Chapter 245 – The Curtains Rise for the Grand Performance
As soon as Shao Zitang returned to the Shao family, he rushed non-stop to his new house to see his new bride for the last time. After this meeting, the next time they could see each other would be on their wedding night, three days later, when they lift the veil.
Just as he reached the door, Shao Zitang saw his mother, Madam Shao, coming out of the house with a smile as radiant as flowers. When she saw Shao Zitang, she paused for a moment, then joyfully patted his shoulder and covered her mouth, laughing, “Son, you really married a good wife. You have a keen eye, hahaha…” She left, leaving Shao Zitang standing in confusion.
Entering the room, Yan Tingfang had just changed into a stunning red wedding gown. The gown hugged her graceful curves, and the exquisite embroidery of various flowers and birds made it look even more luxurious.
“You’re back?” Yan Tingfang turned her head when she heard the movement, and her face lit up with obvious joy. Her fair complexion, now adorned with the red wedding gown, made her look even more charming and beautiful.
Seeing this scene, Shao Zitang’s heart trembled, and a faint smile appeared on his lips. He walked up to Yan Tingfang, held her hand, and embraced her from behind.
Yan Tingfang was slightly shorter than Shao Zitang, so when he embraced her from behind, he could encircle her entirely in his arms. Her head tilted down, resting on his shoulder, and they both enjoyed each other’s comforting presence.
“What… what’s the matter?” It was the first time Shao Zitang had made such an intimate gesture, and Yan Tingfang blushed, somewhat surprised.
Shao Zitang also blushed, realizing he had acted impulsively, driven by the desire to keep this woman, who would soon be his, in his arms. He hadn’t considered the consequences before making this gesture, which was something he would never have done in ordinary circumstances.
At Yan Tingfang’s inquiry, he snapped back to reality, still reluctant to let go and red-faced, he said, “You look… very beautiful today.”
Yan Tingfang was momentarily stunned but found it somewhat amusing. It was hard to imagine that the usually confident and dismissive man had such an innocent side.
They didn’t speak further and just embraced each other, enjoying the peaceful and joyful moment.
After a while, Shao Zitang suddenly remembered something and looked at Yan Tingfang’s profile. He asked softly, “What did you say to my mother just now? Why was she so happy? Her smile almost reached the sky.”
Yan Tingfang hesitated for a moment, then suddenly understood and blushed even more, with the redness spreading to her neck.
Perplexed, Shao Zitang let go of her and stood in front of her, looking into her eyes, “What’s the matter? Did my mother say something to you?”
“No… she didn’t.” Yan Tingfang bit her lip hesitantly. “It was me.”
Yan Tingfang nodded and reached for the sleeve of her right arm, allowing him to see the tiny red dot on her arm. She smiled faintly, “I just told her that I still have this mark.”
Shao Zitang’s pupils suddenly tightened, and his face changed. Ignoring everything else, he stepped forward and firmly held onto Yan Tingfang’s hand.
Yan Tingfang winced as Shao Zitang’s grip was painful, but she didn’t resist, allowing him to investigate the small red mark on her arm.
Shao Zitang stared at the red mark for a long moment, confirming that he wasn’t mistaken. His pupils widened even more, and he looked at Yan Tingfang in disbelief, asking, “Cinnabar mark! How… how is this possible? Why?”
Yan Tingfang looked at him with complexity in her eyes and sighed softly, “Even among the women in brothels, there are different categories. Some sell their bodies but not their talents, some sell both, and then there are those who only sell their talents and keep their bodies intact. I am an entertainer, belonging to the last category. So, for now… I am still a virgin.”
Having said this, Yan Tingfang was embraced tightly by Shao Zitang. She rested her head on his chest and felt the beating of his heart. Her emotions were complicated but not surprised.
Though he had always claimed to love her and accepted her regardless of her background, any man would still care if his woman had been with other men before meeting him. Yet, despite all that, he accepted her without knowing the truth. How precious and rare it was!
After a moment of indescribable excitement, Shao Zitang finally calmed down. He looked at Yan Tingfang with increased tenderness in his eyes. “If you didn’t have… then why didn’t you tell us from the beginning?”
