“What did you say?”
An emperor’s fury leads to a field of corpses.
This was Imperial Physician Zhou’s first time seeing Emperor Xi so severely furious. However, he could only close his eyes, grit his teeth and continue his performance.
“Ever since that time, this servant has been full of regret and unable to sleep soundly. You majesty’s generosity has always been in my mind. Therefore, this servant won’t make the same mistake this time. Even if my entire family gets killed off, I won’t cower back.”
“Good, very good…..” Emperor Xi rubbed the blue and while little porcelain bottle on the desk, his face neutral, his expression hard to interpret but extremely gloomy. “We remember that your entire family had already died, and the funeral was even arranged by Zheng Hai Quan. How are they being used to threaten you again?”
Hearing this, Zheng Hai Quan who had been standing there this entire time immediately knelt and said while kowtowing, “This old servant went to see those bodies, and although they were burnt beyond recognition, they were indeed a man and woman, as well as an old one and a young one. This old servant doesn’t know anything else.”
Imperial Physician Zhou’s expression was gloomy, his tears and snot had long since covered his face.
“This servant also doesn’t understand how it happened, but the people they showed this servant this time truly were this servant’s family….”
“Humph, what crafty people. Even We were fooled by them…..”
The muttered words from above caused Zheng Hai Quan and Imperial Physician Zhou below to sprawl on the floor silently, not daring to speak.
“This thing was also given to you by them?”
Imperial Physician Zhou glanced at the porcelain bottle and lowered his head once more, “Yes.”
“What did they tell you to do, to use this thing to harm Us?”
“Tell me whatever they said. We will not ask for your head.”
Imperial Physician Zhou hesitated over and over before deciding to speak: “This servant scolded the Jing Duke for his disgraceful behavior. Perhaps in an attempt to convince this servant, the Jing Duke said a few things….he said, he said that your majesty was old and confused, unable to recognize the suspiciousness of the Jin Prince’s actions as he continuously pressures the crown prince. In order to avoid issues from arising, he said they might as well get it over with sooner, sooner rather than later….he also said that they weren’t the only ones with such thoughts. He said once the Jin Prince obtains the crown prince’s position, the Jin Prince would do the exact same thing, and in fact, would be much quicker about it….he also said the Jin Prince was extremely shameless. For the sake of the throne, he continuously framed the crown prince and used your majesty’s favor as a gambling chip. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have had to resort to this scheme….”
There was a spell of silence above. It was so silent that panic arose in their hearts.
Suddenly, Emperor Xi loudly laughed a few times.
“What marvelous justification. His explanation works quite well. Coming up with a righteous reason for his disgraceful behavior…..great, hahaha, what great sons We have….”
The sound of footsteps faded into the inner hall. Imperial Physician Zhou remained flat on the floor, not daring to raise his head. Only when Zheng Hai Quan got up and followed did he realize his majesty had left.
Without anyone telling him to rise, he didn’t dare to get up. He could only remain kneeling on the cold and hard floor, waiting for his fate.
Imperial Physician Zhou didn’t know how long he knelt there. His mind was a mess and he almost couldn’t hold on any longer when he heard the sound of footsteps.
“Hurry and get up, Imperial Physician Zhou. His majesty calls you inside.” Zheng Hai Quan said softly, and helped him up. Seeing this elderly man being tormented by his majesty’s affairs to the point he wanted to die, Zheng Hai Quan still felt some sympathy.
But it was at most sympathy, because he knew he wasn’t any better off himself!
Imperial Physician Zhou entered the inner hall and didn’t come out for a long while. After he came out, he couldn’t help but wipe some sweat off his brow.
He finally managed to get through it all!
But as he thought of what was to come, Imperial Physician Zhou couldn’t help but laugh bitterly.
Time continued to pass like a flowing river, without making any great waves.
Everything seemed to be the same as before, but something was different.
The crown prince was extremely silent recently, as though his violent behavior from before was just an illusion. As for the Jin Prince, he remained in his estate quietly recuperating, but only a few people knew what he was up to in private.
On this day, Emperor Xi fainted in court, shaking everyone.
Zheng Hai Quan instructed people to carry Emperor Xi back to the Violet Imperial Hall via his royal carriage. Before long, Empress Xiao and the crown prince hurried over.
By the time Senior Concubine Xu and the Jin Prince caught wind of it, the imperial physician had already finished his treatment. Empress Xiao sat beside the royal bed, her tears flowing unceasingly and her expression sorrowful.
