Chapter 35: Who gave the red plums?

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“How did you find out?” The Virtuous Consort was a cautious person, so she still asked.

 

“Replying to the Consort, this minister’s daughter once read a journal that listed various spices.
That journal did not only have a series of graphic depictions.
There were also all kinds of herbal specimens placed in it.
This minister’s daughter looked carefully at it because she thought it was interesting.
When this minister’s daughter was summoned by the Virtuous Consort, she smelled this fragrance and felt as though she had seen it somewhere before.
After thinking about it carefully, she recalled it.
It is just a pity that when this minister’s daughter came to the capital with her mother, the journal might have been lost back at the old house in Jiangnan or on the road, but this minister’s daughter never found it again.
Otherwise, it can be presented to the Virtuous Consort to look at.” Gu Yu Qi was thrown neither quickly nor slowly into a flustered state.

 

What journal, she had recognised this fragrance all because she had memories of her previous life.
As a woman who had crossed over, after being entrapped by the incense once, she would naturally pay attention to other spices.
It was not surprising.
As for mentioning the journal was lost, it was because she was afraid that the Virtuous Consort wanted to go over and see it on a whim.
That would be bad.

 

She knew that the Virtuous Consort had suffered from headaches in the previous life.
So after linking a few thoughts together, she concluded that this incense must be the kind that Zhang Wan Yi had used to entrap her in the previous life.

 

It was just that the Virtuous Consort had not used this kind of incense in her previous life.
At that time, it was just her who had been stupid and smelled it a lot.

 

Either way, she had been reborn after suffering and many things were different from her previous life.
Gu Yu Qi did not bother with them anymore.

 

The reason why she was willing to speak out and alert the Virtuous Consort was to return Yun Yi’s favour for finding her younger brother and younger sister.
Although she had guessed that her younger brother and younger sister were held in the inn, it was Yun Yi who had helped her bring them back.
She was just a ten year old girl after all.
At that moment, she only had Chun Xing by her side who could do martial arts.
However, if the thieves were more powerful and she went to find them impulsively, it was likely that not only would she have failed to find her younger brother and younger sister, but she would probably also have been taken.
Yun Yi’s move had helped her and also the Ding Yuan Marquis’ residence.
If they had not found them, who knew how much Concubine Liu would cry and it would be her mother who would be in a difficult position.
If not for this, how would she have reached out to the palace? It was not that she loathed living too long.
She was just reminding the Virtuous Consort.
As for how this fragrance came out and what the person who sent the incense was intending, it was not something she had to worry about.

 

She would leave all of these to the Virtuous Consort to worry about.

 

It was rumoured that Gu Yu Qi had a photographic memory.
Even at a young age, she was erudite and talented.
The Virtuous Consort had heard of all this.
Even the tutor nanny in the palace was full of praise for Gu Yu Qi.
This was why the Virtuous Consort immediately believed Gu Yu Qi’s words.

 

She had lived deep in the palace for a long time and had climbed to this position.
How could her mind be so simple and easy to deceive?

 

Gu Yu Qi spoke about dependence, but the Virtuous Consort knew what the concept of reliance was.
It was to be inseparable.
What a joke.
As the Virtuous Consort of the Qi dynasty, to be unable to live without this incense, what kind of trouble would that cause? She could endure the headache, but she definitely could not endure this kind of situation.

 

She looked at the palace maid beside her.
The palace maid immediately understood and took the incense burner out to dispose of it.

 

After experiencing Gu Yu Qi’s kindness, the Virtuous Consort was very confused.
According to logic, the little girl in front of her had given such a big favour to her son yesterday, and had given another favour to her today.
She should be very happy but she could not feel happy at all.
This beautiful girl was too intelligent and in the future, her beauty would be enough to topple cities.
If her heart could always remain like the current state then it would be good, but if her temperament changed, then who knew what kind of turmoil would happen in the future.

 

Ah, headache.

 

The Virtuous Consort felt her head starting to hurt again.
Whether this girl would be by her son’s side in the future or not was also a disaster.

 

“This consort has really taken a liking to you, child.” Although the Virtuous Consort had a headache, she and Yun Yi had been given a favour from her after all and she could not just say nothing.
She immediately took off a jade bracelet from her wrist, then she waved Gu Yu Qi over, “Child, come here.”

