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   Chapter 73 Before The Storm

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 16511

Updated: 2018-08-23 18:36

The Empress? Pregnant?

Yun Shang was so taken aback that she was at a loss for a while. Then she heard the courtiers congratulating His Majesty in chorus, "Congratulations to Your Majesty. Congratulations!" Yun Shang was still pondering over the news she had just heard. What? The Empress is pregnant? Yun Shang turned around to look at Emperor Ning, who also looked astonished. Yun Shang stared at Emperor Ning for a long time before speaking, "Your... Your Majesty..."

Emperor Ning turned to Yun Shang with a perplexed stare. Yun Shang felt her hands trembling in her sleeves. She bit her lip to steady herself, "Congratulations to Your Majesty. Soon I will have one more younger brother or sister."

It seemed Emperor Ning was still flabbergasted. He breathed out an "oh" after a long while before sinking into another trance.

The Imperial Physician kneeling on the ground waited patiently for a response from the Emperor, who, however, stayed silent. So the Imperial Physician spoke, "Your Majesty, the Empress has been pregnant for about a month. Her Majesty is very well. But Her Majesty got quite excited just now and that is not good for the baby. However, please don't worry, Your Majesty. Her Majesty will be fine after resting."

Emperor Ning nodded speechlessly. After a moment, he turned and rushed out of the Hall. Lord Zheng hastily followed the Emperor. Watching the Emperor's fading figure, Yun Shang felt at a loss for what to do. She frowned, but after noticing that everyone was staring at her, she realized that she was the only composed master in the Hall. So she waved and said, "This is a great and happy event. Rise to your feet. There will be awards from His Majesty."

Everyone stood up at Yun Shang's words. The Princess turned to look at the Imperial Physician, and smiled, "Though the Empress is physically well, Her Majesty still needs particular attention for her pregnancy. When you return to the Imperial Hospital, please prepare some medicines conducive to Her Majesty's pregnancy and send them to Qiwu Palace."

The Imperial Physician nodded and withdrew. Then Yun Shang had time to think this over. What happened? How could the Empress be pregnant at this moment? In her previous life, Hua Jing was the Empress's only child. She hadn't given birth to another one. Why? And pregnant at this moment...

Yun Shang thought about the differences in events from her previous life and her present life. Lady Jin had spent her days at the Cold Palace and had been trapped there until the end of her life. However, in this life, her mother had not only been released from the Cold Palace, but she was pregnant as well. Was it possible that everything would change in this life?

In her contemplation, Yun Shang heard a groan. She turned and caught a glimpse of the Empress who had awoken from her faint. She ran to the Empress and inquired eagerly, "Your Majesty..."

The Empress winced and raised one of her hands to prop up her forehead. It seemed that she was experiencing some discomfort. Yun Shang stepped nearer, "Your Majesty, are you feeling well?"

The Empress lifted her eyes to glance at Yun Shang. Then she said weakly, "Why am I here? I remembered I was in Qinzheng Hall. I remember..."

Yun Shang said hastily "You passed out in Qinzheng Hall a little while ago. When the Imperial Physician checked you, he said that you are pregnant. Your Majesty, congratulations to you."

"Pregnant?" The Empress looked confused. It took a moment for Yun Shang's words to register. "Pregnant? You mean I am pregnant?"

Yun Shang nodded as she tried to squeeze out a smile. "Yes. You are pregnant, Your Majesty."

The Empress flashed a brilliant smile at Yun Shang's words. "That is really wonderful. In recent years, no one in the imperial household has been lucky enough to bear your father a child. I was quite worried about the decline of your father's bloodline. I was even considering selecting some fair ladies to marry your father and bear him more children. It was completely unexpected that Lady Jin would get pregnant. And now, so am I."

Yun Shang grinned, "His Majesty is blessed by Buddha."

The Empress seemed ecstatic, "Reward. Everyone will get a reward." Then she summoned Xiu Xin. "I'm uncomfortable here. I'm afraid I might hurt the baby. Escort me back to Qiwu Palace."

Xiu Xin nodded before helping the Empress to stand. Then the maid assisted the Empress leave the Hall.

A bitter smile emerged on Yun Shang's lips as she stood in the Hall and watched them leave. Was it true that the Heavenly God reserves shocking surprises for unsuspecting believers? The Empress. How could it be possible that she is pregnant at this critical moment?

"Your Imperial Highness..." Yun Shang had been lost in her thoughts till she heard Qian Yin call to her. She nodded at Qian Yin, "Let's go back to Qingxin Palace."

Yun Shang sank into serious consideration while lying on her bed in Qingxin Palace. What a coincidence that all these events happened at the same time! Somehow, she had a feeling that something wrong. But as to what had gone wrong, she could not tell.

