The Ming River was wide, but the convoy quickly crossed over it. Not long after, Antai City came within sight of the entourage, and they also saw large-scale troops sealing off the shore.
“How unfortunate! Ming Island’s been sealed off, and no cultivators can enter. Even our Reverent King's household will have to wait for two days,” someone explained.
Lu Yin’s expression changed. Ming Island had been sealed, which made Yue Xianzi’s motivations for sneaking in and joining the Reverent King’s entourage clear. She was planning on following them onto Ming Island so that she could escape detection while also gathering some information at the same time.
The extent of the Frostmoon Sect’s influence in the Shenwu Continent had finally been considered exposed to Lu Yin. They must have received information about Ming Island being sealed off far in advance, to the point where they were even able to forge an identity for her so that she could join the king's entourage. It seemed that their influence was quite impressive.
The convoy had to wait for two more days aboard the boat. Reverent King Ming Zhaoshu stepped off first and entered Antai City alone. He did not take anyone along with him, and even Princess Ming Yan was left on the boat.
Lu Yin leaned against some supply goods and stared into the sky. Without him noticing, the sky had darkened considerably, and it seemed like it was going to rain any time now!
On the deck of the boat, Ming Yan was staring at the river’s surface. There was no sunlight, and the atmosphere was gloomy, but it was still better than being trapped inside the cabin; she could not bear that stuffy room anymore. Yue Xianzi was standing silently by her side.
Bei Qing walked over to them, and his eyes brightened when he saw Ming Yan. He immediately approached to pay his respects. “Bei Qing salutes the princess.”
Ming Yan turned her head around, and her beautiful face hidden beneath the thin gauze veil made Bei Qing’s gaze turn even more heated. Ming Yan frowned and smoothly retreated two steps. “So it’s Brother Bei. I heard that Senior has received an appointment as an official, so how do you have the time to return to Mingdu?”
Bei Qing smiled. “It’s His Majesty’s birthday celebration, so I must be here no matter how busy I may be. In fact, my father has repeatedly implored me to come and personally congratulate His Majesty.”
“Lord Bei is earnest,” Ming Yan politely responded. She then turned away and stopped speaking.
Bei Qing’s eyes swept across her back. What a beautiful woman. She definitely lives up to her reputation as one of the empire’s twin beauties. She’s much more beautiful than when she was younger. I must obtain this woman. He was the son of the cabinet minister of defense, someone who even the crown prince had to show some face to. It should not be too difficult for him to win over this beautiful princess.
Ming Yan frowned as she could feel Bei Qing’s lustful eyes sweeping over her back. She was immediately put into a foul mood and turned to head back into her cabin.
Bei Qing bowed again to send her off. “My regards, princess.”
Yue Xianzi glanced at Bei Qing, and he coincidentally raised his head at the same time to exchange glances with her. He nodded amicably while Yue Xianzi smiled faintly before walking away with Ming Yan.
This woman isn’t bad either, and she is very pretty as well. Bei Qing’s breath had been taken away by Yue Xianzi’s appearance, and his heart skipped a beat as thought began to swirl in his head.
Lu Yin was standing at a nearby corner, watching all this happen, and was rather unhappy that this person seemed to be scheming against Ming Yan. Lu Yin grew increasingly dismal the more he thought about it. Eventually, he decided to casually wave a hand and cause a gust of wind to sweep under Bei Qing’s feet. The gust was created through pure strength, but it still was enough to cause Bei Qing to fall to the floor. Lu Yin left after venting his displeasure.
Bei Qing cried out in alarm as he fell onto the deck. He had a strange expression on his face. What just happened to me?
Ming Yan and Yue Xianzi were still nearby and they naturally glanced back when they heard Bei Qing fall onto the deck. They exchanged delighted glances at his small misfortune and quietly discussed something before returning to the cabin.
“My Lord, are you okay?” someone asked with concern as they lent Bei Qing a hand from behind to help him up.
Bei Qing shook his head and looked around. What had just happened? He had been tripped by a strange wind, but no one else had felt anything? The gust couldn’t have been caused by martial power, so it wasn’t from a cultivator. How strange.