 

Gu Yu Qi knew that she would reward her with something.
She respectfully walked to her side.
The Virtuous Consort pushed the bracelet into Gu Yu Qi’s hand, “This is something His Majesty bestowed on this consort during the year when this consort was given the Virtuous Consort title.
This consort will gift it to you today.
Good child, from now on, you must maintain a dignified and graceful manner.
Do not bring down the name of the Ding Yuan Marquis’ residence.”

 

Gu Yu Qi’s mouth twitched after hearing this.
What did this mean? Could it mean that she was not dignified and graceful enough now? This may have been the case in her previous life when she had done many things that were outrageously improper in the eyes of the people in this era to make herself stand out.
However, in this life, she had always adhered to the etiquette appropriate for a daughter of the Marquis’ residence and had not even stepped over the limits by half a step.

 

She raised her eyes slightly to meet the Virtuous Consort’s bright eyes.
Although the Virtuous Consort was smiling, there was no warmth in her eyes.
On the contrary, there was a sense of dignity.
Was this meant for her to see?

 

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Gu Yu Qi muttered in her heart, but she still accepted the Virtuous Consort’s reward.
She took two steps backwards, bent her knees, and thanked her.

 

“Mother Consort.” Before Gu Yu Qi could stand back up from thanking her, she heard the bright laughter of a young man coming from outside the curtain.
Then the curtain opened and a little eunuch at the door proclaimed in a slightly sharp voice, “His Highness Prince Jing and His Highness the Seventh Prince seeks an audience with the Virtuous Consort.” Before the eunuch’s voice died off, two promising young men dressed in Chinese robes walked in.

 

“Greetings, Mother Consort.” The two of them saluted the Virtuous Consort.
When the Virtuous Consort saw her son coming, she hurriedly told them to straighten up.
Then she glanced at Gu Yu Qi out of the corner of her eyes.

 

Gu Yu Qi was still standing beside the Virtuous Consort.
Seeing Yun Yi and Yun Ke enter, she curtseyed and could only hurriedly move to the side a little.
Then she lowered her head deeply and let a long sigh out in her heart.
All the poisonous oaths she had taken before her death in her previous life had been in vain.
How was it that she had to always meet him in this life? How long was this going to drag on for?

 

Even though she was reluctant, she still performed the standard palace etiquette, “This minister’s daughter greets His Highness Prince Jing and His Highness the Seventh Prince.
May His Highnesses have peace and happiness.”

 

She indeed knew etiquette.
It seemed like the education in the Ding Yuan Marquis’ residence was good.
Yes, most of it was credited to Liang-shi, the madam of the Marquis’ residence.
The Virtuous Consort also knew that Liang-shi had come from the Liang family in Jiangnan.
Seeing Gu Yu Qi behave correctly and that her eyes did not flit around, the Virtuous Consort nodded silently in her heart.

 

Seeing Gu Yu Qi’s current performance, it was not impossible for her to be her son’s concubine, but… Sigh, the Virtuous Consort sighed again.

 

“Miss Gu is also here.” Yun Yi had received the news long ago.
Knowing that Gu Yu Qi was with his mother, he pulled Yun Ke over.
He was just pretending not to know.

 

Yun Ke had a frosty expression on his face and his eyes were slightly icy.

 

Since yesterday, Yun Yi had mentioned Gu Yu Qi in front of him no less than five times.
It was the first time he had seen Yun Yi care so much about someone.

 

Although Yun Yi’s eyes towards Gu Yu Qi in the previous life had been a bit ambiguous, Gu Yu Qi had always liked him at that time so she had always been rude to the other princes.
This satisfied his vanity greatly, so sometimes he would be a little more gentle to Gu Yu Qi.
However, this woman was good at turning her nose up in the air.
Everytime he was gentle, she would make up some information as if fearing that others would not know that he was treating her a bit better which made him very unhappy.

 

Yet, many things have changed in this life.  The first was Gu Yu Qi’s attitude towards him. 

 

Although she did not admit directly that she also carried memories of her previous life like he did, the way she looked at him with her pale face and the things she said at the town god’s temple said it all.

 

Without the persistent gaze from the previous life and without the clamour that he had hated in the previous life, would she continue to stay by his side?

 

She wanted to be as far away from him as possible.
Even if Yun Ke did not want to admit this, he was well aware of it.

 

To be away from him but to keep running towards Yun Yi only meant one thing.

 

Could it be that she wanted to be Yun Yi’s main concubine?! Dream on! As long as the Virtuous Consort existed, there was absolutely no way she could get to that position.
That position could only be Zhang Wan Yi’s.
Not to mention that backing Zhang Wan Yi was the prime minister’s residence, for the Virtuous Consort who wanted to win over the empress to support her son, Zhang Wan Yi was the first choice to be Princess Jing.

