Mysteries in the Imperial Harem: Chapter 10
A very happening chapter… And its twice longer than usual… Took me a looong time to translate it… But its good that the author did not spilt the chapter else virtual tables will be flipped… 😛
Chapter 10: A New Hope
Qiong Yue is entertaining the envoys tonight, thus the huge main hall was decorated exceptionally gorgeously. Golden silk carpet, golden tableware, in fact to as far as one can see, everything was decorated in gold, portraying the grandeur and honour yet pressing attitude the country took.
Qing Feng look towards the golden dragon throne at the top and sneered. Yan Hong Tian’s quick success, can only be achieved through conquering and forceful submission to become their monarch. And to want to be immortalize and revered by all is simply nonsense and extremely ridiculous!
The Palace Banquet is about to begin and the officials started to enter the main hall. The Imperial Household Steward Wu Rong also started to get anxious and berate the mama to managed the palace maids under them. No mistakes is tolerated at this kind of banquet!
Mama look at the cold expression of the female, who was brought to her in the evening, and she secretly lament the orders from the top, insisting that she was to serve the Princess of Northern Qi. She is well aware of the reason behind and thus dare not disobey but this female cold and aloof expression always made her nervous, fearing that she will cause any trouble during the banquet!
Walking to Qing Feng’s side, the mama suddenly grabbed onto her hands and feign a sympathising tone, “Mama knows that you did not take it lying down and feel bitter about it but you need to serve the Princess of Northern Qi well. Maybe the Emperor will be please and forgive you. In short, during the banquet, don’t show your temper or create problems else it would be hard to secure your life.”
In the afternoon, Fu Ling did a treatment for her, thus her right hand is no longer in such pain. But now when the mama grab her that hard, the pain started to recur. Qing Feng suddenly withdrew her hands and the mama slightly stunned became angry and scolded, “If during the banquet, you caused any trouble, I will skin you alive. Did you hear that?” Give you face but you don’t want!
Her chest felt bouts of dull pain, each one worse than the previous, and the clothes on her back is already wet with perspiration, not because it is hot but due to the chill in her heart that causes Qing Feng to keep trembling. She did not even listen to what Wu Mama was saying. She was only standing her without falling only because she was waiting for Yan Hong Tian’s arrival.
Qing Feng remained silent, but before the old mama could lecture her, a loud voice announced from outside the call, “The Emperor has arrived! The Empress has arrived!”
The old mama quickly closed her open mouth and got on her knees and bow with everyone.
“Long live the Qiong Emperor!” All the literary and military officials, guards and servants gave three rounds of greetings. Their loud voices resounded through the entire hall. Qing Feng felt a sharp pain on her hands as the mama pulled her down to the floor. At the same time, Yan Hong Tian, who was wearing a bright yellow silk robe, with a white jade belt and a crown headdress, walked in with large steps. The grandeur he currently displayed far surpassed the one which she first saw. When that pair of domineering stern eyes swept across the hall, don’t even mention about meeting his eyes, no one dared to lift up their heads!
The bowed old mama’s body was even shaking. Qing Feng coldly scoffed, she was only just arrogant about it and now she is this afraid, this kind of tricky slave who only know how to flatter the top and bully those under them deserves to be servants for the rest of their lives!
“All my noble officials, please raise.” Yan Hong Tian sat on the throne with a woman beside him. She was wearing dark red peony dress, jade buyao (dangling hair ornaments). Her beautiful clothes made her look respectable and glamorous but also seem to be lacking of a little vigour and vitality. The woman who was sitting beside Yan Hong Tian at this moment, without a doubt, is the Empress.
Qing Feng controlled herself, thinking of how to get closer again to Yan Hong Tian. As of now, she does not have any weapons, when if she does, using strength against him would be a foolish thing. What must she do to put him to death?
