An Unexpected Imperial Decree

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To speak on why Lu Song was still hoping to find success with Ren Xitao was entirely a result of Lu Ping’s face recovering. The scar was severe then slowly began to fade until it completely disappeared. This was what revived the Lu family’s hopes.

He once discussed it with his wife, Ge shi, and secretly inquired about it. The reason that the face that had been destroyed by that bug could recover was most likely a result of the person that had raised the bug passing away. They did not know who exactly had raised that bug, whether it was the seventh princess of Gu Shu or someone else. Either way, the master of that bug had died, and Lu Ping’s face had slowly recovered. This also made them sigh over the mysteries of that legendary insect.

Lu Song arrived at the Yu Palace and expressed his thanks once more. It also happened that Feng Yuheng was home today, and she personally received him.

The things that Lu Song gave were not much different than what he gave to General Ping Nan’s manor. The works of calligraphy had been separated into two groups when they had cleaned out the manor. He had not lied. They really were the best things that the Lu manor could currently bring out. They were also the best things that remained. On his visit today, he first wanted to express his thanks. Second, he wanted to personally hear Feng Yuheng speak about his condition.

That was just how patients were. Although it was reassuring to hear the message passed along by the servants, they still hoped to personally ask the doctor about it. It was only like this that they could resolve all of the concerns that they had.

As a doctor, Feng Yuheng understood this very well, thus she said to him: “Last time in Hundred Herb Hall, I put in a gastroscope and took a sample for analysis. The end result was favorable and only requires some anti-inflammatory medicine and some slow recovery. Your illness is not as serious as originally suspected. It’s as I said, for the next half of a year, don’t eat things that are too hard. Try to consume more congee and avoid eating cold foods. Take good care of your stomach, and things will mostly be fine after half a year.” After saying this, she deliberately emphasized: “The 100 taels that Prime Minister Lu paid last time was enough for the medical examination and the medicine for the next half a year. Prime Minister Lu, please be at ease.”

Only then could Lu Song let out a sigh of relief. He had finally heard that he was fine from Feng Yuheng herself. In an instant, his mood improved. He rubbed his hands together and repeatedly expressed his thanks. At the same time, he thought to himself whether or not he should bring up the matter with Ren Xitao and Lu Ping; however, after much thought, he felt that it would be too abrupt and give off the feeling of asking for a mile after getting an inch. Moreover, the marriage between the Lu family and the Ren family was one that he would need to come up with some ideas for. He should not bring this trouble to Feng Yuheng, thus he did not say anything after much deliberation.

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It was only after Lu Song left that Huang Quan smirked and said: “It was clear that he still had something that he wanted to say but ended up not saying it. I really don’t know what this lord left prime minister is thinking? Really, are all left prime ministers like this?” Lu Song is the exact same as the late Feng Jinyuan! But she did not say the last part. After all, Feng Jinyuan had already died. When it came to the dead, it was better to be a bit more gentle. After holding it in for a little while, she squeezed out: “Such a cunning schemer.”

Feng Yuheng, however, thought for a bit before saying: “If the current left prime minister is able to clearly understand the situation and stand on our side, it’s not a bad thing. It’s better than having an extra opposing force. But it will also depend on what his conditions are. He must not try to take advantage of us.”

Because of the matter with Noble Lady Yuan, the Empress was feeling mentally exhausted, and she was feeling quite worried. This was already the second time that she had been threatened into doing something by Noble Lady Yuan. She did not know if there would be any end to this. What if the next time saw things go as Fang Yi had said, and she came to ask her to have the eighth prince announced as the crown prince. How could that possibly be good?

This was something that she thought about on her way over to Heavenly Hall. Fang Yi was at her side and was naturally able to understand what her master frowning represented, thus she advised: “Your Highness should not think too much about it. Either way, we need to get through the current trial first. Let’s think about it more carefully later on. We definitely need to think of something thorough and definitely must not allow Noble Lady Yuan to continue like this.” While venting for her master, she forcefully endured the pain in her body. The beating that she had suffered that day would not recover that quickly.

