The Emperor’s Reverse Scale
Feng Yu Heng’s imperial carriage was stopped, and the driver could not stop himself from cursing. Huang Quan quickly stood up and lifted the curtain to look outside. They heard her let out a shocked “ah” sound then turn around and say to Feng Yu Heng: “It’s craftsman Bai.” At the same time, she informed the driver: “It’s someone that we know.”
Feng Yu Heng said at this time: “Quickly invite craftsman Bai into the carriage.” As she spoke, she stood up and personally helped craftsman Bai into the carriage, calling him: “Uncle Bai.”
Craftsman Bai quickly waved his hands, repeatedly saying: “I don’t dare, I don’t dare. This old one will salute imperial daughter.” As he spoke, he moved to kneel.
Feng Yu Heng quickly stopped him and urgently said: “Uncle, there is no need to be so courteous. Just based on the relationship between Fu Rong and me, I should be calling you uncle. Quickly come in and sit.”
Craftsman Bai did not continue to act reserved. Moving into the imperial carriage, he sat to the side and happened to sit across from Wang Chuan and Huang Quan. The carriage then continued forward.
Wang Chuan saw that he was a little bit flustered, and there was a bit of sweat on his forehead. After sitting down, he would occasionally lift the curtain and look out. She could not help but feel curious and asked: “What sort of person is craftsman Bai trying to avoid?” While speaking, she used the teapot that had been prepared for the carriage to pour him a cup of tea.
Craftsman Bai received it and downed it in one gulp before saying: “Not to hide it from imperial daughter, but this old one just received an imperial order saying that imperial daughter invited me to help fix some jewelry, thus I was permitted to leave the palace. This old one has been kept inside the palace for nearly a year. Having finally been let out of the palace, I should have been waiting for imperial daughter at the gate of the palace, but because we did not exit through the same gate, with the workshop being on the opposite side of the inner palace, this old one was thinking of going back to the manor first to see Fu Rong. As a result, I kept feeling as though there was someone following me the entire time. After looking back a few times, I did not see anyone, but that feeling continued to linger. At that time, I happened to see imperial daughter’s imperial carriage. Only then did I summon the courage to stop you.”
“Someone was following?” Feng Yu Heng frowned then raised her voice to call into the air: “Ban Zou, go and take a look.”
She just heard a faint sound that could hardly be noticed and knew that it had to be Ban Zou leaving. Calming herself down, she said to craftsman Bai: “I will naturally investigate this matter. Uncle can feel at ease.”
Craftsman Bai nodded then asked Feng Yu Heng: “I heard that imperial daughter wanted to have this old one help with fixing some accessories?”
Feng Yu Heng recounted what had happened between the Lu family and Phoenix Pavilion from the previous day. Craftsman Bai heard this then snorted coldly, saying: “Since this is for imperial daughter and the Yao family, it should be done, but if it was for the Lu family alone, this old one definitely would not accept this.”
Feng Yu Heng said with a smile: “If it was just for the Lu family, Heng would not have brought uncle out of the palace. Of course…” She lowered her voice and said, “Fixing the accessories is merely an excuse. Most importantly, I wanted to bring uncle out of the palace.”
Everyone present was smart. Craftsman Bai had been in the palace for such a long time. There really were jobs that he could not finish and had been forcefully kept there. Although he did not have any clues, he was still able to more or less guess the reason. Hearing Feng Yu Heng speak, his thoughts became even more resolute. But the current imperial carriage was not a great place to talk. Changing the subject, he said to Feng Yu Heng: “The tools for working on accessories are all at my manor. Imperial daughter, do you want me to work from my manor or from Phoenix Pavilion?”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head, “Neither place is safe. Uncle will follow me back to the imperial daughter’s manor as a guest. As for those tools, I will naturally send someone to fetch them.”
The two continued along without saying another word, and they very quickly arrived in front of the imperial daughter’s manor.
Huang Quan helped craftsman Bai out of the carriage, while Wang Chuan helped Feng Yu Heng out. Everyone went straight back to Feng Yu Heng’s courtyard. Feng Yu Heng waved her hand and dismissed the servants that took care of the courtyard. Only then did she bring craftsman Bai into the hall of a smaller courtyard.
