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12 Me and Yu“er



VIRTUOUS CONSORT SHU

HOUGONG

"Your majesty, Palace Maid Shu is a kind-hearted woman. She has asked me to adopt her Yu'er as my own son." The empress pulled the little boy who was barely five summers old toward her. "And not only that your Majesty but Palace Maid Shu has also offered to leave the palace to make things easier for all of us."

The little boy tried to free himself from the empress' brawny hold.

"Ama..." he pleaded. "Ama! Yu'er wants to go with you."

His mother was awake, her eyes wide open but body without strength to move. When she attempted to speak, her lips would not open. The empress was lying through her teeth for she was too selfish to give up her son. Whether giving him up would possibly make him ruler of the world or not, Yu'er was hers, and she had no desires to share him with anyone. A few retainers were supporting her limp body to sit up straight in the presence of the emperor. She was not sure if she was in the throne room as she could not see well, probably the poison was also affecting her vision.

"Ama!" the boy cried, tears streaming down his cheeks.

She blinked rapidly, trying to signal that this was all a lie. No intentions of giving up her son had ever crossed her mind.

"Shenja asks his Majesty to bestow Yu'er a noble name and the title 'Royal Prince' for he is after all his Majesty's only son, and now no longer a water maid's." The empress bowed, concluding her request. "As mother of the nation, Shenja promises to be an exceptional mother by also treating him like he is her own."

"Yu'er!" the heartbroken mother wailed. "My Yu'er. Please don't take away my Yu'er!"

"Your Highness! Your Highness please wake up, you are dreaming." Court Lady Park shook Virtuous Consort Shu. The consort's body was trembling and bathed in sweat. She fluttered her eyes, reminiscent parts of her dream still clouding her mind.

"Is Her Highness well?" The court lady looked at her with concern. She deeply hoped it was just a nightmare because if the mother of the emperor became unwell they would all lose their lives.

"My Yu'er!" she was relentless. "Is my Yu'er well?"

"Your Highness, the Emperor is well." The lady helped Virtuous Consort Shu rise from the floored couch she had been sleeping. "Her Highness was just having a bad dream and should not fret, remember you were feeling tired and decided to take a short afternoon rest?" She tried to calm her down.

"Send someone to the dragon palace and make sure he is well." Virtuous Consort Shu straightened her robes.

Court Lady Park nodded toward one of the ladies-in-waiting kneeling by the door, who quickly stood up and left.

"It was the same dream again," the Consort massaged the back of her neck, "Empress Dowager was about to take away my son, wretched woman." She punched the small table that stood in front of her.


"Your Highness!" Court Lady Park tried to silence her, if anyone heard her mistress she could lose her life because of those two words. Speaking unkindly about the royal family meant death.

"Is this not the truth?"

"Your Highness should watch her words," Court Lady Park begged.

The Consort sighed and turned to knead her feet before giving instructions.

"Bring me a dish of water and massage my feet," she gently patted her face and continued, "and someone must fetch the mirror and comb my hair."

"Yes, your Highness." Court Lady Park inclined her head and eyed the assistant court lady who bowed and rose with the other ladies to prepare what had been asked for. The ladies later entered with a medium sized gold mirror, a silver dish filled with water, some towels and hair accessories. They quietly manoeuvred around the room then started tending to their mistress.

"I do not remember asking for some ointment from the Imperial Storage," Virtuous Consort frowned.

"Your Highness that ointment is good for your legs, Consort Wang heard about your leg problems and had it sent." Court Lady Park bobbed her head, she did not fear her mistress but feared the tantrum she was about to throw.

"Impudent wench!" she lashed. "How dare she?" Virtuous Consort Shu threw the ointment to the wall.

Everyone knew that she lacked the air of a palace woman based on how she had just recently entered the palace after Empress Dowager cast her away to the lone Frost pavilion, years ago.

"Your Highness, please calm down!"

"Court Lady Park, how dare you accept that ointment? Do you wish me dead?"

"But your Highness Consort Wang is your daughter-in-law, she wouldn't dare."

"First before that she is from the Wang clan, the clan of reptilians!" the consort shouted. The Wang clan was unstoppable, they had stolen her son and now they were stacking on their next generation to maintain their power. They got her son to accept the eldest daughter of their clan to be a concubine and now that she had borne a princess for him, they had pleaded that she become his consort. All she got when she bore the imperial family an heir was being cast out.

"Your Highness!" the lady who she had sent earlier knelt before her "His Majesty is at it again, he has been sleeping without eating or using the toilet for three days now."

"Your Highness." Court Lady Park sighed, they both knew what this meant. With every ounce of her body, the Virtuous Consort wanted to go to the dragon palace and seek her son's audience. She wanted to do what she would do when he was little and started acting like this but she had to be wise just this once. Just this once she would not act like a headless chicken. She was a selfish person but having a second chance of being a mother, she desired to change.

Although she had known her Yu'er would become an emperor if she gave him up, years ago, she had still been selfish to want him for herself. Even though she knew that being a servant child would mean he would be oppressed and looked down upon all his life, she still fought that he stay with her. Going back in time, she would still act the same way but now the time to change had come. The more she settled down and acted like a virtuous woman, the more the Wang clan would stop disputing the emperor's order regarding her return from the Frost pavilion; thus she was desperately in need of someone to teach her the ways of the palace. The person would help her honour her decreed name that her son blessed her with.

"Two things my heart cares for," she lifted the golden mirror and admired her looks, "my beauty and Yu'er."

"But Her Highness also has a grandchild, Princess Cai Wenjin."

"Me and Yu'er," she repeated sharply. People knew that the only time she had bothered to visit the royal princess was when she was born and she had not sat down or held her, yet just glimpsed at her to make sure she really belonged to her Yu'er. The princess had the blood of Yu'er running in her veins but so was the Wang blood and that was enough to have her not be bothered about her.

Whether she was breathing or not it was no concern of hers.

...

ADDITIONAL NOTES

If you had forgotten, Shenja is the name that a woman that is favoured by the emperor uses to refer to herself in his presence, she does not use her name.

If you took notice of the direct speech (I, we, us) used by the Dowager Empress when talking to the previous emperor and don't understand why; this expression of informality by the Dowager Empress shows how favoured and comfortable her relationship was with the said emperor.

S.V