The Thing She Wanted to See Least Has Happened
When the county princess’ manor’s gates were opened, someone outside fell, and Feng Yu Heng caught them. She saw that it was a completely soaked Bai Fu Rong that had fallen into her arms. Her body was ice-cold, and her teeth were chattering.
“Fu Rong!” Feng Yu Heng called to her and helped her up. She then looked behind her and found that the carriage that she had been sitting in was ruined by the rain. The driver stood in the rain and looked to be on the verge of no longer being able to endure. “Quickly bring the driver in. Bring him into the manor to rest.” She gave the order to the gatekeeper then turned to tell Wang Chuan: “It seems that I will not be able to go to the Wen Xuan Palace. Go find Huang Quan. You two go together. Get a clear idea of the situation in Xiao Zhou.”
Wang Chuan nodded. Seeing that Huang Quan had brought the carriage around, she quickly rushed out into the rain.
Feng Yu Heng brought Bai Fu Rong into her own courtyard. Before servants could come and change her clothes, she grabbed Feng Yu Heng and urgently said: “Heng, it’s so scary. It’s so scary outside!” She said this while trembling. Only then did Feng Yu Heng notice that Bai Fu Rong was not trembling from the cold. It was because she was afraid.
“What did you see?” She asked Bai Fu Rong: “Where did you come from? The manor? Your carriage is very sturdy. If it was just traveling through the capital, it would not become like that. Fu Rong, did you go out of the capital?”
Bai Fu Rong nodded, “Yes, I left the city. Father went out to look at an old piece of jade before the heavy rain started. He sent a letter today saying that he would return to the capital, thus I brought a hidden guard and left the city to receive him. But, Heng, do you know what I saw?” The more she said, the more horrified she felt. By the end, she shrank into the chair, her face was a very pale white.
Feng Yu Heng thought quickly and seemed to have thought of something. Her expression then sank, “It seems… that the thing I was hoping would not happen ended up happening.” She quietly muttered these words then looked at Bai Fu Rong, asking her: “Outside of the city, are there a large number of dead people?”
Bai Fu Rong nodded and took a deep breath, urgently saying: “A large number of people have died. Each pool of water is filled with dead people. Those people have become deformed from being soaked in those puddles. Some of the heads of the corpses have become bigger than basins from the water. Some of them no longer look human. Father said that the weather would get hot once more. After the natural disaster, there would be an epidemic. He wanted me to come and have you think of an idea.” Bai Fu Rong looked at Feng Yu Heng, some expectation in her eyes.
Feng Yu Heng had no true grasp of the situation. She did not think that the situation outside the city would be so bad. She asked Bai Fu Rong: “Why are there so many people?”
Bai Fu Rong told her: “They’re all refugees fleeing toward the city. Some died along the way, and some died outside the gates because they could not enter the capital.”
She heard something important: “They could not enter the city?”
Bai Fu Rong nodded: “That’s right. The refugees only view the capital as a pillar of moral support. They just thought that the capital would not become drowned by water; however, they did not think of how they did not have any relatives to ask for help. For the people that could point out where their relatives lived, people would immediately be sent to investigate. Once they had been found, they would be allowed in. But those that do not have relatives were definitely not allowed in. In truth…” She paused for a moment then said: “Father said that in truth, many of the people died of hunger.”
“I understand.” Feng Yu Heng waved her hand and gestured for Bai Fu Rong to not continue saying anything further. Her mood was a bit of a mess. Although it was not that she had not thought of this situation, now that it had truly occurred, it was still a little hard to accept for someone that came from the modern era.
“Heng!” Bai Fu Rong called out to her: “Father said that you are the only one that can control the epidemic. Can you think of anything that can be done? I’m scared… I’m scared…” Her speech was no longer smooth, and her face became even paler. It was as though she had remembered something extremely scary. She could not sit still, as she leaped up from the chair. Grabbing Feng Yu Heng, she panted and said: “I’m afraid that those refugees will become too hungry and will… will…”
“Will eat people.” She finished Bai Fu Rong’s incomplete sentence. She also shivered, unable to stop herself.
