Chapter 41: Cold Heart Freeze
Fu Ling crouched at a corner and quietly watch Qing Feng crazily venting out on everything in the room. After she return, she shut herself in the room in the entire afternoon. The sun only just set when she started to smash everything like she was insane. The porcelain in the room and the ornaments were all smashed into pieces. Perhaps this is also good, it is better than her being sullen and silent and keep everything in her heart.
Everything that can be smashed was smashed. Qing Feng however could not relieve all the hatred in her heart. Grabbing the curtain veil, she tore it down. The satin brocade on her bed was also thrown to the ground by her. Qing Feng picked up the pillow and threw it forcefully onto the screen. A peng sound was heard and the golden embroidered screen collapsed. The pillow also fell apart upon impact and a small white brocade bag fell out of it.
Fu Ling bend down to pick it up. The brocade bag was really very light and the things inside was already grounded into powder, no wonder it was not found. A light scent of sandalwood was emitted and if one does not attentively smell it, one will not be able to detect it.
Which girl was so thoughtful to place sandalwood into the pillow? Titling the brocade bag closer to smell, Fu Ling’s brows wrinkled. Other than the scent of sandalwood, there was also another faint smell? Fu Ling opened up the brocade bag and found that there was also powder lined in the small bag. Such a delicate thing is not usually found on normal palace maids.
She started to have some doubts thus Fu Ling examined the thing inside the brocade bag. Upon closer examination, there are some star like white powder in the sandalwood chips. Fu Ling lowered her head to smell it… This is…
Fu Ling’s face suddenly changed colour and Qing Feng who was watching Fu Ling every move silently guessed that that was not anything good. She asked coldly, “What is that thing?”
Fu Ling was slightly startled and looked up. Directly facing Qing Feng brutally cold sight, Fu Ling clam herself up before whispering her reply, “Zhuxin grass.”
Qing Feng took the brocade bag and gave it a closer look. It was only some powder and some sandalwood scent. When she was sleeping, she occasionally smelt some of it. Initially she thought it was the palace maids that prepared it to calm her nerves but now it would seems that some mischief was in play. Fu Ling did not do anything for a long time which made Qing Feng’s eyes raised. Fu Ling paused and thought of what to say as Qing Feng has already suffered a number of shocking things today.
“Its scent is similar to that of sandalwood. But… Smelling it long term, a female…”
“Speak.” Even if this was a poison that will wear her intestine down, she will not be surprised.
“Can never be pregnant.”
Can never be pregnant? The four words slowly processed into her mind. There were indeed to many shocks today and Qing Feng’s brain was unable to process it. Yan Hong Tian no longer seek for her and she also drank the abortion medicine, what else do they still want? To let her not have her own children for the rest of her life? So cruel! Her head started throbbing in pain and her heart felt as if someone stabbed her. Qing Feng lost her balance and fell onto the ground. As she looked up to Fu Ling, Qing Feng susurrate, “Why are they doing this to me?”
Why? For a position in the Palace, for the future Imperial Throne, for the Emperor’s favour, too many why but it is not the reason. Qing Feng sat on the floor with her face gaunt like it was ashes. With a pair of red and swollen eyes filled with despair and doubts looking at her, Fu Ling could not mutter a single word.
Suddenly Qing Feng started laughing aloud. Not sure if it was she was too angry that it became laughter as that laughter was so sharp that it can pierce one’s heart.
She hated Yan Hong Tian but for her sisters to be able to carry on living in Qiong Yue, she has decided not to seek for revenge. She did not bother to fight or snatch anything and only wanted to live her life by herself. Even if she were to go to the Cold Palace, it would not matter. But now it would seem that she was really silly and really stupid!
The brocade bag that was still in her hands was still exuding a faint scent. This thing was actually hidden so near to her. She thought that the once safe bed that she lie on every night, was actually lying on top of poisonous daggers. She was still full of herself thinking that if one doesn’t fight or snatch, one will be able to survive. She cannot even protect herself, let alone her Elder Sister…
Suddenly she violently raise her head and Qing Feng stared at Fu Ling asking, “Fu Ling, will you or will you not betray me?”
Fu Ling knows that perhaps Qing Feng was giving her the last chance to choose. To choose to stay with her or leave… Where can she leave to? To the place where she came from? Continue to let others chase her from one palace to another? Waiting for the so far away it seems forever date to leave the Palace or die of old age in the Palace? Or not knowing who she offended and die due to an “accident”? She has already survived ten over years like this and no longer want to live like that.
Receiving the look of full of hope and a faint of appeal in her eyes, Fu Ling smiled. Being needed and trusted was also a form of reward. Secretly taking a deep breath, Fu Ling calmly and firmly replied, “Will not.”
