Probing Each Other
The people were none other than the Cheng shi sisters that had married into the Feng family with Feng Jin Yuan, Cheng Jun Man and Cheng Jun Mei.
Speaking of them, Feng Yu Heng had not seen them in a long time. She had just heard the people from the Feng family say that the Cheng shi sisters had entered the palace urgently, thus they did not ask for a reason. In the end, the Cheng sisters had married into the family for the sake of diluting Kang Yi’s power. As for what other mission they received from the Empress, only those two knew. Now that Feng Jin Yuan had fallen, and the Feng family was in its current situation, the two sisters not wanting to remain was also understandable. It was just that they still held the title. In the end, they would still need to provide the Feng family with an explanation.
She arrived before the two, and the two sisters naturally faced her directly. The two sisters had heard about Feng Yu Heng severing ties with the Yao and Feng families. Although they questioned it, since Feng Yu Heng wanted the people to believe it, they could not call it into question. But they still needed to speak with Feng Yu Heng, thus Cheng Jun Man thought quickly and looked around at the gazes that were faintly looking in their direction. With a natural and poised demeanor, she said to Feng Yu Heng: “Imperial Daughter, greetings.”
Feng Yu Heng smiled and said, “There’s no need to be polite. Since you are Her Highness the Empress’ niece, there is no need to be so courteous.”
Cheng Jun Man then said: “We should have gone to see Imperial Daughter, but Imperial Daughter also knows that us sisters entered the palace using the excuse of needing to take care of the Empress. It has already been some time since we’ve gone back to the Feng residence. At the time that Imperial Daughter just returned to the capital, we wanted to meet with you, but we were too ashamed. We feared that Imperial Daughter would ask about this matter or would rush us to go back.”
Feng Yu Heng heard this and knew that the Cheng shi sisters really were smart. No matter what happened, they worked along with her intentions and actions, giving everyone a reason for them to get close. What followed would then be easier to say. She smiled and said: “I never thought of hurrying you to go back. You also know my situation with the Feng family, especially with that Feng Jin Yuan. He is unable to be a proper father, thus I had no reason to be a good daughter. Whether or not you two went back, I could do nothing about. I was even thinking that it would be fine if you two didn’t go back. Based on the Feng family’s current situation, you two would be lowering your statuses and voluntarily suffering hardship. Having the title of Feng Jin Yuan’s wife is not worth much. You can ask Her Highness the Empress to cancel this marriage. In the future, you can still find yourselves a good future.”
Cheng Jun Man heard this and knew that her actions had been to Feng Yu Heng’s intentions, thus she happily stepped forward to hold her hand and warmly said: “Imperial Daughter being able to think like this, my sister and I can be at ease. Speaking truthfully, when we heard that Imperial Daughter and the Feng family completely severed ties, we let out a sigh of relief. Cutting off ties is good. Not wanting that sort of family is fine. In the future, it will be easier for us to speak too.” While she spoke, she pulled Feng Yu Heng to a place where there were fewer people, acting as if to chat. To the others, this was quite natural, as both sides had expressed their attitudes toward the Feng family, which could be considered as being on the same page. When they finally stopped, Cheng Jun Man still had a warm smile on her face, but she lowered her voice to quietly say: “Imperial Daughter really doesn’t blame us, right? Or does Imperial Daughter still have some plans for the Feng residence? We just wish to ask you, if you have any plans, with aunty’s illness being treated, my younger sister and I can go back. Either way, it’s just a decision. We ask Imperial Daughter to let us know.”
Feng Yu Heng shook her head, “I’ve also troubled you two. I no longer have many plans for the Feng family. Feng Jin Yuan has his own life. Whether or not you two return will depend on your own intentions. There’s no need to worry about me. Of course, if you two or Her Highness the Empress have any plans, you can go ahead and carry them out. There’s no need to ask me.”
The Cheng shi sisters looked at each other and knew that they could not hide it from Feng Yu Heng. Rather than pretend to be ignorant, it would be better to tell the truth, thus she continued: “Imperial Daughter should know that there was a rumor from the North about a piece of a map leading to a dragon vein in Qian Zhou that fell into Feng Jin Yuan’s hands. Da Shun wanted that piece of the map. Aunty has always shared the Emperor’s burdens, thus when we sisters entered the Feng manor, we had the added mission of finding that map.”
Cheng Jun Mei picked up here: “But we looked for such a long time, yet we could not find any clues. During this time, Feng Jin Yuan had a hidden guard from Qian Zhou at his side. He also did not manage to find anything. After that, Qian Zhou’s hidden guard was pulled away. Thinking about it, they must have given up. We kept an eye on the situation for a while before returning to the palace.”
Cheng Jun Man nodded then asked Feng Yu Heng in concern: “Does Imperial Daughter know the whereabouts of that map? Say… is it in Feng Jin Yuan’s hands?”
Feng Yu Heng looked at the two and really wanted to find some sort of different emotion from their faces or body language, but the sisters did not expose anything. It was as though it was completely as they had said. Searching for the treasure map was a mission given by the Empress, and even after finding it, it would be given to the Emperor. It was for the sake of sharing the Emperor’s burdens. Thus she did not continue to probe them. She just shook her head and said: “I don’t know about the location of the treasure map, and I am even less certain if it’s in Feng Jin Yuan’s hands. Since it’s been rumored to be the case for such a long time, and Qian Zhou even sent people to search for it, and I even suspected that Kang Yi’s marriage was related to this treasure map, thus… It should not be nonsense, right?” She faintly analyzed it; however, she began to ponder. The Empress had sent her two nieces to marry Feng Jin Yuan, so was getting this map really sharing a burden with the Emperor? If it was not, then who was it for? Herself? But what would she want that treasure map for?