Famine was a problem. People eating each other was the outcome that she least wanted to see.
“Fu Rong, calm down for now. Listen to me.” She calmed herself down and pressed down on Bai Fu Rong’s shoulders. Putting in some strength, it was as though she hoped to give some of her own strength away.
Bai Fu Rong had indeed calmed down a great deal under her support. She then heard Feng Yu Heng continue: “Controlling the epidemic is indeed important, but that can only be done after the rain has stopped. Right now, the priority is to take care of the refugees. We absolutely must not allow the situation to devolve into people eating other people. Do you understand?”
Bai Fu Rong subconsciously nodded, but she was still a little confused: “What should we do?”
Feng Yu Heng told her: “I will prepare a new carriage for you. Go find Tian Ge. Have her go buy rice using her status as the imperial daughter. If there are no fresh vegetables, use pickled vegetables. At the very least, we must ensure that the refugees can have two bowls of congee each day. Only by ensuring that they live can we avoid disaster.”
Bai Fu Rong also knew that they were in a state of emergency. Calming herself down, she immediately stood up and nodded, saying: “Alright, I will head out.”
Feng Yu Heng walked over to the dresser and pulled out a raincoat for her. She then personally sent Bai Fu Rong out. Just after she left, she very quickly noticed a group of soldiers hurriedly running past the manor’s entrance. They were carrying a large number of things, and there was a wooden frame. One of the people rushed over to her. Feng Yu Heng looked and found that it was someone familiar.
“Wang Zhuo, where are you guys going?” She took the initiative to ask.
The person that had come was Wang Zhuo. Covered in a cloak, his face was covered in rainwater. He ran over and loudly said: “County princess, his Highness the ninth prince ordered for us to prepare a shelter for the refugees to block the rain!”
Only then did she understand why the soldiers that had passed by were carrying a wooden frame, but… “With it raining so heavily, will the shelter be of any use? Can they be allowed into the capital?”
Wang Zhuo repeatedly waved his hand: “County princess, there are too many people. If they came it, it would become a mess, and there is no place for them to take shelter from the rain!”
Feng Yu Heng knew that this was reality. For the country, any place could become a mess, but the capital was the exception. Based on what Bai Fu Rong had said, there were already a very large number of refugees outside. If they were all let into the capital, it would definitely become a mess.
She did not keep Wang Zhuo any longer, only reminding him: “Just setting up shelters is no good. People also need to be sent to carry the corpses far away. Gather them together. I will think of something later on to burn them.”
Wang Zhuo nodded, loudly saying: “County princess, quickly go back. This subordinate will get to work!” After saying this, he rushed back into the rain.
Feng Yu Heng watched the soldiers run further and further away. She became worried once more. With it raining so heavily, would that shelter be of any use? Exactly how many refugees were there outside the city? How large did this shelter need to be?
She pondered for a while then turned and went back. She called Qing Yu to her room. Spreading out a piece of paper, she wrote while saying: “In a moment, have people go over to Hundred Herb Hall. Following what I wrote, have the people over there prepare these medicines. Also, have them prepare some extra help. They need to be very skilled with their hands and have medical knowledge. These may be needed later on.” After she finished speaking, she put down her pen and handed the piece of paper to Qing Yu, “Don’t go on your own. Just have someone send it. Return quickly. We will be going into the palace.”
The torrential rains outside still showed no signs of easing up. In fact, it also began hailing. The county princess’ manor had increased the thickness of the carriages to prevent mishaps. Feng Yu Heng brought Qing Yu along in her imperial carriage and went toward the imperial palace. When they passed by the Yu Palace, she especially stopped to inquire. She found that Xuan Tian Ming was also at the palace, thus she hurried the driver to go faster.