“Mistress, get up first as the ground is cold.” Supporting Qing Feng’s arm, Fu Ling gently pull her up.
Clasping Fu Ling’s hand tightly, Qing Feng slowly straightened up and place the almost smashed up brocade bag into Fu Ling’s hand. Keeping her voice very low, she spoke, “Take this thing away and change it to a similar sandalwood scent and sew it back before placing it back into the pillow. Don’t let anyone discover it, especially the people in Qing Feng Hall.”
Fu Ling gripped the brocade bag and nodded her head.
Taking a look at the despondent room, Qing Feng calm expression slowly restored as she said, “Get the thing done by tomorrow morning before letting people tidy this up. You can go out.”
“Yes.” Fu Ling place the small brocade bag in the deepest pocket around her waist before gently opening the room doors to withdraw.
When the door closes, the room was once again shrouded in darkness. Qing Feng quietly stood in front of the window and slowly raise her hand against it. The paper on the windows separated the moonlight and the warm light from the lanterns. After a while, Qing Feng withdraw her hands. These warm no longer belongs to her. What was left to her was the coldness and darkness of this room, like her heart.
It is you all who forced me–
When Fu Ling exited from the room, Lan-er quickly went up to her and pull her hand to the big tree in the middle of the courtyard to where the not inquisitive Xia Yin was standing there. Seeing there there was no one around, Lan-er softly questioned, “Older sister Fu Ling, what is wrong… With her ladyship?” When her Ladyship walked it, her face was so pale and her forehead had a trace of blood and bruise was enough to scare everyone. Walking into the room, she has smashed don’t know how many items, let along the sharp cries and laughter that were heard in the courtyard. scaring her till she has goosebumps!
Xia Yin also softly said, “Fu Ling, we are also worried about her Ladyship and even more afraid that our mouths are clumsy and speak any wrong words to offend her Ladyship.”
Fu Ling lightly shook her head and replied, “You all should not worry too much, Mistress is only… Tired. Don’t disturb her tonight and clear up the things tomorrow.” Finishing her words, Fu Ling did not wait for both of their reply and turned to walk back to her own room.
Lan-er softly scoffed, “So petty, she thinks that others want to fight with her for favours!” Finishing her words, she also walked back to the house.
Xua Yin looked back once again at the shut doors. There was no candlelight nor any sounds of weeping. It was scarily quiet.
In the bright night, the summer breeze blew as behind the winding corridor was the reception that laughters were coming out from. In the large courtyard there were many flowers that were swaying and the air was filled with floral scent. It is unfortunate that the figure under the moon could not wait to leave immediately. The feet that did not step out was because of the pleading that mother gave during the afternoon thus it had no choice but to stop.
Ming Ze folded both of his hands around his chest and stood at the corner of the winding corridor. He stood there for a long time and although he did not leave, he was refused to walk toward the bustling reception. Actually if he comes or not, no one will care about it. It has been so many years and mother have not yet seen through it? In this Ming residence, there was no position for both mother and son. What is she fighting? What is she snatching? And one what basis? She treated him like a puppet, like a tool and will not care about his feelings. She only thought about herself. The most ridiculous thing was that she overestimated him. He is nothing to this family.
–Her safety, to me, is more important than anything else.–
That sentence that Qing Feng spoke during that rainy night sounded in his mind again. The brilliant eyes and flowery smile that she gave under that lightning made Ming Ze smiled lightly, she was still luckier than him. At least she has loved ones that is worthy of her to protect. When he was on duty today, he followed the Emperor and Prime Minister Lou to the Imperial Gardens and saw the incident by the sidelines. Don’t even talk about the Palace, in whichever large manor, who wouldn’t have seen such “accidents” before. It was that when Qing Feng finally left like she did, it made Ming Ze felt pity.
A male voice behind him sounded with a hint of excitement, Ming Ze’s sharp brows knitted and continued to lift his foot and leave. The only person who will call him in this family is only him. And he did not want to speak “nonsense” with him.
Just as he was about to leave, a tall figure quickly block his route and stood in front of him. Ming Jian familiarly smiled, “So difficult to be back home, let us brother have a drink?”
Ming Ze knows that this time he was not able to ignore him since Ming Jian came to him head on and plainly replied, “I am on duty tomorrow.” Finished saying, he turned and leave.
Grabbing Ming Ze’s shoulder, Ming Jian sighed, “Ming Ze, we are brothers…”
Brothers? Ming Ze slap away his heads and coldly replied, “I do not have this good fortune.” He cannot afford to claim that! Ming Ze walked past him indifferently, obviously he did not want to continue speaking with him. Ming Jian could only sigh heavily.
