Luo Kuangyuan stared at Chen Birou and said seriously, “You may disregard your own life, but do you really want your father to be dragged down with you? If His Majesty gives you the punishment you deserve, all nine groups related to you within your family will be executed!”
“So? I never fear death. I’ll kill myself if he doesn’t visit me tomorrow, Official Luo!” Chen Birou smiled a terrifying smile. “Go back, Father, and send me some makeup and clothes. I have to make myself presentable when he visits. Even if he doesn’t come, I’ll die pretty and well-dressed! And you need not worry about what Official Luo said. For the sake of your past relationship, he won’t simply let you die without doing anything.”
“Father can’t live without you, Birou! Listen to me. Just let your hatred go. Without you, nothing Father fights for means anything!” Minister Chen kept trying to change her mind. He’d lost all hope when he saw what was going to happen to his daughter.
“Go back, Father! This daughter knows what I’m doing!” Chen Birou remained unswayed . She lay down and rolled to her side to face the wall, turning her back to Minister Chen. Minister Chen sighed. He had no choice but to leave.
Luo Kuangyuan ordered the wardens to keep a close eye on her. He quickly walked away and called out to Minister Chen, “Please stop for a moment, Minister Chen!”
Minister Chen turned to say with dignity, “What is it, Official Luo?”
“This official has a piece of advice for you. Would you listen, Minister Chen?”
“Please speak your mind, Official Luo!” Minister Chen fixed his greyed eyes on Luo Kuangyuan.
“From what I know about Physician Lin, she won’t make things difficult for Chen Birou. However, your daughter bears deep resentment for Physician Lin, and it is impossible for her to admit her guilt to Physician Lin!” Luo Kuangyuan got right to the point.
“What do you suggest then?” Minister Chen relaxed, silently pleading with his expression.
“Physician Lin wants your cooperation,” Luo Kuangyuan said, enunciating every word.
Minister Chen looked up suddenly before lowering his head back down. After a good while, he finally said, “Give me a day. I’ll give you an answer tomorrow!”
Luo Kuangyuan nodded. Minister Chen would bring them a great opportunity. They would gain valuable information from him!
Lin Haihai and Yu Qing were working on a treatment plan for the empress dowager. Lin Haihai said with a frown, “I can wake her up first. Then I’ll leave the rest to you!”
Thankfully, she had Baizi’s pill protecting her child. She would be able to tap into her spiritual pearl’s power without worry.
“Do your best and nothing more, alright?” Yu Qing injected the empress dowager with medicine to improve blood circulation.
“Okay.” Lin Haihai smiled. “I’m glad you’re here, Yu Qing!”
“My Lin Haihai is always in trouble. What are you gonna do without me?” Yu Qing said faintly. “Are you really going to forgive Chen Birou?”
“In exchange for her father’s surrender!” Lin Haihai massaged the empress dowager’s feet. Lihua went up to help as well.
“It may not work.” Yu Qing wasn’t willing to let Chen Birou off so easily. She would never forgive anyone who dared hurt Lin Haihai.
“There’s no other way. I need an opening. I don’t have the luxury of time.” Lin Haihai said sadly. She looked up to meet Lihua’s gaze.
“Don’t worry, Consort Lin,” the maid said softly. “Lihua will keep your secret.”
Lin Haihai gave her a grateful smile.
“Your man has the right to know,” said Yu Qing.
“And I have the right to keep it from him!”
If he saw her undergo such pain every day, he would have her abort the child. However, she was determined to leave him something that belonged to her. It might be the selfish thing to do, or it might be an act of selflessness. She didn’t want the connection between them to be completely severed. At least she would still be the child’s mother, and he the child’s father. They would have a child together.
“I’ll keep my opinion to myself,” Yu Qing said seriously. “But it doesn’t mean I agree with your choice.”
“But you’ll give me your full support from now on, right?” Lin Haihai looked at her with teary eyes.