If Yan Tingfang had told them all this earlier, maybe the subsequent events wouldn’t have happened. Yan Tingfang looked deeply at Shao Zitang, a tinge of melancholy in her eyes. “It’s not that I didn’t want to tell you from the start, but back then, you were indifferent to me. If I had spoken, would you have believed me? Besides, in the eyes of those people, whether I was still a virgin or not made no difference. Once they knew I had been to a brothel, they wouldn’t change their opinion of me. How clean can a woman be after spending so much time in such a place? Even if I had barely kept my virginity, I wouldn’t be respected by them. On the contrary, they might even accuse me of pretending.”
Shao Zitang detected a hint of self-doubt and unease in Yan Tingfang’s words, and his expression changed slightly.
He couldn’t deny that what Yan Tingfang said was true. If she had revealed this at the beginning, he might have believed her, but he could have misconstrued her intentions and held biased views, leading to missed opportunities between them.
After the initial shock and joy subsided, a sense of displeasure arose in Shao Zitang’s heart due to Yan Tingfang’s hidden truth. Now, as he calmed down once again, he couldn’t help but imagine the hardships she must have endured from the fragments of her words.
A girl who left her hometown, burdened with deep-seated enmity, had no choice but to take refuge in a brothel, biding her time and waiting for an opportunity. On one hand, she had to reluctantly serve those patrons she disliked, and on the other hand, she had to conceal her identity and gather intelligence to prepare for her future revenge. In such a hostile environment, she still fought to protect the last shred of her identity as a woman.
Though these experiences could be summarized in just a few words, who could truly understand the efforts and sacrifices she made? Perhaps years of living in secrecy and being cautious in every step had molded her into the cautious yet resilient person she was now.
What right did he have to blame her? It was his fault for not providing her with enough sense of security, for not understanding her well enough to let her open up. He was the one at fault, not her!
Realizing this, Shao Zitang’s heart was filled with mixed emotions, and his gaze towards Yan Tingfang became even more tender and compassionate.
Before he could say anything, Yan Tingfang continued, “My mother once told me that if someone truly likes and cares for you, they won’t mind your past. They will only care about your inner self and your future. So, I took a chance to see if you are… the one.”
Yan Tingfang couldn’t help but clench Shao Zitang’s collar, and softly uttered two words, “Thank you…”
Thank you for letting me win the bet, thank you for seeing me for who I am and cherishing and accepting me even when you didn’t know everything.
Shao Zitang was momentarily stunned by her words, and after a moment, he reached out and gently touched Yan Tingfang’s head, smiling softly as he said, “No, I should be the one thanking you.”
Thank you for guarding what we can protect together before you met me, thank you for being willing to accept me and entrust yourself to me.
Yan Tingfang looked at Shao Zitang with surprise, but before she could speak, he placed a finger on her lips to silence her.
A gentle breeze blew in through the nearby window, gently swaying the red wedding curtains in the room. Amidst the red curtains, the two tightly embraced figures could be seen, completely united without any gaps.
It was the harmony that only people who truly understood each other could achieve, and it was their unique happiness.
Ever since they found out that Yan Tingfang was innocent and pure despite her stay at the brothel, Shao Zitang’s mother had grown fonder of her. Now, her affection for Yan Tingfang had only increased.
She had already regarded her daughter-in-law as a precious treasure, holding her in her mouth for fear of losing her, and holding her in her hands for fear of dropping her.
Even Shao Zitang, her own son, had not received such treatment, and he once jokingly complained, “Mother, are you sure I’m your biological son? You treat her much better than me.”
To which his mother replied without any mercy, “Can you give me a grandson like she can? A grown man like you, still trying to compete with your wife for favoritism? Have you no shame? Come talk to me about whether you’re my biological son or not after you can give me a grandson.”
“…” Shao Zitang was speechless at that moment, thinking to himself, Mother, you’re just dying to have a grandson, but you still depend on your son’s hard work and effort to produce him. Otherwise, how can a girl like her give birth on her own?
Nevertheless, Shao Zitang’s mother’s excessive favoritism towards Yan Tingfang also caused some trouble. Some people in the Shao family who had not cared much about Yan Tingfang started to envy her even more. When envy took over, they would resort to extreme measures, and that was when Yan Tingfang’s past was brought up time and time again.
