Chapter 233: Stirring up Another Storm (1)
Amidst several loud cries, Xia Yuqing stared wide-eyed at the vicious woman who suddenly charged towards her. Her heart skipped a beat and she couldn’t help but take a deep breath. What a tragedy that one could be involved in such a commotion just by watching it! Did her luck really have to be so terrible?
Before Xia Yuqing could react, she felt a strong force pulling her to the side. At the same time, she heard another cry.
Xia Yuqing’s heart trembled. She wanted to lift her head, but Feng Tingye covered her eyes and held her tightly in his arms.
“Ai Fei, don’t look.” Feng Tingye’s voice carried a hint of tenderness, but the pressure on Xia Yuqing’s hand revealed his unspoken dominance.
Xia Yuqing bit her lip and tightened her grip on Feng Tingye’s s.h.i.+rt. But ultimately, she didn’t lift her head as he instructed.
Feng Tingye held Xia Yuqing tightly and looked towards the scene not far away.
At the moment when Xia Yuqing was pulled into his embrace, another figure rushed towards her and used their body to s.h.i.+eld her from the crazed Imperial Concubine Roujia.
Imperial Concubine Roujia looked at the phoenix hairpin that was deeply embedded in Xia Haotian’s chest, and the blood pouring out. She was stunned in place.
When she came back to her senses, her face turned pale, she trembled and let go of the phoenix hairpin in her hand, took a few steps back, and fell to the ground.
“Your Majesty!” Xia Mingyuan and the others were relatively close and were also shocked by the sudden turn of events. After regaining their senses, they rushed forward to support Xia Haotian’s swaying body and shouted loudly, “Physicians, physicians!”
Imperial Concubine Roujia sat on the ground, looking at Xia Haotian falling backwards, and burst into tears of laughter. “Hahaha, this hairpin was given to me by you personally, and now I return it to you, I return it to you!”
Hearing the almost insane screams of his own mother, Xia Mingxuan silently closed his eyes, unable to bear the sight any longer.
“Take this crazy woman down, take her down!” Xia Mingyuan supported Xia Haotian with slightly red eyes and shouted loudly.
Imperial Concubine Roujia was finally pulled down by someone, and the inner palace was thrown into chaos in an instant.
Fortunately, earlier, for the sake of Feng Tingye’s injury, Xia Haotian had called several old imperial physicians to wait here, and they were now coming in handy.
The phoenix hairpin was timely removed, and the bleeding temporarily stopped. However, the problem was…
“The hairpin is poisoned?!” Xia Mingyuan and the others’ faces changed slightly, staring at the helpless old imperial physicians and exclaimed anxiously, “Then detoxify it!”
The old imperial physicians wiped the sweat from their foreheads and said with difficulty, “The poison on the Empress’s hairpin is too overbearing. Please forgive us for our incompetence. We really…”
Xia Mingyuan’s face sank. Just when he thought there was a glimmer of hope, Xia Yuqing, who had learned about the situation, also turned pale and her legs went weak. If it weren’t for Feng Tingye supporting her from behind, she would have fallen to the ground.
“Second young master, yes, second young master, he must be able to save him!” Xia Yuqing’s face was white as she grasped Feng Tingye’s clothes tightly, as if she had caught the last straw, and looked at him expectantly.
When Xia Mingyuan heard Xia Yuqing’s words, his spirits were lifted, “That’s right, that Su Gongzi has excellent medical skills. It was thanks to him that the Third Princess was saved from danger last time. He must be able to save the Emperor this time. Where is he now?”
Feng Tingye frowned, “He should be with the Third Princess now.”
As soon as he finished speaking, everyone’s gaze turned to Yun Zhongyue and Shao Zitang.
The two of them twitched their mouths and said speechlessly, “Why is it us again?”
Feng Tingye hit the nail on the head, “You two have the best footwork. Don’t dawdle, saving people is like putting out a fire!”
“…d*mn this wicked businessman!”
“Two young masters, please help us. If you can save the Emperor, we will surely reward you greatly.” Xia Mingyuan said sincerely.
“Little Shangshu, Second Senior Brother…” Xia Yuqing stared at the two of them with teary eyes.
“…” The two of them were completely defeated and turned around to pick up Su Qingyan.
Fortunately, the fight at the city gate and the palace gate had already ended, and Leng Ruofeng had protected Xia Muyun and the others into the city and was rus.h.i.+ng towards the palace. Within a quarter of an hour, the two of them came back with Su Qingyan, and also brought Xia Muyun and the others with them.
