Chapter 521 - Twists and Turns

Also, who was this Feudal Princess Jinan that they kept talking about? Didn’t they say that the Imperial Plantation was completely managed by the lass, Yu Xiaocao? Did she give the back mountains to Feudal Princess Jinan to plant fruit trees?

“That uh...this Older Sister, forgive me for interrupting. I truly admire this Feudal Princess Jinan you’re talking about, but would you happen to know who she is? Is she here today?” Wu Junling had been silently listening for a bit and finally found a chance to ask some questions. 

The noble maiden she had asked the question to was the daughter of the fourth-ranked assistant official in the office in charge of the crown prince’s affairs. That girl gave her a side-long glance full of contempt and let out a cold laugh before she replied, “You don’t even recognize Feudal Princess Jinan, eh? You must be new to the capital, right?”  

Wu Junling had never endured such poor treatment before. However, at this entire table, she was the one with the lowest rank out of all of the maidens. Thus, she could only grit her teeth while keeping a smile on her face as she said, “Older Sister’s observational skills are very good. This younger sister has only been in the capital for a few months and there are many people that I’m unfamiliar with!”

“No wonder!” The daughter of the assistant official had an air of conferring a great favor as she pointed towards the main table and said, “Do you see that table? The person who’s wearing the light pink qi-style attire is Feudal Princess Jinan. The emperor personally titled her.”

Following that, she ignored the alarmed Wu Junling and continued to chat about the previous topic with her good friends, “A few days ago, plums entered the market. Have any of you had the chance to try any? In the past, I hated eating plums the most. I always felt like they were incredibly sour fruits but the plums grown on the back mountains of the Imperial Plantation have a sweet and fresh taste. They don’t even have a hint of acidity in them. I could probably eat three to four of them in one sitting! Unfortunately, it’s very hard to buy them. Eating only a little bit isn’t enough to satisfy my cravings!”

Another young maiden interjected, “Isn’t that right. If only during that flower war banquet, when Feudal Princess Jinan was being dismissed, I had come out and spoken up for her, wouldn’t that mean I would be one of the people by her side right now?”

“Stop dreaming! Haven’t you looked at the people interacting with Feudal Princess Jinan now? Which one of them isn’t the daughter of a first-ranked official at court? The feudal princess looks down upon lower-ranked people like us!” This young maiden, who was commenting sourly, had noticed that as soon as she finished speaking, the other young maidens around the table, other than the country bumpkin, were regarding her with eyes wide with shock. The two girls who were sitting next to her had even scooted their chairs away from her and had an expression on their faces that showed that they didn't want to interact with her.

After she figured out just what she had said, she hurriedly tried to explain, “I didn’t mean it that way, I...I was trying to say that Feudal Princess Jinan is a feudal princess that the emperor had personally titled. She’s talented beyond measure and thus attracts people of the same standing. Those who are able to become friends with her are only the noble ladies whose fathers are grand first-ranked officials or the relatives of the imperial family...I wasn’t trying to imply earlier that she only toadys to the powerful…” The last sentence was spoken in almost a half sob and this girl’s face had turned white from fear.

The other young maidens all acted differently. Some lowered their heads, pretending to drink tea. There were some who picked up a few sweet grapes from the plate to eat. Some looked out the windows as if they were admiring the beautiful scenery in the courtyard...none of them wanted to talk to that girl as if they were afraid a particular someone would misunderstand and think that they agreed with this young lady. Last year, during the flower war banquet, Li Meirou had gotten into conflict with Miss Yu. Now, no one knew what godforsaken corner she had been sent to. Furthermore, they all knew the astonishing ending of the Li Family...all of the young maidens shuddered for a second. The table they were sitting at suddenly fell silent.

Yu Xiaocao and the others at the main table weren’t even paying attention to what was happening at that side table. He Wanning was right in the middle of excitedly planning their next trip to the Imperial Plantation to pick grapes. The last time they went, she was able to eat and pick fruits. In fact, her family wasn’t able to finish all of the fruits she brought back and they were able to send them out as gifts, which gave them a lot of face. The grapes that Yu Xiaocao had brought along were as sweet as honey. She definitely needed to pick more when she had the chance.

