Pulling on the reins, Hua Zhu Yu was about to urge the horse to run but the man in black launched another attack.
She coldly narrowed her eyes and leaned her body to one side and backwards as the sword flashed in front of her.
With the accompanying wind, her red dress fluttered like a butterfly in the sunlight.
From just one glance, Ji Feng Li knew she was the Empress they abducted. Based on the way she rode her horse it appears she also knew martial arts.
He had sent his man over to stop her from running away but unexpectedly, her horse-riding skills were top-notch and she was able to easily avoid the attack.
Behind the string of pearl tassels, her face could not be seen clearly. When the man in black brandished his sword again, she leaned back swiftly but his sword brushed aside the pearl tassels and revealed her features, her delicate red lips, graceful straight nose, deep, clear eyes, picturesque dark brows, and elegant forehead as clear as white jade.
Catching sight of that face, Ji Feng Li was stunned and he stood there as if possessed. When he tried to take another glance, the tassels had fallen and her face was obscured once again.
Was he dreaming or was this an illusion? Why did he feel that woman looked so familiar? Just like when he saw a portrait of her, his heart began to beat fiercely.
Right at that moment, an ear-rending neigh was heard. His subordinate’s horse was stabbed and blood was splattering from its neck as it collapsed to the ground.
At once, Hua Zhu Yu urged her horse to run. Moving quickly, her red wedding dress danced in the air along with her shawl, quivering alongside the wind. This beautiful sight pricked Ji Feng Li’s eyes.
In a flash, he turned back and untied the horse pulling the carriage. He jumped atop of it and gave chase. However, he was a step too late and could only watch as the figure in front of him pulled off the phoenix crown and threw at the ground as she rode further and further away before disappearing into the horizon.
He suddenly pulled back on the reins and the horse came to a halt. His eyes narrowed slightly and his lips were pursed in a tight line. In his chest, his heart was beating violently, so intense that he could not calm down.
“Everyone retreat! No need to give chase!” He coldly shouted.
“The delicate Young Miss Nie actually knows martial arts surprisingly. She can even ride a horse so well,” his subordinate remarked.
Ji Feng Li shot him a cold glance and he instantly held his tongue.
“The Emperor’s wedding is about to begin. Quickly make preparations! I want to enter the palace,” he said calmly.
The moment was too brief. He even suspected that he had missed that person too much that his eyes were playing tricks on him.
But he still felt uneasy at heart. He must take another look. Nie Yi Ren, who exactly was she?
“Master, what identity are you using to enter the palace? Prince Na Lan has already used the identity of prince of Yue Zhi. Moreover, we have successfully incited the fight between Hua Mu and Nie Yuan Qiao. To enter the palace now would be very dangerous.”
Ji Feng Li turned a deaf ear and indifferently said, “It doesn’t matter.” Even if it was mountains of daggers and seas of flames waiting for him he still must enter the palace.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
As soon as the sun rose, many civil and military officials had gathered outside of Kang Ning Hall which was guarded vigilantly.
The royal ceremony was very grand and formal with palace servants and eunuchs standing in long lines on both sides.
Once the auspicious time had arrived, the procession escorting the bride from Nie Residence entered the palace. Starting from the gate of the Imperial Palace and proceeding towards Kang Ning Hall, a long gorgeous red carpet was laid out.
Once the palanquin arrived at the gate of Kang Ning Hall, it shook slightly before coming to a stop. Huangfu Wu Shuang, in his red grand wedding robes, walked in front of the palanquin with his bow and arrows. He fired three arrows at the palanquin in accordance to tradition to ward off evil spirits.
As the palace servant lifted the curtain of the palanquin, Huangfu Wu Shuang extended his hand to support the Empress as she stepped out in her red wedding dress and veil.
Holding hands, they walked step by step along the gorgeous red carpet as they entered Kang Ning Hall.
The envoys of the various states were also invited to the wedding. Watching as the Emperor ascended the stone steps with the Empress, prince of Yue Zhi turned and left. After a while, he returned with his attendant Yue Po.
Everyone’s attention was focused on the Emperor and Empress up on the high platform and no one paid much notice to their movements.
Today, the weather was beautiful. For thousands of miles, only blue skies could be seen. On the red carpet, two figures in red dazzled the eyes of millions. The civil and military officials, servants and eunuchs, all held their breath and looked up at the two people walking side by side.
At the top of the high platform, the two people knelt down and kowtowed to Empress Dowager Nie.
The officials of the Ministry of Rites had already lit the incense and the chief supervisor of the inner division, Jixiang, stepped out holding the imperial edict. In a loud voice, he announced, “ Accept the Mandate of Heaven. The Emperor proclaims the daughter of Chancellor Nie, Nie Yi Ren is of gentle temperament and adheres to propriety, having both integrity and talent and shall be crowned Empress today.”