“Majesty, what’s happened to you—”
With a howl, Senior Concubine Xu sprawled beside the bed and started crying, her voice sad and beautiful, like raindrops on a pear blossom.
Empress Xiao gave her a glance of disgust and felt like throwing up, “What are you crying for? His majesty hasn’t died yet!”
“This servant concubine is just too worried about his majesty….”
The Jin Prince stood anxiously on the side, “Where are the imperial physicians? Empress, what did the physicians say?”
“The imperial physician said that due to your father consuming pills in his youth, the harmful side effects built up and were never cleansed. Things flared up this time and the situation isn’t good.”
“Then why isn’t father waking up?”
“The physician said that after fainting his royal body is overly frail….”
The Jin Prince was going to speak further but was interrupted by Empress Xiao’s gesture.
“His majesty needs some time to recuperate. How is he supposed to do so when one is crying and one is pressing for answers?! Why don’t you take your leave?”
Senior Concubine Xu gave the Jin Prince a glance. The two of them turned around and left.
Once they returned to the Chunluan Palace, the Jin Prince said: “This prince gets the feeling father’s flare up this time isn’t quite right. Does mother concubine know which physicians diagnosed him?”
Senior Concubine Xu knitted her willow brows, “It was still that Imperial Physician Zhou. The empress says that his majesty trusts him, and he has treated your father’s royal body by himself for a while without being switched off.”
The Jin Prince’s prominent brows also furrowed, and he paced back and forth within the hall before saying: “We can’t leave things this way. How can father’s royal body be left to a single imperial physician to treat? Mother concubine, have your subordinates investigate. We also need to find another trusted imperial physician to treat father along with Imperial Physician Zhou.”
“You mother naturally knows, but if there truly was something going on, the empress’s won’t agree to it so easily.”
“It’s better to try first and see.”
Emperor Xi remained unconscious. Empress Xiao took it upon herself to feed him medicine daily and remained awake nightly. Before long, she had become quite thin.
Senior Concubine Xu wanted to take the opportunity to care for him a couple of days, but was stopped by the empress. She said that her husband was seriously ill, and that caring for him as his principal wife was her duty. Even if she had to do it for the rest of her life, she was willing.
Senior Concubine Xu’s teeth itched with resentment.
But she also couldn’t say anything. To put it plainly, Empress Xiao was this rear palace’s mistress. As for her, even if she was the senior concubine, she was at most a high ranking concubine in the eyes of others.
When Emperor Xi was awake, she could use his favor to rival the empress. Without Emperor Xi present, she was nothing. She couldn’t go against Empress Xiao’s orders.
These days several low-ranked concubines would come to the Violet Imperial Hall to pay their respects. They would cry incessantly. All the rear palace’s women had the same thought at the moment. Whether or not they were favored, no one wanted anything to happen to Emperor Xi. When his majesty was there, they were imperial concubines. Once his majesty passes away, they would become concubines to a deceased emperor. Even those with no children didn’t know how they would survive.
The Violet Imperial Hall was filled daily with the sounds of women weeping. Empress Xiao grew tired of it after a few days. She ordered them to remain within their own halls, burning incense in prayer for his majesty and not going out without reason.
This also included Senior Concubine Xu, but she had never been an obedient one. It didn’t make a different what Empress Xiao said. As long as the empress said anything about it, she would kneel and cry to Emperor Xi.
Although Emperor Xi was unconscious, Zheng Hai Quan was still there. Empress Xiao didn’t dare to stir up too much trouble, and could only let Senior Concubine Xu come disgust her every day.
Because Emperor Xi was unconscious, court had not been held for several days.
It wasn’t possible to remain halted like this. After all, official business couldn’t be delayed.
Therefore, the crown prince logically assumed control.
Emperor Xi had taken crown prince along and taught him how to navigate the court politics for many years. He also had the left and right ministers to assist him. Therefore, the Grand Xi Dynasty continued on as before.
At this point, the crown prince had become steady, as steady as Mt. Tai. In comparison, it was the Jin Prince who could no longer remain still.
On this day, Empress Xiao was feeding Emperor Xi some ginseng soup.
Emperor Xi remained unconscious and couldn’t eat anything. He relied on ginseng soup and porridge every day to sustain himself.
Senior Concubine Xu started crying on the side.
