Mysteries in the Imperial Harem: Chapter 51
Seriously… Translating the descriptions of food and paintings are the hardest… 😦
Chapter 51: Imperial Concubine Qing
Qing Feng felt a chill in her spine and she secretly took a deep breath before speaking out, “Chenqie has someone to show to the Emperor.” Yan Hong Tian face was still gloomy but he still turned and walked into Qing Feng Hall.
“Go and bring the painting over.” Qing Feng hurried and explained to Fu Ling who was beside her and without stopping her steps, she followed Yan Hong Tian into the house. She knew that at this moment that he is not to be trifled with.
“Yes.” Fu Ling dare not delay and quickly took the framed painting and walked back in to the house. In the chambers, the Emperor sat on the highest seat and her Mistress stood at the side. Fu Ling naturally did not dare to look into the Imperial eyes but that force and imposing manner made her have breathing difficulties.
Listening to Qing Feng, Fu Ling quickly open the painting up but because the entire painting was as tall as a person and more than one zhang (1 zhang = 10 feet/3.3 meter) wide, Fu Ling had a hard time holding it and Gao Jing had to come forward to hold on to one side of the painting and slowly unroll it in front of Yan Hong Tian.
“You drew it?” The deep voice questioned her but one would not be able to hear any joy or anger. Qing quietly observed Yan Hong Tian’s expressions as she softly reply, “En.”
Yan Hong Tian did not ask her about her words and his dark cold eyes continue to stare at the painting before him with an expressionless face.
When the painting was unrolled, Gao Jing could not help but look at it and be secretly amazed at it. He has long heard that the Qing family sisters were well versed in the Four Arts (zither, weiqi, calligraphy and painting) and Qing Feng’s calligraphy and painting was more difficult to get that a thousand gold bars. He believes that Qing Feng’s painting would indeed be of fine works or art but he guessed that for a female to paint, one would only paint flowers, birds, insects and fishes but did not think that what was shown would be a painting of vast and majestic peaks of lofty range of mountains. Between the misty clouds, the imposing peaks of the mountain range stretches to a thousand li (1 li = 500 meters), like the blue dragon in the sky and the lengendary dragon in the sea (that control the weather). Under the shades of the ink, the misty clouds around the mountain seems to drift out from the drawing paper. The free strokes of the brush and the casual placement of the ink and the majestic manner did not seem to have come out from a young female’s hands. Qing Feng indeed live up to her famous reputation. This piece of painting, the Emperor will indeed like.
Qing Feng was full of confidence with her paining that even though Yan Hong Tian was staring at it for a long time without saying a word, she was not nervous. She softly questioned, “What does the Emperor think?”
“Good.” Yan Hong Tian plainly threw out a word. Although there was not much praise spoken, his face apparently did ease up a bit.
Qing Feng thought about it before speaking, “Chenqie also like it a lot, especially the layers of miasma. The mountain are always there and how much can be seen depends of how much miasma is in one’s eye.” Qing Feng’s words were not light nor heavy and even though Yan Hong Tian’s expression did not change but Gao Jing’s heart worsen with the words.
“You feel that Zhen was bewitched by the miasma?” Yan Hong Tian was still appreciating the painting in front of him but the casual question revealed a cold chill. Qing Feng’s heart tightened but she did not intend to remain quiet, “Naturally the Emperor would not be bewitched by the little miasma but Chenqie is afraid that the rest of the mountain creatures would be bewitched by it and cannot see where the sky is.” Qing Feng knows that what she say today was practically like pulling the teeth from the tiger’s mouth but she still could not help but say it. Not because to help Chen Zhen to seek for forgiveness, not because to push the Empress aside but because she felt a trace of… Indignant.
“How about you, can you see clearly where is the sky?” Yan Hong Tian suddenly got up and his cold and deep eyes landed on her like a sword, piercing into her heart. He did not grabbed her hand or pinch her neck like in the past but Qing Feng felt like she was pinned down to the ground and could not move or speak.
