Chapter 40 – Conspiracy (1)
“Yes!” An imperial guard immediately approached the kneeling palace maid. He covered her mouth and dragged her out of sight, causing the two confidants in the room to tremble. They did not dare to even breathe too loudly.
“If Mother Empress is angry, the responsibility should be placed upon Er Chen** since I was responsible for the incident. Why involve other innocent people?”
(**ed: Er Chen 儿臣– a first person pronoun employed by a male sovereign when speaking to an empress mother, queen mother, empress dowager, queen dowager, or the like… so basically Gong Che refers to himself as Er Chen )
The Crown Prince, who had been kneeling for some time, finally spoke up.
The Empress’ sharp eyes suddenly locked onto him. “Do you think your mother would not dare to? Let me tell you that little slut Gong Yi Mo must have bewitched you into helping her!”
After hearing her accusation, Gong Che lifted his head and looked her in the eye. “Er Chen wants to know. Why is Mother so angry concerning this matter?
His question caused the Empress to choke up. Noticing that she refused to answer, Gong Che suddenly froze in realization.
“Mother, how could you! Was the issue of supplying low-quality materials for disaster relief caused by our men?”
His accusation made the Empress angry. “Why can’t I make a move when everyone else is doing the same thing? As my son, shouldn’t you be aware of my difficulties?
“Do you know how many resources I need to expend in order to ensure our position? Regarding my background, my mother’s family has declined and already can not be compared to Liu Xian Fei’s**. Regarding the emperor’s favor, I am in an even worse standing. My position as the Empress is insecure, so I must plan meticulously for our future. Is there something wrong with that?” (**T/N: I guess the Empress and Liu Xian Fei are in the same family? It’s just that the empress’ social position is higher..)
“That doesn’t mean we should tamper with the disaster relief supplies!” Gong Che’s expression gradually worsened as he began to worry. “This time, the mission to Xi Zhou holds more significance than ever before, since the emperor can finally solve the drought in Xi Zhou once and for all. If he did not value the matter heavily, why do you think he allowed the Chaoyang Princess to use all three gates to transport the supplies?
“If the emperor didn’t attach much importance to the mission, why is it that he turned a blind eye when the Ministry of Revenue supplied them with an extra three hundred carriages? This time you better hope that your interference does not succeed! If you do, Mother Empress may never again get the chance in the future to punish Er Chen.”
Gong Che’s words bore down on her like a heavy hammer. The empress fell upon her chair, eyes filled with panic.
“What you say is true? Your Father Emperor values this mission deeply?”
Gong Che nodded. “Back then, when the Chaoyang Princess informed Er Chen about the matter, Er Chen didn’t agree without carefully considering. She had never left the palace and yet was already aware of the movements in the capital a few months ago. Moreover, not only did she asked Er Chen to help her, she also was able to tacitly obtain the emperor’s help. Therefore, Er Chen chose to take advantage of the situation and help her. Er Chen was not aware that Mother Empress involved in the matter… Why did you not tell me?!”
The Empress became more flustered and nervous, “This… How could I let you take part in this kind of affair? You’re the Crown Prince! But… if what you say is true, what should we do now?” The more she thought of the matter, the more frightened she felt. The Empress’ forehead was now covered in a layer of cold sweat.
Her maiden family’s decline in power caused her to become paranoid due to past experiences of being schemed against. However, now she had made a serious blunder. As she considered her dire circumstance, she was sure that Long Gui Fei and Liu Xian Fei would use such an opportunity to deal a blow against her!
Deeper fear overcame the Empress as cold sweat condensed on her forehead. Gong Jue couldn’t bear to see her so frightened and softly said, “Mother Empress, don’t be afraid. Once the supplies are safely delivered, the matter will be over.”
If was just ordinary corruption, as long as there was no one fanning the flames from behind their backs, nothing should happen.
Gong Che thought of something and urgently said, “This matter is very important. Since the Ninth Prince has already safely exited the Capital, I suggest that Mother immediately order your men to quickly retreat so as to not expose your hand in the matter.”