Yu Zhen flung the doors of their estate open. The first thing he saw was the opened doors of their bedroom. Had the Imperial Physician only just arrived? What had taken that man so long?
He stormed into the room, shoving everyone aside. He could've sworn his hand came in contact with some sort of fabric, but it didn't matter.
"What happened?" Yu Zhen demanded. He set foot into the bedroom, slamming the doors shut. The force was so strong, it rattled the walls.
Yu Zhen's heart was racing with too much anxiety to care about small details like this. When he saw the maidservant's frantic state and heard her explanation, he knew something horrible must've happened. And judging from everyone's pale expressions, his predictions were not wrong.
There was no one else in this room except the Imperial Physician, a maidservant, and his wife, who was curled under the blankets—her face and body hidden. If it wasn't for her curled up position creating a bulge on the bed, he would've thought she was asleep.
"It is grave news, Your Highness…" the Imperial Physician worriedly said. He was standing by the foot of the bed.
He had just finished examining the Crown Princess. He checked her temperature, pulse, and the color of her tongue. He also asked her pertinent questions.
"Spit it out then." Yu Zhen closed the distance from the door to the bed. He stopped directly over Li Xueyue's fetal position. She didn't even want to look at him. The second his clothes came into sight, she turned her body and faced the other direction.
"What's wrong?" Yu Zhen asked.
The Imperial Physician was befuddled by how quickly the Crown Prince's voice changed. It was cold and bleak, filled with an ultimatum just a while ago. However, the authority in the Crown Prince's voice had faded. His tone was much kinder when speaking to his wife.
"What are you hiding from me for?" Yu Zhen teased, hoping to reel her close. He placed a hand upon her shoulder, but she wriggled away.
"It is best if we leave the Crown Princess be…after this morning's incident, she needs rest."
"What exactly happened?"
Yu Zhen finally noticed the wet splotches on the blankets and pillow. He was furious.
Without warning, the heavy duvet was yanked off of her. She didn't even protest. Her only response was to bury her face into the pillows.
Yu Zhen's scowl deepened. He tossed the blanket aside and reached to grab her. But she rolled farther from him.
He held back a sigh. What had gotten into her?
"Your hair and clothes are all wet. You will have a fever by tomorrow morning if you don't dry your hair and change into dry clothes. Don't be stubborn, come now," Yu Zhen murmured. He patiently touched her hair, which was still dripping with water.
"Just leave me alone!" she cried out, her voice cracking towards the end.
Before he could even react, she sniffled. "Please…"
Yu Zhen narrowed his eyes. When she was like this, how could he? Li Xueyue looked like she needed him now more than ever.
"Not until you tell me what happened."
Li Xueyue stopped responding. She continued hugging her stomach, refusing to look at anyone.
Yu Zhen was disappointed by her actions. Nonetheless, he placed the blankets back onto her.
"Go get a towel," he ordered.
The only maidservant in the room quickly scurried out to fetch a towel. She had been meaning to thoroughly dry the Crown Princess's hair, but the Imperial Physician arrived before she had the opportunity to do so.
Before leaving, she closed the doors behind her.
Once there were only three people in the room, Yu Zhen finally turned to the Imperial Physician. It was time to get to the bottom of this story.
"What exactly happened to my wife?"
The Imperial Physician lowered his head. It was never easy passing on such news, no matter how common it was.
"The Crown Princess had a miscarriage."
Yu Zhen was floored by the news. It felt like cold water was poured over him.
"This is quite common, especially during the early stages, Your Highness. This is very disheartening news, but please be assured that many women go through it."
Yu Zhen turned to Li Xueyue. Slowly, he sat upon the edge of the bed.
"Does it hurt anywhere?" he asked in a low, patient voice.
She didn't say anything.
Yu Zhen was unfazed. He would patiently remain by her side until she was ready to speak. Seeing as she was unresponsive, he turned to the Imperial Physician.
"Prescribe some tonics that would help to build up her body. Then, leave."
The Imperial Physician didn't need to be told twice. He walked away from the bed and approached his wooden box resting on the table. As he began to take the trays of neatly organized herbs out, the scent in the air changed.
"Strange…" he murmured.
There was a strong smell in the air prior to opening the box. But the Imperial Physician had brushed it off initially. He thought the distinct and familiar scent was emitted from the wooden box.
"Princess, if I may inquire," the Imperial Physician said whilst turning around. Not a second later, he turned back and faced the table again. Even at this age, he felt embarrassed.
The Crown Prince had kissed his wife upon the head. It was a fluid action that must've occurred many times before. Nonetheless, it was still too intimate for his eyes to see.
"Lavender…" he mumbled to himself whilst preparing the herbs.
The Imperial Physician placed all sorts of different herbs together. He grumbled random observations under his breath.
When he placed the dried red dates onto the parchment, he muttered, "Peppermint."
