A lantern posed more a difficult challenge than anything in his entire experience.
Ning Yunzhao really did not know what he should do. Perhaps he should go back now and give the lantern to his mother.
He never carde much about the affairs between men and women, so perhaps he would let his seniors deal with it for him.
Ning Yunzhao was pushed forward by his friends. Very soon, he was able to see the ruckus ahead and the lantern that was very much unlit.
There were many people gathered there, making it easy for them to hear the full story behind the lantern.
"So it's a gamble." A young man sighed wistfully. "This is the first time I've seen people so bold and straightforward in their gambling."
When he heard that it was related to Go, Ning Yunzhao temporarily lost his discomfit because of the globe lantern.
"Up until now the lantern hasn't been lit?" he asked. "No one has won even once?"
"No one. That glass bowl is almost full." His companion gestured with an exaggerated expression.
"I heard if you win, you can also get all of the money that people put in before," said another. "Right now there's four or five hundred taels in there. Ten taels for that much is very attractive."
Ning Yunzhao smiled.
"I dare say five thousand taels of silver is much more alluring than four, five hundred," he said, looking at the Go board lantern filled with lanterns. "As more people participate, the lure grows and grows as well as does the amount of people participating. The person who set up this board will profit much."
"Exactly. Everyone probably thinks that ten taels for five thousand is much too profitable, but exchanging five thousand for tens is actually quite profitable, too." One of his friends laughed. "This is just a trick played by a gambling den wearing a Go board's skin, so it seems very dignfiied."
"This can't be said to be a gamble. That's like saying throwing rings is a gamble," said another, clicking his tongue. "But is this person really so confident that their Go arrangement can't be broken?"
"The person who set this trap must be a very intelligent," said Ning Yunzhao. "Amazing Go skills and amazing mental state, confident and courageous."
When he said this, a thought flitted through his mind.
Is this person's skills any better than that girl's?
Since her Go skills are so great, did she come here when she heard of this challenge?
He couldn't help but look around him, and what he saw made him go blank.
The noisy, bustling crowd was immediately drowned out, like lanterns disappearing in a fog, leaving only one girl in his vision.
She was holding her hood, showing half of her face to him. Right now, her head was inclined slightly to a young girl chattering.
He didn't know what that little servant girl was saying, but her face was beaming like a pearl glittering on her earlobe.
"Young Miss, Young Miss, we've already gotten several hundred taels." Liu'er was excited, positively radiating with happiness as she kept her voice as quiet as possible.
When she saw Young Miss had actually put her five thousand taels as a reward, she had nearly jumped in fright.
Didn't Young Miss say she was going to reap profits from the Lantern Festival? Why would she throw away five thousand taels of silver as a prize? Did she want to compete with the Fang Family? To prove she was much more amazing and generous to the people of Yangcheng?
"What would I accomplish by competing with the Fang Family? Do I look like I have that much time on my hands?" Miss Jun retorted with a laugh.
But right now she understood that Young Miss was reaping profits all along. No wonder Young Miss said to hang her lantern here. With this many people seeing it, naturally there would be more people throwing away their money.
After the end of this night's celebrations, these five thousand taels might become six thousand, or perhaps even more. These profits were much easier than winning the prize for the best lantern.
"Young Miss is truly amazing." Liu'er's face showed her adulation.
"It is not me who is amazing. Another person thought of this Go arrangement," said Miss Jun. Her master was the most amazing.
Liu'er did not have the same confidence in other people that she did in her young miss. Immediately she became worried.
"Is this kifu really unsolvable?" she asked.
Master had taken this endgame layout from an ancient book. Well, the original was from a book, but the ancient board was not the same as nowadays. Master adapted this for the standard 19x19 board, which made it even more difficult. Besides master, no one else even knew of this Go arrangement. Naturally, solving it would be much harder.
Of course, there were many capable people in this world. Nothing was impossible.
"Well, not necessarily," Miss Jun said. "But I have set several failsafes. Firstly, it is a Go arrangement, so it attracts people who can play Go, which filters out a large portion of people. Secondly, Yangcheng is much too small, and there aren't many capable people. Thirdly, there is too little time."
