“Meng’er, I’m okay now. I just want to be left alone.” Accompanied by Yun Qian Meng, the two of them entered the side palace hall. This time all the people were all gathered inside the imperial garden. Aside from the two of them being inside the side palace hall, there were no others. Qu Fei Qing suddenly sighed deeply, no longer burying the frustrations inside her heart. She watched Yun Qian Meng and spoke with a bit of disappointment and sadness.
Seeing her willing to express her true emotions in front of her, Yun Qian Meng slightly loosened up her tensed heart. She was about to go ahead and say something to comfort her, but suddenly her face went stiff. Her cold gaze immediately shot across the wooden door that was half painted in red, lifting up her right index finger she put it beside her lips, making a gesture to hush Qu Fei Qing, yet she did not alarm the person who was standing beside the doorway.
But Yun Qian Meng’s eyes turned slightly cold, a severely cold air penetrated through her body. Dragging along Qu Fei Qing she squeezed her behind a red pillar of the side palace hall, afterwhich she quickly approached behind wooden door, then cautiously looked outside.
Following the series of actions made by Yun Qian Meng, Qu Fei Qing’s facial expression suddenly turned serious. Both her eyes were cold and raw, immediately she closed her both lips, taking precautions as she looked at the doorway of the side palace hall.
‘Creak!’ The half-opened door in the side palace was being pulled open by Yun Qian Meng in an instant, the person standing outside unexpectedly fell inside. Fortunately the ground of the side palace was covered with a thick layer of carpet, as it had slowed down the impact of the slide, although her figure looked somewhat staggering, yet she did not tumble, but just dashed a few steps to the front and stood firm as she balanced herself.
“Chu Jie?” Watching that peach pink figure in front of her, Yun Qian Meng half squinted her eyes, somewhat surprised as her eyes went extremely cold. But the tone of voice was gentle but contained faint curiosity, almost seemed as if waiting for Chu Jie’s explanation.
“Sister-in-law!” Chu Jie struggled to balance her body, somewhat having lingering fear as she patted her own chest, afterwhich she turned towards Yun Qian Meng, her eyes smiling as she called out for her.
“Jie’er why did you come to this side palace hall? If Er Niang wasn't able to find you inside the imperial garden, I’m afraid she might be anxious!” Qu Fei Qing walked out from behind the red pillar, while Yun Qian Meng regained her usual indifferent expression as she concealed the unhappy thoughts in her mind as she spoke.
“Yes, Miss Chu left without permission, perhaps Madam Chu will be anxious about it!” At this moment, seeing the person hidden beside the doorway was Chu Jie, Qu Fei Qing and Yun Qian Meng glanced at each other. As she also slowly spoke, her heart could not help but admired Yun Qian Meng’s keen observation. If it was not for her who found out the peculiarity instantly, Chu Jie will be very likely to hear all the details of their conversation.
But, hearing their words Chu Jie only laughed mischievously, afterwhich she went ahead and held Yun Qian Meng’s arm, acting coquettish as she said “Mother is currently chatting with all the other ladies, I actually don't know those ladies, and I have nothing to discuss with them. It was truly boring! Upon seeing sister-in-law and Elder Sister Qu leaving your seats, I followed behind both of you, but before I entered the door, sister-in-law surprised me!”
Yun Qian Meng smiled hearing her explanation, yet she did not comment on her behavior. But she just patted her hand who was clinging on to her own arm, the she spoke indifferently “Since you are here, then let’s just sit down in here for a while! Your Elder Sister Qu thinks that it was a bit cold outside, that was why we came here to warm ourselves. If you don't feel too stuffy in here, then you should join us, afterwards you need to return back to your seat, so as to avoid making Er Niang feel anxious!”
While speaking, Yun Qian Meng turned around and winked at Qu Fei Qing, the two of them exchanged their hints, leading along Chu Jie as they sat down on the nearby chairs.
“Usually when someone joined a palace feast for the very first time she will feel very excited about joining the palace feast. But it is really my first time seeing someone being bored like that!” Qu Fei Qing personally poured cups of hot tea for both of them, lifting up her own cup in front of her then gently took a sip, she spoke slowly, making these remarks in a deep tone.
Chu Jie just thanked her, took the teacup, then smiled as she said “Elder Sister Qu, you have no idea, I usually don’t like attending these palace feasts. In You Zhou before, every government office has their own feasts, I had also avoided them all finding some excuses. It will be better to just sit here, chatting with you sister-in-law and Elder Sister Qu. It will be more comfortable for me!”
