A quick peek to the inner workings of the Emperor’s mind. Who knows you best? Definitely your enemy.
And Qing Feng is just SOOOOOO COOL!!!! *Squeel* You don’t need a loud voice or fierce look so that others will fear you. Just a few questions and the finger tapping will do just fine.
Chapter 60: Loyalty
The number of high ranks officials and dignitaries were as plentiful as perch (type of fish) in the river and there were many numerous wealthy residences around. But there was one residence which apart from the rest, other than the Imperial Residences outside the capital, it was the largest estate which was owned by the Imperial Censor Xin Sui. It was not because the rank of the Imperial Censor was high but it was because the Xin family had been supporting the Emperor since the founding of the Yan family founded the nation. That year of the founding, the Qiong Yue’s Emperor bestowed this piece of Imperial Land to the Xin Family which showed the unimaginable importance. Even though the Xin family was incomparable from then and now, but all three generations were assisting the Imperial family and Xin Sui’s daughter was the mother of the nation. The Xin family was known to everybody in this Imperial City.
The Xin manor was the most unique. In the middle of the compound, there stood and individual house which was three stories tall. Other than the first story that was used for work discussions, the other stories were all filled with books. This could be seen that the ancestors of the Xin family were literary personnels. Zishi (11 pm – 1 am) had long passed but the room still remained bright. Behind the mahogany study table, there sat a sixty over years old man who was holding a cup of hot tea with a hidden sharp look in his eyes but a normal expression on his face, as if he was appreciating the sweet mellow taste of the tea. Two male stood by each side of the study table, one was over thirty over years old with a jittery face of displeasure, the other was a twenty five or six but had a calm appearance.
Xin Cu Cheng could not help but ask Xin Sui, who was as settled as a monk, “Father what is the Emperor thinking exactly?” The Emperor had summoned Lou Xi Yan, Su Ling and Dan Yu Lan to the Imperial Study tonight. That was not unusual but the unusual thing was that Qing Ling also went and finally, even the Empress Dowager went there. No one knew what was said but Lou Xi Yan was released. The Empress Dowager had spent so much effort to imprison Lou Xi Yan but she did not resist at all today. This was not like style.
Standing infront of the young man and laughing lowly while saying, “Think of why the Emperor gave the sisters of the Qing family to Lou Xi Yan and Su Ling and no one else. Think of the two of them, why did they accept such a gift and think of why the Emperor only favour her and allow her to be pregnant?”
The sisters of the Qing family? Xin Fu Cheng was surprise as he urgently said, “The Emperor want to make use of the three sisters of the Qing family to align the Lou family and Su family together and be the Emperor’s force in court!”
Xin Sui gently blew the tea leaves on the rim of the teacup and sighed, “The West Empress Dowager lost her cool. It seems that the Yang family is finished.” Three years ago it was because of Prince Hao and now it was because of Princess Chao Yun. A woman would always be implicated by her children and would not amount to anything big.
Xin Fu Cheng nodded his head and scolded, “Talking about Prince Hao, he was also Lord without any patience. If we have known the temperament of both mother and son, our family would not have collaborated with them that year. The gold was shipped by them but they failed to do so and now was found by the Emperor.” And almost dragged their family into it.
Xin Yi Heng sneered, second older brother was really stupid. Father on one hand gave support secretly to the Empress Dowager and Prince Hao and on the other hand helped the Emperor through Ning-er. No matter who won at the end, the Xin family would not fail at all. The people who knew what happened that year were a few and now other than the Empress Dowager, they were all dead and would no longer be able to implicate Xin family. Xin Yi Heng was concern on another matter and after thinking for a moment, Xin Yi Heng whispered, “Father, the Yang family have already fallen to misfortune. The Emperor would definitely want to weaken our Xin family power next. What should we respond?”
Xin Sui took a sip of tea and leisurely replied, “The Xin family is at it’s peak for three generations and have deep roots, else the Emperor would not need this afraid. It will not be that easy to get rid of the Xin family. Yan Hong Tian is not an impatient person so he will not act rashly. Furthermore he definitely did not expect that the sisters of the Qing family were this capable, to be able to bewitch Lou Xi Yan and Su Ling that much and left them with the official wife positions.” Xin Sui was the only person in the entire court to call the Emperor by his name and no one else dared to do so, even when it was done secretly.
Xin Yi Heng’s eyes lighten up as it seems that he had realised something. He laughed, “One a Prime Minister and the other a Great General. The Emperor must be afraid that both of them would unite and go against the Imperial might! That is why the Emperor dote and favour Qing Feng this much, it is to use her to win over the Qing sisters and control Lou Xi Yan and Su Ling.”
Looking at his youngest son with praise, Xin Sui conceitedly replied, “The Yang family is no longer standing and the court needs the ability to influence and control, thus he would not touch the Xin family in a short moment in time.”
