This chapter has been brought to you by me and Adnana.
Seeing the imperial physician speak so vaguely, Jin Yang could not sit still, and asked, “What is going on with the empress?”
“Your Majesty, Her Majesty is fine. It is only that her pulse is slippery,” the physician said. “But the signs are faint, and this subject is not sure.”
“Slippery pulse?” Jin Yang stilled, and then realized what the “slippery pulse” the imperial physician spoke of was. He asked, “But even if she was pregnant, she should not have fainted. How is the empress’ body?”
The imperial physicians were dumbstruck. In normal situations, should His Majesty not be happy he was having a child? There had been officials at court that admonished His Majesty to take consorts, and caused great anger. Wasn’t all of this because of the matter of children?
“Take her pulse again. The empress’ health is first.” Jin Yang did want a child, but he had once read that it was very harmful to the body of a woman not yet sixteen to be pregnant. So right now, he was both happy and worried.
The imperial physicians saw the emperor was only concerned with how the empress was, and did not seem interested in the empress possibly being pregnant. So they could only take turns taking the empress’ pulse.
After they took her pulse, they could not make up their minds. The empress’ pulse did seem slippery, but when a woman’s period was close, they would also have a pulse like this. So they did not dare to rashly make conclusions.
The imperial physician who had said first that the empress may be pregnant saw the emperor was concerned with the empress and sighed in relief inside. Fortunately, the emperor was most concerned with the empress, and not the child. Otherwise, if the empress was not pregnant and the emperor had been happy for nothing, he would not have good days.
Seeing the imperial physicians have hesitant expressions, Jin Yang did not make it difficult for them. “Focus on treating the empress. As for the child… all up to fate.”
“Yes.” The imperial physicians sighed in relief, and became more careful when treating the empress.
Gu Ru Jiu felt that she was having a very good sleep.. When she opened her eyes, she found that the patterns on the bed hangings were much more beautiful than usually.
“Your Majesty, you are awake?” Qiu Luo saw Gu Ru Jiu wake up, and smiled, her eyes turning red. She turned and said, “Quick, go report to His Majesty that Her Majesty is awake.”
“What is going on with you?” Maybe because she had slept for so long, Gu Ru Jiu felt that her head was slightly dizzy, and she was very hungry. She took the porridge that a palace maid handed her and started to eat.
“Your Majesty, you were asleep for a day and night.” Qiu Luo saw the empress energetic, and sighed in relief inside, helping Gu Ru Jiu eat. Seeing the porridge quickly disappear, Qiu Luo wanted to say something, but then heard hurried footsteps behind her.
“Jiu Jiu!” Jin Yang panted as he supported himself with a hand on the door frame. His face was unusually red. It could be seen that he had run over at full speed.
“Chenjun.” Gu Ru Jiu swallowed her porridge, and seeing Jin Yang in such a rush, could not help but say, “I am fine…”
Before she finished speaking, Jin Yang came in front of her like a gust of wind.
“Does your head hurt?”
“Are you uncomfortable breathing?”
“Is any part of your body in discomfort?”
Gu Ru Jiu held the bowl and saw Jin Yang ask over and over like an old woman. She said with a smile, “I am fine. My head does not hurt, my breathing is smooth, and there is no part of me in discomfort. I am just a bit hungry.”
“Right, right.” Jin Yang finally saw that there was almost nothing left in Gu Ru Jiu’s bowl and turned to Qiu Luo. “Go get your empress more food.”
“Your Majesty… the imperial physicians said that Her Majesty should not eat too much when she wakes up.” Qiu Luo looked at His Majesty, conflicted, and did not know what to do.
Jin Yang turned and said to Gu Ru Jiu, “Jiu Jiu, bear it for a while. After an hour, I will have them prepare food for you again.”
“Okay.” She finished eating the bowl of porridge under Jin Yang’s eyes, rinsed her mouth, and then said, “Your Majesty, do you not have a court session today?” If she had slept for a day and night, Jin Yang should be at court right now.
“The court has ended.” Jin Yang held her hand with his right hand, and brushed her hair behind her ears with his left hand. “The imperial physicians said that you are overworked. I am preparing to send those dowager consorts to Linan Palace tomorrow.”
In Jin Yang’s view, people that made Jiu Jiu unhappy should be sent away.
“I had been planning to send them away to Linan Palace in a few days.” Gu Ru Jiu nodded, and did not have any opinions. “It was your birthday a few days ago, and I did not want them to make a fuss.”
“You do not have to worry about these things. I can make the decree.” Jin Yang looked carefully at Gu Ru Jiu’s face. After he confirmed that she looked as rosy as usual, his heart was reassured.
Gu Ru Jiu smiled at him, and wound her fingers with his. She said in a whisper, “Do not worry, I am very good.”
Jin Yang pulled her into his arms and did not speak.
