Sudden Onset of a Serious Illness
The Emperor tried his best to remember the past with a focused expression. The more focused he was, the worse the headache, and he finally put down the arm holding onto Imperial Concubine Yun, grabbing his head and groaning softly.
Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu feared this the most, once the Emperor encountered a blank spot, he would get a headache. That was the aftereffect of her manipulations in the shadows and was also currently the one mistake which she had not thought of the most optimal solution. Watching the Emperor sink into his memories of the past, Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu quickly gave the Eighth Prince a look. The Eighth Prince understood the message and quickly held up the wine cup, speaking to the Emperor: “Father Emperor, please have a good taste of this wine again, this is something this son secretly buried in the palace when I was ten years old, waiting to open it many years later and invite Father Emperor to taste it together.”
Xuan Tianmo successfully made use of the Emperor’s drinking hobby to divert his attention. Once he heard about alcohol, and that it was something buried by Xuan Tianmo when he was 10 years old, the person who had been trying his best to remember the past suddenly raised his head, and he no longer felt it was painful, blurting out: “Buried for more than 10 years?”
Xuan Tianmo nodded, “That’s right. There are much more wines hidden in the palace, with some a few hundred years old, but this vat of wine was carefully brewed by This Son, the taste is pure and rich, Father Emperor should taste this properly.”
The Emperor could not resist this temptation, and immediately pushed aside the topic of “how did We celebrate New Year in the past”, starting to drink with Xuan Tianmo. Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu also breathed a sigh of relief but was also inwardly anxious. She did not know when she could make the Emperor abandon his past completely and no longer get these headaches, which made her feel jittery.
Drinking a few cups of wine, the Emperor praised the high quality, then held Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu and said: “Tomorrow is the first day of the New Year, there is a banquet at night, in front of everyone, We will announced during the banquet to initiate you to Imperial Concubine Gui. Beloved Concubine, you have suffered too much for so many years in the palace, We wish to make up for what We owe you even at the risk of Our life.” Saying this, he mumbled, “How could We have been so hard-hearted to not see you for more than 20 years? We really deserve death!”
“Your Majesty should not say such things!” Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu quickly covered the Emperor’s mouth lightly, speaking in a tender tone: “It is alright that Your Majesty can remember This Concubine now, let’s not talk about the past. Moreover, Your Majesty did not let This Concubine down and at least gave This Concubine a son. With a child at my side, This Concubine is satisfied.”
“That’s right! There is still our son.” The Emperor looked at Xuan Tianmo and said: “A crown prince should be appointed in another two years, with Our age now, there might not be many years left. When We are still alive, We should leave the throne to our Mo-er in the rightful and proper way, not allowing the other brothers to bully him.”
Xuan Tianmo spoke, feeling very moved: “Father Emperor, This Son does not wish for that throne, as long as Father Emperor is healthy, our family being together will be stronger than anything. The throne is immaterial, if obtaining the throne means losing Father Emperor as the price, This Son definitely does not want it!”
The Emperor felt a wave of emotion, and sighed: “A good child, you’re really a good child! If all of Our children were like Mo-er, that would be so good!” As he spoke, this mental state started to dim again, and he felt like something was missing at his side, yet he could not pinpoint exactly what was wrong, so he called out subconsciously: “Xiao Yuan Zhi! Xiao Yuan Zhi, where the heck did you go off to?”
This shout almost summoned Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu’s soul out of her body, and she gave a look to Head Eunuch Wu Ying who approached in response, worrying that something bad would happen tonight.
Wu Ying stood at the Emperor’s side and responded to the summons respectfully, but the Emperor looked at him as if he was a stranger and asked: “Servant, where did you come from? Where is our Xiao Yuan Zhi who does not fear any authority?”
Wu Ying looked at Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu, and seeing that Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu did not specially make her intentions known, he bit the bullet and spoke the truth: “Eunuch Zhang Yuan made a mistake and was banished to the Department of Guilty Servants by His Majesty ten days ago, has Your Majesty forgotten?”
The Emperor was stunned, “We sent Xiao Yuan Zhi to the Department of Guilty Servants? Strange, when did We banish him to the Department of Guilty Servants? How can We banish him to that sort of place? Didn’t all of you say before that the Department of Guilty Servants can eat people up? Then why would We let Xiao Yuan Zhi go?” The Emperor was frantic, and he even looked at Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu, showing a questioning gaze.
Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu’s heart fell with the “thunk”, but she could only bite the bullet to say: “Eunuch Yuan did anger Your Majesty that time, This Concubine tried to advise, but was unable to convince Your Majesty. If Your Majesty regrets it and wishes for Eunuch Yuan to return, it is simple. Just ask someone to go and get him back. It is New Year’s Eve today, Your Majesty should not think of these vexing things anymore, being happy during New Year’s Eve should ensure that the New Year will go smoothly.”
Just as she said this sentence, sounds of fireworks and firecrackers for the occasion were heard outside. Xuan Tianmo stood up quickly to support the Emperor with one hand, saying: “They’re setting off the fireworks, Father Emperor, let’s go take a look together!”
The Emperor nodded, and with Xuan Tianmo and Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu supporting him, he walked outside the hall, mumbling as he walked: “Our memory is getting worse, exactly when did We chase Xiao Yuan Zhi away?”
Listening to the Emperor’s words, Xuan Tianmo and Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu started to get worried, but as of now, they did not have any way to deal with it and could only try their best to use the happenings around them to divert his attention. Such as fireworks, such as the Eighth Prince describing Da Shun’s beautiful rivers and mountains as well as his strong aspirations.
But after a short while of watching the fireworks and listening to pleasant words, the Emperor suddenly sneezed a few times in a row, and after sniffling a few times, he got a cold.
