Chapter 561 The Mysterious Mistress of the Fragrance Garden
“Sister Ning, let’s meet the prince first and plead with him. Who knows, he might spare you on the account that we never committed any major mistakes.” Commandery Princess Xianyun grabbed Ning Xueyan’s hand eagerly and attempted to pull her out.
Ning Xueyan pulled away from her grip with force and said with a terrified voice, “I… I’m not going. I’m… afraid of meeting the prince.”
There was nothing unexpected about her words. Never mind a woman like Ning Xueyan, few court officials could say that they weren’t afraid of Prince Yi. The Princess, an ambitious woman who believed that she would rule as an Empress in the future, was much braver but even she was cautious in front of him.
Ning Xueyan was born frail and it was obvious to everyone that she was just a weak, slender woman. Even if she was more courageous than most people, how much braver could she be? Besides, Ao Chenyi had stormed out of her room in anger last night. She probably didn’t have the guts to meet him now.
“Well… What should we do… Sister Ning, you really…” The Princess looked beside herself with worry. She spun around in place before suddenly stopping and gritting her teeth as if she was making the biggest compromise. “Let’s do this then, Sister Ning. I’ll visit the Fragrance Garden with you and ask that woman to spare you. I’m still the Princess of this manor. I’m willing to do anything it takes to protect you.”
She was right. Compared to the ruthless Ao Chenyi, dealing with his favored concubine seemed easier. If the Princess could promise her something, she might agree not to complain to the prince. Not only did she sound loyal and righteous, but reasonable as well.
As expected, the Princess had indeed steered the conversation in this direction. Ning Xueyan sneered on the inside. The Princess was truly doing her utmost just to trick her into going to the Fragrance Garden.
If that was the case, she would check out the garden herself.
“Then… I’ll have to trouble you, Princess.” Ning Xueyan nodded and stopped arguing. She looked listless as if she was prepared to rely on the Princess on the matter.
Thus, Ning Xueyan and Qingyu followed Commandery Princess Xianyun to the Fragrance Garden in a hurry. Their goal was, of course, to beg the “favored concubine” to “forgive” Ning Xueyan before she could complain to Ao Chenyi.
Naturally, now was the best time. It was said that the favored concubine was a mysterious person who rarely took the initiative to visit Ao Chenyi’s study or Moon-embracing Tower. Even if she wanted to complain, she would have to send someone to invite him over. It was still early, and he was usually away from the manor at this hour.
Thus, no matter how one looked at it, they could still make it if they went over now.
Ning Xueyan wanted Lanning to go with her, but the Princess thought it would better to take Qingyu as she was also present at the scene then. If necessary, Qingyu could prove that Ning Xueyan was unintentional at that time.
After hearing the Princess’ explanation, Ning Xueyan left the calm-headed Lanning behind in the yard and went with Qingyu.
The two guards who were guarding the gate of the Fragrance Garden were taken aback when they saw the Princess and Ning Xueyan. The two new mistresses of the manor had never visited them before. Still, they quickly bowed their heads and saluted them respectfully.
“Greetings, Your Highnesses.”
The Princess nudged Ning Xueyan, indicating for her to speak. This was a problem that she had caused, after all. It was only normal for her to step up and speak. Ning Xueyan looked at the closely-shut doors and said, “Open the door and let us in.”
“Um… Consort Ning, His Highness said that my master’s courtyard cannot be entered at will,” the two eunuchs said awkwardly. Had it been anyone else, they would have just started scolding. The Prince had once ordered them to chase everyone away, whoever it was. However, the prince hadn’t married the two mistresses when he gave the order.
They didn’t know if the two mistresses were exempted from the prince’s order.
Unable to make up their minds at the moment, they had no choice but to respond politely.
Qingyu became furious when the two eunuchs stopped her master. She stepped forward protectively and glared at them. “My master is the consort of this manor. Why do you have so many excuses when she’s just trying to meet someone? Or are you telling me that the person staying in this yard is nobler than my master?”
Qingyu had been serving Ning Xueyan since she was young and was most protective of her as well. She couldn’t stand anyone criticizing Ning Xueyan. Moreover, she had a straightforward character and a quick temper. Naturally, this was also why the Princess asked Ning Xueyan to bring her along. The angrier Qingyu became, the better. Only then things would get even more chaotic. The more chaotic it was, the easier it was to cause trouble.
“The prince has ordered that no one is to be let in,” the eunuchs said, gritting their teeth. They could lose their lives if they went against the prince’s will. He was much more formidable than this less favored consort.
“I…” Ning Xueyan was stunned speechless. She was so angry that her face turned increasingly pale.
To think that two lowly eunuchs dared to stop a mistress of Prince Yi’s Manor! Anyone else would have fainted from anger. They weren’t treating her like their master at all. Any steward with some influence wouldn’t have been treated this way.
