Fu Shui kneeled in greeting to Concubine Yan. “Greetings, Aunt.”
Concubine Yan was heartened. “Good child, you are finally here.”
Concubine Yan and Yu He were siblings with the same father but different mothers. When the Sui Dynasty was wiped out, Yu He had been living outside the palace with his mother, who had a low status. That was how he survived. Thereafter, Yu He had concealed his identity and left the newly-born Fu Shui to enter the palace to protect Concubine Yan. Today, the two of them had worked together to bring the Crown Prince down.
Yu He advised, “Your Highness, you have just recovered, you cannot be too emotional.”
Concubine Yan looked at Yu He. “We are all a family here, why are you still calling me Your Highness?”
Yu He froze. His voice trembled slightly as he called out, “Sister!”
Concubine Yan’s eyes teared momentarily as she grabbed Yu He’s hand. “Younger Brother! All these years, the both of us have been walking on thin ice in the palace. Although we see each other daily, we never dared to call each other as brother and sister!”
Fu Shui sighed, “The great Sui Royal Family has been bearing humiliation to this point.”
Yu He spoke, “The Crown Prince and Prince Han have both been taken down. Prince Zhou’s position is becoming more stable. Soon, we won’t have to tolerate anyone.”
“We put up with the humiliation for our future.” Concubine Yan had tolerated all these years. “As long as there is hope, what is it to tolerate a little for what’s in front of us? My child, you have suffered all these years. You even gave up your surname. Now with everything in play, you were actually given the surname Yang by the Emperor. This is a lucky omen from heaven. Our great Sui family will rise once again.”
Yu He used his sleeves to dab the corners of his eyes. “Fu Shui, quickly take your aunt’s pulse.”
Fu Shui finished taking her pulse. “There is nothing serious. Take medicine according to my prescription for the next three months to replenish your vital energy and all will be good.”
“Don’t talk big.” Yu He was extremely strict with his son. “I am afraid your medical skills are not good enough yet. Didn’t you say that after your aunt drinks the medicine to make her unconscious, she would wake up immediately with three needles? Why did it take so long for her to wake on that day? If your aunt’s eyes opened any later, your head would have rolled. If I knew that your plan was not foolproof, I would not have allowed your aunt to take such a risk.”
Concubine Yan smiled slightly, “Don’t scold him. It was a little risky but didn’t we pull through in the end?”
“It was my fault. I prepared the medicine but did not accurately determine how weak your body is. Father is right, this was too risky. If we had miscalculated, we would have lost everything.” Fu Shui smartly changed the topic. “Aunt, does Prince Zhou often leave the palace to clear his mind nowadays?”
Concubine Yan felt helpless. “He is a filial child. If we told him about me taking this risk beforehand, he would definitely object. Hence, we hid it from him. Now that he saw you enter the palace to wake me up, he should be able to guess what happened. He must be very angry.”
Yu He sighed, “We can’t blame him for being angry. In the few days that you were unconscious, he could neither eat nor sleep. He was always by your side. Now that he suddenly found out that all these were part of our plan, naturally…”
Concubine Yan cut him off, “Fu Shui, you are almost the same age as Ge’er. Please talk to him when you have time. In the future, when he ascends the throne, he will have to rely on you to protect him.”
Fu Shui lowered his head. “Understood.”
Li Baolin was wandering in the Imperial garden when she unexpectedly came across a matter.
Concubine Yan’s palace maid had collided with Concubine Zhen’s palace maid. Their collision caused an accessory that the Emperor had given to Concubine Yan to break. Concubine Yan’s palace maid struck out to teach the other palace maid a lesson and alerted Concubine Zhen, who had been admiring flowers nearby. Recently, Concubine Zhen had been confirmed to be pregnant. Unfortunately, this happened at the same time when Concubine Yan was unconscious. The Emperor’s mind had been on Concubine Yan and Concubine Zhen had been angry because of it. Today, as she saw that even Concubine Yan’s palace maid was so arrogant, she could not drop the matter and immediately punished her to be slapped.
Seeing things turn serious, Li Baolin had to step up for Concubine Yan’s palace maid.
Concubine Zhen was very unhappy. “Li Baolin, recently there has been no shortage of people who have been trying to suck up to Concubine Yan. Even if you fawn on her, you won’t be able to gain much. Why do you need to stand up for this palace maid?”
Li Baolin smiled. “Sister, you are thinking too much. Who am I to stand up for Concubine Yan?” She picked up the accessory from the floor and scolded Concubine Yan’s palace maid. “A gift from the Emperor fell on the floor. Instead of hurrying to pick it up and seeing if it is spoilt, you focused on quarreling. Concubine Zhen taught you all for your own good. Aren’t you both going to thank Concubine Zhen?”
Both palace maids focused on the situation and thanked Concubine Zhen.
Concubine Zhen wanted to say more.
Li Baolin grabbed her wrist. “Just now, I was heading to your place to visit you. I never thought that you would be here strolling in the Imperial Garden. While I was on my way here, I saw several internal attendants carrying gifts over. They said that they were gifts for you from the Emperor. Sister, you are now pregnant with the Emperor’s child. Although the Emperor is busy with official duties and cannot visit you often, he must still be thinking of you. Punishing these maids is a small matter, but if you get too angry and affect the baby, it will be a huge issue.”
