The Person Hidden in the Imperial Palace
Others might not understand Feng Yu Heng’s intentions, but Xiang Rong and An shi were able to figure it out. Feng Yu Heng distancing herself from the Feng family was not unexpected. Yao shi seeking death on her own and recognizing Fu Ya might have caused Feng Yu Heng some irritation, but Xiang Rong knew that her second sister could not possibly become enemies with the Yao family. At the same time, the Yao family could not possibly be so unreasonable as to insult people to such a degree because of Yao shi’s matter.
All of this was just done so that Feng Yu Heng could protect them. Even the fourth prince told her, “You have a good elder sister. To be able to protect you to such a degree, don’t worry. From this day forward, I will take over protecting you. I won’t let you be bullied.”
She could not be bothered with listening to the latter half of Xuan Tian Yi’s damn message. She just wanted to help her second sister. Since the people needed to be convinced of this charade, she would make it look real. But even if she collaborated, why did she feel so miserable after doing so?
Before noon the next day, someone from the palace visited the manor saying that the Emperor would be going to the imperial hunting ground in the East in five days. Imperial Daughter Ji An was named to the list of people invited. She was invited to make some preparations and enter the palace at dawn in five days time.
After the palace servant left, Wang Chuan told Feng Yu Heng that this Eastern Hunting Ground would always hold a hunt each year. It was just that nobody knew why it had not been held in the past few years, but as Huang Quan put it: “Perhaps the Emperor is getting old and is no longer as fond of messing around as when he was younger.”
Wang Chuan, however, did not believe this to be the case. She lightly scolded Huang Quan: “Don’t spout nonsense. The Emperor is still in quite good form.” She then turned to Feng Yu Heng and said: “As this servant sees it, the year before last, there was that Winter disaster, and the citizens were suffering from it. It would not be too good for the imperial family to go hunting. Last year, it’s most likely because young miss and His Highness the ninth prince went to the North. The battle in Qian Zhou was in progress, thus the Emperor did not bring up this matter.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded and felt that her explanation was reasonable, thus she did not ask further. She just told Huang Quan: “These next few days, take care of feeding the little white tiger. While we’re preparing, prepare some more food for it. We’ll bring it along.”
Huang Quan felt helpless and had to repeat some advice: “Tigers eat meat. It can’t just keep being fed that milk powder. Isn’t that the same as just drinking water? How can it eat its fill? Look at how long Xiao Bai is growing. Young miss, this servant feels that it is very closely related to the things that you are feeding it.”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head and told her: “That’s not so. I also give Xiao Bai some solid foods. I gave it quite a few tasty pastries from the kitchen. It hasn’t just been drinking milk. Also, why have it grow so big? Where would it be put after growing so big? Would we really lock it up in a metal cage? I am fine with it, but what about you guys?”
Huang Quan and Wang Chuan shook their heads, “We are not.” They had interacted with the little white tiger quite a bit, as they played with it as if it was a pet. How could they be alright with locking it inside a metal cage.
“But if it isn’t locked up, grows big and is left to freely roam around, you two might not be afraid with your martial arts, but what about the others? What if Xiao Bai gets hungry one day and wants to eat people? Say, who in our manor should be eaten?” Feng Yu Heng nibbled on seeds while messing with her two servants.
Huang Quan angrily stomped her foot, and Wang Chuan helplessly said: “Wasn’t it just said that Xiao Bai doesn’t eat meat? What would it eat people for?”
“Wasn’t it Huang Quan that just said that it should be fed meat?”
“Forget it, forget it. Just let it drink milk.” Huang Quan gave up, “Hah, who cares if it grows up or not. Either way, carrying it around all day is also quite fun.”
Feng Yu Heng joked around with her two servants for a while then stood up to enter her medicine storage room. Ever since Bai Fu Rong had begun living there, she had added an extra resting room for Bai Fu Rong to stay in. But after Bai Fu Rong’s condition began to improve, Feng Yu Heng thought that once they returned from the Eastern Hunting Ground, they should be able to move her from the medicine storage room to a normal room.
When she arrived, Bai Fu Rong was awake, and she was fiddling with a bottle of pills. She was staring blankly at the odd words written at the top. Seeing Feng Yu Heng come over, she quickly stood up and said to her with a smile: “A-Heng, I’m now able to stay up for half a day. When I need to sleep, I no longer fall asleep immediately. Instead, I am able to walk back to my bed and lie down to fall asleep. A-Heng, this was all given to me by you. Thank you.”
Feng Yu Heng saw that she was happy and also began to feel happy, thus she accompanied Bai Fu Rong for a while. She then told her that she would be going to the hunting ground in five days time. If she needed anything, she was to call Qing Yu. Bai Fu Rong, however, kept moving as if to speak then stopping. Feng Yu Heng understood what she wanted to ask, thus she took the initiative to say: “Don’t worry. Bai Ze is with His Highness the ninth prince. Everything is fine. His Highness promised me that he will definitely get back before the end of the year. You should also have gotten completely better by then. When that time comes, it should not get in the way of a grand marriage.”
Bai Fu Rong’s face turned bright red from what she had said. Embarrassed, she did not dare raise her head, which left Feng Yu Heng laughing. But Bai Fu Rong was still worried, “A-Heng, you also said that I can’t completely recover to how I was before. If I’m older and uglier, say… will Bai Ze no longer want me?”
