"Empress Mother, it would be boring if we simply enjoy the chrysanthemums like this. How about letting each young master and young miss perform a talent? Isn't that better?" Eldest princess Feng Xiao Luo stood up and proposed her idea to the Empress who sat in the seat above.
"Hn, what Luo'er said is reasonable. What does everyone else think?" Empress looked at the people below.
Of the people sitting below, no one did not fawn, saying the eldest princess's proposal was excellent. Many of them were already eager to try. A palace banquet was not a simple banquet. If an official's daughter caught the attention of a wangye or some other person, then she could fly up into a branch and become a phoenix (idiom: attain a high status). Under such circumstances, of course, everyone wanted to show their talents.
"Empress Mother, this son thinks what eldest imperial sister said is very interesting, but if it is simply performing a talent, there is nothing new about that. How about something different?" Second wangye stood up and suggested to the Empress. Everyone who heard his words felt it was indeed true, so no one refuted this. Furthermore, no one dared to contradict. The power of the Empress's faction was quite large. In this imperial palace, perhaps only Ming wang with his uncertain moods dared to oppose the Empress's faction.
"Oh? Don't know if anyone has some new ideas? Don't hide it, let us hear it!" Empress urged the people below, but the only ones who dared to directly speak were the wangye and princesses.
"Empress mother how about we do rewards and punishments today. Each one performs their talent in pairs, the one who loses allows the party who wins to deal out their punishment. All of today's talent performances must be related to chrysanthemums. What does empress mother think?" third princess Feng Guan Lian blinked her watery eyes, very naive and adorable as she proposed her suggestion, but Lan You Nian did not miss the malice hidden behind that naivety. It seems with the Empress directing her schemes against her, even this third princess was participating in this matter.
"Lian'er's proposal is fresh. What does everyone think?" Empress seemed to be very pleased.
"As the Empress wishes!" Everyone replied bowing their heads. In reality, the Empress's question was just a mere formality to avoid an overbearing impression. After all, the Empress having stated such a proposal, it was leading them in the direction, who will disapprove? This imperial palace was indeed really dull.
"Which young misses want to start?" Empress asked the crowd.
"Empress Mother, how about eldest sister and I start off? Empress mother is that good?" the third princess wore a pink ruqun, the pearl hairpin was in a cute style. When others see this type of woman, they will feel she was innocent and cute, inevitably have a good impression of her.
"En, granted!" Empress nodded and agreed. Eldest princess and third princess walked down from their seating and came to the open space for the performance. The two princesses each had their own strong points. The eldest princess's looks were simple but elegant. She had the bearing and etiquette that a princess should have, while the third princess looked young and cute. At first glance, it provoked one's tenderness. Between these two princesses dress, it was telling whose scheming was on a deeper level.
The third princess leaned into the eldest princess's ear and quietly whispered some words. Everyone only saw the third princess, after speaking to the eldest princess, reveal a satisfied smile.
In a short while, an ensemble of stringed and woodwind instruments played in one's ears. The eldest princess and third princess changed into dancing outfits and soared into dance. The two wore yellow dresses. When they twirled around in around, the flower pattern on their clothes blossomed like each flower of the chrysanthemums blooming in the garden, exceedingly beautiful.
The Empress was quite satisfied with the performance of the two princesses below. After the eldest princess and third princess finished dancing, praises can be heard without end. Many people honestly felt that the two danced very beautifully while many people were just shamelessly flattering. After all, the two's dance was not physically challenging, just some whirling and twirling. What was beautiful was the clothing embroidered with chrysanthemums.
"Alright, as for the judges, let's have every young master and wangye take over!" Empress announced allowing everyone to start to evaluate the performance.
Below, some young masters conferred a while. Then second prince Feng Shao Chu announced the result, "Eldest princess and third princess's dance was completed by the two together. The two's dance is equally matched, so everyone unanimously agrees that eldest princess and third princess are equally divided, neither won nor lost!"
Empress was obviously very satisfied with the result. After all, although the eldest princess was very good in etiquette, her talent in dance was a little lacking, "En, then in this talent performance Luo'er and Lian'er both won!"
Next, one after another, there was some officials' young miss competing in this talent performance. All four arts could be seen. At first, Lan You Nian watched the show with some hint of freshness but drawing towards the end, she grew bored. Besides, no matter who won or lost, no one made it too ugly. At most, it was letting the losing party drink a few more cups, or let the losing party sing a song or dance. Except for the young misses who had hatred between them who were a little excessive, the others were very dull.
"This princess wants to compete with junzhu!" the second princess suddenly declared, pointing at Hua Mu Qing.
"Really hateful, why does this second princess keep picking on me? Does she really think I'm easy to bully ah!" Hua Mu Qing bowed her head as she muttered, obviously dissatisfied with the second princess's provocation but she still stood up to give her consent.
The second princess was the capital's famous talented woman. She was accomplished in all four arts. In comparison, Hua Mu Qing was in a much bigger crisis. All these years, Hua Mu Qing did not focus on what women should do. All day, she was like a tomboy practicing martial arts and her temper was very explosive.
The talent the second princess displayed turned out to be a poem about chrysanthemums. Some people who came before also used chrysanthemum to make a poem, but the poems made were quite ordinary; there was nothing new. But the second princess was genuinely worthy of being a talented woman. The poem that flowed out of her mouth caused Lan You Nian to feel a trace of admiration for her. But the premise was that she did not come to provoke her friend. She Lan You Nian was very protective of her own people.