Yan Tingfang’s former residence, the Yingchun Courtyard, was located in the capital of the Ye Kingdom. Although it had been taken down by Feng Tingye and his people, there were still many who remembered it. Moreover, the Yingchun Courtyard had been accused of treason, and now, some people even spread rumors that Yan Tingfang was a spy from an enemy country and was unworthy of becoming a member of the Shao Family.
When Xia Yuqing, who was constantly collecting gossip in the palace, heard these rumors, she couldn’t help but shake her head in disbelief. Who could possibly be an enemy of the Ye Kingdom among the surrounding nations? These people were definitely brainless and beyond explanation!
As a result of this turmoil, Shao Zitang’s mother had been busy preparing for their wedding and had not bothered to deal with these clowns at first. However, these people mistook her leniency for indulgence, which led to the escalation of their actions.
Finally, Shao Zitang’s mother could no longer bear it and decided to confront the Shao Family directly. She personally went to the Shao Family and gave a thorough beating to the old senior who had orchestrated the rumors. Now, that old senior was lying in bed, and she had also taken the opportunity to clean up the Shao Family, leaving them a stern warning, “My daughter-in-law is innocent, and she is also the adopted daughter of the Shu Kingdom’s Emperor, with a distinguished status. If any of you dare to defame her again, before the Shu Kingdom’s Emperor acts, I will cut you down.”
As for the specifics of how she cleaned up the Shao Family, due to the overly bloody scene, we won’t delve into it here. Cough, cough…
After Shao Zitang’s mother made a fuss, those from the Shao Family who had been discontented with Yan Tingfang were silenced and dared not speak ill of her anymore.
After all this commotion, the day of the grand wedding arrived quietly.
The Shao Family’s mansion was exceptionally festive, with red wedding decorations and flower arrangements adorning every corner. Due to Shao Zitang’s mother’s decree that their wedding banquet must be no less grand than the Prime Minister’s and the Grand Tutor’s, their servants were even more motivated to make it a perfect event. As a result, the number of guests attending was surprisingly high.
As the festive firecrackers mixed with the sounds of drums and gongs resounded above the Shao Family’s mansion, the couple, Shao Zitang and Yan Tingfang, leaned on each other and walked into the main hall under the watchful eyes of everyone.
The main hall was filled with numerous officials, and Shao Zitang’s parents sat in the main seats, looking at the two new couple with affection. However, the faces of several respected elders from the Shao Family sitting nearby did not look so good.
Even though Yan Tingfang had a red wedding veil on her head, she could still sense the hostile gazes coming from the front.
Shao Zitang also noticed this and tightened his grip on Yan Tingfang’s hand.
Yan Tingfang hesitated for a moment, feeling the warmth from Shao Zitang’s palm, took a deep breath, and steadied her emotions. What was she afraid of? With this person by her side, what else did she need to fear?
Once she came to this realization, Yan Tingfang walked forward again with Shao Zitang, and they slowly approached Shao Zitang’s parents. She vaguely heard someone shouting words of salutation.
Following the person’s call, the two of them knelt and performed the final ritual of husband and wife. Just as they were about to complete the ceremony, a loud shout came from outside, “Wait!”
“!” The guests watching the wedding were all shocked, and the once quiet interior of the hall suddenly became noisy. Was someone trying to interrupt the wedding?
The elders sitting nearby, who had not cared much for Yan Tingfang, suddenly became excited. They were hoping that someone was trying to take Yan Tingfang away, or even ruin the wedding. They would rather have the entire event disrupted! Unfortunately, they were destined to be disappointed this time.
With the shout, everyone watched as a group of people escorted Feng Tingye and his entourage as they walked into the hall.
Upon seeing them, everyone was surprised and immediately stood up from their seats, bowing and respectfully shouting, “Emperor, Empress, long live the Emperor, long live the Empress, a thousand thousand years, a thousand years.”
“Why am I a thousand years, and you’re a thousand thousand years? Aren’t we only different by a zero? Whose side are you on?” Xia Yuqing muttered, displeased.
Feng Tingye couldn’t help but smile wryly as he rubbed her head and said calmly, “If such a day ever comes, I can just scratch out that zero, and then we’ll be the same. How about that?”
The confidants following Feng Tingye couldn’t help but shiver at his words. Niang Niang, Your Majesty, can’t you stop showing affection for each other all the time? At least be mindful of the occasion! Fortunately, those people were kneeling and couldn’t hear what you were saying, otherwise, wouldn’t your reputations be ruined? Having such masters, these confidants, who seemed to have enviable positions, felt like they were breaking their hearts for their masters’ image.
