TIGR Chapter 69
The Imperial Guard’s Revenge
Chapter 69 Rescue
When Lu Heng heard about the fire, he walked out without saying a word. Lu Heng didn’t care if Fu Tingzhou was alive or dead in the forest. That place was hidden and no one saw what happened just now. Lu Heng deliberately aggravated Fu Tingzhou’s injuries just now, but even that would not kill anyone.
As for why Fu Tingzhou was injured in the palace and how to explain the blood on his body to everyone after he went out, that was Fu Tingzhou’s own business. Lu Heng was not worried about Fu Tingzhou’s retaliation. The knife involved a lot of implications, but in any case, Wang Yanqing could not be avoided. Fu Tingzhou would not make a big deal if he wanted to keep his dignity.
Lu Heng rushed to the front hall as fast as he could. The temporary imperial residence was built for temporary purposes, and most of it was made of wood, reed mats, and felt tents. After sparks were ignited, they would be blown by the wind, and wherever they touched, a sea of flames sprouted. After a while, the flames grew larger, and half of the palace was shrouded in flames. The palace maids and officials woke up from their dreams, their hands full with their own affairs, shouting and running. Voices yelling to put out the fire and save lives were all mixed together. The panicked crowd pushed and collided with each other, the scene was very chaotic.
A eunuch was fleeing in panic. He didn’t have time to look at the road when he fled and was about to bump into someone, but before he got close, he was pushed away by a force. The eunuch staggered and fell to the ground. He raised his head and saw a red figure standing in front of him. The flames illuminated the auspicious beast’s eyes on his body, and the embroidered knife on his waist silently exuded a cold glow. From the eunuch’s point of view, he looked particularly tall and slender, condescending, like a god descending to the earth.
The eunuch was startled for a moment before he realized who it was, and quickly got up to greet him: “Master Lu.”
Lu Heng quickly swept his gaze across the messy palace, and asked with a cold face: “Where is the emperor?”
The eunuch was stopped by the question and shook his head blankly: “I don’t know either. I was just going outside to fetch water!”
Lu Heng’s face became more and more solemn. He was waiting for Fu Tingzhou to get caught today, so he was not in a hurry to sleep after sunset, but the others fell asleep as soon as it got dark. More than fifteen thousand people were accompanying the palace. The emperor and his family lived in the palace, and other soldiers set up tents to guard the periphery. The living density was very high. With so many people gathered together, a fire was very dangerous. Many people who slept like the dead or didn’t have time to escape were besieged by the fire at this moment, struggling and screaming. Some of those who escaped by chance were crying, and some were looking for water, but no one noticed where the emperor was!
And the most ferocious direction of the fire came from the emperor’s palace. Lu Heng didn’t have time to get upset. He went against the fleeing crowd, like a sharp knife cutting through a turbulent flow, and walked to the place where the flames were most aggressive without hesitation. The emperor had no heirs now, if the emperor had an accident during his southern tour, all the accompanying people would be done for.
There were quite a few people who understood the stakes and many people had gathered in front of the emperor’s main hall. At the front, Assistant Zhang’s face was scorched black from the smoke, and he still shouted for the emperor at the top of his voice, directing people to splash water. Lu Heng walked over quickly, and immediately asked: “Eunuch Zhang, where is the emperor?”
Assistant Zhang was overjoyed when he saw Lu Heng, and quickly stepped forward and said: “Master Lu, you are here. The philosophical school was not on duty today, but they rushed to check tomorrow’s carriage and ceremonial guards. We have been busy until now, and I also don’t know where the emperor is.”
Lu Heng had no intention of pursuing whether Assistant Zhang’s reasons were true or not. If anything happened to the emperor, the eunuchs would be the first to be buried with him. Assistant Zhang would never dare to lie in such a place. No matter what Assistant Zhang went out to do today, it was certain that he did not know which room the emperor is in now.
Then this was troublesome. During the southern tour, there was a mess of people, fish and dragons mixed together. A few days ago, someone broke into the palace to complain. The emperor was quite worried about his safety, so two days ago, he no longer lived in a fixed bedroom. Instead, he slept in rotation, and even the officials around him didn’t know where the emperor was.
Doing this in peacetime could effectively avoid assassination, but in today’s situation, it was simply terrible.
