The 26th Day of the 1st Month of Tian Yong’s 10th Year,
The Xun Emperor, Xuan Yuan Yu sets up a farewell banquet for Ye Emperor, Bai Li Nan. Other than the ministers of Xun Kingdom, the envoys of Ye Kingdom will also participate in the banquet.
Xi Yan will be attending it with Xuan Yuan Yu. Her ceremonial outfit is in the color of snow with silver patterns of Xi Yan flowers embroidered on it. She did not use that Xi Yan flower hairpin though; she vaguely knows what that hairpin implies. She will never use that hairpin again.
She considers that hairpin Mu Yan’s last gift for her, and yet because of that person, the hairpin ends up giving her a different feeling.
She had no idea what that hairpin meant back then; and that leads to this messy situation right now.
Thinking of that, she simply smiles. This smile of hers is vague. Her hair is set on the Xian Jiu hairstyle, underneath that high bun, her face looks the same as before she enters the palace. Even though she suffers from the cold, the only apparent difference is her chin that has gotten slightly pointier.
Even though she looks the same, she knows that she will never be able to go back to the happy and unfettered time of when she was still in Nalan manor. The naïve and easy going Nalan Xi Yan can no longer return.
Putting on a veil of the same color as her dress, she gets up and boards her palanquin before heading towards Feng Yi Lin Water Bank.
Just as she reaches the water bank, Xuan Yuan Yu’s palanquin arrives as well. She steps down from her palanquin and curtsey at his direction. As that yellow silhouette appears at the corner of her eyes, a new kind of scent hits her nose. Li Qiu once said that this scene is called Long Xian Fragrance, they are only used by the emperor. Not just fragrance, a lot of things exclusively belongs to him, including the harem. If we add the fourteen new Meirens, the numbers of concubines in the palace are now 38.
For someone who has reigned for ten years, 38 concubines aren’t a lot of number. The biggest contributing factor to that small number is even though they will add more concubines each more, more dies. Very few lives past two years, even fewer lives past 5 years. Only two of them makes through the ten years of reign.
One of the two is Zhou Zhaoyi, the only concubine who has given birth to a princess. The other one is Guan Cairen who has been banished to the cold palace.
From that, you can see just how vicious the harem is. As for her, she has no chance to turn back.
Xuan Yuan Yu dismisses her with a light sound. As she looks up, the bright golden robe he wears glitters under the sun, reflecting it’s golden light on her smiling face. Xuan Yuan Yu’s originally cold eyes pauses a little upon seeing that smile. She can see his eyes twinkling a little. Under that clear pair of eyes, she knows it contains coldness that can never go away. She can only see that coldness but can never touch them. The one thing she can touch is his hand that he has outstretch towards her.
She receives his hand, this is the first time they ever hold each other’s hands. This is only a formality. He takes her palm and heads towards the viewing platform of Feng Yi Water Bank. The rest of the servants follows them from behind. A bright yellow roof covers her head and protects it from the warm sun, casting a shadow on her face.
The viewing platform of Feng Yi Water Bank is built on top of the palace’s Feng Yi River. It is a two-storey structure. There is a water pavilion built within the structure, with jadeite bridge connecting them. A bunch of ministers sit on the water pavilion on the ground floor. When their presence are announced, those ministers quickly pays their ceremonial respect. Xuan Yuan Yu holds her hand and walks through the jade bridge.
She follows him from behind, just behind his shoulder. Always from behind and never in front. She tilts her head and looks at him. His entire face is noble yet indifferent; graceful yet light.
After that one glance, she quickly lowers her head.
They arrive in an elevated platform overlooking the river. Xuan Yuan Yu lets go of her hand. A eunuch suddenly announces something, “The Ye Emperor has arrived!”
She turns around and drags her long skirt. She raises her eyes and through the bright yellow curtain, she can see the perfect figure of someone crossing over the jade bridge. That person is the Ye Emperor.
He is dressed in a dark blue robe. He has the brightest pair of eyes she has ever seen and as the wind sways his robe, he heads their way, looking like an immortal. If you call Xuan Yuan Yu handsome in an unparalleled manner, then it is not an exaggeration to describe the Ye Emperor as peerlessly elegant.
Correct, even though he is a man, he is the living embodiment of peerless elegance.