Yun Qingci stopped briefly, but did not look back.
At Taici Palace, Empress Dowager Zhang, who received the news, looked surprised: “You mean, the emperor beat Concubine Ning?”
“I heard that she clashed with the Lord Empress.” Qin Yan replied carefully: “The Emperor ordered her to be hit with fifty boards and to be banished.”
The Empress Dowager’s face sank, and her displeasure was evident.
“Hit a delicate girl fifty boards, she’ll lose half of her life, if she survives at all. Was she really beaten?”
“The Lord Empress stopped it. Moreover, Concubine Ning went back to the Full Moon Pavilion to recover from her injuries, which was also the Lord Empress’s order.”
“This Yun Qingci…” The Empress Dowager looked confused: “And the emperor, why did his temper change overnight?”
Qin Yan hesitated and said, “The Lord Empress lost his face because he was expelled by His Majesty. Even a clay man still has some blood in him (even the most honest person would become angry), not to mention that he was raised by Mrs. Yun.”
“Qin Feiruo had that stubborn temper.” Empress Dowager Zhang smiled unfathomably and said, “If it weren’t for that temper, how could she die so early?”
Now that she was older, she often reminisced about the past, and the people around her knew that from time to time she talked to herself.
Qin Yan did not answer and helped her walk out. The Empress Dowager said again: “In your opinion, why did the emperor change?”
“I think it’s because he knows that the Lord Empress has been self-harming and crazy, and when he thinks of the past two years of discord, his heart softens.” Qin Yan said with emotion: “This servant remembers clearly. Back then, it was His Majesty who liked the Lord Empress first. At that time…”
Empress Dowager Zhang glanced over, and Qin Yan went silent for a while.
The woman looked blankly at the snow in the yard with an air of depression around her, and Qin Yan stood with his head down.
After a while, the Empress Dowager said softly: “Aijia made him happy, didn’t Aijia?”
Qin Yan was silent; Empress Dowager Zhang glanced at him again and said with a smile: “The person he admired when he was young loves him so much, what can he be unhappy about.”
Qin Yan smiled and said softly: “The Empress Dowager is very right.”
“Get ready, Aijia is going to see Concubine Ning.”
When the Empress Dowager came to the Full Moon Pavilion, Concubine Ning had already taken medicine and was lying on the couch in a daze.
Hearing movement, she immediately stood up, but the Empress Dowager stepped forward, stretched out her hand and pressed her back, sighing, “Child, why did you offend the emperor?”
Now it was mentioned, Ning Rou’s tears flowed again: “It was my fault. I said that the Lord Empress was terrible.”
“Yes,” Ning Rou sobbed and said, “I shouldn’t have said it to his face.”
“You are being silly.” The Empress Dowager shook her head and smiled. “Have you forgotten his temperament? He is the Lord Empress, you are just an ordinary concubine now. How can you commit such a crime?”
“I…“ Ning Rou was full of grievances and could only say sullenly: “His Majesty loves him, naturally he was in the right.”
“Does it hurt?” The Empress Dowager said, “I know His Majesty better than you do, and I have some means that you don’t.”
Ning Rou was not stupid either. Hearing the deep meaning in the Empress Dowager’s words, she tentatively asked, “What does Empress Dowager mean…”
The Empress Dowager stroked her long hair and said softly: “No matter what, he can’t give birth to a crown prince. In this palace, mothers and sons are always the most valuable.”
Ning Rou thought of Li Ying, swallowed her saliva, thought of Yun Qingci, swallowed her saliva again, and said weakly: “I dare not.”
“You dare not?” The Empress Dowager asked, “Then what are you doing in the palace?”
Ning Rou’s face turned pale. Yes, if you don’t dare, what are you doing in the palace? It’s better to find a young master and be a good wife to him.
She squeezed her fingers tightly, and the Empress Dowager patted her on the shoulder again, saying, “He beat you for the sake of the Lord Empress. Although it is an experience for you, it was really cruel. You are a girl from a noble family.”
Yes, she was a girl from a noble family. Today, she was punished in public. She was crying, her makeup smearing, it was embarrassing.
“I hear the Lord Empress helped ask for forgiveness for you?”
The culprit was the one to ask for mercy for her.
Ning Rou bit her lips, tears of hatred overfilling her eyes.
“Among the new children who entered the palace, Aijia was the most optimistic about you. You are beautiful and have a good temperament. If you can conceive the emperor’s child, you will have a promising future, and your family will follow suit. As a good wife, your mother will also enjoy the treatment that a good wife deserves.”