Craftsman Bai could no longer bear to wait. Upon entering the room, he immediately asked: “Imperial daughter, do you know where Fu Rong is?”
Feng Yu Heng replied with a question: “Where does uncle think she might be?”
“This…” Craftsman Bai was a little hesitant. Normally speaking, Bai Fu Rong ought to be in the manor, but he had been in the palace for numerous months, and things had become more and more dangerous over the months. At this point, even leaving the palace caused him to feel as though someone was pursuing him. Bai Fu Rong’s safety was no longer ensured.
He discussed the feelings in his heart with Feng Yu Heng. Feng Yu Heng did not continue to hide it from him. She recounted how Qian Zhou’s people had secretly found Bai Fu Rong and told her about everything. Aside from precisely which sort of poison Bai Fu Rong had been afflicted with, she did not hide anything.
Craftsman Bai never thought that the situation outside would have developed to such a degree. When he heard that Bai Fu Rong had actually followed the Army to Qian Zhou, he felt even more shocked; however, the things that Feng Yu Heng was talking about, even if he did not participate in them, he knew for certain that she was telling the truth. First, there was no need for Feng Yu Heng to trick him. Second, in regards to the things that had happened between him and Kang Yi many years ago, if Qian Zhou’s side did not wish to expose it, it would have been impossible for Feng Yu Heng to find out.
He let out a long sigh then nodded. He acknowledged his ill-fated relationship. At the same time, he told Feng Yu Heng: “In truth, Fu Rong is older than Ru Jia. After we escaped to Da Shun, we feared that our identities would be exposed, thus I had her registration changed after she grew up a little more. I also registered her birth year as being two years later. Imperial daughter…” He asked a little anxiously: “How is Fu Rong currently?”
“Please be at ease.” She told craftsman Bai, “My grandfather, Yao Xian, is doing his best to cure her. I am just keeping her alive. In regards to those accessories, fix them slowly. There is no rush.”
Craftsman Bai let out a long sigh. He knew that the situation was complicated, thus he did not continue to ask. With Feng Yu Heng’s guarantee, he trusted that everything would pass some day. Qian Zhou had fallen, and Kang Yi had died. Even his old bones began to smell of dirt. How many more years could he hold on for? Eventually, he hoped that he could see his daughter live comfortably in this life.
Huang Quan escorted craftsman Bai to the guest courtyard then brought all of the tools from the Bai manor to the courtyard. Craftsman Bai dove straight into his work and did not speak with another person.
After Feng Yu Heng and imperial concubine Yuan Shu finished arguing in Jing Ci Palace, the Empress leaned back against the heated brick bed with a look of anxiety. Fang Yi carefully took care of her from the side, peeling grapes for her, one at a time.
The Empress looked at the peeled grapes and suddenly asked Fang Yi: “Say, just how much do you trust what imperial concubine Yuan Shu said?”
Fang Yi momentarily stopped peeling grapes before starting up again. At the same time, she replied: “As this servant sees it, whether or not imperial concubine Yun is in the palace is another matter, but imperial concubine Yuan Shu’s list of strange occurrences does not seem to have been made up on the spot.”
“Saying it like this, there are indeed some strange movements from Winter Moon Palace?” She thought for a bit then asked uncertainly: “That imperial concubine Yun has always been odd. If she suddenly changed her disposition, that would not be too strange.”
Fang Yi nodded, “Indeed, the place hardest to get a grasp on is the Winter Moon Palace, and his Majesty protects it fiercely. Not a single outsider is able to get inside. If we truly do believe imperial concubine Yuan Shu’s words, and your Highness moves to take action, if imperial concubine Yun is still perfectly fine in her palace, that would be a huge crime. Wouldn’t his Majesty end up punishing your Highness?”