“What is going on today? The emperor did not look well at morning court, and ended the session not long after.” Coming out of the palace, an official came in front of Shen Qing He, and said, “Official Shen, do you know the reason?”
In his view, Shen Qing He was the grandson of the grand princess, and had a close relationship to the imperial house. He would know more than him.
“Apologies, this one does not know.” Shen Qing He smiled politely, and blocked this official’s probe.
The Shen Family had come to the capital only recently, and did not plan to engage in the struggles of these parties. This official who wanted to get information from him looked friendly, but in reality, he was part of the Li party and did many dirty things in the back.
This official saw that Shen Qing He was not enthusiastic, but did not mind. He smiled and raised his cupped hands to him before walking away with some other officials.
Shen Qing He smiled and returned the bow before walking out at a measured pace. Then he faintly heard that the empress was sick.
He frowned. The emperor looked so ugly in expression. Was it because the empress had health problems?
At this time, Gu Zhi Yu was passing by him. He carefully examined Gu Zhi Yu’s face, and he did not look well.
“Official Shen?” Gu Zhi Yu sensed Shen Qing He looking at him, and turned to say, “Is something the matter?”
Shen Qing He was slightly embarrassed. Fortunately, the two had worked together, and had some friendship. Otherwise, he would really be embarrassed today. “Nothing, but Official Gu does not look well, and I did not know how to ask.”
“Official Shen, thank you for your concern. This one is fine.” The two had some friendship, but were not good friends. Gu Zhi Yu would not mention to him what had happened in the palace, so after a few polite words, he quickly left.
“It seems there really is something. It is very likely that the empress is having health problems.” Shen Qing He rubbed his chin. With Gu Zhi Yu’s usual manner, he rarely had such a dark expression.
Returning home, Shen Qing He saw Sima Ling reading, and said with a smile, “Protect your eyes.” Ling Ling was pregnant right now. He wanted to urge her to read less to not harm her eyes, but worried that she would be bored at home, so he could only try to spend more time with her.
“No, I am teaching the baby in my stomach to read.” Sima Ling had not yet shown, so she was not having difficulty moving. She put down the book and said, “How come you returned so early today?”
“His Majesty is not in a good mood, and the morning court session finished quickly. I am going to the department this afternoon.” Shen Qing He looked at the sun outside. “I wanted to walk with you in the garden outside, but the sun is too strong right now.”
“I fear the sun.” Sima Ling did not have any interest in walking in the garden under the hot sun. “The emperor is not in a good mood. Is it because the empress is ill?”
“How do you know?” Ever since his marriage, he had a mysterious awe of women because the women of the capital were so powerful. There did not seem to be anything that they did not know.
“This morning, Paternal Aunt came to visit, and said something casually.” Sima Ling was wearing a plain white robe. At a glance, it could be seen that she was in mourning for Sima Hong. But she was pregnant and could not go and light a stick of incense or see Sima Hong off. A few days ago, Shen Qing He had gone alone to the funeral.
Tomorrow was the day of Sima Hong’s burial, so the Ping Prince Heiress Consort had made a special trip to see her and speak of the Sima Family’s arrangements. Then she had said that the empress was ill.
Knowing that the Ping Prince Heiress Consort had come and spoken of Sima Hong’s burial, Shen Qing He worried that she would be too sad, and said, “Do not be sad. I am here.”
Sima Ling forced a smile, and then sighed. “Mother-in-law went to visit the Chen Family yesterday, and she was so angry when she came back that she did not eat in the evening.”
Shen Qing He’s mother Shen Chen shi did not have a close blood relation to the Chen clan, but she was still a member. Now, the Shen Family did not have a stable foundation in the capital, so she wanted to interact with the Chen Family. But the Chen Family were rude in welcoming her, and she came back angry.
“Then I will go see Mother.” Shen Qing He sighed, hugged Sima Ling, and then went towards his mother’s courtyard.
Seeing her son come, Shen Chen shi was no longer angry, and called for him to sit. “You have a court session today—how is it that you came here?”
Shen Qing He said, “Ling Ling said that you were not in a good mood, and I should come see you.”
“Ling Ling is so attentive.” Shen Chen shi had always liked Sima Ling, and was very happy upon hearing this. She asked more about Sima Ling’s condition and then said, “The capital’s Chen Family are mindless. If they did not have some connection to the Gu Family, I fear many people in the capital would be at odds with the Chen Family.”
At this, Shen Chen shi shook her head. “Fortunately, Gu Chen shi died early and became the white moonlight in Heir Gu’s heart. Otherwise, she would be caught between her in-laws and her paternal family. If she were alive now, even the best relationship would be worn away.”