Although her mother was a lawful wife, she was not favored by Ning Rou’s father. After all, wasn’t it because she couldn’t give birth to a son? And although Ning Yi was a concubine’s son, he was upheld by their father and enjoyed the treatment that a lawful son deserved.
After the Empress Dowager left, Ning Rou drank her bitter medicine in one gulp, and her eyes became firm.
Qin Yan accompanied the sedan chair and looked sideways at the woman sitting inside. The Empress Dowager suddenly said, “What do you want to say?”
“This servant just doesn’t understand the intention of the Empress Dowager.”
The Empress Dowager did not answer.
She didn’t believe that Yun Qingci really didn’t care anymore, nor did she believe that Yun Qingci really let it go. If Yun Qingci were not crazy, Li Ying would not be cruel to him; and if he wouldn’t be cruel, he would never attack the Yun family.
Real collectibles often had to be viewed by many people before their great value was recognized. Yun Qingci could have sent the porcelain set directly to the Prime Minister’s mansion, but if the world did not know its value, what was the point of gifting it? After thinking for a while, he ordered someone to send his porcelain to Bazhenju.
He instructed: “Invite people to view, not to sell.”
In this circle, everyone knew the reputation of Bazhenju. As soon as the invitations were sent, the group of Prime Minister Yun’s peers was in an uproar.
Right after the morning court session, many officials took carriages to Bazhenju.
Due to technical limitations, most porcelain fired these days was very rough, and the color was not clear enough. The treasure that Grand Commander Qiu and Prime Minister Yun had fought over before was already out of reach. Now that Bazhenju specially handed over invitations to view things, naturally, the products were not ordinary.
Grand Commander Qiu made up his mind that this time he had to get it. As soon as he saw Prime Minister Yun, he frowned. They fought each other for half of their lives, and neither was going to yield.
When both of them entered the door, they pushed each other with their shoulders for a long time, until they finally squeezed in. Unexpectedly, their seats were arranged next to each other. Prime Minister Yun frowned and sat down with a cold face.
Grand Commander Qiu muttered: “Bad luck.”
Prime Minister Yun glanced at him, flung back his sleeves and turned to Secretary Han.
Upon seeing this, Grand Commander Qiu turned his back and faced Secretary Ning.
Someone served tea, and soon, the shop manager ordered a person to bring out a glass box with a red cloth mysteriously covering it.
The noisy room suddenly became quiet, and Grand Commander Qiu said, “When will it start?”
“Grand Commander, take it easy. When Mr. Liang comes, we will start right away.”
Prime Minister Yun said, “You mean Mr. Liang Qiurong?”
Prime Minister Yun nodded and stroked his beard, secretly thinking it was really worth the trip. Liang Qiurong had a unique vision in this circle, and he always had an eye for the best porcelain.
While waiting for Liang Qiurong to come, they suddenly heard the sound of horseshoes. Everyone looked at the door.
A team of sergeants with swords quickly surrounded the entire Bazhen Residence. Grand Commander Qiu and Prime Minister Yun glanced at each other, and when they recognized the uniform of these sergeants, their faces sank.
The shop manager’s face changed slightly, and he hurriedly greeted with a smile: “It turns out to be Governor Zhang.”
“Manager Liu,” Zhang Siyong politely waved his hand and said, “I heard that Bazhenju has a new treasure. My father asked me to let him have a look, I hope Manager Liu will indulge him.”
The corner of the shop manager’s mouth twitched as he said, “Governor Zhang doesn’t know, but this beautiful product was sent here by a young master just for viewing, not for sale.”
“Manager Liu,” Zhang Siyong patted his shoulder and said, “There is nothing in this world that is not for sale. You can help me pass a message to that person. No matter how much it costs, my Zhang family… can afford it.”
Grand Commander Qiu shouted, “You are so bold!”
Zhang Siyong was taken aback, as if just seeing him, and hurriedly stepped forward to greet him: “Isn’t it Grand Commander Qiu, and also, Master Prime Minister Yun.”
He glanced at Prime Minister Yun and said with a smile: “The two of you also appreciate this newly born perfect porcelain?”
“We are here to view, do you dare to steal it?!” Grand Commander Qiu jabbed his finger in a rage. Zhang Siyong’s gaze sank. Prime Minister Yun pressed down Grand Commander Qiu’s sleeve and said, “If Old Marquis Zhang really just wants to take a look, why doesn’t he come here in person?”
