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Sorry for the late sponsored release, as an apology this release is twice as long from the usual! Enjoy!
Standing at the bow of the ship, Hua Zhu Yu felt the breeze against her cheeks as she immersed herself in the fresh air. She relished in the caress of the wind fluttering her robes, evoking a sense of freedom while waning the chaos set in her heart. Gazing far across the horizon, in addition to the green mountains and blue seas, she saw the clouds drifting about. The saying, ‘Traveling across the jade sea is the ship, within the painting is the person1’ accurately depicted the magnificent scenery. Every so often they would pass by rippling streams where clear droplets of water would splash up, bringing to mind the phrase, ‘Against the shore beats the raging waves, swirling like a thousand year snowfall.”
Besides admiring the scenery, it was quite boring aboard the ship. On the first day, Huangfu Wu Shuang was excited but on the following day he began to feel somewhat exhausted. At this place, besides water there wasn’t much of anything else. There was nothing worth watching so he would call upon the eunuchs to play a game of cards to pass the time.
Hua Zhu Yu was not familiar with these palace games. After being forced to play a few rounds, she had lost terribly. Fortunately, the Summer Palace was not far. On the third day near noon they were already approaching the Palace.
Behind the Summer Palace Qing Jiang was a towering mountain while the palace itself was facing the river. The design of the Summer Palace was not as magnificent nor as splendid as the Imperial Palace but it was rather refined and beautiful. The buildings were veiled behind the verdant canopies of trees, sometimes exposed, other times concealed. Within the Summer Palace were vast centuries-old trees with immense canopies, completely obscuring one’s sight of the sky. Just entering the palace, one could feel the slight breeze and with the coolness provided from the shade it was very comfortable, worthy of being a summer resort.
The Royal Family led quite the comfortable lifestyle. In the summer heat they can go to the Summer Palace to rest while in the wintry cold they had rooms equipped with furnaces. On the other hand, those stationed near the border couldn’t afford such luxuries. Not only did sweat spill, but even their blood and tears. The enemy could ambush them at any moment so whether it was scorching hot, or whether there was an intense snow storm, they still had to adorn their armors and go out to guard against the enemy.
Come to mention it, if she hadn’t worn a mask year round, she reckoned this face of hers would’ve long turned dark from basking in the sun.
But the most unfair thing was, if someone felt slightly dissatisfied, all their heads would be sliced to the ground, so how could they not feel hatred ah!
Hua Zhu Yu followed Huangfu Wu Shuang through a series of winding walkways before finally arriving at Qing Yuan situated in the west. This was the summer residence of Huangfu Wu Shuang. Inside this residence the design was also quite different. The eaves curved upward like a bird taking flight. In the courtyards there were also all kinds of precious flowers, emitting a fragrant scent, mesmerizing people’s hearts.
Having sat two days aboard the ship, everyone was inevitable tired so they all took a rest. The Summer Palace became exceptionally quiet, the slight chirpings of birds were conspicuously loud. It was only after two hours did the Summer Palace began to lit up.
It was heard that the Emperor was in a good mood so he ordered the guards, servants, and ministers to have a round of Cuju for fun.
Hearing this, Huangfu Wu Shuang eyes naturally lit up instantly. He originally was fond of such games but in recent days he was trying to become more disciplined so he had steered clear of such enjoyments. But hearing the Emperor allowing them to play Cuju, how could he wait any longer? He instantly brought Hua Zhu Yu, Jixiang and 3 other eunuchs along to the competing Cuju field.
Yellow flags were hung all around the field and more than a dozen people were already lined up, most of which were the Emperor’s imperial guards and eunuchs. Most of the ministers that followed the Emperor to the Summer Palace were advanced in their years so there weren’t many that participated.
Beneath a tree, a yellow canopy was propped up, under which the Emperor was currently reclining, leaning back against his seat, watching the game in high spirits. On his side was a man, Ji Feng Li.
Huangfu Wu Shuang approached the Emperor and paid his respects. His gaze then swept over to Ji Feng Li and asked in a voice full of provocation, “Left Chancellor, why aren’t you down there ah? On normal days you exert for the Court, now you should relax a bit. Moreover, Left Chancellor is one of the youngest officials of court, how can you just sit and watch?”
Ji Feng Li continued to lightly fan himself and wasn’t angered by Huangfu Wu Shuang’s mocking remarks. On the contrary, the smile on his face deepened, appearing even more gentle and elegant.
Hua Zhu Yu coldly narrowed her eyes. Sometimes, she really longed to knock that gentle and elegant mask off his face, just to see what kind of person was really concealed behind it. Why is it that no matter when or where, he can put on such an elegant smile?
The Emperor sat up and looked at Ji Feng Li. With a smile he said, “Ji aiqing, what the Crown Prince said is right, you should also relax. Go down and have fun!”
Hearing this, Ji Feng Li put away his fan and with a facial expression as though he was placed in a difficult dilemma, he respectfully bowed to the Emperor and said,” Feng Li shall obey the command.”
He got up and followed Huangfu Wu Shuang to the changing tent to change clothes before stepping out.
The two people had on outfits of opposing teams. Huangfu Wu Shuang was adorned in a slim vermillion uniform with a similar colored headband, appearing very lively, the black and white of his eyes were distinctly clear as a luminous light radiated from them, mesmerizing one’s soul. He narrowed his eyes as they landed on Ji Feng Li and said, “Left Chancellor, be careful on the field later!”
