"Any day now…" Yu Zhen muttered as they continued to talk for heaven knows how long.
Suddenly, there was a silence.
Yu Zhen rose to his feet, wondering what had happened. Did Hu Dengxiao finally leave? Finally. He had grown tired of waiting down here, not making a single noise.
But then, he heard nothing. Not even a single footstep. He expected to hear the lock clicking as she let him out.
It seemed his Wangfei did not mind locking him down here. Yu Zhen shook his head at her wicked thoughts.
"I suppose she learned from the best." Yu Zhen hoped he did not influence her too much. Though, it was intriguing to see her in action. It was a shame she was always blinded by her stupid compassion.
Yu Zhen sauntered down the staircase and towards the last bookshelf. He reached for the spot where the candle had stopped burning. Lifting the candle, he dug around the hollow spot until his fingers grazed upon a round stone.
"Tsk, she should've expected this." Yu Zhen lifted the stone and took out the key that was hidden underneath it. He had placed four spare keys in the entire room, in the event that he was locked inside.
"Now, when I get my hands on her…"
He walked back to the staircase and inserted the key. He twisted it, as the door unlocked with a tiny click.
Yu Zhen pushed the door open, as light flooded his vision. He squinted irritably. He hated the morning sun the most. It was obnoxiously bright.
Yu Zhen hated how the Emperor was identified as the blessed son of Heaven, and the very embodiment of the Sun, for it was an existential tool in the world.
Soon, he would have to inherit that title.
"I preferred the moon much more." Yu Zhen closed the cellar door and watched in satisfaction as it merged into the floor. With a rug strategically placed near the chair, it would be practically impossible to notice this secret door.
Yu Zhen slipped the key into his drawer and noticed the crumbled letters on the desk. His eyes narrowed into slits.
Picking it up, he scowled. Did Hu Dengxiao go through his stuff? He knew better than that.
There was only one person left. Li Xueyue.
Yu Zhen cursed. This would not look good, for either of them. And he already knew what was running through her mind.
It was true.