“Prime Minister Yun doesn’t know, the day before yesterday, my father accidentally pulled his back. Eldest sister sent an imperial doctor to visit, and he told my father to stay in bed to recuperate.”
This mention of the Empress Dowager was a big move. Grand Commander Qiu’s facial muscles trembled, and Prime Minister Yun fell silent.
Seeing this, Zhang Siyong’s expression was faintly triumphant. He straightened up and said, “My father is a devoted person like everyone else here. He wants to cherish this treasure but is physically inconvenienced. I am sure everyone can understand.”
Prime Minister Yun said, “Since the owner of this porcelain invited us just for viewing, he probably isn’t short of silver. After Old Marquis takes a look, I hope the porcelain can be returned intact.”
Zhang Siyong stepped forward and uncovered the red cloth, and everyone got up to look. But the man smiled blatantly, took a wooden box and sealed it, saying, “I’m retiring.”
He sat on his horse, and one of his subordinates immediately asked, “If the owner of this thing comes to find it, do you really want to return it?”
“Return it?” Zhang Siyong laughed loudly: “Anything that enters the gate of Marquis Zhang’s mansion, naturally belongs to Marquis Zhang’s mansion. Who will dare to ask for it?”
There was a cloud of sorrow and misery in Bazhenju.
They all knew very well that this porcelain no longer belonged to its former owner.
Unless he was more powerful than the Empress Dowager.
When this incident reached Yun Qingci’s ears, it was already afternoon. At that time, he was squatting in the flower room and fiddling with flowers and plants. When he heard it, he was startled: “You mean Zhang Siyong, the younger brother of the Empress Dowager, took away my porcelain.”
Jin Huan nodded with a complicated expression: “The shop manager says if you want to get the money, you have to go to Marquis Zhang’s Mansion.”
“Didn’t I say that I won’t sell it?”
Yun Qingci understood. After Li Ying had ascended the throne, he was constantly giving the Zhang family power at the instigation of the Empress Dowager. Now his uncles had taken almost one-third of Shangyang City’s troops. If the porcelain set really belonged to an ordinary person, how would he dare to go to the Marquis’s Mansion to ask for it.
Even if he tried, once the Zhang family wanted to monopolize something, they would never give it up. As for the price, they had a final say.
He wanted to get rid of the Zhang family, but he was worried that he couldn’t find an opening. Now they’d made a mistake and presented him with an opportunity.
Yun Qingci put down the trowel and said, “Go to Jiangshan Palace and ask if His Majesty has time to come over.”
It was really interesting.
Since Li Ying had the intention to play affection in front of him, Yun Qingci was going to test how far he would play it and whose side he would take when the Zhang family was obviously in the wrong.
If Li Ying’s performance was not good enough, don’t blame him for tearing off his hypocritical face.
Soon Jin Huan came back with Li Ying’s escort.
Snowflakes swirled outside Chaoyang Palace as the emperor got out of the sedan chair. Without waiting for someone to report, he quickly walked into the front hall.
The front hall was empty.
A maid brought tea and water and said respectfully: “His Majesty Lord Empress is bathing in the warm pavilion. Please wait a moment.”
Li Ying calmly sat down.
Liu Ziru glanced at him a few times and couldn’t help but say, “Your Majesty, take off your cloak first.”
Li Ying recovered, got up in silence and handed the cloak to his subordinate, then went to the stove to warm his body.
Yun Qingci would be warm and soft when he came back later. Li Ying was afraid he would startle him if he was full of cold aura.
He finally was agreeable, did he forgive him?
Li Ying waited patiently and restrainedly, staring at the golden wisps of charcoal in the stove.
His whole body was tense involuntarily.
Yun Qingci’s voice was very clear, divine like the cry of a phoenix above the nine heavens.
Li Ying turned to look.
The young man was dressed in white, his long hair loose on his shoulders, his face like jade and orchids, as bright as spring. The little bit of moisture on his eyebrows and in his eyes was like a touch of pale blue that fell into the water, lingering on the tip of the human heart.
Li Ying’s heart suddenly ached sharply.
His eyes moistening, he stood up slowly and said, “I heard that you called for me.”
Yun Qingci nodded and walked forward.
The water vapor on his body and the smell of fresh saponaria made Li Ying’s breath hitch slightly, and his throat suddenly tightened: “But what happened?”
Yun Qingci stopped in front of him, looked up at him, his eyes clear and innocent. He looked pure and harmless.
“What?” He was dissatisfied: “Can’t I look for you even if everything is fine?”