Edited by TnyhyChapter 124: Prince Rui (Part 1)
Early in the morning of the second day, Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan entered the Palace with Shen Qiu and did not return until in the afternoon. Emperor Wen Hui had restored their official position, and also returned the military tally to Shen Xin. The Shen family's army which was integrated with the Yu Ling's Army went back into Shen Xin’s hands, but Shen Xin did not look happy about it.
Pain was something that could cultivate one’s willpower and determination. In the arduous environment of the Xiao Chun City, to train the scattered like sand Luo family's army, to become an outstanding one, Shen Xin became even more indifferent by either gain or loss of Imperial favour. Towards Emperor Wen Hui’s tactic of slapping in the face then giving a sweet date, he did not show much reaction to it.
On the contrariwise not long after Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan entered the Palace, the Shen residence sent someone to Shen Miao to invite her back for a visit. Shen Miao was too lazy to care about those people, and directly instructed the servants to treat them as if they were not there. After the Shen residence’s people who came to notify waited for so long without a reply, they indicated that it was just a misunderstanding in the beginning, but by the end they started scolding Shen Xin and wife as cold, ruthless and unfilial descendants. Luo Ling frowned when he heard this and as Luo Tan had an impulsive character, she immediately rushed to the doors and scolded the Shen residence's people fiercely. Luo Tan grew up in the Xiao Chun City debating with the young ladies, so naturally she was incomparably crafty with her words, and spoke of how the Shen family's people threw stones when one was down until those people from the Shen residence were flushed with anger. Finally they could not withstand the surrounding commoners’ fingers of blame, and fled with their tails between their legs.
After Shen Xin and the rest returned, Shen Miao informed him of the matter. Shen Xin was silent for a moment before waving his hands, and instructing Mo Qing to arrange more guards in the residence's doors in the future. He did not give any emotion and was iron blooded. This was exactly aligned with Luo Tan’s perspective, and she clapped her hands in cheer.
Luo Xue Yan said during the meal, “The tribute will be held three days later and we all have to enter the Palace. For the afternoon, one had called a tailor to come and make some new clothes. Especially Tan-er and Jiao Jiao, we were not in the Ding capital for two years, and do not know what style or fabric is currently fashionable. One cannot fall behind on it.” When she said to the end, she saw Shen Miao’s gaze was very satisfied. Shen Miao had a reputation of being called an idiot by everyone two years ago but now after two years, Shen Miao had already shed one’s mortal body and exchanged one’s bones. She was so beautiful and elegant, and coupled with her bearing, one fear that even Princesses would feel a third inferior.
“Entering the Palace!” Luo Tan was somewhat excited, “That one can see the people in the Palace. Is it that one can also see the people from the Qin country and the Great Liang? I heard that the Qin country's people are born tall and huge and the Great Liang’s Imperial family are incomparably beautiful. One do not know how many can one see this time?”
Luo Xue Yan laughed in spite of oneself, “Our Ming Qi's people are not bad too. If Tan-er admire any gentleman in the tribute banquet, GuMu and GuFu can help you to inquire.”
When Luo Tan heard about the topic of her lifetime even, she was not even the slighted shy and even said, “I am not in a rush, but Biao Youngest Sister had to seriously consider. Biao Youngest Sister was not interested in those people in the Xiao Chun City, and there are much more noble gentlemen in the Ding capital. If Biao Youngest Sister is interested, one must first consider for yourself.” She mischievously smiled at Shen Miao.
Shen Miao swept her a glance and did not speak but it was Luo Ling, who was sitting at the side, whose hands that were holding the chopsticks tightened, and his eyes were somewhat hesitant.
When it was in the afternoon, a tailor really came over to make clothes for them. In order for Emperor Wen Hui to win over Shen Xin, he had given him a lot of rewards when he entered the Palace. Among them were a few bolts of excellent fabrics that could be used for clothes. It was the late autumn, so Luo Xue Yan let the tailor measure properly so that both Young Ladies would have a few new pieces to wear, and even winter clothes were also made. After some jewellery was sent over, both Young Ladies were dressed up glamorously.
In fact, Luo Xue Yan did not do it intentionally as the tribute was a major event. The Ming Qi had to show their most prosperous side in front of the Qin country and the Great Liang, thus all the civil and military officials would dress luxuriously along with their families, so as not to lose the Ming Qi’s face. Otherwise, one would be the biggest sinner under the Heavens.
Luo Ling would also tag along. This time, Shen Xin intended to find a position for Luo Ling in the Ministry of Defence, this was for Luo Ling to train his ability. Before this, naturally one had to bring Luo Ling to familiarise him with some of his colleagues, so that there would be assistance in the future.
In the three waiting days, Shen Miao would interestingly listen daily to Jing Zhe and Gu Yu, as they probed the events that happened within the three years that they were away (2 years plus travel time). However, she was surprised that the Feng Xian Pawnshop, closed its doors shortly after Shen Xin left for the Xiao Chun City. One did not know why, but a few days back it then reopened, saying that the manager went for a trip, and only returned shortly back to the Ding capital.
Feng An Ning came to know that Shen Miao had returned, and sent a letter over saying that she wanted to personally look for her, but since they will be seeing each other during the Palace banquet, she did not need to make the trip. Other than Feng An Ning, Su Ming Lang also send a letter to her. It was written in a crooked handwriting and also done behind his residence's back, as he had gotten his own servant to send it over, making Shen Miao to be between laughter and tears.
After accompany Luo Tan to the different restaurants boisterously, in an instant it was the day of the tribute.
The Ming Qi’s tribute was the major even in the entire dynasty, so early in the morning the bells of the southern mountain rang.
The street vendors were all discussing about this matter, however according to the Imperial family’s regulation, the commoners were unable to enter the Palace, and could only listen to the sounds and movements outside the Palace walls. Majority of the people were envious of the Officials’ family, as they could bring them in. Those higher ranked officials could even attend the tribute’s banquet.
Seeing the country’s extravagant and magnificent banquet, it always give others a false impression of peace and prosperity. The commoners were often very simple and could only see what was in front of them, and thought that Ming Qi could last forever and pass down from generations. Only rarely, would smart people be able to see clearly that the enemies outside were vague, and there were many internal worries, but in this precarious state, one only did enough on the surface. How could it really be a situation when one could sit back and relax?
Shen Xin’s carriage stopped at the front of the Palace's gates, and there was a number of Palace's people who were waiting to lead the entourage in. Luo Tan looked around curiously and Shen Qiu had to press her head down in case she offended any noble people. Luo Ling appeared to be very composed. Even though it was his first time entering the Palace, he was incomparably proper.
When the ceremony was about to start, almost all the civil and military officials were present. Drums sounded and music were played as hundreds of ceremonial cannons were fired, making everything grand, magnificent and illustrious.
The Emperor and Empress sat at the highest seat and when Shen Miao looked over, Emperor Wen Hui was wearing dragon robes and had a dignified and majestic appearance, no different from two years ago. However if one were to look carefully, now he require the help of a GongGong to walk and his footsteps were not as strong as before, as he had grown older a lot.
Fu Xiu Yi followed the rest of the Princes and stood at one side. Now he had a fine appearance and was extremely outstanding among the Princes. He was the youngest of them all, but was now so handsome that he instigated a number of noble Young Ladies to secretly look over. Fu Xiu Yi after all was unable to hide his magnificentness, and one expect that his older brother would not be at ease with him as they were initially.
Shen Miao also looked towards the direction of Fu Xiu Yi, but the place in which her gaze landed was however behind Fu Xiu Yi, at a plainly dressed male among the officials. That person’s noble bearing was high and had a kind of alienating feel among the officials. He did not look like an official but instead a scholar. That person was Pei Lang.
The place that Pei Lang stood was not far from Fu Xiu Yi, and in such occasion as this and with Fu Xiu Yi’s cautious attitude, it obviously meant that he was dependant and trusted Pei Lang, thus he gave Pei Ling such a big respect. Seeming aware of the gaze, Fu Xiu Yi suddenly looked over and Shen Miao’s gazed moved and did not stop. Fu Xiu Yi looked into the crowd for a moment before turning his head over.
