Chapter 516 Ning Qingshan Was Rebuked Again
Seeing that Ao Mingyu was ignoring her show of compromise and focusing on Ning Xueyan instead, Ning Qingshan concealed her resentful expression behind her handkerchief. What an immoral woman. How disgusting of her to seduce the Third Prince after she had married Prince Yi.
“Your Highness, I’m a woman who remains in the boudoir all day long. The only people I meet are those living in the inner courtyard. How would I know who wants to hijack my sedan? Do you happen to know? If you do, please let me know, Your Highness,” Ning Xueyan said, standing up to give Ao Mingyu a solemn salute.
She acted so naturally that she showed not even an ounce of pretense. Her ashamed and indignant expression dyed her pale face with an attractive and vivid red color. Under her long eyelashes, her beautiful eyes were filled with anger. Of course, anyone who would be furious to have barely escaped such a huge disaster.
“Your Highness…” When Ao Mingyu stared blankly at her, Ning Xueyan started becoming impatient and raised her voice.
“I’m not too sure myself. I just find it strange that a weak woman hidden away in the boudoir would offend anyone. Has Uncle learned anything?” Ao Mingyu coughed quietly after snapping out of it, and quickly redirected the attention to Ao Chenyi.
He couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was strange about all of these. He didn’t believe that Ao Chenyi would just let things go.
“That’s right, Xueyan. Has Prince Yi asked you about it?” Madam Dowager was concerned about this as well. It was such a close shave, after all. It would be disastrous if Ning Xueyan were kidnapped. How would she explain it to Prince Yi?
“I don’t know anything about Prince Yi’s investigation.” Ning Xueyan shook her head and looked down.
“Did you hear anyone talk about it?” Ao Mingyu had never expected to learn about Ao Chenyi’s plans from her in the first place.
“I’m not familiar with the manor’s affairs as I have been staying in the Pear Flower Garden these days. If you’re interested, you may ask the Prince.” Ning Xueyan looked up and replied in a courteously distant manner, indicating she wasn’t interested in continuing the topic. It was obvious that Ao Mingyu was inquiring about affairs in Prince Yi’s Manor, and this made her unhappy.
Ning Xueyan only came here to “help” Ning Lingyun. Since the Third Prince had shown up at the Lord Protector’s Manor at this time, it was only natural for her to “help” Ning Lingyun achieve her objective. Now that Ning Lingyun’s fate was as good as sealed, she didn’t have the mood to stay here and keep talking with Ao Mingyu.
Thus, she stood up and returned to the Bright Frost Garden with Lanning with the excuse that she was unwell.
She came here out of worry that Ning Lingyun wouldn’t be able to explain herself and end up offending the Third Prince instead. Now that her role was over, it was only natural for her to leave with her maid.
Ao Mingyu had already asked what he wanted to ask of Ning Xueyan. Seeing that she didn’t know anything, it seemed that the matter didn’t cause much of a commotion. He wasn’t surprised at Ao Chenyi’s response either, as the incident didn’t cause much of a difference in the end. His men were far out of reach as well, so even if Ao Chenyi wanted to investigate, he wouldn’t find out anything.
Therefore, the incident was basically over.
Since his concern was solved, he decided to excuse himself. Meanwhile, he had promised to take Ning Lingyun along when marrying Ning Qingshan. He would give her a status then, so that she wouldn’t be a concubine without any title. It was also his show of respect to the Lord Protector’s Manor.
Besides, his manor was huge and feeding another person wouldn’t be a problem at all. And keeping someone like Ning Lingyun around wasn’t completely useless.
Although this was humiliating for Ning Qingshan, he thought it was nothing compared to how she had humiliated him before. He would just treat her better in the future and gradually suppress the consequences of the Cold Mountain Temple incident.
That was why he asked Ning Qingshan to see him out. Madam Dowager was also feeling guilty about Ning Qingshan, so she agreed to give them some private time without any fuss.
Lanning was walking behind Ning Xueyan. Noticing that she was being quiet, Lanning thought that she was upset about the Third Prince’s aggressive interrogation and proposed, “Master, should we return now?”
The way she saw it, her mistress had completed the homecoming ceremony and dealt with Ning Lingyun’s matter. There was no point in staying here any longer. Although it had just been three days since she left, she had already stopped thinking about this place as her home.
“There’s no need to rush. We have to at least have dinner before going back,” Ning Xueyan said calmly. She stopped walking and stared at the nearby Cloud Reflection Courtyard. She had been there just three days ago, but she realized that she had returned with a fresh perspective. Her previous life was like wisps of smoke in the air; it had become duller and duller in her memory.
“You should get some sleep then, Master. You weren’t able to take a nap earlier because of the Fourth Young Lady,” Lanning suggested.
Ning Xueyan nodded. She was so used to taking afternoon naps that now that she wasn’t asleep at this hour, she was a little sleepy. She had nothing better to do and it was her nap hour anyway. So, she slowly turned around and walked toward the Bright Frost Garden. “Go and find Mother Wang later. Take her to the village that I received as part of my dowry and tell them she’s your relative. Once she has settled down, I’ll see her soon.”
No matter what, she had to bring the matters of her previous life to a closure. Although those memories were as faint as smoke, she had to end things at the right time.
It would be inconvenient to leave once she returned to Prince Yi’s Manor. She was still in the dark about many things there, and Commandery Princess Xianyun would be watching her every move. She mustn’t reveal any of her weaknesses to the Princess. She should do as few things as possible to minimize her mistakes.
