"Yes, Sixth Princess Consort has committed suicide before. The physician even declared that he wouldn't be able to save her. But she didn't breathe her last breath. Surprisingly, she woke up five days later with her wounds all healed. Her appearance remained the same, but her temperament became totally different. Strangely, she was illiterate and had never attended school, but actually became a highly skilled physician!" The monk told Zheng Feng about all the information he had gathered. Zheng Feng stood rooted to the ground, unable to think.
"Are you sure about this?" Zheng Feng questioned in a hoarse voice. Regardless of whether she was a demoness or not, it was undeniable that she knew martial arts and had clearly hidden that fact. She actually came back safe and sound after being abducted by the assailants. If she wasn't highly skilled in martial arts, it could only mean that she was in cahoots with the men in black. But if she was really a demoness, then what was her aim? Zheng Feng felt that his mind was like a tangle of strings, and he could see neither start nor end to it.
"This monk guarantees this with my life," the monk replied solemnly.
"Don't spread this out, in case you alert her. Secretly investigate her and I will also keep an eye on her. Try to find out all the details about her," Zheng Feng said.
"This demoness is powerful and you are no match for her. I can only promise you that I will refrain from hurting her. But if she ever hurts another, I will definitely get rid of her," the monk righteously replied.
"All right, may I know what your Buddhist name is?"
"This monk's name is Fa Hai." The monk turned and walked away, muttering ‘amitabha’ under his breath.
Watching Fa Hai's back view, Zheng Feng wondered to himself about the authenticity of the monk's words. But even if Lin Haihai wasn't a demoness, she was definitely not just an average person. Her medical skills were strange and a novelty; she felt like a simple-minded person at times, and an enigma at others. Zheng Feng truly believed that Lin Haihai was definitely more than she portrayed herself to be.
"Your Majesty, Physician Lin seeks an audience."
Empress Chen was pruning the dead leaves off the thorn apple plants. Without placing her tools down, she softly replied, "Let her in."
Lin Haihai watched Empress Chen as the latter busied herself among the flowers, and said with a smile, "You shouldn't be the Empress; you are more suited to be a flower grower."
"Brazen! How dare you insult Her Majesty!" The maidservant by the side snapped at Lin Haihai.
"Withdraw!" Empress Chen turned in disgust and gestured to the maidservant to leave. She then turned towards Lin Haihai with a face full of smiles and said, "Wouldn’t it be nice to be a flower grower? I really wish I had been one!"
"That's great then! My farm happens to be in need of a flower grower. Would you be interested?" Lin Haihai approached Empress Chen and blew at the thorn apples that were emanating a faint psychedelic scent. Empress Chen hurriedly stopped her, saying, "Don't move. You are a physician. Don't you know that the flowers' fragrance is poisonous? It will make you lose your mind!"
"No worries, that subtle amount of poison won't be able to knock me out. On the contrary, I enjoy smelling it." Lin Haihai closed her eyes and breathed in the delicate fragrance of the thorn apple flowers. The smell of the flowers would make others hallucinate, but Lin Haihai felt that she was getting more and more clear-headed, to a point she had never experienced before.
"You are really a strange person. As the Sixth Princess Consort, you chose not to enjoy your worrisome life and went to open a hospital. You even took in a bunch of poor children and opened a plantation. You are really asking for a tiring life," said Empress Chen.
"So you already knew of my identity, and here I was trying to hide my tracks. How ironic." Lin Haihai wasn't the least surprised; she had already expected that Empress Chen would check on her background.
"Who exactly are you?" Empress Chen stared Lin Haihai in the eyes.
"What do you think?" Lin Haihai returned a mysterious smile.
"Actually, who you are doesn't matter to me at all. Just for the fact that I will be able to leave the palace, I will take up your offer to be a flower grower. Miss Employer, please let me know when I should start work." With a smile on her face, Empress Chen returned to attending to her flowers.
"The sooner the better, of course. It would be best if you can start tomorrow!" Lin Haihai said with a smile.
"Alright then. Where shall I find you tomorrow?"
"I will send someone to wait for you at the palace gates. You can then follow him to the plantation to look for me. Naturally, since you are a high-ranking employee, I will arrange for a handsome and dashing man to come and pick you up," Lin Haihai said jokingly.
Empress Chen turned around and said in all seriousness, "You better stick to your words. I won't go if he's not handsome."
"Rest assured, he will surely be the treasure of our hospital, the most handsome one." Lin Haihai guaranteed.
Empress Chen smiled. Ever since she got married off to this country, this was the first time ever that she smiled truly from the bottom of her heart. Moreover, it was towards a woman of unknown origin. However, Lin Haihai was probably not a bad person, since her entire presence emitted an amicable feeling. A woman with a scheming heart wouldn't have a bright smile like hers.
"Your Majesty, Imperial Consort Li led the other concubines here to greet you," a maidservant entered to report.
"Alright. Tell them that this Empress is busy. Ask them to wait a little while at the front hall," Empress Chen answered in annoyance.
The maidservant replied with an affirmative and withdrew.
