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4 Rumors

    The next few days, the capital got the news of consort Ning's demise after giving birth to a stillborn and the capture and arrest of all those who attended to consort Ning while she was in labor. Consort Ning would be given a grand burial on an auspicious date and be laid to rest within the imperial mausoleum, which was a great honor, considering that she was only equivalent to the status of concubine and would not have had the right to be put to rest in such a grand mausoleum which was only reserved for the highest ranking of the imperial family. Since she had given birth to a son, conferred the honorary title of Prince Shu Ping, none of the high ranking ministers opposed the emperor's decision.

    Soon, rumors began to spread, that consort Ning was perfectly healthy, she would have given birth naturally if the child had not died days before it was due. Some speculated that she had been poisoned, causing the child to die within the womb, leading to the loss of the two lives. Some even say this was due to jealousy among the emperor's harem that led to consort Ning's untimely demise.

    There have always been tales of the imperial family that circulated among the people. Tales of the ruthlessness of royal women.

    It was said that even when the most naive and innocent flowers enter the palace, it would not take long for her to become a ruthless and scheming woman in such an environment.

    ~

    Within an area beneath a large oak tree filled with leaves turning gold and gently fluttering to the ground at the touch of a strong wind, there were six little wooden tables, cracked and discolored from the elements and worn with age. Those tables were filled with commoners talking among themselves.

    This small little restaurant was in the perfect spot, just near the large gates that protected the imperial city and also one of the four main gates that people would come and go from the city.

    Visitors who just arrived at the imperial city after a long hard journey would be compelled to sit down at this restaurant and buy some food, possibly drink some tea to rest, before moving along to their next destination. It was also a place to get information, to know everything happening within the imperial capital.

    Aside from people who have traveled from beyond yonder to get to the imperial capital, it was also the place where the commoners gossiped and talked about things and events happening in places out of their reach.

    "Consort Ning died giving birth due to birth complications, I heard it was a prince." An old man said as he conversed with his tea buddies.

    "The child also died." A man over the next table seemed to have heard the conversation and decided to also say what he heard.

    "Really? I have not heard the fate of the child."

    "Certainly, I have a relative working as a palace guard, he heard it from a superior."

    "Poor consort Ning." A middle aged woman sighed. It seemed that all women, no matter the age would feel bad that a woman had died giving birth.

    "I also heard that all the people that tended to her during her labor were arrested." The man added on.

    "What? Could it her death was not due to labor complications?" A woman asked.

    "Of course not." The crowd said in unison.

    "Maybe the emperor got angry they failed to save his beloved woman?" She suggested.

    The crowd did not bother listening to her theories, what would a woman know about politics?

    "How could that be?"

    "Let me tell you, she is a woman that everyone will envy, she has everything, including his majesty's affection. Do you think that she would not have the best doctors tending to her?" The old man made a great point. After all, how many women of the noble class died from childbirth?

    Everyone sucked in a cold breath. Could it be, consort Ning died from someone's actions and not of natural causes?

    "He has a point." Someone from the crowd said.

    They were all brought back to the poisoning of consort Guan and daughter, the sixth princess. At that time, there were also many rumors surrounding the incident.

    The strange thing about commoners was that they were large in number. Once one of them knew, that rumor would spread to others, almost like a wildfire that could not be stopped. Rumors are a powerful tool that for centuries factions have used to discredit their enemies.

    "It must be one of the people that tended to her during her labor." One speculation came.

    "Would a mere servant really dare to take action, and kill their master?" A voice from an unknown location.

    Right, a mere servant would not dare to kill their own master, unless there was a death feud. The other reason would be they were ordered by someone. Most likely it would be some powerful official that held power and leverage that could cause one to disregard their own lives.

    Leaving the crowd to think, no one noticed a middle aged man dressed in grey robes, with cloth shoes, his black hair held into a bun at the top of his head with a wooden stick. He held a horsetail whip in hands, he looked like a master of Taoism.

    Soon, there were all sorts of rumors surrounding the death of consort Ning. Many speculations on how she could have died. Many suspected the use of poison, brought back seven years ago to the poisoning incident of the one year old sixth princess and consort Guan.

    Rumors were a powerful weapon. Like floods, they would do the damage once they ravaged through.
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