After Lu Zi Hao and Yu Jian left, Feng Yue hastily walks in.
She kneels on the floor when she sees Yun Qian Yu, "Please save my master, Your Highness!"
"Please get up. Tell us what happened slowly," she motions Feng Ran to help Feng Yue up.
Feng Yue gets up and anxiously says, "Master directly returned to Hu Wei Camp, last night. He went to bed after washing up and never got up this morning. I thought he was just too tired. But when he didn't wake up until noon, I grew worried. I decided to check on him. I tried to wake him up, but he wouldn't wake up. He was still breathing, but no matter what I did, I couldn't wake him up. I already invited the camp's physician over, but even he did not know what was wrong with Master. I quickly went to Duke Rong's manor to seek help. Duke Rong personally brought the manor's physician to Hu Wei Camp, but even they did not know what was wrong. I could only come here, to seek Your Highness' help."
"Don't be anxious. Where is Man Xi right now?" Yun Qian Yu asks.
"Duke Rong has brought him back to the manor," Feng Yue says.
"Does Duke Rong know that you have come to me?"
"He knows. This subordinate informed him before coming here."
"I will go to Duke Rong's manor with you," Yun Qian Yu gets up. She instructs Chen Xiang to inform Murong Cang of the matter before asking Gong Sang Mo if he would like to come with her.
"Man Xi becomes like this after following us to Wolong Ridge, of course this king have to go to see him," Gong Sang Mo says.
Yun Qian Yu nods. Both of them follow Feng Yue out of the palace to Duke Rong's manor. The housekeeper is anxiously waiting for them. Yun Qian Yu catches a flash of resentment in his eyes when he sees her.
They walk through the manor to Hua Man Xi's courtyard that is currently filled with people.
When they reach the entrance door to Hua Man Xi's pavilion, they can hear the 3rd madam screaming loudly by the door, "Let me in! I want to see the shizi!"
Yun Qian Yu's eyes goes past the crowd and falls on the 3rd madam who is being hold back by a bunch of people. She appears as though she has lost her mind. It is as though the one inside is her own son.
A thin, scrawny young man is tugging her from behind, "Mother, the shizi is currently ill. Let the madam check him through first before visiting him."
"Get lost! I want to get in!" She pushes the young man hard. The young man stumbles backwards and ends up hitting his head against a flower pot. His head bleeds heavily.
One of the servants behind helps the boy up and quickly says, "3rd madam, young master's head is bleeding!"
"He will not die from it!" the 3rd madam cruelly says.
The 2nd madam who is next to her cannot bear to watch this anymore, "3rd sister-in-law, Yun Xi is your son, how could you treat him like that? The shizi naturally has the wangye and wangfei to look after him. From the way you act, it is as though the shizi is your son instead of Yun Xi."
The 3rd madam is frozen. She composes her expression before saying, "Sister-in-law is speaking nonsense. I am just worried for the shizi."
"Oh really? You look more anxious than the wangfei herself," the 4th madam says coolly.
"Correct. We are all worried about the shizi, but none of us are acting like you, as though your son has just died," the 5th madam quips in.
Just as the 3rd madam is about to speak up, Duke Rong walks out of the chamber, "What are you people noisy about? Go back to your own quarters if you want to fight."
Just as he says that, his eyes fall on the 3rd madam and consequently Hua Yun Xi who is lying on the ground. His eyes flashes, "3rd sister-in-law, what is wrong with Yun Xi? Hurry and bring him to the manor's physician!"
The 3rd madam looks at Duke Rong as though she has a lot to say but simply keeps it all to herself. She turns to the servant who is helping Hua Yun Xi, "What are you standing there in a daze for? Hurry and take him to the physician."
Yun Qian Yu looks at the 3rd madam coldly. It is clear that Hua Yun Xi has been malnourished for a very long time. He looks so weak that he starts gasping after taking a few steps. He does not have long to live. Duke Rong's manor actually has this kind of young master-ah. Nobody would believe that.
No mother would treat their children like that, much less their only child. She considers the Duke's relationship with the 3rd madam, and then what Hua Man Xi told her when they heard the 3rd madam hitting Hua Yun Xi back then. Her heart tightens when she recalls how worried the 3rd madam was for Hua Man Xi. Could it be that Hua Man Xi is the son of the 3rd madam and the Duke? Princess Ming Zhu once told her that Hua Yun Xi is only older than Hua Man Xi by one day.
