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Chapter 29: Meeting nobility in the palace

    guifei - Imperial Consort, highly ranked imperial concubine

    fei - imperial concubine

    chennü - I, your servant; address used by commoner girls towards royalty

    gonggong - eunuch (address)

    gugu - auntie

    niangniang - a suffix/title for the empress and/or imperial concubines

    Su Qing and Yun Ruo Xue were grounded once again, but perhaps they were shocked by the attempted theft of the gold medallion, this time, the two of them seemed to have learned to be more obedient, and actually never took a step outside their rooms!

    After all, the Taoist priest Yi Zhen was someone Su Qing had sent people to find. Even if she jumped into the river, she was afraid she still couldn't wash herself clean of suspicions!

    To begin with, the Empress Dowager had never found her pleasing to the eye. If she showed the slightest bit of dissatisfaction to the Emperor, don't bother mentioning Su Qing, perhaps even her entire maternal family, the Su family would follow to meet with disaster!

    That's why, the other day, when Yun Xuan Zhi had pointed out the stakes involved, Su Qing had immediately sobered up!

    Especially Yun Xuan Zhi's words that had clearly yet secretly shielded them from harm truly caused Su Qing to be quite touched. She thought that even if she lost her popularity with everyone else, she could not, just because of her contempt towards Yun Qian Meng, push away Yun Xuan Zhi. That's why, regarding Yun Xuan Zhi's punishment, she didn't make any more noise!

    Moreover, what had been most frightening to Su Qing was how Yun Qian Meng, in order to set a trap for her, had unexpectedly ignored her own safety and well-being! With regard this kind of desperate struggling, Su Qing was wholly unable to compete until they ended in mutual destruction!

    Wouldn't be better to conceal her strength while biding her time, when she manages to regain Yun Xuan Zhi's favor, would she still be afraid that she won't have other opportunities?

    Analyzing in this way, Su Qing gradually calmed down her original indignant feelings. Although she could only listen to the reports of the activities each courtyard from her scouts every day, she still managed to grasp all the large and small happenings and trends in the fu!

    After Yun Qian Meng left Feng He Yuan that day, she called Mi mama over and inquired her in great detail why her expression was abnormal at that time!

    Unexpectedly, as soon as Mi mama heard her question, she immediately kneeled down, her withered face streaming with old tears. Unable to bear it, she told her everything she knew!

    After listening, Yun Qian Meng waved a hand for her to withdraw. For the following days, she stayed in her room to read and paint, her expression not at all different from usual!

    Only, often when she raised her head and saw the boudoir that could only be described as utterly lacking, she would faintly sigh in her heart, just couldn't help but feel sad for the late Yun furen!

    Who would have thought that the dragon-phoenix jade emerald bracelet Su Qing wore the other day, was bestowed by the Empress Dowager, who was then still a guifei, to Yun furen when she was marrying to Yun Xuan Zhi so many years ago!

    At the time, Fu Guo Gong Fu had been meritorious to the state of West Chu country. The late emperor, Xi Jing Emperor had decreed for the palace craftsmen to craft not a small amount of gold and silver jewelry for Qu Ruo Li. She was certainly an object of envy for all the unmarried young ladies in the capital back then!

    But now, Yun furen had passed away for a long time, unexpectedly only leaving behind a tottering dilapidated house for her daughter. It was easy to imagine whose pockets that envy-inducing dowry had entered!

    But without Yun Xuan Zhi's tacit acceptance, surely even Su Qing wouldn't be so presumptuous!

    Carrying this ball of fire in her heart, Yun Qian Meng's brush strokes couldn't help but become somewhat heavier. Seeing a big black blot appear on the fine, gilded writing paper, Yun Qian Meng bitterly smiled and shook her head. She put her brush aside, and lifted the ruined painting to another......

    At this moment, Shui'er walked in with a worried face, She bowed towards Yun Qian Meng and said, "xiaojie, the Empress Dowager is sending Qu gonggong to take you to the palace. The carriage will be arriving at the gateway of the xiangfu any moment now!"

    Yun Qian Meng maintained a mild smile on her face, but she was already flipping over a few pages in her thoughts. Soon, she unhurriedly asked, "Any idea what the matter could be? Don't tell me that Empress Dowager's health is at risk?"

    Shui'er who also just received the news, could only shake her head. Together with Mu Chun and Bing'er, she helped Yun Qian Meng change into the new clothes that Liu yiniang had just sent over a few days ago!

    After a bit of make-up, Qu gonggong just happened to arrive at the xiangfu on the dot. They had some tea and refreshments outside, then he welcomed Yun Qian Meng onto the carriage, before setting off towards the palace......