Lu Heng looked ahead at the raging flames. The main hall where the emperor received officials was completely on fire. The fire spread across the east hall and spread to the large inner palace bedroom behind. The regulations of the palace were likely similar to that of the Forbidden City, having a court in the front and a sleeping area in the back. The emperor now slept in one of the back rooms.
But there were hundreds of rooms in the palace, and by the time they put out the fire, the people inside would be burned to death. Lu Heng forced himself to calm down, especially at a time like this, he couldn’t get himself into trouble. He had made many enemies, but he was also an Imperial Guard. If the emperor had any accidents, he would be the first to be held accountable. While the fire had not yet encircled, he needed to find out where the emperor was and rescue him quickly.
Lu Heng asked Assistant Zhang: “What did the emperor do today?”
Assistant Zhang didn’t care if he was overstepping privacy, and told Lu Heng about the emperor’s movements: “The emperor first talked to Master Taotian in the evening, and then you came, Master Lu. After Master Lu left, the emperor sent someone to deliver his meal, and Monarch Ru was with him. Monarch Ru presented the emperor with a medicinal wine brewed by himself, and the emperor talked happily with King Ru, so he drank a few more cups. Before the end of the dinner, the emperor was a little drunk, so he didn’t stay, and went to the palace to rest.”
Lu Heng frowned slightly. The palace was on fire, the emperor was drunk, and as it happens Monarch Ru entered the palace to offer wine at this time. Lu Heng asked: “Why did Monarch Ru want to enter the palace?”
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“The imperial carriage will leave tomorrow, and the palace already arranged to entertain the monarch tonight. After dinner, I personally sent Monarch Ru out.” Assistant Zhang knew what Lu Heng was suspicious of. When he heard about the fire, he also wondered if it was Monarch Ru. After all, the emperor had no heirs. If the emperor had the most unfortunate occurrence, he could only choose an heir from the imperial clan as Emperor Zhengde did. But it was already decided to invite Monarch Ru to the banquet tonight, and many people knew it would be too stupid for Monarch Ru to act at such a time.
The most important thing was that Monarch Ru and the emperor were not close in blood. Even if the emperor died, the cabinet would choose an heir based on blood, no matter how they chose, it would not be Monarch Ru’s turn. There was really no need for the monarch to do such a thing that harmed himself and benefited others.
Monarch Ru only walked around in Lu Heng’s mind before he suppressed it. He could slowly find out if it was Monarch Ru who was playing tricks, but the most important thing now was to save the emperor. Assistant Zhang was now a grasshopper on the same rope with him, there was no need to lie. According to Assistant Zhang, after the emperor met him, he invited Monarch Ru to dine. During the banquet, he drank too much wine and quickly fell asleep. It may have been that the emperor was drunk, so he missed the fire and did not have time to get out when it was just burning.
Lu Heng remembered that when he went to find the emperor, the emperor was asking Tao Zhongwen about the whirlwind. Compared with words about God’s will, Lu Heng was more willing to believe that the strange wind caused the fire. Lu Heng asked Assistant Zhang: “Where was the emperor hosting the banquet today, and where is the kitchen?”
Assistant Zhang pointed to the place where the fire was most violent: “The emperor held a banquet in the east hall, and Hu Li and others used the small kitchen on the east side for convenience.”
The eunuchs had always been in charge of the meals around the emperor. To prevent outsiders from poisoning them, there were several kitchens and they decided which one to use spontaneously. Lu Heng guessed it when he thought of the wind, but now that he heard Assistant Zhang’s words, he became more and more sure that the fire started from the small kitchen, and swept to the east hall with the direction of today’s wind, and then expanded to the densely packed bedroom behind.
After assessing the location of the fire, he still needed to judge the location of the emperor. The distribution map of the traveling palace kept appearing in Lu Heng’s mind, and he asked: “The emperor only drank the medicinal wine offered by Monarch Ru tonight?”
Assistant Zhang nodded: “Yes.”
“What kind of wine?”
Assistant Zhang thought for a while and replied: “It’s called Longevity Guben Wine. Monarch Ru said that this wine was brewed by him with great effort. It has a clear color and a mellow taste. What is especially rare is that it can harmonize qi and blood, nourish the organs, regulate the spleen and stomach, nourish all deficiencies, and eliminate all diseases after long-term consumption.”
“What is it made of?”
