Imperial Concubine Yun is Not in the Palace Again
Yuan Fei saying “My father is prime minister Fung Qing” nearly caused the magistrate to kneel in fear. The maidservant behind him did not quite understand what this meant and simply stood there wide-eyed in confusion.
Feng Yu Heng smiled slightly and “kindly” reminded: “The so-called prime minister is the court’s prime minister and standard first rank high-ranking offical. In the court, there is only one person above him but countless others below him.”
The maidservant trembled, and her legs gave out, causing her to kneel on the ground.
Huang Quan snorted coldly, “Do you still want the pastries?”
How could the maidservant dare to want the pastries. She just focused on kowtowing.
Feng Yu Heng took a glance and did not say anything; however, she gave Wang Chuan a look. Wang Chuan understood but smiled and looked at the magistrate, saying: “Since you are also an official of Da Shun, there is no need to be reserved. Although father is a standard first rank official, our young master does not have an official rank.”
In regards to pretending to be the child of the prime minister’s family, Wang Chuan was performing quite exceptionally. Feng Yu Heng thought that Wang Chuan must have done something similar in the past. In fact, even just alluding to the apricot wine caused Yuan Fei to develop a tacit understanding.
The magistrate heard Wang Chuan say this; however, he did not appear to relax. Although the opposition was without official rank, the person that they had named was the current prime minister. That person was indeed only below one and above countless others! Although he had some doubts about the identities of the people before him, he would rather mistake their identity than slight them. What if they were the real deal? Moreover, even if they were not, the opposition dared to fake their relations to such a high-ranking official. Thinking about it, they should be people with some background. Either way, he could not afford to offend them.
Feng Yu Heng pulled a chair over and gave it to the magistrate, “My lord, please sit.”
The magistrate nodded and gave his thanks before gently seating his butt on the edge of the seat.
Yuan Fei’s expression was dull and revealed that he did not wish to speak, leaving the discussion for Wang Chuan to handle. Seeing the magistrate sit down, Wang Chuan gave Huang Quan a look to hand the pastry over to the maidservant then had Feng Yu Heng cut a couple pieces and place them next to the magistrate. How could the magistrate dare eat them. He just sat there and listened to Wang Chuan chat with him idly, “I wonder where lord Lu is going on this trip?” Earlier, she had heard Huang Quan mention that this group would be going North. She had also received a meaningful look from Feng Yu Heng, thus she asked this question.
The magistrate immediately began to think upon hearing this question. He did his best to think of the relation between Fung Qing and the Duan Mu family of the North. He then judged that the prime minister had not yet made his position clear. When the third prince had lost power, he had not been arrested. When he had gained power, he did not seem to get close to him. As a whole, he should be in a neutral position.
Having made this judgment, he calmed down slightly and obediently said: “This lowly official is going to the North. Leader Duan Mu’s birthday is coming up, and this lowly official is going to celebrate.” Saying it like this, he expressed his sincerity and tried to use this to shock them.
The maidservant was able to understand his intention and added: “Our lord Lu’s third daughter has married into the North. She is leader Duan Mu’s twelfth concubine, and she is the most favored.” When she said this, she was quite pleased. In her eyes, although a prime minister was important, the North was Da Shun’s door to the North. The Duan Mu family was an existence similar to local royalty. For lord Lu to be related to the Duan Mu family through marriage, his status was naturally not as simple as just a sixth rank magistrate.
“Oh?” Wang Chuan looked at magistrate Lu and laughed, saying: “So you were leader Duan Mu’s father-in-law.”
“I don’t dare. I don’t dare.” Magistrate Lu’s forehead became soaked with sweat in fear, and he could not help but glare at the maidservant, scolding: “You’re speaking out of turn!” He then said to Wang Chuan: “Young madam has exaggerated. She is just a lowly concubine. How could the words father-in-law even be used. Young madam, please do not try to overwhelm this lowly official with flattery.”
Wang Chuan laughed gently, “Lord Lu does not seem to be more than middle-aged. I wonder, your family’s young miss should be roughly the same age as my servant there, right?” She pointed at Huang Quan, her voice relaxed as though they were chatting idly.
Magistrate Lu was a little embarrassed. After a long time, he nodded, “My young daughter married over at the beginning of the year. When she left the home, she had… just become of marriageable age.”
“Oh.” Wang Chuan nodded and turned to say to Yuan Fei: “I heard father say that that leader Duan Mu is already over 50-years-old; however, he is still quite vigorous. He is still in quite good health.”
Yuan Fei said in a low voice: “Leader Duan Mu has stood guard in the North for many years. Those cold places are best for cultivating one’s body. It’s natural that he is in good health. He can compare to the 40-year-old men from the central region.
“It seems that the North really is a great place.” Wang Chuan said with a bright smile, “It’s a shame that we are just going to Qing Zhou. It’s almost the end of the year; otherwise, I really would have wanted to go to the North to take a look.”
Yuan Fei’s eyes lit up, and he immediately said: “If madam wants to go, husband will bring you along after the new year. We can also go to the Duan Mu family to get a cup of cold tea.”
Wang Chuan’s face turned red, and she slightly lowered her head.
Who knew that this action would be noticed by magistrate Lu; however, this caused him to relax a little. At least this young master and young madam did not seem to reject the North. Based on leader Duan Mu’s face, they should not leave him feeling too embarrassed.
Wang Chuan snuck a glance at Feng Yu Heng and saw her nod slightly. Only then did she smile and say to magistrate Lu: “The journey to the North is quite far. I hope that magistrate Lu will enjoy a peaceful trip without worries. It’s not good to leave pastries out for too long. Bring them back for your madam to eat.”
