The moment the mask was removed, everyone was stunned. No one expected such a man to exist in this world.
At first glance, everyone felt the word “beautiful’ wasn’t enough to portray him, but besides that word they didn’t know what could describe him better. He possessed a type of beauty that was very distinct from Southern Kingdom. He had a fair complexion, deep, radiant eyes, and long curled lashes, with a notable red cinnabar mark on his forehead, adding a hint of allure to his beauty.
He wore an ordinary gray linen robe that was simple in design. Yet on his figure, the robe gave off a sense of refinement. On his feet, he wore a pair of short boots and like the other women he also had on an anklet of golden bells. As he moved, the bells made a crisp, lingering sound.
His dark, radiant eyes surveyed the hall. Grinning, he lightly said, “If everyone is curious about the appearance of a Yui Zhi man, just take a look at Yue Po.”
In the hall, everyone couldn’t help but sigh. If the people of Yui Zhui all grew up to have such an appearance, then it’s truly a state of evildoers.
All eyes were focused on Yue Po and no one paid much attention to the prince of Yui Zhi.
Hua Zhu Yu withdrew her gaze and sighed, thinking, so such a beauty actually exists.
The banquet recommenced. The sound of music rose as the dancers took the stage, one after another.
Fine wine and delicacies were brought out, filling the rosewood tables completely. The maidservants and eunuchs diligently stood in the back, ready to serve wine.
After a few rounds of drinks, Yue Po suddenly got to his feet, taking everyone by surprise. He bowed towards Huangfu Wu Shuang and said, “Your Majesty, we came to Southern Kingdom this time not just to offer our congratulations. We actually have an important task to carry out.”
Taken by surprise, Hua Zhu Yu wondered what important task he was referring to.
Huangfu Wu Shuang slightly raised his brow, asking calmly, “What task? Go ahead and speak.”
“As we all know, Southern Kingdom has great warriors with profound martial skills, evoking great admiration from us, the surrounding smaller nations. Thus our Emperor has entrusted the prince and I with a task and that is to have a friendly competition with the warriors of your distinguished nation to exchange pointers in martial arts,” Yue Po stated with a smile.
Upon hearing this, Huangfu Wu Shuang dark eyes slightly narrowed. He nodded and smiled. “If it is a task entrusted by the Emperor of Yui Zhi then zhen shall certainly help you complete it.” He then leaned to the side towards Hua Zhu Yu, instructing, “Xiao Bao Er, order some people to build a stage in the Royal Garden. Later, we’ll have the competition there so that everyone can watch and enjoy the scenery.”
Hua Zhu Yu nodded in assent. She then glanced over at the prince of Yui Zhi. He was sitting there calmly drinking his cup of wine. His neck was outstretched, tall and upright like a black swan. With his chin slightly raised, he appeared proud and callous. He seemed to have sensed Hua Zhu Yu’s gaze on him. The corners of his mouth lifted apathetically, displaying a smile that wasn’t really a smile.
Within the open space of the Royal Garden, a stage was erected. A thick carpet was laid out below with several tables set up. Screens were also propped up as barricade from the cold wind.
The envoys and officials along with their families all took their seats in the Royal Garden.
Wen Wan’s illness had improved and since she was about to be given title by Huangfu Wu Shuang, naturally she was also present at the banquet. Today she pulled her hair back in a half up-do. An exquisite green jade butterfly was fixed in her bun along with other colorful hairpins. She was dressed in a light yellow dress embroidered with plum blossoms with a white fox fur cloak on her shoulders. Like a flower blooming amidst the snow, she was indescribably beautiful.
With the sound of the gong, the friendly martial competition between the two nations began. Propositioned by the people of Yui Zhi, the competition was originally meant to be between them and Southern Kingdom. But it drew the interest of Bo Si, Gui Zi, and even Western Liang. In the end, it became a competition between the various nations.