Watching her sincere look, Yun Qian Meng gently slid the lid of the teacup off, smiling faintly as she spoke to Qu Fei Qing “There’s something more interesting than that. During the day when Father and Er Niang just arrived at the capital, all the people were already tired as they took their rests in their respective rooms. But only this silly girl led her two Xie cousins strolling inside the garden of Chu Wang Fu. She completely didn’t look tired, it is evident that she is truly a very active person, completely cannot withstand being bounded by rules! But we never know who will be the luckiest man to marry her in the future, perhaps she will become a source of laughter in her husband's family!”
While speaking, Yun Qian Meng lifted her hand then gently pointed at Chu Jie’s forehead, exposing a narrow smile along with her tone of voice.
Being described by Yun Qian Meng like this, Chu Jie’s cheeks immediately blushed. With a bit of shyness she said “Sister-in-law, you are making fun of me! Jie’er is still young, naturally I would still stay with my parents, how can I get married that fast?”
Watching her look of shyness, Qu Fei Qing’s eyes got surprised and said “Miss Chu being shy like this, that might mean that you’ve already had someone in your heart! If this is true, why don’t you tell us. If he is someone from the capital, Meng’er and I can give our opinions!”
“Oh hey, how come Elder Sister Qu is also making fun of Jie’er like sister-in-law? Jie’er just recently arrived at the capital, during these past few days I’ve been staying inside Wang Fu, how can I have the chance to meet any man? Even the palace feast tonight, being separated by the hanging curtains, how can I get pleged to be married without my parents approval. Why, people will despise me. Don’t you think so Elder Sister Qu!”
While speaking, Chu Jie lifted up her smiling eyes as she looked at Qu Fei Qing. Her eyes wearing a full smiling expression without exception. But when Qu Fei Qing saw it, it also seemed to be very garish, as if Chu Jie’s words earlier had another meaning.
“I did not expect Qu xiaojie to be someone who remembers her status at all times, pardon my attitude. Please do not take it too seriously, Miss Chu!” Qu Fei Qing said, her words had pointing out Chu Jie’s identity. Even though she was the daughter of the legal wife, Madam Xie was not the Chu Pei’s first legal wife, she was the second wife of a widower. There were some things that were unattainable for them.
Ever since the family of Chu Pei entered the capital, Gu Lao Tai Jun was always talking about this thing with her son and daughter-in-law. Qu Fei Qing who was sitting in a corner naturally knew about the stakes at risk.
In addition to her good relationship with Yun Qian Meng, she naturally would not allow something that belonged to Yun Qian Meng to fall into other people's hands. She seized her chance to make this statement.
After all, Yun Qian Meng had to call Chu Pei grandfather and regard Madam Xie as her Er Niang. Some words would sound disgraceful if they came out from Yun Qian Meng’s mouth. Whereas if she said them, it would only sound like a petty dispute between xiaojies of differing fus.
Chu Jie laughed calmly, she did not try to decipher the intended meaning in Qu Fei Qing’s words. As if she did not hear the deeper meaning of them, she just curiously asked Yun Qian Meng “How did you know that I was standing beside the doorway? Earlier I was about to push open that wooden door, yet unexpectedly it had moved itself, without noticing I was frightened, that almost fell to the floor of the hall!”
Seeing Chu Jie having the suspicion, Yun Qian Meng laid down the lid that she had been fiddling with in her hand, seemingly truthful as she spoke “Isn’t it because you have been hiding a lot of winter plum inside your sleeves, which was why before you entered the side palace hall, the fragrance already floated inside! Me and your cousin initially play a little trick on you yet unexpectedly it almost made you fall down, so the game quickly lost its fun. Where you hurt?”
While speaking, Yun Qian Meng pulled Chu Jie up, gently moving her body as she carefully inspected.
“I’m alright, sister-in-law!” Chu Jie laughed as she turned around in front of Yun Qian Meng, suddenly she realized “Which is why Elder Sister Qu walked out from behind the red pillar, and sister-in-law is also hiding by the doorway! Fortunately I was able to steady my balance, or else wouldn't I just fall into your trap?”
After speaking, Chu Jie also started to laugh at herself. Her laughter was like the sound of silver bells that reverberated inside the quiet side palace hall, adding up to a bit of sweetness in the air.
“We must get back now, or else if Er Niang can’t find you, she might get anxious!” After drinking a cup of tea, Yun Qian Meng slowly stood up, glancing the color of the sky outside, she discovered the sky had became increasingly gloomier. This heavy snow seemed like it will not easily stop.