Today, many of the officials present in the Shao Family mansion had only heard of Xia Yuqing and not seen her in person. As a result, Xia Yuqing was now acting like a proper lady, graceful and polite, which made those familiar with her true nature quite uncomfortable.
Xia Yuqing, however, was thoroughly enjoying this rare experience of acting properly. With a charming smile, she followed Feng Tingye and walked to the front of the two new couples, raising each of them and saying, “Today, you are the main characters, there’s no need to be overly formal.”
“We’ve come to attend the Shao Family’s grand wedding, no need to be too restrained, please rise,” added Feng Tingye.
As Feng Tingye spoke, everyone who was originally kneeling on the ground began to get up one by one, sparsely scattering around.
Shao Zitang’s mouth twitched as he looked at the two who came for a surprise attack. He wore an expression of sincere fear, appearing pleasantly surprised, but deep down, he felt extremely frustrated.
“Niang Niang, why did you and the emperor come in person? The political affairs in the court are still pending…”
How come these two troublemakers rushed over so early? Are they in a hurry to cause chaos? If it were possible, he wouldn’t have invited these people to attend his wedding in the first place!
Feng Tingye’s eyes flickered slightly, as if he could see what Shao Zitang was thinking. He smiled ambiguously and said, “My Ai Fei has foresight. Last night, she accompanied me all night, allowing me to handle all the pending political affairs. That’s why I could come early today to attend your wedding without delaying the court affairs!”
Xia Yuqing blushed when she heard this, feeling annoyed. This guy really knows how to tell lies with his eyes wide open. Last night, he took advantage of her vulnerability and tossed her all night. If he hadn’t considered that she had to attend Shao Zitang’s wedding today, she might still be unable to get out of bed! And now he dares to say that he spent the whole night dealing with state affairs! Ultra Seme Lord, how would those fawning courtiers around know the truth? They would be crying if they found out!
“Well, Lord Shao doesn’t welcome us?” Feng Tingye noticed the reluctance in Shao Zitang’s eyes and raised an eyebrow, teasingly asking.
Shao Zitang’s brows trembled. “… I dare not. It is my honor for Your Majesty to come to my wedding.”
Xia Yuqing cleared her throat a few times, suppressing the warmth on her face, and walked to Yan Tingfang’s side, affectionately holding her arm as she smiled, “Of course, we had to come early. Besides being as close as brothers with the emperor, there are not many people from Yan Tingfang’s family in the country. At most, there’s only one of Yun Xi here. Since Yun Xi is a palace person, I can be considered as one of Yan Tingfang’s family. As Yan Tingfang is getting married, how could I not come?”
Xia Yuqing threw a meaningful glance at Yun Xi, who immediately understood and stepped forward, saying, “Exactly, I didn’t expect Yan Tingfang’s wedding to be so rushed. Although the Emperor and Empress were happy when they heard the news, they couldn’t rush here immediately because of the distance. They had to ask me and Sister Qing to come and reluctantly hold the fort for Yan Tingfang. We didn’t want anyone to think that Yan Tingfang’s family had no one to support her and start causing trouble.”
After Yun Xi spoke, the old officials sitting nearby all had a change in their expressions.
Currently, everyone in the country knew that the maids around the Empress were formidable, especially this Yun Xi, who was the legitimate Crown Prince of Shu. What does the Crown Prince of Shu mean? It means that this girl is the future emperor of Shu! Such a person is calling Yan Tingfang her sister, which means that what Madam Shao said about Yan Tingfang’s bride was true. It wasn’t just a scare; Yan Tingfang’s bride is the adoptive daughter of the Shu Emperor!
The officials who were planning to watch the show were also surprised. They were wondering why the Emperor came so early to the wedding; even during the recent weddings of the Grand Tutor and Prime Minister, he didn’t show up so early. So, it turns out it wasn’t for Lord Shao, but for his bride!
Recently, rumors about this bride were not favorable, but now it seems that the truth might be different from the rumors. They shouldn’t believe in rumors so easily!
Seeing the surprised, fearful, and enlightened expressions of the officials, Xia Yuqing couldn’t help but smile with satisfaction.
