Chapter 8 Provoking the Conflict
Just at the moment Qin Yunuan left the table, a black shadow flashed away and disappeared in the cold windy winter like a strong wind.
Few people crowded in the east of the plum garden.
Qin Yunuan was watching the pond where there was a block of thin ice on the surface of the pond. The bridge in distance was like a rainbow reaching the Feihua Waterside Pavilion. There was an artificial high platform aside from the pavilion, which was like an ancient tree. After a while, the champion girl in the feast would replace the empress to hang her flower on the high flower so as to express the appreciation of God and pray the peace and prosperity of the country.
The reason why Qin Yunuan left the table was that she was a little bit drunk and, for more important, she should produce the evidence of her absence. Because she knew that something must happen just after a while.
In her last life, Qin Yunzhuang gained the champion in the feast without any doubt. But in this life, due to the intervene of Qin Yunuan, there was something different. Qin Yunzhuang had her face destroyed partly, and the flower sticks were gained by Qin Yunuan. However, there was still doubt that if the empress Chen would choose Qin Yunzhuang secretly as the champion in the feast.
When all were singing poems, Qin Yunzhuang left for a while due to her dirty skirt caused by the upset of the fruit wine. When she came back, she wore a new dress. Even the glass-jade bracelet on her wrist disappeared. The bracelet was so valuable that Qin Yunzhuang always paid much attention to it. Now it disappeared suddenly, but Qin Yunzhuang did not notice that. Qin Yunuan knew that Qin Yunzhuang upset the wine deliberately.
The section of drawing flower sticks had been finished, and Qin Yunzhuang performed well in the section of singing poems. It seemed that if Qin Yunzhuang got the top in the section of hanging flower, she just got the champion of the Flower Fair Festival.
“Shall we start hanging the flower. Sister Qin Yunuan? Shall we?” The maidservant aside asked carefully.
“Eh? Shall we?” Qin Yunuan pretended to be surprised. She raised her skirt and was about to go. But she fell down on the blue slate.
“Sister Qin Yunuan, are you OK? Can you stand up?” The maidservants helped her at once.
“My gosh! No! My ankle hurts,” Qin Yunuan tried to reach her legs out. But when her tiptoe reached on the ground, she cried, “My feet get sprained. I can’t walk.”
“What shall we do?” The little maidservant got panic. She was timid and indecisive unlike those old craftily nannies. That was the reason why Qin Yunuan chose the poor maidservant coming together with her.
“Um, what’s your name?”
“Me… My name is Zhuer.”
“Zhuer? OK, Zhuer, listen,” Qin Yunuan softened her voice, “Now the flower-hanging will start in a minute. It is bad to bother the empress. I am just a menial concubine’s daughter. Zhuer, you can just inform my sister and tell her to dispatch someone to get me back later, OK?”
“But….” Zhuer pinched her gusset and thought it was against the rule.
Qin Yunuan saw the hesitant Zhuer and pretended to be angry. She stood akimbo, “So, you want to get punished? It is you that accompany me out. If I got into some trouble, you must be punished.” And then, she pointed at the Huxin pavilion aside the pond, “OK, you support me to that pavilion, and I will stay there to wait for my sister’s help. You should know that my sister cares about me very much, and she will never abandon me.”
Zhuer, lowering her head, now did not hesitate to kowtow to Qin Yunuan when she heard she might get punished. She persuaded Qin Yunuan to stay in the pavilion.
Qin Yunuan pretended to massage her ankles and paid extreme attention to the circumstance around. It seemed that even a leap of the tiny insect could be heard by her.
It was noisy on the high platform. Qin Yunuan stood up straight after she confirmed there were no other people around. She did not sprain her ankles. She leaned on the red pillar and observed the situation across the pond.
A mantis was catching a cicada while a siskin was behind the mantis. Now, what Qin Yunuan should do was waiting.
This time, the noble maiden who replaced the empress to hang the flower was the girl from family Fang—Fang Ziying who was friendly to QinYunuan.
In distance, Fang Ziying was very pretty in a red-flower and butterfly-pattern dress. Qin Yunuan could imagine how outrageous Qin Yunzhuang was.
Fang Ziying was walking onto the high platform stably. The courteous girl turned back to have a look at the near-cried Qin Yunzhuang when she stepped down the high platform. As Qin Yunuan expected, Qin Yunzhuang cared much about her fail in hanging the flower. It seemed that the outrageous girl would swallow Fang Ziying.
When Fang Ziying left the last step of the stairs on the bridge, she would express her appreciation to the empress Chen. But now she suddenly straightened her body with her eyes rolling and finally fell down on the ground.
“What happened to Ziying? She was well on the table.”
Now all the people here got panic.