“Yes!” Since Yun Qian Meng was already up, the other two naturally followed after her. When the three of them went inside the imperial garden, people inside were still singing and laughing, all the people were still busy enjoying the singing and dancing performance and greeting while offering drinks to one another. No one had actually noticed them left the venue earlier.
Watching Yun Qian Meng returning to her seat, Chu Fei Yang’s originally distant expression slowly turned into a warm smile, then he turned his attention away again.
Jiang Mu Chen also watched Yun Qian Meng as she slowly sat down, seeing her eyes were only focused on Chu Fei Yang since the moment she entered the imperial garden, blue veins suddenly burst out from his hand which was pinching the wine cup. He strove hard to look away from her, having no other way to vent out the anger in his heart, he lifted up his head then drank all wine in his hand.
“Wang Ye, what’s going on with you? It seems as if you have hatred towards the fine wine inside the palace. this isn’t really the right method of drinking! Seemed like a reckless waste of good things!” Jiang Mu Chen and Chu Fei Yang sat adjacent to each other, so naturally Chu Fei Yang saw every move he made.
Seeing Chen Wang drinking wine sorrowfully with his head hanging down, Chu Fei Yang ‘kindly’ raised this point. Afterwhich his slender right hand lifted up the jade pot on the table. With elegant movements he filled up the cup, his two fingers with distinctive knuckles gently lifted up the wine cup in front of him, hooking up the smile in the corner of his mouth seemed to be quite enjoying it as he slowly drank the fine wine, those half squinting sparkling eyes shot out a little smile, seemed to be quite satisfied with the fragrance of the wine inside his mouth.
“Chu Xiang, now that you have married a beautiful wife, being proud of your official career, no wonder you still have the leisure time to elegantly taste the wine! Truly you make us feel envy!” This time Hai Wang interrupted with these words. Both his shrewd eyes swept across the cold and gloomy Chen Wang. After which he continued “But, Chen Wang is also similarly better, I’ve heard Wang Ye’s Ce Fei is also a great beauty, but why didn’t she attend tonight's palace feast?”
Hai Wang’s words seemed like just a simple greeting for the others, but when they reached Jiang Mu Chen’s ears, they became pure humiliation.
So long as he was being reminded of the humiliation that he had suffered from Chu Fei Yang during that day, the anger came unceasingly rushing forth to Jiang Mu Chen’s heart. Particularly when he saw the deeply affectionate interaction between Chu Fei Yang and Yun Qian Meng, it had irritated Jiang Mu Chen even more. Feeling that this Chu Fei Yang standing before him looked even more mysterious than before. If it wasn’t for his existence, even if Yun Qian Meng had wings, she would still unable to escape from the palm of his own hand.
Hearing Hai Wang’s seemingly unintentional words, Chu Fei Yang smiled elegantly. Afterwhich he continued to taste the wine in the cup. He did not participate on their conversation. Those eyes wearing a simple smile had already crossed over the bonfire in the imperial garden looking at Yun Qian Meng in the opposite side, seeing her lowering down her head talking with Qu Fei Qing, her eyes flickered with intelligent gaze and the corner of her mouth containing a shallow smile, no longer exhibiting her self confidence and unique charm to others, for a moment Chu Fei Yang felt dazzled watching her, hoping that this boring palace feast will soon come to an end, so as not to just let him sit still on his seat.
“Hai Wang and Hai Jun Wang seemed as if being quite curious about my Ce Fei, today you had already mentioned about her twice!” Chen Wang sneered. His gaze as cold as ice swept through Chu Fei Yang’s face towards Hai Wang, the corner of his mouth broke out an extremely cold smiling expression, forming a sharp contrast against the lively scene inside the imperial garden.
“You are being funny, Chen Wang! I somehow regret that benwang wasn’t able to attend Wang Ye and Chu Xiang’s weddings! If it wasn’t for the injury on my legs, benwang surely wouldn't miss these two wonderful weddings! Benwang heard that during Wang Ye’s big wedding, Chu Xiang had came rushing all the way from Luo City! With the great friendship between the both of you, that was truly a rare sight within the royal court!” Hai Wang had completely lost his silence today, humorously narrating the things that he heard from other people, yet it made Chu Fei Yang gradually regained his focus on Yun Qian Meng, and coldness in Chen Wang’s eyes became even more serious.