Once he finished reading, Jixiang lifted the edict, signalling to the Empress kneeling on the ground to receive it.
The red wedding veil had covered Dan Hong’s entire face. She was currently very nervous, wondering why the general had not arrived yet. Was she really to marry the emperor in her stead?
In that moment of hesitation, Huangfu Wu Shuang leaned forward to support her up. He then took the edict from Jixiang and placed it in her hands. He stood on the high steps and held her hand, whispering in her ear, “Look at the world before our eyes. Everyone is bowing at our feet. It’s such a great feeling to overlook the world but what makes zhen even happier is having you, Xiao Bao Er, by my side.”
Upon hearing this, Dan Hong slightly trembled. She was not the general. If the general was here, would her heart be moved by these words?
It has already reached this point but the general had yet to return. Was she to continue in this ceremony, Dan Hong wondered?
Right at this time, a small eunuch outside the hall stepped in to announce, “Northern Kingdom’s Emperor Xiao Yin has arrived with wedding gifts to congratulate the Emperor.”
Northern Kingdom’s Emperor?
A few of the officials were surprised by this news. It was unexpected of the Northern Emperor to have arrived in Southern Kingdom unannounced.
However, Huangfu Wu Shuang was already aware of this from a secret report he had received from his men. He knew the Northern Emperor had already arrived in Yu City but he didn’t expect him to come to his wedding.
“What are you doing, quickly invite him inside,” Huangfu Wu Shuang said with a smile.
The eunuch stepped out to pass on the order. After a short while, a loud voice resonated in the hall. “Northern Emperor arrives!” the eunuch announced in a long, drawn out voice. Simultaneously, a tall proud figure appeared at the palace gate.
The Northern Emperor Xiao Yin entered, walking on the red carpet. He was dressed in purple robes embroidered with a flying dragon. His stride was domineering and powerful. Following behind him were 2 of his subordinates.
He continued to walk and only stopped once he was 10 steps away from Huangfu Wu Shuang. Seeing this situation, the Yu Lin Imperial Guards stepped forward with their swords vigilantly.
“Is this how Southern Kingdom treat their guests?” Xiao Yin asked as his gaze coldly swept across the guards.
“Retreat!” Huangfu Wu Shuang coldly ordered.
“The Northern Emperor traveled far to get here. Excuse me for not going out to meet you. It was impolite of me,” Huangfu Wu Shuang said laughingly.
“Your Majesty is too courteous. I came here this time with well wishes. May the Emperor and Empress, dragon and phoenix, fly wing in wing, together till the hairs whiten of old age!”Xiao Yin said with a light smile, his voice was gently yet carried a hint of frostiness and indolence.
Then he narrowed his eyes and said, “Bring the gifts!”
Standing behind him, Hui Xue and Lui Feng immediately held up the tray and presented the gift.
Huangfu Wu Shuang signaled the eunuch standing behind to receive the gift. Then he slowly walked down the steps and invited the Northern Emperor into the palace hall to attend the banquet. Xiao Yin smiled and glanced at the Empress standing behind Huangfu Wu Shuang. His eyes narrowed and he slowly said, “When this Emperor arrived, I didn’t know the Emperor was about to get married so the gifts were prepared in a hurry. However, I also have a gift to present to the Empress.”
Upon hearing this, Huangfu Wu Shuang’s dark eyes slightly narrowed but he continued to smile and said, “I didn’t expect Northern Emperor to also prepare a gift for the Empress. Empress should quickly thank the Northern Emperor.”
Dan Hong’s sight was obscured by the veil and she could not see who had arrived. All she saw was a pair of deer-leathered cloud boots as she looked down at his feet. She then suddenly remembered the general’s words.
General had told her to take her place in the wedding ceremony and that someone would arrive to take her away. Could it be that it was the Northern Emperor? Why would he take her away?
She slowly took in a deep breath and said with a smile, “Many thanks to Northern Emperor.”
“Empress is not going to take a look at the gift?” he asked in a low voice.
Dan Hong’s heart slightly trembled and for a moment she didn’t know what to do.
Huangfu Wu Shuang smiled and said, “As Empress of a kingdom, you don’t have to pay too much to courtesy. You can take off your veil.” As soon as he spoke, his hands raised to pull off the veil on Dan Hong’s head.
The moment the veil was pulled, Ji Feng Li’s heart was beating fiercely. Currently, he was acting as the prince of Yue Zhi while the real Na Lan Xue had taken off his mask and was posing as Yue Po.
His eyes narrowed as he stared at the Empress in the distance without blinking, feeling increasingly tensed.
