Sponsored chapter for the week. Thanks again to the three Anons and Jennie for this chapter. Also thank you to another Anon who donated twice today. Please consider leaving a nickname in the Ko-fi comments so I don’t end up with an army of Anons.
This day, Senior Concubine Xu once again brought up the matter of inviting a few more imperial physicians. Empress Xiao no longer made things difficult and instead quickly agreed.
Seeing Empress Xiao agree so quickly, Senior Concubine Xu was rather surprised. However, she understood very quickly. If the empress didn’t agree at this time, then it wasn’t something she could explain away.
“Empress is wise. This should have been done long ago. His majesty’s royal body’s health is a matter that concerns the entire nation, and can’t be taken lightly.” Senior Concubine Xu smiled charmingly.
Empress Xiao twitched her lips in a fake smile, “We’ve troubled Senior Concubine Xu.”
Senior Concubine Xu remained within the hall. Before long, the Jin Prince had come as well.
Empress Xiao’s eyes contained mockery. They’re really not showing any dignity. Would the grand empress renege on her words?
After another while, seeing Empress Xiao remain unmoving, Senior Concubine Xu inquired softly: “Empress, this—-why aren’t any imperial physicians coming?”
Empress Xiao lifted her teacup and took a sip, saying faintly: “Patience, this seat has also invited the left and right senior ministers.”
The left minister Lin Jian had been an official for several decades. The prestigious Lin family behind him had been officials generation after generation ever since the founding of the court. The right minister Xu Cheng was the pillar of the commoner faction. He was upright and plainspoken, an honest official who loathed immorality, and was deeply respected by those in court. These two basically represented the two factions within the court. One represented the noble households and the other represented the commoners.
It goes without saying why Empress Xiao invited them.
Senior Concubine Xu’s expression was a little unsettled, but she could only sit there without doing anything.
After another few minutes, Minister Lin and Minister Xu walked in one after the other. Behind them were several imperial physicians headed by imperial hospital chief Bai. Imperial Physician Zhou was also present.
After everyone paid their respects, they entered the inner hall.
Emperor Xi lay upon the enormous royal bed in the inner hall. His breathing was even, and if it weren’t for his pale face they would have thought he was merely sleeping.
Empress Xiao stood by the royal bed and said: “Imperial Physician Zhou is a physician who is admired by his majesty himself, and had always been responsible for his treatments. This seat felt that his majesty had to have a reason for his trust, and thus never thought about bringing in other imperial physicians. Who would have thought some vile people would dare to spread rumors harming this seat and the crown prince. In order to prove our innocence and remove the source of rumors, Chief Bai and the other two imperial physicians have been invited to examine his majesty along with Imperial Physician Zhou. May the two ministers please serve as witnesses.”
Minister Lin cupped his hands, “Empress’s considerations are thorough.”
Minister Xu said: “Empress is wise. This is the proper way of doing things.”
They spoke at the same time, and their character was apparent from their words. Minister Lin was from an aristocratic family, and his words were always a little restrained. Minister Xu on the other hand spoke much more clearly.
Empress Xiao nodded with a smile, and indicated for the physicians to go ahead with their examination.
After they finished, they went and discussed on the side for a bit. Chief Bai then stepped forward to report: “Imperial Physician Zhou’s diagnosis was correct. His majesty truly suffered from a flare up of medicinal impurities. In fact, his majesty’s royal body had already shown such signs in his earlier years. At that time, his majesty heeded our warnings and stopped taking pills. Unfortunately there were already too many impurities accumulated within his body. It isn’t apparent if they remain dormant, but the moment they flare up it would cause immediate collapse. This time he’s unconscious because his royal body is overly frail. By nursing him slowly, he can still wake up. It’s just the timing isn’t easy to grasp. It could be three days, but it could also be three months.”
“Then his majesty’s health has some major issues?” Minister Xu asked.
Everyone naturally understood what he meant by major issues. He was asking if Emperor Xi would pass away.
But this sort of thing couldn’t be directly stated. Chief Bai could only smile bitterly and say: “Superior Xu, it’s not that this lowly official isn’t willing to say it clearly. It’s that this thing isn’t clear to begin with. In theory, his majesty shouldn’t have reached such a stage, but as of now no one dares to speculate the outcome.”
Minister Xu nodded, and didn’t continue to make things difficult. However, his snow white brows were furrowed.
“Imperial Physician Zhou had been responsible for his majesty’s health all this time. Can we continue to leave it up to him?”
Everyone knew why they were all gathered here today. It was to see if Emperor Xi’s condition had anything to do with the crown prince and the empress. Since so many imperial physicians had verified it, there clearly wasn’t much anyone else could say about it.
“Imperial Physician Zhou’s medical skills have always been excellent. There are few within the hospital who can match him. Since he had been responsible for it all this time, then we won’t have anyone else interfere. This subordinate has no objections.” Chief Bai said.
