Mysteries in the Imperial Harem: Chapter 38
For the past few chapters, it has been getting longer… 3,000 words in this chapter!!!
But Qing Feng has yet to see the Emperor after that night…
Chapter 38: Wait And Observe The Changes
The night got later and the noise from outside faded away. Qing Feng send the people beside her away to rest while she alone stood in the dark courtyard, with her hands wrapped around her. Her head was filled with the impact of the Princess attempted suicide in the Imperial Palace, what is the Empress Dowager’s and Yan Hong Tian’s reaction, what will the next unfavourable plight will they, three sisters, face. The more Qing Feng thought, the more alarmed she got. In the late summer night, the stuffy air made it hard for her to breathe.
The doors of the hall lightly sounded and Qing Feng looked up. Fu Ling’s lean figure quickly entered the hall sideways and shut the doors lightly. Qing Feng jogged up to her and asked urgently, “How is the Princess?”
The voice suddenly sounded behind Fu Ling’s back and she jumped up in shock. She could not see Qing Feng’s expression in the depth of the night but in that soft hoarse voice was anxious which mean that during the time when she was inquiring, Qing Feng’s heart was languishing. Fu Ling soft voice said the news that she heard, “Mistress do not need to worry. After the Imperial Doctors treatments, the Princess is out of danger.”
That’s all? Fu Ling is discreet and attentive, how could she only enquire about these? Knowing that she was anxiously waiting, if she only enquire about those news why would she only come back at such a time? Qing Feng’s heart jumped faster as she asked, “Is it that there are more things that happened?”
Her health just got better and she was thinking of letting her rest well tonight and elaborate tomorrow, but it would seems that it cannot be concealed as she was so keen about it. Fu Ling sighed, “The night is late, its better to speak in the house.”
Once the two of them entered the inner chambers, Qing Feng immediately grabbed Fu Ling’s hands and anxiously spoke, “Quickly say what exactly happened.”
Qing Feng slender fingers were a little cold when Fu Ling supported her to the bed to sit and replied, “After the Imperial Physicians have determined that the Princess is not in danger, the Empress Dowager and the Emperor summoned Prime Minister Lou to enter the Palace at night.”
Summon Lou Xi Yan to the Palace at this hour? Qing Feng’s face darken and a cold voice scoffed, “They want to force a marriage?”
Qing Feng’s hand which was holding hers tightened making Fu Ling slightly lowering her head as she kept quiet and not answer. She started to pull the thin quilts to cover Qing Feng feet.
Taking a deep breath, Qing Feng asked, “Lou Xi Yan… Agreed?”
Seeing Qing Feng anxious eyes and pretending to be calm, Fu Ling shook her head and replied, “This servant only heard that the Princess will recuperate at the Prime Minister Mansion tomorrow morning.”
“Enter the Lou family house?” Qing Feng lightly laughed, that atmosphere that she exceeded made Fu Ling’s brow furrowed and she could not help but whisper an advise, “Mistress, there are some things that cannot be rushed.”
Some things cannot be rushed. Qing Feng gave a self-deprecating smile, ever since she knew that her sisters were still alive, she was like a bird startled by the mere twang of a bow. Just a little wind or movement by the grass will make her panic-stricken. After dying once, she did not care for this life of hers one bit but especially cherished her sisters’ lives. For them to be still alive, heavens have given her a chance. Even though she know that its useless to panic, Qing Feng still could not control the jittery feeling in her heart. Seeing that the skies outside the window has turned from pale grey dur to the morning light, Qing Feng tiredly said, “It is almost dawn, you can go and rest.”
“Yes.” Saying more will not be beneficial thus Fu Ling quietly backed out.
The doors were gently closed and there was only the sound of her light breathing that could be heard. Qing Feng felt a chill coming and pulled up the thin quilts to wrap herself tightly. Her eyes unconsciously stayed on the ink-black umbrella and for a long time it did not stray.
After the morning court, Yan Hong Tian came to the Imperial Study and two eunuch placed the minister’s reports from the morning court and the different reports from all over the states on the study table, arranging it by order of urgency. The female officer, Xiao Yu, served his favourite spring tea and everything was as is it was usual. But the people who served for many years by the Emperor’s side could see the difference. The Emperor is always diligent and would normally immediately start to read the reports when he comes into the Imperial Study but today, he instead took the time to slowly appreciate his tea?
Xiao Yu questioningly looked at Gao Jing, who was standing at the side, and Gao Jing gently shook his head. Xiao Yu curled her lips and sent the palace maids to bring some refreshments over and silently retreated to Gao Jing’s side. She secretly suspected that the Emperor’s current expression seems to be like he was waiting for someone. Sure enough after a short while, Lou Xi Yan’s figure appeared outside the Imperial Study.
Xiao Yu’s face showed a sign of delight, she guessed correctly! But… Why is Prime Minister Lou expression abnormal?
Gao Jing lightly coughed and whispered to Yan Hong Tian, “Emperor, Prime Minister Lou seek an audience.”
