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Chapter 2: Living Is Worst Than Death
The surrounding darkness, the death-like silence and the cold feared and tormented her. Qing Feng enclasped her hands so hard that her fingernails dug into her palms. At present it was only the pain that could keep her cool an calm. The surrounding darkness, like a black hole, would eventually be swallowing her up.
Suddenly, the surrounding darkness was replaced by maroon, the redness that reeks of the scent of blood, overcame her —
A cruel and brutal voice surround her ears, “The Emperor of Qiong Yue took a fancy on you, that is your good fortune. If you are lucky enough to obtain his favor, the Qing family will enjoy glory and honor. If you don’t comply, then wait for a family extermination!” Qing Feng shivered uncontrollably, she doesn’t want any favors, she only wanted her family to be intact!
Father — Mother —
She wanted to cry out but was unable to make any sound.
“Feng-er, Mo-er, in the next lifetime, lets still be sisters!” Eldest sister croon gently at the side of her ears but no matter how hard she tries, she is unable to see anyone other than a sheet of maroon surrounding.
Elder sister — Younger sister —
Why are you not responding to me?
Her neck abruptly tensed up and her throat felt as though it was disconnected, she wanted to struggle… But she was unable to move and the pain… Its excruciating…
“You have woken?” Qing Feng hastily took deep breathes and her line of sight eventually cleared up. She saw a pretty and amiable face, with a gentle voice but there was not much attentiveness in it, quietly looking at her. The terrifying nightmare made her speechless and it was only after a while could Qing Feng calm herself down.
“Who… are you?” She almost couldn’t recognise the hoarse words out of her mouth. After speaking, Qing Feng felt a burning sensation at her throat which hurts so badly that she could not even swallow her own saliva. The painful choking sensation recurred caused Qing Feng to pale slightly and mumbled, “Water…”
“Please wait for a while.”
Fu Ling walked a short distance beyond the screen and Lan Fang, who was standing far away approached her, tugged at her sleeve and remarked softly, “Fu Ling, why are you still care for her? With her looking like this, the Emperor will not take a fancy on her! Most likely in the near future, she will lose her life!” When she was sent here in the morning and her veil was removed, Lan Fang had a great shock from the two deep and frightening scars. They dared to send this kind of ugly monster to the Palace!
Qing Feng turned around to look and found that other than the female just now, there was a even younger female. Both of them stood together and spoke quietly thus Qing Feng was unable to clearly hear what was spoken. She wanted to sit up but realised that not only she did not have any energy to do so, she is also experiencing dull headache. As she was lying, Qing Feng was able to secretly observe the room. Even though it is not decorated in a glorious splendour and looked like a regular room, the furnishing was rather exquisite.
Fu Ling gently pulled her sleeves back and calmly poured the water, whispering back, ” The Imperial Household arranged us to look after her, that’s our responsibility.” She has examined Qing Ling’s features, haughty nose amd smooth translucent skin. It was truly an rare exquisite beauty, it was a pity it was disfigured.
Lan Fang smirked as she complained, “Hearing about the poems on the three sisters of Hao Yue, I was actually curious about ravishing beautiful they were to collapse nations and cities, didn’t think that she is a… Ugly monster!” She have in fact spent fifty teals of silver to bribe so that she was able to leave the Laundry Bureau and serve this famous world beauty. She initially thought it was a good task, as if she was favoured then she herself would be of a certain position in the palace. This was a truely unexpected result!
“These are things that are out of our concern.” Fu Ling replied before turning away, carrying a cup of warm water.”I don’t want to concern myself with this!” Lan Fang snorted quietly before hastily heading out of the room.
When Qing Feng looked over again, the young female has ran off and the female that she initially met was at her bedside carrying a cup of water.
With the female’s support, Qing Feng could sit up and drank a cup of water. Once her throat felt a little better, Qing Feng cautiously asked, ” Who are you?”
Fu Ling evaded Qing Feng questioning look, bowed and replied softly, “This servant’s name is Fu Ling, a palace maid to take care of your needs”
The female’s attire, behaviour, manners and speech, unsettled her thus even though she has her suspicions, Qing Feng continue to ask, “Where is this place?”
“Imperial Palace.” Fu Ling spoke the two words lightly but it made Qing Feng trembled, “Imperial Palace of Qiong Yue?”
They have reached Qiong Yue! “My sisters??”
“This servant don’t know.” Fu Ling calmly replied while bowing her head
This lady, named Fu Ling, is wearing a respectful mask but will not tell her anything! Qing Feng struggled off the bed but her body fell onto the floor. Fu Ling quickly came forward to firmly hold onto Qing Feng’s shoulders and supported her up, “Miss Qing, please do not flail about.”
“Let go of me! I want to see Yan Hong Tian!” That tyrant that destroyed her family!
Fu Ling’s face turned white and urgently spoke, “Miss, you cannot address the revered name of the Emperor, this isn’t outside of the Palace!” It can be seen that this Miss Qing is a reckless woman but in this Palace doing as per one’s whim is the one thing that mustn’t be done!
As Qing Feng was clutching Fu Ling’s arms, she snapped back, “Then you tell me, where are my sisters?!” Why is she in the Palace! If they were sent to the Palace, then how about Elder sister?? And Younger sister?? Where are they?
