Chapter 54: Thoughts In A Whirl (Part 1)
Zhen Yang Palace
Xiao Yu carried the freshly brewed red celery wormwood tea with two palace maid following her, carrying a few exquisite refreshments. Afraid that the tea would get cold as it was the beginning of autumn, the trio hurried their pace towards the Imperial library.
“It is already so late, tea is still served?”
Xiao Yu was slightly stunned and her footstep paused as she look back. She saw Qing Feng walking slowly from the palace door with a faint smile on her face but Xiao Yu did not feel any trace of a laugh and the coldness surrounding her was colder than the early autumn night.
Why did she come? Qing Feng have never taken the initiative to come to Zhen Yang Palace to look for the Emperor, much less coming over so late at night. Xiao Yu was unable to guess Qing Feng’s intention as she lowered her gaze and slightly bowed, “Greeting Imperial Concubine Qing.”
“Raise.” Qing Feng’s slight landed on the trays that were held by them. Other hand a pot of good tea, there was quite a lot of food. Xiao Yu softly explained, “The ceremony is approaching thus there are numerous affairs. These days the Emperor only rest after third of the five night watch periods (Modern timing: 11 pm – 1 am), thus the need to prepare tea and snacks.”
Qing Feng looked up and saw the study was lighted up and the doors were wide open. Yan Hong Tian was sitting behind a desk with numerous reports that covered half of the desk. He was holding a writing brush and was writing from time to time in the report. From the beginning to the end, his brows were furrowed. Even though he sat on top, it revealed his fatigue. But even so, it still portrayed a breathtaking majestic.
Staring at the man not far away, Qing Feng suddenly woke up. There were a lot of things that happened to night, Chen Zhen made her feel shock and also unconvinced. She was still thinking of what action to taken when her legs unconsciously brought her here. Actually it was useless coming here as what Chen Zhen said may not necessarily be credible but what she said was not incorrect. She did not understand Yan Hong Tian, not one bit.
Qing Feng’s expression flicked and Xiao Yu secretly watched as she did not want to say anything but the tea in her hands would cool down if she does not bring it in. After hesitating for a moment, Xiao Yu asked softly, “Does this servant need to inform…”
“Not needed. Do not bother the Emperor dealing with affairs of the state.” Qing Feng recover her sight and slightly waved her hands. Leaving that sentence, she turned to leave like how she suddenly came. Before Xiao Yu could react, Qing Feng was already out of Zheng Yang Palace.
Xiao Yu carried the hot tea in and place it gently on the shorter table beside the desk. Her eyes swept across the desk and saw ten over reports across the desk. It would seem that the Emperor would not be able to rest till after midnight. After placing the tea and snacks aside, Xiao Yu took two steps back but did not leave. Waiting until Yan Hong Tian stopped to drink the tea during his spare time, Xiao Yu said softly, “Emperor, Imperial Concubine Qing just came over and left when she say you dealing with affairs of the state.”
Yan Hong Tian’s hands was holding a cup of tea while his eyes was still staring at the reports intently that his eyelids did not even lift up when he replied, “Withdraw. You all do not need to serve here.”
Coming out from the study, Xiao Yu send the rest of the palace maids back as she slowly headed back. Walking along the stone steps between the Royal Study and the bedchamber, Xiao Yu sat down and propped her chin with her hands and stared at the almost covered moon in a daze.
Xiao Yu was a Female Official by the Emperor’s side that even if she was sitting at the stone steps at such a late night, no one dared to tell her off. The night guards who were on duty only dared to glance at her quickly when they pass her before hurrying away.
“It is so late already, Attendant Xiao still have the mood to appreciate the moon?”
Xiao Yu need not need to lift her head up to guess who it was as no one will use this ridiculous tone to speak to her in Zheng Yang Palace. The ceremony was nearing, thus she was able to see Ming Jian daily instead of the usual once in ten days to a month. Xaio Yu cast sidelong glance at him before continuing to look up at the sky and not pay him any heed.
Initially she thought that he will leave but she did not think that Ming Jian would actually sit down beside her, “What made you lost in your thoughts?”
“Thinking of what that looks clear but is actually very shameful.” A cool voice with some disdain and resent. Ming Jian was surprise for a moment before he smile, “What angered the always magnanimous Attendant Xiao?”
Xiao Yu could not be bothered with him. Seeing her beautiful light eyebrows knitted like she have something on her mind, Ming Jian asked seriously, “Really so vexed?”
Xiao Yu shook her head, “I was thinking, who would be the next Imperial Concubine Qing.”
Qing Feng? He know that Qing Feng was came over tonight but left in a short time. What did she say to Xiao Yu that was able to make Xiao Yu, who always ignored about the matters of the Inner Palace, to be this trouble? Ming Jian smiled tentatively, “Imperial Concubine Qing’s charms are not small indeed that even you start to care about her.”
First it was Imperial Concubine Shu, then it was Imperial Concubine Hui and the next one was Imperial Concubine Qing. Xiao Yu lightly exclaimed, “Is it true that beautiful women are born unlucky?” And what would her fate be? Once she reaches the age, she would only have two roads, one was that the Emperor would take a fancy on her, keep her by his side and confer a title of Beauty or whatever and then she would spend a lifetime in the Palace. If her luck was better, the Emperor would bestow a marriage for her but with her age and identity, it would not be possible to be an official wife and only be a concubine. Actually, the only biggest difference between both road was the size of her cage. She hated this kind of feeling.
The melancholy that was reflected in Xiao Yu eyes made a slight ripple in Ming Jian’s heart. He lifted his hands to her shoulders but did not dare to place it down even after a long time when suddenly a voice sounded, “Commander, General Su is here late at night to seek an audience with the Emperor.”
