Chapter 150: This wangfei is just that outrageous
This was a good idea?
Han Yunxi felt thunderstruck. She was very clear that women often competed with each other in qin, chess, calligraphy, and painting, or verse and song. But didn't these girls ever get irritated doing the same things since childhood? She was already tired of reading about such things in palace intrigue novels, so what was so good about this idea? Han Yunxi's interest had waned, but the assembled guests seemed to be ignited by the suggestion and grew excited.
"Composing poems for the plum blossoms perfectly fits the mood of the occasion. It won't disappoint this orchard full of flowers."
"I wanted to say so as well. Everyone should compose a piece and have her highness princess pick a few good ones to put in a book. Then we can gift it to esteemed empress."
"Good, good, good! That's a wonderful idea!"
These women had been waiting for their chance since the start. Whether it was composing odes, painting, or playing music to plum blossoms, all of them were thoroughly prepared. Who could possibly get the best of them?
But Han Yunxi was doomed to a tragic end. A useless trash who'd been cast aside since her youth, what would she understand? Judging from her usual conduct and manner of speech, they knew that she was a coarse person.
Everyone was expectant for her performance!
Princess Changping laughed as she looked towards Han Yunxi. "Imperial Qin Aunt, how do you feel about composing poems for plum blossoms?"
Han Yunxi's mouth twitched, but before she could answer, seven to eight tongues waggled in her place.
"We haven't seen any of Qin Wangfei's poems yet! Today's our lucky day!"
"Qin Wangfei, I heard you're a superbly gifted woman and that the Duke of Qin most admires your talent and learning."
"Esteemed wangfei, don't you hide your skills today. You have to open everyone's eyes and let us all see, just what level of learning is needed to gain His Highness Duke of Qin's eye!"
These words sounded like flattery, but they were actually satire, irony, and kill shots!
Han Yunxi was neither willing to accept their jealousy nor take it to heart. Let them envy as they would, she'd be light as a cool breeze, bright as a clear moon.
But by now, the Duanmu Yao sitting by her side couldn't sit still either. She laughed and said, "This princess was puzzled over how esteemed wangfei married into the Duke of Qin's estate? So it turns out that esteemed wangfei had talent and learning enough to catch His Highness Duke of Qin's eye. It really sounds...inconceivable. How about esteemed wangfei compose a poem first?"
Her words silenced the lively crowd. Duanmu Yao's words were truly unkind. Everyone knew that Han Yunxi and the Duke of Qin's wedding had been an arranged affair, but she still put it like this. It was basically a vicious slap to Han Yunxi's face. At this point, Princess Changping actually added oil and vinegar to the story to embellish it.
"Huh? Imperial Qin Aunt, was it because of your talents that Imperial Qin Uncle married you? I didn't even know! Is it really so?"
How should Han Yunxi reply?
If she said yes but couldn't prove her talents, wouldn't they laugh to death at her? If she said no, then Duanmu Yao and Princess Changping would definitely use her arranged marriage, and the fact that she stepped into the Duke of Qin's gates herself, as a source of humiliation. In the ensuing silence, everyone's eyes looked towards Han Yunxi, gloating over her misfortune as they waited for her to reply.
"Isn't it? Esteemed wangfei, say something," Duanmu Yao smiled coldly.
Just when everyone was waiting for Han Yunxi to look helpless, she actually smiled. It was a very beautiful smile, filled with confidence as she languidly said, "Talent and learning could be considered one of the reasons."
This woman sure had a lofty tone!
"Hehe, looks like we've all guessed right. Imperial Qin Aunt's talent must be extraordinary, we'll see it all today!" Princess Changping's intonation had completely changed.
Duanmu Yao's face was full of disdain. "Then would Qin Wangfei please start us off with a poem?"
"Yes, you have to compose one! Hurry!" Princess Changping urged impatiently.
Things were tense!