“The Northern Qi envoys seeks your audience.” With the officer of rites announcement, there were three people walking into the main hall, two male and one female. The lean male walked in front, with the more muscular male standing behind him, and the legendary Princes of Northern Qi standing beside the lean male. Needless to say, the delicate face is naturally beautiful and that pair of sparkling eyes showed youthful brilliance.
“Hail Qiong Emperor.” The three gave half a bow.
Yan Hong Tian replied brightly, “Raise. A seat is bestowed.”
“We thank Qiong Emperor.”
Yan Hong Tian bright voice sounded again, “These gentlemen have come from afar, do taste the Qiong Yue’s specialty, aquilaria wine, first. Bestow the wine.”
“We thank Qiong Emperor for the bestowal.”
“Quickly go.” Wu Mama nudged Qing Feng for her to recover herself and head towards the Princess of Northern Qi’s side with a wine of jug. Qing Feng half squatted down to pour the wine for her. Hearing the Princess of Northern Qi gasp in shock, Qing Feng coldly smiled. She is already used to how shock others were when they saw her. Its just that previously it was due to her beauty but now its due to her ugliness.
Qing Feng stood aside quietly after pouring the wine and felt a pair of eyes on her. Qing Feng slightly lowered her head to ignore it but the other side does not seem to give up and kept on starring. Qing Feng slightly annoyed, looked up towards the owner of that stare. Qing Feng’s eyes widen, she gasped in surprise and the jug almost slipped out of her hands.
That is… Elder Sister!!
She is wearing a loose blue dress, standing beside a tall built man. If one does not look carefully, one will not easily find her. Both of their eyes were onto one another, her eyes were calm as she stared straight at her. Her eyes were not as gentle as in the past but it was exceptionally focused.
To be able see Qing Ling once again, Qing Feng kept trembling uncontrollably due to the excitement and happiness. The Princess of Northern Qi looked at her weirdly, Qing Feng felt that she has forgotten herself and quickly lowered her head
After drinking a cup of wine, Xu Xun Si, the Third Prince of Northern Qi, respectfully laughed, “It is indeed a good wine! It is fragrant and full-bodied. This trip represent Northern Qi pilgrimage, to see the strength and demeanour of a great power of Qiong Yue, we are truly convinced. We hope that we can take this opportunity to express our submission.”
Yan Hong Tian nodded his head slowly with a look of understanding, he replied warmly, “Northern Qi is Qiong Yue neighbour, both countries communicate through envoys, having greater communications is indeed a good thing. Since the Third Prince is here at Qiong Yue, why not travel around, Qiong Yue still have some beautiful sceneries.”
Yan Hong Tian did not even follow up with his words, Xu Xun Si knew clearly in his heart that he was not keen on the alliance, so he followed and laughed, “We greatly thank the Qiong Emperors intention. Qiong Yue with a vast territory has many graceful folk songs, it is naturally more beautiful then one can be imagine. In this trip, Seventh Sister has specially prepared a dance to congratulate prosperous Qiong Yue and hope that the two countries will form a friendship.”
“Oh?” So fast setting up a honey trap? Yan Hong Tian coldly look across the court and laughed, “Have long heard about the transcendence dancing from the Seventh Princess. Zhen must take the effort to admire today.”
“Yan Yun will show my incompetence.” (self-deprecating humble expressions are usual in ancient way of speaking)
Elder Sister did not die! This is great! She still have a loved one in this world! Qing Feng’s heart was filled with boundless amount of joy and hope that she did not listen to what was said between Yan Hong Tian and the Prince of Northern Qi in the main hall. Until a bright laughter rang in her ears, did Qing Feng dropped her smile and lowered her head. Fortunately no one else would notice her smiling face.
The Princess of Northern Qi’s conduct was natural and unrestrained, as she elegantly walk up to the middle of the golden silk carpet. After greeting Yan Hong Tian, the Princess of Northern Qi slowly took off her belt. Her glorious exterior robe fell along with her action, revealing a red translucent silk dress. Not only it is graceful and enchanting, it also revealed her voluptuous body to everyone.
