It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 125 Death of the Emperor
The emperor died. Tang Shishi suddenly became confused and could not hear the voice behind her at all. The maids also panicked and asked, “Wangfei, what to do now?”
What to do now? Tang Shishi also wanted to know what to do now. She has no idea herself. But Tang Shishi knew that now she was the Wangfei and the backbone of the whole prince’s mansion, and she absolutely must not show panic. Tang Shishi took a deep breath and said, “Call everyone to get up and gather them together. Don’t let anyone run around outside. Guard the gate carefully. If there is any slightest whiff of trouble, report to me at once. Also, remove the red lanterns, red paper cuts, and such. Change the clothes into plain colors, and no need to change into mourning clothes yet for the time being.”
The death of the emperor was a national funeral, and the whole country wore mourning clothes. Since they were imperial families, they would only be stricter in observing the mourning. In theory, they only changed clothes after the Imperial Palace announced the death, but now the death knell has rung, and these things could be prepared in advance.
Tang Shishi’s tone was calm and arranged in an orderly manner. The maids were infected by this calmness and slowly calmed down, “Yes.”
The maids went to arrange. Tang Shishi returned to the back hall to see Zhao Zigao. The wet nurse was a commoner woman and did not understand what the bells in the Imperial Palace meant at all, but from the expressions of the people in the mansion, she realized that something was wrong.
Apparently, something big has happened.
Especially when Tang Shishi came back after she left, the wet nurse panicked even more. Holding Zhao Zigao in her arms, the wet nurse asked tremblingly, “Wangfei, why are the lights lit? Is it something wrong?”
Tang Shishi evaded the questions. She lowered her head to look at Zhao Zigao. This boy cried loudly when it was quiet, instead, he fell asleep when the bell rang outside. Seeing that Zhao Zigao was not awakened by the bell, Tang Shishi was relieved and said, “Give him to me. He will sleep with me in front tonight.”
Tang Shishi said she was going to take over Zhao Zigao, but the maids dared not let Tang Shishi hold the child and rushed forward to hold him. Tang Shishi did not argue with them. After the maid held Zhao Zigao firmly, Tang Shishi said, “Let’s go. Bring the brocade quilt over. It’s humid outside. So don’t let the cold air wake him up.”
The maid lady carefully wrapped Zhao Zigao and carried him to the main room. It seemed that the burst of crying just now has exhausted all of Zhao Zigao’s strength, and such a big movement this time did not wake him up. After arriving at the main room, the maids were busy lighting up the lights, making the bed, heating the hot water bottle, and quickly changing into plain clothes for little Junwang.
After Tang Shishi changed her clothes, she sat on the arhat couch and quietly looked at his son’s sleeping countenance. She was afraid that the light would wake Zhao Zigao up and asked the maid to remove the table lamp and leave only a small hanging lamp. Tang Shishi did not know what the situation was outside, what was Zhao Chengjun’s next step, or what was the normal transfer of power should be like. All she knew was that her son was asleep, and she was waiting for him to come back.
Regardless of life or death, honor or disgrace, success or failure, their family would be all together.
Tang Shishi felt unprecedented peace at this moment. She looked up at the deep night sky. It was midnight and perhaps many people could not sleep tonight. She did not know what they were doing in the Imperial Court at this moment.
In the Cining Palace, Empress Dowager Yao fell asleep not long ago and was suddenly woken up by a burst of rapid footsteps, “Empress Dowager Niangniang, wake up quickly. His Majesty seems can’t make it!”
What? Empress Dowager was in a half-asleep and half-dreaming state when she was suddenly woken up by someone. She got up with her loose hair draping over her shoulders. Because of lack of sleep, her face was all haggard, “What did you say?”
The imperial eunuch knelt on the cold ground of the Cining Palace and burst into tears, “His Majesty, can’t make it.”
When Empress Dowager Yao heard these words, she was very grieved. Her hands trembled and she almost fell to the ground. The momos were frightened and quickly helped her, “Empress Dowager…”
Empress Dowager Yao felt that her life was over at this moment. She was muddled headed for a short time, became sober again, and used all her willpower to put forth the prestige of Grandma Empress that governed from behind the curtain. Empress Dowager Yao said forcefully, “Help me to get up. Let’s go to the Qianqing Palace.”
The palace people hurried forward to change Empress Dowager Yao’s clothes. Time was short and they had no time to comb Empress Dowager Yao’s hair. At this moment, Empress Dowager Yao was not in the mood to pay attention to the dignity of Empress Dowager. Empress Dowager Yao changed her clothes at the sloppiest speed in her life. However, she was still late.
She had just finished dressing and had not put on her nail sleeves yet, there were already sounds of running footsteps outside. It seemed that the Cining Palace was surrounded by people. From a distance, a eunuch beat the gong all the way, stretched his voice to shout, “It’s forbidden to go out at this critical moment. Each palace stays in its palace.”
Empress Dowager Yao turned black when she heard the voice. With a calm face, she asked, “What’s going on outside?”