Each nation sent one individual to participate. The envoy from Bo Si and Western Liang were personally participating while the elderly prime minister of Gui Zi sent one of his attendants. Only Eastern Yan did not participate. With his elbow resting on the table and his chin propped up by his hand, Dou Qian Jin appeared somewhat bored as he watched the competition unfold.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
The envoy from Bo Si was the first to step on the stage. Prince Yui Zhi’s attendant, Yue Po slowly went up afterwards. The two fought but in less than 5 moves, the envoy from Bo Si was knocked to the ground by Yue Po. The match lasted only a few seconds. Next up was the participant from Gui Zi, followed by Western Liang, all of whom were defeated.
Afterwards, Yue Po brushed his hands and said with a smile, “Your Majesty, Yue Po has warmed up. You should send out your martial expert now.”
He was very arrogant in his tone but he had every right to be. His martial skills were indeed outstanding. Compared to those in Southern Kingdom, he was definitely skilled but not an expert.
“Xiao Bao Er, can you defeat him?” Huangfu Wu Shuang turned and asked Hua Zhu Yu.
She smiled and replied, “This servant is not confident. It would be better if Your Majesty send someone up on stage who has a grasp on victory.” Whether or not she could defeat this person didn’t matter for she had no intentions of fighting him since she was pregnant.
Huangfu Wu Shuang did not press her and said, “Alright then, go and choose a general suitable for the match.”
“Yes!” Hua Zhu Yu replied with a bow and was just about to make an announcement when Wen Wan interrupted her. “Your Majesty, how about letting Bao gong gong take the stage? Your Majesty, think about it, if even a eunuch of our kingdom can win, let alone a general, how prestigious would that be? Moreover, the opponent is merely an attendant.”
Upon hearing this, Huangfu Wu Shuang stroked his chin and said, “Very true. Xiao Bao Er, since that’s the case, you should take the stage and compete.”
“That’s right, when Bao gong gong was on the battlefield, he was so strong and valiant. Your Majesty, didn’t you say you hadn’t witnessed his valiance before?” Wen Wan asked with a smile.
These words had completely played with Huangfu Wu Shuang’s heart. He had long heard of Hua Zhu Yu’s heroic feats on the battlefield and regretted that he had not seen it with his own eyes. Hearing Wen Wan’s words, his eyes light up in excitement.
“Xiao Bao Er, you must definitely take the stage!” Huangfu Wu Shuang decided.
Hua Zhu Yu glanced at Wen Wan with a bitter smile. It seems she’s still holding a grudge against her. Wen Wan wants to push her on stage in hopes that she lose. If Yue Po injured her, that’d be even better. However, she was going to be disappointed.
“Your Majesty, this servant is willing to fight, but this servant needs a special weapon.” Hua Zhu Yu said as she bowed.
Huangfu Wu shuang’s brows knitted, asking, “What weapon? Zhen will certainly prepare it for you.”
Hua Zhu Yu smiled and pointed to a large rock amid the rockeries beneath the plum tree, “It is that rock. Your Majesty, please send people to move it over here.”
Huangfu Wu Shuang looked at the rock dubiously. It was neither large nor small. Can this be considered a weapon?
Everyone else was also slightly puzzled. Upon hearing this exchange, Dou Qian Jin’s interest was piqued and he raised his head. The prince of Yui Zhi, Na Lan Xue who had been sitting there silently suddenly knitted his brows.
Two imperial guards moved the rock onto the stage. Hua Zhu Yu flourished her sleeve behind her and slowly stepped up the stage. The faint rays of sunlight shone on her fair face. A proud smile with a trace of wickedness played on her lips.
Yue Po eyes flashed in intrigue. He bowed and said, “You are the eunuch Yuan Bao?”
Hua Zhu Yu did not expect the envoy from Yui Zhi, who had just arrived in Yu City for a day to have already heard of her. It seems she was quite famous.
“Indeed, this one is Yuan Bao!” Hua Zhu Yu said. She faintly felt an inexplicable hostility from Yue Po.
Yue Po’s eyes flashed with an icy glint as he narrowed them. With a cold grin, he said, “It’s such a lucky opportunity to compete against Yuan Bao daren. Truly great! Let’s get started!”