That’s the effect she wanted. Ha! Let them feel regretful for bullying her. Now they know how powerful she can be, huh? She even had to serve the beast last night to make him bring her to the wedding today.
At that moment, Madam Shao timely interrupted the silence in the room, stood up, and smiled, “Let’s talk about other matters later. The auspicious time is almost here; let’s perform the wedding ceremony first.”
“Yes, yes, let’s perform the wedding ceremony. If we delay the bride’s auspicious time, we’ll be at fault.” Xia Yuqing shook off her daze and followed Madam Shao’s lead, making way for the wedding ceremony.
As Xia Yuqing stepped back, she exchanged a knowing look with Madam Shao. Her eyes were full of satisfaction.
Madam Shao couldn’t help but smile at this and caught the puzzled look from Lord Shao, who asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I just feel that girl is quite mischievous, and it suits my taste. If we had more sons back then, we would have snatched her to be our daughter-in-law.”
Lord Shao was taken aback. It dawned on him that Madam Shao was referring to Xia Yuqing. He couldn’t help but wipe the sweat from his forehead. He thought to himself, “Madam, even if we had more sons, he wouldn’t stand a chance against that cunning Feng boy.”
But of course, he couldn’t say that out loud. There’s no need to destroy their relationship for an imaginary scenario.
After the wedding ceremony was completed, the newlyweds were enthusiastically escorted into their new bedroom.
Compared to Yan Ran’s exceptionally chaotic wedding, Shao Zitang’s wedding went exceptionally smoothly.
This was also expected. Shao Zitang, before he reached adulthood, always looked like a ten-year-old boy. No matter how influential his family background was or how talented he was, and despite his close relationship with Feng Tingye, there were not many girls who admired him, and there were even fewer prestigious families seeking his hand in marriage. After all, not many could accept marrying such a young man as their husband or son-in-law unless they had a preference for very young boys, which was not something most people could tolerate.
So, until he reached adulthood, Shao Zitang had rarely been close to women, and he certainly didn’t do anything like Yan Ran, who had recklessly gone to brothels. After returning to his original appearance, he had some suitors, but they were all frightened away by Shao Zitang’s arrogant and acerbic personality so there was no possibility of him having any romantic entanglements.
After the wedding banquet was completed, the wedding chamber ceremony followed.
“Hahaha, didn’t I say it before? When you sow seeds of trouble, you reap trouble. Little Tangtang, you have today! Today, I won’t leave your wedding chamber without creating a fuss that will shock the heavens and make the ghosts weep. Otherwise, I am not surnamed Yan!” Yan Ran stood with hands on hips, looking like a triumphant rogue. Under the dark night, he emitted eerie laughter, accompanied by the howling cold wind, making it eerie and chilling. This scared the people who hadn’t left yet, fearing that Yan Ran would go crazy and bring them bad luck.
Tsk, tsk, tsk, how could a young talent like Grand Tutor Yan turn crazy like this? It must be because of the recent exposure of his licentious and promiscuous behavior that he suffered from a shock.
It was said that his wife still didn’t allow him to enter the bedroom to sleep with her! It’s really pitiful. It’s probably because Grand Tutor Yan married a beautiful wife but couldn’t enjoy her. Therefore, he felt unsatisfied and became crazy, right?
Thinking like this, the people around them looked at Yan Ran with sympathy. They had heard that Grand Tutor Yan and Shangshu Shao had always been like brothers, but now their engagement had caused such a conflict between them. It’s truly a heartbreaking sight, as they were once so close, like two peas in a pod, but now they are torn apart by this marriage issue. It’s a true tragedy for both of them.
Although Xia Yuqing and the others also wanted to playfully disturb the newlyweds, they didn’t have the same extreme enthusiasm as Yan Ran. They were all taken aback by Yan Ran’s appearance, as if he couldn’t wait to rush into the bridal chamber and cause a chaotic scene. It was quite shocking to witness his intense reaction.
