Mysteries in the Imperial Harem: Chapter 92
Chapter 92: Cold Palace Caught Fire
“Mistress!” The tightly closed doors were pushed open by Fu Ling with a flustered look. Without waiting for Qing Feng to reply, she had already headed to her side and softly said, “The Cold Palace caught fire!”
Caught fire? Qing Feng blanked out for a moment and thought about the person staying in the Cold Palace and her heart was taken aback. She immediately stood up and after thinking for a moment, she called out loudly, “Someone come! Someone come!”
“Your Ladyship?” Lan-er whispering voice could be heard from the outside.
“Lan-er and Shen Yao, come over here.”
“Servants are here.” Qing Feng’s tone was impatient and thus both of them dare not delay and ran into the room. They only saw the Little Prince was placed on the bed and before both of them could understand what was going on, they heard her Ladyship instructing them to “Take good care of the Prince.” After that she walked out towards the courtyard and Fu Ling also hurriedly followed.
Qing Feng walked away frantically, like she had forgotten the existence of Zhuo Qing. It was only a fire at the Cold Palace, why was Qing Feng this anxious? She was so anxious that she would rush there even when the child was running a fever. Zhuo Qing found it very strange and decided to follow along to take a look.
Qing Feng walked very quickly and Zhuo Qing had to jog to barely catch up. From not far away, they could see the smoke and the pungent smell gradually filled up the air. As the noises of people voices get louder, Zhuo Qing guessed that the Cold Palace was near. The weird thing was that Qing Feng who was rushing all the way suddenly slowed down her pace and seemingly like she was in a casual stroll. Zhuo Qing did not make any noise and also quietly followed.
Seeing that it had gotten noisier in front, Qing Feng spoke, “Shouting for what?”
The smooth voice had a tad of impatience and a little laziness, in short, not at all an anxious tone. Zhuo Qing’s eyes slightly narrowed as she observed Qing Feng and watching the overall situation. There was a lot of smoke but there was not wave of heat. It could be estimated that the fire was not big or it had been extinguished.
Hearing the female’s voice, one eunuch jogged over and had wanted to scold the person but once he saw clearing the incoming person, that eunuch’s expression slightly changed before he immediately knelt down to greet, “Long live Imperial Concubine Qing.”
Qing Feng took a glance at him and asked, “Who are you?”
“Replying to your Ladyship, this servant is the Steward eunuch of the Imperial Household, Zhang Shun An.”
“Get up. This Cold Palace is in fine condition. How did it caught fire?”
“It is dry during the winter and usually no one manages the Cold Palace. There is a possibility of an unknown spark that lighted the fire. But your Ladyship need not worry as the fire did not grow big and reckoned had been extinguished.”
At this moment the smoke had dissipated a little and Qing Feng looked over. Other than the eunuchs and palace maids fighting the fire, she did not see anyone else. Where was Chen Zhen? Qing Feng was very worried but she spoke with an unforgiving tone, “How about the person in the Cold Palace? Burned to death?”
All the people who extinguished the fire stood at the side blankly. At that time they only cared about extinguishing the fire and since there were no people of importance in the Cold Palace, who would bother about it. Now that Qing Feng asked, no one could answer. Zhang Shun An’s cold sweat kept flowing and just as he wanted to send someone to the Cold Palace to check, a dishevelled and filled with ashes female suddenly took a step forward and replied, “My mistress is sick and is currently in bedridden in the house.”
Qing Feng squinted her eyes slightly before she was able to clearly see the person covered in black. It was actually Wu-er?! As her heart got more worried and yet her face must be void of any reaction, Qing Feng coldly laughed and sneered, “Sick? What kind of illness can be this serious. Bengong want to go in and see.”
“Your Ladyship, the smoke here is just too much, you are of noble and precious status, it would be ideal…” Zhang Shun An quickly went up to dissuade but Qing Feng did not even bothered with him the slightest bit and just walked into the Cold Palace. Zhang Shun An wanted to chase after her but was stopped outside the doors by Fu Ling.
Zhang Shun An did not dare to speak more but his heart could not help by sigh. Forget it. The relationship between concubines were like beating a drowning dog. He had seen many of such instances.
Qing Feng went into the Cold Palace and Fu Ling diligently guarded by the main doors and it seems that no one else can think of entering. Zhuo Qing walked to the surrounding wall around the Cold Palace and her gaze landed on a few charred marks on the ground before she frowned uncontrollably.
It was about the same when she came in the last time and the house was empty. She looked around but did not see Chen Zhen’s shadow at all. Qing Feng started to get anxious and called out loudly, “Chen Zhen?”
Qing Feng called out a few times and the curtain of the room at the northern side moved a little. Qing Feng looked over and Chen Zhen came out from it at the same time. That curtain was not big, if one do not give it a closer look, one will ignore it.
“It’s you?” Chen Zhen apparently did not expect that the person who came was actually Qing Feng.
Qing Feng sized her appearance up and found that she look a little haggard, the panic expression on her face was waning and there was nothing the matter with her body. Recovering her side, Qing Feng whispered, “The child?”
Chen Zhen hesitated for a moment before replying, “In here.” Finishing, she turn around and open the curtains to entire the room. Qing Feng quicken her steps to follow.
The little area was empty and there was only an old wooden box place by the window. In the northern area there was a large window and the window paper was long spoilt thus the wind kept entering, making it very cold. But this air was much more refreshing than outside. Chen Zhen glanced at Qing Feng and was a bit hesitant but finally still gently open that unlatched wooden box. A skinny small child was lying quietly on a pile of clothes sleeping. That small thin body was almost completely covered by the clothing, leaving the small little face exposed. Qing Feng frowned, “Why is the child place in the closet?”
