Chapter 80 Part 2: Misfortune does not come singly

    At this moment, Chen wangfu was bustling with activity. After last night's events, the other fu were now aware of the extent of Chen wang's power.

    Back when Emperor Xi Jing just died, Chen wang was still very young. It was the Qu clan and the Yuan clan that joined together to put Emperor Yu Qian into the throne, resulting in a missed opportunity for Chen wang to snatch the king's seat.

    In the following years, Yuan de taifei turned reclusive, nurturing Chen wang and preparing him for when the time was right. Both of them concealed their strength and bided their time, not letting anybody find any fault with them. Even Emperor Yu Qian and the Empress Dowager who was a constant thorn on their sides could not find fault with them.

    Who would have expected that Chen wang's power had gradually increased. In these past few years he was equal with Emperor Yu Qian in power and influence. But last night in particular, he did not bring any imperial guards instead he brought with him his personal guards to search the various fu. Those high officials and noblemen finally saw how formidable he had become.

    Emperor Yu Qian was sitting comfortably in the throne. But in this fight for the throne, whoever will get the last laugh was still unknown.

    A cold wind blew and brought the winds of change with it across the capital. Those who were planning to send their daughters to the palace, after a night's reflection, reconsidered and sent their furen to bring their precious daughters to Chen wangfu to see Yuan de taifei.

    Chen wangfu's gates had an endless stream of horse and carriages obstructing the road. The carriages that wanted to pass had to make detours.

    Yuan de taifei kept up the fanfare, she made a complete reversal of her old habit and let her steward welcome any furen and xiaojie without exception. She had them brought to Chen wangfu's anteroom while she headed for Jiang Mu Chen's study.

    The study was deathly silent as Jiang Mu Chen's eyes were shooting severe looks towards Ning Feng who was standing before him. He asked callously, "The ambushers have all been slain?"

    Ning Feng could not lift his head. He had become Chen wang's servant at a young age, making him completely loyal to Jiang Mu Chen. In all things it was his wish that he would be able to accomplish all of the things Chen wang asked of him. Chen wang's personal bodyguards were all martial arts experts, their vigilance was unmatched.

    Yet, the entire elite team, while he was gone for the time it takes a stick of incense to burn, were all silenced by some unknown force. This distressed Ning Feng very much and felt shame as he faced Jiang Mu Chen. He immediately went down on his knees and said, "Beizhi has failed his duty and will accept any punishment, wangye."

    But Jiang Mu Chen did not immediately respond. Those hazy eyes flashed with the light of understanding. He only said, "You should withdraw for now."

    Ning Feng instantly raised his head, his eyes filled with surprise as he looked at Jiang Mu Chen, who was busy looking at some maps. Ning Feng quietly exited the study. He had just closed the door when he saw Yuan de taifei walked over, he immediately greeted her, "Beizhi greets taifei."

    "Where is wangye?" Yuan de taifei swept her eyes over to the engraved door as she asked in a cold voice.

    "Taifei, wangye is currently in the study." Ning Feng's words had not yet completely escaped his lips when Yuan de taifei lead a group of maids into the room right before his eyes.

    "Chen'er." When she saw her son, Yuan de taifei's expression gentled. There was a hint of worry in her voice as she said, "Last night's business kept you up all night. Why don't you rest for a while? Tiring yourself out is bad for you body and people will think mother is not taking care of you"

    Yuan de taifei looked pointedly at the maid beside her and the maid immediately walked towards the table, setting down the white ceramic bowl she carried before soundlessly returning to her position behind Yuan de taifei.

    "Drink some of this chicken and ginseng soup, mother had it specially made for you. Do you know how much it pains me to see you put so much strain on your body?" Yuan de taifei stepped forward opening the flower pattern lid. She took a spoonful and the fragrance of the soup wafted throughout the room as she held the spoon for Chen wang's to take.

    Chen wang only looked at Yuan de taifei, then said, "Mother, you know I don't like women coming into the study unannounced."

    Yuan de taifei saw that he was being stubborn and waved for the maids to leave. She waited for the door to close before stepping closer to Jiang Mu Chen. Her eyes gazed at her only son with some coldness, she articulated slowly, "You have to start thinking about marriage! These past few days our Chen wangfu has had visits from many honorable xiaojie. You should go see and take some as cefei and shiqie to manage the wangfu."

    Chen wang heard Yuan de taifei speak such inappropriate words so casually. These past few days mother had been pressuring him incessantly, making Jiang Mu Chen feel increasingly repulsed by the whole affair. He unthinkingly opened his mouth to refuse, "Chen wang has mother to manage it, who needs concubines? If mother has nothing to do, you should go to Yuan Fu and arrange a marriage for Qing Zhou."

