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   Chapter 81 Chaos At The Sacrificial Ceremony

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 18584

Updated: 2018-08-27 17:28


"Ah..." Surprised guests and military officials standing below the altar began murmuring. Gradually the whispers turned into a deafening roar that spread like the tide. Everyone's eyes were fixed on the Empress.

Emperor Ning was in the middle of the Ceremony. The astonished murmuring of the crowd caught his attention. He frowned at the disturbance. The Emperor turned and saw the crowd looking up to where he and the Empress stood. Some even began to raise their hands, as if pointing. Emperor Ning looked around and noticed that they were indeed pointing at someone. The Empress! Well, the Empress?

The Empress looked pale. Though it was winter, there were bean-size beads of sweat rolling down from her forehead. Aside from the sweat, she looked just fine. The Emperor frowned again. From such a distance, the officials would not be able to see the Empress sweating. So, what were they looking at?

Emperor Ning was about to proceed with the Ceremony when a civil official kneeled. Emperor Ning recognized him to be a bachelor of the Imperial Hanlin Academy. The Emperor heard him shouting anxiously, "It's a visitation from the Divine, Your Majesty! They are angry!"

Emperor Ning was so shocked that he rushed to the Empress. The back of her ceremonial robe was wet and covered in sweat stains. The stains seemed to form a Chinese character, Xiong, meaning inauspicious.

Seeing this, Emperor Ning stepped back. His face paled.

The Empress didn't realized what was happening. She only felt that the garment was too heavy. As per tradition, the garment was required to have eight layers of fabric sewn together. The weight of the fabric was making it hard for her to breathe. The Ceremony was really tiring as she was required to follow complicated routines. She also had to kneel frequently. In the past, she always asked the Shangyi Bureau to use the lightest fabric for the inner seven layers of the ceremonial garment. She also remembered instructing them to use floral brocade for the outermost layer. This year, Lady Shu must have forgotten to do that. The garment that the Empress was wearing seemed to be sewn with the heaviest fabric for each layer. She felt exhausted with every step. The Phoenix coronet weighed ten pounds and had been firmly attached to her head. The weight of the coronet didn't help either. Finishing the Ceremony seemed more demanding than usual.

"Your Majesty, what's the matter?" The Empress was puzzled upon seeing Emperor Ning's pale face. Then she found that everyone was pointing at her for no apparent reason.

In her confusion, the Empress turned to Xiu Xin, who was standing by the steps under the altar. The maid also looked anxious. When Xiu Xin saw the Empress looking at her, she pointed to her back. Only then did the Empress realize that something must have happened on her back, and it must be serious. Emperor Ning and the other officials wouldn't look so panicked and worried otherwise. The Empress couldn't wait for an answer. She hurriedly took off the outermost robe and saw the conspicuously large character, Xiong.

Struck with fear, the Empress threw the robe away. She took a few steps back, and accidentally touched the memorial tablets behind her. They fell like dominoes.

"Your Majesty..." The Empress was fearful. She tried her best to calm down and hurriedly grabbed the sleeve of Emperor Ning's robe. "Your Majesty, someone must have planned all this to set me up. Your Majesty, please uphold justice for me..."

Emperor Ning frowned and nodded at Master Zheng. Zheng understood and quickly waved at a few eunuchs who helped the Empress step down.

The Emperor's anxiety increased when he saw that the crowd was still talking about the incident. The commoners would most certainly panic if they heard of the incident. He could not allow that to happen. Emperor Ning turned to Master Zheng and whispered. Then Master Zheng hurried to one side of the altar and announced, "No one shall talk about today's matter. It is strictly prohibited. If anyone is found doing so, the death penalty will apply to the person and his or her family and friends as well."

The officials and concubines promptly shut their mouths and stood quietly. Then Master Zheng walked away from the altar. He whispered quickly to Ladu Shu who then nodded and instructed her maid. The maid rushed out and in a few moments, returned with a tray. Lady Shu took the black robe from the tray. It was a spare ceremonial robe. Lady Shu quickly put it on and followed Master Zheng to the altar.

