Furious, Chen Birou stepped on Lin Haihai’s arm. The pain almost knocked Lin Haihai out. She shot Chen Birou an angry glare. “Why are you such a vicious woman?”
Chen Birou laughed, her eyes frosty as she grabbed Lin Haihai by the hair. “Vicious? What’s so wrong about getting back what’s rightfully mine? This won’t be necessary if you just drank the poison. You would’ve died without going through torture.” She chuckled darkly. “I was going to simply kill you, but now that I know you’re pregnant with a child, there’s a place I believe is perfect for you!”
Lin Haihai blanched in pain. She spat blood at Chen Birou and bit out, “You’ve tried to kill my child several times. Now that I’m in your hand, why would you spare my life?“
“You’re wrong, bitch! I didn’t know you were pregnant, and I poisoned you because I wanted you dead. First-Grade Madam is right. You’re a physician. Regular poison isn’t going to fool you. However, fate has blessed me with the perfect opportunity. Grand Councilor Yan is helping me deal with you. Don’t think about shouting for help. There’s no use. Everyone outside is loyal to me!”
Chen Birou’s insidious grin tore away the gentle mask she always wore on her face. Then a eunuch entered and asked, “Are you done? Don’t drag this out! Madam Yan ordered her to be taken away as quickly as possible!”
Lin Haihai’s heart sank. They are her people. Chen Birou kicked Lin Haihai’s belly hard, sending her rolling in pain on the floor. Chen Birou laughed. “Take her. I’ve had enough fun!”
In came a number of eunuchs. One of them put a handkerchief to Lin Haihai’s nose, knocking her unconscious. She became oblivious to the world.
The eunuchs quickly picked Lin Haihai up and carried her outside. Chen Birou calmly took care of her clothes and smiled in satisfaction. Fearfully, Yanping entered the dining hall. Chen Birou looked darkly at her and demanded, “What have you done with Lihua?”
Yanping trembled. “This servant has knocked her out and hidden her behind a fake mountain. She hasn’t seen this servant!”
Chen Birou tipped Yanping’s chin up with a smile. “Don’t be afraid, silly girl. It’ll be alright. Our time has come!”
She broke into laughter. Yanping couldn’t help but shudder, remembering how cruelly she had dealt with Gozi.
Lin Haihai was put into a black sack and carried through the side door. There was already a shady horse carriage waiting. A eunuch said, “Consort Chen ordered her to be sold to a brothel in Yangzhou, so don’t get her killed!”
The rider nodded and said obediently, “Don’t worry. This servant will do as Consort Chen instructed!”
Then the horse carriage set out. A young beggar hiding behind a wall looked confusedly at the departing carriage.
When Chen Birou returned to the main hall, Yang Hanlun asked caringly, “Are you feeling better?”
Chen Birou gave him a gentle smile. “Much better. I was feeling a little stuffy, but stretching my legs worked wonders!”
Yanping’s legs kept trembling, and her face was pale. Yang Hanlun asked, “What’s wrong, Yanping?”
Chen Birou turned to her with killing intent in her eyes, but her voice was as gentle as ever. “Are you sick, Yanping?”
Yanping broke into cold sweat, her heart pounding as she stuttered, “In response to Your Highness, this servant caught a cold and couldn’t stop sweating!”
“Then don’t stay here to serve us,” Yang Hanlun said softly. “I’ll have Lihua take you to an imperial physician. Where’s Lihua?”
He looked around for the maid before he remembered that Lihua had gone with Lin Haihai to have some soup. Yanping panicked and hurriedly waved her hand. “Don’t trouble yourself, Your Highness. This servant isn’t delicate. I’ll be fine!”
Yang Hanlun chuckled. “That won’t do. As your princess consort has said, everyone is equal, and servants are people born and raised by parents, too. If she knows I forbid you from going to a physician when you’re sick, she’d be furious with me!”
Yanping’s breath caught in her throat. She didn’t have a vicious streak in her bones. Remembering how kind Lin Haihai had been to her and how Lin Haihai had forbidden her from kneeling to her, she choked out, “This servant is grateful to Your Highness. This servant will seek help later!”
Chen Birou tightened her fists, her jealousy threatening to ignite her gaze. Still, she maintained a gentle voice and said, “Your Highness cares so much about what Elder Sister has said, and what Elder Sister has said are words to live by!”
Yang Hanlun caught her hands in a tight grip and stared at her. “I want to make you my first consort, Birou!”
