HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR!!! May all of us have lots of luck for the year of the Dog!!!
Edited by Tnyhy
Chapter 125: Compelled to Compete (Part 1)
The tribute banquet was filled with merriment and everyone were toasting with one another, suddenly making it as if it was a peaceful scene. It was only at the noble guests’ area that Emperor Wen Hui spoke to the Crown Prince of Qin, HuangFu Hao, who was somewhat restraining fear. When this was seen by others, naturally they were well aware of it.
Among the three countries, Qin, Great Liang and Ming Qi, the Ming Qi was the weakest, followed by the Qin country and the Great Liang was the strongest. That Emperor Yong Le’s actions were always valiant, which made the Qin country and the Ming Qi to feel fear and, so they would be very respectful to this Prince Rui of the Great Liang. As for HuangFu Hao, when he was speaking to Prince Rui, there were many words of probing.
Most of the female guests’ eyes were stuck on this Prince Rui, each and every action and movement from Prince Rui warmed their hearts and delighted their eyes. There were no shortage of outstanding males in Ming Qi, just like Fu Xiu Yi, but in front of this Prince Rui, all of them were not as elegant and noble looking, and instead seemed shoddy.
Even though Luo Tan loved beautiful people but she had the temperament of a gust of wind, so she was soon attracted by the delicate and delicious food, happily trying this and that.
Because the tribute feast does not distinguished between male and female guests, the entire official family sat together. Luo Ling also sat near Shen Miao’s and when he saw that Shen Miao was not eating, he placed a snowflake cake onto Shen Miao’s plate and warmly said, “Biao Younger Sister eat something, else one will not have energy to return.”
Shen Qiu originally wanted to give Shen Miao a piece, but Luo Ling had pre-empted his attempt, and he did not know where to put the snowflake cake in this chopsticks. His bowl was already full, and moreover what kind of man would eat a snowflake cake? He thought for a moment before putting it in front of Feng An Ning, who was sitting nearest to Shen Miao.
Feng An Ning was overwhelmed by the favour as she accepted it and said her thanks. But she did not eat it and was looking at the snowflake cake in a daze.
But just at this moment, one heard HuangFu Hao suddenly speaking, “BenGong heard that the Formidable Great General, General Shen, has returned to the capital a few days before. The name of the Formidable Great General was one that BenGong always hear about, but do not know if one have the honour to see?”
When the remarks were spoken, the lively banquet suddenly quietened down.
The Crown Prince of the Qin country wanted to see Shen Xin? What was the meaning of it?
Shen Xin and the Crown Prince of the Qin were practically not related at all, but now one of them was the Great General that Emperor Wen Hui recalled back to the Ding capital, and the other was the Qin country’s Crown Prince, both had very sensitive identities. Everyone could not help but look at Emperor Wen Hui’s facial expression.
Emperor Wen Hui’s smile remained unchanged, as if this was just a very small request and he looked at Shen Xin, “Beloved Official Shen.”
Shen Xin quickly got up and bowed to HuangFu Hao before saying, “This General greets Your Highness the Crown Prince.”
HuangFu Hao smiled, “One had long heard that General Shen is brave and fierce without rival, that even in the border one could also transform a scattered army to shape. When the Shen family’s army returned to the capital, the commoners were even cheering.” He then gave a long sigh, “If my Great Qin could have such a military talent, one need not worry for a hundred of years.”
Emperor Wen Hui’s pupils shrank unnoticed as the ministers’ expressions in the banquet changed, and their gazes became extremely complex as they looked at Shen Xin.
To say that Shen Xin was able to connect the scattered army in a short period of time, might sound like praising Shen Xin’s extraordinary ability, but obscurely mentioned about the danger of Shen Xin. Wind damages the flourishing trees in the forest and that had been the logic since ancient times. To have such high regards by the commoners, for an Emperor who expelled the General out of the capital, it meant that between the Imperial family and Shen Xin, the commoners had chosen to stand at Shen Xin’s side. No Imperial family would be able to tolerate subordinates who had a more popular approval than themselves.
As for the last sentence, it was the real push that placed Shen Xin to the edge of where the wind and waves were the fiercest. HuangFu Hao was poaching Shen Xin in front of Emperor Wen Hui. No matter how much ulterior motives the Ming Qi’s officials harboured, they would always have unanimously band together against external enemies, so the gazes that were looking at Shen Xin, were like looking at a living General who committed treason.
Shen Miao’s gaze deepened as she coldly stared at HuangFu Hao.
HuangFu Hao was someone who likes to watch others in trouble, as if there was a wickedness in the blood of the Qin country’s Imperial family. Currently Shen Xin was not even antagonistic towards the Qin country, but HuangFu Hao still refused to let them off. This was perhaps a destined hatred.
Emperor Wen Hui had yet to speak when one heard a soft chuckle. Everyone looked towards the sound and saw that among the noble guests, Prince Rui had placed the wine cup in his hands down and looked towards HuangFu Hao.
His voice was deep and pleasant to hear and there was also a touch of lazy intoxication, bringing out a little bewitching power, but his words were not polite at all.
