WEI LI LIAN
MINISTRY OF INVESTIGATIONS
The palace went upside down after the news of Prince Kuai Hui spread. Maids ran up and down, frantic about who was going to take the fall for his poisoning. Nurses and physicians scattered all over the palace, desperate to find the cure to the lethal poison.
Princess Le-anne had never seen such chaos without reason of war but Court Lady Park cautioned her that it was just the beginning of the havoc that was going to break loose, when the emperor returned.
Grand Consort Shu would walk up and down by Prince Kuan Hui's palace with a worried demeanor and then pridefully, she would dismiss her concerns for him by claiming she did not care much about what happened to Dowager Empress Wang's son. The relationship between Consort Shu and Prince Kuan Hui consisted more of him showering endless affection towards her to spite his own mother. Although, Consort Shu had always been an ice block towards him, it seemed like the ice was melting away gradually.
Princes Le-anne tried to peep over Court Lady Park's shoulders but only managed to see the back of Grand Consort Shu. Rows of entourages that belonged to the elders of the harem were lined up in front of the Bureau of Investigations, waiting on their mistresses that gathered in the consultation room. The bureau was surprisingly a gloomy looking place that was made of maroon bricks with nothing but the founding emperor's huge carved statue at the gate entrance.
Inside the consultation room was the Grand Dowager Empress, the Dowager Empress Wang, Grand Consort Shu and Consort Wang alongside two subjects; the Minister of Investigations and the Senior Court Lady of the harem. What was notable is how neither of the consorts that were present had said a word since the meeting began.
Consort Wang probably saw it fit to hide in quietude as speaking would easily have her, either on Consort Shu or Dowager Empress Wang's bad side. Their relationship was toxic that it was either you were on one's side or you were against them; there was no in between that a person could choose.
"Make sure to round up all suspicious maids that may have had any outside communication and have them investigated," the Grand Dowager Empress spoke up loudly, making her words audible to the entourage that quietly waited outside. At this, a wave of tension deluged the atmosphere.
"Your Royal Highness is expedient!" the Minister of Investigations shouted his praises.
"Was Huticah involved in this?" the Dowager Empress Wang suspiciously asked. At the mention of Huticah, Le-anne's heart pounced. There was no way her father would cause problems in the palace when he knew his daughter lived there.
Or was she wrong?
"Nothing is for sure at this moment," the minister bowed his head.
"Huticah killed my son and now they want my grandchild?" the Grand Dowager Empress choked over her words in heartache. "If it is indeed Huticah then their sorrow must impend sooner than planned, we have been patient considering that they are the sole suspect regarding my son's death."
Suddenly, the Senior Court Lady threw herself on the floor and lowered her head for attention.
"Senior Court Lady what seems to be the problem?" Grand Dowager Empress inquired with concern.
"Answering to her Highness, this subject seeks to share her unworthy opinion."
"May her Highness let this subject send two of the palace maids to let his majesty know that you wish to see him. It would be wise if his majesty heard the news from her Highness than any other as this may calm his anger and give him perspective."
The Grand Dowager Empress looked into thin air and nodded her head. "Hmm… I agree. That is very wise Senior Court Lady, please go on and start with the preparations."
"This serving dowager empress would like to be in agreement with her highness, however due to his majesty's hasty temper, I do not see how this would solve the problem of losing half of our palace maids when the emperor returns," Dowager Empress Wang said in a much lower voice.
Grand Consort chuckled. "And who do we blame for the emperor's gruesome behavior other than the woman who raised her?"
Le-anne grinned. The expected was finally taking place.
For a moment, the Dowager Empress Wang looked taken back by the consort's boldness.
"Insolent!" she then chastised, hitting the table with her fist.
"May her Royal Highness, the Grand Dowager Empress, excuse me, for I am quite unwell to sit here any longer." Grand Consort Shu spoke delicately and with much preciseness as one who was of royalty. "This unworthy servant also begs to remind her highness that this consort is too lowly for these matters thus next time please do not invite me." She bowed her head, gracefully stood up and took leave.
Surprise clouded everyone's faces. Since when did Consort Shu possess such finesse with the way she walked and talked. She was never one who spoke up at elderly meetings, what had given her such confidence?
"Her Highness will not be able to hide behind the emperor's protection forever," Dowager Empress Wang scorned behind her. Grand Consort Shu halted her steps like she would say something back, but with much self control she continued to walk out of the huge room; no matter how huge it was, Le-anne could tell that it had felt quite suffocating for her to be in the same room with the 'Wang vultures'.
With Le-anne beside her, it was over. The days in which everyone trampled over her and made her a doormat were over.
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