Everybody was wondering why the emperor who would insist on holding the New Year’s Eve party in the imperial garden during this huge snowfall.
Although they had these questions in their minds, they still followed behind the palace maids. They proceeded towards the imperial garden in order according their ranks.
Upon arriving at the imperial garden, everyone was became attracted to the beautiful scenery in front of their eyes. The imperial garden was filled with seats for everybody. A layer of curtains surrounded the seats, probably to shelter them from the heavy snow coming down from the sky. The tables were already filled with a lot of fine delicacies which were continuously steaming with heat. Behind the tables the chair of the grand masters were already padded with thick layers of soft cushions. Those observant furen and xiaojies discovered that there were actually heaters placed below the tables and chairs. Even if they were staying outdoors, all of them would not get cold.
And being separated from the curtains they were still able to clearly appreciate the snowy scenery inside the imperial garden, branches by branches of winter plum blossoms embracing the snow. through their unique mystical characteristic giving off bursts of fragrance, decorating the imperial garden which was initially covered by the white snow, it formed an incredibly rare beautiful scenery.
“All xiaojie and furen, please proceed inside!” This time, the eunuch in charge spoke in a high pitched tone. Ever since he saw these picky furen and xiaojie showing their admired looks in their eyes, the eunuch in charge knew that they were truly satisfied with the banquet arrangements.
When everyone was about to take their seats, they discovered that Hai Tian and Hai Wang Fei had already preceded the others arriving at the imperial garden. At this moment the two of them were sitting on their respective seats, quietly admiring the snow scenery in front of them.
“It has been a long time since we have seen Princess He Shun!” It was not know who started it, but everybody starte to talk about Hai Tian by whispering to each other. They seemed to be very curious about this Princess He Shun who will soon leave Western Chu and set on her journey to Northern Qi.
“There’s nothing we can do about it. She is about to get married as a peace treaty to another nation. Obviously she would stay beside Hai Wang and the furen to make them feel happy for a long period of time. Oh dear, what more can we obtain from a noble identity, might as well be like us living in a peaceful life, at least we will not suffer from the pain of being separated from your own flesh and blood!” Another lady commented in a depressed tone, looking at Hai Tian and Hai Wang Fei with her eyes filled with sympathy.
“You don’t know anything! Princess He Shun has attained the title of a princess from her old position being a Jun Zhu with just one leap. Any ordinary person wouldn’t be able to enjoy such special glory! Not that even the emperor himself also treated Hai Wang Ye and Hai Jun Wang with due respect. Using a daughter in exchange for the honor of the entire family. This was truly a profitable transaction!” Another lady with a slightly sharp tone of voice suddenly interfered, looking at Hai Tian with her envious eyes.
“Take a look at that overcoat in her body which is made of peacock feathers. It was part of the tribute being offered for this year. There is only one of this in the whole world. It was knitted using peacock feathers paired with golden thread. It’s really not easy to make so it is truly a priceless treasure! Now that it is being worn by Princess He Shun, it proves that His Majesty is indeed being generous to Hai Wang Ye’s family!” This time the person speaking these words was actually Qu Yan’s wife, Tan Xiang Lian. Qu Yan, being the Minister of Revenue, evidently knew these things being offered as tribute very well enough. Tan Xiang Lian was also the daughter of high official of the Ministry of Revenue. Ever since she was young she had already gotten a lot of access to these precious treasure. She now spoke very frankly in a self-assured manner.
When she was said these words, she appeared to have inadvertently cast a glance at Yun Qian Meng. Her eyes seemed somewhat provoking and pleased with herself.
Ji Shu Yu and others naturally noticed Tan Xiang Lian’s dirty tricks. Facing such kind of person, even if one was to argue with her, it would be no more than lowering one’s own status. Yun Qian Meng was not someone who would easily fall to the tricks. Watching Madam Tan talking about the benevolence given to the Hai Wang family by the emperor, the corner of Yun Qian Meng’s mouth just sneered. Her eyes looking askance at Tan, without the slightest intention of shrinking back, on the contrary Madam Tan’s heart suddenly tensed up. She recalled Yun Qian Meng’s husband was indeed Chu Fei Yang. She then regained her gaze feeling a bit embarrassed, shutting her mouth and not to discuss about this matter ever again.