“Empress, this can’t go on. What if his majesty remains unconscious like this?” After speaking, Senior Concubine Xu turned and scolded Imperial Physician Zhou: “You quack doctor. Everyone says your medical skills are amazing. If they’re so amazing why isn’t his majesty waking up yet?”
Imperial Physician Zhou was now stationed within the Violet Imperial Hall, and never even left the palace gates. The old man had grown extremely thin. Hearing Senior Concubine Xu’s criticisms, he merely lowered his head and cupped his hands: “His majesty’s condition is a result of accumulated impurities flaring up. Even if this old servant was Hua Tuo’s1 reincarnation, I can only treat it day by day. His majesty had too many things going on, his royal body was constantly busy with official affairs. As of now, his royal body is overly frail, which is why he remains unconscious….”
“You keep hiding behind those same words. Quack doctor, you’re a quack doctor. Men, have this quack doctor dragged out and chopped up….”
The palace maids and eunuchs on the side looked at each other in dismay and didn’t dare move.
Empress Xiao said with a cold face: “Senior Concubine Xu, this seat is still present. Are you pretending this seat doesn’t exist? Imperial Physician Zhou is his majesty’s chosen physician, and his royal body has always been under his care. Are you trying to go against his majesty’s divine will?”
Senior Concubine Xu knelt and lowered his head, and still spoke in a sobbing tone, “This servant concubine doesn’t dare, but….”
“There’re no buts. Take your leave. This seat is caring for his majesty day after day, and really doesn’t have the time or energy to listen to your crying.”
“Empress, this servant concubine is just too worried for his majesty. This servant concubine also knows Imperial Physician Zhou’s skills are good, but everyone specializes in different things. Perhaps if we found someone else, his majesty would recover.”
“During his majesty’s last flare up, he chopped up many imperial physicians before picking Imperial Physician Zhou. This shows how satisfied he is with him. You don’t need to speak any further, take your leave.”
Senior Concubine Xu gritted her pearly teeth and responded in an aggrieved manner: “Yes.”
Senior Concubine Xu had been favored for several decades. She may not shed all pretenses against Empress Xiao on the surface, but her hidden power wasn’t any weaker than that of the empress.
Within a few days, some rumors started floating around the palace.
The rumors said that his majesty’s unconsciousness was fishy, and that the empress was monopolizing the Violet Imperial Hall. Only a single person was responsible for treating his majesty which was unreasonable and suspicious. It was said the empress stubbornly refused to let anyone else treat him….
The words were about Empress Xiao, but didn’t speaking about Empress Xiao also mean the crown prince? It was basically pointing at them in accusation!
The source of the rumors couldn’t be found. Empress Xiao tried many times without being able to stop it. Due to her killing of several gossipy palace maids and eunuchs, the rumors spread even more fiercely and even reached outside of the palace.
Empress Xiao knew who was responsible, but she could only curse over it in her heart. She had to remain calm on the surface. She didn’t care if things got even more out of hand. She cared about showing a guilty conscience. No matter what, people were already saying it. This was clearing someone digging a pit for her to jump into.
She was clear of their goals.
All of a sudden, Empress Xiao and the crown prince were in the limelight.
Some imperial censors started moving to impeach within the court. These censors were all vicious-mouthed and dark-faced, rushing to impeach the moment they caught wind of something. Now that they found a pretext, even though the crown prince was currently in charge of court, they still raised the matter of impeachment. This made the crown prince’s veins pop in his anger, but he still had to endure it.
After court was over, the crown prince was smashing things in the eastern palace.
Within the time it took to eat a meal, this was spread outside the palace.
The Jing Duke received the notice and hurriedly sent someone to the eastern palace to deliver his message.
The crown prince’s face darkened and ordered Chen Qi to seal the eastern palace.
There was clearly a traitor within their midst. Otherwise, it wasn’t possible for the things he did to be spreading outside.
Chen Qi swept through everything and pulled out two eunuchs and a palace maid. They were all clearly planted by someone as spies. As for who planted them, they weren’t able to find out. This was because the people all committed suicide by biting their tongues once they were caught.
The crown prince’s expression was sinister. The whip that hadn’t been seen for a while was taken out once again. He personally struck the three’s corpses tens of times before finally feeling a little better in his heart.
“Those who dare betray me in the future, this humble one will definitely let them experience the Five Pains2.
The eastern palace was completely silent out of fear. It was as silent as the grave.