Yun Qian Yu is surprised by her own thoughts. If this is real, it would explain a lot of things.
Duke Rong already had someone he liked, but was forced to marry Princess Ming Zhu. He got lucky when his lover and his wife got pregnant at the same time, and so, taking advantage of his 3rd brother's death while out, he took his lover in as his dead brother's wife. After his lover and his wife both gave birth to their own children, he exchanged the babies so that the son of the woman he loved became the shizi, and Princess Ming Zhu's son became that woman's punching bag. As though that wasn't enough, he gave Princess Ming Zhu an infertility tonic so that she could no longer bear any more children.
No wonder Hua Man Xi always said weird things, he probably knows some things.
What about Princess Ming Zhu? Does she know? What will she feel if she finds out that the son that she has loved for 18 years isn't her's? What will she feel if she knows that her real son is dying?
There is this indescribable feeling inside Yun Qian Yu's chest.
"Princess Hu Guo, Xian Wang," Duke Rong greets them when he notices them.
The crowd immediately gives way.
Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo walks over.
"Duke Rong, bengong and Xian Wang heard about what happened to Xi shizi," Yun Qian Yu says.
Duke Rong looks at them unhappily for a moment before saying, "Did anything happened to Xi Er when he followed you two to Wolong Ridge?"
"Why? Are you interrogating us, Duke Rong?" Yun Qian Yu looks at him coldly, her voice unfriendly.
"I don't dare to. But it is true that Xi Er becomes like this after returning from Wolong Ridge," Duke Rong refuses to give in.
"It seems like Duke Rong does not care about Xi shizi's life."
"Nonsense! Xi Er is my only son, how can this king not care?" Duke Rong loses his temper.
"Then have you forgotten bengong's other identity? You are wasting both our times out here," she laughs at him mockingly.
"You….." Duke Rong reins in his anger and waves his sleeves, "Please come in,Princess Hu Guo, Xian Wang."
Then, he walks back into the chamber without even waiting for them.
Yun Qian Yu looks at Gong Sang Mo who smiles at her. "Let's go. This king understand Duke Rong's heart. He is a father after all."
The two of them ignores the crowd and simply walks in. Upon entering, Yun Qian Yu sees Hua Man Xi who is lying on his bed. His face is at ease, as though he is in deep sleep. Pirnces Ming Zhu looks utterly broken as she sits by his bedside, her eyes swollen.
"Imperial aunt," Yun Qian Yu greets her.
"You are here, Qian Yu. Please check Xi Er. What is wrong with this child…" Princess Ming Zhu says broken-heartedly.
"Don't worry, imperial aunt. Let me have a look," Yun Qian Yu walks over to Hua Man Xi's bedside.
Duke Rong sneers icily.
Princess Ming Zhu glances at him, "Don't pay him any attention, Qian Yu. Just do your thing."
The corner of Yun Qian Yu's lips twitches as she sits on a stool next to the bed.
First, she checks his eyes. They are normal. Then, she turns to check his tongue. It is also normal. She checks his pulse next, which is also normal.
She channels Zi Yu Xin Jing from the tip of her finger and into Hua Man Xi's body.
One minute and one second later, Princess Ming Zhu looks at Yun Qian Yu anxiously. Why is it taking so long? What kind of illness has Xi Er contracted? She feels so uneasy.
Duke Rong is looking at Yun Qian Yu anxiously too, as though he is afraid she will hurt his son.
Gong Sang Mo frowns. He turns to Feng Yue and asks her, "Did Man Xi eat or drink anything at Hu Wei Camp?"
"No, he did not. He went to bed right after bathing."
Gong Sang Mo frowns even harder.
Yun Qian Yu finally finishes checking him. She gets up and turns to Princess Ming Zhu and Duke Rong, "Did anything happen in your household lately?"
"No," Princess Ming Zhu replies in confusion. Then, she turns to Duke Rong and says, "Did anything happen between you and Xi Er?"
