Ya Xuan (2)
Long Jin looks at Yun Qian Yu who is ignoring his existence. He cannot help but frown, why is she so cold? He needs to satisfy his curiosity. He quickly chases after Yun Qian Yu and walk with her side by side.
Yun Qian Yu does not pay any attention to Long Jin. Her purpose today is to seek talented manpower, so all her focus has been placed on Ya Xuan.
After passing the gate, Ya Xuan stretches into a long street. It is very big.
There is a little bridge above a body of water along the way. There is also a viewing pavilion and a bamboo garden; all in all, it looks like it has everything an elegant scholar will like. Bells are also hanged along the long corridor, tinkling along with the wind.
After passing the two flower gates, one can see an ornamented building opposite a sea of flower. The building's door is wide open and they can hear the sound of people chattering from inside.
Just from the sound of it, they realize that those people are talking about the poem Yun Qian Yu just wrote.
Long Jin glances at Yun Qian Yu; she does not show any reaction at all. Her face is calm, like water.
Long Jin really wants to dissect her; he wants to see which part of her heart is different from other women's. She is so young, how can she be that level-headed and calm? Is she not curious about what those people have to say about her poem? Is she that confident in herself? How on earth did Yun Valley comes out with this peculiar yet beautiful flower?
"Princess seems pretty confident in your poem…"
Yun Qian Yu glance at him, "What brings Crown Prince Jin to that conclusion?"
"Why else are you so calm?"
"I wrote that poem to get to Ya Xuan. Now that I am here and have achieved my purpose, whatever they think has nothing to do with me."
Long Jin is dumbfounded; her remark is very hard to nitpick at.
"Don't you hope they will all like your poem?" Long Jin asks. He finds her answer hard to believe.
"It is a poem, not silver, so it is not possible for everyone to like it."
Yun Qian Yu gives Long Jin a look with her large, pretty eyes; one that somehow says 'are you stupid?' Long Jin is depressed. This is the first time he ever tasted defeat in his life.
"Jin Guo Tao Hua; what a pretty name. It sounds firm yet gentle." Someone in Zheng Hall praises.
(TN: Jin Guo (巾帼) means women's headdress but in this context, it also means, women. Or rather, extraordinary women. Tao Hua (桃花) means peach blossom.)
"Who did they say wrote this, again?" Another one asks.
"If I am not mistaken, it is written by Princess Hu Guo!"
"Princess Hu Guo came to Ya Xuan?" Another person curiously asks.
"Let me see Princess Hu Guo's literary talent."
A burst of discussion can be heard before the man from before recite her poem:
'A thick tresses of hair, a jade hairpin and a bashful jade-like face,
The thin eyebrows are laden with worries,
Plum blossom blooms, marking the transition of cold winter to spring,
Water leaks a thousand chi in the midst of lofty sentiments,
The land is vast and beautiful,
Cold sword pierce through the frontier's invaders,
The hand is grasping books of war and strategy,
Riding the horse towards the enemy's camp while wearing rouge,
The song of victory echoes and the maiden laughs,
Delicate peach blossoms are stored in her pouch,
Her headdress (jinguo) does not lose to a man's aspiration,
The dream of having an unformidable army."
Just as the man finishes reciting, another man quips in, "I know! This poem is about the founding princess, Murong Tao Hua!"
Everyone whispers amongst themselves, the founding princess Murong Tao Hua is a legendary female figure in Nan Lou Kingdom. That year, she went to war dressed as a man, leading the troops successfully. She was courageous and brave. She attacked the enemy from behind at the most critical moment, immediately swooping in victory. When they were singing the victory song, her helmet fell. Only then did the people knew she was a woman, the princess at that. From then onwards, Murong Tao Hua became Nan Lou kingdom's female icon.
"What a good poem! Princess Tao Hua's femininity and bravery is described really vividly."
"Is Princess Hu Guo likening herself to Princess Tao Hua?"
"Princess Tao Hua is the primary princess of the imperial family. Princess Hu Guo on the other hand, doesn't have even one drop of the imperial family's blood."
"But the emperor actually let her participate in politic. I heard, from today onwards, she will attend the morning court."
"Her penmanship is not bad; but as for whether or not she is capable in politic, we still cannot tell. After all, she is only a girl. Even the meritous Princess Tao Hua could only be married off the moment she returned to the capital back then."
"You are right. Women should only involve themselves in household matters."
Yun Qian Yu does not enter the hall, she merely stands from far away. Everything they said reaches her hearing. This kind of mentality is deeply buried in men's minds. She does not plan to change their mindsets either so she continues standing there, studying those people's expressions carefully.
Long Jin playfully laughs. Those shallow people…. Even if they band with each other, they may not necessarily be able to beat her and yet they dare to ridicule her like that? Do they think their emperor have bad eye-sights?
There are not many people in Zheng Hall, there are only about 20 to 30 people. Quite a number of them have black token hanging from their belts while some have wooden token. Yun Qian Yu glance at Long Jin and realizes that his is the same as hers, silver.
She realizes that these tokens all differs in rank.
"Every single person who wish to enter Ya Xuan will need to submit a satisfactory poem to the owner. If accepted, the poem will be hanged in Zheng Hall for one day, then in Qing Yuan Hall for one day and finally, in Ya Xuan's High Pavilion. Only people with silver token can enter Ya Xuan's High Pavilion." Long Jin kindly explains everything to her.
