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Chapter 95 Part 2: Wangye is Captured, Two Nations Conduct Peace Talks

    Because everybody was busy with preparations for Rong Rong's guifei bestowal ceremony the next day, the banquet for the Northern Qi's Crown Prince along with his party of princes and ministers would only be attended by palace officials of the third rank or higher.

    The daughters of those fu would not be attending this banquet, but tomorrow they would be able to come and present themselves in the face of the Emperor. All the xiaojie were very excited, each of them taking out their new clothes and jewelry, letting their mothers and elders help them choose as each hoped to distinguish themselves tomorrow.

    Yun Qian Meng watched Mu Chun bring out clothes of the latest style in the capital, complete with matching jewelry as she laid it out on the bed, carefully preparing her outfit for tomorrow. Seeing it gave her a headache.

    "That's fine, don't labor over it so much. Tomorrow's leading lady is the Rong Clan's da xiaojie. If we go out with such flare, we would be wronging the other xiaojie and the new guifei." Qu Ling Ao's matter was now settled so she could be relieved for a while. Right now, the most important thing was to find the culprit of the attempted of murder on Ying Qiu. Bringing out the mastermind working behind the curtains would settle everything once and for all.

    Yun Qian Meng had no interest in banquets like this that one could attend anytime.

    Besides, in the current Western Chu, the class difference between legitimate and illegitimate born children had always been clear and distinct. Hence there was something very strange in Emperor Yu Qian's imperial edict. The peace talks with the Northern Qi was a very serious matter, so it was proper to allow legitimate xiaojies to attend. But why would Emperor Yu Qian also allow the illigitmate born daughters to participate? Did that not make it appear as if there was a hidden agenda behind it?

    It would be best to wear normal clothes for tomorrow's celebration to avoid encountering any trouble.

    At this moment, a yatou who was waiting outside came in to announce that Yun Yi Yi had come. Yun Qian Meng had not even replied yet when she heard Yun Yi Yi's voice.

    "Big sister is as beautiful as an immortal, even Hai Tian junzhu cannot compare. Big sister must be careful with her outfit, so you can really stand out among the other xiaojie." Yun Yi Yi entered the room, bringing her own yatou with her. When her eyes saw the silk clothes Mu Chun was holding, the burning envy was clearly visible in her eyes. She then saw Yun Qian Meng's casual appearance and felt like vomiting in her heart, inwardly scolding Yun Qian Meng for not treasuring her fortune, as well as pitying her own situation. If only she were her uncle's legitimate daughter, how grand would that be!

    When Mu Chun saw Yun Yi Yi's burning gaze locked onto the violet dress embroidered with plum-flowers in her hands, she could not help but look at Yun Yi Yi with disatisfaction. Even if she covetted her da xiaojie's position and things, she need not be so obvious about it.

    Moreover, every time she came to da xiaojie's room, she always had a lack of etiquette, it was really very annoying.

    "Have a seat. Meimei must be careful with her words and actions. You should not speak this carelessly at home. Who knows if meimei's words could be repeated outside of xiangfu? If junzhu is wronged, it might harm cousins' prospects." As she was speaking, Yun Qian Meng placed a bookmark into the book she had been reading, then she closed it.

    When Yun Yi Yi heard Yun Qian Meng's words, she could feel the blood rising up her head. Yun Qian Meng's words sounded sincere but everybody knew how Yun Qian Meng and Hai Tian did not get along. Now she was pushing all of the blame to her. Yun Qian Meng was really sly and crafty.

    Yun Yi Yi pressed down the anger in her heart and retracted her envious gaze. She then lowered her eyes, looking obedient and compliant, and said in a pathetic way, "Yi Yi will remember big sister's words, but Yi Yi is really envious of big sister."

    When Yun Qian Meng heard this, she understood that this was about the matter of the Imperial Edict that stated those who could attend the celebration. Yun Yi Yi must have been worrying over it for days.

    Even though she was currently living in xiangfu, her father did not have an official title. Because of this, she was not allowed to attend the banquet. She must have come here specially to ask for her help in finding a workaround.

    After all, if Yun Yi Yi could get a good marriage it would give her brothers, Yun Yi Heng and Yi Yi Jie, a good foundation for their futures.

