Home Post 2133-chapter-4


Chapter 4

At this moment, the nobles who had caused a sensation in various countries in their past lives were mostly in their youthful prime. At first glance, they appeared fresh and young, with groups of brightly dressed youths and beautiful maidens pleasing to the eye.

However, due to the tension surrounding the order of the audience with the Emperor of the Great Qi upon entering the palace, the atmosphere near the inn’s carriages became tense once again.

Cao Xi, as the niece of the Empress, had received a relatively early queue number. She had already dressed in a trailing gown early in the morning, sitting in the carriage with a radiant and proud look, casting a disdainful glance at Tian Ying, who was queuing at the inn’s entrance.

Could a crude princess from the Han kingdom dare to be so arrogant? The inn’s attendants, instructed by the palace eunuchs, treated her well. She had only ordered her maid to deliver a message to the inn’s official. The official, understanding her intention, placed Tian Ying in a less favorable position in the queue.

Being positioned further back implied that Tian Ying might have to wait until the afternoon to meet the Emperor of the Great Qi. In her past life, Jiang Xiurun, who was “kindly treated” by Cao Xi, had to endure such a delay.

Following the palace etiquette strictly, the noble youths refrained from eating much before the audience to avoid any embarrassing incidents like stomach discomfort, farting, or belching. They only had a light rice soup for breakfast and would eat more after being summoned.

For those who were only called by the Emperor of Great Qi in the afternoon, not only did they go hungry in the morning, but they also had to abstain from eating during lunch. It was not a pleasant experience.

In her past life, Jiang Xiurun offended Cao Xi and was placed at the end of the queue, causing her and her sick brother to go hungry together.

Being more low-key in this life had its advantages. Since many people had sided with Tian Ying yesterday, Cao Xi maliciously arranged for them to be at the back.

On the other hand, the Jiang siblings, who did not bribe the officials with money, unexpectedly moved forward and managed to secure a morning audience.

Jiang Zhi, having sweated promptly, felt much better this morning, with his cold symptoms less apparent. However, he couldn’t help but feel uneasy because his sister, with her boldness, had disguised herself as a prince to meet the Emperor of Great Qi.

But Jiang Xiurun remained calm. For someone who had walked through the gates of death, what was there to fear? Despite being a younger sister, she had become stronger in her resolve to protect her brother.

Today, she wore her brother’s formal attire. As her body was slender, the shoulders of the long ceremonial robe didn’t fit well. So, last night, she dismantled one of her small padded jackets, filled the shoulders with cotton, and, looking in the mirror, found herself exuding the dignified aura of a young man.

After getting on the carriage, she took out a small bronze mirror and meticulously groomed her eyebrows. After lightly shading them with charcoal, her originally beautifully shaped eyebrows immediately transformed into thick, caterpillar-like strands. Jiang Xiurun’s mother was a princess of the former Kingdom of Bo, and the ancestors of Bo came from Persia. Although their blood had mixed with the people of the Central Plains for generations, their descendants still carried distinct features.

Just like Jiang Xiurun, she looked extremely charming in women’s clothing but exuded a masculine charm in men’s attire. However, with these two thick eyebrows lying on her forehead, her facial features appeared somewhat discordant, giving her an inexplicable awkwardness.

Jiang Xiurun was quite satisfied. By the time she finished her makeover, the envoys’ procession had arrived at the gates of the Great Qi palace.

Apart from the nobles who had already met the emperor of Great Qi, the others waited in the central courtyard.

The Great Qi Dynasty was currently powerful, subtly displaying its dominance over the noble youths. These young men and women stood in formation, one after another.

In front of Jiang Xiurun was her brother, and behind her was Liu Pei, the noble from the Kingdom of Liang. Bored, she casually turned her head and noticed Liu Pei staring at her. She glanced at him, and he, with a polite expression, did not avoid her gaze, focusing on her eyebrows instead.

