The way Yun Qian Yu's eyes sparkles upon seeing the grapes makes Chen Xiang laughs; her Mistress will only show that kind of reaction to Hong Su's cooking and grapes. Only then will she look like every other teenage maidens out there.
A couple of days ago, her Mistress was poisoned and had to recuperate in Xian Wang's manor. All the grapes sent by Yun Valley become rotten, so they had to throw it all away. The latest harvest, on the other hand, has not arrived. Besides, Yun Valley is so far away. Even if they use the fastest speed possible to send the grapes over, it is not fresh out of the shelves.
"Mistress, this is sent by San Qiu."
"En." Yun Qian Yu who originally plans to go out ends up sitting for a while. When Chen Xiang steps forward to peel the skin off the grapes, she stops her, "I can do it myself."
Chen Xiang quickly hands her a wet handkerchief. Seeing that, Yun Qian Yu is suddenly reminded of Gong Sang Mo who wiped her hands clean that night. Her face suddenly feels warm.
She accepts the handkerchief and wipes her hand clean before taking a piece of grape and peeling it off it's skin. Then, she places it in her mouth. Her eyes turn into narrow slits as she eats in delight, even the faint redness on her face gradually disappears.
She finishes the entire tray not long later.
"Mistress, there are more. San Qiu said that he will be sending grapes every day, from now on. Xian Wang's manor is currently harvesting their grapes."
They can already see the intention Xian Wang harbors towards their Mistress, only their Mistress still fails to see it.
Man Er thoughtlessly opens her mouth, "Xian Wang sure treats our Mistress well."
Hearing that, Yun Qian Yu's eyes flash. She does not speak before she gets up and walks out. "Man Er following me will be enough."
Man Er happily follows her.
As Yun Qian Yu and Man Er leaves the palace, Feng Ran chases after them. Hu Guo Princess' token is indeed useful, the three of them manages to leave the palace without a fuss.
She is not boarding a carriage today, she intends to walk around the capital before heading to Ya Xuan.
Ya Xuan is a place where many scholars gather. To be able to enter Ya Xuan, it does not depend on your position and wealth, but rather your talent. The people who go there for the first time will have to create a poem. If it is to the owner of Ya Xuan's liking, they will receive a gate token with the character 'Xuan'. They can use that token to enter Ya Xuan from then onwards.
Tian Street is the capital's main street. Lots and lots of shops line the busy street, it is a prosperous sight.
Yun Qian Yu, Feng Ran and Man Er slowly explore the street.
"How?" Yun Qian Yu asks in a low voice.
"A member of the imperial guard went and checked the trap." Feng Ran replies in a soft voice.
"Whose people was it?"
"We don't know. After he checked it, he left the palace and headed for the eastern part of the capital. And then, he entered an obscure courtyard and didn't come out. I think there is a secret passage inside, if I or my people followed him, I'm afraid we would have made the other party aware of our presence."
"You did the right thing!"
"A lot of officials and nobles lives in the eastern part of the city; Rui Qinwang's manor, Duke Rong's manor, the prime minister's manor, the Minister of Works, the Minister of Rites, Grand Tutor Jiang, Scholar Lu and so many others."
"Have you investigated to whom that courtyard belongs to?"
"Yes. It belongs to a merchant from Jingzhou. He sells rouge in the capital."
"Keep an eye on that courtyard; do not alarm anyone."
"I already sent Yun Guards to take care of it." Feng Ran brought a lot of Yun Guards here with him.
"Bring Han Zhu here. Since Jin Luan Hall has been compromised, it is very likely that other places have been too."
"Yes!" As he says that, Feng Ran's eyes falls on a rouge shop not far away. "Mistress, it is that rouge shop."
Yun Qian Yu looks at the shop; Liu Xiang Rouge Shop? She walks towards it. There is a banner embroidered with the words 'Liu Xiang' hanging on the entrance of the shop, blowing gently with the wind.
A middle aged woman appears as Yun Qian Yu eyes that banner. She breaks into a smile upon making eye contact with Yun Qian Yu, "Ya~, what an exquisite maiden. You coming over to visit my little shop is akin to three lifetime's worth of prosperity! Are you here to pick a rouge, miss? You came to the right place! Even though my shop is small, I have a lot of good things inside!"
