Mysteries in the Imperial Harem: Chapter 98
Chapter 98: Mourning
Haishi (modern timing: 9 – 11 pm) had passed and the Lan Yue Building was still brightly lit with candles. Zhuo Qing sat in the study, with a look of contemplation as she look at the handkerchief that was cut to several pieces and placed neatly on the table.
In these days, Fu Ling no longer come looking for her. From what Lou Xi Yan said, Qing Feng woke up the next day after fainting, after which she had been kneeling at Chu Xui Palace to accompany the child. Her current situation was unknown and Zhuo Qing also dare not hastily enter the Palace. The past few days she was thinking of ways to differentiate what the child’s saliva consist of, but there was no chemical agents or equipment which made the difficulty even higher. Currently she was only able to determine that there was some composition of nitrite but the amount was not large. If there were some nitrite in the child’s mouth, it meant that the possibility of death by poison would be significantly higher but this amount should not lead to death and she was unable to quantify the other chemicals.
That bowl of medicine was perhaps the key. If the dregs can be found…
Zhuo Qing was deep in thoughts when suddenly her shoulders got heavier before she recovered herself. When Zhuo Qing look over, Lou Xi Yan was smiling at her with some blame in his eyes. Zhuo Qing shrugged, the people here sleep around eight at night and for her it was too difficult to sleep this early.
Zhuo Qing got up and held onto the cooling hand that was placed on her shoulders and said with some grief, “I really cannot sleep…”
Lou Xi Yan shook his head reluctantly and did not speak as he took a dark coloured token from his robes and handed it over to her.
“This is?” This token was larger than the token that Qing Feng gave it to her and the carvings on it was beautifully detailed.
“The Emperor gave this token and allowed you to enter the Palace once every three days to accompany Qing Feng.”
That’s good. At least she was able to see Qing Feng’s situation and if possible, also take a trip to the Medical Court.
Thinking about the Medical Court, Zhuo Qing pulled Lou Xi Yan to the table and pointed to the handkerchief that had turned colour due to some experiments and said, “Xi Yan, look at this. There are poison on the handkerchief. The child’s death is definitely suspicious. Is it possible…”
Lou Xi Yan gently shook his head and sighed, “The Prince’s body is already placed in the coffin and was buried in the Imperial Tombs yesterday.”
What? Already buried? Zhuo Qing got a little angry, “How could Yan Hong Tian do that? Unless it was true that…” Feeling Lou Xi Yan’s hand around her waist tightened as he said in a muffled voice, “The matter is now ended. Observe and wait.”
Lou Xi Yan’s tired voice made Zhuo Qing swallowed what she wanted to say and she place the token at the side of the study desk. Zhuo Qing pulled his hand over and asked as she take his pulse, “Very tired?”
For the past few months she had been studying up on Traditional Medicine and it was fortunate that she had the basic knowledge of medicine and could often have opportunities to communicate with famous physicians in the capital. After a few months, she was able to take some simple pulse.
Seeing Zhuo Qing focusing on taking his pulse, there was a smile on Lou Xi Yan’s lips and answered lowly, “En.”
Reading that his pulse was fairly stable, Zhuo Qing then released her hand. “Your body cannot withstand too much tiredness.” Asthma can be considered a rich man’s sickness and it would soon be spring, thus she was worried that he would have an asthma attack again.
“Yes Furen.” Lou Xi Yan once again let her into his arms and whispered, “Didn’t Furen just said that she cannot sleep? It is just as well as I am not too sleepy. It would be better to…”
“Let’s go back to the room and be romantic.”
Zhuo Qing’s face redden and at the same time had some feelings of unable to cry or laugh. That year she did not explain the meaning of romantic. It was truly… A tragedy…
The snow had fallen eloquently for five to six days, even though it was not considered heavy, but the entire capital seemed to be covered by a silver white coat.
Zhuo Qing left the house with Lou Xi Yan early in the morning. He went to court and she rushed over to see Qing Feng. With Yan Hong Tian’s token, there was nothing preventing her when she entered the Palace. As she walked on the quiet palace road, there were some palace maids and eunuchs that passed by her. Every one of them lowered their heads and when they were near her, formed a neat line to bow before leaving in a hurry. Seeing all those puppet like people, Zhuo Qing felt stuffy and her pace to Qing Feng Hall also increased.
