By the time Lin Haihai arrived back at the hospital, it was nearly dawn. This was the first time she felt as if she had no strength at all. Yang Hanlun had been waiting for Lin Haihai in the inner hall the entire night and his heart was burning with anxiety.
Qing Feng told him that Lin Haihai would go pick herbs by herself every night in the mountains. Yang Hanlun was furious right then. The emperor may be the ruler of the vicinity, but a group of bandits who committed crimes from different places and roamed to this area had declared themselves the leaders of the Heavenly Wolf Mountain thirty miles outside the city. Although they weren’t extremely vicious and violent, they were not kind people either. A weak woman like Lin Haihai would eventually encounter this group of bandits if she goes up the mountains every night on her own.
He roared at the disciples, “Why did you guys allow her to go up the mountains by herself? All of you guys have unique skills (they actually only know how to use a nunchaku). Why didn’t you guys have someone follow her along? What if she gets into an accident?” All the disciples kept quiet out of fear and lowered their heads, allowing the man to vent his anger in return for them hitting him with nunchucks then.
“I didn’t let them follow me! Don’t scold them!” The moment Lin Haihai entered, she heard him scolding the kids and immediately stopped him. Then, she lost consciousness. Before she fell, she saw Yang Hanlun’s panicking face flashing past and fell into his gentle embrace. Everyone shockingly called out “Master” as they rushed over.
Yang Hanlun carried Lin Haihai and ran out, panicking. In his mind, she was always in high spirits and glowing. Even if she hadn’t slept for a few days, she still had enough energy to negotiate with him. Something must’ve happened for her clothes to be disheveled and her hair to be messy. Even more, she fainted and her face was as pale as paper. Hopefully, she wasn’t… his heart felt heavy. He glanced at her unconscious and pale face. Yang Hanlun affirmed his thought and he swore to uproot the bandits of the Heavenly Wolf Mountain. They dared to hurt his princess consort! Worry overtook anger and he quickened his pace. In the end, he ended up using qinggong and flew to the palace door in a few steps. Seeing the sixth prince, the imperial guards guarding the door immediately moved out of the way. Yang Hanlun roared at the imperial guards, “Invite Imperial Physician Shangguan to Ci’an Palace! Hurry!” The imperial guard was momentarily stunned before affirming and running off.
Ci’an Palace was the current empress dowager’s sleeping chamber. Before the others could catch a glimpse of Yang Hanlun, they could hear him shouting, “Imperial Mother, quickly come!”
The sleeping empress dowager heard her son’s call and panicked. She was shocked and hurriedly got up, having someone open the palace door as Yang Hanlun carried Lin Haihai in while tumbling. He ordered the palace maid, “Fetch a bowl of warm water immediately !” Then he placed Lin Haihai on the bed. The empress dowager quickly walked over while draping her robes over herself. She asked, “Son, why are you so flustered?”
“Imperial Mother, Yuguan is sick! I came to the palace to have an imperial physician check on her.” Yang Hanlun answered; his mind was all over the place.
“Hasn’t Yuguan always been bedridden?” the empress dowager asked strangely. Since they got married, her son told her that Lin Yuguan had been sick and couldn’t get out of bed. He begged her to exempt Yuguan from all the morning and evening visits to herself.
“Imperial Mother, it’s different this time!” Yang Hanlun said with a hoarse voice.
The empress dowager glanced at Lin Haihai. She was pale and looked tired; her long eyelashes created streaks of shadow under her eyes. Her beautiful hair was messy and her body emitted a scent of medicine. She couldn’t help but feel a sour taste on her tongue. Then, she looked at her son. His eyebrows were furrowed together as he held onto Yuguan’s hands in fear. All these years, when have I ever seen him this anxious? She felt pained but also comforted. Pained, because the couple was pitiful, but comforted, because they were deeply in love. One needed to know that he vehemently objected to this marriage before they got married.