    Yun Qian Meng brought a teacup to her lips and took a sip. Only when the tea had reached her stomach did she leisurely open her mouth to speak, "What is the use of being jealous of other people? Just be diligent in studying the four arts and become famous in the capital. If you did that you would not have to be afraid of getting a good marriage anymore, now would you?"

    Yun Qian Meng was able to figure out Yun Yi Yi's thoughts in such a short time, so a flash of astonishment passed through Yun Yi Yi's down-cast eyes. Inwardly, she trembled, since just thinking about the four arts gave her a headache.

    Why should she have to work hard to get a chance to distinguish herself? Yun Qian Meng was already the center of attention the moment she was born. How was that fair?

    Once she found a good husband and spent the rest of her life managing her house, what good would the four arts be?

    People only cared about status and position; those things were only amusements to pass the time and were only superfluous playthings!

    Yun Yi Yi secretly gritted her teeth then immediately went on her knees and knelt before Yun Qian Meng. With tears in her eyes, she said, "Big sister knows the reason Yun Yi Yi came here today. I am asking sister to please help! Yi Yi has no other wish, even just seeing the majesty of the palace would be good. I'm not asking to gain entry with the status of a xiaojie, I would be delighted even to just pretend to be your yatou. Will big sister please take pity on Yi Yi?"

    This was somewhat beyond Yun Qian Meng's expectations. Usually, Yun Yi Yi put on airs of a xiaojie; you would see people kneeling at her but never the other way around.

    She had not expected her to go so far as to kneel just for the sake of going to the banquet.

    If she did not agree, word would get out that she was an unreasonable and cold-blooded person.

    But if she were to agree and Yun Yi Yi were to meet with trouble in the banquet, it would be her responsibility and the blame would definitely fall on her.

    Right now, Yun Yi Yi was feeling extremely nervous. She was worried that Yun Qian Meng would refuse. After all, if Yun Qian Meng would not agree after she had knelt like this, then she would be losing face.

    Unexpectedly, Yun Qian Meng made a light coughing sound.

    Mu Chun immediately set down the dress and brought over a silk cloak, carefully wrapping it around Yun Qian Meng's shoulders. With concern, she said, "Xiaojie must be careful not to catch a cold. It is now nearing autumn, the temperature difference in day and night is large, xiaojie must be careful about being exposed to the cold."

    Yun Qian Meng patted Mu Chun's hand, making it clear that she had no objections. She bent down to help Yun Yi Yi rise and said with some awkwardness, "I understand how you feel, but as you can see, my body is unfit. The window was only opened for a moment but I already have the signs of catching a cold. I still don't know if I can attend the banquet tomorrow or not. If meimei really wants to go, it's better to go see Ruo Xue. I believe she won't disappoint you."

    Yun Qian Meng coughed again until her face became red. She took a sip of tea, while pressing down the negative thoughts in her head.

    "Fourth xiaojie, our xiaojie is really not well today. Could fourth xiaojie please return to her courtyard so da xiaojie can rest." Mu Chun took Yun Qian Meng's hint and cleverly added as she called out the yatou at the door to escort Yun Yi Yi back out of Qi Luo Yuan.

    "Is xiaojie really alright?" Mu Chun asked with concern after Yun Yi Yi was forced to leave.

    Even though Yun Qian Meng's complexion had returned to normal, there was an odd look in her eye. She commanded Mu Chun to put away the clothes and accessories on the bed and sat down on the dressing table. She picked up the rouge she never used and studied it carefully...

    At dawn the next day, each fu was bustling with activity. Horse-drawn carriages with xiaojie and furen left their gates and quickly went on their way to the Palace.

    For reasons uknown, Yun Yi Yi had been able to convince Yun Ruo Xue to bring her along. Dressed as Yun Ruo Xue's servant girl, she hastily entered the carriage with Yun Ruo Xue and Yun Yan.

    Mu Chun had informed Yun Xuan Zhi the previous night that Yun Qian Meng had suddenly caught a cold and could not attend the banquet.

