The palace maids and eunuchs ran in different directions.
Some ran to the emperor, others to Pei Zhang, Pei Jin and Wang Fu Mu.
In the chamber, Dian Thi collapsed on the floor and was bleeding continuously. Tears fell down her pale face and her stomach ached unbearably. Even in her pain she didn’t forget to bite the powdered fingernail and swallow it.
Yan Shi Ning was too shocked to move. After she saw Consort Mu and Chu Thi approached the chamber too quickly, she regained her composure.
Yan Shi Ning didn’t know why Dian Thi cooperated with Consort Mu and Chu Thi to kill Dian Thi’s child and frame her. But she knew the consequences, the emperor wouldn’t spare Pei Jin and everyone at his manor for conspiring to kill the emperor’s grandchild.
‘Mistress, inside the tea are powder used to induce labour,’ Xiao Tu said.
Yan Shi Ning didn’t have any other options, she sipped the tea.
‘Mistress!’ Xiao Tu said.
‘Don’t worry, I only drank a sip,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Little sister Xiao Tu, you need to be my midwife.’
‘Midwife?’ Xiao Tu asked.
Yan Shi Ning clutched her stomach, the powder was too concentrated.
‘My child is more than eight months,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘It’s possible. I’m begging little sister Xiao Tu!’
Yan Shi Ning laid on the floor. She felt her stomach contract and cried.
Xiao Tu thought about what happened and understood Yan Shi Ning’s logic. Yan Shi Ning wanted to save everyone at Pei Jin’s manor by drinking the dissolved power and giving birth prematurely.
Xiao Tu quickly helped Yan Shi Ning sit on the floor, pulled out a hairpin, pricked a finger and wiped the blood on Yan Shi Ning’s dress.
‘Ninth prince’s wife is bleeding!’ Xiao Tu screamed.
Xiao Tu’s fingers pressed on some of Yan Shi Ning’s vital acupuncture points and inserted a pill into Yan Shi Ning’s mouth.
Everyone rushed to the chamber and saw Dian Thi and Yan Shi Ning were bleeding on the floor.
Consort Mu and Chu Thi were startled Yan Shi Ning was giving birth too.
‘Ninth prince’s wife is in labour!’ Xiao Tu screamed.
A long time later Xiao Tu wiped Yan Shi Ning’s sweaty forehead.
‘Mistress, you need to push harder,’ Xiao Tu said.
‘Ah… ninth prince’s wife is bleeding!’ the palace maids cried out at the same time.
‘Get out of here!’ Xiao Tu ordered the troublesome palace maids.
Xiao Tu looked calmly at the panicked and tired Yan Shi Ning. ‘Mistress, it’s alright. Mistress, you need to push harder.’
Yan Shi Ning bit down on the cloth and pushed hard. She didn’t know her fingernails were piercing her palms because the labour pain overwhelmed her senses.
‘Son… you need to endure and survive,’ Yan Shi Ning murmured.
Outside the chamber Pei Jin saw a maid carry another bowl of blood water.
‘What’s happening inside?’ Pei Jin asked. ‘How is my wife?’
The maid shivered to see the usual gentle ninth prince glare deadly at her. ‘Ninth prince… I don’t know.’
Pei Jin was angry and anxious. His wife and child were healthy. There was no reason for Yan Shi Ning to give birth prematurely unless something happened while she wasn’t inside the banquet hall.
Dian Thi and Yan Shi Ning were in labour in chambers next to each other. Dian Thi gave birth to a stillborn child while Yan Shi Ning gave birth to a healthy child.
Dian Thi looked at her dead son’s purple face and sobbed loudly.
Outside the chamber the emperor heard Dian Thi’s sob.
‘What happened?’ the emperor asked Dian Thi’s midwife coldly. ‘How is my grandchild?’
The midwife knelt in front of the emperor and cried for mercy. ‘Your majesty, seventh prince’s second wife’s child died.’
‘Died?’ the emperor asked.
The emperor didn’t believe what he heard. How was it possible for a woman who had a smooth pregnancy for nine months suddenly lose a child?
Pei Zhang acted shock and slumped on the ground and Consort Mu cried hysterically.
‘My grandchild was healthy,’ Consort Mu said. ‘Why did I lose my grandchild?’
Suddenly a child’s loud cry was heard and Pei Jin stood upright.
Another midwife carried a healthy child outside Yan Shi Ning’s chamber.
‘Congratulations your majesty,’ the midwife said. ‘Congratulations ninth prince, your wife gave birth to a prince.’
Pei Jin didn’t care if his child was a boy or a girl. ‘How is my wife?’
‘Ninth prince, your wife lost a lot of blood,’ the midwife said. ‘Your wife is in a weak condition.’
Pei Jin rushed into the chamber and parted the beaded curtains. Yan Shi Ning was lying on the bed, her whole body was sweaty and her hair was messy.
Yan Shi Ning cried happy tears. ‘Pei Jin…’
Pei Jin held Yan Shi Ning and cried. ‘Shi Ning…’
‘Yan Shi Ning!’ Dian Thi cried out from the neighbouring chamber. ‘I want to kill you! Give back my son!’
Yan Shi Ning gripped Pei Jin’s hand. ‘This is their scheme. Be careful.’
The emperor was sad to hear a grandson died but he was also happy to hear his other grandson was alive.
‘What happened?’ the emperor asked Dian Thi’s maid coldly.
The maid knelt in front of the emperor and cried. ‘Your majesty, I don’t know. I left to get lavender oil for mistress and after I returned I saw mistress lying on the floor and bleeding. I… I heard it was ninth prince’s wife who poisoned the tea.’
‘What poison?’ the emperor asked and signalled an imperial guard to investigate.
A while later the imperial guard reported to the emperor. ‘In ninth prince’s wife and seventh prince’s second wife’s tea are powder to induce labour.’
‘Who dared to do this?’ the emperor asked. ‘Find the culprit! Who were here when it happened? Who poured the tea?’
The palace maids and the eunuchs knelt and cried. ‘Your majesty, we were framed.’
‘Your majesty, the powder was only in their two cups of tea… it’s too coincidental… someone must have contaminated their tea in front of them,’ the imperial guard said.
Dian Thi and Yan Shi Ning were harmed so Xiao Tu was the biggest suspect.
Yan Shi Ning heard the emperor was interrogating Xiao Tu. She was weak but used her little strength to walk outside and kneel in front of the emperor.
‘Imperial father, Xiao Tu is like a little sister to me,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Xiao Tu risked her life to help me give birth. If she wanted to harm me, she could have easily killed me and my son.’
Pei Jin’s heart ached to see Yan Shi Ning kneel too soon after giving birth, he could only kneel next to her.
The emperor believed Yan Shi Ning, he didn’t think the culprit was Xiao Tu.
‘If it isn’t her then who else?’ Consort Mu asked. ‘There were only three of them inside the chamber!’
‘Why did you kill my son?’ Pei Zhang asked. He knelt in front of his father and cried. ‘Imperial father, you need to give my son justice.’
End of Chapter Sixty-Nine