Chapter 87.2: Heaven's Punishment

Court Lady

It was raining again. There was lightning and thunder as well. Fu Rou closed the window and suddenly heard the sound of the door opening. She turned back to see Xiao Lu rushing in. She was completely drenched. 

It was time for class and Xiao Lu was usually tasked to fetch Prince Qin. Unexpectedly, only Xiao Lu was present.

Fu Rou immediately asked, “Why are you the only one? Where is Prince Qin?”

She had heard about the debate that happened during morning court and subconsciously felt that she had to be more careful from here on. 

Xiao Lu replied, “We were walking halfway when it started to rain heavily. His Highness is hiding from the rain under the fake mountain while I came to grab an umbrella.”

Fu Rou looked for an umbrella while instructing, “The rain is so heavy and the sky is dark. In the future, if something like this happens again, you cannot leave His Highness there alone.”

Xiao Lu made a sound of acknowledgement. However, when the two of them rushed to the fake mountain, Prince Qin had disappeared.

“He said that he would wait for me. Where has he gone?” Xiao Lu frowned. “But before that he said that he wanted to go to Fu An Palace to hide from the rain.”

A lightning flashed and bent weirdly, striking Fu An Palace. There was a huge explosion sound. 

Fu Rou and Xiao Lu exchanged looks as they ran towards Fu An Palace. As soon as they entered Fu An Palace’s main gate, they saw that one of the two huge trees in the garden had been snapped in half because of the lightning strike and had caught on fire. 

“Court Lady Fu! Prince Qin is there!” Xiao Lu shouted and pointed to the other tree.

Prince Qin was lying on the ground. For some unknown reason, he was not moving. Thunder rumbled in the sky. Lightning flashed through the clouds. Fu Rou did not care about herself as she dashed under the tree to carry Prince Qin.

Another lightning struck!

Fu Rou thought that it was going to hit the tree and quickly used her body to protect Prince Qin. However, that lightning did not strike the tree but hit a corner of Fu An Palace.

As soon as Fu Rou saw that, she reacted quickly and carried Prince Qin once again, running away from the tree. A horrifying sound could be heard behind her. She turned back only to see that the tree that Prince Qin had been under was now burnt from the third lightning strike.

Xiao Lu ran to Fu Rou’s side and sheltered them with the umbrella. “That scared me to death! It almost…”

Fear lingered in Fu Rou’s heart. The fourth lightning struck! 

Someone shouted, “Imperial Concubine Wang!”

Someone else shouted, “This is bad, Imperial Concubine Wang has been hit! Quick call the Imperial Physician!”

Lightning and thunder flashed and sounded at the same time. Fu An Palace was on fire. Sand and stones were everywhere and the smell of burnt earth and wood filled the air. Everyone was frantic as they were shrieking and crying out miserably.

Fu Rou did not say anything as she carried Prince Qin without letting go. Xiao Lu’s face was pale as she tightly held the corner of Fu Rou’s robe. The two of them looked at the scene in front of them, not knowing what to do and not being able to do anything. 

The next day, Fu Rou heard that the Emperor intended to send Imperial Concubine Wang back to Qingxiu Temple. She rushed to Concubine Yan’s palace to meet the Emperor. She knew that after what happened the previous night, everyone was saying that Imperial Concubine Wang had angered the heavens. That is why there was such a frightening lightning storm, one after the other. However, she felt that there was something amiss. 

“Your Majesty, in the Fourth Volume of <<Huainanzi>> -- Forms of Earth, it was written that when Yin and Yang converge, it becomes thunder. When they scatter, it appears in the form of lightning. Wang Tong of the Han Dynasty also wrote that thunder and lightning is due to the movement of Yin and Yang. When they meet, they entangle and the entanglement causes arousement. Wang Tong believes that the saying of which lightning is because of the fury of heaven is fabricated. That is why he added the chapter on lightning principles in his analects.” Fu Rou explained.