“Calm down!” the empress Chen uncharacteristically shouted and told her maidservants, “Move her to the Feihua Waterside Pavilion and then notice the imperial doctors.”
Fang Ziying seemed to wake up by the noises. She opened her eyes only to see the panic Qin Yunzhuang and Shangguan Yee, and then she got faint again.
Though the distance prevented Qin Yunuan from knowing the whole situation, she almost knew what happened there. Compare with those panic people, she was calm and silent, sitting in the stone chair in the pavilion and waiting for what would happen next. She knew just in a minute someone would find her.
As expected, just five minutes later, three to four well-dressed noble maidens came along the pond bank. The leader was Shangguan Yee with four to five maidservants following her, and beside them was the fat nanny who had noticed Qin Yunuan at the gate of the palace. Qin Yunuan knew that the fat nanny was the trusted follower of the empress.
“Nanny Xing, it’s her.” Shangguan Yee pointed at Qin Yunuan arrogantly with revenge in her eyes.
Several noble girls coming together with Shangguan Yee crowded into the little pavilion. The malicious girls cursed Qin Yunuan, “OK! You this menial daughter of a concubine, why are you so malicious to hurt Fang Ziying relying on the friendliness of sister Fang?”
“Sister Fang got faint just due to her!”
“You… What are you talking about? Sister Fang? What happened to her?” Qin Yunuan opened her eyes with many tears.
“Shit! You bastard. I will kill you this menial bastard.” A rude girl raised her arms and was about to beat Qin Yunuan but was stopped by nanny Xing who had been standing aside for a long time.
“Sister Li, the empress just said we just found her and took her back rather than beat her. It seems that you are against the rule.” Nanny Xing now got serious and did not flatter others just like she did at the door of the palace. Sister Li got a little bit scared.
“Sister Shangguan, tell me what happened to sister Fang? Why did she get faint? Is there anyone who hurts her? And where is my sister?” Shangguan Yee shouted just after Qin Yunuan finished her words, “Shameful! That was because of you…” Shangguan Yee stopped and remembered the words Qin Yunzhuang had told her just now. Qin Yunzhuang asked Shangguan Yee not to talk too much.
“Qin Yunzhuang is serving the empress,” Nanny Xing answered and reached her hands, “Sister Yunuan please follow me to meet the empress. She is waiting for you.”
In the Feihua Waterside Pavilion, the highest-ranking Imperial concubine Yun sat aside, and the empress Chen sat in the middle of the high platform with Qin Yunzhuang standing aside for tea service. Qi Yunzhuang saw Qin Yunuan kneeling down outside. Qin Yunzhuang raised her head a little with a secret smile. She was so happy that Qin Yunuan was generally trapped in her tricks.
“Come in.” The empress Chen sipped the tea, sitting straight with her hands overlapping. She asked straightly, “Are you absent when hanging the flower?”
“Yes.” Qin Yunuan answered politely.
“It seems that you are not here in the section of singing poems. Right?” The empress Chen asked slowly.
Qin Yunuan thought for a while and answered frankly, “Yes.”
The Imperial Concubine Yun interrupted and said, “Oh, my empress, it is too slow to question her,” and then she said to Qin Yunuan, “Just tell us! Did you add something into the fruit wine of sister Fang? So, you had already known that something bad would happen and just left to produce the evidence of your absence?”
“Imperial Concubine Yun, according to your words, If I added something into the fruit wine, I must stay there to observe the situation. If I just left for this reason, I must look so stupid.” Qin Yunuan argued.
“Holy,” The Imperial Concubine Yun was not a simple woman. She said straightly, “See, she had already plotted how to do the malicious thing to avoid anybody noticing her. Such a sly girl.”
The empress Chen glared at Imperial Concubine Yun. She knew that Imperial Concubine Yun was bothering her.
“Then you just tell us where you go during these two hours?” The empress Chen was so shrewd that she must figure out the person who destroyed the feast.
“I sprained my ankles and stayed in the Huxin Pavilion in the plum garden. I authorized a maidservant to tell some words to my sister and let my sister come to take me back.” Qin Yunuan unconsciously looked at Qin Yunzhuang and underlined the word SISTER in her last sentence.
Qin Yunzhuang wanted to say something but stopped. She just shook her head towards the empress Chen and expressed she was innocent.
“Who can prove your words?” The empress Chen shook her head a little.
“Zhuer.” Qin Yunuan said and added, “The maidservant works in the plum garden.”
“Security, take Zhuer here.” After the order of empress Chen, the security held the left fruit wine of Fang Ziying and stated the check outcome of the imperial doctors.
“Distinguished empress Chen, the imperial Zhang, Zhao, and Yan have checked. There is actually something added into the fruit wine.”
“What had been added into the fruit wine?” The empress Chen straightened her body.
“It’s sweet olive, Your majesty.”