Bad news… Please don’t beat me up…
I got loaded with more stuff in office and because of all the overtime, I would not be able to churn out 3 chapters per week. 😦 I am sorry to announce there will be 2 chapters out per week and the schedules would be changed to Monday and Thursday (same timing) instead. Once the work stuff are completed (I presume it would take about 2 – 3 months), I hope that no more are added to my workload so that I can go back to 3 chapters a week…
Chapter 58: Reaching Out A Helping Hand (Part 3)
When Fu Ling saw Ming Ze, she silently cursed her luck. When Ming Ze saw Fu Ling’s face clearly, he too furrowed his brows but it was very light that those who were not very familiar with him would not be able to tell. So in Fu Ling’s perspective, she was facing a cold and expressionless face.
Thinking of the things hidden on her, Fu Ling was a little nervous and was afraid that Ming Ze could see so she lowered her head and did not meet Ming Ze’s eyes.
In order to ease the facilitation, Fu Ling wore a light blue palace uniform and she look no different from an ordinary palace maid so when she did not speak for a long time after she turned around, a guard behind Ming Ze impatiently spoke, “Which palace are you from and why are you here?”
Fu Ling looked at the sky and it was almost time for the Palace gates to be close. At this time, usually they would allow people to enter and not exit the Palace gate. She had already arranged it beforehand. During the afternoon when she head out, she brought the letters and now if she go out, those guarding would not stop her but who knew that she would have bump into Ming Ze.
After thinking about it, Fu Ling faced the questioning guard and answered with a smile, “I am the Female Official Fu Ling from Qing Feng Hall. Imperial Concubine Qing’s morning sickness was so bad lately and wanted to eat preserved honey dates but the chefs in the Imperial Kitchens were unable to replicate the taste her Ladyship wants. Yesterday, her Ladyship took a liking to those that Lou Furen brought to the Palace and ordered me to get some back today.” As she spoke, Fu Ling flashed the white jade placard out to prove her identity.
Hearing that it was someone from Qing Feng Hall and she was a female official, the face of the person questioning immediately turned and that impatient expression was put away as he laughed, “So it is Miss Fu Ling. There is only half a shichen left before the Northern gate would be closed. According to the rules, it is not allowed to leave the palace at such a timing. Why don’t you go out early tomorrow morning?”
Fu Ling was undaunted with the reply and continued, “Actually it would not be anything to go out early tomorrow morning. But Imperial Concubine Qing do have much of an appetite for the past few days and likes to eat this. I will only go out for a while and returned. Please make it easy for me.”
“This…” That guard gave a look at Ming Ze and when he saw that he did not say anything, that guard smiled awkwardly, “This is not really in accordance to the rules. Do you have the Imperial token? If you have it would be another matter itself.”
The statuses of female officials in the Palace is high and one were to leave the palace for a while, the mistresses would allow it and the guards at the Palace gates would normaly not stop so who would bring the imperial token out? Also, the Imperial token was giving to Lou Furen by Mistress so she would definitely not have it. As the seconds passed, Fu Ling started to get anxious, if the Palace gates closed, she would really not be able to get out. She dare not portray her anxious heart and could only patiently reply, “The Emperor has bestowed a Imperial token to leave the Palace to Imperial Concubine Qing and you are all aware of this. There is definately a Imperial token. It is just that her Ladyship task is urgently required and it was not brought out.
“This…” The guard looked at Ming Ze again and that silent and unmoving person finally spoke, “It is almost time to close the gate. Go patrol around the area one more time.”
“Yes.” A few people gave a sigh a relief, Imperial Concubine Qing was currently in power, if Fu Ling was not allowed out, it would offend her Ladyship and they would suffer. If they let her out, it would not be according to the rules and if the superiors were aware, they would not be able to bear it. Now that Ming Ze instructed, they were happy to keep the distance.
After those people had walked far away, Ming Ze did not beat about the bush and asked in a cold voice, “What do you leave the Palace for?”