“Your smarts better be used at the correct place.” The deep cold words were like both a warning and reminder. Until Yan Hong Tian leave the courtyard, Qing Feng could then recovered from her trance and her legs actually staggered. When their eyes met at the moment previously, she practically thought that she don’t know how to breathe.
Fu Ling quickly went forward to support Qing Feng. Her Mistress palm was full of sweat and her face was flushed red. Fu Ling urgently said, “Mistress, quickly sit down.”
After a long time trying to catching her breath, Qing Feng then softly replied, “I am all right.” The cold facial expression that Yan Hong Tian was portraying today made her heart palpitate faster than the other angrier moments. In the morning, he made one calm, in the afternoon, he made one disappointed and now he made one wonder and panic. She started to feel that she really did not understand this man.
After that day, the Inner Palace was not calm but it was that Yan Hong Tian did not come over to Qing Feng Hall and no one came over to look for trouble which allowed Qing Feng to have a couple of peaceful days. Perhaps it was because she was pregnant, Qing Feng feel drowsy lately and it was almost the afternoon when she just woke up.
“Your Ladyship, your Ladyship!”
Qing Feng was eating the bird’s nest porridge that Fu Ling brought in when the sound of Lan-er’s joy flowed from outside the house before seeing Lan-er charming figure swiftly ran in. Seeing her breathless and flushing, Qing Feng could not help but laugh, “Where does this sparrow come from to chirp so loudly early in the morning.”
Seeing that Qing Feng’s mood seems to be good, Lan-er let go of her nerves and smiled, “Lan-er is not a sparrow but a magpie (bird that represent spreading good news)! Specifically here to inform your Ladyship of the good news.”
Qing Feng lightly smiled and casually asked, “What made you this happy?”
“This servant heard from the people from Zhen Yang Palace that the Imperial Edict on the confederation of the Imperial Concubine has already drawn out and it would be announced in the morning court today to confer you as Imperial Concubine Qing. The Imperial Household was busy preparing the things to bestow. Reckon that in a while, they will be here to announce the edict!”
The spoonful of food that Qing Feng picked up paused. These few days she has been thinking about it, Yan Hong Tian insisted in announcing in the Empress’s Palace about conferring the Imperial Concubine title, first to balance the forces in the Inner Palace and the other was to give the Xin personnel behind the Empress some intimidation and embarrassment. With such an action, Yan Hong Tian will definitely confer the Imperial Concubine on her. It was just that there were objections of her becoming an Imperial Concubine that day and she thought that this thing would drag till after the celebration. But it would have seemed that she has underestimated Yan Hong Tian. The corners of her lips raised as Qing Feng laughed, “This is truly a happy occasion. Fu Ling, reward this little sparrow bearing good news.”
“Thanking your Ladyship!” Lan-er was beaming with joy, not because of the reward but because her own mistress was currently favoured and was even conferred as a Imperial Concubine. If in the future, a prince was born, even the Empress would have to give in to her mistress. She would then be able to finally live with her head held high in the Palace.
“The Imperial Edict has arrived.” While there was still laughter at this end, there was a call and a furry of footsteps from outside the door. Lan-er excitedly went out to welcome them while Fu Ling supported Qing Feng out of the chambers.
In the main hall, Wang Xi Xin was standing outside waiting and when he saw Qing Feng coming out, he loudly exclaimed, “Qing Feng to receive the edict.”
Fu Ling supported Qing Feng to half knelt on the floor and Wang Li Xin quickly stood forward with the Imperial Edict and read, “According to the mandate of Heavens, the Emperor proclaim that Qing Feng has both morality and conduct and carry herself in a dignified, composed and magnanimous manners which is a role model for the Inner Palace. Pregnant with the Imperial heir, she would be bestowed as Imperial Concubine Qing and be one of the four leading Imperial Concubines. Bestow: fifty blots of brocade, fifty blots of thin silk, five hundred liang of Gold, four pairs of jaded Ruyi, four pair of jasper bangles, two sets of hairpins and buyaos, two mountian of precious red corals and ten servants. Decreed by the Emperor himself.”
