Another very happening chapter that is twice as long as the longer chapters… 8300-ish words! But it is a good thing that it was not split into two chapters. ;p
Chapter 40: Life Like A Tiny Grass
During Chenshi (modern timing: 7 – 9 am) the first rays of the sunlight marched in, Fu Ling lightly opened the door and in front of the half opened window frame, the familiar tall figure stood quietly. That beautiful pair of eyes was looking out of the window at the gradually raising sunrise. At this moment she did not have the arrogance that she first saw and there was also lesser sorrow than when she said her goodbyes. As a whole, she look much more calmer and also… Much darker.
Fu Ling place the warm hand towels to Qing Feng side and Qing Feng readily took it to wipe her face and sat down on the couch to yawn. Lately when she lay on the bed, she is unable to sleep and when she is awake, she felt sleepy. She kept dreaming at night but when morning came, she will not remember what she dreamt and sometimes she will have palpitations. In the past she would not be like this, Qing Feng mocked herself. After coming into this Imperial Palace, it would seem that her courage was eaten up by rats and have became useless.
A gentle knock sounded and Qing Feng looked up to see Lan-er and Xia Yin walking into the chamber in tandem. Both of them were holding on to a gorgeous dress and walked up to Qing Feng and bowed. Xia Yin softly said, “Your Ladyship, the two Empress Dowager are holding a banquet in the Imperial Garden and all the mistresses ranked Beauty and above and all the ladies from influential families will be attending the banquet.”
Qing Feng slightly frown, “What is it for?”
Receiving Qing Feng’s impatience, Xia Yin softly explained, “The once in three years praying ceremony for blessing is the biggest event in Qiong Yue. During that time all foreign merchants and minsters from foreign state court will come to Qiong Yue for congratulations. The Emperor and Empress Dowager place the highest importance to this event as Qiong Yue is the head of the six nations and cannot be lacking in manners, so…”
Qing Feng chuckled, “So the Empress hold a Palace banquet and the aim is to take the opportunity to test the talent and skills of every daughter of the aristocratic families and all the concubines in the Palace, so as to ensure that the performance in the ceremony would be wonderful and outstanding?”
Xia Yin smiled and nodded her head.
“Is it the same for the past years too?” When Qing Feng was in Hao Yue, she also heard about the fantastic performances during the ceremony in Qiong Yue. To pose as a culture lover, the Hao Yue Emperor specially presented a landscape painting of paradise, done by them three sisters, during the Qiong Yue ceremony three years ago. As it turns out, the performance that Qiong Yue presents are required to undergo such a selection, no wonder it would be able to wow the four corners of the world.
Xia Yin deliberated for a moment and replied, “It seem particularly grand this year.”
Fu Ling smiled, it was not just grand. Whichever lady from whichever aristocratic family have what kind of talent, will all be known by the mama in charge of the Xiunui at the De Xing Palace. This is done for the convenience of the Emperor and Empress Dowager to match with whichever Prince or important official for marriage. The candidates in the previous years were screened by the mama to around ten persons before one or two were finally selected. It is a first for the past few years to take so much effort.
Fu Ling smile without saying a word, Qing Feng naturally will not understand the tortuous nature of it as she originally love poetry and arts. With the talented females in Qiong Yue, she also did hear about it often and also slightly interested in it, thus replying, “Then lets go and see.” Glancing at the outfit that the two of them were holding, Qing Feng choose a most conforming to regulation, light purple outfit.
It is not Qing Feng’s first time in the Imperial Garden but it was this moment that she profoundly agreed with the phrase, too many flowers make the eyes confuse…
What Xia Yin said was true, it was indeed a grand Palace banquet. The greenery in the Imperial Garden is crowded yet dazzling. Qing Feng only entered the Palace recently and she does not know many of the concubines, let alone the ladies from aristocratic families. Looking around for a while, she saw the Empress, Xing Yue Ning, standing nearby and was talking and laughing with a few ladies. The weird thing was that Imperial Concubine Hui, Chen Zhen, was not seen at all.
Originally she have remarkable allure and her beauty could enrapture cities. Now with the two glaring scars, it made Qing Feng stand out even more and attracted bewildered looks and whispers. Qing Feng did not care to see or hear them and slowly walked ahead.
In the middle of the garden there was a small area of open space, at both sides of it, there were five or six rows of seats. Qing Feng walked to the seat at the back left side and sat down. As the Empress was chatting, she took a glance at her before changing her line of sight and continue greeting the various ladies. Ever since Yan Hong Tian started ignoring her, Xin Yue Ning’s interest in her also died down which made Qing Feng happy and carefree.
Qing Feng looked around in boredom and saw a familiar figure that delighted her, it was Elder Sister! She also came and there was a pretty and charming female standing beside her. Seeing from her features, there were many points of similarity to Lou Xi Yan. Qing Feng was about to stand up and walk over when the surrounding light laughter quieten. Qing Feng looked up and saw the East and West Empress Dowager entering with a group of eunuchs and palace maids surrounding them. Both of them meticulously dressed up for today’s event but in comparison Yang Zhi Lan’s outfit was still relatively simple and her face still wore a kind smile. Whereas Lou Su Xin wore an extremely dark red long robe with gold waistband which highlighted her good figure. Her neck was graced with a string of emerald green jade beads and couple with her proud superior expression, it really make one not dare to look intently at her.
