Despite the bumpy ride, Jun Hua slept soundly in Wei Chongrong’s arms, completely unaffected. Dongfang couldn’t help smiling when he saw this. As soon as he was about to laugh out loud, Wei Chongrong, who was aware of his movement, turned around and glared. Dongfang immediately fell silent.
From the moment he received the news that the Empress Dowager passed away, Wei Chongrong didn’t dare to delay any longer on the road. Even so, it was already the seventh day after the death of the Empress Dowager and the last day of the first seven days when he arrived back at Yujing.
Wei Chongrong didn’t return to the residence and took Jun Hua directly to the palace. Although Jun Hua took the surname of Jun, Ji Xin was the Empress Dowager’s great-nephew, and since Wang Changning couldn’t return to the capital as he was guarding the southwest, it was impossible for his son not to go to the palace to weep for the Empress Dowager’s soul.
When Wei Chongrong and Jun Hua arrived, there were already many people kneeling and crying in the hall. These were the sons and grandsons of the emperor and the relatives of the imperial family, and according to the funeral rules of the Great Yan, they had to weep for seven days without fail.
The court officials and noble ladies of the capital knelt outside the Cihe Hall, mourning. Probably because they had worked so hard for several days, both inside and outside the hall the weeping was low, no more than a quiet whimper. It seemed that everyone was tired.
Having experienced the funeral of the late emperor, Wei Chongrong knew exactly what he should do next. With a dejected expression on his face, he howled all the way into the Cihe Hall, “Grandmother Empress, this grandson is unfilial, this grandson is too late to see you off!”
The sound was so loud that everyone present involuntarily turned their heads and cast their eyes on Wei Chongrong. When Jun Hua saw this, he didn’t follow Wei Chongrong into the hall, but quietly went to Xie Qiu’s side and knelt down silently.
Wei Chongrong didn’t care about people looking at him; he crossed the threshold and knelt down with a plop, moving to Wei Zhao’s side on his knees, crying as he did so: “Grandmother Empress, this unfilial grandson is back!” His head was lowered so deeply that no one could see his expression at this moment.
The place where Wei Lan was kneeling wasn’t far from Wei Chongrong, and it was impossible for him not to notice the commotion Wei Chongrong had caused. He didn’t turn his head, but only sighed in his heart: who cares if you come back or not, you were never considered her grandson in Grandmother Empress’s heart anyway.
However, Wei Lan would think so, but others wouldn’t, especially the civil and military officials kneeling outside. They would only think that Wang Qin’s son was so pure and filial that he had rushed back from Qingjia thousands of li away in time to catch up with the Empress Dowager’s first seven days.
Wei Chongrong had never been one to show his emotions, and the two howls he gave earlier had been prepared in advance for a long time. After kneeling beside Wei Zhao, he quieted down, only stealing a glance at his father from time to time and worrying a little when seeing his pale face.
After Wei Chongrong had been kneeling for a while, he heard a clamour from outside the hall. It turned out that the old lady from Gong Qi’s family, Mrs. Gu, had fainted and was carried out. And she wasn’t the first one.
Wei Chongrong didn’t sleep for three days and three nights, and he was so tired that after kneeling for more than a shichen he could barely resist the desire to doze off. It was just that with crying like this, how could he do something so rude? He didn’t want to end up with the crime of losing his dignity, so he pinched his fingertips hard.
The intense pain stimulated the nerves and Wei Chongrong instantly came to his senses and straightened on his knees.
Wei Zhao gave him a sideways glance and threw a small bottle over to him. Wei Chongrong picked it up and opened it to smell ginseng. It turned out to be Xueshan Pills. He took a pill in his hand, stuffed it into his mouth and swallowed it dry, feeling a lot better after a while.
Wei Chongrong winked at Wei Zhao and searched around for Jun Hua’s whereabouts, intending to give him one too, only to find that Jun Hua had not entered the hall at all, so he had to give up. However, Jun Hua did sleep on the way and should have had no problem kneeling for just one day today.
The so-called seven days of weeping were not really seven days and seven nights of kneeling with no rest in between. If that were the case, even someone as strong as Wei Chongrong, who grew up practising martial arts, would lose half his life. Replace him with an ordinary person, and it would be losing the whole life.
The mourners only knelt during the day, and they could rest in the middle. The Crown Prince’s Consort was pregnant, so the empress gave her permission to kneel for only one shichen a day, or half a shichen in the morning and in the afternoon, and if she wasn’t feeling well, it didn’t matter if she knelt for less.
Near noon, Wei Zhao took Wei Chongrong to the side hall of the Cihe Hall, and at the same time ordered someone to bring Jun Hua over.
Wei Chongrong looked at Wei Zhao, who had a tired look on his face, and hurriedly asked, “Father, do you feel uncomfortable anywhere? Don’t hold on if you do.”
Wei Zhao waved his hand, indicating that he was fine: “It’s not a problem, don’t make a fuss. Look outside, which one of them isn’t cooked.” It wasn’t an easy task for anyone, not to mention that the Empress Dowager meant something completely different to Wei Zhao than to the others.
Wei Chongrong knew it was inappropriate to talk too much here, so he said nothing more, lowered his head and began eating. After just two mouthfuls, Jun Hua came.
“Greetings, Your Imperial Highness Wang Qin.” When Jun Hua saw Wei Zhao, he felt inexplicably a little shy.
As Jun Qing and Wei Zhao had always been close, before Jun Hua left Yujing for Yao’an, Wei Zhao was counted as one of the people who loved him the most. When Jun Hua used to see Wei Zhao, he was always coquettish and never uncomfortable. Wang Qin was much nicer to talk to than his daddy.
