The emperor collapsed.
The palace was in chaos, the emperor was unconscious after someone saw the emperor spat out blood and the emperor’s consorts and princes were forbidden to enter the emperor’s chamber.
The court officials feared if the emperor didn’t wake up in a few days then there would be a bloody war in the palace since the crown prince position was vacant.
Luckily two days later the emperor woke up.
Inside Consort Mu’s chamber Pei Zhang interrogated a eunuch.
‘Did you say inside imperial father’s hidden edict, he wants ninth prince to be the crown prince?’ Pei Zhang asked the eunuch.
‘Seventh prince, I saw it while the emperor showed it to Gentleman Yang,’ the eunuch said on his knees. ‘Then I secretly came here to report to seventh prince.’
‘What did Gentleman Yang say?’ Pei Zhang asked.
‘Gentleman Yang said the emperor’s body is weak and he feared the emperor’s medicine couldn’t prolong the emperor’s life for much longer,’ the eunuch said. ‘Then the emperor said if in the future he becomes unconscious for more than a few days then Gentleman Yang should euthanized him.’
Consort Mu panicked. What would happen if Gentleman Yang granted the emperor’s request?
Pei Zhang dismissed the eunuch.
‘Mother, what should we do?’ Pei Zhang asked. ‘Mother, didn’t you say imperial father wouldn’t give the crown prince position to ninth brother?’
‘Your imperial father’s heart is hard to see,’ Consort Mu said. ‘Besides, I said that before Dian Thi’s incident! You don’t have an heir and your imperial father doesn’t love you. It’s reasonable your imperial father would choose your ninth brother.’
‘Are we going to wait to witness ninth brother sit on the throne?’ Pei Zhang asked.
‘Your imperial father hid the edict and hasn’t announced it because he’s still indecisive,’ Consort Mu said.
‘If imperial father wrote the edict it shows who he chose,’ Pei Zhang said. ‘He hasn’t announced it but it doesn’t mean it won’t be announced later. If that happens then ninth prince’s boat is built!’
‘What do you want to do?’ Consort Mu asked. ‘Go to your imperial father’s chamber and tear the edict? If you do that then prepare to give up everything.’
‘Mother!’ Pei Zhang said.
Consort Mu frowned.
‘Mother, you’re right,’ Pei Zhang said.
‘What are you planning to do?’ Consort Mu asked.
‘I should steal the edict before it’s announced,’ Pei Zhang said.
‘Reckless fool!’ Consort Mu said.
‘What reckless fool?’ Pei Zhang said. ‘We’ve built our power over many years and many court officials support us. It’s easy for us to sneak into imperial father’s chamber in the middle of the night. We can force imperial father to change the edict.’
‘If your imperial father refuses do you intend to kill your imperial father and steal the throne?’ Consort Mu asked.
‘If imperial father rather dies than change it then I’ll grant his request,’ Pei Zhang said.
Consort Mu’s whole body was cold like ice.
‘Mother, if ninth brother sits on the throne you know he won’t spare our lives,’ Pei Zhang said. ‘It’s better if I steal the throne before the edict is announced. Otherwise if I wait to steal the throne after ninth brother is the emperor, we’ll become traitors in the eyes of citizens and they’ll rebel.’
Consort Mu thought about Pei Zhang’s logic and she fisted her hands.
‘Mother…’ Pei Zhang said.
‘Wait,’ Consort Mu said. ‘Don’t do anything reckless. Let me confirm something and we can discuss what to do afterward.’
‘Confirm what?’ Pei Zhang asked.
‘I want to see Gentleman Tao,’ Consort Mu said.
That evening Consort Mu secretly met Gentleman Tao and they spoke through a door hole.
‘I want to ask you something,’ Consort Mu said.
‘Yes,’ Tao Ping said.
‘How is the emperor?’ Consort Mu asked.
‘His majesty has two years,’ Tao Ping said.
‘Truly?’ Consort Mu asked.
‘Before the crown prince and the empress died, his majesty had four to five years,’ Tao Ping said.
‘What about the rumor the emperor only has a few days to live?’ Consort Mu asked.