Everyone present was intelligent, and naturally understood Chief Bai’s style of doing things. Such a situation would result in countless of heads rolling and families being exterminated at the slightest mistake. No wonder Chief Bai was quick to pass on the responsibility.
Poor Imperial Physician Zhou…..
The two ministers looked at Zhou Jin, their gazes containing a few shades of pity.
“Since this affair is concluded, this old servant will take his leave.”
Minister Xu was always a busy man. Now that things were done, he naturally wasn’t willing to waste his time here. Minister Lin also took his leave.
Once the two ministers left, Senior Concubine Xu and the Jin Prince also left. Although their eyes were full of doubt and unwillingness, the two old ministers had been present as witnesses so they couldn’t say anything about it. The remaining imperial physicians didn’t need to be mentioned as they all left as well.
Empress Xiao gave Zheng Hai Quan a glance and said: “Eunuch Zheng, keep an eye on things here. This seat is making a trip to the Fengqi Palace.”
Once they entered the Fengqi Palace, the crown prince suddenly let out a breath.
“Mother empress, your son had no idea Chief Bai was one of ours.”
Empress Xiao smiled, “Trump cards should naturally only be used in key moments. Your mother has been running the rear palace for several decades. How could I not put any of our people into an important place like the hospital?”
“Then what about the other two physicians?”
“Those two aren’t, but your grandfather has some blackmail on them.”
Hearing this, the crown prince revealed a relieved smile.
“Now it’s the Jin Prince’s turn to be worried.”
“Only when they’re desperate can we find some evidence. Once we have the evidence in hand, he won’t have any excuse to remain in the capital. Even if he doesn’t return to his vassal state, he has to shed a layer of skin.”
Mother empress, how long do you think we still have to wait—-” the crown prince couldn’t help but ask.
Emrpess Xiao looked at her son’s poorly concealed excitement and frowned.
“This matter can’t be rushed. There are no fools here. If we make it too obvious, not only will the Jin Prince denounce us in the chaos, even the court officials will criticize us.”
“Your son understands.” The crown prince knew the reasoning. “Zheng Hai Quan isn’t suspicious? He’s with father every day. Should we?” The crown prince made a hand gesture.
When Zheng Hai Quan was mentioned, even Empress Xiao had a headache. She thought about it and said: “We can’t. Zheng Hai Quan’s profile is too high. If something happens to him right after your father fell ill, it will provoke more speculation. It’s not appropriate to rush things at this stage. Luckily Imperial Physician Zhou’s skills are pretty good, and the medicine he prescribed is brilliant. As long as he cooperates, there shouldn’t be any problems.”
The two of them discussed a little further before the crown prince left the Fengqi Palace. Empress Xiao changed her clothes before returning to the Violet Imperial Hall.
The way things were now, it was still better for her to keep a closer watch. After all, the empress and the emperor were a “harmonious couple”. Now that his majesty was ill, the empress caring for him without regards to her own royal body would properly display her virtue.
While the empress was in discussion with the crown prince, Senior Concubine Xu and the Jin Prince were also having a debate in the Chunluan Palace.
“How can there not be anything suspicious? This prince doesn’t believe it, absolutely not!”
“Your mother also doesn’t believe it.” Senior Concubine Xu frowned deeply and said: “But so many people have examined him. The empress also resorted to drastic measures and invited the two ministers over as witnesses. Now no one is able to bring up any doubts. This empress is too crafty. She appeared to be flustered by us but had been scheming secretly. The situation developed too fast, and this seat couldn’t ask for more physicians to come in front of the ministers. After all, Chief Bai and the other two physicians are all elders of the imperial hospital.”
The Jin Prince clearly understood that Empress Xiao had tricked them, but some things could only be done once. They couldn’t spread rumors anymore. Firstly, the empress would be justified in punishing everyone and the court couldn’t say anything about it. Secondly, they would be going against the two respected ministers. Therefore, the Jin Prince and Senior Concubine Xu could only swallow this grievance.
“Lin Jian that old fogey is really useless. Couldn’t he have spoken up for this prince?”
Senior Concubine Xu smiled bitterly. “Not even you or I could have spoken up in that situation, let alone Minister Lin. The empress’s actions were too overt, and they were clear and reasonable. No one would dare object. Furthermore, with Minister Xu next to him, how could Minister Lin speak up?”
The JIn Prince’s words were also just venting his anger. As of now, he was in a difficult situation.
“It’s better to be careful in the coming days. Don’t let them catch any hints. Let’s plan things out slowly.”
“Your son understands.”
Once everyone had left the inner hall, Emperor Xi who was unconscious on the royal bed suddenly opened his eyes.
Zheng Hai Quan shrunk his neck back. He bent his waist and leaned in.
The person on the royal bed remained unmoving. He first laughed coldly a few times before suddenly saying: “We want food.”
