Suddenly, there was no movement in Jingyu Palace. Emperor Yongming ordered the Imperial Guards to seal off the entire palace, forbidding anyone from leaving. The news that spread was that the Empress, Dai Qiyou, seemed to have been poisoned by someone. But the real situation was different.
Inside the chamber, despite the new bedding and the burning of incense, a faint bloody smell still lingered. On the bed, the Empress laid still, his face devoid of color. Yet, upon closer inspection, it was clear that his breathing was steady and his face was devoid of pain. He was merely sleeping soundly from exhaustion, his sleep remarkably peaceful.
Emperor Yongming, who had also changed into a new dragon robe, sat by the bedside, holding the Empress’ cool hand in his own, pressing it against his mouth. He silently gazed at the sleeping figure. At this moment, he refused to be disturbed by anyone, with no interest in the outside world. Zhuo Jin and Guo Xun stood in the corner waiting for the Emperor’s call at any time. The two were frequently bowing their heads and wiping their tears.
In the outer chamber, the court physicians were in quiet discussion. Elder Weng, General Dai, and Bai Suyan sat together, awaiting the physicians’ final conclusion. Dai Mingge had been sent back to the General’s residence by General Dai to report the situation.
After a long discussion, the court physicians all nodded in agreement, having reached their final conclusion. Elder Weng, General Dai, and Bai Suyan straightened their backs. Ning Mu turned around, bowed to the three of them, then nodded. Bai Suyan stood up, his steps light as he walked into the inner chamber. He approached Emperor Yongming from behind and whispered, “Your Majesty, the court physicians have reached a conclusion.”
Emperor Yongming’s body trembled. Taking a deep breath, he placed Dai Qiyou’s hand under the blanket and adjusted the covers. Then he stood up.
“Zhuo Jin, Guo Xun, you two stay here.”
Emperor Yongming followed Bai Suyan out. Ning Mu immediately came over and bowed. “Your Majesty, after deliberating, my subjects and I have come to a conclusion.”
Ning Mu bowed again and said, “Your Majesty, the black blood oozing from the Empress’ skin and seven orifices is indeed residual poison. But after taking the Empress pulse, I found that there is no more residual poison in the Empress’ body.”
Emperor Yongming’s expression tightened. “There truly are none left?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
Emperor Yongming clenched his fists. “Then what about that piece of flesh that made the Empress bleed constantly?” Ning Mu lowered his gaze, looking troubled.
However, Ning Mu knelt down, and the other court physicians followed suit. Ning Mu kowtowed and said, “Your Majesty, that… that is… inside the Empress’s body, it’s… a fetus.”
Emperor Yongming froze on the spot, his gaze vacant. General Dai and Elder Weng were equally stunned, and it was Bai Suyan who hurriedly asked, “How big was the fetus? Why was it never detected?”
Emperor Yongming’s body swayed, and he gritted his teeth, “You lot, you can’t even detect when the Empress was pregnant?!”
Ning Mu hurriedly looked up and said, “Your Majesty, please calm down. This fetus is not recent. The Empress didn’t just become pregnant. The Empress had a miscarriage in the past, and ever since, he suffered from abdominal pain and occasional bleeding. I am not proficient in this field, so I assumed that the Empress was suffering from the residual toxins, which is why he experienced such pain. Just now, after a thorough examination and discussion, we found that the piece of flesh is a result of a twin pregnancy that the Empress had.”
Emperor Yongming widened his eyes, “You’re saying what? A twin pregnancy?”
“The Empress was pregnant with twins originally?!” General Dai could hardly stand, gripping Bai Suyan’s arm.
Ning Mu nodded and said, “The Empress was pregnant with twins, but due to the highly toxic environment in his body, and also because of his previous injuries, one of the fetuses was miscarried. The other fetus remained in the Empress’ body, which caused his suffering. Furthermore, that ‘fetus’ is no longer a fetus. It’s just a mass of flesh. This is why we couldn’t detect it.”
“Though the Empress has gone through a great ordeal this time, he has rid himself of the residual toxins and expelled this mass of flesh. I don’t know what exactly caused the Empress’s suffering, but this time he might be fortunate in his misfortune. In the future, he won’t be affected by residual toxins, and he won’t suffer from abdominal pain and bleeding. With proper care, the Empress will fully recover his health and be able to conceive children normally.”