She was able to return in time to be escorted by the palace procession to enter the palace. Thus he insisted on entering the palace to take a closer look at her.
As the red veil slowly descended, he saw her red, vermillion lips, nose, bright eyes and dark brows. She was a beauty indeed but she was nothing like that person.
At once his heart dropped.
Could it be that what he saw was really just an illusion?
Because he missed him so much that he was now seeing illusion of him?
The sunlight shone brightly upon the grand hall, beautifully decorated in red. In the wind, the red silk banners fluttered joyously. The atmosphere was full of jubilance but his eyes were dark and chillingly cold.
But when he took a clear look at her face again he recognized her. She was the former Emperor Kang’s concubine, Song Qi Luo. Yuan Bao was sentenced to death because he had been involved with her. Upon coming to this realization, he was taken aback.
Xiao Yin was also taken aback when he saw Dan Hong. When he was 7 years old, his Imperial Mother had passed away. Since then the image of her had started to become blurry in his memories. It was not until Hua Zhu Yu brought a painting of Dan Hong in front of him that he started to remember what she used to look like. And now, seeing Dan Hong in person he was still startled. It was like his Imperial Mother had come back to life.
Huangfu Wu Shuang was also stunned. Nie Yuan Qiao did not disclose what had happened. After all, if the Empress was abducted from his Nie Residence, he would not be able to escape blame. Moreover, that Empress wasn’t really his daughter. Therefore, Huangfu Wu Shuang did not know Hua Zhu Yu was taken away. Now seeing that his Empress was someone else, how could he not be shocked?
Turning to the side, at an angle obscured from others’ view, Huangfu Wu Shuang’s handsome face was enveloped in a coldly dangerous air. His eyes, originally filled with joy, were now sharp as an eagle’s. He exhaled deeply then turned around. With a smile as brilliant as a peach blossom he slowly said to Xiao Yin as he grasped Dan Hong’s delicate hand, “I wonder what the Northern Emperor decided to gift the Empress?”
All of the officials were astonished. They did not understand why the former Emperor Kang’s concubine had become Young Miss Nie and is now the Empress. Many people could not understand what was happening but when they saw Huangfu Wu Shuang’s calm expression, no one dared to open their mouth to question.
Dan Hong gazed at the tall, imposing man in front of her. Looking at his purple eyes that seemed to be lit with fire, she was somewhat taken aback. Those purple eyes seemed to have some kind of power, in the blink of an eye, it had seemed to held her captive.
“Many Thanks to Your Majesty,” She said to the Northern Emperor.
Xiao Yin waved his hand to signal Hui Xue to bring forth the jade tray. On the tray was a white scroll.
Jixiang received the jade tray and brought it to Dan Hong. She took the scroll and slowly rolled it open. Standing beside her, Huangfu Wu Shuang observed in interest.
As the scroll slowly rolled open, Dan Hong was stunned, even Huangfu Wu Shuang’s expression changed. It was a painting and in the distance there were grasslands, tents, and falcons flying in the vast skies. At the forefront was a red plum tree. The red plum blossoms were silently blooming and the branches were slightly drooping down, seemingly due to the weight of the flowers. There also seemed to be a subtle fragrance of flowers coming from the painting.
Under the tree there was a woman in an exotic dress sitting in a chair. She was beautiful and quiet. In her arms, she held a little girl. Standing beside her was a boy around 7-8 years old holding a piece candy teasing the little girl. The artist of this painting was clearly a man. Each brushstroke was not meticulously painted but the painting brought a warmth to Dan Hong’s heart at first glance. It was plain to see that this painting was drawn with heart. When Dan Hong’s gaze fell upon the woman’s face, she shuddered involuntarily. The main reason being that the woman looked so much like her.
“This person…. Who is she?” Dan Hong asked shakily.
Looking at the painting, Huangfu Wu Shuang narrowed his eyes. He then smiled and said, “This painting is not bad. Empress should quickly put it away. Northern Emperor please come inside the hall where the banquet is held. It’s an honor to have the Northern Emperor present.”
“Your Majesty married this Emperor’s younger sister, naturally this Emperor must attend,” Xiao Yin said with a smile but his eyes shone with pity as he glanced at Dan Hong.
Huangfu Wu Shuang laughed and said, “You truly know how to jest, please come inside the hall.”
Xiao Yin stood still and looked at Huangfu Wu Shuang. With a cold smile he said, “This is this Emperor’s younger sister who had been missing for many years. She is precisely the princess Zhou Ya. The person in this painting is my Imperial Mother. The child in her hands is my younger sister and she is your Empress. As the Northern Emperor, how could I mistaken my own younger sister? How could I take this as a joke!”