“Yes. Once you’re asleep, I’ll leave immediately,” Lanning said, although with a moment of hesitation.
“What do you want to say?” Ning Xueyan asked, as if she had a second pair of eyes behind her back.
“Master, don’t you have to watch the Third Young Lady anymore?” Lanning felt that Ning Qingshan wouldn’t just give up after suffering such a big loss and being forced to take Ning Lingyun with her to the Third Prince’s Manor. No matter how she looked at it, Ning Qingshan wasn’t someone who would suffer in silence.
“Of course she wouldn’t suffer in silence.” Ning Xueyan chuckled. The corners of her lips upturned with barely-detectable coldness. Ever since Ning Qingshan returned to the Lord Protector’s Manor, the two of them were like born nemeses who had to fight now and then. She was no saint either, so she wouldn’t just let Ning Qingshan go after plotting against her.
Ning Qingshan must be angry enough to eat her alive now. That happened to serve her well. Since Ning Qingshan wanted to harm her, she might as well let Ning Qingshan make a quicker move.
“You don’t have to come with me. Find my Fourth Sister and tell her that she has ultimately wronged Third Sister. Tell her that an apology is necessary at times and she mustn’t let something like this affect their relationship. After all, they can take care of each other in the Third Prince’s Manor. That place isn’t like home, after all. It’s a place that pays even stricter attention to rules.”
Glancing at the gate of the nearby Bright Frost Garden, Ning Xueyan’s ink-like eyes gleamed with a strange coldness as she gave Lanning her order in a calm voice.
“Master, I’ll be on my way immediately.” Lanning had been serving Ning Xueyan for a long time, and naturally understood how intelligent her mistress was. She couldn’t just take Ning Xueyan’s words at face value. After carefully thinking about it, she understood Ning Xueyan’s intention. Without any hesitation, she bade Ning Xueyan goodbye and left.
Ning Lingyun wanted to have the easy way out as well as a glamorous life. Given such an opportunity, she would surely meet Ning Qingshan to express her sisterly love, especially after offending the latter today. They would be entering the Third Prince’s Manor together and she would have to depend on Ning Qingshan in many ways in the future. There was no doubt that Ning Lingyun would agree to apologize to Ning Qingshan.
Lanning had witnessed Ning Qingshan’s attitude at the gate of the courtyard as clear as day. If there weren’t any outsiders around, Ning Qingshan would have torn Ning Lingyun apart. Ning Qingshan must still be fuming, and if Ning Lingyun were to see her at this time, her anger would surely explode.
Of course, her thoughts mirrored that of Ning Xueyan. The angrier Ning Qingshan was, the better. Only then would Ning Qingshan panic more, fall prey to her emotions, and make a mistake. Since she happened to be here today, she would be able to find out what has happened. That way, if Ning Qingshan were to do anything in the future, this knowledge would be able to help her mistress do something about it.
After taking a couple of steps away, Lanning stopped walking and turned around. “Master, I’m going to leave. Is that all right?”
“Yes, go ahead. I’ll get Mother Han to go around the manor for a bit. She won’t be working in the Lord Protector’s Manor anymore, so it’ll be nice if she can talk to her friends.” Ning Xueyan smiled, immediately grasping Lanning’s meaning. Lanning returned her smile as well.
Lanning went to talk to Ning Lingyun. Ning Lingyun had suffered quite a fright earlier, but the dust had settled now. Since the Third Prince had accepted her, that was another one of Madam Dowager’s concerns settled. Madam Dowager treated her quite well as well, even asking her servants to send her back to her yard and bestowing her with gifts. When she was still picking out the gifts, she heard that Ning Xueyan’s maid Lanning had come.
After thinking about it, she put down the thing in her hand and went out to receive the maid personally.
Currently, neither she nor Ning Xueyan had a stake in each other. If she could get on the good side of Prince Yi’s consort, there would surely only be pros and no cons.
Lanning didn’t spend much time in Ning Lingyun’s yard. After relaying her mistress’ message to Ning Lingyun in a few sentences, she excused herself and left the manor. She was now a servant of Prince Yi’s Manor accompanying Ning Xueyan on her visit home, so she was naturally free to leave any time she wanted.
After Lanning left, Ning Lingyun changed into fresh clothes. Madam Dowager had prepared these new clothes for her. With only a maid for company, she rushed toward Ning Qingshan’s Foggy Courtyard.
Thus, another commotion broke out in the Foggy Courtyard and the incident even reached Madam Dowager’s ears. She summoned them to her place and questioned them. Apparently, Ning Lingyun had visited Ning Qingshan to apologize and ended up drawing the latter’s wrath, resulting in a fight. Madam Dowager was very unhappy with Ning Qingshan about this.
To her, Ning Lingyun’s outcome was also her intention. Ning Qingshan’s dissatisfaction with Ning Lingyun was also Ning Qingshan’s dissatisfaction with her. This made Madam Dowager’s expression even uglier. Since the Third Prince wasn’t around and she had no need to worry about showing him respect, she gave Ning Qingshan a harsh reprimanding. She even ordered Ning Qingshan to return to her yard and read the Principles for Women book more often so that Ning Qingshan would understand how a decent lady would behave.
Then, Ning Lingyun returned to her yard timidly while Ning Qingshan left the Lucky Garden with a pale and angry face.
The matter was supposed to be over, but…