Women with Shared Fates
Chen Yu ate dinner outside the manor that night.
That letter invited her to a private room on the second floor of a restaurant called Ming Yue Building in the capital. The letter did not, however, mention who the sender was.
Yi Yue only told Chen Yu that it was given to her by one of the servants that guarded the door. The person who had delivered it was a child. After the letter was delivered to the hands of someone in the Feng manor, the child immediately ran away.
Yi Yue did not approve of Chen Yu going out at this time. The day was late after all. Moreover, it was unknown what sort of person they would be meeting. What if there was some sort of trap, then wouldn’t they be courting trouble.
But Chen Yu was adamant on going out. For some reason, she was certain that this letter came from an ally; furthermore, this ally would bring about some changes in her life.
There was nothing Yi Yue could do. She had no choice but to accompany Chen Yu. With master and servant in the carriage, they rushed towards Ming Yue Building. When they arrived at the second floor, there was already a waiter standing there waiting. Upon seeing them arrive, he quickly went over and asked: “Would you be the young miss with the surname Feng?”
Feng Chen Yu used a gauze to cover her face before leaving the manor. Hearing this waiter ask, she nodded then followed the waiter into a private room.
When she arrived, there was already someone inside drinking tea. It was a thin girl that wore plain clothes and a bamboo hat.
She ordered Yi Yue to stand guard outside and went in alone. Upon entering, she heard the girl in the bamboo hat say: “Eldest young miss Feng really has some courage to make this appointment.”
Hearing these words, Chen Yu immediately recognized who was before her. She saluted the other person and said: “So it was imperial daughter Qing Le.”
The other person put down their cup slightly nodded, saying to Chen Yu: “Sit.”
Only then did Chen Yu sit across from her and remove the gauze covering face. She then said to Qing Le: “It is just the two of us in this private room, why bother keeping on the bamboo hat.”
Qing Le was slightly startled and tightly balled up her fists. She then spoke through gritted teeth, “I can not take it off. I fear that I will never be able to take it off again, in this lifetime.”
Chen Yu was stunned then recalled the matter of Ding An palace being burned, “Was your face burned?” Immediately after asking this, she felt that something was not right. Qing Le was wearing a bamboo hat, but the silk covering her face was incredibly thin. Sitting across from her, she could clearly see that there were no changes to Qing Le’s appearance. “What exactly happened?” Chen Yu realized that something was not quite right and quickly followed up with another question.
Qing Le gritted her teeth and viciously said: “Thanks your your second sister, my hair has been completely burned away!” As she said this, she suddenly removed the bamboo hat from her head.
Chen Yu was completely stunned. It seemed that under Qing Le’s bamboo hat, her head was completely bald. Her head that was once covered in glossy hair was now left without a single strand. On her scalp were scars, with some having a hard shell and some having bloodstains. It was truly much too disgusting.
Chen Yu was nauseous for a while and could hardly repress it.
Qing Le, however, was self-deprecating and said: “Just get used to looking at it, and it will get better. When I first saw what happened to my head, I nearly chopped it off myself. Did you know? My hair will never grow again. My royal father brought in many doctors, but they all said that it will never grow again.”
Qing Le’s eyes began to go red. For a girl to be burned to this degree, there was no hope left for her in this life.
But she was originally an imperial daughter! Although her father was a powerless lord, she was still of a more noble background than other girls, but she had now fallen to such a degree… “It’s all because of that Feng Yu Heng. I absolutely must kill her!”
Feng Chen Yu was very smart. She knew that Qing Le had not just called her out to complain a little. The two were not on good enough terms to discuss anything pleasant. If the other side wanted to complain, they would not look for her. Thinking about it, Qing Le should be wanting to discuss an alliance with the enemy of her enemy and drag Feng Yu Heng down from her glorious position.
Chen Yu knew that hearing about the other side’s secret, she would need to make her own secret known as well. Only like this could their camaraderie improve another level.
Thus, she poured herself a cup of tea, but she did not drink it. Instead, she dipped her handkerchief in the tea. After the handkerchief was wet, she wiped away her own eyebrows before Qing Le. After a while, both of her eyebrows had been wiped away completely, leaving a bare forehead without a single eyebrow.
Qing Le was completely stunned. Feng Chen Yu’s face had always been something that caused the other girls to be envious. That was an image that could not be reconciled with the strange creature before her!
Chen Yu saw Qing Le’s expression and knew that her own revelation had an effect. She then quickly shifted her bangs down to cover her eyebrows. “Thanks to Feng Yu Heng, I now have a similar appearance to imperial daughter Qing Le.”
Qing Le was curious, “How did this happen to you? Did she shave them?”
Chen Yu smiled bitterly, “Thinking about it, imperial daughter should have heard about the matter that happened at my mother’s funeral, right?”
“The matter of your brother starting a fire?”
“Un.” Feng Chen Yu nodded then said: “But what could cause her own son to start a fire on purpose. Is it not because brother knew that mother was killed by Feng Yu Heng. Only then did he lose control and want to kill her, then because of a slip up, he set fire to the mourning hall, which burned my eyebrows. Imperial daughter, you tell me, my debt with Feng Yu Heng, should I go ask my brother to pay it?”
Qing Le agreed with her way of thinking: “Naturally, you should settle the debts with Feng Yu Heng. What your brother did was correct. If it were me, I would also want to tear her body to a thousands bits before my hate is resolved. That’s right, can your eyebrows grow back?”
Chen Yu smiled bitterly, “I’ve asked a doctor. Although it can grow back, the process of growing them back is extremely long. There is no hope of them growing back within one year. If I want them to grow back as they were before, it would take at least two to three years. Two to three years, you know. I am fourteen this year, and in three years, I will have long passed the marrying age.” She deliberately made it sound worse to ease Qing Le’s mood. In reality, her eyebrows should begin growing back in half a year, while it should return to normal in seven to eight months.
