As the Jing Emperor singlehandedly faced off against the officials, Xiao Hua had also started moving.
Her movements were very strange. She had never taken a step towards the Fengqi Palace before, but now she suddenly said she wanted to go pay respects to the empress.
After eating breakfast, she left the sleeping Yi Yi to Ding Xiang and headed majestically to the Fengqi Palace in her palanquin with her procession.
Xiao Hua’s palanquin was rarely used because she almost never left the Chenxi Palace. It was similar to how she was in the Jing Prince Estate’s western pavilion.
This was her sort of yielding, but unfortunately the empress didn’t understand. She just had to provoke a lioness who was protective of her cubs.
When she arrived, she got off her palanquin and happened to run into Virtuous Concubine Qiao who was also there to pay respects.
“Little sis virtuous concubine, what a coincidence. Let’s go together.”
Looking at the smiling prime senior concubine whose attitude had changed completely, Virtuous Concubine Qiao was extremely astonished. She let out an uneasy smile and followed behind Xiao Hua as they entered the Fengqi Palace.
Ever since the empress became the empress, she really enjoyed having the palace’s concubines come pay her respects. Although there were only these two or three kittens, she would always show up for it unless she truly couldn’t get up.
Seeing the prime senior concubine make a rare appearance today, the empress was very astonished.
Xiao Hua adhered to palace etiquette. She bent her knees in salute, and without waiting for the empress to call her to rise, she went and sat in the first seat on the left.
After everyone finished their salutes, she smiled and said: “This servant concubine was impolite for not being able to come pay respects all this time. But it couldn’t be helped. You also know this servant concubine happened to give birth around this time and then had to recover after. When I finally recovered, the eldest princess got ill, so there still wasn’t any opportunity. Now that the eldest princess has gotten a little better, this servant concubine is here to atone.”
The empress gave a dignified smile. She couldn’t figure out what this prime senior concubine was here for.
Xiao Hua’s following words immediately let these women understand what she was here for.
“His majesty had said this servant concubine doesn’t need to come, but this servant concubine wanted to. The empress is after all the empress. This lower ranked person still needs to follow the rules and play my part. I can’t just let his majesty’s favor make me forget about everything, otherwise what would be the point of appointing an empress? Wouldn’t you say so, empress?”
As the saying goes: tone is important in speech and words are important in literature. The Grand Xi’s culture was broad and profound. There were many words that seem to mean one thing, yet could mean another depending on the tone it was spoken with.
If one only considered the senior concubine’s words on the surface, they were naturally extremely respectful. They fully played the part of someone lower in status and was fully considerate of the empress. But this was no longer the meaning once her tone was factored in. She was clearly bragging.
That’s right, she was here to show off.
The empress’s dignified expression immediately cracked. She wanted to glare at this prime senior concubine who was domineering, ostentatious and didn’t know how to speak properly, but also felt that it would be a loss of face as the empress. After all, ever since she became the empress she had always paid attention to her status. She could only cover it up with a handkerchief and let out a light cough.
This cough was warning the senior concubine not to forget her own status.
But since Xiao Hua wasn’t there to pay respects to begin with, she naturally played the fool.
“Empress, is your health not good?” She knit her willow brows and acted concerned, “If it’s not good, you must call for an imperial physician. Otherwise, what would be the point of having them around? They receive an imperial salary yet aren’t even able to cure such a small issue. Our empress still wants to give birth to several offspring for his majesty!”
Xiao Hua’s tone was very worried, but these words struck the empress a heavy blow. Her face couldn’t help but turn red.
Xiao Hua lightly adjusted her phoenix hairpin, giving a lovely and charming smile, “Oh, sincere apologies, empress. This servant concubine’s mouth never had a filter and I ended up airing out all your business. But it’s fine, giving birth to offspring for his majesty is supposed to be the harem’s most important order of business anyway. As the empress, you naturally have this in mind all the time. Luckily this servant concubine doesn’t have to bear such a burden.” She let out a sigh, “His majesty has also said this servant concubine has worked rather hard. After giving birth to this second prince, I can take a break for a year and a half. Otherwise it wouldn’t be good for my health.”
“This servant concubine has decided to go along with it. It’s good that his majesty is considerate. He has too few offspring in the palace currently. There’s only just three. This servant concubine is under a lot of pressure you know. Empress, you must take care of your body properly. This servant concubine is waiting for you to help share the burden…..”
“Cough cough……cough cough…..”
“Empress, what’s wrong with you now? Why are you coughing so much? What are you all good for? Why aren’t you calling for a physician after seeing the empress so seriously ill?”
Seeing the prime senior concubine get angry, the palace maids on the side all knelt down.
