Imperial Physician Gao soon arrived at the Zhangzhi Hall.
He was a young physician in his thirties and had a rather mature air. Despite his young age, he is not to be underestimated; he hails from a family of physicians and has learned medicine since a young age. Over time, he has cultivated a strong set of skills and can treat any illness. Of course, he was not as good as Mo Ruo. He walked in with a medicine case, then kneeled in front of the Emperor. “Your Majesty.”
The Qizhen Emperor replied, “Imperial Physician Gao, I called for you to take a look at Concubine Xiao’s illness. What is she sick with? And why hasn’t her condition improved after such a long time?”
Imperial Physician Gao stood up and carefully walked to Concubine Xiao’s side. “If I may, Your Ladyship.”
Concubine Xiao held out her arm as she coughed. He pulled out a thin silk handkerchief and covered her wrist with the fabric as he measured her pulse. A short while later, his fingers lifted from her wrist and he removed the silk handkerchief.
The Qizhen Emperor asked, “So how is she? Is it serious?”
Imperial Physician Gao retreated a few steps and answered with his head bowed, “Your Majesty, Her Ladyship has a frail constitution and she caught a cold. Coupled with excessive worry, her circulation of blood and qi has become sluggish. This is what caused her lack of energy and her persistent cough. It is not anything serious, so Your Majesty and Your Ladyship need not worry.”
“Then why has she not improved? Are the medicines that were prescribed working?”
“May I take a look at your medicine, Your Ladyship?” He suspects that there was something wrong with the medication.
The Qizhen Emperor nodded and ordered for them to bring the residue of what was left behind after brewing the medicine. Imperial Physician Gao sniffed the residue, then took a pinch and felt its consistency. Her medication…
The Qizhen Emperor pressed him, “What is it? Is there something wrong with it?”
Could there be something wrong with her medication? Concubine Xiao grew anxious. She had been taking that medicine for some time, and it was truly bizarre that she has not improved a single bit.
Imperial Physician Gao set the pot of medicine residue on the ground and answered, “Your Majesty, this is indeed medicine to treat her cold and nurse her back to health, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
“Then why is she not getting better?”
“Her Ladyship’s illness may not be something serious. Injuries to the bones and tendons take a hundred days to heal; a chill that has set into the bones can take several years for her to make a full recovery. Her Ladyship needs to rest more, and drink more ginseng soup, nourishing medicine, and avoid overexertion. Over time, she will naturally recover.”
The Qizhen Emperor’s worries eased after his diagnosis. “In that case, prescribed her some of that medicine you speak of.”
“Yes!” Imperial Physician Gao obeyed and returned to the Imperial Physicians’ Institute.
After the physician left, Concubine Xiao turned to the Emperor, “Your Majesty, I’ve already said that it’s nothing serious, even the Imperial Physicians agree with me and said that it’s only a cold. You need not worry anymore.”
“Then you need to rest and not overexert yourself, just like what they instructed.”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
The Qizhen Emperor ordered for a large heater to be brought in and set near her so it would keep her warm. He also chatted with her for a while, then instructed the eunuchs and maids in Zhangzhi Hall to take good care of Concubine Xiao before he left with a satisfied smile. Concubine Xiao laid on her bed, even though she was exhausted from her illness, she still smiled gleefully. After all that had happened, she still has a place in His Majesty’s heart.
Soon after, the other ladies from the different palaces heard that the Qizhen Emperor went to visit Concubine Xiao. They too flocked to Zhangzhi Hall with gifts in hand, practically wearing the door threshold down to nothing with their steps.
Before long, the hall was filled with all sorts of rare medicinal herbs. Tianshan snow lotus, lingzhi, ginseng and even sanguine bohdi . Concubine Xiao glanced at the gifts and with a hmph, ordered, “Throw these out and burn them.”