Yu Wanqing sat on the side and listened enviously as her eyes revealed her inner desire to participate. Only after Yu Xiaocao promised that she would also get an invitation did she let out a sigh of relief inside. Older Sister Yu truly treated her quite well. She not only fixed her problem with her face, but she also never forgot to bring her along whenever there was fun to be had or good things to eat.

Finally, as the host, Yu Wanqing discovered, after getting reminded by one of the maids, that the atmosphere at that side table was a bit off. She hurried over and smiled sweetly, “Older Sisters, this is the first time this younger sister has invited so many people over. If there’s anything wrong going on, please bring it up and I will try to fix it.”

“Younger Cousin Qing, I made a big mistake, what should I do? Sob sob sob…” The young maiden, who realized she had made a verbal faux-pas, was a distant relative of Yu Wanqing and felt extremely frightened now. When she saw Yu Wanqing, she grasped onto the other girl as if she was her savior.

Yu Wanqing looked at the other young ladies who had previously been getting on swimmingly with her older cousin. They all revealed expressions showing that they wanted nothing to do with this, so Yu Wanqing felt quite perplexed. She quietly comforted her older cousin, “Older Cousin Xin, even the emperor has once said: ‘People are not saints, so we will all make mistakes. If one can change after making a mistake, there is nothing better.’ It’s not the end of the world if you make an error. As long as you sincerely admit that you’re wrong and courageously try to change in the future, I’m sure that everyone will all generously forgive you.” 

“Then...can you accompany me as I ask for forgiveness from Feudal Princess Jinan?” Ding Yaxin timidly glanced at that figure sitting at the main table and pitifully looked at Yu Wanqing.  ‘Older Sister Yu? The so-called trouble that Older Cousin Xin had gotten into was offending Older Sister Yu? That can’t be right ah. Ever since they entered the courtyard, I don’t think the two of them have even interacted together, right? Did Older Maternal Cousin do something in the past that was bad to Older Sister Yu?’

Right at this time, Wu Junling interjected, “Miss Ding, don’t worry. Younger Sister Xiaocao isn't someone who is that narrow-minded. She absolutely wouldn’t blame you.”

Although she wasn’t clear how that lass, Yu Xiaocao, had suddenly obtained such a high status in the eyes of these young maidens, it looked like she needed to get closer to that lass in order to quickly blend into the capital’s noble maiden circles. Wu Junling wasn’t sure as to whether there was a problem between the two of them because of her older cousin’s affairs last time.

When the other young maidens heard her call Feudal Princess Jinan ‘Younger Sister Xiaocao’, all of them sneered inwardly as if they were of one heart. A daughter of a tiny and insignificant fifth-level official was so shameless to boast like this. She made it sound like she was very close to Feudal Princess Jinan and that she understood her like the back of her hand!

Ding Yaxin was so desperate that she was willing to turn to anyone for help. She grabbed onto Wu Junling’s hand and asked, “Older Sister, are you very familiar with Feudal Princess Jinan ah? Can you help me say a few nice words in front of her then?”

Wu Junling lightly chuckled and patted her hand, “I’ve only met her once but my maternal aunt and older cousin are very close to her. They should be able to say a few words for you to her.”

Ding Yaxin was also a foolish girl. She didn’t beg the younger cousin next to her and instead was groveling towards Wu Junling, who she wasn’t even familiar with! She was truly too muddle-headed! She revealed an expression full of hope and said, “Older Sister Wu, then can you tell me who your maternal aunt and older cousin are…”

“Princess Consort Jing is my mother’s blood-related older sister and Royal Prince Yang is my older cousin ah!” As she spoke, she turned towards the other maidens on the table and winked at them while revealing an ambiguous smile.

“Pffffttt——” The words had just left her lips when a voice could be heard from behind her, “Don’t start saying ‘older cousin, older cousin’ as if you’re very close to him. Did you ask Royal Prince Yang his opinion about this ah? Is he actually willing to admit that you are his younger cousin?”