“Prime senior concubine, it’s not that these servants are irresponsible. The imperial physician had already examined the empress. It’s due to her previous illness acting up. They can’t treat the cause, and can only help her recuperate.”
“Oh—-so that’s the case. I’ve accused you unjustly. You may all rise.”
Xiao Hua lifted her brows slightly and returned to her seat.
In this brief period of time, she changed from lovable and foolish to heavily worried, followed by a beauty’s anger. Now she showed an understanding expression. Her face truly changed too quickly. Not only was Virtuous Concubine Qiao and the others unable to react, even the coughing empress had paused in astonishment.
Was this prime senior concubine pretending, or was she really being considerate? She stabbed at all the empress’s sore spots. Her words continuously committed murder without drawing blood. The empress’s face was almost purple from anger.
Xiao Hua clicked her tongue and looked at the red-faced panting empress and said: “Empress, you must definitely take care of yourself. Our majesty is still waiting for you to give him an heir.”
The Serene Concubine’s eyes flashed and she followed up saying: “That’s right. Empress must definitely take care of yourself.”
Xiao Hua held back a meaningful smile and gave the Serene Concubine a glance.
Was she looking to avenge old grievances?!
No matter what, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
“Little sis Serene Concubine is correct. Empress, look at how all your sisters are worried for your royal self. You must really take care. If anything happened to you, wouldn’t it be benefitting others?”
You’d be the one benefitting, ok?!
The empress couldn’t endure any longer, but remembered her own status. She viciously glared at Xiao Hua and said: “You guys all take your leave. This seat is tired.”
Xiao Hua curled her lips and stood up.
“Then empress you must take care. This servant concubine will visit again tomorrow.”
Only when the prime senior concubine’s figure left the gates did the empress finally spit out a mouthful of blood and fall unconscious.
After leaving the Fengqi Palace, Xiao Hua didn’t return to the Chenxi palace, and instead took her carriage towards the Cian Palace.
Virtuous Concubine Qiao watched the arrogant senior concubine’s procession depart and her eyes flashed. The Serene and Tranquil Concubines did the same.
From the looks of it, some winds are about to stir!
The ever-silent and low-key senior concubine has finally made a move. Who will end up winning and losing in the end?! From today’s situation, the senior concubine appeared to be in the lead. The empress had been suppressed until she wasn’t even able to speak.
However, it didn’t matter to them who ended up winning or losing. The two of them were hopeless women, what desires could they possibly have?! However, didn’t this mean that they might have the opportunity for revenge?
The Tranquil Concubine was a little frightened.
“You were a little impulsive just now.”
The Tranquil Concubine spoke on the way back.
The Serene Concubine’s expression was dull, but her gaze held a hint of sharpness, “I don’t want to endure any longer.”
Having endured for so long, endured until that person became the empress, the possibility of revenge had become more and more uncertain. Now that an evenly matched opponent had finally stepped out, it would be good to let her take the lead or make use of her.
The Tranquil Concubine’s gaze froze, and she let out a sigh, “But she is the empress after all.”
The Serene Concubine sneered in disregard. Only at this moment did she resemble the Yu Jiao of the past.
“A toothless tiger, what’s there to fear!? Now that she acted against the eldest princess, the prime senior concubine won’t let her off. Couldn’t you tell? The usually withdrawn senior concubine has suddenly raised her war banner. I still remember back then when that docile person suddenly changed her attitude. She had even used me as an excuse…..it turns out that she had already known back then the empress didn’t have any good intentions….heh, to think I had hated her so much back then. Putting it plainly, she was just saving herself….”
“Big sis Yu Rong, even if I get caught up in this, you don’t have to. I’ll get revenge for the both of us.”
“You silly lass. We’ve always done everything together. Ever since we left the palace to the Jing Prince Estate, and now coming back to the palace. You are me and I am you. Don’t say such foolish words.”
“Of course I’ll go along with you. Although the prime senior concubine’s status can’t be compared with the empress, remember that she has his majesty behind her. The empress’s biggest mistake is forgetting that a woman’s foundation is based on her man. Otherwise, the senior concubine wouldn’t have the guts to be so domineering and ostentatious in front of the empress!”
After arriving at the Cian Palace, Xiao Hua didn’t go anywhere else and directly went to pay respects to Royal Imperial Concubine Xiao.
The royal concubine also didn’t put on airs and invited her into the hall.
After saluting, Xiao Hua sat down beneath the seat of honor. A palace maid served some tea. Xiao Hua gave a bashful smile to the royal concubine and said: “Just got back from paying respects to the empress, and since royal concubine is from the same clan, this one has come to pay a visit.”
“Thank you senior concubine for still remembering this royal concubine.”
