Chapter 53: Endure Humiliation for a Mission
Who else was there?
Qing Feng’s heart raised as her eyes starred at the patch of grass that was shaking. Her arms tightly held together and she unconsciously trembled. It was originally a desolate place and it was rather cold. Qing Feng did not believe in ghosts but this was the Palace. It would be a lie if she was not scared. Qing Feng took a deep breath so that she could calm down. Qing Feng held her breath and carefully stepped into the patch of leaves as she wanted to see what was creating the noise.
“Don’t… Don’t be like this… What if others see…” A vague female voice sounding from the bushes intermittently. Qing Feng thought that she had heard wrongly and wanted to go closer when a slightly impatient male voice sounded, “There would not be any one in this place.”
Qing Feng was surprised for a moment and quickly stop her steps. Soon enough, the sounds of the female and male sounded heavily. Qing Feng finally knew what was going on and her face redden. She immediately turned to leave but because of the dark night, she stepped on a dried stick and made a ‘kacha’ sound.
“Who is it?!” The alertness level of the person inside was quite high that even a slight noise was noticed by them. Qing Feng stiffen on the spot and dare not move unnecessarily. The person was also listening attentively and could only hear the wind rustling through the trees.
That male apparently know some martial arts and there was no one around. If they were cornered… Qing Feng maintained her state of mind and loudly yelled, “Who that is there better roll out of there in front of Bengong.”
The cold voice was able to cut through the silent night and the people who was inside was frightened and the bushes and vegetations started to shake much more dramatically. One was also able to hear the female tearful voice in the rustling of the clothes.
“Could it be that you want Bengong to go in to grab you before you are willing to come out?” The people who were listening started to panic and Qing Feng took this time to continue bluffing, “Someone come!”
When Qing Feng words were out, a figure rushed out from the trees and that man was clad with dark red uniform from the Imperial Guards and his hat was hung low making one unable to see his looks. His skills were good enough that after a short time he was able to run more than one zhang (1 zhang = 10 feet = 3.3m). With the dark night as his cover, he quickly disappear from Qing Feng sight and did not even look back once.
He just ran away like that? Qing Feng’s heart despised that man running away at the sight of trouble and at the same time she was able to put her worried heart at ease. Looking at the depths of the bushes, Qing Feng cold voice sounded, “You still don’t want to come out? He was able to run away but do you think you are able to get away?”
After a while, the tree shook for a bit before a palace maid came out sheepishly. The clothes on her were still tidy but her hair was already loosen and hung behind her. After walking two steps, that female suddenly fell to her knees and slowly crawled to Qing Feng. Not even daring to lift her head, she kept kowtowing and her trembling voice keep chanting, “May your Ladyship please have mercy! This servant will not dare to do it in the future!”
“Lift your head.” The female slowly lifted her head, she look like twenty year old with a delicate and pretty face. Qing Feng was standing against the moonlight and thus she was unable to see her expressions but was able to see the scars on her face. The already paled face palace maid got whiter as the fear in her eyes were as if one saw a ghost. It is… Imperial Concubine Qing…
Qing Feng raised her eyebrow sightly, what kind of expression was that, was she that frightening? Her hand could not help but to feel the scar on her face and her heart somehow felt uncomfortable. Her voice became even colder, “What is your name and which palace are you from?”
The female trembled but her entire body was shaking like a leaf. Qing Feng frowned, “Since you don’t want to say then leave it. Will hand you over to the Imperial Household, Bengong do not have the mood to care about this filthy things.”
“Don’t!” Seeing that Qing Feng turned and wanted to leave, the female threw herself at her feet and grabbed tightly onto her dress and replied, “This servant is called… Yao Chan, a palace maid in Xi Xia Palace. In another two years, this servant will reach the age to leave the Palace. When this servant is in the Palace, he was the one who has been taking care and we have agreed that once we leave the Palace, we will get married so… So that is why we cannot control our emotions… Seeking forgiveness from your Ladyship!” If she handed her over to the Imperial Household, she would be dead!
So it was someone from the West Empress Dowager’s palace. No wonder when she saw her, it was like she has seen a ghost. Qing Feng said indifferently, “Since there are two more years before you are allowed out of the Palace, then you should abide to the rules. The crime that you committed today is enough to take both of your heads away.”
“This servant knows the mistake and will not dare to do it again! Seeking forgiveness from your Ladyship.” The quivering voice was heard with the ‘dong dong’ sound of her kowtows that Qing Feng felt irritated when she heard it. Remembering that figure who did not look back once, Qing Feng asked, “Who is that man?”
“He…” Squeaking for a long time, the palace maid bit her dry lips and started to kowtow again, “It is all this servant’s fault. If your Ladyship wants to punish, please punish this servant!”
The ground was filled with gravel and for her to kowtow like that, even if she does not lift her head, Qing Feng knows how much her injury would be like. That man threw her away to escape without any conscience and she was still defending him silly. For something that was not worth persevering, she was also regretful.
After a long time, Qing Feng replied softly, “With regards to today’s event, just drop it and withdraw.”
