Hijacking on the Road

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With this lobbying, nearly 80 percent of the maternal families of the imperial concubines in the palace had become part of the eighth prince’s faction in just a few short days. They were fully willing to support the eighth prince and to do all that they could to suppress the ninth prince and Imperial Concubine Yun. In the blink of an eye, the eighth prince, who had looked down and out, was back to full power once more. He was not careless about this matter. He was not worried about losing the money, as he had brought back more money from various areas. The profits from his businesses over the years had allowed him to have more than what was in the Sheng Palace. Especially in the South, his wealth was even more spectacular.

With money in hand, even if Xuan Tian Mo lay in his palace to recover from his injuries, he still had quite a bit of momentum. He just did not believe it. What part of the throne could be not competed for? He, Xuan Tian Mo, did not have anything that he was worse than old ninth in. If there really was anything, it would be the favor that their mothers received. But this was also to his benefit. He wanted to ask the people of the world. Do you want an emperor that relied on his own efforts to work for the world or one that relied on the favor that their mother received to become the emperor?

On the 26th of the first month, a female guard stood in front of Imperial Concubine Yun and expressionlessly told her about the happenings inside the capital. When the matter of the eighth prince contacting the maternal families of the other imperial concubines was brought up, Imperial Concubine Yun shrugged and smiled: “What were those old guys doing years earlier? They’ve finally thought to express their dissatisfaction of their daughters’ treatment? But it is indeed like that. From a moral point of view, I stole their husband. We are not in the right.”

“Oh! Imperial concubine, you must not think like this.” One of the old grannies at Imperial Concubine Yun’s side heard this and quickly said: “The competition for favor in the imperial palace is like this. Morals are completely unrelated to this. This old servant has been in the palace for a long time and has seen all manner of things. No matter how much favor you receive, you have not harmed anyone. But before you arrived, there were people that died and got hurt for the sake of being favored. Although our emperor has nine sons, it was not as if there were no daughters. Unfortunately, not a single one was born. They all died in the womb. What was the reason? Of course, it was the battle for favor. That’s why you must not feel sorry for anyone. As this old one sees it, it was imperial concubine that saved them. At the very least, there were not many that got hurt or died during the last 20 years in the inner palace.”

The head palace maid, Su Yu, also nodded along, saying: “That’s right. Imperial concubine, the inner palace does not have anything resembling morals. It’s the same as a battlefield. The strongest and fittest will survive.”

“Is that so.” Imperial Concubine Yun faintly asked but did not hope that anyone would truly respond. She understood the reasoning, but she did not like this imperial palace. That was why she found everything to be unlikeable, and she was unable to agree with the way of survival in the palace. “Su Yu, go to the Board of Astronomy. Last time, Jian Zheng did not finish telling the story of the twin stars!”

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Su Yu facepalmed. The Board of Astronomy was a department of the palace that was both sacred and secretive. Even the Emperor valued it greatly, but when it came to Imperial Concubine Yun, it was a place that was responsible for telling stories. There was nothing that Su Yu could do and could only grit her teeth to go and invite them. As expected, they ended up listening to Jian Zheng ramble on once more.

But Jian Zheng did not dare to ramble on like this in front of Imperial Concubine Yun, and he obediently stood there to tell the story of the twin stars, telling Imperial Concubine Yun: “The star of the phoenix is bright and dazzling. Although it has already left the capital, it is still very lucky. There is no need for imperial concubine to worry. As for the other star of the twin stars, it is also blooming. The two stars are battling, and the main star will certainly win!”

In the Southwest, Feng Yu Heng’s group had already reached Yun Province’s Kun Zhou. Continuing forward would be Hai Zhou and Yu Zhou. They would quickly be approaching Ji An Prefecture’s border.

Because they had been delayed in Shu Zhou for a few days, they had been continuing their travels overnight and only stopped when the horses needed rest. They would also frequently sleep in their carriages at night and continue their journey upon waking up the next day.

On this day, they arrived in a small village. Wang Chuan asked Feng Yu Heng: “Young Miss, how about we find a peasant’s household and borrow it for the night?! There is a limit to the conditions in the village, but I think that taking a bath and wiping down should be fine.”

Feng Yu Heng also lifted the curtain to take a look outside; however, she was not too optimistic about it. “This village is too impoverished.” There were, at most, 20 households, and they were all crudely made houses that had two rooms at best. Even if they borrowed them, where would they receive so many people?

Wang Chuan looked for a while and felt that her earlier suggestion might not work. She could only helplessly say: “It seems that tonight will be spent in the carriage again. It’s fine for us servants, but it’s Young Miss and Third Young Miss that will suffer.”

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Feng Yu Heng waved her hand, “There’s nothing to it. Thinking of when we had gone to fight in Qian Zhou, the conditions were worse than they are now.”

Xiang Rong also said: “Right, right, I am not that delicate. I am able to endure any hardship.” In truth, she already felt very blessed to be able to come with her second sister. No matter what sort of place she lived in or what sort of days she lived, it truly did not matter.

Wang Chuan nodded and did not say anything else. She just called for the carriage to stop then brought Huang Quan to take a look around. When she returned, she reported to Feng Yu Heng: “Young Miss, let’s just stop in the middle of the village. Wang Lin will go and greet a few of the families. They don’t have any room in their houses to rest, but they can lend us their stoves. In any case, we will be able to make a reasonable dinner.”

