The Noble Woman’s Guide On How to Tease One’s Husband – Chapter 15
Translated by: Oinkoink
Chapter 15 – Attending the Banquet (1)
This novel is only hosted on Foxaholic, copies found elsewhere are either stolen or plagiarised.
This arrow wound made Ye Huaiyang stay home for half a month until the arrival of the night before lunar New Year’s eve* where she reappeared in the sight of everyone at the feast in the palace.
[T/N: Night before lunar New Year’s eve (小年夜 – Xiǎoniányè) – 23rd or 24th of the 12th month of the lunar year]
Chu Jinglan on the other side also received the decree and left for the palace at dusk. Tang Qingfeng would be in charge of driving the carriage. He accidentally glanced over Ye manor when he was out of the door.
It had been a month since he last heard Lan-lan’s cries and he somewhat felt unused of it. It was rather strange, wasn’t Ye Huaiyang fond of strolling into Chongxiao Pavilion? She hadn’t appeared for so long, could she really be in a sorry plight after being dealt by the Bai family…..
It however merely crossed his mind. If he told Lu Heng, he would only be ridiculed by him. Ye Huaiyang after all was an enemy in his opinion, so how could he lower his guard against her?
Tang Qingfeng knew he was inarticulate, so he wouldn’t argue with Lu Heng but somehow, he had also worked in the palace for a long time hence he did have the insight ability to judge a person. He felt that everything Ye Huaiyang showed in front of them was all genuine. Chu Jinglan and Lu Heng weren’t willing to believe. For one, they were prudent while on the other hand, perhaps both were influenced by their obsessions.
Anyway, it was useless to overthink.
The carriage stopped at Xuande Gate of the inner Imperial City. Tang Qingfeng straightened his neck to look inside. The palace lanterns were swaying and music noises filled the air. The sky was visibly brightened by such a vast dazzling brilliance which was indeed impressive. When the late Emperor was still here, there had never been such a magnificent feast due to frugality thus this was an eye-opener to him at this age and even as a former imperial bodyguard, he felt like a bumpkin entering a city.
He turned around and saw Chu Jinglan walking towards the dark alley. He quickened his steps to catch up then puzzledly asked, “Wangye, where are you going? Liuguang Hall is on the other side.”
“This King wants to take a look at Fengwu Palace.”
Tang Qingfeng was dazed but soon he silently held the crystal lantern and walked to the side of Chu Jinglan. The dim light shone upon the grass and gravel. Many small insects could be seen vaguely leaping around seemingly unaware of the rapid freezing cold draught, unknowing of the sorrow and joy of the mortal world which was just like his hindsight.
How could Wangye not miss Niang-niang during this family reunion festival?
Even though the place is deserted, that was still his only place to pin his grief. How could he not even think about this and still foolishly asked where he was going, it seemed he was really getting more muddled-headed!
Tang Qingfeng kept blaming himself all the way that unmindfully they had reached the front of Fengwu Palace. He hurriedly restored his state of mind and went forward to sweep away those vines that blocked the way before gently pushing the door open. Chu Jinglan moved sideways to enter and walked to the courtyard when he unexpectedly came to an abrupt stop.
Someone was in the hall!
Tang Qingfeng who was behind was also aware of the obvious. He gazed around when he finally noticed a little faint candlelight at the corner that someone seemed to deliberately hide which was why it was difficult to see from outside.
Chu Jinglan didn’t say a word, but merely made a hand gesture. Tang Qingfeng immediately dashed into the hall like an arrow. It only took a few seconds from bursting through the door to capture that person. When Chu Jinglan walked in, he had already seized that person over who looked and dressed like a middle-age woman.
“Wangye, I’ve got her.”
Chu Jinglan’s sight only stayed on the woman for a short while before he turned to the direction of the lights. It turned out to be a shrine with a tray of fruits and several small plates of snacks. There were incenses burning in the incense stick furnace, where neither too many nor too little but exactly three sticks.
