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“Hehe, stop blindly guessing, old dad. Things between His Majesty and daughter are very well. His Majesty even personally roasted a pheasant for daughter during the trip out last time,” says Mo Qi Qi. She smiles sweetly. That roasted pheasant has been the best thing that she has ever tasted.
Duke Zhen is very surprised to hear that, “Are you telling the truth, Qi Qi?”
“Of course!” smiles Mo Qi Qi.
Duke Zhen finally believes her when he sees that smile on her face. He looks on haughtily, “He finally knows how to butter up to you! Hmph!”
“Butter up? That is a heavy accusation, dad! His Majesty is the ruler of our kingdom, he does not need to butter up to anyone,” Mo Qi Qi feels like there is another underlying meaning behind Duke Zhen’s words.
Duke Zhen smiles proudly, “He still needs to borrow Mo Clan’s power even if he is the Emperor. Had it not been for us Mo Clan, the throne would have a different owner already.”
Mo Qi Qi is shocked to hear that. She looks out of the door carefully before saying, “Old dad, why are you saying such scandalous things here! Be careful! Even walls have ears.”Wuwu, if this reaches Jun Qian Che, she is ruined. Old dad-ah, are you trying to harm me to death?
Duke Zhen remains haughty, “This old head is not scared of anyone reporting back to him, it’s not like this old dad was lying. Qi Qi, how did you become so fearful and careful? This is not the precious daughter that old dad remembers.”
Mo Qi Qi looks at him bitterly, “Dad, daughter is the Empress. Not only does daughter need to manage the back palace, daughter also needs to become the role model for the womenfolk out there. How can this daughter not be careful? Daughter used to be stubborn and unruly back then, but that was only because daughter was young. Now that daughter has grown up, it is time for daughter to get her acts together. Please have more care with your words, dad, after all, this is the palace. Too much of anything is not good.”
“Hahaha—“ Duke Zhen laughs heartily. “What are you so afraid of, Qi Qi? As long as this old dad is still here, as long as Mo Clan is still here, no one will dare to touch you no matter what you do. Be confident, be yourself. Dad will be there to protect you!”
Mo Qi Qi rubs her forehead; is this old man trying to get her killed? In the end, she cannot stop herself from asking, “Dad—- are you planning to betray His Majesty?”
Duke Zhen looks at her in shock. He looks outside cautiously before turning to her, his voice a mere whisper now, “Qi Qi, although dad did tell you to stop being fearful, some things really cannot be simply said.”
“Dad, daughter is not simply saying these things. We encountered a lot of assassination attempts during the trip last time. The 7th wang got injured while trying to save daughter. The other time, daughter and His Majesty actually fell down from a cliff.”
“What? You fell down from a cliff? Are you injured? Hurry and tell dad!” asks Duke Zhen, panicking.
Mo Qi Qi comforts him, “Don’t worry dad, daughter is fine. If daughter is hurt, daughter wouldn’t be talking to you right now. What Qi Qi want to ask is if you were the one who sent those assassins.” Who else would have that much courage other than this crazy father of hers?
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Duke Zhen looks at his daughter earnestly, “Silly child, if it was me, would I have allowed them to hurt you? His Majesty took you with him and left me in charge of the court. Although it might look as though he was giving me power, he knew I wouldn’t do anything reckless with you by his side.”
“If it wasn’t you, who sent those assassins?” Mo Qi Qi scratches her head. She does not know that many people here, so she can’t really make a good guess.
Duke Zhen comforts her, “Stop thinking about these matters. The Emperor will handle this. Now that you are back inside the palace, no one can hurt you anymore.”
Mo Qi Qi laughs.
After chatting for a while more, Duke Zhen left.
Mo Qi Qi returns to checking her map.
Ban Xiang walks into the room, carrying a tray of pastries for her to snack on.
When Mo Qi Qi sees those snacks, she is suddenly reminded of Ya Xian. She pats the seat next to her, beckoning Ban Xiang to sit, “Ban Xiang, I would like to ask you some things about Miss Ya Xian. Is there any problem with her health? Does she enter the palace often? How is her relationship with His Majesty?”