Ming Jian quickly took his hand back. It is already the middle of the night and for General Su to personally enter the Palace this late, it must be something important. Ming Jian did not dare to slight and immediately stood up to reply, “Bring the General to the side hall of the Imperial Study to wait.”
“Yes.” The guard accepted the order and quickly left. Ming Jian thought that Xiao Yu was still behind him and wanted to turn back and inform her but he llater discovered that Xiao Yu had already left. Ming Jian sighed and headed towards the Imperial Study.
“Emperor, General Su request an audience.”
The hand holding the writing brush paused as he looked out of the room. The night was already deep. Yan Hong Tian softly asked, “What time is it now?”
“Just past Xushi (modern timing: 7 – 9 pm).”
“Announce.” For Su Ling to request an audience this late at night, Yan Hong Tian vaguely felt that the matter should be related to the case of the missing gold.
In a short while, Su Ling, clad in a dark green uniform and with hands holding a report, strode up and without waiting for him to greet, Yan Hong Tian waved his hands to motion to dispense the ceremony, “What matter that cause such urgency?”
“It is indeed very thorny.” Su Ling did not say anything more as he handed the report over.
Flipping open the not so thin report and only reading a few pages, Yan Hong Tian’s dark eyes slightly narrowed as he softly recite, “Colluding with rebels, robbing the treasury, intent to conspire against the state. It is indeed thorny, every line is a capital offence.”
Su Ling felt the anger from Yan Hong Tian and said seriously, “When Su Ren caught the rebels and initially interrogated them. At that time, they said that year when the gold vault was open with the collusion of the Minister of Revenue and also signed their confession. But who knew that once they are back to the Mistry of Justice, they insisted that it was the instructions of the Prime Minister Lou’s, father and son.”
A Pa sounded and the reported was thrown onto the desk. Yan Hong Tian’s lips raised slightly but there was no smile, “Who would have thought that not only you have brought the gold back, you also brought such an interesting issue back.”
Even though Yan Hong Tian said that it was interesting, those that were present did not felt it. That pair of dark eyes were slightly narrowed and there was a killing intent but it was only for a moment before it became calm, “Gao Jing, summon Dan Yu Lan to the Palace.”
Picking up the report to read again, when Yan Hong Tian finished the last page, he suddenly said, “Conspiring against the state is indeed a serious matter and is not a laughing matter. When Official Dan reach, both of you should discuss and imprison those first thing tomorrow under the ‘intent to conspire against the state’.”
“Tomorrow?” Tomorrow was the day of Lou Xi Yan’s marriage?! Su Ling frowned, “Does this matter require to be discussed with Prime Minister Lou?”
Yan Hong Tian lean back comfortably on the cushion as he smiled, “General Su have underestimated Prime Minister Lou. He is always strategising. Just wait for a good show tomorrow.”
This issue was strange and for the Emperor to do as such, first was to create a surprise so that the mastermind behind the matter would not be able to react quickly and secondly he did not want Prime Minister Lou to get married that freely and happily. Su Ling was not worried for Lou Xi Yan, it was just that for a day like tomorrow, when he brought people over to arrest him, he don’t know how would Qing Mo that woman would argue with him. That may not necessarily true, since she did not argue much but prefer to act instead. Thinking of the two tough and difficult female from the Qing family, Su Ling head started to ache.
When dawn broke, Qing Feng Hall started to bustle with noise and excitement. The valuables and treasures that the Emperor usually bestowed were taken out and individually placed into delicate wooden boxes and wrapped up.
“Fu Ling, are the congratulatory gifts ready?”
“Don’t forget any congratulatory gifts!”
“What time is it now? You all have to be quick about it and not make any mistakes.”
Seeing Qing Feng being busy since early in the morning, Fu Ling quickly stepped forward to support her and helped to to a wooden chair to sit while smiling, “It is only Chenshi (Modern timing: 7 – 9 am), Mistress do rest assure that everything is prepared.”
Qing Feng knows that Fu Ling through with her tasks but it was a special day today and she was happy but a little nervous as Eldest Sister will finally get married. Pointing to the two carved green jade Ruyi and taking out the official token from her sleeve before handing over to Fu Ling, Qing Feng said, “The Ruyi have auspicious meaning. Pass that and this over to her hands.”
“Yes.” Fu Ling kept the token and smiled, “You have not been this happy for a long time.”
Qing Feng gave a pleasant smile, “It is Eldest Sister big day. Although I am unable to go, I am still happy for her.”
Seeing that the sun has finally broke through the clouds, Qing Feng impatiently push Fu Ling out, “Quickly go, don’t miss the timing.”
“Yes.” At this time, the Palace Gates just opened. Fu Ling was helpless, seeing that her Mistress was that anxious, she could only head out.
After Fu Ling left, Qing Feng had nothing much to do. Her heart was both happy and excited that she was of no mood to read or write. She was only hoping that Fu Ling could hurry back and tell her about the grand wedding. She also don’t know what message will her sister pass to her and Mo-er should also be at Eldest Sister’s wedding. She had not seen her for six months and should have grown up a lot.
“The Emperor has arrived!” A loud cry sounded from outside the hall which brought Qing Feng’s wandering thought back. Yan Hong Tian had come? Qing Feng look out the window, when she was indulging in her imagination, the sun has long risen and shining down the window frame. It was already Sishi (Modern timing: 9 – 11 am).
Today was Prime Minster Lou wedding and hundreds of officials will be congratulating. Even if he did not have to congratulate personally, he should be in the Imperial Study working on affairs of the state at this hour. What was he doing at her place?