With the corners of his lips raised, Yan Hong Tian lightly sip a mouthful of hot tea and without even looking up as he unhurriedly replied, “Announce.”
Lou Xi Yan walked into the hall and Yan Hong Tian briskly commented with a smile, “So quickly handled the issues at home?” Early this morning, his Empress Mother personally sent Xuan-er to the Prime Minister manor. The course of events would indeed be interesting else Xi Yan will not put up such a face.
Lou Xi Yan eyes shimmered but he did not answer. That perpetual faint smile of his also faded.
Really started to be angry? Yan Hong Tian put down the teacup and said in a clear voice, “All of you withdraw.”
“Yes.” In a blink of an eye, there was only the both of them looking at one another in the Imperial Study. One side was grave and stern, the other side was profound and reserved. After a long time, Lou Xi Yan said softly, “What the Emperor did, the person who will feel hurt will only be the Princess.”
He is here to attack him with condemnations? Yan Hong Tian face sobered and reply seriously, “What do you want Zhen to do? The ceremony for prayers is about to start and the envoys from the different countries are arriving. You still think that there are not enough things to do and purposely choose this timing to marry Qing Ling, moreover as an official wife! You and Xuan-er marriage has been unspoken for so many years and Xuan-er has already set her mind on you. Now she wants to kill herself, how will the Empress Dowager let it go?”
“Besides…” Lou Xi Yan was silent throughout thus Yan Hong Tian changed the topic and lightly humph and laugh out, “Qing Ling originally belong to Zhen but now you took the opportunity and secured her. Do you think it is easy to keep a beauty in your hands? You have created such an issue, of course you will need to resolve it yourself. Else you still need Zhen to help you to clean up the mess.” Yan Hong Tian felt a sense of fun in his heart. After all these years, Xi Yan’s face always showed an expression of everything is under his control but now one Qing Feng is able to change his expression, then it is actually a correct thing that Hao Yue sent the wrong person over!
Slowly performing a bow to the Emperor, Lou Xi Yan coolly and brightly smiled, replying, “That being the case, this official will deal with it himself and not trouble the Emperor.”
Damn it. It’s that confident smile again. Yan Hong Tian felt a new trace of worry in his heart as he lowly sighed, “Xuan-er is after all Zhen’s blood sister. You do as you deem fit.”
Didn’t he said that he should deal with the matter and now he start to feel heartache for his younger sister? Lou Xi Yan mouth still maintained that smile and the more Yan Hong Tian see it the more angry he got. He coldly scoffed, “Zhen see that you are too free lately.” And have time to be concern about all the emotions and relations.
Lou Xi Yan found it funny, this is also considered lashing out?
“Emperor, Official Dan request an audience, saying that it is of importance.” Fortunately at this time, Gao Jing announced from the other side of the door and broke the silent competition in the room.
Yan Hong Tian glared at Lou Xi Yan before he recovered and sternly said, “Announce.”
Dan Yu Lan strode into the hall and perform a greeting, “Paying respects to the Emperor. Long live the Emperor.”
Just now the Emperor and Prime Minister Lou had a private discussion and made everyone leave, that cause her to be unsure if she should send in her already prepared tea and snacks. Taking the advantage of Dan Daren seeking an audience, Xiao Yu quickly served tea to the study table and quickly exited. She was not interested in anything about the governing discussion. Those things that should not be listened, she did not want to hear a single word of it.
“Raise.” Dan Yu Lan seems to be in a hurry with a trace of emotion between his brows. Just what is it that made Qiong Yue’s Tixing Official this excited, lifting the freshly brewed hot tea, Yan Hong Tian laughed, “What does noble Official Dan wants to report?”
En, the temperature of the tea is just right. Xiao Yu, this girl is sometimes crafty a bit but she is indeed detailed in her work.
“Replying the Emperor, this official had found this in the underground caves river where the gold mysteriously disappeared that year.” Dan Yu Lan took something out from the sleeve that is gold in colour. Gao Jing step forward to take it and saw that it was an ingot of gold.
Gao Jing turned and presented it to the Emperor. Yan Hong Tian took the gold ingot and glanced at it. His face turned cold, changing from a relaxed and idle expression, and said in a dignified tone, “Continue on.”
“This official suspects that the gold theft three years ago, was not just a low rank guard colluding with the bandits to rob the treasury storage that simple. Perhaps that year, there are mistaken convictions which has ulterior motives. This official request the Emperor to allow this official to retrial the gold case.”
Handling the gold on his table to Gao Jing so that he will pass it to Lou Xi Yan, Yan Hong Tian picked up the tea cup and his expression quickly restored per usual, “The trial for gold case that year was handled by Ministry of Justice and the Defence provided assistance to oversea the entire case till it was close. With regards to a retrial to such a big case, it will have wide implications. The so-called ulterior motives that lead to mistaken convictions, Official Dan have how much a certainty? Where is the gold currently located at?”
