At nightfall, the family banquet.
The crown prince and Zhong Zheng Lin took seats of the host and guest of honor respectively; one being the honored guest and the other the lord of the house.
On the outside, the two got along well.
Yet, who didn’t know that this scene of affectionate brotherhood was merely an act which served to make the memorial that would be sent to the table of Yuancheng Emperor look better
The crown prince was dressed in a bright yellow court robe, enveloped by the air of superiority.
Most of his talks were linked to admonishment.
He seemed to be looking after the present brothers and giving them guidance.
Zhong Zheng Lin was attired in an informal court dress.
He carried an indifferent appearance while drinking the wine.
The crown prince didn’t forget to remind them that the heir apparent position wasn’t something others could covet for.
The crown prince was clearly worrying too much.
What will he do with heir apparent position The phoenix eyes of the sixth Highness swept over the thumb ring on his left hand.
The prince’s seal will change its name one day.
Zhong Zheng Ming leaned against the back of the chair, rose the gold wine mug and emptied the cup in one gulp.
The message sent by Mu Xi Yao was extremely important.
In a few days, Yuancheng Emperor will issue the third imperial decree.
How should he thank her for such a help Does Zhong Zheng Lin know of this
Zhong Zheng Ming looked at a wide four-panel screen containing a silk tapestry in the middle of the hall.
The corners of his lips raised slightly.
At the women’s banquet over there, she was probably enjoying the meal while finding pleasure in it.
When the fifth Highness thought of her furrowing her brows in a finicky manner and pouting in displeasure, he inwardly shook his head.
Sixth brother spoiled her too much.
How can he let her eat only what she was fond of Such picky-eating habit was not good for a child.
Mu Xi Yao pulled Mu Xi Ting to sit next to her.
Since there was no Zhong Zheng Lin to keep an eye on her, she stopped restraining herself from consuming certain foods.
It was not only that she has set herself free with eating.
Mu Xi Ting over there also did not stay unoccupied.
Mu Xi Yao frequently picked dishes and delivered them to her bowl.
Mu Xi Ting was so embarrassed she dropped her head to use meal, unwilling to raise her head.
In the whole women’s banquet, only Mu Xi Yao ate with relish.
The fourth princess consort had fun watching her.
Seeing that Mu Xi Yao liked scallop balls, she quickly ordered people to serve it on a small plate and put it in front of her.
“Thank you, fourth sister-in-law.
Qie knew that fourth sister-in-law doted on qie the most.
Having a big belly is so annoying.
He’s insatiable.” Mu Xi Yao smiled and blinked at the fourth princess consort, being particularly vivacious.
The fourth princess consort was amused by her.
She took the handkerchief and used it to cover her mouth.
She coughed twice to fix her manners.
Whenever she sat with Mu cefei, she needed to constantly remind herself to keep a tight watch over her principal wife’s haughty airs.
Otherwise, she’ll be easily affected by her and lose her dignified manners.
Mu Xi Yao ate with a content.
Once banquet finished, like everyone else, she held teacup and listened to trivial household affairs, looking on.
After a cup of tea, she felt uncomfortable from a full stomach hence she excused herself and went to the garden to take a walk and aid digestion.
When she came out from the lavatory, she leisurely held Mo Lan’s hand and went for a walk along the walkway behind the rock garden.
After a few steps, a sound came from the front.
Mu Xi Yao’s eyebrow raised.《Floating goblet1》
Zhong Zheng Ming curled the willow leaf in his hands and nonchalantly blew it.
He stood facing the water with an expression of gaiety.
Mu Xi Yao, along with Mo Lan, stood under the stone steps while watching his tranquil back which seemed merge with twilight.
She chose a low block of stone and sat down quietly.
Mu Xi Yao closed her eyes and listened, gradually becoming intoxicated by the tune.
The ancient song《Floating goblet》was better suited for a refined scholar like Zhong Zheng Ming.
Back then during selection, she played the same tune on the zither.
Yet, she fell short to Zhong Zheng Ming whose level was far superior and ethereal.
She lacked enlightenment and hence both her hands and feet became bound2.
Mu Xi Yao was still living in the aftertaste of the song’s charm when she was interrupted by Zhong Zheng Ming’s gentle laughter.
“What does cefei think Is it pleasant to the ear
Mu Xi Yao did not get up.
She rocked her head from side to side, playing an over-exacting “old pedant”.
“Ethereally fresh and graceful.
A magnificent tune, a magnificent person.
Your Highness’s tonality is exquisite.
Able to grasp three tastes3, qie is already content.”
Zhong Zheng Ming listened to her high praises while grasping the stem of the willow leaf and twirling it.
He heard about Mu Xi Yao’s zither skills from shufei.
It was said the zither teacher himself sighed for being inferior to her.
Yet, she still commended his clumsy skills.
She was too modest.
Zhong Zheng Ming looked at the surrounding which was fairly open-spaced.
If someone came, everything would be clear at a glance.
Zhong Zheng Ming sighed inwardly.