After giving a bow to Yan Hong Tian, the female revealed a roll of red ribbon from her sleeves and it expanded to meters longer. Following the musician’s drums, the female jump lightly and the ribbon in her hands took a life on its on and started flying along the beat of the drums. With her cat-like seductive glances constantly on Yan Hong Tian and the graceful writhing of her body like a snake, the ribbons started to dance lightly with the drums.
There were sounds of shocked sighs around four corners. The dance from the Princess of Northern Qi is indeed amazing but Qing Feng’s mind was not into it. To talk about dancing abilities, Youngest Sister dance ability is comparable to that of this princess. Unfortunately, Youngest Sister is shy by nature and do not like to dance in front of others. Thus the world only know of Youngest Sister excellent chess skills but do not know about her dancing abilities.
Qing Feng looked at Yan Hong Tian, who was sitting on the throne, and saw that his eyes darken at the scene. With his hands holding the wine cup and his lips with a faint smile, it looks like he was satisfied with this Princess of Northern Qi. Receiving these kind of “gifts” are aplenty, but he still forced Eldest Sister into the Palace. Yan Hong Tian is simply a predatory man, who treats woman and country the same!
Why is Elder Sister here? Why does she have a weird expression on her face when she looked at her? What exactly happen after the day they parted? Qing Feng did not understand. Taking the advantage that everyone’s sight is on the Princess of Northern Qi, Qing Feng lifted her head to face her Elder Sister but unfortunately Elder Sister’s gaze was no longer on her. She seems to be interested in the dance too. Qing Feng dare not continue to look at her Elder Sister, fearing that someone would found it out.
As Qing Feng withdraw her line of sight, the last beat of the drums also sounded. The Princess of Northern Qi laid down stiffly with a “bang” sound. Everyone in the hall was holding their breath and starring at that beauty.
Qing Feng frowned, what’s wrong with her? From her dance, the last leap should not be that unstructured?
After a very long time, the Princess of Northern Qi still did not get up, creating a buzz within the ministers.
Xu Yan Yun did not move for a long time, finally Xu Xun Si was unable to tolerate and came forward. He whispered by her side, “Seventh Sister?”
Xu Yan Yun did not respond to him. With eyes were wide open, her already pale face turned purple before it was followed by obvious breathing difficulties and her originally bright eyes looked lost. Her bloodshot eyes filled with fear and her stiff hands clutch her throat with her legs unconsciously struggling.
Finally, Xun Yan Yun stop moving with her eyes staring wide straight ahead. Everything happened too quickly making everyone one in the hall unable to react.
“Physician, diagnose the Seventh Princess.” Yan Hong Tian cold voice sounded lifeless and his face did not show any expression.
“Yes.” Two physicians immediately ran forward and took Xu Yan Yun pulse. The formerly clam expression turned serious as he read the pulse for a long time. After releasing her pulse, he then murmured a few words to the physician behind him. That physician immediately look her pulse and after a long time, both of them exchanged a look in disbelief.
Looking at their expressions, Xu Xun Si already felt that something was wrong and anxiously asked, “How is she?”
“The Seventh Princess, she…” Both of them, drenched in cold sweat, gulped.
“Speak!” Yan Hong Tian growled and the two physicans immediately threw themselves to the ground, with a trembling voice replied, “Have taken her last breathe and died.”
There was an uproar in the hall. “Absolutely disgraceful!” Yan Hong Tian angrily threw the wine cup in his hand onto the floor and the hall fell silent.
Holding the female tightly in his arms, Xu Xun Si was unable to keep himself calm. He stared at the physician and pressed on, “This is not possible. Seventh Sister has been dancing since young and she is in good health all this time. How did she suddenly stop breathing and die?”
The Imperial Physican did not dare to lift his head and only after a long time a trembling voice replied, “The Seventh Princess… Died due to poison.”