Concubine Yan looked as if she wanted to laugh. “Court Lady Fu, you really read any random thing. Has this Wang Tong held any high-ranking position?”

Fu Rou glanced at Prince Zhou.

Prince Zhou had no way out. “Wang Tong was only a low-ranking official in one of the counties. However, the analects that he had written have some qualities to it. I was the one who recommended this book to Court Lady Fu.”

Concubine Yan did not look happy.

Fu Rou continued, “Moreover, Your Highness, I believe that this is just a natural phenomenon, not something caused by mankind. After Prince Qin woke up, he told me that while he was hiding from the rain under the fake mountain, someone knocked him out. When I found him, he was sitting under a tree in the Fu An Palace. If I had been a step late, he would have been burnt along with the tree. Someone is trying to kill Prince Qin. They know that tall trees would be hit by lightning and that’s why they placed the unconscious Prince Qin there.”

Concubine Yan cut in, “The lightning strikes were a sign from heaven. It is extremely rare. Who would have known which tree would get hit? This is too much of a fluke to try to hurt Prince Qin. Prince Qin is still very young. Yesterday night, the thunder was extremely loud. Children may be scared and it is normal for them to run under trees to hide.”

“Why would Prince Qin say that someone knocked him out for no reason?” Fu Rou did not give in either.

Yu He spoke, “Court Lady Fu, you almost lost your life rescuing Prince Qin from under the tree. Prince Qin may have been afraid of getting scolded if he told you the truth. Hence, he did not dare to tell you that he ran underneath the tree on his own and could only make up the story of having been knocked unconscious.”

Fu Rou faced the Emperor. “Your Majesty, Prince Qin does not lie. I suspect that someone is acting maliciously.”

Concubine Yan threw Prince Zhou a look. He hesitated before speaking, “Court Lady Fu, if you want to tell Imperial Father that this was caused by someone, you have to bring proof first for Imperial Father to believe you. In this world, who can tell which tree will be hit by lightning? Do you have proof?”

Fu Rou was momentarily speechless.

Prince Zhou continued, “The weather, thunder and lightning, droughts, floods and earthquakes are all warnings from heaven. Since ancient times, people already knew this. In the past, when a drought calamity hit, Han Wendi released an Imperial Decree to ask the government where they had failed. In the eight years of Yongping, there was a solar eclipse. Han Wendi ordered the various ministries to correct their duties. Imperial Father is the Emperor and he is connected to heaven. Yesterday night, the lightning struck Fu An Palace, there is a sign from heaven. Court Lady Fu, not only are you advising Imperial Father against listening to the deeper meaning from heaven, you are also trying to insinuate that someone is plotting something. What are you trying to achieve?”

Fu Rou only hated that time was too rushed and she did not have time to collect evidence.

“I once granted Court Lady Fu with the permission to speak in front of me. She can say anything she wants to and she says it out of loyalty. Prince Zhou, do not make things difficult for her.” The Emperor helped her out. 

Prince Zhou let out a breath of air. “Okay.” He was also caught in the middle and could not offend either side. 

Concubine Yan took over. “Your Majesty, we can always check if Imperial Concubine Wang has good intentions in the future. However, we must not ignore the sign from heaven. If I may be so bold as to request for Your Majesty to send Imperial Concubine Wang out of the palace to Qingxiu Temple. If we find out in the future that Imperial Concubine Wang has done nothing wrong, we can always invite her back.”

Fu Rou was anxious. “Your Majesty…” She wanted to gain some time.

The Emperor made a decision. “Let’s send Imperial Concubine Wang to Qingxiu Temple first. We can talk about it later. Concubine Yan, from today onwards, you will be in-charge of the Six Offices.”

Concubine Yan was secretly delighted. “Yes, Your Majesty.”

The Emperor then turned to Fu Rou. “Court Lady Fu, Concubine Yan’s health is weak and she cannot be too tired. As a court lady, you should try your best to help Concubine Yan.”

Fu Rou lowered her eyes. “I will do my utmost best to protect the peace in the Six Offices.”

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