All of the imperial palace’s gates were closed tight. The imperial guards had set up a canopy, but they could still become soaked by the rain. Seeing that a carriage had stopped at the gate, a guard quickly went over. The Emperor had already given the order that it was currently a state of emergency. If a member of the court had an emergency to report, they could enter the palace at any time. Although the palace’s gates were firmly shut, if there was a report, they would be permitted to enter at any time.
Because it was raining heavily, the guards could not see clearly what sort of carriage it was. Just as he was about to go forward to ask, Feng Yu Heng lifted the curtain and poked her head out. Once they saw that it was county princess Ji AN, they did not even ask, directly opening the palace’s gate. One of the guards even said: “There is no need for county princess to get out of the carriage. Just enter in the imperial carriage! His Highness the ninth prince already knew that county princess would be coming, and he passed along the message saying to go straight to Heavenly Hall upon arriving at the palace.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded and did not say anything else. Hurrying the driver, the carriage rushed in the direction of Heavenly Hall. The carriage continued until it reached the square in front of Heavenly Hall before stopping. Qing Yu opened up an umbrella that Feng Yu Heng had prepared and held it up to prevent her from being hit by hail. The two then walked into the rain in the direction of Heavenly Hall while wearing their raincoats and rainboots.
When they reached the entrance, they heard the Emperor shout: “It’s going to continue raining for another five days? If it rains for another five days, won’t the imperial palace also become flooded? With the capital already in this situation, how can the outer provinces survive? No good, no good. You must think of a solution for this. We cannot allow it to continue like this.”
Immediately following this came another helpless voice, saying: “Your Majesty, this is a meteorological phenomenon. This official really cannot do anything!”
“If there’s nothing that you can do then think!”
“Man cannot fight with the heavens!”
The two went back and forth, neither giving any ground. Feng Yu Heng quickened her pace slightly and found that the person speaking with the Emperor was someone that she had met before. Although she was not familiar with them, she had an impression of them. She walked forward and saluted the Emperor first, saying: “Daughter-in-law greets father Emperor.”
The Emperor quickly waved his hand, “Quickly getup. We were waiting for you.”
Feng Yu Heng stood up and looked at Xuan Tian Ming, who was standing to the side. She then turned her attention to the person that had been speaking to the Emperor. After looking at him for a while, a faint smile appeared on her face. She slightly nodded and took the initiative to say: “Lord Jian Zheng of the Board of Astronomy, greetings.”
Jian Zheng’s body swayed, and he subconsciously took half a step back. His expression then turned cold, as he quickly returned the gesture: “This lowly official greets county princess.”
The Emperor was a little annoyed: “Don’t bother with all of that pointless stuff. Heng, quickly come here.” He waved to Feng Yu Heng. Only after she walked over to Xuan Tian Ming’s side and the two walked over to him did he say: “The people at the Board of Astronomy said that it will continue raining for another five days. Tell me, how could this possibly be fine?”
Xuan Tian Ming was a little helpless, “Even if you ask Heng Heng, there’s no point! No matter how great her abilities, can she manage the sky?”
Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Father Emperor, if it continues raining, nobody can stop it. But the capital must make proper arrangements for the refugees; otherwise, it’s not a problem if the refugees cause a problem, but that problem will arise if there are any people with ulterior motives mingling among them. It will become very hard to control.”
This reasoning was something that everyone understood. Xuan Tian Ming said: “I have already stationed people outside the city. I have already pulled 5000 soldiers from the military camp. This prince has ordered them to set up shelters outside the city. We can talk after the people have been settled in.”
Feng Yu Heng also said: “I saw Wang Zhuo. The building of shelters is one aspect. I have also sent people to take care of the corpses. Tian Ge should be taking care of buying rice at the moment. We must provide the refugees with food to eat. To the refugees, food is god. Only by staving off hunger can we prevent problems.”
She turned to ask Jian Zheng from the Board of Astronomy: “After the heavy rain, what sort of weather will follow? Can this be measured?”
Jian Zheng sighed, his reply carried traces of despair: “Extreme heat!”