Chapter 169: Because your lordship does as he pleases Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The rooster died!
Suddenly, the sobbing empress was seized with hysteria as she shouted out loud. “Dead! Dead! There’s poison! The Buddha statue’s poisoned!”
“Muhou, don’t be like this! What’s happened to you?” Long Tianmo held on tightly to the empress, but she only thrashed about in fear.
“Let me go! The rooster died, did you see? It died! Changping died, too!”
“There’s poison! That thing is poisonous!” the empress shouted and cried, before suddenly falling silently to stare blankly at Long Tianmo. “Mo’er, I was the one who killed Changping, right? Was it me?”
“Mo’er, I didn’t mean to. I really didn’t mean it! It wasn’t me...it wasn’t me…”
Long Tianmo stared dazedly at his panic-stricken mother, his mind completely blank. Had muhou...lost her mind? Just as he spaced out, the empress suddenly pushed aside his hands and ran out of the western wing.
“Someone, stop the empress!”
“Get the imperial physicians, hurry!” the empress dowager cried out. She’d seen countless woman in the imperial harem go insane during her lifetime. The empress’s actions right now frightened her! Long Tianmo was the first to react and ran out to chase after his mother.
“Qian mama, exactly what happened?” Long Feiye asked sternly. Though they’d found the poison, this case wasn’t over yet! Who would believe that the empress poisoned Princess Changping? There must be a reason why she was losing her mind.
Qian mama was frightened to the point of trembling and didn’t dare hide a thing. She told them the whole story. “After Princess Changping died, Xiao Yue from the western wing died soon afterwards. She just suddenly collapsed in that room without a reason, exactly like Princess Changping. When esteemed empress found out, she ordered your servant to secretly bury Xiao Yue. That day, esteemed empress spent a long time in the room. When she came out, she told your servant to bury the wooden Buddha statue. By then it’d been wrapped tightly in cloth so your servant had no idea what it was. I only did as I was told. When news came out that this room was missing something, your servant knew it had to be the thing from that day.”
Qian mama paused for a bit before she continued. “Your Highness, esteemed empress can’t be the murderer. This Buddha statue was gifted from Nanzhao just last year as a tribute. The person who delivered it said that it was made from a unique and rare material, something called arrow wood. Your servant was present when it was delivered. Esteemed empress really had no idea that this thing had poison! Esteemed empress must have blamed herself too deeply, and that’s why she covered things up!”
Hearing this, Han Yunxi finally realized what had happened. That night, she’d mentioned poison arrow wood upon discovering Princess Changping’s death. Later when Xiao Yue died, the empress must have guessed the truth and hide both the dead girl and the statue. But was the empress simply guilt-ridden and unresigned, or did she have plans to implicate her on purpose?
Recalling the empress’s state just then, Han Yunxi felt no desire to pursue the matter further. She turned to give a bow to the empress dowager and spoke.
“Esteemed empress dowager, Changping’s index finger on her right hand had two cuts that carried an identical poison to this statue. Both of them are arrow wood poison. If empress dowager doubts me, she can invite other poison experts for further examination. Chenqie is innocent in this series of coincidental happenings. I don’t believe that esteemed empress wished for this, either.”
With things at this point and the truth revealed, the empress dowager had nothing else to say, either. She seemed to have aged ten years in an instant, her shrewd, astute eyes bloodshot and hazy. She never thought that Changping would die like this, all for the sake of giving her a New Year’s surprise. A single Buddha statue had cost her her life.
A good while passed before the empress dowager spoke. “Han Yunxi, why didn’t you go over earlier? Why couldn’t you save Changping’s life?”
This was the exact question the empress had asked her before. She didn’t save the person in time, so she was a killer? The empress couldn’t accept that the Buddha statue was the cause of poison, couldn’t believe that her daughter’s death was related to herself, and feared the truth coming out. So she pointed the fault at her and wanted her to confess to the crime?
Wasn’t this deceiving herself as well as others?!
Han Yunxi exhaled as she spoke. “Esteemed empress dowager, doctors aren’t omnipotent. Please restrain your grief.”