Ban Xiang sits next to her and replies her questions in details, “Miss Ya Xian is Princess Chang Sheng’s daughter, which makes her the Grand Empress Dowager’s granddaughter. When Princess Chang Sheng was 18 years old, she married someone surnamed Gong who lived in the South. Although he was not an official, he was very rich. They were very happy together. Later, she gave birth to a daughter, Miss Ya Xian. They doted on this daughter very much. Princess Chang Sheng would often take her with her to the palace to meet the Grand Empress Dowager. But, who would have thought that Princess Chang Sheng was not destined to reach old age. When Miss Ya Xian was 6, something that shook the entire kingdom happened to their household. The entire Gong household were massacred by bandits in the dead of the night. Some people said that the blood flowed for miles and miles away. Both Princess Chang Sheng and her husband died. Before the bandits got to them, Princess Chang Sheng and her husband hid Miss Ya Xian inside a water barrel. The barrel was not full, but the water level reached her stomach, causing her to have a really weak body afterwards. After hiding her, both Princess Chang Sheng and her husband were murdered. The next morning, the officials in charge of the city heard of the incident and led soldiers to save them. But by then, over hundreds of people who lived in the Gong residence were already dead. They heard Miss Ya Xian crying inside the water barrel and pulled her out. It was the beginning of winter back then, so the weather was really cold. Miss Ya Xian’s body becomes really weak afterwards. When the Grand Empress Dowager found out about what happened to the Gong residence, she wept so hard that she passed out. Princess Chang Sheng was her favourite daughter. When Her Ladyship found out that Miss Ya Xian was still alive, she ordered her to be taken to the palace. That was 12 years ago. Since then, Miss Ya Xian has been living inside the palace. She went to the south to visit some distant relatives a couple of months back, so she hasn’t been around.”
Mo Qi Qi shakes her head in pity, “No wonder I didn’t see her after I woke up from my coma. Her past is too tragic, lucky she has Imperial Grandmother to dote on her. Does that mean that she and the Emperor are childhood sweethearts? Anyway, do you know who killed all those people in Gong residence?”
Ban Xiang shakes her head. “This servant does not know that. After what happened to her family, Miss Ya Xian has been living inside the palace, so yes, she did grew up with His Majesty. Since she is weak, His Majesty takes good care of her. But don’t worry, Your Ladyship! It doesn’t matter that they grew up together, the one that His Majesty married is still you!” says Ban Xiang proudly.
Mo Qi Qi shakes her head while smiling, “No need to comfort me, I am not that clueless. The only reason Jun Qian Yu makes me the Empress is only because of Mo Clan. If there had been no Mo Clan, it would have been Gong Ya Xian or Yang Shi Han. After all, they suit the position more than I do. I will not get angry. If you think about it, Gong Ya Xian is really nice! She is warm-hearted, gentle, beautiful. She suits Jun Qian Che really well. Their personalities match perfectly!”
“What are you talking about, Your Ladyship? You are His Majesty’s—– Your Majesty!” Ban Xiang can sense that someone has just walked into the room. When she turns her head around, she finds the Emperor standing by the doorway. She quickly gets up and curtsies before him.
Mo Qi Qi follows the direction that she is looking at and jumps up in shock when she sees Jun Qian Che, to the point where she hits the floor. She clumsily stands up and curtsies as well, “Greeting Your Majesty! When did you come, Your Majesty? Why was there no announcement?”
Jun Qian Che looks at Ban Xiang.
Ban Xiang immediately retreats.
Jun Qian Che walks to the little table and kneels on top of the cushion opposite Mo Qi Qi, “If there had been an announcement, zhen would not get to hear the Empress’ real feeling.”
Mo Qi Qi laughs awkwardly, though she is secretly cursing him: Rude bas*ard! Nobody honourable goes around eavesdropping on other people’s conversation and you are the Emperor to boot!
“Hehe, Your Majesty, chenqie was not speaking ill of you!” Lucky she did not trash-talk him this time. At least, she can protect her life. This man is too dangerous, one cannot be complacent around him.
“Really?” says Jun Qian Che calmly.
“Of course! Chenqie was talking about Ya Xian. She is kind and gentle and warm, and she can cook really well too! It will be our loss if we let her marry another man. Why don’t you take her into your harem? Now, that will be better than handing her over to a strange man, wouldn’t it?” Mo Qi Qi is being so benevolent this time, she believes that he will at least praise her, if not reward her!
Unfortunately, reality is often different from expectation. When Jun Qian Che turns to face her, his eyes are full of displeasure.
Mo Qi Qi’s heart almost stop for a moment before she gathers enough courage to say, “W-What’s with that expression, Your Majesty? Did chenqie say anything wrong?”
“You are becoming more and more generous,” Jun Qian Che tries his best to suppress his anger. Does she really not know what he feels?