Yao Chan did not dare to believe her own ears, her Ladyship was really… Not going to pursue it? In a daze, she lifted up her head to look at Qing Feng but was unable to see anything clearly due to the dark shadows. “Thanking your Ladyship! Thanking your Ladyship!” Fearing that Qing Feng would go back on her words, Yao Chan quickly got up after she recovered her senses and ran away in an embarrassing state.
Seeing that figure fleeing, the corner of Qing Feng’s lips raised slightly, Xi Xia Palace, Yao Chan… She had noted it down.
Fu Ling anxious low voice was heard from the small path and Qing Feng replied, “I am here.”
“Why are you in the bushes?” Seeing an unclear figure who was almost drowned in the bushes, Fu Ling quickly stepped forward to help her out of it as she rapidly said, “There are lots of bugs in there. Do come out quickly.”
Both of them got out of the bushes with great difficulty and Fu Ling squatted down to tidy up her dress from the grass bits/ Qing Feng held her hand as she pull her up and asked, “Chen Zhen, how is she?”
Qing Feng felt that Fu Ling stiffen a bit but she was unable to see her expression due to the dark night. Qing Feng chuckled, “Not good?” It should be. She previously was in such a distinguished position and now was reduced as a discarded woman in the Cold Palace. Not many people will be able to handle it. A quiet and suffering life was not scary but what was scary was the disparity in one’s heart and the endless despair.
After being out for a long time, Qing Feng was hungry and was intending to head back but Fu Ling look around then and suddenly got close to her to whisper a few words in her ear.
“What?!” Qing Feng stared at Fu Ling in astonishment and after a long time she then lowered her voice and asked, “Are you speaking the truth?”
“This servant just witnessed it herself.”
How was this possible? “I want to see it for myself.” She did not believe it.
The so-called Cold Palace was just a place in the depths of the Inner Palace. It was a place where no one asking for them, no dignity or hope in it. The “Cold Palace” in front of here was not as run-down as one would expect. At least the heavy red doors are still solid. There were no plaque on the doors and the faint candlight mirrored the doors as it highlights the stillness.
“Mistress, slow down and be careful of the heat.” Chen Zhen already delicate hands was now scrawny, her face was thin and coupled with the light purple rings around her eyes, it made her look very haggard. Wu-er’s eyes could not help but redden.
“Silly girl, why are you crying?” With hands holding the bowl of soup, Chen Zhen smiled and gently said, “Actually it is good now. Previously even though there was a life of luxury, one would need to monitor what that person is doing or thinking every day and worry about all the jealousy and conspiracy everyday. Now it is better. After ending those thoughts, I will not need to live in fear and currently is happy with the tranquil.”
“It is indeed tranquil.” An icy cold voice from the heavy wooden doors and the doors was forcefully opened.
“Kuang dang.” After seeing the person outside the door, two persons in the room was so frightened that their faces turn pale, especially for Chen Zhen, she was now shaking like a leaf in the autumn wind. Her hands shook so much that the bowl of soup in her panicked hands fell onto the floor.
Qing Feng coldly gazed at this once elegant and noble woman. There was a never before seen fear in Chen Zhen’s face that even when everyone was accusing and framing her till she was banished to the Cold Palace, she did not once lose her head out of fear like this. When her sight landed on her abdomen, Qing Feng slightly raised her eyebrows. Without the large cloak to cover it out, her abdomen seems to be like that of six to seven months.
Feeling that where the hot blazing sight landed, Chen Zhen suddenly flinched and her abdomen felt uncomfortable and she clutched her stomach and shrunk back.
“What… What are you doing here for? My mistress has already fallen to such a state, what else do you still want?” Wu-er blocked the path to Chen Zhen and treated her with contempt. Unfortunately the supposedly clear voice was trembling violently like her hands.
“Why?” Qing Feng’s slightly narrowed eyes were staring closely at Chen Zhen who was hiding behind Wu-er. She truly did not understand. Seeing Chen Zhen looking like this, the child was already about six to seven months which meant that when that event happened, she was already pregnant. So why did she not speak about it? Why was she willing to be banished to the Cold Palace than to speak about it?
Her heart sighed, no matter how one hide from it, what will come will still arrive. After being panic-stricken when she first saw her, Chen Zhen’s heart gradually calmed down. Although she was still afraid of Qing Feng, her face was able to portray the clam like she did in the past. Lightly patting Wu-er’s hand and pulling her from in front of her, she looked directly at Qing Feng but could not find any joy or anger in her eyes. Chen Zhen softly replied, “Because I want my child to live.”
There was a flash of coldness in Qing Feng’s eyes, “You want your child to live, so you want other’s child to die?” Thinking about the scent sachet in her pillow, Qing Feng wanted to tear her apart.
Chen Zhen was stunned for a moment before she replied, “I do not know what are you talking about.”
She do not know? Seeing that dazed look on Chen Zhen, it does not seem like she was faking it. But Fu Ling clearly saw Xia Yin entering Ling Yun Palace in the middle of the night, so how can that be explained? She has to clarify all of this today. Qing Feng put on a sneer on her face, “You still want to put on an innocent face now? You ordered Xia Yin to medicate Bengong as you want Bengong to not be able to get pregnant at all. Such a vicious female like you do not deserve to have any children.”
