Qinglian Chronicles - LightNovelsOnl.com
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[This translation contains links to reference material. If you don't see any links, then this copy is stolen, and you need to be reading it at chichilations.
As always, thank you for the likes and comments. I'm not too talkative, but I do enjoy reading them…]
The imperial doctor still hasn't hurried in. My hands and feet have gone cold as ice. I haven't yet noticed that I'm shaking. I scramble in to examine the Emperor: he's half-conscious and coughing endlessly, having great difficulty breathing, his little face pale and ashen with a morbid splash of dark red, the tips of his fingers trembling.
Seeing that last symptom, I suddenly had a thought. I pried open his mouth to smell it – sure enough, there's a faint metallic scent, and his gums are oozing blood.
This is an archetypal heavy metal poisoning, which is 9 times out of 10 from mercury!
It was in this moment that I'm truly grateful for that first-aid summer camp that I had attended when I was studying in the United States.
“Go get !” I spoke lowly to the maids and eunuchs who were unable to think from the fright.
A eunuch flew out and flew back, and I took them quickly. I know that a 2% sodium bicarbonate solution would have a better effect, but I don't know what kind of soil extraction method to use in such an era to get it.
Whatever, first we'll pour down the egg whites and milk. Fortunately, the Emperor can still swallow, calming my heart a little.
A moment late, the Emperor opened his eyes and began to vomit. Following that, he weakly closed his eyes again.
Seems I was just in time.
I sighed a bit in relief, picking him up and carrying him in my arms. Only right now do I discover the difference in strength between men and women: if it was the old me, lifting such a big kid would be very strenuous, and even though this current body is that of a rather weak man, holding the Emperor is still pretty easy.
“Don't let anyone else into the Emperor's chambers!” I tell a palace maid who was doing nothing but standing there like a tree.
The maid returned to her senses and nodded repeatedly. “Yes, Sir Zhang.”
The Emperor's bedroom was in the . It's an enormous s.p.a.ce, but when I entered it, I couldn't help but stare blankly.
The lighting is very dim, though particles of dust can be seen flying about in the gloomy air. All of the furniture is made of red sandalwood; their delicateness and gorgeousness goes without saying, but each piece has at least a hundred years of history behind it, making them stately, grand, and important. The bright yellow mattress, curtains, and so on seem a little unappealingly old, seeing some good use over the years.
Looking at this gorgeous, stately, gloomy monarch's quarters that gives off the smell of dust and rot, I bring to mind the rooms of modern day middle-cla.s.s children. Big plastic lamps, beds from IKEA catalogs, all sorts of fluffy toys, brightly-colored decorations, and the fragrance of wood and sunlight in the air. Looking down at the pale little face of the child in my arms, and feeling that light body weight that alarms the me who is unused to physical contact with children… I don't know why, but my nose aches, and I nearly start to cry.
I placed the Emperor gently on the bed. His tiny body lying on a surface that was big enough for three adults to do so makes him look even more young and fragile. He's really only a little bit big.
And when I unintentionally glanced at the bedding and found a very small tear in it, it took all of my self-control not to fly into a thunderous rage.
I know that the Emperor has lost both his parents, is very young in age, and has no real authority, so he was bound to have many hards.h.i.+ps and miseries living in this entirely sinister palace. I just didn't expect that these evil peons would dare to be so lazy and negligent!
The magnificent Emperor of a large country is actually allowed to sleep on frayed bedding… if this is happening, what was the Emperor's everyday life like in the palace? How could he fight for his own position and interests? He's only a seven-year-old child!
That last time, Eunuch w.a.n.g had said that nursemaid Liu had been too controlling of the Emperor, and he'd finally used his imperial power to expel her from the Yangxin Hall. How could that woman get to be so aggressively overbearing? How did it come to that? Who isn't keeping the servants in check, making the seven-year-old Emperor have to rise up and rebel?
I'm so p.i.s.sed, my teeth are itching!
I'm barely able to hold back my anger after much difficulty, and took a look at the little Emperor. His eyes are still tightly closed. I begin to think seriously about this matter: who'd want to kill the Emperor? This is certainly the work of someone nearby. Was there poison in the tea? Why am I alright? The custom in the palace is that the Emperor's food must be tested for poison by someone else first… the Weiqi and Qingliu would have no motive to poison him. Even if I had planned it due to wanting to usurp the throne, the helpers under my control would never have dared to do so while I was here…
Could it be that… someone's wanting to s.h.i.+ft the blame onto me?