"Mu Qing jiejie, do you and the second princess have any strife in the past?" Taking advantage of the interval of the second princess's performance, Lan You Nian questioned Hua Mu Qing who sat beside her.
"What strife ah? This woman just makes a big deal of nothing. She always believed herself to be the first talented woman in the world and is so proud of it, so she usually looks down on me, but I don't bother with her. There was one time when she pissed me off, and I pushed her down, that's all. I didn't expect her to bear the grudge all these years!" Hua Mu Qing spilled all her complaints to Lan You Nian. It seems that even after all these years, the second princess still suffers unhappiness over it.
"What to do? It's almost this junzhu's turn. Nian'er meimei, what should I do? If I lose, that woman will definitely find many different ways to torture me!" Hua Mu Qing said desperately to Lan You Nian.
"Mu Qing jiejie don't you have any confidence?" Lan You Nian asked. After all, in her eyes, Hua Mu Qing was a wonderful woman. She didn't like those shallow women.
"Aiya, Nian'er meimei, you don't know, if it's fighting, then I have confidence, but if you want me to make a poem, I really can't do it!" Hua Mu Qing said with frustration.
"Who said that you must make a poem?" Lan You Nian winked at Hua Mu Qing, "Doesn't Mu Qing jiejie know how to sword dance? How about Mu Qing jiejie do a dance? It's best to use a sword to dance amongst the chrysanthemums. This counts as being related to chrysanthemums. Just call it chrysanthemum sword dance. Isn't that good?"
"Yeah! In any case, I only know how to do that. Whether or not I can win isn't important. At least I won't lose face. Nian'er meimei, you're so smart!" Hua Mu Qing hugged Lan You Nian and immediately walked out of her seat, heading towards the open space to perform.
"This junzhu is she able? Don't lose face and end up in tears in the end!" Lan Mo Xian said to Jing Wu An, obviously the words were criticizing, but it was full of concern.
"Look at you, you seem worried about junzhu?" Jing Wu An said deliberately.
"Who's worried for her? What's there to worry about? Anyways, I'm looking forward to seeing her make a clown of herself. Why would I worry for her?" Lan Mo Xian stiffened his neck as he denied, but clearly, Jing Wu An did not believe him. Even He Chu Yang who sat beside them had a look of 'I don't believe you'.
"Ai, what do you guys mean by this?" Lan Mo Xian demanded.
"What meaning can we have? We're just seeing a certain person say one thing and mean another. It's quite interesting that's all!" Jing Wu An looked to Hua Mu Qing who stood in the performing area.
"Did not! You guys can't frame me like this!" Lan Mo Xian also paid attention to Hua Mu Qing in the field. They grew up together, so he knew Hua Mu Qing did not have any talent. Seeing the second princess's current attitude, she will definitely be difficult towards Hua Mu Qing. Lan Mo Xian was worried inside.
Concerning Lan Mo Xian's 'even if you kill him, he won't admit it' denial, Jing Wu An and He Chu Yang simply ignored it.
Hua Mu Qing stood in the field. Suddenly, she drew a long sword that hung from a guard's waist, then came to the chrysanthemum garden, and started to fluidly dance with the sword and flowers. The pieces of chrysanthemums that were sliced by the sword fluttered around Hua Mu Qing. Hua Mu Qing's sword dance was accompanied by the softness of a woman and a man's heroic spirit. It can be considered unique, making people's eyes brighten!
When Hua Mu Qing ended the sword dance, there was a burst of praise all around. These praises were genuine. Many people did not expect the junzhu they thought to be domineering actually had such talents. The way she danced made the sword dance beautiful beyond belief!
Hua Mu Qing gleefully returned the sword to the guard and returned to her seat, energetically exclaimed to Lan You Nian, "Nian'er meimei, you are truly able. You didn't see how ugly the expression on that woman's face was. Indeed, playing the zither and singing songs isn't suited for me, rather brandishing weapons is more to my liking!"
Lan You Nian glanced at that second princess and indeed saw the second princess's disgruntled expression while the empress sitting high above was also a face of displeasure. Lan You Nian eyed the garden of chrysanthemums that have been ruined by Hua Mu Qing and instantly understood why the Empress's face was so. She only told her to sword dance amongst the chrysanthemums, maybe add a little chrysanthemum to the show, that's all. She didn't expect Hua Mu Qing's power of destruction was so frightening. This garden's chrysanthemums have been wrecked!
"Mu Qing jiejie, Empress's face is even uglier" Lan You Nian snickered.
"What? Why? It wasn't the eldest princess I was competing with," Hua Mu Qing was puzzled.
"Look at the garden, and you will know!" Lan You Nian pointed at the garden. Hua Mu Qing tilted her head over to the garden, then Hua Mu Qing bowed her head without saying a word….
"Haha! How is this junzhu sword dancing ah? It's really brutally deflowering!" He Chu Yang looked at the chrysanthemums that were wilting and couldn't help laugh with Jing Wu An.
"Hmph, no semblance to a woman at all!" Lan Mo Xian also looked at the destroyed chrysanthemums and sneered, but his eyes were full of laughter.
"Oh? But I feel junzhu's dance wasn't so bad. There was both a woman's charm and man's strong-will. In this garden, is there one maiden who can be like junzhu?" Jing Qu An praised.
"Hmph! Crude!" Lan Mo Xian was still poison-mouthed.
"Jing Qu An, don't talk to Mo Xian anymore. He likes to say opposite things the most!" He Chu Yang said to Jing Qu An. Jing Qu An smirked suggestively at Lan Mo Xian, making Lan Mo Xian discomfited.