It was kind of hot in the middle of spring, and the atmosphere was even more depressing.
Propping up against the soft bed, Royal Concubine Hu covered her bulging stomach with the loose left sleeve of her gown dropping down in front of her body.
In fact, no other royal concubines in the imperial palace currently could threaten her status and the child in her belly, and the royal doctors and the female immortal masters of the Center Sect were taking care of her all the time. As such, she should have kept her heath in a good condition; but, her face was somehow pale and her expression appeared tired, looking unhealthy, not to mention, her temper had become shorter than before. She drove all of her personal maidservants away to the front hall for a trivial matter that day.
A voice informing her of someone's arrival rang out outside the palace.
Feeling surprised, Royal Concubine Hu got up by supporting herself on the edge of the bed, taking two steps forward with some difficulty. She did this on purpose in an attempt to let others see what she was doing.
She knew better than anybody else what the relationship between State Duke Lu and the Emperor was.
Seeing her effort, State Duke Lu said hurriedly, "Your Highness, please sit down. Please sit down."
With a gentle smile, Royal Concubine Hu sat down. "State Duke, what's happened today? Does the Emperor want to see me?" she asked with a mild expression.
She was actually quite nervous when she asked the question, and meanwhile she was partly expecting and partly feeling uneasy.
The Emperor hadn't come to her palace to see her for many days.
"Your Highness, two visitors are here to see you."
Having said this, State Duke Lu left the palace without hesitation.
Zhao Layue and Gu Qing walked out from behind the pillar of the corridor.
It was unknown how they had gotten here.
Royal Concubine Hu didn't yell "assassin", nor did she call her servants; all she did was look at Zhao Layue in silence.
They had met in the old plum garden three years ago, and they had grudges against each other in the past.
"Under the circumstances, you still can keep your cool, much better than you did three years ago," commented Zhao Layue.
Glancing at Zhao Layue sideways, Royal Concubine Hu said, "Even though you are a peak master of the Green Mountain, you could still get in trouble for entering the palace at night without permission."
Zhao Layue responded icily, "I think you should be worried about your own safety right now."
Upon hearing this, Royal Concubine Hu slowly narrowed her eyes.
She was pregnant and tired, but she still looked naïve and attractive in her eye expression. She looked even more alluring with the narrowed eyes.
Gu Qing turned around, to avoid looking at her.
"Has it been three years?" asked Zhao Layue while glancing at her belly.
Hearing the question, Royal Concubine Hu got angry. "It has nothing to do with you!" she snapped while gritting her teeth.
"You can't conceal it from anyone," Zhao Layue said emotionlessly. "There are many discussions and debates among the populous, not to mention the courtiers in the imperial courts. If they knew you were a vixen, would they let you give birth to this child?"
Royal Concubine Hu spat at the ground in front of the bed. "I have nothing to fear, because everybody knows about it," she said.
Zhao Layue said, "There is a difference between guessing and knowing. Since the Emperor likes you, the courtiers don't dare say anything as long as they don't have the solid evidence."
The implication of this statement was obvious.
Nobody dared point out that Royal Concubine Hu was a vixen, because the Emperor liked her and they didn't have the evidence yet.
It was unthinkable that they would pull up her dress and see whether she had a tail behind her.
However, the unborn child in her belly for three years could become the best evidence at any time.
Zhao Layue said, "Even though you have a good relationship with the Center Sect, and a history with the Fruit Formation Temple, do you know what effect it will have at the critical moment?"
The implication of the critical moment was also obvious.
Royal Concubine Hu's face turned pale, asking, "What should I do then? I don't want to be like this, but…I can't give birth yet, no matter how hard I've tried…"
"The fetus might be a demon, so it's hard to give birth; but it could be a spiritual fetus, which requires ten years to bear."
Zhao Layue continued, "The Emperor doesn't care about this; all he cares about is the discussions and opinions."
How could the opinions be manipulated? Or in other words, who was qualified and capable of changing the status of the baby in her belly.
