Hi all! When you read this, I would have landed in Korea for my vacation!!! Just to remind that the updates will be on pause for a week and the next chapter will be published on Apr 27th… Sorry for the inconvenience caused!!!
Chapter 49: Banished to the Cold Palace (Part 1)
Hearing the orderly footsteps, it did not sound like eunuchs. With her hands lightly rested on her flat belly, Qing Feng whispered to Fu Ling who was beside her, “Go and see what is going on.”
Fu Ling nodded and opened the door to see that there was a dozen guards standing at the courtyard and the one leading them was… Him? The guard that stop her at that night.
A tall and thin frame with a cold temperament that Fu Ling would be able to recognise him with a side view. However, he seems to be a bit different today. His eyes were constantly narrowed on his cold solemn face as if it was in contact with a gasp of cold wind. Fu Ling took a deep breath before pushing the door open and loudly spoke, “Who are you and what are you here in Qing Feng Hall for?”
Ming Ze looked up and saw Fu Ling. With an emotionless face, as if it was his first time seeing her, he coldly replied, “This officer Ming Ze, third class Imperial bodyguard of the Guards regiment, received the Emperor’s order to do a search in various palaces in the Inner Palace and would seek your forgiveness.” When Ming Ze finished speaking, without waiting for Fu Ling to respond, he clearly order, “Search.”
“Yes.” After finishing, several guards began to search Qing Feng Hall but none would dare to force into Qing Feng’s chambers yet.
This person was extremely rude! A fire rage in Fu Ling’s heart as she angrily said, “This is her Ladyship’s bed chambers and will not tolerate your impudent actions. If it is under the orders of the Emperor’s, where is the decree?”
Ming Ze’s sharp brows pinched slightly as he coldly looked at the female that was glaring at him from the top of the platform but in his heart he was chuckling. Seeing the servant and thus knowing the mistress. It would seem that the one in the chambers would be more difficult to deal with.
Under the direct cold vision, Fu Ling’s heart started to palpitate like never before but she was unwilling to show any weakness in front of him and stared coldly back like him. “Fu Ling.” Fortunately at this time a clear sound came from the chambers and Qing Feng gently pushed open the doors and said, “Since it is under the Emperor’s command, let them search.”
Fu Ling secretly took a deep breath and replied softly, “Yes.”
Her complexion looked bad, it was pale and green and even though it was midday in the summer, she was still covered in a long silk drape. Ming Ze cast a look at her and quickly avoided her line of sight and continue to speak to the guards beside him, “Two of you will search the chamber carefully and place the stuff gently. As for the rest, go and search the rooms of the servants.”
Ming Ze brought the two guards and walked into Qing Feng’s room. Qing Feng exchange a look with Fu Ling and Fu Ling lightly nodded her head in understanding and followed the guards into the inner chambers and observe them while they were searching. Qing Feng and Ming Ze were both left at the outer chambers. Qing Feng sat down on the soft couch by the window, with a small warmer in her hands and her eyes were looking out the window, not sparing Ming Ze a look.
There was no impact to Ming Ze when Qing Feng did not look at him. Ming Ze stood in the middle of the room and look at the furnishings, even though he did not search through every single thing but that sharp gaze and pressure would make one with a guilty conscience tremble with fear. Qing Feng secretly breath a sigh of relief in her heart, it was a good thing that that thing was burnt to ashes else she would definitely be uneasy now.
When Ming Ze eyes swept over the low cabinet by the screen, he unexpectedly saw a familiar black umbrella leaning against the leg of the cabinet. Is that… His umbrella? Ming Ze remembered that rainy night and that sorry condition but glamorous face. She actually kept the umbrella in the room?
Hearing Ming Ze taking two steps to the direction of the screen, Qing Feng look from the side and saw him staring at that direction. She look at the direction he was looking and discover the umbrella which was placed at the corner. Her heart thumped and Qing Feng’s face suddenly warmed up and she quickly turn her head to the other side, afraid to look at him.
