Chapter 114: Palace Changes
Qing Feng gave birth to a princess and even though it was not as glorifying as giving birth to a prince, the Empress Dowager and Empress came to congratulate with the concubines. Yan Hong Tian also came over to see her a few times. Perhaps it was because she felt guilty for changing the baby, Qing Feng would pretend to be sleeping most of the times. Yan Hong Tian would not disturb her sleep and left after seeing his daughter.
This morning, when Qing Feng was carrying the baby girl to play on the bed, Yan Hong Tian suddenly came. Not sure if it was that he did not rest well, his expression was not good but he had some joy. He strode to Qing Feng’s bed and sat in front of it and smiled, “Three days ago, your Eldest Sister gave birth to a pair of fraternal twins.”
“Really?” The baby was carried away seven eight days ago. Finally there were news. Qing Feng quickly said, “How is she and the children?”
“Mother and children are safe. Lou Xi Yan gave the children names. The girl is call Lou Chen, the boy is called Lou Xi.”
“Chen, Xi… Really good names.” Qing Feng softly whispered. Xi-er, youthful energy and also full of hope.
Yan Hong Tian’s large hands pat the little girl who was openly staring at him with wide open eyes and asked, “What name do you want to give her?”
Qing Feng looked down at the baby girl in her arms and saw the cinnabar mole that was like a snow plum. When she grow up, she would presumably would be beauty that can enrapture an entire city. She did not know who were the parents of this child that would be able to produce such an alluring girl. They must not be ordinary but Qing Feng had another expectations, “Give her the ‘Ning’ word. Hope that this child’s life would be calm and peaceful.”
“Yan Ning.” Yan Hong Tian nodded his and spoke out, “Granted.”
The little girl suddenly grinned and her two little soft hands were also forcefully thrown apart. Yan Hong Tian and Qing Feng looked at one another and also followed her in laughter, “Seem that she also like it.”
The little girl was very lively as she kept shaking her head, making Qing Feng laugh amusingly, consolidating the regrets that she had of Xi-er not at her side. Qing Feng played with the child as Yan Hong Tian, who was hugging her from behind, did not speak. Qing Feng thought that it was because he did not like to play with kids so she was not bothered but after some time, Qing Feng felt that Yan Hong Tian’s hands that was holding her shoulder tighten so much that it hurts her.
“Sss.” Qing Feng took in a breath of cold air in pain. Yan Hong Tian’s hands that was grabbing her shoulder finally let got but the next moment his entire body totally leaned against her back. Qing Feng place the child forward and thus did not press onto her. Qing Feng frowned as she place the child at the inside of the bed. She was a little frustrated and wanted to tell him off when she turn her head but when she saw his pale face, she was shocked, “What.. Is wrong with you?”
It was currently winter but there was a thin layer of sweat on Yan Hong Tian’s forehead as his face turn pale and his sharp brows tightly twisted together. The usually calm and deep dark eyes seemed to be experience great pain as it was closed and his tall body could not even sit up. This kind of Yan Hong Tian frighten Qing Feng. She place her hands on his shoulder and Qing Feng quickly called, “Ru Yi, Ru Yi!”
Ru Yi heard the sound and rushed in to see the Emperor half leaning against her Ladyship and her Ladyship was shouting in panic, “Quick, quick summon the Imperial Physician!”
“Oh. Yes!” Ru Yi was so scared that she almost tripped over the door ledge. Just now it was good, why was it like this in such a short time. Ru Yi quickly ran to the Medical Court and called Imperial Physician Wang, Imperial Physician Zheng and Imperial Physician Lin over. When they returned to Qing Feng Hall, the room was packed with people and the Empress Dowager and Empress had arrived.
The child was carried out by the wet nurse and Yan Hong Tian laid on the bed as his face turned green then to ash white. The Empress sat by the bed urging the Imperial Physician. Qing Feng stood at the end of the bed in silence watching the person laying on the bed.
Lou Shu Xin stood in the middle of the room as she walked anxiously, without that usual aloof and arrogant look as she muttered, “Why suddenly fall ill?”