 

If he remembered correctly, she was supposed to be given to his sixth brother, Prince Rui Yun Che as his princess in the previous life.
It was just that she was unwilling and ended up causing trouble to become his own concubine.

 

Yun Ke’s eyes grew colder and colder.
However, he had forgotten that Gu Yu Qi had been summoned by the Virtuous Consort and had not run over here of her own accord.

 

Feeling a chill, Gu Yu Qi knew where the coldness was coming from without raising her eyes.

 

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Could it be that Yun Ke thought she was creating opportunities to meet him everywhere? Gu Yu Qi raised a big middle finger towards Yun Ke from the bottom of her heart!

 

That person had inexplicably said a bunch of hurtful things and she had not been able to fall asleep last night! How dare he throw a knife at her now?!

 

***

 

The Virtuous Consort glanced at Yun Ke a little strangely.
For this child who she had raised herself, she had always been pacifying on the surface but was actually using him.
If Yun Ke showed the slightest ambition and impatience, he would already be dead without even a scrap left.
He had always been obedient in front of her.
Who was this cold look in his eyes for today?

 

There were only a few people in this tent, so the Virtuous Consort did not even need to think to know that it was because of Gu Yu Qi.

 

Strange.
Of the two sons she had raised, one was full of praise for Gu Yu Qi and the other was glaring at Gu Yu Qi.
What was going on?

 

Even as smart as she was, she could not think of the reason for a while.

 

“It was the Virtuous Consort’s summons,” Gu Yu Qi replied to Yun Yi’s words carefully.

 

The smile on Yun Yi’s face became even softer and was as bright as the sun in March.
However, Gu Yu Qi could not see it with her head down.
Yun Ke felt restless and fed up in his heart.
Why was this woman being stubborn and not leaving, did she want to stay for lunch?

 

“It’s getting late.
Miss Gu should go back first.” The Virtuous Consort felt that the atmosphere in the tent was too weird, so she cleared her throat and spoke slowly.
She also did not want Yun Yi to have too much contact with Gu Yu Qi.
Even more so, she did not want to pay too much attention to Gu Yu Qi and cause unnecessary conjectures to the people outside.

 

Summoning her was one thing but having her stay for lunch was another.

 

Gu Yu Qi had been wishing for the Virtuous Consort to send her away.
Hearing this, she felt as though she had been granted relief but she restrained herself.
After curtseying calmly, she exited respectfully.

 

After leaving the tent, Gu Yu Qi let out a long breath.
Although the winter sun was weak, it at least brought some warmth to her body and it was better than enduring Yun Ke’s cold glare inside.

 

As she was led back to her tent, she saw Liang-shi waiting anxiously.
Seeing Gu Yu Qi come in, she let out a sigh of relief then pulled her daughter over to question her.

 

Gu Yu Qi took out the bracelet given by the Virtuous Consort.
Liang-shi was happy when she saw it, but she felt something was wrong.

 

Gu Yu Qi had done such a meritorious deed, the result should not be as simple as rewarding her with only a bracelet.
It was not because Liang-shi was greedy, but it really was too little of a reward.
Were the lives of so many princes, ministers, and their families of the Qi dynasty worth only this bracelet? If the Virtuous Consort had not done this on purpose, then something had gone wrong.

 

However, it was best that her daughter had come back safely.
Seeing her daughter’s obvious exhaustion, Liang-shi was so distressed that she prepared a large table of food for her daughter.

 

Gu Yu Qi had something on her mind, so she just ate perfunctorily then excused herself to rest and sleep.
She did not expect that she was actually tired and she fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.

 

The Virtuous Consort also had lunch with Yun Yi and Yun Ke.
Yun Yi left first.
He had saved so many people last night and had accepted gifts until his hands were weak today.
As soon as he finished eating, he went to socialise with those people.
Yun Ke was left to accompany the Virtuous Consort alone.

 

“Xiao Qi.” The Virtuous Consort sent everyone out of the tent then spoke to Yun Ke, “What do you think of Miss Gu?”

 

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Yun Ke smiled lightly at the Virtuous Consort, “Is Mother Consort thinking of marrying her to Fifth Prince Brother?”

 

“Xiao Qi knows this consort’s heart too well,” The Virtuous Consort did not hide it in front of Yun Ke.
She smiled.

