Chapter 96: Rather Die Than Live (Part 1)
Youshi (modern timing: 5 – 7pm) should be timing when the Emperor was most free but when Lou Xi Yan arrived at the Imperial Study, he found that the doors were tightly closed and Gao Jing and Xiao you were standing outside the doors with serious expression and some feeling of loss of what to do.
Seeing Lou Xi Yan approaching the hall, Gao Jing immediately went forward to welcome, “Prime Minister Lou.”
Seeing the tightly closed doors, Lou Xi Yan asked in a whisper, “Is the Emperor in?”
“Yes. But…” Gao Jing face was filled with worry as he hesitantly replied. He had followed by the Emperor’s side for so many years and had never seen the Emperor like this. He did not let the Imperial Physician bandage the wound on his hands and just let the blood flow like that. When he entered the Imperial Study, he only said, “Get out.” Gao Jing felt his entire body gone cold. He guessed that at this moment the Emperor did not want to see anyone.
It was fortunate that Prime Minister Lou did not forcefully insist and replied indifferently, “It’s nothing. I will go first.” He then left Zheng Yang Palace. But the Prime Minister Lou’s face which was usually smiling warmly, was infected by the moodiness.
Zhuo Qing accompanied Qing Feng in Qing Feng Hall but when it was almost time for the Palace gates to close, Qing Feng had yet to wake thus Zhuo Qing had no choice but to leave. The winter nights came especially early thus when Zhuo Qing walked out of the Palace gates, the skies were dark and the red lanterns by the Palace gates lit the road in a sea of red. In the middle of the red light, there was a familiar horse carriage stopped not too far away and a tall figure stood on the road beside the carriage and there was the usual warm smile on the face.
Seeing Lou Xi Yan, Zhuo Qing quickened her pace, “Why did you come?”
Lou Xi Yan looked at her and that cool voiced was filled with warmth, “To fetch you home.”
It was rare that Zhuo Qing held his hands and spoke gloomily, “Xi Yan, can we walk?” Even though she has seen so much death, what happened today was like a rock weighting down on her heart and made her terribly depressed.
Placing her hand in his palm, Lou Xi Yan softly replied, “Alright.”
As it was almost about to enter the twelfth lunar month, the wind at night cut the faces, making it painful. There were gradually lesser people on the streets as two of them silently walked.
“The child… Is gone.” Zhuo Qing only said those few words after a long time. Lou Xi Yan tightened the hand holding her as he calmly responded, “I know.”
The night wind whistled as it scratched pass their ears and it made both of their clothes fluttered. Zhuo Qing suddenly stopped and as Lou Xi Yan knew that she had something to say, he also stopped. Zhuo Qing thought for a while before saying, “I felt that the child’s cause of death is suspicious.”
A flash crossed that long and narrow eyes, “What have you discovered?”
“When I rushed over, the body was already cold. From the stage of the livor mortis, the child was dead for at least 1 shichen (1 shichen = 2 hours). His face was dark red, lips was dark purple and it seems that it looks seventh tenth that it was a respiratory failure caused by the fever. But I have discovered that the colour of the livor mortis was actually greyish beige in colour.”
She emphasised on the colour of the livor mortis… Lou Xi Yan’s voice was forcefully lowered, “Are you saying that the Prince was poisoned to death?”
Zhuo Qing reluctantly shook her head, “This was not entirely confirmed. The child is too young and it is possible that there are other complication that caused the death. Now that there are doubts existed, can we request to provide an autopsy for the child?” Like that, she would be able to determine the cause of death!
Zhuo Qing felt emotionally pressed for the child’s autopsy to be done and thus her voice could not help but sounded a little high. However seeing Lou Xi Yan’s calm and deep eyes, she knew that she was a lunatic raving. The Imperial Physicians had insisted that the child died due to the illness and the child did indeed had continuous days of fever. There were countless of children dying in Qiong Yue due to fever and from their view, this matter was already very clear, how would they allow her to do an autopsy?!
She always believed that the corpse was the last voice of the death and she would definitely help them to say the words out but to not be able to do it now made her felt frustrated. She cannot perform the autopsy and the dregs were gone. Zhuo Qing felt completely useless and could not help but sighed softly, “It would be good if she was here.”
The sudden burst of wind made Zhuo Qing shudder and thinking that Xi Yan’s health was all along not good, Zhuo Qing lead Xi Yan back to the horse carriage but only realised after taking two steps that he was still standing in the same spot.
Zhuo Qing finally noticed that Lou Xi Yan had been very quiet the entire night. He appeared to be listening to her but that slightly narrowed eyes made one unable to figure out what he was thinking. Zhuo Qing asked him in a whispered, “What are you thinking?”
Lowering his head to look at her, Lou Xi Yan lightly coughed and smiled, “Nothing. Naturally listening to Furen’s words.”
Zhuo Qing gave a look of disbelief which made Lou Xi Yan smiled as he continued, “This time Qing Mo accompanied General Su to besiege the pirates and it is considered to be dangerous, thus by informing her now, it would affect her and at the same time affect General Su.”
He actually heard her words?! Thinking of a moment, Zhuo Qing replied, “Then… I will now send someone to the East Sea and wait in Mao City till their victory before informing her.”
Zhuo Qing’s facial expression was still not very good and her brows were filled with concern and weariness. After holding hands for a very long time, it was still very cold. Lou Xi Yan gently held on her shoulders and consoled her, “Don’t worry too much, it will all pass.”