Qing Feng’s face was very warm. That time when Fu Ling asked if the umbrella should be returned, she thought that Ming Ze would not be bothered about it and she did not want to make others think that she wants to use the opportunity to be close. In an annoyance, she did not let Fu Ling bother about it and the umbrella was left there. She never would have thought that Ming Ze would come into her chambers. This is just great, now she don’t know how that person would think of her!
Qing Feng was upset and embarrassed and chose to ignore Ming Ze’s footsteps that were heading towards her. She could only pretend to be calm and continued to stare out of the window. When the steps has stopped, there was no sound for a long time. Just when Qing Feng wanted to turn around, Ming Ze’s deep voice sounded from behind her, “The Xin family have invited Yu Quan Temple’s abbot over due to the Empress sudden craziness. That bald donkey (mocking that Buddhist monk) said that there was someone in the Palace using witchcraft to harm the Empress.”
That deliberate lowered voice did not mention anything about the “umbrella” which made Qing Feng stunned for a moment. Recalling his two words “bald donkey” made her almost laugh out and she could cough lightly to suppress her bubbling laughter. But her laughter died with what Ming Ze said next.
“The leading officer had found a doll with the Empress’s birth characters on it at Imperial Concubine Hui’s place. And Imperial Concubine Hui has been escorted to Yi Lan Palace.”
Imperial Concubine Hui? What exactly was going on? Wasn’t the person they were trying to frame her? Qing Feng looked back at Ming Ze in surprise but found that Ming Ze only left a view of his back to her, like the many times before.
He had never gave her the time of the day and now why would he tell her these? Qing Feng wanted to ask him that but the lower ranked officers have finished searching and walked out. Thus Qing Feng can only give up on it.
A lower ranked officers broke, “Daren, there was nothing unusual found.”
The search at the exterior area was also completed and the guards quickly reported back, “The entire Qing Feng Hall has been searched and there was nothing unusual found.”
“Have disturbed your Ladyship rest, this military officer will take his exit.” Cupping his hands in greeting, Ming Ze voice did not show any warmth in his words before he turned and left Qing Feng Hall.
He always reach a helping hand to her when she was in difficulties but yet ignore her when she take the initiative to express her goodwill. What exactly was this person was thinking? Seeing that back gradually moving further apart, Qing Feng bitterly laughed.
Fu Ling felt an indescribable feeling when the person beside her suddenly shook her head and bitterly laughed. At that moment there was a scene flashed in her mind and she finally remembered when she last saw Ming Ze! When Mistress was in the Imperial Gardens, she almost fell due to the scare from the Princess’s dog, it was him who help Mistress up. On that day there was a strange smile on Mistress’s face, was it that they knew one another?
“Fu Ling.” Qing Feng called a few times before Fu Ling recovered her senses.
“Support me to Yi Lan Palace to take a look.”
Fu Ling was surprised and anxiously said, “Mistress, at this time it is better to avoid it.” If the matter last night was arranged by the Empress and there were other parties who are also framing, thus there would be more happening next that they do not know about. It was already difficult to hide from this so why walk into the mess?
Qing Feng shook her head and replied in a persistent tone, “One cannot hide from the inevitable.” She really want to know what tricks Xin Yue Ning was up to! Is Imperial Concubine Hui innocent? Is the brocade bag in her pillow part of her or the Empress plot? As her mind recall the exchanges she had with Imperial Concubine Hui, Qing Feng did not have any answer. But she knows that whatever it is, she knows that if she did not go to Yi Lan Palace, she fear that it would be harder to see Chen Zhen again.
“Chen Zhen has never dabble in witchcraft in the Inner Palace.”
Qing Feng just entered Yi Lan Palace when she heard Chen Zhen indifferent yet clear voice. The servants in Yi Lan Palace saw her coming and was stunned for a while before rushing to give their greetings and there was someone who wanted to announce her arrival but Qing Feng waved her hands at him and spoke in a low voice, “Withdraw.” Currently Qing Feng has the authority and also pregnant with the Imperial seeds, the eunuch did not dare to directly disobey her and quietly step aside.