"Your Imperial Highness, how could it be possible for the Empress to be pregnant?" Qian Yin murmured, "Your Imperial Highness, did you expect such a predicament? The disastrous banquet and our plans to exaggerate the effect would effectively spread rumors about Princess Hua Jing's doomed destiny to bring death to her husband. Just in a couple of days, everyone in the Imperial City will know these rumors. I have even devised a ballad for children to sing and spread. However, the Empress is pregnant! That would be the most fervent topic of conversation in the country. After all, she is the First Lady of the country. Her pregnancy will be the biggest event under heaven. And people would, of course, pay less attention to the affairs of Princess Hua JIng..."

Yun Shang nodded and sighed, "Of course. How could she be pregnant at this moment? The Empress's pregnancy is the perfect aberration to our plans. But it all happened in an instant. How could it be possible for her to arrange a pregnancy? So, was it indeed a coincidence?"

Yun Shang spent the rest of the afternoon lounging on a couch in the courtyard, trying to figure out why she felt so puzzled.

When it was getting dark, a knock sounded on the gate of Qingxin Palace. Yun Shang was drowsy. She heard a maid announcing, "Your Imperial Highness, Lady Meng is requesting a visit."

Yun Shang opened her eyes, "Lady Meng?"

She had barely finished her words when she caught a glimpse of a woman in green. Yun Shang suddenly realized who she was, "Aha, it's you, Qin Meng. Oh, no, no, no. I should call you Lady Meng, now."

Yun Shang straightened up. As a quick reflex, Qin Meng stepped forward to pick up the silk quilt that had fallen on the ground and put it back on the couch.

Yun Shang smiled, "How can I bother Lady Meng with such a chore for me? I should do it myself."

Qin Meng retrieved her hands at Yun Shang's words. She stood there in embarrassment and peeped at Yun Shang from time to time.

After putting the silk quilt in place, Yun Shang said, "I wonder why Lady Meng comes to Qingxin Palace. I thought that all ladies in the imperial household would go to Qiwu Palace and pay the Empress a visit to congratulate her, wouldn't they?"

Qin Meng kept her head low while rubbing her hands together. She was silent for a little while before uttering gently, "The Empress doesn't like me. If I went there, I'm afraid that I would probably upset Her Majesty. So I'd rather not go there."

"You are one of the noble members of the imperial household. How could you still be so humble?" Instead of responding to Qin Meng's predicament, Yun Shang diverted the topic by asking a question.

Qin Meng squeezed out an embarrassed smile, "I have been in service for so long that I cannot shake these reflexes."

Yun Shang nodded, and hummed before sinking into silence.

But Qin Meng seemed quite nervous, and her body even trembled a little. It felt as though she was racking her brain for something. Finally, she raised a question, "Your Imperial Highness, may I know where Your Imperial Highness wen

t several days ago?"

Yun Shang thought it was a funny question, and she even burst into a fit of laughter. "So, I must take permission from Lady Meng before I go somewhere?"

Qin Meng shook her head immediately, "Please forgive me, Your Imperial Highness. That is not what I meant..."

"Oh, then what did you mean?" Qin Meng found herself speechless for a long while. Yun Shang relaxed on the couch and lifted her eyes to look at Qin Meng.

After pondering for a while Qin Meng said, "Thank you, Your Imperial Highness. I would have been dead had it not been for your help. I have vowed that Your Imperial Highness would be my only master since. The Empress and Princess Hua Jing, they really want to harm Your Imperial Highness. Your Imperial Highness should be alert."

Yun Shang uttered a "hum."

Seeing Yun Shang's reluctant response, Qin Meng stressed, "Your Imperial Highness, you must be on guard against the Empress and Princess Hua Jing. If Qin Meng might be of any use to Your Imperial Highness, please let me know."

Yun Shang raised an eyebrow as she continued to stare at Qin Meng. Then she raised a question, "How is it going? Your life as Lady Meng? Is anybody still bullying you?"

Qin Meng bit her lip and sank into silence. In the end, she shook her head, "No. I'm quite well. Lady Ying is quite straightforward. We... get along well with each other..."

"Get along well?" Yun Shang flashed a gentle smile. She did not intend to confront Qin Meng about her lie. She probed subtly, "Qin Meng, you are quite clever. I have always thought so. But cleverness in not the only trait for a lady who wants to survive in the imperial household. And sometimes, clever women incur an early death. No matter what you want, you can only lock your desires in your heart. You cannot confide in anybody. As to how can you achieve those desires? I hope you have a clear mind. If you are not determined to do something and to take the first step, then you will only stay where you are forever. You might even find yourself spiralling..."

Qin Meng nodded sadly. She had been silent for such a long time. It seemed as though she was refraining from crying. Then she knelt before Yun Shang. "Your Imperial Highness, please help me. Lady Ying views me as a spy for the Empress and refuses to accept my explanations. She always finds fault with me, beats me, and scolds me. I have had enough. Your Imperial Highness, please. I will do anything. No matter what you ask. I know, Your Imperial Highness must have some ways, and Your Imperial Highness is in a position to help me."

Yun Shang grinned, "Anything? No matter what?"