But the two of them had been apart for many years and were already a bit rusty, and Jun Hua’s relationship with Wei Chongrong was different from before. Moreover, Wei Chongrong wrote to Wei Zhao about them, but when the Crown Prince and the Empress Dowager died one after another, Wei Zhao didn’t have time to answer.
Although Jun Hua felt that Wei Zhao wouldn’t oppose him and Wei Chongrong for his daddy’s sake, until he got a definite answer, he was still a little uneasy.
Jun Hua looked a lot like Jun Qing, and Wei Zhao wasn’t surprised to see him. After saying that he had grown up, he asked him to hurry up and eat, and they would continue to weep in the afternoon. It would look bad in the eyes of the public if the delay was too long.
After lunch, Wei Zhao and Wei Chongrong returned to the front hall, but Jun Hua didn’t follow them and stayed outside the hall.
Somehow, Wei Chongrong suddenly had a very bad feeling. What exactly was bad, he couldn’t say. It was the last half a day, please don’t let anything happen, Wei Chongrong thought silently and knelt down next to Wei Ruo.
When Wei Ruo saw him frowning, he lowered his voice and asked, “Brother Rong, do you also feel that something is wrong?”
In his heart, Wei Chongrong called Wei Ruo his kindred soul and nodded, “Do you feel it too?”
Wei Ruo nodded gently, “I noticed it two days ago, but I took a closer look and couldn’t see anything.”
Wei Chongrong hurriedly asked, “What did you notice? Tell me…” He was scared to death of his own intuition; it often happened that good things didn’t happen but the bad ones did. And now it was an eventful year, so if anything else happened, his father would be in for a tough time.
Wei Ruo was about to say something when he saw some small movement coming from the women’s side. When he raised his eyes, he saw that it was the Crown Prince’s Consort who was walking in.
Wei Chongrong said in surprise: “Is the Crown Prince’s Consort weeping too?” As soon as she got pregnant, she caught up with two national funerals. The first one was her husband she had been in love with for many years, and then it was the Empress Dowager who loved her dearly. If Xie Xiang was stuck in her grief and couldn’t deal with it, her child would be in danger.
Wei Ruo said solemnly: “The empress has given a decree that she is allowed to come for only one shichen a day.”
Wei Chongrong had a flash of intuition and suddenly remembered what Wei Yang had once said.
“The empress, that poisonous woman, it was the empress who did this, otherwise why would none of the children in my harem have been born?” After Concubine Shu, who was four months pregnant, had a miscarriage for no apparent reason, Wei Yang ranted in the imperial study for a half day. This was the third time.
“But Your Majesty, the imperial doctor checked Concubine Shu’s pulse and said it was…” Shangguan Yan didn’t want someone to give birth to the emperor’s son before her, which Wei Chongrong could understand, but every time a concubine in the harem had a miscarriage, the imperial doctor said it was a problem with the pregnant woman, not that it was caused by someone.
Wei Yang snorted coldly and sneered: “She is Shangguan Xiang’s granddaughter, she has a recipe or two on hand that the imperial doctors can’t see, it’s not surprising at all… That poisonous woman, I want to abolish her, I want her to pay for the life of my imperial sons… “
At that time, Wei Yang already had a certain amount of power in his hands, but Shangguan Yan really didn’t leave any traces. Wei Yang said he was going to abolish the empress but couldn’t find evidence of her plotting to kill the emperor’s heirs. On the contrary, the pregnant concubines themselves didn’t follow the medical advice, resulting in the loss of the dragon’s foetuses.
Shangguan Yan was Shangguan Xiang’s granddaughter, and so was Shangguan Cha. Wei Chongrong couldn’t help but break out in a cold sweat when he thought about it.
He moved to Wei Ruo’s ear and asked in a whisper, “Has your father checked the Crown Prince’s Consort’s pulse?” If it was really the prescription left behind by Shangguan Xiang, the imperial doctors in the palace would definitely not be able to see any clues. Even if Sun Ye himself came, he wouldn’t necessarily be able to see the problem.
Wei Ruo shook his head, the expression on his face becoming somewhat odd: “My father, like Teacher Duanmu, specialises in difficult and incurable diseases, and there are imperial doctors in the palace who are proficient in obstetrics and gynaecology, and the Crown Prince’s Consort’ foetus is stable, so His Majesty didn’t summon him to check the Crown Prince’s Consort’ pulse.”
Sun Ye hadn’t seen Xie Xiang. Wouldn’t it be even easier for Shangguan Cha to do it? Wei Chongrong gave a sideways glance to Xie Xiang, who was kneeling right next to Shangguan Cha.
Wei Ruo didn’t suspect anyone, but Wei Chongrong’s words reminded him of what he had detected as odd; the smell of vinegar in the Cihe Hall was too strong. He frowned for a while, then quietly moved to Xie Xiang’s side, and said a few words in her ear.
In a short time, Xie Xiang excused herself as not feeling well and left the Cihe Hall. Wei Ruo moved back again silently and moved to Sun Ye’s side. Shortly afterwards, Sun Ye also excused himself. Wei Zhao watched all this in silence, not saying anything.
That night, after the curfew, a figure sneaked over the wall of Wang Qin’s residence.
Before he could make a move, he was picked up by Jun Hua who was waiting there: “Who is coming, report your name!”
The visitor made a quick gesture of silence: “Shh! It’s me, keep your voice down!”
Jun Hua still didn’t let go of the person, but shook his head, “Who are you? I don’t know you…”
The man had no choice but to introduce himself first, “I’m Wei Ruo.”
Jun Hua understood and let go of his hand quickly, “So it’s you, come with me.”
Wei Ruo got up from the ground, rubbed his nose and followed Jun Hua to Wei Zhao’s study.