Judging from the name of the medicinal wine, you can tell that it was specially brought out by Monarch Ru to ask for credit. The preciousness of this wine would definitely be revealed at the banquet. Ordinary people would definitely not be able to remember, but not just any fool could serve the emperor, no matter court ladies or eunuchs. Assistant Zhang thought about it for a while, and reported it word for word: “Angelica, morinda root, Eucommia, ginseng, Rehmannia root, ripe Chinese foxglove, tangerine peel, goji berry, Sichuan pepper, fresh ginger.”
Lu Heng didn’t know medical skills, but hearing these medicinal materials, it was obvious that they were all tonics for fever. The emperor had been suffering from many illnesses since he ascended the throne, and he always paid attention to preserving his health in recent years. Drinking medicinal wine would result in a fever. After drinking, it was best to stay away from cold and raw foods such as radish, fish, and cold-natured food to avoid catching a cold. A careful person like the emperor would definitely not open the windows at night, and today there was a whirlwind, but the night was hot and stuffy. If the emperor wanted to sleep comfortably without opening the windows, he had to stay in a room with natural shade.
Lu Heng was in charge of the emperor’s safety and he had seen all the maps of the palaces along the way. Lu Heng quickly recalled the distribution of vegetation in the Weihui palace, and while walking through the palace complex, he told the Imperial Guard behind him: “Go get a thick quilt and wet it with water.”
The palace was now in a mess. The Imperial Guard tore off a quilt from someone and hurriedly carried it to Lu Heng. He happened to run into a eunuch who was fighting a fire, so Lu Heng snatched the water from the eunuch’s hand and dunked the quilt into the bucket with all his strength. Lu Heng didn’t have time to wait for the quilt to get wet, picked up the dripping quilt, and rushed into the flames without blinking.
At this moment, many officials had surrounded the hall, and they were helpless against the fire. Fu Tingzhou had also roughly bandaged his wound and brought people to the scene. Fortunately, at this moment, the flames were raging, and everyone was in a complete mess. Everyone was worried about the emperor, not knowing if he was dead or alive, and no one paid attention to Fu Tingzhou’s strange behavior.
Fu Tingzhou looked at the flames and frowned. The Five Cities Soldiers and Calvary kept bringing water to put out the fire, but it was not enough, and the fire would not be able to be controlled for a while. Guo Xun, the Marquis of Wuding walked to Fu Tingzhou’s side with the same solemn face: “Is there any news from your side?”
Fu Tingzhou shook his head: “The emperor was afraid of being assassinated, so he has no fixed sleeping hall these days. Just now the imperial eunuchs also came to ask me, even they don’t know where the emperor is.”
The servants who were with the emperor all day could not guess where the emperor was staying. How did they, outside officials, know? The Marquis of Wuding sighed heavily, becoming more and more aware of the seriousness of the situation in his heart.
In the unlikely event that something happened to the emperor, they would lose their official position after returning, and if it was serious, they would die. The Marquis of Wuding also went to the battlefield in his early years. He was not afraid of death, but it would be worthless if he died for nothing. If the emperor was inside, he would risk his life and rush in to save him, but now he had no clue where he was. There were hundreds of rooms and a sea of flames, where would he go?
The Marquis of Wuding’s face was solemn, and he had already figured out which clan would be most beneficial to support the Wuding Marquis Mansion. People who saw blood with real swords and guns were different from government officials. The Marquis of Wuding quickly noticed the bloody smell on Fu Tingzhou’s body. He turned his head and looked at Fu Tingzhou in surprise: “You have…”
Alarm bells rang in Fu Tingzhou’s heart. He felt sorry for Qing Qing a lot. If he hadn’t forced Qing Qing to see the Hong family, Qing Qing would not have lost her memory. He deserved this knife and he didn’t blame her. But the Marquis of Wuding was different, the Yongping Madam Marquis had disliked Wang Yanqing for a long time. If the Marquis of Wuding found out, there would be another trouble.
Fu Tingzhou was thinking of some way to cover it up when he suddenly heard loud voices in front of him. A crimson figure quickly plunged into the sea of flames, and the tongue of flames cut off any future path, making it seem like everyone’s vision blurred.