The two person sat on the host seats in the middle of the garden, after considering for a moment, Qing Feng stop her steps and did not go over to Elder Sister to greet. Together with everyone else, she half knelt and greeted, “Welcoming both Empress Dowagers in participation and may the Empress Dowager have innumerable fortune and safety.”
Lou Su Xin snobbish voice indifferently sounded, “All raise.”
“Thank you Empress Dowager”
After greeting, the various ladies sat on the chairs and bowed their head quietly and demurely with elegance, a start contrast with the previous scene of noise and brightness.
Yang Zhi Lan looked at Lou Wu Xin and seeing her nod, she then clearly spoke with a smile, “Inviting all the ladies and furens to the Palace today for the banquet is to select those who are endowed with both looks and talents and have both integrity and talent to showcase their performance. To Qiong Yue, this is an event that concerns the country’s dignity. Aijia will not say more, the Four Arts (zither, Go, calligraphy, painting) or dancing, singing and poetry is allowed, only the highest ability will succeed.”
“Comparing the qin (zither) skills, which lady will first start?” After Yang Zhi Lan finished, she glance around with a smile but all the females were still shy and kept their heads down or whispering but no one came out.
Yang Zhi Lan gently smile and said, “Since everyone is so humble, then let Aijia appoint someone to start it off.”
“Aijia heard that the sister of the Qing family were touted as being the most talented females with outstanding looks in the six nations. In the ceremony three years ago, Hao Yue presented a landscape painting of paradise that wowed everyone and it was said that it was the product of the three young ladies. Today there are two in the Palace, what does everyone think of having the eldest sister of the Qing family to start of the ball rolling?” Finishing, she look lovingly to Zhou Qing.
The concubines who was sitting at the side quickly echoed back, “This is indeed great. Chenqie also frequently heard others saying that the eldest Miss of the Qing family has a high level of qin’s skills that the music will linger at one’s ears for three days. All those who have heard all sang praises of it and finally today there is an opportunity for us to be exposed to it.”
At first the matter did not have to do with her, Zhou Qing open her eyes. She know that the original owner of this body is well verse in the Four Arts and is overall a talented female but she is not! She… Only know all about autopsy…
Zhou Qing stayed silent for a long time with her brows slightly knitted. Yang Zhi Lan with a smile always on her face loudly exclaimed, “Some one come and prepare the qin.”
“Wait.” Zhou Qing suddenly stood up and gave a lady-like bow to everyone and softly replied, “Many thanks to everyone care and support. Unfortunately I was injured on the way to Qiong Yue and my memory was affected. The previous familiar tunes are now completely gone from my memory. I am afraid that I have disappoint you.” Anyway she has ‘amnesia’, thus not remembering is actually normal.
Qing Feng secretly blame herself, when she first heard Yang Zhi Lan appointing Elder Sister to perform the qin, she had some pride. Elder Sister’s qin skills may not be peerless but it was the best in a million. It was only now that she remember that her Elder Sister has amnesia.
The West Empress Dowager wanted to say something but Elder Sister suddenly pull up a young female dressed in blue with gold embroidering and continued, “But I know that Xi Wu’s qin’s skills is not lower than mine. A few days back when Su Mu Feng talked about Xi Wu’s qin’s ability, he too have utmost praise for it. Why not let Xi Wu perform, she will not disappoint everyone.”
Watching her Elder Sister, who was overflowing with talent, actually replying on a little girl to defuse the embarrassing situation, Qing Feng felt extremely sad. That pair of hands that were filled of qin skills has taken Elder Sister almost fifteen years to train up. As far as she could remember, Elder Sister has been practising for almost everyday and now because of that she cannot remember? Tears started to blur both of her eyes and Qing Feng say that everyone was still keeping Elder Sister under a watchful eye. How helpless would she have felt?
Heartache and remorse tortured Qing Feng. That stubbornly straighten back unconsciously started to tremble. Fu Ling squatted down and place the warm tea from the low table gently onto Qing Feng hands. The warm tea help Qing Feng gradually recover her consciousness and she smile gratefully at Fu Ling.
“Oh?” Yan Zhi Lan look towards Lou Su Xin who was beside her and smiled, “Older sister, did not think that Xi Wu qin skills has such a breakthrough after all these years. This being the case, let Xi Wu play a piece then.”
The always proud face of Lou Xi Wu became alleviated as she faced Xi Wu and laughed softly, “Xi Wu, play a piece then.”
“Yes.” The female’s expression was a bit ill at ease but since things are the way it was, Lou Xi Wu have no other way but can only thicken her skin.
Zhou Qing was secretly relieved and was just about to sit down but Yang Zhi Lan refused to release her and deliberately laughed softly, “It is monotonous to only be listening to music, Ling-er must remember the words from the melody. The landscape drawing was still in the Imperial Study, today Ling-er must draw one to let them experience it themselves.”