In ancient times, a cold was known as a wind-chill, and a more serious one was known as cold damage, seeing the Emperor sneeze, Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu did not dare to let him stand in the snow for too long and quickly supported him back to inside the hall together with Xuan Tianmo. But the wine rushed to the Emperor’s head, with the addition of the sudden cold, his head throbbed and he sneezed again and again. Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu saw that it was bad and had no choice but to summon an imperial physician.
The imperial physicians came to check his pulse, and the results of the examination was cold damage as expected, but the Emperor was old after all. Every time he fell sick once, his body would be a little weaker; just like the large hand of a disease demon emptying out his body every single time. In addition, he had drunk alcohol this time, the imperial physicians kept sighing and one even proposed: “To cure His Majesty’s illness, it is best to invite Princess Yu or Yao Xian into the palace. By just using traditional methods, even if the illness is cured, His Majesty’s body would suffer too much deficit.”
But how would Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu and the Eighth Prince be willing to let Feng Yuheng enter the palace to treat the Emperor. The imperial physicians could only bite the bullet and try their best to have the Emperor recover as soon as possible.
The Emperor had cold damage and it was not mild, he proposed to have the Empress come to Zhao He Hall to take care of him, then told Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu: “Beloved Concubine, you should leave the inner hall quickly, Our illness cannot spread to you, this harem and the court are pinning their expectations on you and Mo-er, yes? Don’t worry, We will recover, it will not delay tomorrow’s banquet and will not delay promoting you to Imperial Concubine Gui.”
Putting up an act, Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu wiped her tears and was unwilling to leave, she said: “This Concubine does not fear the illness. This Concubine does not covert being Imperial Concubine Gui as long as This Concubine is able to be at His Majesty’s side at all times. This concubine will not be going anywhere and stay here.”
“No.” The Emperor shook his head determinedly, “The position of Imperial Concubine Gui is Our promise to you, We have yearned for this for a long time, We will definitely get it done tomorrow! So beloved concubine, you need to be obedient, just treat it as you have to hold down this harem for Our sake, so you cannot fall sick as well, understand? And Mo-er, think about him as well, Mo-er is Our best candidate, you need to watch Mo-er properly for Us!”
With the Emperor saying these words, Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu could not say anything more, and could only leave the outer hall under the determined gaze of the Emperor. She did not actually leave and stood at the outer hall for a while, and only when the Empress came with her maid did she approach and bow, saying: “It was cold outside. His Majesty suddenly caught wind-chill and personally named Your Highness to care for him, so we have to trouble Your Highness the Empress to take care of him.”
The Empress glanced at her with a cold expression, tilting her head slightly, showing a strong aura of the mother of a nation. “This One is the Empress. Taking care of the Emperor when he is ill is my duty. If Yuan Shu has no other business, please leave!”
Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu nodded, yet looked towards the Empress again, saying softly: “Your Highness the Empress needs to take care of His Majesty well, do not betray the deep love of His Majesty. Do not forget, there is still a banquet tomorrow!”
The Empress never liked talking to Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu. The only one in the harem who dared to threaten her was Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu. Right now, based on the fact that Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu was favoured again, she felt that saying more was unnecessary. She definitely would not get any benefits, yet she was suddenly intimidated and ridiculed by this person again. She lifted her feet and walked towards the inner hall, yet starting pondering as she walked: Judging from Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu’s behaviour, Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu was unhappy that she had come to be the caregiver. But the Emperor listened to Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu now, if it was not Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu who asked her to come, then who was it? The Emperor himself?
While harboring various suspicions, she entered the inner hall of Zhao He Hall, and when she first laid eyes on the Emperor, her heart fell with a “thunk” and her pace quickened on reflex. She approached and grasped the Emperor’s hand, saying softly: “Why is Your Majesty this thin?”
She had not seen the Emperor for a long time, ever since Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu gained favour, she no longer saw him. The Emperor never went to the imperial harem in the past, but she was the Empress, so she still had to meet the Emperor occasionally. Without seeing him for so many days this time, in the blink of an eye, the Emperor had become much thinner. Not only was he thin, the area around his eyes had turned dark and he looked very frail. This kind of frailness was definitely not something that was quickly caused by a bout of cold damage. This looked like a body which had been emptied over a long time, this caused her to think of the Emperor and Imperial Concubine Yuan Shu enjoying themselves every night at Zhao He Hall.
The Empress had a grim expression and wanted to advise him, yet she felt that it was not appropriate for her to say this. It sounded like she, as the mother of the nation, was jealous of a concubine. Not only would she lose her bearing, it would be easy to trigger the Emperor’s annoyance. Therefore, the words at the tip of her tongue were swallowed, and she only said: “Your Majesty should take more supplements, only with sufficient vitality can you strengthen your body.”
The Emperor did not understand the Empress’ words and did not even ponder about it in detail. He only saw it as the Empress asking about his health. So he waved his hand in dismissal and told the Empress: “We are only a little thinner, it is fine. Didn’t they say that being thinner would make one more energetic? We were a little too fat in the past, now is rather good.” After saying this, he grasped the Empress’ hand and looked outside.
The Empress understood his intentions and took the initiative to speak to Eunuch Wu Ying who was standing guard next to the dragon bed: “Leave, all of you! This one has something to say to His Majesty in private.”
Wu Ying glanced at the Emperor once and seeing that the Emperor did not object, even though he was unwilling, he had no choice but to listen to the Empress. Therefore, he brought all the palace servants out of the inner hall, and Fang Yi, following behind him, even closed the door of the inner hall, then stood guard at the gate herself.
Only then did the Empress ask the Emperor: “What does His Majesty wish to tell This Wife?”
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