"What could possibly happen between us? Everytime we meet, that spoiled brat was the one who went around angering me. How could I bully him with a mother like you by his side?" Duke Rong replies in dissatisfaction.
Yun Qian Yu takes a deep breath, "He sealed his own heart meridian."
"What do you mean?" Princess Ming Zhu asks.
"This is a method that people use when they have to face something they cannot bring themselves to. They cannot die, but cannot face that trial either, so they choose to seal their heart meridian so that they can go to sleep instead."
Yun Qian Yu looks at Duke Rong and can see something flashing in his eyes.
"How can this be? What is bothering you, Xi Er? Tell me. Why did you do something so stupid?" Princess Ming Zhu cries in heartache.
"Don't worry, imperial aunt. This method will only let him fall asleep, it has no other side-effect. When the time comes, he will wake up," Yun Qian Yu comforts her.
"How long will it take?" Princess Ming Zhu anxiously asks.
"Based on his inner power, it should take around 10 days from now," Yun Qian Yu makes a rough estimation.
"Can you do something to make him wake up faster?"Princess Ming Zhu asks, refusing to give up.
"No. Everything is up to the person who sealed the heart meridian. No one can make him wake up. I believe Duke Rong understands that himself," Yun Qian Yu turns the topic to Duke Rong.
"It is indeed so." Duke Rong's expression is chilly. Yun Qian Yu has never seen Duke Rong in this manner. He has always been amiable in the past, though speaks very little.
When Princess Ming Zhu hears that, she turns to Hua Man Xi and sobs once more.
Duke Rong looks at Princess Ming Zhu, then at Hua Man Xi, before finally resting his eyes on Yun Qian Yu and Gong Sang Mo, "The manor is not in feasible condition to welcome Princess Hu Guo and Xian Wang. Please leave for now. Once Xi Er wakes up, we will inform you both." Duke Rong discourteously sends the guests away.
Both of them does not put it to heart. It is natural for him to have a bad mood at this moment.
Duke Rong turns to Princess Ming Zhu again, "Wangfei should return as well. Before Xi Er wakes up, this residence will be guarded tight. No one will be allowed in."
"I am his mother!" Princess Ming Zhu turns to him with tear-stricken face.
"I know. But, for Xi Er's safety, you will have to endure this grievance for now," when he sees that Princess Ming Zhu is about to collapse, his tone soften considerably.
Princess Ming Zhu looks at him for a long time. When he does not show signs of changing his mind, she concedes, "Fine!"
She turns back towards Hua Man Xi and caresses his face, "Hurry and wake up, Xi Er. Stop worrying Mother." Her voice carries traces of pleading.
Duke Rong's eyes flash when she says that.
Princess Ming Zhu gets up and wipes the tears from her face before turning to Yun Qian Yu, "Qian Yu, let auntie send you off."
"No need, auntie. I will send you. Sang Mo can wait. I will send you off first before leaving. Don't worry, Man Xi will be fine. Take care of your body. If you are sick once Man Xi wakes up, he will worry about you."
Yun Qian Yu escorts Princess Ming Zhu out.
After bidding Duke Rong farewell, Gong Sang Mo waits for her outside.
Yun Qian Yu walks Princess Ming Zhu to her courtyard. She seem to have something to say, but keeps holding herself back. She keeps her expression in check when Princess Ming Zhu suddenly trace a sentence at the back of her hand, 'Xi Er my child.'
Yun Qian Yu understands that Princess Ming Zhu is trying to tell her that Hua Man Xi is her child.
There is no change in Yun Qian Yu's expression, but her heart is in a furor at the moment. Everything is so complex. The entire Duke Rong manor is a field full of intrigue, even she feels like she lacks wit to completely comprehend them.
When they reach the entrance of Princess Ming Zhu's residence, Princess Ming Zhu lets go of her hand, "Go back, Xian Wang is waiting for you."
"Man Xi is indeed fine, don't worry auntie."
"I believe you." Yun Qian Yu does not know what else to say. She simply turns around and follows a maid that is tasked to lead her out.
As she passed the mo bamboo forest, she gives it a glance. Ever since she mastered the art from the previous dynasty, her eyesight has improved a lot. The forest is very deep, she cannot see anything beyond it.