As a doctor herself, Han Yunxi took the blame for not being able to save a life in time. She held regrets, but things like this were far too common. It didn’t mean she had to take responsibility for every single death. Right now, she could only rejoice that she had the chance to defend herself. Otherwise, she would have died with even more grievances than Princess Changping!
The empress dowager knitted her brows, staring at Han Yunxi. Silence surrounded them on all sides. Yet right at this moment, an eunuch rushed over like the wind.
“Esteemed empress dowager, esteemed empress dowager… The empress, she...s-she’s gone insane!”
The empress dowager felt herself quake in shock. Her vision momentarily turned black as she nearly fainted away; fortunately, an old mama by her side was quick to support her into the room.
A flash of pity flitted past Han Yunxi’s eyes as her heart turned heavy. All right, no matter what the empress’s original intentions were, she was willing to believe that she’d only been framed because the empress had lost her wits. She didn’t want to pursue the empress’s motives any further.
At least this way, she had a chance to forgive her.
At least this way, the world would still seem like a brighter place.
When Han Yunxi turned aside, she discovered that Long Feiye was staring at her. “What are you looking at?” she blurted out.
Long Feiye gave a slight start and coughed twice, before staring at the skies that had turned dark. “It’s right on time. You can go back now,” he said simply.
“Oh.” Han Yunxi nodded.
Without knowing the empress’s situation or Emperor Tianhui’s reaction to the news, she decided to leave. This fellow had said it was all right, after all. She thought he wanted her to go back alone, but he actually went along with her.
You’re going away without so much as a message. Long Feiye, ah, Long Feiye, haven’t you offended Emperor Tianhui enough?
No matter how the empress and empress dowager felt, Han Yunxi at least knew that Emperor Tianhui harbored thoughts of killing her off ever since Madame Li’s dying words. It looked like she’d have to be more careful in the future to avoid leaving exploitable shortcomings.
Once she sat down in the carriage, Han Yunxi felt exhausted. Being imprisoned and starved for five sleepless days and nights, then dragged into this mess, was really enough to bring her to collapse now that everything was over. She was planning to take a rest, but she found that it was always impossible to sleep with Giant Ice Cube around.
Learning lazily to one side, she paused for a bit before saying, “This time...many thanks!”
Usually, she’d hail him by “Your Highness,” or call him “Long Feiye” when she was impulsive. But when she spoke sincerely, she didn’t call him anything at all. Long Feiye sat sluggishly in the center, emanating his lordly aura as he looked coldly at Han Yunxi.
He casually tossed out a line. “In the future, don’t create so many difficulties for your lordship.”
“Difficulty came knocking on my door by itself, all right?” Han Yunxi muttered resentfully.
Long Feiye’s eyes flickered with amusement as he coldly asked, “What did you say?”
“You don’t need me to pay back the command seal, right?” Han Yunxi joked on purpose. Actually, what startled her most wasn’t the truth, but the matter with the seal. This fellow had paid such a heavy price for her sake. Would he seek any frightening reparations?
Long Feiye’s cold expression simply turned slightly stiff. He didn’t reply, but turned to look out the window.
Shady, unpredictable fellow, Han Yunxi thought silently as she turned to look out the opposite side.
When Long Feiye and Han Yunxi returned to the Duke of Qin’s estate, Grand Concubine Yi had long heard of the news in the palace. It had to be said that rumors really flew fast. Han Yunxi could be said to have escaped from a calamity from the empress dowager and empress’s hands. She thought that Grand Concubine Yi would be rejoicing for her sake and welcome her back, but she’d just stepped inside with Long Feiye when the woman turned a stern voice on her son.
“Feiye, you used the command seal?”
“Yes,” Long Feiye replied as he kept walking forward.
“Just for her sake, you used that command seal?” Grand Concubine Yi was in disbelief. Han Yunxi’s bright, shining eyes suddenly darkened as she lowered her head, a bitter smile creeping onto her features.
But Long Feiye replied, “Your lordship’s things, your lordship does with as he pleases.”
