Translator’s note: Graphic description of childbirth in this one 🙁
Men, unlike women, were not born with the ability to conceive and needed to take the Suyun pill to bear a child.
The Suyun pill, however, was not something to be effective just after taking it. It needed to be taken continuously for a year. The first three months of taking the medicine were particularly painful. Some people couldn’t get through it and had to give up, and then their previous efforts would come to naught.
In addition, the Suyun pill also had a time limit for taking. The earliest age when one could take it was usually thirteen or fourteen years old, and the latest age was no more than twenty years old. If you took it at an earlier age, your body would be immature and it would not only be useless but would also cause damage; while if you took it at a later age, you would be suffering for nothing and the chance of it working would be minimal.
The Great Yan was known for its tradition of male consorts and male concubines, but the princes of the Wei family had never had a precedent of taking the pill. Helian Zhuo was puzzled why Wei Zhao would take the Suyun pill.
Puzzled or not, the Fourth Prince of the Great Yan was carrying his own flesh and blood, and there was no way Helian Zhuo would not want it. Even if the child could not inherit the throne in the future, it would be enough for him to keep the child to annoy Wei Su and to annoy the Great Yan.
Wei Zhao was very resistant to the idea of pregnancy, and when he found out that he was pregnant, he tried every possible way to abort the pregnancy. Helian Zhuo had the shaman doctor put medicine in Wei Zhao’s food to make him weak and confined to bed all day, relying on people to feed him three meals a day.
Helian Zhuo’s approach led to a very serious consequence, that is, the foetus grew extremely strong and could not be born during the labour.
Wei Zhao was in pain for three days and three nights, the birth cavity was fully opened and the amniotic fluid ran out, but the baby was too big and stuck in that unspeakable place, unable to come out alive or dead.
“Hmm…” Wei Zhao’s dark ink-like hair was all wet with sweat, strands of it stuck to his forehead and cheeks, and the painful look on Wei Zhao’s face made the shaman doctor, who had seen many things, unable to bear to witness it.
Suddenly, Wei Zhao’s eyes opened wide; he threw his head back desperately, uttering in a muffled voice, “Uh… ah…”. Then his body trembled and he lost consciousness.
“The ginseng slices! Get the ginseng slices!” The shaman doctor bellowed repeatedly and reached out to pinch Wei Zhao in an attempt to wake him up.
“Ugh…” Even unconscious, Wei Zhao still made some whimpering sounds, obviously in extreme pain and with nowhere to escape.
The ginseng was abundant in Fuyu, not to mention the rare centuries-old ginseng in the Central Plains, even those that were thousands years old and about to become refined could be found. With the good ginseng slices to nourish his energy and refresh his mind, Wei Zhao soon woke up, but his face was so white and miserable that it looked appalling.
The downward movement of the unborn child became more and more obvious. Wei Zhao’s abdomen had already taken on a pear shape, but he had been in labour pains for too long and his physical strength had already been exhausted, so he was unable to push at all.
The shaman doctor understood that with only Wei Zhao’s own strength, the baby could not come out, so he pushed and pressed on his abdomen to help the baby move down.
The baby’s head was round and hard, and the baby was pushed down by the shaman doctor, pressing right against Wei Zhao’s pelvic bone, causing Wei Zhao to cry out in pain: “No… ah…” Unable to catch his breath in the struggle, he passed out again.
It was just that Wei Zhao didn’t faint completely, and he was awakened by the endless labour pains not long after. He opened his eyes wide and looked at the ceiling in a daze. Suddenly, he felt that it was good to die like this, and by the way, he could take away that evil seed.
Seeing that Wei Zhao could not bear the pain of the baby being pressed down, the shaman doctor hurriedly stopped and went out to report to Helian Zhuo: “Your Majesty, it is still not possible. The baby is too big and Master Wei has no strength, so we can only save one of them.”
Helian Zhuo was shocked and said angrily: “No, you must save both, otherwise…” Shaman doctors had a very high position in the minds of the Fuyu people, and Helian Zhuo couldn’t say anything about taking his head.
The shaman doctor knelt down on one knee and said bluntly, “Even if Your Majesty were to kill me, I would still say the same thing. Between Master Wei and the child, only one can be saved.”