She would be his companion this lifetime. Whatever he had dreamed about was merely that, a dream. Lin Haihai’s heart belonged to Imperial Elder Brother. She should return to his side.
Chen Birou looked at him in shock. His gaze seemed genuine. It pulled the rug from under her feet. “Don’t be silly. Elder Sister is the first consort!”
“She has places to be. I’ll be with you and only you from now on. Won’t that be good?”
Seeing Lin Haihai’s weak and sickly look today made his heart ache. There should be someone taking good care of her, and Imperial Elder Brother had been looking at her with such a heated, caring gaze. They could’ve been together. It was him who had refused to let go of her. In reality, he never had any right to do that, did he?
Yang Hanlun’s words left Chen Birou breathless. Why didn’t you say that earlier? she lamented. No, this is better. With that woman gone, I don’t have anything to worry about. Even if she manages to return, someone who has been sold to the brothel won’t be welcomed in the Prince Residence!
“Please don’t force Elder Sister, Your Highness. Birou has willingly become the secondary consort as long as I may stay by your side. That’s more than enough for me!”
Chen Birou’s voice was gentle, and her lowered brows and meek eyes tugged at Yang Hanlun’s heart string. He sighed and held her hand tight without a word.
“What’s taking Yuguan so long?” the empress dowager asked as she looked around for Lin Haihai.
Yang Shaolun was worried, but he didn’t let it show. “She must be tired. Perhaps Lihua has taken her to have some rest.”
The empress dowager sighed. “It hurts to look at that child. Don’t have her be an imperial physician, Your Majesty. She’s busy enough as a physician at Linhai Hospital, and now she’s charged with the Imperial Physician Branch and Public Welfare Administration. Look at her. It’s like she hasn’t had any sleep for days! This Empress Dowager’s heart aches for her!”
“With competence comes responsibilities, Imperial Mother,” the empress reassured her with a smile. “She’s just been sick the past couple days. Hasn’t she looked perfectly fine and spirited when she was busy in the past?”
“Then she should take a good rest,” ordered the empress dowager. “None of you should go bother her.”
Eunuch Defu went up to her and said, “We’re prepared to start the yearly sky lantern activity, Your Majesty. Please light the fire to pray for a peaceful future and send it to the heavens!”
“Alright. Let’s go release the sky lanterns to pray for the nation’s peace and people’s welfare!” The empress dowager rose to her feet. Yang Shaolun caught her arm to support her and took the lead to exit the palace. Once they were at the door of the main hall, Yang Shaolun told Zheng Feng, “Stay here and stand guard. Physician Lin is resting inside!”
Zheng Feng accepted the order and stood watch at the door with Wangchen.
Flying sky lanterns was an activity held every Mid-Autumn Day, which was meant as wishes for good fortune. Yang Shaolun led the group to the lakeside, where ten lanterns had been lined up, the number ten signifying a perfect future. The empress dowager took the torch and lit the first lantern before handing it to Yang Shaolun, who lit the rest of the lanterns. Quietly, he wished for the nation and its people to be well, for there to be no natural disasters, and for Lin Haihai to be blessed with peace and fortune.
The sky lanterns rose into the air slowly. The fire illuminated everyone’s smiling face. The big and round moon hung high in the sky, casting its silver light all over the world, bearing witness to everything joyous and miserable.
The scene was interrupted by a running eunuch, who dropped to his knees before Yang Shaolun and said, “Your Majesty, Lihua has been knocked out behind the fake mountain!”
Everyone was stunned. Yang Shaolun immediately rushed to the Ci’an Palace like a flying hawk. Seeing Zheng Feng and Wangchen at the door eased him somewhat. He asked, “Has anyone passed through the door?”
Zheng Feng and Wangchen were surprised by the panicked look on Yang Shaolun’s face. “In response to Your Majesty, no one has passed through!”
The other attendees soon arrived. The empress dowager asked worriedly, “Where’s Yuguan? Is she still inside?”
Yang Shaolun and the princes ran into the dining hall, but there was no one there for them to find. Yang Shaolun felt as if he had been struck by thunder, leaving him unable to think. Chen Luoqing hurriedly made the order, “Look for her! Consort Lin must be found!”
The empress dowager staggered into the dining hall, her eyes brimming with tears. “Has Yuguan been kidnapped again? Has she? Go look for her! Get her back!”
The empress went up to support the empress dowager. “Don’t be too worried, Imperial Mother. She may have left to find us!”
Lin Haihai had warned that the empress dowager must not experience big emotional swings. There was enough mess already. Nothing must happen to the empress dowager!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
And the Academy Award goes to...