Royal Concubine Hu, eyes gleaming, lifted her head to look at Zhao Layue.
Zhao Layue said, "The royal affairs have always been the responsibility of the Center Sect and the Fruit Formation Temple. Our Green Mountain Sect doesn't get involved in them."
"Why did you tell me all these then?" Royal Concubine Hu exclaimed disappointedly.
Zhao Layue said, "If the Young Zen Master says you are good, then your child will be a good person."
Royal Concubine Hu of course knew this was the best way.
The reputation of the Young Zen Master was even better than the Sect Master of Green Mountain and the Center Sect Master in the mortal world.
As long as the Young Zen Master opened his "golden" mouth, nobody would doubt that the fetus in her belly was a spiritual child; and they would even believe that she had a Buddha child in her belly if the Young Zen Master said so.
"But…the Young Zen Master said that his cause and effect relationship with me was over. He doesn't even want to see me, let alone help me."
At the moment, Royal Concubine Hu appeared quite feeble.
Thinking of a certain woman, Zhao Layue raised her eyebrows slightly.
"Though your friendly relationship with the Young Zen Master is over, he owes Shenmo Peak a big debt."
It was because of what had happened three years ago in the Cultivation tournament of the Plum Meeting, or perhaps some happenings many years ago.
Royal Concubine Hu understood what she meant. "What do you want from me?" she asked Zhao Layue after a moment of silence.
She was well aware that the Green Mountain Sect must want something extremely important and difficult to obtain if they were offering her such a big favor.
Yet, she wasn't sure what Zhao Layue wanted from her.
Zhao Layue was the Shenmo Peak Master of the Green Mountain Sect, so she could get whatever she wanted in her current status.
So, the rumor was true that she wanted to find some kind of grass.
Zhao Layue said, "When Jing Xin and Luo Huainan met in the old plum garden a few years ago, they pretended not to know each other. I believe you didn't buy that."
Royal Concubine Hu asked with narrowed eyes, "What are you trying to tell me?"
"The friendship you have with the Center Sect is meaningless," Zhao Layue said, "as long as Luo Huainan is still around. The Center Sect will definitely support Jing Xin."
Royal Concubine Hu said with a slightly cold expression, "All I want is to give birth to this child, and I don't want to contend for anything."
Gu Qing suddenly spoke up after a long silence.
He didn't turn around, looking at the night scene outside the palace.
"I'm a child born to a concubine, and I know what it is like being the child of such a union. I doubt you want your own child will live a life like that."
After a moment of silence, Royal Concubine Hu said, "But you have a good Cultivation talent, so your status in the clan has improved gradually. I believe my child will have a similar future."
Gu Qing pressed, "Are you sure your child will have the chance to show his talent? The Emperor wants you to contend, just as he wants you to have the child. If you don't contend, why bother at all."
Royal Concubine Hu became silent.
It was quiet everywhere.
This was a cruel and undeniable fact.
It was also very plain.
Due to this fact, Royal Concubine Hu had thought that the Emperor would favor the child in her belly.
Yet, she hadn't expected the Emperor to seemingly change his mind during the past two years, making her feel restless.
In fact, Royal Concubine Hu, Zhao Layue and Gu Qing all misunderstood the Emperor's intent. In the original plan, the Emperor would have rescinded Jing Xin's status of Crown Prince and sent him to the Fruit Formation Temple to become a monk, leaving no chance for him to contend, once Royal Concubine Hu gave birth and the child were proven to be normal after a few years.
It was Jing Jiu's idea that Jing Xin shouldn't be allowed to inherit the emperor position.
But Jing Jiu was dead.
The Emperor didn't believe that Jing Jiu could be dead. However, no news about him in the past three years would make anyone consider the possibility of his death.
If the Green Mountain Sect didn't support him wholeheartedly, the Emperor had no choice but to heed the idea expressed by the Center Sect.
Royal Concubine Hu had made up her mind in a short time, asking, "What specifically do you want me to do?"
"I'd like to know Luo Huainan's whereabouts," said Gu Qing while turning around.
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