Lin Haihai looked up and saw Yang Shaolun scowling furiously at Imperial Consort Li. His dark face was covered in beads of sweat, and his lips were pale, making it clear that he was in great pain. What’s wrong? Lin Haihai wondered in panic. She wanted to ask, but given who they were, she shouldn’t ask after him.
Yang Shaolun shifted his gaze to Lin Haihai, the pain on his face fading. Lin Haihai was a remarkable physician. She knew he wasn’t feeling well and was merely putting up a front for her benefit, managing a faint smile. Heart clenching, LIn Haihai turned hurriedly away, lest she failed to control the tears in her eyes.
The imperial physicians arrived in a hurry. Four of them were on shift in the palace today, Li Chaomin being one of them. The other three imperial physicians had all been summoned here.
“Greetings, Your Majesty the Empress Dowager, Your Majesty the Emperor, Consorts and Concubines!” The imperial physicians dropped to their knees and bowed down.
“Rise,” said the empress dowager.
“Thank you, Your Majesty!” The three physicians looked up to see Imperial Physician Li kneeling on the floor, while their master had a dark look on her face. The three of them stood on the side nervously, awaiting further orders.
Lin Haihai stared at them and said slowly, “Haisheng, Weihao, Ziqing. Come diagnose Imperial Consort Li. Whatever you find through her pulse, you must tell us. Don’t keep anything from us, understood?”
“Understood, Master!” The three physicians bowed slightly. Lin Haihai turned to Yang Shaolun and met his eyes. He wore a calm expression, but Lin Haihai could tell from his trembling hands that he was enduring great pain. Did his injuries open up again? That can’t be. Those have scabbed over and shouldn’t split.
Yang Shaolun noted the worry between her brows and exchanged a look with her, silently telling her to not be concerned. The day they spent in the cavern had allowed them to develop a mutual understanding. They were able to communicate through looks and expressions.
Lin Haihai mournfully turned away, but she could still feel his heated gaze boring into her back. The empress saw all their exchanges. The love in their eyes could not be concealed. Sooner or later, someone with malicious intent would notice.
“This Consort refuses to be diagnosed, I refuse! Go away, all of you!” Imperial Consort Li lost her temper suddenly, sitting up and hurling her pillow at the imperial physicians.
Enraged, Yang Shaolun ordered the maids who had been watching dumbly, “Grab her!”
The maids timidly went up to Imperial Consort Li, who glared at the maids with a monstrous look and growled, “Stop! If you come any closer, this Consort will kill you!”
The maids dared not disobey the emperor. Trampling their fear, they inched toward the consort and said, “Forgive us, Consort Li!” With that, they went up to grab Imperial Consort Li. Lin Haihai interrupted and said, “Move away!”
The maids turned to the emperor and hurriedly moved away once he nodded in approval. Lin Haihai stared at the crazed Imperial Consort Li and said while enunciating every word, “You lost your child a long time ago! I took your pulse when you were putting on the show in the Imperial Garden, and you didn’t have any signs of pregnancy back then. Whether you never had a child or suffered a miscarriage, I can’t really tell. However, it is true that you aren’t pregnant. How can you possibly have a dead child then?”
Her words dropped like a bomb, shocking everyone in the room. The empress dowager shot to her feet and furiously stared at the imperial consort, her lips trembling and at a loss of words. Finally, she scoffed and said, “Good. Very good. It’s best that this harem disbands soon, or this Empress Dowager would’ve been killed by fury sooner or later. You are the head of the harem, Empress. You’ll be entrusted with this matter. This Empress Dowager will not get involved.” She left with a flourish of sleeves, while the empress sighed faintly.
Yang Shaolun stared icily at Imperial Consort Li with a dark expression. His stomach was cramping even more. He covered his stomach with his hand, unable to utter a word.
Imperial Consort Li had lost it completely. She leapt off the bed and seized Lin Haihai’s neck. It would be easy for Lin Haihai to throw her away, but she couldn’t do that when there were so many watching. This woman is the bane of my existence! The first time they met, she got slapped, and now, she was strangled. She couldn’t break out of her hold, and she had to keep her spiritual energy under control, lest she accidentally hurt the woman.
Shock and anger made Yang Shaolun forget about his pain. He took big strides and was about to make his move when Imperial Consort Li produced a scissor out of nowhere and put it to Lin Haihai’s neck. Shocked gasps sounded around the room. Hair messily running down her back and her face twisted into an ugly scowl, Imperial Consort Li snarled at Yang Shaolun, “Halt! Or I’ll stab her to death!”
She pressed down, the scissor splitting open Lin Haihai’s fair skin. Crimson blood oozed out of the cut. Lin Haihai grimaced in pain, barely containing her urge to kick her away.
Yang Shaolun came to a stop under the threat. He fiercely bit out, “If you dare hurt her, I’ll make you wish for the relief of death!”
His cold, steely tone made Imperial Consort Li’s heart sink. His handsome and icy face was wrought with worry and pain. He’s hurting for this woman, isn’t he? Imperial Consort Li came to a sudden realization and threw her head backward, laughing maniacally. Her eyes glowed viciously as she yanked hard at Lin Haihai’s hair, the blade of the scissor burying deeper into her neck. She stopped laughing when she saw the blood. “You don’t want her to die, do you, Your Majesty? But I do. Serves this bitch right for seducing my man!”
Her expression tightened as she put more force into the scissor. Lin Haihai leaned backward to save herself and was about to kick Imperial Consort Li away. Yang Shaolun rushed to her with reckless abandon and grabbed the hand she had pulled on Lin Haihai’s hair with. She lost her grip in pain. Lin Haihai fell to the floor. The imperial physicians hurried to help her up, and the empress ran up to wrap her arms around her.