“But what if imperial concubine Yun really is not there?” The Empress smiled bitterly, “If she really is not there, this One with my status as the Empress would also be punished severely for not even being able to keep an eye on imperial concubines that have escaped. Imperial concubine Yun, oh imperial concubine Yun, you really have caused a big problem for this One.”
Fang Yi placed the bowl of peeled grapes in front of the Empress, “Your Highness, eat a bit. These are seedless grapes that were just brought into the palace. This servant found them to be sweet when peeling them.”
How could the Empress be in the mood to eat. Looking at the bowl of grapes, it was as though she was looking at a bowl of bitter medical soup. This caused her to pick up the pills that Feng Yu Heng had left behind, saying with joy: “That girl really is resourceful. She’s even able to produce this sort of medicine. It’s really a good thing that she has some filial feelings. Otherwise, this One would have a hard time recovering.”
Fang Yi helplessly said: “There is a matter that this servant did not want to mention, fearing that it would disrupt your Highness’ recovery. I even thought about investigating it privately, only reporting once things were sorted out. But after thinking about it, I don’t even know where to begin. I can only ask your Highness for some sort of ideas.” She told the Empress about what Feng Yu Heng had said earlier then asked: “Your Highness, should the investigation of this matter start from the imperial physicians’ college or the inner palace?”
The Empress did not speak for a long time. It seemed as though she was thinking about something. It was only when Fang Yi was about to ask once more did she hear her faintly say: “There are many things happening in the palace, and someone finally began plotting against this One. What can be done if it’s investigated? If someone dared to do this, it means that they don’t fear being investigated because nothing can be turned up. Over the years, has there been any shortage of unclear and unjust cases in the palace?”
“Your Highness means… that we won’t investigate?”
“I did not say that we will not investigate. It’s just that it’s not a priority.” The Empress’ mind was filled with whether or not imperial concubine Yun was in the palace. If she did not figure this out clearly, she would be left feeling uneasy.
Fang Yi thought for a bit then said: “This servant feels that there is only one person that we can work with on this matter. That person is imperial daughter. Regardless of whether or not imperial concubine Yun is in the palace, we need to keep an eye on imperial concubine Yuan Shu’s side. Once there is any movement from her side, we need to immediately send a message out of the palace. As for what should be done, thinking about it, if something really went wrong, imperial daughter and his Highness the ninth prince should be feeling even more anxious than we are. If nothing is wrong, it can be considered as providing her with a favor.”
The Empress nodded, praising Fang Yi: “You really are getting smarter and smarter.” Once this idea was brought up, her mood improved, and she began tossing grapes into her mouth, “Un, they really are sweet.” After thinking a bit more, she reminded: “Watch your mouth. This matter must not make its way to his Majesty’s ears. He is likely to become rash once he hears about imperial concubine Yun. The court must not fall into chaos because of this!”
Speaking of Cun Shan Palace, after imperial concubine Yuan Shu had been intimidated by Feng Yu Heng, she felt a little hesitant. Thinking carefully, she felt that she had been too rash earlier. Although imperial concubine Yun did not occupy the most powerful position in the palace, her value in the Emperor’s heart was different. Not a single person in this palace, including the Empress, could get into the Emperor’s heart. The reason for this was that the Emperor had once left the palace and met imperial concubine Yun in a mountain village. Ever since he had imperial concubine Yun, he did not add another concubine to the palace. Over the years, he had remained alone in Zhao He Hall, living like a eunuch. His interactions with the Empress were only for show. When it came to the imperial concubines, he did not even want to go through the motions.
This sort of existence, once she poked at it, regardless of whether or not it succeeded, she would have poked at the Emperor’s reverse scale. If she succeeded, she would not be able to regain the Emperor’s heart. If she failed, she would be beyond redemption.
Imperial concubine Yuan Shu thought it through carefully and could not help but begin to feel afraid. Trembling, her back straightened up completely. Just as she was about to tell Yue Xiu to never bring it up again, she saw the lame eunuch, Rong Zhen, enter once more and quietly say to her: “Master, there is movement over at Winter Moon Palace once more.”
TN: A reverse scale refers to a spot on a dragon that, when touched, would result in the dragon flying into a rage.