My heart goes cold. This is some big trouble! The Emperor was poisoned and I was at the scene, even a dip into the Yellow River couldn't wash that off!
The Qingliu are unlikely to use a trick like this, so I'm 90% sure it's the Weiqi's work! Maybe it's something that nursemaid Liu did!
Or is it that the other person meant the poison for me, and the Emperor took it by mistake?
Just as my thoughts were becoming more and more weighty and heart-chilling, Eunuch w.a.n.g hastily brought in an old coot with a white beard who certainly looked like a royal doctor would.
My mood is horrid and resentful, so I couldn't stop myself from being furious when I saw him. “Why are you here?!”
Fortunately, Eunuch w.a.n.g knew that the situation was critical and didn't think too much of it, only panting and wiping off his sweat. “When you ran from the royal study, I knew you would have come back here… Doctor Lin, hurry! Hurry!”
The whitebeard didn't need his reminder. He'd already checked the Emperor's pulse and looked at his tongue. Starting to pen up a prescription, he whispered, “The Emperor's… illness, isn't serious. It was fortunately discovered early on, and it wasn't a large amount of toxin, so it did not get too deep… Sir Zhang knows to use milk and eggs for detoxification, he seems to be skilled in medicine!”
“No need to compliment me,” I reply. “It was just a folk remedy I heard from the populace.”
Royal Doctor Lin strokes his long white beard and says, “So there are many folk remedies with miraculous effects, it seems. The Emperor's life is luckily no longer in peril, he only needs to follow my prescription and be nursed back to health for a few months. — And it's thanks to the Emperor's flood of good fortune that Sir Zhang is so knowledgable.”
I said a few more modesties, took the prescription and pa.s.sed it over to a young eunuch to decoct. Glancing at in in pa.s.sing, I see that there's a lot of licorice roots and mung beans and the like, which are all actually quite effective for dealing with heavy metal poison. Seems this Ol' Doc Lin is no quack.
The imperial doctor leaves. My face is ashen. I tell w.a.n.g Fugui, “Eunuch w.a.n.g, this is no trivial matter. Seize everyone that was serving in the proximity today and take them to the prison. The leftover tea from the royal study needs to be tested for poison. Declare this an intrpalace incident and get the people from the Office of the Imperial Lineage and Sir Gao from the Ministry of Justice to come here and investigate this together. ——Oh, and that wet nurse Liu musn't be forgotten. Get her too.”
Hearing that they were to be apprehended, several of the surrounding eunuchs and maids knelt on the ground in fright, weeping and calling out. “Spare us, Sir Zhang!” “Eunuch w.a.n.g, have mercy on this slave!”
w.a.n.g Fugui ignored them, only wondering, “Wet nurse Liu is also to be taken in? She's already been driven out of Yangxin Hall.”
I have already determined that the Weiqi are trying to set me up. I huff coldly and say, “Who's to say that she doesn't harbor resentment? Perhaps she prompted a servant to do it!”
w.a.n.g Fugui suddenly saw the light. “So that's how it is!” He went to call for the imperial guards to lock people up.
Unexpectedly, the weak sound of someone saying “halt” came from behind me. I looked back to see the little Emperor trying his best to prop his body up into a sitting position.
I quickly stepped forward to support him. His voice was feeble as he said, “Beloved Subject Zhang, they are all uninvolved in this.”
I'm a bit surprised, so I ask, “How does the Emperor know that they're not?”
He wanted to say something, but could only well up with tears as he coughed hard enough to rend apart his lungs. My heart inevitably hurt for him, and I rubbed his back.
“Does the Emperor know who did it?”
He nodded hard as he coughed.
My heart skips a beat. Can it be that he's already under the impression that it's my doing?
The Emperor had a hard time suppressing his coughing fit. He whispered, “Beloved Subject Zhang, tell them all to go out.”
I nod, then say to w.a.n.g Fugui, “Eunuch w.a.n.g, take them all out with you now.”
“Yes,” he replied. He waved for everyone kneeling down to get up, filed them all into a line, then led them out the door.
I'm still holding him upright. Seeing that he was without strength, I say, “Your Majesty, you can lie down while saying what you have to say.” I supported him with a pillow, having him lean back on it.
“Your Majesty really knows who poisoned you?” In the meantime, I'm inwardly praying that he doesn't point at my nose and say ‘The murderer is you.'
