“This dance troupe is really good. It is unfortunate that our Great Ruanyu doesn’t have dance troupe such as theirs,” Bai Ruohan said as he clapped his hands while staring at the group of females that had just finished their performance. Then he leaned closer to the masked man beside him. “Hey, maybe the princess is also a good dancer? Whoever the next emperor will be… they will sure be in for a feast, ah! Jin Rongqiu, you should really fight for the throne!” he said in a hushed tone.
“There is no benefit for me to sit on the throne,” the masked man who turns out to be Jin Rongqiu, replied in an equally hushed tone. “If I sit on the throne, who will keep an eye on a certain general who seems to have loose pants?”
“Are you seriously saying that? You know… If you become the emperor, getting what you want will be easy,” Bai Ruohan said. “You want that beauty that you met from before? Just simply mention it to King Song Min and he will probably take the initiative to find her for you.”
At this, Jin Rongqiu only gave Bai Ruohan a glare before he downed his wine. “Your joke is getting less funny,” he commented. “I will go out and relieve myself. You enjoy the show,” he added as he stood up and walked away.
Jin Rongqiu approached one of the many servants who are on duty in the banquet hall. “Servant, may I inquire where I can relief myself?” Jin Rongqiu asked.
The servant already knew that Jin Rongqiu is one of the envoys from Ruanyu so he gave him a friendly smile. “Honored guests, by relief… do you mean… ‘that’? If so, I can help you send any lady of your liking. Did any of the women make you fancy them?”
Hearing this, Jin Rongqiu’s face darkened but fortunately, half of his face was covered or else, the poor servant would’ve been rooted in place with fear.
“By relief, I meant ‘nature’s call’,” Jin Rongqiu told the servant.
“Ah! Please forgive this servant’s impudence. Then… when you exit the hall, you can go to the right and follow along the hall. There will be a small building there where the honoured guest can relieve himself.”
“En. Thank you. Give me your hand,” Jin Rongqiu said before he placed a single, silver coin on top of the servant’s hand.
“Many thanks, honoured guest! Are you sure you don’t want any ladies to accompany you tonight…? His Majesty strictly gave us the order to please everyone from the Great Ruanyu,” the servant inquired once more.
“No need!” Jin Rongqiu suddenly regrets giving the servant some money. “And do not offer it to the rest. It would be bad if they became lethargic tomorrow…” Jin Rongqiu added, fearing that the servants would give the same offer to the rest of his men. “Tell that to the rest of your colleague!”
After saying that, Jin Rongqiu quickly exit the banquet hall. He followed the direction given by the servant and relieved himself. In the small room, a jar of water was prepared for the guests to use. Only after making sure that he is clean did he leave the small room. There was a servant who kept watch outside the small room and as soon as Jin Rongqiu came out, he bowed his head and went inside. Jin Rongqiu could hear a few splashes of water and knew that the servant was in charge of keeping the place clean.
Leaving the area, Jin Rongqiu decided to take a small walk before returning to the banquet hall. It was during this small walk that he came across a small group of people. Within the group, he could see one familiar face which he had seen in the banquet hall before.
Jin Rongqiu was just about to turn away and simply return to the banquet hall when he heard a very familiar voice. The voice that haunted him even in his dream the night before.
“Eldest brother… all I have to do is just sit there, right? I don’t have to entertain anyone?”
“No. Just leave everything else to your elder brothers. We’ll take care of the rest. You just need to show ‘your face’.”
Jin Rongqiu turned back around to properly see the owner of the first voice. And it was at that time that Song Lihui took notice of Jin Rongqiu.
“Ah, if it isn’t the lord that accompanied Hanxing Gong earlier. Are you out for a little breather? Did you not enjoy the performance?” Song Lihui asked.
“The performance was alright. It is quite… enjoyable,” Jin Rongqiu said, even though he didn’t pay attention to the performance earlier. “May I ask His Highness to introduce the rest to this lord?” Jin Rongqiu asked but his eyes landed on the young ‘lady’ whose face was covered with a veil.
“Of course, this is my eldest brother, the Crown Prince of Dong Xing, Song Liren,” Song Lihui didn’t waste any time to comply with Jin Rongqiu request. “This is my third brother, Song Lifan. And here, is one of our precious Twin Jade, my sister, Song Lijing,” Song Lihui smiled. After that, he lightly gestured for Song Lijun to quickly play along.
“… Greetings to my lord… This princess thank everyone from Ruanyu for coming to aid our little kingdom,” Song Lijun said while he inwardly cursed his elder brothers. ‘What leave everything to them?! We haven’t even entered the banquet hall and I already have to fend for myself?!’
Hearing the voice once more, it confirmed Jin Rongqiu’s suspicion. His eyes narrowed at the ‘princess’s’ figure before moving to the rest of the princes. “If this is only one of the Twin Jade, where is the other one?”
“My youngest brother is feeling unwell and have to stay in bed. Hope the honoured guest can forgive him,” Song Liren quickly replied.
“Unwell?” Jin Rongqiu then remembered about the rumours that circled around the city, about how the innocent fourth prince had fallen into a pit by following the third prince’s footstep. ‘At that time, she was also there,’ Jin Rongqiu’s eyes rest on the princess once more. ‘She said she was looking for someone, was it his brother?’
“Your Highnesses doesn’t have to worry. This lord wishes for the fourth prince’s health,” Jin Rongqiu finally told the group. “Are Your Highnesses on their way to the banquet hall? May this lord have the honour to accompany Your Highnesses?”
“Of course! But we don’t know this lord’s name yet. Simply referring as ‘this lord’ or ‘you’ all the time will be rude. If it is alright, may we have the honour of knowing your name?” this time, it was Song Lifan who speaks up. He had noticed that his two elder brothers didn’t want to ask for this masked man’s identity for fear that they might offend this man. But Song Lifan noticed that this man is taking interest in Song Lijun, or rather, Song Lijun who is currently dressed as Song Lijing. He can’t help but feel slightly uncomfortable with the other’s presence.
“Me? My given name is Rongqiu,” Jin Rongqiu replied. “But the princess can address me as ‘Brother Qiu’ if she likes.”
Written by: Lin Xiaolong
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