Chapter 181 Prince Yi’s Favorite Concubine Is at the Imperial Palace
Several branches of plum blossom stretched out from the heavy and thick imperial palace wall. A girl stood beside the wall gracefully. On her fair face was a pair of gentle eyes that sparkled with wisdom, and they were watery, as if covered with a thin layer of fog. Although she had not well-developed yet, from her extremely delicate and beautiful features, everybody could tell that she would become an extremely beautiful lady in the future. The snow-white imperial chiffon she wore fluttered in the wind, accentuating her slender waist.
She looked beautiful and smart, but a little bit cold. Under the plum blossom, it felt like this pretty girl was originally part of the beautiful scenery.
It was unbelievable! It was said Fifth Young Lady of the Lord Protector’s Manor was both ugly and unsociable. These rumors were all nonsense! The best things were always hidden before they were shown. Everyone felt that Ning Qingshan was extremely charming after leaving three years, but compared to Ning Xueyan, she was not that shining.
Even though Ning Qingshan did not seem to be inferior from appearance, and she even looked more attractive than Ning Xueyan because of her well-developed figure, how about some years later?
Seeing everyone, including Third Prince beside her stop, Ning Qingshan turned her head along with the gazes of them, and saw Ning Xueyan. She was shocked, and then gloom and coldness filled her eyes because of anger. She was in the carriage ahead of Ning Xueyan’s, and she did not wait for Ning Xueyan before walking to the imperial palace, so she had not seen how Ning Xueyan looked like after dressing up.
Now at sight of Ning Xueyan, she almost could hardly keep her smile. She twisted the handkerchief in her sleeve hard, nearly tore it up.
She admitted that Ning Xueyan was outstanding, but she never thought that she could compare with her. To her surprise, after dressing up, Ning Xueyan was as beautiful as her!
“Third Young Lady?” Fourth Prince, Ao Mingwan’s eyes were shining at sight of Ning Xueyan. He exclaimed in happy surprise and turned to walk toward Ning Xueyan.
The beautiful figure under the plum tree always flashed in his mind, and he could not forget her. He was regret not having spoken to her the first time he saw her because he had worried that it might be improper to do so.
Seeing Ao Mingwan walking to Ning Xueyan, Third Prince’s face darkened. He did not say anything, but walked forward quietly instead. The others moved forward following him.
Now Fourth Prince, Ao Mingwan was the only one in the group going in the opposite direction.
“Third Prince, don’t you want to greet Fifth Sister?” Ning Qingshan asked calmly while walking forward.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. If I have to greet everyone I know, I might not be able to reach the Plum Garden.” Third Prince smiled slightly, looking graceful and proud.
He was the distinguished prince, so of course he could speak that way.
“Everyone he knows?” Ning Qingshan was filled with joy. It meant that Third Prince did not treat Ning Xueyan special. Smile came back on her face and she shifted the topic. “It has been three years. Third Prince, are you all right?” she asked in a soft voice.
This was the secret between them, and Ning Qingshan had never told anybody about it. Whenever thinking about it, she felt that there was a special affinity between Third Prince and her. Also because of this, Honored Consort Ya and Third Prince always thought of her. She leaned closer to Third Prince and said this in a low voice on purpose.
Looking at them from behind, the others would think that the two of them were whispering. The Young Ladies and childes exchanged glances and understood tacitly. It seemed that the rumors about the marriage between the Lord Protector’s Manor and Third Prince were well-founded.
“I’m all right,” Ao Mingyu said slightly. Then he turned to the young eunuch beside him and ordered, “Go and get Fourth Prince here. Remind him not to keep our father waiting too long.”
“Got it, Third Prince!” the eunuch answered and run to the end of the group.
Ao Mingwan rushed to Ning Xueyan excitedly, but stopped when he saw the coldness in Ning Xueyan’s eyes. He did not know what to say, because he was worried that Ning Xueyan would think him too abrupt. After all, they had not greeted each other officially yet. Thankfully, he was a smart person. Seeing Heng Yuqing there, he immediately asked with a smile, “Miss Heng, why did you walk so slowly? How about going in company with us? ”
He pointed at the team ahead.
Ning Xueyan had heard someone say that it was Fourth Prince. She knew she should show her respect, so she bowed to him gracefully.
“Greetings, Fourth Prince. I was thinking to join you, and I didn’t think that you would come over. Fourth Prince, what can I do for you?” Heng Yuqing took a step forward and stood in front of Ning Xueyan with a smile. Although Fourth Prince was talking with her, his eyes were on Ning Xueyan, so his intention was obvious. Heng Yuqing was worried that Ning Xueyan might be scared because it was her first time to come to the imperial palace, so she deliberately blocked Fourth Prince’s vision.
He had nothing special but wanted to meet Third Young Lady of the Lord Protector’s Manor. But he could not say it.
“Which manor is this Young Lady from? I have never seen her before,” Fourth Prince asked, pointing at Ning Xueyan who was standing behind Heng Yuqing. He was bold and without anybody introducing for him, he began to ask about Ning Xueyan.
Since he had asked about her, Ning Xueyan knew she shouldn’t hide herself anymore. She let out a sigh helplessly and walked out from behind Heng Yuqing. “I’m Lord Protector’s daughter. Greetings, Fourth Prince,” she said.
“I’m not mistaken. She is the beauty I saw the other day. She is even more beautiful today than on the other day!” Ao Mingwan was overjoyed, and he was about to talk to her before the eunuch running over.
“Fourth Prince, Third Prince asked you to go over there. He said that the emperor was waiting for you there.”