Hua Zhu Yu smiled and bent over to lift the rock up high. To be honest, lifting ten of these rocks was an easy task but now she has to take it easy. In fact, when employing internal force to carrying this rock it does not take that much effort.
Hua Zhu Yu stood still on the stage, holding the rock.
Yue Po was a little confused by the situation. He raised the sword in his hand and repeated, “I said let’s get started.”
The people beneath the stage were also perplexed. Many people did not know Hua Zhu Yu had gone to the battlefield nor were they aware of her capabilities. They could only watch with doubt as she stood on the stage holding the rock, wondering why the Emperor allowed such a person on the stage. Wasn’t this destroying Southern Kingdom’s reputation?
“I’m waiting for you to start. Quickly start, this rock is quite heavy, my wrist is feeling tired!” Hua Zhu Yu shamelessly said.
Yue Po was in a stupor. He couldn’t help but laugh. This was the first time he had come across such an interesting opponent. Does this little eunuch really intend to use that rock as a weapon? Was he going to hit him to death with a rock?
“In that case, Yue Po won’t be courteous!” Yue Po smiled callously, a trace of coldness flashed in his eyes. He employed his internal strength and poured it into his sword. The sword swiftly attacked towards Hua Zhu Yu.
Hua Zhu Yu calmly observed the oncoming assault. At the right moment, she raised the rock and threw it at the sword while twisting her body to retreat to the side. The sword had slashed the rock into pieces, scattering across the stage floor.
Na Lan Xue’s keen eyes were focused on the stage. The moment he saw the broken rock pieces, his heart moved and his eyes turned cold. Faintly he said, “He lost.”
The maidservant beside him smiled and filled his cup of wine. “This servant also thinks Yuan Bao will lose without a doubt.”
Na Lan Xue flashed a cold smile. “Not him.”
“Hmm?” The maidservant lowered the jug of wine in surprise and glanced up at the stage.
The little eunuch was now holding a sword in his hand, fighting against Yue Po. He did not use the rock as a weapon. He had a sword on his body. However, Yue Po’s attacks were noticeably unsteady. He was definitely not at the top of his game.
“What’s going on?” the maidservant asked in confusion.
Na Lan Xue faintly smiled without replying.
The crowd was equally perplexed by Yue Po. It was like he was deliberately yielding to Bao gong gong.
Only Hua Zhu Yu was aware of the situation. Yue Po was trapped by her Seven Star Array.
She had deliberately allowed Yue Po to smash the rock to pieces. While they fought, she had quietly shifted the rocks in place to form the Seven Star Array.
If she relied merely on her own strength to fight, she would definitely not lose out. But now was a sensitive time. For the baby in her womb, she couldn’t fight with all her might so she thought of countermeasures.
The array left Yue Po in a state of disorder. Hua Zhu Yu made use of the opportunity and attacked. Her sword was inches away from his neck when she indifferently said, “You lost.”
Yue Po was despondent, unclear of what had happened.
Hua Zhu Yu withdrew her sword and proceeded to get down from the stage. As she moved, she furtively kicked the rocks, destroying the Seven Star Array as she got down.
There was an uproar below as everyone was all taken by surprise. They were completely shocked by Hua Zhu Yu’s confusing victory.
Huangfu Wu Shuang saw Hua Zhu Yu come over. He was very happy. “Xiao Bao Er, I’ve finally witnessed your valiance.”
Sitting beside Huangfu Wu Shuang, Wen Wan glanced at Hua Zhu Yu, her eyes flashing with hostility. When Hua Zhu Yu went forward to pour Huangfu Wu Shuang wine, she inadvertently raised her eyes and saw the flash of coldness in Wen Wan’s eyes that quickly disappeared thereafter.
It seems Wen Wan was not going to let her off easily. Hua Zhu Yu carefully thought of what she had done these past few days. Besides focusing on nurturing the fetus, she rarely left the palace. Even when she did, she made sure she wasn’t followed. Wen Wan shouldn’t be able to grasp onto her weakness. But what was this sudden apprehension entwining in her heart?
At the moment, a palace maidservant passed through the garden and ran over to kneel before Huangfu Wu Shuang. Panting she said, “Reporting to Your Majesty! Something has happened!”