“You guys are simply…” Su Qingyan, who was being carried around like an object, became completely agitated. He, who was once a famous doctor in Jianghu, who couldn’t be invited with money and only saw patients when he felt like it, now ended up being called and ordered around like a servant, and was thrown away when he was no longer needed. How could he not be angry?!
Su Qingyan had a black face, his arms crossed in front of his chest, with a violent and uncooperative look. He decided in his heart that he wouldn’t do it this time. Every time he was forced to help people, did they really think he had no temper?
“Doctor Su, our father, the Emperor, is in a critical situation. We had no choice but to invite you. Please help us. If you can save our father’s life, anything within the borders of Xia country is yours to choose.”
“Your Highness, this can’t be done!” When Xia Mingyuan said this, the people around him looked panicked and wanted to stop him.
“What’s wrong? Is there anything more important in Xia country than the life of our father, the Emperor?” Xia Mingyuan’s eyes sharpened, and he glared at the people who were talking, instantly making them shut up.
Xia Mingyuan’s words made Su Qingyan hesitate a little. After pondering for a moment and looking at Xia Mingyuan’s sincere expression, he secretly thought that this guy might be easier to deal with than that kid, Feng Tingye. He then walked towards Xia Haotian.
Xia Mingyuan and the others couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.
Xia Muyun followed closely behind. As soon as she entered the inner palace, she felt an unusual atmosphere in the air and couldn’t help but ask, “What’s wrong?”
“Royal Sister.” Xia Yuqing walked up to her and held her hand, saying, “Father… he…”
Xia Muyun turned her head slightly and looked over. When she saw the person lying on the bed, her eyes suddenly narrowed.
“Second Young Master, how is he?” Xia Yuqing anxiously asked while pulling Xia Muyun’s hand and approaching.
Su Qingyan maintained a poker face and carefully examined the wounds on Xia Haotian’s body. With a sigh, he said, “It’s not that I don’t want to help this time, but…”
As soon as Su Qingyan finished speaking, the expressions of Xia Yuqing and the others changed drastically. “What do you mean?” they asked.
“The phoenix hairpin was inserted into the left chest area. Although it deviated a few centimeters from the heart, the problem is that the hairpin was poisoned. The poison itself is aggressive, and it happened to spread near the heart…”
“You’re a divine physician, aren’t you? You said it yourself that you could bring people back from the dead and turn bones to flesh. You said it yourself back then…” Xia Yuqing got stimulated as Su Qingyan finished speaking and tried to grab him, but Feng Tingye tightly held her in his arms.
“I am a divine physician, but even divine physicians can’t cure everything. Even if a legendary G.o.d were here, they couldn’t save him. Besides, I’m just an ordinary person.”
Su Qingyan’s words were like a heavy hammer, pounding on everyone’s hearts.
Xia Muyun’s face changed slightly, and she almost fell to the ground. Fortunately, Leng Ruofeng caught her in time.
For a moment, the inner hall fell into a dead silence. No one spoke anymore because everyone didn’t know what to say.
After a while, a slightly painful moan came from the bed, breaking the deadlock.
Xia Mingyuan trembled all over and quickly turned around to look at the person who had just woken up on the bed. He whispered, “Royal Father, have you woken up? Is there anywhere on your body that still hurts?”
Xia Haotian opened his eyes and glanced at Xia Yuqing, who was safe and sound not far away, then looked at Xia Mingyuan and the others, whose eyes were slightly red. It seemed that he understood something.
“Mingyuan… is Royal Father…?”
Xia Mingyuan trembled all over and hurriedly said, “Royal Father is a lucky person, you’ll be fine.”
Xia Haotian’s eyes flashed with a bright light, staring at Xia Mingyuan’s eyes for a while before s.h.i.+fting his gaze away and saying, “Ruihai.”
The old palace attendant who had been serving by Xia Haotian’s side also looked mournful and stood up, kneeling by the bedside and saying, “Your Majesty.”
“Go to the study and bring the edict here.”
“Royal Father!” Xia Haotian’s words were no different from indirectly admitting…
Xia Mingyuan and the others were too surprised to even think about the fact that the edict of succession was placed in the study, all looking at Xia Haotian with amazement.
Xia Haotian remained calm, and Ruihai only stared blankly for a moment before getting up and walking towards the study.
“Yun Er…” As Ruihai walked away, Xia Haotian turned his gaze to Xia Muyun.
Xia Muyun pursed her lips and eventually took a step forward to kneel by Xia Haotian’s bedside, softly calling out, “Royal Father…”
Xia Haotian reached out to take Xia Muyun’s hand, and after hesitating for a moment, Xia Muyun also placed her hand in front of him and held onto his hand.