This kind of praises that have hidden derogatory meaning made Zhou Qing feel her anger burning. Yang Zhi Lan is deliberately marking her! When she got up again, Zhou Qing’s expression was obviously darken, “I…”
Zhou Qing just spoke a word when a clear cool voice interrupted her, “Answering the Empress Dowager, normally we sisters like to gather together to entertain ourselves by painting. Today please allow this chenqie (how the concubines or ladies in the palace refer themselves as) and Elder Sister to draw a painting together.” So it turn out that what the Empress Dowager done today was to let Elder Sister to lose her face in front of everyone to vent the anger for her precious Princess. Qing Feng coldly scoffed, as long as she is here, no one will bully her Elder Sister!
Zhou Qing looked up and saw that the person talking is Qing Feng. She was actually there but facing a pack of such females, she did not even carefully look at them and it is not odd that she did not discover her. But to draw together? Is she helping or harming her?! Does grinding the ink stab counted as painting together?
Yan Zhi Lan once again look at Lou Su Xin and asked laughingly, “What does older sister think?” She did not have any reason to make things difficult for her so the results will still be the same.
Zhou Qing evidently was not as lucky as Lou Xi Wu, Lou Su Xin cast a sidelong glance at her and coldly said, “That is good, Aijia would also want to see how talented is the Qing family sisters are!” The female that Xi Yan enter the palace and request multiple times for. She wants to see how special she is!
Pointing to the side of the pond where the flowers are blooming, Yang Zhi Lan smiled, “Older sister, this is the time where the lotus are in full bloom. Why not let them draw and play the qin there. Seeing flowers and beauties together, isn’t it a great sight?”
“That is also good.” Lou Su Xin call out, “Some one come and prepare the painting materials.”
In a short while, a few quick acting eunuch already placed a large table at the side of the lotus pond. Behind the table, there was a wooden stage. This stage was just above the lotus pond, to stand there and view the flowers would be like one is surrounded by them.
Unfortunately Zhou Qing did not have the mood now to appreciate the beauty of flowers and face Qing Feng, who was full of confidence, urgently, “I really don’t know how to draw!”
Qing Feng was a bit sad, only a flower drawing can make Elder Sister this anxious. Grabbing Zhou Qing’s hands, Qing Feng confidently smile and replied, “It is all right, I will be blending the colours. You only need to draw a few circles at the bottom section of the paper.”
“Drawing circles?” Zhou Qing was surprise a while but quickly asked again, “How big to draw? How many to draw? Must it be perfectly circle or oval? Where do they have to be layout?” If it was only drawing circles she can do it but she has to be more specific! She will just treat it as though she was doing geometry.
Qing Feng spoke casually, “As you like.”
“Ah?!” Zhou Qing blanked out, how should she draw this?
She was feeling despondent when the ink on the table was grinded and the paper was spread out. The eunuch stepped aside and respectfully said, “The painting materials have been prepared. May both mistresses please.”
Zhou Qing stood by Qing Feng side and saw her skillfully place the ink onto a white porcelain dish and then mixing clean water into it. After a while, Qing Feng spoke, “Let’s start.”
A huge piece of paper was in front of them, Zhou Qing really did not know whether to laugh or cry, where does she start from?!
Fine. Qing Feng is not worried, so why is she worried about. Taking a deep breath, Zhou Qing drew a circle as big as a fist on to the bottom half of the paper. Qing Feng ink was quite light and it left a slight impression on the paper. Zhou Qing looked at Qing Feng and saw that her expression was still as usual as she was preparing the red colour pigment, most likely to draw the lotus flowers.
Since she had no opinion on it, Zhou Qing also didn’t care anymore and courageously drew ten more circles on the paper. There were big one and small ones. After drawing till the end, Zhou Qing did not know what else to draw and the white paper was ruined by her…
At this time, Qing Feng have also finish preparing. She lowered her head and saw the few circles that Elder Sister has drawn. Even though her face did not reveal anything, her heart sighed. Her Elder Sister have truly suffer from amnesia and now there was no traces of her drawing skills left.
Picking up a relatively thin brush, Qing Feng very quickly drew a few strokes on the messy circles and a lotus leaf appeared. Her movements were fast and with a few random strokes, the original chaotic composition immediately became a realistic lotus scenery. It was indeed too much! Just as Zhou Qing was astonished, a clear and delicate qin sound started. Zhou Qing looked up and saw that at an area nearby, Lou Xi Wu was sitting in front of the GuQin naturally and her long slender ten fingers gently strike across the strings of the qin and melodious tunes echoed in the Imperial Gardens. This girl’s musical skills is really good.
“It is done.”
Zhou Qing was still appreciating the music from Lou Xi Wu’s qin when Qing Feng cool voice softly sounded.
It is done? So fast? It was almost the same amount of time used for her to draw the circles!
