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Chapter 422: Lobbying (II)
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Yang Zhao was also rather dazed.
He was also bursting with the desire for authority, or else he wouldn't have entered the capital. He actually didn't mind getting involved in some War of the Princes, but because Consort Taizhen didn't like anyone mentioning matters of the Imperial Palace in front of her, he had never brought the matter up.
And as time pa.s.sed, he also began to put the matter aside.
The recent wave of success and the criticisms from all sides had made him further forget those matters, but w.a.n.g Chong's words had suddenly reminded him.
Just like w.a.n.g Chong said, there were some things that would appear eventually, even if one didn't concern oneself with them or get involved with them.
It would be fine if it were any ordinary matter, but once the War of the Princes dragged Consort Taizhen in, this would affect his own future prospects.
Yang Zhao suddenly turned his head and spoke to his cousin. "Sister, although I also think that the War of the Princes is no matter that we can lightly involve ourselves in, the words of my sworn brother are not completely without reason. It's impossible to remain completely uninvolved. Perhaps we really should contemplate this matter and decide what to do after discussion?"
Let alone Consort Taizhen, even w.a.n.g Chong was surprised by these words. Yang Zhao's words were far more effective than his own; after all, these two were cousins and had a much more intimate relationship.
These words that had originally been intended to convince Consort Taizhen had ended up moving Yang Zhao—a rather surprising harvest.
As expected, Yang Zhao's words finally caused the look in Consort Taizhen's eyes to change. In the capital of the empire, this older cousin was the one she trusted the most and found most reliable.
"Brother, the matters of the Imperial Palace are difficult to describe and discern. They are not things that you can understand," Consort Taizhen said. Her stance had clearly softened.
"Moreover, the harem cannot involve itself in politics. This is the custom. His Majesty also does not like it when the women of the harem stick their hands into too many things. If I meddle too much, His Majesty might not be happy. Besides, I really can't see how helping the Fifth Prince will improve my situation."
Her first few sentences had been aimed at Yang Zhao, but the last one was for w.a.n.g Chong.
At this question, w.a.n.g Chong laughed.
"Your Majesty, do you still not see it? Amongst the princes and the harem, only His Highness the Fifth Prince and Your Majesty are without any supporters and backing. In the palace, not a single person will help him; none of the consorts or concubines from the Three Palaces and Six Courts will back him.
"In the harem and amongst the princes, Your Majesty can only truly pull close to the Fifth Prince. As long as Your Majesty treats the Fifth Prince well, the Fifth Prince, as supporterless as he is, will a.s.suredly rely a great deal on Your Majesty and will definitely not think about betraying you. Moreover, Your Majesty is weak within the palace, and it is difficult to clap with only one hand. If Your Majesty has the Fifth Prince's help, the two of you will present a threat to the other consorts and princes and prevent them from rashly acting.
"More importantly, if, in the future, the Fifth Prince ascends to the throne, he will undoubtedly be extremely grateful to Your Majesty. Even if Your Majesty's status in the future is less than that of the Empress, it won't be by much. Of course, if Your Majesty has other plans, is prepared to harbor the dragon's seed and give birth to a true dragon who will one day ascend to the heavens, that is another matter. Treat these words as if w.a.n.g Chong had never said them."
His head lowered, w.a.n.g Chong finished his arguments.
Consort Taizhen had been earnestly listening at the beginning, but she couldn't help but giggle at the end, amused by w.a.n.g Chong's joke.
"Little thing, what nonsense are you speaking of? Even if I become pregnant with His Majesty's dragon seed, it will be eighteen years until he matures. By that time, the War of the Princes will have already been decided. Where did this plan come from?"
With this laugh from Consort Taizhen, that aura of sharpness and power suddenly vanished. That charming smile, like thousands of flowers blooming as one, was so beautiful that even w.a.n.g Chong was dumbstruck for a moment.
And with this smile, the mood in the hall also warmed.
Although Consort Taizhen's laugh was bright and clear, w.a.n.g Chong could still hear a faint tinge of regret. If one wanted to fight in the light and shadow, and set up roots in the duplicitous confines of the palace, the best method was conceiving a dragon son.
But Consort Taizhen had just entered the harem; the Sage Emperor's princes were already mature. Even if she had such ideas, it was already too late.
Nothing could change this, and to Consort Taizhen, it was truly a regret.
w.a.n.g Chong naturally understood this, so he wisely elected to not continue down this line.
"w.a.n.g Chong, can you tell me why you so highly regard the Fifth Prince?"
Consort Taizhen's smile faded as she returned to her normal self. Her bright and beautiful phoenix eyes peered at w.a.n.g Chong, implying some deeper meaning.
"Your big uncle supports the First Prince. Everyone in the court knows this, and so do you. And yet you insist that I should support the Fifth Prince. What is going on with your w.a.n.g Clan? or perhaps you want to become opponents with your big uncle?
"Also, I've recently heard a rumor that the Fifth Prince encountered some mysterious expert that helped him reform his body, granting him the ability to cultivate, accomplishing the practically impossible. If my guess is correct, that mysterious expert behind the Fifth Prince is probably closely related to you, right?"
Her phoenix eyes blinked, a sharpness glimmering within them as they sought to pierce into the depths of w.a.n.g Chong's soul.
w.a.n.g Chong's mind trembled as he hurriedly lowered his head.
At the moment, the majority of the Imperial Palace, and all the princes, consorts, and concubines, were trying to find out how the Fifth Prince had suddenly had his body reformed and regained the ability to cultivate. They were also investigating that mysterious person behind him.
If someone were to find out that it was him playing tricks behind the prince, the entire w.a.n.g Clan would probably become the foe of all the princes, consorts, and concubines of the palace.
Thus, he had done his utmost to avoid meeting the Fifth Prince in public so as to prevent others from finding out.
And while meeting Consort Taizhen, he had done his best to avoid discussing his relationship with the Fifth Prince. However, Consort Taizhen was clearly not as simple as the outside world imagined her to be. She could not be so easily misled.
w.a.n.g Chong had not even brought up this topic, but Consort Taizhen had already guessed at the truth.
w.a.n.g Chong replied without any hesitation.
One could not overestimate someone, but one also couldn't underestimate them. In the outside world, many people believed that Consort Taizhen had relied purely on her looks to reach her position but was otherwise an ordinary woman who lacked any other redeeming feature. But w.a.n.g Chong knew that this was anything but true.
No normal woman could be like her and endure so many criticisms for so long. A normal woman could never put up such a powerful struggle in the palace and manage to survive.
Many people, when seeing Consort Taizhen, were liable to focus on Yang Zhao at her side and believe that she relied on Yang Zhao for everything.
But w.a.n.g Chong knew that to think so would be the greatest of errors.
Before Yang Zhao had reached the capital, Consort Taizhen had already entered the palace and had even successfully put down roots. With or without Yang Zhao, she was not so soft and incompetent as the average person imagined.
'A trail of dust spurred by a concubine's smile, and no one knows that lychee is coming'1. Consort Taizhen was not so easily deceived or bullied as people might imagine.
Anyone who dared to underestimate the supreme beauty of the Great Tang as an empty flower vase would truly be committing a fatal mistake.
1. The quoted line is from a poem by Du Fu. Consort Taizhen, otherwise known as Yang Guifei, was incredibly fond of eating lychee fruit. The enamored Emperor Xuanzong would have these fruits, which were grown in southern China, delivered by his fastest horses. Du Fu is saying here that the horse is so fast that the only thing visible is the trail of dust it leaves in its wake.