Crushed by Status
Zhu Kongshan had brought many people. Between masters and servants, they had the numerical advantage, but they were far lower in terms of status.
On Feng Yuheng’s side, she alone was not enough to oppress them, as she also had a proper palace princess in Xuan Tiange with her. In addition to this were the daughter of the first wife of the right prime minister and the daughter of the first wife of General Ping Nan. No matter where this pair went, they would attract attention. Even a beauty like Feng Zhaolian, who had no rank, no title, nor pillar of support, could silence any opposition because of his beauty.
Of course, those accompanying Zhu Kongshan were not all completely unpresentable. There were some head wives and daughters of first wives from second and third rank officials families. These sorts of people had been into the palace and met many noble people, thus they did not find such an event to be fresh. In the end, there were still some girls from lower-ranked officials’ families, and some of them were daughters of concubines. In the past, they had never had a chance to enter the palace. This time, it was because their families secretly supported the eighth prince, and they used the opportunity to do good things to curry favor with Zhu Kongshan. Thanks to this, they were able to enter the palace with her. Now, just as they reached the entrance, they ran into a palace princess and a princess. They were extremely nervous and a little excited.
But very quickly, people at their sides quietly reminded them about why they had come. This reminder managed to stifle the excitement and emotions of those girls, causing them to lower their heads.
Zhu Kongshan sighed to herself and thought that the one thing this capital was lacking the least for was people of nobility. She had also made preparations for needing to oppose Feng Yuheng; however, who knew that she would also bring out a palace princess. For a lowly Imperial Concubine Li, she guessed that Feng Yuheng would most likely attend. After all, there was that relationship with the sixth prince; however, she never thought that Feng Yuheng would bring so many supporters.
She took the initiative to step forward and deeply bowed before Xuan Tiange and Feng Yuheng, “This humble girl, Zhu Kongshan, greets Palace Princess Wu Yang and greets Princess Yu.” Her manners and respectfulness were all perfect, and not a single fault could be pointed out.
Seeing Zhu Kongshan bow, the people that had come with her naturally could not continue to foolishly stand there. They were all family members of officials in the capital. It was natural that they were clear on the status of these people before there, thus they all stepped forward and bowed with Zhu Kongshan.
Feng Yuheng nodded but did not say anything. Although she was the official princess of a prince, her current ranking was no lower than that of Xuan Tiange. In addition to this, the ninth prince was the older relative, while Xuan Tiange was the younger one. According to this, she was currently more important than Xuan Tiange. But she had already seen the fierce fighting spirit in Xuan Tiange’s eyes the moment they saw Zhu Kongshan, thus she thought that it would be best if she left this opportunity to her good friend. This palace princess usually spent her days inside and got quite bored. Now that she finally had a chance to have some fun, she needed to find her something to do.
She took a step back and stood with Fung Tianyu and Ren Xifeng. The three stood together and watched Xuan Tiange, as they heard Xuan Tiange say: “You’re the girl that suddenly came to the capital and suddenly went to help the poor people in the northern part of the city? You were called Zhu what was it again?”
“This humble girl is called Zhu Kongshan.” Zhu Kongshan continued to maintain her partially bowed position and was extremely tired.
Xuan Tiange nodded then said: “You being able to bring benefit to the citizens of the capital is very good. My Da Shun needs girls like you. If everyone in the world could be like young miss Zhu, that would be my Da Shun’s good fortune. I hope that you can continue to do this going forward. You must not let it end with just the end of winter. This palace princess really hopes to see young miss Zhu again at the same time next year.”
Zhu Kongshan quickly replied: “Would Palace Princess Wu Yang please be at ease. This humble girl will definitely continue to do everything possible. Even if this humble girl is not in the capital next year, I will continue to help the poor somewhere else. As long as this humble girl is able to see them, I definitely will not allow a single citizen to freeze or starve to death.”
