Chapter 43.1 : Imperial Banquet
Night fell, and the Green Wave Kingdom’s Imperial Capital was littered with lanterns that lit up the entire city that bustled with activity. It was because in another few days, it would be the Green Wave Kingdom’s All Saints Day that was celebrated once every three years, where even the city’s merchants were frantically gearing up in preparation for the celebration.
The reason why the Green Wave Kingdom had such a festival stemmed back to a day sixteen years ago, when the Eternal Peace Duke Manor’s Princess Ning Feng was born. Just overnight, all the flowers in the city had bloomed, the birds rose in song. It was also in that year that the Emperor of the Green Wave Kingdom formally ascended to the throne. Having just assumed the highest seat in the lands and auspicious signs manifested one after another, with glad tidings flowing in endlessly. Hence, the Emperor liked Yan Ning Luo very much and he immediately decreed that she would be engaged to his eldest son in marriage after Yan Ning Luo was born.
Xuanyuan Che was just a child about four or five years old at that time and he suddenly found himself bound down by a girl he had never even met before. Because of that, he did not have the slightest sliver of liking towards Yan Ning Luo despite the fact that she was a prodigious woman who possessed both beauty and power.
Affinity and fate, were indeed things that worked in such mysterious ways.
Example in case, with the arrival of the Water Edge Kingdom’s delegation, the engaged couple Xuanyuan Che and Yan Ning Luo would most naturally have to be pushed together, where even her entrance into the palace had needed Xuanyuan Che to personally make a trip to the Eternal Peace Duke’s Manor to escort Yan Ning Luo inside.
It was a rare occasion that Qing Bei got a chance to change into a more formal royal blue brocade robe, his black hair bound up with a jade headpiece. The youth’s gentle air and graceful handsome countenance when paired together with that whole outfit, undoubtedly gave out an elegant flair of high nobility, and if he were to walk out, he would surely have thousands and thousands of young ladies mesmerized by his handsome looks.
But when he opened the door of his room and saw Qing Yu wearing a white dress that could not be anymore plain and simple, he was highly taken aback for a moment before he said: “Sis, aren’t you going to change?”
The young lady over there was till lounging upon the lounge chair and bullying the poor little Snow Toad, her finger poking at its soft underbelly. “I had not wanted to attend a boring banquet like that in the first place so why would I need to dress myself up for it? I am not going there to steal the limelight you know?”
Qing Bei nodded, thinking that she was completely right. His sister was already so beautiful looking being herself and if she were to dress herself up to the nines, it was thought that she would surely draw trouble upon herself.
“Talking about you instead. Which young and innocent girl are you trying to hook dressing yourself up to look like that hmm?” Qing Yu said with a teasing smile. “I am only discovering today that our family’s Little Bei is blessed with such great looks! You always keep such a low profile, do you know with this transformation today you’ll be able to leave all the other young masters of royalty and nobles trailing in your dust several streets behind?”
Qing Bei was at a loss for words. “…..” He didn’t care for such insincere flattery.
Palanquins and sedan chairs were not allowed inside the Imperial Palace and everyone who came to attend the banquet had to alight at a place near the palace before making their way inside on foot.
“Did the two of you….. bring me here just to relieve yourselves of boredom?”
Finally unable to stand the uncomfortably quiet atmosphere any longer, Mu Chi opened his mouth to say morosely. Looking at Xuanyuan Che and Yan Ning Luo who said across each other, where one had eyes staring unwaveringly outside the window, the other with eyes closed in rest, face completely expressionless.
Mu Chi had not wanted to set foot inside the Imperial Palace at all as the place contained too many memories he did not want to recall. But as he had been too curious about that man of legend, he had come.
He swung his gaze over the two people in puzzlement. [Has these two people privately come to a secret agreement to get along peacefully?]
[But with them leaving him, a living person, hung out here to dry on his own….. Is that really appropriate?]
Mu Chi let out a helpless sigh. If he had known that it would turn out like this, he would not have come with them.
“Your Highness. We’re here at the Imperial Palace.” The guard driving the carriage said outside the door.