When she lower her head again, Zhou Qing was stumped for words when she saw the painting in front of her —
In front of her eyes was an elegant painting. Only using a very light shade of black, it could clearly bring out the lotus leaves and lake. When the red pigment and the white contrasted, it showed the freshness of the new lotuses. The most amazing thing was that it felt like there were a lot of dew on the leaves and stems. It was a like a scene of lotus after the rain!
At the upper left corner of the painting, she also wrote some small words, “A coagulate cover of morning dew, who in the human world is jealous”
How is this possible! Zhou Qing did not dare to believe that in such a short time, this was the piece of paper she have just tortured!
It is considered that she has truly seen what an authentic talented female is.
Qing Feng slowly place down the brush and pull Zhou Qing a step back to let the few eunuch who were standing by the side to carry the wooden table towards the Empress Dowagers.
As it was just drawn, the paper was too soft and cannot be picked up thus Lou Su Xin and Yang Zhi Lan gave them face and walked towards the long table. At a glance, both of their eyes brighten. Lou Su Xin rarely praised, “It is a fully justified reputation!”
This kind of work, even those who were dedicated in the art of painting would take about thirty to fifty years of skills may not even produce it.
Yang Zhi Lan also nodded and smile, “Concubine Qing come over and tell us about this verse and its meaning.”
“Yes.” Qing Feng slowly walked over, Zhou Qing was still standing at the wooden stage and breathing in the fresh air. If it was possible, she really wanted to leave early.
Seeing Qing Feng walking over, Yang Zhi Lan gave a look at the palace maid by her side without a trace and the palace maid slowly retreated.
Walking up the front of the painting, Qing Feng slightly raise the side of her head and smiled proudly before speaking, “The meaning is in fact very simple. Lotus has a elegant and distinguished deposition and will not be infected by the dirt in the secular world. It is precisely because of this quality, everyone is envious of it.”
“The explanation is good.” Lou Su Xin nodded her head approvingly. She especially like proud and arrogant females.
The concubines were listening to Lou Su Xin words when there came a scream, “Help! Qing Ling has fallen into the lotus pond!”
When the female in the garden heard the scream at reacted, they saw Lou Xi Wu standing in front of the wooden stage and craning her neck to look into the lake as she anxiously exclaimed.
Listening to her shouts, Qing Feng panicky looked towards the wooden stage and did not see her Elder Sister’s shadow.
“Elder Sister!” Her heart suddenly jumped to her throat. Qing Feng picked up her skirt and wanted to run to the lake side but suddenly her arms were grabbed tightly. It was the two female officials that were standing by the Empress Dowager and they grabbed her so tightly that she is unable to move. They also gave an intense concern, “Concubine Qing is precious and must be careful of your help and mustn’t go!”
Fu Ling felt that the situation was not right and wanted to walk to Qing Feng’s side but her arms were grabbed tightly by the two mamas who were standing behind her. It made her immovable, what exactly do they want to do?
“Let go!” Qing Feng desperately struggled and refuse to acknowledge the arm shearing pain on her shoulders. Her flustering and worries has made her usual calm eyes filled with tears. She no longer maintain her lady-like manners and crazily shouted, “Get away! My Elder Sister doesn’t know how to swim, quickly let go! Let go!”
A touch of cold laugher crosses Yang Zhi Lan’s eyes, it’s best that she does’t know how to swim, even though she knows it will also be useless! Lou Xi Yan harmed her precious daughter to this stage and still want to hold a joyous big wedding ceremony, if he wants to hold one, then hold a ghost marriage then! Pretending to be angry, Yang Zhi Lan shouted and pointed to the eunuch next to her, “What are you standing here for, quickly go and rescue!”
“Yes.” Four eunuch ran to the lakeside and immediately jumped into the pond.
Lou Su Xin frowned due to the slight annoyance. A perfectly fine wooden stage, how would it collapse?! Seeing that there were people being sent down to rescue, she also did not say anything and just sat coldly at the host seat, looking at the flower bed in front.
Qing Feng dashed forward to run ahead but was stopped and pinned to the ground in a kneeling position. Fu Ling quietly looked at the two Empress Dowager sitting high up, one maintaining that superior aloof position, another putting up a concern pretence but only look from the sidelines. Fu Ling turned pale as her heart felt cold. The leaves at the lotus pond were taller than a person. After Qing Ling fell in, there was not even a sound. She finally know why this year such a grand banquet was held for selecting the performances in the ceremony. It was all done to deal with Qing Ling.
The eunuch has went down about half a stick of incense (modern timing: 15 mins) but did not reply back. The lush lotus leaves are a natural barrier, the people on the shore were unable to see what was going on in the water. Lou Xi Qu was anxiously shouting, “Have she been found?!”
Lotus were shaking but only the eunuch loud reply was heard, “There are too many lotus leaves and simply could not find anyone!”
With her hand tightly pulled back, the female officials’s nails were digging into her skin. No matter how much she struggled, she was unable to go nearer to the pond. Qing Feng did not any other alternatives as she turned around and knelt down crying, “Empress Dowager, please send more people down to rescue, my Elder Sister really do not know how to swim. If she cannot be found, she will…” Qing Feng choked and could not continue to speak that word.
