Royal Descendants

Royal Descendants

Chapter 4 - Chapter 4

The next day, in the Lingnan Prince's manor in the northern part of the city, Bairen's face turned pale as he looked at the secret report in his hand. A strategist beside him noticed this and couldn't help but lower his voice and ask, "Could it be the Princess..."

"No," Bairen suppressed the unease in his heart and said in a low voice, "It's my sister. They... want to send Roujia to the Crown Prince as a concubine..."

Upon hearing this, the strategist's brows furrowed even tighter. He said in a deep voice, "Your Highness will be staying in the capital in the future. It wouldn't be inappropriate to marry the Princess here. Given Your Highness' special status, your every move is watched. It would be best to have someone outside to help manage things for you. It's just that... marrying her to the Crown Prince is not a good move at all."

"It's not about who she marries. How can Roujia be sent to someone as a concubine?!" Bairen's brows were tightly locked. He read the secret report from beginning to end again, his expression growing increasingly gloomy. "This is going too far..."

The strategist gave a bitter laugh. "Your Highness, forgive my bluntness. Not to mention now, even when we were strong in the past, our Princess could not become the Crown Prince's principal wife."

"They have vicious intentions. Using marriage to consolidate relations is fine, but how could they possibly let a woman from our Lingnan become the Crown Prince's principal wife?" The strategist sighed. "They can probably still tolerate a Lingnan Princess, but if the Princess gives birth to a legitimate son in the future, how would they tolerate the imperial heir having Lingnan blood?"

Bairen naturally understood all this. It's just that if it were anyone else, so be it, but he and Roujia were born of the same mother. How could he bear to see his sister jump into a fiery pit?

Bairen looked fixedly at the strategist and lowered his voice, "Sir Dong... you watched my sister and I grow up. Surely you can't bear to see my sister suffer such a miserable fate? I'm alone here now and can only discuss everything with you. Is there still room to turn this situation around?"

Dong Boru looked at Bairen with difficulty. In fact, he hoped even more that Roujia could come. It was just as he said earlier. Bairen was too passive in the imperial city. The court was wary of them.

On the surface, they were polite, but no one would consider things from their perspective. Although the Emperor treated Bairen well on the surface, bestowing a manor and rewards, he kept a close watch on them. If it weren't for some of Bairen's old subordinates who were not under the Emperor's control, they would probably have become blind and deaf, let alone getting news from outside. Even if war broke out in the southern frontier in the future, they wouldn't know.

But if Roujia could come, sacrificing the Princess alone could break this deadlock. With Roujia's in-laws in the imperial city, Bairen could use this as a medium to quickly become familiar with people in the city. If something happened, with Roujia helping to manage things on her husband's side, Bairen wouldn't suffer too much.

Dong Boru was a strategist left to Bairen by his late maternal grandfather. He put Bairen first in everything. It was true that he had watched Roujia grow up since she was young, but for Bairen's sake, whether the Princess' marriage was a humiliation was not so important.

Moreover... even if she didn't become a concubine, Dong Boru didn't think the King of Lingnan would give Roujia a better marriage. The only thing that dissatisfied Dong Boru was the person Roujia was to marry - the Crown Prince of Great Xiang. Dong Boru was not optimistic about him.

Seeing that Dong Boru didn't speak for a long time, Bairen became even more anxious. He asked impatiently, "What does Sir Dong think?"

"Your Highness... in my humble opinion, this matter will be difficult to handle. According to my thoughts..." Dong Boru looked at Bairen's expression and spoke in a roundabout way, "Since she must marry, it would be better to have the Princess marry the Second Prince. Although he is not the heir, he is the Emperor's biological son. Compared to the current Crown Prince Qi Xiao, he has a greater chance of succeeding the throne."

Bairen frowned. "What do you mean the Emperor's biological son? Isn't the current Crown Prince?"

"I only recently found out for certain that he is indeed not." Dong Boru unconsciously lowered his voice and bowed his head, saying in a deep voice, "This is a secret of the Great Xiang royal family. The Crown Prince is actually the Emperor's nephew."

Bairen was stunned. Dong Boru took a step forward and slowly said, "Your Highness should know about how we joined forces with the imperial city to resist the Northern Di back then, right?"

Bairen nodded. Dong Boru continued, "The King of Northern Di was tyrannical back then, repeatedly violating the borders of neighboring countries. Emperor Wu and the Prince fought the Northern Di together. After two years, they finally drove the Northern Di people past the Kur River. The Northern Di King appealed for peace, and we got benefits before withdrawing our troops. But Emperor Wu ignored the Northern Di's letter of surrender and marched all the way in. That battle lasted for three years..."

"I know about this. It's said that Emperor Wu was valiant in battle and held deep grudges. He was determined to eliminate the Northern Di threat. After five years of efforts, he drove the Northern Di tribe thousands of miles away. Later, I heard that the entire Northern Di tribe was wiped out." Bairen pursed his lips and frowned.

"Unfortunately, fate did not grant him more years. Emperor Wu was hit by an arrow in the final battle. After the great victory, he passed away before returning to Great Xiang... Afterwards, Emperor Wu's younger brother succeeded the throne... Where did Qi Xiao come from?"

Dong Boru nodded. "Emperor Wu passed away just after coming of age. Coupled with the historians' cover-up, we only thought Emperor Wu had no heir. In fact, Emperor Wu and the Empress did have a prince. Not only a prince... this prince was conferred as the Crown Prince upon birth. He is none other than the current Crown Prince Qi Xiao."

