Paying Respects to Imperial Concubine Yun
“Those are lower-class singers.” Wang Chuang lowered her head and said to Feng Yu Heng: “Do you see that man? He is the master of these singers. They frequently travel all over to perform in various places. In reality, the places that they perform are mostly brothels.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded. She had already guessed their identities, but it was because of this that she was puzzled upon seeing a certain girl.
She furrowed her brow slightly then unfurrowed it. She must have made a mistake. After all, despite not seeing that person for a long time, that person should not have fallen to such a degree.
After getting on the boat, they headed straight toward the elegant rooms. Because Wang Chuan and Yuan Fei stayed together in a room, it would inevitably be a little troubling. She quietly negotiated with Feng Yu Heng: “How about I go next door to sleep at night?”
Huang Quan laughed at her: “When we went out on missions in the past, did men and women not sleep in the same bed before. What was there to it! Wang Chuan, don’t be shy!”
Wang Chuan glared at her but thought about it and arrived at the same conclusion, thus she did not say anything else; however, she changed the subject, reminding Feng Yu Heng: “While looking at those children before we boarded the boat, I was thinking the entire time. There shouldn’t be anything off about the child that we bought last time, right? She secretly snuck into the imperial carriage. Is this something that really is just a coincidence?”
Feng Yu Heng waved her hand and did not mind, only saying: “Zi Rui having a partner is good. She’s just a young child. Even if she has ulterior motives, Zi Rui should be able to think for himself. He is no longer young. Having experienced that matter, he should have grown a little. While maturing, he will experience bumps and setbacks.”
Hearing Feng Yu Heng say it like this, Wang Chuan also calmed down. After the group finished making arrangements, Huang Quan and Feng Yu Heng returned to the room next door to rest.
When they were entering their room, the guests in the neighboring room were walking over. It was a middle-aged couple. The woman was rather fat. Although she could not compare to Chen shi in size, she had a bit of a fierce look in her eyes. The man, however, looked a bit like an intellectual. Taking the initiative to open the door for the woman, a sliver of fear could be seen.
There was a maidservant following behind the two that looked to be just under 20-years-old and wore a pale-blue dress. Although she had her hair tied up in a servant’s hairstyle, she had an irritated look on her face. From time to time, she would glance at the middle-aged man, her eyes filled with iciness. She was also extremely careful to avoid the fat woman.
Feng Yu Heng was immediately able to understand what was happening and could not help but snort coldly to herself. Rolling her eyes in disdain, she entered her own room. At this time, she could faintly hear the woman next door say: “We must secure the things that we brought. If the gifts that have been prepared for Lord Duan Mu are able to calm him, as long as he gives the word, there will be no need for you to be just a lowly local magistrate.”
Feng Yu Heng stopped in her tracks then quickly recovered. After the Emperor had publically executed the member of Qian Zhou’s divine archery team that they had brought back, the prologue to the battle between Da Shun and Qian Zhou could be said to have begun. But in regards to the matter of the North defecting to the enemy, the report that had come from 800 li away had finally arrived. Da Shun, however, did not announce it to the public for fear of creating panic. For a lowly local magistrate to remain in the dark was quite normal. It was just that this magistrate had also put in some work. His desire to earn a promotion led him to the North, and he had chosen to specifically go during the time around the New year to present a gift to Duan Mu An Guo. These kinds of thoughts were quite rare.
Huang Quan stood next to the door for a while and continued to listen. After ensuring that there were no movements outside, she sat down next to Feng Yu Heng and quietly said: “He Tian Prefecture’s magistrate is a standard sixth rank official. His government is located inside Xiao Zhou. Based on this servant’s judgment, this person would be able to reach the standard fifth rank at most. To get any higher is practically impossible. He is a magistrate recognized within He Tian Prefecture. Even if he is promoted, it is quite unlikely that he will be sent to any other province. He Tian Prefecture is composed of Xiao Zhou and Qing Zhou. If we consider the standard fifth rank positions, there is only the magistrate of the prefecture. The magistrate of Xiao Zhou is someone from the Yun Lu Academy’s Ye family. With the Ye family’s foundation, it’s impossible for them to be replaced. Thinking about it like this, there is only the place where we will get off the boat, Qing Zhou.”
Feng Yu Heng did not have too much of an understanding of Qing Zhou, thus she asked, “What sort of person is the magistrate of Qing Zhou?”
Huang Quan thought for a while then shook her head, “This is something that this servant does not know.”
Feng Yu Heng did not continue to ask. Finding a place to lean back, she simply closed her eyes to rest. Although this trip North was not as hair-raising as the previous time, she still finally felt that there was danger all around. She feared that Qing Zhou would not be a peaceful place.
On his way to Winter Moon Palace, Zhang Yuan held the hands of two young children while walking forward. The two young children were Feng Zi Rui and the young female slave that Feng Yu Heng had purchased.
Zhang Yuan could be seen with a bitter expression, desperately consoling Zi Rui: “My dear little lord! Let’s not cause a stir. His Highness the ninth prince also sent a message saying for you two to go and live in Winter Moon Palace for a while. Just treat it as accompanying imperial concubine Yun. You must be obedient!”
Feng Zi Rui had a depressed expression and snorted coldly. He looked forward and did not speak. He could not understand. It was clearly said that he would be going to the military camp to learn martial arts, and he would be going North with his elder sister and brother-in-law to gain experience. Why was it that after sleeping just once, he found himself on a carriage heading back to the carriage when he woke up? At that time, he had been tied up again. If it was not for the person that had tied him up being someone that he knew, he nearly would have believed that he had been kidnapped again.