“Don’t worry, Sister Ning. Let me speak to them.” The Princess stepped forward generously, stopping Ning Xueyan who seemed to be close to losing her temper. “Qingyu, stop your master. We didn’t come here to argue but to chat with the lady inside. We haven’t met her even though we’ve been in the manor for a while.”
Since the Princess had said as much, a similarly furious Qingyu had no choice but to tug at Ning Xueyan’s hand.
The Princess’ words were polite and her status was also much higher than a consort like Ning Xueyan. The two eunuchs exchanged hesitant looks, unable to decide if they should let them in.
“All right, we won’t make things difficult for you. Go and report to your master that Sister Ning and I are here to pay her a visit. If she’s inside, please tell her to invite us in for a chat. We’re sisters, so we shouldn’t be so wary about each other. Who knows, when we enter the palace in the future, we can show the Empress how united us sisters in Prince Yi’s Manor can be.”
The Princess spoke with a smile.
Her words were incredibly suggestive. No matter how favored the concubine was, she was still a concubine without a title. This was something that everyone knew. If the concubine was smart, she would know to earn a title for herself while she still had the prince’s favor. And Commandery Princess Xianyun, the actual princes, was a good stepping stone.
As long as the Princess agrees to accept her and praise her in front of the Empress in the palace, getting a title wouldn’t be difficult at all. Pleasing the wife had always been the duty of the concubines.
Of course, the Princess knew the concubine was a wise person. After all, Ao Chenyi had favored her for so long and protected her so well.
If the concubine were smart, she would understand her meaning and let her and Ning Xueyan in.
Therefore, the Princess was relaxed after relaying her message. She stood there, waiting for a response with a dignified and peaceful smile.
Sure enough, the eunuchs felt that they had no authority to stop it anymore, especially since it was the Princess who had said as much. The Princess wasn’t an unfavored consort like Ning Xueyan; she was the rightful Princess Yi. Moreover, she wasn’t demanding anything rudely and arrogantly. She was simply making a request to see their master.
It was their master’s decision whether to meet them.
One of the eunuchs immediately nodded and ran inside to make the report. The other smiled and told the Princess, “Please wait for a moment. We’ll have to ask our master. If she’s free, she’ll likely meet Your Highness and Consort Ning.”
He felt that the Princess was much more magnanimous than Consort Ning. Just look at how arrogant and rude Consort Ning was, angrily demanding the door to be opened as soon as she arrived. She didn’t look like she was paying a visit at all.
Since he was guarding the Fragrance Garden, he naturally thought of the favored concubine living here as his master. He never considered the fact that a consort had no need to formally request to meet an anonymous favored concubine without a title.
It must be said that Ao Chenyi favored this concubine so much that even the people at the manor believed that it was only a matter of time before he would give her a title. When it came down to it, even the princess and consort had to admit defeat to the concubine.
That was why the two eunuchs dared to stop the Princess and Ning Xueyan from entering.
Looking at the Princess’ gentle and generous act, Ning Xueyan sneered on the inside. She had displayed anger when she ordered the door to be opened. Even her maid couldn’t stop herself from getting mad. On the contrary, the Princess continued to look gentle and magnanimous.
The two eunuchs at the door could play witness. Moreover, she also noticed earlier that a few concubines were stealing glances in their direction. It was evident that they noticed that something was happening here.
That meant she had even more witnesses now.
Her long lashes flickered as she lowered her watery eyes to look at the Princess’ sleeves. She noticed earlier that the Princess had held her with her left hand. That was odd. Whenever the Princess tried to fake affection with her, she would always use her right hand to hold hers. Yet, today, the Princess was using her left hand.
Most importantly, the Princess’ left hand wasn’t the hand nearest to hers…
On their way here, she remained close to the Princess. The Princess was dressed quite warmly today. Even though Ning Xueyan’s clothes weren’t thin either, she had always been sensitive to the cold. She would always wear thicker clothes than most. She remembered that the Princess tended to dress lighter than she would.
Their clothes were equally as thick today. Was she also ill?
However, the Princess didn’t seem like she would wear thicker clothes just because she was ill.
Her clothes were wide, with a wide skirt and wide cuffs. When her clothes fluttered in the wind, she looked like a fairy. They fitted her well, making her look gorgeous.
However, the wind was a little harsh on the way here. One of her sleeves danced in the wind, while the other seemed relatively still. She even pinched her sleeves together so that it wouldn’t billow and open up in the wind.
A faint sneer appeared on Ning Xueyan’s face. As expected, Ning Xueyan had come here with a purpose under the guise of helping her.
The door opened, revealing the eunuch earlier. He came out with a grin and greeted, “Princess, Consort Ning, my master invites you in.”
He pushed the door open, exposing a quiet and elegant courtyard to everyone’s eyes. Looking over, they saw a woman standing at the door with the support of a maid. She wore a white veil that thwarted any prying eyes…
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