GRAND DOWAGER EMPRESS
ROSE FLOWER PALACE
"Have you heard?" Dowager Empress Wang bursts into Grand Dowager Empress' welcoming chamber fuming with deadly fury.
Grand Dowager Empress looked up from her floored resting chair that she sat on and stopped sipping on her tea. "Heard what?"
"It's all over the palace!" Dowager Empress raged and threw herself on a zabuton cushion across the Grand Dowager. The elderly woman wondered what could get her junior that deranged to ignore the greeting formalities when she had always been a lady of class. She almost chastised the Dowager Empress for being too erratic, that she should get up and give honor and respect that is due but rather she let her be.
She preferred to be the one who was lenient on her and be on her good side, this way Dowager Empress Wang would be one always opening up to her, giving the Wu clan leverage over the Wang clan.
"What is all over the place?" She again picked up her teacup calmly.
"Bai Shen Hong has shamed me. He has shamed me and stripped me of all respect and now they will not respect me as much."
Grand Dowager Empress' eyebrows pecked in curiosity then wore a mask of pity to have her say more. She must have her think she cares.
"Mother... he buried my husband all alone," she broke down, tears falling freely down her cheeks. This was shocking to watch as she was a woman who was so strong. Never had she been as affected except when the late emperor passed on. This was her true weakness, and weaknesses are opportunities that yield results if utilised well by the opponent.
"Ohh mother… they found your son's heart pierced through and through and they did not give me the chance to properly bid him farewell." She wiped her tears. "The fallen dragon has come home but still they did not honor him as he should be."
Grand Dowager Empress' heart swelled with pain and longing at the mention of her son. Finally he had made it home, that she knew already, but she had not considered that Dowager Empress Wang would be unhappy about the burial that Shen Hong did so selfishly. She had not taken the procedure to heart as she understood why Bai Shen Hong had done it informally. Due to the murder, he felt that no one cared for his father to deserve to be there, also deliberating the trust issues that possessed him. However, Dowager Empress Wang would not see it that way, not when she despised the bastard child of the fallen dragon.
"Bai Shen Hong has undone me! Oh he has undone the deepest of me..." Dowager Empress continued to moan.
"Dowager Empress Wang―"
"How could they bury him without a ceremony?" She questioned, cutting off the Grand Dowager in speech. Stopping a superior in the midst of their speech was seen as quite disrespectful.
'Dowager Empress Wang, do you look down upon me this much?' Grand Dowager Empress wondered.
"And what my child? Would a ceremony bring him back?" Grand Dowager rather responded. This was kind enough, though inside she felt like slapping her quiet and throwing her out.
Dowager Empress Wang lifted her puffy eyes and looked at her like she was insane. Her nose scrunched, clearly not liking the words of the Grand Dowager.
Out of nowhere, she violently pounded her fist on the table and the tea set cluttered, some tea spilling over on the wooden table. Like the demon she was, her teeth gritted and madly she stood up.
"Bring him back?" She said, clearly in disbelief that Grand Dowager Empress would dare say that to her. She breathed out heavily, holding her waist with both hands in an imposing manner. "Your grandson will pay for this, just you watch." She turned around and stormed out of the room without passing any kind regards.
"Aiya, you are a brat to me because I'm letting you." Grand Dowager Empress looked down and gazed over at her court lady. "Wait till I throw her useless clan out of here."
"Your Highness, Dowager Empress Wang speaks informally in your presence. She is impudent!" The court lady pushed herself forward from behind her mistress where she had postured.
"Hush now, don't be so restless."
One of the maids that knelt on the corner of the room ready to serve, ran out to fetch some cleaning materials.
Grand Dowager Empress looked at the other that still knelt down. "Go and summon the head of the clan for me right at this moment."
Toddling with the ring on her finger, the elderly woman looked into thin air. Her son was dead, leaving his son who had nothing but himself to face the world. Grand Dowager Empress had to do right by her grandson and protect him. Therefore, the Wu Clan had to prosper so that they would shield the throne and wield more power for the East Wing. Besides, the East Wing had stayed weak for too long it was high time they arose.
"But does her Highness not fear her threat? She said she will make the emperor pay."
"What if she rallies the North Wing against the emperor?"
"Méiyǒu(No). She cannot do anything when the focus is on Gurio currently, because if she starts discord it will disturb the investigation case of Yang Liu who she loves so much. In the meanwhile she will stay docile, though I imagine that the South Wing is already unhappy and agitated about Consort Wang being useless in her pursuit of becoming empress."
"Her Highness is sagacious!"
"But Lady Zhou, we have not much time as you can see how Dowager Empress Wang is under pressure. At this rate she will come up with something."
"What is her Highness thinking?"
"We will seize the throne before them. That is a sure way of protecting my grandson."
"But your Highness... that is impossible."
"Everything is possible Lady Zhou. We will just have to use the same strategy they have been trying to use with fail." Grand Dowager Empress shifted so that the palace maid who intended to clean the table's surface could do so properly.
The court lady frowned. "This servant does not understand her Highness' profound way of thinking."
"The Wang Clan was dull-witted to bring in Consort Wang when the emperor's heart was already taken. We will be different by bringing in someone who already has Shen Hong's heart." The Dowager Empress thought back to the time her grandson was once drunk and opened his heart to her about his lost love.
"Elora? You found her?" Court Lady Zhou asked with surprise, knowing the story.
The Grand Dowager shook her head. "No, which is good as this way we will find someone from our clan to become Elora." The Grand Dowager swayed her hand to signal the palace maid into pouring her some more tea. "All Shen Hong needs is Elora, and we will give him Elora."
"Give him our Elora?" Lady Zhou simpered, feeling pleased to have caught on.
"Yes Lady Zhou. So hurry along and make sure the head of the Wu Clan is summoned, as you can see we have a lot of work ahead of us."
Bai Shen Hong was now the emperor and he couldn't be the Grand General forever. The time would come in which he would have to give up the position, leaving him without as much power; especially with the empress seat empty and without heir. And this was why they had to fill it up; if only he would trust her and marry one from her clan so as to wedge power together, she wouldn't have to be this cunning.
The root of all her problems was that Shen Hong trusted no one, and 'no one' included her because the 'only one' he did trust was dead.
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