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“Your majesty’s royal body is currently stable.” Imperial Physician Zhou finished taking his pulse and said.
Zheng Hai Quan approached and took off the yellow silk covering Emperor Xi’s wrist.
“The medication must continue. This subordinate will renew the prescription. General Manager Zheng, if you are available later, please come with this subordinate to the imperial pharmacy.” Emperor Xi’s medications were all handled personally by Zheng Hai Quan. He was extremely cautious and refused to let any outsiders come into contact with it.
“I’m available, I’m available. Nothing is more important than his majesty’s royal body.” Zheng Hai Quan’s face was full of smiles.
Emperor Xi sat behind the desk, his face full of praise, “Imperial Physician Zhou’s skills are supreme. Our body is safe in your hands.”
“Only two years though. Two years is ultimately a little short….”
These faint, almost imperceptible words entered Imperial Physician Zhou’s ears. His hand trembled, and he bowed deeper. Zheng Hai Quan did the same on the side.
Many things would give one the chills if said out loud, even if they all knew it in their hearts. Especially if the one saying it was the person with the most authority in the world.
Ever since Emperor Xi’s illness struck until now, those who knew the truth were only Zheng Hai Quan and Imperial Physician Zhou. The others who knew were people who served Emperor Xi closely, but they had been gotten rid of one after another. This batch that was currently in the palace hall…..
Imperial Physician Zhou remembered how he had once inadvertently asked a eunuch something while looking for Zheng Hai Quan. That person’s mouth had been completely empty, like a devouring black hole…..
“The emperor is the venerated heavenly dragon. His prestige cannot be tainted by ten thousand demons. He is blessed by the gods. The body of a dragon will definitely recover.”
Emperor Xi burst out laughing, “Outcast Zhou Jin. Even you’ve managed to develop a silver tongue to flatter me.”
Imperial Physician Zhou’s expression turned rigid and he bowed once more.
“Zheng Hai Quan, see Imperial Physician Zhou out.”
He stood up and greeted with a smile, “Imperial Physician Zhou, this way please.”
Imperial Physician Zhou let out a light breath and cupped his hands, “Thank you General Manager Zheng.”
After he saw him off, Zheng Hai Quan returned to the hall. Emperor Xi still sat upon the throne, but his previous relaxed smile had been replaced by inexplicable gloominess.
Ever since that time, his master’s mood had been hard to read. Even Zheng Hai Quan felt like he was walking on thin ice.
The hall was scarily quiet. Zheng Hai Quan walked up and said quietly: “Your majesty, I’ve sent Imperial Physician Zhou out.”
Emperor Xi carelessly acknowledged him as though he was lost in thought.
After a while, he suddenly said: “Zhou Jin looked a little strange….” He knocked his hand on the desk, “In the past he would never say such flattering words.”
Zheng Hai Quan didn’t dare speak. His head was deeply lowered.
After another moment of silence, Emperor Xi said: “Go investigate.”
If Emperor Xi truly wanted something investigated, it would be quickly accomplished. Zheng Hai Quan came back to report the next day.
“Highness, this servant has investigated. Imperial Physician Zhou doesn’t seem to be abnormal. The only thing was that he wasn’t as punctual in leaving work and going home two days ago. Instead, he delayed quite a bit. According to the servants, his house’s carriage didn’t go to pick him up. Instead, he returned on foot. His expression was also a little unwell after getting back…..”
Emperor Xi’s fingers tapped the table. “Zheng Hai Quan. Do you think this Zhou Jin would reveal Our royal body’s situation?”
Zheng Hai Quan bowed, his expression hidden.
“This servant doesn’t know….”
Emperor Xi laughed mysteriously a couple of times.
“This Imperial Physician Zhou has always been a careful person, and is also tightlipped. He shouldn’t have….”
“What if someone forced him?”
“This—-” Zhen Hai Quan paused, “Imperial Physician Zhou doesn’t have anything that could be used against him….” They had investigated this initially.
“Summon Zhou Jin over.”
“Your majesty, is your royal body unwell?”
Imperial Physician Zhou asked after kneeling in salute.
