Chapter 98 Part 1: Two Nations United by Matrimony, Asking for Leave to Marry
Emperor Yu Qian first gave the palace maid by his side before a look and a slight nod, then he said ,”Yun xiaojie’s body isn’t well, quickly rise, come have a seat.”
As if she was in a furnace, Yun Qian Meng felt like she was burning from head to foot. Even the palace maid who was supporting her could feel the heat from her body through her clothes.
When she heard Emperor Yu Qian’s words, Yun Qian Meng knocked her head against the floor one more time before rising up weakly. She had not expected that the moment she rose, the world around her would start spinning, causing her to nearly tumble which worried quite a few people. Qu Fei Qing almost left her position to go help her.
“Quickly help Yun xiaojie sit.” When the Empress Dowager saw Yun Qian Meng about to lose her dignity in front of all these people, her expression suddenly sank so she had quickly ordered the two palace maids to get her seated.
Yun Qian Meng was smiling beneath the gauze, mischievously holding her tongue. Still, she knitted her brows in consternation, who knew that Xiao Nie daifu would be so cruel as to give her such strong drugs. Luckily, she had taken good care of her body these past few months. If it were the old Yun Qian Meng, she would have not been able to resist the potency of this drug.
Stiff from her illness she discontentedly sat down and felt from all around the feelings of friendliness, worry, envy, ridicule, along with a few other looks. But even in the grip of illness and with her body so weak, Yun Qian Meng did not lose her unflustered and calm demeanor. The people who saw her face could not help but wonder how she could sit so calmly in her seat without the least bit of nerves and helplessness.
“Yun xiaojie has only caught a mere cold, why is it necessary to hide your face? Isn’t this showing disrespect to the envoys from Northern Qi?” She had just sat down when she heard Qi Jing Xuan asking severely. Separated as she was from view because of the gauze, Yun Qian Meng could still feel Qi Jing Xuan’s fierce gaze directed at her.
“Yun Qian Meng is sick and might defile the Emperor, Empress Dowager, and all the honored guests’ eyes.” The reply was weak and feeble, and came in between panting breaths. The sound of it was from someone who was obviously ill. This made Rong Yun He’s expression become worried, the creases in between his brows became very evident as he shot Qi Jing Xuan a pointed look.
“Since Yun xiaojie was invited to the Palace, everybody naturally does not care about such trifles. I still ask Yun xiaojie to show her face, so as not slight the honored guests.” Even Qi Jing Han had spoke up. He had endured some hardship at Yun Qian Meng’s hands so he naturally held resentment towards her.
Other people did not know, but Qi Jing Han was fully aware that Yun Qian Meng practiced martial arts. He did not believe that a person like her could become so weak just from a simple cold so he would not back out until he saw her face.
Qi Jing Han’s words made Yun Qian Meng’s lips behind the gauze screen curve into a sneer. She replied delicately and in a frail manner, “Tenth Prince’s words aren’t wrong, but the daughters of Western Chu care about their appearances. If one were to show a sickly face to other people, not only would it be disrespectful to the guests, it would also damage her own reputation. Tenth Prince is a respectable and honorable prince of the Northern Qi; naturally, you must understand the importance of reputation to a lady. You actually be thinking of damaging a person’s reputation deliberately.”
Even though Yun Qian Meng’s voice was weak her words were completely clear. Not only was she refusing Qi Jing Han’s demands, she was also putting a dunce cap on his head.
In that moment, the xiaojie who had been hostile towards Yun Qian Meng turned to look at Qi Jing Han with disdain instead.
After all, if they let Yun Qian Meng show her sickly face, not only would Yun Qian Meng’s reputation be ruined, even the other ladies of Western Chu might be looked upon with scorn. On ordinary days, they had their own disagreements, but when it came to their general interest they could be quite united.
“Does the Tenth Prince really wish to look upon our ladies with such scorn? Even though we are physically weak, but we know well the saying that it is better to die than to be disgraced. His highness, the Crown Prince, came here sincerely. Eldest Prince and Tenth Prince are using any means to deliberately make things difficult for an ill and delicate lady here on my Western Chu. If word were to get out, wouldn’t it make the other states laugh at us?” Qu Fei Qing had been holding Yun Qian Meng’s hand under the table and immediately discovered the alarming temperature of her palm. She had immediately became very angry at Qi Jing Xuan and Qi Jing Han, and said these firm and angry words, making the people who had thought her meek look at her in a whole new light.
