Imperial Physician Zhou was a major sixth-rank official in the imperial medical center. His skills were extraordinary and he was deeply trusted by Emperor Xi.
In terms of ability there was nothing to criticize about him, but as a person, he was a little unreasonable.
He was extremely inflexible and old-fashioned. He was also taciturn and didn’t like interacting with others. He always came and went by himself. This sort of situation made him become Emperor Xi’s most trusted physician. Perhaps the emperor admired this aspect of his, but who really knows?
Ever since Emperor Xi fainted in court, things appeared normal on the surface. However, due to some little clues, Imperial Physician Zhou, who was caught in the middle of everything, didn’t get a moment of peace. There were all sorts of people coming up with excuses, trying to get information on Emperor Xi’s health. But how could Imperial Physician Zhou possibly reveal anything unless he was tired of living?
Imperial Physician Zhou became even more stern and forbidding in appearance. His oblong face was etched with deep lines and had a yellowish hue. His tightly pursed lips and furrowed white brows marked him as someone who kept everyone at a distance.
A low-ranked medicine boy walked in. No imperial physician would be lacking characters like this to run errands. He placed a food container onto the desk. He had clearly come to bring Imperial Physician Zhou lunch.
The imperial medical center had imperial physicians on duty every day. They could only leave when their shift was over. Their daily necessities were taken care of by the palace. Today, Imperial Physician Zhou was on duty and he would only get off around dinner time.
That medicine boy brought out the food from the container and Imperial Physician Zhou didn’t pay too much attention. However, his gaze froze at an unobtrusive gesture.
“Superior Yang asked this lowly one to pass on a message. The crown prince’s side will make a move tonight. Imperial Physician Zhou mustn’t forget about the matter Superior Yang mentioned to you previously.”
His voice was as quiet as a mosquito’s buzz, but it clearly drilled into Imperial Physician Zhou’s ears.
His body turned rigid and his expression became somewhat complicated.
That person continued: “This lowly one will be responsible for serving Imperial Physician Zhou in the palace from now on. In the future, this lowly one will also be personally responsible for the meals.”
Imperial Physician Zhou’s expression became even uglier. Not waiting for his reaction, the medicine boy continued: “Your meal had been tampered with today. It was this lowly one who switched it out. This is all in consideration of your safety!”
Imperial Physician Zhou’s body trembled. He leaned against his chair and didn’t make a sound for a long, long time.
The medicine boy left with the food container. Imperial Physician Zhou looked at the food on the table but had no appetite at all.
First there had been inquiries, and then demands. Now, there were even some shameful methods popping out.
How much longer could he persist? Imperial Physician Zhou truly didn’t know. However, he had to do so for the sake of his family. Thinking of the medicine boy’s words, Imperial Physician Zhou’s expression changed erratically. Would the crown prince’s side really do that? Just where did they get the confidence? Unless they had a mole over there with quite a significant status.
Thinking of the things that had happened in the past few days, Imperial Physician Zhou’s emotions at being threatened gradually dulled. None of them were good people, and he had long since lost any control he had over his life…
It wasn’t clear how much time had passed when the medicine boy returned. He had come to clear the dishes, but seeing the untouched food, he couldn’t help but give Imperial Physician Zhou a glance.
“Go ahead and clear it.” He said in a sunken voice. “Tell your master I will do as you guys asked. However, my family….”
“Imperial Physician Zhou, you can rest assured.”
Evening arrived. Imperial Physician Zhou tidied things up a little and left towards the palace gates.
When he arrived, he saw his familiar black carriage.
After approaching it, the driver respectfully lowered the steps. Only after getting on and lowering the curtains did Imperial Physician Zhou let out a breath.
After a moment, the carriage slowly started moving. The swaying involuntarily made him feel sleepy.
Suddenly there was a light laugh. Imperial Physician Zhou was startled. He was seized and blindfolded. He struggled with all his might while crying anxiously: “Who is it? What do you want? Old Qian, Old Qian…..”
Old Qian was his carriage driver. He had driven his carriage for over twenty years.
The carriage didn’t stop and continued forward slowly.
That person laughed lightly again, a hint of contempt in his voice, “No need to shout. The person outside isn’t Old Qian….”
Imperial Physician Zhou’s heart pounded.
“What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything. I’m just inviting you to see a few people.”
“Is there a need to act like bandits for such an invitation?”
“Couldn’t help it. Imperial Physician Zhou is unwilling to give any face normally, forcing us to use such methods.”
In the Eastern Palace.
It was already almost midnight. The study’s lamp was still lit. The crown prince sat behind the desk, seeming both excited and unsettled.
“Chen Qi isn’t back yet?” He asked.
The eunuch by the door stepped out and made some inquiries. He returned and reported: “Highness, Enunuch Chen has yet to return.”
The crown prince frowned: “What about Liu He? Is Liu He still not back either?”
The two of them had left together. How could imperial guard Liu He return if Eunuch Chen hadn’t returned!?
That eunuch only dared to criticize silently while timidly saying, “Imperial Guard Liu has also yet to return.”
“These two, why are they taking so long to accomplish a task….” The crown prince stood up and paced back and forth. He seemed extremely anxious.
At this moment, there was movement outside. That eunuch hurriedly poked his head out and saw someone approaching. He revealed a joyful expression.
“Highness, Imperial Guard Liu is back.”
