The Feast

Chapter 14

> > The Feast – Chapter 14

Chapter 14: To Goad

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Every single time Duan Tingxuan visited his mother it was to rehash this very same conversation time and again, until he could hardly stand it anymore. However, he knew that his mother was worried about his future, and so he swallowed his annoyance and said. "Mother, I have my own plans for this. Father may favour Lin Yi Niang and younger brother, but he's not not senile. Furthermore, I have the emperor and the empress on my side. This heir of yours will not be so easily discarded. So please don't worry about it, all right?"

Madam Yang sighed, and shook her head sadly. "Silly child, how would you know the true hearts of these people…" She stopped at this, unable to continue. After all, it is still indecent to explain about pillow talk to her son.

Mother and son fell silent for a while, when Madam Yang's personal maid who had accompanied her from her maiden's house appeared, and said. "Madam, today the Old Madam will be going vegetarian, so it is not necessary for Madam to go there and serve. The kitchen wishes to know if there is anything else Madam would like to eat, if there's any special request they will be able to prepare it in the afternoon."

Madam Yang said coolly, "Since Old Madam is going vegetarian, I shall do so as well. It is not necessary for the kitchen to waste their energy. Just bring the food in when it's ready." So saying, she turned to Duan Tingxuan. "Since you're up so early, I expect you haven't had breakfast yet. Why don't you have a meal here before you leave?"

Duan Tingxuan smiled, "Your son has eaten his fill today, I'm stuffed with soy milk and You Tiao, mother need not worry about me."

Madam Yang was surprised and confused, "Soy milk and You Tiao? You eat these things so early in the morning? Isn't it just too oily? Which ingratiating person gave you these rubbish for breakfast?"

Madam Yang thought that it was one of the concubines who, in order to gain favour with her son, did this 'good thing'. The compet.i.tion for Duan Tingxuan's affection was fierce, coupled with his own shrewd nature, it was not an easy thing to gain his favour. So, these women will resort to all kinds of tactics, whether overt or underhanded. Using food as a way to lure a man was a common tactic, Xu Ran Yun also favoured this tactic, seeing as her court always has duck soup available all the time. This was because Duan Tingxuan loved eating duck. In fact, many ducks had been sacrificed at An Ping Palace, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this place is a duck's idea of h.e.l.l.

"It has nothing to do with them. I've just been to Mei Yue Lou to eat." Duan Tingxuan absently informed her. He truly did came her to just greet his mother, however, the changes in his wife made something change in his heart as well. Because of this, he did not wish to see Su Nuan Nuan treated with the same casual contempt and hatred. Otherwise, it would cause trouble when he try to move her back to the Inner Court.

As expected, Madam Yang was shocked, her face changed colour, she sternly said. "Mei Yue Lou? Didn't you throw that woman away? I thought you hated that woman, why are you eating there now? My son, you've always been steady in your thinking, how could you do such an improper thing now? You cannot approach that woman rashly. These days, I thank Buddha that she had not caused any trouble lately, but you have gone to her of your own will. Isn't this giving in a mile once she had taken an inch?"

Duan Tingxuan was about to explained when a servant appeared at the door to say. "Madam, Si Ping is at the second door with news, it seems there is a messenger from the crown prince asking for the master to see Him."

At these words, Madam Yang stopped her line of questioning. She hurriedly asked Duan Tingxuan to leave for the Imperial Palace immediately. As for Duan Tingxuan, despite having a stomach full of words, there was no chance for him to speak them out, and he allowed himself to be shooed away.

It went without saying that the prince left in a black mood as he hastened his way towards the Crown Prince's palace. He quietly swore that if the prince had called him in for a trivial matter such as fishing or catching birds, he will stew the crown prince into a soup and feed the remains to the birds and fishes. As for Madam Yang, after sending off her son, she made for the dining hall with a heavy heart facing a table full of food without much appet.i.te. A few mouthfuls of porridge later, she bade the servants bring both Xu Ran Yun and Xue Zi Lan here.

Both of them arrived very quickly, arriving together at the entrance joking with each other and making insinuating remarks at each other. Madam Yang heard them from her room and felt a little annoyed, and a little helpless. It could be said that the Inner Court of most large houses are quite similar, as long as the intentions stopped at the lips, it could be considered good enough. The worst type of situation was when jealousy and compet.i.tion escalated to backstabbing with actual knives, resorting to evil tricks filling the Inner Court with murder and unexplained accidents. It made her feel sick. If only that Su family girl was not here to cause chaos, her son's harem could be considered not bad, although there was jealousy aplenty to make the air sour, there were no evil tricks, this was enough to make Madam Yang satisfied.

