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Okay, I have to say that I didn’t even know where to start finding what was described in this chapter. Also, some of you are true prophets!

Chapter Twenty Three Pleading

Feng ce fei was arrogant and villainous, she broke the Ashmangala glass lamp wang ye gave to wan fei. The news spread like fire through the entire fu. The people who disliked Feng ce fei felt a vicious satisfaction and waited to see her misfortunes continue.

But who knew on the second day that the zheng yuan didn't make any moves, wang fei didn't even send out any words of admonishment. Those servants that had been offended by Feng Zi Jin were disappointed. Was the incident going to be covered up like this?

Another two days passed and just when the rumors were starting to settle, members of the Feng family came to the fu. Feng ce fei's father was a third-grade assistant minister in the Department of Works. Relatively speaking, this wasn't a very important position in the City of Jing. Moreover, it was in the Department of Works and not an important department such as the Rites or Revenue.

Before the Feng Family’s card could be passed into zheng yuan, it was blocked by wang ye's people. They only said that the fu was temporarily not receiving any visitors. The Feng family didn't even get to meet wang ye and wang fei. They didn't even manage to leave behind their gifts before they were thrown out.

The fu became lively again. Wang ye was very rude to the Feng family, did it mean that he was very discontent with Feng ce fei? Before everybody could react, Feng ce fei was moved to a small set of room in the western corner of the wang fu. Her allowances were all halved. Even though she e still called a ce fei, her allowances were no different than any other shiqie. Instantly the news came out that wang ye wanted to demote Feng ce fei to a shiqie.

The title of ce fei, it was just a pretty-sounding title. In the most basic terms, it was just a yiniang of somewhat good birth. The only one of wang ye's women that could enter the genealogy book of the Imperial Family was wang fei and no one else. Today, wang ye could let the servants call you ce fei, tomorrow he could let the servants call another person ce fei. No matter how noble this ce shi was, it couldn't measure up to half a hand of the di wife.

In the zheng yuan, Qu Qing Ju looked at the box that He Heng had personally presented and then looked suspiciously at He Heng: "Wang ye, what good thing is in this box, that you have to taunt qie with it?"

He Heng pointed to the door and windows and ordered the servants: "Close the door and windows, make the room darker."

Because of the weather in the winter, the rooms were already darker than in other seasons. Once the openings were closed, the room instantly plunged into a darkness that was hard to adjust to.

"Open and take a look," He Heng smiled at Qu Qing Ju and hinted to her to open the box.

Qu Qing Ju smiled at He Heng, her forefinger caressed the lid for a while and under He Heng's expectant gaze, she opened the box. The moment the box was opened, a warm light streamed out of the box, illuminating the entire room.

Her finger stopped moving, Qu Qing Ju's eyes slightly widened. Inside the box was a mutton-fat jade lamp. The base of the lamp was a qing luan bird holding a lotus in its beak. Both the center of the lotus and the wings of the qing luan were glowing.

Qu Qing Ju looked awestruck at this lamp. That stone, the size of an infant's fist, sitting in the middle of the lotus, was that a night luminous pearl?[1]And the thumb sized beads encrusted on the wings, were they night luminous pearls too? And the base of this lamp clearly was carved from a single piece of jade, how big was the original for the product to be like this? The lotus flower wasn't small, it's weight almost surpassed the base of the lamp, so how did it maintain balance with the lamp base?

Even though the luminous pearl's light was gentle but on this lamp, Qu Qing Ju could only see the radiance of the tuhao[2]. The ancient people had endless imagination and creativity. In this instant, a certain dumb hick from the modern times knelt under this great culture.

The glass lamp before had exquisite workmanship, but Qu Qing Ju had been used to the different glass products of the modern age and wasn't amazed to this point. Today, with this night luminous pearl, the only thing she could do was worship it.

Seeing Qu Qing Ju's awestruck face, He Heng smiled and informed her: "This lamp was bestowed to me by fuhuang when I moved out of the palace two years ago to start my own fu. Supposedly, it was the masterpiece of a master craftsman a hundred years ago. This might not be as beautiful as the light of the moon and stars, but the carving on this jade lamp is passable. It will be suitable for you to use when you sleep."

The servants in the room were already dumbfounded. A night luminous pearl, it was already a valuable artifact. This lamp, it was worth entire cities. Wang ye really did place great importance on wang fei.

"In the myths, qing luan is the messenger bird of good news besides the Heavenly Empress. They say that the qing luan is a romantic bird, it spends its entire life searching for the one." Qu Qing Ju's face, under the gentle light, seemed exceptionally warm, her eyes seemed to have been infected with the light from the pearl, "Meeting wang ye, is the greatest fortune of qie's life."

He Heng slightly lowered his head, not looking at that luminous pair of eyes. He said softly, "It's just an object. If Qing Ju likes it, it has fulfilled its highest duty."

Touching the warm wings of the qing luan, Qu Qing Ju's finger stopped on the night luminous pearl embed in the wings, "Wang ye's kindness, qie knows, but this is too valuable … …"

"No matter how valuable an object is, it doesn't compare to Qing Ju's place in my heart," He Heng took her hand in his, "Don't think so much, it's alright for you to just like it."

Returning the qing luan lotus lamp back into the box, the rooms became dusky again. He Heng saw that Qu Qing Ju seemed to be in a daze staring at him and his grasp tightened.

The servants reopened the door and windows. Light came into the room. He Heng released Qu Qing Ju's hand, "Earlier, a decree came from the palace. I have been summoned to enter in a little while. I'll probably return late, you don't have to wait up for me."

"Yes," Qu Qing Ju nodded with a smile. She stood and carefully placed the box to one side, "If that's going to happen, we should prepare early. If you are late, it might cause fuhuang to dislike you."