Fu Tingzhou and Wu Dinghou were both stunned. The Marquis of Wuding stared in that direction, frowning heavily, he couldn’t care less about investigating Fu Tingzhou’s injuries: “Lu Heng? What is he doing in there?”
Fu Tingzhou also held back his expression and remained silent.
If some people’s lives were a straight line, where they never experienced any miracles in their lives and reached their old age after being mediocre, then the life of an emperor must be a zigzag line with ups and downs.
The emperor was awakened by the heat wave and the shouting. When he opened his eyes, he found himself trapped in a sea of flames, not to mention how surprised he was. He only remembered having a banquet with Monarch Ru not long ago. He was a little sleepy after drinking, so he left the banquet early to rest. Even before going to sleep, everything was normal, why did he fall into purgatory when he opened his eyes?
What was more frightening was that the lingering effects of the medicated wine were prolonged, and the monarch’s alcohol was still plaguing him, he couldn’t exert any strength at all. He struggled to sit up, but looking around, the doors, windows, and beams were licking fire everywhere. No eunuchs, maids, or guards came to rescue him, and there was no way to survive.
The emperor was so choked by the thick smoke that he couldn’t open his eyes. He covered his lips and coughed, and shouted with difficulty: “Help, come and save me…”
The fire was getting stronger and stronger and the doors and windows were completely sealed. The emperor stayed in the hot room and coughed constantly. If this continued, even if he was not burned to death, he would be choked to death sooner or later.
Just when the emperor felt that his fate was over, there was a loud noise at the door, and the precarious wooden door was kicked open by an external force, and fell to the ground with a bang, smashing sparks on the ground. The emperor struggled to open his eyes, and a crimson figure appeared after seeing the sparks. A fire dragon was lingering, the smoke was billowing, and everything in the room was illuminated red. The emperor didn’t know whether it was real or if he was hallucinating.
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Immediately afterward, a familiar voice brought back the emperor’s mind: “Your Majesty, are you inside?”
The emperor was stunned for a moment, overjoyed. This was not an illusion, someone really came to save him! The emperor hurriedly said loudly: “Lu Heng, I am here!”
Lu Heng heaved a sigh of relief, fortunately, he guessed right, the emperor was indeed in this area. The fire in the house was already very rampant, and the scorching waves hit a person’s face as if they would be engulfed if they took one step forward. The more hesitant he was this time, the more dangerous it would be. Lu Heng kicked away the fallen sawdust and quickly rushed indoors with the wet quilt on top. When he entered the door, he noticed a little eunuch lying on the door. It seemed that he wanted to go out to call for someone, but he tripped over the threshold in a hurry, fell to the corner of the table, and was completely knocked unconscious.
No wonder no one knew where the emperor was, one was drunk, the other passed out, and they couldn’t respond despite what was happening outside. Lu Heng quickly rushed in front of the emperor. Before he had time to say polite words, he wrapped his head in a wet quilt: “Your Majesty, I’m sorry.”
How could the emperor pay attention to these things now, he was so choked that he couldn’t speak. Lu Heng put the emperor on his back and ran out without stopping.
Burnt wood kept falling, and the road that was safe when he came, was instantly surrounded by snakes of fire. At this time, Lu Heng was very grateful for being cautious by nature and reading the map of the palace several times before setting off. Lu Heng kept adjusting his route. If he couldn’t walk ahead, he immediately changed directions, turned left and right, and finally rushed out of the encirclement of the fire.
The eunuchs outside were busy fighting the fire, but when someone saw Lu Heng coming out with a man on his back, they hurriedly surrounded him. They hurriedly took the person on Lu Heng’s body, lifted the quilt, and saw that it was the emperor who had only one breath left.
The eunuchs were both frightened and overjoyed and hurriedly called the imperial doctor. The Marquis of Wuding and Fu Tingzhou heard the abnormal noise on the other side, looked at each other, and immediately walked there knowingly.
Before they approached, they learned from the noise of the surrounding crowd that Lu Heng had rescued the emperor from the fire. Fu Tingzhou’s footsteps paused slightly. If Lu Heng hadn’t just returned from someplace else today and confronted him not long ago, Fu Tingzhou would have suspected that it was Lu Heng who caused this trick today. With so many clueless people, how did Lu Heng know where the emperor was?