"Go on with the Ceremony, " said Master Zheng. Then Emperor Ning and Lady Shu completed the remaining procedures as though nothing had happened.

After the Ceremony, Yun Shang followed the concubines toward their Palaces. Just when they entered the Imperial Garden, they were greeted with the sight of an enraged Empress. Her glare could have withered every concubine. The Empress fixed her eyes on Lady Shu. Before anyone realized what had happened, the Empress rushed forward and pushed Lady Shu to the ground.

"Shen Shuyun, I have never done anything wrong to you. Even though you were so deeply loved and spoiled by His Majesty, I still left you alone. Now, I've handed the Empress's seal to you. Why are you still scheming against me? How dare you be so cruel and mean and set me up like this?" Although the Empress was extremely angry, she spoke with the grace required of a person in her position.

The others stepped back to avoid getting dragged into this quarrel. Seeing this, Yun Shang shouted, "What are you waiting for? Separate them..."

But no one dared to go near the Empress and Lady Shu.

As everyone stood watching two of the most powerful women in the imperial household fighting with each other, Yun Shang waited for the secret signal. Not long after, she heard a cuckoo sing and smiled. She replaced her smile with worry and shouted, "Seriously, what are you waiting for? The Empress is pregnant. If anything happens to the imperial heir, no one will be spared."

As soon as she finished her sentence, everyone realized the seriousness of the situation. They moved forward to separate the Empress and Lady Shu, but didn't know where to start.

And then came an angry voice. "What is everyone doing here?"

It was Emperor Ning and his servants. The Empress quickly grabbed Lady Shu in her arms and pretended to fall. She angled herself such that she landed on the ground while Lady Shu landed on the Empress.

Lady Shu became angrier and wrapped her fingers around the Empress's neck.

When Emperor Ning stepped out from being the spectators, he saw Lady Shu pushing the Empress into the ground while trying to choke her. Though Emperor Ning was furious with the Empress over what had happened during the Ceremony, he couldn't allow Lady Shu to hurt her like this. He rebuked Lady Shu. "What do you think you're doing? Get off the Empress!"

Before Lady Shu could explain herself, someone started screaming. "Blood..."

Blood? The crowd watched in shock as a small blood stain bloomed on the Empress's clothes.

"Hurry, hurry, hurry..." "Someone call the imperial physician..." Yun Shang cried out. Emperor Ning rushed forward and lifted the Empress in his arms. He nudged the crowd aside and strode toward Qiwu Palace.

After entering Qiwu Palace, Emperor Ning put the Empress on the bed. The Empress frowned as if in great pain. "Your Majesty, the baby, the baby, my baby! Your Majesty, please save my baby."

Emperor Ning stood up in silence. Then he paced back and forth in the Palace as he waited. "Where's the imperial physician? Why is he still not here?"

Master Zheng hurriedly paced alongside the Emperor. After a long time, he escorted an old man with white hair and a white beard. "Your Majesty, the physician, the physician has arrived."

The Empress looked up and her eyes widened sharply. She looked for Xiu Xin in the crowd, and saw her in a corner, shaking her head anxiously.

The Empress hurriedly refused. "No, no, Your Majesty, I don't want to be examined. My baby is fine, and I'm fine, too."

Hearing this, Emperor Ning turned his head and snapped. "What's wrong with you? Stop being a child and let the physician examine you."

The Empress repeatedly shook her head. "I have always been examined by physician Chen. He knew my condition the best. I'd like him to examine me."

Emperor Ning's frown deepened. Seeing the Empress acting so odd displeased him. Emperor Ning turned to the servants behind him. "Hold down the Empress and let the physician examine her."

Two servants nodded and quickly stepped forward to hold the Empress. The imperial physician was scared of the Emperor's temper and trembled with fear. He walked towards the Empress and laid his hand on her wrist. After a moment, he looked bewildered. He hesitantly turned around and kneeled on the floor. "Your Majesty, forgive me if I'm wrong. Judging from Her Majesty's pulse, I can tell that she is not pregnant..."

The Empress's face turned pale in an instant, as if she had been drained of energy. She stopped struggling and lay quietly on the bed. Emperor Ning did not understand the physician. So he asked, "What? You mean the baby is gone?"

