Chapter 25 – Seeking Answers
Little Gong Jue was indeed beautiful for a boy, but Gong Qi was trying to humiliate him.
Gong Jue stared back at the other boy indifferently. He was numb to such treatment, having experienced harsher bullying than this. He wasn’t interested in Gong Qi’s reasons, neither was he interested in lingering to bicker about pointless things.
“If that is all you have to say, big brother, then I will be on my way.”
He gave a fist palm salute, then turned and walked away. Gong Qi’s face contorted in anger. He wouldn’t stand for this! “Are you deaf? Can’t you hear that I’m insulting you?”
Gong Jue stopped in place. Without looking back he evenly replied, “You wouldn’t receive any criticisms for your looks since your appearance is ordinary.”
Gong Qi’s face turned red. He couldn’t keep his composure. No had ever said that he looked plain to his face while speaking so calmly. Only Gong Jue would dare mock him!
Gong Qi glared at the other’s back. “Hmph! What’s the use of having good looks? My mother said that a day would come when not only the emperor, but even Gong Yi Mo will come to hate you! When that time comes, let’s see if you’re still as arrogant!”
Gong Jue was stunned at the confidence in Gong Qi’s voice that he almost believed it. Hearing that his sister may come to hate him, he felt as if a thorn had pierced him deep in his heart. Not many things mattered to Gong Jue, except for Gong Yi Mo.
Liu Xian Fei was not one to say things without a reason. What did she mean by her words? Gong Jue fixed Gong Ji with an icy stare.
Gong Qi retaliated, “You dare to glare at me? Just wait and see when Gong Yi Mo abandons you. Then we’ll see who has the last laugh.”
Gong Qi immediately regretted his words. It wasn’t that he was afraid of retaliating against Gong Jue, but he felt a duty to obey his mother’s wishes. In the past, he remembered how one of their younger brothers, the Fourteenth Prince, treated Gong Jue arrogantly and demanded that he give him a horse ride. However, Ninth Prince Gong Jue would not let himself be ordered around and so dismissed the Fourteenth Prince. When Gong Yi Mo heard about this incident, she reported the Fourteenth Prince’s disrespectful treatment of his older brother to the emperor. After their father discovered the matter, not only did he not reprimand Gong Jue, he even declared that the Fourteenth Prince was guilty of being rude, and as punishment the younger prince had to copy the rules of the palace ten times.
Gong Yi Mo was clearly in the emperor’s good graces. Gong Qi had to exercise caution when it came to Gong Jue and Gong Yi Mo, but his temper got the better of him and he lashed out.
The older prince then turned and left.
Gong Jue remained frozen on the spot.
Why did Liu Xian Fei say that Sister Gong will hate him? He didn’t care if other people called him incompetent or if they teased him in any way. He only cared about his sister’s thoughts. Even when he was gifted the Tai He Palace and other treasures at the sealing ceremony because of his sister’s requests, he still thought the best gift was having his name being mentioned next to Gong Yi Mo’s.
He still couldn’t figure out the meaning of Liu Xian Fei’s words. Gong Jue frowned in worry. He had to ask Liu Xian Fei in person!
Liu Xian Fei was a favored concubine, so she lived in the Han Xiang Palace, which boasted the largest garden in the harem. Flowers bloomed in abundance all year round. Once inside, the onlooker would feel as if they were in a sea of flowers.
Gong Jue went to the palace and a servant reported his arrival.
The confrontation between Gong Qi and Gong Jue after class was quickly reported to Liu Xian Fei. She just never expected that Gong Jue would come to her palace so soon. She remembered his mother’s, Li Ching Hua’s tragic death. Her gaze darkened with enmity. Gong Jue was the spawn between that hateful woman and the emperor, and she couldn’t help but frown in distaste.
After being immersed in such thoughts, Liu Xian Fei turned to the palace maid behind the screen. “Let him enter,” she commanded.
The maidservant hastened to relay the message, and Gong Jue made his way in.