Several physician took the pulse many times but did not utter a single word. Lou Shu Xin could not help but urgently said, “Imperial Physician Wang, what is the condition the Emperor is suffering from?”
Wang Zhi Yang kept his head down as he replied, “The Emperor. The Emperor is not ill.”
“Not ill then why is it like this?”
“The Emperor… The Emperor’s body has signs of… A strange poison.” Finishing, Wang Zhi Yang also broke into a cold sweat.
“Poison?” Everyone in the room was shocked. Lou Shu Xin have yet to recover to her senses when Xin Yue Ning asked hastily, “What poison is it and is there an antidote?”
“It has been going for some time. Afraid it was due to the consumption of food.”
This was terrible! Lou Shu Xin angrily called, “Someone come and bring in the person in charge of the Emperor’s food to Aijia.”
In a short time the guard brought the Imperial Kitchen steward and Xu Yi to Lou Shu Xin. The eunuch in charge of the Imperial Kitchen kept denying his crimes, saying that the Emperor’s food had been Xu Ji’s responsibility. Lou Shu Xin stared at Xu Ji angrily, “Xu Ji, what did you all give the Emperor to eat?”
Xu Ji quietly look at Qing Feng and hesitantly replied, “This servant… This servant had always prepare the meal per usual but these days, Imperial Concubine Qing gave this servant some medical powder to let this servant put it in the soup that the Emperor drink. This servant really did not think that her Ladyship would harm the Emperor! This servant deserve to die, this servant deserve to die!”
Qing Feng heard the meaning of his words and quickly said, “When did I give you medicine to put in the Emperor’s meals?”
Xu Ji shrank his shoulders as if he was afraid of her, “Your Ladyship said that the last time the physician that healed your face had great skills and gave you some secret medicine to condition one’s health and to let this servant add into the soup for the Emperor to drink.”
“You are slandering venomously!” At this moment, Qing Feng’s entire body was ice cold. She was being framed but unable to dispute at all.
Wang Zhi Yang walked to Xu Ji and asked, “Where is the powder?”
Xu Ji took a paper bag from his waist and passed it with trembling hands over to Wang Zhi Yang. Wang Zhi Yang took it over and open to see. It contained white powder and he took it to the other two physician for discussion. After a while Wang Zhi Yang turn back and spoke to the Empress Dowager, “It is this.”
It was indeed Qing Feng? Lou Shu Xin look at Qing Feng with her cold pair of eyes as Qing Feng’s lips tighten, portraying a stubborn look. At this time Xin Yue Ning suddenly stood up and look at Qing Feng profoundly to say, “Empress Dowager, actually there is a matter that Chenqie did not verified before and thus dare not anyhow say. But seeing the situation now, Chenqie cannot not say it.”
“What?” Lou Shu Xin’s eyes looked at Qing Feng and Xin Yue Ning back and forth several times.
Xin Yue Ning gently raised her hand and a palace maid came in with a small box. Xin Yue Ning opened the box and handed the letter to Lou Shu Xin’s hand. Xin Yue Ning gave an anguished look and said, “These are the secret letters that Chenqie secretly intercepted. Empress Dowager, all these are Hao Yue’s instruction to the Qing sister. They sent the Qing sisters to Qiong Yue not with the heart of surrendering. The Qing sisters seduce the Emperor, Prime Minister Lou and General Su, to shake the foundation of our Qiong Yue.”
Seeing the pieces of letters from Hao Yue and then looking at Yan Hong Tian laying on the bed with a pale face, Lou Shu Xin did not have the mood to read the content of the letters and threw them on Qing Feng’s face as she scolded in anger, “Qing Feng, the Imperial family treated you well and you dare to actually harm the Emperor! You deserve to die a thousand times!”
“I…” The paper landed on her cheek and cause it to hurt. This was obviously Xin Yue Ning’s trap and this time she was unable to break free of it.
“Ke ke.” The person who was laying on the bed suddenly sat up. The Imperial Physician immediately approached to support Yan Hong Tian to sit on the bed. At this moment even though his face was ashen grey, his eyes was much clearer and brighter than before as it locked onto Qing Feng.
