Chapter 163: Frightened, this is a corpse
A single line from Long Feiye sent Duanmu Yao off in a huff and completely ruined the happy and harmonious family feast. Amidst the silence, Emperor Tianhui smote the table and rose to his feet in anger, further shocking everyone. Even the empress dowager and empress suddenly sucked in their breath.
"Duke of Qin, come with Zhen!" Emperor Tianhui's face was completely black, his tone frigid. Long Feiye remained expressionless as ever as he elegantly rose to his feet and followed Emperor Tianhui out. It was only when both figures disappeared that commotion broke out amongst those seated, along with lots of commentary.
Long Feiye had used the excuse of insufficient free time to reject Duanmu Yao. Although this wasn't completely related to Han Yunxi, his answer to her 'having news' was enough to make her the topic of discussion. Undoubtedly, the Duke of Qin's refusal was great news for Han Yunxi. If Duanmu Yao couldn't enter the Duke of Qin's estate, then Han Yunxi could hold onto her throne as Qin Wangfei.
"Hehe, Han Yunxi sure is lucky. The Duke of Qin was still young when the empress dowager arranged their wedding. If the idea came now, he'd probably refuse her as well."
"That's hard to say. Didn't you hear the Duke of Qin's words just then? It's obvious that he's favored her before. I heard that Han Yunxi lives right in his Hibiscus Courtyard!"
"That doesn't mean anything. I can't believe this woman caught the Duke of Qin's eye. Doesn't she just know some poison skills?"
"There's more than that. You didn't hear about the Plum Blossom Meet? Even Princess Rongle had to acknowledge her inferiority. As I see it, this consort's not that simple!"
Although there were differing opinions, rumors that the Duke of Qin doted on Han Yunxi began spreading from this family feast. Han Yunxi took the chance to quietly slip out amidst the gossip and found a court lady to help her clean up the stains on her clothes.
She hadn't gone for long before the empress dowager asked, "Where's Qin Wangfei?"
"To reply esteemed empress dowager, esteemed wangfei went to take care of the stains on her clothing. Xu mama accompanied her," a court lady reported.
A complicated look flitted past the empress dowager's eyes, but she didn't say anything. Of course she heard about what happened at the Plum Blossom Meet. Han Yunxi was a girl that she simultaneously loved and hated. Knowing Grand Concubine Yi's personality, she'd undoubtedly cause difficulties for the girl once Duanmu Yao married into the Duke of Qin's estate. She was planning to draw Han Yunxi to her side then. But who knew that this would happen instead? The Duke of Qin made Duanmu Yao unsightly in front of all these people. What would they do if news of it spread to Western Zhou's imperial palace?
The empress dowager knitted her brows, her heart laden with cares. The empress paused for a bit before urging her under her breath, "Muhou, I think there's still hope."
"How do you say?" the empress dowager replied, not seeing any prospects at all.
"Muhou, when the emperor forever tried to push a marriage before, didn't the Duke of Qin refuse multiple times? Finally, he used an imperial edict to force the Duke of Qin and Grand Concubine Yi to submit," the empress said softly.
At this, the empress dowager's eyebrows relaxed. She would've forgotten about the matter if the empress hadn't brought it up. But on second thought, she felt that its use was inappropriate. Unhappily she said, "Empress, how could you mention Han Yunxi and Princess Rongle in the same breath? We don't even know whether Grand Concubine Yi can even coax her back, it's better for us to go have a look."
Han Yunxi had no sense of integrity nor decorum when she kicked her own sedan chair and delivered herself through the Duke of Qin's gates. Princess Rongle was the dignified princess of an entire nation and had made many concessions to gain the Duke of Qin's favor. How could they force him to marry her? Wouldn't that turn Western Zhou's imperial house into a laughingstock?
The empress rose to accompany her. "Muhou, Princess Rongle is the Duke of Qin's junior sister. Although they can't be considered childhood sweethearts, they've known each other since they were young. As chenqie sees it, as long as the Duke of Qin nods his head, Princess Rongle will forgive everything that happened here today. Later, chenqie will exhort everyone else not to breathe of word of tonight's events!"
The empress dowager nodded, and the two went towards the east.
At the same time, Han Yunxi was taking care of her clothing in the palace's western wing. The better lighting of the room revealed that the soup had stained a large section of her clothing that was impossible to clean off. Thankfully, everyone had spare sets of clothing prepared for the banquet.
"Xu mama, help me bring over some new clothes."
"This old servant will bring them here immediately, may esteemed wangfei wait in the meantime."
"There's no rush. I'm tired, so I plan to rest for awhile."
When Xu mama closed the door and left, Han Yunxi lay down lazily on the long bench. She wasn't tired, but she wanted to use an excuse to stay here. It wouldn't be very interesting to go back. Chances were that both Long Feiye and Grand Concubine Yi would find themselves hard-pressed to leave after all that had happened. After she changed her clothes, she would go home. None of this had anything to do with her, anyways. Thinking back, Long Feiye had only spoken two lines tonight, but it'd caused a great uproar. She wasn't sure how Emperor Tianhui was going to manage him, but Long Feiye must have some self-assurance to do things this way.
Han Yunxi didn't even realize that her lips were curving up in thought, or that her mood was excellent. She was secretly rejoicing when she suddenly heard crashing sounds from next door, as if someone had knocked over quite a few things.
Han Yunxi rose and listened closely, but heard nothing else.
She didn't think twice before getting up and going over to see what was the matter. Unexpectedly, she saw a giant rack filled with decorations had been knocked over in the room when she pushed open the door. Various famous, rare, and precious ornaments were smashed on the floor, while Princess Changping lay in their midst with her back facing the air. It wasn't clear where she'd been injured, but there was blood flowing everywhere.
