Emperor Gong Sheng and his officials were quite restless during this time when hidden waves of danger raged against the imperial court. None of the ministers and princes had peace of mind!
Luckily, the Crown Prince was a competent one who helped to shoulder the emperor’s burdens during his illness. In addition, that ninth son whom Gong Sheng didn’t favor much, had discreetly made such a great merit. Thus, when he heard that Prince Gong Jue had recovered, the emperor smiled for the first time as he waited in anticipation to meet this son.
He was a bit touched. Gong Yi Mo certainly had keen eyes; all the brothers whom she laid her eyes on were excellent, whether they were older or younger than her.
Unfortunately…Gong Sheng sighed when he thought of that daughter of his. He hadn’t found her body yet, and had always missed her. There were times when news about her would arrive, but whenever they tried to verify it, they were disappointed to discover that all the news were false.
And now, Gong Jue had returned.
Since the early morning assembly was yet to be held, Gong Sheng met with him alone in the Zhaoyang Palace Hall. Seeing that Gong Jue had grown into a fine young man, he couldn’t help but sigh. His kids were all grown up while he…he was getting old.
Pushing this thought aside, he observed Gong Jue for the first time before asking cautiously,
“You must have…heard about Mo’er.”
When Gong Jue heard him speak, his face immediately turned mournful, and he replied firmly, “I believe that my imperial sister won’t die just like that!”
The young man’s bitter words caused Gong Sheng’s heart to ache. “It’s because of me–”
“No one will blame you!”
Gong Jue suddenly cut him off. His black-ink eyes gazed back firmly until he eventually closed his eyes and said, “I know what my imperial sister wanted. If she were here, she would understand you, and that’s why I understand you as well.”
“Good!” Emperor Gong Sheng was touched. He felt as if all of his knots and worries were unraveled. “Indeed, you’ve grown up with Mo’er. You’re a good child!”
Gong Jue silently bowed his head.
Gong Sheng could sense the grudge and pain in Gong Jue’s heart which made him feel guilty. With that, he made up his mind.
Tomorrow, when he announces the rewards, he must make it up for Gong Jue…Thus, he closed the topic with words of comfort.
“She’ll show up one day….You– go and rest first.”
Then, he laughed loudly and patted Gong Jue’s shoulder.
“You’ve achieved great merit this time so I will reward you abundantly. Tomorrow’ morning assembly will welcome your return!”
Gong Jue gave a reluctant smile and replied, “Yes, thank you Father!”
After speaking with the emperor for a while, Gong Jue offered the gift he had prepared. The emperor then dismissed him with a satisfied smile.
In fact, the emperor should be grateful that Gong Jue failed to receive the news of his sister’s ‘death’ because he was at the Desolate Plains. If he received the disastrous news just now, the young man would’ve lost his mind! Fortunately, Gong Yi Mo arrived by his side a step earlier, which unintentionally prevented a big disaster.
Upon exiting Zhaoyang Palace Hall, Gong Jue personally didn’t want to stay here for another second, but he had no choice. He had stay in the imperial court tonight, not only to receive the welcoming gifts, but also because of the many procedures and details that needed to be recorded one by one. Thus, even if he wanted to hurry and return to his sister, he must be patient.
But there was someone even more restless than he was. As soon as the ninth prince exited the Zhaoyang Palace, the Crown Prince stopped on his tracks.
Gong Che glanced at the four men standing behind Gong Jue before looking at the prince in disappointment. Of course, he knew that Gong Yi Mo couldn’t enter the imperial palace at the moment, but he still held a thread of hope.
“Long time no see. Ninth brother, have you been well?”