Translator: Vin Editor: N/A
Pinlan Courtyard was located in the northwestern quarter of Yu Manor. Though the spot couldn’t be considered a remote one, on this bright day, not a single person could be seen there, and from time to time, there would be the chatter of birds; against the quiet background of the courtyard, their cries made the place seem even more desolate.
Yu Linglong stood at the center of the courtyard. She surveyed her surroundings and saw three main chambers, east and west wing chambers, and a collective system of long winding corridors. It was all very neat and proper. Rows of four season orchid flowers flanked the corridors, adding a touch of life to the bleak residence.
A miniature bamboo forest stood by the south wall. Every sauntering breeze would cause the bamboo stalks to rustle lightly. After an initial inspection, Yu Linglong deemed the place acceptable; it was elegant and quiet, quite suitable for living.
Mother Cui carefully observed Yu Linglong’s noncommittal expression and gave an obsequious smile, “What does Fourth Miss think?”
Without answering, Yu Linglong ascended the doorsteps to one of the main chambers and stepped in. The faint smell of dust greeted her. The floor was damp from a recent washing. She suddenly asked, “I’m guessing it’s been a while since someone last resided here?”
Mother Cui froze. Why was the Fourth Miss asking this? Could it be that she was told something?
Yu Linglong’s icy, perturbing stare fell on Mother Cui, who in turn felt her heart begin to pound against her ribcage. Mother Cui struggled to regain her composure and summoned up her courage to say, “It was not the Madam’s intention to neglect Fourth Miss. Rather, these past few days, too many things happened in the manor. Time was limited, so this courtyard was hurriedly tidied and prepared. If Fourth Miss finds this place dirty, this servant will call for another round of cleaning.”
Yu Linglong coldly harrumphed, knowing there was a catch somewhere; no doubt, this Mother Cui was feeling guilty of something. Why else would she take the initiative to clean? It almost seemed like she was afraid Yu Linglong would refuse to live in Pinlan Courtyard. The situation was definitely one of a weasel paying a New Years call to a chicken, without good intentions.
Having thought to this point, Yu Linglong was actually relieved and a bright smile blossomed on her beautiful face as she asked without warning, “How’s Sixth Sister’s injury?”
A tremor ran through Mother Cui’s heart. Who in Yu Manor didn’t know about what happened the night before? The Sixth Miss was injured, so Madam Yu ordered Fourth Miss to be injected with scorpion poison for the sake of curing the Sixth Miss. Instead of bearing a grudge, the Fourth Miss was asking about the Sixth Miss’s condition…. what did that mean?
Mother Cui pulled herself together and answered, “This servant heard that the Sixth Miss’s injury has improved. Perhaps the previous prescription took effect.”
Yu Linglong languidly strolled into the room, appearing as though she were admiring the furnishing. Internally, she sneered. Just a few days ago, the Sixth Miss had been half on her deathbed, yet today she was fine? If it were that easy, then last night, why did Madam Yu attempt to take her refined blood? Those words were simply spoken by Mother Cui to reassure herself.
Very well, Yu Linglong thought. She would like to see what these old hags had up their sleeves.
Her slender fingers ran across the cool nacre inlay of the scented rosewood table. The intricate threading rubbed against her fingertips, plunging her into a brief dream-like trance.
She really had traversed back to the ancient times, huh… From now on, this…. was her home.
“Very well, I will live here.”
At her words, the stone in Mother Cui’s heart fell away, and she hurriedly laughed, “As long as you’re satisfied, Fourth Miss. This servant will withdraw now.”
Yu Linglong nodded, and as she beckoned Xuan Cao into the room, Mother Cui quietly slipped out. It wasn’t until the daylight hit her that she finally raised her hand to wipe the cold sweat from her forehead. She didn’t know why, but in front of Yu Linglong, it always felt as though an invisible pressure was crushing her.
Every time Mother Cui lied, this invisible pressure would make her want to tremble in fear and apprehension, for Yu Linglong’s cold, cold eyes suggested they were capable of seeing through everything and anything.
Yu Linglong was nothing more than a 14-year-old girl, so why did she make her feel so unsettled? Mother Cui looked back at the quiet courtyard. Only someone who was ignorant to its background —someone like Yu Linglong— would dare settle in Pinlan Courtyard. If all goes well, then soon, another ghost would join the courtyard’s ranks.
Inside the main chamber, Xuan Cao almost couldn’t believe her eyes. She reached out to caress the exquisite drapery, and then the softness of the bed before she was able to force out, “Miss, this… am I dreaming?”
Just this morning, their living conditions had been dire, and now they were in such an orderly courtyard! Seeing Xuan Hao’s excited expression, Yu Linglong paused. This maidservant really was naive—what was so exciting about silk and satin?
Well, it was no wonder. Despite being General Yu’s —illegitimate— daughter, the former Yu Linglong had been raised by Yilan. They had lived in the capital, squeezed into a small alleyway dwelling, so how could she have seen a fine courtyard?
On the other hand, to the current Yu Linglong, Pinlan Courtyard was only passable at best. After all, how could it compare to her previous seaside villa?
Now that she was in the ancient times, she just had to make do with what she had. Anyhow, she had a feeling his place wasn’t as it seemed. She could tell that much, even thinking with her toes.
Why would Madam Yu be so kind as to let her live a comfortable life? Clearly, she had underhanded plans going underway.
The sky was gradually darkening. An all-too-familiar voice drifted in from outside, “Is the Fourth Miss present? This servant is here to deliver dinner.” Hearing that, Xuan Cao hurried out. She saw an elderly maidservant and a little girl standing there with a meal box, similar expressions of respect on their faces.
Xuan Cao was visibly moved. After being in the manor for so long, this was the first time her and her Miss had gotten a meal delivered to them. It looked like the scene her Miss caused had been effective; ah, how come the people of this huge manor were all bullies of the weak and fearful of the strong?
Xuan Cao accepted the food while thanking the elderly maidservant, but when Xuan Cao raised her head, the words died in her throat. The person standing in front of her wasn’t just anything anyone—no, it was Lifeng Nian Jiade, who had been beaten just this morning.
The wound on Lifeng Nian Jiade’s face was now wrapped in a bandage. Only half of her face could be seen and coupled with the odd smile on her face, it made for quite a perplexing sight.
“Little miss, you shouldn’t be spacing out, quickly bring the food inside, or else it’ll go cold!”
Lifeng Nian Jiade interrupted Xuan Cao’s deliberation, eliciting a forced smile from the latter. The instant Xuan Cao turned around, a chilling voice rang out, “Hold it!”
It was Yu Linglong, who stood loftily on the steps, her eyes bright and glittering in the twilight, but terrifyingly aloof and emotionless in itself.
“You two, come in here.” The simple command, spat out coldly from pale, tender lips, caused the girl behind Li Fengnian to shudder. The girl —whose eyes had been lowered the entire time— suddenly looked up in utmost fear.
If Yu Linglong hadn’t been suspicious before, she was definitely suspicious now. She was only summoning the girl into the room; was there a need to be so afraid?
Lifeng Nian Jiade bowed her head, subconsciously avoiding Yu Linglong’s oppressive gaze and tried her best to steady herself before responding, “Answering Fourth Miss, this servant still has to deliver dinner to other courtyards and will not be able to accompany Fourth Miss in her meal.”
Yu Linglong sneered. They could barely lie, yet they want to put on an act in front of her? There was definitely something wrong with the dishes.