One of the four leading Imperial Concubine? Imperial Concubine Shu has passed, Imperial Concubine Hui was deposed and now it was only left with her newly conferred “Imperial Concubine Qing”. Yan Hong Tian actually place her target quite high. “Thanking the Emperor for the Imperial kindness.” After performing a bow, Qing Feng took the golden and dazzling edict and slowly got up. When she just got up, Wang Li Xin immediately went on his knees to give her a big bow and shouted out, “This servant greets your Ladyship Imperial Concubine Qing. Long live your Ladyship.” The ten over palace maids behind him also obediently knelt with their heads bowed and holding the trays filled with the different treasures that were bestowed, chanted, “Long live your Ladyship!”
“Long live your Ladyship!” All the palace maids and eunuch that were serving Qing Feng also chanted and in a short time all the servants in Qing Feng Hall knelt on the floor and chanting “Long live”. Qing Feng slightly frowned and lazily replied, “Everyone raise. Fu Ling, reward.”
“Yes.” Fu Ling passed a big bag of money to Lan-er hands and motioned to her to hand it out to the servants and Lan-er happily took it over. All the new palace maids place the treasures in their hands down and quietly retreated.
When the last palace maid walk pass Fu Ling side and suddenly looked up towards her and winked. Fu Ling froze for a moment, she is… Lan Fang from the Laundry Bureau?
Everyone withdrew before Wang Li Xin came forward and said softly, “The Emperor said that he will come over for dinner tonight.”
Qing Feng looked at him and Fu Ling understood and took a stack of golden leaves from her waist and lightly stuffed into the hands of Wang Li Xin’s. He surprising replied, “This servant don’t dare. In the future when your Ladyship’s palace is lacking of anything, just send someone to tell this servant and this servant will definitely arrange it.” When Qing Feng just entered the Palace, he even said that she was a ugly monster. This time when he came over to announce the Imperial Edict, his heart was hanging. With her position at this moment, by just moving her fingers, she would be able to crush him. As long as her Ladyship does not create trouble for him, he would have already thank the Gods with incense, he wouldn’t have dared to accept her rewards!
Qing Feng chuckled loudly and said, “In the future, Bengong would need to trouble Gongong in many areas.” Her laughter is very light but Qang Li Xin shivered. If he does not answer her, he would have truly offended her. After hesitated a moment, Wang Li Xin took the golden leaves from Fu Ling and respectfully replied, “Thanking your Ladyship for the reward.” Qing Feng did not say anything more and waved her hands before Wang Li Xin retreated.
The main hall was not small but how with the silk, satin, gold and jade filled it up. Qing Feng felt irritated when she saw the hall filled with treasures and walked to the side hall as she said, “Fu Ling, immediately order people to move the things away.”
“Yes.” Fu Ling waved a few palace maids over and with their quick feet and nimble hands, the treasures were all moved away. After being busy for a while, a few eunuch carried in the dishes into Qing Feng Hall and the one leading them was Xu Ji. When the usually overbearing Steward Xu saw Fu Ling, he actually greeted pleasingly and smiled, “Miss Fu Ling, this servant request to see Imperial Concubine Qing and seek your help to pass the message over.”
Knowing the type of narrow minded person he was, Fu Ling did not say anything but just nodded her head slightly indicating to let them wait as she turn into the house.
Lately Qing Feng has been drowsy and Fu Ling intended to come in to take a look. If Mistress has fallen asleep, she will sent Xu Ji and the rest away but who knew that QIng Feng was actually toying with the pot of Begonia at the windowsill, with a good mood.
After standing behind Qing Feng for a while, Fu Ling then said, “Mistress, Xu Ji is currently outside requesting an audience.”
Qing Feng’s brow did not even raise and casually replied, “Let him enter.”
Fu Ling went out of the room to bring Xu Ji in. Qing Feng was already sitting in the main seat in the hall and Xu Ji went down on his knees and performed a big bow, “This servant greets your Ladyship Imperial Concubine Qing. Long live your Ladyship.”
“Steward Xu has time to come over here.” Even though Qing Feng said those courtesy words, she did not let him raise.