    Yun Xuan Zhi had had a physician come in to examine her. He had really wished for Yun Qian Meng to be able to attend the banquet but the physician had declared that the weather was not good for going out, which greatly disappointing him. He could only let Yun Qian Meng stay home to recover.

    Yun Ruo Xue was in high spirits without Yun Qian Meng. She looked at the other passengers in the carriage, a silent Yun Yan and an easily ignored Yun Yi Yi dressed as yatou. It made her feel sure of success, so she did not think of giving them a hard time. The three of them proceeded to the Palace in peace. Eventually they reached the gates and stepped out.

    They had just dismounted the carriage when Yun Ruo Xue saw a splendidly dressed Su Qian Yue. She immediately left Yun Yan behind and approached Su Qian Yue, smilingly calling out, "Biaojie!"

    Su Qian Yue turned around slightly. When she saw Yun Ruo Xue, she did not greet her warmly like before and her lips turned up in only a half-hearted smile. Her eyes swept past Yun Ruo Xue to search behind her, then she said in a cold and indifferent manner, "Where is your elder sister? How come I don't see her?"

    Yun Ruo Xue noticed that Su Qian Yue was colder to her today and became annoyed. She replied with some displeasure, "It can't be helped. Bad luck last night when she came down with a cold and today she couldn't get out of bed. If she were still to come to the palace in that state it would make the xiangfu lose face."

    After hearing Yun Ruo Xue finish prattling on, she walked towards the direction of other young ladies along with her yatou, leaving Yun Ruo Xue alone in an awkward spot. Yun Ruo Xue became so angry that her face turned red. Her pearly white teeth bit down on her lips, and she eventually pulled her gaze away from Su Qian Yue's figure. She still could not understand why Su Qian Yue was treating her so coldly today.

    "Sister, let's quickly go over there and get in queue." Yun Yi Yi, who had been waiting ages for Yun Ruo Xue to move, finally spoke up anxiously. She grabbed Yun Ruo Xue's sleeves and pulled her to wake her up from her reverie.

    After all, she was not wearing magnificent clothes today, so she naturally could not stand seeing Yun Ruo Xue dressed so flashily. She took this opportunity to wrinkle Yun Ruo Xue's dress a bit.

    Slap!

    Yun Ruo Xue was no fool so she knew what Yun Yi Yi was really thinking. Even though there were a lot of people around, she violently struck Yun Yi Yi's hand, scoffed and said in a scolding manner, "How can a yatou like you grab me like this? You wrinkled my clothes, can you pay it back? Go back to the carriage and wait. Xi'er is here so I can make do."

    Yun Yi Yi had not expected that Yun Ruo Xue would became hostile like this and humiliate her in front of all these xiaojie.

    She could not even reveal her identity in this situation so she could only cry, kneel, and beg, "Xiaojie, nubi was wrong, nubi won't dare to do it again. Xiaojie, please let nubi go with you!"

    Tears kept streaming down her face as she spoke, but her last few words made the surrounding xiaojie and yatou look at her with disdain.

    "This yatou is quite the social climber. Yun xiaojie, you are very magnanimous to dare to use a yatou like this." An extravagantly dressed xiaojie said casually. The cherry lips behind silk stretched out into the biggest smile it could make. Not only was she mocking Yun Yi Yi, she was also jeering at Yun Ruo Xue.

    Yun Yi Yi turned pale upon hearing her words, while Yun Ruo Xue's expression became angry. She signalled for Xi'er to drag Yun Yi Yi back to the carriage before she rejoined the circle of xiaojie.

    Luckily, the sky was not bright yet. If people were to recognize Yun Yi Yi, then xiangfu would have lost face.

    At this moment, a gorgeous carriage drove by. People saw that the "Hai" character was embroidered onto it, so they knew instantly that Hai Tian had arrived.

    The carriage stopped at the Palace gates and a palanquin was immediately brought over for an elegant Hai Tian descending the carriage. It was still very early in the morning so the sky was dark, but when Hai Tian appeared, all the young ladies were overshadowed. Her dress was an expensive deep violet but was still had a light and airy quality that drew a lot of admiration from the gathered xiaojie.

    Only Hai wangfu had this kind of financial resources to let Hai Tian wear clothes that could even put people down.