Imperial Consort Li had gone completely mad, clutching the scissor and stabbing at Yang Shaolun. Caught off guard, Yang Shaolun grabbed the sharp scissor reflexively. The blade cut into his palm and blood gushed out all over his hand. Yang Shaolun kicked Imperial Consort Li to the floor. A round bundle fell from her stomach, shocking everyone.
Lin Haihai’s heart pounded and ached when she saw Yang Shaolun bleed, but the empress held tight onto her to stop her from rushing up to him. The imperial physicians hurried to the emperor, bandaging Yang Shaolun up.
Imperial Physician Ziqing said to Lin Haihai, “Your neck is still bleeding, Master. Let me patch you up!”
Lin Haihai felt no pain. She turned to Yang Shaolun and noticed how in pain he looked. He was almost losing his balance! She watched in horror as Yang Shaolun collapsed into a chair. Yang Shaolun’s stomach cramped, the pain severe enough to drain him of all energy. He looked up at Lin Haihai, whose neck was still bleeding. He wanted to tell her to let the physician treat her first, but the relentless waves of pain made him unable to talk.
“Don’t go!” the empress reassured Lin Haihai. “He’s fine!”
“What’s wrong with him?” Lin Haihai cried tears of panic and looked up at the empress with a lost look.
“Don’t worry. Let’s get out of here first. The imperial physicians will take care of him!” Then she turned to Ziqing. “Follow us and stop the bleeding for your master!”
Ziqing lowered his head and responded, “Understood!”
Lin Haihai was still lost in Yang Shaolun’s loving and apologetic gaze. She dumbly let the empress pull her outside. Thankfully, the concubines and maids had been too terrified to notice their heated exchanges.
Once Ziqing patched Lin Haihai up, the empress ordered the guards to take Imperial Consort Li and the other consorts and concubines into the Cold Palace. Then she accompanied Lin Haihai to the An’ning Palace to rest.
Lin Haihai couldn’t possibly stay still. The empress had to send someone out to ask after the emperor. After a while, the man returned and reported that the emperor had returned to the Qian’kun Palace Hall. However, it was said that the emperor had lost consciousness from the pain!
Lin Haihai turned to the empress and asked, “You know what’s going on, don’t you?”
The empress dismissed the servant and sighed. “He’s sensitive to spicy food. Having any will make his stomach cramp. I recalled that one time, he had only a bit of spicy food, and that was enough to make him hurt like hell. Today, he had two plates. How could he not be in pain?”
Lin Haihai was stunned. “He can’t have spicy food?”
“He only wanted you to have the broccoli!”
Her eyes went misty, and her heart slowly folded in on itself. She dropped down to her knees before the empress and said, “Let me see him! I must see him!”
The empress looked at her, stunned by the pain in Lin Haihai’s gaze. She had fallen in love before. She knew how tormenting such pain was. When he knelt before the palace under heavy snow for three days and three nights straight, she wanted nothing but for someone to open her door for her, if only for her to see him from a distance.
Lin Haihai was more rational than she had been. If she resisted the marriage, the people of Chen would lose their protection and their peaceful life under the constant threat of invasion from more powerful nations. However, she didn’t consider that at all. The only thing on her mind was her love, and her wish to be with the man she loved forever!
Lin Haihai had never once forgotten about the public and the nation. She loved the emperor dearly, but she never asked for anything that wasn’t hers. Why should the world matter to her? What did the public have to do with her? She wouldn’t spend on food nor clothes for herself, and she sold all her accessories. Had she ever done anything for herself? Even the empress, an outsider, was heartbroken for her. She couldn’t possibly deny her the request.
She helped Lin Haihai up and said, “I know you won’t rest easy until you see him. Go ahead, go see him!”
Lin Haihai wiped away her tears and nodded in gratitude.
Once they reached the Qian-kun Palace Hall, the empress stopped the eunuch guarding the door from reporting to the emperor, waving to dismiss all the servants. She and Lin Haihai entered the palace hall before the empress said, “His bedchamber is on your right. I’ll wait for you in the main hall. Go. There’s no one inside!”
Lin Haihai nodded and marched to her right. Inside the bedchamber, Yang Shaolun lay on the bed. He was feeling much better after the imperial physicians treated him with acupuncture, leaving only infrequent waves of pain. He closed his eyes, still reeling from the horror he felt when Imperial Consort Li threatened to cut Lin Haihai with a scissor. If the scissor went even a little deeper, he would’ve lost her forever.
Quiet steps drew closer. Yang Shaolun suddenly opened his eyes and was met with Lin Haihai’s teary gaze. “Don’t cry,” he said hoarsely, but that was the last straw that made her tears fall. With hands covering her mouth, she stood rooted to the spot. Her low sobs escaped from between her fingers.
He sat up and pulled her into his arms, letting out a long sigh as he breathed in deeply her refreshing fragrance. How long had they been apart? Had it really been only half a day? Why did it feel like it’d been a lifetime?
Lin Haihai snuggled into his embrace, her arms tight around his body. With familiar tenderness, the faint masculine musk about him overwhelmed her, rousing rolling waves of emotions in her heart. How could she let go of the man she loved so deeply? How could she give up on this love that had lodged itself deep into her bones? There was no path before them, but it was difficult to turn around. They should’ve never met each other!
After a long time, they finally parted. Yang Shaolun wiped away her tears and looked at the woman in his arms, his heart aching. They had only been away from each other for a short few hours, and yet all he could think about was her smile, her lowered head, her gaze when she turned around, and her pure, innocent face. Everything about her aroused the deep yearning in him!
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