Chapter 28 – Punishment
“I and and my brother won’t stand having our names defamed. If father…still doubts us…”
She took a deep breath and smiled in disappointment. “If father doubts us, then please send me back to the cold palace. As for Gong Jue…he is still very young. I hope that Father can show him kindness and let him stay.”
“No!” Gong Jue cried.
The Ninth Prince firmly grasped Gong Yi Mo’s hands. His voice trembled, “If not for Sister Gong, where would I be?”
The pitiful pair of siblings looked towards the emperor as if ready to accept their fate. But Gong Yi Mo chose to gamble–she hoped that the emperor would stand by her side!
Seeing his Gong Yi Mo’s stubborn gaze, Emperor Gong sighed. Such beautiful yet strong-willed daughter was already pushed to a corner, seeming as if she was ready retreat to the cold palace as long as he revealed a hint of doubt or displeasure.
Emperor Gong suddenly felt guilty.
“Who said I believed those rumors?”
He then turned to look at Gong Jue, and claimed “I was just angry that he wounded his younger brother without admitting his mistakes. That was all!”
Gong Jue glared back at him coldly. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Noticing that her brother was about to retaliate, Gong Yi Mo quickly knelt down before the emperor. “In that case, since I did not properly educate my brother, Father, please direct the punishment at me!”
Emperor Gong looked upon his pitiful daughter; her face and eyes deeply resembled the breath taking Xue Rong. Hearing her speak decisively even as she bowed down in shame, he suddenly felt a piercing in his heart. If only her mother was half as brave as her own daughter, she never would have perished.
He now came to a decision. Emperor Gong stood up and stared at Gong Yi Mo, declaring, “Since that is the case, I punish you to kneel three hours before the Tai Xue’s Entrance![note]Tai Xue 太学 – Ancient Imperial College[/note] Now go!”
Gong Yi Mo sighed with relief inside, but her face maintained a look of unwillingness. “This daughter will follow Your Highness’ command!”
Unable to stand her wronged demeanor any longer, Emperor Gong made up an excuse and guiltily left in hurried footsteps.
After the emperor had left, Gong Yi Mo stood up and walked towards Tai Xue’s entrance. Gong Jue, who remained kneeling on the ground, suddenly reached and firmly held on to his sister. His face was red and his voice was shaky.
Gong Jue felt unease for angering Gong Yi Mo. In the past few days he had avoided her, fearing rejection. And yet he tried to endure his own problems and bullying, hoping not to drag her into trouble. He did his best to avoid other people’s schemes.
At first Gong Jue felt confidence at his ability.
But today, he had actually fallen for an obvious plot, where such a small argument was brought before an imperial concubine, causing the issue to blow out of proportions. Not only had he avoided his sister for many days, he was also forced to deal with this loss.
As the pair walked towards the entrance, Gong Yi Mo turned to him and said, “You go to the Taiji Palace and wait for me!”
Gong Jue bit his lip in reluctance.
He didn’t say a word and continued to stay beside his sister.
“Go back.” Gong Yi Mo closed her eyes and said in a tired voice, “At this point you and I have have endured the tribulation. Even though I’m forced to kneel, this light punishment can be considered getting out of trouble.”
Gong Jue had been following her humbly as his head hung low. After hearing her words he suddenly looked up and said in anger, “I’ve done nothing wrong! And you weren’t involved in the issue. Why should there be a punishment!”
Gong Yi Mo noticed that her brother suffered some kind of discomfort.
She secretly retrieved a pill from her space and handed it to him. “Eat it.” This was not the first time Gong Jue received fever medication from her. He always knew that she possessed miraculous medicine that even an imperial doctor would never have, and yet he never asked her about its origins, just as he had never inquired as to where her martial arts was obtained from.
Gong Yi Mo waved towards a palace eunuch and asked in a cold voice, “Explain to me. While the Ninth Prince was obviously suffering a high fever, why has no one called for an imperial doctor?”
The lowly eunuch fell to his knees in fear before the princess’ chilling gaze. He ignored the Fourteenth Prince’s warning gaze from the side and reluctantly spilled the beans. The younger prince clenched his fist in shame as the eunuch sold him out. In the end, he could only silently retreat while sulking.
In the distance, the emperor secretly gazed at the siblings. Brother and sister, two beautiful children as lovely as porcelain stood together. One silently bowed his head while the other looked on coldly with anger.
Emperor Gong sighed. Maybe he was being too harsh? With a wave of his hand, he absolved the punishment for Gong Yi Mo.
The pair returned to the Taiji Palace by late evening. Gong Yi Mo entered the temple without looking back. Meanwhile Gong Jue couldn’t help but hesitate before walking in.
Gong Yi Mo commanded Gong Jue as she sat on the bed. He immediately fell on his knees without question, being too afraid of her rejection.
Gong Yi Mo couldn’t help but sigh. Earlier when the emperor demanded that he kneel, the Ninth Prince turned a deaf ear, and yet before Sister Gong he wouldn’t dare to rebel.
“Well Gong Jue, it’s seems that you’ve grown up, seeing that you’re not relying on me anymore.”
Gong Yi Mo stared at him sadly. “Even though someone poisons you, you still won’t let me know.”
Gong Jue looked away in shame. “It’s not deadly poison.”
“But poison is still poison!” the princess huffed angrily. “How old are you, and yet a maid still dared to poison you. Why did you endure and soak yourself in cold water? If you leave your body soaked the whole night, of course you’ll get sick! The maiden was already lying naked on your bed, why didn’t you just vent on her! In the future if you encounter such a situation again, how can you torment yourself?”
Gong Jue suddenly looked up to his sister as he knelt. “Sister Gong said that a good man should only marry one person in this lifetime.”
He said these words so earnestly as he stared solemnly at Gong Yi Mo. Seeing his hot gaze, she subconsciously blushed in embarrassment. “You fool!”
In the beginning she had treated him as half an enemy, trying to teach him so he could avoid a villainous path. But now after living together for so long, she began to take herself as his mother– she truly wished that he could freely pick as many palace girls as he would like. In any case, the young prince wouldn’t be suffering a loss.
The longer she pondered silently, the more guilty Gong Jue felt. Sister Gong suddenly patted his cheeks and grumbled,
“Why haven’t you returned to the Taiji Palace these past five days?”
As soon as she brought up the topic, Gong Jue’s heart felt as if it was sliced open. He remembered Sister Gong’s endearing words when she had defended him before the emperor. As a brother, a loved one, and as a good friend, he was considered important to her because he was all that she could depend on for these past few years. But if his mother hadn’t killed Xue Rong, Gong Yi Mo would now be surrounded by numerous confidants, siblings, teachers and relatives. If she knew that she had lost all due to his mother, their relationship may never be repaired.
The more silent Gong Jue was, the more worried Gong Yi Mo felt. She cautiously asked him, “Ninth Prince, where did you go five days ago?”
He still held his silence. Gong Yi Mo stood up and walked even closer, “Your Highness.”
Finally he could no longer hold it in. “Five days ago, I went to the Hanxiang Palace of Liu Xian Fei.”
After hearing the name, Gong Yi Mo’s heart skipped a beat. “So because of her words….you’ve started avoiding me?”
She glared at him angrily. “Are you crazy!”