After a moment, Xia Yuqing finally trembled and uttered a sentence, “Gorgeous Grand Tutor, you truly love Little Shang Shu, ah! Why didn’t I see such genuine affection from you before? You can’t wait to rush into the bridal chamber and take Little Shang Shu! Your love for him is truly touching, but it’s a pity that Little Shang Shu is already taken. So, be a good person and go back to live a happy life with Xiao Yuan. Don’t get involved in these troubles, be good~”
As Xia Yuqing spoke, the officials who were initially sighing and shaking their heads were suddenly energized. They stared at Yan Ran with sharp eyes. They had heard rumors about Grand Tutor Yan ‘s preferences, but they had never taken them seriously. But now, it seemed that Empress had an extraordinary insight, seeing through Yan Tai Fu’s hidden intentions beneath his lunatic appearance. Compared to them, they were indeed shortsighted, and they couldn’t help but admire the Empress.
Yan Ran’s laughter halted as his face darkened instantly. “I’ve said it countless times. I am not what you think. There’s no relationship between me and Little Tangtang.”
Before Yan Ran finished speaking, Xia Yuqing waved her handkerchief and smiled triumphantly, “You even call Little Shang Shu ‘Little Tangtang’ so intimately, and yet you dare to deny any relationship between you two? Gorgeous Grand Tutor, I know that you’re feeling unhappy about Little Shang Shu’s marriage today. It’s like a knife stabbing your heart! If this happened before your marriage, I would have sworn to defend your affectionate bond. But unfortunately, you both have your own families now. You can’t destroy two households for your own selfish desires, as that will surely bring divine retribution! Besides, I can see that Little Shang Shu doesn’t seem to have any feelings for you. It’s just your one-sided infatuation. Is it really a good idea? It’s time to take a step back and broaden your horizons; maybe then you’ll see the light.”
“…” Niang Niang, are you sure that if the Grand Tutor takes a step back, he’ll see the sky and not fall into the sea?
Yan Ran was now so angry that his face turned red, and his expression became ferocious. Through gritted teeth, he yelled at Xia Yuqing, “Xia Yuqing!”
“Oh, Grand Tutor, why are you using my full name? That’s quite disrespectful. But seeing how pitiful you look today, I’ll let it slide this time.”
“….Thank you, I’m so grateful!”
“We’re friends, no need to be so polite. I’ll keep your crush on Little Shang Shu a secret from Xiao Yuan. I heard you’ve been sleeping in the study for half a month. If you continue like this, you might end up having an affair. But don’t worry; if you do, no one will gossip about it when Xiao Yuan has one as well.”
“You dare!” Yan Ran was now furious, his eyes locked onto Xia Yuqing’s, and he wished he could tear her apart.
Seeing this, Xia Yuqing immediately retreated into Feng Tingye’s arms, looking pitiful. “Your Majesty, the Grand Tutor is so scary! I told you, remember when he was bitten by those dogs without getting vaccinated? How could he not have rabies now? Look at how terrifying he looks!”
Feng Tingye gently patted Xia Yuqing’s head with indulgence, saying, “Be good. Since he’s showing signs of illness, don’t provoke him. What if he goes berserk and bites you?”
Xia Yuqing’s eyes lit up, acting like a docile student, nodding continuously, “Yes, yes, Your Majesty, you are so wise.”
“…” Your Majesty, Niang Niang, is it really appropriate to flirt and mock him like this in front of Lord Yan? Can’t you see how dark his face has turned?
While Yan Ran was hesitating whether or not to resort to assassination, he suddenly heard someone shout, “Oh no, Lord Shangshu has escaped!”
Upon hearing this, Yan Ran stopped arguing with the others and rushed out quickly, heading towards Shao Zitang’s bridal room. Xia Yuqing and others exchanged glances and quickly followed.
The festive new room was adorned with red lanterns, and red candles flickered, creating a harmonious atmosphere. Unfortunately, at this moment, there were two young men standing in front of the new room, facing each other with gunpowder in the air, exuding a strong sense of hostility.
Shao Zitang, dressed in a bright red wedding attire, stood in front of the new room’s entrance, holding a shiny silver spear, presenting an imposing “unyielding fortress” posture.
“Hmph, if you want to enter the bridal chamber today, you’ll have to step over my dead body!”
“…Little Lord Shangshu, it’s your happy day today. Don’t talk about fighting and killing; it’s not auspicious!” Xia Yuqing just spoke when she felt a cold gaze sweeping over her. She immediately trembled and silently pretended to look at the stars.
Shao Zitang glanced at Xia Yuqing, and with a chilling expression, he shifted his gaze to the others. Everyone quickly averted their eyes, feeling guilty and pretending to gaze at the stars or grass.