Everyone initially planned to continuously listen to Madam Tan’s discussion, but seeing her shutting her mouth this time, one by one feeling their interest waning. The sat back in their respective seats inside the feast once again.
And Yun Qian Meng just sighed, feeling that Chu Fei Yang’s name was truly useful in these situations. She herself just lightly shot a glance at Madam Tan, making her curb her arrogance.
“Are your feet feeling a lot better, cousin?” Looking at Qu Fei Qing who was sitting beside her, Yun Qian Meng asked softly. Her eyes was fixated at the Qu Fei Qing’s feet which were hidden inside her dress.
“It’s nothing! After the pain it was really nothing serious! I……” While speaking, Qu Fei Qing suddenly went stiff as she stopped speaking. Her eyes were staring at the entrance of the imperial garden.
Seeing her expression was a bit strange, Yun Qian Meng glanced following her gaze. Seeing the hundred officials walked in one by one led by Chu Fei Yang, Hai Wang, Chen Wang and the others, and among the crowd, she found Nie Huai Yuan’s figure as expected.
Seeing all the men entering the garden behind the curtains, a group of ladies blushed with shyness. But since they were being concealed up by the curtains, having no time to deal with their shyness, one by one they opened their eyes wide staring at the men they admired, carefully observing them, exposing the delightedl smiles on their faces.
Those furen were also opening wide their eyes finding a compatible youthful handsome type of men that their daughters will deserve. After which they secretly remembered their names, intending to inspect and find out more information about these men when they got home.
And those who followed behind the hundred officials as they entered the place, were actually this year’s first, second and third placers for imperial examinations of both literary and military exams.
The six of them were all young and able individuals. Their relatively good tall and straight bodies immediately led to the heated discussion among the furen and xiaojie, but, as compared to the xiaojie who rather consider the talents and good-looking aspects, the furen valued their family backgrounds.
Among them, the outstanding person with the best family background and appearance was Han Shao Mian. He became the furens’ best candidate as their son-in-law!
“Cousin, look, that first placer for literary exams, was he the young man we saw in the long street previously?” Being different from the others, Yun Qian Meng’s eyes landed immediately on Han Che. His facial expression looked quietly proud and aloof, feeling a bit detached from the strangers, but he was not someone who looked arrogant and conceited. With him being proud and aloof must be due to his self-confidence, and it was not being scornful towards other people.
Such kind of person immediately stood out from the group of candidates who were smiling as they came in. Even that Han Shao Mian with a gentle face and charming expression, was also almost being superseded by him.
“Hey, it can’t be him can it?” Her attention being not so focused on Han Che, after seeing that familiar face, Qu Fei Qing got slightly astonished.
Seeing her attention being shifted towards Han Che, Yun Qian Meng continued “During that time, we only knew him as a down and out but intelligent scholar. I di no’t expect him to obtain the title of Imperial Top Scorer, this man is truly incredible!”
Qu Fei Qing smiled at Yun Qian Meng’s exclamations. She held up the teacup in front of her then gently lifted open the lid, looking at the steaming hot green tea water inside, she gracefully took a sip, then she spoke “But I heard elder brother mention that this Han Che has been staying inside Chen Wang Fu during this recent period of time. I’m afraid……”
Even if they appreciated a person like Han Che, if he had already decided on which camp he was going to set his foot on, perhaps he will just provoke hostility between both sides.
Yun Qian Meng just laughed innocently, afterwhich she spoke “Since he is a talented person, then he would definitely attract the attention of someone who cherished all the talents! Besides, I think Han Che is just better than tha. He is unlikely to be someone who would fawn upon the rich and powerful persons. Moreover, he hasn’t been granted an official position yet. If we are to make our judgments right now, that would be too early!”
The situation on the current year’s imperial examinations was quite special. During the previous years it would take almost more than half of the year to complete, but during this year it was completed within two or three months. The difficulty was indeed unimaginable for those exam candidates.
But Han Che being able to seize the top position, was believed to have contained real ability and learning. In addition to what he did in the streets that time, he actually made Yun Qian Meng considerably admire him somehow.
Furthermore, the reason for Han Che to stay inside Chen Wang Fu was due to that big fire in the guest house, if he was to become affiliated with Chen Wang because of this incident, then it will be considered unfair.
