Chapter 266 – Murderous
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
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Why would anyone bring such a small matter up to Elder Madam? To that, Madam Yun could only say, “I still need to muddle along in this wretched estate for the foreseeable future and shall not be bothering the Elder Madam.”
Unable to punish Rong’er as she liked, Xu Ran Yun could only turn around and stomp away in a huff. Xue Zhi Lan gave the other women a little smile and a nod as a greeting before rushing after Xu Ran Yun. It was almost certain that she intended to use this opportunity to sow more discontentment into Xu Ran Yun’s heart while pretending to comfort her. It was not at all difficult to get Xu Ran Yun’s hackles up again with just a few strategically placed words.
Xu Ran Yun was not the only one who left the confrontation with all their hackles up. Thanks to the bullying, Concubine Jiang lost all interest in admiring the chrysanthemum flowers and returned to Spring Breeze Court with Rong’er.
Back at her wing, she had all the other maids and servants sent out, leaving only Rong’er in the room. In a low voice, she said, “I can’t endure this any longer. As long as Madam Yun remains within the estate, Chuan’er and I will one day perish in her hands. For me to live well, she must die.”
Her words were like a clap of thunder to Rong’er, who collapsed to her knees in shock for the second time that day. Terrified, she whispered hoarsely, “Madam Concubine, please think thrice. The one who is harmed today is just this lowly slave. If you do such a thing, you’ll be punished with ‘Death by a Thousand Cuts’, ah. Madam Yun was just putting up a play, bullying others to make herself feel good. In the future, we can just avoid her. With First Madam to shelter us, there’s no need for Madam Concubine to take any unnecessary risk.”
“Don’t be stupid.”
Concubine Jiang hissed under her breath, her chest rising and falling with anger as she gritted her teeth and grounded out, “I’d served her for over a dozen years and have remained loyal to her throughout my life, but what good does my loyalty bring me? She did not hesitate to harm Chuan’er to frame her enemy. Very well, she is my mistress and had once granted me a great opportunity to advance my status. In the words of First Madam, ‘Refrain from Shooting at the Rat for Fear of Breaking the Vase ’. I cannot risk Chuan’er’s life just to satisfy my desire for revenge.
However, as you’ve seen with your own eyes, what’s the use of trying to endure all of this? On the day we set out for Spring Breeze Court, I visited her out of courtesy. However, not only did she not reflect on her own wrongdoing, but she even had the cheek to call me heartless and cruel. Just because I’ve wronged her and made her lose face, she feigned madness and tried to kill me. Do you know just how close I am to losing it? However, I had bitten my tongue until it bled, because she had once been my mistress and I should accord her this much respect at least.
But today? What happened today made me come to a realisation. She will never give up until I die. I may be loyal to her, but I am not so loyal as to just stand there and let her wring my neck. For every day that she is alive, it is another day that my Chuan’er is in danger. Rong’er, we cannot let my sister-in-law know about this. She’s too kind and compassionate, and would never imagine that an evil creature such as Madam Yun could exist. The only one I could depend on is you. But, be at ease, though my plans have yet to fully form, I will not bring unnecessary trouble onto our heads.”
“Madam Concubine, this is no small matter, ah. Won’t Madam please think thrice?”
Rong’er was so frightened that her whole body was shaking. Still, she tried her best to persuade Concubine Jiang. Concubine Jiang laughed derisively and said, “Think thrice? Do you believe I have not considered and reconsidered everything? If Xu Ran Yun had not forced me step-by-step towards the cliff’s edge, would I make such a risky and dangerous decision? Rong’er, don’t cry. How Madam Yun treats me and treats the people around me, you should know by now. For the moment, she could not do anything against me, so she tried to take your life. Her failure to do so have led to a massive loss of face. In the future, you had better not even step outside of Spring Breeze Court, otherwise, do you think you’d still be alive the moment she claps her eyes on you? My life meant nothing to her, so what meaning does yours have?”