Qing Feng did not know if he just heard the words from Xu Ji and Xin Yue Ning as she look into his cold dark eyes. She wanted to explain and was very eagerly explaining, “I did not! You must believe me! I am not a spy and did not let anyone put poison in your food. This so call accusations are forged.”
Qing Feng expect to see a little bit of trust or even hesitation is good but other than coldness, she could see nothing else in that pair of eyes.
Xin Yue Ning went up and quickly said, “Emperor, you shouldn’t listen to her words anymore. This woman’s heart is vicious and she has ulterior motives.”
“Someone come and take Qing Feng to the Board of Investigation’s prison. Announce Zhen’s instruction and sent the other two Qing sisters to the same prison together.” The deep voice was without any trace of emotion, making Qing Feng not believe that this was the man who was warmly discussing baby names with her just now?!
“Yes.” The guards that were on guard outside heard Yan Hong Tian’s words and quickly entered the inner chambers and two of them dragged Qing Feng out.
The pain from the twisted arms was still raw but Qing Feng did not fell any pain. She now could understand the feeling Chen Zhen have when she was banished to the Cold Palace. This man no longer trusted you, what else could be said? Unfortunately she was not Cheng Zhen and would not quietly bear it herself. When she turned around, Qing Feng look at Yan Hong Tian and said word for word, “Yan Hong Tian, I hate you.”
At the moment when she was dragged out of the door, there were terrified cries sounded behind her. When Qing Feng turned back to look, she only saw black blood stains on Yan Hong Tian’s mouth.
Most of the time the door of Yong Hua Palace would be closed. Since the afternoon, Fu Ling kept hearing all kinds of noises from the outside and the neat rapid footsteps of the guards emitted a restlessness. She vaguely felt that something must have happened but she did not go out to find out and thus felt ill at ease.
Carrying Prince Han in her arms, Fu Ling walked around the courtyard. Yan Han is already a year old and could not speak yet but love to babble and play with Fu Ling’s air. Usually Fu Ling would let him play as she smile but today she grabbed the child’s hand and hugged him tightly.
It was really strange today. It was already long passed Youshi (modern timing: 5 – 7 pm) but she did not see Ming Ze coming her. Usually he would come over a quarter of a shichen earlier to Yong Hua Palace but why would he be late today?
Fu Ling walked dozens of round in the courtyard but her heart failed to calm down. As time pass by, she felt even more uneasy. Fu Ling was about to call of a mama to bring the Prince back into the house so that she will go out on her own to look when the main doors of Yong Hua Palace finally opened and the tall figure of Ming Ze walked in.
He usually put on a cold look and Fu Ling was already accustomed to it but today there were obvious worries and doubts on his face. She had not spoken to him for many months but she had to break it today. Fu Ling carried the Prince and went up to ask, “What is going on outside?”
Ming Ze turned around and closed the doors back again before whispering, “Imperial Concubine Qing plotted the Emperor’s murder and is currently held in the prison of Board of Investigation.”
Fu Ling was surprised, “How is this possible?!” She had be by Mistress’s side for so long and did not see her do anything that could harm the Emperor. Moreover Mistress just gave birth to a Princess for the Emperor, how could she plan to murder the Emperor?
Fu Ling’s heart was feeling distress as she wondered if she should leave the Palace to seek help from Lou Furen and Miss Qing. Before Fu Ling could think clearly, the main doors that were tightly closed was suddenly forced open from the outside. Fu Ling only felt her waist tighten and Ming Ze had already held her and the Prince in her arms to withdrew seven or eight steps back.
Fu Ling just stood firm and Ming Ze already unleash the sword on his waist as he stood in front of her. The person who came in was actually the guards lead by the leader of the guards, Guo Yi.
Ming Ze saw the people approaching and place the sword at his side. He did not point it at the approaching people but did not sheath his sword, as he stared at them alertly.
Fu Ling looked at the dozen people who rushed in and could not help but frowned. She calm herself down and took a step forwards as she hugged Yan Han to speak, “What are you all doing?”
Guo Yi gave her a look and finally his eyes landed on Yan Han as he coldly replied, “Qing Feng colluded with Hao Yue and plotted harm on the Emperor. Prince Han should not longer be brought up by her. This official is here on the Empress’s decree to bring him to Yi Lan Palace.”