Apparently someone did not believe a single word of what she had just said. Fu Ling cursed in her heart, this person was indeed difficult to handle. The matter about Prime Minister Lou, it is not possible for Ming Ze not to know, mixing with half truths, it should be enough to gain more trust from him. Fu Ling looked around and after determining that there was no one around, she quietly replied, “Prime Minister Lou got into trouble and Lou Furen came to the Palace yesterday and cried a lot. Imperial Concubine Qing wanted to leave the Palace to accompany Lou Furen but the Emperor was furious and decreed that the Ladyship was not allowed out of Qing Feng Hall. Her Ladyship was worried about Lou Furen so she let me out to check out how she is doing.”
The Palace was not considered big and it was neither small. Whatever verbal decree did the Emperor spoke would be quickly spread around. He was aware of Qing Feng being confined in Qing Feng Hall but he was not aware that it was due to her sister. But it was also true, that night she was in such a poor state but did not forget to find out news of her own elder sister. It shows that she treasure her family a lot. Thinking of the anxious expression on Qing Feng’s face, Ming Ze’s heart soften and he coldly replied, “Must be back in within half a shichen (1 shichen = 2 hours).”
Fu Ling was stunned, he agreed to it so readily? Slightly looking up, Fu Ling could only saw Ming Se’s cold features and not see what he was thinking about. Nonetheless, he agreed so Fu Ling immediately replied, “Good.”
Finishing, Fu Ling did not wait for Ming Ze to speak again and ran towards the Palace gates. Ming Ze followed her towards the gates and just as he wanted to call out to the guards not to stop her, he saw that those people were just standing there and did not have any intention to stop or question Fu Ling, thus she could run all the way out.
Ming Ze’s cool eyes slightly narrowed as he felt that something was amiss. Without pausing his steps, he followed Fu Ling out of the Northern gates.
Even though Fu Ling do not have any martial arts skill, she was very cautious so Ming Ze did not followed too closely and only saw her running towards the south wall after leaving the gates. After running about thirty to forty zhang (1 zhang = 10 feet), there was a dark red horse carriage waiting there. There was a black-clad male standing beside the carriage with his eyes flashing. Ming Ze could only stand in the distance to watch as that male was skilled in martial arts. Fu Ling ran to the front of the carriage and nodded her head slightly at that man before immediately climbing into the carriage.
Being too far away, Ming Ze naturally could not hear what the people in the carriage said and could only quietly observe.
When Fu Ling entered the carriage, Zhuo Qing immediately went up to her. Fu Ling did not want to waste any time and took out the letters from her pocket to Zhuo Qing, “Lou Furen, are these all right?”
Zhuo Qing took it and carefully look through, the clear red seal were covered at the specific location required. Zhuo Qing smiled happily, “En. It’s good. Thanks for your help Fu Ling.”
Fu Ling could not get used to a mistress saying thanks to her as she slightly knitted her brows and replied, “Don’t speak like this, this servant do not deserve this good fortune.”
Zhuo Qing smiled and did not say anything more. Thinking of that person in the Palace, Zhuo Qing softly said, “Thank her for me when you go back.”
“Yes, this servant will retire.” Just as Fu Ling was about to exit the carriage, Zhuo Qing suddenly stopped her, “Wait for a moment.”
Fu Ling looked back at her and Zhuo Qing softly asked, “Is she doing well these days?” The last time she saw Qing Feng, she felt that she disregarded her psychological state and in order to deal with Yan Hong Tian and the people around, it was not easy at all. To let her help for her today, Zhuo Qing felt very guilty about it.
Mistress should not wish for Lou Furen to worry about her. Fu Ling gently smiled and replied, “Mistress is doing well.”
Zhuo Qing shook her head, this female had a detailed heart. Zhuo Qing waved her hand to her and said, “You should quickly head back.”
