Luo Wei ended up really staying in the senior chancellor’s residence, not going out again.
Emperor Xing Wu sent the imperial physician to visit Luo Wei, and bestowed great amounts of serious supplements like ginseng, cordyceps, and medicinal fungi. It was as if he were itching to heal Luo Wei overnight.
Imperial Physician Wei changed his prescription again. He told Emperor Xing Wu and Luo Zhi Qiu that Luo Wei’s body was improving, and he should continue to slowly rest and recover without rushing it.
Imperial Physician Wei had recommended a slow recovery, and three days later amidst this slow recovery, the Imperial Hunt that occurred every five years began.
The Royal Guard and an armed escort guarded the Emperor Xing Wu and the imperial family closely, while Luo Ze’s army was responsible for securing the perimeter of the hunting grounds.
Luo Ze kept Luo Zhi Qiu and Luo Wei’s advice in mind. After inspecting the sentry post checkpoints he had set in the surrounding area, he personally led a squadron of troops and horses to patrol every part of the borders. He didn’t dare to relax even a bit, fearing that someone would infiltrate the hunting grounds.
“General, the cannon sounded inside,” some closeby soldiers said to Luo Ze when they heard the sound from within the hunting grounds.
Luo Ze naturally also heard those thundering sounds, and said to his subordinates: “The hunt has started. Everyone persevere until the day’s done, and I’ll give you all a vacation.”
For the sake of this Western Mountains hunt, these soldiers hadn’t taken any vacation for more than a month. After hearing Luo Ze’s promise, they were all happy. Those who were adept at flattery said to Luo Ze: “The general has also worked too hard these days, and can rest well after today.”
“If we all go back to see our wives and children, wouldn’t the barracks be empty? Then could his Imperial Majesty spare me? You always come up with rotten ideas!” Luo Ze answered.
The team of soldiers all began to laugh together, but they did not dare to laugh loudly, and all suppressed their mirth to quiet snickers.
“General, where are we going next?” The deputy general Su Jing, who was leading the way, turned back and asked Luo Ze.
Luo Ze looked at the surroundings and said almost soundlessly to Su Jing, “Let’s patrol at random, you lead the way.”
Su Jing didn’t spare more words, only continuing on the road in front. Luo Ze and the others behind him joked along the way, but he said nothing.
After travelling for half a day, the group arrived at the eastern entrance of the Western Mountains.
“How did we get here?” Luo Ze saw the valley up ahead, and asked Su Jing who was in front, “Isn’t this place sealed?”
At this, Su Jing finally spoke: “There’s a small path to the hunting grounds here, and this subordinate general also only found out today.”
Luo Ze replied, “There’s a small path? Then let’s go and see.”
“Yes,” Su Jing agreed. “But the general can also be assured that not many people know of that path.”
“But I didn’t station guards.” Hearing that there was a path he didn’t know about, Luo Ze became a bit anxious. If by any chance someone entered through there into the hunting grounds, the blame befalling him would not be light.
The group spurred their horses and rushed toward the valley entrance.
“General, a carriage is coming,” a soldier up ahead who had entered the mountain pass shouted.
Luo Ze headed towards the front of his team and stood side by side with Su Jing.
There was a carriage in front with no markings or symbols to be seen. After seeing Luo Ze, it did not stop but instead rushed towards Luo Ze’s group.
“Let him stop,” Luo Ze ordered.
“Stop, stop!” the soldiers shouted.
The carriage still didn’t stop.
“Ready your bows and arrows.” Luo Ze’s expression was harsh.
“It’s us!” The man who drove the carriage saw the soldiers unsheathing arrows and lifting bows in his direction, and he loudly shouted.
“This sound is wrong,” a soldier said to Luo Ze.
Everyone present could hear that. The man’s voice was too sharp and thin—-different from an ordinary man’s timbre.
“Eunuch?” A soldier with loose lips blurted out his first thought.
“Put down the arrows,” Luo said hurriedly. Other than a palace eunuch, no one else could have such a voice.
“Hurry up and stop the carriage!” Su Jing shouted at the man astride the charging carriage.
Luo Ze saw that the carriage was getting closer and closer to him. “Damn!” After he cursed once, he urged his war horse forward, rushing out of the formation of troops. He had to go and get to the bottom of this matter. The carriage’s horse did not seem spooked, and why would a palace carriage come here? Besides, this carriage did not look like it belonged to the palace. Were they hijacked by robbers? In these short moments, Luo Ze didn’t have the time to think deeply. He unsheathed the sword at his waist and held it in hand.
The soldiers watched Luo Ze rush out, and followed behind him to catch up.
Within the carriage, an elderly woman said to the person in her arms, “Is madam ready? This slave will push you out.”
“My stomach hurts badly!”
“Rest assured madam. After this is over, His Highness will definitely love the madam more. Madam’s happy days are waiting for her!”
“Mama!” (T/N: meaning wet nurse, not mother).
“This humble one is too bold, ma’am!”
Luo Ze rushed to the front of the carriage, then to the side of the horse. Before he could stop the horse, he saw a wheel of the carriage fly off. As the yellow-colored horse pulling the carriage whinnied, the carriage itself fell to its side. At the moment the carriage brushed against Luo Ze’s side, a woman screamed in fear. She flew out of the body of the carriage and to the ground in front of Luo Ze’s horse.
This all happened too quickly—-almost in the twinkle of an eye. Luo Ze and his soldiers sat on their horses in a daze, unable to come back to themselves for a long time.
The yellow horse that fell to the ground struggled a few times as if trying to stand, but failed. Its leg was already broken.
The man driving the carriage collapsed not far from the car, motionless. It was unclear whether he was alive or dead.
As everyone at the scene stared blankly, an elderly woman crawled out of the carriage. Her hair was scattered and her clothes torn as she stumbled and bumped into her surroundings. She both crawled and near-rolled as she scrambled to the front of the younger woman, crying loudly: “Madam! Madam! Are you all right? Madam!”
The elderly woman held the younger one in her arms. The younger woman had fainted. Blood flowed beneath her body, and her bulging belly shocked everyone.
“This is the Second Prince’s Consort Xu!” The old woman saw that the woman in her arms would not wake, and lifted her head to shout at Luo Ze, “The Consort is pregnant! If something happens, can you afford it?!”
“Do-doctor.” Luo Ze forgot to dismount. He sat on his horse, faced his similarly dazed subordinate, and tremblingly said, “Go find a doctor!”
Su Jing was the first to turn his horse around and gallop towards the hunting grounds, where there would be imperial physicians attending to the emperor’s retinue. This would be the closest place to find a doctor in.
“Ma’am! Ma’am!” The old woman looked down again and shouted at the woman in her arms.
Luo Ze nearly fell to the ground dismounting his horse. He stood in front of this Consort Xu, looking at the blood beneath her puddling into a veritable pool. With her blood flowing so freely, could she still keep her child? There was only a blank whiteness in Luo Ze’s mind.
“If something happens to Consort Xu and the Second Prince’s child, what will you pay with!” The old woman yelled to Luo Ze again: “Is the price of your life high enough?!”
Luo Ze’s men dismounted and stood behind him. Now was not time to ask why this Consort of the Second Prince would appear here, nor why her carriage would not stop. Now if the fetus in the belly of this Consort was lost, then their lives added together with General Luo’s would not suffice to pay the price!
Some nice music to listen to when experiencing these historical settings:
Zhuge Liang’s Theme, guqin performance by Zi De Guqin This one is appropriate for Luo Wei’s political machinations!