Died due to poison? Gasps were heard again but no one dared to utter a sound. A nation’s princess dead in the Palace Hall due to poisoning, this is truly…
Xu Xun Si looked up at Yan Hong Tian and in a deep voice, answered, “This should… Not be possible.”
With eyes flashed with anger, Yan Hong Tian coldly asked, “What kind of poison did the Seventh Princess suffer from?”
Unable to tolerate the group of figures huddling on the ground, Yan Hong Tian voice dropped lower and colder as he scolded, “Humming and hawwing for what. Speak.” Really a bunch of useless people.
Both of them exchanged a look and lowered themselves even deeper to the floor. Drops of sweat keep falling from their head, they absolutely don’t dare to say what poison it is!! At the same time, a man suddenly stood forward, squatted and carefully examine the princess body.
The physician was so afraid that they couldn’t talk and all of the ministers were silent. Just as Yan Hong Tian was to blow up, a cool and bright voice was heard, “Before the Princess died, her four limbs, jaws and breathe was firmly obstructed and her face was dark purple in colour. After death, both eyes protruded, her limbs turned cold, thus she was infected by a snake poison. And for it to be effective in such a short time, the snake poison is ChiHuanSiChong.” After the male spoke “ChiHuanSiChong” words, all the literary and military officials burst into words.
ChiHuanSiChong? Qing Feng thought for a while, if she remembered correctly, ChiHuanSiChong should be a type of poisonous snake that can only be found in the Northwest of Qiong Yue. It lives in the dark drains and stone cracks, in a wet and cold condition. It’s body is entirely in crimson red and it is highly toxic.
Qing Feng cold eyes narrowed and her heart sneered. The Princess of Northern Qi is actually poisoned in Qiong Yue’s Palace Hall by a poison which can only be found exclusively in Qiong Yue. This crisis between Northern Qi and Qiong Yue is indeed difficult to resolve!
“Official Dan, the Princess of Northern Qi died in my Qiong Yue Palace Hall. This matter will not be taken lightly! This case will be handled by you. Investigate thoroughly and you must find the true cause and murderer of the Princess.” Yan Hong Tian voice was still displaying the dignity of a monarch but his expression was dark.
In a half kneeling pose, Dan Yu Lan loudly replied, “This official received the edict.”
Qing Feng has heard in Hao Yue that Dan Yu Lan, Qiong Yue’s Judicial Commissioner, is impartial and just. Is that this person? Qing Feng looked up again at him. His looks might not be extraordinary but that courage to confirm that the Princess of Northern Qi’s death was caused by the ChiHuanSiChong poison and to take up that responsibility, is truly admirable.
Xu Xun Si, who was holding on to the corpse tightly, finally regain some rationality. That young face, portrayed the indignation and loftiness of that as a nation’s Prince, raised and looked at the aloof Yan Hong Tian and coldly spoke, “If I remembered correctly, ChiHuanSiChong is a exclusively Qiong Yue poison and Seventh Sister died here in Qiong Yue’s Palace Hall. Northern to be so bold as to request an explanation from Qiong Emperor. With regards to Official Dan personally overseeing the investigation, Xu Xun Si do not have any objection but expect to see the hearing when Official Dan holds one.”
“Who!” As how things are at this point, this request is not undue, after all the Princess has in fact died in the Hall.
Qing Feng stood silently at the side when a brawny guy suddenly rushed to her side. Upon a closer look, the guy was the other envoy from Northern Qi, which he self introduced as the Northern Qi’s General’s son, Hu Xi Ang. Seeing him holding up the Princess’s wine jar and shout, “In this great hall, where will there be poisonous snakes?! The Princess was fine just now and only drank a cup of wine. Unless there is poison in the win!” An uninhibited voice sounded throughout the hall, rendering a pain to everyone’s ears due to the volume of it.
