There was an uproar at the news that Princess Bi was going to pick her bridegroom. The eight young geniuses could scarcely mask their excitement. Were they the favored one? Was that why the princess was making her choice early?
Every cultivator was immensely confident in himself. Each of the eight present believed that he was the princess’s only choice.
Huang’er was no exception.
However, her confidence stemmed from the feeling that Ling Bi’er was making her choice based on ‘Mu Gaoqi’, rather than her charisma.
The imperial family was overjoyed. Seven out of the eight geniuses here were from the Ten Divine Nations. One was a wandering cultivator, but the seven-to-one likelihood was small enough to ignore. They didn’t believe that Princess Bi would be blind enough to pick a wandering cultivator.
Such a thing was basically impossible as humans had the tendency to head for higher ground.
Princess Bi was no fool. Wouldn’t she like a dao partner from the Ten Divine Nations? Wouldn’t that elevate her to greater prominence?
Most of the crowd in the arena’s stands was filled with a mixture of curiosity, jealousy, and envy. They very much wanted to know who the exceptionally pretty princess would choose. They were also envious of the candidates on stage in the first place. What a fortunate twist of fate!
“Princess, shall I introduce where these geniuses are from?”
“Haha, why not have them introduce themselves?” Two members of the imperial family made some suggestions.
“That won’t be necessary,” Ling Bi’er replied coolly. “I know them already.”
“Well then, it seems that you’ve made up your mind already, Princess Bi. That is perfectly well and good. Please, make your selection.” The middle-aged imperial prince smiled.
Ling Bi’er approached slowly, her gaze pointed downwards. Suddenly, her pure, brilliant eyes looked at Huang’er.
“I choose him.” The girl’s distant look settled upon Huang’er. “He is the one I am most interested in.”
There was emphasis in her crisp voice.
“What?” The imperial prince felt his eyes bulge. “Your Highness, are you sure you’re not mistaken? Look a bit more carefully.”
“No, thank you. Mu Gaoqi is the one I want.” Ling Bi’er declared the specific name.
The imperial prince turned beet-red, his brain spazzing out with incomprehension. The suddenness of this turn of events had backed him into a corner.
Princess Bi was intentionally stirring up trouble. Hadn’t she been just fine prior? But now, she was ruining the imperial family’s plans! Why hadn’t she chosen one of the seven geniuses from the Ten Divine Nations? What was a wandering cultivator worth??
“Princess Bi, you may be seeing things. This wandering cultivator friend…” another member of the imperial family couldn’t help interject.
Huang’er flared with displeasure. “Is there a rule against wandering cultivators for this tournament?”
The imperial family member snickered. “Take a look in the mirror. Do you think yourself to be the same caliber as these seven fine fellows? It’s good to know one’s own limits.”
Huang’er smiled faintly, then glanced at the seven geniuses. “Bluesmoke’s imperial family seems to think that you don’t know your limits. What do you all think about that?”
The geniuses were uniformly shocked. This person was totally shameless! He was the one being talked about, not them!
“Friend, I hope you get the picture. If you leave now, we guarantee you won’t be held responsible.” The imperial prince was growing irritated.
Ling Bi’er furrowed her brow. “You asked me to pick out a bridegroom in this tournament, but you don’t seem to want to accept the person I picked. This isn’t my fault then.”
The imperial family was incensed. The members present felt rather powerless now that things had come to this. Everything about the situation was odd, but what could they do?
Kill the wandering cultivator? They would become the butt of the entire realm’s jokes then. Not accepting the results of a tournament for the princess’ hand? Would the princess only marry someone from the Ten Divine Nations?
Why even bother hosting the event in the first place then? An arranged marriage would have been much tidier.
Furthermore, Princess Bi was behaving the very opposite of their wishes. They could threaten her or take other measures in private, but such things were impossible in the public eye.
The imperial prince was quick enough on the draw to remedy the situation. “My friends,” he laughed, “Princess Bi is just joking. Perhaps she has someone in mind, but is too shy to say his name outright. Let us adjourn temporarily. We will keep in touch with the eight quarterfinalists. When the princess…”
“Hold on,” Huang’er cut in with some annoyance. “What do you mean by ‘joking’? Be more straightforward about it. The princess was certainly clear about her choice just now. Is this how Bluesmoke does things around here? Are you repudiating her choice in public? So you think lowly of wandering cultivators in general, eh?”
Two figures shot towards the stage at this time. It was Elders He and Quan.
The two elders of House Yan looked mildly flustered in their own right. “Huang’er, please,” they looked at the disguised girl. “Don’t make trouble for Bluesmoke’s important event.”
