This chapter has been brought to you by me, and Adnana.
Chapter Eighty-Seven: Poison
What was the biggest rumor going around Jing right now?
It was that when the Crown Princess had been in labor, the evergreen tree by the imperial tomb had been struck by lightning, and that a fire had started in the suburbs of Jing. Phenomena like this did not happen at the birth of someone normal, but it would have been better not to have these things occur.
Someone said that the imperial grandson was a demon and would bring calamity to the entire country. Others said that this was the warning that the heavens and the Yan ancestors were giving because this imperial grandson was not the child of the Crown Prince but born of the adulterous affair between the Crown Princess and Sheng Junwang.
Negative gossip was always more welcome than praise for others, and spread the fastest. The news that the Crown Princess had committed adultery and given birth to a demon spread through the entire country. In some remote places, the rumor had become the Crown Princess having illicit relations with a feral man and giving birth to a monster that would bring calamity.
People did not completely believe in monsters and demons, but definitely feared them. Also, the rumors about the imperial grandson were so detailed that even the people who did not originally believe them started to believe them.
“So the rumors outside say that the imperial grandson has three eyes, six arms, black skin, and fangs?” Hua Xi Wan sipped tea, and laughed, covering her mouth with a fan. “What is all this nonsense?”
Hong Ying said with a smile, “The people outside have not seen the imperial grandson. Isn’t it normal for the rumors to get exaggerated as they spread?”
Hua Xi Wan smiled. However, when she turned her head, she thought, this was such a coincidence. Just as the thunderstorm seemed to be coming, the Crown Princess went into labor. There were so many places the lightning could strike—why did it strike the evergreen tree by the imperial tomb? Also, the buildings had been burned down, but no one had been hurt. It was as though someone had known there would be a fire and saved the people beforehand.
“Bai Xia, when the fire started, who saved the people in the buildings?” Hua Xi Wan covered her lower belly lightly. Today, her monthlies had come. Not only could she not eat ice, she wasn’t even allowed to have ice in the room. This was both hot and uncomfortable; she felt uncomfortable all over.
“I heard it was the Guard Office patrol that coincidentally passed by and saved the people. It is a pity that the fire was too strong, and so while the people were saved, the buildings were burned.” Bai Xia knew that Hua Xi Wan had a hard time with the heat and got hot water to wipe Hua Xi Wan’s hands and face to lower her temperature. She wrung out the handkerchief and handed it to Hua Xi Wan. She continued, “It is so coincidental—this Guard Official patrol used to be under the command of Official Zhang Hou. After Official Zhang Hou went to the Judicial Office, his second-in-command took his spot.”
“Zhang Hou?” When this person was mentioned, what Hua Xi Wan thought of first was that honest face and upright figure. “I heard that he was slighted greatly in the Judicial Office. How is he now?”
“A few days ago, someone criticized the Chief Justice. He was stripped of his role and Official Zhang Hou took over. Now he is the Chief Justice.” Bai Xia took the handkerchief that Hua Xi Wan had used. “The people all say that Official Zhang is a stupid person but a lucky one. They forget how just a short time ago they laughed that Official Zhang was too stubborn and did not recognize what was good for him.”
“People are always like this.” After wiping her neck and arms, Hua Xi Wan felt that her body wasn’t so sticky anymore. She said in a good mood, “I think that this Zhang Hou has pretty good luck.”
She looked outside the door. Wind suddenly gusted strongly. It seemed as though a great storm was about to come again.
“Has Wang Ye returned to the fu?” She suddenly recalled that Yan Jin Qiu seemed to have been very busy recently. Even though he squeezed out time every day to accompany her, from the speed with which he fell asleep at night, the energy and attention he was using recently were multiple what they were usually.
“This servant doesn’t know; this servant will go and ask.” Bai Xia looked at the banana tree that was swaying in the wind and handed the basin of water to Hong Ying. She prepared to leave.
“It is about to rain, do not leave.” Hua Xi Wan walked to the doorway and enjoyed the power nature from the wild wind. Then she pointed at Yan Jin Qiu who was coming from afar with flapping clothes. “Isn’t he coming back now?”
Bai Xia turned around to look. She saw Wang Ye walking over with a few attendants, and moved to stand at the side with a smile.
“The wind is so strong—what are you standing at the door for?” Yan Jin Qiu touched Hua Xi Wan’s fingertip when he came in. He found that there was a thin layer of cold sweat on her and asked worriedly, “You are having a cold sweat in such heat—are you well?”
“I was too hot, so I wanted to feel the wind by the door.” Hua Xi Wan whispered in his ear, and after seeing his expression become unnatural, she touched her belly and said, “Now do you know what is going on?”
Yan Jin Qiu coughed lightly. He looked at the servants around and waved for them to leave. Then he carried Hua Xi Wan onto the bed before reaching out to lightly massage her belly. “Since you are not comfortable, nap for a while. When it is time for the evening meal, I will wake you.”
Maybe because it was the first time that he was doing such a thing, Yan Jin Qiu’s movements were very unpracticed and awkward. After rubbing while not daring to use too much force and only rubbing at the one spot, he caused Hua Xi Wan to complain. “Are you massaging my stomach for me or scratching an itch?”
Yan Jin Qiu increased the force. After massaging for a while, he saw the breathing of the person on the bed became regular. After she sank into a deep sleep, he lightly took his hand away and covered her with a silk blanket.