“I know you have always resented me for letting down your mother and not treating you and your siblings as kindly as an ordinary father would. But I have never seen you as a subst.i.tute for your mother, seeking comfort from you. You three are my own flesh and blood, born of your mother’s hard work for me. No parent wants their child to suffer, but I am the emperor and there are many things I cannot reveal to others.”
Xia Muyun pursed her lips and remained silent. They all knew how good Xia Haotian had been to them as siblings, but unfortunately, there was still an inevitable gap between them, a gap that separated the royal family from ordinary people, a gap that was created by their mother.
“I have no words to defend myself for letting down your mother. I have indeed done so, and that is why…”
“Royal Father, I just want to ask you one question. Have you ever loved my mother?” Xia Muyun suddenly raised her head and stared at Xia Haotian’s eyes, asking eagerly.
Xia Haotian was taken aback for a moment, let out a deep sigh, and shook his head resolutely.
“Why? Isn’t my mother good?” Xia Muyun became stimulated as soon as she saw Xia Haotian shake his head.
“Your mother is very good. Since she married me, she has been devoted to me and always put me first in everything. Her appearance and personality are impeccable. Even though I later took many concubines for the sake of the royal heirs, she never complained to me, even though she was sad.”
“If so, why can’t you love her a little? Mother has been waiting for you all this time, always…”
Before Xia Muyun could finish, she heard Xia Haotian interrupt her with a thoughtful tone, “Yun Er, you should understand now that when someone gives their heart to someone, they cannot give it to anyone else.”
Xia Muyun was stunned, her eyes widened in surprise as she looked at Xia Haotian. “Royal Father, you…”
Seeing her surprised expression, Xia Haotian wanted to laugh but ended up coughing twice with some shortness of breath, “Ahem, Yun Er, you really think that I’ve never loved anyone in my whole life, that I’ve always been a cold-blooded creature, and don’t understand what love feels like.”
“How could that be? I have been with you since I was a child and have never seen you…” Xia Muyun trembled her lips and whispered in defense.
“Of course, you couldn’t see her.” Xia Haotian chuckled softly, causing his chest wound to ache, and took a deep breath, “She died a long time ago.”
“How could that be?” Xia Muyun still couldn’t believe this fact. She had always thought that Xia Haotian was naturally cold-hearted and couldn’t love anyone, not even her mother. But today, this person told her that he could love someone, and it just wasn’t her mother.
“Who is that person? Who is it?” Xia Muyun urgently wanted to know the ident.i.ty of the person, grabbing Xia Haotian’s hand and asking excitedly.
Xia Haotian didn’t answer, but instead looked over at Xia Yuqing on the other side. Xia Yuqing shrank her neck as if sensing something, but her heart was shocked. Could it be that the person her cheap father loved was…
Following his gaze, Xia Muyun suddenly widened her eyes.
Before she could continue questioning, Ruihai hurriedly walked in from outside, holding a small wooden box in his hand.
Xia Muyun and Xia Mingyuan had to step back and let Ruihai hand the box to Xia Mingyuan.
“This box contains the decree that I personally wrote and the imperial seal. After I pa.s.s away, you will immediately ascend to the throne.”
“Royal Father…” Xia Mingyuan quickly knelt in front of Xia Haotian, humbly saying, “Royal Father’s injuries are not yet so serious. Your child will go and invite famous doctors to treat you and will definitely cure you…”
“Huh…” Xia Mingyuan’s words undoubtedly questioned Su Qingyan’s medical skills. Su Qingyan immediately wanted to go up and argue with him, but was forcibly dragged back by the people beside him, who covered his mouth.
“Mingyuan…” Xia Haotian had already interrupted him before he could finish speaking. “Do I not understand my own body?”
“…” Xia Mingyuan’s face darkened and he couldn’t say anything. In fact, they all understood Xia Haotian’s injuries. Since Su Qingyan was unable to treat him, it was unlikely that anyone in this world could cure him.
“Mingyuan, for these many years, I have always valued you highly. Although on the surface, both you and Xuan Er have the possibility of inheriting the throne, in my heart, the only one who can sit on the throne is you.”
Xia Mingyuan trembled all over, closed his eyes and said, “Is the reason why Royal Father made this choice because of his guilt towards Mother, or because he knew early on that the Fourth Prince was not his own child?”
Xia Haotian chuckled lightly and said, “It’s both, and it’s also neither.”
Xia Mingyuan was stunned. Xia Haotian reached out and patted his head like he used to do when they were children and said, “Those are one aspect of it, but it’s also because of your abilities. Mingyuan, the reason why I never revealed Xuan Er’s ident.i.ty in the end is not only because I didn’t want to break ties with the Tuoba clan so soon, but also because you need an opponent.”
