If Gong Jue goes to Xi Zhou with the identity of a prince but then arrives with lower quality relief materials compared to the previous year, one can easily imagine the trouble that will await him.
And what Gong Yi Mo wanted was for Gong Jue to use this opportunity to achieve meritorious service! They must not allow any mishaps like this one to hedge up his way.
The princess calmly said, “Elder Brother Crown Prince knows that me and my younger brother have a very good relationship. He had lost his mother when he was a child, so there was no one to help him. Only I could look out for him. His journey to Xi Zhou was also my idea. I want him to become stronger, so even if this matter of substituting the goods is an unwritten tradition, I won’t allow it to succeed this time.”
Gong Yi Mo spoke earnestly as she stared at Gong Che straight in the eye.
Seeing her expectant look, the crown prince knew that he could not bear to refuse any request from her.
Gong Che could not help but think of his mother, who had dedicated her time and efforts to put him in line for the throne. However, he still both pitied and envied the newly eleven-year-old Gong Jue.
“What does the Princess want me to do?”
Upon hearing his approval, Gong Yi Mo once again smiled happily. Gong Che felt the dissatisfaction within his heart vanish.
Gong Yi Mo explained, “In three days, Gong Jue will be leaving for Xi Zhou. Before his departure, the supplies will be checked, so no one will have the opportunity to tamper with it then.
“The only time someone could tamper with the supplies would have to be after they leave the city. Tomorrow, I will ask Father for permission to split up the parties delivering the supplies for departure. I will have them leave at the same time through the East, West, and South Gates using the excuse that there are too many supplies being sent to Xi Zhou.”
Her eyes flashed as she looked at Gong Che. “I heard that the lieutenant overseeing the South Gate is a good friend of yours. I would like to borrow his men and horses to escort the materials safely to Shili Pavilion.[note]Shili Pavilion 十里亭 – ten li (approximately five km) pavilion. Probably refers to a pavilion five km away from the capital.[/note]
Gong Che thoughtfully considered her request.
He knew that the other party’s words were not necessarily trustworthy. Although she claimed that supplies would head out of the South Gate, it could be a diversion.
After pondering, Gong Che believed that his mother would not tamper with the relief materials for the sake of his reputation. Since she didn’t participate, Gong Che didn’t mind helping Gong Yi Mo.
Thinking of this, the prince nodded his head. Seeing her brother promise to her, Gong Yi Mo’s face brightened up in delight. Gong Che was greeted by her happy face, but for the first time, he felt no joy looking at her and instead, a bitter taste seemed to creep up in his heart and slowly intensify. He looked up at the sky and couldn’t help but think, there was no way for this boat ride to continue.
The more he thought about it, the more bitter he felt, and the more bitter he felt, the harder it was for him to breathe. He stood up and was about to say that they should go back ashore when a sharp pain suddenly pierced his chest.
His expression changed dramatically!
No, it can’t be!
Gong Che opened his mouth to call out to his servant, but he remembered that all his attendants were waiting on the shore. Moreover, Gong Mo Yi’s servants were over there too!
At first, Gong Yi Mo was happy about him giving his consent, but then she noticed his face turn ashen and couldn’t help but say, “What’s wrong? Elder Brother?”
Gong Che did not utter a sound and simply clutched his chest in pain. This scene was too familiar. Gong Yi Mo suddenly froze in realization.
She had stood by his side for so long in her last life; how could she not know Gong Che’s biggest secret? And she even more clearly that whoever knew his secret today was either a close confidant or dead.
It was dead quiet on the boat.
Gong Yi Mo did not even have the time to sigh at how unlucky she was. Meanwhile, Gong Che stood up straight, but his forehead was covered in a thin layer of sweat.
Finally, he exhaled lightly and suddenly sat down. He began to breathe heavily and his expression twisted. He could no longer maintain the previous gentle image. Instead, he looked at Gong Yi Mo with anxiety and vigilance. There was a trace of killing intent in his eyes!
His secret could not be known to anyone!
In this world, no more than five people were aware that Gong Che suffered from a hidden disease.
When the Empress was pregnant with the Crown Prince, she had difficulties leading up to his birth. Fortunately, she was able to safely deliver him. However as the prince grew up, the Empress soon discovered that his heart and lungs were impaired, frequently causing life-threatening attacks from suffocation.
This was serious. The Empress bled profusely when giving birth to Gong Che, and after being saved, she was told that she could not become pregnant again. Furthermore, a prince who had physical defects could not become the Crown Prince, so she concealed the news of Gong Che’s ailment. Anyone who knew was either killed or had their lips sealed.
That was why his mother warned him over and over again: for the sake of his future, for his family, and for the throne, whoever finds out his secret can only die!
Gong Che felt remorseful. He didn’t expect his hidden disease to break out in advance. The medicine was left behind on the shore with his attendants. Gong Che looked at the princess who stood across from him… Anyone who saw his current appearance had to die! And so, he must kill her…
At this moment, the boat floated into the cluster of flowers, and it was hidden by the lotus leaves. The people on the shore were not able to see the whereabouts of the two.
This was the best opportunity to kill!
Gong Che quickly hardened his resolve, and a small concealed weapon appeared in the palm of his hand. The boat swayed slightly as they brushed past the lotuses. He must use the window of time they were hidden by the leaves to initiate his attack and kill her!
First, kill her… then send a rescue signal to his confidants!
Large sweat drops trickled down his pale face. He forced himself to open his eyes, while his body tightened as it slowly began to numb.
And the moment the boat rowed into the flowers, Gong Yi Mo knew that she could hesitate no longer.
She nervously looked at Gong Che; one of his hands clung tightly to his chest. The other held a concealed weapon, ready at any time to go for the kill, and yet, the prince did not make his move.
Gong Che was hesitating!
This is a good sign! Gong Yi Mo’s thoughts quickly calculated.
Meanwhile, Gong Che still held on tightly to the weapon. He was completely unable to bring himself to attack!
When he thought of killing her, the first thing that came to his mind was not how to explain her death to their father, nor was it how he would deal with anyone on the shore who may have seen his current appearance. Instead… he had no way to explain to himself: did he really have to kill her?
Gong Che was never a gentle person. He could easily shed blood without batting an eye for the sake of his position and for his mother.
But did he really have to kill her?
Seeing Gong Che’s expression becoming increasingly ashen, Gong Yi Mo promptly made a decision and walked towards him. When she moved, Gong Che could not help but tense up his entire body. Even worse-he nearly pressed the concealedweapon in his hand!
“…Don’t come over.”
He could not bear for her to come any closer.
A bead of sweat dripped down Gong Yi Mo’s forehead. She used the most gentle and least threatening tone she could muster to say,
“Elder Brother, please put down the Qi box in your hand.”
Gong Che’s eyes widened in surprise. The Qi box was precisely the item in his hand. As long as he pressed it, a poisonous gas will be released. Only those that took the antidote beforehand were saved from death. Others who suffered exposure had no chance of survival.
How did she know?
While Gong Che hesitated, Gong Yi Mo arrived by his side and said, “Because of my cultivation, I was long aware of the Crown Prince’s secret…” She smiled as she clasped the prince’s hand that tightly held the Qi box. Her clear eyes looked at him calmly as she said in an earnest voice, “But I had never disclosed this matter to anyone, not even to Gong Jue.”