“All of you, step back.” Empress Dowager Yang said gloomily, “This Dowager has something to say to Crown Princess.”
The palace maids looked at Cheng Yujin, as if asking her permission. Only after she waved her hand did they dare to leave the room.
Empress Dowager Yang sneered again; her gloomy eyes were full of cold light. “Crown Princess is very powerful. Even the people of This Dowager’s palace are very obedient to you.”
“Oh, no.” Sitting on the stool with her back straight, her hands folded, and the pleats of her wide skirt spread out beautifully on the floor like a peacock, Cheng Yujin smiled and said, “This granddaughter-in-law is still nothing compared to Your Majesty.”
Now that they were completely alone, Empress Dowager Yang was too impatient to accompany Cheng Yujin with pretense and directly asked, “Who is it?”
Empress Dowager Yang was not a fool. On the contrary, one should never underestimate her wisdom and ruthlessness, which brought her and her family into their position today. Public opinion against the Yang family was too one-sided, too coincidental, that it was impossible for Empress Dowager Yang to believe there was no mastermind behind it.
Instead of answering the question, Cheng Yujin raised an eyebrow and asked back with a smile, “I wonder…who does Your Majesty think?”
Who else had the ability to direct such a large-scale crusade against the Yang family, to bring the public opinion totally on his side, to make the majority of court officials stand by him, and also to preserve the evidence of Empress Zhong’s murder intact for so many years?
Empress Dowager Yang had long had the answer in her heart, but Cheng Yujin’s response made everything clear in an instant. The corner of her lips twitched as she made a cold sneer, “Sure enough, it’s you two. Or should I say ‘as expected? Except for you and your husband, who else hates the Yang family to death and wishes for our demise?”
“I can’t agree with Your Majesty’s words.” Cheng Yujin touched her long sleeves, raised her head, and smiled softly. “We are not the only one harboring a grudge, and there are certainly many others who will be delighted to see the Yang family fall.”
Empress Dowager Yang was stunned, but Cheng Yujin didn’t care and just continued, “During the avalanche, which snowflake can escape the blame? Does Your Majesty think that the situations today can be achieved by His Highness’ power alone? Those who make the push behind, those who only stand by and watch, all of them want to bring down the Yang family. They desire, and wish, for due justice.”
Empress Dowager Yang fell silent. After a while, she smiled in self-deprecation, “This Dowager always thinks myself to be prudent and cautious, to have worked hard and made great achievements, but it turns out that there are so many people who cannot stand my Yang family and me?”
“Hard work? Great achievements?” Cheng Yujin’s smile deepened. “Empress Dowager may be thinking so, and this granddaughter-in-law will not refute you. However, all your effort and achievements are for yourself and the Yang family. When you were sitting on cloud nine, you failed to see the pile of corpses under your feet, and you also paid no care about the innocents whom you sacrificed for the sake of your own selfish ambition.”
“Heh.” Empress Dowager Yang was disdainful, “When This Dowager sat at the top of previous emperor’s inner palace, you were not even born yet. You, a mere child, dare to speak big in front of This Dowager?”
“This granddaughter-in-law naturally dares not.” The soft smile never faded from Cheng Yujin’s red lips, “We are just… following the flow of destiny and fulfilling what so many people have long been wishing to see.”
Empress Dowager Yang was stunned beyond belief. Yes, no matter how brilliant she used to be and no matter how tough she acted now, it couldn’t be denied that the Yang family’s current situation was the result of the collective attack. She was old and ill, and her authority in the inner palace had crumbled. Even the servants of her own palace, who used to revere and fear her to no end, now dared to disregard her direct order. The era that belonged to the Yang family had come to an end. Even if she was the empress and empress dowager to two successive emperors, even if the Yang family was at its peak of power and remained the same, they would not be able to withstand the current public opposition. Even if nothing else happened, the death of Yang Xiaoyu alone had signaled the end of their bloodline.
Empress Dowager Yang suddenly felt despaired. If this was the result, for what sake did she work so hard all these years, and for what sake did she desperately try to pave the way for the Yang family? Without a descendant to pass on the bloodline, what is the use of all those wealth and power?
Yang Xiaoyu was dead. Yang Shilong was Yang Fucheng’s only son, and he was nearly forty now. It was unrealistic to wish a miracle to happen and grant him another son after years of childlessness. Even without Cheng Yujin and Li Chengjing pushing behind, the Yang family would collapse sooner or later. Empress Dowager Yang hated the commoner girl who killed Yang Xiaoyu and wished to eat her flesh, drink her blood, and smash her bones. But the girl she hated was revered as a martyr by the public, who demanded the whole Yang family’s apology.
What an irony. Empress Dowager Yang actually had some regret in heart, but in front of Cheng Yujin, she still put on a tough appearance and sneered: “Crown Princess should worry more about herself. Do you think you will get everything after overthrowing the Yang family? You and your husband better cast that thought as soon as possible. Once the cunning rabbits were dead, it was the hunting dogs’ turn to be cooked next. After the Yang family is down, you are next.”
“Worry not.” Cheng Yujin was unmoved. “The relationship between His Highness and His Majesty is a family matter. Don’t you think so?”
This simple sentence directly hit Empress Dowager Yang’s weak spot. She could no longer maintain the tough facade and snarled coldly, “Isn’t he just an ominous person? Born in the fifth month, even if he is lucky enough to grow up, he is forever subjected to a life of loneliness. If I knew this was the result, I wouldn’t be soft-hearted back then when he was just born.”
Up until now, Cheng Yujin stayed calm and composed no matter what Empress Dowager Yang said to her. The smile never left her face, and her tone was also always gentle. But the moment Empress Dowager Yang started to curse Li Chengjing, an unprecedented fire suddenly burned inside Cheng Yujin.
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