Bei Qing quickly dismissed the incident in his mind as his thoughts once again moved towards how he should approach Ming Yan. He also considered Yue’er in his scenarios, who seemed to have a different flavor.
He tried inviting Ming Yan for a meal at midday and again in the evening, but it just made her feel even more pestered.
Lu Yin’s mood grew even worse as he was forced to continue watching someone else flirt and ogle a woman he was interested in. It was an unpleasant feeling. Lu Yin’s lips curled in disdain and an irresistible, mischievous mood overcame him. “No, I can’t let you continue so happily like this.”
The sky grew dark as the lake reflected a white, round circle. The occasional fish broke through the surface of the water, creating splashes in the night.
A dejected Bei Qing was drinking his wine alone in his room. His various invitations had all ended in failure. It would be alright if just Ming Yan had rejected him, but that Yue'er had not given him any face either; how ridiculous!
“Who’s there?” he called out when he heard someone quietly step up to his cabin.
“I’m here on Miss Yue'er’s orders to gift something to Lord Bei.”
Bei Qing’s eyes brightened. “Let him in.”
Lu Yin entered Bei Qing’s cabin and respectfully lifted his hand. In it, he held an exquisite-looking, scented sachet. “Lord Bei, Miss Yue'er instructed me to deliver this to you.”
Bei Qing was delighted as he received the sachet. “Yue'er? Why didn’t she bring it herself?”
“I couldn’t say.”
Bei Qing looked at the sachet, and his lips greedily curled up. It was no big deal if a girl was shy and embarrassed. The empire placed great importance on a girl’s reputation, so it was already not easy for her to gift him this sachet. It was normal for her to not make more of a move. “Alright, I understand. Here is your reward.” With that, he tossed a martial banknote to Lu Yin. It was a note that was worth five fortune coins.
Lu Yin delightedly accepted the banknote. “Thank you, sir. Ah, right, the miss also requested that sir keeps this matter a secret. She will not admit to it even if you say something to her.”
Bei Qing smiled. “Don’t be concerned, I understand.”
Lu Yin then left.
Bei Qing inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent of the sachet with an infatuated expression. He knew how desirable he was towards girls who came from modest backgrounds. After all, he was the son of the empire’s sole minister of defense. This sort of background was far out of reach of those common girls. That, coupled with his handsome looks and eloquent words, made many girls in the empire desire him. Yue'er could be considered to be quite tactful, as she had made her advances when he was lonely. As long as she performed well, he could still accept her.
Right, he could even use this girl to improve his relationship with the princess, which was the more important matter. “Can somebody send one of the curated wines from my collection to Miss Yue'er’s cabin?”
“Yes, My Lord.”
Lu Yin smiled in the distance. Yue Xianzi had caused him no small amount of trouble before, so he was just returning the favor now. That scented sachet was indeed hers, and now, he just had to patiently wait for a good show to play out.
The next day, the sky remained overcast. In fact, it had grown even darker off in the distance, as if foreshadowing troubled days ahead. The lake had also cooled down substantially.
Ming Yan was talking to Yue Xianzi when Bei Qing suddenly arrived at their door. “Princess, this Bei Qing has come to specially invite the princess to have lunch together. I hope that the Princess will not decline.”
Ming Yan frowned. “Very well. Thank you, Senior. Yan’er will be there shortly.”
Bei Qing was delighted. “I’ll be waiting patiently.”
“Yue'er, that man’s detestable,” Ming Yan complained quietly.
Yue Xianzi smiled. “If you despise him so much, then why did you agree to dine with him?”
Ming Yan helplessly replied, “My father and his elder brother, the Crown Prince, have a bad relationship. Although this Bei Qing is detestable, his father’s authority permeates all levels of the government, and he has a certain level of influence. Even if I don’t like him, I can’t create trouble for my father. Furthermore, we’ve already rejected quite a few of his invitations, and it would be offensive if we continued to decline.”
Yue Xianzi looked at Ming Yan with pity in her eyes. She seemed like a noble princess, but she did not even have a say in her own future. Her words had forced Yue Xianzi to view her in a different light. She had originally assumed that this princess was not well-versed in worldly affairs and that was only a pretty face and destined to be used as a tool in marriage. However, these self-aware words proved that Ming Yan had her own thoughts and understanding of the situation. Although her thoughts were rather simple, that was only because of her limited interaction with the outside word. Still, there was a strong perseverance within her heart.