Zheng Hai Quan said “yes” before going off to arrange it.
Emperor Xi arranged this plan to beat them at their own game. There weren’t many who were in on it: Imperial Physician Zhou and Zheng Hai Quan, as well as some of the eunuchs in the hall and two of Emperor Xi’s trusted aides.
Of course, this act came at a price. Just the meals alone were rather difficult. Empress Xiao remained the entire day and only left at night. While she was present, Emperor Xi could only endure his hunger. Zheng Hai Quan secretly sighed and wondered why this was necessary. However, a servant had no right to comment on his master’s decision.
Zheng Hai Quan quickly returned with a tray of food. He told those on the outside it was for himself.
The food naturally had to be different from what Emperor Xi usually ate. Zheng Hai Quan was just a servant, and he had to remain low key. Despite this, Emperor Xi still ate with gusto, more enthusiastically compared to his usual meals in the past.
He didn’t notice it himself, but Zheng Hai Quan was a little unable to keep watching. He wondered once more if it was worth it. Would everyone’s thoughts turn a little weird as they aged and were about to die?
Once Emperor Xi ate his fill and rinsed his mouth with Zheng Hai Quan’s help, he called for Imperial Physician Zhou who was in the side hall.
“You’ve done very well.”
Imperial Physician Zhou knelt on the floor, “Thank you, majesty, for your praise.”
“Rumor has it that people are often coming to you and asking about Our health. Is it the Jin Prince’s people?”
As for where he heard this, Emperor Xi naturally had his own channels. His plan this time was precisely for fishing out the people in the dark. Emperor Xi hadn’t believed Imperial Physician Zhou’s words and the crown prince’s slander.
It wasn’t clear if he would still stubbornly refuse to believe it this time.
“This—-” Imperial Physician Zhou looked anxiously at Emperor Xi and lowered his head again: “Yes. This subordinate ignored them.”
Emperor Xi’s face turned purple and then pale. He let out a couple of humphs before saying sternly: “We believe we’ve never mistreated them. We haven’t even died yet and they’re already thinking about Our position—-cough cough…..” Before he finished speaking, he started coughing.
“Majesty, calm your anger.”
Emperor Xi coughed for a long while before finally calming down.
“This performance is truly marvelous. How did We not realize in the past that everyone was so good at acting….Zhou Jin, did the empress not tell you when to take Our life?”
Zhou Jin was shocked, “No.”
“Ha, she naturally wouldn’t tell you. In any event, you’re just a subordinate following orders. She probably won’t be able to endure much longer. She’s only afraid of being criticized for it….even Chief Bai is one of hers. What else have We been unaware of….the Jin Prince as well…..”
Emperor Xi sat on the royal bed muttering to himself. His voice was extremely low, but it clearly sounded within Imperial Physician Zhou and Zheng Hai Quan’s ears. The two of them wanted nothing more than to block their ears and not listen to this. There more they knew, the more tragic their outcomes. Once his majesty was done with this performance, it would probably be their turn…..
Even the usually steady Zheng Hai Quan couldn’t help but start shivering.
No one wanted to die. Emperor Xi’s thoughts were becoming weirder and weirder, and this continuously wore down his subordinate’s spirit. The feeling of being on the edge of collapse was felt even more clearly by Zheng Hai Quan, who served him the closest.
Suddenly the clear sound of bells rang out, startling the three in the hall.
Zheng Hai Quan helped Emperor Xi lie back down in bed and covered him with his silk blankets. Right as he finished, the empress walked in with people in tow.
“Greetings to the empress.”
“Rise. Imperial Physician Zhou is here as well?”
“This servant is here to take a look at his majesty’s condition.”
Empress Xiao had said before that it was best for him to remain by Emperor Xi’s side while she wasn’t present. Hearing his words, Empress Xiao revealed a meaningful smile.
“It’s been hard on you.”
“Not at all.”
Once Imperial Physician Zhou left, Empress Xiao’s gaze fell upon Zheng Hai Quan.
“Eunuch Zheng is working hard every day, it’s also been hard on you. This seat will watch over things here. You may go rest for a bit.”
“This servant isn’t tired. Thank you for empress’s consideration.”
Empress Xiao merely smiled and didn’t speak any further.
This author is weary from churning out characters. I really want to curse, aren’t you guys effing tired as well? Also Emperor Xi, you’re just a weirdo!
But when one gets old, especially when someone with the most authority is facing death, their thoughts would be a little different from others. There’s no need to mention affection between father and son, or any logical reasoning, the nation, the county and so on. The Kangxi Emperor was a wise monarch, but didn’t he do a lot of unspeakable things before his death?
But this will be over soon. We’ll quickly wrap this up and then it’ll be the next volume: the Capital Arc.
This author promises not to write about these things in her next book. The politics can be left to Hardworking Jing. The book about fatty Yun will just be about love. Remember fatty, you aren’t ambitious at all!