Chapter Thirteen: Crown Prince
Inside Zhao Yang Hall, some of the idle and less accomplished young males of the Imperial House used what they thought were discreet looks to examine Xian Junw.a.n.g and his wife but didn’t even know that the wine they held in their wine cups had spilled out.
However, the Imperial House never lacked those that were good actors. No matter how shocked they were, how jealous and envious, the majority of people could pick up their composure and wait for the banquet to start after the initial shock.
No matter how many people were paying attention to her, Hua Xi Wan’s expression did not change from beginning to end. After greetings to their neighbors, she sat silently beside Yan Jin Qiu as though no one was paying her any attention.
“This wine is called Lotus Immortal Wine. It is fragrant but not harsh. Supposedly, drinking this can increase longevity, protect the appearance, and is most suited to females.” Yan Jin Qiu picked up a wine cup and poured some for Hua Xi Wan. The warm smile on his face was enough to dazzle the eyes of many females. “Xi Wan, have a taste.”
Hua Xi Wan’s eyebrow rose slightly as she said doubtfully, “It is this wondrous?” Then she raised the wine cup and took a small sip. The flavor was very faint, and after swallowing, there was a burst of lotus that was left in her mouth, sweet yet not strong.
“How is it?”
Looking at this face that was just a hand-length away from her, Hua Xi Wan reached out with an index finger and poked him back. She used her handkerchief to wipe the corner of her mouth and lazily said, “Not bad.” In her last life in the entertainment circles, while she had not been willing to accept the hidden rules, she had attended many meals and drunk all kinds of alcohol.
To her, wine was just like men. It was normal to like this thing, but if one couldn’t live if separated from it, then their life was over.
Seeing Hua Xi Wan’s interest in the wine was lacking, Yan Jin Qiu was not demotivated and started to talk about the ident.i.ties of the people in the hall, as well as the connections between the families. He also took away the wine cup in front of her in a natural movement and exchanged it for a cup of steaming tea.
Hua Xi Wan listened silently. When she heard that Ning w.a.n.g had requested to t.i.tle the son of his second wife as the heir, her eyebrow s.h.i.+fted slightly. If she remembered correctly, the di eldest son had been born to this Ning w.a.n.g’s original wife. There hadn’t been any problems she heard of about his conduct. It was very interesting that the position of heir had been given to the second wife’s child.
No wonder the Emperor felt such danger. He had managed to get the throne after such struggle, but all his brothers were still circling around. He had managed to survive until the two most able had died, but their sons were all very able while his own son was not. She really felt sympathy on the Emperor’s behalf.
Even though Yan Jin Qiu’s words were spa.r.s.e, Hua Xi Wan still managed to conclude some things from these words. Ning w.a.n.g’s family was not very good, but the Emperor treated them pretty well. Shen Junw.a.n.g who was the most popular in court appeared to be treated importantly on the surface, but the Emperor found him a junw.a.n.g fei born from a prestigious family that was empty on the inside while stating that he was caring for his juniors. The average Crown Prince did not have good relations.h.i.+ps with his cousins of the same generation. The only one that frequently followed the Crown Prince was Yan Qian Xun, the heir to Ning w.a.n.g who was born of the second wife, and some of the Imperial House members that were wastrels.
The Crown Prince was average and a wastrel and didn’t have any other brothers. His male cousins were very outstanding, so this matter wasn’t really good to think deeply about.
With the pair appearing so intimate, some of the Imperial House members that originally were envious and jealous of Yan Jin Qiu to begin with had red eyes. Where was the female without beauty that they had spoken about? Why were the Heavens so unfair to give him so much, and now give him such a beautiful di wife? How could they find it fair?
驸马 fuma: the husband of a princess, the Emperor’s son-in-law
Princess Rui He heard the conversation going on around her. The smile on her face did not change as she said to her fuma who appeared extremely wooden, “Fuma, what do you think about Xian Junw.a.n.g Fei’s appearance?”
The fuma who had his head thrown back as he drank heard the princess’ words and looked in the direction that Hua Xi Wan sat in. With this glance, he stilled. He couldn’t help but look a few more times before he nodded and said, “Pretty good, Princess. Your cousin has a pretty good wife.”
Princess Rui He saw his state and impatiently moved her gaze away. She gave a fake smile and said, “Fuma’s words are low. What does the appearance of a female have to do with their goodness?”
The fuma could hear that her words were not right and did not respond. He continued to drink.
Seeing him so dull, dislike flashed through Princess Rui He’s eyes before they calmed.
“The Crown Prince has arrived!”
This call caused the people in the large hall to quiet. Yan Jin Qiu who had been talking to Hua Xi Wan stopped, and straightened as he looked towards the door. Hua Xi Wan followed him in looking outwards and saw a young man of medium height walk proudly into the hall with several palace attendants. His appearance was not as outstanding as Yan Jin Qiu’s, but it could also be called handsome. His brow was similar to the Empress she had seen before, but his actions appeared high and arrogant.