The Empress nodded. She understood the logic behind this, but how they would think of this thorough idea was not as simple.

At the entrance of Heavenly Hall, Zhang Yuan was standing there with a horsetail whisk. Upon seeing the Empress arriving, he quickly stepped forward and saluted before saying: “His Majesty is currently looking over some reports and said that he will not be seeing anyone, but for Your Highness to have come, there is naturally something important. This servant will go in and report this to him. Would Your Highness please wait for a moment.” Zhang Yuan said this and turned to go inside. He knew that the Empress was a very measured person and never spoke too much about the matter of favor, and she definitely would not go against the Emperor’s matters. Usually, she would not spend much time around the Emperor and would only make an appearance when the situation called for it and would cooperate with the Emperor to put on a good performance. The Emperor had also said before that the Empress was an understanding person. To speak of the people from the imperial harem that could enter Heavenly Hall, aside from Imperial Concubine Yun, it would only be the Empress.

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Seeing that Zhang Yuan was about to go and report, the Empress hesitated and stopped him, saying: “No rush. This One does not have any pressing matters and just heard that His Majesty was very busy today. Fearing that he would neglect his health, I came over to take a look.”

“Your Highness really is showing concern.” Zhang Yuan quickly said: “His Majesty has been a bit busier these days. There are always matters in court that need to be resolved, and there are times when His Majesty is still looking over reports late into the night, but the medicine is being taken on schedule, and the medicine is the good medicine brought in by Princess Yu. Would Your Highness please be at ease on this.” After the eunuch finished speaking, he began to complain internally. How was the court too busy. It was just that he would try to get into Winter Moon Palace whenever he had a chance during the day. It was only because of this that things became like this. But he did not dare say this to the Empress, thus he found a pretentious excuse to tell her.

Watching Zhang Yuan enter the hall, the Empress began to sound the drums for retreat. She looked at Fang Yi, her gaze clearly asking: Should we go back?

Fang Yi shook her head and quietly said: “We’ve already come. Either way, this matter cannot be avoided. Your Highness needs to go in even if you need to grit your teeth and bear it.”

The Empress really did enter while gritting her teeth. The Emperor was presently feeling troubled over some reports. Upon seeing that the Empress had come, he simply waved to her: “Quickly come and take a look for Us. With the arrival of winter, there are winter disasters. Now that the three northern provinces have finally stopped causing a fuss, the result is that the provinces to their south have begun causing a fuss. They’re all sending reports requesting assistance. Do they all think that the national treasury is some endless supply of wealth?”

The Empress had already become accustomed to the Emperor’s temper. In truth, this was something that the Emperor had gotten used to dealing with, but he had gotten old, and old people loved to rant, thus he needed to vent some of his feelings. Thus the Empress went over and picked up the report to take a look. Without speaking on her own opinions, she simply told the Emperor: “It’s not the first time. However Your Majesty handled it in past years, just do that again this time. Just let them make a fuss if they want. What could they possibly do?”

The Emperor nodded and approved greatly of what the Empress had said: “That’s right. Those old guys just like making a scene; however, none of them are able to make much of a scene. We will just draw a large x on their report and see what they dare do!” After saying this, he really did draw a large x in red, which caused the Empress to smile wryly.

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“In the end, you’re getting old. Don’t tire yourself out too much.” She quietly reminded him but did not say too much. She then began to help the Emperor tidy up his messy desk. “I heard Zhang Yuan say that you have been taking the medicine given by A-Heng. This wife is able to be at ease. For younger sister Yun to be able to let Your Majesty feel a bit more carefree, this wife is happy for Your Majesty.”