“Okay. I’ll be there soon!” Hearing that the emperor was waiting in front, Ao Mingwan did not dare to delay. He nodded and turned to Ning Xueyan and Heng Yuqing. “Miss Ning, Miss Heng, I have to leave now,” he said.
Then he strode away. Looking at Fourth Prince who had suddenly appeared in front of them, Ning Xueyan and Heng Yuqing exchanged glances and both of them felt confused.
After walking for a while, they suddenly saw a young eunuch off the path. He waved to Ning Xueyan. Ning Xueyan looked at him carefully and found it was Eunuch Zhu who worked for Ao Chenyi. She was shocked.
“Yuqing, please wait for me for a few minutes. That eunuch seems to be waiting for me, so I need to check with him,” Ning Xueyan stopped and said helplessly. She had to take it seriously no matter how petty the thing was as long as it related to Prince Yi.
“Okay. I’ll wait for you over there. Be careful.” Heng Yuqing saw the eunuch who was waving to Ning Xueyan as well. Although she did not know him, she was clear that she should not ask too much about the imperial palace affairs. She nodded and reminded Ning Xueyan to be careful, watching her walk toward the eunuch.
“Eunuch Zhu, what’s up?” Ning Xueyan walked over and asked with a smile.
“Fifth Young Lady, Prince Yi said he wanted you to have fun in another identity, so you must leave the party early,” Eunuch Zhu said in a squeaky but low voice, and his attitude was very friendly.
“Another identity?” Ning Xueyan frowned and wondered what Ao Chenyi was going to do. She was at the imperial palace now. If she made any mistakes, her life would end here. Only Prince Yi dared to say having fun here, but she could not afford the consequences if anything went wrong.
“Eunuch Zhu, could you please tell Prince Yi not to play a game at the party? After all, we’re at the imperial palace,” Ning Xueyan said helplessly.
“Fifth Young Lady, you have to tell Prince Yi about it in person. I have to go now. Prince Yi’s favorite concubine is in the imperial palace too,” Eunuch Zhu said meaningfully with a strange smile.
“His ‘favorite concubine’ is here too?” It seemed she had to play the game with him no matter if she wanted or not.
“How could he… What’s he going to do on such an occasion? Has he realized that he might be risking her life to play the game?” she thought.
“Okay. I will leave the party early,” she answered calmly, gritting her teeth and holding back her anger.
Who was that man? He was Prince Yi, the younger brother of Chu Kingdom’s present emperor, and the heir to the throne! As distinguish and powerful as him, of course he did not like others to bargain with him. He had never known what ‘compassion’ was.
In his eyes, Ning Xueyan could only see coldness, gloom and bottomless abyss!
She knew that if nothing bad happened to Prince Yi, she would be safe as well. At least, she was still useful to him.
“Okay. I will go back to tell Prince Yi.” Eunuch Zhu was satisfied that she was smart. He nodded with a smile and turned to leave.
Ning Xueyan calmed herself down and then turned around, her face come back to normal.
Seeing her look normal, Heng Yuqing did not ask her anything more. They then walked toward Plum Garden together.
Now many people had already gathered in the Plum Garden. Along their way, Ning Xueyan and Heng Yuqing saw a number of noble Young Ladies in fine dress. It was a high standard party, so almost all the single noble Young Ladies had come. Without their mothers by their side, these girls were more relaxed, and they talked casually.
Laughter could be heard from time to time.
It was a little late when Ning Xueyan and Heng Yuqing arrived and most of the seats had been occupied. The male and female guests were arranged on both sides, with only a few flower racks in the middle. The best seats were in the middle of both sides where people could see the other side clearly. In other words, people sitting on the other side could see them clearly as well. Therefore, these seats had already been occupied by several distinguished daughters of principal wives.
Ning Qingshan did not sit at the table near the male guests, because almost all the seats had been occupied by Commandery Princesses, County Princesses and other noble ladies with grade titles. Therefore, she chose a favorable position at the second table, from where she could see people opposite clearly. The position was neither too near nor too far from the other side.
“Your Third Sister chose a good place. Those princes and Princely Heirs are opposite her,” Heng Yuqing said dismissively, looking at Ning Qingshan. She did not mean to challenge Ning Qingshan, but the latter’s position was so conspicuous that almost everyone came here would see her sit there gracefully at first glance.
She was really shrewd. In the blink of an eye, she had already found such a seat where she could show herself easily. It was hard to ignore her.
Ning Qingshan kept an eye on the gate of the Plum Garden while talking with several Young Ladies with a smile. When she saw Ning Xueyan come in, she said to Ling Xue, the daughter of the Assistant Minister of War, Ling Huanian, smiling, “Cousin Xue, my Fifth Sister is there. I’m going to greet her. Do you want to come with me?”
Ling Huanian was Madam Ling’s elder brother, and Ling Xue was only two days younger than Ning Yuling, so if Ning Qingshan took Madam Ling as her mother in name, she should take Ning Xue as her elder female cousin.
“The girl beside Heng Yuqing is Fifth Young Lady of your manor? She looks ill-mannered. From her appearance, I can tell she is not a well-behaved person,” Ling Xue said sarcastically. She turned her head and looked with an exaggerate expression at Ning Xueyan, who was looking for a seat with Heng Yuqing.
Then she stood up and stopped Ning Qingshan, who was going to rise to her feet. “Stay here. I will greet your Fifth Sister,” she said.
At the thought of her elder brother being beaten by this woman, Ling Xue could not hold her anger. She then walked toward Ning Xueyan angrily.
Ning Qingshan covered the excitement in her eyes, pretending not having noticed what she said, and began to chat with another Young Lady beside her, but she still looked at Ning Xueyan from the corner of her eyes.