Xu Ji was still kneeling on the ground and he wore a large smile on his face as he replied, “This servant do not deserve the good fortune. Recently heard about your Ladyship not having much of an appetite, so thus servant specially prepared a few appetising snacks for your Ladyship to taste.” Finishing his words, the three eunuch behind him brought over the dishes. Green and plump pickled plums, white powdered glutinous rice balls with the scent of Osmanthus and the last dish was a plateful of red, green and white carrots that was arranged like a beautiful fan. All three snacks were place on small white jade places which made it very tempting. Qing Feng tasted the last dished and found that the carrot was crisp and tasted very refreshing. Qing Feng praised, “The taste is indeed not bad. Reward.”
Xu Ji quickly waved his hands and urgently said, “This is within this servants area of responsibilities thus dare not accept any rewards!”
Qing Feng’s bright eyes slightly raised as she tasted the other two snacks and did not bothered about Xu Ji who was kneeling by the side. Fu Ling walked to Xu Ji’s side and softly spoke, “If there is nothing else, Steward Xu can go back.”
Xu Ji became anxious and finally could not help but said, “This servant to be so bold as to ask a favour.”
Her heart scoff as Qing Feng lightly said, “Speak then.”
Raising his head to see Qing Feng’s expression, Xu Ji deliberated again before softly speaking, “My sister had offended the Emperor and would be expelled from the Palace soon. She has been in the Palace for her entire life and there is not a family member outside the Palace. Would beg your Ladyship to ask a request from the Emperor to let my sister remain in the Palace. She will definately be dedicated to serve the Empress Dowager. This servant and sister will not forget about your Ladyship’s grace.” Finishing, Xu Ji prostrated at Qing Feng feet and heavily gave a few kowtows.
“This matter Bengong has noted it. You can withdraw.”
All of Qing Feng’s attention was practically on that few plates of snacks and she was only casually replying him. Actually he took his chance today to beg her, Qing Feng is the most favoured and if she was willing speak a little, there would perhaps be some hope. But it seems from now that she lack of the interest and would not want to be near this matter. He still have to think of other ways. Xu Ji got up and greeted before backing out.
That face was filled with schemes and it is not necessarily be true for him to really care about his elder sister but he was afraid that moving forward he would not have any backing in the Inner Palace. “Mistress, the Xu family siblings are grass by the wall. Today they will swing to your side and it is possible for them to swing to others tomorrow. You better not make the Emperor angry because of them.” Fu Lin disdain people like them and her words were rarely sharp and harsh. Qing Feng smiled brightly, “I never expect them to be truly loyal to me. Don’t worry about it, I have a sense of propriety on this matter.”
When Qing Feng’s chopsticks move towards the plate of cold vegetables, Fu Ling quickly pick the dish up, “This type of food should not be eaten too much. Cold food does not do good for one’s health.”
The chopsticks in her hands were frozen mid-air but the plate was taken away by Fu Ling made Qing Feng scold with a laugh, “Fu Ling, your courage is growing bigger, just like a mother-in-law!”
“Well managed.” A low voice sounded from behind, shocking both of them. Fu Ling turned back and saw that yellow figure and quickly knelt down to greet, “Long live the Emperor.”
Qing Feng looked outside and saw the sun setting, it was already time for dinner. Qing Feng slowly got up and greeted, “Long live…”
“Beloved Imperial Concubine is pregnant, Zhen will grant you to not perform greetings in the future.”
When she just saw Yan Hong Tian, she was a little nervous. Thinking about his deep black eyes that day, Qing Feng could not help but be perturbed but at this moment, Yan Hong Tian’s tone was relaxed and his mood was light, as if it has returned to how he was previously, still elusive but not as heavy and cold like the other day. Qing Feng secretly observed and replied without a change in expression, “Thanking the Emperor.”
Holding Qing Feng hand and sitting at the main seat, Yan Hong Tian smiled, “Are you satisfied with what Zhen has bestowed to you?”
