Chapter 1 – Poisoned Wine (1)
The autumn rain was cold, angry streaks of lightning seen on the dark horizon. It brought a feeling of hopelessness to the people in the land but Ye Zhen remained the sole exception. She stood outside her doorstep for hours, earnestly waiting, not for the first break of light, but for a carriage bearing the emperor’s seal.
Her dark hair was soaked with rainwater. Some of the wet strands stuck to her cheeks, making her appearance unruly and her face more fragile. Nevertheless, she stood resolutely, not minding the cold the weather brought.
“Wang fei**, you should wait inside. Anytime from now, His imperial majesty might send someone to take you to his palace.” Her maid anxiously said. She has been married to the former prince, the current Emperor Mo Rongzhan who ascended the throne two days ago. It was custom to have her picked up and sent to his palace to live with him as his wang fei. But why wasn’t there any news about his arrival yet?
**wang fei – the highest ranking imperial consort next to the empress.
Ye Zhen felt uneasy. She was only 13 years old when she had married Mo Rongzhan. Pitiful though, for during the two years of their marriage, not once did he went to see her. In fact, the last time she saw him was on their wedding day. Now that she has grown up into a woman, he might not even recognize her anymore! Will he take her to the palace now that he has successfully usurped the throne?
“Wang fei!” The maid who went out for a while had come back bearing news. Judging from her grim face, Ye Zhen knew right away that the news was a terrible one. Arriving in front of her mistress, the maid took a deep breath before speaking…
“From what this servant has heard, Young lady Lu was escorted to the palace. The emperor’s carriage was sent yesterday just for her!” She said breathlessly. “A-and the emperor gave a decree…”
Ye Zhen’s heart raced; her face appearing paler. With a trembling voice, she said, “What does the decree say?”
“All valuable possessions in the Ye residence were confiscated…Tomorrow, the entire Ye family will be beheaded as ordered by His Majesty!” the maid cried out.
“Wha-why is this happening?” Ye Zhen stuttered. She almost fainted, the news too much for her. She was about to crumble to her knees, but the maid was fast to support her collapsing frame.
Her entire family will be beheaded by order of the same man she married. She desperately hoped that all of it was only a nightmare, but the loud roar of thunder kept her from being deaf to the bitter reality.
Given that the Ye family once helped the former prince, Ye Zhen couldn’t understand why Mo Rongzhan did this. Wasn’t she of any value to him?
Despite the turmoil in her mind, she thought of ways she could possibly amend this problem. In the process, she remembered only one person.
“Go and find Lu Lingzhi!” She ordered when she finally found the strength to speak. “On second thought, I will find him myself!” Ye Zhen pushed aside her maid’s hand and dashed through the rain.
There was more than a dozen of guards outside the palace gate who stopped her, saying only that the Emperor ordered not a soul was allowed to go out.
“Ye Zhen!” Lu Lingzhi came from the gates and looked at her worriedly. “Where are you going?”
Despite being born from a family of merchants, Lu Lingzhi was able to become an official, his wiles became his stepping ladder. Naturally, he already knew of the decree, so he decided to pay his friend a visit.