“Depends. I may voice my opposition sometimes. Don’t do anything reckless. Also, you can keep this from your man, but not Stupid Bear!” Yu Qing warned. Li Junyue had much more experience than them, and he often knew what to do better than they did.
“I promise. Don’t worry about me. I’m an adult, and I know what I’m doing!” It was her fate to endure such pain. She had no choice but to accept reality.
“Alright,” Yu Qing said. “Let’s get started! Stand watch outside, Lihua!”
“Understood!” Lihua dropped the empress dowager’s hand and quietly walked out. Seeing the empress approaching, she hurriedly bowed and said, “Greetings, Your Majesty!”
“It’s fine. Has Consort Lin returned?” the empress said urgently.
“She has. Consort Lin is treating Her Majesty the Empress Dowager!” Lihua said respectfully. The empress hurried into the room and was welcomed by Lin Haihai. Yu Qing got to her feet as well.
The empress sighed in relief when she saw Lin Haihai, her eyes shiny with tears. “You’re back. That’s all that matters!”
“I’ve worried you, Empress Chen!” Lin Haihai said apologetically.
“When did you ever stop worrying me? I’ve long gotten used to it.” The empress put her arms around her. Lin Haihai was warmed by her concern. The empress had treated her like a sister. No matter what happened, the empress never stopped supporting her. Lin Haihai was going to do one thing for her before departing from this world, and that was finding her missing lover for her. Then Lin Haihai would be able to rest easy.
“You should take care of yourself as well,” Lin Haihai said worriedly. “Look how much weight you’ve lost!”
“With Imperial Mother sick, I alone am left with the responsibility to oversee the harem. Of course I’ll be busy. There are many new additions to the harem from the selection last month. There are preparations to be made, and they have to be taught the proper way to behave!” the empress sighed. The empress dowager had picked the new concubines. The emperor had never once met them. With Xiao’hai around, they were doomed to live a life of solitude.
Lin Haihai lowered her head quietly before looking up and said, “Is there any gentle soul among them?”
“There is. Both Lady De and Lady Wen are mild-tempered. They’re also blessed with good looks as well as great talents!”
If even the empress praised them so highly, they must be great people. Lin Haihai turned away and said gently, “Have them meet with His Majesty. Let them spend some time together to get to know each other.”
The empress was surprised. What’s wrong this time?
Yu Qing’s expression darkened. She hated seeing Lin Haihai making compromises for the greater good.
Lin Haihai brushed away the hair covering the empress dowager’s forehead and placed her right hand on her brows, circulating her spiritual pearl. Yu Qing sat nearby to observe the old woman closely. After some time, the empress dowager’s fingers twitched suddenly. The empress was stunned. She knew Lin Haihai was extraordinary, but she didn’t know how great her power was. It was unbelievable that she managed to wake someone from a coma.
Lin Haihai pulled away. Although she felt a little tired, she still had some strength left in her instead of being completely useless like the previous times she treated someone.
Yu Qing checked on the empress dowager and said with satisfaction, “Let her sleep for a little more. Drowsiness may persist for some time after a stroke, but she will gradually regain consciousness.”
The empress finally relaxed when she saw Lin Haihai’s smile.
Night came. Yang Shaolun rushed to his mother’s bed chamber immediately after discussing state affairs with Chen Luoqing. The empress dowager had just woken up, and Lin Haihai was giving her a massage. Seeing Lin Haihai made the empress dowager’s mood brighten, and she regained some energy. She smiled when she saw Yang Hanlun. Nevertheless, her face muscles were still rigid, and her smile was little more than a twitch of the corners of her lips.
Yang Shaolun felt a pang in his heart. Yu Qing reassured him, “Recovery takes time. She’ll get better. She must get physical therapy!”
“Physical therapy is crucial,” Lin Haihai agreed. “I’ll leave the task to you, Lihua. I’ll teach you what you should do tomorrow!”
“Lihua understands!” The maid finally broke into a smile with the empress dowager having regained consciousness.
