Both Wei Lan and Shangguan Xuan were undoubtedly smart enough not to create momentum for themselves at this time, as there was no need for it.
Wei Mao was suspected of conspiring to murder the Eastern Palace and had already been imprisoned, leaving Wei Lan as the only emperor’s son left in the dynasty. If the emperor passed away, even if Wei Lan was not the Crown Prince, it would be logical for him to succeed to the throne and no one would step in to say that he was not qualified.
Therefore, Wei Lan didn’t have to do anything. He could do his job honestly every day, attend to his sick father with peace of mind, and wait and see if anything changed.
In the Chengqian Hall, the palace servants were guarding outside, and the emperor and the empress were alone in the bedchamber.
The emperor was lying on the bed, his eyes half-closed, his face somewhat thin from his long illness, but he seemed to be in good spirits. The empress sat sideways on the edge of the bed, whispering something to the emperor, and from time to time a smile would appear on their faces.
They were talking about something that had happened a long time ago.
At that time, Wei Ming was still the Crown Prince, and Jun Feili followed his elder half-brother from his hometown of Langya to the strange Yujing. And His Highness Wang Qin, who currently held all the military and political power in his hands, was their common toy they could play with and make cry several times a day.
Suddenly, Wei Ming opened his eyes and looked at Jun Feili, who wanted to say something but stopped, and said, “Does the empress have something to say to me?”
They had known each other for over thirty years and were extremely familiar with the changes in each other’s eyes and expressions.
Jun Feili raised his head slightly, and his handsome gentle face seemed a little startled. He paused for a moment before saying quietly, “Your Majesty, do you have any discontent with Ah Lan? Or has he made some mistake that he shouldn’t have made?”
It wasn’t that Jun Feili didn’t trust Wei Zhao; but at such a sensitive time when the emperor was seriously ill, having the emperor’s younger brother, who was holding the troops, in control of the court, and the only emperor’s son not being able to take his turn even in assisting, couldn’t be considered normal from any aspect.
Even if Wei Lan was inexperienced and not capable enough to take up the reins, with Wei Zhao in charge, he could always help and get trained, but Wei Ming had no such intention at all.
Wei Ming didn’t immediately answer Jun Feili’s question, but asked in return, “Why would the empress have such a thought?”
Jun Feili sighed lightly and said despondently, “Since childhood, of the four children, the one we have neglected the most was Ah Lan. When Ah Xuan was gone, Your Majesty was grief-stricken, how could I not be? It’s just that Ah Xiang’s child has not yet been born, Your Majesty… isn’t it…”
Wei Ming wanted to appoint the Taisun. Jun Feili was aware of this and disapproved of it, both emotionally and rationally. Emotionally speaking, a grandchild not yet born was no better than a son who had been raised for more than twenty years, and rationally speaking, there was no precedent for a Taisun to take the throne without tragedy.
Looking at Jun Feili’s unmistakable look of worry, Wei Ming continued to ask, “Does the empress think that I love the house and its crow(1), and this is why I insist on making Ah Xuan’s son the Taisun, even not giving Ah Lan any chance for this reason?”
“I dare not think so.” Jun Feili hurriedly shook his head, and then added, “I just can’t understand, Your Majesty…”
Wei Ming waved his hand, indicating that Jun Feili didn’t need to say more: “Empress, I understand what you mean. You want to ask, the grandson of the emperor has not yet been born, maybe it is a granddaughter, why do I have my eye on him, right?”
Jun Feili nodded in silence, his eyes filled with incomprehension. Even if Xie Xiang did give birth to a son, it was highly unlikely that he and Wei Ming would see the child grow up to adulthood, and when the young monarch ascended the throne, it would be up to his mother to take over the government as the regent. But Xie Xiang was a standard girl from a noble family; she was certainly qualified to be the Crown Prince’s Consort or even the empress, but she wouldn’t have the ability to be the regent. If it really came to that day, the suppression from the consort kin was inevitable. If the little emperor was capable, he would have to fight for power with his maternal uncles when he grew up. If he didn’t have the ability, the consequences would be indescribable.
To make matters worse, the Taisun’s ascension to the throne, skipping the emperor’s son’s generation, was completely different from the Crown Prince’s ascension to the throne. In order to pave the way for the Taisun, not only did Wei Lan have to give way, but Wei Hao and Wei Yang, to name a few, also needed to be taken care of, thus weakening the power of the clan. Without the clan to rely on, what could the young emperor rely on to resist the consort kin but eunuchs? The destruction of the Shenchuan dynasty was inextricably linked to these two groups: consort kin and eunuchs.
Jun Feili didn’t believe that Wei Ming wouldn’t think of the obvious things that he could think of. But Wei Ming still had such an idea, even going so far as to suppress Wei Lan and not give him any opportunity to train. There had to be a reason.
After a moment of silence, Wei Ming slowly said: “Empress, you are wrong, I am not optimistic about the Taisun, I am pessimistic about Ah Lan. With his mentality and the way he handles things, if he ascends to that position, he will definitely make unforgivable mistakes. I… I can’t afford to gamble!”
Jun Feili was completely stunned, opening his mouth but not knowing what to say. After a long time, he heard his own trembling voice: “What did Ah Lan… What did he do? What would make Your Majesty think this way?” Why did he know absolutely nothing?
Wei Ming shook his head gently, looking a little tired: “He didn’t do anything… ahem…”
With Wei Lan’s current status, there were not many things that he could do. But if he were to ascend the throne, with his nature, it would be hard to say.
