Shen Zikai returned to the courtyard furiously, causing the maids by the side to tremble in fear.
Nee Zhu and Shen Ziqiao were just talking about having a barbeque and admiring the snow when they had time one day when they heard movements outside. They wanted their maids to see what happened when they saw Shen Zikai walking in large strides.
“Elder brother, what’s the matter? You’re scaring us.” Shen Ziqiao had never seen Shen Zikai that angry. She hurriedly glanced at Qi Zheng who followed in too.
Seeing that Nee Zhu seemed to be startled by him, he endured his anger and exclaimed in a low voice, “Why are you guys here? Those busybodies are all somewhere else trying to kiss up to our second aunt?”
“What’s there to talk to them about? I rather talk to my sister-in-law. It’s more carefree.” Shen Ziqiao smiled. She was confused with Shen Zikai’s anger. Could he be blaming Nee Zhu for not knowing how to receive guests?
Why bother receiving their relatives?
“Right. With the second aunt receiving them, Jiao Jiao and I can just hide here and enjoy ourselves.” Nee Zhu smiled. She obviously knew that Shen Zikai was afraid that she might’ve suffered.
Nee Zhu was really touched.
Qi Zheng and Shen Ziqiao looked at each other.
“Elder brother, since you’re back, then let’s go.” Shen Ziqiao smiled at Shen Zikai and bid farewell. “I’ll bring you some Tieguanyin next time.”
Shen Zikai’s face flushed and he lifted his hand, wanting to flick Shen Ziqiao’s head again.
“Sister-in-law, look. My elder brother has a tendency for domestic violence. You have to be careful.” Shen Ziqiao hid behind Qi Zheng and pulled a comic face at Shen Zikai.
Shen Zikai laughed.
“Take this lady away already.” Shen Zikai said to Qi Zheng. The ball of anger in his heart suddenly vanished.
Qi Zheng curled his lips up. He was suddenly a bit jealous of Shen Zikai and Shen Ziqiao’s sibling relationship.
Nee Zhu confirmed her thought as well. Shen Zikai truly cherished his sister and the latter also respected her elder brother. She was different from the rumors. Shen Zikai didn’t take advantage of Shen Zikai as her mother claimed.
“Then let’s go.” Shen Ziqiao smiled and bid farewell with Qi Zheng.
After they got in the horse carriage, Shen Ziqiao asked Qi Zheng why her elder brother got angered.
Qi Zheng told Shen Ziqiao about what they heard by the garden. “...Though they were praising Madam Zhou, they were clearly resenting father-in-law. No wonder your elder brother was angry.”
Not only was her elder brother angry, Qi Zheng mustn’t feel well inside either. He knew better than anyone why Shen Xiao had requested a decree to retire from the military.
Shen Ziqiao said, “Since when do they get a say in my father’s action? What do they know?”
Qi Zheng chuckled in a low voice.
“The main reason why my elder brother is angry is probably because my sister-in-law suffered as a result, no?” Shen Ziqiao became quiet. She finally understood. How could Shen Zikai not know the consequence of Shen Xiao requesting a decree? Plus, the Shen Family didn’t need to rely on the second household to gain glory. He knew better than anyone.
With Shen Zixin marrying the Ninth Prince, the second household thought that they’d have a boundless future? Madam Zhou’s two idiotic son would be able to rise highly in status? Don’t kid them.
“It seems like Zikai regards Nee Zhu quite highly.” Qi Zheng smiled.
“Who doesn’t like a delicate and pretty wife?” After getting along with Nee Zhu for a while, seh thought that while she looked gentle and weak on the surface, she was a really intelligent person.
She liked Nee Zhu a lot.
After they left, Nee Zhu also went to comfort Shen Zikai.
“...It’s actually nothing. I enjoy talking to Jiao Jiao. They like kissing up to second aunt but that just means they don’t have the ability to make discerning judgments.” Nee Zhu sat next to Shen Zikai and said in a gentle voice.
“If it weren’t for her, our aunts wouldn’t need to come and help us.” Shen Zikai said angrily. He had troubled his aunts quite a bit for his and Jiao Jiao’s marriages. Not only didn’t Madam Zhou thank them, she kept on mocking them. His second aunt didn’t like people talking about her and so she ended up fighting with Madam Zhou.
His first aunt had come over today to tell him that there was an urgent matter in Minyue. They needed to hurry back. They’ll drink the couple’s tea whenever they come to Minyue.
He didn’t dare to tell Jiao Jiao about it. He only told her that a letter came from Minyue saying that something urgent occurred at home which is why the three aunts hurried back.
“Jiao Jiao said we should find a day for barbeque in the courtyard…” Though Nee Zhu didn’t really like Madam Zhou, she didn’t express this on the surface.
It wasn’t hard...to deal with someone like Madam Zhou.
Qi Zheng went to meet the empress the second day.
The empress knew why he came here. She dismissed her palace servants and looked at her nephew exhausted. “You heard about what happened with the crown prince?”
“Your Majesty, the third prince has gotten closer and closer to the Spiritual Master Zhou now. Ma Family even colluded with the Sun Family, wanting...we can’t let this continue.” Qi Zheng was worried that Imperial Consort Sun might do something to the empress one day and she might get hurt.
The empress’ face turned paler with worry as she heard Qi Zheng’s words. Even more, she looked exhausted.
She and the emperor were married at a young age. The two had supported one another to get to the point they did today. Though the emperor was under the control of a villain, she really didn’t have the heart to force him to abdicate.
She didn’t have the heart...their love for one another.
But if she didn’t do this, she and her son might not be able to live.
“Let’s think of something else. If we can persuade the emperor, then...don’t...do this. It’s disgraceful…” There were tears in the empress’ eyes as she looked at Qi Zheng.
“Your Majesty, this official understands.” Qi Zheng sighed. One took into consideration their love for one another while the other for the fatherly love. They both didn’t have the heart to be harsh.
The empress sat up straight and held onto Qi Zheng’s hands tightly. “The emperor is deciding to leave the capital next month. Let’s think. There must be another way.”
“Your Majesty, you need to take care of yourself first. Imperial Consort Sun and Imperial Concubine Ma are eyeing you and the crown prince covetously. What you need to do right now is not to persuade the emperor to stop cultivating but to protect you and the crown prince.” Qi Zheng said in a deep voice. He was worried that the empress would only care about the emperor and neglect the most important thing.
“Don’t worry. I know.” The empress said coldly. “When the emperor scolded the crown prince the day before, I knew what they were planning. I won’t let them have their way.”
Qi Zheng felt comforted hearing her words. As long as she still had the motivation to fight.
“Try to get the Ma and Sun Family to fall out.” The empress clutched her fists, an intense fighting spirit flickering in her exhausted eyes.
“Qi Zheng, go find your grandfather. Just tell him not to endure this anymore.” The empress said in a low voice.
Qi Zheng stood up straight and his dark eyes brightened. “Yes, Your Majesty.”