Daybreak had just passed and the reason why Zhuo Qing came so early was to chat with Fu Ling first to ask about Qing Feng’s condition but she did not think that when she reached the main doors of Qing Feng Hall, the main doors were already half opened. Peering into the half-opened door, Zhuo Qing could see a slender figure standing in the middle of the courtyard, as if that person was part of the snowing scene.
Before Zhuo Qing could enter Qing Feng Hall, she could feel a fierce look landing onto her. She looked over and saw that it was from a male cladded in a guard uniform. After seeing her clearly, that male withdraw his line of sight. That fairly handsome face showed no expression and he did not stop her or give way when Zhuo Qing walked nearer.
Zhuo Qing felt that this person was quite interesting and took a few more looks at him. He just stood there silently as if Zhuo Qing did not exist. Zhuo Qing raised her eyebrows slightly but did not look more of him and push open another door to enter.
Hearing the sound of the door, Fu Ling looked back and saw Zhuo Qing opening. Her heart was delighted as she hastened to welcome her, “Lou Furen.”
Zhuo Qing nodded her head but Qing Feng who was in the garden seemed not to see or speak and just look in front woodenly. Her face was greyish and her eyes were bleak.
Zhuo Qing frowned, “How long has she been like this?”
The rims of Fu Ling’s eyes were somewhat red, “Mistress accompany the Little Prince until yesterday’s burial. After that, she had been standing like this in the snow. No matter how this servant persuade was also useless.”
“She stood for the entire night?” Zhuo Qing was apprehensive.
Fu Ling gently nodded her head, “En.”
This person was indeed stubborn enough. Zhuo Qing felt angry at this kind of behaviour that did not cherish their own body but she knew that this was not a time to be angry. Zhuo Qing walked to Qing Feng but that pair of gloomy eyes did not even move. Zhuo Qing was not anxious and just softly called out, “Qing Feng.”
Qing Feng did not bothered about her but Zhuo Qing continued calling, “Qing Feng, I am here to see you.” Finishing, Zhuo Qing lightly held Qing Feng’s hands. When she just held on to them, Zhuo Qing immediately shivered it seemed that she was holding a block of ice. Zhuo Qing looked down and found that both hands were wrapped up in cloth.
She was injured? Zhuo Qing looked at Fu Ling. Fu Ling opened her mouth but she did not say a single word. Zhuo Qing did not continue to look at her and just called out gently Qing Feng’s name continuously.
After calling out for more than ten times, that person who was like an ice sculpture finally moved a little. The bloodshot eyes look intently at Zhuo Qing for a while before calmly replying, “You have come.”
Zhuo Qing was secretly relieved, “The weather is cold, let’s go in and talk.” Finishing, Zhuo Qing held Qing Feng’s hand and slowly walked back to the house. This time Qing Feng did not resist and followed Zhuo Qing back into the house. Fu Ling wiped the tears from the corner of her eyes and hurriedly followed. She had stood frozenly for the entire night and since she walked too quickly, she almost fell.
Ming Ze saw that figure stumbling and a trace of irritation flash across his eyes but it soon restored the usual calmness.
Zhuo Qing supporting Qing Feng into the inner chamber and helped her to changed out of her external coat and gave her a warmer for her hands and knees. When it was all done, Ru Yi brought in breakfast. Fu Ling wanted to come forward to take over but Zhuo Qing lightly pat on her shoulders and said, “Let me do it. You should go and change and warm up your knees.”
“This servant…” Fu Ling shook her head but before she could finish, Zhuo Qing interrupted, “Quickly go. Come back after tidying up. She still need you to take care and if you are unable to take care of yourself, how would you be able to take care of her.”
Fu Ling hesitated a while and looked at the expressionless Qing Feng again before finally nodding her head, “Yes.”
Qing Feng’s hands were wrapped up tightly so Zhuo Qing took the bowl of porridge over and filled a spoonful to bring it to her mouth, “Drink some porridge.”
“I have something to ask.” Qing Feng disregard the warm porridge by her lips and her voice was as cold as the snow outside the window.
Zhuo Qing’s spoon went forward a little as she replied, “Drink some porridge first.”
Qing Feng was silent for a moment before she opened her mouth to drink the porridge. Neither one of them talked and Qing Feng went through the motion to drink the entire bowl of porridge down. During that period of time, her eyes kept staring unblinkingly at Zhuo Qing. Zhuo Qing’s heart sighed as she handed the empty bowl to Ru Yi and said, “You can withdraw.”
