Human Flesh Dumplings
On the 29th of the twelfth month, the fire at Duan Mu An Guo’s birthday banquet had become a memory that would be hard to forget in this life. For the members of the Duan Mu family especially, that was a disaster, a humiliation and that had caused feelings of horror and danger to burrow themselves into their hearts.
Prince Lian had turned the topic of discussion to that large fire, and Duan Mu Cong’s expression immediately changed. The fingers that held the cup of wine suddenly held it tighter, and his arm slightly trembled. Even his eyes revealed a fiery look, as he said through gritted teeth: “The Duan Mu family will definitely get revenge for that!”
Prince Lian went “pft” and immediately began laughing, “Get revenge?” She wagged her finger, “I fear that is impossible! This prince heard that this fire was started by Da Shun’s imperial daughter Ji An. She’s just a girl in her early teens, yet nobody in your entire manor was able to catch her. Instead, she was able to take care of half of your manpower. With just this bit of ability, you want to get revenge?”
While discussing this matter, the disclosure of weakness was what they feared most. Chatting idly was perfectly fine, but once a weakness was exposed, they would not like to hear this. Yet Prince Lian did not take the common route. Instead, she specifically prodded at the Duan Mu family’s sore spot. Time and time again, how could this be permitted!
Duan Mu Cong was on the verge of a mental disorder from being angered by her. He was still able to maintain his consciousness; however, he had lost the majority of his ability to reason. The Prince Lian that he did not dare offend was now someone that he was prepared to go to war with. Expose weakness? He could also do it, “Hmph! Back then, Qian Zhou sent out its Divine Archery team to Da Shun to kidnap that imperial daughter’s younger brother, hoping to use that to threaten the imperial daughter. What was the result? Weren’t the lives of all those guards and divine archers lost, and all that there was to show for it just the single finger from that child’s hand? We have both suffered the same, so neither can be ridiculed.”
Prince Lian covered her mouth and laughed. After a while, she said: “They were already a group of idiots; however, they still wanted to go against Da Shun, which has a foundation built over many centuries. If they don’t suffer a few losses, how can they learn their lesson. Moreover, there is someone responsible for every grievance and a debtor for every debt. They didn’t have the ability to fight against the ninth prince and imperial daughter Ji An, but they will take action against a child. They really are lacking in maturity.”
“Your Highness Prince Lian really is carefree.” Duan Mu An Guo heard this conversation and interjected, “Could it be that your Highness has forgotten how imperial daughter Ji An treated Qian Zhou’s princess Ru Jia?”
Prince Lian raised an eyebrow and looked at him, saying in a very confused tone: “Ru Jia is imperial cousin’s own niece but not this prince’s. What should this prince care! Despite Ru Jia’s personality, Kang Yi was still willing to bring her to Da Shun. This made it clear that she was sending her daughter there to die. If her own mother wanted her to die, why should I care.”
Duan Mu An Guo looked at Prince Lian for a while then stopped speaking. Duan Mu Cong, however, added: “As I see it, Qian Zhou only taking one finger from imperial daughter Ji An’s brother is too little for her. That little one should have been killed then turned into stuffing for dumplings.”
Prince Lian grimaced, saying with a disgusted and shocked tone: “It turned out that great leader’s son like to eat human flesh dumplings? That’s really quite good. The people that died at the great leader’s manor on the day before yesterday can be cut up for you to eat. They’ve even been roasted, so the taste should be even better.”
Having a profound experience of what it was like to hear fierce multilayered words, Duan Mu Cong returned to his own seat, defeated. In secret, he made up his mind that he would not say another word to Prince Lian.
At quarter past noon, the person that had been sent to deliver money to the Fu family then fetch a painting from Xian Zi Pavilion had returned. Kneeling before Duan Mu An Guo, he reported: “This subordinate went to the Fu family and found that they do indeed have a daughter named Fu Ya. A few days ago, she was selected to enter the Illusory Hall.” As he spoke, he raised the three paintings above his head, “These are the paintings that were stored in Xian Zi Pavilion. Would my lord please take a look.”
Duan Mu An Guo nodded, gesturing for a servant to bring the paintings over. Feng Yu Heng looked over, intending for herself to be exposed. She wanted for Duan Mu An Guo to see clearly.
The three paintings were held separately by three servants in front of Duan Mu An Guo. The girl in the paintings had calm and natural expressions. She did not smile, she was not sad, and it was as though everything was unrelated to her. She was indeed beautiful; however, it was not that delicate and charming type of beauty. Instead, she was like a flower of ice, as a chilliness emanated from her essence.
He then looked to look at Feng Yu Heng, standing behind Prince Lian and saw that they had the same face. It was just that it looked a little more clever and a little angrier than in the painting. But this was the difference between a live person and a painting. This was not uncommon.
Duan Mu An Guo furrowed his brow. Although this girl looked to be Fu Ya based on the painting, why did he feel that she looked like the one that had started the fire that day? He asked the attendant that had returned: “These paintings were stored in Xian Zi Pavilion?”
The attendant nodded: “That’s right. These are paintings of the Fu family’s daughter taken from Xian Zi Pavilion. This subordinate personally saw the painters bring this out. They even have the dates marked down.”
Duan Mu An Guo glanced at the date then did not continue to ask. He could see that these paintings were indeed real. If they were painted recently, the paint could not possibly be like this. Could it be that he was overthinking it?
With these doubts in mind, the 100 family banquet continued until quarter to 3PM. When Duan Mu An Guo finally announced the conclusion of the banquet, Feng Yu Heng poked at Prince Lian, who had fallen asleep on the table, and said with a frown: “Hey, wake up.”
