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Chapter 42-Part 1

When Emperor Duanqing saw the graceful figure of the woman who had arrived, his anger abated slightly. However, remembering the rumor that she had given birth in secret, his unfulfilled rage flared up again.

He coldly commanded, “I heard from your father in his letter that you are skilled in dancing. Perform a dance for everyone’s enjoyment.”

The woman did not make any excuses upon hearing this. She simply bowed deeply, then stood up and moved to the center of the hall, waiting for the music to start.

Earlier, other hostage women danced to gentle and soothing music.

However, when the hostage woman from Bo began, the music abruptly changed to a fierce and rapid drumbeat. It was not a traditional Bo dance tune but rather a battle march familiar to the Qi army and civilians.

The seemingly delicate woman transformed as the music played, performing a military dance with a unique foreign style. Her movements were vigorous and powerful, reflecting the essence of a soldier fighting fiercely against the enemy.

This dance was traditionally performed by men, and the audience was astonished by the explosive energy displayed by the woman. Her long legs and tall stature, uncommon for typical women, added a distinct charm to her performance. Her solid technique indicated that she had indeed devoted significant effort to mastering the dance, vividly portraying a lone soldier battling valiantly.

Such grand and vigorous movements were impossible for a woman who had just given birth.

Though the dance was remarkable, it seemed out of place. How could such a somber dance be appropriate for an emperor’s birthday banquet?

After the performance, the hostage woman’s breathing was only slightly hurried. She stepped forward and bowed to the emperor again.

Emperor Duanqing, though mesmerized by her dance, maintained a stern expression and said, “This is my birthday banquet. Why did you perform such a grim dance? Was this also arranged by your father?”

The woman replied calmly, her voice clear but tinged with the unique accent of Bo.

“This was not arranged by my father. After arriving in Qi, I was inspired and changed the music at the last minute…”

Emperor Duanqing raised an eyebrow and asked, “What inspired you?”

The woman paused and said, “In the past, when Bo faced difficulties, the late Emperor of Qi sent troops to aid us. The people of Bo welcomed them with open arms. The military tunes of Qi, which even children in Bo could hum, were not fearsome to us. Instead, they brought a sense of security, as Qi was revered as a godlike presence. However…”

Tears suddenly welled up in the woman’s eyes, soaking her thin veil, and she continued with a choked voice, “I, a weak woman, came to Qi only to be falsely accused of giving birth at the post station, incurring the emperor’s displeasure. Such a disgraceful rumor not only tarnishes my reputation but also brings shame to my father and country. If the emperor’s anger leads Qi’s army to Bo, the once comforting military tunes would signal merciless slaughter, depriving our children of their joyful dances. This thought saddens me deeply, and I couldn’t help but dance once more to the music I grew up with…”

Her initial stiff Qi dialect gradually became more fluent, and her words, winding like a mountain path with numerous twists and turns, carried a profound impact.

First, she praised the late emperor of Qi’s chivalry, then expressed Bo’s admiration and loyalty to Qi, followed by a straightforward accusation of being falsely implicated, and finally, a heartfelt lamentation of a small, helpless nation fearing divine wrath. Her eloquence, coupled with her tender beauty, deeply moved everyone.

Emperor Duanqing felt that maintaining a stern demeanor was unworthy of Bo’s respect and admiration for Qi.

He coughed lightly, glanced at her slender waist and smooth skin devoid of postpartum marks, and thought, How could she be a woman who had just given birth?

Considering her uneasy feelings as a young woman alone in Qi and being slandered, he felt even more sympathetic.

Softening his tone, Emperor Duanqing said, “Remove your veil and let me see your face.”

The woman hesitated briefly but then complied, removing the veil gracefully.

Perhaps due to the performance, her makeup was heavy, and a complex necklace covered her neck, concealing her throat.

Although she wore heavy makeup, her features bore a resemblance to the Bo hostage prince, indicating they were indeed siblings and not just any random person.

Despite the makeup, her radiant beauty was truly rare.

Emperor Duanqing, who had not been so captivated for a long time, was momentarily spellbound.

“Father, Princess Yao speaks the truth. Please do not believe baseless rumors and chill the heart of an allied nation.”

At this moment, Feng Liwu’s voice suddenly echoed in the hall.

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