The atmosphere between both of them did not consist of any warmth between sisters but there were some feelings of confrontation. Ru Yi saw that Qing Feng did not speak and dare not wait any more. She quickly bowed and immediately backed out of there.
Placing a wooden chair in front of Qing Feng to sit down, Zhuo Qing said, “You can ask.”
“How did the child die?”
Zhuo Qing had earlier guessed that Qing Feng would ask her that question but she had not decide on how she would answer. She was unable to perform an autopsy and thus was unable to confirm the cause of the child’s death. Just taking into Qing Feng’s current condition, it would be best that she was not to be provoked in any way.
Zhuo Qing kept her silence and Qing Feng’s pale face got darker by a bit. Her teeth was clenched before it was slowly released, “Don’t lie to me. If even you lie to me, I do not know what else to trust.” The hoarse voice was filled with self-ridicule and sorrow, making Zhuo Qing look up at her. Meeting Qing Feng’s lonely eyes, Zhuo Qing felt even more powerless as she said, “I am not trying to lie to you. It’s just that I do not have enough evidence to draw any conclusion.”
“Then speak of what you are sure of. That day you checked through the child’s… Corpse and took back a handkerchief. Don’t tell me that you cannot determine anything from it.”
Zhuo Qing was secretly surprised. That day Qing Feng was obviously near to collapse but she was able to notice what she had done? Zhuo Qing look at her carefully and seriously. Qing Feng’s eyes were red but was unusually sober. Perhaps… Qing Feng was not as fragile as she thought she was. Her logic was understandable and thoughts were meticulous, since she had asked today, if she was not willing to respond, Zhuo Qing was afraid that she would lose her confidence and in future exchanges would definitely be difficult.
After weighing the consequences, Zhuo Qing at the end spoke the truth, “The child’s death is indeed suspicious. I found some traces of poison in his mouth but was unable to determine what was it or if it cause the child’s death. Since there are poison in the child’s mouth, it means that this was something he ate, thus the bowl of medication was the most suspicious but that day Fu Ling went to search for it and found the dregs missing.”
That means that the child did not die due to illness!
Didn’t she guessed it earlier on? She blamed Yan Hong Tian for not protecting the child but what about her? The child was by her side every day and she was the same, unable to protect her own child. That bowl of medicine… It was her who feed him… Every single mouthful of it…
Zhi-er was just a child… Why was he not spared!
Qing Feng did not speak any more and her eyes were closed so one would not be able to see her current mood but Zhuo Qing was able to feel her pain from the trembling body. As a forensic professional, most of the deceased were all crying out a grievance as they died and she never knew how to comfort the families of the victims, so she would prefer to face the dead bodies than living peopled. Like today, she also did not know how to comfort Qing Feng until she saw the plain white cotton cloth that Qing Feng was tightly clasping her hands with started to be stained with tiny dots of blood.
Zhuo Qing quickly step forward and grabbed her wrist and urgently said, “Qing Feng, calm down a little. I have already sent someone to inform… Youngest Sister. When she return, we will think of ways to investigate. You mustn’t be impulsive and hurt yourself again, else you will lose your own life even before the matter is cleared up.”
Ultimately Qing Feng loosen her grip but it only made Zhuo Qing more worried as she saw the drowning hatred in her eyes when she opened them.
The child had left for almost a month. Xi Yan was busy with don’t know what that he left early in the morning and returned late at night. Every time when he returned, he had an exhausted look on and often looked pensive that the normally indifferent him was recently always frowning. Ever since Qing Feng asked about the cause of the child’s death, she did not ask any more. When she went over to see her, there was no more sharpness or soberness in her eyes as they were immersed in grief. She even took the child’s cradle and placed it in the courtyard and stared dazedly at it all day. Zhuo Qing had prescribed some anti-depressant medication for her but Qing Feng refused to drink. When she talk to her, she also hardly reply. If this continues, her psychological situation can only worsen.
The weather in the early spring was still cold. Zhuo Qing sat at the stone stool by the side of the lakeside of Lan Yue Building and looked into the distant horizon as she ponder about how to treat Qing Feng’s psychological trauma.
“What exactly went on?” A cold female voice suddenly sounded from behind and gave Zhuo Qing a shock. She turned back and saw Gu Yun coolly stood behind her. Yun’s expression was terrible as her face showed exhaustion. Rushing the entire journey back was indeed very tiring. Zhuo Qing pat on the stone stool beside her to indicate her to sit down. She felt relieved as she was finally back.