The Eighth Prince’s Conspiracy

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On the way to Shu Zhou, the people were extremely nervous. Wang Chuan and Huang Quan would occasionally look out of the window to pay attention to the movement of those carriages.

Those carriages were sandwiched in the middle of Feng Yu Heng’s group to ensure that they could be watched from all sides. The hidden guards riding along for protection were also concentrated on the two sides. Only Ban Zou alone rode with Feng Yu Heng’s carriage, not taking even half a step away.

Xiang Rong sat inside the carriage with a look of hatred on her face. She just could not understand it: “Even if they want military prostitutes from far away, are there not enough in the brothels? Why do they need to kidnap girls from respectable families? Second sister, that girl just now said that she was the daughter of a concubine of Peng Zhou’s prefect. Could it be true? Just how bold is that granny’s group to actually dare to kidnap the daughter of an official? Is she not afraid that she’ll lose her head if the prefect of Peng Zhou found out?” Xiang Rong became angrier the more she said, as she began to stomp her feet in anger.

Wang Chuan was thinking the same thing as Feng Yu Heng. Seeing that Feng Yu Heng did not speak, she took the initiative to respond to Xiang Rong’s question, saying: “Third Young Miss, could it be that you’ve forgotten what that old woman said? They were flying His Highness the ninth prince’s flag, and they were using His Highness the ninth prince’s name to suppress people. Even if Peng Zhou’s prefect found out, what could he say? It’s just a daughter of a concubine. If this was the daughter of the first wife, it might be possible to head to the capital to cause a bit of a commotion, but to offend His Highness the ninth prince over a daughter of a concubine, it is truly not worth it. But to directly kidnap the daughter of the first wife is definitely difficult. Even when a daughter of the first wife from a large family goes out, there is protection that will accompany them. That old woman does not have that much ability. As for the merchant families, if the daughter that was kidnapped happens to be one that the family truly loves, perhaps it would end up causing a commotion in the capital.” She looked at Feng Yu Heng and asked: “Young Miss, what do you think? Peng Zhou is not far from the capital.”

Feng Yu Heng continued to remain silent, as Huang Quan chimed in with her analysis: “Girls being kidnapped is the same as having their reputation destroyed. I fear that nobody would go and look for them, right? Even if this sort of daughter was found, they would be considered worthless. Not only could they not get married, but the family would also be mocked. The other daughters of the family would also suffer with them. As I see it, the majority of the families will choose to remain quiet. They can only suffer in silence and swallow this bitter pill on their own.”

“After arriving in Shu Zhou, find a reason for it. At the very least, don’t make those girls look too bad.” Feng Yu Heng suddenly said this then continued to keep her eyes closed, no longer speaking.

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Wang Chuan understood her intentions and nodded, saying: “Young Miss, don’t worry. The prefect of Shu Zhou gets along well with His Highness the seventh prince. All of the provinces, towns and counties that we will be passing through have been greeted by His Highnesses the seventh and ninth prince. They can be considered our people. When the time comes, we can have the prefect of Shu Zhou make an appearance and say that the girls were invited by his madam as guests. People can then be sent out to contact the families. The situation can then be written out in a letter to the families. The families can then honorably retrieve their daughters.”

“The letter must make it clear that it was people from His Highness the eighth prince’s side that kidnapped their daughters, and they used His Highness the ninth prince’s name to ruin His Highness the ninth prince’s reputation. Our young miss was kind and saved them.” Huang Quan interrupted from the side, “Either way, we can’t allow the eighth prince to get away with this.”

Feng Yu Heng nodded, “That is a must.” It seemed that the battle in the South would be starting very shortly. Perhaps there were already movements. It was just that the news had not yet reached the capital because of the distance. But old eighth must be clear on the situation. His communication with the desert countries should not have been suspended since returning to the capital; otherwise, he would not have come up with this sort of idea. It was just that the fat granny’s luck was bad, and they ran into her. Who knew what they were thinking, taking the same path. The eighth prince didn’t even tell her that it was very likely that she would run into her?

Feng Yu Heng tightly furrowed her brow and suddenly had a very bad premonition. She suddenly opened her eyes and gave everyone in the carriage a fright, especially Shan Cha. She was in the middle of pouring some water for Xiang Rong, and she nearly dropped the kettle. It was fortunate that Huang Quan supported her from the side.

“Young Miss, what’s wrong?” Wang Chuan saw this and quickly asked: “Could it be that you thought of something?”

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Feng Yu Heng nodded, “This granny running into us was not a coincidence, nor was it them having bad luck. This was something deliberately arranged by the eighth prince. It’s to warn us through this, and it is also a reminder. The battle between him and Xuan Tian Ming has already begun, and he will do everything that he can to cause trouble for Xuan Tian Ming. As for the team transporting girls like that old granny, there should be more than just one. At present, I fear that there are carriages like theirs moving all over Da Shun, and they are all flying His Highness the ninth prince’s flag and ruining His Highness the ninth prince’s reputation. These people will then be sent directly to the South. They will then begin to spread this information all over from the South. When Xuan Tian Ming reaches the South, he might face a great deal of opposition from the people there.” She rubbed her forehead, “The citizens of the South are fine, but these people put their hands on so many officials’ families. It’s inevitable that reports will be filed to the capital, and it will be exaggerated by the people of the eighth prince’s faction that had bad intentions…”

“Won’t His Highness the ninth prince’s reputation be completely destroyed?” Huang Quan fiercely gritted her teeth, “Damn, that eighth prince only knows how to play from the shadows. If he has the ability, why doesn’t he attack openly? Fight with a real sword and real spear!”