"Qi Xiao was also unfortunate. When he was born, Emperor Wu was already wounded and barely holding on. Upon receiving the good news, Emperor Wu immediately drafted an edict conferring Qi Xiao as the Crown Prince. The imperial edict was carried back to the capital by Emperor Wu's personal guards and read in the court. It should have been set in stone.

"But for some reason... half a month later, Emperor Wu passed away. It seemed the royal family was dissatisfied, saying the country relied on a wise ruler, and the Crown Prince was not even a month old, truly unable to bear the heavy responsibility. Moreover, the Empress had already died with Emperor Wu at that time.

"The Crown Prince was still an infant and had also lost his birth mother's care. It was even more uncertain what his aptitude would be like when he grew up. So the people recommended the current Emperor, Emperor Wu's younger brother of a concubine-born, Qi Jing, as the Emperor."

"Although Qi Jing was of concubine-born, he was personally raised by the previous Empress Dowager and was much nobler than the other princes. Recommending him was considered reasonable. It's said that Qi Jing declined but eventually followed the will of the people and ascended the throne. To appease Emperor Wu's spirit in heaven and placate the Crown Prince's faction, Qi Jing, the current Emperor, adopted Qi Xiao as his own son and still conferred him as the Crown Prince.

"But this matter ultimately went against Emperor Wu's edict. The royal family tried their best to cover it up. After more than a decade... those who knew about this back then have either died or kept their mouths tightly shut... It has already become an unspeakable secret."

Bairen frowned. "Where did you hear all this from? There are loopholes everywhere!"

Dong Boru nodded. "It's been fifteen years. There may be some discrepancies, but regardless of what happened before, Crown Prince Qi Xiao is indeed not the biological son of the Emperor of Great Xiang."

Bairen's heart stirred. "But from what I've heard and seen in just this month... the Emperor dotes on this Crown Prince quite a lot."

"The things seen on the surface are countless." Dong Boru shook his head, "The Emperor is good to the Crown Prince, doubling his allowances and rewards, never saying a harsh word, and not allowing his tutors to be strict. But in the end, the Emperor is just being indulgent and rewarding him with gold and silver.

"The Emperor rarely rewards his other sons, but each time the rewards go to the most capable people, dispatching them to handle important court affairs. Your Highness, can't you see who the Emperor truly values..."

Bairen bit his lip, "Then we definitely can't let Roujia marry him. The other princes are not young either. Who knows when the Emperor might suddenly send the Crown Prince to meet Emperor Wu on a whim. If he dies... what will happen to Roujia?"

"Not necessarily. When I first heard about these things, I also thought the Crown Prince, having been raised this way by the Emperor, must have been spoiled rotten. But now it seems... that's not the case. However, if he wants to smoothly ascend the throne, it won't be easy..."

Dong Boru weighed the pros and cons and couldn't say which side had the upper hand. He simply shook his head, "Hard to say. But at least nothing will happen in the next few years. The Princess coming to help Your Highness through the current difficulties is the most important thing."

Bairen narrowed his eyes slightly and read the secret report again. Dong Boru knew Bairen couldn't bear to part with Roujia and tried to persuade him, "Your Highness, the situation is severe. If the Princess knew of Your Highness's current situation, she would probably be willing to marry over to help relieve Your Highness's worries."

Bairen was unmoved and shook his head, "I don't need her to relieve my worries... Call Chaoge for me, I have a few words for him to pass on..."

"Your Highness!" Seeing Bairen's stubbornness, Dong Boru became a bit anxious and said solemnly, "Does Your Highness still not see the current situation clearly?! That day, the Crown Prince already tested the waters with Your Highness. Now it seems the Crown Prince is determined to have this marriage alliance with us. If Your Highness insists on obstructing it, do you think the Crown Prince will hesitate to force the marriage?

"Without him saying much, the Xia clan, upon hearing the news, will probably rush to persuade the King to send Princess Kangtai over! By then, not only will you lose support, but you'll also have such a wolf by your side! Your Highness's situation will only become more difficult!"

The Xia clan was where Bairen's concubine-born mother, the favored concubine of the King of Lingnan, was from. She had three sons and a daughter. The principal wife was not favored, and in recent years, the legitimate line had suffered much at their hands. This time, Bairen being sent as a hostage had a lot to do with the Xia clan's machinations. If her daughter came... Bairen closed his eyes and repeated, "Call Chaoge for me."

Dong Boru didn't expect that after talking for half a day, Bairen would still be so stubborn. He was about to kneel down to earnestly persuade him, but Bairen stopped him and smiled faintly, "Teacher... Bairen has had ill fortune and no blessings from heaven. Being abandoned by the royal clan to become a hostage is one thing, but if my own sister is also sent over to be a concubine... with a son and daughter both becoming discarded children, Teacher, how can you let my mother establish herself in the household?"

Dong Boru's heart suddenly ached unbearably, and his eyes turned red. Bairen suppressed the bitterness in his heart and said hoarsely, "I was willing to leave my homeland and travel thousands of miles to become a caged bird, wasn't it just so that my mother and sister wouldn't suffer their bullying and could live a bit better... Teacher, help me... help my sister escape this calamity."

Dong Boru clenched his fists, gritted his teeth, and bowed his head, "Your subordinate obeys."


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