Helian Zhuo was stunned and speechless for a long time. He remembered that when the Great Yan-zhi gave birth to Pei Di, she was in labour only for half a day, but when it came to Wei Zhao, three days and three nights were not enough, and now he had to choose between the two.
The shaman doctor could not get an answer from Helian Zhuo, so he repeated his question: “Your Majesty, time is running out, please make a decision as soon as possible. If you delay too long, I am afraid that…” There would be one corpse and two deaths.
The shaman doctor didn’t finish his words, but Helian Zhuo could guess the general idea of what he meant next. He hesitated again and again, asking, “Is there really no chance at all?”
Wei Zhao could not die. To let him die would fulfil his wish. Helian Zhuo couldn’t let him have what he wanted. The child was his own, Helian Zhuo couldn’t say he didn’t want it. Besides, Wei Zhao didn’t want the child. Helian Zhuo wished all the more that the child would be born alive so that he could give Wei Zhao a hard time.
“I will do my best, but Your Majesty must also make a choice.” The shaman doctor thought for a moment and gave this answer. It would be a lie for him to say that he could save both. He could only do his best and listen to the gods’ will.
Helian Zhuo frowned, and after a long time, he clenched his fist and said, “If it’s really not possible, save Wei Zhao, he must not die.” After thinking about it, Helian Zhuo finally decided to keep Wei Zhao. Compared to him, the child was not that important.
The shaman doctor lowered his head and said with a serious expression, “I understand, I will definitely live up to Your Majesty’s expectations.” With those words, he turned around and went back inside the house.
“Agh…” Wei Zhao’s hoarse screams still sounded from time to time through the door of the room. Helian Zhuo felt the skin on his back tingle as he listened, but he had no intention of leaving. Instead, he turned in circles in place to dispel the panic that was rising in his heart.
The shaman doctor quickly walked to the couch and sighed softly when he saw Wei Zhao, who was rolling in pain. The baby was so big and fat, even if he gave up saving it, it would not be easy to save the parent. But Helian Zhuo made his choice, and the shaman doctor could not say that saving the baby was more likely.
Reaching out and pressing on Wei Zhao’s stiff as stone abdomen, the shaman doctor instructed the two medicine boys, “You guys help him up to lean on the cushions, and spread his legs a bit more, yes, that’s it, some more…”
Wei Zhao could not sit still and slid down involuntarily, so the shaman doctor had one of the medicine boys sit down behind him and hold him tightly, while the other held his knees in a deadly grip, spreading his thighs to the maximum extent to the sides.
“No, don’t… ah…” The change in position made the baby weigh down even harder. Wei Zhao tensed, his pinned legs kicking unconsciously, as if this would relieve the pain in his body.
The shaman doctor had been ordered by Helian Zhuo to make sure that Wei Zhao was saved, so he naturally didn’t let him struggle unnecessarily. He asked the medicine boy to secure Wei Zhao’s body, clasped his hands together and pushed hard on Wei Zhao’s abdomen, not giving any thought to whether the baby would be damaged.
Perhaps understanding that he was about to be abandoned, the baby, that had been stuck against Wei Zhao’s pelvic bone and unable to move, burst downwards, showing its vigorous vitality.
In a flash, golden spots flashed before Wei Zhao’s eyes, and he heard the sound of bones cracking in a daze: “Ah…” Was he going to die? Wei Zhao could not say whether he was feeling anticipation or fear at the moment.
Helian Zhuo stayed outside for a long time, shivering with fright from Wei Zhao’s suddenly increased cries. How painful it must have been if Wei Zhao couldn’t help but cry out in pain.
There was joy on the shaman doctor’s face; the baby finally squeezed through the narrowest place. Perhaps it was not impossible for both father and son to be saved.
He pressed on Wei Zhao’s stomach and said loudly, “Push hard, push, the baby will come out soon!” After all, he was a healer, and he hoped that Wei Zhao and the baby would both survive.