    Hai Tian had just dismounted the carriage when a palace eunuch approached and greeted her a huge smile. "Yuan de taifei niangniang has been waiting for junzhu for a long time. Nucai has been instructed to wait for junzhu here."

    When they heard these words, the furen and xiaojie of the various officials' families were seething in anger. Even though everybody kept their cool outwardly, they were looking at Hai Tian with more enmity.

    Among them, the most obviously angry were Su Qian Yue and Qu Jing Qing who had arrived earlier. Both of their complexions paled a bit as their eyes glared daggers at Hai Tian and her good fortune.

    When the eunuch finished speaking, he walked towards Hai Tian's side and raised his arm, allowing her to use it for support to help her into the palanquin.

    Hai Tian had not expected Yuan de taifei to have somebody wait for her arrival. In her heart, she had a moment of displeasure, but she could not brush this away and not give Yuan de taifei face in front of all these people. She said with some embarrassment, "Taifei is very kind, Hai Tian appreciate it very much. But there is only one palanquin, if Hai Tian uses it, what about mother?"

    The eunuch had come prepared. He raised his hands and lightly clapped them. Another palanquin carried by four sturdy eunuchs appeared from behind the walls.

    It seemed that Yuan de taifei would not give up until she saw Hai Tian today.

    "Then let us all go and give our greetings to taifei." Hai wangfei who had just exited the carriage had spoken up with a face full of smiles.

    When the people saw her appear, they quickly half-bent their knees to greet her, "Greetings to Hai wangfei, greetings to Hai junzhu."

    "Everybody rise." Hai wangfei smiled and said warmly. She then led Hai Tian forward into their palanquins afterwhich, the eunuch gave the order and led them towards Yuan de taifei's palace.

    "How lucky, she actually has Yuan de taifei's favor." A xiaojie said tartly.

    "It's said that Yuan de taifei was dissatisfied with Yun Qian Meng because she actually preferred Hai Tian junzhu. If it's about status, Yun Qian Meng's doesn't lose to her, but she was not to Yuan de taifei's liking." Another xiaojie said with some regret for Yun Qian Meng, but a face full of envy over Hai Tian's good fortune.

    "What nonsense are you talking about? Just because Yuan de taifei likes somebody, does that mean she wants that person to be her daughter-in-law? Don't let your foresight be so shallow." Xing Jin Die had long lost her patience so she could not help to retreat from beside Su Qian Yue.

    The other xiaojie looked at Su Qian Yue with a sneer, and said to her neverous face, "At least Hai Tian junzhu did not just visit Chen wangfu willy-nilly."

    At those words, Su Qian Yue's hands tightened on her handkerchief. A dangerous glint appeared in her eyes but the other xiaojie was not timid; she only looked at her with an even more mocking smile, jeering at Su Qian Yue.

    Xing Jin Die wanted to speak more but was stopped by Su Qian Yue, who pulled her away to a place with fewer people.

    "Sister Yue, how can you be afraid of that slut?" Xing Jin Die grumbled. She was dissatisfied with Su Qian Yue's retreat.

    "What use is there to argue with those kind of people? Even if you are able to win the argument against her, would that help Xing daren rise through the ranks?" Su Qian Yue had already calmed down. Because the Emperor had removed her name from the list, her dream of entering the Palace as a consort was now gone and she could only turn her eyes to Chen wang. As long as she could marry into Chen wangfu, she would be able to find a way to deal with that slut next time.

    But right now, they were inside the Palace. If word were to get out about her being malicious to other people, would that not ruin her image?

    Besides, Yun Qian Meng was not present today which was a good thing since then, that girl could not bring about another situation that would trouble her.

    It would be better to endure a moment of humiliation in exchange for a lifetime of glory.

    While everybody was in the middle of gossiping, a stewardess of appeared from the inner palace, addressing everybody, "If furen and xiaojie could arrange themselves properly, nubi will bring everybody inside."

    A moment later, the gates of the Palace were filled with the sounds of shuffling feet, in half a cup of tea's time the ladies of the various families were queued. The stewardess made a count of the people and then nodded to the palace maids who spread out to lead the ladies into the harem.
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