The aged physician shook

his head. "No. Her Majesty's pulse shows that she wasn't pregnant at all. There wasn't a baby, and so she couldn't have lost the baby."

Emperor Ning understood what the physician said. "You mean, the Empress is not pregnant at all?"

Before the imperial physician could answer, the Empress harshly stopped him. "Nonsense. Physician Chen diagnosed that I am pregnant. Recently, I have had cravings for sour food. I'm definitely pregnant, and it must be a son. Now you're saying I wasn't pregnant? I see. Clearly you were bribed by Lady Shu to smear me. Guards! Drag this ignorant man out and beat him to death."

"I am still here. It's not your turn to give orders. Bring all the physicians from the Imperial Hospital here." Emperor Ning stopped her and said coldly.

The Empress's face paled. "Make sure physician Chen is also invited. It was him who told me that I was pregnant. Bring him here and we'll see who is talking nonsense here."

The servants hurried out of the inner hall. The Empress closed her eyes as she tried to think. Her mind was completely blank.

After a while, the sound of footsteps could be heard outside the room. Then the curtain was lifted and several eunuchs entered. One of them went to Emperor Ning and said, "Your Majesty, all the physicians from the Imperial Hospital have been brought here, except physician Chen who was requested by Her Majesty. We didn't find him."

"How come?" It gradually dawned on the Empress that she was being set up. Whoever it was, he or she had been wise enough to have figured out all her schemes.

"Each of you, take turns to measure the Empress's pulse one by one." Emperor Ning said coldly, ignoring the Empress's pleas.

The imperial physicians had never heard such a strange order before. They all looked at each other before cautiously approaching the bed. After feeling the Empress's pulse, they stepped aside silently and waited for the next person. It took a quarter of an hour for all the physicians to finish.

"What are the results?" asked Emperor Ning.

The physicians exchanged looks before they bowed. "Your Majesty, forgive us if we are all wrong, but we couldn't find any sign of Her Majesty's pregnancy, nor her miscarriage. Her Majesty is not pregnant at all."

Hearing this, Emperor Ning felt as if he had been told the biggest joke of the year. He laughed for a long time, and then, he stopped. He snorted at the Empress coldly. "It seems that I have ignored this place for too long. So much so that I, as the chosen one by God, have been played with like a monkey." Then he turned his head away from the dazed Empress before leaving the inner hall.

Yun Shang had been following Emperor Ning for a while. Seeing that the farce had ended, she saw no reason to stay. Yun Shang stood and followed the Emperor as he stormed out of the Hall. As soon as they had crossed the threshold, they saw Lady Jin who had been on her way to check on the Empress.

Emperor Ning stopped. He stood and waited for Lady Jin to come closer. Having gone through a lot today, he didn't look well. He just asked, "What brought you here?"

Lady Jin touched her pregnant belly and cast a look at the inner hall with concern. Then she answered softly. "I felt unwell at the Temple of Heaven, so I left early. I just heard that something has happened to Her Majesty and that several imperial physicians were heading here. I got worried and decided to come and have a look."

Emperor Ning was surprised. He raised his hand and touched Lady Jin's belly. After a long time, he said, "It was nothing. Now you're pregnant with a baby. Don't just step out so inappropriately dressed. Catching a cold does you no good. Shang'er, take your mother back to her Palace."

Yun Shang didn't expect to be noticed by the Emperor. She hurriedly took two steps forward and held Lady Jin's hand. She said respectfully, "Mother, I'll walk you to your Palace."

Lady Jin was hesitant but nodded. As Yun Shang walked her away from the Hall, Lady Jin turned around to glance at the Emperor. She seemed genuinely worried. As they turned a corner and she couldn't see the Emperor anymore, Lady Jin stopped turning around. This was the first time that Yun Shang entered the Palace where Lady Jin had been living. Compared to the main Hall, Lady Jin's Palace was less luxuriously decorated. But its furniture was delicate. Emperor Ning must have put some effort into ensuring that Lady Jin was comfortable.