He Heng nodded and held Qu Qing Ju's hand again before leaving the zheng yuan with his entourage.

Qu Qing Ju saw the back of his figure disappear at the door and expressionlessly returned to sit on the armchair, "Mu Jin, place this lamp in my bedroom. Take care placing it to avoid any accidents." Regardless of He Heng's intentions, she liked this lamp so it should be placed somewhere to be admired.

The rooms of the mistress of the wang fu were not a place anyone could enter. Mu Jin nodded and carefully held the box as she walked inside in fear of damaging it.

A short amount of time later, when Qu Qing Ju had just finished a cup of tea, she saw Huang Yang quickly walk in, "Wang fei, Feng ce fei is kneeling at the gates to beg for forgiveness."

Qu Qing Ju raised an eyebrow: "She came to beg forgiveness?" Ruminating for a while, she asked, "Did wang ye leave the fu yet?"

"Just left," Huang Yang thought a bit, "Feng ce fei is wearing plain clothes. She says she is truly regretful and begs wang fei to forgive her."

"Such a good show but the intended audience isn't here," Qu Qing Ju chuckled and stood, "I do wish to see how she is truly regretful."

Draping on a fox-skin cape, Qu Qing Ju took with her a group of high and low ranked servants as she walked to the gate. She saw Feng Ji Zin dressed in black and kneeling with a small yahuan. Maybe it was that the clothes weren't thick enough, her face was also slightly dark. When she came out, a few flickers of regret appeared on Feng Zi Jin's dark face and she gave a heavy kowtow, "Nu was ignorant and made a great error and begs for forgiveness from wang fei."

"Feng ce fei, what are you doing?" Qu Qing Ju walked to the top of the stairs at the gate. She calmly looked at Feng Zi Jin's state, "I have never done anything to Feng ce fei, what is the meaning of your actions?"

"Wang fei, please forgive nu. In the past, nu was disrespectful, nu didn't know her bounds," Feng Zi Jin gave a few more kowtows and then crawled in front of Qu Qing Ju, "Wang fei, please persuade wang ye, don't demote nu. Please, wang fei, help say something on behalf of nu."

Qu Qing Ju just saw that, in the span of a few days, Feng Zi Jin had become haggard, her eyes bloodshot. There was no sign of the liveliness and arrogance in the previous few days. In the past, this person carried herself as though she was on top of the world. Did she ever think that a day like this would happen?

However, He Heng was actually going to demote her from ce fei to yiniang, was this telling everybody that in this wang fu, other than him as wang ye, there was only her as wang fei who was one of the owners of this wang fu?

She had already known He Heng was a smart and sensible person. Otherwise, he couldn't act so decisively. To purposefully let Feng Zi Jin find out, wasn't it just to make sure this scene would happen?

That man wanted her to release her anger and letting everybody in the city know how much he, Duan Wang, respected his wife and how correct his conduct was? His title was Duan[3]. Based on appearances, it fit him well.

Lowering her eyes to look at the person continuously kowtowing to her, Qu Qing Ju slowly asked: "Feng shi, who do you think I am?"

Feng Zi Jin paused and stopped kowtowing. She raised her head to dazedly gaze upon this woman she had never really placed any importance on.

"I am the mistress of Duan Wang Fu, wang ye's di wife," Qu Qing Ju bent at the waist and used a hand to lift Feng Zi Jin's chin, "But why do you always forget this fact?"

Feng Zi Jin suddenly widened her eyes. She remembered when Qu Qing Ju had humiliated her before by lifting her chin. At that time, she had been enraged and felt humiliation. But now, she felt a coldness seep into her entire body. This woman in front of her wasn't a harmless bunny, she was a seductive fox-demoness, a poisonous scorpion.

Qu Qing Ju laughed in satisfaction as she saw Feng Zi Jin start to tremble. She slowly straighten and using a handkerchief, one by one, she wiped her fingers, "I remember when I just got very sick, I vaguely heard you say outside, it was annoying to waver between life and death."

Feng Zi Jin's trembling became more severe, even her teeth started chattering.

"I didn't die. How can I receive your pleas?" The smile on Qu Qing Ju's mouth was so gentle it seemed to be made up of water. She exclaimed, "Feng ce fei, what are you doing? It's so cold on the ground. Wang ye always makes his own decisions, you have made it difficult for me too."

"Who– … …" Feng Zi Jin's terror reached its peak and turned to rage. Before she could start swearing, Yin Liu covered her mouth.

"Oh, I had forgotten. The Feng Family does have some influence. Presumably, the family teachings are strict. Do your cousins have the same lively personality that you have?"

Feng Zi Jin instantly stopped and sank powerlessly to sit on the ground. She looked dazedly at the smiling Qu Qing Ju and muttered in a low voice: "You want to coerce me?"

Hearing this, Qu Qing Ju used her handkerchief to muffle the laughter coming out of her mouth: "Feng ce fei, don't joke. Us inner chamber women, the most important part of us is our reputation. Matters outside, they aren't easy to deal with, and meddling is an embarrassment."

Feng Zi Jin opened her mouth but could say anything. She didn't understand. She was the most favoured ce fei, how could she end up like this?

Didn't wang ye not like wang fei, why was it like this?

Qu Qing Ju kept a faint smile as she watched Feng Zi Jin leave, aided by the support of the servants. The smile gradually faded at Qu Qing Ju's lips and she looked coldly at the back of the figure, not a hint of warmth to be found.

[1] 夜明珠: a type of volcanic stone, usually fluorite. The stone glows in the dark, which was the origin of the word fluorescence. It was used for decoration

[2] 土豪: a word similar to nouveau-riche but the Chinese term has gradually penetrated the international culture. See Wikipedia for the phenomenon.

[3] See chapter one or glossary for definition of Duan

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