Chapter 10.2: Chasing the Beauty

In the hunting grounds at the hill behind the Han Mansion, there were numerous wild animals. A few of the more precious animals were given by the Emperor and the Empress. The Emperor thought that this chubby son of his was adorable. Although he was not concerned with national affairs, he was well-read and could manage a school. Together with other scholars, his son published several good books and writing, entertaining him during his free time. Hence, the Emperor often rewarded him. 

The Empress’ intentions were simple. The Crown Prince loved to hunt. If the Han Mansion had a hunting ground, the two brothers could spend more time together and improve their relationship. Moreover, the Han Mansion was located outside the palace and if they were to talk about matters there, it would still be considered within the family.

At this moment, a horn blared, signaling the end of the hunt. 

Chen Ji, who had been sleeping soundly on a tree branch, was abruptly awoken. When he looked down, he saw a man trying to climb up the tree he was on. He slipped every time he took a step. His posture was comical.

Chen Ji looked around and saw an eagle that had been shot, hanging on a tree branch. Using both his hands to support him, he scooped the eagle and hopped swiftly off the tree. He landed gently onto the ground.

“I didn’t know Your Highness also knows how to climb trees.” Chen Ji held the eagle in his hands. However, the way he held it could not be said to be extremely respectful. After all, he was at the bottom rung of society, he might as well give off a lazy vibe.

“You know who I am?” That man had clean features and emanated a noble vibe. He spoke in a manner that no one would dare to contradict him.

Chen Ji kept his eyes lowered at the ground as he kneeled. “I recognise the robe that Your Highness is wearing.”

“Rise.” The Crown Prince accepted the way he spoke as he replied warmly. “I didn’t climb the tree for the eagle. I climbed it for the golden arrow. The golden arrow was given to me by my Father Emperor and I cannot lose it. You cannot spread rumours about this. Do you understand?”

“Understood.” Chen Ji got up. “I will take my leave.” 

The Crown Prince stopped him. “What is your name?”

Chen Ji’s eyes curved as he smiled, “Could it be that Your Highness is planning to reward me?”

The Crown Prince looked down at his waist, only to see a single jade pendant hanging from it. He could not help but hesitate.

“In the future, if I ever have the opportunity to meet you again, you can reward me then.” Chen Ji bowed as he took his leave.

The Crown Prince was amused at this strange person. If it were anyone else, they would not have dared to refuse his request. It was also precisely because he was strange that the Crown Prince thought he was interesting and let him off easily. Chen Ji did not know that his strangeness had actually saved him from trouble as he headed back to the Han Mansion, free of worries. On his way, he bumped into Fu Rou.

“Chen Ji, why are your clothes torn?” Fu Rou noticed immediately. As a seamstress, she was naturally observant when it came to things like this. Chen Ji glanced over. “It got caught on a branch. This is so troublesome. I hate sewing the most.”

“Give it to me.” Fu Rou extended her hand. 

“You are new here and don’t know the rules well. The people from Pear Garden are not allowed to assign tasks to seamstress.” Chen Ji suppressed his ego as he abided by the rules.

“Take it as me thanking you for helping to pass the pouch the other day. However, I have something to do now and will need a few days before I can complete mending your clothes.” Fu Rou was currently headed to help Sun Lingshu on Consort Han’s order.

Chen Ji was glad. “It is not urgent. As long as you don’t forget about it. Thank you.” He took off his outer shirt and handed it over to Fu Rou.

Fu Rou said goodbye to Chen Ji before proceeding on her way. She was thinking over Consort Han’s request. Consort Han said that Lu Yingying’s dance outfit was extremely eye-catching. On the contrary, Sun Lingshu’s dance outfit was rather plain. She wanted Fu Rou to go over and see if she could help her fix it. Fu Rou was happy to help. To someone evil and despicable, if heaven does not sort him out, someone ought to do it. Even if it is just to make him feel uncomfortable, it would be worth it.

 

The banquet area in the Han Mansion was overlooking a lake. It was tall and broad, surrounded on all four sides by sliding doors. On clear days, the doors could be completely opened to admire the scenery around. The blue sky and green lake formed a breathtaking scene.

The Crown Prince was sitting on the main seat while Sheng Chumu sat on one of the side seats respectfully. After completing their meal, Consort Han announced that the performance was going to start. Everyone knew that the daughters from the Lu and Sun family were about to perform.  

The music started as Lu Yingying was up first.