Seeing that father and younger brother echoing one another, Xin Fu Cheng did not want to be left out and quickly said, “Father, if so then it must not be taken lightly. Qing Feng must not be allowed to bring this child to birth, else the Crown Prince position would end up in another family hands and we, the Xin family, would not see the light of day.”
“There will be ample time for that later.” That child would not be born immediately and even if it was born, it would not grow up immediately. So why so anxious?
“How is Ning-er?”
Hearing the anger from father, Xin Fu Cheng cautiously replied, “Still angry but Sui Xin is watching over her so there should not be any trouble.”
Xin Sui’s expression slightly cleared and he coolly replied, “En, let her maintain her calm and don’t get excited.”
“Yes.” Xin Fu Cheng’s heart was crying out with bitterness. Ning-er entered the Palace at the age of fourteen and was conferred as the Empress at the age of eighteen. Yan Hong Tian did not control her as she had the Xin family as backing, thus she was spoilt and would not listen to him. He was really afraid she would stir up trouble.
Xin Sui put down the teacup and picked up a book at the side to read. The two brothers withdrew from the study room understandingly. Just when they reached the courtyard, Xin Yi Heng lightly greeted Xin Fu Cheng and strode off. Staring at that back of that high-spirited figure, Xin Fu Cheng’s eyes was filled with hatred. Xin Yi Heng relied on his father’s favour and did not take anyone up to his eyes.
Originally Qing Feng was not able to sleep peacefully and was suddenly picked up, making her shout before she could wake up. Her frighten eyes met with a pair of smiling black eyes. Qing Feng froze for a moment and in that short period of time, Yan Hong Tian had carried her onto the bed.
Qing Feng’s chaotic mind gradually got clearer. Thinking back on the night before, after she said that she did not know, she saw disappointment in Yan Hong Tian’s eyes. At that moment she felt happy and Yan Hong Tian did not bother with her any more and fell asleep leaning against the edge of the bed. She initially wanted to let him sleep like that the entire night but was also afraid that he would throw a temper when he wake up in the morning, so she called Gao Jing to carry him onto the bed. Naturally it was not possible for her to sleep beside a person covered with alcohol smell. She could only sleep on the lounge chair.
“Beloved Imperial Concubine woke up so early in the morning to look at Zhen. Zhen is afraid that there is no more mood to attend the morning court.”
With a teasing tone, a smile that did not reached his eyes and the slightly narrowed dark eyes, the person in front was indeed that domineering and sometimes demonic Yan Hong Tin, with no traces of his disappointment and sorrow that he displayed last night.
“Emperor? It is time for the morning court.” An eunuch voice came from outside so Yan Hong Tian let go of her and said, “Come in.”
Like how the previous morning went, the eunuch helped him to dress up and he strode off without looking back.
Qing Feng felt confused, if she was not sleeping on the lounge chair and when Yan Hong Tian carried her, she could smell the faint scent of alcohol, she would have thought that whatever had happen last night was a dream. Yan Hong Tian just left and Fu Ling immediately ran in. When she saw Qing Feng lying on the bed, she urgently spoke, “Is Mistress all right?”
“All right.” Qing Feng slowly sat up. She slept the entire night on the lounge couch and her waist was a little painful.
Seeing that her expression was not well, Fu Ling took her pulse to determine that Qing Feng was truly all right. Fu Ling then could calm down and support her to sit down so that she can wash up.
Looking through the half opened window, once can see the begonia being lit by the morning sun, making them charming and enchanting. Qing Feng looked at the palace maid who was seriously and carefully trimming the flowers in the flowerbed and gently asked, “That should be Lan Fang.”
Fu Ling looked up, “Yes.”
“She has changed a lot. Go and check out why.” She cannot have another Xia Yin by her side. Now she still keep her by her side because she felt that she was still of use.
“Lan Fang was born in a merchant family and it can be considered as well-off. Her mother passed away when during the birth of her younger brother. Half a year later, her father married a vicious female and her father also died within two years. Her stepmother ill-treated them and she also have three other children. Finding them cumbersome, she wanted to sell them to the Palace but Lan Fang did not bear for her brother to suffer the pain of castration and worked out with her stepmother to send her to the Palace as a servant and she would give her monthly allowance. Lan Fang is clever and quick witted so she was able to please the palace’s mamas and was a little favoured by some mistresses, which gave her access to some money to send home every month. Who knew that her stepmother took her money but did not treat her younger brother well at all. Three months ago her younger brother had a serious illness but her stepmother did not get a physician for him and he almost died. After that she took her brother out of the family and hired an old woman to take care of him. But her brother was born with a weak constitution and it would not be fully cured but only recuperate.” She also find that Lan Fang was unlike her usual and sent someone to investigate. She did not think that her life was also that pitiful.