 

“She is not a good match for Fifth Prince Brother,” Yun Ke said after pretending to think for a moment.

 

Yun Ke’s words coincided with what the Virtuous Consort was thinking.
The Virtuous Consort immediately showed a big smile, but she still asked, “Why do you say this?”

 

“The military power in the hands of the Ding Yuan Marquis has already been handed over.
Although Father the Emperor was thinking about the goodness of Gu Huai Zhong as he granted him the title of Marquis, it is just a status, it cannot compare to those generals who really hold military power in their hands.” Yun Ke spoke eloquently, “Gu Huai Zhong, this Marquis, has no foundations.
With no military power in his hands, he is just decoration.
Besides, Miss Gu is still young right now.
Although she is known to be intelligent, it will take a few years before she can marry.
Who knows how she would change in the next few years? It would be better to choose from the grown up noble girls to find someone who has a good background and character!”

 

Yun Ke’s words really matched with the morals in the Virtuous Consort’s heart.
Was that not it precisely? A Ding Yuan Marquis without military power could never be worth the prime minister’s residence with real power!

 

If Gu Yu Qi’s grandfather General Liang’s family army had not dispersed, then the status of the Marquis’ residence would be different than what it was now.
However, the Liang family army had disappeared with the death of General Liang a few years ago.
His Majesty had been annoyed by this matter for a long time.
Of the troop of 50,000 elite soldiers, the high-ranking officers with seals had left, some had been injured, and some were retiring of old age one after the other.
According to the military service system of the Qi dynasty, most of the soldiers had exceeded their term.
His Majesty had no reason to stop them from leaving and could only watch the 50,000 elite soldiers disband and return to their hometowns.

 

The current Ding Yuan Marquis residence was just for show and they had no power at all.
Although Gu Huai Zhong still had the job of being the left hand of the Minister of War, he had no real power at all.
Besides, Gu Yu Qi was only ten years old now and it would take four to five years for her to get married.
By then, Yun Yi would be 20! Was this not nonsense?

 

“Xiao Qi is right.” The Virtuous Consort nodded and she felt even more determined.
She turned and said with a smile, “Xiao Qi and Yi’er are about the same age and it is time for you both to be married.
Xiao Qi can tell Mother Consort what he thinks.
If it is appropriate, Mother Consort will mention it to your Father the Emperor.”

 

Yun Ke sneered from the bottom of his heart.
He had always been the one that Yun Yi brought along as an extra.
It had been like this in his previous life and it did not change this life.
In the great imperial palace, there was not a single person who really cared about him.

 

“Many thanks Mother Consort, but Fifth Prince Brother has not discussed his marriage yet and this son has not considered it.” Yun Ke said calmly.

 

His performance made the Virtuous Consort nod secretly.
It was best to know one’s position.

 

In the evening, the East Mountain hunting ground arranged a grand banquet.
Each family began to dress up after lunch so that they would be off to a good start at the banquet.

 

However, Gu Yu Qi developed a high fever.
Her body had been in good condition since she fell into the water.
In addition, she had been practising martial arts and exercising a lot so by logic, it should not be easy for her to fall sick.
However, she had been morose last night from Yun Ke’s provocation, plus something had made a hole in her tent during lunch break causing cold air to blow inwards.
By the time Chun Xing came and found out, a lot of cold air had already blown onto the sleeping Gu Yu Qi.

 

The illness came like a mountain.
Gu Yu Qi was dazed with a high fever and her whole body was limp.
She could not even get out of bed.

 

Liang-shi invited the imperial doctor and gave Gu Yu Qi some medicine.
Since she was ill, she could not attend the evening imperial banquet.
Although Liang-shi intended to stay and take care of Gu Yu Qi, she could not.
As the madam of the Marquis’ residence, she had to attend.
She had no choice but to stare at Gu Yu Qi sweating all over, then lighten up slightly and leave reluctantly.
She had already delayed for a long time and Gu Huai Zhong had urged her several times.

 

She left Chun Xing to take care of Gu Yu Qi and told her that she must not leave her side.

 

This time she came out, she had brought too few maids.
If she had known earlier, she would have brought out all four maids so that there would be no phenomenon they could not take care of.

 

At the imperial banquet, everyone was waiting to see Gu Yu Qi because she had found clues about the assassins last night.
Yet, after waiting left and right, they only saw the people from the Ding Yuan Marquis’ residence but did not see the young miss from the Ding Yuan Marquis’ residence.
When they asked, they found out that it was because she had caught a cold and fallen ill.
Some people were disappointed and some others were slightly delighted at her misfortune.