The palace people looked at each other in dismay. After a while, the eunuch who was inquiring about the news came back with an awfully bad expression, “Empress Dowager, the Cining Palace is surrounded by people, and no one is allowed to enter or leave.”
Empress Dowager Yao’s face was livid and shouted angrily, “Bold! I am Empress Dowager. Who dares to be presumptuous in front of me?”
“They said that they had received the order from Jing Wang. Jing Wang said that His Majesty’s condition had suddenly worsened, and no one was allowed to move around in the Palace during this critical moment. If any offenders were found, they would be killed on the spot.”
Empress Dowager Yao’s face sank again. The Qianqing palace was controlled by Zhao Chengjun? She did not even wear her nail sleeves yet and rushed out with a cold face, “His Majesty is my grandson. Now His Majesty’s life is hanging on the line. How can I not go over to protect him? I want to see who dares to stop me.”
“Empress Dowager Niangniang, think twice!” the palace people quickly stopped Empress Dowager Yao and persuaded her, “Empress Dowager, now the situation outside is unknown. Niangniang can’t take risks in person.”
Empress Dowager Yao pushed away Feng Momo’s hand angrily, and rebuked with anger, “Presumptuous! I am Empress Dowager of two dynasties and Zhao Chengjun’s legitimate mother. Does he still dare to tell me what to do? Get out of the way. I want to go out.”
Feng Momo was unprepared. She was pushed by Empress Dowager and fell to the ground with a plop. The fall was extremely painful, but Feng Momo did not dare to delay. She got up quickly and continue to stop Empress Dowager Yao, “Empress Dowager Niangniang, this is different from the past. You have to calm down. You are the backbone of everyone. Only when you are well, we can rise again.”
Empress Dowager Yao calmed down slowly. When the rage had passed, she seemed to suddenly lose her strength. She fainted with blurred vision and fell backward. The palace people hurriedly helped Empress Dowager Yao to sit down. Empress Dowager Yao held her head for a while and asked, “How’s the palace gate now?”
The eunuch went out to make some inquiries. After a while, he said, “The palace gate is guarded by the imperial guards and it’s under the manpower of Lord Xiang.”
Xiang Ying was not the Commander of Imperial Guards, Hong Fei. Hong Fei was very filial to Empress Dowager Yao very much and has done many things for Empress Dowager in recent years, but Xiang Ying has been newly promoted in the past two years, and Empress Dowager was not familiar with him. Obviously, Hong Fei was betrayed, and his men chose someone with higher status.
However, there was no betrayal in the imperial guards. Those people in Zhen Fu North Division were getting darker and darker. Who was not the overlord of despicable means and replaced themselves to a higher position?
Empress Dowager Yao asked, “How about the city gate?”
“Guarded by Imperial Palace guards and can’t make any discreet inquiries.”
Empress Dowager Yao sighed. When she heard this, she knew that everything was over. As soon as Emperor’s fate was at stake, Zhao Chengjun took control over the Qianqing Palace, the Palace City Gate, and the Imperial Gate. Although the outside city was still unknown, it could be assumed that the Jinling city gate was within his control.
Emperor and the authority were in his hands. Next, it depended on the position of the central government. However, those old foxes in the cabinet knew the current affairs best as Zhao Chengjun has immeasurable power in his hands and has the perfectly legitimate reason to succeed to the throne. Therefore, no one would make things difficult for him.
He has been away from the capital for thirteen years. Despite everything, he still could control the eunuchs, Imperial Guards, Twenty-Six Guards, and Fifth Army Dudu Mansion at the same time. Empress Dowager Yao’s loss this time did not seem to be wronged.
Empress Dowager Yao leaned back in her chair and felt so tired for the first time. In the past, no matter how hard she fought with the previous dynasty and the harem, no matter how hard she looked at the account books, she would not have this feeling of old age.
There was a long bell outside. Empress dowager Yao closed her eyes and laughed bitterly.
She thought she had won these twenty-seven years of struggle, but in the end, she still lost to them.
Guo Qinyue, your good son.
In Jing Wang’s mansion, Tang Shishi carried her child in her arms trembling with fear. Zhao Zigao slept very securely, and smacked his little mouth, not knowing what tasty food he was eating in his dream.
Tang Shishi looked at her son and finally understood what Zhao Chengjun meant that she was heartless at the beginning. Tang Shishi sighed and looked out of the window again. It was sigeng (1 am – 3 am) now and the day was about to dawn.
Tang Shishi was absent-minded when a voice suddenly came from outside. Tang Shishi was alert all of a sudden, and the maid ran in to report, “Wangfei, Shizi is here.”
Tang Shishi’s excited heart fell all of sudden. She gave an “Oh” and said faintly, “What is he doing here?”
The maid did not reply, and Zhao Zixun’s voice stopped outside the door, “Wangfei, there is a change in Jinling city tonight. My late arrival has startled Wangfei.”
Without any emotions, Tang Shishi said, “In the middle of the night, Shizi doesn’t stay in the room to comfort your two beautiful concubines. What are you doing here?”
Zhao Zixun thought that women were timid. Even if Tang Shishi made threatening gestures again, she was still a woman. This night was so dangerous and probably she was already scared out of her mind staying alone in the room.
