To my dear readers,
I’m still quite unwell, but I managed to finish this chapter today. I hope you like it. It was extra long and quite difficult for me to translate. 😦 My mom asked me why I put so much effort in doing free work…*sigh* I said, “Hey, you never know. I might get donations this week!” lol ❤
The luxuriousness of the Third Prince’s carriage was comparable to a modern Rolls-Royce!
The interiors of the carriage was all gold. On the seat lied a soft woolen cushion. Du Jing was lying on his side. He was wearing a dark green gown, and his long hair was bind up together by an emerald hairpin* There were a few loose strands that lingered around his neck, attracting attention on his white and delicate collarbone.
As he lied on his side, there was a long table of fine household utensils on the embroidered tablecloth. On the table were dried fruits, pastries, and a white jade wine pot and goblets. Anyone viewing this would feel the extravagance.
The moment Lin Shan looked at her surroundings, she sighed in her heart: What a big sinner!
“Song brother, please sit.” Du Jing flirtatiously smiled as Lin Shan got onto the carriage. If the greeters of Leaning Vermilion House saw Du Jing’s smile, they would be ashamed of themselves.
“Third Prince, for some reason, every time I see you, I can’t help but think of a flower.”
“Brother, what type of flower are you thinking of?”
“Do you have a source?”
“I don’t have a source, but I’ve heard of a very powerful martial arts called, “The Sunflower manual”. After you practice it, not only would you become an ultimate expert, your muscles would be very flexible, your blood would be enriched, and your skin would be nourished. It’s definitely very suitable for you, Third Prince!”
“Woah. This type of martial arts exist? How could I have never heard of it before?”
“It is said that this is an extinct text. I have only heard of it. If it interests you, Third Prince, you should find someone to scout it out. If you find it, even if you don’t care for the fighting aspect, it’s still good to strengthen your body!”
“True. Song brother has such profound knowledge. I admire you.” Du Jing then poured wine into the two goblets and said, “Come, Song brother, let’s drink together.”
“Thank you for your good intention, Third Prince. However, your brother’s body is weak. Unfortunately, I cannot handle the wine. Please accept my apologies.” Lin Shan faked a smile, but deep down she was screeching a hundred and eighty times at Du Jing: Drink your wine? Do you think I’m an idiot? Last time you drugged Lian Feng with aphrodisiac and your sister here hasn’t even gotten revenge yet!
“Does Song brother think I put poison in the wine?” Du Jing was rather straightforward.
“Third Prince, you are too serious! As part of the Royal family, why would you do something as low as drugging the wine? Even if you were to put something, it would definitely be tonic. However, most people drink too much tonic and may suffer from excessive internal heat. One should restrain from drinking too much.”
Du Jing could tell Lin Shan was trying to scold at him indirectly, but he wasn’t angry. In fact, he was amused as he drank the wine on his own. He started to engage in small talk with Lin Shan.
Although Lin Shan’s knowledge of the Ancient world was limited, she had memorized some Tang and Song dynasty poetry in the past. Therefore, she could somewhat deceive her opponent and act like she knew what she was talking about.
But after awhile, Lin Shan became increasingly curious. You took my horse carriage…you wouldn’t simply want me to come to drink wine with you, right? It can’t be that simple…
Just as she was doubting herself, Du Jing finally brought up the main topic.
“Next month, the Palace will be holding an equestrian archery competition. Song brother, are you prepared?”
An equestrian archery competition? Lin Shan suddenly remembered Lian Feng checking out the horses the other day. It was probably related to this: “I have heard about the competition, but I am not taking part. Why would I need to be prepared?”
Du Jing cunningly smiled: “Song brother is joking, right? Each year, the Imperial Palace holds an equestrian archery competition. Any male who is under the age of thirty and part of the Imperial household must take part. In addition, important ministers must also send their sons to participate. The winner will get a prize at the end. This competition has been taking place for years. It is part of our customs, Song brother must know this, right?”
Are you serious? Are you saying I have to take part too? Lin Shan’s heart trembled. But almost immediately, she realized something. Her eyes shone: A prize??
At that moment, Lin Shan felt free again. Finally, she could move on from the loss of her golden ru yi. She has a new target to strive for!
“I wonder what the Emperor would give as a prize?” She slyly asked as she beamed.
Du Jing didn’t expect Song Luo to respond so positively all of a sudden. A few seconds ago, he seemed to see him as an enemy. Now, he was smiling and leaning forward. A faint fragrance entered his nose and distracted him a little.
“The prize is only announced at the end of the competition. But it is always something Father personally chooses. He doesn’t like to be predictable. For instance, last year, Father bestowed a death exemption gold medal to the Crown Prince. It was the first time in history.”
“Death exemption gold medal? That means it’s gold! A surge of emotions swelled inside Lin Shan. She was squirming with joy.
