Chapter 79: Ling Shui Alliance
Prime Minister Residence
Under the thick dark night, there was not a trace of wave on the deep lake and the clear cool moonlight added a sight on the deep plated lake. Two tall figures sat opposite of one another in front of Lan Yue Tower and the stone table was already filled up with vats of wine. The purple-clad male hand his hands on his forehead as his eyes slightly narrowed, which an expression of unable to drink more. But under closer scrutiny, it was not difficult to find a trace of clarity.
Seeing that the opposite outstretched hand was about to pick up another vat of wine, the purple clad male finally could not resist to say, “The hour is no longer early, the Emperor still not going back to the Palace?”
Yan Hong Tian’s hand stop mid-air as his brows raise, “Is Noble Official is hurrying Zhen like this?”
“This official don’t dare.” Lou Xi Yan said he didn’t dare but he had already place the wine jar under the table, indicating that he did not let him continue to drink.
With one hand propped on the leg of the table, Yan Hong Tian cast a sidelong glance at the wine vat under the table and when he reached out, the wine vat was returned to his hands as he sighed, “The Prime Minster who gave a Huan Jade when he gifts would be so petty as to bring Hua Diao Niang to fool Zhen and now even not let drink?”
“There are only Hua Diao Niang and Xiang Xue Chun kind of light wine in the Prime Minister’s residence. The Palace have plenty varieties of the heavy and matured alcohol that the Emperor wants to drink.” He took his cup and poured it a side and Lou Xi Yan did not stop him since there was only one jar left, “Speaking about the Nuan Jade, that is a gift for a nephew, how would Xi Yan dare to neglect?”
Yan Hong Tian drank his cup of wine with one mouthful and poured it full himself, without forcing Lou Xi Yan to continue drinking. That pair of dark eyes stared at Lou Xi Yan and teased, “Since when have you become your wife’s servant?”
Lou Xi Yan did not get angry and slightly smile, “Comparing to General So, I am nowhere near.”
As Yan Hong Tian held the wine cup, the teasing look on his face faded as his brows kitted, “It was indeed unexpected for Su Ling to gift such an thing over.” Su Ling was solitary by nature and had never had deep relationships with any minister in court and because there were no females in the Su Family, he did not have any relations in the Inner Palace. At that time, he degreed Qing Mo to Su Ling and its sole purpose was to pull him closer to Lou Xi Yan but did not think that he would sent a “Ya Zi ornament to Qing Feng’s child. This was an obviously indicating to be the support for Qing Feng. For Su Ling to have such a change in mind, what could be the reason?
Yan Hong Tian obviously have some worries but Lou Xi Yan instead laughed, “No matter how precious the gift is, General Su will gift to win a beauty’s heart.”
“Qing Mo?” It was really because of that little girl?
Thinking of that afternoon when the assassins from Ju Ling Island kidnapped the official and demanded the court to hand over Qing Mo, Su Ling that look of protecting at all cost, Yan Hong Tian suddenly understood a little. He even dared to publicly contradict the Empress and use the entire Su Clan’s reputation to protect Qing Mo, so sending a Ya Zi ornament was really nothing worth to fuss.
That girl look weak and fragile but her skills were not weak. The most peculiar thing was that even the Su Family of military forces also listen to her instruction. As his fingers gently rubbed against the white jade wine cup, Yan Hong Tian smiled, “That female is indeed interesting, no wonder Su Ling treated her like a treasure. Her abilities should not be only like that right?”
Qing Mo’s specialities were not just what was seen in the afternoon but Lou Xi Yan did not intend to elaborate more and just laughed off the question and asked instead, “The thing that happened the last time, it should not be an accident.”
For Lou Xi Yan to suddenly change the subject, after so many years of understanding, Yan Hong Tian naturally know which incident he was referring to, “After the rocks rolled down, Ming Jian immediately went up the mountain to investigate and it was indeed someone had loosen the rocks and took the opportunity to create this ‘accident’. But other than some loosen soil, there was nothing else. To be able to creating such a ruckus, the person(s) would not have been in the residence for a short time but not one person in the entire Imperial Guard noticed.”
“Oh?” It was that efficient? “There was not a little trace at all?”
“Yes.” Using his finger, Yan Hong Tian dipped it with a little wine and drew some pattern on the stone table as he replied, “At the other residence, they were very careful and did not leave any trace behind. But there was only one route to Shu Chuan Courtyard so Ming Jian discovered extinguished ashes and nearby there was 3 persons’ footsteps and also discovered a diamond shaped marking.”
Lou Xi Yan looked down and saw a diamond shaped pattern with two intersecting crosses connecting (++). Usually this was a fixed mark use for liaison so it was definitely not a small-scale organisation. Lou Xi Yan guessed, “The people from Ju Ling Island?”