She had seen many cases like this. Originally, the couple had a good relationship. But the relatives on one side would keep on making trouble. The couple became resentful, and in the end, it always ended in mutual divorce. Because she had seen this many times, she did not like to interfere too much in her son and daughter-in-law’s matters. She also did not prepare to let her daughter-in-law go to the grand princess. Whether it was to help take care or serve during illness, she would do it all.
In any case, there were servants, and she just had to talk. She would not get tired.
Shen Qing He had never met Gu Chen shi before, but had met Gu Zhi Yu. He said after a moment of thought, “Heir Gu is a good person.”
“People have to be content. You cannot waste wantonly. No matter how kind the Gu Family is, they cannot withstand the Chen Family making such trouble. I think the Chen Family will end themselves sooner or later.” Shen Chen shi shook her head, either in regret that she had one less path to get close to the Gu Family, or in pity at the Chen Family. “The Gu Family are not made of clay.”
On the fourth day of the seventh month, the White Tiger Gates of the imperial palace opened. A long series of carriages came out from the side door with exceptional gravity.
Two days ago, Jin Yang had sent out the order for the dowager consorts to move to Linan Palace. The palaces did not dare to slack off, and had to leave whether or not they were willing.
The palace attendants that served in the palaces of the dowager consorts had been in a panic, finding other people and using favors, hoping to stay in the palace or find another position. No one wanted to go out of the palace.
Linan Palace was far from the emperor, and the women living there had no future or children. So what future would they, those serving, have?
Dowager Consort Sun sat in a carriage carved with qingluan patterns. She listened to the sound of the wheels and could not resist lifting the curtain.
The sky was not yet bright. There was a faint layer of mist on the streets. Some of the morning stalls had set up their wares. She saw a shop selling tea eggs on the roadside. She suddenly remembered, twenty years ago, she and that person had eaten tea eggs at a breakfast stall. At the time, he had been dressed plainly, and his hands were incredibly beautiful.
Twenty years had passed. There were still stalls selling tea eggs every day. But he had a wife and sons, and she was just a dowager consort about to be sent to Linan Palace.
“Come, buy some tea eggs for this palace.” She thought and then ordered the eunuch accompanying the carriage.
“Dowager Consort Sun, the time is tight and we cannot delay. Please bear with this.” The eunuch bowed to her. He was respectful, but he had no intention of listening to her.
Dowager Consort Sun did not expect that this eunuch would refuse her order. After a long time, she came out of her daze. The eunuch that had been by her carriage had left a long time ago, and she could only endure.
Just as she was preparing to put down the curtain, she saw an eunuch buying something at the tea egg stall. She recognized that this eunuch was the one who served Dowager Consort Qian.
Qian shi‘s people could buy things, but the people serving her had been replaced, and did not listen to her. Her heart felt cold…
Did this present emperor hate her?
Two days ago, the people serving her had all been replaced. Now, she could not order these palace attendants.
Now, she understood. No matter the plans, in the face of power, no plan was useful. She had planned for so long, but an imperial decree from the emperor replaced all the people around her. The reason was that she still had not recovered from her illness because her servants did not serve her well.
She wanted to ask for mercy, but the eunuch that came to recite the decree ignored her. She wanted to be angry and rage, but these people did not respond.
“One emperor, one set of officials…” Dowager Consort Sun sneered. She suddenly thought of Prince Rui. Did he become ambitious because of the neglect from the past years?
She did not know, and could not guess. Maybe she knew already, but she did not dare to think, and was not willing to think.
If he really had feelings towards her, then why did he not propose marriage back then? Why did he marry his princess consort, and have so many children with her?
Maybe he did not love her at all, and she did not love him. But the days in the palace were too hard, and she embraced this empty love to comfort her through her never-ending loneliness.
She had been ordinary this life, and gone with the flow; she did not even dare to look clearly at her own mind.
The string of carriages were about to leave through the city gates. One of Prince Rui’s attendants was standing there like he was randomly passing by.
Dowager Consort Sun took out the thick secret letter that she had sewn into her sleeve, and looked at it for a long time.
There were so many carriages leaving the city. The gate guards came to ask. When they learned that these were carriages of the dowager consorts leaving the palace, they did not dare to stop the carriages, and let them pass by unimpeded.
The attendant of Prince Rui watched the carriages pass in front of him. After the last carriage left the city, he returned reluctantly to Prince Rui’s Establishment.
“You did not get it?” Prince Rui had an odd expression. A moment later, he said, “This prince knows.”
What was Sun shi thinking? Did she want to use those things to threaten him?
“Not good enough to succeed but good enough to ruin things,” he cursed with a dark expression. He sent people to sneak to the horse station that the caravan would pass. He would try to get from Sun shi the records of how the guards were stationed in the palace and what the living habits of the emperor and empress were.
In reality, he was most worried about the letters he had exchanged with Sun shi over the years.
Back then, he had been the one to arrange for Zhou shi‘s son to die. If this matter was exposed, he would be done with.