Emperor Yongming stared at Ning Mu, not knowing how to react. General Dai, Elder Weng, and Bai Suyan all looked at Emperor Yongming, equally complex and filled with confusion. The Empress had endured years of pain from abdominal pain and residual toxins, so what happened this time that, despite his great suffering, he fully recovered?
Originally, there were two children, but due to the highly toxic environment in their mother’s body and the injuries sustained, one left without even seeing the world. It seemed that one wasn’t willing to leave their ‘mother’ just like that. They were reluctant to separate. They tormented their ‘mother’ daily. Was it out of resentment or a desire to communicate their presence?
Emperor Yongming slowly walked to a chair, sinking heavily into it. He clenched his jaw and grasped the armrest, everyone could see the pain in his heart. After a long time, Emperor Yongming spoke. “I… once… had two… children…”
Bai Suyan turned away, wiping his eyes. General Dai and Elder Weng had teary eyes as well, deeply saddened. Emperor Yongming closed his eyes, suppressing his pain. “Qiyou, I… once… had two… children…”
“Your Majesty…” Bai Suyan voiced, “Your health is of utmost importance.”
General Dai and Elder Weng added, “Your Majesty, your health is of utmost importance.” Emperor Yongming lowered his head, not wanting his officials to witness his suffering. Here, only his suppressed breaths could be heard, as he didn’t want anyone to disturb him.
After a long, long while, Emperor Yongming raised his head, his face already restored to calmness. Only his eyes showed the pain he couldn’t conceal.
“Where is Yu Youguang!”
“I am here!” Yu Youguang, the commander of the imperial guards, came in from outside in large strides and took a few steps forward to kneel on one knee.
“All the eunuchs, palace maids, and court physicians in Jingyu Palace, as well as the Imperial Doctor, are all escorted to the Inner Division of the Ministry of Justice prison. They are to be closely guarded by the palace guards. If any information regarding the events of today at Jingyu Palace leak, none of these people will be left behind. Yu Youguang, this matter is your personal responsibility.”
“Your Majesty, spare our lives! Your Majesty spare our lives!” Immediately, the eunuchs, palace maids, and imperial physicians all knelt down and begged for mercy. But Elder Weng, Elder General Dai, and Bai Suyan understood the intent of Emperor Yongming’s move and did not beg for mercy.
Yu Youguang led the men to tie up and gag everyone in Jingyu Palace and took them away. Zhuo Jin was originally someone on Emperor Yongming’s side, so he was outside of this. Immediately afterward, news came out from Jingyu Palace that Empress Jun had been poisoned and nearly died. Emperor Yongming was furious and ordered Yu Youguang, the commander of the imperial guards, to conduct a thorough investigation. Then, Emperor Yongming issued a decree.
In order to ensure the safety of the Empress, he ordered the General’s residence to take the Empress back to the residence to recuperate until the Empress recovered and the culprits who poisoned her in the palace were caught. That night, Emperor Yongming sent the forbidden army to escort the Empress out of the palace. So what the people in the palace saw was that the Empress was carried into a carriage and taken out of the palace, with the Empress’s exposed hand was deathly white.
The entire palace, even the court and the common people, had become tense due to the incident involving the Empress’ ‘poisoning.’ The palace guards replaced the guards outside the palaces of the Quiet Consort and the Zhuang Consort, and Emperor Yongming openly placed the two concubines under house arrest. The Emperor’s 12-year-old crown prince and 15-year-old princess, along with their mother, were also placed under house arrest.
The Marquis of Hengyuan residence was surrounded by palace guards. With this incident in the imperial harem, people easily linked the two events together. After the Empress entered the residence of the Grand General, Emperor Yongming, disguised as a palace guard, arrived as well. In the capital, if there was any place that was safest for Dai Qiyou, that place would undoubtedly be the residence of the Grand General. The General’s residence was impregnable and outsiders found it difficult to infiltrate. This incident could be considered another miscarriage for the Empress. He needed to rest.
Edited by: Jaisland