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5 Result of a secret investigation

    Rumors concerning the death of consort Ning's death spread like wildfire, quickly throughout the population of the Jin imperial capital. From the lowest in life to the highest of status, it seemed that even dogs and chickens on the streets of the imperial city knew of this rumor.

    The high ranking ministers began panicking, after all, a rumor could easily become the truth once it made its way to the emperor's ears. Once the emperor got an ear of the rumor, suspicion would start to boil, ending up in a large investigation that eventually led to the demise of countless people.

    Even if they were truly innocent, it didn't matter, because their name would be sullied by the rumor. If there was one thing they learned from getting to the upper ranks, it was that innocence did not matter.

    The most crucial goal of the people in the imperial court was to keep themselves safe. As long as their little life was preserved, anything could be forsaken, including their closest kin.

    ~

    Within the emperor's chambers, the emperor was sitting on his majestic dragon bed, that could fit at least ten people, there were beautifully embroidered quilts and pillows upon the bed, it looked as if the dragons and clouds could come to life and pop out of the luxurious satin at any given moment. The bed was a glowing golden color, carefully crafted from the steady hand of an imperial craftsman who poured his blood and sweat into the piece, a bed that was a symbolic meaning, representing the son of heaven and used by countless generations of emperors.

    The emperor was dressed in his simple golden silk robes, he was holding a book in his hand, his eyes carefully scanned the pages over and over, lost in a strange sense of thought.

    Eunuch Hong stood respectfully by the emperor's bed, not making the slightest sound. He would only speak when spoken to, showing the utmost respect to his ruler.

    "Have you found anything yet?" The Emperor asked, putting down his book.

    "Yes, examination showed that the child had died in the womb and the fetus was in a position that led to internal bleeding during the labor." Eunuch Hong replied.

    "Have you found out who did it?"

    "No your majesty, it is impossible to find out when the child died, we do not have a timeframe of when it occurred, it could be anyone from her closest servants, to the flowers in her yard."

    Having heard the result of the investigation, the Emperor closed his eyes and said: "What is your opinion on this matter?"

    Eunuch Hong was not startled by the sudden question, he knew the emperor trusted him completely to be able to ask him for his opinion. He cupped his hands and replied "Your majesty, as this servant sees it, consort Ning was low in ranking, but was doted upon by your majesty, the ministers backing the imperial sons would have feared the child gaining the title of crown prince, but as for the other consorts, this servant can't be so sure."

    "En." The Emperor carefully thought over eunuch Hong's words and silently pondered. Who could it possibly be? He had five sons, with the eldest having recently celebrated his coming of age ceremony, and the youngest still in swaddling clothes. Their mothers were from respectful families. He didn't appoint an empress, due to reason that he did not feel any affection for any of the consorts, so the highest position of a woman within the harem was the position of Royal Imperial Consort.

    His ministers have always been pushing him to establish an empress, to keep the three palaces and six courts in order, but he refused for so many years. As of now, the three palaces and six courts have been governed by his highest ranking consorts.

    "Your majesty." Seeing that the emperor was lost in a train of thought, eunuch Hong decided to call out to him.

    "En, is anything the matter?"

    "When should consort Ning be laid to rest?" This had always been the issue in the discussion. Consort Ning would have to be laid to rest, but the emperor har not set a specific date. Without the emperor's authorization, he dare not make the decision on his own.

    "When is the next auspicious day for a funeral?"

    "The next auspicious day is in three days."

    "Very well, lay her to rest then."

    "Yes, your majesty." Eunuch Hong understood that the emperor chose this day because it was the closest day and he could no longer be bothered by this matter. He would have to organize a grander transcendence ceremony for consort Ning so that his majesty would not seem too heartless in the eyes of others.

    "Oh." It seemed a thought suddenly resurfaced in the emperor's mind.

    "Does your majesty have any other orders?"

    "Arrest everyone that has any relation to the Imperial doctors and midwives who were present during consort Ning's labor."

    "Yes."

    With one command, the emperor's wishes became the law.
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