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I’m not going to say that this is what Jing guifei really looks like but the presence it gives is something like what I imagined. Maybe Jing guifei when she was younger?

Chapter Fourteen A Pig For An Opponent?

The Imperial Palace of the Da Long Dynasty had been rebuilt on the foundations of the previous dynasty's palace. At the beginning when the members of the He family had overturned the despot of the previous dynasty, they had taken care of many of the licentious yet famous and powerful families. So when they furnished their imperial palace, they tried to go the route of simple yet grand.

Qu Qing Ju followed the guidance of the palace girl as she walked forward. She passed by one grand building after another. No matter how frugal the founding emperor had been, while the present Da Long dynasty's excess were not equal to the lavishness of the previous dynasty, but it was still beautiful clothing, delicious food, and amusement abound.

"Duan Wang Fei, please walk this way," The person leading the way was a palace maid that had a rank and was of some use to Jing fei. This palace maid's attitude, from the calm one when they came, had instantly changed around and put herself in a low position. From a little palace maid to her present position, her most important asset had been a pair of perceptive eyes. From her first look of Duan Wang Fei today, she had understood. Duan Wang Fei was different than before.

Regardless of whether niangniang did or didn't like Duan Wang Fei, she was only a palace maid and didn't have the courage to offend this kind of a Duan Wang Fei. She respectfully guided them into the entrance of Zhong Jing Palace and retreated to one side to allow Ding mama, who served by niangniang's side to take them inside.

The high-quality Yun[1] brocade slid soundlessly across the smooth ground. She looked at the red of the dress and dazedly raised her head. She could only see, against the light, that red shadow walked each step steadily and calmly.

"Wang fei and the two ce fei, please sit, niangniang would come out soon," Ding mama directed the little palace maid to serve tea and personally placed a cup of tea in front of Qu Qing Ju. She smiled and said: "This old servant congratulates wang fei for a successful recovery."

"Ding mama is too courteous," Qu Qing Ju sat on the chair and held out her hand to falsely help her up, "It was due to the good fortune of mufei and wang ye. These days, I haven't been able to come to mufei's side and serve, it was unfilial of me as an erxifu. Niangniang wasn't angry but concerned, it was all my fault."

Ding mama's gaze fell onto the blood red bangle resting on that porcelain wrist. She smiled, bowed and said: "Niangniagn knew it was because wang fei's body wasn't well. She wouldn't be angry over such a small matter. For wang fei's body to get better, that was what niangniang really wishes for."

Qu Qing Ju smiled and lowered her head slightly. This Ding mama was a trusted confidant of Jing fei. She always had a smile on her face and the feeling people had upon seeing her was friendly. Even the original Qu Qing Ju had like her very much. But when she had met her today, she felt that this Ding mama wasn't a simple character.

There were no simple women in this imperial palace. Ding mama had been by Jing fei's side for many years and was the most trusted and relied upon. Her attribute couldn't be this friendliness. Beside the venerable Jing fei, there couldn't be simple people.

"I caused mufei to worry," Qu Qing Ju sighed, her expression slightly pained as she said, "I was heavily ill these past days, I had thought … … thankfully I recovered."

Ding mama had heard the news that Duan Wang Fei almost didn't make it. At the time, she had, on behalf of niangniang, left the palace to bestow many gifts. No wonder Duan Wang Fei was drastically different than in the past. She probably had been frightened by that illness.

People, when they walked past death's threshold, they would understand many things. Seeing wang fei right now, she probably understood a lot. Wang ye had favoured her recently. There had been news from others that said wang ye had been residing day after day in zhengyuan. Looking at her appearance, she did have the capital to attract men.

"Wang fei has plenty of good fortune and naturally could overcome the misfortunes," Ding mama smiled as she received the words. Hearing noise from outside the door, she closed her mouth and moved over.

Qu Qing Ju turned her head to look. She saw a beautiful matron wearing an orange palace dress, supporting herself with one hand on a taijian's hand, calmly walk in. The beautiful matron looked like she was just over thirty years old. Even if her face was rather mediocre, it couldn't disguise the allure between her brows.

This was Jing fei. Qu Qing Ju stood and went forward: "Erxi greets mufei." The two ce fei stood behind her and followed with the greeting, but they referred to themselves as "nu"

"No need for courtesy, sit down," Jing fei's steps slowed as she looked at Qu Qing Ju from top to bottom. She sat at the front and took a sip of the tea that Ding mama presents. Seeing the three sit down, she opened again: "Ben gong[2] heard that Qing Ju's body has recovered and wanted to take a look. Seeing you now, I feel that your face looks much better than before. This bright-red cotton trailing Yun brocade dress is complicated and lavish, most people can't wear it. You wear it well."

"Erxi thanks mufei for the compliment," Qu Qing Ju looked at Jing fei with eyes full of childish admiration, "Erxi hadn't dared to wear it originally, but thought that this color was celebratory and of good fortune. Erxi had just recovered from a big sickness and it is much better to be celebratory when coming to pay respects to mufei. Thankfully, mufei also likes what erxi is wearing, otherwise erxi wouldn't know what to do.

Feng Zi Jin, sitting to one side, felt her mouth slightly quiver. Niangniang was implying that she dressed too lavishly. Was Qu Qing Ju really stupid or pretending to be stupid that she really believed that niangniang was complimenting her?

The hand that held the teacup slightly stopped, the motion Jing fei did to set down the teacup seemed to be heavier than normal. She looked with a normal expression at Qu Qing Ju. Seeing her smile happily, she asked: "Clothing isn't important, what is important is the intention. Ben gong heard yesterday that you had been unhappy with your family, Chang De Gong Fu. This thing has spread all over Jing City, what really happened?"