Feng Yu Heng had never worried about this matter before. She told Bai Fu Rong, “Bai Ze is not a guy from a wealthy family. His criteria for choosing a wife is different from other men. You need to trust him and trust yourself. Of course, you need to trust me more.” She held Bai Fu Rong’s hand and said in a serious tone: “Trust me. Trust my medical skills. I will do all that I can to treat you thoroughly.”
Five days passed by in a rush. The morning sky was still dark when the people in the imperial daughter’s manor began to get out of bed to prepare. Feng Yu Heng put on a winter coat then held the little white tiger in her embrace. She quickly ate a pastry then got into the imperial carriage. The imperial carriage was driven by Ban Zou and headed straight for the imperial palace. Along the way, Huang Quan asked her: “Young miss, are you really not going to have Ban Zou come with us to the hunting ground?”
“We’re not bringing him.” Feng Yu Heng spoke firmly, “The Emperor will be going out. It’s inevitable that he will be bringing along his imperial concubines. There will be no shortage of guards. Me bringing along a hidden guard will be inconvenient. What if someone with ulterior motives uses this to say something. That would not be easy to provide an explanation.”
Her words were heard clearly by Ban Zou, and he could not help but coldly snort and say: “If you don’t want to bring me, just say it directly. What are you making all of these excuses for?”
Feng Yu Heng was puzzled, “What excuses am I coming up with? It’s just Huang Quan that asked, thus I explained. I said it directly from the very start. Could you not tell?”
Ban Zou snorted coldly once more then fell silent.
They very quickly arrived at the palace gates. There were already palace servants already in this place so early in the morning to receive the guests into the palace. Outside the palace, aside from Feng Yu Heng, there were Xuan Tian Ge’s family and the families of important officials. There were also quite a few people going into the palace.
Feng Yu Heng had arrived rather early. Instead of going to the inner palace first, she first went to the artisan’s residences. Back then, Craftsman Bai had wanted to return to the palace, thus he was left in the palace in hopes of finding the suspicious person. But it had been a long time since that matter. When Feng Yu Heng saw him again, she found that craftsman Bai helplessly shook his head: “I stayed in the palace for such a long time and observed for such a long time, but I could not find that person. There are times when I suspect whether or not my judgment at that time was accurate or not. Imperial daughter, have you ever wondered if we might have misunderstood?”
In regards to this matter, Feng Yu Heng could not figure out the situation; however, she knew that there would definitely be someone inside this imperial palace, or even a few people, that were very closely related to the North and Qian Zhou. She reminded Craftsman Bai: “If we can’t find anyone by observing with our eyes, just observe with your heart and think about it. There are times when things that can’t be seen by the eyes will become clearer when you close your eyes.”
With her saying it like this, Craftsman Bai really did think of something. He told Feng Yu Heng: “Actually, it can’t be considered completely quiet. During the past few days, you sent word into the palace about Fu Rong’s condition. I heard that she was fine, thus I relaxed a great deal. In addition to this, ever since you came back, there hasn’t been as much work in the palace. Although I have already promised that I could make accessories for everyone, the people in the palace are still being considerate, and I don’t have much work on my hands. When I’m idle, I keep thinking, why would I be tied up in that sort of thing? The more I thought about going out to look for Fu Rong, the more work was sent to me. At that time, it felt as though one piece was completed, another request would come in. No matter what, I could not push it off. Although that work was sent by different people, there must have been one person in the back directing it all. Thus those people were able to come to me in an endless torrent.”
Perhaps Craftsman Bai’s state of mind was chaotic. In addition to this, everything related to this matter was just speculation, and it could not be clearly stated. But Feng Yu Heng was able to understand. She asked Craftsman Bai: “Does uncle suspect someone?”
Craftsman Bai looked at her and pondered for a while before finally speaking: “That person should have an extremely high standing in the palace. At the very least, she should be unmatched in the inner palace. Imperial daughter, I suspect…”
“The Empress?” Feng Yu Heng spoke for him with a serious expression. Her elegant brows were tightly furrowed together, and a bit of shock was in her eyes.
Craftsman Bai nodded, “Yes, it’s the Empress. But all of this is just my speculation. At the very least, it seems that there is no handle on the Empress in our hands. Also, she treats Da Shun, the Emperor and Imperial Daughter very well. That’s why it’s fine for imperial daughter to just listen to this without taking it to heart. Otherwise, if a good person is wrongfully accused, that would be a bad thing. Moreover, even if she really isn’t much of a good person, she has too much power. Imperial daughter, you must be careful.”
Feng Yu Heng did not linger there much longer, as she quickly returned to the inner palace. First, she went to ask if Imperial Concubine Yun would be going, but it turned out that Imperial Concubine Yun was still sleeping and had not even gotten up. Naturally, she would not be going. She did not go and disturb her any further, as she turned and headed toward the Empress’ side.
Today, all of the imperial concubines and womenfolk that had entered the imperial palace would first gather with the Empress. When the time came, they would leave the palace together. When she arrived, there were already many people waiting there. Feng Yu Heng looked around and saw quite a few familiar faces. There was naturally no need to speak of the palace’s imperial concubines, but there was the Lu family’s Lu Yan, the Feng family’s Feng Fen Dai and Xiang Rong, and there were also Xuan Tian Ge, Ren Xi Feng and Fung Tian Yu. They were all waiting there.
She saluted to the Empress then retreated after chatting for a bit. Just as she was about to greet Xuan Tian Ge, two old friends entered her vision. Seeing those two people, the things that Craftsman Bai had said to her surfaced in her mind once more. She thought for a bit then walked over toward the two…