Jiang Xiurun avoided his gaze, turned her head, and stopped looking around. She focused solely on waiting for the Emperor of Great Qi to summon her brother and her.

As noon approached, it was finally the turn of the envoys from the Kingdom of Bo to meet the emperor of Great Qi.

Although the Kingdom of Bo was weak, its territory was at the border between the Central Plains and the Western Regions. Trade and commerce were frequent due to various merchants traveling back and forth, making the kingdom relatively prosperous. Lacking military strength, the kingdom sought protection from a powerful nation. Since forming an alliance with Great Qi, every tribute they presented gleamed with gold, radiating the fragrance of wealth.

Therefore, when Emperor Duanqing summoned the two princes from the Kingdom of Bo, there was a hint of a smile on his face.

However, this faint smile crumbled when he heard the king of Bo’s personally written letter. His expression suddenly changed.

As the eunuch’s trembling voice subsided, everyone’s eyes widened, focusing on the “handsome” young master from the Kingdom of Bo.

Even the courtiers were stunned. Regardless of their own emperor’s tastes and preferences, how could this silly-looking youth, with his foolish expressions and naive gaze, be considered handsome? Where did this self-confidence to propose such an arrangement come from?

For a moment, the hall fell silent. Even the attendant officials on the side were unsure of how to respond. They wanted to reprimand these ignorant barbarians but hesitated, as doing so might imply casting aspersions on their own emperor.

Emperor Duanqing raised his eyebrows, seemingly ready to express his anger and rebuke.

Just then, Jiang Xiurun, who had been bowing, lifted her head and said, “Your Majesty, please believe in my father’s words. He has heard about Your Majesty’s long-standing headache and has sent me to Great Qi. I am well-versed in the medical arts of the Kingdom of Bo and have expertise in massaging acupoints to treat headaches. If Your Majesty doesn’t mind, may I accompany you and provide treatment, allowing Your Majesty to rest comfortably?”

After speaking, she even rolled up her sleeves, clasped her hands together, and cracked her knuckles, as if she were about to “arrange the bedding” for Emperor Duanqing right there in the hall.

In her previous life, residing in Luo’an for many years, Jiang Xiurun had long been able to speak the Qi local dialect fluently.

However, now she intentionally revived her hometown accent, speaking in a way that not only lacked eloquence but also carried the rustic flavor of a border town. The gaze beneath her thick eyebrows was simple and sincere, with an attitude that was neither humble nor arrogant, displaying the straightforward vigor of a young lad unfamiliar with formalities.

This youth, devoid of any coquettishness, naturally explained that arranging the bedding was meant for treating headaches, ensuring a peaceful sleep for the Great Qi Emperor. This explanation, both reasonable and logical, made it difficult for anyone to criticize.

As for the term “handsome,” it was probably a word used by the Emperor of Bo, who was as ignorant and uncultured as his son. They likely picked it up from some book without understanding its true meaning.

Moreover, every parent thinks their child is the most beautiful! In the eyes of one’s own father, even a son with two crescent-shaped eyebrows is an extraordinary and beautiful youth. What could others say?

If one were to loudly criticize the Kingdom of Bo for intending to tarnish the imperial honor and mock the Emperor of Great Qi’s inclination towards male beauty, it would be somewhat awkward for the country bumpkins.

After a brief silence, Emperor Duanqing, feeling that the atmosphere had stabilized, coldly spoke, “You have come from afar and are guests of Great Qi. It’s just a minor ailment due to the cold wind. There is no need for the young master to trouble himself. Go with your brother to the Ministry of Rites to receive your long-term residence permits.”

With a wave of his hand, he signaled the palace attendants to quickly lead away this rustic-looking handsome youth to avoid further sullying the royal court.

As for the Crown Prince of Great Qi, he didn’t even cast a glance at the rustic youth named “Jiang Herun,” standing with lowered eyes and looking calm and unruffled.

However, Qin Zhao, standing beside Feng Liwu, showed a hint of surprise and cast several glances at the young master Jiang.

