“You know what this empress meant, sisters. Please make it clear to Imperial Consort Li. Her pregnancy has affected her hearing!” The empress wasn’t afraid. It had been her unwillingness to start any trouble that emboldened Imperial Consort Li and made her the imperious woman she was today.
The concubines who had always taken Imperial Consort Li’s side fell silent, secretly wondering how the empress had grown so bold after her time at the plantation. How dared she openly antagonize the imperial consort? She had no influence as an empress since Imperial Consort Li was the one the emperor favored. The imperial consort only had to tell the emperor a sob story to make life difficult for the empress. However, it was best that they didn’t get involved. After all, she was still the empress, given the power to rule over the harem. It was all for the best, anyway. Everything was going according to the plan.
Imperial Consort Li smiled rather than losing her temper. Lin Haihai stared at her. The woman was mad. It would be unwise to stay around. Quietly, she said, “Let’s go! Don’t waste your breath arguing with them!”
The empress didn’t like being around these women either, so she turned to leave, but then Imperial Consort Li called out, “Stop,” and went up to the empress with her hands supporting her belly.
The empress looked at her strangely. Noting the scheming glint in her eyes, the empress took an involuntary step back. Imperial Consort Li came to a sudden stop and smiled at the empress.
Alarm bell began blaring in Lin Haihai’s head. She was about to drag the empress away when Imperial Consort Li gave herself a forceful slap. Then she fell to the ground. That shocked the empress and Lin Haihai. Is she mad?! She’s pregnant!
The other concubines rushed up to Imperial Consort Li, who cried, “You may scold me for not knowing etiquette, sister, but I’m still pregnant with the emperor’s child. Why would you do this to me?”
She wailed with her hands on her belly. The empress and Lin Haihai exchanged a look. Finally, she showed her hand. Wouldn’t her fall hurt her child? Lin Haihai reached out to take her pulse. The imperial consort immediately broke off from her hold and yelled, “Go away! Go away now! This Consort’s belly hurts. Help this Consort back!”
Maids and eunuchs rushed to help her up. Lin Haihai watched them go thoughtfully, feeling the sudden urge to witness the unfolding drama. She smiled at the empress and said, “Come with me if you want a good show!”
The empress looked at her in surprise, wondering what she had found out. Lin Haihai gave her a mysterious smile in place of an answer and trailed after the group before them. After a pause, the empress caught up with her. Like it or not, I’m involved. Might as well go have a look!
Imperial Consort Li resided within the Mo’qiu Palace, which was located south of the imperial palace and surrounded by pleasant scenery. Within the palace was a small garden. Imperial Consort Li was partial to orchids, and thus there were all kinds of expensive and rare orchids in the garden. Two professional gardeners were hired to tend to them. The flowers were as prim and delicate as their owner.
Lin Haihai didn’t know much about orchids, but she couldn’t help but take a liking to the graceful and pure orchids. This is no time to look at flowers. Time to watch Imperial Consort Li’s performance!
Noting the calm and even mocking look on Lin Haihai’s face, the empress was reassured knowing that she had a plan to reveal the truth. She wasn’t too worried. The emperor was a wise man. He might have played favoritism when he favored Imperial Consort Li, but the empress knew the imperial consort was nothing but a name on a wooden tablet now. He simply chose to go to her out of habit and an unwillingness to put the effort in choosing someone else. Nothing more!
When Lin Haihai and the empress entered, Imperial Consort Li was sobbing with her hands on her belly. Maids and eunuchs stood ready by her side. Someone had already left to find an imperial physician as well as the empress dowager and the emperor. Lin Haihai led the empress to the corner by the door, her arms crossed before her chest, leisurely watching the imperial consort act her heart out.
The empress dowager was the first to arrive. She jumped off her bed as soon as she heard that Imperial Consort Li had fallen and hurt her child. Her heart sank when she rushed in and heard the imperial consort wail. Nothing must happen to her grandson!