    Yun Qian Meng brought Shui'er and Bing'er to sit in the carriage with her. Outside the carriage, the streets were surrounded with a large hubbub. It was apparently unusually lively. She thus understood in her heart that this West Chu country was definitely a rich and stable nation!

    However, sitting in palace carriage right now, she had to keep the prestige of the imperial family as the most important in everything. She could only prick up her ears to listen to the freedom of the people in the marketplace, but not lift the curtains to take even a quick look!

    The carriage travelled for two hours before it reached the palace gates, then took an hour to go in. Yun Qian Meng got off the carriage and took a seat on a soft sedan chair that had been prepared earlier, then set off towards the Empress Dowager's chambers. Being tossed from side to side throughout the journey, when they arrived before her chambers, four hours had already passed!

    Qu gongong saw that Yun Qian Meng still managed to keep a calm demeanor after such a long journey, and couldn't help but nod inwardly. Saying a word of apology to Yun Qian Meng, he then entered the inner palace hall to notify of their arrival!

    This time, the wait was not long. In just five minutes, the most capable palace maid by the Empress Dowager's side, Lan gugu quickly walked out. Extending a shallow smile towards Yun Qian Meng, she slightly bowed and said courteously, "We've really caused Yun xiaojie to wait a long time. Empress Dowager is just expecting you!"

    Yun Qian Meng naturally wouldn't owe Lan gugu any courtesy. When she had bowed halfway, Yun Qian Meng herself immediately bent her knee in salute, and returned the half-bow!

    After all, Lan gugu is one of Empress Dowager's favored people, even Qu gonggong had to address her as Lan jiejie. Yun Qian Meng, although a young lady from the xiangfu, didn't really have a title. Moreover, there were many eyes and ears within the palace. She, even more, could not allow others to grab and exploit any weaknesses or shortcomings just because of matters of etiquette!

    "Thanks for gugu's trouble!" Lan gugu only heard a bright and clear voice ring from her side. She raised her head to look at Yun Qian Meng, her eyes suddenly flashing brightly!

    She only felt that this Yun family's young miss was very different from the past. Although similarly bowing to a slave like her, there wasn't even the least bit of unwillingness! But, she didn't, because she was a favored person to Empress Dowager, present her with a flattering attitude!

    Lan gugu could only feel that this young miss had bowed to her sincerely!

    At this, Lan gugu couldn't help but think slightly higher of Yun Qian Meng in her heart. She bent her body to welcome Yun Qian Meng into Empress Dowager's bedroom......

    What Yun Qian Meng didn't expect was, right now, there were already quite a few number of guests in the Empress Dowager's bedroom. Including, below the Empress Dowager's right, a woman wearing a red court dress was seated. Her fine black hair was arranged so that not a single strand was out of place, a shiny, golden soaring phoenix hairpin was most dazzling on top of her head. No need to think further, this was certainly the Empress for the current Emperor!

    And beneath the Empress, a person that Yun Qian Meng had already met before, Ji Shu Yu had taken a seat. Right now, her eyes that were looking at Yun Qian Meng had even more warmth!

    Yet another person sitting beneath Empress Dowager's left was unexpectedly a charming and enchanting woman. However, compared to the Empress Dowager and others' relatively amiable smiles, this woman's smile contained traces of coldness......

    Seeing that everyone equally smiled as they looked at her enter, Yun Qian Meng immediately stepped ahead. Facing the Empress Dowager who sat in the middle, she kneeled in greeting, speaking in a bright voice, "chennü Yun Qian Meng pays respects to Empress Dowager, wishing Empress Dowager happiness and longevity! Pays respects to Empress niangniang, wishing niangniang boundless happiness! Greetings to all the elders, elders are too courteous!"

    Empress Dowager heard Yun Qian Meng's phrasing and also understood that she wasn't acquainted with some of these people. She then smiled as she spoke, "Good child, just stand up!"

    As she spoke, both of Yun Qian Meng's arms were supported and she was helped up by palace maids that had been standing to one side!

    Just as she managed to stand firm, a charming voice faintly sounded in her ears, "jiejie, it seems that this yatou doesn't recognize ben gong!"

    Hearing this, Yun Qian Meng lightly raised her slightly drooped eyes. She only saw that the charming woman was staring directly at her, but was acting coquettishly towards the Empress Dowager!

    Yet the Empress Dowager's expression didn't change. Beckoning Yun Qian Meng to come over to her side with a hand, she gestured towards the woman and said, "Meng'er, come greet Yuan De fei niangniang. She is Chen Wang's birth mother!"
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