Even so, back when His Majesty was still the Crown Prince of the Eastern Palace, he had never once done something to Marquis Jingyong because of personal grudges.
The same principle applied to the whole court. The people who stood on the wrong side back in the day were worried that His Majesty would begin settling scores with them after taking power. However, a month passed, and the governmental affairs were still functioning normally. There were no signs that the new Emperor was going to punish people for their past transgressions. On the contrary, His Majesty fulfilled the promise he made when he was enthroned to only look at people’s talent, not their origin or faction. Since the enactment of the Yuanxi era, the past was written off, and unless someone had violated laws and committed crimes, they had nothing to worry about and should continue doing their duties to the best of their abilities. This applied even to the personal disciples of Yang Fucheng. As long as they had the ability and achievements and were willing to dedicate themselves to the country, the Emperor would allow them to turn a new page.
The Emperor’s declaration undoubtedly caused an uproar in the court. This was truly a magnanimous action. The officials who had to rely on and befriend Yang Fucheng because of no other choice were greatly relieved as a result. This naturally led to their favorability toward the new Emperor, and from now on, they swore to devote themselves to his reign.
The Emperor had a bloody feud with the Yang family, yet he was able to let go of their disciples and subordinates, so what about the former rivals with whom he had small grievances? As vengeful as Cheng Yujin was, she did not remember much about Zhai Yanlin, let alone paying attention to the Zhai family.
Actually, she was also quite troubled by the Cai Duke Manor’s eagerness to please.
Dowager Consort Shu laughed, mostly at herself for misunderstanding the Emperor and the Empress. Such open-mindedness — no wonder they emerged as the final winners.
Cheng Yujin changed the topic: “By the way, how is your new residence? Do you lack something?”
“No, everything is fine. Many thanks for Your Majesty’s concern.” Dowager Consort Shu replied. Having been promoted from a Consort to the Dowager Consort, she naturally had to move to the Western Compound with other dowagers, as their previous palaces and residences needed to be emptied for the new Emperor’s consorts. Although the Emperor only had one empress and those places would remain empty, as the women of the previous emperor they needed to show a cooperative gesture.
Cheng Yujin nodded with a smile. Then, as if in passing, she continued to ask, “What about Dowager Consort Yang? Has her condition improved recently?”
Dowager Consort Yang… Dowager Consort Shu’s smile subconsciously stiffened. This name, this title, referred to only one person.
Dowager Consort Yang was the former empress Yang Miao. Li Chengjun, the second son of the late Emperor, was deceived by a fake Taoist priest and personally offered a poisonous pill to his own father, causing the late Emperor to die tragically. The criminal Taoist was thrown into the imperial prison for his crime. Because he was not from the slave stratum, all his property was confiscated, and he was finally exiled to the border town. As an accomplice, Li Chengjun was also deprived of the title of Shou Wang, demoted to a commoner, and imprisoned for life.
Since Li Chengjun also accused the Crown Prince of treason, he was charged with another slandering crime. The reason was very simple — that immortality pills were made by Taoist Chongxu and were given to the late Emperor by Li Chengjun himself. The late Emperor also drank the pill himself. How could Li Chengjing know that the immortality pill was poisonous in advance? How could he know that the late Emperor would really take it?
In truth, it was all thanks to Li Chengjing’s thorough preparation and the wide network of people he secretly stationed all over the palace. After learning something had happened to the Emperor, he immediately ordered a eunuch to take the remaining immortality pill and replace it with a fake one. At the same time, he also dispatched the Yulin Army to stand on guard outside the Qianqing Palace. As for the cabinet ministers Li Chengjun brought in, Li Chengjing never worried about them. As he said, the one who wins people’s hearts wins the world. Li Chengjing had made so many real achievements under the eyes of the court officials. In contrast, Li Chengjun was so thoroughly sheltered by the Yang family and later colluded with the fake priests who brought chaos to the court.
The end result was already a foregone conclusion.
Life was impermanent, and fate was truly unpredictable. When the Yang family lost power, Dou Xiyin was stripped of the Wangfei title by the late Emperor and lived without status in the Shou Wang Manor, neither a wife nor a concubine. At the time, some people laughed over Shou Wang’s kindness for sheltering his ex-wife. However, it didn’t take long for the wheel of fate to turn again. Li Chengjun was reduced to a commoner because of the crime of murdering the late Emperor, bringing his status equal to Dou Xiyin’s.
Now, the two were confined in a small courtyard and had truly become a couple in poor and sickness. When the crime committed by Li Chengjun was revealed, Empress Yang fainted on the spot. After waking up, she learned that her son had been imprisoned and she herself had been deprived of the title of empress. Since then, Yang Miao’s mental state has become abnormal. She shut herself off, refusing to communicate with anybody, and spent all her time hugging her knees and talking to empty air.
Although Li Chengjing abolished Yang Miao’s position as the empress, he left her alive. He also did not specify which rank she was demoted to, so others simply referred to her with the generic title of ‘Consort Yang.’ As a consort of the late Emperor, Yang Miao naturally also had to move with other consorts and concubines to the Western Compound.
Dowager Consort Shu didn’t like to mention Yang Miao, so she vaguely answered, “This Consort is not close to Dowager Consort Yang and does not know her current situation. However, thanks to His Majesty’s grace and mercy, Yang-shi’s illness should be better now.”
Cheng Yujin nodded and said calmly, “Can I please ask Dowager Consort Shu to look after Dowager Consort Yang a bit? Let me thank you in advance.”
Dowager Consort Shu hurriedly said that she was honored. Inside, she understood what the Empress actually meant. The imperial couple didn’t have the intention to kill Yang Miao, but they also didn’t want her to cause any trouble. Perhaps, it was Yang Miao’s best ending to spend the rest of her life quietly in the corner of the cold palace.
During the last months of the Jianwu era, the Yang family, who for years had been holding the supreme power in the country, completely collapsed. Yang Fucheng and his son were deprived of their post and status, and their descendants were not allowed to enter officialdom for three generations. But this prohibition amounted to nothing — their only heir Yang Xiaoyu died; their last hope, the Second Prince, was debased to commoner and imprisoned for life; Yang Miao was abolished. Even the already deceased Empress Dowager Yang was not allowed to enjoy honor in death.
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