“The actions of the people from Ju Ling Island were of a cornered beast that would do anything and held Qing Mo just to strike demands. With regards to Qing Feng’s attack, they would not have a single advantage. Ming Jian had already investigated that symbol and it belonged to Ling Shui Alliance, a Jianghu clan.”
Ling Shui Alliance? When Lou Xi Yan heard that name, his face stiffen. If Ju Ling Island was a place that only recognise money and not people, then Ling Shui Alliance was much more mysterious. According to Jianghu rumours, Ling Shui Alliance’s leader was as principled as he was evil and prefer to travel alone. They were also paid assassins but most of the times they would be selling Jianghu’s news and would not interfere and make an enemy with the court. Who in the court would be able to make the people from Ling Shui Alliance move? If there was one, then this person had a close relationship to the sect who sell secrets, which meant that his plans would no longer be this simple. Or was it someone who purposely left behind this mark? To divert the attention? With some doubts in his heart, Lou Xi Yan softly said, “This matter must be investigate clearly.”
“Ming Jian had gone to investigate it.”
Yan Hong Tian’s expression was at a rest and so Lou Xi Yan guessed that he had already arranged it earlier on and did not say anything more. Lou Xi Yan waited till he had drank the last sip of wine and just got up to leave before asking him faintly, “That child, how do you prepare to handle?”
Yan Hong Tian’s stature slightly became sluggish but it was just for a short moment before he behaved like he did not hear Yan Hong Tian’s question and headed towards the courtyard doors.
Lou Xi Yan stared blankly as his sharp eyes squinted. Looking at that figure going back in a bit of a hurry, his mouth could not help but slightly raise. What was the meaning of being silent? Since when did the broadly minded master of Qiong Yue escape like this?
It was only after Wushi (modern timing: 11 am – 1 pm) and the front of Qing Feng Hall was filled with people. The servants that were serving in the hall were there, which was needless to say. There were also the seven or eight mama and gugu who were sent over by the Empress Dowager to help look after the Prince and even the other concubines and mistresses of different palaces and their eunuchs and palace maids.
Fu Ling had been waiting in the at the front of the hall’s door very early and from afar could see a carriage approaching. The carriage was surrounded by eunuchs and mama and there were so Imperial Guards protecting in the front and back. This entourage was no less than an Empress returning back to the Palace. Fu Ling went down the steps with joy as she walked forward to welcome. As the carriage got closer the Imperial Guard who was in front was exceedingly family and upon a closer look, it was actually Ming Ze?!
Fu Ling’s heart was distracted, he also followed the Emperor out of the Palace this time? But why was he escorting Mistress back to the Palace? Fu Ling stared at Ming Ze in a dazed for quite a while until the entire entourage stopped in front of Qing Feng Hall before she recovered and stopped staring for fear of being seen by others. Fu Ling picked up her pace and walked to the side of the carriage and softly called, “Mistress.”
A youthful hand lightly opened the curtain and Ru Yi appeared to answer her with a smile, “Older sister Fu Ling.”
Fu Ling gently nodded her head and Ru Yi retracted to the carriage and supported Qing Feng out of the carriage in a short while.
It was the weather of early winter and she had a large cloak wrapped around her with a red swaddling clothed baby in her arms. She seemed to look like how she was when she left the Palace but it was only a few days, her face a little smoother and rounder. With both Ru Yi’s and Fu Ling’s support, Qing Feng dismounted the carriage easily. Looking at the thinly clad Fu Ling, she quipped, “Why is it that it was only a few days of not seeing, my Fu Ling has become this thin?”
Fu Ling was slightly stunned. As it turns out this Mistress just came back and started to make fun of her. She secretly rolled her eyes at Qing Feng as Fu Ling softly nagged, “This servant is well and dare not trouble your Ladyship!”
Knowing that she was a little angry, Qing Feng did not tease her again and instead place the Little Prince in Fu Ling’s arms assuredly so that she can move her hands. Fu Ling gently lifted the corner of the swaddling cloth and saw the little baby’s mouth was slightly open as he was fast asleep. Fu Ling praised in her heart: the Little Prince was so handsome.
“This servant greets Imperial Concubine Qing, greets the Little Prince.”
Qing Feng only just alighted from the carriage and took a few steps when she saw everyone kneeling at Qing Feng Hall’s doors and the greetings were clear, loud and very neatly. Qing Feng found it funny, it was the so called the mother’s position increases due to her son.
A fifty over years old mama straightened her body up and solicitously smiled, “Imperial Concubine Qing, the Empress Dowager empathised your hard work and specially sent these servants to take care of the Little Prince.”