“What is Qu xiaojie getting angry for? We have come from so far away, yet you still doubt our sincerity? From Qu xiaojie’s words, could it be you are instigating disharmony between our two nations’ relations?” at this moment, Qi Jing Yuan spoke lightly, but his tone carried the hint of a threat. Because of his words, the atmosphere was suddenly pervaded with a sense of hostility that even the frost of that autumn night seemed to freeze up, making people feel cold.
“Crown Prince is really quite eloquent. But still, there is no glory in winning after arguing with these delicate women.” Rong Yun He had spoken up with indifference. Everybody turned their eyes to the direction of the voice and saw this person who never used to speak up. Underneath the moonlight, one could see a look of cold detachment in his eyes.
Even though Rong Yun He’s current appearance was cold and heartless, the words he had just spoken left a good impression on the ladies present.
“Oh? Rong gongzi had such a point of view? I greatly admire this protectiveness towards the fairer sex. But if Rong gongzi were to have this way of thinking in the battlefield, then I’m afraid he would have long lost his life. Which flower are you protecting?” Qi Jing Yuan sneered as he retorted, his hawk-like gaze had a cruel glint as it swept over all the young ladies in front of him. Everybody had lowered their heads as expected, a few with more courage did not lower their heads but their complexion still paled.
“Doesn’t Crown Prince know the saying ‘reasoning follows a course, but to each his own specialization?’ Crown Prince may be very proficient in military matters, but Rong gongzi is very knowledgeable in business and trade. Rong gongzi may not be as good as Crown Prince on the former, but Rong gongzi wins against Crown Prince on the latter. Moreover, Western Chu is currently enjoying peace and prosperity, the Emperor and Empress Dowager are empathizing with the citizens. Why would they rashly unleash the army and bring about a terrible situation that could shake the foundations of the country?” Yun Qian Men was fully aware that Rong Yun He usually did not interact with people. His eloquence could probably not be on par with the Crown Prince’s, so she took advantage of the space between their breaths to reply casually.
Only Qu Fei Qing knew that Yun Qian Meng spent all the strength in her body to deliver each word. The hand she held in her own had tensed into a fist, making Qu Fei Qing’s heart ache.
“Yun Qian Meng is still eloquent in her illness. It makes bengong doubt whether the sickness is real or fake.” Qi Jing Yuan once again shot his eyes towards Yun Qian Meng, who remained with her back straight in her seat. Even though her face was covered by the veil, one could still feel the piercing gaze from her black eyes.
Qi Jing Yuan’s mouth curved up into a bloodthirsty smile. He was about to speak but Rong gui fei, with a smile on her face, suddenly said, “Emperor, let us all watch the singing and dancing. The singing and dancing had stopped and we were only left with idle chatter.”
After saying this, Rong gui fei turned to look at her younger brother but only saw that his expression was one that said he did not want to get involved. She sighed lightly but resumed her dignified expression and sat elegantly in her seat.
Emperor Yu Qian looked at her flawless profile, then nodded towards the Chief Eunuch. Soon, music could be heard.
The mood in the Imperial Garden then eased up. Various officials raised their cups for a toast and chatted with each other cheerfully.
Yun Qian Meng slowly unclenched her fist and smiled at Qu Fei Qing, “Biaojie, I’m fine.”
Qu Fei Qing did not believe her and eyed the faintly red skin on the back of Yun Qian Meng’s hand. She said with concern, “How can you be fine when your temperature is so hot? Those three from the Northern Qi are narrow-minded and petty. Previously, it was the three of them that breached the capital and murdered those people. Now, they are sitting there, satisfied with themselves as if their actions were justifiable, as if nothing had happened at all. They are really so shameful.”
Yun Qian Meng listened to the complaints of this da xiaojie of ancient times and could not help cracking a small smile. She replied in a calm manner, “Biaojie, there is no need to get riled up. Even though they bullied us weak women, we were still not taken advantage of. There are many important officials present, how could they let the Northern Qi be impudent to us?”
Qu Fei Qin calmed down a little after hearing Yun Qian Meng’s consolation. She placed her own swallow’s nest in front of Yun Qian Meng and said with concern, “Have some of this swallow’s nest. You can’t drink wine while your body is in this condition. Taking care of the body is what is most important.”
Yun Qian Meng picked up the cup of swallow’s nest soup and gently nodded.
While the two of them were speaking, a commotion broke out on the women’s side. Yun Qian Meng lifted her eyes to see a young lady in purple robes walking over to them.
“An interesting show happened while you were not here earlier.” Qu Fei Qing had naturally seen Qi Ling’er walking over and quickly explained to Yun Qian Meng in a soft voice, “She is the number one beauty in Northern Qi, Princess Qi Ling’er. After her dance earlier, she must now have all the men prostrating themselves beneath her pomegranate robes. It may have lead to Hai Tian, who performed afterwards, making some mistakes. Her performance of the <> was barely satisfactory that those princes form the Northern Qi even ridiculed her.”