Chen Zhen’s furrowed her brows, it appears that she was being framed by someone again. If it was the past, she would not be bothered to explain but today, she cannot not defend herself, “I did not arrange Xia Yin to Qing Feng Hall. I also would never instruct anyone to medicate you and harm your child.” She knows that after she got pregnant, she worried about what the Empress would do and wanted to provoke Qing Feng and the Empress. As long as they were fighting one another, they would not pay much attention to her. But she did not think that Qing Feng would have been on her case. The Empress was indeed very vicious and wanted to kill two birds with one stone.
Seeing that Qing Feng did not believe it, Chen Zhen laughed bitterly, “I am already like this, what else is there to fight for or lie to you for?”
“All right.” Qing Feng replied frankly and her sights landed on her abdomen as she spoke clearly, “You dare to swear upon the child in your womb?”
“Mistress mustn’t do it!” Wu-er grabbed onto Chen Zhen’s sleeves and cried, “You did not even do it, why must you swear upon little master?!” This child was the only hope left for mistress and if there were any mishaps, her mistress would also not carry on living.
As the sharp eyes landed on her abdomen, Chen Zhen unconsciously shuddered. If she do not swear, Qing Feng will definitely think that she was the one who was plotting to harm her. Thinking about her current situation, if Qing Feng wants her to die, she would not be able to live. Grabbing on the end of the table, Chen Zhen stood up and slowly raised her right hand and looked towards the dark night skies while she spoke each word, “With the Heavens above, if Chen Zhen speak of any lies, may my child… Not be able to come out to this world.” A silent tear rolled out of her eye and landed on her belly.
Qing Feng was still starring at Chen Zhen’s face and did not let any shred of emotion pass her. There was some sadness, frustration and also some guilt in the face but there was no panic or fear. It was really not her…
Qing Feng chosed to believe in her but if it was so then Qing Feng do not understand and asked, “Why are you protecting that child if you do not hope to expect the child to bring you out of this situation?” She made a big ruckus to let everyone know that she was pregnant so that the child can be her safety charm. Chen Zhen was also pregnant but why did she not say it at that time? If anyone wants to kill her now, they would be able to do so easily.
“I wanted… To bear him a child. Not for any schemes or power, but just a child from both of us as a continuation of our flesh and blood.” Finishing speaking, Chen Zhen’s lips gave a warm smile which was unpleasant to Qing Feng. A continuation of their blood? Qing Feng continued with disdain, “The offence of performing witchcraft is always been nonsense but he did not even investigate it before banishing you to the Cold Palace and after that he was also indifferent to you. Is this kind of man worth for you to bear a child for?” She only felt utterly disappointed in the hall that day.
Comparing with Qing Feng’s cold cutting words, Chen Zhen only gave a plain smile, “Qing Feng, you don’t understand the Inner Palace, don’t understand him and don’t understand love.” Actually, she also hated him and blamed her but after staying in the Cold Palace for this period, she had thought a lot and gradually she somewhat understood.
What does she mean with her words? Qing Feng did not understand it for a moment when the person in front suddenly knelt down in front of her.
“Qing Feng, regarding what happening today, please do not tell anyone about it. Chen Zhen beg of you!”
Qing Feng was startled that she took a step back. This proud female actually knelt down on the ground to beg her?
“Mistress!” Wu-er was already crying soundlessly for her mistress heartache, grievances, resignations but was unable to do anything about it.
Quietly watching the humble yet noble female on the ground, Qing Feng raised her hands and caressed her lower abdomen. At the end, she did not say that agree nor disagree to it but acquiescently turned around and left the Cold Palace.
Coming out of the Cold Palace, Qing Feng was silent the entire journey. The moon was covered by the clouds and the once shaded alley was completely dark. Fu Ling carefully supported her and dared not make a single sound as she felt that with regards to what happened tonight, she, who was already in the Palace for ten years, was shock and her Mistress, who only entered the Palace slightly more than half a year, would not have recovered from it yet.
“Fu Ling.” A slightly heavy sounding voice sounded. Fu Ling gave a light reply but there was no movement for a long time. It was too dark to see anything surrounding them so Fu Ling was unable to know what Qing Feng’s face was expressing.
“We have been played around by someone all these time.” The muffled sound did not sound like much deterrent force was used but Fu Ling’s heart sank. That was because the arm that was supporting her hand was gripped with pain and Fu Ling could only stay silent, not knowing how to reply.
Xin, Yue, Ning! You were already the mother of the nation and your son was also the Crown Prince so what more do you want? Are you really that fond of fighting? Qing Feng secretly clenched her teeth. She will definitely protect Chen Zhen’s child, even though she may not be able to win Xin Yue Ning at the end, she still want to leave a big problem to her!
Qing Feng knew deep in her heart that the road head of her was like this dark and unlit palace road. Unsure of how the road would be like ahead of her and do not know what was waiting for her but like Chen Zhen, she did not have a choice and could only carry on walking.