“Very good!” Xuan Tiange revealed a smile, “It’s good if you are able to do this. Doing good deeds requires an earnest heart. It must not be done with ulterior motives; otherwise, the Bodhisattva will be unhappy.”
After she finished speaking, she ignored Zhu Kongshan and turned to say to Feng Yuheng and the others: “Let’s go! Let’s go in.” The group left together, passing by in front of Zhu Kongshan and the others.
The palace servants at the entrance saw that the situation over there had already ended and quickly went to receive them with smiles. Their reception was extremely warm, and they very nearly kneeled. Seeing many of the palace servants leading Feng Yuheng’s group into Rui Gate, Zhu Kongshan’s side had already begun to feel their legs grow sore from remaining partially bowed. At this time, a eunuch came over and said: “Everyone, palace princess and princess have already gone into the palace. You should also come with us!”
Only then did they get up and begin to massage their legs with a great deal of unhappiness. They also needed to do their best to keep up with the eunuch’s pace, as they quickly entered through the palace’s gate.
Feng Yuheng’s group was at the front, while Zhu Kongshan’s group was behind. The people in the back were able to see the palace servants shower the people ahead with all kinds of praise, even receiving some happy laughter from time to time; however, the atmosphere in the back was extremely heavy and quiet. The eunuch had a stoic expression and did not give look kind in the slightest.
Some felt that this was unfair but did not dare say anything about Xuan Tiange and Feng Yuheng, thus they thought for a bit and pointed at Feng Zhaolian and said: “Look! On such a cold day, they’re actually wearing clothes made of such a thin fabric. In any case, this is the Imperial Palace, yet it would actually tolerate such a gaudy appearance?”
Who knew that Feng Zhaolian would have keen ears and charmingly turned around to look at the person that had spoken. With a smile on his face, this look caused the girl to turn red in the face. The words that she had wanted to say were stopped her at lips, and she had no choice but to swallow them back down. She was not able to say another word.
The friend at her side saw this scene and could not help but lament: “You’re very rarely able to come out and don’t know about many things. Miss Lian’s beauty, is that something that an ordinary person can oppose? I have never met a girl that beautiful before. Someone that could even leave girls unable to feel jealous and even… blush and feel their heart race. Thinking about it, it really is strange.”
Indeed, it was strange. This was a shared feeling from everyone after they met Feng Zhaolian.
When they finally arrived at Zhang Ning Palace, Feng Zhaolian took a look at the dignified gate but did not mind it in the slightest. He casually brought out the gift that had been prepared and handed it to Feng Yuheng, saying: “I came into the palace for the sake of breaking the ice and going fishing. I don’t really have any interest in participating in a banquet. Help me deliver the gift. I’m going to find a place to go fishing.”
Feng Yuheng truly could not understand what exactly was going through this person’s head. She also could not be bothered with him, but she still ordered a eunuch to stay with him to keep him from causing a stir.
Seeing that Feng Zhaolian had left, the young misses of Zhu Kongshan’s group felt a little reluctant. If it was not for Zhu Kongshan being present, there might have been some who would have gone fishing with him. This caused Xuan Tiange to shake her head and quietly say: “That evildoer really does cause a stir wherever they go.” Feng Yuheng did not doubt this in the slightest.
Zhang Ning Palace had also made quite some preparations for this banquet. Although it could not be compared with the large banquets hosted by the imperial family, in any case, Imperial Concubine Li had just been promoted, and the Imperial Palace had a joyous atmosphere. Even the palace servants had changed into new clothes.
For today’s banquet, Imperial Concubine Li had not invited many people. Only a few talented ladies and a couple noble ladies had come. Of the imperial concubines and concubines, not a single one came. From early in the morning, Imperial Concubine Li had been thinking that she could only rely on Feng Yuheng to provide support, and she just hoped that she could grace her with an appearance. Now, it seemed that it was not just Princess Yu who had come to grace her with an appearance. Even Palace Princess Wu Yang had come. The smiles on the servants of Zhang Ning Palace bloomed, as they quickly went forward to kowtow. The joy in their hearts was shown on their faces and were quite blinding.