He actually did not bow when he saw the Prince and that look in his eyes made goosebumps form on Fu Ling’s body and also scared Yan Han into moving. Seeing that the two guards had stepped forward to forcefully grab, Fu Ling hastily took a few steps back from them to avoid their hands and asked in a strong calm voice, “Do you have the Emperor’s Imperial decree?”
Guo Yi did not put her in his eyes as he replied, “This official’s action is in accordance to the Empress’s instruction.”
Guo Yi gave a look to the two guards and they did not dare to neglect their duties. They rush towards the child in Fu Ling’s arms. In Fu Ling’s panic, she hid behind Ming Ze’s back and thought that it was not an option to just hid, so she quickly said, “Hold on! The Emperor have decreed that Prince Han will be brought up by Imperial Concubine Qing and the decree was read out in front of an entire court of civil and military officials and even to the world. If you want to take Prince Han away, unless you have the Emperor’s decree, else please leave.”
The two guards hesitated for a moment and looked back at Guo Yi. Guo Yi did not expect that a palace maid would actually dare to stop him and stared at Fu Ling angrily, “Impudent. This official’s orders is not what you a palace maid…”
“I am the female official that the Emperor granted personally and is ranked at fifth upper rank. Guo Official do not need to wave your authority in front of me. Without an Imperial decree, I will not let you take the Prince away!” Fu Ling dare not give in. If she back away, this child cannot be saved!
Ming Ze was somewhat surprised. He turned his head sideways and saw that female who did not fear or retreat at all. He did not think that she had this side of her. In Ming Ze moment of thought, Guo Yi angrily shouted, “It is not up to you!” Finishing, he pulled the blade from his waist and strike at Fu Ling’s direction.
“Ah–” Fu Ling never had imagine that he would actually use his sword and she was still carrying the Prince?! If in the beginning she was only suspicious of the purpose these people were carrying, at this moment she could be sure that they were targeting the Prince’s life!
The blade forcefully brought the cold air over and Fu Ling had no time to avoid it. She could only use her body to protect the child in her arms as she closed her eyes in fear.
“Kuang dang” sounded and the sound of sword clashing shook one’s heart. The pain did not come as expected so Fu Ling opened her eyes and saw Ming Ze’s sword in his arms blocking that fatal strike.
“Ming Ze…” Fu Ling eyes was somewhat heated as words choked in her throat.
“Ming Ze, what are you doing? You actually dare to stop this official!” Guo Yi did not think that this usually silent and cold person would actually stop his sword for a palace maid.
Ming Ze did not say anything to him and held one sword in front of the guards with one hand as he protected Fu Ling with the other to withdraw to the gate, “Quickly leave! Go to Dong Sheng Palace.”
When Ming Ze finish, he pushed Fu Ling out the door and gave a back kick. As Fu Ling fell out, the doors were slammed shut.
“Ming Ze!” Fu Ling screamed but no one replied her. She only heard the continuous sound of sword clashing. Fu Ling dare not stay back and dare not look back as she held Yan Han tightly and rush towards the direction of Dong Sheng Palace without addition thoughts. Seeing Dong Sheng Palace in sight, she only need to pass the winding corridor to reach it. The skies were getting dark and Fu Ling’s legs weaken as the hands that were carrying the Prince were shaking. Fu Ling grind her teeth as she walked on the stone steps of the winding corridors when suddenly her hand felt pain and a hand firmly gripped her arm.
“Ah!” At this time any little movement was enough to scare Fu Ling. Fu Ling cried out in shock and that pair of hands immediately covered her mouth.
“Don’t scream!” The lowered voice was very familiar so Fu Ling looked over and saw clearly the person who was holder her. Fu Ling finally quieten down and that person also loosen the grip. Fu Ling murmured, “It’s you…”
“Right now, Dong Sheng Palace is also not safe.” The person made a silencing gesture and looked around before heading towards a small trail. Fu Ling look towards the direction of Dong Sheng Palace and then back to the person before finally following the person’s footsteps and quickly disappeared into the night.