While speaking, Yun Qian Meng suddenly felt a sharp feeling of being stared at coldly by many pairs of eyes, but by the time when she lifted her head to look back at them, those eyes had actually disappeared without a trace, making her feel disappointed..
Yun Qian Meng was about retract her searching eyes, when she found out that Chu Fei Yang was already sitting in front of her. Smiling while he was gazing at her, making Yun Qian Meng’s face blush, her both eyes looked slightly annoyed as she glared at him, then she regain her gaze, then continued to chat with Qu Fei Qing.
“Chu Xiang, shouldn’t you be paying more attention, after all this is an important area of the imperial palace, how could you be acting so frivolous?” Ever since Chen Wang set his foot inside the imperial garden, his eyes had immediately found Yun Qian Meng. Seeing her slightly scowling with her simple smile, showing her faint charming vital energy in between her brows, looking incredibly beautiful, yet it couldn’t help but continuously reminding Chen Wang that, the person who had made her look stunningly beautiful was not himself. It had caused him to hate Chu Fei Yang even mor. If it was not for this person who had done some tricks, Yun Qian Meng’s charm would have been entrusted to him alone.
“Wang Ye, I couldn’t understand what you are saying! When did I behave frivolously? Please elaborate, Wang Ye!” His slender fingers gently held up the teacup in front, Chu Fei Yang softly blew aside the tea leaves, then tool a sip. His long and narrow eyelids slightly moved, his face contained a faint smile as he looked at Jiang Mu Chen sitting beside him.
“You and I are very well aware about that. Why ask if you already know the answer, Chu Xiang?” Chen Wang coldly snorted, not giving Chu Fei Yang the slightest bit of face, rebuffing him with a single statement.
Chu Fei Yang just shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. Afterwhich he took another mouthful of hot tea, then he shifted his direction towards the few persons of Northern Qi on the other side, smiled and said “I’ve heard that the Crown Price will be leaving Wester Chu tomorrow.”
What Chu Fei Yang had heard was not a lie, being able to ask this question, he naturally had already gone through some careful considerations.
And this time, Qi Jing Yuan’s face was full of austerity. His eyes were entangled with a blood-thirsty expression. After hearing Chu Fei Yang’s words, his gaze had turned more fierce, his eyes looked vicious as he turned towards Chu Fei Yang, watching him smiling gently, Qi Jing Yuan could not help but sneered at him and said “Well, this is only natural!”
“That was very thoughtful of you, Crown Prince! For permitting Princess He Shun to celebrate the New Year’s eve before heading back to Northenr Qi. Hai Wang will surely feel pleased with the Crown Prince!” Seeing Qi Jing Yuan was fully focusing his attention on himself, Chu Fei Yang’s eyes were in glowing spirits, containing the self-confidence that allowed no one to look straightly into his eyes, yet it made Qi Jing Yuan to become vigilant, not to understand why this resourceful man had unexpectedly made such irrelevant comments.
But, Qi Jing Yuan was also a highly intelligent person, with a blink of an eye, he had came to realize Chu Fei Yang’s intention, the vicious expression in his eyes had momentarily dissipated. Watching Chu Fei Yang he slowly spoke to him in a distinctive honorable tone as the Crown Prince of Northern Qi “Chu Xiang really cannot be outdone by any others, your love for your own wife is truly touching!”
The corners of Chu Fei Yang’s lips curved up into a smile. He raised the teacup in his hands to accept Qi Jing Yuan’s raised cup in salute. They drank a moutfhul of green tea while facing each other, each with their own plans in their minds.
Hai Wang was quietly listening to their conversation, not showing the least bit of fear in the surging waves between them. He mainted the courteous and mild expressions on his face, making people think that he was being amiable and modest, being completely unlike his usual awe-inspiring aura of a general in the battlefield during those years.
“On a very significant day like today, why isn’t Chu Wang around?” Putting down the teacup in his hand, with a reminiscing tone Hai Wang asked Chu Fei Yang “I’ve heard Governor Chu had just returned back from You Zhou a few days ago. When we were young, we were acquainted with each other, but in a flash more than twenty years had already passed. I haven’t seen him in years! In addition to staying inside Hai Wang Fu all day long, it’s really hard for me to get by everyday.”