Yun Shang helped Lady Jin sit on a chair. She looked around the room before deciding to sit down opposite her mother.

"Today's chaos was your idea?" Lady Jin smiled and asked softly.

Yun Shang knew that if Lady Jin dared to discuss such sensitive matters in her Palace, then it must be safe. So she felt relieved and smiled. "Mother knows me well. It was me, indeed."

"How's the Empress now?" Lady Jin lowered her head and smiled. She gently placed her hands on her belly.

Yun Shang answered nonchalantly. "Well, there is nothing wrong with her health, but I'm afraid that she will lose father's trust forever."

Lady Jin smiled. "She has always been very desperate, but it seems that the odds were always in her favor. This time, it was your luck that got her caught. You little fox. But you'll have to clean up the mess. Don't let her find out that it was you. She's angry now, so she'll think it was Lady Shu's plan. But when she calms down, she'll know something's odd."

Yun Shang smiled like a cat who had enjoyed a fish feast. "Don't worry, mother. I've got everything arranged."

Lady Jin nodded and said nothing.

Then Yun Shang stood up and stepped closer to Lady Jin. Yun Shang crouched in front of her mother. Then she raised her hand to touch Lady Jin's belly. "Mother, tell me, is it gonna be a sister or a brother?"

Lady Jin heard the question and laughed. "I don't know yet. But I wish it is a boy, so that he can protect you. You've been working too hard."

Yun Shang shook her head, "No, mother. Shang'er does not feel tired at all."

Yun Shang lowered her head and placed her cheek on Lady Jin's belly. She pressed her ear closer and tried to listen for a while. She felt like weeping. In her previous life, she had never felt anything like this. Now, she understood what it felt like to be cared for and it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.

A long time passed before Yun Shang stood up. She smiled. "The Empress will give her schemes a rest for now. Father is well aware of the power of the Li family, so he won't deprive her of her position. At least not now. But even so, the Empress is still no threat to you in the near future. I've also sent my people to protect you secretly. So don't worry too much. As for Hua Jing, I've heard that she has gone to the border. This is a good chance. I am not gonna let go of it. In some days, I'll find a way to leave for the border. I'll come back before your delivery. Don't worry about me."

Lady Jin was stunned. She lowered her head and remained silent for a long time before she nodded. "You have always been strong and independent. Now that I can see you acting responsibly, I'm relieved. But no matter what, you're still my daughter. I just don't want you to be blinded by hatred. I wish there was a man who could make you happy."

Yun Shang heard her and was stunned as well. Then she answered, "I understand, mother. And I will try not to let my hatred consume me."

The two women talked for a while longer before Yun Shang returned to Qingxin Palace. Earlier, Qin Yi and Qian Yin didn't follow Yun Shang to Qiwu Palace, so they didn't know what happened. Even so, everyone had heard about the scene at the Imperial Garden. The maids were curious and dying to hear every detail. Seeing that Yun Shang had returned, they hurriedly walked to her and asked, "Your Highness, what happened in the end? Did His Majesty find out about Her Majesty's fake pregnancy?"

Yun Shang told them what happened, and the maids were relieved.

But Qian Yin still couldn't understand something. "Your Highness, the people we sent earlier went through a lot of trouble to make the Empress's ceremonial robe. Why didn't you just put poison on it and kill her at the scene? Why did you come up with such a complicated plan?"

Yun Shang smiled and thought about Qian's question. She could have killed the woman, but she didn't. Because she wanted to watch that woman fall from the top and lose what she cherished, little by little. Killing her would be too easy a punishment for her. Another reason was that if the Empress died in an unexplainable way, the Li family would certainly cause trouble for them. At that time, the whole country would be in chaos. What's more, her family will be of great use six months from now.

However, Yun Shang knew all this from her previous life experience. There was no way for her to explain all this to Qin Yi and Qian Yin. Noticing that Yun Shang looked lost in thought, Qin Yi quickly replied, "Wouldn't it be too easy if the Empress died like that?"

Qian Yin thought for while and agreed. "Yes, it would be too easy for her. But what happened today was cathartic. I wonder what Lady Shu feels now. After their fight today, the imperial household will be in chaos."

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