Qing Feng did not immediately enter and just stood at the side of the flight of the stairs to monitor the situation. The Empress, who was the main character of the matter, was not in the hall and Chen Zhen alone was kneeling in the middle of the hall. Her white cloak was wrapped tightly around her and her hair was pulled up without any hair accessories. It would be seen that she was escorted over early in the morning and did not have time to care about her appearance. But that very straight back and calm voice was enough to show that she would not be defeated by this farce.
The Emperor sat on the main seat with a hazy look but he did not say a single word. Both the Empress Dowagerw were sitted at the Emperor’s left and right side, there was a thirty over years old man stilling behind the West Empress Dowager. His physique was larger in size and he was not wearing official clothing but his expressions were arrogant, portraying an air of officialdom. Even in front of the Emperor and Empress Dowagers, he did not exercise restraint and his brow was quite similar to that of Xin Yue Ning. Qing Feng roughly guessed his identity. Behind the East Empress Dowager stood Shui Xin, the female official of the Empress and in her hands held a doll. Based on the looks of the doll and the material, it was similar to the one that was place in Qing Feng Hall. At the right side of the palace hall which would lead to the Empress chambers, there was an old monk who was holding a stock of paper in front of a long table and writing some kind of spell while he was reciting some stuff.
Qing Feng secretly snorted coldly, what a big disposition of forces.
“Imperial Consort Hui, you have always been pure and virtuous and Aijia would not believe that you will do such a thing. But why were there such stuff within your palace and there was even an altar set up in Ling Yun Palace. How would you explain that?” Yang Zhi Lan’s voice remain very gentle as she look at Chen Zhen but was unable to see any kindness or trust.
“Chenqie don’t know why would this doll be in Ling Yun Palace and with regards to the altar that Empress Dowager was referring to, it was because of Chenqie recent health issues, the altar was set up to seek the Gods blessings.”
Chen Zhen’s back was facing her and thus Qing Feng was unable to see her expression. But just based on her neither servile nor overbearing manner, it made Qing Feng secretly cheered for her.
That slightly plump male (Translator comment: finally a non-slim/slender person is mentioned) cough lightly and walked to Shui Xin before grabbing the doll in her arms and threw it to the floor in front of Chen Zhen. He coldly said, “Imperial Concubine Hui, the Master just broke your spell, a vicious two persons spell, which require two person to do it together in order for it to be successful. This doll only has the Empress birth dates and the other doll would have the timing of the spell. You still do not want to say who is your accomplice?”
Two persons spell? Qing Feng finally understood why there was a similar doll in her inner chambers and why there was only the timing written on it. So it is actually a plot to kill two birds with one stone! If she did not felt pain and could not sleep at night, the people who will be kneeling here would also include her!
Only at this moment, Chen Zhen could see clearly the doll. There was a note with birth dates written in blood-red cinnabar attached to the doll’s chest with a long needle piercing through it, making it unrecognisable. Chen Zhen laugh grimly, this time Xin Yue Ning really give it her all. In order to harm her, she even cursed herself. She was not even afraid of doing such things that will shorten her life!
Chen Zhen did not even give a hoot at Xin Fu Chen and coldly replied, “Chen Zhen has never dabble in witchcraft in the Inner Palace, further more have any accomplice.”
The evidences were already place in the hall but she still so arrogant. Xin Fu Chen took a step forward and pointed to Chen Zhen as he snapped, “The Empress is now still unconscious but you still say that you have no idea why the doll is in your palace. There is even an altar set up in your palace, you still dare to argue.”
Even with his forceful criticism and expression, Chen Zhen still remain quiet as she knelt at the hall and did not plead guilty to the accusations or defend herself. Xin Fu Chen still wanted to continue to press her with questions but he saw Qing Feng quietly standing outside the hall. Xin Fu Chen changed the subject and faced Yan Hong Tian to say, “Emperor, this matter is not a small matter and must be investigated thoroughly. As for the people who are close to Imperial Concubine Hui…”
The next one that they were targeting was her right? Qing Feng did not deliberately conceal herself and everyone in the hall, except for Chen Zhen, would have already seen her. Qing Feng plastered a smile on her face and strode into the chambers and broke out, “Is Xin Daren referring to Qing Feng?”