Zhao Jie stopped walking, slowly turned around, and maintained his composure as he looked at Zhao Zhang.
Zhao Zhang had his own ideas and his calculations were exceptionally meticulous. With the relationship between Count Zhong Yi and Noble Consort Ning, if Song Hui could score first place in the court examination, Song Hui would definitely stand on Zhao Zhang's side. By playing matchmaker for Wei Luo and Song Hui's wedding, Song Hui would harbor thoughts of gratefulness towards him and loyally serve him. In addition, after gaining a layer of relationship with Wei Luo, he wouldn't have to worry about gaining Duke Ying's family as his supporters. This was a brilliant scheme that would kill two birds with one stone.
Although he had calculated everything properly, he unfortunately didn't know about Zhao Jie's feelings towards Wei Luo.
While he was there frankly speaking with assurance, Zhao Jie didn't show his emotions as he listened.
Once Zhao Zhang was done speaking, Zhao Jie calmly asked, "Fifth brother is so concern about a marriage for Count Zhong Yi's family. Is it because you have other intentions?"
Hearing Zhao Jie being so blunt about point this out, Zhao Zhang was slightly stunned and his face was stifled for a moment before he raised the corners of his lips to smile and say, "Second brother is thinking too much. What kind of intentions can I have? I was only casually mentioning this in consideration for imperial father's reputation."
Zhao Jie raised his eyebrows and exasperatingly slowly said, "Oh." His entire self became imposing. Although he didn't show any signs of anger, he gave off a sense of indescribable oppression, "For imperial father's reputation? It doesn't seem that simple. Fifth brother already has a good relationship with Count Zhong Yi and now you want to draw over Duke Ying's family to your side?" His thin lips were faintly smiling, but a trace of imperceptible coldness flashed through his phoenix eyes. "If this prince remembers correctly, "Duke Ying's family's fourth miss is only thirteen years old. Fifth brother, you're being too hasty."
Zhao Zhang's face changed. Zhao Jie had guessed all of his thoughts and mercilessly said them out loud. He was temporarily dumbstruck and speechless.
Emperor Chong Zhen's expression subtly changed and his grip on the purple brush tightened. He stared at both of them. His gaze was chaotic and penetrating.
A long time later, he asked Zhao Zhang, "Old five, is this true?"
The emperor's greatest taboo was the princes secretly pulling the officials to their sides and privately conspiring about imperial court matters. It gave him the feeling that his sons wanted to replace him before he died. Although Zhao Jie and Zhao Zhang were drawing official to their sides, they were extremely secretive with their actions and would never let him know. Now that Zhao Jie said these words, he would be more vigilant against Zhao Zhang.
Zhao Zhang's face was panic-stricken. He hurriedly lifted his robe, kneeled down, and said, "To respond to imperial father, this isn't true."
Although he said this, he did have private contact with Count Zhong Yi, Song Bai Ye. Not only did they have contact, he had recorded each meeting in a book. He had also recorded the names of all court officials that he meetings with. Originally, he had only created this as evidence to be used against them just in case. He hadn't expected that it would become his own Achilles' heel.
He had secretly hidden that book. No one else knew its location other than him. Zhao Jie's tone had been so assured. Could he know something?
Zhao Zhang was very unsettled.
Both of them had their own supporters. When Zhao Jie was secretly meeting with court officials, he never left behind evidence. The whereabouts of these meetings were indeterminate and elusive. Even if Zhao Zhang wanted to find information to use against Zhao Jie, there weren't any traces of it to be found.
In this aspect, Zhao Jie had outsmarted his opponent and Zhao Zhang was in disadvantageous position.
Emperor Chong Zhen's expression had slightly relaxed. After thinking it over, he said, "Since it's not true, then know your place and behave yourself. As for Song Hui's marriage, let's reconsider this after the court examination...."
After saying this, he waved his hand to indicate for the two of them to leave.
Zhao Jie and Zhao Zhang left the imperial study and walked in the direction of the palace gates.