"Go ahead and deal with those women. I will leave from the backdoor." Lin Haihai was reminded of that Imperial Consort Li. She was a formidable existence so it was better to leave when she could. Also, the thought that all these women were the favored concubines of Yang Shaolun aroused a bitter taste in her heart; it was suffocating.
"Come with me. Speaking of this, we are one family," Empress Chen decided to drag Lin Haihai along.
"What family? I'm not familiar with that bunch of women. I don't want to go." Lin Haihai disdained such scenes where a whole group of women dressed in elegant garments sat in a circle exchanging lies and boasting of the Emperor's favor.
"Go, they are all your imperial sisters-in-law. Just have a look at what they are up to today. It's always a brand new show everyday; you will surely be entertained."
"No way, that Imperial Consort Li is too formidable. I have experienced her once; I won't stupidly go up to her, seeking trouble." Lin Haihai shook her head.
"Don't worry. His Majesty has punished her previously. She wouldn't dare to be so brazen anymore. If I hadn't relaxed the restrictions placed on her, she would have still been grounded and growing mould in her palace," Empress Chen said with a smile.
"Why did His Majesty punish her?" Lin Haihai asked.
"I would have to ask you about that," Empress Chen answered ambiguously.
"What does it have to do with me?" Lin Haihai asked, confused.
"Come with me. I will tell you later." Empress Chen tidied her clothes, adjusted her disposition, and leisurely walked out.
Lin Haihai hurriedly trailed behind her and asked, "Tell me, tell me now. I don't want to see those women." Empress Chen ignored Lin Haihai and continued walking gracefully.
Before Empress Chen and Lin Haihai reached the front hall, they heard a pitchy voice saying, "Elder Sister Consort Li, look at Her Majesty putting on airs. She actually made so many of us wait for her. Isn't she too much?"
"Yes. I think that Elder Sister Consort Li has a higher understanding of etiquette. After all, Her Majesty is from a remote small country and isn't well groomed to see the big picture," another coquettish voice chipped in.
"Be careful with your words. Her Majesty isn't as docile as you think. This Imperial Consort fell for her schemes once. She is very evil and malicious." Lin Haihai could recognize that the voice belonged to Imperial Consort Li.
"What? Could it be that Her Majesty caused you to be grounded?" the pitchy voice asked.
"Yes. She spoke badly of me before His Majesty. His Majesty wasn't fully recovered yet and believed her words in his confused state. Luckily, after His Majesty recovered, he immediately made her lift the restrictions on me," Imperial Consort Li complained with resentment.
Lin Haihai looked at Empress Chen; the latter's countenance remained placid as though the group of women inside wasn't talking about her. Once again, Lin Haihai felt that the imperial harem was an inhumane place.
"Her Majesty is here!"
Empress Chen and Lin Haihai entered the front hall. Lin Haihai’s eyes lit up. A dozen over women were seated in the hall, dressed in the most luxurious garments. When Empress Chen walked in, everyone stood up, albeit unwillingly. Lin Haihai could recognize the head of the pack - Imperial Consort Li. As for the rest, she had no idea who they were.
"Paying respects to Your Majesty," the beauties greeted.
"Sisters, please have a seat. We are all sisters, so let's spare the formalities," Empress Chen said with a smile.
"Greetings, Sisters-in-law." Lest there should be troubles, Lin Haihai revealed her identity in advance.
Imperial Consort Li looked at her and said, "You are that woman who was with His Majesty that day. Didn't you say you are a physician?"
"Yes, Your Highness. I am indeed a physician, but at the same time, I'm also the Sixth Princess Consort," Lin Haihai replied, neither servile nor humble.
"Oh, so you are Consort Lin. That being said, we are considered a family. But I heard that the Sixth Prince is going to marry the Young Miss of Chen family. Even Her Empress Dowager has also agreed to it. Sixth Princess Consort, you will have to watch your husband closely then." Imperial Consort Li said with deliberate ambiguity.
"Thank you for your advice, Imperial Sister-in-law, but you don't have to worry about me. After the Young Miss of Chen Family joins our family, there will still only be the two of us serving His Highness. Rather, your situation is more worrying. I mean, the imperial harem has three thousand beauties. Sister-in-law, it will be tough for you to stand your ground in His Majesty's heart." Lin Haihai feigned a worrisome expression.
"Hmph, you don't have to worry about that. I know whether I have a place in His Majesty's heart!" Imperial Consort Li replied, infuriated.
"That's naturally the case. Your Highness is pregnant with the imperial descendant; clearly you need not worry about your position." Lin Haihai stared at Imperial Consort Li's slightly bulging stomach. It was so stifling, it was as though she had a fish bone stuck in her throat.
"Sixth Princess Consort, I heard that your father is a famous rich merchant in the city?"
A tart and mean voice sounded. The concubines bowed their heads, chuckling to themselves. Lin Haihai recognized that pitchy voice. It was the person who had criticized Empress Chen just now; her voice leaned towards a high register. Lin Haihai understood the underlying message in her question. The concubines present were either young ladies of noble official's families or the daughters of high-ranking officials. Almost none of them were from a commoner's background. The concubine was indirectly ridiculing Lin Haihai for her lowly background.Previous Chapter Next Chapter