Chapter 86 – A Thrill
The empress asked Lin Jia Bao: “When you come to greet me, have you ever seen Song-shi or Yu-shi?”
Lin Jia Bao thought about it for a while and replied, “No, I haven’t…”
Now that he was thinking about it, he realized that he had indeed never seen Song-shi or Yu-shi in Yong Shou Palace, and he found that strange. Why didn’t they come to pay respects to the empress?
“It’s like that. It stands to reason that the crown prince’s concubines are not qualified to greet bengong*. That’s why you never see them coming to greet me in the mornings. Just look, there are only ten concubines who come to greet me every day, but the emperor’s harem is composed of more than just ten people… Only those at the level of imperial concubine and above can come pay respects to bengong…”
[*T/N: She’s using 本宫 bengong to refer to herself. It translates to “this palace,” which sounds a bit strange in English, so I left it as is.]
The empress looked at Lin Jia Bao’s face full of disappointment. This was really a child who wore his heart on his sleeve.
The empress unconsciously softened her voice and said: “You’re good, but there are rules in the palace, and class is strict in the palace. It’s not good to do things that are beyond your status. If this goes on, it will not be good for the crown prince or for you. The imperial censors will also used this as a pretext for gossip.”
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“Your Majesty, An Zhu understands. An Zhu will definitely abide by the palace rules scrupulously and not cause trouble for His Royal Highness…”
Lin Jia Bao nodded with great solemnity.
At this time, Zhou-momo led the chief imperial guard of Yong Shou Palace in.
“Your Majesty, there’s trouble. Xue Song brought a large number of thieves into the harem. They’re heading here to Yong Shou Palace. I think those thieves were the one who caused the fire at Li An Hall. Their purpose must be to lure the imperial guards away…”
“That goddamn Xue family. They want to rebel?” The empress was furious. She asked, “How many imperial guards are there in Yong Shou Palace right now?”
The chief imperial guard responded: “Right now there are twenty something imperial guards left in Yong Shou Palace, enough to hold them off for a while, but there are nearly a hundred of those thieves and they’re coming straight for Yong Shou Palace. Please make arrangements quickly, Your Majesty.”
The empress gradually calmed down. “Take my phoenix token. Go to the commander of the imperial guards and have him dispatch imperial guards here as soon as possible.”
The empress handed her phoenix token to the chief imperial guard, “Go quickly…”
“Understood.” The chief imperial guard took the phoenix token with both hands and quickly retreated.
“Go and get me a set of palace maid clothes…” The empress ordered Zhou-momo. She had to prepare a backup plan. If the imperial guards didn’t arrive in time, she couldn’t stay there like a sitting duck either. Since they’re coming for Yong Shou Palace that meant that they were coming for her.
“Your Majesty, please change quickly. The imperial guards outside won’t last long,” Zhou-momo said anxiously.
The empress wore the palace maid clothes on top of her current outfit.
“Call in all the imperial guards that are stationed outside. Let’s go to Qian Qing Palace. There are more imperial guards there, so it’s safer to go there.”
Several guards retreated inside. They all carried wounds. Yuan Qing also came in to protect Lin Jia Bao.
The empress looked at Lin-xiaoshi, who was trying his hardest to hold back his fear. She comforted him: “Don’t be afraid. The imperial guards will be here soon. Let’s go to Qian Qing Palace to take shelter.”
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The empress had experienced the fierce struggle for the throne in her early years. Whether it was forcing the emperor to abdicate or other things, she has seen them all. But Lin-xiaoshi was still young and has never experienced such things before.
“I’m not afraid anymore, Your Majesty…” Lin Jia Bao said, clenching his fists.
The empress was quite satisfied with the way Lin Jia Bao was handling the situation. It was a good thing that he wasn’t weeping endlessly.
With the imperial guards escorting them, the empress and Lin Jia Bao hurried towards the backyard.
The imperial guards in the front courtyard were gradually losing ground and they couldn’t hold back all the intruders. Some of the intruders have already charged into Yong Shou Palace.
Xue Song, who was in the lead, had good eyes and he quickly spotted the empress. He shouted: “The empress is there. Prince Li said whoever can catch the empress will be rewarded with ten thousand taels of silver.”
As soon as he said this, the thieves rushed towards the empress. The imperial guards stepped forward to fend them off.
The rest of the imperial guards continued to escort the empress and Lin Jia Bao. There were more and more thieves rushing towards them, and the sound of fighting sounded in Lin Jia Bao’s ears.
The imperial guards escorting them were gradually getting picked off, making it difficult to move forward. The two shadow guards by Lin Jia Bao’s side also joined the fight. With their inclusion, the situation took a slight turn for the better, however, due to the large number of opponents, the two shadow guards were also struggling to cope. In the end, the thieves took advantage of a gap and attacked the empress and Lin Jia Bao.