The little female slave on the other side also pouted unhappily. She tried a few times to pull her hand out of Zhang Yuan’s grasp; however, he would always manage to forcefully catch her. At the same time, Zhang Yuan reminded her: “As for you, you are just collateral. We are polite to the Feng family’s young master because he is a relative of the imperial family, but you are nothing more than a female servant. You must not forget your own status.”
The little girl raised her head and immediately glared at Zhang Yuan with a venomous look, her crisp voice speaking up: “Little elder brother is unhappy, so I am unhappy! If you cause little elder brother to be unhappy, you are bad people!” After saying this, she suddenly opened her mouth and bit at the back of Zhang Yuan’s hand.
Zhang Yuan did not have a chance to defend himself and let out a pained scream, flinging the little girl’s hand away.
The young child was flung next to some rockery on the side of the path, the impact causing tears to begin streaming down her face.
Zi Rui quickly broke free from Zhang Yuan’s grasp and ran over, asking with concern: “Is anything wrong?”
Eyes filled with tears, the young girl shook her head and said very firmly: No, I… this servant is not in pain.”
Zhang Yuan rolled his eyes at the two and helplessly said: “If you call yourself this servant, don’t call young master Feng little elder brother. You should call him master or young master.”
The little female servant hatefully glared at Zhang Yuan then lowered her head and weakly called: “Young master.”
Zi Rui stood there with his brow furrowed, saying: “I already told you that I am letting you go. I will return your slave contract to you. As for your registration, I will say something to the government office to have them make a new one for you. I can also give you enough money for living expenses. Why do you insist on following me?”
The little girl pouted and asked Zi Rui: “Back then, you begged me to save you. I did not ask for you to repay it. I still want to take care of you, so why do you keep trying to chase me away?”
Zi Rui felt that he could not reason with this child. This girl was hellbent on following him. No matter what he did, he could not chase her away. He had tried many times along the way, and a hidden guard had even thrown her out of the carriage. As a result, when they looked back, they found that the girl was running along behind the carriage. If she fell, she would stand back up and continue running. This resulted in her ending up covered in injuries.
He helplessly shook his head and helped her up, saying: “If you want to follow me, just go ahead. I will just remind you that this place is the imperial palace. You must pay more attention and speak less. Just follow me and don’t run around wildly.”
When the little girl heard that Zi Rui would no longer try to chase her away, she smiled brightly and hugged Zi Rui, shouting: “That’s too great! Little elder brother, Ying Cao knows you best!”
“Your name is Ying Cao? Ah, forget it, forget it. Regardless of what your name is, let go! Let go!”
Zhang Yuan truly felt that he could not bear to continue watching. Normally, he would need to watch the Emperor think of ways to gain imperial concubine Yun’s love. He would occasionally need to endure the affection between the ninth prince and imperial daughter Ji An. Now, it had actually developed to the point that little children were playing innocently before him. Just how should a eunuch like him live? Whatever he lacked would play out before him. Was this not just stabbing at his heart?
Zhang Yuan could not vent the frustrations building up inside him and made a decision. Within five days, he would claim to be ill and take a vacation. He did not want to take care of the Emperor. He did not want to see this flowery world! With this decision made, he grabbed the children’s hands and began to advance until they reached Winter Moon Palace’s gates. Only then did he say: “Imperial concubine Yun is the most serious member of the imperial harem. You two must be obedient. You must not cause trouble and disturb imperial concubine Yun’s rest. Otherwise, you will be responsible for your own actions!” After saying this, he slapped the gate and shouted: “Imperial daughter Ji An’s younger brother was sent here by his Highness the ninth prince!”
Zi Rui was rendered speechless by this. What sort of technique for knocking on a door was this? This was truly unique.
But he was still young and did not understand the heart of the matter. How could he know that if Zhang Yuan did not say it like this, the gates of Winter Moon Palace could not be opened at all. Even if he shouted like this, the people inside only opened up a small crack. A palace maid then poked her head out and glanced at Zhang Yuan before frowning.
Zhang Yuan quickly pushed Feng Zi Rui forward, “I came to send a child to the imperial concubine.”
The palace maid then looked at Zi Rui, but her expression did not improve. Instead, it became a little weird. She then asked: “What has imperial daughter’s younger brother come to Winter Moon Palace for? Imperial concubine did not call for him?”
Zhang Yuan had already prepared some nice things to say, immediately saying: “His Highness the ninth prince said for the young master and this little servant to come here and help relieve imperial concubine’s boredom. He also said that it would be best for them to remain in the palace the entire time until they return from Qian Zhou.”
The palace maid was stunned, and a look of panic appeared on her face. This trace of panic was not noticed by Zhang Yuan; however, it was seen by Zi Rui. Just as he wanted to ask if it meant that he could not say. If he could not stay, that would be best. Who knew that the palace maid would reach out and pulled him inside. In the instant that the gate was closed, Zhang Yuan quickly shoved Ying Cao in as well.
Finally, the palace’s gate was closed and Zhang Yuan let out a sigh of relief. Turning around, he returned to report to the Emperor.
Back inside Winter Moon Palace, Zi Rui was saying to the palace maid that had pulled him inside in a clear voice: “Since the reason for me coming here is safety, I cannot get out no matter what. Just bring me to pay respects to imperial concubine Yun!”