When Fu Nian was at a loss, he heard the voice of the royal physician coming from outside the folding screen.
Seeing this, Fu Nian disregarded the potential consequences of his actions and quickly pushed away the arm pressing against the back of his neck, rolling off the couch to the floor.
“What’s going on?”
As soon as he hit the floor, Fu Nian heard the stern voice of the Gonggong.
Lying on the ground, Fu Nian tried to convey a pained expression, clutching tightly at the cloth-wrapped stump of his severed limb. He made a laborious gesture, indicating that he couldn’t speak.
Seeing this, the Gonggong waved his hand to dismiss the dust and signaled to the attendants to carry Fu Nian out.
Once outside the main hall, Fu Nian’s face covering was removed, and he was given a glass of cold water.
After drinking the water and resting for a while, Fu Nian felt that his voice was returning.
He attempted to speak, realizing that his voice was even huskier than he had imagined. Even at a close distance, it was difficult for the other person to hear what he was saying.
The attending Gonggong saw that Fu Nian couldn’t speak, so he had him carried to a side hall.
When he saw Ze Wang, Fu Nian hadn’t even had a chance to speak before he heard the eunuch who had brought him in say, “Reporting to Your Highness, Young Master Lian has also been ejected.”
Fu Nian thought to himself that nobody had physically thrown him out, but after a moment’s thought, he chose to remain silent.
“Understood,” Little Royal Uncle said, setting down his pen and looking up at Fu Nian. “When His Majesty was seriously ill before, I also had someone impersonate this appearance to stay by His Majesty’s side, hoping to ease his affliction. However, every attempt was met with His Majesty striking them down in his nightmares. I thought you might have been able to avoid that fate, but…”
“Can someone who’s in a deep sleep hit others?” Fu Nian managed to say with great effort, clearing his throat.
“It can be understood as an outbreak of an old condition, different from the typical kind of deep sleep. Occasionally, there might be brief intervals of partial wakefulness. When His Majesty wakes up and sees someone lying beside him, it’s generally a kill-on-sight situation. He usually pushes the person off the bed, indicating that his consciousness isn’t clear. But in the past, these episodes of prolonged deep sleep were rare. The royal physician says it’s a heart ailment. Sigh…”
Fu Nian didn’t recall Chu Zhaoyi having this old ailment.
Certainly, it must have developed after he left the palace. However, if someone was lying beside him, Chu Zhaoyi would instinctively draw his sword. Fu Nian had experienced this countless times when he first started working in Chu Zhaoyi’s residence.
Fu Nian had many questions, but he realized that no matter what he asked, he would be overstepping his bounds.
The most crucial thing was that Little Royal Uncle before him could potentially be the benefactor who planted the Gu in him. After contemplating for a moment, Fu Nian decided to swallow his multitude of questions and whispered softly, “May His Majesty’s dragon body be blessed. He will be alright. Please feel rest assured, Your Highness.”
“Very well. You can go outside for now. Gao Gonggong will escort you back after he finishes his tasks. You might have to wait a bit longer,” Little Royal Uncle replied.
Fu Nian nodded in gratitude and then, supported by the Gonggong, hopped out of the main hall.
However, just now… Chu Zhaoyi didn’t push him away.
Fu Nian pondered for a moment and thought that Chu Zhaoyi probably hadn’t been conscious during that time. Otherwise, with such a large head nuzzling into his embrace, it would have been merciful not to chop it off on the spot.
Outside, the rain hadn’t stopped, and the night wasn’t warm. Fu Nian felt somewhat disdainful of the young eunuch supporting him, so he took the opportunity to say, “Thank you for your assistance, Gonggong. You should return now. It’s cold outside at night, and I can wait here alone for Gao Gonggong. If he asks, I’ll just say I shooed you away.”
“Alright,” the young eunuch eagerly agreed. Upon hearing Fu Nian’s words, he almost grinned, “Then, I’ll take my leave first.”
Watching the eunuch hop away like a rabbit, Fu Nian couldn’t help but narrow his eyes.
Excellent, it was time for solo action.
Climbing across the rooftop to the sleeping palace, Fu Nian was familiar with the route, though moving without his prosthetic made him a bit cumbersome.
However, the opportunity was rare, so Fu Nian didn’t hesitate. He hopped on one leg, struggling to flip onto the roof.