"There's this thing?" Qu Qing Ju's eyes widened and she said in confusion: "What are they saying in Jing City?"

"Ding mama, you tell wang fei," Jing fei took a sip of tea to suppress that bit of agitation inside, "As a wang fei, you have to know some things about Jing City. Otherwise, how could you be wang ye's good wife[3]"

Qu Qing Ju, upon hearing this, stood to beg for forgiveness: "It is erxi's fault. These past days have been filled with managing the houyuan and neglected to pay attention to the happenings outside the fu. Mufei, please set a punishment."

Jing fei felt the roots of her teeth seemed to ache. These words just didn't seem right. In the Da Long Dynasty, it wasn't as restricting towards women as it had been in the previous dynasty, but it was still men on the outside, women inside. What was forgetting to pay attention to happenings outside the fu? Did she, her popo, have to tell her erxifu to meddle with things outside the fu?

Facing the feeling of powerlessness in this chicken-talking-to-duck conversation, Jing fei, in the end, could only push the teacup further away. In her understanding of Qu Qing Ju of the past, this erxi didn't dare disobey her. So what she had said before, she wasn't suspicious, but when she heard the words, her heart felt like it was blocked up.

"Your body wasn't well the past days, it was correct to manage the houyuan these two days," Jing fei smiled and let Qu Qing Ju sit before dismissing Ding mama from reciting the story, "It isn't a major thing, mufei wouldn't punish you. Really, this incident doesn't have too much connection to you. It was Chang De Gong Fu's behavior that was lacking, it just spread to you, such a good good erxifu."

To say bad things about the home of the married erxi, wasn't this putting her erxi's face to the floor and stomping on it? It was a pity that Qu Qing Ju didn't think of Chang De Gong Fu as her home. She wasn't pained or tickled by Jing fei's words so just pretend that she didn't really care.

"Mufei has treated erxi so well, erxi doesn't know what to do," Qu Qing Ju, deeply moved, looked at Jing Fei, "Erxi had obtained some little playthings these past days, and wanted to let mufei play with them too, hopefully mufei wouldn't dislike them."

What was this deeply moved and then giving gifts? Do you know that ben gong is criticizing you? Do you know ben gong looks down at you? Do you know that this is ben gong being unsatisfied with you?! What are you moved about?!

Jing fei inhaled, smiled and said: "Come, come, you don't give stuff. As long as you are all fine, mufei is satisfied." Have to be calm, ben gong is Jing fei, ben gong is the high and noble Jing fei.

Qu Qing Ju saw that the smile on Jing fei's face become warmer and warmer, the childish admiration on her own face became even more visible: "Wang ye and erxi live outside the place, and cannot expresse our filial love daily to mufei. But we thought that these little amusements could make mufei happier. If mufei is happy, it is the best thing for wang ye and erxi."

Feng Zi Jin saw the harmonious situation in front of her and felt disappointed. Didn't niangniang not like Qu Qing Ju as her erxi, why was she smiling brighter and brighter? And these gifts, did niangniang like them that much that niangniang was that happy? In the past, what Qu Qing Ju had presented wasn't simple but niangniang hadn't given a hint of a smile then.

The most painful thing in the world wasn't being pointed at and scolded indirectly but you pointing at somebody and scolding indirectly but the person didn't understand and assumed that you were complimenting her. Jing fei had lived in the imperial palace for many years and was used to words that took nine curves and eighteen turns. And her opponents were the most skilled. Suddenly meeting a pig[4] of an opponent, she finally understood the pain of a punch landing in cotton.

Or was it that the dull personality of Qu Qing Ju had been a pretence and she was purposefully acting this way today to make her angry? Jing fei's eyes narrowed and she couldn't help but carefully examine Qu Qing Ju.

After the examination, she suddenly fell, this erxifu of her's had a pretty good appearance and her smile was very inviting. Remembering when the Emperor had just decreed the marriage, the dull look when the Duchess of Chang De took her into the palace to give thanks, Jing fei couldn't help but furrow her brows and look at Qu Qing Ju's present appearance.

She didn't know the Emperor had listened to the persuasions of which whore in this hougong to want to bestow Qu Qing Ju to her son. He kept on saying that this girl's eight words carried good fortune. After loudly formalizing the arrangement, he had no shame and said to her, he had given Heng'er a good wife. She really didn't know how bad his eyes were to see a dead fish's eye as a pearl.

Automatically blaming this onto her rival Shu fei, Jing fei came back from her thoughts. She tilted her head as she gazed at Qu Qing Ju. Originally, she had wanted to keep dealing blows at the other but that desire had retreated. There was no taste to playing music at the cow.

Jiang Yong Yu had been keeping her head down and drinking tea. She raised her head to look at Jing Fei and then at wang fei with a smile on her face and then silently lowered her head.

Instantly, the room sank into a strange sort of silence. But this silence was only a quick instant because the taijian outside made an announcement that broke the silence.

"Duan Wang has arrived."

The palace maids and taijian serving inside the room took a breath as though something terrifying just disappeared. They silently moved their heads lower towards the door.

Today … … the magic clouds on the soft palace boots that Duan Wang wore today were so good-looking.

[1] 云锦: brocade made in Jiangsu. In history, it was once exclusive to the Imperial Family and the common saying was one inch of gold, one inch of brocade (both brocade and gold have the same pronunciation in Chinese)

[2] 本宫: illeism for imperial consorts. "this palace"

[3] 贤内助: also means virtuous inner assistant.

[4] Pigs are considered dumb.

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