The Duan Mu Family’s Conspiracy
What was it that those madams and young misses downstairs had said earlier? Leader Duan Mu had already taken in twelve concubines, with each one younger than the previous. The youngest was not even of marriageable age.
He brought his wife to celebrate Duan Mu An Guo’s birthday. The purpose was to have Duan Mu An Guo say something to the court to get him the position of magistrate of Qing Zhou. The gift that had been brought was naturally of great value. Now, the situation was different. He wanted to preserve his life. He wanted to demonstrate his value among all of these officials so he could remain in the North; however, relying on madam Lu’s familial relations was not enough. Just this birthday gift was also not enough. Adding in that daughter of a concubine was also not enough. He had to think of another method.
And this method…
Magistrate Lu quickly looked over Feng Yu Heng and came up with an idea.
The couple no longer spoke and fell silent for a while. Finally, under magistrate Lu’s suggestion, the couple decided to retire to the inner room to rest. Either way, things were already as they were. They could not go out and could only rest inside their room.
Feng Yu Heng helped prepare the bed. She then helped madam Lu get washed up before closing the door and returning to the outer room.
In the instant that the door was closed, madam Lu immediately shot magistrate Lu an inquisitive gaze. Magistrate Lu only said in a small voice: “Repeat the same trick.” She managed to take the hint.
Feng Yu Heng faced the door and raised a corner of her rosy lips. What sort of person was she? She was a person that had experienced two lives. How could magistrate Lu’s intentions remain hidden from her.
You want to send me into the leader’s palace? Very good, I was worried about how to get in; however, you’ve given me a chance. It’s just that she needed to think carefully. If she was sent in as the 13th concubine, and when the time came, this fat madam Lu was brought into the bridal chamber, would Duan Mu An Guo die of disgust?
She made up her mind and lay down on the bed in the room. Closing her eyes, she began to rest.
As Duan Mu An Guo’s birthday drew near, the number of officials entering Song Zhou increased. Of course, the majority of these officials were middling officials from the outer provinces. Of the officials in the capital with the right to attend court, none of them had come. After all, the officials in the capital were well-informed. They more-or-less understood what was going on in the North. This matter would naturally be what they feared.
The day before the birthday celebration, Duan Mu An Guo sat on an old-fashioned wooden armchair inside his study. Sitting next to him was his eldest son, Duan Mu Cong.
As of the current year, Duan Mu Cong was already in his early 40s. He was the father of Duan Mu Qing, who had died at the hands of Feng Yu Heng and Xuan Tian Hua. In regards to Da Shun, Duan Mu An Guo’s hatred was something that was a result of many years of fawning. As for Duan Mu Cong, it was a hatred stemming from the loss of a child. Even in his dreams, he was thinking of rushing to the capital and killing Feng Yu Heng along with the seventh and ninth princes. Unfortunately, if Da Shun rushed North, they would be able to endure it, but any hope of the North rushing down was completely impossible.
Duan Mu An Guo looked at his son and knew that the hatred in his heart needed to be vented. This was not just a hatred that Duan Mu Cong wanted to vent. Even he wanted to go to the capital to settle this debt. Duan Mu Qing was the grandson that he favored the most. He was well-versed in his scholarly affairs and martial arts. He had even requested the position of deputy leader of the North; however, who knew that the plan of sending him to the capital to get some training would result in him losing his life. How could he possibly feel reconciled about that?
“Cong’er.” Duan Mu An Guo spoke up, “Don’t worry. Father will definitely give you a chance to get revenge for Qing’er, but now is not the time. Right now, what we need to do is conserve our strength and grow. We must then help Da Shun tidy up the formidable opponent in Qian Zhou. When both sides are tired and wounded, that will be our chance to take action.”
Duan Mu Cong took a deep breath and suppressed the hatred inside his heart then nodded, saying: “Father is reasonable. Right now, there are 40 officials from Da Shun that have come to the North. They have also brought along their families. With these people here, even if we cannot completely empty out Da Shun, we’ve taken half.”
Duan Mu An Guo’s face became cold. He was not too optimistic about this matter, saying: “The ones that could come to the North are definitely people that have not heard about the situation here. To Da Shun, these people are of little importance. But it’s fine. Even if they are of little importance, at least their numbers are high. Even if they want to replenish their numbers, they cannot fill such a big hole. For a long time, they will not be able to fill up that hole. These people must be kept in Song Zhou. No matter what the method, even if they need to be locked, just lock them all up.”
Duan Mu Cong quickly said: “Father, don’t worry. These people have already been separated into their own inns. Son has already dispatched soldiers to stand guard. This is the North. It’s not the capital. Even if they manage to understand and wish to escape, it will be incredibly difficult. Based on the registration of the people that entered Guan Zhou, we have already dispatched a large number of people to control their families. With control of their families, these people will have no choice but to listen to us.”
Duan Mu An Guo sighed to himself. This eldest son of his really was not quite as mentally flexible, and he was lacking in vision. When he considered matters, he would only think down a singular line. He would never know how to turn. This was also the reason that he had given the title of deputy leader to his eldest grandson, rather than his eldest son.
He helplessly shook his head and said; “The North is too far from the central region. These people have also come from all over. Just how many people are you going to dispatch? Or how many secret letters are you going to send out? How could Da Shun’s courts not notice such a large shift in populations. Moreover, by the time our people found their families, who knows what sorts of countermeasures the enemy might have, especially the ones that can come up with ideas rapidly. Cong’er, oh, Cong’er, if you were as sharp as Qing’er, I wouldn’t need to worry about leaving this land without a leader.”
Duan Mu Cong became angry over what his father had said, but he still could not understand, “Aside from this, what else can be done?”