Yun Qian Yu looks at the eloquent lady before entering the shop.
The lady follows her and motions her worker to serve tea. "Just one look and I can tell that miss is from a rich and noble clan. You look vivid and full of life, unlike girls from regular family."
The corner of Yun Qian Yu's lips is raised, she knows very well what kind of expression she is wearing on her own face. That lady can come up with that kind of praise even while facing her ice cold face; she is truly not a simple person.
"Madam is not born here?" Yun Qian Yu look at the tea on the table, it is from Jing Zhou.
"Miss has good eyes. I was born in Jing Zhou and followed my husband to the capital to open our shop and seek better future for our children. We made the right decision it seems. The emperor has decreed to hold the imperial examination early and will test children from normal families. My son is coincidentally the candidate chosen by the tributary state last year, this is a really good opportunity for us." The lady exclaims with raised eyebrows.
'This is indeed a good opportunity."
"I heard this idea was proposed by the imperial grandson. I never thought the young imperial grandson would actually think about normal families like us, he will definitely be a great ruler in the future."
Yun Qian Yu didn't think Murong Cang will put all the credit on Yu Jian; he really is thoughtful and caring when it comes to him.
"Well look at me, the moment I started to speak, I forgot our original purpose. What kind of rouge do you want, miss? I have all kind of rouges here, even the kind that those foreign clan from outside uses!"
"Oh? Foreign clan's rouge? How do those people look like?" Don't tell her, it's the same foreign people she has in mind!
"One of them who has a business deal with my husband; his hair is in the color of gold, his eyes are blue, his skin is scarily fair and his nose is really high! When I first saw him, I thought I was seeing a ghost!" the lady laughs.
There are foreigners here? Yun Qian Yu is a little shocked.
"Why don't you take out those foreigners' rouge for me to see."
The lady deftly takes out a sandalwood box from the counter. She puts it on the table in front of Yun Qian Yu before opening it and carefully taking it out. Then, she places it in front of Yun Qian Yu.
It is true! Yun Qian Yu picks up the exquisite, round, metal compact box. There are English writings on top of it. She gently opens the compact box.
The lady is surprised, "Have you used this before, miss? I took a lot of time to figure out how to open this when I first got it."
"Oh, really? I simply saw a protruding part here, so I pressed it a little. I didn't think it will open," Yun Qian Yu simply says.
"Miss is so smart!" The woman immediately praises her.
Yun Qian Yu eyes the rouge set one by one before picking a couple of the most exquisite ones. "I would like to buy these."
"Miss has really good eyes! These are the finest products here!"
"Money is not an issue." Yun Qian Yu understands what the lady is implying; she is saying that these will be expensive.
"Alright! Miss is a refreshing person! Our kingdom's rouge is not inferior to that of the foreign people’s! The only value it has is because of how long it takes to arrive here! It will take three months for this to reach us! Since this is miss' first time here, I will not charge you that much. Only 120 liang."
"Alright." Yun Qian Yu does not really care about money; she has never been short of money, be it in this lifetime or the one before.
Hearing that, the smile on the lady's face turns deeper. She takes out a brocade box and place the rouges neatly inside before handing it over to Man Er.
After receiving the box, Man Er hands her money. Seeing it, the lady gives them a difficult look, "Miss, this is my first sell of the day. I don't have enough change."
Yun Qian Yu look at the money, one of it is worth 100 liang and the other, 50 liang.
Man Er speaks up, "Mistress, I didn't bring change."
Yun Qian Yu looks in front before turning to Feng Ran, "Go to the bank in front and change our money."
The lady hand over the fifty liang notes to Feng Ran who in turns accepts in and walks out. She then enthusiastically changes Yun Qian Yu's tea for a hotter one before chatting with her. Even though Yun Qian Yu barely answers her, the lady remains just as enthusiastic.
Before Feng Ran even returns, a refined-looking man in green who looks like he is around twenty, enters. "Mother, my Father still hasn't returned?" The man asks the moment he enters. Only then did he realize the presence of a customer there; and it is a pretty girl to boot. She looks like she comes out of a painting. He blushes a little.
"You crude child, can't you see Mother is entertaining a customer? Go to the back courtyard first!" The lady quickly scolds him, afraid that her son has offended the customer.
"Er, alright!" The man answers before walking away.