The Marquis of Wuding also heard. His face was gloomy, but he still strode forward. Although they missed the opportunity to rescue him, the emperor had just escaped from danger. If they didn’t push ahead for the emperor, they would wait for him to come around and see to sorting out the rest.
There were already many people around the emperor. When Fu Tingzhou and the Marquis of Wuding arrived, they couldn’t even get into the second ring of people. Someone behind him yelled, “Get out of the way!” Fu Tingzhou and the Marquis of Wuding turned their heads and saw that it was Imperial Guards quickly rushing in this direction with an imperial physician.
Looking closer, the imperial doctor’s feet didn’t reach the ground, and he didn’t know how he flew over.
The crowd quickly parted ways, and Fu Tingzhou was also pushed aside. The imperial doctor quickly hid his annoyance, he didn’t dare to tidy up his appearance and hurried to see the emperor’s condition as soon as his feet touched the ground. He took the emperor’s pulse, looked at the emperor’s face, and said: “The emperor has nothing of major concern. He has just choked on dust and needs to rest.”
The onlookers heaved a long sigh of relief, and even Fu Tingzhou felt relieved, and finally dared to relax. Assistant Zhang carried the stretcher and carefully escorted the emperor to a safe place to rest. The crowd moved around the emperor again, at this time Guo Tao noticed the wound on Lu Heng’s hand and said: “Imperial doctor, the commander is also injured.”
The rest of the people looked at Lu Heng together, and Lu Heng pressed his other arm and said, “It’s okay, it’s just a small injury.”
The imperial doctor knew that this person was an official who gave outstanding service in this rescue, and when the emperor regained his senses, he would definitely reward Lu Heng generously. Even though Lu Heng said it was okay, everyone still surrounded Lu Heng enthusiastically, insisting that Lu Heng deal with the wound.
The imperial physician personally stepped forward to feel his pulse and said: “Commander Lu’s arm was burned by the flames, if it is not treated, it may become inflamed. The commander should not be careless, quickly find a place to bandage the wound.”
Lu Heng’s hand would hold a knife to kill people in the future, so it would be of great use. He didn’t refuse either, and after being polite, he went to bandage it. Lu Heng left the crowd surrounding him, but before leaving, he found Fu Tingzhou and the Marquis of Wuding standing not far away and saw Chen Yin rushing in this direction. Lu Heng swept over these people quietly, smiled slightly, and left without looking back.
Lu Heng’s wound was medicated and bandaged, and his clothes were burnt in the fire. As soon as he was bandaged, the eunuch brought new clothes to Lu Heng. Lu Heng calmly changed into new clothes and walked to the imperial palace. At this moment, the periphery of the emperor’s bedroom was full of people, and all the accompanying officials and generals came. Empress Zhang couldn’t hide her distress, and she took all the concubines to keep watch in another room.
When everyone heard Lu Heng coming, the already quiet air seemed to freeze for a moment, then the crowd moved away silently, and the expressions of government and military officials were all intrigued. Not long after Lu Heng stood still, Assistant Zhang came out from the inside and walked straight to Lu Heng. He politely cupped his hands, and said: “Commander Lu, the emperor has learned that you have been injured and has specially ordered you to go back and rest, so you don’t have to stay here.”
Even though Lu Heng had just performed meritorious deeds, there was still no arrogance or complacency on his face, and he respectfully asked: “Was there any serious problem?”
“The emperor has awoken, there is no hindrance, but he was frightened and needs to rest.”
When Lu Heng heard that the emperor was fine, his face was relieved, and he said earnestly: “That’s good. The emperor’s misfortune has turned into a blessing. It can be seen that this was a blessing from the gods and a big good fortune for the Ming Dynasty.”
Assistant Zhang said with a smile: “The commander’s wishes will be conveyed to the emperor. It’s late at night, and the commander is still injured, so go back and take care of yourself.”
Lu Heng and Assistant Zhang pushed and pulled a few times until he felt that he gave enough respect, so he yielded after making a show of resistance. Lu Heng turned around, saw Zhang Jinggong with a serious face, and nodded with a smile: “Head Auxiliary, take care. I will leave first.”
A group of old heroes in their fifties and sixties, and even Empress Zhang were guarding the emperor’s house, while Lu Heng, a strong young man, left without hesitation. Lu Heng returned to his yard, and just as he opened the door, Wang Yanqing ran out of the house: “Second Brother, are you okay?”