Yan Ran saw everyone intimidated by Shao Zitang’s gaze, gritted his teeth, and scolded them silently in his heart. How could they all be so timid? They were scared off so easily by that jerk!
While others retreated, Yan Ran had no intention of giving up so easily. He had been waiting for this day for so long, coupled with his recent frustrations. He couldn’t bear it anymore; he couldn’t let this day end up like his wedding day, being humiliated. Why did he have to endure all the suffering while that guy could happily enjoy his intimate moments without any hindrance?
Shao Zitang noticed Yan Ran’s hesitation and saw the defiance in his eyes. He narrowed his eyes and flicked the silver spear in his hand, provocatively saying, “You dare to fight?”
Yan Ran’s anger ignited, and he drew his folding fan, shouting back, “Of course I dare! Who do you think I am, afraid of you?”
The two people who disliked each other clashed fiercely in an instant.
Meanwhile, Xia Yuqing quietly stood on the side, watching the spectacle. She couldn’t help but ask Feng Tingye, “Your Majesty, who do you think will win?”
Feng Tingye glanced at the two entangled figures and calmly replied, “Although Yan Ran’s martial arts are not weak, he’s not a match for Shao Zitang.”
As expected, not long after, Yan Ran was defeated by Shao Zitang, who kicked him down.
“Still want to fight?” Shao Zitang put his foot on Yan Ran’s back and arrogantly asked.
Yan Ran gritted his teeth in resentment and was about to respond when he heard footsteps approaching from a distance.
Everyone turned their heads to see Madam Shao, accompanied by a group of people, walking over from not far away.
“What are you all doing?” Madam Shao’s gaze was even sharper than Shao Zitang’s as she scanned each person.
Xia Yuqing quickly played the blame game, saying, “Madam Shao, Lord Yan wanted to cause trouble in the bridal chamber, but Lord Shang didn’t allow it, so they started fighting.”
Madam Shao’s brows furrowed and she turned to look at Yan Ran, who was still under Shao Zitang’s foot, and raised an eyebrow, asking, “Is that true?”
Yan Ran was already afraid of Madam Shao, and being stared at like that made him pale and resentful. Not daring to persist, he changed his face to a flattering expression and said, “It was just a joke, nothing serious.”
Madam Shao sneered, “Hmph, joking at the entrance of the bridal chamber. Little brat, you really know how to pick the perfect spot for it!”
Madam Shao’s sneer terrified Yan Ran, and his face turned as pale as a sheet. He felt aggrieved; how could he forget that Madam Shao was still here!
Madam Shao, seeing Yan Ran calm down, coldly snorted and slapped a nearby century-old tree with her palm, causing it to tilt slightly. She then shifted her gaze to the people around her, squinting her eyes, and said, “You all…”
Xia Yuqing, looking at the slanted tree, swallowed nervously and looked up at the sky innocently, “Oh, the moonlight tonight is beautiful, and there are so many stars.”
“There are indeed many stars, very beautiful. But it seems you can’t see them very clearly. Let’s go somewhere else to enjoy the view,” Feng Tingye readily agreed.
Seeing that everyone understood and was ready to leave, Madam Shao sneered and took the silver spear from Shao Zitang’s hand, urging them, “It’s already late. Hurry up and enter the bridal chamber. Don’t let the bride wait too long. There’s mother outside watching for you. Anyone who wants to interfere with my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding night will have to answer to me and the spear in my hands!”
Hearing Madam Shao’s stern words, Xia Yuqing hesitated for a moment, then looked at Yan Ran with a profound gaze and said, “When the Gorgeous Grand Tutor got married, everyone forced him to drink without daring to utter a word. The bridal chamber was open to guests, but they felt like they were in an empty place with no one around. On the other hand, when the Lord Shao got married, he exuded an imposing aura, and no one dared to provoke him. Moreover, Madam Shao, as the mother of the groom, presided over the wedding, dominating the scene and suppressing everyone. This is a clear and distinct difference!”
Yan Ran, who had finally escaped from under Shao Zitang’s foot, turned into stone upon hearing Xia Yuqing’s words.
