The chapter that the last few chapters has been building up to.
This chapter has been provided to you by me, ororomunreo90, vive and leecherleechleech.
Chapter Eighty Four Death of the Emperor
The interior of Tian Qi Palace was suffocatingly hot but no one dared to complain, not even to wipe away the sweat on their heads. All their attention was focused on the dragon bed. The man lying there was the master of their honor and even their lives.
The taiyi present took their turns as they shakily checked the pulse. When they had finished, they knelt in front of the Empress. The Dean of the Imperial Hospital said in a trembling voice: "Empress niangniang, His Majesty's pulse is as thin as silk, faltering occasionally before rising. This official has no solution."
"Wasn’t His Majesty just overwhelmed by the heat?" The Empress's expression changed dramatically. She might not know medicine but even she knew that only the mortally sick would have a weak pulse. She looked at the taiyi, their faces pale even in the sweltering heat, and ground out: "No matter what, you have to make His Majesty wake up!"
The taiyi present exchanged looks between themselves and gritted their teeth as they complied.
The Empress looked at the unconscious man on the bed and wiped away the sweat on her forehead. She thought for a while before summoning a messenger taijian: "The Emperor is seriously ill. Even if it's not good to have too much noise, but as a father, he would certainly be thinking of his children. Summon Duan Wang, Rui Wang, Cheng Wang and Jin An Princess from outside the hall. Shu guifei and Jing guifei should also come in to attend."
Outside Tian Qi Palace, all the feipin who had children, the princesses and the wang ye were all standing in the scorching sun as they waited. Seeing a taijian come out, the eyes that had been scattered due to the blinding sun instantly became spirited.
"Passing the decree of the Empress to summon Jing guifei, Shu guifei, His Highness Duan Wang, His Highness Rui Wang, His Highness Cheng Wang, and Jin An Princess Royal to attend." After the taijian passed on the Empress's decree, he didn't look at anyone's expression as he hurried back into the hall.
The others were discontent but had no other solutions. Right now, the Emperor was unconscious so the Empress held the highest status in the palace. If she said not to let someone in, who dared to force their way in?
The group of people entered the humid hall. Shu guifei furrowed her brow as she complained: "It's so hot inside the room, why not use some ice?"
The Empress glared icily at her: "Right now, His Majesty's pulse is weak. How could we use anything cold? If Shu guifei finds it too hot, then go back to your palace to rest. The Emperor here won't lack people to attend him."
Shu guifei was stung by the Empress' words. She didn't feel happy inside, but due to the other's position, she could only bow to the Empress, "Pinqie was just worried that the Emperor would overheat. Please, Empress, forgive pinqie's slip of the tongue."
The Empress looked at her and then her gaze swept across He Yuan beside her, not paying any more attention to her. She turned to look at the taiyi who was performing acupuncture and massaging the Emperor. Her voice was heavy as she announced: "The Emperor's illness this time is critical, the pulse is very weak. You …… serve well."
The people who were called in instantly changed their expressions. They were all understood what a weak pulse meant. But why did it suddenly become like this?
The person with the ugliest expression was most likely Shu guifei. She looked at everyone in the room. If the Emperor passed like this, how likely would it be that her child would succeed the throne? Thinking about it, she looked with enmity at He Heng, whose face was full of anxiousness. If Wei shi's son became the Emperor, would there even be a space in this Da Long Dynasty for her and her son?
"Why is it like this?" Shu guifei's voice got louder, and became rather piercing, "The Emperor was fine yesterday, how could his pulse be weak?!" She started to cry mournfully, occasionally calling for His Majesty.
Jing guifei wasn't like Shu guifei but the rims of her eyes reddened and tears silently ran down. A short while later, the handkerchief in her hand was sodden from her tears. But she didn't notice it. She only stood by the dragon bed as she cried silently.
Qing De Emperor seemed to hear a piercing voice which made his head hurt. When he managed to open his eyes, he saw a woman dressed in peach red kneeling in front of him. When he focused, he saw Shu guifei's tearful face show happiness. His heart moved and when he opened his mouth to speak, he saw Jing guifei standing at the end of the bed. Her swollen eyes were centered on his body. Even though she didn't say anything, he could feel her worry and concern for him and the joy when she saw him awaken.
He wanted to sit up and say that he was fine but found his body was paralyzed. He wanted to say a few words, but found it difficult to even breathe. He moved his eyes and saw the woman dressed impeccably by his side, and the woman standing by the bed whose attire was dishevelled and her hair not even properly made up. A long time later, he closed his eyes and found strength deep inside his body to order: "Summon the Chief Justice Tian Jin Ke, Minister of Revenue Luo Chang Qing, Prime Minister Wei Wen Guang, Minister of Rites Zhang Yu Cheng, Commander of the Imperial Guard Sun Zhang You."
After just a short sentence, Qing De Emperor was gasping for breath. Shu guifei, kneeling in front of him, felt her hands become cold. Her intuition told her that this man who had favoured her for more than twenty years was most likely going to leave her. She was sad inside, but she felt even more frantic. Did this man remember the promise he had made, that he would leave the throne to Yuan'er?
"Emperor, look at Yuan'er, he came to see you," Shu guifei stood to pull He Yuan next to the bed and said frantically, "Did you forget that you once said you wished to climb mountains with Yuan'er and ride horses. You haven't done those things yet. After you recover, you'll have to fulfill your promises."
Qing De Emperor looked at his most favored third son. He had changed this child's diapers, washed his feet, carried him on his back to play on the bed. He had watched this child grow up, bit by bit, to become a handsome youth.
"Fuhuang," He Yuan knelt of Qing De Emperor's bed, his eyes red as he pled, "Er chen remembers every word you said. Please recover quickly."