“So it was like that.” Qing Feng suddenly beckoned Fu Ling over. Fu Ling lowered her head as Qing Feng whispered a few sentences to her. After listening, Fu Ling had some feelings of doubt before understanding and she gently nodded her head.
Fu Ling combed her hair and did her makeup before Qing Feng calculated that the morning court was nearly over, “In today’s morning court, the Emperor should have some decree to confer.”
Fu Ling nodded her head in understanding as Qing Feng slightly smiled. Sometimes without even speaking, Fu Ling knew what she was thinking. With Fu Ling accompanying her, life was much livable.
When Fu Ling went out, Qing Feng was bored in the house so she walked to the courtyard to get some sun. Lan-er went up and smiled, “Today your Ladyship got up early.”
Qing Feng brightly smile and said, “Lan-er, lately Bengong like clear jasmine tea and heard that the best teas were all kept at Xiao Yu’s. Go and get some from her.”
“Yes.” Lan-er answered and hastily ran out. Older sister Xiao would not give tea to just anyone. It was fortunate that her relationship with older sister Xiao was good.
Qing Feng randomly glanced at the neatly trimmed bed of begonias and loudly said, “Who trimed these flowers?”
Hearing her Ladyship berating, all the palace maids in the courtyard knelt on the ground in fright, “May your Ladyship be pacified.” Two palace maids looked over at Lan Fang who was kneeling by the flowers so Qing Feng look towards her and coldly asked, “Did you cut it?”
Lan Fang winced as her mind turn a thousand times before she finally softly replied, “It’s… It’s in accordance to how older sister Lan-er instruction to trim. It must be that this servant was unable to understand the older sister Lan-er’s intention and trim it incorrectly. Seek your Ladyship for forgiveness.”
Indeed a quick witted girl. Distance herself from responsibility before courageously admit her negligence. The corner of Qing Feng’s lips curled up and she changed the subject, “Did Bengong say that it was trimmed wrongly? It is well cut. Lan-er should be rewarded later.”
Lan Fang just gave a sigh of relief but Qing Feng continued to ask, “What is your name?”
Lan Fang quickly replied, “This servant is Lan Fang.” Her Ladyship asked for her name. Was it because she don’t remember her? It would be good if she don’t remember.
Qing Feng did not even need to look at her to guess what she was thinking. Qing Feng smiled, “How about Ben Gong give you a new name?” If one listen, it was a question but Qing Feng had no intention for her to answer. After thinking for a bit, “Just call you Ru Yi then.”
Lan Fang kowtowed as she replied, “Thanking your Ladyship for the bestowal of name. This servant would definitely strive to meet according to your Ladyship’s wishes.” (Ru Yi means according to one’s wishes) Lan Fan secretly told herself that from this moment onwards, she was called Ru Yi. That Lan Fang from the past had died. For her brother and for herself, she must climb up.
Qing Feng was dazed for a moment, she only casually mention a name but this girl was somewhat intelligent. Qing Feng was in a good mood as she laughed, “Good. You will support Bengong inside.”
“Yes.” Her heart was cheering inside, except for close palace maids, the other lower ranked servants will not be able to enter the Mistress’s room. Today she finally could enter inside.
Supporting Qing Feng to the lounge chair by the window, Qing Feng looked out the window as her hand rested on the wooden chair. Her index finger was tapping intermittently when she asked, “Been in the Palace for many years right?”
“Do you know why you are still a low ranking palace maid now?”
Ru Yi hesitated for a moment before replying, “Did not follow the right mistress.”
“Then do you know what kind of person Bengong wants?”
Ru Yi nervously swallowed her saliva. She knows that the seemingly random question had to be answered seriously. If she did not give an answer that suits mistress’s intention, she would loose this golden opportunity. Qing Feng was not anxious and let her slowly think about it. After a long time, Ru Yi then replied softly, “Someone who will go all out to complete mistress’s tasks.”
Qing Feng looked at her mildly and Ru Yi’s heart was pounding loudly. Did she say something wrong? Her brows knitted tightly as she cautiously said, “Someone who is cautious, attentive and abide by one’s role.”
Qing Feng stayed silent but her finger was still tapping. That dong dong sound was like knocks on her heart, Ru Yi’s forehead was covered by a fine layer of sweat. What kind of person does Mistress wants? After thinking it over, suddenly Ru Yi thought of something and quickly spoke, “A loyal person who will not serve another.”
That dong dong sound finally stopped and Qing Feng revealed a faint smile, “In the future you will be serving in the house.”
“Yes.” Ru Yi quietly stood by Qing Feng’s side. Only at this time, she felt that she had broken a cold sweat. The Qing Feng today and the one that just entered the Palace was completely different. At that time, she was so cold and proud like a sharp knife that would stab anyone who touches it. The her now was like a vast and deep chilling pond, one cannot see the bottom and it was deep enough to drown someone.