After Becoming the Hero's Ex-fiancée - Chapter 9
Shanglin Banquet (3)
Third Lady Jiang choked. Moments later, she felt some admiration for this Zheng lady; to be able to remain so calm at a time like this was also a kind of skill.
With the number of informants the Zheng family had in court, it was impossible for her to not know that the Crown Prince was to be engaged with the Liu family’s daughter at today’s banquet.
However, Third Lady Jiang knew much more than anyone else.
Last night, after having some drink, her Father cried and laughed in a drunken stupor at her mother’s place. She happened to be there, and heard a few snippets like “feel sad for the loss of one’s kind”, “as soon as the grievance drums sound, they’ll be guilty of several crimes and all their assets will be confiscated”, and so on. Thinking about it, the Zheng family was the only one in the capital who had incurred the wrath of the Emperor lately.
It was probably because her father was also the commander of the Shenjiying10 that he got to know about all that.
Looking at the ignorant Zheng Wan, Third Lady Jiang felt both pity and relief. The pressure that was built up in her chest dissipated, and she felt very good indeed. She was about to speak again, but suddenly held a handkerchief to her mouth, and exclaimed,
Zheng Wan did not know that the present world was far more dangerous than the one in her dream. The time she had left was not one month, but only the span of a banquet.
She turned her head, following Third Lady Jiang’s line of sight.
From far away, a carriage made its way down the Plum Garden path.
The two horses pulling the carriage were white and clean like fresh snow, and their hooves were moved as though they were travelling on clouds. In a blink of an eye, they’d already come near them.
All the horses present suddenly whinnied and pulled their carriages away. In an instant, a wide avenue was created in the middle of the crowd, broad enough to allow two carriages to pass through side by side.
After the State Preceptor’s carriage sped past, the horses raised their heads again, and the road resumed its chaotic state. Only then did someone ask, as if awakening from a dream,
“That… was the State Preceptor?”
“What an immortal-like aura.”
Zheng Wan’s heart quaked with agitation.
Having just witnessed the so-called “all beasts submit themselves to the Sword Sovereign” scene in the book, she was shocked. The pair of divine horses that were driving the carriage were not real horses, but legendary unicorns that Cui Wang had cast a disguise spell over.
“I wonder what the State Preceptor looks like.”
Third Lady Jiang had a look of yearning on her face.
“You don’t know either?”
Zheng Wan remembered the beautiful neck she saw under the umbrella the other day; it was indeed “carved in ice and jade” as the book said.
“Father says, even his Majesty himself has not seen his face,” murmured Third Lady Jiang. When she came back to her senses, she realized that the person she was talking to was Zheng Wan, and her face suddenly stiffened.
Zheng Wan was staring in the direction of the disappeared carriage. Others did not know it, but she knew that the so-called State Preceptor in that carriage was just a “puppet”.
The real State Preceptor had already taken the Fruit of Disguise. He was now in the guise of an unremarkably ordinary young man, enjoying the “baptism of mortality” in the plum garden.
What she needed to do was to seize the opportunity to make friends with this unremarkably ordinary gentleman Cui.
The banquet was jointly organised by the Minister of Rites and the Minister of Revenue, and Zheng Wan didn’t have to wait very long. She entered the garden in just the time taken for a stick of incense to burn out11.
The sprawling Plum Garden was divided by a beautiful lake. On the left side of the lake, there were rockery, small bridges, and little streams; on the right, were airy pavilions and terraces. The capital-renown “Lisi Spring” was also located on the right.
Zheng Wan walked with her mother for a while but stopped when she was about a hundred meters away from Lanze Court.
Madame Wang turned her head.
Zhen Wan pressed her left hand on her belly and blushed. “Mother, it’s probably because I had too many pastries in the carriage, Wanwan, Wanwan wants to…”
The embarrassed young lady couldn’t bring herself to complete her sentence.
The maidservant who was escorting them covered her mouth and chuckled. She pointed towards a moon gate12 on the left.
10 Shenjiying: One of three elite military divisions stationed around Beijing during the Ming dynasty, specifically created to specialize in firearm warfare.
11 time taken for a stick of incense to burn out: 5 minutes
12 moon gate: A circular opening in a garden wall that acts as a pedestrian passageway. Moon gates have many different spiritual meanings for every piece of tile on the gate and on the shape of it. The purpose of these gates is to serve as a very inviting entrance into the gardens of the rich upper class in China.