Through the screen, there was turmoil in Concubine Yan’s eyes as she saw Fang Xuanling slowly coming closer. As she looked at the Emperor’s reddened face, bulging eyes and the hand that was gripping her sleeve tightly, she suddenly used all her might to pull Yu He’s hands off and push him away.
She could not do it! She has told an uncountable number of lies. Only her love for the Emperor was a hundred percent real!
Fang Xuanling appeared from beside the screen and saw Yu He on the ground. He stared at Concubine Yan in astonishment. Moreover, Concubine Yan was panting and her expression was one of panic. He found it strange until his eyes landed on the Emperor’s face and saw that his eyes were open.
“Your Majesty!” Fang Xuanling was delighted as he fell to a kneel in front of the bed.
Concubine Yan silently breathed a sigh of relief. She looked graceful as she silently neatened her hair and clothes. Her voice was light, “That’s right. His Majesty is finally awake. Look, His Majesty is still holding onto my sleeve.” She held the Emperor’s hand. “Your Majesty, Minister Fang is here.”
The Emperor could not breathe just now, but now, he opened his mouth and took a deep breath. It used up the rest of his energy as his eyes slackened once again.
Fang Xuanling thought the Emperor wanted to say something and moved his ear next to the Emperor’s mouth. “What did you say, Your Majesty?”
Concubine Yan threw Yu He, who was sprawled on the ground, a look. When Yu He saw her gaze, he silently crawled up and took a thin rope from his sleeve. He moved closer to Fang Xuanling.
Fang Xuanling was completely unguarded. “Your Majesty, speak louder. I can’t hear you. Your Majesty? Your Majesty?”
The Emperor closed his eyes and stopped responding.
Fang Xuanling sighed as he stood up and turned around. He saw Yu He walk past, with his hands clasped behind his back, to stand behind Concubine Yan. He did not find anything strange. “His Majesty’s illness…”
Concubine Yan looked patient. “Minister Fang, you should think positively. It is already great news that His Majesty could wake up for a moment today.”
Fang Xuanling nodded. “Yes, yes, I should think positively. I will not disturb His Majesty any longer. I will take my leave.”
Concubine Yan looked on coldly as Fang Xuanling left. She then turned around to grab Yu He’s collar. She clenched her fist and tried her best to suppress her anger.
“You...very good! You treat my words like nothing!”
“Sister……” It was difficult for Yu He to speak when his collar was being pulled. “It is all for Great Sui.”
Concubine Yan’s expression froze as she released her hand and pushed him away. “Get lost!”
“Sister, do you really think that after Prince Zhou ascends the throne and the Emperor wakes up, he will still love you and be with you happily when he realises he is no longer the Emperor? Think about it. Before the Grand Emperor died, did he forgive the Emperor?” Yu He was speaking for her good. “At this very moment, we cannot be foolish, we have to weigh what is important.”
Concubine Yan gritted her teeth. “No matter what His Majesty thinks, I will accompany him and get through it.”
Yu He turned to leave. He saw Chief Cao standing by the door. It seemed like he had been standing there for a long time.
Chief Cao’s tone was calm. “Chief Yu, is everything okay?” It was obvious that he had seen everything.
Yu He’s eyebrows grew together, with a wave of resentment over him.
All kinds of flowers were blooming beautifully in the Imperial Garden but there was not a single soul around. Ever since Concubine Yan took charge of managing the Six Offices, she readily hurt or killed people. All the concubines were afraid to be her next target and they all tried to move about as little as possible.
All of a sudden, Yan Zifang appeared at the entrance. Behind him, a person, who looked like a scholar, was dressed in a gray gown with a green cloth on his head. Both of them walked quickly through the garden. The scholar lifted his head slightly, curiously looking at the unique flowers and plants around him, reverence in his eyes.
“Yan Zifang.” Fu Rou was about to head to the Imperial Guards Office to find him.
Yan Zifang stopped walking and turned towards her. His tone was stoic. “You called me by my name. Is this the etiquette of a female official from the Six Offices?”
Fu Rou took out a bloodied fragrance pouch. “I want to know news about him.”
“Why would you want to upset yourself? Do you know what it means to hurt the heart?” Yan Zifang pointed to his own heart. “He got shot here. Even deities will find it difficult to save him. You should give up.” He turned to leave as soon as he spoke.
Fu Rou grabbed the fragrance pouch tightly. She did not believe a single word Yan Zifang said. Chumu was extremely skilled and was good with strategy. How could he have been shot? At the same time, her gaze fell on the scholar’s back.
Yan Zifang and Zhong Yutang were both selected by Prince Zhou and it goes without saying that they both gained Concubine Yan’s trust. That meant that Yan Zifang was working for Concubine Yan. The person that looked like a scholar was neither an internal attendant nor a guard. He was also not a military official. Since he appeared in the harem, it was obvious that Concubine Yan needed to use him.
But for what? Fu Rou thought about it as she left the Imperial Garden. As she walked through the long corridor, she arrived at a desolated courtyard. She pushed open the door to enter a room.