As Feng Ran returns, he bumps right into the man. He unwittingly frowns before handing the change to Man Er.
Man Er gives twenty liang to the lady before keeping away the thirty liang.
After Yun Qian Yu gets up, the lady enthusiastically sends the three people off.
Once they are a distance away from the shop, Yun Qian Yu breaks the silence, "There is a problem with that lady's son?"
Feng Ran replies her, "He was the one who opened the door for that imperial guard."
"He is taking part in this year's examination." Yun Qian Yu says.
"I understand." Feng Ran immediately understands what Yun Qian Yu implies.
There are a lot of shops lining the Tian Street; the atmosphere overall is merry. Ever since she arrived in this world, she never really strolls around. First of all, she hates noisy places. Second of all, she has no interest in things that young maidens normally gush over. Besides, everything she wants will be placed in front of her by Feng Ran and the First Elder, there is no need for her to personally come out and buy stuff.
Walking around like this today, she discovers that this too is a way of living. In just one straight road, one can see all kinds of lives. From now on, if the opportunity arises, she should go out more and explore the landscape of Nan Lou Kingdom.
She turns around and glances at the brocade box in Man Er's hand. That is the first thing she ever bought; she never thought it would be a box of rouge that she has never used. She did not even plan on buying anything prior to leaving the palace. Life is truly a play; it is unpredictable ah.
The three people's outstanding appearances attract the eyes of the crowd. Some merely whispers to each other while some openly discusses about them.
Yun Qian Yu appears calm, as though the person those people are talking about is not her.
Man Er openly gives the crowd a big eye-roll while Feng Ran is even more direct, directing his dagger-like eyes to the crowd. As expected, after receiving Feng Ran's icy glance, the crowd's actions weaken by a fair lot.
"What a coincidence!" The owner of a casual voice blocks Yun Qian Yu's path. She can tell who he is just from his voice.
"Seems like Crown Prince Jin is in the mood to enjoy the merry air."
"Princess seems so too. I wonder if our interest is the same." Long Jin is wearing a splendid black robe. He is followed by one servant.
"I do not know if our interest is the same, but our purpose today should be the same." Yun Qian Yu circle past Long Jin and continues walking forward.
Long Jin glance at Yun Qian Yu who is ignoring his existence before following her.
"Since our purpose is the same, let's go together."
When Yun Qin Yu does not reply him, Long Jin continues speaking, "I originally planned to invite Princess along, but since the invitation will be made in a rush, I was afraid that Princess will not have the time. Who would have thought that we would bump into each other on the road! Our destiny seems pretty deep."
Yun Qian Yu points at a road-side performance for Long Jin to see.
Long Jin appears confused, "Don't tell me Princess has never seen this performance before?" He throws some money to the singing lady as he says that.
The lady thanks him profusely.
Yun Qian Yu looks at him like she is looking at an idiot.
The corner of Feng Ran's lips is raised demonically, "What my Mistress means by that is, Prince Long Jin's words sounds better than that lady's singing."
Long Jin froze for a moment before realizing that Yun Qian Yu has been making fun of him without saying a single word.
Long Jin laughs in spite of himself. At least, she bothers to use her mouth when she was heading against those people in the banquet that day. Today, however, she ridicules him by only using her finger. Does that mean that he is lesser than those ministers?
"This prince's words will only sounds good depending on who the other party is." Long Jin teases her back, refusing to lose.
Yun Qian Yu then points at a waiter who is busy trying to attract customers outside a restaurant.
Long Jin frowns. What is this about? Why does his usually alert brain suddenly feels so slow today?
Feng Ran chuckles, "My Mistress is saying that Your Highness' words are the same as that waiter; nine out of ten are lies."
Long Jin finally understands why Rui Qinwang vomited blood that day; he also understands why he was forced to swallow it back. Really cannot win against this person ah! He is not willing to lose ah!
"Your guard is really competent ah, he actually understands his Mistress so thoroughly like that." Long Jin looks at Feng Ran before turning to Yun Qian Yu, secretly trying to sow discord.
She suddenly stops, a layer of iciness formed on her beautiful pair of eyes. Her hair floats around and Long Jin can tell that she is angry. Very very angry.
serene: Finally, this took me so long! Why does it feels like so much longer in Chinese! ><
Anyway, I have a really weak spot for Feng Ran.