"What is the rank of the silver token here?" Yun Qian Yu asks.
"Second to only the owner of Ya Xuan." It is rare for Yun Qian Yu to speak to him; Long Jin immediately answers her.
At that moment, Feng Ran who has been inquiring around, returns.
"Mistress, Ya Xuan is divided into three courtyards. The first one is Zheng Hall. Anyone with token can enter Zheng Hall. The second one is Qing Yuan Hall; people with black token are not allowed entry. The last one is the High Pavillion; only people with silver token can enter the pavilion. The poem written by everyone will be stored in the High Pavillion in the end."
Yun Qian Yu nods. There are all kinds of people in Ya Xuan, but the one similarity they all have is that they are all talented.
Yun Qian Yu continues looking at them. Listening to one's words and observing their conduct can tell a lot about their personality. In her eyes, no matter how talented you are, your conduct matters most. If your personality is not good, even if you are talented, it is only a matter of time before you turns into a thorn. Yu Jian has little experience, she needs to safeguard everything for him.
After assessing them, she cannot find anyone who possesses what she is looking for. She heads towards Qing Yuan Hall.
As for the people in Zheng Hall, they waited for a long time yet Princess Hu Guo still hasn't appeared, "When will Princess Hu Guo arrive?"
One of them looks outside and sees a blue silhouette walking away, "Is that Princess Hu Guo?"
The crowd scrambles to the door like worms. As they crowd around each other, one of them speaks up, "Has anyone here sees Princess Hu Guo before?"
All of them shake their heads. Everyone is frustrated. Nobody even knows her, what are they gathering here for?
"But the man in black robes next to her is Mo Dai Kingdom's Crown Prince Long Jin. I knew him, he came here last year."
"Then is that girl in the blue dress his woman?"
"I don't think so. Crown Prince Long Jin never takes any woman out with him during his travel."
"Huh? Aren't they heading for Qing Yuan Hall?"
"Let's stop blind guessing! I can enter Qing Yuan Hall, let me go over there and check if she is really Princess Hu Guo." One of them who is carrying a wooden token excitedly speaks.
"Then go! Don't forget to keep up updated!"
A couple of men who are allowed to go to Qing Yuan Hall also go there.
Qing Yuan Hall is a lot quieter. There are bookshelves everywhere; the entire hall is filled with books. The books are arranged in an orderly manner, according to their scopes. Seeing that reminds Yun Qian Yu of Gong Sang Mo's study. It is also organized in that manner.
There are a lot more people in Qing Yuan Hall than in Zheng Hall; they are all quietly reading books. Some of them are discussing something in twos or threes while some are also playing chess. Each to their own.
What makes her even more surprised is that there are so many women here!
But still, her guesses are pretty accurate. Most of the people here are people who just came to the capital to participate in the upcoming exam.
Yun Qian Yu sweeps her eyes through the crowd before slowly entering the hall.
"Crown Prince Jin!" A clear and crisp voice attracts Yun Qian Yu's eyes.
A young man with jade-like face wearing golden headgear and robe embroidered with golden thread heads towards Long Jin.
"Oh, Young Master Chang Qing! Long time no see!" Long Jin greets that man in familiarity.
"It has been a while. Chang Qing was wondering if I will get to see Crown Prince this time after entering the capital. Who would have thought that I very quickly will!" Gao Chang Qing enthusiastically replies.
"Nan Lou Kingdom's emperor's birthday is around the corner. Following imperial father's wish, this prince came here to send him well-wishes." Long Jin laughs.
"Half a year has passed in the blink of an eye. I still haven't played enough chess with Crown Prince. I wonder if I can fulfill my wish today?" Gao Chang Qing says.
Long Jin looks next to him. He was just about to refuse that offer when he realizes that no one is standing next to him! He looks around; it isn't very hard to spot a blue silhouette. He spots her in one look!
She is standing next to someone who is wearing cotton clothes. She is leaning against a bookshelf while holding an open book in her hand. Her eyes are on the man next to her who is reading in relish. That man is focused on reading the book while Yun Qian Yu's eyes are trained unflinchingly on him. It is a peculiar sight.
"Crown Prince Jin?" Gao Chang Qing gently says.
Long Jin regains his thoughts and laughs, "A deferential acceptance is better than courteous decline."
"Crown Prince Jin, please." Gao Chang Qing happily replies. The two people sit on a table with chess board on it and starts playing.
Actually, Yun Qian Yu was initially drawn in by Gao Chang Qing's voice, but after taking a good look on him, she looks away. She knows him. He is the son of Jin Yang City's richest man. Even though his family is really rich, Gao Chang Qing is not arrogant as your regular young masters. He is the kind that likes to make friends. He particularly likes playing chess. As long as he can find someone who can complement his skill in chess, he will be okay with not eating all day long.
The moment she looks away, her eyes falls on the man who is reading a book. What draws her towards him is not the kind of book he reads, but the kind of enthusiasm he has when reading. With every flick of a page, he looks like he is flicking to search for something rather than simply reading a book. He is a speed-reader, he reads book fast. She knows that because she too, is one. They have photographic memories.
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