Chapter Thirty-Nine (Part 1)
The emperor’s first grandchild wasn’t Pei Wen Cai.
Seventh prince’s official wife miscarried a child before Pei Wen Cai, the emperor’s first grandchild was a boy and he still grieved for his unborn grandson.
The emperor had thirteen children but only four sons were alive. The seventh prince shared a similar fate with the emperor, he had many wives but they had many miscarriages and only Pei Wen Cai was alive.
The citizens of the Dian kingdom were worried about the lack of future imperial heirs. That was why even though the emperor disapproved of Yan Shi Ting, he tolerated her for the sake of his unborn grandchild. So no one in the imperial family was surprised to see the emperor’s concern after seeing Yan Shi Ting bleed.
‘Emperor, you don’t need to summon an imperial physician,’ the empress said. ‘It’ll be bad luck if the imperial physician appears before the end of the wedding ceremony-’
‘Bad luck?’ Consort Mu asked. ‘Big sister, the bride is bleeding. Her life is more important than superstitions.’
Consort Mu’s words stabbed the empress’ heart. The empress saw the feigned concern on Consort Mu’s face and she realised it was the demoness Consort Mu who interfered with her scheme. The empress didn’t doubt that Consort Mu knew about Yan Shi Ting’s fake pregnancy long ago, Consort Mu waited until the wedding day to expose Yan Shi Ting and to appear innocent while opposing the empress.
The emperor ignored the empress and Consort Mu’s battle of words.
‘Hurry and bring an imperial physician here!’ the emperor ordered.
An imperial physician rushed into the ceremonial hall and Yan Shi Ting panicked.
‘I don’t need an imperial physician,’ Yan Shi Ting said.
Yan Shi Ting recognised the imperial physician wasn’t one of the empress’ allies and wouldn’t know about her fake pregnancy. If she was exposed on her wedding day, it would also be the day of her funeral.
Yan Shi Ting knew no one could save her and she couldn’t stop the imperial physician from examining her. She cried helplessly and she couldn’t endure her stomach ache any longer… she farted and soiled her undergarments.
Everyone around Yan Shi Ting pinched their noses and stepped back from Yan Shi Ting’s unpleasant stench.
Yan Shi Ting was angry and embarrassed. She knelt on the floor, covered her face and cried loudly. Her wedding dress was ruined, her makeup disappeared and she looked like a pitiful bride jilted by the groom.
Pei Jin held Yan Shi Ning’s hand. He knew she wasn’t cruel enough to feel happy seeing Yan Shi Ting shed fresh blood from their plan.
‘Imperial physician, what happened to Yan Shi Ting?’ the emperor asked.
‘It was a beautiful wedding ceremony… why did it become like this?’ Consort Mu asked. ‘Imperial physician, stop stalling. Hurry and examine the crown prince’s wife!’
The imperial physician reluctantly stepped closer to Yan Shi Ting. He heard ‘the crown prince’s wife’ and knew the wedding ceremony wouldn’t end happily. ‘Lady Yan, let me examine you.’
The imperial physician knelt beside Yan Shi Ting but she refused to let him hold her wrist.
‘I don’t need to be examined!’ Yan Shi Ting said.
‘Hurry and let the imperial physician examine you,’ Consort Mu said. ‘You’re bleeding. Can’t you see the emperor is worried about you?’
Yan Shi Ting looked at the emperor’s concerned face. Then she looked pleadingly at the empress and the crown prince. ‘Aunt! Big brother crown prince! The imperial physician doesn’t need to examine me.’
The empress saw everyone was looking at her and her heart hardened. ‘Shi Ting, let the imperial physician examine you.’
Yan Shi Ting’s body turned cold, the empress and the crown prince turned their backs on her.
The imperial physician examined Yan Shi Ting while she absently looked at the empress and the crown prince.
‘Strange…’ the imperial physician said.
Most of the wedding guests were worried something was wrong with Yan Shi Ting and the rest anticipated the imperial physician’s explanation.
‘Imperial physician, hurry and report to the emperor,’ Consort Mu said and feigned concern.
Consort Mu heard news about Yan Shi Ting’s fake pregnancy. But the empress’ calmness made Consort Mu uneasy that the news wasn’t true. Whether Consort Mu could defeat the empress and the crown prince depended on the outcome of the imperial physician’s explanation.
‘Strange?’ the emperor asked.
The imperial physician stood and kowtowed in front of the emperor. ‘Your majesty, Lady Yan is healthy. Your majesty, forgive me but I don’t know why she’s bleeding.’
‘Healthy?’ the emperor asked.
The emperor should have been relieved to hear Yan Shi Ting was healthy but he felt like the heavens struck him.
‘Your majesty is right,’ the imperial physician said. ‘Lady Yan is healthy.’
The emperor stepped off the platform, grabbed the imperial physician’s collar and spoke softly. ‘Is she pregnant?’