Emperor Xi’s smile wasn’t actually a smile as he looked at him. There was no one else in the hall. Even Zheng Hai Quan had left.
Only then did Imperial Physician Zhou realize things were abnormal, and immediately felt a chill.
“Zhou Jin, We have always trusted you—-”
“Highness, Zhou Jin knows this.”
“You shouldn’t take Our trust for granted.”
“This subordinate wouldn’t take your majesty’s trust for granted….”
“Is that so?”
Imperial Physician Zhou thudded to his knees and supplicated himself on the floor.
The hall was extremely quiet. Imperial Physician Zhou’s face was deathly pale, his guts on the verge of rupturing.
“Your majesty, this lowly servant has sinned….”
Emperor Xi let out a cold hmph, “Speak.” His expression and tone filled with rage.
“This lowly servant was heading home a few days ago, and got on a carriage….”
With a trembling voice, he spoke compliantly of the events that day.
“You mean to say that you have a family? You even have a grandson!?”
“This servant is guilty. Please convict this servant for his capital offense.” Zhou Jin was shaking all over, and forced himself to speak: “But at that time I didn’t hide it intentionally. This servant’s personality easily offends others, and it was hard to predict if I would cause any disasters. The Zhou family only has this lowly servant as support, and thus they hid away. It definitely wasn’t meant to deceive your majesty. Please see things clearly.”
After speaking, he started heavily kowtowing.
“This is to say that you revealed Our royal body’s situation to others.” Emperor Xi laughed a couple of times, “Great. All of you are extremely great, extremely great…..” His words were calm but his hand picked up the brush washing basin and brought it smashing down.
The crisp sound rang throughout the hall. The brush washing basin’s shattered pieces scattered in the air. Emperor Xi’s breathing was heavy. Imperial Physician Zhou was startled and frozen on the floor.
“We won’t kill you. Where would we find another Imperial Physician Zhou if We killed you? We will help you find your family, and help you clear your mind….”
The last few words were almost inaudible.
Imperial Physician Zhou straightened up, and said while weeping sorrowfully: “You majesty, it’s all this subordinate’s fault for betraying your trust. Ten thousand deaths cannot absolve this sin.”
“Remember Our words. Don’t slip up. Zheng Hai Quan—”
Zheng Hai Quan popped up from somewhere, “Your majesty.”
“Make Imperial Physician Zhou look a little more presentable before escorting him out.”
After Emperor Xi left, Zheng Hai Quan summoned people to bring over water and help Imperial Physician Zhou wash his hands and face.
The two people that came were two withered looking eunuchs who were completely emotionless. They walked silently, their expressions solemn. They approached and carried out Zheng Hai Quan’s orders, each action precisely measured. Never too much and never too little.
Their hands were very cold, and made them feel like reptiles. Imperial Physician Zhou face was still haggard, and he muttered to himself absentmindedly. Listening carefully, one could make out some words of self-blame.
After they washed his face, they brushed his hair and put his headwear back on. Only after the two were done did Imperial Physician Zhou snap out of it and tremble in fear.
“General Manager Zheng—-this old man, this old man is ashamed…..”
Zheng Hai Quan laughed softly and said quietly, “Imperial Physician Zhou shouldn’t blame himself too much. Knowing to right one’s wrongs is what’s most important. His majesty still holds Imperial Physician Zhou in high regard.”
Imperial Physician Zhou laughed bitterly a couple of times and didn’t speak.
After sending Zhou Jin off, Zheng Hai Quan returned to the inner hall.
Zheng Hai Quan shook his head, “Ever since he was frightened by one of them a few days ago, he had always avoided them. Today however, he was willing to let two of them serve him, and was in a daze the entire time. It doesn’t seem like an act. Superior Zhou’s personality is upright and outspoken. He relies on that cold face of his to conceal things, otherwise he wouldn’t have slipped up in from of your majesty.”
Emperor Xi let out a cold hmph, and couldn’t refute it.
“Betrayal is betrayal, and cannot be erased no matter the reason. Since they are his weakness, then….”
Zheng Hai Quan felt a chill along his spine, and his head lowered even further.
