The smile faded from Cheng Yujin’s face. Her eyes became icy, turning her appearance into that of cold beauty. “Your Majesty always like that, relying on your seniority as a grandmother to arbitrarily judge the fates of others. When His Highness was born, you said he was ominous. Before my children were born, you also claimed them ominous. The way I see it, the ominous one should be you, Empress Dowager Yang. You have done too many evil deeds in your life and now brought the consequences upon yourself. Now, the Yang family’s bloodline has been cut off, and so has yours.”
Empress Dowager Yang’s eyes widened in disbelief, “You…”
“Your Majesty always says that others are ominous, but never reflect on yourself. Despite all you said, my husband has grown up safely and now has two children, but look at you. Your child died, and so did your grandnephew. Your family is going to extinct, but we will outlive you and live thousands of times better.”
This was the most untouchable pain in Empress Dowager Yang’s heart. For many years, no one ever dared to mention the death of her son — not even her niece Empress Yang. But at this moment, Cheng Yujin tore away the scab and sprinkled salt all over the exposed wound. Empress Dowager Yang was so angry that she got into a huge fit of cough. When she finally recovered, she smelled a faint fragrance on the tip of her nose.
In some cases, smells lingered longer in memory than sight. The fragrance brought the long-buried memory back to the surface, catching Empress Dowager Yang off guard. Even though she deliberately forced herself to forget, her grief brought her back to that day.
The day her son died tragically.
Her son was also a crown prince. On that day, he came to pay his mother respect as usual before departing for a banquet. At that time, she was still the empress. She prepared fresh fruits and snacks in Kunning Palace, waiting for her son’s return. Hours passed, and the afternoon came. Her son hadn’t returned yet, but she received a messenger from her rival, the noble consort, who invited her over a tea.
She didn’t think much about it and just packed out before departing for Changchun Palace. Upon her arrival, she saw the noble consort wearing a plain white dress and waiting for her. It was such an unusual choice that she couldn’t help asking, “Why are you dressing so plainly today?”
The noble consort smiled upon this question and replied, “This Consort received some heartbreaking news about an old acquaintance by chance. Feeling sad for this acquaintance, This Consort couldn’t bear to wear bright clothes.”
Empress Dowager Yang just snorted inside and didn’t ask any further questions. She took her seat and had just drank half of her tea when a eunuch came rushing in panic, bringing the news that her son had been injured and died on the spot. It was Rong Wang, the son of the noble consort, who killed the crown prince.
Empress Dowager Yang clearly remembered the smell of the fragrance that the noble consort lit in Changchun Palace that day — it was exactly the same fragrance she smelled now.
Empress Dowager Yang suddenly became frightened. The pain came like a flood, clutching her heart hard so much that she couldn’t breathe. That’s her only son, the only person she was truly connected to in the world. If her son was alive, how could she summon Li Huan to the capital and hand him the throne? If it wasn’t the death of her only son, why did she keep supporting the Yang family so blindly? The power and support she gave them were supposed to be her son’s!
When her son died, she also lost the only root to rely on and had no choice but to desperately prop up her younger brother and nephew, trying to make them her new support.
This was the eternal pain in Empress Dowager Yang’s heart. In recent years, no one dared to mention the previous noble consort and Rong Wang, let alone the previous crown prince. But the familiar fragrance once again reminded her of the pain of losing her child, gripping her so hard that she could not breathe.
Yes, she did not forget. She never forgot. She just didn’t dare to keep remembering.
Her sight started to blur, and in her confusion and panic, Empress Dowager Yang suddenly discovered that Cheng Yujin was also wearing a plain white dress today, with only simple flower-patterned embroidery adorning her sleeves.
Amidst the painful fragrance, Cheng Yujin’s figure in the present started to overlap with the noble consort back then. The pain in Empress Dowager Yang’s heart grew even more severe. She pointed at Cheng Yujin, her fingers trembling: “You…why do you know this dress?”
Cheng Yujin had regained her usual smile and replied softly, “What is Your Majesty talking about? I am here to tend to your illness, remember? Naturally, I couldn’t bear to wear bright clothes.”
When Empress Dowager Yang heard the last sentence, her eyes darkened, and she almost fainted. Cheng Yujin stood up and stared down for a while. After giving the Empress Dowager a last glance, she turned around and said loudly, “Someone come. Her Majesty has fallen ill again. Prepare a medicine to calm her nerve and aid her sleep.”
From Empress Dowager Yang’s point of view, Cheng Yujin’s departing figure was especially like her nemesis, the previous noble consort.
There was a familiar smell in her nose, and the white figure in front of her swayed back and forth. In a trance, Empress Dowager Yang almost thought that the noble consort was here. She crawled back from the depth of hell and came to seek revenge.
Suddenly everything turned black, and Empress Dowager Yang completely fainted.
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