 

After all, it was a blessing as His Majesty would be present today.
If he praised Gu Yu Qi in front of everyone then Gu Yu Qi, this little girl, would have a bright future.
Perhaps she could even marry into the imperial family and become the crown princess or a princess.

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During the banquet, Emperor Jing still mentioned Gu Yu Qi, the daughter of Ding Yuan Marquis residence, but because she was not there, Gu Huai Zhong gave thanks on her behalf.
His Majesty bestowed many rewards, making Gu Huai Zhong so happy that he was grinning from ear to ear.

 

Liang-shi could not bear to see him like this.
Although it was a joyful thing for her daughter to be rewarded by the emperor, she was sick right now! She felt that Gu Huai Zhong was so happy that he had forgotten his daughter had a high fever.
Moreover, those who had been rescued by Yun Yi last night were also grateful towards Gu Yu Qi.
After taking turns toasting, Gu Huai Zhong was already drunk to the clouds.

 

The old one was out of tune and the young one was sick, then there were the two even younger ones who had suffered trauma and wanted to play but did not dare leave her.
Liang-shi felt as if she was being roasted by a fire and restless all over.
She could not just leave before the imperial banquet was over, so she could only wait dully.
From time to time, she had to deal with the madams from the other residences who came with congratulations.
It really made her smile freeze on her face.

 

After finally persevering to the end of the banquet, Liang-shi picked up Gu Si Yang and Gu Si Yu and rushed back.
After returning to the tent and seeing Gu Yu Qi, she finally felt relieved.

 

Gu Yu Qi’s two to three months of martial arts practice was effective.
Her illness came and went quickly and her fever had reduced after an hour.

 

Chun Xing had fed Gu Yu Qi some rice porridge when she woke up.
She drank medicine again and had now fallen asleep peacefully.

 

Liang-shi stood there for a while, watching her sleep soundly.
She touched her head again and it was not too hot.
She then left to rest.

 

The night was silent until the next morning when Gu Yu Qi was awakened by a high-pitched horn outside her tent.

 

The horn sounded louder and Gu Yu Qi opened her eyes in a daze.
After being stunned for a while, she then remembered that she was at the East Mountain hunting ground.

 

Chun Xing also let out a sigh of relief when she saw Gu Yu Qi wake up.
She saw that Gu Yu Qi had fallen asleep last night so she laid beside her bed and took a nap.

 

“Young Miss, hurry up and drink medicine first.” She picked up the medicine that had been warmed on the stove and poured it into a bowl for Gu Yu Qi to drink.
Then she helped her change her clothes and clean up.

 

“Where’s mother?” Gu Yu Qi leaned against the bed and Chun Xing placed a thick cushion behind her back.

 

“The Marquis brought Madam, Second Young Master, and Third Young Miss to the ceremony,” Chun Xing smiled.

 

Every year before the start of the Winter Hunting Festival, there was a ceremony offering sacrifices to the heavens.
Gu Yu Qi nodded understandingly.

 

Fortunately, she was ill now and did not have to go.
She had participated many times in her previous life.
Thinking of so many people crammed into such a small place, wearing a dress and worshipping and kowtowing, she had had enough of it.

 

While eating the breakfast that Chun Xing had brought over, she talked to Chun Xing.
Her glance swept to the red plum blossoms on the table.

 

“The plum blossoms here in the East Mountain hunting ground are extremely beautiful.” She smiled and said, “Did you go and pick them?” No, this jade bottle did not look like something from the Marquis’ residence.

 

Chun Xing also glanced at the red plum blossom in the jade bottle and said with a smile, “This servant was serving Young Miss, when would she have the mind to go pick plum blossoms? Before Young Miss woke up, this servant went to get medicine to bring back and boil, and found it at the door to the tent.” Chun Xing smiled and said, “It seemed to have been sent by someone.
This servant told Madam and Madam said that since someone sent it, she would take it for the time being, and that it is not something shameful that couldn’t be seen by others.
So this servant brought it in.”

 

As long as it was not Chun Xing making her own decisions then it was good as there would be no problem with her mother’s consent.
She had just said that this bottle did not look like something from the Marquis’ residence.
Besides, her mother was not crazy.
Why would she bring a useless jade bottle when coming to the Winter Hunting Festival?

 

Wait… Gu Yu Qi put the bowl down, “Sister Chun Xing, bring the bottle for me to take a look.”

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