The Crown Prince walked and exchanged courtesies with the clansmen of the Imperial House. When he walked close to the seats at the front, he saw a beauty dressed in formal attire and he stopped in his steps. A few blinks later, he recovered and said strangely to Yan Jin Qiu, “This is your wife? Cousin is very fortunate.”
The Crown Prince was not the first to say this, but he was the first to say it so directly. Many Imperial House members who heard this looked down on his conduct. He really was careless to say this to his cousin’s wife. He should not say this in front of the female in question, and even if he was saying it behind her back, he shouldn’t say it so straightforwardly. The other was his cousin’s wife, and his cousin’s wife that had been married and welcomed with all the rites and ceremonies. How could he say this to Xian Junw.a.n.g as though he was discussing a concubine?
“Haha.” Yan Jin Qiu stood and raised his folded hands at the Crown Prince. “Subject-brother naturally does not have as much good fortune as Your Highness.”
The Crown Prince’s conduct was not likeable, but he was not stupid. Seeing that Yan Jin Qiu’s smile wasn’t right, he finally took his gaze away from Hua Xi Wan. Patting Yan Jin Qiu’s shoulder, he said boldly, “Brother is casual in speech but sincerely feels happy for you. Do not be offended.”
Yan Jin Qiu smiled and raised his folded hands again. He did not speak and state if he was offended or not.
The Crown Prince saw his harmonious smile and thought that Yan Jin Qiu did not care about what he had just said. He took away his hand that was on Yan Jin Qiu’s shoulder and strode toward the seat that was left especially for the Crown Prince. For him, it didn’t matter if his cousin had objections. He was the Crown Prince, and in the future, his cousin would have to live by his whims. Why did he have to consider people who were fated to live below him?
Hua Xi Wan sat on the side and looked at Yan Jin Qiu’s flawless smile. She raised a teacup to hide the expression on her face. It might have just been a feeling of hers, but she felt that Yan Jin Qiu’s smile hid an unspeakable darkness.
“The Crown Prince is a rough person. Do not care too much about his conduct.” After Yan Jin Qiu sat down, he spoke next to Hua Xi Wan’s ear. “There is nothing interesting in getting into it with someone without brains.”
His index finger rubbed the rim of the wine cup as though he was caressing his lover. The smile on his face became even more attractive.
Not fifteen minutes after the Crown Prince appeared in Zhao Yang Hall, the Empress Dowager, the Emperor and the Empress arrived. After everyone bowed and heard the opening speech of the Emperor, they sat on their seats, exchanged toasts with the people around them, listened to the songs and admired the dances.
As to the gifts they had prepared, they had been given to the rites officials to be recorded down. After the banquet, the Emperor would go look. An event such as families competing for the biggest gift that happened in TV dramas would not happen here. At most, the imperial family members closest to the Emperor in relation would toast the Emperor and say a few words.
As the one with the highest status among this generation, the Crown Prince personally recited good wishes to the Emperor and then displayed a good act of the benevolent father and filial son in front of the Imperial House. The people around followed in praising the Emperor’s benevolence and the Crown Prince’s filialness as though these two were the example of father and son for the world.
Hua Xi Wan felt that all of the members of the Imperial Family present were Oscar winners. Look at the emotion on that face, look at the flawless smile at the corner of the mouth—they were better than professional actors.
Fortunately, she had some skill in acting. Otherwise, she might not be able to give such a natural expression of being moved.
After this good play of the benevolent father and filial son ended, everyone could finally eat. A stream of exquisite dishes was brought in, and then the dishes they ate from were taken away. By the end, Hua Xi Wan could not remember how many dishes she had eaten from. Even though she might have only taken one mouthful from the dishes, she was more than half-full.
There were people who came up to Yan Jin Qiu to drink. Hua Xi Wan was not familiar with anyone’s appearance, but she had some knowledge of their names and ident.i.ties. So when the conversation started, she did not show any timidity.
The people of the Imperial House originally thought that only Hua Xi Wan’s appearance was outstanding, but after a few probes, they found that while this female was not chatty, her speech was measured, dignified and n.o.ble. She did not seem like a female who had never attended public gatherings before.
The Crown Prince’s words were slightly rough, but from the current situation, Xian Junw.a.n.g was fortunate to have married such a junw.a.n.g fei.
Born from a prestigious family, of high ident.i.ty, dignified in speech, devastating in appearance—so many good attributes gathered in one person. If it wasn’t great fortune, how could Yan Jin Qiu have gotten her?
Also, many people knew what the Emperor had originally planned. He had played matchmaker to find a female without beauty. Who knew that the rumors were false. The di daughter of Yi’an Marquis Fu did not leave the fu because of her sick const.i.tution, and not because of a problem with her looks.
There seemed to have been people over the years who said that the di daughter of Yi’an Marquis Fu was extraordinary, and that she never interacted with the outside due to her health, but not many people had believed it. They only felt that these words had come from Yi’an Marquis Fu in order to protect the face of their miss.
Only today did they understand something. What was heard by the ears was false, what was seen by the eyes was true. Following the majority might not be right.