His new regular attire as a shadow guard fit him perfectly, blending seamlessly with the roof tiles and the night.
His severed limb was wrapped in gauze, preventing too much friction and pain.
Crawling along the rooftop, Fu Nian made his way toward the vicinity of the sleeping palace.
The guards below were more vigilant than he had imagined, causing Fu Nian to hesitate.
In the past, there weren’t this many guards near the sleeping palace. Fortunately, because His Majesty was in the main hall, the nearby shadow guards were also patrolling near the main hall, primarily ensuring the safety there. At least when Fu Nian arrived, he didn’t hear any movement of shadow guards near the sleeping palace. Besides, on rainy days, the guards tend to be slightly more lax.
Crouching for about half an hour, Fu Nian finally saw some guards with raised swords approaching to handle the shift change.
While they were engrossed in their conversation, Fu Nian hopped onto the rooftop and quietly laid down.
Infiltration might be a bit difficult, but he could still peek inside through the gaps. Fu Nian had lived here for a longer time than the empress, and he had spent even more time on this rooftop. He was intimately familiar with many small details.
Crawling to a familiar visual blind spot, Fu Nian carefully inspected beneath the roof tiles one by one.
He remembered that he used to hide some exquisite throwing blades here. Although they were no longer than half a finger’s length, they had significant close-range lethality.
He needed these items now to help him pry open the gaps between the wooden panels, to see what was going on inside the sleeping palace.
When he entered the Chengyuan Hall, he had been searched, so naturally, he didn’t have any sharp objects on his person.
After fumbling around for a while, Fu Nian couldn’t find anything.
This shouldn’t be the case. Rainwater couldn’t wash away items stored in this position. Moreover, Fu Nian had never told anyone about these hidden throwing blades.
Since he couldn’t find the old items he had hidden there, Fu Nian thought for a moment, then resolutely broke off a small piece of roof tile as an emergency measure.
With the sharp object in hand, Fu Nian crawled to the corner formed by the side eaves and the rafters, carefully supporting his body. He held the piece of roof tile in his left hand and leveraged the already translucent gap to make it slightly wider.
Without the help of his prosthetic, maintaining this position was quite strenuous. After a short while, Fu Nian’s breathing became heavier.
Thankfully, it was a rainy night; otherwise, his heavy breathing would have been detected.
Gritting his teeth, he worked hard to widen the gap a bit more, finally managing to peek through.
What came into view were the crisscrossing rafters.
He could only discern the layout of the sleeping palace, which was roughly similar to when he had left.
Although the palace was brightly lit, there was no sound of movement or any visible figures.
Wasn’t it said that the empress lived here? Why was there no activity at all?
As long as there’s breathing, there will be movement. During the time Fu Nian was an assassin, as long as there was a living being in a room, he would sense it. Even though it had been a while since he had abandoned his old profession, it wouldn’t be to the point where he couldn’t detect a living person’s presence in the room.
Fu Nian squinted and carefully scanned the surroundings.
Finally, in the distance, he saw a figure lying on the bed.
However, it was too far away, and veiled by curtains, he could only make out a vague silhouette. Age, gender, and identity were completely indiscernible.
Fu Nian furrowed his brows and studied it intently.
The person-like figure lying on the bed seemed to be wearing bright red clothing, and their head appeared adorned with many intricate decorations—much more complex than any headpiece Fu Nian had seen before. It gleamed like gold against the plain bedding, making it stand out.
Would someone really sleep dressed like that? And not a single sound could be heard? It all seemed too eerie. Or perhaps his eyes were playing tricks on him.
Fu Nian leaned more toward the possibility that he was too far away to see clearly, and that the red object might have been placed there, giving the illusion of a figure from a distance.
Fu Nian sighed. He thought that this was no different from not being able to see anything.
However, since he had come this far, he couldn’t leave empty-handed. Thinking it over, Fu Nian debated whether to break more roof tiles to widen the gap further.
Before he even began searching for more tiles, Fu Nian heard a sound amid the rain.
It was likely the sound of a shadow guard traversing the rooftop…
Before Fu Nian could finish his thoughts, he heard the icy metal graze past his ear, and a short blade stabbed directly into the wooden panel in front of him.