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Chapter 41-Part 1

Although the Crown Prince had tried to save face, some individuals deliberately spread the news about the scandal involving the hostage woman from the state of Bo.

It is unclear who did it, but someone took the story to the Emperor, saying that the hostage woman from Bo was extraordinarily beautiful and excelled in singing and dancing. They hinted that it would be a regret if the Emperor didn’t see her. This piqued the Emperor’s interest, leading him to personally inquire with the ministry of rites about when the hostage woman from Bo would arrive in the capital.

Typically, hostage women brought to the capital have two main paths: entering the palace or being married off.

The Emperor had not taken a new concubine for many years, and the Crown Prince had just recently chosen a consort. Hence, it was thought that it might be the old emperor’s turn to enjoy some novelty.

However, just as the Emperor’s curiosity was at its peak, someone secretly conveyed that the hostage woman had arrived in the capital while pregnant.

The Emperor, who had been eagerly anticipating her arrival, felt as if cold water had been poured over him, becoming furious. He immediately summoned the ministry of rites to confirm if this was true.

The officials, having received the imperial order, first went to the Crown Prince’s residence.

Initially, the Crown Prince had explicitly forbidden any disclosure of the matter, but now the news had reached the Emperor’s ears. The ministry of rites found themselves in a difficult position and sought the Crown Prince’s advice on how to handle the situation.

The state of Bo’s offense was not directly related to Feng Liwu. A weak state repeatedly shaming the dignity of the great Qi should logically be dealt with harshly. In such cases, simply dropping the military token on the imperial table would suffice. The iron cavalry could then trample Bo, restoring Qi’s honor.

However, due to his close aide, Feng Liwu initially planned to let the state of Bo off lightly.

If the scandal surrounding the hostage woman spread, Jiang Xiurun would inevitably be implicated. With his frail body, he couldn’t endure even a single day in prison.

Now that the secret of the hostage woman’s pregnancy was widely known in the capital, suppressing the matter would not prevent the censors from raising it in court.

Feng Liwu frowned and asked, “How did the news spread?”

The head of the ministry of rites hesitated, as if there was something he couldn’t say.

Feng Liwu coldly demanded, “Speak the truth, or you will be held accountable for any delay!”

The official, not daring to procrastinate, honestly replied, “On the day the hostage woman gave birth in the post station, Lord Jing was out of the capital on business and stayed at the post station before leaving. A few days ago, Lord Jing returned to the capital, and that’s when the rumors began…”

Feng Liwu frowned slightly, realizing that Lord Jing was Tian Ying’s uncle. He hadn’t expected him to be so loose-lipped!

Tian Ying, having entered the Luo’an establishment, lived with Lord Jing. With Tian Ying about to marry the Crown Prince, it was understandable that the ministry of rites was cautious.

Even if Lord Jing had indeed spread the rumor, he couldn’t be reprimanded. After all, it was the emperor of Bo who shamelessly sent his pregnant daughter. Having done something so disgraceful, why should Qi’s officials cover it up for Bo?

In reality, it was indeed Lord Jing who spread the rumor, and Tian Ying intended to make things difficult for Jiang Xiurun!

Women’s intuition is often the most accurate. Tian Ying felt that Feng Liwu was too kind to Young Master Jiang! This ambiguous feeling troubled her.

At the execution ground, seeing Feng Liwu’s gaze toward Jiang Xiurun, Tian Ying suddenly understood that the Crown Prince was also too gentle and considerate towards the hostage prince from Bo!

This realization made many things more frightening upon closer thought.

It was no wonder that after being “caught in the act” at the Taoist temple, the Crown Prince was lenient with Young Master Jiang, almost nursing him back to health personally!

Thinking back, the Crown Prince had no history of indulgence with women or romantic affairs with the talented and beautiful women of the capital. His spotless reputation suggested a possible preference for men over women.

From then on, Tian Ying kept a close eye on Young Master Jiang.

However, it was strange that since the execution, Young Master Jiang had not appeared in public.

Initially puzzled, Tian Ying eventually understood after her uncle returned and mentioned the hostage woman’s childbirth at the post station.

The Crown Prince had appeared sullen and irritable at recent banquets, making Tian Ying suspect that Jiang Xiurun might have been imprisoned by the angry Crown Prince.

But surprisingly, Jiang Xiurun later appeared publicly as if nothing had happened, with an even more ostentatious entourage, flaunting the Crown Prince’s favor.

This only solidified Tian Ying’s suspicions. The thought of competing for favor with a young man after entering the Crown Prince’s residence filled her with anxiety and unrest.

When she shared her suspicions with her uncle, Lord Jing coldly laughed and dismissed her concerns, saying, “His Highness has reached his position with our support. In matters of great importance, he will make the right choice.”

Tian Ying didn’t understand her uncle’s meaning until the rumors about the hostage woman’s childbirth spread throughout Luo’an City. Then she realized.

Her uncle, wise with age, had cleverly used public opinion to oust the hostage prince from Bo!

Once the hostage woman’s childbirth was confirmed, the ministers would naturally support the Emperor in punishing Bo, and Jiang Xiurun would be doomed!

Three days later, on Emperor Duanqing’s birthday, the grand annual event of the Qi court was to take place. All officials of appropriate rank would enter the palace to offer congratulations, and the Emperor would host a banquet for them.

Angry at Bo, Emperor Duanqing ordered the ministry of rites to arrange for the tribute hostage from Bo to perform at the banquet. The officials, reminded by the Crown Prince, hesitated and said, “Your Majesty, the hostage woman from Bo just arrived in the capital and caught a cold. She’s very ill. If she performs, the light clothing might worsen her condition…”


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