Seeing Hai Wang speaking humbly like that, Chen Wang’s eyes started to turn cold. But Chu Fei Yang still responded with a smile. Using his usual smile he looked at Hai Wang “Wang Ye, you are still fast and abundant with information. It’s only been two or three days since my father’s return. Wang Ye still managed to obtain such information while inside Wang Fu, benxiang is truly impressed!”
This vague mockery would make ordinary people feel angry, but Hai Wang seemed to not hear the hidden meaning of these words. He just smiled warmly, immersing himself in his past memories “This was just something that Chen Xi told upon returning home. For without him, benwang is afraid that benwang wouldn’t be able to know that until your father returned back again to You Zhou! But on the contrary, Chu Xiang, your grand wedding was too simple and quick, there’s not enough time for me to prepare my congratulatory gifts! Chen Wang Ye, isn’t benwang right?”
Speaking of which, Hai Wang glanced at Jiang Mu Chen who was sitting quietly in a corner. His smiling eyes concealed up the untraceable perspicacious vitality, but during this time Jiang Mu Chen’s face had already solidified with huge ice chunks. Yet they didn’t contain any other sort of expressions, which had actually made people unable to figure out his emotional surge right now.
“Father, didn’t you forget already? Chen Wang had also married a charming Ce Fei not long ago! In all likelihood the necessary etiquette between Wang Ye and Chu Xiang can possibly be exempted already!” This time, Hai Chen Xi who was sitting behind Hai Wang spoke simply. His handsome face well matched with his noble identity, suddenly making all the ladies in the opposite side looked at him. But being a wealthy future son-in-law in these observants’ eyes, he was only committed to the conversation among the men, as for all the beauties in front of him, he seemed to turn a blind eye to them.
“Humph! Well isn’t he grand! How things always turn well for your older brother!” Watching the interactive conversation between Hai Chen Xi and Hai Wang as father and son, Hai Wang Fei sitting across the room remarked in a low voice with angry eyes.
“Why do you care about it, Mother? Haven’t you mentioned before, that once I have taken the steady position as the imperial wife of Northern Qi’s Crown Prince, even if Father dotes on Hai Chen Xi, he would still unable to snatch away my big brother’s position as the rightful heir, right?” This time Hai Tian’s eyes were fixated on Chu Fei Yang, watching his youthful smile among the group of men. His face was full of self-confidence that other people never had, the positive spirit in his eyes was truly charming.
The person in front of her, was undoubtedly qualified to become her future husband. Yet with a freak combination of factors she had been designated to marry to the remote Northern Qi. After they part ways today, perhaps they would never have the chance to see each other again.
Thinking about this, Hai Tian felt a sudden sharp pain in her heart. She was firmly twisting the handkerchief in her hands, her face had turned colder.
Particularly when she was reminded of the scene she saw earlier behind that rock garden in the side palace hall, which further made Hai Tian feel that she was being ruthlessly slapped on the face, such kind of humiliation was indeed an unprecedented experience!
But at this time, she was sitting upright inside the imperial garden. Yet she was unable to expose that person’s despicable behavior, or else Emperor Yu Qian would never forgive her. Perhaps even her own father would also not forgive her.
The anger rushed forth bit by bit in her heart. Yet she needed to try hard suppressing down the anger which was about to overflow from her body. Both her eyes was gradually losing her judgement as an ordinary person. Hai Tian immediately searched for her target all around, then she saw Yun Qian Meng sitting in a corner not very far away from her, she shot a treacherous glance at her.
Yun Qian Meng acknowledged Hai Tian’s grievance with a faint smile. She knew that Hai Tian must be feeling imbalanced right now so she did not plan to provoke her on purpose so as to avoid making a scene.
Those few designated first, second and third placers of imperial examination were sitting behind those hundred official without talking much. They were just carefully observing everyone inside the imperial garden, not to know how many twists and turns had been going on in their thoughts.
“I really have to congratulate brother Han for reaching the top position of Imperial Top Scorer in the literary competition!” Han Shao Mian naturally sat beside Han Che, his smiling face was filled with enthusiasm, lifting his hands while congratulating Han Che.
Hearing Han Shao Mian’s voice, Han Che reluctantly pulled back his gaze. He supressed the wild feelings of joy in his heart and with a smiling face he smiled and responded “The same to you!”
After speaking, he picked up his teacup, concealing the ecstasy in his eyes using the motions of drinking.
It was her, it wa’s really her! She was indeed the da xiaojie of Fu Guo Gong Fu.