As soon as she heard this, Hua Zhu Yu knew that Huangfu Wu Shuang was scheming something- it seems as if he was determined to compete with Ji Feng Li on the Cuju field.
Ji Feng Li wore a slim blue uniform similar in style to Huangfu Wu Shuang’s with an accompanying blue headband. He had already taken off his court headdress and his long hair was bundled up high, with faint wisps of loose hair billowing in the wind. The uniform highlighted his appearance, toning down his elegance while enhancing yet made him appear more spirited and brisk.
Ji Feng Li did not mind Huangfu Wu Shuang’s words and only squinted his eyes while smiling and said, “Feng Li shall take caution, thanks for Your Highness’ concern!”
The two people then strode towards the field but before leaving, Ji Feng Li silently turned to glance at Hua Zhu Yu, a trace of contemplation obscured in his dark eyes.
Huangfu Wu Shuang was missing one person on his team so he directed his finger at Hua Zhu Yu and said, “ Yuan Bao, come up here.”
So to speak, Hua Zhu Yu was familiar with this game. When stationed at the border with no ongoing battle to be fought, besides training, many people would find some game to entertain themselves and Cuju was not an exception. And since she wanted to associate and be one good terms with the other soldiers, she would often participate in this game. She played together with her four guards Pin, An, Kang, and Tai who were able to coordinate well together and as a result, would often defeat the opposing team, leaving them in a sorry state.
In the beginning, she had no intentions of participating. Why would she want to put on a good show for the Emperor to watch? But once she saw Ji Feng Li on the field, a fire was ignited within her. Her beautiful phoenix eyes narrowed as a sharp glint flashed by.
She went to the tent to quickly change into the uniform before coming out.
The two opposing teams were lined up. For the most part, Huangfu Wu Shuang’s team consisted of eunuchs, imperial guards and the commander of the Imperial Guards. Ji Feng Li’s team was made up mostly of a few ministers and the younger generations of noble families, all of which were young frivolous juveniles with imposing airs.
Before the competition began, on behalf of the Emperor, Chang gong gong raised his horsetail whisk and announced, “His Majesty says everyone should put their best effort forward and that in this game of Cuju, there is no ruler and his ministers, no master and his servants. In addition, no one is allowed to use internal force.”
Everyone complied in unison.
The ball was brought over as the pounding of the surrounding drums resonated to the sky.
The match commenced.
Huangfu Wu Shuang dashed forward, his movements nimble as he kicked the ball with a smooth effort. This little brat, on the Cuju field was very brave and fierce. But the opponents were not to be overshadowed as they simultaneously rushed forward to obstruct.
Momentarily, on the Cuju field, the clamors resounded, unfolding to sky as the battle became more intense and fierce.
Little did Hua Zhu Yu expect to have such a tacit understanding with Huangfu Wu Shuang as they coordinated effortlessly and soon scored two goals. The match turned increasingly fierce as the opponent’s eyes turned red. When Huangfu Wu Shuang received the ball again, ten military officers rushed forward to steal the ball.
Huangfu Wu Shuang was the Crown Prince yet those military officers dared to rush up to steal his ball, completely disregarding his status. Seeing this, the Imperial Guards weren’t fearful either as they fought with all their strength.
It seems this match wasn’t as boring as Hua Zhu Yu imagined it to be.
Just as she was thinking this, a military officer had kicked the ball towards her at lightning speed that was hard for normal people to avoid. As Hua Zhu Yu was contemplating whether or not to use internal force to evade this assault, she felt a heavy force hit her abdomen as the ball attacked her stomach.
The ball was made of animal skin and stuffed with animal hair. It wasn’t too heavy but it couldn’t be considered light either. Once it hit the body it was very painful, not to mention, that military officer used internal force. It felt as though her stomach was assaulted by a heavy strike, extremely painful.
Hua Zhu Yu clutched her stomach and narrowed her eyes, vaguely witnessing that person making a gesture towards Ji Feng Li.
Hua Zhu Yu was furious. Behind the scene it appears to be Ji Feng Li pulling the strings, truly a despicable bastard. Since he couldn’t get rid of her with the ‘evil-doer bewitching master’ rumor, now he wants to vent on the Cuju field?
Huangfu Wu Shuang quickly ran over, helping Hua Zhu Yu up as he quietly asked, “Yuan Bao, are you alright? How about you go rest, let Jixiang take your place.”
“There’s no need, this servant can bear it!” Hua Zhu Yu quietly replied as she stood up.
Her phoenix eyes narrowed, rippling with coldness.
Once she was upright, she felt a strange atmosphere around her. The opponents, even those on her team carried disdainful looks on their faces.
Hua Zhu Yu’s expression turned solemn as she knew what they were thinking. They were thinking that she was Huangfu Wu Shuang’s pampered male pet. Though the previous rumor of her being an evildoer who bewitched his master was suppressed by the Emperor, word still spread around nevertheless.
This was all thanks to Ji Feng Li’s gift ah!
The matched continued on, still as fierce as ever.
Seeing an open spot, Hua Zhu Yu dashed forward to steal the ball from the opponent. When she saw that a team member was standing near Ji Feng Li, she shrewdly passed the ball to him, but that person wasn’t able to receive the ball which had grazed over his shoulder, coincidentally heading straight for Ji Feng Li’s face.
- an idiom which mean that people board ships to wander the blue seas and see the beautiful scenery which is like exploring a beautiful painting
lolol @ HZY getting payback