Despite it being summer, Zhou Jin was shivering a little.
He couldn’t be blamed. In the middle of the night, when he was supposed to be sleeping, he was dragged out for what was promised to be a “good show”. The dew was heavy on the wet grass. Not only was he outside, he was also crawling on the muddy ground. If he hadn’t suffered quite a bit during his years abroad when he was young, Zhou Jin would have long since been unable to endure.
The moon was very bright. Only the cries of birds could be heard in the surroundings. Zhou Jin knew that there were quite a few people who were lying prone beside him, but there was completely no trace of movement.
Next to him was a man dressed in a black outfit. His face was ordinary and his bearing was also nothing special. However, Zhou Jin knew this person wasn’t simple. This was because all his communications with the Jing Prince’s side went through this person.
This person was called Yang Hui. The name was just as ordinary, but the things he handled were not.
Suddenly the sound of hooves sounded out. A large squad of people charged towards the nearby residence carrying burning torches. They appeared grand and powerful to the eye, but barely made any noise. Even the horses were extremely quiet. It was clear they were disciplined.
If they hadn’t been hiding in the grass, and if Yang Hui hadn’t pointed them out, Imperial Physician Zhou wouldn’t have noticed them.
It was like watching a puppet show. The group of people broke down the door and entered. Faint sounds came from within and after a few moments the people came back out. A large fire started inside the house.
The fired grew bigger and bigger, and the light reflected off the people’s faces, making them look a little ghoulish.
Only now did Imperial Physician Zhou understand what kind of good show Yang Hui brought him to watch.
Seeing the blazing flames, the group of people left. Even if someone came, they wouldn’t be able to extinguish the fire.
Zhou Jin had long since been dazed by shock. The events of the past few days had completely overthrown his previous understanding of the world.
“The people inside are all dead?”
Yang Hui looked at him faintly, and nodded his head.
“You guys are too cruel…..”
“Your whole family was present as well.”
These emotionless words made Zhou Jin shiver again.
Your whole family was present as well!
At these words, Zhou Jin suddenly grew angry, and though concealing his indecisiveness, “I don’t understand why you guys are doing this. I haven’t revealed anything to his majesty, but what do you think this will accomplish? Don’t you think your master’s thinking is too simplistic? Or are you guys acting on your own, purposefully creating distractions? Don’t you think this is too preposterous?!”
Yang Hui lightly laughed, but his eyes were unamused.
“Imperial Physician Zhou is really overestimating Yang Hui. This was all ordered by his highness, Yang Hui is just responsible for carrying it out. Also, his highness isn’t just my master, but yours as well.”
Seeing this person look disdainful, Yang Hui’s voice cooled, “Imperial Physician Zhou shouldn’t forget who else we have in the Jing Province.”
“You lot are the worst kind of scum!”
Yang Hui laughed coldly, “Imperial Physician Zhou, do you truly not understand or are you pretending? This isn’t just for his highness’s sake, this is also to save you.”
“Do you really think that side hasn’t tried to investigate you? They were merely blocked by our people! There is no such thing as an impenetrable wall in this world. Everything will leave a trace. Being able to remove all the traces today, isn’t it helping you completely resolve your problems?”
“Also, some things don’t need to be said for it to happen. What’s the point of speaking? It’ll just be doubted. One should think things through by themselves….heh….”
Zhou Jin’s mind was already a complete mess.
“There might be another good show to watch tomorrow. Once you return, you should properly think about what you should do. Don’t end up harming yourself and your family. Most importantly, don’t end up harming his highness.” Yang Hui sneered and looked at him disdainfully, “I really don’t understand why his highness would spend so much effort on someone like you. It’s a pity you’re completely unable to understand his efforts.”
He didn’t wait for Zhou Jin’s reply, and ordered: “Take Imperial Physician Zhou back.”
Under the night sky, Yang Hui suddenly muttered, “Luckily…..something good came out of this in the end…..”
He definitely wouldn’t tell that inflexible old man that his highness was trying to solve his worries about his family for him, and ended up using the other side’s own moves against them in a flash of inspiration….