“If not possible…”—Prince Rui’s voice turned cold—”then have Dowager Consort Sun pass away.”
Only dead people would not speak.
“Snap, snap, snap.”
Dowager Consort Sun tore the secret letters in her hands to pieces, and then put the fragments into the teapot in the carriage.
Seeing the paper soaked in the tea water, Dowager Consort Sun suddenly lifted the curtain and threw the teapot at the eunuch who did not listen to her orders. The teapot hit the eunuch and then the stones on the ground, shattering into pieces.
“You dare to look down on this palace—you dare!” Dowager Consort Sun pointed through the window, and cursed at the eunuch. “Just out of the capital, you dare to disobey. If we reach Linan Palace, will you kill this palace?”
After this, she ignored the eunuch pleading for forgiveness, and started to cry and make a fuss.
Dowager Consort Qian heard the noise coming from behind, and after hearing what had happened, she smiled, non-committal. She leaned back on the carriage cushion. She did not go watch the spectacle.
While Sun shi did not use her brain most of the time, she had never seen the other so unreasonable as today. However, it did not matter. They were out of the palace. If one still had constraints about everything, then they had lived in vain this life.
Sun shi was making a great fuss, and she was a dowager consort. The captain of the guard was helpless, and could only have the eunuch detained.
Fortunately, Dowager Consort Sun was easy-going except for this fuss. She was easy to serve on the trip, but she had a strange habit—she did not easily eat her food.
After a while, people became used to this. Because the weather was so hot and it was the women of the previous emperor sitting in the carriages, although Linan Palace was very close to the capital, they traveled for almost a month.
After entering the gates of Linan City, everyone sighed in relief, but as the dowager consorts got off the carriage, an accident happened.
“Ah!” The palace maid closest to Dowager Consort Sun screamed immediately.
Dowager Consort Sun frowned. How could this palace maid be so ignorant of the rules? She wanted to reprimand the other, but then she found she could not open her mouth.
She looked down, and found an arrow sticking out of her chest with only the tail left outside. The other half was likely in her chest. Strangely, she did not feel any pain at all.
“Dowager Consort Sun!”
“Enclose the surroundings, and do not let anyone suspicious go!”
She looked up, and saw Qian shi and the other women she had fought with were all pale, as though they saw the most terrifying thing in the world.
What was terrifying? These women had all fought over and over for a man—who was clean?
After scheming for a lifetime, she died at the hands of the man she thought she loved. Her life was a joke.
“Sun Ru Yun!” Dowager Consort Qian supported her, her expression panicked and slightly sad. “Wait a moment—the physician is coming right away.”
Right, she had been called “Beloved Consort” and “Consort” and “Dowager Consort” for a lifetime. She had almost forgotten what her name was.
The matron said that during her first birthday, her father saw that she had lush hair and looked good. So he gave her the name of “like cloud.”
The gods of Jiuyi Moutain come to welcome Lady Xiang in crowds like clouds.
But her life was not like this name. She lived muddle-headed for a lifetime. It was laughable.
She smiled at Dowager Consort Qian and said quietly, “I remember when we first met, you were standing under the peach tree in Jingan Palace, and you were much better-looking than now.”
Dowager Consort Qian stilled. Her eyes turned red, and she slowly nodded.
Dowager Consort Sun saw her nod, smiled in relief, and then closed her eyes.
In a daze, she seemed to return to her youth. Back then, her hair had been like a cloud and she had been innocent, much like the present empress.
“Dowager Consort Qian, Dowager Consort Sun… has passed away.” The captain saw Dowager Consort Qian was still holding Dowager Consort Sun, and whispered, “This lowly official has the responsibility for what has happened.”
He had not thought that a childless dowager consort would be assassinated.
This was his fault, and he could predict what was waiting for him when he returned to the capital.
Dowager Consort Qian saw the faint smile on Dowager Consort Sun’s face. She dazedly released the other, and then watched as the eunuchs took away Dowager Consort Sun’s corpse.
She had fought for a life with Sun shi, and had thought about how Sun shi would look when she was desolate. But she had never thought that Sun shi would die in such a dubious way.
Who wanted to kill Sun shi?
The emperor? The empress?
No, not the two of them? If they wanted Sun shi to die, they could have made her die back when she was pretending to be sick. There was no need for such a big fuss.
The women of the previous emperor were sent by the present emperor to Linan Palace. They just got off the carriage, and were assassinated. If this spread, it would not be a good thing for the emperor and empress.
Unless these two people had problems with their minds, they would not do such a thing.
But if it was not them, then who was it? She turned to look at the other consorts who had once served the previous emperor. These women were all pale, and trembling in fright.
Even if these women wanted to kill Sun shi, they did not have the ability.
Usual archers could not have such range and accuracy.
So… who was it?