She was puzzled by this matter, yet it was at this time that a palace servant loudly called for everyone to leave the palace and prepare to leave the city. The conversation between the three also came to an end. Only when Feng Yu Heng slowly walked away did Cheng Jun Mei quietly say to her elder sister: “Why did I feel like there was something wrong with the way Imperial Daughter Ji An was looking at us? What is she suspecting? Everything that we said was the truth?”
Cheng Jun Man told her: “Don’t think about it too much. Imperial Daughter Ji An has always been cautious. It doesn’t matter what she’s thinking. Either way, we didn’t lie to her. In the future, if something does end up happening, we can stand in the right.”
The group of people mightily exited the palace’s gates and very quickly met up with the Emperor’s side. The male and female guests then got into the carriages; however, the divide was not too careful. The men and women that were a bit closer would still end up together. With one on the horse and one in the carriage, they would speak from time to time.
Feng Yu Heng did not sit in her own imperial carriage. She sat with Xuan Tian Ge with Wang Chuan and Huang Quan accompanying her. Xuan Tian Ge’s servant was also seated inside the carriage. Winter days were cold, and there was a brazier inside the carriage. Huang Quan sighed: “Palace Princess’ imperial carriage is great.”
Xuan Tian Ge angrily pinched her: “Is your imperial daughter’s carriage bad? Who told her not to bring her own carriage?” After saying this, she said to Feng Yu Heng: “All that being said, it is quite cold this year. Although it’s not quite a Winter disaster like the year before last, as there is not that much snow, the temperature is definitely just as cold. I faintly feel that it might be even colder.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded, “That’s right. The year before last, it was minus 24 degrees, but it’s already reached minus 29 degrees. It even looks to be on the verge of reaching minus 30. Is it possible for it to not be cold.”
Xuan Tian Ge did not understand what she meant, but she knew that it was colder and not warm in the slightest. She also had some tolerance toward Feng Yu Heng’s strangeness. Saying some incomprehensible things from time to time was fine. “From the capital to the hunting ground, it’s roughly six hours by carriage. We brought a sufficient amount of charcoal, which will be fine. The imperial concubines are also able to take care of themselves and will not suffer. This will just be a bit difficult for the young misses from the officials’ families. Their carriages looked very cramped. I fear that they would not be able to fit a brazier inside.”
Feng Yu Heng laughed, “Since when did our Palace Princess Wu Yang know to feel distressed for others? When had those young misses from the officials’ families ever caught your eye? What do you care if they’re cold or not?”
Xuan Tian Ge rolled her eyes at her, “I am not feeling distressed for anyone else, but didn’t Xiang Rong also come along? Uncle Emperor allowed fourth brother to come out, and I heard that fourth brother endlessly pestered Xiang Rong into coming. I am worried that she will freeze. You too, what are you mucking about with severing ties with the Feng and Yao families? It’s made it so even Xiang Rong can’t get too close. I want to see if you’ll feel distressed or not if she ends up freezing.”
Feng Yu Heng lifted the curtain and looked out. Just as the curtain was lifted, a gust of cold air rushed inside, causing the people to retract their necks. “Xiang Rong won’t freeze.” She looked outside for a while before lowering the curtain and placing her hand near the fire, “You also said it. It was His Highness the Fourth prince that brought her here. Based on His Highness the fourth prince’s recent interest in Xiang Rong, do you think that Xiang Rong will end up freezing? It’s possible that the brazier in their carriage will be burning even brighter than this one. She might even be tightly wrapped up in His Highness the Fourth Prince’s animal skin cloak.”
Hearing her say this, Xuan Tian Ge also nodded, “I had forgotten about that. Forget it, you’re right. But since you mentioned the animal skin cloak, there is a matter you might wish to hear about.”
“Oh? What is it?”
“A-Heng, you also know that our Da Shun has not gone on a hunt these past two years. But in the past, Uncle Emperor loved this hunt the most. Once Winter came around, regardless of how cold, he would want to go out and do it. Him not going the two previous years is not because he is getting older with each year. Instead, the year before last, it was because of the Winter disaster. Last year, it was because you and Ninth Brother went to war. The court could not allow the people to see a war being fought on one side while the imperial family also went to have fun. Thus they remained quiet for two years. As for this year, it returned because the border regions could be considered as peaceful, and there aren’t many battles. Also, did you know? It was Uncle Emperor that promised Imperial Concubine Yun, saying that he would personally get a hide to be made into an overcoat. It will be done personally and must be done personally.”
Feng Yu Heng frowned, “The location of the hunting ground has been fenced off, right? What sort of beasts could there be to hunt? If they really want a hide, they should go into the mountains.”
Xuan Tian Ge stomped her foot: “Hah, don’t say that to him. It’s just to make him happy. When we get there, people will deliberately let out some tigers or leopards or something for him to hunt. Some more people will just be sent to protect him. That’s all. If he really was allowed into the mountains, Da Shun really might fall into chaos.”
Feng Yu Heng thought that this was also true, thus she just smiled and did not say anything else. Xuan Tian Ge, however, said to herself: “There were many people that came this time. There were quite a few imperial concubines that also came out. They are extremely happy. I saw that there were quite a few chests being brought along. Inside those chests, there must be clothes and accessories. With leaving the palace, they must think that they have a chance since they have left Imperial Concubine Yun’s watchful gaze. But why don’t they think a bit? It’s been over 20 years that they’ve waited for a chance. Why would one suddenly appear now? Dream on!”
Just as she said this, the carriage suddenly shook. It was as though it had run over something. Not only did the entire carriage bounce up, but the horses also let out a cry immediately after that. The imperial carriage began to tilt. Following Xuan Tian Ge’s shriek, the entire carriage fell to the side.