“All right, quickly get up. You need not worry about it, those servants will do their best to rescue her.” Yang Zhi Lan sat at a higher level and her voice was still that gentle. Qing Feng’s heart was like it is soaked in the ice cold water in the middle of the winter, so cold that her entire body trembled.
Yang Zhi Lan will not save her Elder Sister, she ought to wish that her Elder Sister would die. At this time, the only person that can save Elder sister is Lou Xi Yan but she cannot mention about him as once he is mentioned, it would provoke the Empress Dowager. Qing Feng was helpless in the face of such a crisis. There were people surrounded her and everyone was looking at her. Those laughter, indifference and pitiful looks was like arrows piercing her heart but at this moment, she did not care. She did not want self-esteem and pride. As long as they were willing to rescue, she is willing to do anything. Biting down her bottom lips, she quickly tasted blood, Qing Feng turned towards Lou Su Xin and heavily knocked her forehead onto the ground and said only one sentence, “Empress Dowager, I begged of you, please save my Eldest Sister!”
Xin Yue Ning coldly watched that desperate female who kept knocking her head harshly onto the ground and secretly mocked her overestimating herself. Even if she were to kill herself in the Imperial Garden, she will still not be able to save her sister. To fight for the same man as the Princess, Qing Ling is seeking death and this will be the only ending.
Seeing the female who was kowtowing heavily on the floor and begging with a hoarse voice, she was just as aloof and arrogant a moment ago but now she was that desperate and there were traces of blood on her forehead. Lou Su Xi heart soften and just as she wanted to order a few more guards to enter the water to rescue, a furry of footsteps sounded which made everyone turn back and see that it was Lou Xi Yan. Once seeing that it was Lou Xi Yan, all the female quickly greeted and Lou Su Xi was shocked as she asked, “Xi Yan, why are you here?” This is the Imperial Gardens, the Inner Place of the Emperor. He as an official cannot be appearing alone here.
Panting quietly, Lou Xi Yan did not answer her question but impatiently asked, “Where is she?”
Lou Su Xin was surprised, she rarely saw Xi Yan face this unsightly. Not to mention his tone of voice was so that offensive. After recovering herself, with an unhappy mind, Lou Su Xin coldly replied, “Still in the water, had sent people down to rescue her.”
She have yet to finished talking when Lou Xi Yan actually disregarded the looks that the onlookers gave and ran all the way to the lotus pond. Lou Xi Wu who was already panicking saw him and started crying, “Elder Brother! What to do, Qing Ling had fallen in to the water for almost half a stick of incense (modern timing: 15 mins) but she is still nowhere to be found!”
Not found in half a stick of incense, this bodes ill for Ling-er. His heart started to frantically beat till it has reached the extreme. Lou Xi Yan eyes darken and he pull away Lou Xi Wu who was crying in his arms and directly rushed into the lotus pond.
Lou Xi Wu saw that Lou Xi Yan actually jumped from the almost collapsed wooden stage without hesitation into the pool, all her shock and panic was transformed into a scream, “Elder Brother!”
At the same time, another dark figure also followed Lou Xi Yan and jumped into the pond. It was Lou Xi Yan personal bodyguard – Mo Bai.
“Xi Yan!” Lou Su Xi, who was firmly sitting in the host seat, also jumped out of her seat in shock and frantically pointed to the guards at the side while shouting, “Some one come. Quickly, quickly, quickly enter the water to rescue! Must protect Prime Minister Lou well!”
Because of the struggle, Qing Feng’s body was filled with bruises and her tears have already ran dry. Qing Feng looked coldly at the entire chaos, Lou Su Xin was screaming and each and every one of the guards panicky jumped into the pond.
Her hands tightly pulled into fists. She is indeed hateful! Just now when she cried and begged them to save her Elder Sister, they were so cold and turn a blind eye to it!
Could it be that Lou Xi Yan’s life is a life but her Elder Sister’s life is not a life?
Is the value of life define by these powerful people?
At this moment in the lotus pond, a group of guards jumped into it. The pond was filled with people and it caused a confusion. All of them were swimming towards Lou Xi Yan and not one were serious about the rescue.
Yan Hong Tian also walked to the lotus pond and saw Lou Xi Yan jumping into the lake from afar thus he was not surprised. He has already expected that Xi Yan would panic and jump into the water to rescue Qing Ling but he did not expect that from the beginning Xi Yan actually value Qing Ling that much.
“Long live the Emperor.” Everyone who saw Yan Hong Tian quickly recovered and paid their greetings except for Lou Su Xin and Yang Zhi Lan who were still staring at the lake, Qing Feng with a look of grief on her face and Lou Xi Yan who was waving his hands and feet in panic.
Not in the mood to deal with them, Yan Hong Tian waved his hands and replied, “Dispense the ceremony and withdraw.” Except for the Empress Dowager and a few concubines, the rest of the young mistresses from aristocratic families and furens were brought out of the Imperial Garden.