“This was merely just a major event in my own life, how could I trouble Wang Ye to have to personally attend it? Moreover, this time Chen Wang only marries Ce Fei, the position of Ce Fei had two slots, in the future if Chen Wang was to marry again, don’t you need to attend again, Hai Wang Ye? Furthermore, aside from Ce Fei, there’s Zheng Fei, based on these, if Hai Wang Ye was to only attend to congratulate, he will then have to visit Chen Wang Ye for at least three times. Wang Ye isn’t your body not feeling well? How can you afford be rushing around? If you got tired, your son-in-law the Crown Prince will be very likely to feel distressed. If Crown Prince is in a bad mood, he might attack Western Chu again, then wouldn’t Wang Ye become the criminal of Western Chu? So that was why Chen Wang didn’t inform Hai Wang, this is also for the best of Wang Ye and the common people of Western Chu!” For the fear of not putting the world in chaos, Chu Fei Yang not only criticized Chen Wang, he also involved Qi Jing Yuan, moreover he also threatened Hai Wang, with these words, he had involved all those people in power, no one will ever escape from his plan.
After speaking, it all seemed nothing to him as he continued to taste the wine and watch the dance, having a complacent look, as if the person who had said those sharp words earlier was not him.
“Chu Xiang, your statement is bad, my father was just merely showing his mutual concern between colleagues, yet he was being misunderstood by Chu Xiang! Although the Crown Prince is my father’s son-in-law, but the Crown Prince always shows his concern towards the common people of Northern Qi, how could he make a big move because of my father's few trips to attend the wedding feasts? Furthermore the Crown Prince came here this time for the sake of making peace between the two countries like Western Chu and Northern Qi, marrying my sister as a commitment to our Western Chu, how could he break the promise, and start a war because of this trivial matter! Chu Xiang, you have worried too much!” This time, Hai Chen Xi laughed as he spoke.
His cleverness was not inferior to Chu Fei Yang, although his time serving in the royal court was shorter, but under Hai Wang’s personal teaching as well as the guidance of Hai Wang Fei and the others inside Hai Wang Fu, he had been trained to have an agile thinking and a clever tongue, he had refuted back to Chu Fei Yang’s words at first place, easily blocked off the high hat that was being tossed out to him by Chu Fei Yang.
“Since that is the case, then there’s no need for Wang Ye to always mention about the wedding event! Mentioning several times about it, don’t tell me that you were hinting me for lacking the etiquette?” For the first time Jiang Mu Chen did not go against Chu Fei Yang, but instead he sneered at Hai Wang and his son.
After all, it was Hai Wang who had first mentioned about this matter. However based on Hai Wang’s statement it was very clear that, as for the things that had happened during that day, he certainly knew all the details, or else how could he be able to say all those words? If Jiang Mu Chen was not able to hear these words which were obviously mocking him, then all these years that he had been living inside the palace will be pointless!
However, regarding Yun Qian Meng, this was a matter between himself and Chu Fei Yang. Jiang Mu Chen did not want Hai Wang to get involved. He must know that the man had other deeper interests. He was also very good in observation waiting for a good opportunity to make his move. If he was to discover something, perhaps it will be just like s sharp sword in his hand.
And Qi Jing Yuan who kept his silence all along while listening to the heated debated between these few men. He did not speak to defend Hai Wang, also he didn’t interrupt to become a peacemaker.
After all, Qi Jing Yuan was npt a citizen of Westerni Chu, whether he was about to marry Hai Tian as his wife, he would still be Northern Qi’s Crown Prince, and as for the internal conflicts of Western Chu, he was not interested in any of it. But he did not absolutely withdraw from it, but just observed in a corner with cold eyes, carefully observed which side had the most powerful strength.
“I’ve heard that during the imperial examination period a fire had broke out from a guest house, in order to appease the candidates, Wang Ye had provided shelter inside Chen Wang Fu for those candidates who had survived! Such act of righteousness, truly made me admire you!” If a few words would cause Hai Wang to glare angrily, it will very unlikely for Hai Wang Fu to be standing upright on top of Yang Ming Mountain, this time he was able to switch the topic easily, those bright eyes slightly swept through Han Chen who was offering wine to Qu Chang Qing in a nearby place, as he slowly spoke.
“Since I’ve been receiving salary from the imperial court, then naturally I will serve the imperial court! I presume if Hai Wang had seen the situation during that time, you will also do this!” How could Jiang Mu Chen not notice Han Che’s actions, but hearing Hai Wang mentioned about it feeling uneasy, his facial expression had gradually went a few degrees colder, his tone of voice seemed to contain the righteousness.