“You!” Grand Concubine Yi exclaimed, but she had no words to retort. Han Yunxi stole a glance at him as well. His profile was as cold as ever, but wore a serious, intent expression. In that instant, her lips curved up again into a sweet smile.
Long Feiye, I, Han Yunxi, will remember your “as he pleases!”
Seeing Long Feiye walk away, Grand Concubine Yi chased after him. Although she didn’t mention the command seal again, she asked, “Yao Yao left for Western Zhou this morning, do you know?”
Hearing this, Han Yunxi recalled the events of the New Year’s Eve family feast. That day Emperor Tianhui took Long Feiye away for a private talk in the study, but what did they speak about? Princess Rongle wasn’t someone who easily admitted defeat, so why did she go back? With her return, did this mean that the marriage alliance negotiations had fallen flat? Han Yunxi’s secret smile widened at the thought.
“I didn’t,” Long Feiye replied as he kept walking.
Grand Concubine Yi followed close behind, her voice angry. “Feiye! Mufei is speaking to you!”
Only then did Long Feiye still his steps. “Mufei, Princess Rongle’s marriage alliance has nothing to do with the Duke of Qin’s estate. You shouldn’t worry over it in the future.”
“You!” Grand Concubine Yi was stifled. “You...just what did you say to the emperor? Did you hurt Yao Yao?”
Long Feiye didn’t say any more, but took long strides towards the Hibiscus Courtyard. Han Yunxi tactfully hurried after him, and husband and wife quickly vanished from Grand Concubine Yi’s sight. Grand Concubine Yi was so angry that her entire face was red. Still, she managed to think clearly after she’d calmed down, her eyebrows furrowing as she muttered to herself. “Feiye, he...he couldn’t have truly done it for that girl Han Yunxi, could he?”
In the meantime, the Earthly Peace Palace of the empress was covered in chaos. Court ladies and mama were hastily tidying things up. Even Gu Beiyue had verified the diagnosis that the empress had lost her mind and needed meticulous care to be nursed back to health. She couldn’t stand any more shocks, or else it was likely she’d never recover in this lifetime. Emperor Tianhui made a decision overnight to send the empress into a side palace in the western mountains to convalesce. He wouldn’t even let her attend Princess Changping’s funeral arrangements.
Now he sat in the courtyard, his face cloudy enough to drip water. His daughter was dead and his empress was crazy. A perfectly good New Year’s had ended up like this, so how couldn’t he be angry? Even more, Han Yunxi was availed of all guilt. If he hadn’t agreed to let Long Feiye take her out, perhaps the empress would still be sane!
Furthermore, Long Feiye insisted on rejecting the marriage alliance, causing Princess Rongle to leave without a word this morning. He had been hoping for Western Zhou’s support on the battlefield in the northern borders. Now it seemed like that issue would remain hanging!
Thinking up to here, Emperor Tianhui curled up his fists and pounded heavily against the stone table. At this moment, the empress dowager arrived with a heavy face and spoke. “Your Majesty, let’s hold the funeral procession tomorrow so I won’t be saddened by the sight any more...”
Emperor Tianhui took in a deep breath and nodded. The empress dowager sat down with a cold smile. “Your Majesty, as I see it, this Qin Wangfei...hehe, is really something.”
Emperor Tianhui finally lifted his head to look over. “Muhou take heart, erchen knows how things stand!”
 Nanzhao (南诏) - a local kingdom in ancient China, located in present-day southeast Asia.
 please restrain your grief (节哀顺变) - jieaishunbian, a saying used to offer condolences.
 erchen (儿臣) – a humble form of self-address for males equivalent to ‘your subject’ or ‘your servant’.
Original Chapter Teaser:[expand]
Han Yunxi: The five stages of grief are:
Han Yunxi: ...hang on a sec, that doesn't look like acceptance to me.
Empress: Acceptance? Accept what? I haven't lost anything...
Han Yunxi: *gently* Esteemed empress...
Empress: That's right, I'm the empress! One of the most powerful women in Tianning. When have I ever lost?
Empress: You're the loser. Your entire family are losers! You hurt Changping and let her die!
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