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3 Party

    Han Shu Liu aged by ten years because of that condition.

    In the midst of chaos. With the life of thousands of Han Kingdom's people in mind, Lady Tian stepped forward and agreed to that deal. But she asked the outsider to give them time until Lian Ai reached sixteen.

    'I still have six months until Lian Ai reached sixteen.'

    The real Han Lian Ai died, and Hui Lei didn't have her memory as to whom she was promised to. Even Han Shu Liu did not open his mouth when Hui Lei tried to make him talk, maybe he felt like he was a failure as a father every time someone mentioned this.

    Lian Ai gave Concubine Wei a soft and simple smile. "Yes, thank you for reminding me." It was a sarcastic remark that caught Concubine Wei off guard. The concubines and Lian Ai's half siblings below started to murmur.

    'Seriously, they may make a big deal out of it. While here I am, sitting calmly, whoever I am promised to, I don't care.'

    'I already died once, almost met with the Yama. Why should I be afraid of a mere human man?'

    'While this is true, as a former man, thinking about being a possession of another man gave Hui Lei goosebumps. It was unimaginable for a former single man like him.'

    Suddenly, Lian Ai felt some chill. She rotated her head to the direction where the chill came from, it came from her brother's direction. But, it was gone soon after. She raised an eyebrow. What was that?

    Lian Ai stopped thinking about about the chill when she looked at her brother's solemn face. His long black eyelashes covered the unfathomable eyes which looked down on the ground. She reminded herself of her dream, the boy looked so pitiful and lonely.

    'Ah...'

    Han Wu Xia's lonely look reminded her of the dream. The dream reminded Han Lian Ai that the fire was not an accident.

    Poisons and that pair of eyes she saw that night, she suspected that someone was going after the Empress's children's lives.

    Han Lian Ai frowned severely. If it was the Empress's children's lives then the one she should suspect the most are the concubines. Han Lian Ai swapped her eyes across the room.

    'Who was it?'

    ---

    "The First Princess grew up too fast. I still remember when you were so young and sweet. You were such a quiet girl who loved to be alone and rarely attended the parties of the higher class ladies."

    "That's true, First Princess should attend those eventful parties more..."

    Han Lian Ai listened to the Concubines chatting for almost half an hour. The morning assemble was as boring as ever, she almost yawned. Lian Ai tried to keep herself awake by drinking the tepid tea, catching a distinct smell of flowers in it.

    Ever since she realized this body had been poisoned before, she then started carrying a small pin made of silver with her everywhere. Han Lian Ai would check anything and everything before she ate because she did not want to die again.

    Han Lian Ai also told the young Crown Prince to do this. Maybe the reason why Lady Tian still died despite the King's love, effort and protection was because of her pure and amiable heart. She did not have self consciousness.

    "There will be another party in four days," Concubine Wei said.

    "Yes, it is the daughter of the Prime Minister's party. A celebration for her 15th birthday!" Concubine Yu added.

    "Fai Fai got an invitation for it two weeks ago. Which is why I brought some new clothes for her. Sisters, don't you a want to take a look?" Han Lian Ai could see Concubine Fu's proud smile as she said that. Fai Fai was the Second Oldest Princess; she was fourteen. Han Lian Ai glanced at Fai Fai from the corner of her eye. She showed a dimpled smile and told her maid to fetch the new clothes.

    When Han Lian Ai heard that each of the concubines had children, she was kind of amazed. These children shut the demand of the four province lords for the Emperor to visit their daughters' chamber.

    [[The Princes]]

    The first prince was Zheng, who would be fourteen years old this year; he was the son of Concubine Yu. The second prince was Bao Da, the son of Concubine Wei; he was also fourteen with a 10 months difference from the first prince. The third prince was the Crown Prince; he was thirteen. Fourth prince was still a two-year-old and was the son of Concubine Fu.

    [[The Princesses]]

    The first princess of course was herself, Lian Ai. Second was Fai Fai, she was fourteen and daughter of Concubine Fu. And the two last were Fen and Ju; these two were Concubine Ao's eleven-year-old twins.

    ---

    Concubine Fu let her personal maids display the clothes she bought just a few day ago.

    There were six pieces. Each one of them the same price as a small village house. But to the rich Concubine Fu, these clothes were not even half of her weekly allowance. They were all exclusively handmade by a skillful tailor from a very rare kind of glossy and fine material. The other Concubines except Concubine Ao gritted their teeth. She successfully made them all jealous.

    Lian Ai sipped her tea on the higher ground. Looking at the interesting scenery that happened in front of her.

    "First Princess, I got too excited and bought too clothes. Fai Fai only took the one she liked from all of these clothes. The size is not far from yours. Do you want to take a piece?"

    Lian Ai lightly glanced at Concubine Fu who wore a very wide smile. Lian Ai smiled too. In her heart, she wanted to scoff at her. Like I will choose a cloth that my younger sister had thrown away.

    "Thank you, Concubine Fu for your concern. Unfortunately, I have already ordered some new clothes for myself."

    'That was a lie.'

    "Oh? Is that so? Does that mean you are prepared for the party too?"

    "Yes, I am looking forward to it."

    'That was a lie too.'

    Wu Xia had sweat beads on his forehead as he glanced at her, giving off signals. She did a very fast eye movement and glanced at him slightly before looking at Concubine Fu with certainty and confidence.

    "My brother, the Crown Prince, and I will attend the party. We have been looking forward to it. Thank you for your concern."

    The people inside the hall gasped. It seemed like they did not expect Ham Lian Ai to say that.

    Lady Tian was a type to prefer going to the rural places or the orphanages rather than some suffocating high class parties. Which made both of Han Lian Ai and Wu Xia, her children, almost never go to these parties and socialize with people from the higher class.

    Han Lian Ai wondered why the smart Emperor let his two children grew up without knowing the high class society. Now she knew why. Without the persistent of the people involved, that was Han Lian Ai and Han Wu Xia, the Concubines could use whatever excuses for us not to attend.

    The Concubines lost the colors in their face. This was surely out of their prediction. Concubine Fu tried to block her. "But First Princess, are you sure? The party is exhausting, I think..."

    "Aren't you all the one who said that I should attend these parties once in awhile?"

    "That, that is..." Concubine Fu could not rebuke anymore. Han Lian Ai could see a thin layer of nervousness on her face. Concubine Fu looked behind her and suddenly got an idea. She offered.

    "Then Fai Fai shall assist you. Come here, Fai Fai!"

    "Yes, Mother?" Han Fai Fai went to the front and saluted.

    "Since they have not attend a party for a very long time, you should take care of your First Sister and Third Prince, alright?"

    Han Fai Fai showed a fine arc on her lips as she replied to her mother. "Yes, of course, Mother."

    Han Lian Ai tried to hide her frowned and unsatisfied face. She did not think that daring move would end up backfiring on her.
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