173 Chapter 173 Admiration or Love?
After the regular morning court meeting, the fifth prince Feng Jun Yun decided to return to his manor immediately. For some reason, he is feeling empty whenever he is in the palace. Even the matter about politics couldn't invoke his attention unlike before.
The throne of the emperor has no appeal for him either. His subordinates and allies could clearly see his lack of interest that is why their loyalty and expectations are slowly wavering. But this doesn't concern him at all.
Xi, the fifth prince's personal guard always has a troubled look seeing his master like this. It was just like the time before Feng Jun Yun confessed to him that he had forgotten about empress Lin Xulian.And every time he had this look, Xi will remind him about the secret room and he will regain his vigor at least a little bit. Although he doesn't know what's in there, he assumed that it has something to do with Lin Xulian. So he decided to remind the prince once they are back in the manor.
On their way out, Feng Jun Yun and his entourage have to pass by the imperial garden. The place is like a common ground to everyone in the palace, both visitors and royalties. So it is not surprising for the ladies in the back palace to spend their leisure time there.
"Greetings your highness, fifth prince. Her highness, Imperial Noble Concubine Xing and Concubine Yu invites your highness for tea brewed by Imperial Noble Concubine Xing herself." A servant suddenly blocked Feng Jun Yun's way and said while her head is respectfully lowered.
The fifth prince's personal guard knitted his brows. Although it is not a bad thing to invite a prince for tea and it is in a public area anyway, but he is not related or close to either of the women. And the fact that these women are the emperor's wives makes this more complicated. Considering these facts, he believes that his master will decline.
But contrary to his expectation, the fifth prince actually agreed and followed the servant towards the pavilion at the center of the garden surrounded with roses of different colors. He can only follow his master while trying to hide his confusion.
All throughout, Feng Jun Yun and the emperor's concubines have a casual chat while drinking some tea personally brewed by Xing Baihe. Personal guard Xi didn't find anything suspicious. Their topic is also non-political. They exchanged poems about the season, flower and even the fruits and snacks on their platter.Before the end of their small gathering, Xing Baihe even requested Feng Jun Yun to play a song with his flute. Of course he didn't turn her down and even played one extra song for her before deciding to leave.Guard Xi silently observed everything from the sideline. And he isn't certain whether his eyes are only playing ticks on him, but his master is looking at Imperial Noble Concubine Xing differently. Is it admiration? Or maybe…love? He can't believe it! Or more like he refuses to believe it!******
"Your highness, can I ask you a question?" Right after the fifth prince left, the silent Concubine Yu Yanyan opened her mouth to voice her curiosity.
"You don't have to be so polite, Concubine Yu. We are sisters after all." Xing Baihe replied politely with a warm smile.
"Why are you getting close to the fifth prince? I know you have no ill intentions but others will not see it the way I do. This might get your highness in trouble. I'm just worried. We are after all his majesty's wives." Yu Yanyan said in a low anxious voice trying to sound like a concerned sister.
Yu Yanyan doesn't like Xing Baihe in particular. But her father said that she would likely be the next empress. After all that will strengthen the alliance between two countries. With that in mind, Yu Yanyan needs to befriend Xing Baihe and gain her favor to pave a way for her Yu family.
"Say, don't you think it is better if the two brothers start to get along? Taking sides will only cause friction between them. And by the looks of it, the fifth prince never had the thought of seizing the throne. As far as what I know, it was the second prince who wanted it. So if we can still mend their relationship, that would be better right?" Xing Baihe reasoned out.
"That make sense! You surely are fit as the mother of the empire. Should I start calling you your majesty now?" Yu Yanyan exclaimed totally forgetting that her words can cause trouble.
"Please be mindful of what you're saying, Concubine Yu. When I married the emperor, we agreed that the throne of the empress could only be decided by his majesty alone. If you keep saying this, they could punish you for demeaning his majesty's authority and deciding on his behalf." Xing Baihe warned with a serious look.
Yu Yanyan's face paled considerably with Xing Baihe's warning. She only wanted to bootlick her. But she dug a grave for herself instead. "I'm sorry, your highness. I was just caught up in the heat of the moment. I will heed to your warning."
That's what Yu Yanyan said, but deep inside her heart is boiling. 'If not because you have a higher rank and is a member of a royal blood, I would never get all chummy with you! Be the Empress? I can do that too!'.
"It's fine for now Concubine Yu since I am the only one who heard it. But I hope you won't say it again in the future, especially in front of others. You're lucky it was just me. Anyway, it's getting late. I should return now. Let's have some tea again next time." Xing Baihe bid farewell before deciding to leave as well.
But the moment she stood up, she staggered and fell forward. Luckily for her, a female servant immediately rushed and caught her. It was one of Liu Yeyin's subordinate that she planted to keep an eye on Xing Baihe's development in the pretense of protecting her. So it is not a surprise that she managed to catch Xing Baihe before she could hit the floor.
Yu Yanyan pinched her palm to keep herself from laughing and immediately wore a worried look on her face. "Your highness, are you alright? Why did you suddenly fell? Your face is pale too. Should we ask the imperial doctor to come? I'm sure his majesty wouldn't mind." That's what she said but she thinks that Xing Baihe fell because of her own clumsiness.
Contrary to Yu Yanyan's speculation, Xing Baihe didn't fell because of clumsiness. When she stood up, she felt dizzy and blacked out for a moment. And she knows it was because of what she did earlier with Feng Jun Yun's tea. She exerted a lot of her internal energy to hasten the Gu poison's growth in the fifth prince's body that's why her body weakened.
But there is no way she would say that. And if she allows a doctor to check on her and discover her condition, it would be troublesome for their plan. She can never be too careful after all. Anyway, it's all worth it. After all, from this moment on, Feng Jun Yun is already hers. Thinking about it, she can't help but let out a sweet smile.
"It's nothing. My leg just fell asleep from sitting for too long. It just gave me a fright that's why I'm pale. No need to worry, Concubine Yu. No need to trouble the imperial doctor either. I'll be going ahead now." Xing Baihe bowed and excused herself with a bright smile that irritate Yu Yanyan internally.
Yu Yanyan can only follow Xing Baihe's departing back with a sharp glare. 'What's with that smile? Is it a good thing? What a weirdo.' She thought.
Xing Baihe on the other hand only scoffed in disdain. Of course she knew Yu Yanyan was faking it. She is just using her in return. After all, meeting the fifth prince alone will cause a misunderstanding. Anyway, she will not let a mere nobody dampens her mood. She is too happy to care about a little Concubine. So she happily returned to her courtyard too seek her sister-in-law's treatment.