No wonder that she sat there in such a frank and open manner without the slightest scruple.
“Bendian needs to, yet again, properly thank cefei for your aid.
It has saved bendian much of trouble.”
Watching him speak cautiously, Mu Xi Yao generously admitted, “Qie did not send benefit for nothing.
As a matter of fact, qie wishes to borrow your Highness’s hand to vent qie’s grievance.
Qie is not worthwhile of your Highness’s personal thanks.
It’s nothing more than a mutual benefit.”
Zhong Zheng Ming didn’t expect her to actually talk so bluntly about her taking advantage of him.
He was stumped for words for a moment.
Subsequently, he felt at ease.
Since she’s being open and honest, there was no need for him to act pretentiously and lose his grace.
Then it’s mutual consensus.
It’s much better this way.”
“How about your Highness playing another tune Qie’s ears tickle.
They clamor for more.” Mu Xi Yao sat comfortably, not willing to move.
Besides, she had music to accompany her.
Her days were truly cheerful.
To her surprise, she has found a rare delight of the countryside within the walls of the solemn prince’s residence.
“Mountains and rivers, the croaking of frogs.
Cold breeze and chirps of birds.
Doesn’t your Highness feel that the only thing lacking at such fine time and beautiful scenery is a music”
Zhong Zheng Ming looked at her face full of longing, as if it would be a great regret if there was no music today.
With a smile on his face, he turned around and a light and quick 《Picking lotus seed》reverberated in the air.
Mu Xi Yao clapped her palms in rhythm and softly sung the song.
While Mo Lan was completely absorbed in the music, she saw across them his sixth Highness along with third miss coming their way.
She wanted to notify her mistress.
However, she saw her immersed in singing.
She was sitting on the block of stone, both of her heels tapping to the beat of the music and her hands clapped soundly.
They were doomed! His Highness would fail to see such scene only if his eyes were blind from being drunk.
Zhong Zheng Lin looked for the person by following the sound of the melody.
Unexpectedly, he has caught Mu Xi Yao without any decorous manners and displaying an intoxicated appearance.
He watched her little gleaming face, so radiant and enchanting.
She finished the song but was still immersed in it.
One could tell who did the man’s figure in the octagonal pavilion belonged to by one glance.
The sixth Highness stopped Mu Xi Ting who was about to step forward and call out to them.
He rested his body against a rugged rockery, folded his arms and quietly watched her rare wilfulness.
Mu Xi Yao has acted flamboyantly on many occasions.
However, it was always when confronting others, being forced by circumstances.
This present joy of hers was different.
It came from her nature.
It was authentic and innate.
As Zhong Zheng Lin watched that simple and happy singing maiden, his eyes darkened.
If it was not for selection, Mu Xi Yao would probably extremely loathe the scheming, treachery, and lifetime of harem life.
It would be immensely difficult to make her willingly enter the residence.
Based on her current appearance, this woman’s longing for a leisure life was as plain as day.
So what Since he chose to go against the current, the woman beside him naturally had to expedite the boat alongside him.
She was firmly grasped in his hands.
There was no whatsoever reason to let her go.
Even if he had to kill her very nature, Zhong Zheng Lin would not hesitate to do so.
After finishing the song, Zhong Zheng Ming slowly ended the last tune.
As soon as he turned around, he saw Zhong Zheng Lin who was attired in a dark green robe standing behind Mu Xi Yao with a gaze locked on her.
He then looked at a clueless Mu Xi Yao who was clasping her palms, still cheering on him.
A desire to tease her surged inside him.
“Is it pleasing to the ear”
“The song has stopped, but the melody lingers.”
Zhong Zheng Ming walked down the steps and stopped in front of her.
The maiden was sitting on a stone block.
Her height only reached his chest.
He raised his hand and brushed her shoulder, taking away the crepe myrtle petal that has fallen on it.
Mu Xi Yao was startled by his sudden intimate gestures.
Only after taking a closer look did she discovered the pink petal grasped in the hand of the other person.
She slightly raised her head.
Above them, a crape myrtle tree sprouted flowers, blooming magnificently.
Mu Xi Yao sighed ruefully, “Your Highness has spoilt qie’s refined activities4.”
“Oh Why” Zhong Zheng Ming glimpsed from the corner of his eyes Zhong Zheng Lin’s complexion.
He was inwardly amused.
This maiden, who put up quite a decent act, would probably be in a trouble very soon.
“How is this said Right.
‘Crape myrtle gifts people an affection, spoiling their clothes with its lingering fragrance.’”
Zhong Zheng Ming was exhilarated.
He watched her with a meaningful smile.
“Bendian doesn’t know whether a lingering fragrance will be left on clothes if it is spoilt by crape myrtle.
What bendian knows is that his sixth Highness has followed the scent of fragrance and is right now standing behind cefei.”
Upon hearing this, Mu Xi Yao immediately choked.
She bowed her head to cough.
Once she saw clearly the man’s black boots that have stopped in front of her, Mu Xi Yao quickly quietened.