“But I’m confused, that top scorer of the military examination Top Scorer Han was actually chosen by Wang Ye, and the top scorer of the literary examination Top Scorer Han had also benefited from Wang Ye, but why were the two of them offering wine to Qu Shang Shu, but instead casting Wang Ye aside, that was truly peculiar. Or maybe they felt that Wang Ye’s status was unattainable, which is why they didn’t attempt to propose their toasts?” Hai Wang’s words entailed quite a lot of deeper meaning, firstly it was to promote disharmony between Han Shao Mian, Han Che towards Jiang Mu Chen, pointing out their ungratefulness and inability to distinguish the good and the bad.
Secondly, it denoted that the two of them looked down upon Chen Wang. Fu Guo Gong Fu was actually one of the four huge influential families, their status weren’t any lower than Chen Wang. But the two of them had preferred to offer wine to Qu Zhang Qing instead of coming over to them, it didn’t seem that Chen Wang was highly unattainable, but the two of them had their other plans in mind.
“Hai Wang, don’t you forget that, Qu Zhang Qing is the assistant minister of Ministry of War before, that Han Shao Mian was going to him obviously because he needed some advice. And as for Han Che, I had seen it earlier that, he seemed to be dragged by Han Shao Mian as his companion. After all, Duan Wang is Han Shi Lang’s real uncle, Han Che came from a poor and humble family moreover it was also his first time to handle things inside the imperial court, naturally he couldn't afford to offend anyone!” This time, Chu Fei Yang plainly spoke, gazing at Hai Wang with faint coldness in his eyes. Hai Wang’s words earlier had involved Fu Guo Gong Fu, it was undoubtedly that he wanted Jiang Mu Chen to hate Qu Zhang Qing and the others even more, such treacherous plan was truly frightening!
And before Hai Wang could respond, Chu Fei Yang quickly continued “I’ve heard that His Majesty had let Hai Wang and his family stay behind, so as to avoid troubling Wang Ye going back and forth, and also being compassionate towards Princess He Shun because she was about to marry off to a far away location. Consequently the princess was allowed to have plenty of bonding time with her relatives from Hai Wang Fu. It can be clearly seen that His Majesty had valued Wang Ye after all!”
Unknowingly, Qi Jing Yuan had hooked up a blood thirsty kind of sneer upon hearing these words, seemed as if having a bit of disdainful look, but also appeared as if mocking Emperor Yu Qian for wasting a big deal of efforts, those gloomy both eyes had finally focused on Hai Tian who was sitting on the opposite side for the first time tonight. His unconcealed eyes were filled with frustrated murderous spirit as they shot across Hai Tian, whose eyes seemed to be filled with unwillingness, making Hai Tian to respond quickly as she body was beaded with cold sweat as she got frightened. She could not help but grab Hai Wang Fei’s hands tightly, with coldness in her and her voice trembling she said “Mother, I really don’t want to go to Northern Qi!”
Hai Wang Fei did not expect that on the crucial juncture, Hai Tian would back out. She immediately pulled her hands, exerting efforts to grab them tightly between her hands, using the hardest strength that seemed to be squeezing Hai Tian’s hands until she felt the pain, afterwhich with a bit of cruel tone she said “Tian’er, are you insane? Would you like to ruin your big brother's life? Look at your father, who is standing beside him during this feast, aren’t you worried about your big brother? Now that Hai Chen Xi had already became Hai Jun Wang, if he is to snatch away your brother's position as Shi Zi again, even me as your mother will not be able to live anymore! Don’t you know that with your ‘don’t want to go’ remarks will not only harm you mother and your big brother, but also in the future you won’t be able to gain your foothold inside Hai Wang Fu, not even to mention marrying a good husband! Think about the consequences of that little slut Hai Lin, do you want to be similar to her? Or are you mentally prepared to be ridiculed by that slut?”
Hai Tian felt the pain in her hands to be grabbed like that, yet it was not as frightening as the fear that Qi Jing Yuan had given her with that gaze earlier.
But Hai Wang Fei’s analysis was reasonable, causing her to feel confused for a moment, her face went deathly pale like snow, the arrogance in her expression had been gradually stripped away, leaving behind a confused face……
‘Boom, boom……’ The burst of fireworks sound echoed from a faraway abandoned palace during the arrival of the first hour, everyone abandoned their tasks at hand as they lifted up their heads watching the snowy night sky, that pitch-black night sky was slowly displaying colorful fireworks, those dazzling colors highlighted its brilliance in the midst of darkness.
The palace feast ended as they returned back to Chu Xiang Fu, which was already during the break of dawn. Thinking about sending Hai Tian out of the city tomorrow, Yun Qian Meng and Chu Fei Yang simply washed then went to bed to take a break.