Imperial Physician Shangguan hurried over and was about to make his salutations when Yang Hanlun grabbed him and said, “Quickly look at her. She fainted! Check to see if she suffered from any internal injuries,” Yang Hanlun said anxiously.
“Please allow this lowly official to take Miss Lin’s pulse first.” The imperial physician took out his red thread and tied it on Lin Haihai’s wrist before he lightly pressed three fingers on the thread.
“Muddle-headed imperial physician. She’s not Miss Lin anymore. She’s the Sixth Princess Consort!” The empress dowager stood by the side and reminded.
Imperial Physician Shangguan was stunned for a second before he immediately responded deferentially, “Yes! This lowly official was muddle-headed.”
Yang Hanlun asked impatiently, “How is she?”
Imperial Physician Shangguan muttered, “Consort Lin has a normal pulse and there is nothing wrong with her body either. She is unconscious probably because she overworked herself. As long as she takes a good rest to replenish her strength, she should recover soon.”
“Really? There’s nothing wrong with her?” Yang Hanlun asked unbelievably.
“Replying to Your Highness, that is indeed the case,” Imperial Physician Shangguan replied respectfully.
“Does she have any internal injuries? She was… no, she… ah, imperial physician, look carefully. Don’t use the red thread. Just take her pulse.” Yang Hanlun pulled the red thread to the side and dragged the imperial physician’s hand over, placing it on Lin Haihai’s wrist.
The imperial physician jumped and hurriedly withdrew his hand. He waved, saying, “I overstepped my boundaries! I overstepped my boundaries! This lowly official dares not to!”
The empress dowager smiled and said, “Son, don’t make trouble. Since the imperial physician said she’s fine, then she’s fine! Could it be that you’re only happy if something happens to her?”
“Imperial Mother, that’s not it! It’s…” Yang Hanlun had trouble forming his sentences.
“What’s the matter? If you don’t say it, how is the imperial physician going to check it?” The empress dowager couldn’t help but appear more solemn when she saw her son’s grave expression.
“She was captured by the bandits, so how could she return safely?” Yang Hanlun blurted, infuriated.
“What?!” The imperial physician and the empress dowager were both flabbergasted.
“How could this be?” The empress dowager trembled as she exclaimed. If she was captured by the bandits, that means...The empress dowager didn’t dare to continue that train of thought.
“Empress Dowager, please summon Old Maidservant Yang to the palace hall.” Imperial Physician Shangguan fearfully suggested. The empress dowager understood and immediately summoned Old Maidservant Yang.
Yang Hanlun asked confusedly, “What use is there to summon Old Maidservant Yang? Does she have any medical expertise?”
“Old Maidservant specializes in examining the bodies of concubine candidates,” the empress dowager said faintly.
After a while, Old Maidservant Yang crawled in, scared witless. While kowtowing, she said, “Empress Dowager, please spare this old maidservant! I won’t dare to do it again!” The empress dowager glared at her and asked icily, “Speak! What did you do?”
“It was Concubine Candidate Li who directly gave me the silvers and wanted me to say that she is a virgin when I examined her body. This old maidservant accepted it out of greed!” Old Maidservant Yang cried as she kowtowed. “This old maidservant only did it once. Really. I swear… Empress Dowager, please spare me!” Old Maidservant Yang thought that the empress dowager summoned her at dawn because she knew what she had done. Therefore, before the empress dowager could ask, she confessed. She felt as guilty as a thief.
“How brazen of you to allow a defiled woman into the imperial harem! Do you not want to live anymore?” The empress dowager glared with her almond-shaped eyes.
Preposterous! If this was spread to the public, what would become of the emperor’s reputation?
“Empress Dowager, please spare me. This old maidservant didn’t have a choice. Concubine Candidate Li said that if I don’t keep this secret for her, she won’t let me off. You need to know that Concubine Candidate Li’s father is the Minister of Revenue. This old maidservant was forced! Plus, my elder brother didn’t live up to expectations and owed others a bunch of debt. As such, this old maidservant made a grave mistake! Empress Dowager, please have mercy!”