Feng Yuheng took the initiative to reward these people, and she was generous with her gifts, giving each of them a silver ingot. The smiles on these palace servants’ faces shone even brighter. They invited them in while fawning over them.
But everyone had only been focused on greeting Feng Yuheng’s group, yet they completely ignored Zhu Kongshan’s group. By the time Feng Yuheng’s group had entered Zhang Ning Palace’s yard, there was not even a single gatekeeper at the entrance.
The eunuch leading the way was only responsible for escorting them to Zhang Ning Palace’s entrance before waiting for his reward. But at this time, where would there be anyone to reward him. Everyone present had nearly been infuriated. The eunuch waited for a while and saw that he truly would not be able to receive any reward before coldly snorting and leaving. In his heart, however, he complained about these people for being cheap. At the same time, he passed this along to the other palace servants. It was such that everyone from the entrance of Zhang Ning Palace to Rui Gate heard about a group of cheap young misses that had come in. They could not even afford to provide a bit of a reward.
Feng Yuheng’s group was directly led into the main hall. Imperial Concubine Li had already heard the commotion outside and had stood up to personally welcome them. Seeing Feng Yuheng and Xuan Tiange arrive, she was truly so moved that she did not know what to say.
Imperial Concubine Li had been promoted to the position of imperial concubine, and her rank had risen along with that. She was also a prince’s birth mother. Feng Yuheng would naturally need to salute when greeting her. But before she could salute, Imperial Concubine Li stopped her and held her hand, saying: “Good child, we are family. There’s no need for such formalities. Come, come, come inside to sit with this One for a while.” This warmth had completely neglected Xuan Tiange.
But Xuan Tiange did not argue over it. She was not considered a guest in this Imperial Palace, and there was not a single corner that she had not played around in. To her, the members of the imperial harem were simply decorations. Her imperial uncle did not even care, so how could she possibly care about it. Thus she watched Imperial Concubine Li pull Feng Yuheng along and endlessly speak, thus she brought Fung Tianyu and Ren Xifeng to wander around the yard. She then looked at Zhu Kongshan’s group, which was still standing at the gate and waiting for a palace servant. She reached out to call a palace maid: “Come, go and bring them in! Since they’ve come, no matter what, they should come and pay their respects to Imperial Concubine Li.”
Her voice was quite loud, and the people outside could hear it. All of them were incomparably dejected. It turned out Palace Princess Wu Yang had turned into a master. As for them, they had originally been invited as guests, yet they were now being treated as if they had shamelessly come uninvited.
Even if they had complaints, they did not dare to let it show on their faces in front of Xuan Tiange, thus they just entered with their heads down. Being led by Zhu Kongshan, they also entered the main hall. Arriving in front of Imperial Concubine Li, they very properly kneeled and saluted.
At this time, Imperial Concubine Li was speaking with Feng Yuheng about a letter that had just come from the sixth prince, and she specifically brought up how it said to take good care of Feng Yuheng. She repeatedly patted the back of Feng Yuheng’s hand and said: “If you ever need anything, come to Zhang Ning Palace to speak with this One. This One is now able to help you out a little.”
Feng Yuheng was speechless from hearing this. What could an imperial concubine help her with? The sixth prince’s letter saying that was merely just a formality. Why was it that Imperial Concubine Li was taking it seriously? In any case, she was a princess, and she was an imperial daughter. What was there that she could not handle herself and would need to ask an imperial concubine for help with?
But while she thought this, she could not say it directly, thus she just said: “Many thanks Your Highness for the support. A-Heng is very well.” After saying this, she tilted her head and looked at the people kneeling on the ground, reminding Imperial Concubine Li: “The Zhu family’s young miss came to pay respects to you!”
However, this was met with Imperial Concubine Li snorting and saying in an indifferent tone: “Since she’s come, you may all rise!”
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