“Gao Jing, summon the Imperial Physicians!” There were no news of the rescue for a long time from the lotus pond. If Qing Ling does not know how to swim, at this time she should have drowned. Xi Yan cared for her that much, if he were to found the body, afraid that he…
“Yes.” Gao Jing receive the order and quickly rushed to the Imperial Physician Courtyard. Seeing the Emperor and Prime Minister Lou attitude to Miss Qing, if she does not survive, don’t know how many people will be implicated.
Qing Feng’s face was full of tears and her beautiful eyes was filled with undisguised despair and hatred. It was this pair of eyes filled with hatred that apparently made him think of her. Even though he did not find her all this time, he still constantly remember her pair of eyes. He likes to tame such an unyielding little pet.
Seeing her struggling to get out of the grip at the sleeves, her wrists are filled with green and purple bruises and the forehead injury from knocking her head on the ground was bleeding a bit, Yan Hong Tian’s brow wrinkled up unconsciously. He waved his hands at the palace maids that were holding her and coldly said, “Let go of her.”
The palace maids dare not disobey and quickly let go of her.
Once they let go, Qing Feng wanted to rush to that wobbly wooden stage. When she started to raise her leg, a big strong hand stopped her by grabbing onto her waist and an overbearing voice sounded by her ears, “So many people cannot save Qing Ling, even if you go down, it would be useless. Just wait here obediently.”
Qing Feng stared angrily at that this vile man and she stepped on his foot viciously. Unfortunately Yan Hong Tian seems not to have any feelings at all and only tighten the hold on her waist that she almost could not breath.
After Lou Xi Yan entered the water for one quarter of an hour, the leaves near the shore shook and there was a hand that held Zhou Qing body up to the shore. Lou Xi Wu who was standing by the shore quickly ran forward and pulling Zhou Qing hands up.
Seeing that Lou Xi Yan has found her, Qing Feng frantically struggled again and this time, Yan Hong Tian did not make things difficult for her and quickly let his hand go.
When Qing Feng and Lou Xi Wu rushed to the shore, Zhou Qing was pulled up onto the shore but her lips were purple and her face was blue. Lou Xi Wu was so scared that she fell to the side but Qing Feng held her Elder Sister’s cold body tightly and kept calling, “Elder Sister! Elder Sister, you must wake up!”
She had already lost her parents, she cannot afford to lose her Elder Sister.
At this time, Lou Xi Yan also come up to shore. Lou Su Xin, who was waiting anxiously by the shore quickly walk up and took two thick blankets from the mama’s hands to drape over his shoulders aguishly as she spoke, “Xi Yan, quickly put it on, do not catch a cold!”
While Zhou Qing who was at that moment lying on the ground was only wearing a simple thin dress which was soaked to the skin. Her clothes attached onto her body and her ice cold body temperature stung Qing Feng’s heart. Secretly clenching her teeth, Qing Feng took off her belt and was about to take off her own clothes to cover her Elder Sister when a similarly ice cold hand grabbed her wrist. Qing Feng looked up and saw that Lou Xi Yan had already gently carried Zhou Qing and covered her with one of the blanket while the other one landed on the floor.
“Imperial Physician.” Lou Xi Yan coldly called out.
The four Imperial Physicians that ran over quickly came forward and took her pulse or press her abdomen. At this time, they did not bother about the rules between male and female. When they were coming over, Gao Gonggong particularly highlighted that the person who drowned is the furen of Prime Minister Lou. If there is any little error made, their little lives would most likely be gone.
Standing at a side guarding Qing Ling, Qing Feng looked gratefully at that always gentle and elegant male but this time his face was so cold and scary. He save her Elder Sister. This debt she will pay him back, for all those who owe them, she will one day get it back one at a time.
Lou Su Xin’s face stiffen but she did not say anything. The mama behind her quickly brought another blanket out. This time Lou Su Xin did not personally place it on Lou Xi Yan but she gave the mama a look and the mama respectfully handed the blanket to Lou Xi Yan.
With a deadpan look, Lou Xi Yan took the blanket over to dry his face and his body before returning the blanket back to the mama. Seeing that Lou Su Xin face became even uglier.
At this moment, Mo Bai also face two eunuch up to the shore. Lou Xi Yan walked to the shore and said a few words to Mo Bai. Mo Bai nodded his head in clear understanding and entered the water again. No one understood what he was doing except for Yang Zhi Lan, whose colour slightly changed.
Everyone was nervously waiting for the results of the Imperial Physicians’ diagnosis as Zhou Qing’s face was deadly scary. Lou Xi Yan cold voice that could freeze ice suddenly sounded, “Some one come. Cart these two person into prison.”
The Imperial Troops were all surprised for a moment, in the Palace, only the Emperor can order them to arrest. If others order, they do not need to bother but today the one who gave the order was Prime Minister Lou. This put them in a difficult position. Looking carefully at the Emperor, his face did not change but only slightly nodded his head. The Imperial Troops immediately understood. Four of them rush forward and seized the two eunuchs.
Yang Zhi Lan’s heart jumped, could it be that Lou Xi Yan saw any flaws?! Calmly stepping forward, Yang Zhi Lan pretended to be puzzled and asked, “Xi Yan, what are you doing this for? Even though the rescue was not done at their best, their offense cannot be that serious to be thrown into jail.”