The uninterrupted severe pain wiped out Wei Zhao’s will. He wanted nothing more than to be freed quickly now, so when he heard the shaman doctor’s words, a little strength came out of thin air and he raised his waist and pushed down: “Huhu… woo…”
After a few struggles, the child’s head finally appeared timidly, and the shaman doctor was about to breathe a sigh of relief when he saw that Wei Zhao’s eyes dimmed as if he could no longer hold on.
The shaman doctor didn’t dare to delay and took out the silver needles he had prepared and pierced several important acupuncture points to forcibly make Wei Zhao regain his consciousness.
“Hold on, hold on a little longer, it will be fine soon.” The shaman doctor told the medicine boy to hold Wei Zhao tightly and continued to press his abdomen, but he said “soon” so much that Wei Zhao was a bit disbelieving.
“Uh…” Wei Zhao sat leaning against the medicine boy, only to feel the baby weighing heavily downwards, as if it was going to split his body in half.
“Push harder, keep going, use more force, you can do it, more!” While Wei Zhao struggled fiercely, the shaman doctor pushed his belly in a methodical manner.
Wei Zhao raised his hands, grasping the cloth hanging from the beam in front of him, and used all his strength to push: “Ah… uh, uh…”
A wave of labour pain passed and Wei Zhao slackened, his weak body collapsing into the medicine boy’s arms. The dark hair of the baby was clearly visible between his legs.
The shaman doctor pressed hard against Wei Zhao’s belly to stop the baby from shrinking back, Wei Zhao felt blocked and swollen underneath, tossing and turning uncomfortably, almost suffocating.
The labour pain resumed and Wei Zhao pushed, his eyebrows locked tightly as he mechanically pushed downwards: “Huhu… huhu…”
This time, the baby’s little head came out completely, and the shaman doctor shouted excitedly, “Push! One last time! Come on! Push!”
“Ah…” The moment the baby was completely free from his father’s body, Wei Zhao let out a convulsive groan and fell straight down.
The shaman doctor gently rubbed Wei Zhao’s softening stomach, helping him expel the placenta and other obscure things, and before he could finish rejoicing that the father and son were finally safe, there was a huge amount of blood that gushed out from Wei Zhao’s body.
“Woo woo… woo woo…” the newborn baby cried out loudly, showing his vitality and health, oblivious to the fact that his biological father’s life was at stake.
The shaman doctor said he would save Wei Zhao, but the baby was safe and sound and Wei Zhao had lost too much blood and was unconscious. Helian Zhuo was so angry that he was ready to kill someone.
However, looking at his fat son, who weighed eight catties(1), Helian Zhuo understood that it was not the shaman doctor’s fault, but the child was too big and the slightest mistake could mean one corpse and two deaths.
Fortunately, after half a month in a coma, Wei Zhao woke up thanks to the shaman doctor’s effort. Facing the child who had been named Yi Yin by Helian, he ignored him.
Knowing that Wei Zhao didn’t like the child, Helian Zhuo raised Yi Yin in front of him, and brought them into the palace together, father and son.
When Yi Yin was a month old, Helian Zhuo wrote a letter to Wei Su in the Han characters, telling him the “happy news” of the birth of his grandson. The unlucky messenger never returned to Fuyu after facing the furious emperor.
When Wei Zhao found out that Helian Zhuo had written to Wei Su, he didn’t dare to imagine what his father would think of him in the future.
Perhaps he would feel that he would be better off dead than to lose face of the Great Yan’s dynasty. However, Wei Zhao didn’t want to die, he wanted to live, and only by living would he have the chance to kill his enemies.
Translator’s note: Some explanation regarding the Suyun pill 🙂 Of course, Wei Zhao was not taking it for Helian Zhuo, nor was he taking it right before going to war 🙂 The pill is taken for one year and then it is effective for life. And, as the author mentions, it needs to be taken during teenage years; if you miss the time, you’ll miss it forever. So, let’s say that at some point when Wei Zhao was a teenager, he was in love with someone so much that he wanted to have a child from that man 🙂 As for the princes of the Wei family never being child-bearers, well, who can be sure about such things, it probably never happened officially, but who knows what happened behind the closed doors 🙂 Besides, Wei Zhao was always willful 🙂
- The modern catty is 500g but back then it was closer to 600g as far as I know, so I think it’s 4800g