It was as though magistrate Lu had been granted a pardon, as he quickly stood up and bid farewell, bringing his servant out of the room. Huang Quan followed them to the door and lingered there for a while. She then nodded to the people inside before Wang Chuan dared to asked Feng Yu heng: “Young miss, is there something wrong with that magistrate Lu?”
Feng Yu Heng shrugged and found a place to sit down, saying: “There was definitely a problem with him, to begin with, but his problem is unrelated to us. The reason that I brought him in was to confirm a certain matter. Normally speaking, although word of the North defecting has not been made public, once the third prince’s actions had been revealed, all officials at all levels should understand that the Duan Mu family is completely hopeless. Even if a lowly magistrate’s mind is not that bright, for a standard sixth rank official to try and curry favor with Duan Mu An Guo is too laborious. I say, I was wondering what sort of right they had to celebrate Duan Mu An Guo’s birthday. It turns out that his daughter became a concubine.”
Feng Yu Heng furrowed her brow tightly. The more she said, the more she felt that something was off, “Because his daughter married into the Duan Mu family, he could go and attend the birthday celebration…” She muttered to herself and suddenly realized, “That’s not right.”
Wang Chuan and the others immediately looked at her and heard Feng Yu Heng say: “It’s the opposite. A lowly magistrate was actually able to have his daughter marry into the North so far away. Who in the middle made this happen? Or perhaps to say, there were already connections between him and the Duan Mu family.” Feng Yu Heng’s eyes revealed a cold light, coldly snorting: “That’s also fine. I was worried that I could not get into their manor’s gates. This magistrate Lu will be our entry point.”
Huang Quan was puzzled and asked: “Young miss, do you have a plan?”
Feng Yu Heng waved her hand and stood up, “There is definitely a plan, but… let me think about it more carefully.”
“Don’t speak. Let me think more carefully.” Inside the kitchen of Winter Moon Palace, Feng Zi Rui and Ying Cao were seated side by side. Zi Rui had his hands together with fingers interlaced. His missing pinky was at the bottom, and his hand was still wrapped in bandages.
He would be brought to the imperial physician’s clinic every day. Yao Xian would personally enter the palace to provide him with medicine before sending him back to Winter Moon Palace. After living there for a few days, Zi Rui felt more and more than something was off with Winter Moon Palace.
He had always been a thoughtful child, and ever since he entered Winter Moon Palace, he had wanted many times to go and pay respects to the imperial concubine, but he was always refused. He finally managed to get them to accept this morning, but he was only allowed to pay respects from outside the door. Someone inside replied but used the excuse that she had not yet woken up fully to send him off.
Presently, nothing had happened. Zi Rui calculated while sizing up this small kitchen. No matter what was said, he was still a child that had come from a large family. Even back in the former Feng manor, whenever it was around this time, the kitchen would prepare a bit of food for the madams, young misses and young masters of each courtyard. How noble were the imperial concubines of the palace. No matter what was said, the kitchen should have some snacks prepared, right?
At first, he was hungry, but he was still a guest in this house. If the servants did not bring some snacks, he felt too ashamed to ask. This was the reason that he brought Ying Cao to the kitchen. As a result, he found the kitchen completely empty. Aside from some leftover meat and vegetables, there was nothing else.
His belly rumbled, and Ying Cao looked at Zi Rui, moving her hands to her own belly. She was also hungry, but why did her little elder brother bring her to this place? There was nothing here!
Zi Rui sat on the counter for a while then came up with an idea. Leaping up, he brought his index finger to his lips and gestured for Ying Cao to keep quiet. The two children snuck out of the kitchen and found a corner to hide in. With a tilt of the head, the courtyard in front of the moon-viewing platform could be seen.
Zi Rui hugged his knees and sat on the ground. The more he looked, the odder he felt. The servants of Winter Moon Palace slept too early, right? It was not even 9PM, so why was it that everything was already quiet. Why was there not even a single person that could be seen walking around? The palace maids had slept, and their caretaker had also gone to sleep. He also had not seen a single hidden guard appear. He analyzed that if the two of them were acting so sneakily in the imperial daughter’s manor, the hidden guards there would have come out a long time ago, right? But why was it that this place that was supposed to be the most secure seemed to be so lax?
Ying Cao leaned against the wall and was drowsy to the point of wanting to sleep. She said to Zi Rui: “Little elder brother, let’s go back and sleep. Ying Cao is very sleepy.”
Zi Rui looked at her and thought about it. Getting up, he said: “Alright, I will bring you back.” After saying this, he helped Ying Cao up and began to walk. But the direction that he went in was not his own bedroom. Rather, he was going toward imperial concubine Yun’s bedroom.
The two children just continued walking. Along the way, they did not encounter any obstacles. Only after they arrived in the vicinity of imperial concubine Yun’s bedchamber did they finally hear an ice-cold female voice, “Stop!”
Zi Rui stopped in place and quietly told Ying Cao: “Don’t be afraid.” He then looked up and loudly asked: “Which elder sister is on duty? I am Feng Zi Rui.”
Suddenly, his vision blurred, and a girl appeared before him at some point. Wearing a set of white clothes, she had a cold expression: “Young master of the Feng family, this is not a place that you should have visited.”
Feng Zi Rui suddenly laughed at her and said something that caused the hidden guard to feel extremely shocked: “Why can I not come here? Imperial concubine Yun is not in the palace.”