Ah? All of these medicinal herbs are of the highest quality, each one boasts incredible properties and are extremely expensive. The cost of any one of them could feed a peasant family for their entire lives. She wants to throw all of them away and burn them? What a waste!
The eunuchs and maids dared not to complain and threw away the gifts as they were told.
Concubine Xiao rolled her eyes., “All of them would rather that I die from this illness, so they could climb to my position. They thought that His Majesty had grown tired of me because he had not come to visit me before. Now, after His Majesty’s visit, all of them rushed over with gifts. Utterly ridiculous.”
Her personal maid, Sang Lan, answered, “Your Ladyship is deeply blessed by the heavens, everything will be well.”
“Hmph, not even Yanluo Wang, the ruler of the underworld, can take my life just yet.” She scoffed. She was still waiting for the day when her son ascended to his throne, for the day she became Empress Dowager! How could she bear to die so easily!
Imperial Physician Gao returned to the Imperial Hospital with a heavy heart. He was writing out a prescription for Concubine Xiao, but his brush paused mid-sentence for a long time.
“Are you alright, Imperial Physician Gao?” A young eunuch who came to fetch some medicine asked out of concern. The physician remained silent, too deep in thought.
“Imperial Physician Gao?” That eunuch called out to him several times.
The physician finally snapped out of his daze, glanced at the eunuch and replied, “I’m fine.”
“Didn’t you go to see Concubine Xiao and check on her condition? Why have you been like that since you’ve come back? Is Her Ladyship…” Very ill? The eunuch’s voice reduced to a whisper.
Imperial Physician Gao shot him a glare. “Don’t let your imagination run wild. There is nothing wrong with Her Ladyship. If anyone else had heard your question, you would have lost your head.”
“Yes, yes, yes.” The young eunuch immediately slapped himself a few times, “Thank you for the reminder, Imperial Physician Gao. I am too clumsy with my words.”
“Enough, let me finish this prescription, fetch the herbs according to this and send it to Zhangzhi Hall as soon as possible.”
Imperial Physician Gao quickly finished the prescription and passed it to the eunuch.
However, his brow remained furrowed, his heart uneasy. He sat at his desk for a long while before getting up to find Imperial Physician Chang, who was looking for research materials in the Imperial Hospital’s library. Just as Imperial Physician Chang was about to flip through a book he found, he heard someone call out to him. “Imperial Physician Chang.”
He followed the voice and saw Imperial Physician Gao rushed into the library. “Suwen?”
Imperial Physician Gao’s full name is Gao Suwen. He walked over and said, “I need to speak to you, Imperial Physician Chang.” He cut straight to the point.
The older physician closed the book in his hand, sat up straight and straightened his attire. He questioned, “What is it that put you into such a fluster?”
“I just came back… from a consultation with Concubine Xiao.”
“Did she summon you?”
“No, it was His Majesty.”
Ah. Imperial Physician Chang flinched and his brows knitted together, adding more creases to his already wrinkled face. He asked, “So... what did you tell them?”
Yes, Imperial Physician Chang did not ask about his diagnosis, but questioned how he conveyed the news to them instead. In an instant, Gao Suwen understood the implications and sighed, “I did not dare to go into detail, as I’m still not quite certain. But according to the profile of her pulse, Her Ladyship is truly sick with a cold. But since she had been treated for such a long time, there’s no way she would not improve, so…”
“You suspect that there are other complications.”
“Yes, but… it’s all speculation.”
Imperial Physician Chang squinted as he kept quiet. Then, he confessed, “Actually… I have also discussed with Imperial Physician Liu in private. Both of us agree that Her Ladyship’s illness is not as simple as a common cold. But we have checked many times and found nothing, nor can we ask her out right. You must know, we may be officials and imperial physicians in the palace, but in truth, there’s hardly any difference between us and those eunuchs since our entire purpose is to just serve them. So, there are some things that can be said, and… there are some things that are better left unsaid.”
“Then, what do we do now?” The younger physician asked anxiously.