This was a good idea, as Feng Yu Heng said: “Take note of what our carriages have. Or just use some money to buy some stuff from the villagers. It’s fine to give a bit more. It looks like they are quite poor. With us eating their food, we should at least allow them to buy some more food.”

Shan Cha felt a little embarrassed to be sitting in the carriage on her own, thus she took the initiative to go and take care of some work with Wang Chuan and Huang Quan. Xiang Rong also felt that this was fresh, thus she also went out to take a look. Returning not long after, she had a bitter expression: “Second sister, it’s too impoverished. The rice stores of each family are completely empty. Not to mention large grains, but they could not even scrape together a single bowl of brown rice. These villagers said that their daily grains are only enough for one day. They need to think of something else the next day. We only arrived after nightfall. Even if we bought all of the rice that they have, it would not be enough to feed one person.”

Feng Yu Heng was speechless and stood up to stand outside the carriage and take a look. She just saw that the village had mountains to two of its sides. Even if they relied on eating food from the mountain, they should not be this poor. Even during the Winter, practically all of the men in the village knew how to hunt. Eating some hunted pheasant or trading it for money, they should not be living such a poor life? Moreover, Yun Province’s Kun Zhou was not as cold as the capital. The trees in the mountain had already begun to bud. It looked like a very rich mountain range.

She was completely puzzled. Getting down from the carriage, she personally went to chat with one of the peasant families. The peasant family had an old woman, a young woman and a three-year-old boy. The old woman saw her and very apologetically said: “There really isn’t any place in the house to stay. There are only two rooms, and one room does not have a bed and can’t be lived in.”

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The young woman also explained: “Our village is one that was built on the side of the road. There will often be travelers that want to stay the night, but the villagers are too poor. None of the families can afford to build more rooms. Fortunately, you have carriages. If you truly can’t continue, you can stay inside for a night. It’s just that we can’t provide any help with food. We can only afford to eat twice a day, and we can’t eat enough each meal.” She spoke with a bit of embarrassment and pulled the child closer. Feng Yu Heng took a look at the child. He was very thin, and it was clear that he was not getting enough nutrients.

She asked the old woman: “Are there just the three of you in this home? Why have I not seen any of the men?”

The old woman said: “My son went to Kun Zhou to work and can earn around 200 copper coins each month. He returns once at the end of each month. He should be back in a few more days.”

“Going to work in Kun Zhou?” Feng Yu Heng continued to ask: “Do all of the men in the village go to work? I see that your village is wedged between two mountain ranges. Just eating off of the mountain would be pretty good. Why do you need to go so far to work for 200 copper coins?” What could be done with 200 copper coins? She truly did not have any concept of such small amounts of money.

“Hah.” The old woman heard this question and helplessly sighed, “It has to be said that we have gone into the mountains for food. In the past, it’s not like we haven’t done this before. Our days were not bad. We could go into the mountains to get wild vegetables and fruits. Mushrooms could even be found after it rained. From time to time, some wild animals could be hunted, and it was quite good. But ever since the bandits moved into the mountain over a year ago, not a single person has dared to go into the mountains. Even the firewood is fetched from the foot of the mountain. This has left the small mountain village needing to be conservative when using firewood.”

“Bandits?” She frowned and turned toward the mountain once more; however, the mountain was vast and the moon was dim. Nothing could truly be seen. “Do the bandits come out to hurt people?” She asked the old woman, “Or will the people that enter the mountains get killed?”

The old woman thought for a bit then said: “I have not seen them hurting any villagers. As for whether or not they would kill people that venture into the mountains, nobody has ever tried because nobody has ever dared to go up after finding out that bandits had moved in. We will often see the merchants that were kidnapped from the roads. As for the villagers… Young Miss has also seen it. With how poor we are here, even if they wanted to rob us, I wonder if they don’t even know where to start.” While she spoke, she took a look at Feng Yu Heng’s carriages and helplessly said: “Young Miss, you must be careful. With so many carriages, it’s likely that they will be targeted by those bandits. Hah, the roads are not safe!”

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“Mother.” The young woman tugged at the old woman, “It’s already late. Let’s go back inside.” While she spoke, she pulled the old woman and the young boy back into the room. At the same time, she said to Feng Yu Heng: “Apologies, we truly can’t help you. Take care of yourselves.” After saying this, the three returned inside their room.

Wang Chuan helplessly watched them hastily close their door and spread her hands to say: “It seems that we won’t be able to borrow their stove. Even firewood is scarce. What is there for us to use?”

Feng Yu Heng smiled bitterly, “Forget it, let’s go and collect our own firewood. Just make do with whatever we have in our carriage. We’ll make up for it and eat a good meal once we reach Hai Zhou.”

Huang Quan stuck out her tongue, “That’s all we can do! Young miss, don’t worry. We still have some millet pancakes that we bought from that small county. This servant will go into the mountains to see if there are any pheasants to hunt. A pheasant soup goes well with the pancakes. The villagers are afraid of the bandits, but we aren’t.”

Feng Yu Heng nodded, “Go ahead! Bring along a couple hidden guards. Bring back some more firewood. We will need it overnight.” After saying this, she turned to go back into the carriage. There were many food items inside her space, and she had already secretly supplemented the carriages along the way. She would add some more tonight. Pork shoulder would be inconvenient to eat, but crackers and things like that could help suppress their hunger.

But just as she turned around, she suddenly noticed a strong gust blow through the air. Feng Yu Heng subconsciously moved to the side, as a hidden weapon blew past and nearly scratched her face. But the winds brought about by the hidden weapon caused her to feel a bit of pain.

“Who’s there?”

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