    After saying his piece, Chen wang's eyes returned the parchment map, examining the terrain and topography.

    "Bah!" Yuan de taifei scoffed, angry at being dismissed. Her right hand abruptly banged the tabletop, hitting one of the pear flowers engraved across the table, the bowl jostled and spilled a little of its contents.

    Chen wang completely ignored Yuan de taifei's outburst and continued on his intent study of the map. His long and slender fingers traced along the mountain ranges of the map as he carefully examined it...

    "Chen'er, do you think mother doesn't know about what you've been doing? In Hai wangfu, you jumped off the boat to save Yun Qian Meng; Last night, mindless of your status as wangye, you fought to enter Yun Qian Meng's bedchamber. She's the person you broke off an engagement with, you can't get your head confused over this person. You are wasting all of our efforts over the past few years. Back then, the Empress Dowager egged on the previous emperor to betroth you to the newborn Yun Qian Meng. This matter has weighed on mother's mind for years! If the Empress Dowager had gotten her way, then our Chen wangfu would have had a little spy. It was with great difficulty that we got over that hurdle, don't fall back into the same trap." After Yuan de taifei spoke, she looked carefully at her son to gauge his reaction. But the only reaction he had was, at the mention of "Yun Qian Meng", his fingers that were streaking across the map came to a stop. It happened so briefly, only in the blink of an eye, but it did not escape Yuan de taifei shrewd eyes.

    Jiang Mu Chen's expression did not change, his body only exuded more coldness, as if he was unconsciously avoiding talk about anything related to Yun Qian Meng. This made Yuan de taifei's heart sink, her expression became dark and a fierce look flashed in her eyes-a warning that danger was coming.

    "Ning Feng!" Jiang Mu Chen ignored Yuan de taifei. He only called for Ning Feng who was waiting outside the door.

    "Wangye." Ning Feng had been guarding the door so he heard all of Yuan de taifei's words just now. He felt his heart tighten as he had an inkling that some bad luck was about to befall him.

    Ning Feng still quickly entered the study. He lowered his head as he awaited Jiang Mu Chen's orders.

    "Take yourself to the courtyard to be flogged thirty times." Jiang Mu Chen's eyes did not even leave the map as he ruthlessly commanded.

    Ning Feng felt beads of sweat form on his head when he heard Chen wang's punishment, he could not help releasing a strangled breath.

    Before he had even exhaled completely, Jiang Mu Chen added in a dark and cold voice, "If this happens again, it will be a flogging to the death."

    "Yes! Beizhi will do as you command." Ning Feng's heart caught in his chest, he did not dare any more carelessness. He immediately knelt on the ground and vowed loudly. Then he turned around and left the study. He went to the courtyard and prepared the bench himself, letting his own subordinate carry out the flogging.

    The sound of a club beating flesh resounded throughout the courtyard. Seeing her son was killing a chicken in front of a monkey did not please Yuan de taifei, the corner of her mouth curled up into a sneer, "Chen'er, are you doing this to provoke mother? Is it wrong for a mother to worry over her son?"

    At the last word, Yuan de taifei's voice grew sharp. From the time Jiang Mu Chen had exited the Empress Dowager's palace without raising any objections, and now this time punishing Ning Feng, it was the second time Jiang Mu Chen was not giving his mother any face.

    Right now Yuan de taifei was angry beyond all reason, but Jiang Mu Chen was ignoring all of her glares. His indifferent eyes raised to look at his mother, in a cold voice he said, "Mother has brought those wealthy and honorable ladies into Chen wangfu for marriage?"

    "I'm not after the daughters, what I want are the clans behind their backs. Besides, for Chen wangfei, mother has already picked out a very suitable match for you. The cefei and shiqie are only for roping in the ministers and officials as chess pieces." Yuan de taifei knew that Jiang Mu Chen was only asking because he wasn't interested in any of the daughters, so she eased the situation by explaining.

    When Jiang Mu Chen heard this he replied coldly, "Mother can decide all the other positions, but for the position of wangfei, benwang will decide."

    As these words fell, the noise in the courtyard stopped. Jiang Mu Chen no longer looked at Yuan de taifei's expression, only passing by her as he exited the study.

    In Fu Guo Gongfu, laotaijun brought her daughter-in-law and granddaughter beside the bed, anxiously watching as the doctor examined Qu Ling Ao's injury.