Who was she worshipping?
The woman’s behavior was very strange. She was struggling hard but upon seeing Chu Jinglan, she suddenly relieved her strength and motionlessly stared at him without any expression on her face. There were however some watery sparkles on her eyes which seemed somewhat unusual. Chu Jinglan narrowed his hawk-like eyes, he strode towards her quickly and grabbed the piece of human. skin. mask!
Tang Qingfeng was shocked yet he heard Chu Jinglan’s trembling voice, “Qu Gugu…”
The woman’s tears slid down sorrowfully with these three words. She fell to the ground where she respectfully and dedicatedly kowtowed before wiping the tears off. She then slowly straightened her body and said, “Wangye, you are finally back. Nubi can still see you again in this lifetime, it’s really….”
Her throat choked and she couldn’t say anymore. The skinny body was quivering nonstop. Chu Jinglan immediately bent down to support her. When he could clearly discern the face that had aged a lot than what he could remember, his heart felt ruthlessly torn.
When Imperial Concubine Chen entered the palace that year, she brought along a personal maidservant who was smart and competent. Since the birth of Chu Jinglan, she had kept close and looked after him with extreme affections. That person was Qu Fang who was in front of him. Chu Jinglan remembered clearly that she was five year younger than his imperial concubine mother. She should be in her early forties but the person in front had the appearance of almost fifty, how could he not feel the gnawing pains?
However, Chu Jinglan’s emotions stabilized swiftly as he switched to the crux of the matter, “Qu Gugu, didn’t all of you already go along with imperial concubine mother….”
“They had indeed been executed. Only Nubi survived.”
Chu Jinglan stared profoundly, “Why was it?”
Qu Fang sighed deeply with a bleak expression mixed with a trace of dejection as fragments from the past gradually appeared through the mist of her raspy voice, the blood-drenched scenery like a picture scroll completely emerged right before Chu Jinglan.
“After you were sent to the northern land with severe injuries, the eldest prince and the queen wanted to use Niang-niang to coerce your return to Wangdu enabling them to easily kill you. Niang-niang refused to submit and would rather die under the wielding knife. Who would have thought that Lord Ye would suddenly send a message saying he would think of ways to rescue Niang-niang but Niang-niang was mourning the death of His Majesty and was unwilling to implicate you as well as Lord Ye. She wholeheartedly desires death. While on her deathbed, she had the messenger bring Nubi out of the palace and that was how Nubi survives.”
“Lord Ye? Which Lord Ye?” Chu Jinglan was perplexed for a moment.
“It was the former assistant Ritual Minister, Lord Ye, Ye Zhen.” Qu Fang looked at him suspiciously, “He said you once saved his daughter and this was to pay a debt of gratitude. Doesn’t Wangye have the least bit of impression?”
As if struck by lightning, Chu Jinglan was incapable of speech for a long time.
Thanks to the reminder of the person who crawled the building in the middle of night, he damned extremely had the impression!
Seeing that he was not talking, Tang Qingfeng took up the thread of conversation, “Why is Gugu entering the palace again?”
Qu Fang smoothed out her brows and slowly said, “It’s a long story…. Nubi returned to the countryside for four years after leaving the palace. Later, Ye family’s Young Miss sent someone to the countryside asking if Nubi was willing to enter the palace to work for her. Nubi naturally agreed as a favor for saving Nubi’s life. She then found a craftsman to make a human. skin. mask for Nubi and since then, Nubi has been an orderly in the cold palace.”
“Ye family’s Young Miss? Is it Ye Huaiyang?”
Qu Fang nodded, “Precisely. From Nubi’s memory, she was a Young Miss that year and now she is the head of the family.”
“What does she ask you to do for her?” Tang Qingfeng questioned closely.
“There are only two things in total, one is to pry Pingyang Palace’s news and the other is to secretly take care of Fengwu Palace. As these are all the things that Nubi most wanted to do, so Nubi agreed without hesitation.”