“Alright, you should go to bed. You must be exhausted from the long trip!” Yang Shaolun gave Lin Haihai an adoring look. She looked up at the empress dowager, who gazed back with a curious glint in her eyes. Lin Haihai almost jumped. Worried that the empress dowager would lose her calm again, she hurried out, “Thank you for your concern, Imperial Elder Brother. I’ll return to my room!”
Yang Shaolun was a little unhappy, but it wasn’t time for them to go public with their relationship. Dejectedly, he said, “Go ahead. This Emperor will spend some time with Imperial Mother!”
Lin Haihai said to the empress dowager at the foot of the bed, “I’ll be staying in the next room, Imperial Mother. Send for me if you need anything, alright?”
“Go… Go ahead...” the empress dowager said with difficulty. It was common for patients suffering from stroke to develop speech impairment. Lin Haihai gave her a smile and left with Yu Qing after sending Yang Shaolun a look.
Her departing glance worried Yang Shaolun. He felt a little uneasy. A single look from her was enough to change his mood. One moment he was happy because of her smile. The next moment he might be sent to hell by her rueful frown.
He spent the night in a state of anxiety. When he returned from the morning meeting, Lin Haihai had left the palace.
Lin Haihai met up with Yang Hanlun to make their way to the Court of Judicial Review, while Yu Qing stayed in the palace to help the empress dowager with physical therapy.
Minister Chen had been waiting for Lin Haihai since early morning. He dropped to his knees as soon as he saw her and said seriously, “Consort Lin, this lowly official begs for you to show my daughter mercy. As long as Consort Lin allows my daughter to live, this lowly official will give you my loyalty and pay you back with my own life!”
Lin Haihai helped him up and said seriously, “I’m relieved by your decision, Minister Chen!”
Yang Hanlun didn’t look quite like his usual self. Lin Haihai offered, “I’ll go with you!”
He nodded and took the lead at a reluctant pace, while Lin Haihai shot Luo Kuangyuan a meaningful look. Without missing a beat, Luo Kuangyuan took Minister Chen to a hidden room to discuss business.
The prison was dark. Yang Hanlun walked slowly with a supporting hand on Lin Haihai’s back. Chen Birou had cleaned herself up. Her expression brightened when she saw Yang Hanlun, but her gaze turned venomous when she noticed him supporting Lin Haihai.
“You’re here!” Chen Birou gazed at Yang Hanlun.
“You asked to see me?” Yang Hanlun’s heart throbbed painfully. He had cared so deeply about this woman, but now he was the one to put her in this prison.
“Have you ever truly loved me?” asked Chen Birou, a faint resentment twisting her prettied up face.
“Does it matter now?” Yang Hanlun stared at her. “Maybe I did love you, but I don’t love who you have become. I don’t love your true self!”
His words hit Chen Birou like a physical blow. She stared at Yang Hanlun and said, “You’re in love with an illusion!”
She suddenly broke out laughing. It was a mad, sorrowful laughter that sent a chill down one’s spine.
Then she stopped laughing, her expression crazed as she pointed at Lin Haihai and asked softly, “Do you love her?”
Yang Hanlun looked at Lin Haihai. He wanted to love her, but he didn’t know how. And he had long lost the right to love her.
“Why won’t you say anything? What are you afraid of? She’s your first consort, and yet you can’t admit your love for her?” Chen Birou scoffed. “This is what I hate about you. If you love her, you love her. If you don’t, you don’t. However, you can never make up your mind. You told me you would divorce her, and yet you never did. You promised to love only me, and yet you broke your promise. Why must you give me hope and then disappoint me?”
Yang Hanlun looked at Chen Birou and the cold smile on her face. She looked like a stranger to him, and she was obviously accusing him of something. He took a deep breath and met Chen Birou’s eyes, saying while enunciating every word carefully, “I do love her, but I don’t dare say that anymore. I’m not worthy!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter