In order for the Crown Prince to welcome the guests from the Qin country and the Great Liang, he specially held a banquet. The Crown Prince of the Qin country and Princess Ming An were present, and Prince Rui of the Great Liang also accepted the invitation, and the nine Princes of Ming Qi accompanied at well.
Currently the Crown Prince’s medical condition had gotten more serious, and this was an unchanging fact. Because of that, Prince Chu and Prince Xuan, who were following the Crown Prince, had their morale shaken. For these two years, the Crown Prince’s influence was gradually replace by other Princes. Almost everyone had tacitly consent to this fact that the position of the Crown Prince, would not be sat for much too long. The Crown Prince himself most probably also realised this so in the two years, he was generally less involved in government affairs, not because he did not want to participate but there were just too little supporters.
On retrospect, two other factions, The entourage of Prince Zhou and Prince Jing, along Prince Li’s, had grown more prominent. Prince Li had been a smiling tiger and fawned everyone, thus he had many supporters. Prince Zhuo and brother relied on their consort mother, Consort Xu Xian. This two factions were now fighting like fire and water, and there was a number of times when the map was unrolled and the dagger was revealed.
The most steady one was actually Prince Ding, Fu Xiu Yi. Prince Ding was also involved in the matter of the court in these two years, but the matters in which he was involved were relatively easy, and seemed to deliberately show that he had no ambition at all. As it was all small matters, Emperor Wen Hui was extremely satisfied with him, and also because of his neutrality and peacefulness, he was not suppressed by the Crown Prince, Prince Zhuo or Prince Li.
On the contrary Prince Ding was the safest one.
In the hall, the Crown Prince smiled and lifted his cup with a smile, “Everyone came here from afar so one should celebrate.”
HuangFu Hao sat below the Crown Prince and raised his cup to him, “Many thanks to the Crown Prince’s hospitality.”
Princess Ming An was sitting beside HuangFu Hao, and after being confined by him for a few days, Princess Ming An was finally let out. She had especially dressed up today, and was making eyes at the purple clad youth sitting across her.
Unfortunately while the dropping flowers pined for love, the heartless brook babbled on unrequited love. Prince Rui’s face was half covered by a mask, and his eyes did not look over to her end. However, he also did not look at the Crown Prince at all, and just stared at the wine cup, no one knew what he was thinking.
The Crown Prince asked with a laugh, “Why is Prince Rui not drinking? Is it that the wine is
not of one’s taste?”
Prince Rui’s lips hooked up, “Not feeling well, thus not drinking.”
This was slapping one’s face without hiding at all. Even though this Prince Rui’s actions after he had come to Ming Qi were always mysterious, and no one could tell what attitude he had for Ming Qi, but his etiquette was exceptional. Today, everyone present could not help but have a thought pop into their minds, that the Prince Rui of the Great Liang seemed to be a little annoyed.
Everything was perfectly fine so who provoked him?
The Crown Prince looked somewhat awkward so Fu Xiu Yi said, “In this case, Your Highness Prince Rui can drink tea as a replacement for wine. Someone come and serve tea to Prince Rui.”
Fu Xiu Yi spoke and continued the Crown Prince’s conversation, thus the Crown Prince’s expression was much better and was a bit grateful with Fu Xiu Yi. The rest of the Princes also agreed with Fu Xiu Yi’s words. Even though Prince Rui background was not small, but no one was willing to be submissive in front of other countries. Fu Xiu Yi’s words were firm yet not rude, and took into consideration the reputation of Ming Qi.
HuangFu Hao looked probingly at Prince Rui, but Princess Ming An was looking somewhat worried at Prince Rui and said, “Does Prince Rui not feel right? Is there a need to call the Imperial Physician to take a look?”
When HuangFu Hao heard this, his expression got heavier and he fiercely glared at Princess Ming An. It was alright if Princess Ming An was too arrogant and wilful on normal days, but to be so lovesick in front of so many Princes in Ming Qi, this was letting others watch a joke. HuangFu Hao was a male, and males were the clearest at how other males think. The gaze that Prince Rui used to look at Princess Ming An was clearly of somewhat impatience. It was alright if this Prince Rui was one who was magnanimous, but if Prince Rui really had a bad temper and got fed up with Princess Ming An, he would also not have good feelings for the entire Qin country, and the person who would be in a loss was him.