Rong’er had served Concubine Jiang for many years at Autumn Rain Pavilion, thus, she had some understanding of Xu Ran Yun’s character. After listening to this little speech, she lowered her head to stare at the floor for a long time. Her shaking eventually stopped and she said softly, “What does Madam Concubine intend to do?”
“I have said this before, Xu Ran Yun would not dare to do anything to me just yet. Because I understand her too well. Every little detail about her habits and characteristics are known to me. She must have thought that I would not be able to find an opportunity to deal with her… heheh! She underestimated me too much. After serving her for so long, I might not have learned much, but I’ve certainly mastered the art of framing people. Do not worry, Rong’er. I shall think properly on the matter before making any move. Once the opportunity arises, I shall also seize the chance to pour a pot of black water onto Madam Lan’s head. After all, she’s not some innocent bystander or a good person. No matter how poisonous and sinister Xu Ran Yun is, she is not someone who would think to harm Chuan’er to further her own cause. If you tell me that Madam Lan has nothing to do with this matter, I will never believe you.”
“Madam Concubine, though Madam Lan appears warm and gentle on the surface, she is not some good person. If Madam Concubine wishes to harm both at once… how, how could it be possible? If the fire is not properly handled, Madam might be burnt, ah.”
The confidence that had straightened Rong’er’s spine just now disappeared. Her mistress was travelling down a rapidly blackened road. Just what kind of people did she think Madam Yun and Madam Lan are? They were people who had withstood under the pressure of First Madam for many years and had triumphed over her at least once.
“Without Madam Lan, would we be in this trouble?” Concubine Jiang smiled slightly. For the moment, the idea within her heart was still a little hazy. There was no final step as yet, but she had a good feeling that it will eventually become something incredibly perfect.
Her feelings had settled down a lot, as she sat at the couch, she said softly, “Now that first madam is expecting, the ones most anxious and troubled are those two women. Would they really accept the fact that their years of planning would go down the drain in this one strike? You saw it yourself, how those two women had laughed and chattered on like a pair of sisters. Just when did their relationship become so close? They are clearly planning something sinister. I refuse to let them harm First Madam.
From the beginning, First Madam had shielded Chuan’er and me from so many dangers. You may consider this as my way of repaying her for the kindness and protection that she had shown to us. In truth, I am being selfish as well. She is the tree that shelters us from the wind and storm. If she falls, neither Chuan’er nor I will come to a good end. In the end, it is all for my own sake. I believe that the one who strikes first, wins, and I am more than willing to get rid of these two evil creatures for First Madam.”
Rong’er trembled as Concubine Jiang continued to speak. Finally, she could not resist asking, “I-if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to speak to First Madam about it?”
“No, we absolutely cannot.” Concubine Jiang cut her off immediately. Then, she regarded Rong’er seriously for a long while. “Remember, only you and I can know this. Even my sister-in-law cannot know.”
Her expression softened and she said gently, “I know you’re afraid, and believe that with First Madam’s intelligence and our help, we will be able to solve the matter amicably. However, you don’t understand First Madam. Though she is powerful and unyielding, ever since she returned to the inner court, I find that she has grown soft-hearted. If anyone tries to harm her, she will retaliate without mercy. However, she would never actively go out and harm people. I dare not bring this matter up with her, what if she disagrees or tries to stop us? No, it’s better for us to leave a way out for ourselves, understand?”
Rong’er nodded tentatively, she said softly, “This maid understands. Don’t worry, Madam Concubine, this maid will assist in whatever way I can. I am not afraid.”
Concubine Jiang said nothing for a moment. She looked out the window to the few potted chrysanthemums decorating the window sill. A bitter smile suddenly graced her lips, “I truly regretted it. Why was I so blind that day and could not tell what evil lurks within a noble estate? My only thought was to secure a future where I no longer have to worry about food and clothing. To be able to eat lavish food and wear excellent clothes. Madam Yun arranged for me to serve the Lord, if I had resisted, she would not have forced me.
