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Chapter 42-Part 2

The Crown Prince stood behind the hostage woman from Bo, having returned at some unknown point.

For some reason, the woman seemed startled, her shoulders trembling slightly before she bowed her head.

Emperor Duanqing, surprised that his usually aloof son would speak on behalf of the hostage woman, looked over at him.

Feng Liwu, his long eyelashes lowered, continued calmly, “When Princess Yao fell ill with a cold at the post station, the ministry of rites reported it. I visited her, finding her a timid and awkward speaker, unsuitable for palace service. So, I had her belongings moved to the Crown Prince’s residence for closer care, hoping for her swift recovery.”

The Crown Prince’s words were even more winding than the woman’s.

First, he mentioned Princess Yao’s illness, implying he had seen her during her sickness. Whatever happened during those visits was left to the Emperor’s imagination. Clearly, seeing her a few times wasn’t enough for the Crown Prince; he wanted her and her belongings moved to his residence to continue his care.

In blunt terms: “Father, I’ve already had a taste of her. I liked it, and I want more. Perhaps you should find something else to your liking.”

Emperor Duanqing, delighted by Princess Yao’s true appearance, felt a rare stir of desire. Just as he was about to speak, his disobedient son interrupted, souring his mood.

At this moment, Empress Wei, who had been quietly sitting beside him, spoke up: “In that case, this hostage woman is about the same age as our son. Bo may be small, but it has always been loyal to Qi, making her suitable as a concubine for the Crown Prince. Emperor, what do you think of this match?”

Empress Wei had long noticed her husband’s interest in the woman. The deep-seated resentment between the Emperor and Empress made her furious at the thought of him taking another new woman. Since her son wanted the woman, it was better to let him have her, denying the Emperor his desire.

Before Emperor Duanqing could speak, he found himself cornered by his wife and son.

The Crown Prince’s residence had long been empty, without a main or secondary consort. If he forcibly kept the woman in the palace, it would seem inconsiderate of his son’s situation, especially in front of the court officials. Such a display would be disgraceful.

Thus, he could only swallow his anger, forcing a smile as he turned to Jiang Zhi, who was seated among the guests, and said, “Tell your father that Bo and Qi will form an alliance through marriage. The late emperor’s kindness to Bo will continue through me… Where is your younger brother, Young Master Jiang?”

Jiang Zhi quickly clasped his hands and replied, “He ate something cold and had a stomachache, so he went to relieve himself…”

Emperor Duanqing made some perfunctory remarks before coldly resuming his appreciation of the ongoing performances.

Meanwhile, Jiang Xiurun hurriedly followed the attendants back to the side hall, where she had been waiting. She hastily removed her makeup with Xian’er’s help, bound her chest, and changed into the Bo prince’s formal attire.

Still shaken, she asked Xian’er, “When did the Crown Prince return to the main hall?”

Xian’er, who had been watching from the side hall entrance, replied honestly, “When the music for your dance started, the Crown Prince returned. He watched from the entrance for quite a while before entering…”

Jiang Xiurun felt her heart sink into an icy abyss, cold to the core.

However, there was still room for maneuver. She had chosen the military dance, suitable for both genders, to prevent suspicion in case the Crown Prince returned unexpectedly.

Though she exposed her waist, her neck, shoulders, and chest were fully covered, revealing nothing.

If questioned, she could claim she was a man disguised as a woman, leaving no room for doubt.

Despite her self-reassurance, the day’s events left Jiang Xiurun flustered and anxious.

Once she was ready, she quickly returned to the main hall.

Upon arrival, she saw her brother surrounded by people. With the Emperor and Empress approving the Crown Prince’s intention to take the Bo hostage woman as a concubine, everyone was now congratulating her brother, who was constantly being offered drinks.

As Jiang Xiurun approached, she was also offered a drink.

She glanced at the Crown Prince, who was sitting beside Empress Wei, speaking to her with a tense expression, not looking her way at all.

She then looked at Princess Tian.

The beautiful princess of Han was fuming, her face a mix of anger and disbelief.

Tian Ying never expected their plan to backfire so spectacularly. The hostage woman, who was supposed to have secretly given birth, appeared vibrant and stunning. After a peculiar dance, she became the Crown Prince’s officially acknowledged concubine, entering his residence with honor.

Meanwhile, Tian Ying and Cao Xi’s names were still stuck in the Ministry of Rites, awaiting announcement.

Glaring at Jiang Xiurun with venomous eyes, Tian Ying thought, Is Bo truly a den of foxes, nurturing such seductive siblings?

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