Hua Zhu Yu had just defeated Yue Po so Huangfu Wu Shuang was in a good mood. Upon hearing this, he shot the maidservant a cold look and reprimanded, “What’s the fuss all about! Quickly report!”
“My master was enjoying the plum blossoms in the yard for some time but then when she returned to her room she suddenly fainted!” the little maidservant confessed.
Huangfu Wu Shuang frowned and impatiently asked, “Who is your master?”
The maidservant kowtowed and replied, “Reporting to Your Majesty, this servant’s master is the former Emperor Kang’s imperial concubine Song Zhao Yi of Yong Tang Palace.”
Hua Zhu Yu suddenly realized why this maidservant looked so familiar. Whenever she visited Dan Hong’s palace, she would go under the veil of night. In addition, Dan Hong would let all her attendants retreat beforehand. Thus Hua Zhu Yu did not recognize this maidservant right away.
Dan Hong fainted? Was she sick? Hua Zhu Yu quickly said, “Your Majesty, how about this servant invite the Imperial Physician to go take a look at Song Zhao Yi?”
Huangfu Wu Shuang sighed and said, “Alright, you go.”
“Your Majesty!” Wen Wan chimed in. She slowly stood and said with a smile, “I know what’s wrong with her! She’s pregnant! There’s no need for the physician. Bao gong gong should know this all too well!”
Upon hearing this, Hua Zhu Yu heart froze. She immediately understood the look in Wen Wan’s eyes just moments ago. It turns out Wen Wan found out that Dan Hong was brewing medicine intended for nurturing a fetus in her room. Therefore she bribed a palace maidservant from Dan Hong’s palace and used her to reveal this.
But just how much did Wen Wan know?
If she knew that Dan Hong was brewing the medication and assumed that Dan Hong was pregnant, what was her real motive for revealing this at this time?
“Miss Wen must be mistaken. This servant is completely unaware of Song Zhao Yi’s situation.” Hua Zhu Yu replied after calming herself down.
“You’re unaware?” Wen Wan repeated with a laugh. “I heard from His Majesty that before you came to the palace you were already acquainted with Song Zhao Yi. She had once saved your life so when you entered this palace, you took great care of her. But those are merely lies to deceive His Majesty. What saving grace? It’s obviously just an excuse. You don’t know your place and fooled around with her. I have sent people to Jing Shi Fang to check the records. The former Emperor Kang had never bedded Song Zhao Yi. So whose child is she carrying in her belly? There are no other men in this palace that frequents her place besides you. Yuan Bao, you dare to impersonate a eunuch and inciting chaos in the palace!”
Wen Wan’s words were like a sharp knife, aiming straight for Hua Zhu Yu.
Everyone was stunned, even Huangfu Wu Shuang was astounded by Wen Wan’s words.
Hua Zhu Yu’s heart surged chaotically. She was a woman so it never crossed her mind that others would suspect Dan Hong’s child to belong to her. She never expected Wen Wan would use such a method to deal with her!
Impersonating a eunuch, inciting chaos in the palace, impregnating concubines. If these accusations were proven valid, she feared that even Huangfu Wu Shuang could not save her.
Furthermore, Wen Wan picked a special moment to bring this up when all the officials and envoys were present.
With this kind of huge scandal, Wen Wan was deliberately pushing her straight to her death.
It never crossed Hua Zhu Yu’s mind that Dan Hong hadn’t serve the former emperor in bed. What was she to do now?
- Ok so what exactly is an Array? Well, HZY had talked about military arrays in chapter 71. Usually in military arrays, people are in formation. But in this case she used rocks. She had also put up in array in Ch 71 with rocks when she went to take a bath in the lake in order to confuse people so that they don’t see/find her. So she pretty much used the same tactic here. But from the way it was described, the rocks weren’t that big so I don’t know how it would leave someone in a state of confusion. lol But you see arrays/formations utilized a lot on wuxia/xianxia novels.
- Jing Shi Fang is a place with all the records of who the emperor retires with each night