“Your Majesty, stop talking for now, Your Majesty… imperial doctor, quickly summon the imperial doctor, no no, quickly ask Lu Wang’s Lord Consort to come…” Jun Feili supported Wei Ming and reached out to pat him on his back. When he saw the bright red blood seeping between Wei Ming’s fingers that covered his mouth, he panicked.
On one side was the seriously ill emperor, and on the other was the Crown Prince’s Consort who was pregnant with the Crown Prince’s posthumous child. Sun Ye didn’t want to run around in and out of the palace, so he moved into the palace a long time ago. With his own Lord Consort in the palace, it was natural that Wang Lu Wei Xiao followed Sun Ye wherever he went.
The emperor had no male or female concubines, and the whole of the Six East Palaces were empty, but Yongfu Palace and Yongshou Palace that were the closest to Zichen Palace, were Wei Zhao and Wei Lan’s places of residence respectively, so Wang Lu had to settle for the next best thing and live in Qingping Palace next to them.
Sun Ye came quickly, with Wei Xiao panting behind him and two young medicine boys carrying Sun Ye’s medicine box.
Because the tone of the person who came to deliver the message from Zichen Palace was very anxious, Sun Ye didn’t care about saluting when he saw Jun Feili and rushed to the bed to check Wei Ming’s pulse. Jun Feili didn’t dare to disturb him and gave up his position by the bed as soon as Sun Ye entered the door.
As he checked the emperor’s pulse, Sun Ye’s expression became more and more solemn. He withdrew his hand and said, “Bring the golden needles!”
The medicine boy had just entered the room, and before he could even catch his breath, he hurriedly opened the medicine box and handed Sun Ye the golden needles that had already been sterilised.
Sun Ye’s fingers flew as he pierced the emperor’s body at twelve vital points. He infused the needles with internal force, and after the set of needles was applied, his forehead was covered with dense beads of sweat. Fortunately, after his help, Wei Ming’s expression was obviously more comfortable.
Jun Feili secretly breathed a sigh of relief and said quietly, “How is His Majesty’s condition? Please tell the truth, Wang Lu’s Lord Consort.” Jun Feili and Sun Ye weren’t related by blood themselves, but they had a common elder brother, Jun Lin, Hou Zhaoyang.
Jun Feili was Jun Lin’s half-brother from his father’s side, except that Jun Lin was born to the main wife and he was born to a concubine. Sun Ye, on the other hand, was Jun Lin’s half-brother from his mother’s side, the youngest son born to the remarried Ji Yang, Xianyou County Lord.
Sun Ye took the handkerchief handed to him by Wei Xiao, wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead and sighed softly, “As they say, you shouldn’t think too much and you shouldn’t be too anxious. Otherwise, even if my late master Teacher Duanmu was alive, I am afraid that there would be nothing he could do.”
At these words, everyone was silent. The position of the Crown Prince was vacant. How could Wei Ming not think too much about it?
Wei Zhao was handling the government affairs in the Xuanshi Hall, and he was the first to receive news of the emperor’s aggravated condition.
He left the matter at hand and hurriedly went to the Chengqian Hall. When he entered, the hall was particularly silent.
“Fourth Brother, you are here too.” Wei Xiao was the first to speak, breaking the long silence.
Wei Zhao didn’t know about Wei Ming’s situation, so he hurriedly asked, “How is Brother Emperor? Can his condition improve?”
Jun Feili glanced at him coldly: “For the time being, he is fine. He still needs to recuperate, so I’ll have to ask Wang Qin to take care of the matters of the court.”
Wei Zhao saluted and said, “The empress has spoken highly of me, it is my duty to share Brother Emperor’s worries. I will do my duty with all my heart.”
Later in the evening, Wei Zhao returned to his residence and was inexplicably worried when he remembered the way the empress looked at him.
Perhaps, the empress was upset because of the Second Prince. Between his younger brother and his son, Wei Ming’s choice was indeed not in line with the way of thinking of ordinary people.
After thinking about it, Wei Zhao immediately sent someone to the Eastern Camp and summoned Wei Chongrong back overnight.
As soon as the national mourning for the Empress Dowager was over, Wei Chongrong had been sent by Wei Zhao to the Eastern Camp, which was his base camp, and his own son was most reliable to guard it. Jun Hua also wanted to go with him, but Wei Zhao used the fact that he was still taking medicine as an excuse to have him stay in the residence.
Jun Hua’s Suyun Pill had been taken in full at the end of the previous year and his body completely recovered, so it was the old story brought up. He was at Wang Qin’s residence and Wei Chongrong was at the Eastern Camp, it was really too sad that they could only see each other every ten days or half a month.
Unexpectedly, Wei Zhao was unmoved and not only did he not allow Jun Hua to go to the Eastern Camp, but eventually sent him to the Western Camp in the opposite direction.
Although Jun Hua was frustrated, he still went there bitterly. Who was to blame that he was Wang Changning’s son? His father was far away in the southwest, his younger brother was still little, and it wasn’t good for the Western Camp to stay without Wang Changning’s family member for a long time.
When Wei Chongrong received a letter from Wei Zhao, it was already close to midnight. The letter didn’t say anything specific, but only asked him to return to the residence immediately.
This was a troubled time. Wei Chongrong didn’t dare to delay. He informed Dongfang and left in a hurry, wondering what could make Wei Zhao so anxious to summon him back to the city.
- Similar to “love me, love my dog”, to love someone and everyone connected by association; I’m actually sure this was the reason why Jiang Che married Xie Xiu back then