Qin Meng kowtowed before Yun Shang several times in succession, "Yes. I'm willing to do anything you want me to do."

Yun Shang nodded, "All right. However, I do not require your service now. Please return. As for Lady Ying, I can find a way to appease her. I'm just hoping that you will not break your promise later. Before you go, I have something to tell you... You are the only one you can trust. If you want to rise in the imperial household, you have to be cruel, not only to everybody else, but also to yourself."

Qin Meng was stunned at these words. Then she nodded, "I understand, Your Imperial Highness. I understand."

Yun Shang smiled toward Qin Meng and waved at her, "You'd better go now. It's bad for you to be seen here. If you were seen visiting me, you would not be able to find a proper excuse even if you had a hundred months on you."

"It's all right. Everyone is at Qiwu Palace right now. No one would pay attention to me. But I will leave as soon as possible." Qin Meng kowtowed before Qin Meng while speaking, and then she withdrew.

Qin Yi approached Yun Shang and said, "Qin Meng would not be reduced to such a dilemma, if she had made other choices. She deserves this consequence. She helped the Empress scheme against Your Imperial Highness."

Yun Shang grinned, "I was just a little girl at that time, without any forces to support me. The world is crowded with selfish people and it lacks those who will offer timely assistance. Qin Meng chose a path that many other people would have chosen as well."

Yun Shang sighed and looked out the window. Noticing that she was looking in the direction of Qiwu Palace, Qin Yi said softly, "Your Imperial Highness, are you still puzzled about what happened today? Let it go if you cannot figure it out. The truth will prevail in the end."

Yun Shang shook her head, "I'm not trying to figure it out. I'm just worrying about my mother... My mother was heartbroken over His Majesty over a decade ago. So she shut herself inside the Cold Palace. Now, she has released herself from the Cold Palace and is even pregnant. But the Empress's pregnancy would be tantamount to a blow to my mother. Although she has always emphasized that she only feels despair and does not love His Majesty, I cannot help myself. I worry about her."

Qin Yi nodded in response, "Lady..." She paused for a moment and then continued, "Today, when His Majesty heard from the Imperial Physician that the Empress is pregnant, he ran out of the Hall in a hurry, right? I heard that His Majesty had come to Qiwu Palace. The Empress was in the side hall at Qinzheng Hall at that time. But His Majesty went to Qiwu Palace instead. It is obvious that His Majesty came to Qiwu Palace for Lady Jin. It seems that His Majesty cares more about the Lady than the Empress."

Yun Shang hummed before sinking into silence.

The news of the Empress' pregnancy had triggered a stir in the imperial household. The Imperial Palace only quietened after all the concubines had left after extending their congratulations to the Empress. Yun Shang was terribly upset. Without informing Qin Yi and Qian Yin, she walked out of Qingxin Palace after Qiwu Palace became quiet.

After walking along the lake for a while, the Princess leaned against a tree to rest. At that moment, she heard someone speaking in the distance.

"Lady, how could it be possible that the Empress is pregnant? We all know that His Majesty hasn't spent a night at Qiwu Palace in a long time." The tone, indicating a touch of suspect, sounded like a court maid serving in a certain Palace.

Then, the voice of another woman disturbed the silence, "On the fifteenth of last month, His Majesty stayed in the Empress' Palace for one night."

That voice was familiar. After combing her mind for its master, Yun Shang was quite sure that it was Lady Shu.

"But, Lady Jin is also dwelling in Qiwu Palace. I have heard from maids at Qiwu Palace that every time His Majesty visited Qiwu Palace in this past month, His Majesty went to see Lady Jin..."

Yun Shang heard a sigh from Lady Shu, in which a trace of contempt could be felt. "Hem, only the Heavenly God knows whether or not that old witch employed any tricks to allure His Majesty into her bed. She went as far as to present her maid as a gift to His Majesty. What else is she not capable of?"

The maid lowered her voice, "Lady, do you think the Lord is going to allow her to keep the baby?"

The Lord? Yun Shang was taken aback. What did that maid mean? What did she mean by is the Lord going to allow her to keep the baby? Yun Shang felt a sharp throb in her heart. She focused on the conversation.

Lady Shu kept silent for a moment. Then she said, "I don't know. Over a decade ago, I had been chosen to marry His Majesty and became a member of the imperial household. I would receive an order from the Lord whenever a lady was pregnant. I was ordered to cause an inconspicuous miscarriage. And I did a good job. I almost failed in killing Lady Ying's baby and exposed myself. But I managed to devise a plan to set up the Empress instead, and Lady Ying believed it. But there has been no order from the Lord since the announcement of Lady Jin's pregnancy. Now, the Empress is also pregnant. I don't know whether the Lord is going to order me to do something. But, there are many people in the imperial household who will not wish to see that baby be born. Lady Ying would be the first to make that wish come true. I don't think I need to be involved. It is doubtful that this baby will get a chance to see the world..."

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