“So…… you are the informant she planted in the palace?”
Qu Fang smiled weakly as a tacit implication.
Hearing what was said, Tang Qingfeng was in great shock. He had always thought all the things that Ye Huaiyang did only commenced after their return, unexpectedly she had long deployed and put Bai Zhixuan in the palm of her hand. What was the purpose of her doing this? Was it really for Wangye….
He subconsciously looked at Chu Jinglan and only saw an undercurrent surging in his eyes that almost wanted to vent out, yet it imperceptibly varnished in an instant seemingly never any fluctuation before.
“It’s getting late. It’s time to go to the banquet.” Chu Jinglan interrupted his words before he turned towards Qu Fang, “Gugu, this King will come see you again a while later. You must be very careful.”
Qu Fang’s thoughts were meticulous and she knew he must have his own considerations, hence she didn’t say more but merely curtsied, “Nubi is aware but also requesting Wangye to be extra careful too.”
Chu Jinglan nodded and turned to glance at the altar before he clasped his hands behind his back and walked out of Fengwu Palace.
Tang Qingfeng followed closely with a complicated frame of mind. He was on the verge of saying what was on his mind but swallowed back several times as there were numerous spies within the palace and it was not a suitable place to discuss such secretive matters. Who would have thought the Ye family who had been neutral and dormant in the royal court for so many years had actually long stood on their side! He couldn’t help but wonder, what would the situation be like if Ye Zhen truly did that year? Rescuing the Imperial Concubine Chen so Wangye could fight against the Emperor or placing Ye family into a beyond redemption circumstances should the mission fail…..
All these were merely unrealistic speculations as time couldn’t be reversed and they were unable to turn back too.
Distractedly, both arrived at Liuguang Hall.
Chu Jinglan was silent all the way. His attention was fixed yet unknowing what was in his mind. Once he arrived at the hall where hundreds of officials gathered, he kept the gloominess at bay and walked up the stairs indifferently. He sat next to the sandalwood teapoy below after saluting the Emperor. Gorgeous women continuously shuttling back and forth right before his eyes, surging up spell of scented wind* but he didn’t give them a glance. His eyes inadvertently drifted to the hall behind.
[T/N: Scented wind (香风 – xiāng fēng) – a metaphor for extravagance and sensuality]
There were front and back halls in Liuguang Hall. The front hall was used for drinking and enjoying the music by the hundred officials while the back hall was to entertain the womenfolk. Both halls were merely separated by several heavy gauze and a carp pond where one could listen but not see which wouldn’t violate the social etiquette. To some extent this arrangement somewhat achieved the best with the least expenses and satisfied their joy of family reunion.
When the warm breeze struck, a large gap was visible between the undulating white gauze and Ye Huaiyang who was sitting at the front row collided into Chu Jinglan’s sight.
She was wearing an intense colored with group butterflies hibiscus patterned long skirt today which was absolutely dazzling. Her makeup was also meticulously painted with red cinnabar lips and umber-black dye painted brows. Peach blossoms fluttering along the temples and the painted lotus petal on the forehead was vivid. Unaware of how captivating she was when her eyes glanced around that she had stolen the limelight of all the official wives and noble ladies at present, even the Queen Mother inevitably looked at her several times.
Chu Jinglan had never seen her dressed in nines and wearing makeup but merely just a few glances from this distance, he could already sense something was not right – she had always presented herself as she was, when had she ever been so flamboyant as she was today?
What was she concealing….
He knitted his brows in ponder and forgot to withdraw his gaze when some words unexpectedly came from above, “What are you looking at, Younger Brother?”
Chu Jinglan’s heart quivered as all his thoughts instantly returned. Looking up, the Emperor was reclining on the throne and looking at him with a faint smile.
 Gugu (姑姑 – Gūgū) – the elderly unmarried maid in the palace / paternal aunt