The crown prince lit up, “Hurry and show him in!”
Imperial Guard Liu walked in swiftly. He first saluted and then approached after being motioned by the crown prince.
“How was it?”
“Your highness, we were fortunate not to have disgraced your orders! That Imperial Physician Zhou was cunning like a fox and stubborn as a rock. However, with his weakness in our hands, he had no choice but to give in. Highness, you should have seen his face. When he found out his entire family was in our hands, his expression was very marvelous.”
This wasn’t Imperial Guard Liu’s first interaction with Imperial Physician Zhou. Previously he had gotten in touch with him on the crown prince’s orders. However, trying to move him with pleas to emotion, reason or greed had all been useless! Imperial Physician Zhou was essentially like a stone in the latrine: hard and foul.
Being able to take him down this time was extremely satisfying for Imperial Guard Liu. Since the crown prince was also unhappy with Imperial Physician Zhou, he naturally had to embellish things to help the crown prince vent his anger. Those who could serve at their master’s side were naturally well-versed in such arts. Having been the crown prince’s trusted aide for so long, Imperial Guard Liu was naturally good at this.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t aware that what the crown prince desperately wanted to know wasn’t this. Therefore, it had the opposite effect instead.
“Get to the point, why all this nonsense!?” The crown prince said impatiently.
Imperial Guard Liu hurriedly rearranged his expression. He leaned over to the crown prince’s ear and quietly spoke a few words.
“Is this true!?”
The crown prince’s voice unexpectedly burst out. It slightly startled Imperial Guard Liu who was in close proximity. The crown prince didn’t bother with him and started pacing in circles by himself. It was clear this matter had truly shocked him.
“It naturally can’t be false. Your subordinate and Eunuch Chen both heard it personally.”
“Where’s Chen Qi?”
Imperial Guard Liu froze and said: “Eunuch Chen stayed to deal with the aftermath. Knowing that highness was awaiting the news, this subordinate came to report first.”
The overall situation was truly like this. However, the struggle between those underneath couldn’t be understood by the lofty crown prince.
This matter was all thanks to Chen Qi. Imperial Physician Zhou’s family had been found by him. Imperial Guard Liu going along was merely to help out. It was also the crown prince’s subconscious lack of trust. After all, Chen Qi had only risen up by his side in the last few years. Although he was extremely capable and frequently made the crown prince view him favorably, Imperial Guard Liu had the crown prince’s full confidence. He came from the Xiao clan, and a rising talent like Chen Qi with no background naturally couldn’t be compared to him.
Chen Qi had especially left the matter of returning and reporting to Imperial Guard Liu. Such great news would definitely make the crown prince happy and result in bestowals.
“Great, great, really great. This humble one will reward you and Chen Qi! Mother empress should be informed of such great news.”
He had just lifted his foot when he recalled it was already midnight. Even if he was the crown prince, he wasn’t able to go to the rear palace at this time. He could only suppress his excitement and sit back down in his chair.
Only two years left? Didn’t this mean that in two years, he would obtain the seat he longed for? Mother empress, your son’s time has finally come. When he took over, none of the people who humiliated him would be let off….
That day was coming soon!
At the same time, within a residence.
The eunuch Chen Qi and an unremarkable looking person exchanged a glance before leaving with their own people. As for the remaining matters, there would naturally be people to take care of it.
Imperial Physician Zhou was also taken away. At this moment he had already become their respected guest, and naturally needed to be escorted back carefully.
The carriage stopped in an alley close to Imperial Physician Zhou’s house.
He got off the carriage and staggered back home.
When he arrived, he lightly knocked on the door. The old servant in his house came to open it.
“Lord, why did you return so late? Have you eaten?”
Imperial Physician Zhou didn’t speak. He wearily waved his hand and walked inside.
The moment he sat down in his room, a voice suddenly rang out next to him.
“You did very well today. Hopefully you can keep it up. Find some opportunities to reveal some clues in front of his majesty. We will take care of the rest.”
Imperial Physician Zhou hated such sneaking around to begin with, and having suffered so much stimulation today, he had long since been exhausted. Being startled once again when he had finally relaxed, he was inevitably furious.
“Just what on earth are you guys trying to do? To think a grand prince’s methods are so filthy. Coercion, deception, dog eating dog, extreme shamelessness. Is there even a hint of guilty conscience?”
The other person didn’t speak, waiting for Imperial Physician Zhou to finish venting.
Only after he was done cursing and panted for breath did the other person lightly laugh and say: “You don’t need to know what we want to do. All you need to know is that there is mutual benefit in helping each other. You know that based on your identity, if our highness hadn’t gotten involved, there would be no way you could escape unscathed. You were trapped from the very beginning. Having been an imperial physician for so long, you should be well aware of these things. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have hidden your family for so many years. All you need to know now is that your family is very safe in our hands. If you do as we say, you will also be very fine and very safe. That’s all.”
Imperial Physician Zhou’s face flushed: “Despicable! How are you any different from the crown prince’s people!?”
That person smiled and stood up, “Imperial Physician Zhou, you are a smart person. You should understand what you need to do. I don’t wish to repeat my threats.” After a pause, he spoke again: “Your “family” is currently in the crown prince’s hands. As someone who was coerced, you naturally need to let your “master” know about your suffering.”
After saying these words, the person vanished.
Imperial Physician Zhou was left by himself, the previous words lingering in his ears for a long while.