“Princess, don’t worry about it. We’ll just treat the lunch as dealing with him,” Yue Xianzi reassured the held Ming Yan as she held the princess’ hand.
Ming Yan nodded and stood up, causing even Yue Xianzi to marvel at her figure. Perhaps only these undeveloped, archaic civilizations could produce such a wonderful specimen of a girl. Yue Xianzi was envious of the person who would eventually end up with this princess; he would definitely be the world’s luckiest man.
A cold gust of wind blew across the deck. Bei Qing had rearranged the area for dining. As he waited for the two girls to arrive, he recounted the various histories of the Ming River and verbally described the future, as if he were determined to fix the world. When the girls were just about to arrive, he had even waved his hand and started boldly reciting some of his poetry.
“My Lord’s poetry is amazing and will definitely impress the residents of the capital in the future,” a servant marvelled.
Bei Qing smiled and then saw Ming Yan and Yue Xianzi arrive. He immediately approached and gestured at the chairs. “Princess, Miss Yue'er, please be seated.”
Yue Xianzi immediately declined the invitation. “My Lord is too courteous. I’m merely a maid and will stand aside to wait upon you two.”
Ming Yan hurriedly pulled Yue Xianzi towards the table. “Yue'er, you’re no maid.” She then escorted Yue Xianzi to a seat.
Lu Yin was one of the servants who had been called upon to wait upon the diners. Bei Qing had mistakenly taken Lu Yin to be Yue Xianzi’s confidant, and based on his experiences in courting girls, he naturally knew how to quietly demonstrate that he was attentive to what they held important.
He had even arranged for someone to change Lu Yin’s attire so as to make him seem more spirited.
To Bei Qing, this was an important meal that would decide if he could gain these two girls’ favor or not. During the meal, he constantly racked his brain on how he could show his best scholarly side, and the servants beside him would praise him from time to time as well. Lu Yin was internally rolling his eyes the entire time. What an idiot this person is, performing a play all by himself.
Ming Yan and Yue Xianzi were truly only eating and could not bother to respond to Bei Qing’s acts. At best, they would give him a slight smile to save him some face so that he would not feel too awkward.
Bei Qing felt that something was amiss, and even though the meal was about to finish, he felt like he had not made any progress yet. Thus, he clapped his hands and had a servant retrieve an exquisite wooden box that was handed to him. He then placed it on the table and slid it towards Ming Yan. He fervently said, “Princess, this is a treasure of the highest quality from the endless Eastern Sea—the purple rose love pearl. They are very rare and I wanted to give this one to you.”
Ming Yan was stunned, as she had indeed heard of these purple rose love pearls before. According to the legends, it could be used to pray for one’s loved ones when worn, and it was a treasure prized by many girls. She slowly opened the box, and a ray of purple light shone out. She saw a small, brightly-colored pearl that seemed transparent with even fog mysteriously drifting around it.
“This gift is too extravagant. Please take it back. Yan’er cannot accept this.” Ming Yan resisted the temptation and immediately closed the box before pushing it back towards Bei Qing.
Bei Qing smiled. “There are only a few of these pearls in the world. Aside from you, I cannot think of anyone else who would deserve to wear this treasure.”
“This was found only after our lord combed through the endless seas. It’s rumored that even His Majesty back then could not find one to give to his beloved,” a servant behind Bei Qing praised. But almost immediately afterwards, everyone’s faces changed, as this was using Ming Zhaotian as a foil for Bei Qing; this servant was being too audacious!
Lu Yin looked at that servant in admiration.
Bei Qing was just about to scold the servant, but another servant was a beat quicker. “Shut up! Are you suggesting that His Majesty is inferior to our lord?! Or that His Majesty’s sincerity was lacking? Scram!”
Lu Yin was left speechless, as this person was even more ruthless than the first, although their sharp retorts did define the situation. These two were geniuses with their words, and they pushed Bei Qing closer to death with each successive sentence that they uttered.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Choco
Edited By: Neshi/Nyxnox
TLC'ed By: OMA