Chapter 178: Faking It

Lin Haihai concentrated on taking Imperial Consort Wen’s pulse. She then made a prescription and was about to give some advice when a great pain shot through her stomach and spread through her body. Her face immediately went pale, and her pen dropped from her hand.

Alerted, Wangchen and Zheng Feng rushed up to her and said, “Branch Head Lin must go to the empress dowager now, Your Majesty. Please excuse us!” Then they grabbed Lin Haihai to help her turn away without even waiting for Yang Shaolun’s approval.

Yang Shaolun’s heart pounded. Knowing something was different from witnessing it. Seeing Lin Haihai’s torment with his own eyes, he felt the urge to make her abort her child, which gradually took concrete shape and took roots in his heart.

Remembering that she had to ask Lin Haihai about what not to do, Imperial Consort Wen propped herself up and called out, “Please wait for a bit, Consort Lin!”

Wangchen ignored her. If she could, she would’ve carried Lin Haihai on her back and rushed away. Lin Haihai couldn’t even muster the strength to turn around now, and she let Wangchen and Zheng Feng support her to the door.

“Imperial Consort Wen told you to wait. Didn’t you hear her?!” Dingya went after them immediately for their blatant disregard for the imperial consort, driven by her resentment for Wangchen from earlier.

Yang Shaolun was about to lose his temper at Dingya for daring to order Lin Haihai to stop when the empress snapped with a scowl, “How dare you block Physician Lin’s way, Dingya? Let her through!” Her icy expression frightened the maid. The empress then turned to Imperial Consort Wen, not visibly angry but domineering. “You don’t mind, do you, Sister?”

Imperial Consort Wen felt her chest tighten. Her sworn sister had been kind to her a moment ago, but now her expression was dark. One truly could not rely on other people in the imperial harem!

Yang Shaolun left immediately after Lin Haihai did. Imperial Consort Wen shuddered at his gloomy face. His tenderness to her was also merely an act!

Lihua hurriedly opened the door when she saw Lin Haihai and the others approach Ci’an Palace. The empress dowager had been worried. She knew from Lihua’s panicked reaction that Lin Haihai must have come. She wanted to sit up, but she couldn’t.

Lin Haihai could no longer walk on her own. Worried that someone might see her and tell the emperor, Zheng Feng picked her up and rushed into the palace.

The empress dowager scowled at his inappropriate behavior, but then she saw the pained look on Lin Haihai’s face, and she couldn’t stop crying. Lin Haihai began to whimper in pain. Wangchen hurried to put her arms around Lin Haihai. That was what the empress saw when she arrived. She was scared witless.

The empress dowager put a hand on her own mouth. She never expected Lin Haihai’s pain to be so great. She looked up at the empress and wailed, “Help her, Empress! She’ll die of pain if this goes on!”

The empress couldn’t bear to look at Lin Haihai, either, but she didn’t know what she could do. She could only reassure the empress dowager, “It’s alright. She’ll be alright. Just a moment. She’ll be fine in a moment...”

“This Empress Dowager doesn’t want the grandchild, this Empress Dowager doesn’t want them! Have someone bring her an abortion medicine. This Empress Dowager doesn’t want the child...”

The empress dowager watched helplessly as Lin Haihai curled into herself, biting hard at her own wrist until she drew blood. She tried to smother her cry, but pain had ripped away her perseverance. She yelled and shouted and keened, struggling to break out of Wangchen’s and Zheng Feng’s arms.

Worried that Lin Haihai would knock her head into walls again, Wangchen pinned her down and cried out for her to stop struggling. She put her own arm to Lin Haihai’s mouth. Her wrist bled immediately when Lin Haihai bit her.

Eventually, the torturous two hours passed, and there was peace.

Outside the door, Lihua looked at Yang Shaolun’s pale face as he stood rooted in the courtyard. The man had balled his hands up so tightly that his knuckles cracked and his nails bit into his palms, drawing crimson blood. His veins threatened to burst out of his skin. His gaze was as empty as that of a scarecrow.

Once the struggle inside quieted down, he turned slowly away and left in weak, staggering steps. Lihua felt a sympathetic pang in her heart and averted her gaze, finding it too painful to watch. Fallen leaves piled up in a corner, swept together and scattered away by wind before gathering again. Such was the nature of life.

“Have someone prepare abortion medicine, Empress. This Empress Dowager would rather not have a grandchild!” the empress dowager ordered seriously right after she calmed herself enough to talk. She didn’t want Lin Haihai to endure such pain ever again. 

“Don’t, Imperial Mother!” Lin Haihai steadied her breath in Wangchen’s arms and hurried to pick herself up, her gaze pleading. “I can endure it!”

“But this Empress Dowager can’t! This Empress Dowager doesn’t want you to hurt anymore. I won’t let you stubbornly go on like this. Prepare the medicine, Empress!”

The empress dowager’s tone left no room for argument. Witnessing Lin Haihai’s pain once was enough to scare her. Lin Haihai would have to go through the same hours-long torture every day for the next few months. Even if Lin Haihai could endure it, she wouldn’t allow it.

“Imperial Mother...” The empress stopped, unsure of what to say. In truth, she didn’t want Lin Haihai to go through the pain, either.