This particular day was especially tiring. As Zhuo Qing gently lean against Lou Xi Yan’s embrace, she was currently most worried about Qing Feng. From her behaviour in the afternoon, the blow of pain from the death of her child was truly too great.
Patting gently the person in his embrace, the smile on Lou Xi Yan face was long gone. The thing that he was most worried about at that moment was obviously someone else.
The time to light the lanterns had arrive and the originally Inner Palace that would be bustling with noise and excitement was especially lonely tonight. In the empty Palace roads, there was only a few people walking around. The whistling wind cut through the dry night and made a rustling sound on the ground. According to Qiong Yue’s traditions, the funeral arrangements for premature end of a child was not to be held grandly, therefore only Qing Feng Hall and Chu Xiu Palace had white cloth hung up.
When Ming Ze entered the Palace for his duty, he then came to be aware that the Little Prince met a premature end and his heart could not help but worry for that female who view her family as her life, and his pace increased. When he rushed over to Qing Feng Hall, he saw that there were white fabric hanging from the door and there were two large white lanterns hung. Ming Ze was in a trance for a moment, when he left this morning, this place was packed with warmth and peace but now at this moment it was so lifeless.
Pushing open that heavy large doors, he did not hear any crying voices and the entire Qing Feng Hall was unusually quiet. According to the Palace’s rumours, the Prince met a premature end and Imperial Concubine Qing went crazy due to extreme sadness, bit the Emperor and after that fainted. He did not believe that female who was badly bruised and was imprison in the Imperial Prisons would be this fragile and gone insane like this. But seeing the seeming dead palace, perhaps she had fainted and have yet to wake up.
Ming Ze wanted to go in to take a look at her but he was fully aware that he was of no position to do so and could only lean against that cold main door guarding that small courtyard.
The night had got later and the wind that blew throughout the night got much smaller. Fu Ling pushed open the room door and walked out. Taking a deep breath, that ice cold air entered her lungs and pierce her heart and her heavy mind seemed to have awaken a little. Seeing this deserted courtyard, Fu Ling’s heart became sore. Because she was afraid that Mistress would be provoked, she had already sent the old mamas and wet nurses back to the Imperial Household and even temporarily allowed Lan-er and Xia Yin to leave, retaining Ru Yi and a few mamas for rougher chores. She now worried that Mistress would not wake up and even if she woke up, she would keep thinking of the Little Prince lovable and naïve look, his giggling and laughter and her heart would be so painful like it was run over by a rock. As the birth mother, how would Mistress be able to withstand such heart-piercing pain?
She originally thought that the future days should be better than before but now there was actually such a thing that happened. Will happiness still return?
Rubbing that frosty and somewhat stiff hands, Fu Ling looked up at that black scene. There was no stars and no moon, just like a big black net that made one suffocate.
Ming Ze already discover Fu Ling when she just came out and saw her standing in the wind staring blankly at the skies. He thought of the first time he noticed about this person. It was because of her strange behaviour on the day when the Emperor first graced Imperial Concubine Qing. She was also like this blankly walked around the big tree in the courtyard the entire night. At that time, he found that this person was weird and also quite admire her perseverance but now he thought that she was also worried about that person.
She kept rubbing both of her hands till they were red but she still stared at the skies foolishly. There was a hint of frustration in Ming Ze’s face and that person who was standing motionlessly for the entire night finally walked into that small courtyard but he did not approach Fu Ling and only stop two to three Zhang (1 Zhang = 10 feet) from her.
When she felt that a shadow was getting nearer to her, Fu Ling finally recovered and looked over with some panic. After clearly seeing that cold face, the unsettled feeling in her heart magically healed. Looking at that tall figure that stopped not far away, a spell seems to be cast on Fu Ling as she walked towards him.
Fu Ling only realised her lack of manners around Ming Ze but then she did not know what should she say. Fortunately he spoke, “Awake?”
Fu Ling froze for a moment before understanding what he was asking. She shook her head gently and replied, “No.”
Both of their hearts felt heavy and they did not have any desire to talk. In the ice cold night, other of them just stood there without speaking. When Fu Ling look up again, she saw that in the dark skies, it seems to be filled with little white cotton. The white cotton felt cold as it landed on her face, stinging it.
“It’s snowing?” Fu Ling whisper to herself as she reach her hands out to catch the falling snow. The snow was not large and it quickly melted into water when it landed on her hand. Fu Ling stared at the thin water vapour on her hand and whispered, “So cold.” She thought that there would not be snow in this year’s winter but did not think that it still fell. In this kind of night, this coldness was even more biting.
She was only wearing a thin layer of coat and because she had stand in the winter night for too long, her nose became red and she even dared to reach her hand out to catch the falling show, it would be strange if it was not cold. Ming Ze slightly frowned, “Go into the house if it is cold.”
His voice was as cold as usual but she did not know why but Fu Ling currently did not want to go back to the warm but suffocating room. Fu Ling headed to the other side of Ming Ze and let him block the cold wind before replying, “It is better like this.”
Ming Ze’s good looking and sharp brows twisted and that usually deadpan face had a very light angry expression. Ming Ze glared at Fu Ling and was about to retreat back to the door and not be bothered about this female. Just as his feet moved, suddenly there was a shout coming out from the quiet house, “Your Ladyship!”
Ru Yi’s frightened shout surprised both of them outside. Both of them exchanged a look and Fu Ling ran back in. Ming Ze hesitated for a while before following in. This was his first time entering this house since he came to Qing Feng Hall.