Both women entered and made their greetings. Madam Yang saw that even in her everyday clothes, Xue Zi Lan's unparalleled cla.s.sical beauty and gentle movements made quite an impact, and felt happy and refreshed before such a sight. Xu Ran Yun noticed this expression, and could not help but feel unsettled knowing that in her mother-in-law's eyes she lacked beauty. Swallowing her unease, she rushed to support Madam Yang to her seat, and said with a face full of smiles. "Since Madam has called us, is there anything you wish us to do? If it's something trivial, please just inform this daughter-in-law. Ever since little sister Lan has entered the Inner Court, she has given birth to three children, it's best to let her rest quietly."

Madam Yang smiled. "You have guessed correctly, I'm very happy with your concern." So saying, she allowed them to sit, before furrowing her brows. "You have served Xuan-er well these few years, and I have nothing much to complain. These past few days, however, haven't you been a little inattentive?"

Xu Ran Yun and Xue Zi Lan exchanged a glance, not understanding Madam Yang's words, and said together. "Daughter-in-law wouldn't dare, may we know the reason for Madam's question?"

"If neither of your are neglecting your duty, then why is it that none of you realize that Xuan-er has been visiting Mei Yue Lou? This was unknown to me as well, but this morning he casually mentioned that he breakfasted at Mei Yue Lou. He even said this with a smiling face."

At this, both were shocked. Xu Ran Yun glanced towards Xue Zi Lan, and said with wrinkled brows. "Yesterday night, the lord rested at your place, did you not know this matter?"

Xue Zi Lan answered. "The lord left when it was still dark out without alerting anyone, when I woke up there was no trace of him. When I questioned the servants, they said that the master informed them not to wake me up, and left after washing his face. I thought that he may have urgent business to perform, who knows he left for Mei Yue Lou?"

Xu Ran Yun was about to say more, when she heard Madam Yang said. "Enough, having this discussion in front of me is pointless. It's better to spend your energy figuring out how to capture Xuan-er's heart. You of all people should understand that woman's character the best. Once she enters the Inner Court, there will be no peace for me and more trouble for you."

Both agreed to this. Seeing Madam's unhappy air, they did not dare to say anything more and took their leave.

Once outside, Xue Zi Lan said to Xu Ran Yun. "It's been said that Madam Yun's is good with strategies, but how is it that up till now the people in Mei Yue Lou are still hopping about happily? I never expected you to have such a merciful heart, unless you have some other plans in line. Be careful you don't drop the rock you have lifted onto your own feet."

So saying, she left without waiting for Xu Ran Yun's answer, she stalked off towards her own courtyard. Her maid, Ling Long said. "Madam, you've always been warm hearted, although Madam Yun is not in the right, but we have endured it all these while. Why have you suddenly decided to antagonize her? This Madam Yun has an uneasy temper, who knows how angry she's going to be."

Xue Zi Lan smiled coolly. "That was deliberately done. If she can't treat people nicely, there's nothing much I can do since our lord has so many people in his harem. If we continue to hide our abilities, I'm afraid we'll only be stepped on. We should show our teeth every once in a while. Moreover, there's something fishy about this matter, why did the lord still wishes to hang about that woman in Mei Yue Lou? Since I cannot question the lord directly, let others figure it out for us. Madam Yun is a proud woman, she probably won't be able to swallow this insult. I have just provoked her, she is now the rock that will open a path for us. Let's just wait and observe the development."

Once Ling Long heard this, she became entirely convinced of her mistress' greatness and was about to shower her with praises when her mistress suddenly smiled and said. "Qing Yi Niang is here, from her happy expression something good must have happened. Come, let us go and find out for ourselves." Saying this, she immediately left to meet with the woman.

Meanwhile, Xu Ran Yun, having swallowed Xue Zi Lan's words, felt angry and restless as she returned to her room. Her trusty maid Feng Xian poured tea and soothingly said. "Madam, Madam Lan is usually so gentle and amiable, not sure what happened today to make her say those unpleasant words. Madam must guard against such behaviour in case she starts to rebel."

Xu Ran Yun drank the tea, and felt its cooling effects on the fire inside her belly. She slammed the cup heavily onto the table and said with a cold sneer. "Even you saw it. Hmph! Think I did not know she's trying to provoke me into doing her dirty work? Heh! Always gentle and warm in front of others, hiding a calculative and vicious heart, there aren't many that could fight against her. Even I have suffered a loss under her hands, had I did not prepared myself to guard against her, my body would have been buried in an unmarked grave somewhere without my own knowing."

Since her mistress insight, Feng Xian relaxed a little and said with a smile. "Madam Lan actually played a good hand, fortunately, mistress is sharp-eyed and clear-headed and would not fall into her trap. Let her walk this road on her own. Didn't the master stayed over her place last night? She did not see the master leave, and had the cheek to be angry at mistress, she's really shameless."

Xu Ran Yun's facial expression changed a few times, finally, she sighed and shook her head. "Whatever, don't mention it any more. Even if she had not provoked me earlier, I would have gone to Mei Yue Lou all the same to have a look.


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