Chapter Three (Part 2 of 2)
That afternoon Pei Jin discussed his intentions to marry Yan Shi Ning with the emperor.
The emperor was always indifferent toward his ninth son. He thought Pei Jin’s request wasn’t unreasonable and gave his consent.
Early the next morning Pei Jin visited the Yan Manor to ask for Yan Jing’s blessing for him to marry Yan Shi Ning.
Only a day ago Yan Jing returned to Yan Manor shaking his head in a worrisome way, his oldest daughter’s plan to find a husband at the banquet failed.
Yan Jing was happily surprised to have ninth gentle prince visit the Yan Manor and ask to marry his oldest daughter. Yan Jing knew his oldest daughter must be married off, but he never expected she would have a husband from high in the sky.
Yan Jing’s ears were sweetened by ninth gentle prince’s praises and admiration confession toward his oldest daughter.
Princess Kang Hua thought ninth gentle prince had mistaken Yan Shi Ning for Yan Shi Ting.
In contrast after Yan Shi Ning heard mouthy boy’s proposal, she spat out tea from her mouth.
Yan Shi Ning widened her eyes and looked in disbelief at her father who sat opposite her in the courtyard.
‘Shi Ning, ninth gentle prince has a weak status in the imperial court but he is still a prince,’ Yan Jing said. ‘I’ve assessed him for many years, he is a good man. Unlike his brothers, he doesn’t want the throne. If you marry him then you’ll live a peaceful life.’
Yan Jing sighed. He didn’t want to be involved in the princes’ battle for the throne. But his association with Princess Kang Hua forced him to be involved. He knew there were two consequences for supporting a prince for a throne, either staying alive if the prince he supported became emperor or killed if lost the throne. Although the crown prince was powerful, he couldn’t underestimate seventh prince’s power in the imperial court either.
Yan Jing was overjoyed to let his oldest daughter marry ninth gentle prince. Whether the crown prince or seventh prince became emperor, his oldest daughter would be alive and safe.
Yan Shi Ning supressed her fear and composed herself. She heard her father’s words and understood his intention. But she didn’t say anything. She lowered her head and assessed the situation in her heart. She heard rumors of seventh prince and the crown prince battling for the throne. The emperor had fifteen sons and three daughters. But only four of his sons and one of his daughters were alive, the others were dead.
The four princes included seventh prince, Pei Zhang. Pei Zhang’s birth mother was Consort Mu. Ninth prince, Pei Jin and his birth mother was a palace maid. Tenth prince, Pei Lam was the crown prince. Pei Lam’s birth mother was the empress. Thirteenth prince, Pei Khan was three years old and his mother was an unfavored consort.
It was known that Pei Jin had no intention to become emperor and he wanted to be a carefree prince. While Pei Zhang had a black heart. Pei Zhang’s relatives on his mother’s side were as powerful as the empress’ family and his desire to be emperor was infamous.
In the last few years, Pei Zhang and Pei Lam’s support from court officials were split.
Of course Princess Kang Hua supported the empress’ son and wanted Yan Shi Ting to marry Pei Lam.
‘Six years ago, ninth gentle prince had a betrothal with a court official’s daughter,’ Yan Jing said. ‘But the court official’s daughter died before the wedding. He was heartbroken and he remained loyal to her even after her death.’
Yan Jing’s regret of betraying Dung Thi was reflected on his face.
Yan Shi Ning’s mouth tightened. What heartbroken? What loyalty? Six years ago mouthy boy visited her in Xuan Qing. In front of everyone else, mouthy boy acted heartbroken. Behind their backs, he loved to bully and threaten her! Thoughts about the past pained her heart.
‘Ninth gentle prince is handsome too,’ Yan Jing said. ‘I’m certain you will not suffer if you marry him… Shi Ning, what do you think?’
Yan Shi Ning’s heart protested. What no suffering? Mouthy boy would bully her until death. She raised her head and glanced at her father. Her heart laughed coldly. Her father talked for half a day yet he pointlessly asked for her opinion when his decision was made immediately after mouthy boy’s proposal.
Yan Shi Ning nodded and spoke in the gentlest tone. ‘Father, you can make the arrangements.’
Even though she disliked mouthy boy, she understood his higher status didn’t allow her to refuse his proposal.
Yan Shi Ning didn’t want to admit that she couldn’t find a more carefree life than marrying Pei Jin. She would have status, didn’t have to worry about him fighting to be emperor and most importantly she would fulfil her mother’s final request, ‘I want you to be fed, clothed and live a peaceful life.’
Yan Shi Ning accepting Pei Jin’s proposal was her best choice. She predicted that in the future she would be married to the most cunning, thick face and expert liar. It was a prediction scarier than death.
Yan Jing gave his blessing for Pei Jin to marry Yan Shi Ning.
In the palace the emperor presented to Pei Jin two auspicious days for Pei Jin’s wedding. The first day was at the start of the eighth month and the second day was in three months.
‘The start of the eighth month is a good day,’ Pei Jin said. ‘If the wedding is in three months it’ll be too close to the New Year and will detract from little brother’s wedding. Also, the rebels in the south are unpredictable. It’s better for imperial father to prepare a simple wedding for me.’
The emperor was pleased to hear Pei Jin understood the situation well and immediately consented to prepare Pei Jin’s wedding for the start of the eighth month. The emperor didn’t have a deep bond with Pei Jin, but he thought Pei Jin was a reasonable person.
The moment Pei Jin was not within sight of his father, he smiled sadistically. Pei Jin chose the earliest auspicious wedding day, because he couldn’t wait to tease and torment the little lion.
After the wedding gifts were prepared, wedding garments were sewed and invitations were delivered, it was the fifth day of the eighth month which was the day before Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning’s wedding day.
That hot night Yan Shi Ning couldn’t cope with the humidity. She laid on her bed wearing a loose inner robe. She thought it was surreal that she was marrying mouthy boy the following day. But she didn’t doubt mouthy boy was anticipating their wedding day.
Mouthy boy’s scoundrel face appeared in her head. She didn’t know why there were many women mouthy boy could marry, but he purposely wanted to provoke her. Since their first meeting when she was six years old, each time they met was never a good experience.
Yan Shi Ning felt within the last twelve years that she was a pitiful mouse caught by the cunning cat Pei Jin. Pei Jin didn’t swallow her whole. He preferred to claw her slowly, tease her and frustrate her to death.
Luckily she wasn’t her naive self from twelve years ago.
Suddenly she felt there was something suspicious. She knew Pei Jin’s real personality too well. It was unlike him to let her live peacefully. Their wedding day was set but it was suspicious he didn’t come to see her privately to cause her grief within the last month. Apart from the day he made an appearance at the Yan Manor to give wedding gifts, he didn’t even deliver one message to provoke her.
She didn’t know what mouthy boy was scheming. Suddenly she heard a faint noise from the window. She turned her head toward the window and saw someone climbed through the window.
End of Chapter Three (Part 2 of 2)