Expression dark, she caught the imperial consort’s hand and patted her comfortingly. Then she snarled at the maids and eunuchs, “Bastards, why haven’t you kept a close eye on your master? If something has happened to this Empress Dowager’s grandson, no mercy will be shown to you!”
The maids and eunuchs knelt down to beg for their lives, while Imperial Consort Li wailed at the empress dowager, “Don’t blame the servants, Mother! It’s this Consort’s fault! It’s all my fault!”
Anxiety burning in her heart, the empress dowager was about to lose her temper for not seeing an imperial physician arrive. Then the emperor and an imperial physician rushed in. Like the empress dowager, neither had noticed Lin Haihai and the empress.
Lin Haihai noticed the sweat on Yang Shaolun’s forehead. She knew he must have come in a hurry, which filled her with jealousy. She hated that feeling, but she had to keep watching.
Yang Shaolun checked on the consort and said to the imperial physician, “Treat her now!”
Hurriedly, the imperial physician tied a red string around Imperial Consort Li’s wrist and put his index finger on it. Lin Haihai proudly looked at her disciple. His name was Li Chaomin. The youngest among the imperial physicians, but a talented man with his own unique views who often come up with innovative ideas. Lin Haihai had high hopes for him. She waited with a faint smile for her disciple to reveal the consort’s lie.
“What’s the verdict? Is my grandson safe?” the empress dowager asked urgently while pushing Yang Shaolun to Imperial Consort Li. “Go comfort Imperial Consort Li, my son!”
Yang Shaolun looked pained with his hands covering his stomach. He gave the consort a forced smile as he sat down by the bed. Tears of distress fell from Imperial Consort Li’s beautiful eyes. Yang Shaolun wiped her tears away and said reassuringly, “Don’t worry. It’ll be fine!”
His tenderness and the pain on his face prickled Lin Haihai’s eyes. It felt as if something heavy had dropped on her chest. Once, twice… She had imagined such a scene, but witnessing it in person was another story!
Imperial Physician Li put away the red string and cupped his hands. “Reporting to Your Majesty the Empress Dowager and Your Majesty the Emperor, Imperial Consort Li’s child cannot be saved!”
Imperial Consort Li sobbed when she heard that, seemingly in great pain. Lin Haihai stared at her disciple in disbelief, her gaze intense.
The empress dowager lost her footing and almost fainted. Lihua hurriedly caught her as she reached out a trembling hand and pointed at the consort’s maid, “What happened?! Talk!”
The maid dropped to her knees and said, “In response to Your Majesty, Imperial Consort Li ran into the empress in the imperial garden. The imperial consort didn’t kneel and bow to the empress because of her pregnancy...”
“Stop!” Imperial Consort Li interjected before turning to Yang Shaolun and said in a sorrowful tone, “It’s this Consort’s fault. Please punish me, Your Majesty!”
The empress dowager scowled at the maid and said, “Keep going!”
The maid kowtowed and responded, “You must not tolerate this, Imperial Consort Li! This maid cannot stand it! Empress Dowager, the Empress slapped Imperial Consort Li because she didn’t kneel to her. Look at the consort’s face. There’s still a handprint, clear as day! That made Imperial Consort Li lose her balance and fall to the ground!”
The empress dowager took a closer look at Imperial Consort Li’s face. There were indeed red prints left by fingers. She flew into a rage and snarled, “How dared she do this?! Guards, summon the Empress!”
The fury of losing her grandson made her lose the ability to think. She never stopped to consider why the mild-tempered empress would do something like this.
“No need for that. We’re here!” Lin Haihai and the empress emerged from the corner they’d been hiding in. Yang Shaolun immediately pulled his hand back from Consort Li’s face when he saw her. With an impassive look on her face, Lin Haihai sat down on a chair and looked at Imperial Physician Li with deep disappointment. Imperial Physician Li paled, his lips trembling.