A flash of pain appeared on Chen Zhen’s face as she bowed her head and replied, “There were fire outside and I was worried that someone will come in and see him, so…”
There was such a huge smoke just now… Qing Feng asked, “Did the child cry or not?”
“In the beginning when there was a huge and thick smoke, he cried for a while but his cries were naturally not loud. After that, I carried him to the window and he stopped crying.” Seeing Qing Feng’s frown got tighter, Chen Zhen quickly said, “He really only cried for a short while! Those people were busy firefighting and should not have heard it.”
What if someone heard the cries of the child and this reached to the ears of the Empress… Chen Zhen was very keen and once she saw Qing Feng’s face slightly changed, she immediately guessed her thoughts and spoke urgently, “You cannot take the child away!”
“But…” Chen Zhen did not wait for Qing Feng to continue and strode to the front of the wooden box before pushing Qing Feng back two steps. That originally gentle face was not full of fierceness, “Only if I die, you can take him away.”
Such decisive words made Qing Feng swallow all the things she wanted to say. How she not know that a child was the extended meat from the mother? Thinking of her child at the house, Qing Feng’s heart soften and she sighed before replying, “Never mind. You take good care of him. I will let Imperial Physician Lin to take the pulse of both you and the child.”
Qing Feng did not forcefully bring the child away and that made Chen Zhen feel a little surprise. She finally gave a sigh of relief, “Thank you Qing Feng.”
Qing Feng shook her head. What was there to thank? There were still unknown things that would happen later.
Qing Feng did not say in the room for long and when she came out, the smoke that was raised after the fire was extinguished was gone, leaving stains of water and a thick smell of smoke. Qing Feng loudly spoke, “Someone come and summon for Imperial Physician Lin, after all she was once also the Emperor’s woman.”
“Yes.” Zhang Shun An gave a look and the eunuch behind him immediate ran toward the Medical Courtyard.
Qing Feng was about to say something to Fu Ling when she saw Zhuo Qing crouching beside one of the pile of ashes, looking at don’t know what, when she turned her head. When did she followed over here? Qing Feng’s slightly frown as she walked behind her and asked, “What is wrong?”
There was a half-burnt branch in Zhuo Qing’s hands and she gently parted the ashes with her feet. Without looking up, she whispered her reply, “There are not only one origin point of fire. This fire was purposely set up by someone. This kind of fire would not be big but the smoke would be powerful.”
Qing Feng quickly glance around the surroundings as her brows tighten. There were several piles of ashes by the wall of the Cold Palace and it looked not natural. It seems that the arsonist did not necessarily want to burn down the Cold Palace. But what he did was to focus the attention to the Cold Palace or was it to go against Chen Zhen? Or was it that the child had been exposed?
Qing Feng’s heart started to feel confused as she looked at Eldest Sister’s sober profile. That pair of eyes were calm and clear, which made her heart more chaotic. Qing Feng secretly took a deep breath before continue asking, “What else can you see?”
Releasing the branches from her hands, Zhuo Qing stood up and patted the ashes from her hands before replying, “Nothing else.” The arson’s approach was not clever but because so many people came over to put the fire out, many traces had been destroyed thus she helpless to it. If Gu Yun was here, she should be able to see more clues than her. Unfortunately, the Su Army was very strict and had left the capital this morning to lay siege on the pirates.
Qing Feng was somewhat disappointed but at the same time felt a little peace of mind. As her mind kept turning around a thousand time, she did not know what to say in a moment. Finally she opened her mouth and said a sentence, “It is no longer early, you should go back first.”
Zhuo Qing nodded her head and smiled before replying, “Alright. If you have thought about anything to ask, then look for me.”
Even though there were hidden meaning behind Zhuo Qing’s words, she still smiled so magnanimously that Qing Feng’s heart was inexplicably settled a little. Qing Feng turned around and called, “Fu Ling…”
“Let her stay behind to help you. I have entered and exited the Imperial Palace for a few times and can make my way out myself.”
Qing Feng thought of the many things that require Fu Ling to settle in the aftermath of the fire in the Cold Palace and did not insist on it. Zhuo Qing waved her hands and turn around to leave. That lean figure walked away quickly, strongly yet agile. Qing Feng stared at that back view, entranced.
Eldest Sister, was it you?
Was it you?
“Mistress…” There were still a lot of people surrounding the door of the Cold Palace and Fu Ling gently called her Mistress.
Qing Feng recovered herself from the trance and when she thought about the mother and son in the Cold Palace, her headache returned.
“This servant is here.” Zhang Shun An quickly stood forward.
Qing Feng coldly said, “The Emperor is working hard on current affairs, the Empress Dowager is getting older and the Empress’s health is also not good, so don’t bother them with this kind of complicated chores. You all as servants should share these concerns from the masters.”
Zhang Shun An was of course not a stupid person, he understood the meaning in his heart and replied, “Your Ladyship has correctly disciplined.”
“Alright. What should be clean-up must be cleaned up. Those that do not have anything to do should return.”
It was also not convenient for her to stay here any longer. She gave Fu Ling a look and Fu Ling nodded her head lightly before Qing Feng turned to leave.
“Escorting your Ladyship. Long live your Ladyship.”
Qing Feng need not need to turn around to know that there was a floor of kneeling people behind her, greeting loudly and orderly. She was instead felt exhausted and wanted to return back to her son’s side.