Near the palace gates, Zhao Jie held the reins, flipped onto his horse, and quietly ordered Zhu Geng, "Figure out a way to obtain old five's book, transcribe a copy, and deliver it to this prince. Remember to secretly proceed without letting anyone else find out."
Zhu Geng had followed him for a long time. Now that he was finally asking him to do something slightly difficult, he immediately readily agreed, "Prince, be assured. This subordinate will accomplish this task beautifully."
At Duke Ying’s residence, it was drizzling today. The raindrops landed on the verandah’s glazed roof tiles and fell into the soil. The rain wasn't heavy, but it felt as if it were unending. Wei Kun had gone to the imperial academy. After Wei Luo washed up and changed into a moon white and sky blue top with short sleeves, a gauzy honey yellow skirt, and gao die er shoes, she walked in the direction of the study.
(T/N: Below is picture of gao die er shoes.)
The study was behind Pine Courtyard's main hall. It was the room that Wei Kun did his work. Normally, Wei Luo rarely came here. If it weren’t for Jiang Miao Lan's painting, she probably wouldn’t be stepping foot into here.
There wasn't anyone at the study's doors. She pushed open the doors and walked to behind the black table inlayed with golden spirals and engraved with clouds. Last time, she saw Wei Kun putting the painting away in the bookshelf here. She tried looking for it and in the innermost shelf, she found the painting sealed up for safe keeping inside a Chinese cedar box. She took the painting out of the box and slowly untied the red silk around the scroll. It was the woman she had seen last time.
She didn't discover anything on the painting, so she could only store the painting back in the box, put the box in the bookshelf, and leave the study.
When she returned to Pine Courtyard's main hall, there was servant girl wearing a bluish green top and skirt waiting for her. At the sight of her, the servant girl hurriedly came forward to say, "Fourth Miss, you finally returned."
Unclear about the reason why the servant girl was waiting for her, Wei Luo tilted her head and asked, "What happened?"
The servant girl nodded and hurriedly said, "Someone came to invite you to the palace."
Wei Luo froze for a moment and subconsciously asked, "Was it Princess Tianji that invited me?"
"It wasn't Princess Tianji." The servant girl shook her head and continued, "It was Empress Chen that invited you to the palace."
This was even more puzzling. From the time she stopped being Zhao Liuli's study companion, she hadn't seen Empress Chen in a long time. Every time she went to the palace, she would directly go to Chen Hua Hall and rarely went to Zhao Yang Hall. Why did Empress Chen invite her to palace? Was there some urgent matter?
Although Wei Luo was startled, she didn't delay with going to her room. She had Jin Lu redo her hairstyle, add water crystal and jasper hairpins to her hair, take out a pair of turquoise and gold earrings from her trousseau, and put them on her ears before going into the palace carriage.
The carriage steadily headed towards the palace. An hour later, the carriage stopped at Qing Xi Palace's entrance. At the door, there was a mama wearing autumn colored clothes waiting for her.
Wei Luo came out of the carriage and followed behind the mama as they walked to Zhao Yang Hall.
After they passed through the long verandah in front of Zhao Yang Hall, they arrived at Zhao Yang Hall's doors. Wei Luo lowered her head as she entered the hall, saluted to Empress Chen while saying, "This subject greets Her Majesty."
Empress Chen was wearing an imperial golden top with wide sleeves and a golden skirt with blue sea serpent pattern. She was sitting on Chinese cedar chair with carved roses. After looking Wei Luo over, she smiled and said, "Rise, let this empress take a good look at you.”
Wei Luo straightened and looked up.
She was suddenly startled when she looked up. Zhao Jie was sitting next to Empress Chen!
Zhao Jie was wearing a deep black robe with a persimmon pattern. He was supporting his chin in his hand and smiling as he looked at her.
She froze for a moment, then hurriedly looked away from him and went to properly sit in the chair below Empress Chen's. Unfortunately, the orientation of this chair wasn't good. It was directly across from Zhao Jie's. As soon as she looked up, she would be meeting his eyes. Unexpectedly, he didn't exercise restraint. His dark eyes kept looking at her and made her feel slightly uncomfortable.