Concubine Zhen’s expression softened by a lot and followed Li Baolin out.
Concubine Zhen spoke, “It is not that I like to get angry but when the Empress was around, Concubine Yan was restrained. Now that the position of Empress is empty and the Emperor is bewitched by her, she is becoming more arrogant. If I don’t try to bring her down a notch now, I am afraid that I won’t have any place in the future.”
Li Baolin replied, “Sister, you are different from us. You have served the Emperor for many years. Even if you have no achievements, your efforts are noted. Now that you are carrying royal blood, after you give birth to your child, wouldn’t the Emperor dote on you even more?”
“You are still young and have such an innocent mind. So what if I have served the Emperor for many years? So what if I gave birth to his child? As soon as something happens, everything becomes insignificant.” Concubine Zhen pointed to a far corner of the roof. “That is living proof. Want to take a look?”
Li Baolin could not curb her curiosity and followed Concubine Zhen to the Cold Palace. She looked through the carved stone window and saw a woman with grey hair spread across her shoulders. She looked haggard and was knocking a wooden fish outside her broken house.
“Isn’t that Concubine Xi? Even if she had been demoted, she is still a Lady. There is no need for her to end up in a place like this.”
Concubine Zhen shook her head and sighed, “When the Empress was around, she still took care of her. Now that Concubine Yan is making the decisions, she kept on saying that the place Lady Xi was staying in was dirty and changed her accommodation every three to five days. Each time she is shifted, her room becomes worse. Now, she is in the Cold Palace. She is very pitiful. Initially, the Emperor could not bear it and promised not to kill Prince Zhao. He even let both of them meet. Who would have thought that Prince Zhao would write that letter to rebel? The letter was picked up by guards and delivered to His Majesty. His Majesty was furious and executed Prince Zhao. Lady Xi was also implicated.”
Li Baolin suddenly recalled on the night of the incident, she happened to be near a man made mountain and witnessed an internal attendant throwing a letter to the ground. The internal attendant then intentionally alerted some guards. At that time, she did not know what was going on and was not concerned about Prince Zhao’s rebellion case. Now that she was listening to Concubine Zhen, she felt that there was a connection.
Concubine Zhen saw that Li Baolin was in a daze. “Why? Did talking about this scare you?”
Li Baolin replied, “It is not that I am scared, I am just deep in thought. The Emperor was thinking of forgiving Prince Zhao yet Prince Zhao coincidentally chooses to write a secret letter to rebel. This letter was also coincidentally dropped and was coincidentally picked up by guards. Isn’t everything too coincidental?” She had clearly seen the internal attendant intentionally alerting the guards.
Concubine Zhen was not surprised. “Prince Zhao is already dead, what more is there to think about? However--” She looked like she had an idea. “I want His Majesty to see how his kind and gentle Concubine Yan treats her fellow sister after so many years.”
Li Baolin opened her mouth but ended up deciding to protect herself first.
After a few days, Imperial Concubine Wang told the Emperor that Lady Xi was in the Cold Palace. She was being served soured food and was not treated fairly. After the Emperor investigated, he reprimanded the two internal attendants that Concubine Yan had assigned to take care of Lady Xi.
After the punishment, the attendant that the Emperor sent spoke loudly, “His Majesty has been kind and the punishment was only a hundred strokes. In the future, if anyone dares to use Concubine Yan’s name to make things difficult for the other noble ladies, they will be beaten to death. Understood?”
All the palace personnel acknowledged.
It was only then that the attendant walked into the hall and smiled at Concubine Yan, “Your Highness, these two servants were outrageous and ruined Your Highness’ reputation. Hence, His Majesty punished them on your behalf. This is His Majesty’s love towards you. Your Highness, please don’t take this incident to heart.”
Concubine Yan spoke gently, “What are you talking about? His Majesty is protecting me and helped me dealt with these two despicable servants. I am delighted. I have already reprimanded them a few times. However, they took advantage of my good temper to become even harsher. Lady Xi has been my sister for many years. How can they mistreat her like this? His Majesty is kind. I do not dare to let them serve me anymore. From now on, these two shall be treated as criminals. They can no longer appear in front of me.”
By the side, a palace maid bribed the internal attendant.
The internal attendant took his leave. “Your Highness, please rest assured. I know what to tell His Majesty.”
Concubine Yan asked everyone else to leave except for Yu He.
“Who told the Emperor?” Her face fell.
“Concubine Zhen told Imperial Concubine Wang and Imperial Concubine Wang then told the Emperor.” Yu He had investigated.
“Yu He, I have always been tolerant. Because the Empress was the official wife, all fault would lie on me if I were to be arrogant. Tell me, now that the Empress is gone and the Crown Prince has been defeated, who else do I have to tolerate?”
She was not going to tolerate an old lady with one foot in the grave and a concubine with an unborn child!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Who would've thought that Yu He would be Concubine Yan's brother? O_O