“If you don’t listen to me, Imperial Mother, I’ll never visit the palace again!” Lin Haihai walked up to the empress dowager’s bed and snuggled into her arms. The empress dowager moved her mobile arm to hold Lin Haihai, letting out a sigh. She knew she couldn’t convince Lin Haihai. She had to relent.

After leaving the palace that day, Lin Haihai visited the Court of Judicial Review to talk about the missing woodcutters with Luo Kuangyuan. Luo Kuangyuan said that he had sent people to investigate, but found no clues. He wasn’t sure how he should go about it.

After some deliberation, Lin Haihai came up with an idea. She summoned Zheng Feng and instructed him what to do. Luo Kuangyuan broke into a smile, giving Lin Haihai a thumbs up. “Physician Lin is much cleverer than I am!”

Zheng Feng nodded. “Rest assured, I won’t disappoint you!”

Lin Haihai took out a red string to tie it around Zheng Feng’s wrist. “Don’t untie this under any circumstances. The string will allow me to find you easily!”

Zheng Feng turned to Wangchen and said, “Don’t worry, I won’t!”

Wangchen ducked her head bashfully. She knew Zheng Feng had noticed her concern and was reassuring her.

The next morning, Zheng Feng dressed up as a woodcutter and went into the mountain to gather firewood. He purposefully kept his training hidden and acted clumsily, playing the part of a regular woodcutter perfectly.

From early in the morning to high noon, no one had come up to him to strike up a conversation. Some had passed by him. They didn’t do anything suspicious, but they had quietly sized him up. Clearly, they had come to determine if there was anything unusual about Zheng Feng. They weren’t meant to go after him.

Zheng Feng tied up the firewood he had chopped and gathered his belongings. He was about to set out when a beautiful daoist nun came up to him with a smile. Finally, Zheng Feng scoffed. He put on a surprised face and looked around before turning back to the daoist nun. “Are you looking for me?”

“My temple should be in this area. I came into the mountain to gather herbs, but ended up getting lost and unable to find my way back. Would you be willing to guide me to the main road, Brother? I can pay you in return!” The daoist nun spoke pitifully, but instead of begging, her words sounded more like an order.

“But the firewood...” Zheng Feng affected a conflicted tone.

“You should sell it to my temple. Here!” The daoist nun threw him a silver tael. As she expected, Zheng Feng’s expression turned greedy.

Zheng Feng accepted the silver and followed after the daoist nun, discreetly scanning his surroundings and memorizing their route.

The daoist nun led him through the forest to a vast patch of green grass. Zheng Feng shuddered at the strange sight. It was deep into autumn. There shouldn’t be such lively greenery anywhere.

The daoist nun turned around suddenly and beamed at him. “You must be tired. Why don’t we take a break first?”

Zheng Feng pretended to be exhausted and said unhappily, “How much longer are we going to walk? I haven’t had lunch!”

“Don’t be impatient.” The daoist nun continued to smile. “We’ll be there soon!”

Zheng Feng looked around and asked fearfully, “Why is it so dark around? Where are we? Is your temple really in this area?”

The daoist nun put on a strange smile. Seeing that the sun had moved from the highest point of the dome, she waved the whisk in her hand, and a large pit opened up on the grassland. Zheng Feng staggered back like he was scared. The daoist nun scoffed and grabbed him, leaping toward the pit.

Zheng Feng yelled as he dropped to the bottom. He collapsed to the ground, sneakily looking around the cavern. There were torches illuminating the interior, but an eerie chill swarmed up to him from the bottom of his feet, and he couldn’t suppress his shudder.

The cavern was empty. The floor, strangely, was made of marble, which reflected his panicked face. There was no one around.

Zheng Feng’s calm expression made the daoist nun suspicious. She kicked him in the torso. Zheng Feng yelped and fell back to the floor, turning around to look at her fearfully. “Who...” he stuttered. “Who… Who are you?”

The daosit nun inspected his face closely to make sure his reaction was genuine before saying coolly, “You don’t need to know. Get up and follow me!”

Zheng Feng bowed down to her and begged, “I have elderlies and children in my family who need me to support them! Please let me go, please!”

“You’re not getting out of here!” The doaist nun’s eyes shone with cruel mirth. “This will be your tomb!”

She whipped her whisk at the top of Zheng Feng’s head, and a wave of dizziness hit Zheng Feng immediately. He held onto his consciousness with his inner energy. Although he had lost his control over his body, he had retained some of his consciousness.

Two men entered to drag Zheng Feng to the dark room on the right. Zheng Feng felt weak in his limbs. The whisk must have been applied with poison. There was no light in the room. Still, Zheng Feng was able to make out the dozens of corpses lying on the ground - He assumed they were corpses since he couldn’t hear any vital signs from them.

The realization stunned him. Were they all dead? The two men who dragged him into the room kicked him hard, but Zheng Feng didn’t react at all. One of the men laughed and said, “There’s no need for that. Daoist Puremoon has never failed!”

“That’s true,” said a lower voice. “This group of living corpses seem stronger than the last. Perhaps they’ll be more powerful as well!”

The other man said in a pleased tone, “Once we let the bloodsucking pests in to suck his blood dry, he’ll be an addition to our collection!”

“Let’s go prepare the pests. Has Daoist Puremoon left to look for more prey?”

“She must have. This is the tenth one today!”

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houseau3's Thoughts

When you think about it, Consort Wen is kinda unlucky to be dragged into this mess.