“The rescue was not done at their best?” Squinting his eyes which made them look colder, Lou Xi Yan frostily said, “What this official saw was attempted murder!”
Qing Feng look straight at Lou Xi Yan. What does attempted murder mean? Can it be… Eldest Sister falling into the water was not an accident?
Having never seen Lou Xi Yan being chilly, Yang Zhi Lan took a deep breath and gave a force laugh, “This… Cannot be!
Turning back to look at the two eunuchs, Yang Zhi Lan purposely berated, “You useless servants, what exactly happened?”
Two of them quickly knelt down and one of them call out his unjust, “These servants are accused wrongly. There are too many lotus leaves in the water, we have been finding for so long and did not found Miss Qing. When we finally found her with great difficulty, Miss Qing was already unconscious due to the drowning. Just as this servant was about to help the Miss, Prime Minister Lou rush over and mistaken these servants was about to do something harmful to Miss Qing. These servants absolutely meant no harm to the Miss Qing.”
Yang Zhi Lan secretly sighed in relief. These two persons were indeed her carefully cultivated servants, the words that they say were filled with propriety. Turning back and tenderly looking at the Imperial Physician still desperately treating Zhou Qing, Yang Zhi Lan sighed, “So it turns out like this. Xi Yan’s heart was so eager to rescue which Aijia understands. The accident happened too suddenly, no one hope to see that. It’s good that Ling-er is now saved.”
Lou Xi Yan uncharacteristically did not take the advantage of the silence and immediately look towards Yang Zhi Lan, coldly replying, “Does the Empress Dowager meant that this official has seen wrongly? This official is not as slow-witted to the point as to unable to differentiate between rescuing and murdering a person!”
Yang Zhi Lan hesitated. She did not think that Lou Xi Yan would actually dare to verbally contradict her and did not know what to say for a moment. Lou Xi Yan did not intend to give up like this. When he saw those useless servants pushing Ling-er down into the water, at that moment his heart almost stop beating. And now he dare not look at the her lying on the ground with no breath and did not wish to just wait for the Imperial Physician to treat her else it will drive him crazy.
Feeling such fear and heartache, with practically no outbreak of anger, he did not want to endure any more. His sight swept over the wooden stage and Lou Xi Yan furious eyes landed on the highly seating East and West Empress Dowager, “For the Palace to hold such banquet, their safety should be ensured. The wooden stage collapse and someone fell into the pond. With an entire courtyard filled with guards and servants, only four people went down to the water to rescue! In this big pond, why did you all not deploy more manpower? This official believe that this case can be classified as someone deliberately planned a murder!”
“Impudent!” Lou Su Xin look worsen, the well-maintained face was so angry that all her features were knitted together as she loudly snapped back, “Lou Xi Yan, this is a matter within the Palace. You as an official dare to intervene. This event is simply an accident, even if there is any ulterior motives, Aijia will investigate it throughly. You need not be this disrespectful and self-assertive. What a scandal this is!”
He simply have rebelled. Because of a female, he lost his elegant demeanour. He has truly disappointed her.
Lou Xi Yan directly passed her and look at the unfathomable Yan Hong Tian, who was silently standing at one side and question intensely, “Daring to ask the Emperor, the life and death matter that occurred on this official’s wife, does this official have the rights to find who was responsible for it?”
Yan Hong Tian nodded his head solemnly and seriously replied, “You have.” It is rare that Xi Yan showed his anger, he must fully support it.
Lou Su Xin was so angry that her face was totally white. Good! They gang up and rebel against her! She wants to see today how her beloved good nephew will lay it out for her. Proudly lifting her head, Lou Su Xi coldly scoffed, “Fine, if you want to pursue whose responsibility it was, is it Aijia’s responsibility? Or who push your wife into the pool?”
Yang Zhi Lan laughed lowly and quickly smooth the situation with smiles, “Xi Yan, this is only but an accident. No one deliberately wanted to harm Ling-er, you mustn’t make your paternal aunt angry.”
Lou Xi Yan cold eyes raised and looked into the loving face of Yang Zhi Lan as he coldly questioned, “What if this is not an accident?”
Yang Zhi Lan’s heart tighten, the Lou Xi Yan today was like a different person. She felt that Lou Xi Yan seem to know something but how is this possible? He only rushed over just now. Just as she was in tenterhooks, Mo Bai who was in the water for a long time finally surfaced and he was holding on to a bunch of rope. He threw the ropes onto the shore and clipped up. His pale skin and blue eyes made everyone focus on him and occasionally there were muffled whispers were heard.
Mo Bai face did not show any emotion and walked straight to Lou Xi Yan and said with clarity, “Master, there are twelve stakes in the water for the wooden stage. Every single stake was deliberately almost fully cut off and with each incision, there was a rope tying to it. The location where furen fell off had two stakes broken. The rope that was pulled and broke the stakes were taken away but the rest of the ropes were still there. No matter where furen stands, the stage under her feet will collapse.”