After leaving the main hall, Jiang Xiurun breathed a sigh of relief. Her brother, on the other hand, was drenched in sweat, layer upon layer.

Could he not be afraid? Since when did his sister become so bold? Since entering the city of Luo’an, she has become very decisive, making him, her elder brother, seem naive and inexperienced.

Jiang Xiurun was in a great mood. She knew that from now on, for a long time, she would have to present herself as “Jiang Herun.” But without the Crown Prince’s “care,” it was considered much better.

As the two prepared to leave, Tian Ying was still waiting anxiously. With a hungry and resentful expression on her face, she glared fiercely at those who left after an audience with the emperor.

After the siblings left the Qi palace and obtained their residence permits from the Ministry of Rites, the official asked whether they wanted to stay in the arranged accommodation or if they planned to use their own funds to upgrade to a more prestigious residence.

Jiang Xiurun had already discussed this with her brother early on, stating that they didn’t want the arranged accommodation from the Ministry of Rites. Instead, they preferred to purchase their own mansion.

Once out of the Ministry of Rites, Jiang Xiurun, feeling quite at ease, took her brother to a famous alley in the capital, where various delicious snacks were available.

There was a small restaurant there, not very large in size, but the food was delicious, and the prices were fair. Those not familiar with Luo’an couldn’t easily find this place.

After taking their seats, Jiang Xiurun ordered the renowned grilled wild pheasant and lotus leaf-braised rice from the restaurant.

Upon opening the tightly wrapped lotus leaf, the fragrance of the unique Great Qi rice soaked in pig fat filled the air.

Both siblings, feeling ravenous and in the midst of their growth, ate with great concentration.

The small restaurant was bustling with customers. Besides the Jiang siblings, there were others who had early on inquired about the unique local dishes of the capital and came to taste the flavors.

In no time, three or four foreign envoys who had previously stayed together in the inn arrived together for a meal.

These individuals had formed friendships during their stay at the inn. While ordering food and drinks, they discussed the recent audience with the emperor.

One of them sighed, saying, “Consider Han kingdom, with its mighty national strength. Yet, the princess fainted in the central courtyard due to the long wait. The accompanying envoy scolded someone, accusing them of sabotage and intentionally pushing the princess to the back. Such disrespect towards Han kingdom might lead to tensions between the two nations!”

Another young man chuckled and said, “During the argument with Princess Cao yesterday, Princess Tian showed such courage. How did she suddenly faint? When I saw her faint, she signaled to her maid, who promptly supported her to prevent her from falling on the stone floor. Whether she fainted or not, it’s hard to say…”

Jiang Xiurun, still eating with her head lowered, understood perfectly. The noble lady who had outwitted the Crown Prince’s consort in her past life had quite the skill in administering substances.

If the Han kingdom princess fainted like this, Emperor Qi would surely want to save face for the Han kingdom. An investigation into the ranking matter would be inevitable. If the Han Kingdom envoy continued to plead, Cao Xi would be implicated. Even if the empress favored her, it would reveal Cao Xi’s narrow-mindedness.

If Emperor Qi deemed Cao Xi unreliable, her path to prominence as the daughter-in-law of Great Qi would be difficult!

However, this wasn’t her concern. After finishing the meal, choosing and purchasing a mansion with her brother was the main agenda.

After the meal, when the siblings were about to leave, the previously unseen Shen Yong finally received a report from his subordinate guards. He arrived leisurely, coming to find them.

Jiang Xiurun could guess Shen Yong’s intentions. He was probably afraid of exposing himself during her audience with the emperor. Hence, he had the siblings and their guards go first, planning to escape the city if the situation turned unfavorable.

Now that everything seemed calm and safe, Shen Yong finally showed up.

If she guessed correctly, Shen Yong intended to, as in her previous life, report inflated expenses during the journey and secretly pocket most of the gold and silver rewards granted by the emperor for building the mansion.

Verified by MonsterInsights