In no time, he finished packing the herbs together in several pouches. "I've prepared medicine that will last for a week. Please make sure the Crown Princess takes this medicine twice a day and finishes it. It is meant to strengthen the body and remove blood clots. I will come back again a week later to check on her and adjust the medication accordingly, Your Highness."
The Imperial Physician decided upon a week, since it would be enough time to gouge the body's reaction towards the medicine. If the condition is stable, and there aren't any issues, then he would prolong the treatment a bit, and create more medicine for her.
The Imperial Physician placed the pouches neatly onto the table. Once it was organized, he began to place the trays of herbs back into the box.
"Rosemary…" The Imperial Physician hummed to himself, whilst continuing to put things away. He felt like there was something forgotten… What was it?
Shaking his head, the Imperial Physician closed the wooden box. He had been contemplating this for a while now. Perhaps, it was time for his apprentice to begin taking the placement exams.
"Will that be all, Your Highness?" the Imperial Physician politely asked whilst bowing his head.
The Crown Prince rose from the edge of the bed. He took his sweet time approaching the Imperial Physician.
"If word of this spread, you can hug your family goodbye."
The Imperial Physician gulped. It would be an impossible task to keep this matter on the down-low, especially when so many maidservants had their suspicions.
"You will go out of here, mumbling about the cycle beginning and there was nothing to be concerned about. Is that clear?"
Relief flooded the elderly man. He rapidly nodded his head, grateful for the advice.
"I will not fail you, Your Highness."
Yu Zhen didn't respond. He went back to the bed, ready to keep his wife company. There were still many documents to get through today, but she came first.
The doors softly clicked shut behind him. The Imperial Physician had left.
"You heard the Physician," he softly said. "This is completely normal."
Yu Zhen approached the bed, this time, he sat down on the side of the bed that allowed him to see her face. She had finally stopped hiding her face.
"Truthfully…it was quite the grim news." The bed slightly dipped with his weight. He tried to comfort her again, this time, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"But it will be fine. I do not mind. No one will blame you for this. They will never know." Yu Zhen's hand slid to her cheek, moist with shed tears. She shifted her body a bit. He thought she would pull away, but Li Xueyue inched closer to him, seeking his comfort and affection.
"It's alright," he whispered. "I am not angered by the news."
Yu Zhen peeled back the blankets. "Now, let's get you dried. Sleeping with wet hair and in wet clothes will be detrimental for your health."
He touched her thick strands of hair, clumping together from the moisture. "You smell different. Did you try out a new bathing oil?"
Li Xueyue slowly nodded her head. "Yes… I—" Her blood went cold.
Her head shot up. "The Imperial Physician was mumbling something, wasn't he? When he was preparing the herbs?"
"He is old and sometimes talks to himself. There have been talks of his retirement. Do not worry."
Li Xueyue abruptly sat up from the bed. She wiped at her face, and hurriedly slipped out of bed.
"Where are you going?" Yu Zhen demanded, grabbing her wrist.
He was astonished to see her mood change so quickly. There was fury in her eyes, muddled with confusion and pain.
"H-how could he have not picked up on it?" she demanded.
"Where is Xu Jiaqi?"
She was speaking in circles. Her thoughts were incoherent. Her eyes were frantically searching the room, a wild look on her face. She took a shaky step forward, searching for the lady-in-waiting.
Yu Zhen grabbed her shoulders, forcing her to look at him. He pulled her close and worriedly pushed the hair away from her eyes.
"Sunshine, you need to explain it to me from the very beginning. What are you trying to imply?"
"I… I don't know yet, but I have a speculation. I feel like I've read about it before in a book a long, long time ago in the Li Manor."
Yu Zhen raised a brow. Could it have been poisoning? But that should've been impossible. She might've not known it, but her food was always taste tested by a servant before it was served to her. So far, none of them had dropped dead, which meant no one was foolish enough to poison her food.
Suddenly, horror flashed on her face. She grabbed onto his collar, yanking him down. "Where. Is. Xu. Jiaqi?"
Yu Zhen placed a hand on her wrist, perplexed by her sudden strength. "She is supposed to serve you, so she should be outside—"
Li Xueyue didn't wait for him to finish speaking. She released him and swung the doors open. It loudly banged against the walls.
The maidservants perked at the sight of her. But she wasn't focused on them. She frantically searched the room, searching for the lady with a death wish.
"She's not here."
Yu Zhen came to her side. "I will have her brought here."
"Do it now."
Yu Zhen approached the door and waved his hand. A figure jumped down from the ceiling outside, startling everyone. But when they saw his fully black clothes, and the small symbol on his chest, no one questioned the identity of this man.
"Find Xu Jiaqi."
The man bowed his head. Not a second later, he disappeared into the distance.
Yu Zhen closed the door and turned to his wife. She was now standing by the entrance as well.
"Care to explain?" he asked.
Li Xueyue shook her head. She refused to tell him. Not until she personally got to deal with Xu Jiaqi.
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