He had only reached the entrance hall, but he couldn’t help but admire its intricate architecture. Gong Jue was once again reminded of his mother. Every time she received gifts from the emperor, she would lock up and store away such items for safekeeping. She was different from Liu Xian Fei, who preferred to put her treasures on display.
Gong Jue reluctantly but politely greeted Liu Xian Fei with a ceremony. He could only see her outline seated on a dais behind a screen, but her pearl and jade ornaments gleamed faintly through the barrier. The proud concubine looked down from her seat and coldly gazed upon Gong Jue with disgust.
“I don’t know why you have come to my palace. What is your purpose?”
Gong Jue gathered himself. “Earlier today after class, the Sixth Prince mentioned something to me, but I could not understand his meaning. I came here to inquire.”
Gong Jue was worried. He cared deeply about what Gong Yi Mo had thought of him. He wouldn’t be able to stand it if she ever turned her back on him.
“Oooh?” She drew out her word with false concern. “And what did the Sixth Prince say to you?”
His lips were tight and he said in a low voice, “I have a deep relationship with Sister Gong. I am curious as to why Sixth Brother would claim that she would be disgusted with me in the future. I-I wanted to know for what reason, so I’ve come to you to ask.”
Liu Xian Fei’s lip curled. “What a good brother you are…”
The woman behind the screen shifted her position. After a pause she asked, “I wonder if you remember your mother?”
“Of course I remember her.”
His eyes flickered as he looked at the screen. Gong Jue didn’t know why she would mention his mother at such an unusual time.
“Well then, do you know–” a glint flashed in Liu Xian Fei’s eyes and she laughed more enchantingly “–why your mother died?”
Gong Jue held his silence. He knew that she was the one who accused his mother of being a criminal, worsening her illness and leading to her death.
Hearing his silence, Liu Xian Fei tittered. “Do you blame me for your mother’s death?”
Gong Jue’s face tensed and he lightly said, “I did not.”
Another peal of laughter floated from behind the screen. The woman smiled sweetly and said, “What if I tell you that I personally poisoned your mother!”
Gong Jue felt as if his blood turned to ice. He could no longer keep calm. His face twisted in anger. He could not think of a reason for her to lie! How could he possibly hold back his hatred?
Liu Xian Fei waved her hand, and a palace servant went forth to push aside the screen, revealing an intricately dressed woman who leaned on a gold-rimmed, Nanmu wood chair. For the first time he saw her poisonously sweet smile.
Even after her confession, her face showed no traces of shame or guilt. Her chin was lifted as she gazed down at him. Such a woman, surrounded with treasures and luxuries, was completely different from his own mother; their nature was as opposite as heaven and earth. Gong Jue couldn’t keep the words in. “Why did you kill her? ”
He pushed down his anger, fearing that he would make a move that could bring danger to Gong Yi Mo. However, his desire to seek revenge for his mother was something he could not ignore. If Li Ching Hua had never died, he would not be in this situation.
When Liu Xianfei saw that he was able to restrain his anger, her eyes flashed with a hint of displeasure.
“This Concubine is indeed responsible for the death of your mother, but did you know that it was done according to someone else’s orders?” She smiled even more enchantingly at Gong Jue. “Who do you think in this world has the power to command me to do such a thing?”
Gong Jue trembled in shock and stared at Liu Xian Fei in disbelief. Who else could have done it? Only the emperor himself!
“Impossible! For what reason?!”
Gong Jue could not believe it! His mother had truly loved the emperor. When his father smiled, she was even happier, and when his father was in a bad mood, she felt even more anxious on his behalf. Why would he want to kill a woman who loved him so wholeheartedly?!
Liu Xian Fei’ voice suddenly turned cold. “You ask why he ordered her death? Naturally he did it on behalf of Gong Yi Mo’s mother, Xue Rong!” Liu Xian Fei’s beautiful face was twisted in deep hatred, as if the mere mention of Xue Rong’s name from her lips was extremely distasteful. She glared at Gong Jue coldly, and even her mischievous smile had completely disappeared.