Duan Mu An Guo sneered, telling him: “Why do we need to do it ourselves. We just need to make an announcement saying that these officials have already committed themselves to the three northern provinces. They have already committed themselves to my Duan Mu family. As for their families, Da Shun’s courts will naturally take care of them for us. As for these people, they can be controlled with some empty words. Could it be that you believe that they have the ability to get out of Song Zhou and investigate on their own?”
When Duan Mu Cong heard this, his face alternated between turning red and white. He quickly stood up and said: “Then son will go and hand down the new orders.” After saying this, he quickly left.
Duan Mu An Guo sighed deeply. It was as though he had aged ten years. His rigid posture also collapsed slightly. His strong and hearty mental state also showed a bit of wilting. The bone-piercingly cold aura that was akin to the frigid North had also begun to gradually dissipate. An old look appeared on his face.
In the end, he was old. Even if he did not want to admit it, his body had already begun to remind him from time to time that it was worse than before. Qian Zhou had a grand ambition. From the beginning, it had been anxious to get its hands on Da Shun’s land. This was fine, and he was only too anxious for Qian Zhou to begin fighting with Da Shun. If possible, he would even secretly provide Qian Zhou with some support. It would be best if he could manage to get Qian Zhou into the palace of the central region. Once this bird took flight, his Duan Mu family would immediately turn around and attack Qian Zhou.
Duan Mu An Guo closed his eyes, another cold look appeared in his eyes. Back then, the Duan Mu family had built Da Shun together with the Xuan family. The Xuan family received the central region, while the Duan Mu family only received orders as generals to protect the North. At that time, the North was not this big. The three provinces of Guan, Song and Jiang were not part of Da Shun. Now, however, these lands belonged to the Duan Mu family that had fought for them. From the moment that Duan Mu An Guo had become the clan elder, he had wanted to get a fair ruling from the Xuan family. Of course, that third prince, Xuan Tian Ye, was just a chess piece used for the sake of disgusting the Emperor. He knew himself well. Da Shun was too large of a country for the Duan Mu family to consume, but there was another place where he was determined to claim.
The Lu family’s couple was originally planning to pretend to rest for a while. The two spoke and discussed their plans; however, who knew that madam Lu would get too into pretending and actually fell asleep not long later. Magistrate Lu had nothing better to do and could only go to sleep too. Perhaps it was from the fatigue of the long journey, but he ended up sleeping until the sky was dark. He did not even get up to eat dinner.
Feng Yu Heng did not suffer from hunger with them. At noon, she had entered her space to eat part of a pig trotter. At night, she entered her space once more and finished off the trotter. She also took a bath and brushed her teeth. She was enjoying this journey quite a bit.
But there were also times when she had nothing to do. She hugged her knees and sat on the heated brick bed in the outer room. Through the window, she could see the figures of the guards standing outside. Although this looked like being imprisoned, the Duan Mu family had not mistreated them with their surroundings. The North was cold, and heated brick was very popular. From the inner room to the outer room, the heated brick beds were very good. It was to the point that she could sit on the sheets and not get burned.
Feng Yu Heng could sense that the Duan Mu family was in the midst of a grand conspiracy. It was just that she always felt that this conspiracy was not as simple as it appeared to be on the surface. The North had defected to the enemy, but the place that they had defected to, would they really become sudden friends with the Duan Mu family?
She pulled the sheets up to cover herself. Although the heated bricks were warm, the parts of the body that were exposed still felt extremely cold. She leaned against the wall and thought to herself, Xuan Tian Ming’s army had many people and would move slowly. They also needed to move through the mountains. At this time, they should have been able to get halfway, right? Her taking a risk this time by traveling alone would definitely cause that guy to feel extremely vexed. When that guy got angry, the purple lotus on his forehead would definitely blossom even more. It would definitely be very beautiful.
A certain person began to act like a love-struck fool. At the same time, the man with the purple lotus flower that was traversing the mountains suddenly sneezed. He sniffed and seemed to have remembered something. He could not help but snort coldly and roll his eyes.
Bai Fu Rong looked at him and quietly asked Bai Ze: “What’s going on with his Highness?”
Bai Ze was able to guess what was going on inside his master’s heart, immediately saying: “It’s most likely that he was thought of by the princess.”
“Oh.” Bai Fu Rong nodded, “Heng has the ability to control him from so far away? So amazing!” While saying this, she pulled the cloak on her body tight. The further North they went, the colder it became. The mountains had already begun to freeze, with the surface of the river beginning to freeze. Just looking at it caused her to feel cold, not to mention the occasional breeze that blew past. That was truly considered piercingly cold.
Bai Ze smiled and said: “Don’t allow yourself to look too weak. After all, this little bit of cold is not much to our princess. If you appear too weak, it’s easy for things to be exposed. Or…” He leaned closer: “Or, would you rather this matter be seen through?”
Bai Fu Rong’s eyes became fierce, as she angrily said: “What are you saying? If I was happy to see this matter exposed, what would I endure this much suffering for? I’d just go home and act as the treasured young miss, alright? Tsk!” She waved her hand unconsciously, “I really don’t understand. You’re clearly someone with a mental deficiency, so how come you’re able to stay at his Highness’ side? I really feel grief for his Highness the ninth prince. He’s actually able to endure having you for so many years.”
“You damn woman!” Bai Ze was so angry that he wanted to spank her, but he couldn’t begin hitting the princess in front of so many eyes, right? He could only hold his anger in. His face remained bright red, as he glared at Bai Fu Rong, his eyes filled with venom.
Bai Fu Rong snorted, “You have the eyes of a resentful wife. You really have the nerve to glare.”
Like this, the two just bantered back and forth. During this time, there was the cry of a goshawk that echoed through the canyon…