“How could something like the battle for the throne be fought using swords and spears?” Wang Chuan helplessly shook her head; however, there was nothing that she could do about this matter. She could only place her hope in Feng Yu Heng: “Young Miss, what do you think should be done about this? Will we just watch on, as His Highness the ninth prince bears this burden?”

Feng Yu Heng smiled bitterly, “What else could we do? I fear that ever since the moment old eighth handed over the rights to command the Southern Army, this matter had already begun planning in the shadows. It might be possible for us to go and stop them if they only had one or two groups going, but how could there only be one or two groups? I fear that there might be eight or ten groups, or there might even be more. We could not even keep up even if we wanted to.”

“Then what can we do?” Huang Quan had also become frantic, “In the worst-case scenario, we can have the young misses in the carriages to the back can act as witnesses, right?”

“How can that be.” Xiang Rong said: “You just said that you were worried that their reputation would be ruined. If they came out to act as witnesses, would that not be making it public? But…” She paused for a bit and looked toward Feng Yu Heng, “Second sister, if you give them a certain amount of benefits, would they be willing to act as witnesses?”

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The inside of the carriage fell silent, as everyone thought about the possibility of Xiang Rong’s suggestion. But to give benefits, what sort of benefits could be provided? The young misses from officials’ families were not lacking in money, nor were they lacking in position or lacking… Wait! Feng Yu Heng blinked, were they really not lacking in money and position? Although they were young misses from officials’ families, they were just daughters of concubines. There were also daughters of the first wives from merchant families. The daughters of concubines were lacking in position, and the daughters of merchants were lacking in status and a higher-class social circle. Perhaps, she could manage such things.

It was exactly as Wang Chuan had said. Xuan Tian Ming and Xuan Tian Hua had already sent people ahead to visit the various provinces and prefectures on the path from the capital to Ji An Prefecture. It was basically the case that Feng Yu Heng received exceptional treatment as soon as her caravan arrived. When their group arrived in Shu Zhou City, the guards protecting the city were quick to recognize her. Stepping forward to verify her identity, they would run back to report to the lord prefect. The prefect had been waiting for a few days for the arrival of Feng Yu Heng’s group. Upon hearing that they had entered the city, he quickly brought his subordinates and wife to receive her.

Feng Yu Heng’s group of carriages moved to the entrance of the government office, and a group of officials could be seen kneeling on the ground to greet her. Even the surrounding citizens kneeled, as everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of Imperial Daughter Ji An’s glory.

Today, Feng Yu Heng was not in much of a mood to chat with the officials. She only said a few simple things then followed the prefect, Lord Song, Song Tian Qi, into the office. The carriages carrying the girls had been arranged to enter through a side entrance. After the girls got out of the carriages, they went and washed up. On the other side, Feng Yu Heng had already told Song Tian Qi about the situation.

Song Tian Qi was one of the seventh prince’s, Xuan Tian Hua’s, people. He had followed Xuan Tian Hua for many years, and he could be considered trustworthy. Upon hearing this matter, he immediately furrowed his brow and quickly said: “Imperial Daughter is saying to have this lowly official’s madam make an appearance and said that these young misses were invited as guests. There are no problems with this, but if there are other groups going around, His Highness the ninth prince’s reputation is in trouble!” He was extremely anxious and repeatedly muttered: “We need to come up with some sort of idea, but what can expose His Highness the eighth prince’s evil?”

Feng Yu Heng advised him: “Lord Song, do not panic. I naturally have something for this. As long as you and your madam are able to do the former things beautifully, it will be fine. Also, I fear that we will be imposing for a few days. I hope that my lord will be magnanimous.”

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“What sort of thing is Imperial Daughter saying?” Song Tian Qi waved his hand, “This is what this official should be doing.” As he spoke, he seemed to have thought of something then looked toward his madam: “I recall that my wife seemed to have a younger sister born of a concubine that married into Peng Zhou and is a concubine of Peng Zhou’s prefect?”

Song Tian Qi’s madam, Liu shi, nodded, “Husband is correct. That younger sister and I have communicated a bit. Every year, we will send each other new year’s gifts. She also gave birth to a daughter for the prefect of Peng Zhou. I just don’t know which one imperial daughter has saved.” As she spoke, she stopped talking and bowed to Feng Yu Heng: “But this wife will go to the backyard to take a look! If it really is her, this matter can be handled with a bit more ease.”

Feng Yu Heng gave her thanks and said: “Naturally, that would be best. Madam, don’t worry. This matter will be done while protecting their reputation as much as possible. If that girl really is madam’s relative, as long as she is willing to stand as a witness for the ninth prince, I will naturally provide the mother and daughter with a nice gift.”

Liu shi quickly thanked Feng Yu Heng for her grace and said: “It should be said that my younger sister of a concubine has worried about her status as being born of a concubine a great deal. It’s because she was a daughter of a concubine that she could only become a concubine. Although I am not intimate with her, I have never treated her poorly. With her getting married as a concubine, the daughter that she gave birth to is naturally also a daughter of a concubine. This has become something that has plagued the hearts of the mother and daughter. She does not want her daughter to walk the same path that she had, but there is nothing that can be done to change it. If Imperial Daughter can provide some assistance in this area, it would be the most reliable method.” She left this advice and quickly brought her maidservant toward the backyard.

Song Tian Qi, however, felt that this matter was a bit troubling. He wanted to explain for his madam, but Feng Yu Heng said: “It’s fine. It’s just a matter of status. As long as she agrees, this imperial daughter naturally has methods. As for the people in the backyard, that granny has a few strong men. Have them sent to the capital tomorrow. Send them straight to Xu Jing Yuan’s hands. I will send some hidden guards to accompany them just in case.”

Song Tian Qi nodded and complied. Feng Yu Heng then said: “Aside from this, I need Lord Song to collaborate in an act…”

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