Prince Rui did not heed her words at all, but instead looked at the person sitting right at the back across him. Everyone noticed his gaze and looked towards the direction and saw that it was Prince Ding, Fu Xiu Yi.
Fu Xiu Yi was the Prince that knew his place and behaved himself among the nine Princes, but at the moment Prince Rui was only looking at him, so the gaze of the few other Princes also somewhat changed. Fu Xiu Yi was calm and did not seem to panic because of Prince Rui was directly looking at him.
Prince Rui suddenly laughed and said, “Before coming to Ming Qi, one had heard that the Ninth Prince was a young and handsome youth
youth and now when one see, it is truly a deserved reputation. One do not know if there is already a marriage.”
Everyone did not expect that Prince Rui would suddenly say such things, and their expression became weird. Fu Xiu Yi was stunned for a moment before replying, “Not yet.”
Prince Zhou laughed out loud. He sat beside Fu Xiu Yi and took the opportunity to pat Fu Xiu Yi’s shoulder, “Our Number Nine is the only one without a consort among us brothers. Why? Is Prince Rui also interested in Number Nine’s marriage?”
The lips under Prince Rui’s mask hooked up as he leisurely said, “There are many age-appropriate Princesses in the Great Liang’s Palace. When this Prince saw the Ninth Prince, one felt as though one had met a kindred spirit, and is determined to promote a marriage alliance.”
When the words were spoken, everyone present changed their expressions.
The meaning of Prince Rui’s words were actually wishing to be in-laws with Fu Xiu Yi. If it was really as what Prince Rui said and he married a Great Liang’s Princess, it would not only mean that he has the backing of a consort but also the Great Liang. If one had a moderate attitude towards Fu Xiu Yi, it was because Fu Xiu Yi had never shown any interest in the Imperial throne but with Prince Rui’s words, it made everyone else unable to look at Fu Xiu Yi like before. This was because once Fu Xiu Yi marries a Great Liang’s Princess, he would become the most powerful contender of the Imperial throne.
Fu Xiu Yi’s hands that were holding the wine cup, suddenly tightened as he quietly looked at Prince Rui.
Was it truly like what was superficially said, that he wanted a Great Liang’s Princess to be married to him? Fu Xiu Yi did not think so.
Prince Rui was not helping, but harming him.
Fu Xiu Yi had always upheld the idea of keeping a low profile, and not show his cards until the last moment. Even though Prince Rui’s conditions were extremely attractive, if it was really out of good intentions, Fu Xiu Yi would not be unwilling, but this was brought up in front of all the Princes. It was just one sentence and all of the Princes’ eyes were up on guard, and almost pushed him to the point where the wind and waves were the fiercest.
No matter how moved he was by it, it was impossible to agree. Fu Xiu Yi clenched his teeth. He did not know the reason but he actually felt that this Prince Rui, that he had never met before, seemed to be brimming with hostility against him, else he would not have casually said such words and put him in such a difficult position.
He started to be vigilant against Prince Rui in his heart but on surface he smiled, “Many thanks for Prince Rui’s generous favour. It is just that at present this one does not have any
have any thoughts of marrying a wife.”
“Oh.” A smile hooked up on Prince Rui’s lips, “Does the Ninth Prince admire a female, thus unwilling? This Prince will never breakup a pair of lovebirds and if it is really so, one would not pressure.”
“Your Highness is joking.” Fu Xiu Yi cupped his hands together, “It is just that one does not have such intentions yet.”
Seeing Fu Xiu Yi rejecting Prince Rui’s offer neatly, the expression on every Princes then became better. But after the experience just now, they no longer feel as rest assured as previous with Fu Xiu Yi. Today Fu Xiu Yi had rejected but who can guarantee that he would change his mind about the Imperial throne? It was after all the biggest temptation. All nine of them wanted to gamble as such, how would a saint appear in the Imperial family?
“This is strange.” Prince Rui seemed to be very interested in Fu Xiu Yi, and did not let him go even after Fu Xiu Yi rejected his proposal. He smiled but was not a smile, “The Ninth Prince have yet to marry and have did not admire anyone, so why not consider the matter? This Prince see that the Ninth Prince is an outstanding talent. Could it be that there are no young ladies that admire you?”
When those words were said, the slightly rough and boorish Prince Chen laughed out loud, “Your Highness Prince Rui is not aware of it, but originally in our Ming Qi there is a Young Lady that love our Number Nine till the entire court was aware of it.”
“Is it Shen Miao?” Not waiting for Prince Chen to finish, Princess Ming An interrupted his words in a rush. Princess Ming An had heard about the rumours on Shen Miao, and initially laughed a lot about it.
“So the Princess also knew about it.” Prince Chen was somewhat surprised.
“The entire Qin country know the matter about Shen Miao loving His Highness Prince Ding. It is not considered to be something bizarre.” Princess Ming An said, rejoicing in another’s misfortune. As long it was a matter that could let Shen Miao be shamed, she would always be willing to take part.
“Correct.” Prince Chen laughed, “Your Highness Prince Rui may not know, but this Shen Miao is the Di daughter of the Formidable Great General, and was the one who competed with Her Princess Highness on the tribute banquet.” He then sighed and said, “One believed that at the beginning Shen Miao was still young, and would keep on thinking of ways all day to look for Number Nine, and she did not know what was shame and directly spoke to Number Nine about her love for him. She even did needlework, making pastries, learning to play the Qin and write poetry for Number Nine. Gee, she really had done a lot of things.” Even though Prince Chen said that but his words were actually a malicious insult, as if he was watching he was watching a joke.
“However on the day of the tribute banquet, she had some gracefulness.” The one talking was HuangFu Hao. It was two different things to hear from rumours and to hear it from an insider. HuangFu Hao was inevitably somewhat surprised, as how Shen Miao had presented herself during the tribute banquet and in the Qin’s residence, was not one who would accept a compromise. Doing needlework and making pastries. HuangFu Hao thought about the time when Shen Miao was dealing coldly with Princess Ming An, he felt very bizarre. He joked, “The Ninth Prince really have a heart of steel.”
“At that time, that Shen Young Lady was young.” Prince Chen continued speaking, “Who knew that after two years she would become so beautiful. Moreover, now one is unable to see any one bit of the originally stupid and cowardly demeanor, or even her past image. Among all the young ladies in this Ming Qi’s Ding capital, there are not many who is more outstanding than her.” Prince Chen smiled, “If one had the foresight, Number Nine would not need to be so merciless at the beginning and let down a beauty. One has to know that it is too late for regrets now.”
Princess Ming An sneered, “This Shen Young Lady is also a marvellous person. She is a female but do not know a little shame at all, and directly chase like this. It is really hard on her to do needlework, making pastries and following around. Really very considerate.”
Knowing that Princess Ming An was dealt by Shen Miao during the tribute banquet, one knew that she was not happy with Shen Miao, so all the Princes only smiled and did not speak.
It was Fu Xiu Yi who lightly shook his head and said, “Shen Young Lady is a good person. May everyone not use her as a joke as it would be a sin to destroy her reputation, and neither anyone could afford to take responsibility.”
“Number Nine, you are just too serious.” Prince Chu laughed, “You do not want others, and could it be that you do not allow others to have? If we did not have established our consorts, I am willing to marry Shen Young Lady.”
“Exactly.” The Princes continuously echoed.
“Indeed is like this.” HuangFu Hao laughed, “If I was the Ninth Prince, I will also certainly marry her.”
Princess Ming An was extremely annoyed. She looked towards Prince Rui and discovered that Prince Rui was not joking around with others, but was quiet and her heart became happy as she asked, “Does Prince Rui also think so?”
Prince Rui paused.
Everyone eyes looked towards him.
The young man wearing a mask picked up the wine cup to play and said lightly, “Doing needlework, making pastries, learning to play the Qin and write poetry for a man.”
Princess Ming An said, “Correct, practically offending social decency and expose one to ridicule.”
“Such a good young lady.” Prince Rui smiled, “As luck would have it, this prince also want.”