In the study room, Zhuge Huai looked serious and told Zhuge Yue, "Fourth brother, what do you think of this incident?"
It was silent, not a single sound was to be heard. Zhuge Huai furrowed his brow and nudged Zhuge Yue who seemed to be deep in his own thoughts. "Fourth brother?"
"Yes?" Zhuge Yue raised his head and said absently, "King Yan's family is doomed. Yan Xun is in danger."
"Yes, I agree." Zhuge Huai nodded his head and said, "King Yan has very high status and hence easily become the target to be attacked. The Bahuta family eyed the land of Yan Bei a long time ago. This time, the trouble will no doubt be beared by King Yan. In addition, the master of Sheng Jin palace's would rather trust strangers than his own brothers."
Just then, voices were heard outside and it started becoming very noisy. Zhuge Huai asked loudly, "Zhu Yong, what is going on outside? It is very noisy."
"Master, the noise is coming from Tao Ran court. It seems like the seventh lady and Tao Xiang are fighting. The fourth and third ladies have gone to stop them."
Zhuge Huai's face hardened and he said hastily, "There is not a day when they will stop. It is ridiculous."
Zhuge Yue heard and did not respond. Instead, he sipped his tea and bowed his head, without saying a word.
"Master, the third lady wants you and the fourth young master to go to Tao Ran court. She says that there is an emergency and you need to help solve it."
Zhuge Huai suddenly got very angry and said, "What happened that requires us to go down? Are they not embarrassed? Tell them that I have no time."
"Master, the third lady is going to use the family law and wants…wants to kill Tao Ran court's Tao Xiang."
Zhuge Yue put down his teacup and stood up while saying, "Big brother, let's just go. They might really need your help."
Zhuge Huai let out a long sigh and followed him out of the study room.
Tao Ran court was a mess. Every lady was shouting at each other and would not back down. However, in the midst of the hatred and anger, there was a hint of perverse delight - finally, that degrading fox who dared to seduce the master got what she deserved!
The seventh lady arrogantly stood in the middle of the yard and sneered at Tao Xiang, whose clothes were unkempt. She smirked and said, "Who would ever imagine that such a scandal would ever occur in the Zhuge household. The old master has always been treated you well, but this is how you return his kindness? How shameful of you!"
The third lady was only thirty years old. She was covered in fox fur, had very good composure and gave off a very elegant aura. Her face was full of regret and she said, "Tao Xiang, the old master originally said that when he come back, he would make you his concubine. Unfortunately, look at what you have done today? This is not something that would be tolerated."
"Ma'am, why waste your effort talking to her! My opinion, just beat her to death and be done with it. Her existence dirties Our Zhuge household's name."
Tao Xiang's face was pale, her arms were covering her chest while she knelt on the ground. Her clothes were torn and tattered, her eyes had no expression and she was trembling. From time to time, she stole a glance at the man beside her. He was also shaking uncontrollably. His face was even paler than hers.
When Zhuge Yue stepped into Tao Ran court, the situation greeted him. After listening to the seventh lady's explanation, Zhuge's fourth master's eyes had a glint and he started to think intensely.
"First Young Master!" Once Zhu Shun spotted Zhuge Huai, he immediately rushed forward while crying and said, "It was her who seduced me first. She sent me a letter to ask for me. Once I arrived, she started removing her clothes to seduce me. But I clearly remember master and young master's kindness towards me and all I want to do is to serve the Zhuge family. How could I even think of doing such a shameful thing to you? Just now, I was trying hard to reject her. I was, I was wronged. I had no idea what she was up to. This is a misunderstanding."
"You! Do you have any heart? It was clearly you…"
"You still dare to make excuses!" The seventh lady slapped Tao Xiang across her face and said coldly, "You are such a sl*t! You dare to use such despicable tactics to assassinate my character? In the end, you only ruined yourself. Serves you right!"
"Fourth brother! Where are you going?" Zhuge Huai was confused when he saw Zhuge Yue turn around and walk away, so he asked his question aloud.
"Big brother, I have something urgent to attend to. I'll come back to you later." After that one sentence, the young Zhuge Yue hastily left Tao Ran court and headed towards Qing Shan court in a hurry.
Bang! Zhuge Yue flung the gate of Qing Shan court open and saw Huan'er and a few maidservants watering the plants in the garden. As soon as they noticed Zhuge Yue, they immediately made way for him and respectfully bowed to him. Zhuge Yue did not even spare them a glance and headed towards the servants' quarters. As he was walking, he asked, "Where did Xing'er go? Did anyone see her?"
"Xing'er said that she didn't feel well, so she went back to her room to rest," one of the maidservants replied.
Huan'er, who was standing there, was scared that Xing'er would get punished and hurriedly said, "She was picking tea with us for the whole day and had just left."
Zhuge Yue looked gloomy and walked towards Chu Qiao's room. Yue Qi followed quietly along and said, "Xing'er really did help out in the kitchen for a full day and she did not leave the Qing Shan court."