Dan Yu Lan slightly raise his head and looked at the Emperor seated higher up and drinking his tea. For a moment, he is unsure what was the meaning behind the Emperor’s words and turned to Prime Minister Lou who was standing by the side. He saw that he was staring at the gold ingot as if in a trance and he too did not know what he was thinking. Dan Yu Lan thought for a while and replied truthfully, “This official was able to find part of the lost gold in the bottom of the underground river which meant that most important aspect of the determined case, the guard who was colluding with the bandits and covered them to move the gold to another exit, does not match. This is already a wrong conviction and the mastermind who push the blame onto the guards is who and where did the gold went to, needs to be thoroughly investigated before any results can be concluded.
“Good. Go back and prepare a report on the review of the gold case and elaborate the details before submitting it for discussion.”
“Yes. This official… Will retire.” Dan Yu Lan’s heart hesitated. That year the gold case shocked the entire government and it also dealt with the countries finances. It was difficult now to have new information and the Emperor’s attitude is so… Half-hearted? Even though he was puzzled, Dan Yu Lan did not dare to delay, quickly performed the greetings and left.
Lou Xi Yan gently rubbed the four engraved letterings on the back of the gold — National Reserves Official Currency. It was indeed the stolen gold. Today when he left, Qing Mo just arrived at the Prime Minister manor to look for Ling-er and Dan Yu Lan coincidently also found the fifty liang of gold in the cave. It must have been their efforts. He thought that Ling-er was already distinctive enough but recently that little girl by the name of QIng Mo also seems not simple. Not sure if Qing Feng in the Palace is also the same as them being different.
Lou Xi Yan was playing with the gold ingot in his hand and suddenly looked up to him with a trace of ridicule. Yan Hong Tian felt ridiculous being stared by him and asked, “Having a retrial on the gold case, what is your opinion?”
Lou Xi Yan lowered his head slightly and concealed the smile on his lips, he pretended to ponder deeply about it before shaking his hand, “This official finds that the timing is inappropriate.”
“Oh?” Yan Hong Tian questioned as cannot see if that sentence was not appropriate or violated the his intention.
“Official Dan capability in handing the case is obvious to all. By putting the gold case in retrial will set off thousands of waves. Only afraid that a cornered beast will be desperate and create incidents during the ceremony, which would be unfavourable to Qiong Yue.”
With his hands folded in front of his chest, Yan Hong Tian squited his eyes at Lou Xi Yan, “So accordingly to the Prime Minister’s viewpoint, what should be done? Just drop the matter?”
Lou Xi Yan laughed, “That is not required.”
Yan Hong Tian’s brow raised as his back lean against his dragon chair and he look at him calmly and unruffled, waiting for him to continue talking.
“There is still two months till the ceremony, the Emperor can wait and see if Official Dan is able to find more evidence. If Official Dan is able to find more concrete or advantageous evidences, the Emperor would be able to use the opportunity to uproot them.”
“Uprooted them?” Yan Hong Tian laughed loudly, “Do you think it is possible?” If it was that easy to uproot, it would be done that year. Why would he need to be dormant for so many years?
Lou Xi Yan smiled calmly and gave an indifferent reply, “If he can’t then by using this club, it is also worth it as the Emperor can scare some snakes out. After the celebration, the Imperial Treasury must be empty, if it is possible to recover some of the lost ten thousands liang of gold, that would not be better.”
With a satisfied nod, Yan Hong Tian replied readily, “Just do as you meant to do.”
Lou Xi Yan lightly chuckled, the Emperor has long intended for that to happen but he wanted it to come out from his mouth. “Yes.” After putting his hands together to greet, Lou Xi Yan turned to leave.
“Wait.” Yan Hong Tian sternly asked, “Do you really have to marry Qing Ling at this time?”
Lou Xi Yan’s eyes displayed a trace of mischief as he smiled and replied, “This official will deal with the matter well and not dare to trouble the Emperor to clean up the mess.”
“Lou Xi Yan!” He actually dare to use the words he spoke to rebut him!
Yan Hong Tian face changed but Lou Xi Yan did not take it seriously and bowed submissively again with a smile and unenthusiastically replied, “This official retires.” He left in a leisurely and elegant manner.
Yan Hong Tian helplessly shook his head, he has to remind his Empress Mother to find another husband for Xuan-er. If he did not remember wrongly, during their youth, Xi Yan once said that he will only marry one wife this lifetime. If Xi Yan was able to do it, he would really admire him. It is not that it is difficult to love one female in one lifetime, but it is for people like them, marrying more wives and concubine would more often be pulling and balancing influences and political power. Whether it is his or their family clans’ eyes, females are only but a “tool”, and he was happy to make good use of these “tools”.
His sight settled on the bright fifty-two liang gold on his study table and Yan Hong Tian suddenly spoke, “Gao Jing, summon Ming Jian.”
“Yes.” Gao Jing hurried out of the Imperial Study and after half a sichen (1 sichen = 2 hours), a tall figured appeared in the Imperial Study.
“This official, Ming Jian, greets the Emperor.”