“Satisfied but nothing much to be happy about?” The other concubines would have place the things that were bestowed at the most conspicuous place, afraid that the others will not be able to see it. But there was not a single thing in the house that was bestowed from him and even the original furnishing and decorations were removed. The entire house was brighter and simpler like her transparent and lofty appearance.
Yan Hong Tian’s lips lightly hooked up and he said, “There is one thing that you will definitely be very happy about.”
“Oh? Chenqie is at all ears.” Even though that was what she said but Qing Feng did not think that there will be any matter that would make her happy. Yan Hong Tian also did not say anything and took an red invitation from his sleeves and place it in front of her.
Qing Feng took and and curiously opened it, “This…” The words inside made Qing Feng eyes widen as she starred at the small invitation as if the words that were in it would disappear. She asked in a trembling voice, “Is it really as the official wife?”
The two words “official wife” on the invitation answered Qing Feng. Lou Xi Yan did not care for the public wrath and insisted in marrying Eldest Sister as the official wife. It can be seen that he truly care for Eldest Sister and Eldest Sister finally found someone to entrust her life to. After a long time of clasping the red invitation, Qing Feng gently spoke two words, “So good…”
Qing Feng brows were smiling and that normally bright eyes started to sparkle with a bight light and the corner of her lips were raise and light. Yan Hong Tian had never seen her smile like this before. So beautiful. Yan Hong Tian had a moment of doubt, previously he had never wanted to gain a female’s heart and only want their submission. At this moment, seeing this kind of smile, he started to think that receiving submission would not seem enough.
The sun gradually set but the candles were not lighted, making the room feel somewhat dim. But at this moment she seems to be glowing and the smile on Qing Feng’s face was warm and dazzling. This smile was not because of him and that did not make Yan Hong Tian’s heart happy as he crooned, “Good? Still do not know if it is a fortune or a curse.”
Qing Feng did not mind his words. It was hard to predict the future and who knows what would happen then. At least in the foreseeable future, Eldest Sister was blessed. She carefully closed the red invitation and Qing Feng asked in a slightly excited tone, “Can I attend their wedding ceremony?
The indifferent word made the smile on Qing Feng’s face collapse. Why bother to show the invitation if he does not let her go. Yan Hong Tian really know how to torture people by giving her hope and then deeply breaking it!
“Your identity now is Imperial Concubine Qing and you are also pregnant thus cannot go out of the Palace.” From the word ‘no’ from Yan Hong Tian, Qing Feng already know that it was not possible for her to go out. This man has always stand by his words, but when Yan Hong Tian explained, Qing Feng was very surprised and starred at him, trying to see something out from that pair of faintly smiling dark eyes.
“But… Zhen can bestow an official token. With this one can enter and exit the Northern Gates everyday from Shenshi (modern: 3 – 5 pm) to Youshi (modern: 5 – 7 pm). Like that, Qing Ling can enter the Palace frequently to accompany you.” When the golden official token was placed in front of Qing Feng, she did not dare to believe it. Holding the official token, Qing Feng’s heart was pounding hard, unsure whether it was because of joy or due to the uneasiness. Yan Hong Tian was unusual today but thinking of official token, she will now be able to see her Elder Sister often and that made Qing Feng very happy. Her hands rubbed the patterns of the token before Qing Feng apprehensively replied, “Thanking the Emperor…”
The ability to control a person’s mood was indeed pleasing, especially when it was her. Yan Hong Tian suddenly felt better and saw the entire table filled with dishes and his lips slightly raised, “The dinner today is indeed abundant. Let’s eat.”
Keeping the commanding token well, Qing Feng suddenly said, “All of you do not need to wait upon and can all withdraw.”
“Yes.” Fu Ling and Gao Jing exchanged a look and exited the room and closed the door gently.
Qing Feng stood by Yan Hong Tian side and pour wine and pick the dishes. They do not spend much time together and usually it would be a tense battle of wits and thoughts. It was rare to be this peaceful. Yan Hong Tian enjoyed Qing Feng serving him and ate till he was seventh or eighth full before slowly placing his chopsticks down, taking a light sip from his wine cup and smiled, “Say what you need to say.”