Yes, at that time he had said many things, even promising that his third son will be the next Emperor. But after all these years, he hadn't installed him as Crown Prince. His third son's personality was too arrogant. He had always been waiting for him to mature. But now, he didn't have the strength to keep waiting.
His blurry gaze passed He Yuan's shoulders to see the second son standing a few steps away. This was the child that Wei shi gave birth to for him. He remembered his schooling was good, his protocol was good and he was filial. He had bestowed many things to this son but he couldn't remember anything else.
When this child was small, he must also have been white and plump. He remembered when Wei shi had carried him and he reached out to call him fuhuang.
The children had grown up, but he was old.
"Emperor, the daren have all arrived." The chief taijian reported in a small voice.
"Summon," Qing De Emperor moved his eyes away and said weakly.
When Tian Jin Ke and the others entered the hall, they detected that something wasn't right. When they saw the Emperor's rosy face, their hearts jumped and they quickly knelt down, "This official greets Emperor, greets Empress."
Qing De Emperor didn't call for them to rise but ordered: "Prepare the Four Treasures of the Study."
Shu guifei stared with wide eyes as the taijian brought the instruments. She knew what the Emperor was doing, her heart seemed to be trying to burst out of her throat.
"Zhen dictates, Official Tian writes, you all listen." Qing De Emperor's gaze slowly swept across everyone in the room. In the end, he saw Jing guifei in the corner, clearly sobbing so hard she couldn't breathe yet not making a sound. He closed his eyes. A beat later, he opened them, his eyes full of determination.
He Yuan saw his fuhuang's gaze and felt that it wasn't reassuring. He couldn't help but ask: "What fuhuang once said, does it still count?"
Qing De Emperor glanced at him and slightly moved away. He took a breath: "Ever since ascension the throne, zhen had no achievements in governance, no ability to expand the borders, but had a son …… Heng, born intelligent, benevolent and kind, of good moral character and governance of his household, with the virtues of xiandi. After repeated thought, only this son is able to govern the world, zhen therefore passes the throne to the second imperial son Heng and to pick an auspicious day for ascension."
When he'd finished speaking, Qing De Emperor was gasping heavily and his sight became blurry. He looked at the jade seal and personal seal that were presented in front of him. Trembling, he raised the jade seal and pressed down on the Imperial Decree Tian Jin Ke held up.
"Fuhuang!" He Yuan watched as the crimson stamp of the jade seal fell on the Imperial Decree and asked in disbelief, "Why are you changing your mind?"
Qing De Emperor didn't pay attention to him. He laboriously stamped his personal seal on the Imperial Decree. When he had finished, he seemed to have lost all energy, coldness creeping up his back.
"Fuhuang, fuhuang, why!" He Yuan tried to grab the Imperial Decree but was restrained by the taijian. He turned to furiously stare at He Heng, "What ploy did you play that made fuhuang create such a decree?"
The rims of He Heng's eyes reddened as he replied: "San di, don't cause a fuss now … …"
"Stop acting, your mother and you always act. Other people might believe it, but I find it disgusting," He Yuan looked heatedly at Qing De Emperor, "Fuhuang, this is how you treat me?"
Qing De Emperor didn't seem to have heard He Yuan's screams. He stared dazedly at the end of the bed, muttering: "Chan'er don't cry, Chan'er … … zhen was wrong, was wrong … …"
Shu guifei's eyes suddenly widened, looking in disbelief at Qing De Emperor as though she didn't recognize the person in front of her.
The hall was entirely silent. They didn't know who Chan'er was nor why the Emperor was calling for her, and they also didn't know why the Emperor would say that he was wrong. But they did know that Duan Wang was the future Emperor. The heir had been determined and it would minimize the upheaval.
It might have been a long time, or just an instant of time before Jing guifei walked to Qing De Emperor and bent down to grasp his hand.
Qing De Emperor looked at her, a smile appearing on his lips as he slowly closed his eyes.
Jing guifei's other hand trembled as she moved the index finger of her other hand under the nose of Qing De Emperor and her tears immediately fell down.
Shu guifei pushed aside Jing guifei, throwing herself onto Qing De Emperor's body as she loudly started bawling, "Emperor!"
The chief taijian knelt with a bang on the ground, loudly announcing: "The Emperor is dead!"
The people in the room knelt down like dumplings falling into the pot. Tian Jin Ke knelt in front of He Heng , holding the Imperial Decree high up: "The country cannot be without an emperor, please, Emperor, arrange for the funeral of xiandi. This one kneels to request Emperor to restrain your grief."
"Kneeling to request the Emperor to restrain your grief!" Everyone loudly mimicked.
The people outside the hall sobbed as they knelt down. No matter if they were really sad or acting, at this moment, all of them were sobbing so much that they couldn't breathe.
He Heng slowly reach out with both hands to receive the Imperial Decree from Tian Jin Ke. He knelt in front of Qing De Emperor and gave three hard kowtows: "Er chen is of mediocre ability, received fuhuang's love today, and will strive to the utmost to govern the people of the world." After he had finished speaking, he staggered as he stood up, crying out loud.
When the guards and taijian guarding outside the hall heard that Duan Wang had succeeded the throne, they took advantage of the moment to silently retreat out, as though they had never appeared before.
Suddenly, a clap of thunder sounded and the first rains of summer finally came pouring down.
In Duan Wang Fu, Qu Qing Ju stood next to the window as she looked at the wang fu shrouded in mist, and occasionally fanned herself.
A few days earlier, she had detected that He Heng and He Ming had been secretly conspiring on some matters. Did they manage to account for the possibility that Qing De Emperor would suddenly die?
Thinking about it, Qu Qing Ju furrowed her brows. Why would she, for no reason at all, think that Qing De Emperor had passed away? Was she extrapolating too much?