The Emperor happily nodded, “That’s right! Pianpian let Us enter Winter Moon Palace. The heavens really have opened their eyes!” With Imperial Concubine Yun having been brought up, it reminded the Emperor of what Imperial Concubine Yun had said that day. Looking at the Empress, his mind went to work, and a wicked idea came to mind. He took the initiative to say: “You came at the perfect time today. There is something that We wanted to speak with you about.”

“Oh?” The Empress was stunned, “What is it?”

“It’s just old eighth and old sixth’s cousin. I wonder if you had heard about that girl coming into the capital from Peng Zhou. She has done quite a number of good things for the capital. We heard that not only did she provide winter clothes for the people in the northern part of the city, but she also worked with the madams and young misses to open a congee stall to hand out congee every day. We felt that this sort of girl has the heart of a Bodhisattva and should be rewarded.”

The Empress did not think that the Emperor would be the one to bring this up. For a moment, she was unable to react until Fang Yi gently tapped her arm. It was only then that she said: “Your Majesty is right.” She did not know how to react to this and just carelessly gave a vague response.

But it was this vagueness that allowed the Emperor to understand. The Empress coming to visit Heavenly Hall today was likely related to this matter. He felt a little unhappy, but he also needed to finish acting out his little play, thus he said: “What do you think would be good? I heard that old eighth gave that girl no shortage of nice things, but that girl sold all of them then used that money to do good deeds! We were thinking that giving her more things would probably also end up sold. Either way, they will not reach her. It would be better to reward her in a different way.”

The Empress had recovered by this point, thus she picked up on the Emperor’s words and continued to ask: “This wife also heard about this matter. What does Your Majesty think would be good?”

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The Emperor put on a good show of thinking for a while before saying: “For a girl that has not gotten married from a lowly sixth rank official’s family, to give too great of a reward, perhaps she will be unable to bear that burden. It might also be bad for her future. We were thinking, how about this grace be given to her aunt! Either way, she came into the capital for the sake of visiting her relatives. It can be seen that she favors family relations. Thinking about it, giving this grace to her aunt would be something that she would be happy with.”

The Empress felt flustered from hearing this. She felt that the Emperor was doing this deliberately. Noble Lady Yuan seeking her out was something that definitely could not be hidden from this old emperor. That was why the Emperor was giving her this bit of face. But based on her understanding of the Emperor, giving face was not necessarily a good thing. There was another meaning behind it, reminding her to wake up. Not all people and matters could be considered so easily. The Empress had understood this reasoning for many years and would never say too much in front of the Emperor; however, Noble Lady Yuan’s threats had put her in a dilemma.

She quietly lowered her head and did not voice her opinion. She just went with what the Emperor had said and replied: “Your Majesty is correct.”

The Emperor looked at her and asked: “Then what does the Empress think should be awarded to her aunt?”

The Empress faintly sighed and knew that the Emperor was deliberately troubling her, thus she simply calmed herself down. Either way, she had already come. This matter needed to be done regardless of whether she wanted to or not. Since the Emperor did not appear to be on the verge of exploding, she had passed this first trial. Now, she needed to slowly think of a way to do this. She raised her head and said to the Emperor: “Replying to Your Majesty, as this wife sees it, to that girl’s aunt, gold, silver, and jewels are all worldly possessions, and the imperial palace is not lacking for those. But the most important thing for someone in the palace’s life is status. With status, one gets face. Face will allow their family outside the imperial palace to enjoy some glory. That’s why… how about Your Majesty returns her to her position of imperial concubine!”

“Good!” The Emperor nodded and loudly said: “The Empress’ words are what We were thinking! Zhang Yuan! Have someone hand down the decree. Starting today, Noble Lady Li will regain her position as imperial concubine. She is to be taken out of Jing Si Palace and granted Zhang Ning Palace!”

Zhang Yuan did not find the Emperor’s decision unexpected in the slightest. He just bowed and said: “This servant obeys.”

The Empress, however, was stunned and subconsciously said: “What did Your Majesty say? Noble Lady Li?”

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