He said, “Since Brother HuangFu admire General Shen that much, one may discuss with the Emperor to obtain, and if the Emperor is generous, he would not disagree.”
This was clearly pushing the boat with the currents and when it fell into others ears, there were thousands of feelings.
How could HuangFu Hao really want Shen Xin? It was only to push Shen Xin to the edge of the cliff and watch him walk in trouble. If Emperor Wen Hui really gave Shen Xin to him then due to the Qin’s face, they could only support Shen Xin well. But who knew if Shen Xin was Emperor Wen Hui’s spy? The Qin country and the Ming Qi were still in a mutual relationship, and neither was willing to place a not trustable person under their eyes, and look for trouble all day long.
Emperor Wen Hui also thought about this point and the peculiar look in his gaze gradually dispersed, and his previous appearance was back on. He laughed, “All under Heavens cherish the talented. If the Crown Prince insist on wanting General Shen, Zhen can only follow others’ precept, as it is the sincerest form of respect.”
This time it was HuangFu Hao that was placed in an awkward position. He was very excited but now was caught in a more adverse situation. It was not possible to bring this person back but to end the matter like this, it would be as if one had lost face. All this happened because of that Prince Rui’s words. HuangFu Hao glanced secretly at the man with a mask and almost engraved that person in his eyes.
Princess Ming An was together with HuangFu Hao and seeing that he was in a difficult situation at this moment, naturally thought of how to unbind him from the situation. It is just that for one, she could not afford to offend Prince Rui and two, She cannot afford to offend the Great Liang’s people. Her entire stomach of fire was poured towards the Shen family and as she looked at Shen Xin, she suddenly started laughing.
Her voice was delicate and originally sounded sweet but at this moment with her attitude, it was a bit sharp. She said, “How can one dare to take such a Great General like General Shen back. Such bravery would make BenGong’s and Older Brother Crown Prince’s head ache. It will be better to bring Young Lady Shen back. One heard that Young Lady Shen is the pearl of General Shen’s palm and a beauty. One do not know if our Great Qin have such a fortune?”
Luo Tan and Feng An Ning suddenly grabbed onto Shen Miao’s hands and their eyes became vigilant. Luo Ling slightly moved, Shen Qiu’s and Luo Xue Yan’s faces turned grave as Shen Xin looked ferociously at Princess Ming An.
Shen Miao however was looking down at the teacup in front of her, as if she did not hear Princess Ming An’s words. She only watched the tea cup, as the tea spinned on the surface and slowly sank down to the bottom of the cup.
A General of a country could not be taken away, but to want a daughter of an official was something as easy as a breeze. If one wanted to have good relations with the Qin country, there were instances of marrying a Princess or official’s daughter over. But no one was willing to enter a foreign country let along marry, as there would not be any help from one’s father or brothers, so if one really suffered grievances, one could only swallow it down themselves.
Shen Xin smiled, “Little Daughter is naughty and mischievous and cannot afford to have the Princess’s interest.” The meaning behind those words were to bluntly refusing it.
Emperor Wen Hui’s eyes were far-reaching, but he did not intend to say anything to resolve this conflict. Shen Xin had a straightforward character but once it involved Shen Miao, he would take an extremely tough stance.
At the other side when Shen Yue saw this, there was rejoice of She Miao’s misfortune in her eyes. She could not wait to let Shen Miao marry to the Qin country, and it would be best to marry her to an old man as a concubine, and torture her to death in a foreign land.
That Princess Ming An did not expect that Shen Xin would not give her any face and be rejected, so some unhappiness appeared on her face. Because her words had passed the matter about Shen Xin over, HuangFu Hao could not continue and also was too lazy to do so. He sat by himself, and drank leisurely while watching Princess Ming An make things difficult for the Shen family.
Princess Ming An said, “One cannot say that, everyone knows that General Shen’s daughter have both integrity and talent. So is it Young Lady Shen that look down on BenGong, and is unwilling to greet BenGong at all?”
To place such a big hat of discourteous on, even if Shen Miao was trying to cover the matter up, she would not be able to do so. She simply stood up magnanimously and greeted Princess Ming An, “This official daughter greets Your Princess Highness.”
She suddenly stood up and everyone’s gaze landed on Shen Miao’s.
Two years was enough to make a lot of changes. This include everyone’s deeply engraved impression of the idiotic daughter, as this was just too far away and one gradually became indifferent. The young lady that stood up in front, was a total different person from their memories. The Lilac purple robes highlighted the fairness of her jade like complexion. Even after spending two years in the Xiao Chun City, the sandy winds did not worn down her skin, but instead she grew up to look more noble. Her eyebrows were as delicate and beautiful as a painting, and her gestures were so dignified. Soft and strong. Both were strangely fused into her body, and appeared as a type of dignified grace.
Even the Empress beside the Emperor, did not seemed to have her grace.
Princess Ming An frowned. She did not expect that Shen Miao had such good appearance and bearing. She had long known of Shen Miao’s reputation of an idiot, thus she brought her up as a topic to embarrass the Shen family. She had never thought that she was lifting a rock to smash her own feet.