Even though Zhao Zixun was also terrified, but when he thought that Tang Shishi was even more scared and still want to brace her face until now, he could not help but feel tenderness towards her and could not bear to criticize her again. Zhao Zixun said, “Wangfei don’t panic. With me here, I will protect the mansion thoroughly.”
Tang Shishi secretly rolled her eyes and thought of what he could do, could he change the outcome of the rebellion or rush to kill the enemy? Zhao Chengjun took away his confidants for such an important matter today and left the most elite guards for Tang Shishi, but he did not take Zhao Zixun with him.
It could be seen that Zhao Zixun was not a person who could be helpful in Zhao Chengjun’s heart. Tang Shishi thought so in her heart that she always has to give him a little face and said, “Shizi has a heart. But I have enough people here. Shizi should go back to comfort Cefei Zhou. Cefei Zhou has just had a miscarriage and her body has not been well-nourished, so she needs a companion the most.”
Originally, it was very common words, but when it fell into Zhao Zixun’s ears, it unexpectedly gave birth to some inexplicable taste. Tang Shishi’s words were dripping with acid as if she was jealous.
Zhao Zixun’s heart was pounding. He looked up to see Tang Shishi’s profile cast on the paper window, swaying with the candlelight, gentle and graceful. Zhao Zixun was silent for a while. He stood outside the door and did not enter or leave.
Tang Shishi did not know what Zhao Zixun was crazy about. Since he was willing to stay behind and Tang Shishi could not shoo him away, so she simply let him be. After sitting for a while, Tang Shishi gradually felt sleepy. She covered her lips and yawned. When the maid saw it, she tried to persuade, “Wangfei, you’ve been up for half a night. Go back to sleep for a while.”
Zhao Zixun also saw it and said the same, “That’s true. Wangfei, go to sleep with ease. There’s me for the things outside.”
As soon as Zhao Zixun’s voice fell, he suddenly heard movement outside. Zhao Zixun turned his head back, and Tang Shishi also stood up and asked, “Who’s here?”
A stream of lights was coming from a distance. When they approached, a man in white gave a salute to the main room, “I pay respect to Jing Wangfei.”
Tang Shishi heard that this was a eunuch. She quickly opened the door and came out to ask, “Gonggong, what’s the matter?”
When the gonggong in white saw Tang Shishi, he smiled and said, “I came to report the death to all families on the order of His Excellency of the Records. The late Emperor has died and the whole country mourns together.”
Tang Shishi was not sure about the eunuch’s intention, but it was right to cry on this kind of occasion. The people in the courtyard cried for a while. Tang Shishi held back her tears and said, “I can’t say anything about my grief. Gonggong, please forgive me.”
“Wangfei, restrain your grief.” After saying that, the eunuch in white said, “I still have to go to Eldest Princess Nanyang’s mansion. I’ll leave first. Wangfei, take care and don’t be too sad.”
Tang Shishi responded and then sent the eunuch out. Tang Shishi noticed that when the eunuch mentioned Nanyang just now, he used “Eldest Princess”.
This superiority in the family has deep meaning. Tang Shishi sent the eunuch to the courtyard gate. When they got to the gate, the eunuch suddenly stopped and said to Tang Shishi, “The master in the palace let me pass a message to Wangfei. Master asked Wangfei to sleep well and don’t think too much as you will understand tomorrow.”
Tang Shishi was surprised. She asked cautiously, “Thank you. I wonder who this master is…”
The eunuch in white had an ambiguous attitude and smiled but refused to say anything. He turned around and was about to leave. Tang Shishi hurriedly pursued two steps, stuffed a pouch into the eunuch’s hand, and said, “Thank you Gonggong for relieving my worries. Wangye has not returned tonight. I wonder if Wangye is in the palace?”
The eunuch in white returned the pouch to Tang Shishi’s hand calmly with a smile, “How do I know about the master’s affairs. But Wangfei can rest assured that everything is fine for the masters in the palace, and Wangfei just needs to rest with ease.”
When he finished, he cupped both his hand to Tang Shishi and pointed out with intent, “Wangfei, you are a blessed person. You have a good rest tonight. When you enter the palace tomorrow, there are still many things to deal with.”
Tang Shishi stayed in place while watching the eunuch leave. She still could not recover her senses even after Zhao Zixun and the eunuch’s figure could not be seen anymore.
Dujuan who followed behind Tang Shishi was trembling slightly, unknown whether it was cold or shaking, ” Wangfei, what did that gonggong mean just now?”
Tang Shishi slowly recovered her senses, and said in a low voice, “I don’t know.”
She really did not know. However, she had a hunch that Zhao Chengjun won.
The eunuch refused to say Zhao Chengjun’s name, nor did he call him Jing Wang. Most likely the overall situation was settled but it had not been revealed yet, so he refused to say it for fear of committing taboos. Otherwise, why did Tang Shishi as a Wangfei has to enter the palace tomorrow?
Tang Shishi calmed down and said to the maids, “Go remove all the bright things in the mansion and inform the whole mansion to change into mourning clothes.”