Dan Yu Lan walked towards him took the wine jar from his hands and whisper a few words to the attendants beside him before they hurried away. The attendants brought back a white porcelain plate as well as a ten over centimetre needle. He pour the wine into the porcelain plate, the supposedly clear wine showed a tinge of red. Dan Yu Lan took the needle on his hand and place it onto the plate. The needle immediately turn black upon being submerged into the wine. Dan Yu Lan took out the needle and wiped it with a white cloth but it still remained black.
Hu Xi Ang urgently exclaimed, “Is there poison in the wine?!”
Picking up a silver needle, Dan Yu Lan truthfully said, “The silver needle turned black, the wine is slightly red with a salty raw taste. There is ChiHuanSiChong poison in the wine.”
Once Dan Yu Lan was certain that there was poison in the wine, Hu Xi Ang furious voice was heard again, “There must be someone poisoning the wine here! Hand the person(s) over!”
Hu Xi Ang was acting so presumptuous that Yan Hong Tian could have him locked up. But to do it at such a time would be degrading the country’s manners by bullying and humiliating a small nation. If this were to get out, how could he be able to face his other six countries?! Yan Hong Tian’s expression grew dark, like a prelude to a thunderstorm, causing the entire hall to fall into silence.
A bright and clear female voice suddenly rang out, providing a sense of dignified aura, “For the beverages to be poison during an Imperial Banquet, it is Ben Gong (Empress way of saying I) neglect. Head Steward Wu, bring those servants who have touched the Princess’s wine.”
In such occasion, the Empress originally should not be the one talking but as the mother of the country and because of such an incident happened within the Palace, it is actually nothing much if she say a few words. In fact, her appearance eased the atmosphere up.
“Yes.” Wu Rong looked at the Emperor expressionless face, since he (the Emperor) did not prevent it, he immediately turned and leave.
Qing Feng’s heart sank, she was the one who poured the wine for the Princess!
Several guards followed the orders and marched her and the three other servants up to the front of the hall. The three of them were scared witless, laying on the ground and continuously shouting, “Empress, please have mercy! These servants are only responsible to pour the wine to the jug and did not know that the jug of wine belongs to the Princess. Even if these servants have a hundred times of courage, these servants will still not dared to poison!”
As compared to the three servants who were begging like dogs, Qing Feng kneeled, without saying a word, and her face filled with coldness.
The Empress’s eyes narrowed slightly towards Qing Feng and coldly said, “Qing Feng, you are sent to the Palace by Hao Yue and now is demoted to a palace maid. You must be filled with resentment and poison the Princess of Northern Qi or was it Hao Yue who instigated you in poisoning the Princess of Northern Qi and sow discord between Qiong Yue and Northen Qi?!”
She wanted to frame her! By dropping such charges on her is as good as putting her to death and also reconcile Qiong Yue’s dangerous position. Or does this mean that the arrangement today for her to serve the Princess of Northern Qi was simply a plot to get rid of two women? If this is true, the Empress is indeed vicious! Qing Feng is pondering on how to get herself an acquittal and she spit out three words coldly, “I did not.”
“Last night, you attempted to assassinate the Emperor and now you dare to say you bare no malice?! BenGong will give you another chance. If you truthfully confess for what you have done, BenGong will free you of suffering tortures!”
Qing Feng always thought that her sisters were dead and she was the only one left in the world thus there was no meaning to living. Death was in fact a type of relief for her. But today, she has seen Elder Sister, she will not let the Empress drop such charges onto her, else it will also harm her and also harm the innocent people of Hao Yue!
After a long while, Qing Feng finally lifted her head slowly looking back at lofty, yet putting on false pretense, and disgusting woman before loudly answering with a cold smile, “Last night, I only accidentally broke a vase which cut the Emperor and was unable to fulfil my responsibility to serve the Emperor. That cause the Emperor to be furious thus I was demoted to a palace maid. For today, I am able to stand here and serve the Princess of Northern Qi wine, was due to the Empress’s decree and I did not know it beforehand. If the poison was placed by me, then it would meant that the Empress had arranged it.”