She send four or five over to the other residence and now there is another seven or eight person. Just how many people were required to take care of a child? Qing Feng disapprove of it but her expression did not change as she call out, “All raise. Xia Yin, receive the gifts from the different palaces and thank them on behalf of Bengong. Lan-er, bring these mama to the rooms to rest.”
Xia Yin, who was all along standing behind, did not think that Qing Feng would call her to do things when she come back until she was being tugged by Lan-er. Xia Yin quickly came up with Lan-er to reply, “Yes.”
The leading mama was not happy and quickly said, “Your Ladyship, the servants are here to serve you and little master…”
Qing Feng suddenly gave an candid smile, “Bengong knows, so these arrangement are made so that you all will stay at Qing Feng Hall and would be more convenient to take care. When your services are needed, naturally Bengong will call for you all. Withdraw.”
If Qing Feng chase them away, she could vow to die rather than leave but now like this, she was not able to say anything. No matter how reluctant mama’s heart it, she could only consent.
Fu Ling was carrying Little Master and followed behind Qing Feng. Maybe it was an illusion but it seemed that Mistress way of doing things seemed to be smoother and evasive, not like before where it was a sharp approach. Maybe it was because she had this Little Prince.
After walking to the front of the house, Qing Feng turned around and spoke to Shen Yao, who was following her the past few days, “The Little Prince is asleep, you can go and rest.”
“Yes.” And just like the usual quietly and obediently, Shen Yao withdrew. When she passed Fu Ling, she bowed slightly. Fu Ling turned and looked back, this person should be the wet nurse and seemed to know how to say within one’s role.
After three of them entered the house and closed the room doors, Fu Ling then gave a long sigh of relief and exclaimed, “Mistress, you have finally came back.”
Finally came back? She did not leave more than ten days. Could there be that something had happened again? Qing Feng passed the child to Ru Yi to bring into the inner chambers and suppressed her voice to ask, “What happened? Could it be that something happen to Chen Zhen?”
“It is not it. Now in the Palace, everyone’s focus is on you and no one would noticed the Cold Palace so she and the child are actually quite good.”
“What actually happen?” Chen Zhen was alright and she had also gave birth to a Prince smoothly. What other situation in the Palace could make Fu Ling this worried?
After pulling Qing Feng into the study, Fu Ling then softly replied, “Three days ago, there was a group of Jianghu’s assassins who hid in the Gao Residence and held Gao Daren and his family as hostages to demand the court to hand over Miss Qing or else they would destroy the entire Gao Residence. That Gao Daren is the Empress’s blood uncle.”
“What?” Qing Feng was covered in cold sweat, “Is Mo-er alright?”
“Rest assure Mistress, General Su used his military power to protect Miss Qing and even… Publicly contradicted the Empress. Even though Gao Daren and family were rescued finally, but Gao Daren’s second wife was still… Killed.”
Dead? Fortunately Su Ling was there else the Empress would have tear Youngest Sister apart! At this moment, Qing Feng’s impression of Su Ling got much better but she was still lost with this sudden situation, “Mo-er is a weak and fragile girl, how would she get involved with Jianghu’s assassins?”
Fu Ling shook her head, “This servant is not clear of the details and only know that it was related to one of the bounty hunter by the name of Huan Ao Tian.”
Fu Ling’s expression was sombre and it seemed that she was more worried than her. Qing Feng’s heart warmed as she pat her hands and smiled, “In any case, Su Ling is true to Mo-er. This is considered a good news and you still frown.”
Qing Feng had a calm like expression like a boat had reach the harbour but this only made Fu Ling more anxious, “Mistress, General Su this time had completely offended the Empress and the Empress would never take this laying down. Since she is unable to create troubles for Miss Qing and General Su, this debt would land on your head. And now you also have a Prince, in the future…”
“Alright, don’t say more. We will be more careful in the future.” Qing Feng suppressed what Fu Ling was going to say because of the ten over guards that send her back to the Palace. There were still three person that did not leave and stood guard outside the doors of the hall. She did not know whether the hearing of these so-called high skilled martial artists was much more extraordinary but it would be better to play safe.
Fu Ling followed Qing Feng’s sight and looked through the half opened window that was facing the courtyard doors and her eyes landed on Ming Ze’s tall back. She did not know why but Fu Ling felt guilty and looked away before asking softly, “Mistress, these guards?”
Qing Feng pushed open the doors and loudly spoke to Ming Ze who was standing outside the courtyard doors, “Imperial Guard Ming, Bengong had already returned to the Palace safely, you can go back to report.”
Ming Ze still continued to stand outside the hall and replied in a distinctly cool voice, “This guard received Imperial orders to protect the safety of Imperial Concubine Qing and the Prince.”
Qing Feng and Fu Ling was startled and both of their minds were momentarily blank. Imperial order to protect? Then… Won’t he be in Qing Feng Hall all the time?