The two maids that held the ice lanterns looked at her for a while but did not say anything. One of them just moved the lantern that they held closer to Prince Lian. The cold aura emanating from the lantern combined with its fragrance immediately caused Prince Lian to wake up.
The woman took a couple deep breaths then comfortably stretched herself. She then stood up and dragged Feng Yu Heng away from the scene without paying any heed to Duan Mu An Guo.
Ever since Duan Mu An Guo had expressed the desire to submit and pledge allegiance to Qian Zhou, Qian Zhou had set up a posthouse in Song Zhou. When Prince Lian came on this trip, she stayed in Qian Zhou’s posthouse.
Feng Yu Heng followed Prince Lian back to the posthouse. Right before leaving the Winter Palace, she did not get a chance to see Ban Zou. She did not know if it was because of the changing of the guard or if he had found a new job. Feng Yu Heng thought that he should have seen everything that had happened in the Winter Palace, thus he should be hidden somewhere nearby at this moment, right? Just like before, he would be her shadow?
“This cloak has been touched by Duan Mu An Guo. Take it and have it burned.” After Prince Lian entered the posthouse, she removed the cloak and threw it to a servant, “That old thing Duan Mu An Guo has a weird smell, and it’s really disgusting.”
Feng Yu Heng believed that these words were correct.
A room in the posthouse was left to her. Prince Lian did not mention what she wanted for her to do, and it seemed that she was treated slightly differently from the other servants.
Feng Yu Heng returned to her room and went to lie down in bed, closing her eyes to get some rest. She had been training fervently in the IllusoryHall the previous day and practically had no chance to sleep. In addition to this, there had been no shortage of fuss over the past few days. Now, she really was sleepy.
Unfortunately, not long after she closed her eyes and before she could fall asleep, she heard a quiet sound come from the door. Immediately following this, someone sneakily entered the room. Although the footsteps were as gentle as possible, they were still extremely loud to Feng Yu Heng.
Quietly sighing, she helplessly said: “I really can’t even get some proper sleep!” After saying this, she suddenly sat up.
The person that had snuck in was nearly frightened to death. After letting out a shriek, they patted their chest and repeatedly said: “You scared me to death.”
Feng Yu Heng rolled her eyes, “Your Highness Prince Lian, is something the matter?”
“Hah, you’re really no fun.” The person that had come was Prince Lian. This person seemed to favor red clothes. Although she had clearly changed her clothes, she still wore a dazzling-red color. Combined with her pale complexion, it looked very odd. “Would it kill you to just pretend?” While saying this, she took a sip of date tea then handed it over to Feng Yu Heng: “Have a taste. It tastes very good, it replenishes blood and helps nourish your skin.”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head, “I am still young and don’t need this kind of thing.” She had a good feeling about Prince Lian, and it was not just a bit, but she needed to control this feeling to prevent it from becoming too prominent. Since this person was from Qian Zhou and was a member of Qian Zhou’s imperial family, due to the enmity that she held toward Qian Zhou’s imperial family, she had no intention of forgiving anyone with the surname Feng. This included any lackeys that those people raised.
Feng Yu Heng retreated a bit, not wanting to get too close to Prince Lian. Although they were both women, the softness emanating from the other person left her feeling a little uncomfortable.
Prince Lian did not appear unhappy. She just said to her: “I had someone prepare some food for you. You spent the day standing around in the Winter Palace. You must be tired and hungry. Duan Mu An Guo, that old thing, only knows how to do these worthless things. For such performances to continue so long, it could bore someone to death.”
Feng Yu Heng did not accept her kind intentions, “I’m not hungry. I’m very full.”
“Hm?” Prince Lian was puzzled, “When did you eat?”
“When you were sleeping during the 100 family banquet, I finished your fish.” Feng Yu Heng spoke truthfully. That fish was truly delicious. Even to this moment, the aftertaste continued to linger.
Prince Lian opened her mouth wide and looked at Feng Yu Heng with a worshipping look: “Well damn, you really are good! You actually dared to eat your master’s fish in front of so many people. But, hah! Tell me, what sort of expression did that old thing, Duan Mu An Guo, have when you ate that fish?”
Feng Yu Heng thought back carefully to the expression that Duan Mu An Guo had. After a while, however, she shook her head: “I can’t remember. I was only focused on eating and did not even look at him.”
Prince Lian was a little disappointed, “Hah, you definitely missed out on the most spectacular expression of this year. I will tell you that Duan Mu An Guo pays far more attention to these fish than any living person. Did you not see his face when the two fish were brought up? Really, you should have taken a couple more looks back then. Or you should have woken me up. To see that old thing be humiliated is truly something worthy of celebrating.”
Feng Yu Heng was puzzled, “What exactly is the enmity between you and Duan Mu An Guo? Also, why did you take me in? Are you not worried that I’m a bad person?”
Prince Lian waved her hand, “I’ve seen plenty of bad people in this world. I saw that you did not look like one, thus you definitely are not. As for the enmity between me and Duan Mu An Guo, hmph!” As she spoke, her expression became cold. It happened in the blink of an eye, as the cheery and smiling face immediately became covered in a thousand-year permafrost. It was as though the person had become a ghoul or a demon. It was just like the transformation that occurred in the scariest of monster stories that had been passed down over 5000 years of Chinese history. It was truly a chilling sight for anyone to behold.
Even if it was Feng Yu Heng, she still trembled in place and tried to ask: “What happened to you?”