Consort Mu was anxious why Gentleman Tao didn’t answer her. She looked through the hole and only saw the night’s darkness.
‘Why aren’t you saying anything?’ Consort Mu asked.
‘His majesty is manoeuvring a chess piece,’ Tao Ping said. ‘The emperor ordered if anyone exposes his plan then they’ll be killed immediately.’
‘What is the emperor’s purpose?’ Consort Mu asked.
‘His majesty wants to see who’ll support seventh prince and who’ll support ninth prince,’ Tao Ping said. ‘Whoever acts recklessly first then the emperor won’t spare them. Consort Mu, I hope you’ll patiently wait to see what happens.’
‘Alright,’ Consort Mu said. ‘Why didn’t you find me earlier to report to me about something this important?’
‘Consort Mu, you were born intelligent,’ Tao Ping praised. ‘Of course you’ll see through his majesty’s plan.’
Consort Mu farewell Gentleman Tao and left.
In the emperor’s chamber Wang Fu Mu stayed by the emperor’s bedside, he didn’t dare leave the chamber to warn Pei Jin. He hoped Pei Jin would see through the emperor’s plan.
End of Chapter Seventy-Four
Chapter Thirty-Eight (Part 2 of 2)
‘Big sister, you’re here,’ Yan Shi Ting said.
‘It’s little sister’s wedding day,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘I’m your big sister of course I need to be here. Today little sister is beautiful. The crown prince will be insanely happy to see you.’
Yan Shi Ting was happy to hear Yan Shi Ning praised her beauty. But she frowned to hear the crown prince’s name mentioned. She didn’t know why the crown prince hadn’t delivered wedding gifts to her yet.
Yan Shi Ning poured two cups of tea and crushed a pill into one of the cups while no was looking at her.
‘Little sister, drink tea,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Later you’ll be too busy to drink.’
Yan Shi Ting was thirsty. Her mother didn’t let her drink earlier so she accepted the cup of tea and drank it.
Yan Shi Ning smiled, drank half a cup of tea and emptied the other half into a vase.
Two days ago Yan Shi Ning received the pills from Bei Dou.
‘Big brother Bei, do you have medicine that causes a person stomach to hurt?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘Yes,’ Bei Dou said and showed Yan Shi Ning some identical pills.
‘Do I crush the pills?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘That’s right,’ Bei Dou said.
‘Big brother Bei, can you give me these pills?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘Alright,’ Bei Dou said and passed the pills to Yan Shi Ning.
Yan Shi Ning tested one of the pills on herself. Less than half a shichen hour later her stomach ached and she rushed to the toilet.
After Yan Shi Ning’s legs wobbled from squatting for a long time she returned to Bei Dou’s chamber.
‘Big brother, what pills did you give me earlier?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘Laxatives,’ Bei Dou said.
Yan Shi Ning and her stomach were speechless while Bei Dou was curious why Yan Shi Ning wanted laxatives.
Finally the bride and the bridal’s family arrived at the palace. The crown prince smiled coldly but Pei Jin smiled happily like he did on his and Yan Shi Ning’s wedding day.
Pei Jin watched Yan Shi Ning helped the bride into the ceremonial hall and reminisced about their wedding day.
After Yan Shi Ning escorted Yan Shi Ting to the crown prince, she stood next to Pei Jin and he whispered in her ear. ‘Wife, tonight let’s have a wedding night too.’
Yan Shi Ning smiled like a gentle lady and she stepped on Pei Jin’s foot. Then she turned her head and smiled at the anxious Princess Kang Hua.
The emperor and the empress sat on the highest platform. The emperor refrained from frowning while the empress smiled happily.
Pei Zhang wanted to rest but it was the crown prince’s wedding day so he attended the wedding and acted weak next to the happy Consort Mu.
Consort Mu looked at Pei Wen Cai who sat on her lap. ‘Wen Cai, do you remember what grandmother told you?’
Pei Wen Cai was busy glaring at Pei Khan who sat opposite her. ‘Yes, grandmother.’