End of Chapter Thirty-Nine (Part 1)
Chapter Twelve (Part 1)
Su Yue locked herself in her chamber for a day.
Su Yue felt it was cruel of Pei Jin to punish her to stay in her chamber for a month. She needed to get him to change his decision.
The night sky darkened, Su Yue picked up a lantern and stepped to the vanity table.
Su Yue pulled the drawer of the vanity table and took out a small chest. Inside it was one white bottle and one blue bottle. She picked up the blue bottle and she was tempted to use it. But she put the blue bottle down, picked up the white bottle and hid the chest inside the drawer.
Pei Jin was reading letters he received from his elders and army comrades in Southern Jiang in the calligraphy room. He laughed while reading the list of reasons they wanted him to return to Southern Jiang. They complained the general made everyone eat vegetarian food and didn’t allow them to watch performances. Suddenly he heard a loud sob outside the door.
‘Let me in,’ Su Yue said. ‘I want to see ninth prince.’
Pei Jin frowned. He hid the letters and stepped toward the door. But before he reached the door, Su Yu barged into the room.
The night cooled but Su Yue wore a thin white dress and thick makeup. Pei Jin was angry on the inside, Su Yue was supposed to reflect on her bad behaviour in her chamber. Why did she leave her chamber and came running to the calligraphy room? What a troublesome person!
Su Yue put a tray of food on a table, knelt in front of Pei Jin, held onto his leg and she sobbed loudly. ‘Ninth prince, I know I was wrong. Ninth prince, forgive me. I don’t dare to commit another wrong. I promise in the future I’ll serve you and your wife well.’
Pei Jin’s heart remembered Yan Shi Ning, it tempted him to follow Yan Shi Ning’s lead and kick. But he was supposed to be gentle ninth prince. He pulled his leg free and stood away from Su Yue.
‘Stand up and speak,’ Pei Jin said.
‘No, if ninth prince won’t forgive me then I won’t stand,’ Su Yue said and looked pitifully at Pei Jin.
Su Yue refused to stand up and Pei Jin spoke in a colder tone. ‘Su Yue, don’t forget your status!’
‘Status?’ Su Yue asked. ‘Ninth prince, what is my status? When court official Huang Guo gave me to you, did you forget what he said to you? In the past I wanted to serve you but you always refused. You said I was too young then you said you were heartbroken over Lady Yewu. Later you said you were busy with duties to let me serve you. But now I’m eighteen years old and you have a wife. Other people think that I’m your woman, but that’s not the truth. Ninth prince, what is my status?’
Pei Jin didn’t want to see Su Yue’s pitiful face and turned around. He knew he needed to act merciful but in that moment it was hard for him to act merciful. He could only turn around to not show Su Yue how much she repulsed him.
Pei Jin’s silence made Su Yue panicked. She thought for a day to think carefully of what to say to him. She remembered he was always gentle. She thought he would pity her, hug her and comfort her like a precious jewel. In the past he wasn’t close to women. Since he had a wife, she thought he wanted to eat her but felt he couldn’t. But she didn’t expect him to react coldly. She didn’t know what she did wrong.
Su Yue’s plan to act pitiful didn’t work so she quickly changed tactics.
Su Yue stood, picked up a bowl of soup and passed it to Pei Jin. ‘Even though ninth prince never glanced at me once, I don’t resent you. I’m happy to be beside you. Forgive me for my behaviour before. I couldn’t control myself. My heart was scared thinking about a month of not serving you… I made you a bowl of soup that you love most. If you drink it, it means you forgive me. Then I’ll obediently think about my behaviour and I won’t misbehave again.’
Pei Jin stared at the bowl of soup in front of him. He hesitated, but he accepted it and drank a sip. He reasoned although Su Yue was sent by Huang Guo, he was certain Su Yue wouldn’t poison him so he planned to drink it then order her to leave.
Su Yue’s heart relaxed after Pei Jin drank all of the soup. She slowly tidied the table and glanced often at Pei Jin.
Pei Jin ignored Su Yue, sat at the table and read books. Suddenly he felt something strange. Why were the words dancing on the pages of the books?
‘What did you put in the soup?’ Pei Jin asked coldly.
Pei Jin felt his little brother surfaced and he fisted his hands.
Pei Jin felt his body weakened except for his little brother’s fire. He glared at Su Yu who was pulling him to the bed. She took of his outer robe, he wanted to stop her but he couldn’t in a weak state. No! He wasn’t going to let her control him.
Pei Jin struggled to breathe, bit his tongue and his head cleared a little. He temporarily regained his strength, pushed Su Yue and he rushed outside.
Yan Shi Ning washed her face, brushed her hair and climbed onto the bed. Suddenly she heard the door banged open. It startled her but Pei Jin’s disorientated state startled her more.
‘Big brother, what happened?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
End of Chapter Twelve (Part 1)