Bang! Zhuge Yue again flung Chu Qiao's door open and walked right in,his face gloomy. He saw the pale looking child lying in bed as if she was really sick. Zhuge Yue was slightly surprised and hadn't expected her to really be in her room. Seeing her lying in bed, he was relieved and let out a sigh as if a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders. For some reason, he even felt a bit peaceful in his mind.
"Fourth young master?" The child sat up alarmed. Her voice was weary as if she had just woke up. "Did Xing'er do anything wrong?"
Zhuge Yue started, shook his head and said awkwardly, "No, I heard Huan'er said that you were sick, so I came to check on you."
"Oh." The child nodded her head and replied, "The young master came to check on me with so many other people. Xing'er is very thankful."
Zhuge Yue's face started to turn red and he didn't know how to respond. He stood there awkwardly. To break the silence, he pretended to clear his throat and coughed.
Zhu Cheng saw Zhuge Yue's awkwardness and quickly came to help him out. He said, "Xing'er, young master came to see you, shouldn't you get up?"
The child stumbled and nervously bit her lip but didn't move at all.
Zhuge Yue started to become suspicious. After what happened today, if she wanted to escape, she had to be very careful. With that being said, her clothes would surely leave trails of her. Right after hearing the news, Zhuge Yue himself immediately rushed back so he would not be much later than the person who planned this. Now that she was so nervous, could it be that she was hiding something under the blanket?
"Xing'er," Zhuge Yue stepped forward, with his eyes fixed on the child's face and said, "Pour me a cup of tea."
The child panicked and said while biting her lips. "Young master, could you step out for a moment? Xing'er will serve you in a bit…"
"No." Zhuge Yue walked to the side of the bed, used his slim long fingers and firmly pulled her silk blanket off. His jet black eyes stared into the child's big eyes. "No. I want to drink it now," Zhuge Yue sternly replied.
"Ah!" Everyone was shocked by the sudden cry that came one after another. The small, thin child was clutching her chest desperately, with her face buried in her arms. Her shoulders were shaking with her long, black hair draped over them. She was naked!
Zhuge Yue grabbed onto the blankets, shocked. Zhuge Yue's face immediately turned bright red with embarrassment. He hastily turned around and shouted at everyone, whose eyes were enlarged due to shock, "What are you all doing? Get out!"
All the servants snapped out of it and started to leave the room.
Zhuge Yue grabbed the blanket and threw it over Chu Qiao's body. His voice quivered as he said, "Quickly put on your clothes!"
Soft sobbing could be heard from behind him. Zhuge Yue frowned and said, impatiently, "Forget it. Just continue lying in bed." Instantly, he strode out of the room and shut the door tightly. The child in the room lifted her head to check if he had left the room. Her eyes were solemn and her face was calm. There was no longer a trace of sadness. Chu Qiao lifted the mattress under her and threw the dirty clothes which were covered with dirt and soil onto the floor.
Sure enough, Zhuge Yue was very vigilant. He came so quickly that she did not even have enough time to put on her clothes. But this was good as well, because there wouldn't be people dare to come to her room in the afternoon any more. This gave her ample time to execute next steps of her plan.
The child lowered her head and smiled lightly. It was surprising to see such a gloomy expression on her young face.
It was time for them to pay.
Right after changing into new clothes, there was a knock on her door. Huan'er ran over excitedly and said while smiling, "Xing'er, there is good news. Do you want to know?"
Chu Qiao's legs could not reach the floor while sitting on the tall chair due to her small frame. She poured a cup of tea and said after drinking a sip gracefully, "You can tell me."
"Xing'er!" the maidservant said grumpily. "Do you really want to hear it? Why do you not look excited at all?"
Chu Qiao smiled without her teeth seen and said, "Just say it if you want to. No matter if I want to listen or not, you will say it anyway."
"Fine, I won't argue with you over this. But this time, it is really good news." Huan'er smiled and continued, "Zhu Shun was accused adultery with a girl whom the master favored and was caught by the seventh lady. Even the third lady and the first young master were notified. That girl has been cast into the well and steward Zhu also got fifty cane strokes as punishment. Isn't this great news?"
Her hand, which was holding the teacup, suddenly froze. Chu Qiao sat on the chair with narrowed eyes, as her suppressed all of her emotions slowly and covered up her wit. She nodded her head and said, "It surely is good news."
Huan'er said angrily, "Right? Zhu Shun always abuses his power and bullies others. Us, slaves, have all endured his rage. He must have done something and caused the children from your Jing family to be sent to the second grand master. Today he was beaten up, because even the gods could not tolerate him any more."
Chu Qiao's expression remained depressed and she said soothingly, "He had a scandal with the master's favored mistress. The punishment for such disgraceful behavior was only fifty can strokes. It sounds quite merciful."
"Who said it wasn't? The seventh lady just complained to the fourth young master as she felt it was unjust. But too bad our fourth young master normally does not get bothered by this kind of issues. The master and the first lady were not here, hence the first young master had the last say. Zhu Shun has been serving the first young master, so it is what it is."
Chu Qiao nodded and replied, "Okay, I understand. Huan'er, thank you for reporting it to me."
Huan'er noticed that Xing'er didn't look quite right and asked out of concern, "Xing'er, do you feel alright? Do you need me to get a doctor for you?"