    Half an incense stick later, the man in green robes stood from the bedside and looked at laotaijun and Ji Shu Yu. Bowing with his hands clasped in front of him, he spoke in a low voice. "Laotaijun, furen, let us go to the outer room to discuss this matter."

    Gu laotaijun and Ji Shu Yu saw his grave expression and their hearts sank. The two exchanged looks and together they nodded at the doctor to leave the room. Laotaijun immediately asked in an anxious voice, "Xiao Nie daifu, how is my son? Can his life be saved?"

    The young daifu saw the expressions worry on laotaijun, houye, furen, and xiaojie, he sighed in his heart. He could only say truthfully, "Houye was stabbed in his heart and lung, if he's careful he can still live for half a year. But little nephew has just discovered that houye's stab wound had black traces. I'm afraid that the weapon might have been coated with poison..."

    At that point, Xiao Nie daifu stopped speaking. His eyes watched Qu Ling Ao's family members, considering his words carefully, wondering how he could minimize their pain.

    When Qu Fei Qing saw that Xiao Nie daifu did not continue, she couldn't bear the stifling atmosphere and spoke up. "Xiao Nie daifu, what will happen to my dad?"

    Gu laotaijun and Ji Shu Yu did not scold Qu Fei Qing's lack of manners. They all stared at Xiao Nie daifu, so anxious their hands and feet became cold and clammy, faces blanched white.

    When Xiao Nie daifu saw their expressions, he could not keep it from them any longer, with furrowed brows he said in a serious voice, "This poison is very dangerous, add to that the fact that the poison made contact with the heart and lung, which are crucial parts, I'm afraid that houye might not last more than three months. He must be taken cared of with extreme care, or else with even one moment of inattentiveness, it may cost him less than the three months."

    "Niang..." Qu Fei Qing cried bitterly. Xiao Nie daifu's words hadn't even finished when Ji Shu Yu blacked out and fainted. Luckily the yatou and pozi behind her caught her.

    "What is there to cry about? You are the houfu's xiaojie. Can you only cry at problems?" Gu laotaijun had the people take Ji Shu Yu to a bed, then she coldly scolded the tearful Qu Fei Qing.

    Xiao Nie daifu saw how laotaijun was dealing with the sudden misfortune. Even though her face was pale and she looked exhausted, her back was straight and her expression was stern. An air of general calm was emanating from her, especially just now when she reprimanded Qu Fei Qing. Her dignity and strength as the matriarch of the house shown forth. It made Xiao Nie daifu feel great admiration towards her.

    When Qu Fei Qing was scolded by Gu laotaijun, her panic subsided. Even though she was still in pain because of Xiao Nie daifu's words, she calmed down somewhat, wiping away her tears she calmly stood wordlessly beside laotaijun.

    "Nephew, this incident happened too suddenly. If you will, could you temporarily live in houfu and make arrangements for my son? Otherwise, this old one won't feel relieved!" Laotaijun's eyes looked straight at Xiao Nie daifu, her words imploring him.

    Xiao Nie daifu saw laotaijun's insistence. He knew that she didn't want other people to know about this incident so he immediately nodded and said, "Laotaijun can rest easy. Little nephew will do his best and, for the peace of Qing Song Yuan, would not let houye perish in the three months."

    Laotaijun saw him take the matter seriously and knew that she did not choose wrong. She nodded and let Qu Fei Qing help her back into the inner room. She looked at her son lying on the bed, completely still, then to her daughter-in-law who had fainted and was crying in her sleep. Even though laotaijun had just exhibited great strength and coldness, this time she could not help feeling extreme sorrow. A warm tear fell onto the back of Qu Fei Qing's hand.

    But just when Qu Fei Qing raised her head in surprise to look at laotaijun, she had already collected herself and turned around to leave the room. She ordered Ma huwei who as guarding the threshold, "Take those traitors to the punishment hall."

    Gu laotaijun removed Qu Fei Qing's hand, letting her go in to watch over her parents. She fixed the stray strands of gray hair on her head then with her walking stick step by step left Qing Song Yuan.

    At this moment, somebody was already spreading rumours around the streets, saying that last night Fu Guo Gongfu's houye was attacked. Right now his injuries were very grave and  probably fatal. This became the topic of conversation for the citizens, causing a stir all across the various fu. It shocked even the Empress Dowager in the palace who had already received word of the news much earlier. They had taken precautions to keep the secret, how did the news spread so fast?

    Yun Qian Meng was woken up by the sound of Mu Chun's urgent footsteps. She saw Mu Chun and Mi mama's anxious expression and knew that news of her jiujiu's injury had been exposed by the mastermind plotting behind the scenes.
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