He wouldn’t understand if he told him, so he might as well continue believing that he was being forced into it.
Back at the Violet Imperial Hall.
Nowadays, when Imperial Physician Zhou saw this magnificent and imposing hall, he had the urge to make a run for it.
But he couldn’t. From the very beginning, he didn’t have the right to do so.
The struggle for the throne had always been fierce, but those unrelated could never understand just how fierce it truly was.
“Imperial Physician Zhou, please don’t be too upset. His majesty’s people arrived too late and those evildoers were too ruthless. Seeing people coming to the rescue, they murdered the people and burnt the place to the ground….”
Emperor Xi’s messenger Zheng Hai Quan narrated, his voice thick with sympathy.
Hearing his words, Imperial Physician Zhou seemed to feel that his entire family had indeed died except himself, but he knew this wasn’t really the case.
Yang Hui had said there would be another good show the next day. Although he had guessed it at the time, the current situation made him unable to stop his tears from flowing. He was disheartened and full of grief….
Since his entire family supposedly died, he was supposed to cry, right? And after crying, he should be deeply grateful, and united against their common enemy, these ruthless people who committed the crime.
Imperial Physician Zhou did very well. He acted the part of a grieving and angry person very well.
Long, long ago, he was someone who had a very rigid personality. He was outspoken against anything he didn’t approve of, and even offended many people when he was younger. He didn’t have many friends after several decades. After persevering this way for a lifetime, he couldn’t help but learn to act in his old age…..
Whether this was coincidence or fate, Zhou Jin wasn’t really sure. His mind was a complete mess.
When he was initially forced by the Jing Prince’s side using his family, he felt hate and anger. Now, he didn’t know whom he should hate or blame. Without the Jing Prince, perhaps none of this would have happened. But he himself was very clear that after Emperor Xi had chopped all those people up and left only him, he could not have escaped this fate….
Now he just desperately hoped for things to be over, to go far away. But he knew this was just a pipe dream….
Actually, putting on a performance wasn’t as hard as he had imagined. If the alternative was the death of his family and himself, then he would naturally be good at it. It also wasn’t hard for the tears to come. In fact, the tears couldn’t be stopped….
Emperor Xi had left at some point. Imperial Physician Zhou was lifted up by Zheng Hai Quan.
“Imperial Physician Zhou, don’t be too upset. His majesty’s health still depends on you.” Zheng Hai Quan spoke while crying tears of sympathy, but his gaze actually contained some pity.
This Imperial Physician Zhou was really pitiful. His hair had turned white in the short month after the emperor’s illness acted up.
Would he himself end up the same way someday? Zhen Hai Quan couldn’t help but think this way, but then mocked himself. Luckily he was a rootless person, and didn’t have any such weaknesses to exploit.
“This subordinate understands. This subordinate thanks his majesty for his grace.” After speaking, Imperial Physician Zhou kowtowed to the empty throne as he trembled.
“The corpses have been brought back. Does Imperial Physician Zhou want to see them?”
“This one can’t bear to see the broken bodies. I beg General Manager Zhang to make the appropriate arrangements. It seems this one isn’t fit to have any branches on my stem. This lowly subordinate betrayed his majesty’s trust, and won’t try to regrow anything.”
Zhen Hai Quan sighed and said: “It’s good that Imperial Physician Zhou can understand. This one will definitely give them a proper burial.”
Looking at the hypocritical face in front of him, Imperial Physician Zhou suddenly felt anger arise in his heart, and couldn’t help but ask: “Does General Manager Zheng know who the criminals were?”
Zheng Hai Quan gave a hollow laugh, “It’s best for Imperial Physician Zhou not to know too much.”
“This subordinate understands.”
Hehe, this is a key event, don’t skim over it. Many things develop naturally once it gets started…..
This old Zhou is both critical but also kind of useless. He’s just the catalyst. He won’t do anything bad and poison someone. Even if he killed off Emperor Xi, it wouldn’t be the Jing Prince’s turn to ascend. It would only make the crown prince very happy…..
This chapter was a little hard to translate, but if my understanding of the events are correct: R.I.P. fake kidnappers and random family of four….