“What? Is Song brother interested in the prize?”
Anyone with a brain would be interested, okay? Lin Shan thought to herself. On the outside, she looked composed and carefully responded: “Haha. Of course not. The most important thing is to take part. Friendship first, competition second!”
“You are correct.” Du Jing coolly smiled.
The carriage suddenly stopped. They have arrived back to the Imperial Palace.
Lin Shan bid farewell to Du Jing with the beautiful dream of attaining the prize. She cheerfully hopped off the carriage. Once she disappeared from sight, a dark strong figure slipped into Du Jing’s carriage.
“Your subordinate Gui Mei, greets you, Master.” The woman had her face covered. She was dressed in all black.
Du Jing sat up from his seat. At this moment, his facial expression had totally reversed. It was as if he had become a different person. He narrowed his eyes and looked down at Gui Mei. He dropped down his voice: “Gui Mei, it seems like we have quite a lot of competitors in our upcoming competition.”
“Master, you are implying that we need to do something before the competition…..?”
“Do I need to make it any more clearer?”
“Yes! Gui Mei accepts your order!” The woman in black bowed and was about to leave.
“Wait!” Du Jing called. “Also, find someone to help me scout a book called “The Sunflower manual”. When you find it, report back to me.”
“Your subordinate will do as you bid!” Then within a second, the curtain** of the carriage spun, and the woman in black disappeared from sight.
Lin Shan decided to practice horse riding.
As a modern person, she must work extra hard in order to have a chance in the equestrian archery competition. If not, she would be handing her opponent the reward! Lin Shan wasn’t a hard working person, but once she had a goal, she would do her very best to reach it. She doesn’t give up easily.
In the morning, Lin Shan wore a sturdy outfit prepared by Xiao Lu. When she arrived at the horse range, many were already practicing their skills. The range was filled with the offsprings of many noblemen and the Imperial family. Out of the crowd, Lin Shan recognized a couple of familiar faces; Du Hao was one of them.
Seeing Du Hao gave Lin Shan a headache. She turned around and headed for the stable to find a horse. However, when she got to the stable, all the horses were already taken except for one. The one remaining had shiny black fur but it was taking a nap. Lin Shan went over, yet it wouldn’t even glimpse at her.
At this moment, Lin Shan felt like she was going through an interview for her child. It was as if her son was sitting on a special spot; she had a very lousy feeling about this.
Just then, the horse keeper came over. His complexion didn’t look too good: “Superior, this horse is very difficult to manage. Are you sure you want this one?”
Lin Shan pitifully looked at him in the eye: “Does it look like I have any other choice?”
The horse keeper looked at his left and right. Then he silently opened the door to lead the horse out. He warned Lin Shan once more: “Superior, please be extra careful. This horse is fierce and very difficult to tame.”
Lin Shan wanted to cry. Are you serious? If I had known this would happen, I would have came earlier! She turned to face the horse. No matter how forcefully she pulled the reins, this black horse wouldn’t budge. Lin Shan felt miserable. She sadly reached her hand to pat the horse’s neck: “Horse brother. It is destiny that we have met. Come on, give me some face!”
The black horse still refused to take a single step.
Lin Shan kept trying to reason with it: “I’m the Prince Consort (fu ma in Mandarin). You are a horse (ma in Mandarin). We are both from the Ma family! We have to unite and work together!”
The horse snorted and continued to disregard her existence.
From a close distance, Lian Feng heard Lin Shan and the corner of his mouth twitched. He stepped forward and reached out to grab the reins from Lin Shan’s hands. Then, he went up to the horse and whispered something in the horse’s ear. Within a few seconds, the horse started to move.
Woah! Lin Shan was astonished. She looked at Lian Feng admiringly: “You even know how to speak Horse tongue?? Respect.. Respect!”
Lian Feng was already accustomed to Lin Shan’s words and behaviour, therefore he didn’t seem fazed at all. All he said was: “Wu Ying’s temper is quite intense. Are you sure you want him, Prince Consort?”
Oh, so this horse was called Wu Ying? “You think I want to pick him? When I came, he was the only one left!” Lin Shan sharply said. The moment she said those words, it was as if the horse understood her. He hissed at her in a very unfriendly manner.
Lian Feng crinkled his brows as he held the reins tightly to control Wu Ying: “Ok, I’ll go look around to see if there are any other horses you could use instead.”
“Okay! Go!” Lin Shan nodded. Then she made a silly face at Wu Ying.
Wu Ying hissed again. As they looked at each other, they both looked irritated.
At this moment, Du Hao came over with his horse with an unpredictable smile on his face. He said in a clear tone: “Would the Prince Consort give me face to compete a round with me?”
*This is the hairpin. You pretty much stab it in the middle of a bun.
**This is what I mean by the door curtain. I know it sounds really confusing in English, so I found a picture. (lol, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? 😉 )