She lifted her head and smiled sweetly, “Your Highness ~“
Zhong Zheng Ming, you black-belly! He knew that Zhong Zheng Lin was present, yet let her “being flirted”.
As she recalled the sixth Highness’s domineering temper, she was prepared to abandon her face and exert all her might to gloss it over.
When Zhong Zheng Lin saw her eyes turning and working out ideas, he knocked her forehead.
“Still not going” He stretched his big hand in front of her, waiting for her fair jade-like little hand grasping it.
Seeing that boss was actually in a good mood and didn’t pursue the matter, she quickly presented her hand and firmly gripped his.
Zhong Zheng Lin bowed his head and saw her tiny soft hand tenaciously clutching onto his big palm.
He turned his hand to wrap hers.
A smile entertained the corners of his mouth.
Whenever this woman got herself into trouble, she would certainly show this kind of good behavior.
Can this be counted as sweet-talking Polishing the apple
“Your Highness, hug~” Demoness Mu hasn’t stood up yet and already started to cry out in a coy manner.
Uh-oh! It was a close call.
Without any delay, she began to wheedle charmingly and endear herself, not sticking to only one scheme.
She arrested the boss in a blaze of her affections.
He had better to lose his head over lust and forget to settle accounts with her.
The sixth Highness leaned over and picked the person up as per her words.
A small head then casually rubbed against his strong and muscular chest.
“Your Highness is even more handsome and mighty compared to the past.” Mu Xi Yao shamelessly praised.
Zhong Zheng Lin’s chest raised and fell from chuckle.
He lowered his voice to whisper in her ear.
“Jiao Jiao needn’t to rack mind.
Troubles you’ve caused recently still remain fresh in bendian’s memory.
They will be all settled together once you give birth.”
Mu Xi Yao bit his ear and said with a grudge, “Stingy!”
“One more matter to settle.”
Mu Xi Yao instantly surrendered and spiritlessly buried herself against his collarbone, preoccupied with silent criticisms in her mind.
What settling account after childbirth Boss, which time did you not settle accounts without pulling one to roll in the bed When it was said settling them together, for how many days will they have to roll in the bed
When Zhong Zheng Lin took Mu Xi Yao and they’ve once again made appearance at the banquet, the screen in the main hall was already removed.
In the centre a musician was giving a performance.
All the princes and womenfolk were sitting in a proper order.
Their tables were filled with fine liquor and fresh fruits, accompanied by a zealous atmosphere.
Your elder brother, me, was just talking about why did you suddenly abandon your brothers and disappeared.
It turns out that you’ve sought a beauty to enjoy some intimate moments.” The first prince gloomily looked at Mu Xi Yao beside Zhong Zheng Lin, wishing to slice her to pieces.
This woman has made him vomit blood over and over again.
She caused the prince’s residence to fall into a destitute.
He didn’t turn thirty yet, but at his most daring and enthusiastic time, the whole court was of the belief that the road in front of him was ruined.
He had no more subordinates to follow him anymore.
“Brother is having a drunken talk.
Don’t take it to heart, sixth.” Although the crown prince has suffered a crushing defeat in consort Liu’s cased due to Mu Xi Yao and had no other option but to withdraw before it was too late, but compared to destroying Zhong Zheng Lin’s foundation, he was clearly more happy to see Zhong Zheng Chun’s defeat.
This Mu’shi didn’t only possess a unique grace that made him covet after her for a long time, she even fixed his most formidable opponent on his behalf.
Perhaps, after he ascends the throne, he can let her live, as long as she’s willing to act like a dog that wagged its tail pitifully5 and serve him comfortably.
Looking at how the sixth treasures her, this woman’s bed techniques must be exceptional.
That feeling…..The more the crown prince thought the harder it was for him to suppress his lecherous thoughts.
His gaze boldly watched Mu Xi Yao.
A murderous glint seethed in the depths of Zhong Zheng Lin’s phoenix eyes.
If it wasn’t for the current situation not allowing an excessive unrest, the crown prince would have become a wastrel a long time ago.
“Your Highness mustn’t get angry.
It will scare the child.” Mu Xi Yao avoided the crown prince’s gaze in revulsion and smiled brightly.
After the war in Mobei and once Zhong Zheng Lin was being bestowed with a title, the crown prince of the Great Wei will be like chrysanthemums after the Double Ninth festival6.
 Floating goblet is an ancient drinking game played during Spring Purification Festival in which a cup of wine is floated down a stream with people seated on both side (the person sitting in front of the cup when it stops has to drink).
People curious about the song can listen to it here
 Having ones hands and feet bound is a Chinese idiom meaning to excise undue caution in doing something, overcautious, trying to play safe
 Three tastes is a Chinese phrase used to compare poems to a delicious and fine spiritual food
 Refined activities are often associated with zither, books, chess and paintings
 To be like a dog wagging its tail pitifully is a Chinese idiom meaning to fawn or to miserably beg for mercy
 Chrysanthemums after the Double Ninth Festival is a Chinese idiom that means a thing of the past