None of the onlookers had shifted their gaze from Han Yunxi. Even the few men in the crowd, including Long Tianmo, were looking her way. Han Yunxi was now irrevocably but unwillingly committed. Since she'd dared to speak so boldly, she'd have to reap the results.
But Han Yunxi was actually quite earnest as she asked back, "Princess Changping, you're sure you want me to go first?"
Princess Changping gave a start before nodding. "As if I need to make sure! Imperial Qin Aunt, don't dawdle any longer. It's not a matter of skill, so why delay? Can't you see that everyone's waiting! They're all expectant!"
Duanmu Yao gave an arrogant laugh. "Esteemed wangfei, just don't...be so modest! And start."
Han Yunxi, this princess has to see how you'll live up to your words!
Silence descended on the gathered crowd. Everyone was waiting as the tension in the air gradually dissipated...but Han Yunxi actually gave one more glance towards Duanmu Yao.
"Princess Rongle is a guest. Perhaps she should go first."
Excuses! Words to delay the inevitable!
Han Yunxi, you're a goner! I knew you couldn't compose anything!
Duanmu Yao hadn't spoken before Princess Changping cut in. "Imperial Qin Aunt, you're certainly a joker. Princess Rongle is Cloud Realm Continent's most famous poetess. She's already published quite a few poetry anthologies. Our imperial academy textbooks include her poems as well; in fact, I can even recite a few by heart! Of course she has to be the second act, so you might as well go first!"
Duanmu Yao's face was full of pride as she accepted Princess Changping's praise. Han Yunxi wore a hypocritical smile on her face. Why didn't Changping just say she grew up on reading Duanmu Yao's poetry instead?
"Then perhaps that Miss Xu can go first?" Han Yunxi declined again, looking towards Xu Yunrong.
Princess Changping cut in again. "Imperial Qin Aunt, she can only write five or six poems that qualify for the yearly poetry anthology. You shouldn't make her show her incompetency. The two of you aren't on the same level."
"Then which one of them can go first?" Han Yunxi sighed with emotion. Princess Changping was delighted. She knew that Han Yunxi would get anxious, so she collected herself before introducing the rest.
"Imperial Qin Aunt, that one's the daughter of the Director of the Board of Rites, Shangguan Qing. She started composing poems when she was three years old. By the time she turned seven, her name was already well known throughout the capital. That one there is a third rank minister's seventh daughter Su Yingxue, her poems are frequently recited by the capital's civilians. And also, over here, she's even more formidable. Her poems have even earned the recognition of the university scholars for being superior to theirs..."
Princess Changping showed off a round before grinning. "Of course, none of them could capture Imperial Qin Uncle's eye, nor can they compare to you. You shouldn't refuse anymore, just give us a poem!"
Han Yunxi really was a little frightened by the presence of so many poetry masters. But if Princess Changping wanted to use these methods to put her on a pedestal so she could crash and burn later, then she was absolutely mistaken! She lazily stretched as she looked at the assembled guests with a smile.
"Changping, what you're saying is that they're all nothing compared to me? If I go first, then they won't need to waste time composing their own poems, right?"
The crowd grew stunned at her words, while Princess Changping sucked in a cold breath. What did Han Yunxi mean by these words? She was even more arrogant than before!
"Is that the case, Changping?" Han Yunxi asked again.
Princess Changping found it unbelievable, but she still firmly nodded her head. "Yes!"
Han Yunxi, since you want to seek death, then I'll have you meet an even more tragic end!
Han Yunxi nodded in satisfaction. She really didn't want to hear a bunch of women rattling poems here left and right. But now Duanmu Yao couldn't take it and asked back, "In that case, does esteemed wangfei mean to compete solely against this princess?"
As if afraid that Han Yunxi wouldn't answer, she copied her tone of voice to Princess Changping and added, "Is that the case?"
Han Yunxi didn't think twice before answering. "Of course."
Duanmu Yao was caught off-guard, but instantly replied, "Then don't delay and start!"