The sound of rain splatting came from outside. He walked to the window and saw the banana tree that was vibrating from the wind and rain. He narrowed his eyes in a good mood.
Thunder suddenly reverberated. He abruptly turned back to the bed to look at Hua Xi Wan. Seeing that she had not been startled awake by the thunder, he quickly walked to sit down at the edge of the bed and reached out to pat the hump under the blanket. As he listened to the sounds outside, the gentleness in his eyes could turn people into a puddle.
What the sound of the rain gave people was not irritation but another kind of serenity and peace.
When Hua Xi Wan woke up, she found that someone was sitting beside her. Turning her head, she saw Yan Jin Qiu was leaning against the bedframe and holding a book. She covered her mouth as she yawned and said, “The room is so dark—why are you reading here?”
“No matter, it is calm here.” Yan Jin Qiu threw the book aside and stood up to close the window before sitting back next to Hua Xi Wan. “The meal will be ready soon. Get up and wash your face.” Then, he clapped his hands, and the servants streamed in.
“Why did you close the window? It is so hot.” Hua Xi Wan got off the bed and spread her hands out to let the servant girls help her change.
“You just got up from under the blankets, and it is easy to get ill after sudden changes in temperature. Get dressed first.” Yan Jin Qiu sighed helplessly. “I have ordered the kitchen to make dishes that are light tonight.”
“Oh.” Knowing that it was for her benefit, Hua Xi Wan did not argue. She docilely dressed, and after attiring herself, she had the servant open the window.
She lay by the window and idly felt the wind blow. She did not forget to pull Yan Jin Qiu over to her. “How long has the rain been going?”
“Since soon after you slept.” Yan Jin Qiu reached out to push her hair behind her ear before saying, “You have been staying in the fu these days—don’t you feel it is boring?” Due to the tenseness of the situation, the whole fu was lacking in entertainment. He was worried that Hua Xi Wan would get ill from staying inside all day.
Hua Xi Wan shook her head and said with a smile, “The goal of my life is to eat when I want, sleep when I want, and if I don’t want to go out, that no one can call me out. It is so tiring to go out. It is tiring to be careful when I speak, and when I encounter someone of a higher rank, I have to bow and flatter them. Don’t you find it bothersome?”
“Such a lazy person—I really don’t know how you were raised.” Yan Jin Qiu laughed. “If you don’t like going out, then don’t. In the future, there will be one day when you do not have to bow to anyone.”
Hua Xi Wan: Haha, even if there was a day when he would become the emperor, even if he did not have her bow, there would still be a dowager empress on top. So could she not bow?
“Report! The Empress Dowager is ill!”
Hua Xi Wan swore she had no intentions of cursing the Empress Dowager!
“What is it?” Yan Jin Qiu’s reaction was unexpectedly calm in Hua Xi Wan’s eyes. She silently looked at Mu Tong and suddenly realized that every time something major happened, the person who would report would usually be Mu Tong.
Her gaze moved to Mu Tong and then to Yan Jin Qiu. It seemed that Yan Jin Qiu trusted Mu Tong greatly?
“Seemingly this afternoon, the Empress sent a plate of pastries to the Empress Dowager. Not long after the Empress Dowager ate them, she felt uncomfortable. Before the grand doctor could come, she threw up blood. Not long after the grand doctors came, they discovered that the Empress Dowager was poisoned. The poison was the same as what was in the pastries the Empress had sent.”
The Empress had personally delivered a plate of pastries and poisoned the Empress Dowager? The Empress was not stupid—would she do something so dumb?
It seemed that the Empress had fallen in someone’s trap.
“The Empress?” Hua Xi Wan asked. “Was the Empress imprisoned?”
“The people of the Judicial Office have already sent the Empress into the Heavenly Prison under heavy guard.” Mu Tong stilled. “But the case has not been closed, and the Empress Dowager is unconscious.”
“Prepare the carriage, Wang Fei and I need to go into the palace to visit Imperial Grandmother.” Yan Jin Qiu pulled Hua Xi Wan’s hand. “Let’s go.”
Mu Tong just wanted to remind WangYe that his clothing was wrinkled and that maybe he should change. But then he thought it would be better if Wang Ye did not change.
In the Heavenly Prison, the Empress sat on the bed with unmade hair. She was suspected of poisoning the Empress Dowager, but she was the mother of the country, so no one dared to slight her. She did not lack for anything in the prison. The only thing that she could not do was leave.
The Crown Princess stood outside the bars and looked at the Empress. “Mother-Empress, are you all right? Daughter-in-law has come to visit you.”
The Empress looked coldly at her and did not speak.
“You thought that if you worked on the midwife, you could kill the mother and keep the child?” The Crown Princess sneered. “Not so simple.”
“What do you have to be proud of to have given birth to a demon?” the Empress said disdainfully. “You think that an imperial grandson who was born with a reputation like that can succeed to the throne?”
The Crown Princess was silent for a while before she suddenly said, “I have never thought of having this child fight for the throne. When I married the Crown Prince in the past according to my duties, I never thought of doing such a thing. When you were harsh to me, and I was out of the Crown Prince’s favor, when he laughed and flirted with concubines in front of me, did I ever say an angry word?”
“But even so, you felt that I am good for nothing.” When the Crown Princess spoke, she suddenly smiled. “The Heavens have eyes for you to have ended up like this. In these years, haven’t you done great evil in order to keep the other imperial consorts from having children?”
Translator Ramblings: Just this one chapter in the update. I’ll try to find time in the next few days to get the other two posted for this week.