The Gilded Cage - Chapter 3
The Letter (2.1)
After returning to Chu Ning’s room, Cui He was still concerned about her wound and helped her apply a dark green ointment with a cooling effect.
When the maids lit the candles, Chu Ning got up quickly to clean herself and wash away her tiredness. After the maids had left, she put on a large robe and took out a jewelry box, opening it beneath a lamp.
It was a multi-compartment jewelry box made of rosewood and inlaid with mother of pearl. The top level could be opened from the top. The second level had a pair of doors which opened to five drawers of various sizes, each containing her less used jewelry.
Chu Ning touched the bottom of the box and felt around carefully to open the bottom layer.
The bottom layer contained a thin letter. There was no name on the letter. It had many creases, and its folded and damaged corners meant that it had been through a lot of turmoil before reaching her hand.
This was a letter written by Fang, an old butler of the Chu Residence, about what had happened three years ago.
The Chu family was a prominent family in the capital of the Great Liang.
Chu Ning’s father, Chu Qianyu, was famous for his intelligence from a young age. He began his official career at the age of twenty-two. Although his journey was bumpy, he was able to overcome every obstacle and served as the Master of Remonstrance for a long time and then served as the Master of Robes before being promoted to the Head of Secretariat and was, at the time, a reputable minister.
Chu Ning grew up under her father’s devoted tutelage. She was outstanding among the young ladies in Chang’an. She was not only born of impeccable background, but was also very beautiful and was admired by everyone. At the time, her greatest grief was that her mother had passed away when she was just nine years old.
Chu Qianyu loved his late wife and loved his only daughter even more. He loved her like a precious jewel. Chu Qianyu never remarried, and in the next six years, he and his daughter relied on each other.
Chu Ning’s engagement with the Crown Prince began the year she turned thirteen.
Chu Qianyu had many years of experience in the royal court. He knew that if he assented to the marriage, Chu Ning and the Chu family would be embroiled in the battle for power. As such, he was very hesitant about the proposal. However, since the Emperor had made the proposition in person, he could not reject it. He could only say that his daughter was very young and requested to wait two years until she was fifteen years old before formalizing the engagement.
Emperor Zhaode took into consideration that the Crown Prince was only seventeen years old and had not come of age, so he nodded in agreement.
Who knew that two years later, the Chu family would be completely destroyed.
In the tenth year of Emperor Zhaode, the Emperor became seriously ill, and his illness was strange.
Then Chu Qianyu was accused of collaborating with Noble Consort Xue to poison the Emperor.
After that, strings of unexpected “evidence” kept coming up, connecting under various coincidences, rendering the accusation true and unarguable.
Thereafter, Chu Qianyu was stripped of his government positions and title. He was demoted to a commoner and was publicly executed. Everyone in the Chu family was punished. The men were banished to Qianzhou and banned from ever entering official careers. The women were made slaves, sold to officials, or sent to the borders as laborers.
Throughout the kingdom, everyone knew that Chu Qianyu was a just man. He was loyal to the Great Liang and would never involve himself in power strife. Even when his daughter was the future Crown Princess, he had never sought to use the connection for his benefits.
How was it possible for such a man to have an illicit relationship with a Noble Consort and poison the Emperor? Everyone could see that he was framed. Even so, due to their fear of the Empress Dowager and the indisputable evidence, no one dared to vouch for Chu Qianyu.
Overnight, the Chu Clan fell from grace.
At the time, before the fifteen-year-old Chu Ning could come to terms with her father’s death, she was forced to face the harsh reality of being forced into slavery.
It was the Crown Prince who had rescued her from her cruel fate.
He took her out of the dilapidated and crowded house for family members of criminals. He petitioned the Emperor, formalized their engagement and secured her release.
She couldn’t help but glance around her room as she remembered her past.
Join our Discord server for the latest news and announcement.