“Feudal Princess Jinan”, “Feudal Princess Jinan”...the whole table of nobly-born maidens politely stood up at the same time and paid their respects to her simultaneously. When Wu Junling heard these words, the smile on her face stiffened and congealed. She didn’t expect the outwardly weak and delicate Yu Xiaocao wouldn’t actually give her any face. Instead, she made it such that she couldn’t easily step away from this problem in front of everyone at the party.

Wu Junling also stood up with everyone else and turned around to face Yu Xiaocao. She squeezed out a smile and said, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, Older Cousin Yang and I are truly related by blood through the maternal line. Whether or not he is willing to admit it, we are still relatives.”

“Ohhhh? Is that so ah?” Yu Xiaocao was tired of seeing Wu Junling act all tranquil and peaceful as if nothing could touch her. The other girl couldn’t snatch away her man so she changed her tactics to use her familial connections to climb up the social ladder in the capital instead. Who did she think she was? 

“But, didn’t I hear Zhu Junyang personally say two days ago that he wanted Official Wu to keep a close eye on you and your mother? That he didn’t want to see you two appear in front of him again? Otherwise...he couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t harm you two!” Yu Xiaocao watched as Wu Junling’s expression abruptly changed and she revealed an innocent look on her face. Everything she said was true ah! She wasn’t embellishing this story at all!  However, the way other people heard it, it made it sound like the Wu Family’s wife and daughter and offended Royal Prince Yang and that Royal Prince Yang wanted nothing to do with them anymore.   

“Younger Sister Xiaocao, I…” Wu Junling recalled what her older cousin had looked like when he lost control of himself and felt her heart suddenly tremble and the expression on her face darkened. She didn’t expect that this Yu Xiaocao, who outwardly looked sweet and kind, was actually this malicious inside. The younger girl cornered her in this type of situation and made it impossible for her to step back.

‘Who do you think you are ah? To allow this old woman to give you face, ah? You’re not worth it!’ If Yu Xiaocao could hear what she was thinking, she would have absolutely slapped Wu Junling.

[Master, the aura of evil sorcery on her is coming from that talisman that she has strung on a necklace on her chest. The pendant must be the thing holding the spell. As long as you get closer to her, this divine stone will be able to break the magic on her!] Right at this point, the sound of the little divine stone’s voice resonated in her mind.

Yu Xiaocao didn’t give Wu Junling the chance to quibble before she used her hand to stop the other girl from talking as she said, “Miss Wu, we’re not that close, so I really don’t want to hear you say ‘Younger Sister Xiaocao’ in the future! As for the relationship between you and Zhu Junyang, this young maiden won’t manage it and I’m too lazy to even bother. As for the two of us, we are different people who walk different roads and cannot make plans together. Let’s just agree to remain acquaintances in the future!”

As soon as she heard the little divine stone crow ‘I got it!’, she didn’t give Wu Junling another chance to speak as she turned around swiftly to ask Yu Wanqing, “Younger Sister Wanqing, could you tell me where the washroom is? I want to wash my hands.” Her hands were originally clean but after touching a certain someone’s mouth, who knew how many germs were on them now? She needed to wash them carefully with soap!

“Feudal Princess Jinan, please wait!” Ding Yaxin had mentally prepared herself for a multitude of scenarios before she finally spoke up. She bowed deeply and sincerely stated, “Earlier, my lips were loose and I said, ‘You only associate with the daughters of first-ranked officials’. I admit that I was jealous then and I also admit that I was wrong about you. Thus, I am sincerely apologizing to you.”

Rather than having her words being twisted to and fro by other people and finally making it to the Feudal Princess Jinan’s ears, it was better for her to admit it outright. One had to admit that being cowardly had its benefits too. At least, she wouldn’t cause any trouble that was too big to handle! 

Yu Xiaocao glanced at her briefly and revealed a faint smile before she slowly said, “I accept your apology. However, I need to leave you with one piece of advice, ‘It’s best to think again and again before acting and don’t be goaded into making a bad decision’. Not all mistakes can be fixed and you will not always be forgiven for your actions.”  

After she finished speaking, she didn’t even give Wu Junling another glance before she left with the personal maidservant of Yu Wanqing to head to the washroom.  

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Myst.2's Thoughts

Sanguine’s thoughts: Wu Junling bit off more than she could chew.

Translator: Sanguine