At the sitting area for guests, there was a male and female seated and both looked rather young. By late autumn, the weather was actually a little cold and those officials’ daughters that were dressed up, would also wear a cloak to block the wind. But this young female wore a thin gold dress with complicated embroideries, and such embroideries would require a year and a half to complete. This young female also had exquisite eyes, but her actions were not very respectful as when the official in charge of the ceremony was reading the prayers for blessing, she turned a deaf ear and kept sweeping her eyes at the crowd, without a trace of respect at all.
This young female was Princess Ming An. Beside her, there was the Crown Prince of the Qin country, HuangFu Hao. HuangFu Hao was better than Princess Ming An, and still smiled at the process on the state and did not show unbridled impudency, as if one was truly sincere about the Ming Qi’s tribute. But it made others feel one’s heart chilled under such a hypocritical smile.
It was Luo Tan’s first time to such an event so she felt novel about it, and naturally took noticed of the people at the noble guests' seats. She thought for a moment before pulling the sleeves of an official’s daughter beside her, and whispered when no one noticed, “Why is there only the Crown Prince and Princess of the Qin country, what about Prince Rui of the Great Liang?”
That Young Lady was caught unaware by Luo Tan and almost jump in shock. Even though she was somewhat unhappy, she had good manners to answer Luo Tan’s question, “His Highness Prince Rui of the Great Liang is not feeling well, so he will not be coming today.”
Luo Tan was suddenly enlightened and looked towards Shen Miao. She was standing by her side, and naturally would have heard the conversation between Luo Tan and that Young Lady. Luo Tan said, “This Prince Rui’s arrogance is really big. Is this not intentionally embarrassing the Emperor?”
The Qin country's and the Great Liang's people came to the Ming Qi tribute to congratulate, but at the end, Prince Rui did not appear at the ceremony. Was not this as good as giving a slap to the Imperial family of Ming Qi? But the Imperial family of Ming Qi dared not get angry and not only that, they still lifted others with good food and drinks and this was all because in this world, the strong were respected and the Ming Qi dared not oppose the Great Liang.
The entire tribute ceremony required exactly three Shichen (1shichen – 2 hours) from the beginning to the end, starting at the hottest time in the afternoon, and was only completed when it was nearing the evening. All of the civil and military officials and their families could not leave. This was a prolonged torment and it was the same for the Emperor and Empress. The higher one's position was, the more people will give them attention, and the more they could not show any signs of fatigue.
Even Luo Tan, a female who had martial arts, also felt somewhat weak but when she turned her head, she saw Shen Miao’s straight posture with hands overlapped as she looked in front. She still had a dignified atmosphere and Luo Tan could not help but be slightly startled. She softly asked, “Biao Youngest Sister, are not you tired?”
Shen Miao said, “Not tired.”
Luo Tan signed in amazement. The surrounding female guests all relied on their wide sleeves and robes to relax, and it was rare to see people like Shen Miao with such one track mind. Luo Tan initially wanted to persuade Shen Miao to secretly relax a bit, but looking at her movements, she was unable to say anything.
Luo Tan had always been aware of Shen Miao’s impressive bearings. She was not one who will bite words and chew characters, but could not verbalise what this feeling exactly was, and only felt that Shen Miao was different from the other Young Ladies in the Xiao Chun City. Now at this place, there was an illusion that in such an awe-inspiring place Shen Miao was able to do it, it was the correct gesture to have. Even the Empress sitting at the high position was no better as poised as Shen Miao was. For a sixteen year old female to hold such a graceful gesture, it was already very rare.
Not only did Luo Tan noticed this, it seemed that some noble families’ gentlemen had also gradually been attracted by Shen Miao. Among the listless noble females, Shen Miao was too outstanding. Luo Ling saw this and quietly turned sideways to cover Shen Miao with his body, so as to block those presumptuous eyes.
When Luo Xue Yan saw this, she smiled at him. Shen Miao was muddled with this as Luo Tan winked at Luo Ling. Luo Ling’s face slightly reddened as he turned his head over as if nothing had happened.
After the three Shichen of ceremony was over, one need to follow the Emperor and Empress to the banquet. The banquet at night was filled with dance and music to let the people of the Qin country and the Great Liang see how wealthy and strong the Ming Qi was.
Shen Miao and Luo Tan followed the crowd into the Palace hall for a few steps, when someone pat her shoulders. Shen Miao looked back and saw a familiar face.