She can sense that something is wrong. No matter how deep this forest is, it is just in a courtyard. Her eyes are sharp that she can practically see through not just one, but even two courtyards! Why can't she see anything here?
Matrix formation! Someone used the matrix formation here! That's why she cannot see through the forest!
Without a change in expression, she walks past the forest and through the arch gate separating the forest and the entertaining hall. Gong Sang Mo is sitting on the entertaining hall, accompanied by the manor's housekeeper.
When the maid that leads her there sees the housekeeper, she curtsies before turning round and walking away.
The housekeeper personally sends them to the main entrance of the manor and sees them off as they board their carriages.
Inside the carriage, Gong Sang Mo smiles at her, "Worried?"
"Not really. Just this manor is too scary. The saying that too many people leads to many problems is true," Yun Qian Yu sighs.
"Xian Wang's manor is very simple. You will be the only female master. Grandpa and I will listen to you, so will our children. You won't have to worry about problems," Gong Sang Mo says, drawing her into his chest.
Yun Qian Yu's face turns red, "Who is talking about Xian Wang's manor?"
"I know you are worried that Man Xi might not be Princess Ming Zhu's son."
"You know it too?"
"Of course. Don't worry, Man Xi is definitely Princess Ming Zhu's son."
"How do you know for sure?"
"Who do you think Princess Ming Zhu is? She is the Retired Emperor's only princess. She personally witnessed everything that her imperial father went through in the past. How many people in this world have gone through that? She managed to protect the palace along with her imperial father, do you think she is not strong enough to protect her own son?" Gong Sang Mo knocks Yun Qian Yu in the head.
"Why are you so smart?" Yun Qian Yu is really impressed.
"You finally know how lucky you are," Gong Sang Mo arrogantly says.
Yun Qian Yu rolls her eyes at him, "Why do you think Man Xi did that?"
"To give us time to counterattack," Gong Sang Mo becomes more serious.
"What has Man Xi got anything to do with everything?"
"I instructed San Qiu to guard Rui Qinwang's study. He managed to tail after the man-in-black and discovered that man sneaking into Duke Rong's manor. From then on, San Qiu has been keeping an eye on Duke Rong. One night, Duke Rong got angry for whatever reason and broke a stone the size of an adult man with his palm."
"That means he has really high inner power. The man in black is really Duke Rong? I dispatched some Yun Guards to investigate whatever enmity the Duke Rong's manor has with the imperial family and cannot find any. The only thing I got was that imperial grandfather used to be really good friends with the old Duke Rong. But, I heard they drifted apart after imperial grandfather became the emperor. It wasn't shocking though, one was the ruler and the other was the subject, they could hardly go around getting drunk together like they used to."
"I'm afraid, we will only know the reason once the time comes," Gong Sang Mo says in deep thoughts.
"You still hasn't told me what this has anything to do with Man Xi," says Yun Qian Yu.
"Do you remember what you said back in Wolong Ridge? About how everyone inside Rui Qinwang's clan have probably been fed infertility tonic? You were right. Even children of concubines like Murong Bing weren't spared."
"That means, if Yu Jian dies, the only heir of royal blood left will be Hua Man Xi," Yun Qian Yu is stunned, finally putting two and two together.
"But, as far as Duke Rong knows, Man Xi isn't of the imperial bloodline."
"That is his real motive. He wants to push his son to the throne using Princess Ming Zhu's name. Man Xi will not have to change his surname if he takes the throne. If so, the kingdom will be ruled by the Hua Clan, not the Murong Clan. Just, he would never think that Princess Ming Zhu would lift her hand to counterattack the moment he lifted his." Gong Sang Mo pities Princess Ming Zhu. Her life is too tiresome. "Man Xi is also helpless. He could never go against his own father, so he could only use this method to help us."
Yun Qian Yu is quiet for a moment before saying, "Yu Jian's poison is supposed to spread two days from now. Now that this has happened and Man Xi isn't available, I bet a temporary antidote will somehow make it's way to Yu Jian to delay the effect of the poison."
"Within the next ten days, the truth will come to light. Everything will be rooted out completely. Yu Jian will no longer have to live in worry. The court will completely be in his hand," Gong Sang Mo looks at Yun Qian Yu.
What he means by that look is she should remember her promise to marry him.