Title: The Dreamer in the Spring Boudoir
Chapter 323 - Your Highness, you misunderstood! (2)
After going through a checkpoint at a palace gate, Ji Man followed Zhao Zhe with her head lowered as he walked through the palace. When they had almost arrived at the empress dowager's palace, she saw the emperor's carriage slowly coming over from a distance.
This was the first time that Zhao Zhe had met Zhao Li after he had become the new emperor. In the past, Zhao Li had been a cripple that he could bully and humiliate as he liked. But now, he was an emperor that was high above him.
"This subject greets His Majesty." Without any hesitation, Zhangjun Prince knelt down. Ji Man and the others also knelt down.
"It's been so long since I last saw you, imperial brother." Zhao Li gestured for the golden, dragon carriage to stop and looked down at the group of people from high above. "Who could have expected that there would be a day when you would have to kneel before me?"
"Your Majesty, you should be referring yourself as 'this emperor'." Amazingly, Zhao Zhe said these words in a very relaxed tone. He smiled and added, "Your Majesty, you shouldn't forget the etiquette rules because of our close brotherly relationship."
If these two brothers actually became close, then Ji Man would write her name in reverse. It was fortunate that Zhao Zhe could say words that were shameless enough that the other party couldn't even refute.
"It's this emperor that forgot my manners." Zhao Li smiled. "Imperial brother, your days seem to be going pretty well."
"It's thanks to the blessings from Your Majesty," Zhao Zhe said, "The empress dowager also lives because of His Majesty's grace and care. This subject has no way of expressing my thanks, so this subject can only kowtow."
After saying this, he really did knock his forehead against the ground while continuing to kneel.
Ji Man's face and hands were lowered to the ground, so she could only hear that the surroundings had suddenly fallen silent.
A moment later, Zhao Li fake laughed. "Imperial brother, you're being too courteous. This emperor has matters to attend to. This emperor will leave first."
"Respectfully seeing off His Majesty."
Zhao Zhe didn't raise his head until the emperor's carriage had reached the end of the palace road.
Ji Man didn't know why, but she couldn't feeling apprehensive and shocked. Zhao Zhe had always been a high-status prince that smiled in a rather improper way, but after seeing him kowtowed, instead of seeing this as subservience, she thought that he actually looked more imposing.
After entering the dowager empress's palace, Zhao Zhe greeted, "This imperial son greets imperial mother."
Holding the gifts, Ji Man and Wu Yong knelt down behind the prince.
The dowager empress chuckled and said, "You can all rise. It's so rare for you to come back, so don't waste time observing ceremonial etiquette."
Zhao Zhe expressed his thanks. When he raised his head, he saw Ning Yuxuan to his surprise.
Marquis Moyu was standing calmly to the side and even saluted him. "Greetings, Zhangjun Prince."
"I see that you've been in good health since we last met." Zhao Zhe was still smiling, but his eyes had turned chilly. "Why do you have the free time to visit the dowager empress?"
Before Ning Yuxuan had time to reply, the dowager empress replied for him, "I want to renovate my palace, but unfortunately, the emperor isn't willing to agree. Marquis Moyu came over here of his own imitative to discuss a budget and see what could be renovated with that amount.
Hearing these words, Zhao Zhe's expression became much better. "Oh, I see."
Ning Yuxuan cupped his hands and said, "This subject won't stay around to bother Your Majesty and Your Highness's reunion. This subject will leave first."
Zhao Zhe nodded, and Marquis Moyu left the hall without glancing sideways to look at Ji Man.
When all of the palace servants had withdrawn and only the advisors and the princess consort were allowed to stay, the dowager empress held her son's hand and sincerely said, "Why did you put on that unpleasant expression in front of him? The new emperor isn't my son, and there isn't any affection between us. In this palace, I rely on Marquis Moyu to help me from time to time. Otherwise, even something like renovating my palace won't be possible."
"Imperial mother, why haven't you told this to uncle?" Zhao Zhe furrowed his brow. "You don't need to let yourself suffer."
"It's not easy for someone in the imperial court to get involved with matters related to the harem. Moreover, the national treasury is going through a scarcity period. It really isn't easy to get money from it," the dowager empress said. "Are you doing well in Zhangjun?"
Shen Youqing took a step forward and helped her husband answer this question. "This servant has always been attending to the prince, and Zhangjun has rich and fertile lands. It's easy to live well there."
"You were right to retreat a step back then." The dowager empress pursed her lips. "Who could have expected that it would be old two that reversed the situation in the end..."
Zhao Zhe glanced at Ji Man. He wanted to change the topic to something else.
The dowager empress still said many other good words on Marquis Moyu's behalf. It seemed that he had been quite helpful towards her, but Zhao Zhe couldn't figure it out. Why was Ning Yuxuan treating the dowager empress so well?
On the carriage ride back to the inn, Wu Yong said, "This one thinks that Marquis Moyu is doing this to express goodwill towards you. Xiao Clan has maintained its power and holds much more power than Ning Clan. It's probably because the new emperor's behavior has caused many people to feel discontent with him, so Marquis Moyu once again wants to side with you."
"That can't be it," Ji Man interrupted Wu Yong.
Zhao Zhe looked at her with an eyebrow raised.
“Based on this one's understanding of Marquis Moyu, he's not the type of person that would make any overt moves when it's not clear how the situation will develop," Ji Man said, "Right now, the imperial court can be considered to be in stable position. There's no reason why he would risk the danger of offending the new emperor just to showing goodwill to Your Highness. On the contrary, this one thinks that Marquis Moyu is taking care of the dowager empress with sincere intentions."
"Oh?" Zhao Zhe lightly harrumphed. "How can you be sure?"
"At the time of the coup, this one wasn't in the capital and doesn't know the details of what happened back then, "Ji Man seriously said, "This one will dare to ask Your Highness. During your struggle with the third prince over the throne, were you the one that took the initiative to back down, or did Marquis Moyu help the third prince seize the throne?"
Zhao Zhe paused. With his brow furrowed, he said, “Back then, old three had already gained control of the situation. If I wasn't willing to retreat, what else could I do? But, if Ning Yuxuan hadn't been helping him at the end, old three wouldn't have ascended the throne so easily."
"Exactly!" Ji Man slapped her thigh. "Your Highness, this means you misunderstood him!"