The royal concubine’s words were merely an act of modesty, but unexpectedly Xiao Hua took them at face value. She casually said: “That’s only natural. The royal concubine used to be the empress, the mother figure of everyone under the heavens. This servant concubine has already heard things in the Jing Province, and wanted to come visit ever since entering the palace. Unfortunately there was never any time. Luckily the stars aligned today and so this one came over.”
Xiao Hua blinked her eyes and looked around. She said with a face full of pity: “The royal concubine is being wronged too much. You should be living in the Cining Palace, but ended up living in this Cian Palace’s first hall. Living with the rest of the former concubines, this place truly isn’t spacious enough.”
Right as she spoke, she lightly hit her own mouth, “Look at this servant concubine, my mouth truly doesn’t have a filter. His majesty has said so several times. I say whatever comes to mind. Royal concubine wouldn’t blame me for it, right?”
The royal concubine was able to keep her composure much better than the empress. She said faintly: “Senior concubine is young. This seat naturally won’t bicker with you.”
Xiao Hua laughed drily a couple of times and changed the topic: “That’s good. Based on today’s trip to the Fengqi Palace, it seems the empress’s royal body isn’t well. It also isn’t convenient for this servant concubine to comment on it. His majesty says the empress is narrow minded and gets jealous easily, so he never lets this servant concubine appear in front of the empress and make her feel stuffy. But this servant concubine understands etiquette, and naturally can’t go along with his majesty’s words. In the future, I must pay respects to the empress every day.”
“You are someone who understands etiquette.”
Xiao Hua boasted shamelessly, as though she hadn’t understood the royal empress’s implied meaning at all, “That’s for sure. Thank you royal concubine for your praise.”
She looked at the sky outside and said: “Royal concubine, please don’t find fault. This servant concubine should take her leave. The eldest princess got a fright after falling into the water, and needs this servant concubine to be by her side whenever she eats her medicine.”
“You may leave by yourself.”
Xiao Hua saluted once more before leaving.
Bai Shao looked at her departing figure and said: “This prime senior concubine’s actions really don’t make any sense. This servant had thought she had come to make royal concubine feel uncomfortable, but who knew she would leave after a few words.”
“Couldn’t you tell that she was declaring war?” The royal concubine took a sip of tea and frowned. “Truly a little vixen. Seeing that this seat doesn’t look upon her favorably, she doesn’t even bother wasting her energy. Things look bleak for the empress. Just based on her actions of loudly proclaiming her readiness, and along with his majesty’s support, the empress isn’t her match at all.”
Bai Shao pondered over the royal concubine’s words before understanding what she meant.
“Then what can we do?”
“What to do? We do nothing! The empress is truly a fool. She has yet to give birth herself but is already thinking to get rid of obstacles. She ended up provoking a lioness who’s protecting her cubs. She even implicated this seat and caused her to lose so many people…..Eunuch Fu that old eunuch is truly vicious. He’d rather kill off innocents than let the guilty get away……”
Things had been arranged by the empress while the royal concubine had supplied the manpower. In the end, the empress didn’t lose half a penny whereas the royal concubine had lost half of what few people she had left.
But what choice did she have? The empress was also surnamed Xiao, and she herself wasn’t the empress dowager. She had to borrow the empress’s hand whenever she wanted to do anything. This was a compromise between the two of them. The royal concubine had to swallow this pent up grievance.
At this time, a eunuch came in. He knelt and said: “Concubine, something happened to Esteemed Official Chen. His majesty has stripped her of her position.”
“For what reason?”
“Er, his majesty said that the person who caused the eldest princess to fall in the water was someone from the esteemed meal office. Since the esteemed meal office is under Esteemed Official Chen’s administration, a superior has to take responsibility for the subordinate’s mistakes. Therefore…..”
So this was the Jing Emperor settling scores. He knew this Esteemed Official Chen was one of hers, and he still made a move? And it was with such laughable reasoning! A palace maid’s crime had passed through several layers and directly implicated the top.
But the emperor was the emperor, what could she say about it? Could she say the emperor didn’t give her face?! The emperor didn’t have to give a former concubine any face, because these former concubines depended on him to survive. She wasn’t the empress dowager, why did he have to give her face?!
The royal concubine was usually able to suppress her anger, but today she wasn’t able to do so.
First she had lost a bunch of people in the front court. Then the favored concubine strutted around in front of her and now her most useful subordinate had lost her position. She couldn’t help but smash her teacup.
This chapter shows it’s important to cultivate one’s character. It’s not good to lose one’s temper too easily….it also tells us that someone who plays the fool can be rather annoying….hehe, just kidding.
This author always felt that women understand each other best, and they know exactly where to stab for the most pain….
Of course, Xiao Hua didn’t just come to anger the empress. There’s something else as well.