"Changping!" Han Yunxi cried out. Her first reaction was to run over and rescue her. Even though she and Changping were enemies with a grudge, saving lives was more important than anything else!
Quickly, she turned over Princess Changping, only to see she'd knocked her forehead hard enough to draw blood. The bleeding hadn't stopped, but she lay there with her eyes closed as if she was sleeping. Han Yunxi was just going to stop her bleeding when her detox system suddenly sounded out a warning: poison!
Didn't she bump her head? Unless she bumped it after she got poisoned?
How could she have been poisoned? Who poisoned her?
The detox system couldn't immediately identify the type of toxin, which mean that this was no ordinary poison. Han Yunxi had no time to think too much. She immediately started up her scanners to examine her patient, but it wasn't long before she grew dumbstruck. Her face turned ashen pale as her arms holding Princess Changping began to tremble. The scanners had given her an alert that...that this was a corpse. As a result, the scanners started up their systematic program for scanning dead bodies!
She was holding a corpse, so...Princess Changping was dead!
"Ahhh!" With a shriek, Han Yunxi unconsciously pushed Princess Changping aside and stood up, staring at her in disbelief as she backed away. As a doctor, she'd seen her share of life and death, so corpses weren't frightening things.
But! The person before her eyes was...was Princess Changping, the same girl who'd been gamboling about before her just a few days ago. She was actually dead! She'd been poisoned to death! Han Yunxi never expected this to happen, so when she rushed to the rescue, she'd completely overlooked the signs.
How can this be?!
As a doctor, she was naturally sensitive to signs of death, but this had happened too suddenly. Han Yunxi's mind was still blank when a court lady's voice rose from outside the door.
"Princess, I've found the thing you were looking for! Are you still not finished yet? You have to hurry, something's happened at the family feast. Why don't you go take a look..." This was the voice of Princess Changping's personal servant, Shuang Hong.
Han Yunxi unconsciously turned to look out the door and met Shuang Hong's eyes as she skidded to a stop inside. They stared at each other before Shuang Hong screamed. "Ah...someone, come! AHhhhhHHHH....hurry, someone come...!"
Han Yunxi only stood there, not thinking of much as her heart began to pound. Shuang Hong kept shouting as she ran inside and held Princesss Changping. But as soon as she touched her, she realized something was wrong. Her finger trembled as it shifted beneath her nose to check for breathing before she pushed her away in fright, screaming at the top of her lungs.
"Ah...ahHHHHhhh... The princess is dead! Dead!"
By now, a whole crowd of court ladies and eunuchs had arrived. When they saw the scene inside the room, everyone grew flustered and backed away, each and every face ashen pale. Only an older, experienced mama was calm enough to send someone to find an imperial physician, others to report to the empress dowager and empress. The first imperial physician to arrive on the scene was Gu Beiyue. As soon as he saw what had happened and Han Yunxi standing by the door, his gaze grew uneasy.
Shuang Hong saw Gu Beiyue and threw herself at him as if she was clutching at lifesaving straws. "Imperial Physician Gu, the princess, she...the princess...sobsobsob... Hurry and save the princess! She's definitely not dead yet! Definitely not dead!"
It wasn't clear whether Shuang Hong had been scared witless, or if she was just deceiving herself while deceiving others. The changes in a body happened very quickly once it stopped breathing. Princess Changping lay on her back on the ground, her eyes shut and her forehead badly mangled. Her body had already started to turn stiff while her face was completely white. Gu Beiyue could tell at a glance that there was no saving her.
Still, he walked forward to gauge her breathing by placing a finger beneath her nose, took her pulse, and checked for the cause of death. It was at this point that everyone gathered by the door scattered aside to make way for the empress dowager, empress, and Long Tianmo.
"Changping! Changping!" the empress dashed forward. As soon as she saw the person on the ground, her vision turned black and she narrowly avoided collapsing right then and there. Fortunately, Long Tianmo caught her in time.
The empress dowager leaned on her walking stick as a mama supported her by the arm. Her face had turned completely white as her body shook. She almost had trouble standing up straight. Long Tianmo took this all in, both angry and afraid. His tone was ruthless as he demanded, "Gu Beiyue, exactly what happened?"
Gu Beiyue lowered his eyes as he bent down and retreated to one side before kneeling down. "Esteemed Empress Dowager, Esteemed Empress, Your Highness Crown Prince...please restrain your grief!"
"What?!" the empress dowager cried out in alarm. For a second she couldn't catch her breath as her eyes stared, wide and shocked.
"No...no! It can't be! Impossible! You're speaking nonsense! Rubbish!" the empress gave Gu Beiyue a vicious kick and ordered, "Hurry up and save her, save her! If you can't bring her back to life, I'll bury you alive with the dead!"
Gu Beiyue resumed his kneeling position, his voice heavy. "Esteemed Empress, please restrain your grief."
"I don't believe it! I won't! Changping, my daughter! My daughter!" the empress suddenly began to wail as she struggled free from Long Tianmo's arms and threw herself at Princess Changping. She shoved and pushed at the body with all her strength, but the person...truly was dead.
"No! Changping, how could you...how could you abandon muhou?! Changping, just what happened? My daughter! My daughter...sobsobsob..."
In an instant, everyone in the room kneeled down, leaving nothing but the sound of the empress's heartbreaking sobs. Long Tianmo stared at little sister, unable to fathom the sight. "Gu Beiyue, she was perfectly fine. How could she have died?" he demanded.
She was dead, but what was the cause of death?
The wound on her forehead wasn't enough to take a life.
 please restrain your grief () - qing jieai, a phrase used to offer one's condolences (for a death).