“Yes.” Fu Ling did not speak any more and jump off from the carriage and ran towards the Northern gates. That black clad male jump onto the carriage and with a whip, the for horses galloped away like an arrow. Seeing the speed of the carriage, Ming Ze knows that he would not be able to follow it with his speed and Fu Ling was able to reach the Northern gate earlier.
When she almost ran near the Palace gates, Fu Ling stopped her steps and took a few large breaths and waited till her breathing has steadied before entering the Northern gates. When Fu Ling just entered the Palace gates, she felt an inquiring gaze on her and she lifted her head to look. It was Ming Ze. Fu Ling smiled slightly to him and when they passed one another, Fu Ling softly said, “Thanks.” Fu Ling thought to herself that this person did not seem unreasonable, whereas Ming Ze look at her back view thoughtfully.
Youshi (modern timing: 5 – 7 pm) has passed and if successful, FU Ling should have gotten the seal. Qing Feng was restless the entire day and stood by the window and watching the begonias could only make her calm down a bit. Before her hands touched the flowers, Qing Feng’s mind has flew far away.
A bunch of steps could be heard from outside Qing Feng Hall and Qing Feng anxiously looked over and saw a female clad as a palace maid carrying a bow and carefully walked it. It was not Fu Ling. Qing Feng was a bit disappointed but she say that female walking over to Lan-er’s side and softly spoke, “Older sister Lan-er. hot and dry during the autumn, this servant brought you lily and white fungus soup. As older sister Fu Ling is just nice not here, do serve it to Mistress.”
The voice was very light and if Qing Feng was not standing by the window, she would definitely not heard it. Lan-er took the bowl over and smiled, “You are indeed careful. In future you do not need to clean the yard sort of work. Help me to take care of these plants, her Ladyship treasures them a lot.”
A touch of sweet smile appear on the female’s face as she obediently replied, “Yes. This servant will definitely be dedicated.”
Lan-er carried the bowl into the room and the smile on the female face faded away as she picked up the scissors that Lan-er left and slowly trimmed the flowers.
This female was somewhat familiar. After thinking for a while, Qing Feng finally remembered. When she just entered the Palace, together with Fu Ling, this female served her a day and during that time she was noisy and her mind could be easily read. Now it seems that it was much calmer. As Qing Feng was thinking, Lan-er had already entered the house and spoke softly behind the screen, “Your Ladyship, it is hot and dry during the autumn, this servant brought you lily and white fungus soup. Please try.”
Lan-er brought the porcelain bowl into the inner chambers. Facing this mistress, she was only trying to please her but was also afraid of her.
“En, the taste is not bad.” Qing Feng only tasted a mouthful and did not continue eating. She asked a seemingly random question, “What time is it?”
“Replying your Ladyship, it is now Youshi (modern timing: 5 – 7 pm) and three quarters.”
Youshi (modern timing: 5 – 7 pm) and three quarters… Why was Fu Ling not back yet? “Withdraw.” Qing Feng’s heart was like a boat, drifting in the sea. She did not do anything today but felt very tired. Was this the feeling of a weary heart?
After don’t know how long, long enough that Qing Feng thought that it fallen through and was exposed, Fu Ling finally returned.
Seeing Fu Ling normal face, Qing Feng felt that it should have gone fairly smoothly but still asked, “How was it?”
“The stuff have been handed over to Lou Furen and the seal has been returned.” Fu Ling thought about the episode that happened at the Palace gates and decided not to speak about it as Mistress looks tired and she should not bother her with these small issues.
Seeing that the sky was getting later, Fu Ling was just about to exit to call for the dinner when a small cooling hand reached out and stopped her. Fu Ling look at Qing Feng puzzled and only heard her weak voice replying, “Don’t go anywhere, just stay by my side.”
Whether it was successful or not, it would soon be known. Even if it was accomplished or not, with Yan Hong Tian’s wisdom, he would definately know that this matter involved her. This night would be harder to pass.