Sheng Chumu realised that Lu Yunji’s daughter did not look like him and she was actually quite beautiful. Her dance was also above average as her body flowed like a butterfly among flowers. It was a pity that the more Lu Yunji bragged about his daughter, the more he rejected her. Lu Yunji even bragged that the music was composed by Lu Yingying herself. The Crown Prince was, however, completely engrossed. When Sun Lingshu, who was simply-dressed, presented her dance, the Crown Prince seemed distracted. Sitting in the main seat, his gaze remained on Lu Yingying.

At this moment, Sun Lingshu started to spin, the more she spun the faster she became. The Crown Prince’s attention suddenly changed as he now focused on Sun Lingshu. Flower petals rained around Sun Lingshu. As she spun, she pulled aside her pleated skirt and out flew numerous flower petals. Her skirt was like an umbrella as it held the flower petals before releasing them. She did this multiple times. The ultimate display of Sun Lingshu’s dance caught the attention of the Crown Prince. Lu Yingying no longer had a place in the Crown Prince’s eyes.

Sheng Chumu subconsciously touched the pouch by his waist. He seemed to realise something as he peered past the banquet’s stage. As expected, he caught sight of Fu Rou. He laughed. It is no wonder that she was his Fu Rou. Only her embroidery could be so mysterious. From here on, it is time for him to take action. He was going to make sure that Lu Yunji’s daughter will not marry the Crown Prince!

“Crown Prince, what do you think?” Consort Han asked as she smiled.

Consort Han knew beforehand that the dance outfit from the Lu family was superior to the Sun family. She felt that a skirt shouldn’t be the judge of how things go. She never thought that Fu Rou would be so capable and turn the tables.

“Well –” The Crown Prince was amazed by Sun Lingshu’s flower dance but appreciated Lu Yingying’s appearance as well. He suddenly realised that Sheng Chumu was laughing with a meaningful look and pointed him out. “Lord Chumu, I am in a tough position but you look like you are enjoying yourself. You are well-versed regarding the noble ladies from various families in Chang’an. If you don’t mind, how about you share with us what you know.”

“If Your Highness wishes for me to share, I will do as you say. However, you can’t punish me if I say anything wrong.” Even if the Crown Prince did not allow him to comment, he will still find a way to state his view.

The Crown Prince laughed, “Speak your mind. I will not hold you accountable.”

Sheng Chumu stood up and gave a bow. “If I were Your Highness, I would definitely choose the noble lady from the Lu Residence. She is renowned for her beauty and her dance abilities have been said to resemble a fairy. Her voice is also sweet—”

Lu Yingying could not help but feel pleased. Who knew that Sheng Chumu’s words would suddenly take a turn. “Furthermore, her skin is very smooth and her feet is white. Ah, oh yes. Especially the birthmark on her lower back, it makes men go crazy.”

Everyone was stunned by Sheng Chumu’s words. Lu Yingying’s expression turned embarrassed in a split second. Lu Yunji fumed. He slammed the table and was about to explode.

Consort Han shouted, “Chumu, what audacity! How can any outsider see Duke Chen’s daughter’s body? How dare you spread rumours in front of the Crown Prince! Hurry and apologise to the Crown Prince!”

Sheng Chumu listened to her. “I was too frank. Please forgive me, Your Highness.”

The Crown Prince looked at him seriously. “Were you being frank or were you spouting nonsense?”

“I do not dare to lie to you, Your Highness. If you do not believe me, you will know after you choose the noble lady from the Lu Residence.” Sheng Chumu lowered his head, the corners of his mouth tilting up slightly in a sly smile.

The Crown Prince glanced at Lu Yingying once more. His gaze was cold. Consort Han gestured and a servant brought a tray to the Crown Prince. A peony, taken from the palace, lay on the tray.

Consort Han said, “Although it is a difficult choice, Your Highness still has to make a decision.”

The Crown Prince had already made up his mind. “Amongst all the flowers, my mother loves the peony the most. Not only is the peony luxurious and graceful, it also does not attract other bees and butterflies. I heard that Lord Sun’s daughter also loves peonies. I will give this peony from the palace to Lady Sun.”

Sun Tan was overjoyed as he led Sun Lingshu to kneel down and express their thanks. The father and daughter pair from the Lu family looked unhappy.

Consort Han smiled. “Since it is so rare that the Crown Prince visits us, our Han Mansion has also prepared a play. Please enjoy the show.”

The Crown Prince’s interest was piqued. “What show?”

Consort Han answered, “Zhao Zilong’s seven charges into Changbanpo.”

The Crown Prince approved. “Let’s watch it.”

As everyone left the banquet, Prince Han purposely fell behind. He gave a thumbs up to Sheng Chumu. Prince Han did not usually get along with Lu Yunji as well. Sheng Chumu gave a small smile. This was what they get for messing with Fu Rou!

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