“Yes, an opponent. People always need an opponent to truly grow when they’re pushed to their limits.”
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Xia Mingyuan was stunned, while Feng Tingye, who was standing silently on the side, narrowed his eyes slightly.
Xia Yuqing walked up to Xia Haotian cautiously, but her gaze was somewhat evasive. Xia Haotian didn’t mind and did what he had always wanted to do, reaching out to touch Xia Yuqing’s head.
Xia Yuqing was startled by the sudden touch and widened her eyes to look at Xia Haotian. However, as she saw the gentle and loving eyes of Xia Haotian, the little rebellious thought that had risen within her was extinguished.
Xia Haotian saw Xia Yuqing, although she was not quite used to it, she did not refuse. The smile on his face deepened slightly as he stared at Xia Yuqing’s face and said with a smile, “Qing Er, you have really grown up. You look more and more like your mother. When I first met your mother, she was about your age.”
This was the first time Xia Yuqing had heard about the original mother from Xia Haotian’s mouth. Thinking of Xia Muyun’s question just now and then looking at Xia Haotian’s gentle appearance, Xia Yuqing finally mustered up the courage to ask, “The person you loved the most, was it my mother?”
Xia Haotian was taken aback and silently stared at Xia Yuqing without saying a word. Xia Yuqing felt a little uneasy under his gaze and quickly added, “Ahahaha, it’s okay if you don’t want to say. It’s not really that important…”
Before Xia Yuqing could finish, she heard Xia Haotian answer, “Yes.”
Xia Yuqing was stunned for a moment, raised her head to look at Xia Haotian, and then quickly lowered her head, clutching the clothes in front of her and asking, “Is it because my mother died in childbirth to give birth to me, so you haven’t really liked me?”
This was something Xia Yuqing asked on behalf of the original Xia Yuqing. Before she knew the ident.i.ty of the original mother, Xia Yuqing had always thought that the reason why the previous Xia Yuqing was not favored was because her mother did not have a prominent background. In the harem, the glory of the family was very important, so it was understandable for a princess born to a palace maid to be pushed out as a sacrifice.
But since she found out about the ident.i.ty of her mother, she realized that everything was wrong.
Xia Haotian did not expect Xia Yuqing to think like this. After being stunned for a moment, he said somewhat urgently, “Why would you think like that? The reason why your father treats you like this is not because he doesn’t like you, but because he likes you too much and has to make certain choices. Moreover, your mother’s death had nothing to do with you. She died for me.”
Xia Yuqing was still in shock from realizing that Xia Haotian actually loved her as his daughter, and was then startled by his last sentence.
What does “mother died for him” mean? Indeed, her mother did not die from difficulties in childbirth! Her death had hidden motives!
Xia Haotian looked at Xia Yuqing’s surprised expression and closed his eyes, saying, “I think you already know your mother’s ident.i.ty. The first time I met her was at the banquet after my ascension to the throne, where she performed as a music court official. I was captivated by her dancing and fell in love at first sight, but I never imagined she was so audacious as to attempt to a.s.sa.s.sinate me.”
Xia Yuqing stared at Xia Haotian with wide eyes. She had heard about this incident from Imperial Concubine Roujia when she was in the manor, but she never thought it was true.
“Of course, the banquet was heavily guarded, and your mother had no chance of succeeding. Although she appeared gentle and obedient, she had a very strong personality. After being caught by the guards, she even wanted to end her own life.”
“What happened next?” Xia Yuqing asked, surprised by Xia Haotian’s story.
Xia Haotian glanced at her and smiled, “Of course, I couldn’t let her do that. At first, I was only attracted to her because of her beauty, but after seeing her fierce personality, I was truly enchanted by her. I wanted her to be mine, to stay by my side for the rest of her life, and never leave. So, despite the opposition of my Royal Mother and the court officials, I insisted on bringing your mother into the palace.”
Xia Yuqing raised an eyebrow, skeptical. “If mother had such a strong personality, did she still just follow you just like that?”
Xia Haotian coughed twice and chuckled, “Of course not. You don’t know, but your mother was small in stature but had a fiery temper. I later found out that she grew up in a nunnery and even wondered if the nuns there were too lonely in their free time. So, I took her to the mountains and that’s how she developed this wild and unruly nature.”
Xia Yuqing forced a smile, wanting to laugh but unable to do so, perhaps because the person telling the story had a crying expression.