The little Emperor doesn't speak, seemingly exhausted. His eyes are closed, and it was still a little hard for him to breathe, his ghastly pale face still having some brilliant red from the lack of oxygen and tiny chest urgently rising and falling.
I can't stop myself from speaking up again. “Emperor…”
“It was me.” He suddenly gasped out two words, then shut his mouth tight.
I'm thoroughly struck dumb.
Has this child gone delirious?
The Emperor opened his eyes, saw my stupefaction, sighed, and struggled to get to a hiding place under his pillow. He fished out a small bottle and stuffed it into my hands, saying, “I've been taking this for a while. Mother Empress gave it to me when she was alive… I wasn't being careful this morning and took a bit too much.”
I uncorked it, took a whiff, and my complexion changed dramatically. “Your Majesty, you…”
“Mother Empress said that she couldn't protect me in the future. Beloved Subject Zhang would want to kill us sooner or later for our position… I drink a bit of this every day, to not have to worry that you'll secretly poison me.”
All of my blood goes cold. It takes me forever to squeeze out a few hoa.r.s.e words from my throat, “Why… would Your Majesty tell this servant that now?”
“Father Emperor once said to me, that men must take responsibility for their actions, and not allow others to be scapegoats. Those servants are no good, but they're not guilty.”
Ah, did that unwise ruler say such a thing?
The Emperor gave me a fleeting glance, then lowered his eyes and whispered, “Furthermore, we don't believe that Beloved Subject Zhang is how Mother Empress and the others say he is.”
In that moment, as I was reflected in those increasingly black eyes on the Emperor's pale face, I saw the wings of an angel.
I couldn't restrain myself, suddenly embracing the Emperor's small frame and holding him close. He was startled, body freezing up, and hesitantly extended a little hand to push me away, yet it stopped in midair.
When my tears started dripping onto his face, he reacted as if he'd just been burned, but then he calmed down, his body slowly relaxing, and eyes closing as he leaned into my arms.
“Your Majesty, I will never hurt you… and I won't let anyone else hurt you either…” I hate how the uncontrollable physiological response of the lacrimal gland spreads to my voice and makes it unpleasantly nasally. This is why… I hate crying in front of people the most.
The Emperor said nothing, just grasping my sleeve firmly with his tiny hand.
I can't help but hug him even tighter, gently rubbing his forehead with my cheek. Hm, the little Emperor still has a faint childish scent on him.
We don't say a word for a very long time.
“Beloved Subject Zhang, can you hold us for a while more?”
“Alright, Your Majesty.”
“…In fact, we wouldn't see Father Emperor and Mother Empress more than a few times a year… Mother Empress, she… never hugged me.”
I didn't respond, holding him tighter and tighter.
“Beloved Subject Zhang, you really won't kill us?”
“Never, Your Majesty. This servant would rather be dead than hurt you.”
The Emperor took a long sigh and loosened up. “Very good. We had recently antic.i.p.ated that Beloved Subject Zhang would want to kill us, and our chest would hurt.”
“If you don't mind, would it be alright if this servant accompanied you every day?”
“You can't take that medicine anymore.”
“Beloved Subject Zhang, our chest hurts.”
It's sternal pain from the mercury poisoning. Poor kid.
I know that what he wants to say the most is “Mom, my chest hurts”, like many children under this same sky.
My heart faintly aching with tenderness, I gently rubbed his chest for him. He sighed in contentment, slowly dozing off.
I waited until he fully fell asleep, then left.
Eunuch w.a.n.g and the rest are still waiting outside. My face is cold as I spoke, “The Emperor's imperial edict is that this matter is closed. With so few people on the scene, news of this has not spread to the outside. As that hasn't happened, if you all want to keep your heads, keep your mouths shut tight!”
The maids and eunuchs are visibly cheerful, repeatedly voicing their agreement.
“If I hear even the tiniest rumor on the outside, there isn't any one of you that'll be left alive!” I added another sentence, austerity written on my face.
Everyone says “we wouldn't dare”.
I ease up my expression. “It isn't that this official wants to make things difficult for you all. This simply affects too much, and no one can afford it.”
Everyone again expressed their understanding, saying some words of flattery and grat.i.tude.
I know that the Weiqi and Qingliu will probably use this as evidence that I intend to commit regicide and take the throne, but a) it's too late to silence people and b) I really couldn't stomach doing that anyways.
This was just something I had to do.
Turns out… the baby poisoned the baby… oh no ? Anyways, congratulations on your new, better mom, little man.