The Bluesmoke imperials looked at each other, at a loss, then turned back to the two old men before them.
“Excuse the intrusion. A youngster from House Yan is causing a commotion here. Our deepest apologies for any inconvenience.” Elder He was very polite.
“House Yan?” The imperial prince’s eyes brightened. “This young man is a genius from House Yan?”
House Yan wasn’t a bad choice. It was a bit downtrodden now, but still a first-rate faction in the Ten Divine Nations. An acceptable choice for marriage.
Elder He smiled wryly. “The marriage… has to be called off. Please, find another bridegroom for your princess’ happiness.”
“Why?” The imperial prince blinked. “This young gentleman is both handsome and talented. He’s a perfect match for Princess Bi.”
Their insults against Huang’er before had quickly turned into praise. His? revelation as a young genius of House Yan had instantly caused a hundred-eighty-degree turn in attitude. These Bluesmoke imperials were certainly experts in being weathervanes.
Elders He and Quan were equally embarrassed. They couldn’t exactly explain; Huang’er’s status as a woman would be a slap to the face in its own right.
But how was this supposed to be resolved without an explanation?
Huang’er giggled. “Elders, what’s the big problem if I want to take Princess Bi with me to House Yan? Who made the rule that girls couldn’t marry girls?”
There was universal astonishment at her declaration. The imperial family members in attendance were paralyzed – or perhaps petrified. A girl, marry another girl?
Was this young genius from House Yan actually a woman?
Wasn’t... this joke a bit too much?
Huang’er twirled about, her sleeve covering her face momentarily. When it was gone, she looked like a woman once more.
The appearance of her real face astounded the crowd anew. The slender, sweetly-smiling girl was an immortal who’d descended from heaven. Her otherworldliness surpassed even Princess Bi.
Even the imperial family members were stupefied and self-ashamed. They were tongue-tied for a long while.
Ling Bi’er on the other hand, was utterly confounded. Who was this exceptionally beautiful girl? Was this her real face? She wouldn’t have forgotten a face like this if she’d seen it before, but she didn’t recall anything about the challenger.
How did she know about Mu Gaoqi then?
When Ling Bi’er’s eyes connected with Huang’er’s, her long-sealed memories erupted in a mental geyser. Those dazzlingly pristine eyes caused a tremor to run through her entire body. She suddenly remembered something.
There’d been a mysterious girl back at the Regal Pill Palace by Jiang Chen’s side. That Huang’er had looked quite ugly at the time; Ling Bi’er had in fact, pitied her for the misfortune.
Those eyes had made quite the impression on her even then. She’d thought them rather extraordinary in their purity and grace.
And now, everything came rushing back to her with Huang’er’s smile.
When the two possibly prettiest pairs of eyes in the world met, they came to an intuitive understanding of mutual recognition.
“Let me introduce myself, Princess Bi. I’m Yan Qinghuang, but you can call me Huang’er.”
Comprehension suddenly dawned on the crowd. This name was incredibly well-known. Of the Ten Divine Kingdoms’ sixteen beauties, she was in the top three. If not for the Generation Binding Curse’s effect on her cultivation, she would very likely be first instead. How would the crowd not know of such a famous individual?
They hadn’t expected this magnificently beautiful fairy to be her. Such a charming sprite as her was supposed to become a cultivation vessel for that bastard Xiahou Zong?
The cultivators hostile towards Huang’er experienced an instant dwindling of enmity. Pity and sympathy surged in instead. In fact, they wanted nothing more than to charge to House Xiahou and strike Xiahou Zong down where he stood!
Ling Bi’er bowed slightly in a form of self-introduction. “Ling Bi’er.”
“Hear me out, everyone. Were there any rules against girls participating in this event?” Huang’er clearly intending to be ornery to the end.
She knew that her situation afforded her the advantage of being spoiled. The family would permit such a minor faux-pas. Thus, she was content to see her mischief out just this once.
The crowd rumbled in anticipation of a bigger spectacle.
“No, certainly not.”
“I didn’t hear anything about not letting girls participate!”
“Take her home with you, haha!”
The onlookers were running wild, taking the atmosphere of the arena with them. The imperial family representatives looked at each other with some consternation.
Yan Qinghuang marry Princess Bi? Was this really alright? Wasn’t marriage a union between a man and a woman? How could a girl marry a girl?
But Miss Yan Qinghuang didn’t appear to be an easy person to deal with. Their opposition was largely immaterial at this point. They couldn’t afford to anger her!