Eventually, I would have married some insignificant male servant and we might have children together. I would not have eaten or dressed as well as now, but my life would have been simpler, contented. Just look at First Madam’s Hong Lian. If First Madam had ordered her to serve the Lord as a bed servant, she would not have been able to refuse. However, in the end, she married another servant of the estate. Though that Liu character is a servant, his standing within the estate is not too low. Now that Hong Lian had married into their home, would they dare to neglect her? Though our position started out similarly, isn’t hers better than mine? I, who am now scheming to harm my former mistress?”
Rong’er said, “First Madam truly treats Hong Lian well. What Madam Yun did that time was to use Madam Concubine to curry favour with the Lord. The two mistresses are completely different. Madam Concubine’s luck is just bad and became the unfortunate maid of Madam Yun. Though Hong Lian too had seen bad luck with the past First Madam, now that First Madam had changed, it is her good luck for sticking with her mistress. We can only blame fate and fortune for being fickle. Madam Concubine, please don’t be sad. How lucky that Chuan’er is strong and is loved by both the Lord and Madam. In the future, once he grows up well, wouldn’t all of Madam Concubine’s efforts be worth it?”
At the mention of her son, Concubine Jiang finally smiled. “I have said more than once to Madam Yun, Chuan’er is my life. No, more important than my life. It is due to this child that I was granted a good status in this estate. Otherwise, what is there to live for? Even so, she never felt any compassion for this child of mine.”
At this, she turned to Rong’er and said, “Though we are master and servant, I cannot send you to the fire pit on your own. You are not young anymore. One of these days I will meet with First Madam and beg her to match you with a good family. Naturally, though the family might not be as good as the one Hong Lian married into, we have plenty of male servants here and some of them are of excellent character. The most important thing is to find a man who would not dare to beat or scold their wives for no good reason, a man who stays true to their wives and not frequent brothels would be the best. With First Madam to back you, your future husband would not dare mistreat you. It’s fine to suffer a little hardship in life, the most important thing is to have a peaceful life together. Moreover, as servants of a large estate, who in this place suffers from true poverty and hardship?”
Rong’er’s cheeks reddened at the mention of her marriage prospects She shook her head and said, “This maid is still young, I wish to serve Madam Concubine for a few more years and see Chuan’er grow up…”
Concubine Jiang’s laughter interrupted her, “It’s not like you’re leaving the estate. Do you really think that you would never see Chuan’er once you get married? Well, you might not be able to serve by my side anymore, but this is good too. From the beginning, I am a person without future prospects. You’re quick-witted and observant, if you could catch the eye of First Madam, you might even become a manager in the future. When the time comes, I shall be the one to depend on you.”
“Madam Concubine, please don’t say things like this…” Rong’er said as she rushed over to reassure her mistress. Concubine Jiang merely waved a hand at her. “What’s wrong with my words? First Madam always said that one must always face the facts when it comes to life. I’ve already renounced those silly, over-ambitious dreams of the past. The only thing I want now is to quietly and peacefully live the rest of my life. I’ve said this before, I would not sacrifice you just to harm Xu Ran Yun.”
Rong’er still had plenty to say, but looking at Concubine Jiang’s weary face she stopped herself. Concubine Jiang waved her hand again, “Enough, go and take a walk, I am going to lie down for a while too. I’ll have to rack my brains in these next few days for a good scheme, it’s not going to be easy to deal with those two at once.
With that, she lay her head down on the couch and closed her eyes. Rong’er, seeing her mistress’ relaxed face and closed eyes dared not disturb her anymore. She quietly removed herself from the room and closed the door silently behind her.
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“Just look at the way my tummy sticks out. Elder Madam said that the fifth month is when most women would stop feeling most of the pregnancy symptoms, but why am I still so tired?”
Within the garden, Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan were strolling between the chrysanthemum bushes and admiring the flowers. There were only two of them, none of the maids had followed them. Naturally, a pair of sweet couple intending to share intimate moments with each other would not want a whole line of servants trailing after them.
[Gumihou: Life at the inner court is certainly difficult, ah]
 Refrain from shooting at the Rat for fear of Breaking the Vase – To not act against evil to prevent harm from falling on innocent heads
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