T/N: Thank you patrons for sponsoring this chapter part.
Title: ChongFei Manual
Chapter: 147.2 out of 171
Zhao Jie put down his book. By the time he stood up, he had resumed his normal, cold and aristocratic appearance. He said, “Tell this prince about her situation.”
As Zhu Geng led Zhao Jie and Wei Luo to the receiving room, he complied with Zhao Jie’s order by narrating Chang Mama’s story.
Chang Mama had once been Noble Consort Ning’s highly valued personal servant girl that she had brought with her into the palace. However, she had been suddenly released from her duties fifteen years ago when she was only twenty-two years old, before reaching the age when palace servants would normally be released from their service. The matter had been arranged under very suspicious circumstances. She had disappeared overnight as if she had never existed. As of now, Chang Mama had already married and had two children. Her husband was an official and her life was pretty good.
Other than Chang Mama, two other servant girls had also been released from the palace. However, their hometowns were too remote and they haven’t been found yet.
When they arrived at the receiving room, there was a woman wearing a light purple bi jia kneeling at the center of the room. Although she was only in her late thirties, her hair was entirely grey and her face was lined with wrinkles. She seemed more like an old woman that was in her fifties or sixties.
Zhao Jie and Wei Luo sat down on the chairs that were decoratively carved with hornless dragons outlined in gold. Zhao Jie looked at the woman on the ground and said, “Raise your head.”
Chang Mama cowered for a moment before she slowly lifted her head to look at them.
When she came here, she already knew the reason. In the past years, she had lived her days in fear and had already foreseen that this day would come. Lacking confidence, she quietly said, “This subject greets Your Highnesses Prince Jing and Princess Consort Jing.”
Zhao Jie said, “Do you know why this prince has asked you to come here?”
Chang-shi didn’t pretend to be stupid. After all, her entire family’s lives, including her recently born grandson that wasn’t even one month old yet, was in Zhao Jie’s hands. She quickly declared her position, “Your Highness, please spare my life. This subject will tell you everything that you want to know.”
At the lake in the western part of the palace, spring had returned to the earth and all living things had resuscitated from their winter slumber. The willows had produced new branches and the roses in the nearby flowerbeds were blossoming. The beautiful flowers were competing with each other to bloom first. Everything had become verdant and lush. A cool breeze blithely blew by and brought a multitude of interlaced scents. Anyone looking at this scene would feel relaxed and happy.
Noble Consort Ning and a few other imperial concubines were sitting in an octagonal pavilion. From far away, it seemed like a harmonious and happy scene with their peaceful discussion and smiling faces. This wasn’t surprising. Previously, Noble Consort Ning had been very favored and the people below her had done their best to curry favor with her. Although she wasn’t as favored as before, she still had her status of “Noble Consort” and she knew how to conduct herself. Thus, her interactions with the harem’s imperial concubines were still pretty good.
Just as they were happily talking, someone called out, “The Empress has arrived.”
Following the sound of the voice, they saw two people walking towards here from a nearby apricot tree. Empress Chen was wearing a jacket embroidered with flowering branches of chrysanthemums and a red skirt that was embroidered with a pattern of dragons in the sea. Her beautiful appearance was calm.
Princess Consort Jing was walking at Empress Chen’s side. Princess Consort Jing was young and her beautiful appearance seemed delicate. She was wearing an apricot-colored top embroidered with butterflies and flowers. Below the top, there was a beaded eight-treasure style skirt. The skirt swayed as she walked and revealed an exquisite pair of embroidered, satin red shoes below. Shining pearls had been stitched to the top of the shoes and the contrast made her appearance seem even more moving. She seemed like a delicate beauty that had appeared from golden and silver mountains.
Although their styles were completely different, it didn’t seem incompatible as the two people walked together. Instead, it was a feast for the eyes.
When Empress Chen walked over here, the imperial concubines in the pavilion saluted her one by one. Empress Chen waved her hand to gesture for them to stand up.
“Why are you all gathered here?” Empress Chen asked.
One of the imperial concubines said, “Older sister Ning saw that the weather was pretty good today and asked us to come here.”
Empress Chen said, “Oh.” Then, she calmly glanced at Noble Consort Ning.
Noble Consort Ning pursed her lips into a smile and asked, “Where’s Liuli? She seems to rarely come out these days. Older sister, you should have her go outside more frequently and walk around. Didn’t the imperial doctor say that there’s health benefits to getting more sunlight?”
Empress Chen looked at Noble Consort Ning and lightly said, “Liuli hasn’t been feeling well lately. This empress has told her to recuperate by staying inside and resting.”
Noble Consort Ning smiled and didn’t say another word.
However, the imperial concubine that had spoken before and was wearing a dark green robe with wide sleeves said, “Is the sixth princess’s health still doing poorly? When this concubine saw her recently, she seemed healthy.”
Empress Chen’s expression didn’t change as she said, “It can only be blamed that Liuli was born under an ill-fortune star. She was poisoned at a young age. It’s already pretty good that she’s still alive.”
Once these words were said, the other nobles followed along by saying similar words.
One of the imperial concubines sighed and said, “Consort Shu truly had a malevolent heart. Fortunately, she’s already dead under His Majesty’s order. Otherwise, who knows how many other people she would have harmed?”
On the side, Noble Consort Ning stayed silent.
Empress Chen interrupted the concubine’s words and slowly said, “Now that you mention it, it’s such a coincidence. A poison called kui ning poisoned Liuli. It’s extracted for quinine trees that only grow in Yunnan province. This empress heard that Noble Consort Ning’s family is from Yunnan province. Noble Consort Ning, have you heard of this poison before?”