Xuanyuan Che then opened his eyes, where a glint flashed very briefly, but faded away in a blink.
But Mu Chi had seen it clearly. [Completely besotted with cultivation as he had thought. He was even cultivating while his eyes were closed on the journey. From the way things looked now, it was thought that he was going to have to suffer big time in future.]
Chapter 43.2 : Imperial Banquet
Yan Ning Luo similarly turned her gaze back from outside and her eyes inadvertently met with Xuanyuan Che ink black ones but the latter was already getting off the horse carriage and then extending his hand out towards her, looking like he wanted to help her off.
Yan Ning Luo was clearly a little startled but she did not hesitate too long before she offered up her hand to let Xuanyuan Che help her off the horse carriage.
That should be the one and only time those two people had come into such intimate physical contact over so many years.
“It’s His Highness the Crown Prince and Princess Ning Feng! They really look so compatible together!”
At that moment, the Young Masters and Young Misses from the various noble families were also arriving and when they saw the couple getting off from the carriage hand in hand, they all then let out gasps of envy and approval.
Xuanyuan Che was wearing a suit of pale gold palatial dress, a highly lifelike four clawed golden dragon embroidered upon it. He had a tall and well built body and the man with such high prospects was at the moment absolutely oozing with the strongly irrefutable noble and authouritative air as the Crown Prince of a kingdom. Hence, even though he already had his beau right by his side, he had nevertheless still attracted the admiration of countless chamber maidens there.
“Let’s go.” Xuanyuan Che had not noticed any of those strange gazes at all and he went on to mutter something indifferently to Yan Ning Luo before the two of them went in through the palace gates one after the other.
—– Inside the Palace Annex —–
Yue Xin Yan had already organized her things. She absolutely adored the colour blue and that was why the clothes she wore were always all blue. But the colour also suited her very well, mischievous and quick witted like a sprite.
“Ah Jin, where is Big Brother Ye Li?” Yue Xin Yan asked when she saw the lad standing outside by the door.
Ah Jin smiled gently and replied: “His Highness is waiting for you.”
Yue Xin Yan revealed a sweet smile upon hearing that and the moment she stepped out, she saw a man standing there with his hands behind his back, his dark red brocade robe in contrast against the full head of silver hair, a sight filled with an indescribable kind of beauty.
A great number of cherry blossom trees had been planted in the Palace Annex. It was a scenery that one would not be able to see in the Water Edge Kingdom, as such plants were not able to grow in places where there was extreme changes to its weather.
A breeze blew in, stirring up the man’s long silver hair and his broad sleeves, and blowing off a countless number of flower petals to scatter and fall from the branches, landing upon his hair and his clothes. He raised his head up slightly, and a single petal fell right upon that set of dark red lips. In that instant, it was just so breathtakingly beautiful.
Both Yue Xin Yan and Ah Jin behind her were caught in a daze gazing at that sight.
Ever since Qing Ye Li had appeared in the Water Edge Kingdom, he had been wearing that mask. No one had ever seen his real face but with the elegant and noble air that emanated from him and that mysteriously profound cultivation he possessed, his countenance would surely be anything but ordinary.
The rumours said that his looks were hideous and that was why he did not dare reveal his face before people.
But that was also because no one had really come to interact with him closely before.
There were some kinds of people who were able to make you disregard and ignore all other external factors but just cause a person to be shaken to the core by his very being.
And Qing Ye Li, was unmistakably just that kind of a person.
No one knew his heart and hence, there was always a certain desolate bleakness about him, a cold indifference that seemed to isolate himself, pushing others a thousand miles away.
Everything anyone saw him like that, one just could not help but unconsciously feel their heart wince with pain for this powerful, but lonely man.
Yue Xin Yan’s eyes grew inexplicably red rimmed watching him and could not help but break that rather sad and depressing atmosphere by opening her mouth to call out: “Big Brother Ye Li, you….. must not be sad. You will surely find that Big Sister.”
She was thinking, that Big Brother Ye Li must be feeling so sad and dispirited because he had been unable to find that lady in the portrait.