But Han Yunxi only gave a light sigh. "Alas, I'm afraid that my poem will be too brilliant and you'll be too embarrassed to compose your own. It's better to give you a chance to go first."
Her voice wasn't very loud, but it was heard clearly by every single person present!
This woman was so outrageous!
She was acting outrageously without limits, she actually dared to provoke Princess Rongle, who was publically acknowledged as a gifted female scholar? An angry Duanmu Yao instantly stood up, staring at Han Yunxi with cold, wide eyes. This woman was simply insulting her with her own ignorance!
She couldn't bear it anymore, but directly addressed her by name. "Han Yunxi, if you can win against this princess today, then I'll never write another poem again!"
But as before, Han Yunxi replied without thinking twice. "No problem!"
"You!" Duanmu Yao couldn't believe her ears. She looked at Han Yunxi's radiant fearlessness and suddenly felt a sense of dread. It was quickly brushed aside, however. Leaving aside the fact that this woman had no proper upbringing and didn't know how to make poems, it was doubtful that she could win against her even if she did!
"If you lose, then take the initiative to leave the Duke of Qin's estate!" Duanmu Yao emphasized word-by-word, her voice resounding throughout the audience.
"All right," Han Yunxi said mildly, her tone light. Still, it was enough to shock the crowd.
"You first!" Duanmu Yao pressed.
This time, Han Yunxi didn't refuse. She sipped a mouthful of tea before reciting four lines of a poem. "Wind and rain herald the onset of spring, flying snowflakes welcome its arrival. Amidst one hundred zhang of overhanging ice, pretty flower sprigs hang as before..."
By the time she spoke to this point, the crowd had long fell silent. It was as if something had stolen all their souls away as they listened intently, waiting for Han Yunxi to continue. Princess Changping and Duanmu Yao exchanged glances as their expressions started to shift.
Han Yunxi paused, smiling slightly before she kept going. "Their beauty competes not with the spring, but exist only to tell of its presence. When the mountains finally bloom with blossoms, she...stands amongst them and smiles!"
When she was finished, Princess Changping was left dumbstruck. As for Duanmu Yao, she only felt that the entire world had fallen still upon Han Yunxi's 'stands amongst them and smiles,' so quiet that she could only hear her heart go thump, thump, thump!
She...had she heard wrong? She...was she dreaming?
How could there be such good verses in this world?
It was so good that she had to concede their ingenuity even if the words came out of Han Yunxi's mouth!
Odes to plum blossoms usually praised the beauty of the flowers to express the poet's aloofness from the world and material pursuits. The poet was like a solitary flower in love with its own fragrance, a lone soul admiring its own purity, indulging in self-admiration. But Han Yunxi's lines were completely different. Her 'when the mountains finally bloom with blossoms, she stands amongst them and smiles,' was a killer verse that decimated all fine pieces before it. It expressed an unassuming modesty filled with refinement while retaining an open-minded and magnanimous aura!
Duanmu Yao looked at Han Yunxi in disbelief before sitting down heavily, losing all color in her face. Right now, the crowd was still savoring the lines of Han Yunxi's poem, unexpectedly stunned by the verses! The silence stretched on until Long Tianmo suddenly started clapping.
"Good! Most excellent! Most fine! Imperial Qin Aunt, you really have hidden depths! Today, you've finally opened everyone's eyes!" Long Tianmo was too surprised. Even men hadn't come up with verses with such integrity and bearing!
If words could make a man, then so could poetry.
This woman really was extremely outrageous, but she had the advantages to match her outrageousness!
What a truly remarkable female. What other breathtaking surprises did she have in store?
 Shangguan Qing () - Shangguan is a two-character surname, Qing is "fine, clear."
 Su Yingxue () - Su is the surname that also means "perilla, revive," Ying is "flower, petal, heroic," Xue is snow.
 zhang () - Chinese unit of measurement equal to ~3.3 meters.