A voice floated out.
“The Empress has passed on and the Emperor is ill. I am old and will soon have no use. No one has any ability to go against them.” It was Wei Song’s voice.
“Stop nagging. You should rest and heal.”
Fu Rou remembered this voice.
It was Attendant Huang. He was once highly regarded by the Emperor and was on a similar rank as Chief Cao. However, in the past year, Chief Cao had the advantage and Attendant Huang did not get a chance to meet the Emperor.
Fu Rou walked in.
Attendant Huang stood up. “Court Lady Fu, you are here. I will leave first as I have things to do.”
“Attendant Huang.” She had wanted to ask Wei Song to give her ideas. “I did not expect you to come and visit Chief Wei.”
“Sigh, I sympathise with someone in a similar position of distress.” Attendant Huang chuckled bitterly. “Back then, the both of us did not interact much. But in this palace, who can predict their own outcome?”
Wei Song saw Fu Rou’s expression and sort of understood. “Brother, has things not been going well in the Internal Attendant Department?”
Attendant Huang sighed, “How can it be? I am basically like a grandchild to Cao Yangde.”
Fu Rou continued, “Chief Cao has recently been going to Concubine Yan’s palace often and seems to have gained Concubine Yan’s trust. He is watching over Ganlou Palace tightly for her. It is as if they are hiding some dark secret inside. Attendant Huang, have you seen or know anything?”
“I can’t go near either. Cao Yangde ah, he is even more proud with Concubine Yan backing him than when the Emperor backs him. Recently, he even reprimanded me. He doesn’t even know how to be human.” Because he was feeling down, he thought of coming to see Wei Song to comfort himself.
Wei Song made an oh sound. “Amongst the seniors in the Internal Attendant Department, only you are able to do anything to him. The Emperor has always looked upon you highly and Cao Yangde has only recently served the Emperor closely.”
Attendant Huang could sense it easily. “Very good, Chief Cao. Are you trying to ruin our relationship?”
Fu Rou said, “Chief Wei and I are just speaking the truth. It is a pity that recently, the days have been harder. Attendant Huang, don’t you feel the same?”
Attendant Huang’s voice faltered, “I am not stupid. I do not dare to involve myself in your issues.” He would not place his head on the line.
Fu Rou smiled, “You don’t have to be involved. If you see a new face, just help to take notice.”
“Don’t think about it.” Attendant Huang walked out.
Fu Rou could hear the determination in his voice and sighed lightly.
Wei Song coughed twice. He sounded weak yet steady. “Court Lady Fu, do not be anxious. An old hand knows the ropes. He is someone with a lot of experience in the palace. He knows what is good and bad.”
Fu Rou was still considered young and she did not really believe him. Unexpectedly, someone knocked on her door that very night. She opened the door only to see Attendant Huang. At that very moment, she was full with admiration for Wei Song. This was wisdom that came with experience.
“Attendant Huang?” She did not show any of the emotions she was feeling. “It is very late. Is there something wrong?”
Attendant Huang threw a nervous glance over his shoulder before stepping into her room. When he closed the door, he looked around once more.
Fu Rou was secretly delighted. She was going to receive great news.
“This time I am done because of you!” Attendant Huang immediately complained.
Fu Rou wanted to argue back. After all, when she made the suggestion, he outrightly rejected her. However, she chose to tolerate it. This was not the time to be stubborn.
“Why?” Her voice was calm.
“There was a new face in the Imperial Library. I saw that he was behaving suspiciously with Cao Yangde and thought of what you said. Therefore, I snuck a look.” Attendant Huang took out two pieces of paper, a horrified expression on his face. “Look for yourself! Bless my life!”
Fu Rou took it to have a look. Her eyebrows slowly furrowed as her gaze slowly became clear. On the paper, it was written that the Emperor agreed that he was getting older and his health could no longer bear the heavy burden. He was willing to spend his later days at the Grand Emperor. He will be succeeded by his third son, Li Ge.
“This…” This was an imperial order for succession of the throne?
Attendant Huang looked miserable. “Court lady Fu, you are right…” A lot of courage was needed to say those words. “They are going to seize the throne!”
It is not possible for an imperial order for succession to be written on paper. Moreover, the words were weird looking. Some of the words looked as if they were written by the Emperor whereas others do not. Fu Rou suddenly thought of the scholar covered in a green cloth and everything became clear.
“Concubine Yan found someone to copy the Emperor’s handwriting?”
Attendant Huang snorted, “What else?”
Fu Rou’s expression turned serious.
“What should we do?” It was Attendant Huang’s turn to urge her.
“...” Fu Rou fell silent for a moment. “Looking at the words, they have yet to replicate his handwriting exactly. Moreover, the imperial decree for succession must abide by the law. There is still one important thing. Maybe there is still a chance to stop Concubine Yan and Chief Cao’s scheme.”
Attendant Huang understood as well. “The Emperor’s Seal!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter