This turn of events had made a farce out of the tournament.
If it’d been a female wandering cultivator dressed as a man, Bluesmoke wouldn’t have showed such restraint. Their first reaction would be to take the imposter in. This was an affront to their authority.
However, Huang’er was from the Ten Divine Nations. The royal family had to keep up a polite front, no matter how infuriated they were.
A starved camel was still bigger than a healthy horse. Despite House Yan’s declining influence, it was still one of the great factions of the Ten Divine Nations. It was unwise to make enemies of such a faction unless the situation necessitated it.
Fortunately, the two elders from House Yan appeared to be friendly, and they’d showed up in time to stop the charade from going any further. If Huang’er’s identity was revealed only after a marriage was arranged, Bluesmoke Isles would truly become the laughingstock of the world.
“Elders, Miss Huang’er, His Majesty placed great importance on this marriage tournament. If Miss Huang’er were a man, it would be a match made in heaven. However...”
The imperial prince wasn’t about to let Huang’er marry Princess Bi. There was no such thing as a girl marrying a girl!
“Huang’er, you should stop this nonsense, or you might embarrass yourself,” Elder He entreated, trying to convince her. “Bluesmoke has been tolerant enough. We shouldn’t - ”
“Please don’t intervene, Elder He. I’ve attended the tournament and Princess Bi has made her choice. We deserve proper consideration no matter what.” Huang’er was normally an amiable person, but she was being surprisingly stubborn this time.
Elder He and Elder Quan exchanged a look. They knew that there was no stopping her once she’d made up her mind. Otherwise, the situation might become even more out of control.
Elder Quan smiled wryly. “This is Princess Bi’s marriage we’re talking about, Huang’er. We can’t treat it as a joke.”
“A joke?” she responded coolly. “How do you know that Princess Bi is unwilling? What if she accepts my proposal?”
Resigned expressions hung on everyone’s faces. Huang’er had been exposed as a woman. There was no way would Princess Bi agree to the marriage. Even if all decent men in the world were dead, a woman wasn’t going to marry another woman, was she?
All eyes were now on Princess Bi. They obviously all wanted her to turn Huang’er down so that Huang’er would give up.
Despite to her aloof expression, Princess Bi’s response was equally shocking. “I’ll rather follow Miss Huang’er than marry a man I don’t care for.”
Shock rippled through the crowd.
Huang’er smiled lazily. “Now what do you have to say? Princess Bi has accepted me. On what grounds will you deny us our wishes?”
The Bluesmoke royal family was absolutely livid. Princess Bi’s performance made them both enraged and helpless.
Things had gotten completely out of hand. The royal family’s reputation was damaged beyond repair. Even a fool now could tell that Princess Bi had never wanted to partake in the tournament. Her acquiescence was just an act of defiance.
What was done couldn’t be undone; it would be truly difficult to turn things around. If this Miss Huang’er refused to budge, there was precious little they could do to salvage the situation.
“This will impact the royal family’s reputation, Miss Huang'er,” the imperial prince pleaded in a low voice. “Please show us some mercy.”
“Is the reputation of House Yan not also at stake here? If I withdraw now, what will people think about my house? Tell you what, I have a solution.”
“Please do tell,” hurried out the prince.
“Instead of getting married, we can become sworn sisters. That will be a satisfactory conclusion to the tournament and a solution to our problem. What do you think?” She had thought things through before she joined the tournament. Every action she’d taken was for this moment.
“Well...” The royals shared a look. The ladies becoming sworn sisters was a passable outcome. The reputation of both parties would be preserved, at least. “But the tournament...”
“It’s ended, of course. If there’s going to be another tournament, I also need to judge her future husband as her sister, shouldn’t I?”
Jiang Chen was quite impressed with Huang’er’s plan. She’d approached the situation with a delicate touch and handled it perfectly.
The royals shared pointed looks with one another. They knew if they continued to argue, it would be Bluesmoke that ended up losing face. They decided to just go along with things and put an end to the nonsense.
The end result was still somewhat ridiculous, but at least no one would ended up insulted.
As for when Princess Bi married in the future, Miss Huang’er couldn’t possibly claim to have the final say. The royals dismissed the idea, but didn’t let it show.
Everyone had thought Huang’er was joking, but she wasn’t at all. After the conversation, she lit an incense stick in the dirt to complete their oath of sisterhood.
This was rather to Bluesmoke’s benefit. The more formal the ritual was, the better it was for their reputation. At least, the whole situation would seem less like a joke. That lessened the blow to their pride.
Ling Bi’er had been immensely excited ever since she learned Huang’er’s true identity. However, she knew she needed to control herself for the time being.
She was more than willing to become sworn sisters with Huang’er. She had no family on Myriad Abyss Island and had felt exceedingly lonely throughout the years even with the royal family taking care of her.
Having an old acquaintance like Huang’er as her sister was comforting. She was in a good mood throughout the ritual.
Ling Bi’er was two years older than Huang’er. She was therefore the older sister.
“Older sister Bi’er, it’s such a shame that someone as beautiful and talented like you isn’t more known to the world. Why don’t you come to Eternal Divine Nation with me to get some fresh air and meet the geniuses there? You’ll be more well-known then.” Huang’er affected a dramatic tone. On the surface, it was an invitation to Ling Bi’er, but she was actually addressing the Bluesmoke royal family.
Didn’t they want to marry their princess off to aristocracy in the Ten Divine Nations? In that case, shouldn’t it be in line with their goals for her to take the princess to Eternal Divine Nation?
Ling Bi’er added, “I’ve long heard about the Ten Divine Nations and I’ve always wanted to go there myself. My limited cultivation stopped me previously, and now I’d like to go, not to make a name for myself, but to see more of the world.”
“Is the imperial family willing to let your princess stay with me in Eternal Divine Nation for a while?”
“Well...” the royals were hesitant.
“What? Are you worried that I’ll run off with your princess?” Huang’er smiled superciliously. “Or that we’ll actually get married?”
“You’ve misunderstood, Miss Huang'er,” one of the royals explained hastily. “It’s just that we’re in no place to make a decision for Princess Bi. His Majesty has to give his approval.”
“Then I’ll wait for His Majesty to make a decision. The day he makes the decision will be the day I leave.” Huang’er took Ling Bi’er’s hand in hers and continued with a smile. “Us women have to judge our potential husbands carefully before getting married, Sister Bi’er. We mustn’t treat our marriage lightly. You’re my big sister now and I won’t let them marry you off to some random man. Once we’re in Eternal Divine Nation, there will be a lot of geniuses from respected families for you to pick from.”
Jiang Chen was quite amused. Huang’er’s intelligence was truly admirable.
The royal family had no choice but to defer to the emperor. They relayed everything that had happened.
The emperor didn’t immediately make a decision. He knew that if he stopped Princess Bi’er from leaving, House Yan might be offended. It couldn’t hurt for her to go to Eternal Divine Nation. Huang’er wasn’t going to actually marry the princess, after all.
One could run, but no one could not hide.
The emperor gave his permission on the condition that the princess must be protected and served by a group of imperial guards. That way, the royal family would be more at ease.
Huang’er naturally wasn’t going to deny them that.
The tournament had ended in an unexpected fashion, but everyone was surprisingly accepting of the results. Princess Bi staying single was a better result than her becoming some genius scion’s wife.
Huang’er and Princess Bi’s sisterhood became a much told tale. Both women were both remarkably stunning. They made a perfect match in a sense. None of the crowd left dissatisfied.
That was the odd thing about men. If there was a beautiful woman they couldn’t get, they didn’t want other men to have her either. The end of the tournament was dramatic and satisfactory to all.
Yan Qingsang’s wide grin didn’t falter on their way back to their temporary residence. He was so happy it was as if he’d been the one to win Princess Bi.
Jiang Chen didn’t understand him. “What are you so excited about, Brother Yan?”
“You don’t understand, brother. Don’t you know that a waterfront pavilion is the first to see the rising moon? Princess Bi is coming to House Yan with Huang’er. There’ll be plenty of opportunities for us to interact. One day… hehe.”
“You better put that thought to rest, Yan Qingsang,” Huang’er warned coolly, suddenly appearing behind her cousin. His expression twisted into one of embarrassment.