Pei Khan didn’t notice Pei Wen Cai, he was waving his chubby hand at Yan Shi Ning. Then he patted the seat next to him to signal Yan Shi Ning to sit next to him.
Everyone behaved like their usual selves but their eyes were focused on the crown prince and Yan Shi Ting.
‘It is the auspicious hour,’ the ceremonial minister said. ‘The groom and bride, bow to the heavens, your elders and to each other.’
Yan Shi Ting bowed to the heavens and to the elders. But her stomach ached a lot. After bowing to the crown prince, she collapsed on the floor.
The ceremonial hall immediately became chaotic.
Consort Mu exchanged a shocked look with seventh prince… their plan was to let Pei Wen Cai accidently fall onto Yan Shi Ting’s dress, Consort Mu would help Pei Wen Cai up and throw blood onto Yan Shi Ting’s wedding dress then Consort Mu would ask for an imperial physician to check if Yan Shi Ting had a miscarriage. The imperial physician that day was one of their allies and would have reported to the emperor that Yan Shi Ting wasn’t pregnant.
Consort Mu and seventh prince didn’t act out their plan but Yan Shi Ting fell on her own.
Consort Mu rushed to Yan Shi Ting, discreetly threw blood on Yan Shi Ting’s dress and helped Yan Shi Ting stand.
‘What happened?’ the emperor asked.
The empress panicked. ‘I… I… I…’
‘Blood, blood!’ Pei Khan cried out and pointed at the blood stain on the floor.
Everyone’s eyes looked at the spot Pei Khan was pointing to.
Yan Shi Ting stood, her veil fell on the floor and she endured her stomach ache. But her body stiffened after she heard blood… the blood was on the spot she fell on earlier.
Yan Shi Ting was scared her step-aunt arrived. She looked at the back of her dress and her face whitened at the blood stain on her dress.
‘Ah!’ Consort Mu cried out. ‘There’s blood on the bride’s dress. Where’s the imperial physician?’
The emperor’s face darkened, he was worried his unborn grandchild returned to the heavens.
‘Hurry, someone bring an imperial physician here!’ the emperor ordered.
Short Side Story One
On a cool day, Pei Jin was smiling while watching little Fei sleeping peacefully in a cot. Little Fei’s lips were pouting like little Fei was dreaming about drinking milk. It reminded Pei Jin of a past incident at the Yan Manor.
Pei Jin walked out into the courtyard where Yan Shi Ning was sitting on a swing and eating a peach.
‘Shi Ning, do you believe in testing blood relations using drops of blood and a bowl of water?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘I believe it’s true,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Isn’t that’s how blood relations were tested in the past?’
Pei Jin nodded his head and smiled at Yan Shi Ning. ‘Little lion, let’s see if the test is true.’
‘Pei Jin, what do you want to do?’ Yan Shi Ning asked suspiciously.
A while later, little Fei was awake and crying loudly.
Yan Shi Ning’s heart ached. She carried little Fei in her arms and consoled little Fei.
‘MF Pei Jin, how can you do this to little Fei?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning watched little Fei’s blood dropped into a bowl of water… little Fei’s blood didn’t merge with the other drop of blood.
Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning were shocked.
‘Yan-Shi-Ning!’ Pei Jin cried out. ‘Wife, confess!’
Yan Shi Ning knocked the bowl of water out of Pei Jin’s hand. ‘MF Pei Jin! What are you implying?’
Pei Jin hugged Yan Shi Ning. ‘Wife, don’t be angry. I was teasing you.’
Yan Shi Ning was too angry to speak anymore.
After that cool day, Pei Jin was banished to the calligraphy room for half a month. He was starved enough for his eye bags to swell and he secretly wrote on a wall, ‘don’t believe in testing blood relations with drops of blood and a bowl of water!’
Short Interview One
Su Xing Yue: Xiao Jin, you truly didn’t suspect Xiao Ning?
Pei Jin: I trust Shi Ning isn’t that kind of person.
Su Xing Yue: Why are you certain?
Pei Jin: I roll around with my wife day and night. How can she have time to let me wear a headgear of a fool?
Su Xing Yue: …
End of Chapter Thirty-Eight (Part 2 of 2)