Chapter 10

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Prudence

After what had happened, Yun Shang felt that the sun shone brighter. She and Qin Yi were at the gardens at Qingxin Hall. Qin Yi stood behind her, pushing the swing while they spoke.

"Your Highness, although His Majesty has already asked Lady Shu to handle this matter, the Empress will certainly not give up. If she traces it, I'm afraid..." When Qin Yi thought of the events of the day, she found herself impressed. She'd seen so many hidden depths in this eight-year-old princess.

Yun Shang smiled, "She won't let go. In a few days, someone will come to interrogate you. But don't worry, just tell them what I've prepared. She will never find traces of my involvement, and all evidence will lead to Shuya Palace. Once that happens, Her Majesty will pursue Lady Shu. And we will watch in safety while the others fight."

Qin Yi remained silent. The Palace was indeed a place full of intrigue and conspiracies. Her Highness was merely eight-year-old, but she had been thorough. She didn't know whether that was good or bad.

"By the way. Qin Yi, does anyone in our kitchen smell of sandalwood?" The question led Yun Shang to think over the day's events. The dogs had gone mad after they sniffed the sandalwood. And the Taoist priest was still trying to bring the burning incense closer to her. It was obvious that the sandalwood was the catalyst that turned the medicine poisonous. But Lin had reported that the chickens had gone mad after he put the medicine into their feed.

Qin Yi thought for a while, and said, "Your Highness asked me to watch the servants, and I have paid attention to their daily movements. I noticed that an old maidservant who works in the kitchen, wears a string of sandalwood beads on her wrist. But she is a Buddhist."

"I see." It made sense then. But Lin still seemed like a highly suspicious person.

Yun Shang contemplated for a while. Just as she was about to speak, she saw a maid approach them. Qin Meng had been chosen by Yun Shang the same day she selected Qin Yi to work at her Palace. Qin Meng curtsied and said, "Your Highness, the kitchen made green bean soup for you as it is scorching hot today." She looked at the sky in dismay. "I don't know what is happening this year. It hasn't rained at all."

"It hasn't rained? And it is hot." Yun Shang trembled as she recalled a memory. She asked, "How long has it been since the last rain?"

Qin Meng quickly answered, "Since February. It's August now...So, half a year."

Yun Shang quivered as she recalled the vents from her previous life. For half a year there was no rain. At that time, she only thought to complain about the hot weather all day long, demanding that the servants think of ways to release the summer heat. In her new life as well, everything was the same as before. The only thing that had changed was that Yun Shang was no longer the little girl who knew nothing.

She remembered how Princess Hua Jing had earned the respect of the people of Ning. In her new life, Yun Shang could not perceive the magnitude of the implications of the lack of rains. All she knew was that it meant severe drought for the Ning people. In her last lifetime, after half a year of drought, it had rained on Hua Jing's Coming-of-age Ceremony. The Empress had grabbed the opportunity to plant the idea that it was Princess Hua Jing who had brought the rain. As the Ning people were firm believers of the mystical, they saw Hua Jing as bestowed with the blessing of God.

Emperor Ning had been very pleased as well. He had rewarded Hua Jing with land and the title of Princess Fu Hua. Since Fu meant blessed, and the title had been awarded by the Emperor himself, the Ning people's beliefs had been reinforced by his actions. Yun Shang remembered being jealous. She remembered how she had been required to send many expensive gifts to congratulate Hua Jing.

Anyway, the Empress was not powerful enough to manipulate the weather. In retrospect, she could see that the events were a coincidence. She could also see how the meticulous and quick-minded Empress Yuan Zhen had taken advantage of the opportunity to bring the Ning people to admire Princess Hua Jing.

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