The voice was not loud but once it was finished, the entire shore was silent, after which it started to buzz with discussions.
“Now is there still anyone who says that this was an accident?” Lou Xi Yan picked up the rope on the floor and his ruthless eyes swept the crowd. No one knows what he was thinking and dare not continue.
After Qing Feng listened to Mo Bai explanation and Lou Xi Yan interrogation, her eyes stared at the rope. She finally understood, everything that happened today was a long premeditated murder. Qing Feng curled her body up as both of her hand held her Elder Sister’s ice cold hands. Without saying a word, her bright eyes slightly lowered making one unable to see clearly.
Yang Zhi Lan cursed secretly, damn it! Originally the entire wooden stage will collapse and then recover the rope but now it was not like it was a accident due disrepair. She actually wanted Qing Ling to drown and after which the eunuchs who went down to rescue will take away the pile of tied ropes. That way, there will be no evidence left and none will be the wiser. But no matter how she plotted, she did not think that Lou Xi Yan will come over and jump into the water. And she also did not think that he was that alert to immediately get someone to check the wooden stake. It seems that this time she has to find a scapegoat!
Taking the advantage of everyone who were still in shock, Yang Zhi Lan angrily said, “This is outrageous. For such a thing to happen in the Palace, older sister, this time we must get to the bottom of this matter.”
Lou Su Xin’s brows knitted again, unexpectedly it was not an accident, even so, she still felt that her authority was challenged thus her face still showed unhappiness.
Lou Xi Yan would not let this event become a case for the Inner Palace to resolve as it would only end up using a scapegoat to finalize the issue. Facing Yan Hong Tian, Lou Xi Yan coldly said, “This official think that even though this matter happened within the Palace but it was in the presence of all these ladies from prominent aristocratic families. The purpose of the Palace banquet was to select the representatives for Qiong Yue performance. As this case involved the ceremony, it no longer falls into the Palace’s scope and should be handed over to the Investigation Bureau, thus avoiding to trouble both Empress Dowager.”
“Allowed.” Yan Hong Tian also felt that the matter was surrounded by suspicious circumstances. If this matter is not referred to the Investigation Bureau, Lou Xi Yan will not drop this subject! “Some one come and take the four person who entered the water first to the Imperial Prison. The Imperial Troop will guard the Imperial Gardens and this case will be handled by the Investigation Bureau.”
“Ou…” The person lying on the floor finally have a reaction. After vomiting out a mouthful of water, Zhou Qing violently coughed. Seeing that she finally moved, the tears in Qing Feng’s eyes could not help but flow out but this time it was because of happiness, “Elder Sister!”
When Lou Xi Yan heard the light cough, he also quickly rushed over and knelt beside her. Grabbing her hand tightly, Lou Xi Yan urgently said, “Ling-er! Can you hear me speak?”
Seeing that she give a lightest of nod, Lou Xi Yan’s hanging heart could finally settled and he held her in his arms. Lou Xi Yan asked, “How is she now?”
When Qing Ling woke up, the Imperial Physicians were the most happy as they are able to save their own lives, “Miss Qing was in the water and drowned for a long time but now she has overcome the difficult part. But it might still leave an root of the illness of obstructing of the lungs by phlegm or constantly suffering from a cold. She will need a lot of care and constant conditioning of her body.”
Wrapping two blankets tightly on Zhou Qing’s body, Lou Xi Yan faced the Imperial Physician and said, “When you prescribe the medication later, send both the prescription and medical ingredients to the Prime Minister manor.”
Yang Zhi Lan came forward, looked at Zhou Qing who was still unconscious in Lou Xi Yan’s arms and said in anguish, “Xi Yan, Ling-er is currently unconscious and it would not be well enough to travel back. It would be better to bring her to Xi Xia Palace to rest. Isn’t it better if you fetch her back to the manor once she wakes and when her health has gotten better?”
Carrying her up with her waist, Lou Xi Yan coldly replied, “Not needed. Xi Wu, let’s leave.”
“Orh.” Lou Xi Wu dazedly followed Lou Xi Yan and dare not turn her head back.
Until Lou Xi Yan’s figure have completely disappeared in the Imperial Garden, Qing Feng then stood up. Without caring if the Empress Dowagers or the Emperor was still there, Qing Feng did not spoke a word and slowly walked towards the direction of Qing Feng Hall. Fu Ling greeted and rush off to support her on her verge of collapse self but Qing Feng pushed her hand away and tottered off by herself.
Everything that happened today, was not something that never happened before. It is just that those people did not have the luck that Qing Ling have. This, is the Inner Palace. Fu Ling just touched that pair of ice cold hands, if Qing Feng’s heart is similar, with her temperament… Fu Ling have a bad premonition.
Yan Hong Tian squinted his black eyes, he did not expect such a reaction from Qing Feng. Then again what kind of response should she have? Yan Hong Tian found it funny, since when did he start to be concerned about a female’s reaction?
Leaving the two Empress Dowagers and the terrible mess, Yan Hong Tian also chicly strode out of the Imperial Gardens.