After a brief moment of stiffness, Yan Ran suddenly squatted in a corner and began to draw circles silently, muttering to himself, “They all bully me, they all bully me. Having parents is so great, right? Children with parents are treasures, and those without are like weeds… like weeds, sob, sob, sob…”
The splendid fireworks illuminated the sky above the Shangshu Mansion, creating a dazzling display of colors, all thanks to the generous contribution of Xia Yuqing’s subordinates.
The rare and exquisite fireworks blossomed in the sky, forming beautiful flowers under the neon lights, exuding an envy-inducing romantic atmosphere.
Su Wuduan, who had finally rested for several days and had managed to get rid of the dark circles under his eyes, looked at Cui Er’s calm profile under the colorful lights. Suddenly, he felt a little intoxicated and couldn’t help but reach out and hold her hand tightly.
“You…” Cui Er was startled and turned to look at him.
Su Wuduan smiled foolishly and blushed, saying, “Darling, look at all of them, they have all settled down and started families. Shouldn’t we… I promise, I promise, I have truly changed my ways. From now on, I will only have you, my darling. So, will you marry me? I will do my best to treat you well.”
This was probably the simplest confession Su Wuduan had ever made. Unlike his usual flowery language and sweet words, Cui Er could sense his sincerity in his words.
Cui Er seemed to be enchanted, her face blushing, and her lips trembling as she was about to speak.
Suddenly, a burst of colorful fireworks exploded behind her. The loud noise startled her, causing her already blushing face to turn pale, and she quickly pulled her hand out of Su Wuduan’s grasp.
“Wife, what’s wrong? Why do you look so pale?” Su Wuduan wanted to reach out to touch Cui Er, but she swiftly avoided him.
“Don’t touch me! We… it’s impossible. Don’t come looking for me again in the future.” Cui Er lowered her head and said in a muffled voice.
Su Wuduan’s eyes suddenly narrowed, looking at Cui Er in disbelief. “You… ”
“I said we…”
Cui Er raised her head and met Su Wuduan’s gaze, speaking slowly and clearly, “Su Wuduan, let me go. We… it’s impossible!”
In the night sky, the fireworks were still blooming, reflecting the profiles of the two people, but they couldn’t reveal the broken hearts lying on the ground.
At the same moment, on a rooftop not far from the Shangshu Mansion, a young man in black stood against the wind. His clear eyes reflected the colorful fireworks.
Suddenly, a majestic vulture landed on his shoulder. The young man turned to look in a certain direction, where a dark mist was slowly rising into the air. His eyes narrowed dangerously, but his lips curved into a slow smile.
After a long time, a sigh of relief filled with joy and relief overflowed into the night sky. “Finally… finally… this meticulously prepared grand drama is about to begin.”
“Um…” At the same time, Xia Yuqing, who was still at the Shangshu Mansion, watching the fireworks with Feng Tingye, suddenly felt dizzy. If Feng Tingye hadn’t noticed the change and quickly supported her, she might have fallen to the ground.
“What’s wrong?” Feng Tingye was taken aback when he saw Xia Yuqing suddenly lose her balance.
“It’s… it’s nothing.” Xia Yuqing shook her head to clear her mind. “I just felt a bit dizzy for a moment.”
“Dizzy?” Feng Tingye frowned, reaching out to touch Xia Yuqing’s forehead, but there was no abnormal temperature. His expression softened a little, but he still looked somewhat concerned. “Let the imperial physician take a look. It’s better to be safe.”
“It’s really nothing, just a momentary thing…” Xia Yuqing wanted to say that it was unnecessary to make a fuss, but under Feng Tingye’s slightly stern gaze, she obediently closed her mouth and nodded.
“Huh?” Xia Yuqing suddenly felt a drop of rain falling on her face. She reached up to touch it and found it was the size of a bean. “Strange, just a moment ago, there were stars all over the sky. Why did it suddenly start raining?”
The rain poured down, much heavier than expected, lasting for more than half an hour.
What Xia Yuqing and the others didn’t know was that during this half hour, a carriage traveled through the rain and entered the capital city. At the very moment the rain stopped, it stopped in front of a secluded inn.
The man driving the carriage jumped down and said respectfully to the person inside, “Master, we have arrived.”
Raindrops dripped down from the edge of the carriage, falling to the ground with a crisp sound.
In an instant, a hand reached out from the carriage and rested on the carriage shaft. Then, a familiar and stunning figure emerged from the carriage, their face illuminated by the flickering lights.