Qing Le became angrier the more she heard and remembered her own hair, “At least yours will grow back. I will remain this way for the rest of my life.”
Chen Yu felt that the two had reached a consensus, thus she did not wait for Qing Le to fully explain and said: “Actually, Chen Yu and imperial daughter originally did not have any real connections, but now we have a common enemy, so how about imperial daughter cooperates with Chen Yu and take back the things that we have lost?”
Qing Le felt that Chen Yu was spot on, so she no longer needed to sell the idea. Nodding, she said: “Me looking for you today was also for this reason. After all, you and her are both living in the Feng family, so you should have a better understanding of her daily life. On my side, I have not been an imperial daughter for this many years for nothing. I have some of my own forces on the outside. With the two of us acting together, there is no need to fear Feng Yu Heng causing trouble for us.”
Chen Yu was very happy to have an accomplice in taking care of Feng Yu Heng, thus she hurriedly nodded and said: “Imperial daughter, do not worry. In the future, if imperial daughter needs Chen Yu to collaborate on anything, just let me know. The only question is, how will we communicate? Continuing to send letters into the manor will not do.”
Qing Le had an idea for this facet and told Chen Yu: “This Ming Yue Building is under our palace’s name. If I have any news, I will send a servant here. You should also send a reliable servant to personally come over here. If you have any plans, you can leave them with the shopkeeper.”
At this point, Qing Le and Chen Yu had formed a proper alliance, and this obviously remained unknown to Feng Yu Heng. She was presently helping Yao shi prepare the things Zi Rui needed in Xiao Zhou.
Yao shi decided to send Zi Rui off as soon as possible. Firstly, it was to show the academy that they were doing their best. Secondly, she wanted Zi Rui to leave a contentious place like the Feng family, fearing that something troublesome would happen in this never peaceful place.
In this regard, Feng Yu Heng was in agreement. She always felt that Chen shi’s death, Fen Dai and Feng Zi Hao’s departures would not result in the Feng manor becoming peaceful. That Chen Yu, however, was not one to take things lying down. With her mother and brother having been removed in such a way, if she did not do anything, then she would not be Feng Chen Yu.
Feng Yu Heng obviously did not fear what sorts of actions Chen Yu would enact towards herself, but she was worried about having Yao shi or Zi Rui being targeted. In truth, she really wanted Yao shi to accompany Zi Rui in going to Xiao Zhou, but Zi Rui said that he was a brave man. How could he go everywhere with his mother. In order to train his independence, she could only accept this way of thinking.
The next morning, the members of the Feng family once again gathered at the Feng manor’s gates after breakfast.
This time, it was a celebratory matter. Feng Zi Rui was being taken in by Yun Lu Academy’s head teacher, imperial tutor Ye Rong, as a personal disciple. This matter was such a joyous occasion that even Feng Jin Yuan glowed when patting Zi Rui’s head.
He was, in the end, acting like a father. With his children having splendid futures, it was much more important than his own official ranking, which made him emotional. Supporting Zi Rui’s head, he gave some advice and warnings: “When you get over there, make sure you listen to head teacher. Do not be lazy. Do not go learning bad things from bad children. You will be a personal disciple, so you will not just be learning from head teacher, you will also be looking after his daily life. A teacher for a day is a father for a lifetime, so you must not be like the other students and simply request things from your teacher. You must pay your dues.”
Zi Rui nodded, not quite understanding. He then turned his head towards Feng Yu Heng.
She walked forward and repeated the words Feng Jin Yuan said then added: “The things father said, you should do your best to remember. It is alright if you do not understand them right now. Sooner or later, there will come a day when you understand.” As for the things Feng Jin Yuan said, Feng Yu Heng was heavily in agreement. In fact, she felt that this was the most reliable thing her father had said. “Zi Rui, you are a big child now and you will not be able to return home often, so you must be extra careful on your own outside. From this point forward, your master will also be like your father. No matter what happens, asking your master for help in resolving it is the best option.”
Zi Rui earnestly nodded then saluted Feng Yu Heng and Feng Jin Yuan: “Zi Rui has remembered it all. Thank you father and big sister for your teachings. Father, please take care of your body.” After he said this, he turned towards the matriarch: “Zi Rui will be unable to fulfill my filial duties to grandmother and hope that grandmother will not blame me.”
Tears began to flow from the matriarch’s eyes. Both were going to Yun Lu Academy, but this time was much more touching and dignified than the year they sent Zi Hao off.
Yao shi hugged Zi Rui for a while, crying, and Feng Yu Heng found it very difficult to separate the two. She also promised Zi Rui that she would go visit him in Xiao Zhou after the Mid-Autumn Banquet was over. Only then did she help the child into the carriage.
Watching the carriage get further and further, Feng Jin Yuan once again pondered the words that the matriarch had spoken yesterday. He actually began to have hope. Hope that the Yao family was alright, so he could once again promote Yao shi back up. Like this, Zi Rui and Feng Yu Heng would once again become his son and daughter to the first wife. With that, his second daughter to his first wife would be the official Princess Yu, and his second son to his first wife would be the current Emperor’s junior disciple. How glorious would that be!
Turning around, he took note of the matriarch’s gaze. Feng Jin Yuan knew that he and the matriarch had similar thoughts.
After sending off Zi Rui, everyone prepared to return to the manor when they saw a carriage slowly approach.
The matriarch let out a startled shout then immediately recognized the appearance of the carriage. She quickly said: “Wait, wait. That seems to be an imperial carriage!”