Second Master Lu is conflicted with Lin Xulian's condition. Either way he would end up dead no matter what he chooses. He had to at least give himself a way out. The third prince hasn't made a move yet and Lin Xulian came with only one bodyguard. This means that it hasn't reached the emperor's ears yet and Lin Xulian didn't have a concrete evidence. He must buy some time and retain his loyalty to the Empress Dowager. Maybe she will see his resolve and take him back in their camp. "Your majesty, this servant doesn't understand what you mean. I never went to the second prince's manor. I was just too surprise that's why I accidentally kneeled. Please don't slander this servant, your majesty."
Hearing his response, Lin Xulian smile faded. She narrowed her eyes and thought. 'He still chose to side with the Empress Dowager? This man is surprisingly loyal.' "Oh. Is that so?" Lin Xulian stood up and prepared to leave but she left a few words. "Tomorrow the third prince will probably make a move. You still have time tonight to think this through Second Master Lu. But I will help you decide a bit. Feng Jun Yi is the current emperor and I am his empress. Maybe Empress Dowager Li had the greatest power as a woman in the empire for decades but it was because of the previous emperor's protection. Tell me Second Master Lu, what can a dead man do? You should think this through, who is the real woman in power?"
Lin Xulian left the stupefied Second Master Lu together with her brother Rui. Her words keep running in his mind that caused him to stay awake the whole night. He regretted it. If only he stayed in the third prince's side and remain neutral. If only he wasn't swayed by the Empress Dowager's promise of power and influence. He only wanted to be the family head but now his life is in danger.
Lin Xulian returned to her Phoenix Palace and she found Feng Jun Yi waiting for her inside her chamber. "You're here. I am about to visit you and tell you something about the third prince."
Feng Jun Yi is already prepared for bed and is leaning on the headboard of the bed. He lifted his head from the book he's reading when he heard that Lin Xulian finally arrived. "Hmm. Zhen already have an idea. He came a while ago to say thank you to you. Zhen came here to relay the message but you were out. So Zhen decided to stay and wait."
Lin Xulian sat on the edge of the bed and faced Feng Jun Yi. "I see you and the third prince finally had a good chat. But that's not what I wanted to talk about. Although it has partly something to do with the third prince." She scooted closer to Feng Jun Yi that made him stiffen and hot. Lin Xulian is challenging his self-control and raging hormones again. "If everything goes according to my plan, tomorrow I will give you your birthday present." Lin Xulian said in a hushed voice and a mysterious smile. Feng Jun Yi doesn't know whether to be happy or worried.
Feng Jun Yi also remembered that his birthday is near. He never celebrated it since his mother's death. But now he is the emperor and this would be his first birthday as the ruler of the empire. His birthday would be a big deal and a banquet is inevitable. Knowing that Lin Xulian knew about his birthday made him happy. "Zhen will not ask about it but Zhen will surely look forward to it." Lin Xulian gave him a sweet smile then she prepared to go to bed. She need to rise up early tomorrow for the big show.
The next day as Lin Xulian predicted, Feng Jun Yan brought several imperial guards towards the Lu manor's second branch courtyard. They took Second Master Lu as well as his daughter Lu Yina and dragged them to the imperial court for public trial. When they arrived at the court, Feng Jun Yi as well as Lin Xulian are already there. All the officials, both high ranking and low ranking are also there. Seeing the overwhelming crowd, Second Master Lu trembled and Lu Yina bowed her head in attempt to hide herself.
The princes are also present as well as the Empress Dowager who has a neutral expression. No one could tell that she is actually part of the crime. Lin Xulian observed her in the corner of her eyes. 'The witch is really not that simple. She can act like all these things doesn't have to do with her. Even I am amazed by her thick skin'. Lin Xulian thought.
A Eunuch held a scroll and stood in front of the crowd to read the report of Second Master Lu and his daughter's crime. The report stated that the father and daughter plotted to poison the third prince's wangfei for personal gains. Since Lu Yaoyao, as the wangfei of the third prince is considered as a part of the imperial family, this act is considered as treason to the imperial family and the empire. With this crime, the death of the entire second branch of the Lu family is inevitable. Also because they used the tea that their shop is selling, the business will be forcefully closed down and all their employee will face death as well.
Hearing his crime and the verdict, Second Master Lu thought about Lin Xulian's words last night. He looked at Empress Dowager Li. Seeing her lack of reaction, his mind is in shambles. He thought that Empress Dowager Li might change her mind if she knew that he is still loyal towards her despite her threat. But now the fate of his and his family's life is pretty much already decided and Empress Dowager Li looks like she won't give him a hand. Then he heard the Eunuch said. "The execution will be held tomorrow at noon. The entire second branch of the Lu family will be arrested and detained in the imperial prison until the designated time arrives."
"Your majesty, please reconsider!" Second Master Lu finally spoke to defend himself. Lin Xulian secretly smiled for a brief second and Feng Jun Yi noticed it. This made him realize that the present that Lin Xulian said is probably this. "Your majesty the emperor, this servant is not the mastermind. This is not treason from our Lu family's second branch. This servant was just threatened and used by Empress Dowager Li! The poison was given by her. She wanted to use my daughter to influence the third prince by marrying her to the third prince manor. She wanted to make the third prince's force to be a part of the second prince's faction and start a revolution!"
Hearing her name being mentioned, Empress Dowager Li's neutral expression broke. "Second Master Lu, what are you saying?! Don't deliberately slander this Empress!" She never anticipated that Second Master Lu will disregard her threat and still drag her down along with him.
Feng Jun Yi finally understood. It is true that he couldn't do anything to harm Empress Dowager Li because of the late emperor's decree. But if it's other people, especially the court, the decree can't protect her. What Second Master Lu said the latest is known to everyone. They knew that the Empress Dowager wants to take down the current emperor and put her son on the throne but no one voiced it out. But now that it is finally said out loud it would officially become a crime. If the evidences are gathered and majority of the court will take part, this would end the Empress Dowager's reign. The question is if they could unite the majority against her.