When she heard this, Yun Qian Meng’s black eyebrows slightly raised underneath her veil as her eyes looked at Qi Ling’er again. From the way she carried herself, one could tell that she was an Imperial Princess and was very well educated in matters of etiquette.
Looking back at Qi Ling’er’s figure and face, it was certainly accurate to call her a devastating beauty. Another look at Hai Tian revealed that she appeared to have some hidden indignation between her brows. It must be that good-looking girls would have this look when they encountered an even more beautiful girl.
“Qi Ling’er greets Hai Tian junzhu. Junzhu’s name has spread across the Northern Qi, acclaimed by all as a talented and beautiful lady. Ling’er pays respects to junzhu.” After Qi Ling’er slowly made her way to Hai Tian, she spoke in a warm and raised the cup of wine in her hand at Hai Tian.
These easy-going actions did not diminish Qi Ling’er’s status in people’s eyes. In fact, it made people feel that she was well educated, as it exhibited her dignity and manners even more.
Hai Tian was naturally also quite skilled in matters of keeping up appearances.
She held back the urge to reject Qi Ling’er’s gesture and just smiled at her good-naturedly. When Qi Ling’er had reached the front of her table, Hai Tian stood up.
When she heard Qi Ling’er compliment her, Hai Tian’s lips curved into a breathtaking smile. In a calmer yet cold tone, she replied, “Princess praises too much. By following the herd and repeating what everybody says, no one would know how much truth there is in words. Only today did Hai Tian comprehend that the world is a big place. Princess’ dance made Hai Tian feel ashamed, so how can I be praised by the Princess? I also raise my cup to you.”
After speaking, the two of them raised their cups and drank the osmanthus flower wine with equally smiling expressions.
Yun Qian Meng listened to the conversation as she held the cup of swallow’s nest in front of her, and could not help but find funny. Hai Tian must already despise Qi Ling’er so much, but she still needed to put up with appearances and act with the bearing of a daughter of a noble family. It must really be a bother for her.
Qi Ling’er handed the cup to her maid who poured some more wine into it, then she walked towards Yun Qian Meng’s seat.
Qu Fei Qing immediately pulled at Yun Qian Meng’s cloak in warning.
Yun Qian Meng had long felt Qi Ling’er’s gaze. She set the silver spoon down and let a maid pour her a cup of water. By the time Qi Ling’er had arrived in front of her, she was already prepared, causing Qu Fei Qing to inwardly admire her.
“Yun Qian Meng greets Princess Qi Ling’er. Qian Meng had arrived late. Would the Princess please forgive me for using water instead of wine to propose a toast to Princess.” Yun Qian Meng did not wait for Qi Ling’er to open her mouth and had immediately spoken before Qi Ling’er could. Her voice was weak but it made Qi Ling’er who had been about to propose a toast stare dumbly for a moment. She could only allow Yun Qian Meng to proceed and drink the water as she drank her own cup of sweet liquor.
Qi Ling’er had no intention to leave after passing the wine cup to her maid. She looked at Yun Qian Meng’s delicate appearance and then said with some concern, “Can Yun xiaojie dine in this condition? Even though this is my first meeting with Yun xiaojie, while in the Northern Qi I have heard Tenth brother speak of Yun xiaojie, so I do not feel very unfamiliar with you.”
Qi Ling’er seemed to have the intention to chat for a while, so Yun Qian Meng placed a hand on the table to support herself as she rose from her seat. She rallied her spirits and said to Qi Ling’er, “Qian Meng’s name is not well-known. I do not have the reach of Hai Tian junzhu’s fame, nor the spread of Princess’ splendid name. Qian Meng is only a girl that stays in her chambers, with no chance to meet with outside men. Could it be that Tenth Prince was mistaken?”
Qi Ling’er laughed lightly, her eyes suddenly narrowed and she said in a lower voice, “Whether or not somebody is mistaken, when Yun xiaojie removes her mask, wouldn’t the whole truth be revealed? If Yun xiaojie has no energy, I can have a maid assist Yun xiaojie.”
Qi Ling’er’s personal maid then took a step forward and extended her hand to pull off gauze hat…
“How presumptuous!” Qu Fei Qing had spoken up without thinking. She was about to hurry towards Yun Qian Meng’s to protect her but suddenly felt a cold wind rush by. A figure in dark green suddenly appeared like a ghost beside Qi Ling’er and a distinct large hand grabbed the maid’s shoulder. That servant girl was then kicked, causing her to fall onto her knees before Yun Qian Meng.