When the atmosphere gradually calmed down, the Emperor finally spoke: “Okay, Crown Prince has been on the road for several days, so he must be tired. Crown Prince should return to the Eastern Palace to take a rest for now. Later in the day, Zhen will summon the cabinet elders for an audience in Qianqing Palace, and Crown Prince will attend for a formal report and resume his duty. The Jiangnan disaster is not a small matter, so it shouldn’t be delayed.”
Li Chengjing cupped his hands in response. Now that the Emperor had a justifiable reason for leaving, he went off contentedly. With the Emperor at the head, others also followed suit, as they couldn’t wait to leave this dangerous place. As the crowd dispersed, Li Chengjing gripped Cheng Yujin’s hand reassuringly, but Cheng Yujin shook her head in response, indicating that she was fine.
Li Chengjing reluctantly put down his worry and began to escort Cheng Yujin on their return way, but after just two steps, he suddenly stopped and turned to look at the Abess of Faling Temple, giving the latter a cold gaze. “Abess, please wait. Gu still has something to tell you.”
The Abess didn’t expect to be suddenly stopped by the Crown Prince. Sweat drenched her back, but she still managed to say “Amitabha Buddha” and put on a benevolent face as she responded: “This poor nun obeys the Crown Prince. Can this poor nun ask what’s the matter?”
Although Li Chengjing stopped the Abess on their way out of Cining Palace, they had yet to leave the inner hall. The imperial clansmen who left after the Emperor was still within earshot, and the couch where Empress Dowager Yang was recuperating was separated only by a curtain. Li Chengjing’s words were clearly aimed at their ears.
“Abess said just now that Gu’s child is too strong in the metal element, causing an imbalance in the five elements’ circulation. It is said that metal overcomes wood, and the Eastern Palace belongs to the wood element. Now that Gu, as the master of the Eastern Palace, has returned, the wood element in the palace will no longer be stagnant, right?”
The Abess hesitated, unable to think of an answer. “This… this poor nun dare not make a rash statement for now.”
“Abess does not dare?” Li Chengjing smiled, but his voice contained a chill that penetrated into bones, “Or does Abess mean that Gu does not have strong enough wood to resist my own child’s metal, making Gu unworthy of being the Crown Prince?”
How dare the Abess respond to such a statement? She trembled all over and immediately fell to her knees in fright, “This poor nun dares not. This poor nun has no such meaning, not in the slightest.”
“Very good.” Li Chengjing said slowly. “Gu sees that Abess’ understanding of yin-yang and the five elements is not very thorough. From now on, Abess should concentrate on cultivating in Faling Temple, and you’d better never leave the Temple’s precinct again until your effort shows positive results. If Gu ever found out that you ignored Gu’s warning and entered the palace to spread nonsense again, there would be a price to pay.”
The Abess was drenched in a cold sweat and was completely frightened by Li Chengjing’s naked threat. She knew that from now on, she must shut herself inside the Temple and not meet others for quite a while. Otherwise, not only would her life be in danger, but even the Faling Temple would not meet a good end.
There was no movement behind the curtain. The imperial clansmen looked at each other gloomily, but in the end, they resumed their steps and quietly left Cining Palace.
After returning to Ciqing Palace, Cheng Yujin couldn’t bear it any longer and almost burst into tears on the spot: “Your Highness…”
Facing Cheng Yujin’s tears, Li Chengjing’s ruthless facade melted in an instant. He cupped Cheng Yujin’s face and found with distress that she had lost weight during these two months. Li Chengjing sighed and said, “This is my fault. I promised to take care of you, but you were wronged again and again.”
Cheng Yujin shook her head: “No. As long as Your Highness is here, I never feel wronged.”
Li Chengjing observed Cheng Yujin’s figure more closely and found that, except for her belly, she was even thinner than when he left. Distress and pity filled his heart. He wiped away the tears in Cheng Yujin’s eyes and sighed deeply, “Don’t cry. I feel more distressed seeing you cry.”
In fact, Cheng Yujin also didn’t know what was wrong with her. She definitely was never a crybaby, nor was she ever so reliant on somebody. Why she suddenly couldn’t bear the grievances once she saw Li Chengjing? Hearing Li Chengjing’s words, Cheng Yujin was even more embarrassed. She avoided Li Chengjing’s hand, wiped her tears, and said strongly, “I’m not actually crying. It’s just that my mood fluctuated greatly during pregnancy, so I couldn’t control myself.”
“Okay, okay. You are not crying.” Of course Li Chengjing would not argue with Cheng Yujin. He took Cheng Yujin’s hand and gently supported her waist, “You shouldn’t be standing too long. Let’s get inside and talk later.”
After the two returned to the inner hall and took seats, Cheng Yujin asked, “Your Highness, how was your journey?”
Li Chengjing didn’t explain much and just said, “It ended safely, so you can rest assured. You must be tired now. Go to sleep first. I have to deliver my report to the Emperor and the cabinet, but I will be back when you wake up.”
Indeed, Cheng Yujin was easy to get tired recently, probably because the pregnancy sapped her energy. After all the troubles today, she was even more tired than usual. Li Chengjing personally helped Cheng Yujin to bed. Waiting for Cheng Yujin to fall asleep, Li Chengjing sat at the bedside and gave her a reassuring smile, “Sleep well. I’m here for you.”
As Cheng Yujin closed her eyes, she felt like everything was just a dream. She even felt that as soon as she opened her eyes, she would find that the Eastern Palace was still empty — there was no Li Chengjing who suddenly appeared to protect her, nor did he lose his temper in the Cining Palace because of her. Shrouded by such uneasiness, Cheng Yujin fell into a slumber.
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