This confirmation had caused Han Che’s originally calm and composed behavior to somehow go out of control. That graceful bearing of hers had been engraved in the bottom of his heart. Today he had finally found her figure in this vast and obscure multitude of people, how could he not feel the excitement?
But in order to be able to find her, he had also carried on his head the pressure that Chen Wang had given him in the past few days. He stubbornly refused to join Chen Wang’s faction, for that fear that he might inadvertently become her enemy in this unclear situation.
But by seeing her today, Han Che couldn’t help but loosened up a bit, suddenly feeling that they were all worth it. The corner of her mouth exposed a smile of happiness. Even the tea water in his mouth seeming to have been added with honey.
Sitting in a corner, Kong Fan was able to see all the extremely subtle transformation in Han Che’s actions, not being able to understand which person inside the imperial garden was able to make this cold emotionless Han Che expose a bit of weak smile in his eyes. His heart immediately felt astonished for a moment.
But, seeing Han Shao Mian who was sitting beside having a noble status, Kong Fan lifted up his own teacup and congratulated “I would like to congratulate Mr. Han for reaching the throne of being the Imperial Top Scorer in the military examinations.
Han Shao Mian watching Kong Fan as he expressed his good will, the smile on his remained unchanged, but the spoken words seemed to be somewhat cold, lifting up the teacup he acknowledged Kong Fan “Many thanks, Brother Kong!”
“His Majesty the Emperor, Empress Dowager, the Empress, Rong Gui Fei, and Chu Wang have arrived!” This time, Yu Gong Gong’s sharp and resonant voice could be heard in the entrance of the imperial garden.
The laughing sounds inside the imperial garden suddenly faded away. Everyone simultaneously stood up as they made their salutations, welcoming Emperor Yu Qian and the others as they walked in “Long live the Emperor, His Majesty.”
“Get up all of you! Today is the festive Lunar New Year’s eve, don’t be overcautious, everyone!” After walking up to the dragon throne, he spoke in a delighted tone of voice.
“Thank you, Your Majesty!” Having heard what was said, everyone respectfully stood up in succession, after which they took their respective seats noiselessly, unlike the way they talked and laughed continuously earlier.
“Today before we begin with the feast, I have one thing to announce!” Watching everyone settled down on their seats, Emperor Yu Qianslightly smiled, after which he took a glimpse at Yu Gong Gong.
Receiving the command from Emperor Yu Qian, Yu Gong Gong immediately proceeded ahead, facing all the people below he announced “The Imperial Top Scorers of the literary and military examinations Han Che and Han Shao Mian, please proceed ahead to receive the imperial decree!”
They didn’t expect Emperor Yu Qian Di announce his decree upon entering the imperial garden, Han Che and Han Shao Mian glanced at each other for a moment, then they immediately stood up, walking towards Emperor Yu Qian, taking quick steps as they both knelt down “We hereby receive the imperial decree!”
Seeing the both of them being ready, Yu Gong Gong took out the bright yellow satin roll of imperial decree from his sleeve then slowly opened it, reading it out loud in front of the crowd “As the Mandate of Heaven, His Majesty the Emperor hereby provide this imperial decree: That the Imperial Top Scorers of literary examinations Han Che of great talent, being resourceful and smart, to be trained inside the Imperial Hanlin Academy, and to be bestowed a title of temporary position in the Hanlin Academy! The Imperial Top Scorer of the military examinations Han Shao Mian being both wise and brave, to be granted the title as the assistant minister of the Ministry of War, as announced by His Majesty the Emperor himself!”
Everybody became startled at this imperial decree. They did not expect that Emperor Yu Qian had actually looked after these two people, a scholar from a poor and humble family who had actually became Shu Ji Shi, and with one leap Han Shao Mian had became a third-rank official being the assistant minister of Ministry of War, who had replaced Qu Chang Qing’s previous position, such kind of great honor, how many people in the whole world will be able to achieve it?
Kong Fan looked at the two persons kneeling at the center of the large space, his both hands under the sleeves tightly clenched up. Han Shao Mian came from a prestigious family, His Majesty would naturally provide special treatment, but Han Che was just a scholar from the poor and humble family like him, yet he was so blessed to be becoming the candidate for Reserver Minister, this truly made Kong Fan feel upset.