Although it’s such a clichéd love story with a lot of cheesy and melodramatic scenes that can make people cringe and she used to be the one who couldn’t help but criticize it a thousand times if she heard it on a normal day, but today, hearing Xia Haotian say it like this, she only felt heartbroken. At this moment, she realized that some things, which may seem full of flaws and overly sentimental in the eyes of others, can feel different when you’re experiencing them yourself. Some things cannot be truly understood without experiencing them firsthand.
“What happened later?” Xia Yuqing sniffed and asked in a m.u.f.fled voice.
“Well…” Xia Haotian’s face was filled with nostalgia. “Who says humans are unfeeling like plants? As we spent more time together, we discovered many good and bad things about each other. We quarreled constantly, and your mother always wanted to kill me at first. But in the end, she couldn’t do it.”
As Xia Haotian spoke, Xia Yuqing could clearly see a hint of pride on his face.
“After that, as we kept arguing, our relations.h.i.+p slowly changed. Your mother gradually accepted me, willingly gave herself to me, and gave birth to you.”
At this point, Xia Haotian’s resolute face unexpectedly showed a hint of pink, as if he were a young man experiencing love for the first time.
Father…is he blus.h.i.+ng? Xia Yuqing looked at Xia Haotian in amazement. If she had some doubts about Xia Haotian’s words at first, she had none now. This man really loved her mother. She could tell.
“What happened next?”
“When I found out that your mother was pregnant, I was overjoyed. Before you were born, your mother and I had already made up our minds to give you the best things in the world. Unfortunately, your mother’s status was too special, and many people in the palace were watching her and the baby in her belly. Your mother went through many difficulties and finally gave birth to you safely, but she didn’t expect…”
Xia Yuqing’s face changed slightly, and she looked at Xia Haotian nervously. Although Xia Haotian only briefly summarized what had happened back then, Xia Yuqing could imagine how dangerous it must have been.
The Xia Palace was not as peaceful as the Ye Kingdom, where there was only one woman. With so many women fighting for one man, they used all kinds of schemes and tricks. Moreover, with her mother’s status, she was essentially at odds with the entire Xia Kingdom. Not only the harem, but even the previous dynasty probably wished for her to die as soon as possible. On the day at the villa, Imperial Concubine Roujia had also said that many women openly or secretly caused trouble for her mother. Under such dangerous conditions, the original owner managed to appear safely, which was a testament to the efforts of both her parents.
“What did you not expect?”
Xia Haotian pursed his lips and remained silent. He coughed a few more times before suddenly spitting out a mouthful of dark red blood.
“Ah…” Xia Yuqing was startled and tried to get up, but Xia Haotian grabbed her hand and held her still.
“But…” Xia Yuqing bit her lip, reached into her sleeve, and took out a handkerchief to help wipe the blood from Xia Haotian’s mouth.
Xia Haotian watched her intently and with affectionate and relieved eyes.
After wiping the blood, Xia Yuqing belatedly realized that Xia Haotian had been staring at her the whole time. She became nervous and put away the handkerchief.
Xia Haotian didn’t mind and cleared his throat. “Your mother suffered from health problems after giving birth to you and needed rest. At that time, there was a major incident outside the city, and I had to go out of the city in person.”
“So you left mother in the palace and went out of the city yourself?” Xia Yuqing pondered for a moment and asked tentatively, “Did someone deliberately lure you out of the city?”
Xia Haotian nodded and smiled bitterly. “After leaving the city, I found out that the Tuoba clan and some courtiers who knew the truth had colluded with the Empress Dowager to lure me out of the city and then take the opportunity to force your mother to death.”
Xia Haotian closed his eyes and recalled the scene at that time. His lips trembled slightly. “When I rushed back to the palace, your mother had already drunk the poisoned wine and laid in the room that Tianyun gave birth in. I couldn’t even see her last side. At that time, the Empress Dowager also wanted to attack you, but had to stop because of my timely return.”
Xia Yuqing couldn’t help but shrink her neck when she heard this. Although Xia Yuqing at that time was not her, thinking of the scene at that time, she still felt a little scared. If the Empress Dowager had really made a move at that time, there would be no Xia Yuqing later, and there would be no her now.
As if sensing her unease, Feng Tingye, who had been standing behind Xia Yuqing all along, silently walked up and placed his hand on her shoulder.
Xia Yuqing was taken aback, but as soon as she turned her head, she saw Feng Tingye’s slightly comforting expression, and her heart, which had been beating anxiously, gradually calmed down.
Xia Haotian glanced at Feng Tingye, and the relief in his eyes became even stronger.
“Although I saved you, I have lost your mother forever. At that moment, I realized that I am still not strong enough. I couldn’t even protect the person I wanted to protect until the end. I have already lost your mother, so I couldn’t afford to lose you too.”
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