Sometimes solving a Go arrangement took several days.
That said, her time was also far too short. Otherwise she wouldn't made such a thing; this thing full of tricks was not good.
"Look, look, another person is going to solve it," said Liu'er. "I will go look."
"Let Wenming go up first, then we can go," said a young man, looking at his friend squeezing his way forward. The one called Wenming tossed his money in the glass bowl.
"We probably won't even need to go back. Wenming will light the lantern," surmised another young man.
"Anyways, we can't let Yunzhao go first, otherwise we won't have a chance at all," said the first with a smile, turning to look at Ning Yunzhao in the back.
Ning Yunzhao laughed, but neither spoke in refute or modesty.
"Look at this crazy bastard. He isn't modest at all," teased the friends in mock displeasure. "You could make your own five thousand reward yourself."
Everybody became interested in these words. The Fang Family's Miss Jun insulted Tenth Noble Son Ning to be worth five thousand taels, and right now, the lantern prize was five thousand taels.
Was this a coincidence? Maybe this lantern was from the Fang Family.
Ning Yunzhao was an outstanding student and a great talent in Go. The Fang Family probably knew he could solve it and deliberately used the five thousand tael reward to humiliate him.
"Other people said I'm worth five thousand taels but am I really?" said Ning Yunzhao with a smile. "Anyways, you guys estimated wrong."
Estimated wrong? What?
His friends didn't understand.
"If I win the lantern, my worth will become ten thousand," Ning Yunzhao said seriously.
His companions stared, before splitting their sides with laughter.
The boisterous, sudden laughter of the young men brought over people's gazes. Although the majority of them were wearing cloaks that obfuscated their appearance, they could not hide their elegant manner.
Ning Yunzhao was quite familiar with envious gazes from the crowd. Since he was six years old he had been hailed a prodigy and was already accustomed to it.
Only right now, he could not help but be drawn to one direction.
That girl was looking at them like the rest of the crowd.
He didn't know whether she would recognize him when she saw him.
Did the cloak disguise too much? Should he push it back a bit?
But as long as she was diligent, even if he was covered from head to toe, she should be able to notice him.
Ning Yunzhao's vision penetrated the crowd, so packed everyone was rubbing shoulders with one another, to see the girl.
She was no longer looking over here, seemingly deaf to the sounds of the young men's laughter. She even went as far as to pull her hood and hide her half-revealed face, like she was hiding among the crowd.
The front portion of the crowd jeered loudly.
This meant that the attempt was a failure.
"So many people have tried it already. Why don't we try this? We each go up one by one and remember which move is no good. That Go board is so big; wouldn't we be able to find the answer?" said someone loudly.
One of the young men who squeezed out of the crowd heard this and looked back at his companions.
"How could it be that easy? The Go board is so big," he said.
These words, 'The Go Board is so big', obviously had a different meaning.
The Go board had 19 rows and 19 columns, a total of 361 positions, and seemingly infinite ways to play. It not only looked big, but in reality it was so big it could not be seen with the eyes.
"There's also not much time," said Ning Yunzhao, stepping forward. "I will try it and see."
His companions, of course, had to make fun of him, accusing him of snatching the spotlight and their money.
The boisterousness of these young men naturally drew the gazes of the spectators, but this time Ning Yunzhao felt that he did not care at all.
Would this make that girl think that he was deliberately attracting her attention?
It was just like the peacock he had seen at West Park in the Capital given as a tribute from the Kingdom of Nanzhao. One of the workers had said that the male peacocks would occasionally fan out their gorgeous feathers in order to attract female peacocks.
This idea gave Ning Yunzhao pause, and then he sneer. He wasn't so anxious. His heart became calm.
He was not deliberately trying to attract her attention, so of course he would not worry.
He was only here to play Go, and coincidentally she was very good at it too.
Had she already tried it?
He probably should go ask her.
Although it was probably not too good for Ning Yunzhao to initiate the conversation, this involved a Go arrangement. Coincidentally, they had just played a game, and it would be very normal and reasonable for him to exchange a few sentences now.
It was nothing.
He would not overthink this, and that girl wouldn't overthinking it too, right?