However, for Princess Ming An to be Princess Ming An, she has some abilities. She immediately raised her eyebrows, and looked up and down at Shen Miao like she was sizing something up before saying, “Young Lady Shen has a countenance of a flower, face like the moon, indeed an outstanding beauty. No wonder General Shen treats Young Lady Shen as a pearl in his palm and hid. One did not know with such good appearance, which family would have the fortune to marry Young Lady?”
These words were overstepping and Shen Xin immediately stared like a tiger. Although he must take into account the other person’s position, he could not tolerate others say things about his daughter. Just as he was about to speak, that Princess Ming An diverged from the topic, “One think that Young Lady Shen also has outstanding abilities?”
When those words were spoken, everyone in the hall was excited. Yi Pei Lan and the few were resisting smiling with great difficult.
What talent did Shen Miao had? That was something everyone knew very well. These two years she had gone to the Xiao Chun City, and that was a frontier area with so many military people. One fear that she had become more vulgar.
Shen Miao looked down slightly, “This official’s daughter is of humble talent and shallow learning. The Princess have praised too much.”
“Young Lady Shen need not be modest.” Princess Ming An simply smiled, “Speaking of which, when BenGong was in the Qin country, one heard a few years ago that during the academy examinations, Young Lady Shen achieved a first rank for archery. When BenGong heard it, one’s heart was moved. Now upon seeing Young Lady Shen, one thought about this old matter.”
Shen Miao’s head was bowed and she remained silent. Luo Xue Yan’s and Shen Qiu’s hearts started to be anxious. One would be blind if one could not see that Princess Ming An was deliberately finding faults, and targeting Shen Miao.
Speaking of that, everyone thought about the time during the Chrysanthemum banquet’s academy examinations, Shen Miao and Cai Lin competed in archery and the third arrow that was shot made Cai Lin speechless and put him in a sorry state. It was exactly at that time, that a completely different Shen Miao appeared in front of everyone for the first time.
Just nice at the tribute dinner, Cai Daren and Cai Lin were present, and Cai Lin’s face immediately became red. Now Cai Lin was two years older and had grown up. Those little grudges with Shen Miao were already long thrown in the back of his mind as time goes on, and he was also no longer obsessed with Shen Yue. It could be said that one smile can make one forget about gratitude and revenge, but he did not expect that one’s old matter was mentioned in front of everyone, making him incredibly embarrassed.
Cai Lin was not the only one that was thinking about matters of the past. At the corner of the tribute banquet, the Marquis of Lin An, Xie Ding, was sitting with his two sons. The current Marquis of Lin An looked much older and no longer had high-spirits, that in such an event like this, he only wanted to find a quiet corner. Unexpectedly with the mention about the matter of the academy examinations, he then remembered that at that time Xie Jing Xing was present, and surprisingly went up the stage and beaten his two shu sons out of their horses. Upon returning to the residence he scolded Xie Jing Xing in fury but in his heart, he was proud of Xie Jing Xing.
Thinking of olden times, his heart gotten more painful and difficult to tolerate. Xie Ding’s face was filled with dejectedness and Xie Chang Wu and Xie Chang Chao, who were beside, saw this and the same flash of dark clouds appeared in their eyes.
Princess Ming An still continued speaking, “BenGong’s heart have the interest today and want to compete with Young Lady Shen, so why not compete in archery? Just treat it as it is a game.”
This remark was strange and absurd. Emperor Wen Hui laughed first, “Young Lady Shen is a delicate female, so how could one know anything about archery?”
“Your Majesty do not know.” Princess Ming An said with a laugh, “Originally Young Lady Shen’s grace was even heard of in the Great Qin. It is said that when the father is a lion, the daughter cannot be a dog. General Shen is so incredibly brave and courageous, so Young Lady Shen would definitely be an extraordinary female. Moreover, Young Lady Shen is a pretty and delicate female, but is not BenGong also a female? Or could it be that Your Majesty find that our Great Qin cannot compete on an equal level with the Ming Qi?”
Princess Ming An looked charming but her words were very vicious. In one sentence she even brought out the entire nation of Ming Qi and if one did not compete, it meant that the Ming Qi looked down on the Great Qin. At such a time, how would Emperor Wen Hui let a gap appear between the Great Qin and the Ming Qi? He looked towards Shen Miao at once and said seemingly warm, “What does Young Lady Shen think?”
Shen Xin clenched his fists. He really wanted to directly reject this rude request for Shen Miao. But if one were to reject, it would only let Princess Ming An have a justifiable reason to use.
It was however Shen Miao who glance at Princess Ming An and said as she lowered her head, “The Princess’ commands, this official daughter dare not not comply.”
‘Dare not not comply’. At the end she had indicated the reluctance in her heart as if Princess Ming An was a bully.
Princess Ming An heard the meaning behind Shen Miao’s words, and her expression sank before she thought of something and giggled delicately. “One heard that during the Academy Examinations, Young Lady Shen and the opponent gambled their life to compete, so why not we too also compete by gambling our lives too?”
“No!” Shen Xin did not wait for Shen Miao to speak, and flatly refused it.