“Some conclusions can only be confirmed after multiple checkups. Take Imperial Consort Li’s pulse again. I want a precise diagnosis!”
She would give him another chance. Li Chaomin threw her a grateful look. Eyes brimming with tears, he bowed and said, “This Disciple understands!”
The empress dowager gave Lin Haihai a strange look. “Do you question the imperial physician’s diagnosis, Yuguan?”
Lin Haihai gave her a faint smile and said, “I was there, Imperial Mother, and I’ve witnessed the whole event. Please be patient. The truth will be clear once Imperial Physician Li comes to his conclusion!”
The empress dowager looked at Lin Haihai, then at the calm-looking empress. She couldn’t figure out what they were up to.
Imperial Consort Li stared at the imperial physician menacingly and said, “Be very thorough, Imperial Physician Li, or the consequences will be dire!”
Face ashen, Imperial Physician Li nodded and said, “This official understands!”
Yang Shaolun moved away from the bed and looked at Lin Haihai over the empress dowager’s shoulders. Her calm expression betrayed none of her emotions.
Imperial Physician Li kept up the appearance of diagnosing her, his hands trembling and his forehead sweating. His expression gave Imperial Consort Li a bad feeling. Could it be that he was going to betray her? She quickly calmed herself down. His family had been taken by her father. He wouldn’t dare do anything unless he wanted to lose his family!
The empress dowager anxiously looked at the imperial physician. Then she turned to Lin Haihai and said, “Take a look, Yuguan. Why is it taking so long?”
Lin Haihai met her eyes and said in a voice loud enough for others to hear, “Don’t worry, Mother. Li Chaomin is the disciple I’m most proud of. I believe he will be able to come to the right diagnosis!”
Imperial Physician Li’s expression turned bitter when he heard that, but he kept up with the pretense. In truth, there was no point in this act. If he insisted on his lie, his master would make another diagnosis. Once the truth was revealed, he would be dead. However, even though telling the truth would spare him, all his family members would surely meet their demise at the Grand Councilor’s hand. He thought about his young children and his gentle wives. His elderly parents. His brothers and sisters. There was no turning back for him!
He put away the red string and knelt down before Lin Haihai, his expression solemn as he said, “Thank you, Master! This Disciple has come to a diagnosis. As I’ve said, the unborn child has died. The only thing to be done now is to extract the dead child!”
Lin Haihai stared at Imperial Physician Li. She knew he must be under duress, and whatever Imperial Consort Li had been threatening him with, it was more important than his life. Lin Haihai sighed and looked at Consort Imperial Li’s pleased expression. She must be certain that Lin Haihai wouldn’t disprove Imperial Physician Li’s diagnosis.
The empress dowager blacked out and collapsed into Lihua’s arms. Yang Shaolun rushed to prop his mother up. The empress dowager slowly came to after Lin Haihai pinched the skin above her upper lip. She glared at the empress in fury and said in a weak but stern voice, “You must give me an explanation!”
Yang Shaolun frowned. He knew the empress wouldn’t do something like this. He turned to her and said, “Give me the full story from the very start!”
The empress was about to say something when Lin Haihai interjected, “Help Empress Dowager back to her bed chamber, Lihua!”
“I won’t! Don’t even think about keeping this from me! This Empress Dowager will know the truth!” She pinched her brows together, giving Lin Haihai a stubborn look.
Lin Haihai frowned. The empress dowager must have a higher than average blood pressure. She must not go through such intense emotions, or her blood vessels might pop with all the blood rushing to her head. That would be dangerous to her.
Imperial Consort Li propped herself up and looked at the empress tearfully. “You shouldn’t have resorted to such viciousness even if this consort may have offended you, Empress! Do you know that the imperial preceptor once said this Consort was pregnant with a son? How is this Consort supposed to face His Majesty and the Empress Dowager? This Consort would rather die!”
Omg. Imperial Consort Li is so fake and evil! How do you think this will be resolved?