With hurting arms caused by QIng Feng’s clutches and witnessing the set of teary eyes, Fu Ling hesitated a while before finally replying, “This servant really… don’t know…”
Begging her is useless! Qing Feng used all her strength to push away from Fu Ling, but she did not have enough strength to get up and could only crawl towards the door. Even though the Imperial Palace has freeze her heart, when Fu Ling watched this unbending woman, she felt a faint wave of admiration. Fu Ling supported her once again and persuaded, “Miss Qing, you have yet to recover, you mustn’t flail around!” She felt her pulse and comprehended that her health is in an extremely bad state and the wound on her face have yet to recover. If she were to catch a cold now, it would be troublesome.
Qing Feng affirmed that Fu Ling will not tell her the news about her elder and younger sister, thus she too will not take her words to heart.
As both of them were pushing and pulling, a low voice beyond the doors was heard, “What are you doing here?!” A 40 odd year eunuch that was dressed as a man, walked into the room with palace maid Lan Fang trailing behind.
Fu Ling bowed and greeted, “Wang Gonggong.” (referring to a higher ranked eunuch)
Qing Feng lifted her head and turn to the voice, with a cold pair of eyes, hair in disorder and with that sinister looking scars. That image startled Wang Li Xin, who just entered, till he suck in a breath of cold air.
Lan Fang pointed that the slumping disfigured Qing Feng and said, “Eunuch Wang, she is Qing Ling who is sent as a tribute from Hao Yue!”
“She is Qing Ling??” A painful sharp shrill of voice suprisingly screeched as a finger pointed quivering at Qing Feng, “This… How is this possible? This… Where are the Hao Yue’s officials?? Who was the one that went to receive?!” Wang Li Xin almost stop breathing when he looked at the scars on Qing Feng’s face again. This is a woman that the Emperor specifically requested for! How did it came to this? If the Emperor blame him, will he still have his life?
Lan Fang immediately replied, “Gonggong, this servant have asked Official Zhao, the Hao Yue officials claimed that she is Qing Ling! Furthermore, the people from Hao Yue have left ages ago!”
Li Xu said that she is Qing Ling! Qing Feng froze. Why did he say such a thing? Eldest Sister was specifically requested by Yan Hong Tian, why would he say that she is Qing Ling. Moreover, Elder sister is more beautiful than her and her scars are swallower, why would Li Xu say that she is Qing Ling, unless… Unless in the ruined temple, Elder sister and younger sister have already… Died… That is why Li Xu used her to impersonate!!
The cold stone floor was not able to compare to the intense cutting chill that her heart felt. Qing Feng sat on the floor blankly, the surrounding noise diminished in her ears and she could only hear the mangled words from her heart. Why is the one dead not her?? It was her that wanted to commit suicide! Why was the one dead not her!! Why?!
Wang Li Xin was beside himself in panic, “What… What can be done?!” Seeing that Wang Li Xin also loathed this Miss Qing, Lan Fang quickly kneel down and softly spoke, “Eunuch Wang, this servant is accustomed working at the Laundry Bureau. Is it possible to let this servant return to the Laundry Bureau?” Even though working in the Laundry Bureau would never accomplished to anything, as long as the Older Palace Maids are treated well, there will not be any hardship. Overall, it would not be as bad as staying beside this ugly monster!
Looking at the apathetic and sluggish female sitting on the floor, Wang Li Xin faced Lan Fang waved her and impatiently replied, “Go back, just go back!” He reckoned that once the Emperor saw Qing Ling’s face, he will take away her life in a fit of anger. In the Inner Palace, whatever talents in singing and dancing or outstanding moral character and bearings are all false. Their faces were only weapon to win the Emperor’s favour. With Qing Ling’s disfigured face, all the chances have vanished. He doesn’t need to waste his energy on this type of person! He has to start to make arrangements, in case the Emperor punish him for this outcome!
“Fu Ling?” Lan Fang gave a meaningful glance to rule-abiding Fu Ling, if she is not leaving in such an circumstances what are is she waiting for!
How would the intentions of the palace maids escape the experienced Wang Li Xin who has been managing the Palace for so many years. With slightly narrowed eyes, Wang Li Xin snorted, “Why, you too, want to return?” Its not impossible to send her back to the Female Medical Department. It only depends if she is sensible or not and if she able to show respect or not.
“Miss Qing is not feeling well, this servant would prefer to stay and take care of her.” Fu Ling lowered her eyes to the floor, portraying a respectful posture but speaking in a neither servile nor overbearing tone.
A female medical attendant’s job will easily be enable on fawn over the various mistresses. She is already over 20 years old but is still at the lowest ranked palace maid. In this case where she was a haphazardly recommended medical attendant, it can be seen that this Fu Ling is not a quick witted person. Qing Ling is after all a person specifically chosen by the Emperor, if there were any problematic issues that arise, he too will be in trouble! After some thoughts, Wang Li Xin sternly instructed, “That’s good, you stay behind and make sure that she doesn’t run around!”
Wang Li Xin did not bother to give Qing Feng another look and left abruptly. The young palace maid, Lan Fang followed him out of the room without delay.
Qing Feng sat on the floor blankly with a vacant expression. In contrast with the red dress, her face was much paler than before. Fu Ling stepped forward and question softly, “Miss Qing, are you all right?”
For a long time, Qing Feng held onto the bedside to stand up. Even though the joints of her fingers turned white due to excessive exertion, she still refuses Fu Ling’s support. After taking a great effort to stand up, Qing Feng coldly expressed, “Go out. I would like to be alone.”
Seeing tears falling silently down and with that hidden pair of grey eyes, Fu Ling felt faintly worried but knows that additional words will not be beneficial. In the Palace, there are more than enough pitiful and lamentable women. She… will not be the last one.
Fu Ling closed the door unhurriedly and exited the room.