Ming Zhu, the third miss of the Ming family, came out to look for Ming Jian and saw Ming Ze unable to recognize his good intentions and spoke loudly, “Elder brother, why do you be bothered about him? He is only a child from a lowly concubine.”
Ming Ze back stiffen as he strode towards the door and walked away quickly.
“Ming Zhu!” Ming Jian coldly scolded, Ming Zhu curled up her lips and gave a look of disapproval but she knows that if she continued, her elder brother will get angry. Pulling tightly on Ming Jian’s arms so that he will not chase, Ming Zhu said, “All right, I will not continue. Mother has been nagging about why you are not back yet and grandmother must be anxious due to the wait. Hurry up and don’t bother about him. If you are late, dad will be angry.”
Ming Ze had already left without a trace and little sister kept dragging him. Ming Jian was helpless and could only follow Ming Zhu to the reception pavilion. Ai. Today is grandmother’s (paternal) birthday, he needs to think about what explanation to give to help Ming Ze excuse himself.
Chenshi (Modern timing: 7 – 9 am)
The main doors of each palace and hall slowly open and a new day begins. Lan-er was instructing the palace maids to clean up the courtyard and prune the flowers and also looking at Fu Ling’s room. Usually on normal days this time, Fu Ling would have woken up and prepared to attend to her Mistress washing up. But till now there was no movement from her, should she go and call her? Just as she was pondering, the doors of the main house suddenly open and Qing Feng slowly walked out.
Qing Feng was dressed in an icy blue dress and there was a green jade ornament hanging at her waist. The white jade buyao on her hair was moving along with her elegant steps. Even though her hair was at knee length, coupled with her dress, it was like a cool breeze blowing gently. Only when Qing Feng walked to the middle of the courtyard, the palace maids then recovered themselves and knelt to greet her, “May your Ladyship have innumerable safety.”
Qing Feng did not see all the servants kneeling on the floor but reached out to pick a peony, which withered even with intensive and meticulous care, to play. Qing Feng softly said, “All withdraw.”
“Lan-er.” Lan-er only retreated two steps when Qing Feng call for her softly. She was not unable to step forward, “This servant is here.”
Qing Feng looked at her for a long time and did not speak. Lan-er was bewildered and quietly looked up and just at the same time saw a half weltered peony floating down and landed beside her feet. Qing Feng faint voice sounded again, “Instruct the people to uproot all the peonies in the courtyard.”
“Your Ladyship!” Lan-er was shock and quickly continue, “Your Ladyship, the flowers cannot be uprooted!” Not to mention that this flower was the favourite thing of Imperial Concubine Shu, but the Emperor’s effort behind the flowers made no one dared to touch them!
“This is… This is the Emperor’s intent.” Qing Feng slightly bent her body and the light touch of fragrance that accompanied her pressured Lan-er that she was unable to continue with her words.
“Specifically chosen for Imperial Concubine Shu?” Qing Feng reached her hand out and lightly held Lan-er’s chin to raise her head up. Seeing the panic in Lan-er’s eyes, Qing Feng’s lips lightly curled up as she said softly, “Take a good look at the name that the Emperor bestowed this hall. This is no longer Shu Yun Palace and there is no longer a whoever Imperial Concubine Shu. Lan-er, you have to remember that you are a person in my palace. What the mistress order you to do, you just do it. This is what a good servant should do. Understand?”
Feeling the cool fingertips pinching her chin, even though there was not much force and Qing Feng bend down to do it, Lan-er for the first time saw her mistress face this clearly. That slowly white skin was a jade and her forehead wound was covered with some makeup. Light rouge on her red lips made her overall colour look good. Being so close to look at her, the scars on her face was not obvious at all and all her attention was attracted to that pair of bright eyes. Normally mistress would put on a cold look but today there was a smile on her face. Lan-er however was even more scared that usual, “This servant. This servant understand!” Finish uttering those words, Lan-er could then hear the trembling voice of hers.
Slowly retrieving her hand back, Qing Feng did not make things more difficult for her, “Get up then.”
“This servant will go and find people to… Uproot the flowers.” She have to rush to tell older sister Xiao! Lan-er did not dare to delay and got up hurried from the ground. She only knelt for a while but she felt her legs weakening.
With her hands clutching her chest, Lan-er hastily ran out and almost knocked into Xia Yin, who was delivering breakfast. Xia Yin had to turn sideways in order to escape from her. She was just about to tell her off but Lan-er was already gone far away. Did this girl met something evil early in the morning?