Chapter 43.3: Imperial Banquet
Qing Ye Li only lowered his head to look at the young lady whose height only reached up to his chest and he curled up the corners of his lips as he reached his hand out to give her a gentle pat on her head. “What are you thinking of?”
Yue Xin Yan was feeling a little confused with that pat on her head. “Isn’t it because Big Brother Ye Li wasn’t able to find that Big Sister that is making you feel….. unhappy?”
Qing Ye Li smiled slightly but did not explain any further.
The several guards who were to escort the guests from the Water Edge Kingdom were already waiting outside the Palace Annex and when they saw the guests come out, they all bowed in greeting. “Your Highness, Ninth Princess.”
Qing Ye Li acknowledged indifferently and then went forward on his own in front. In a suit of deep red, a head of silver hair aflutter, the wolf shaped mask mysterious and sinister, his entire person exuded an incredibly carefree aura.
Yue Xin Yan took the initiative to go forward to stand beside him, with everyone else falling in line behind, the entire line of people immediately turned to look like accessories to the two in front.
The Palace Annex to the Imperial Palace was merely only a distance of slightly more than ten steps away. The banquet was about to begin and it would be just right to go there now. Qing Ye Li had never liked to wait for people and so he had chosen to be the person people waited for.
The Imperial Palace’s grand hall was already filled with people, the men and womenfolk seated at separate tables, their seating arrangements naturally based on the hierarchical order of seniority in rank. The Emperor upon the Dragon Seat looked very young, a certain sense of righteousness between his brows, already imposing without anger in them. Directly below him to his left were the seats of the Duke of Eternal Peace Yan Su and the Crown Prince Xuanyuan Che, while on the right was the Left Prime Minister Yu Cheng Hai and High General Mo Yuan Wei who had served a few generations of Emperors.
Lined up right after, were several of the Princes and Princesses just around ten years of age, and then some of the more prominent aristocrats and senior ministers.
Right at the end, then came the family members of the nobles.
The top prodigy, the most talented young lady Yan Ning Luo was naturally seated at the leading seat and seated beside her was the Left Prime Minister’s family’s Young Miss Yu Xiao Ning. Surrounding them were some pampered Young Misses who came uninvited to fawn and curry favour.
Yan Ning Luo’s expression was cold and apathetic, her eyes scanning across the grand hall sweepingly. [Is he not here yet?]
[That must be it. With such a revered and honoured identity, coming a little late is to be expected. She will definitely see him in time.]
Thinking about that, the highly tensed string in her heart then slightly relaxed.
On the other side, Qing Ye Li and his convoy of people had already come to the Imperial Palace. When they were passing a pavilion in the Imperial Garden, the sound of people talking suddenly reached them.
By that time, all the guests should already have reached and the palace maids and servants should have been summoned into the grand hall to serve the guests. There shouldn’t be anyone here anymore.
Qing Ye Li did not bother himself with it and he raised his foot to continue his way forward.
And it was only after they had walked a good distance away that two figures suddenly shot out from within the darkness.
One of them was covered up entirely in a large loose hooded cape and only that deathly pale white chin could be faintly seen, strange and terrifying.
The man beside that figure similarly possessed a deathly pale complexion, his lifeless eyes looking like those of a marionette that was being controlled. His lips then opened and enunciated haltingly: “Someone seems to have noticed us just now.”
“Heh heh. There are quite a number of crouching tigers and hidden dragons in this place.” The person under the hooded cape sneered. “We don’t need to bother about that person yet….. Didn’t you say that you sensed the presence of the person who wounded me? Continue to look for him.”
“Announcing the arrival of the Water Edge Kingdom’s Duke of Vast Seas and the Ninth Princess!”
A clear voice raised up outside the doors, reverberating within the vast palace hall, and the sounds of voices raised in revelry suddenly stopped in an instant.
The Green Wave’s Emperor on the topmost seat also sat up, his eyes looking straight at the doors.
Only a small number of people present had ever seen the Duke of Vast Seas and most of them have only heard how legendary he was, almost like a god, but have never laid eyes upon the actual person before. The moment had finally come that they would be able to see this man whose rumours about him were almost legendary, and the people’s hearts were all unbelievably excited and were almost quivering.