“Hmph! Go beg His Majesty yourself! I will tell this to His Majesty. You’re an old maidservant of the palace, yet you don’t know how to restrain yourself. You really disappointed me!” criticized the empress dowager as she stared at Old Maidservant Yang, unmoved.
“Imperial Mother, don’t deal with her right now. Have her check on Yuguan first!” Although Yang Hanlun despised Old Maidservant Yang’s actions, his Imperial Elder Brother would handle this. Now, he just wanted to know if his princess consort was hurt.
The empress dowager relaxed slightly, but continued with a stern voice, “Go check and see if the princess consort had been sexually assaulted. Keep this to yourself. If you dare to tell others about this, don’t blame me for being vicious and cruel!”
Old Maidservant Yang answered repeatedly, “Yes, yes. This old maidservant knows!” Then she quickly scrambled over to Lin Haihai. Imperial Physician Shangguan and Yang Hanlun retreated outside to wait. After a while, the empress dowager opened the door and smiled, saying, “Don’t worry. She’s fine. She’s still a virgin!” Yang Hanlun heavily released his breath. Thinking of his impulsive action, he couldn’t help but laugh. After Imperial Physician Shangguan heard the empress dowager’s words, he wiped the sweat on his forehead. Thank god! Thank god! Otherwise, even if I didn’t die, I won’t be spared after knowing about the imperial family’s scandal!
“That’s not right! How could she be a virgin? You guys have been married for some days. Could you guys…?” The empress dowager thought about it and felt that something was amiss.
Yang Hanlun embarrassedly laughed. “Imperial Mother, she hasn’t been feeling well, so we have been treating each other with respect.”
“That won’t work! When will I have an imperial grandson then? Oh, right. Didn’t you say you want to marry Minister Chen’s daughter? How about this? I’ll find a time and ask Yuguan about it if she's willing to let you marry Chen Family’s young miss.” Hearing that the two had yet to consummate their marriage, the empress dowager brought up Yang Hanlun's previous request and decided to agree to it.
“Really? You’re willing to let me marry Birou?” Yang Hanlun was overjoyed. I can finally marry Birou. Happiness filled his heart.
“What do you mean by really? You have to ask if Yuguan is willing or not,” the empress dowager laughed.
Yang Hanlun was stunned. Lin Haihai had promised to help him convince the empress dowager to let him marry Birou, which meant that he held no position in her heart. Why would this thought invoke feelings of bitterness and hurt within him? The woman he loved the most was Birou! Yang Hanlun’s heart felt heavy right then.
The sudden silence gave the empress dowager the idea that Yang Hanlun was afraid that Lin Yuguan wouldn’t allow him to marry Birou. Therefore, she vouched and said, “Don’t worry. She has a weak body and it makes sense to find someone to help her wait on you. Plus, she would definitely remain as the first consort. No one would dare find fault with her background. Imperial Mother will make a decree to choose a good day for you to marry Chen Family’s young miss. Perhaps the wedding might bring good luck and Yuguan will get better as a result.”
Yang Hanlun forced a smile and nodded. He couldn't describe the sadness in his heart. The empress dowager turned around and ordered, “Servants, take Old Maidservant Yang to the reflection room. I will personally interrogate her later!”
“Thank you Empress Dowager for sparing me, thank you Empress Dowager for sparing me.” Old Maidservant Yang kowtowed with much gratitude.
Being taken into the reflection room meant that the empress dowager would settle this matter in private. As long as the emperor wasn’t startled, her life would be spared. Old Maidservant Yang was extremely regretful right now and wanted to do something to atone for her crimes in order to repay the empress dowager for her benevolence. Her actions clearly warranted a death sentence.
“Imperial Physician Shangguan, stay here until Consort Lin wakes up and then examine her. Leave only after confirming that she’s fine, understand?” the empress dowager ordered.
“This humble official understands.”
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Hanlun wants to marry Birou so badly... but...
*dun dun dun*