"Yes, you all must become strong. Children, you are the future of the Li clan." Claire smiled at the young children. "Also, my strength is not at a level to be strived for. Your goal should not be me, but even stronger people. On this continent, powerful people are aplenty."
"But... I was born with a weak body and cannot train in any techniques." a weak voice said.
Claire turned around and saw a skinny little boy who was looking down cast.
"If you cannot succeed in martial arts, then find another path. Develop anything you are talented in, whether it be art, business, literature or forging." Claire scanned the crowd and found that just as expected, some of the children had low aptitudes for martial arts. "Every person must find their own path and strive to walk it with their utmost strength. You will definitely be successful!" Claire understood that over the years, the Li clan had only focused on martial arts, neglecting other fields, so in the end, there was no one from the Li clan as officials at court, nobody managing business. Of course the Li clan would be in continuous decline!
The children fell into deep thought, pondering over Claire's words. Although there were many children who did not understand, some children understood the full implications of Claire's words.
Standing not far away, Li Yuewen and Li Mingyu also heard Claire's words. They looked at each other and saw amazement in each other's eyes.
"Perhaps our focus on martial arts was a mistake. Just as Claire said, they should focus on what they are talented at. That way, their achievements would be two-fold," Li Minyu said with a heavy tone. They had always deemed martial arts supreme. The children first learned magic and Dou Qi, then literature. Art, poetry, sewing and so on were wrong paths to follow, completely useless.
"Now is not too late to change." Li Yuewen smiled, gazing intently at Claire.
"But in any case, Claire still hasn't thought of a way to deal with the crown prince. The crown prince actually invited her to the theater. It seems that this time, it will be hard to decline." This was why they had come to find Claire.
"The martial tournament is soon." Li Yuewen bit her lip, a bit hesitant as she said, "This time, the Hua clan will send Hua Yilin. Will Claire win?"
"I don't know." Li Mingyu's complexion darkened. "The Hua clan has always been our enemy. They will definitely take this chance to harm us."
Hearing this, Li Yuewen became worried. "Then isn't Claire in great danger? Elder brother, I or you should participate instead.
"No need. It is for this very reason that Claire must participate." Li Mingyu frowned. "Although Claire's identity will be discovered sooner or later, they will not be able to figure out Lan Ling's background. Also, they will be sure that Lan Ling and Claire have a close relationship. Because of the crown prince's interest in Lan Ling, the Hua clan will not be able to kill Claire," Li Mingyu analyzed.
Having heard this, Li Yuewen calmed down. "Whew, good."
"What are you two chattering about?" Claire walked over slowly, frowning at the two siblings as she asked.
"We were discussing what a great babysitter or teacher you would be. Those children actually listen to you," Li Yuewen joked.
"Since you heard what I said, you should implement what I said as soon as possible. Don't bury their talents." Claire could not say the chinese idiom "in every trade, a master appears".
"You also heard what we said. For your own safety, you should have a good relationship with the crown prince. So, stunning Lan Ling, prepare yourself. The crown prince is coming to pick you up soon." Li Yuewen smirked. Many people were trying to investigate Lan Ling's background. Even some young men from the Li clan wanted to know where this relative of theirs had appeared from. But the stunning beauty was like the short lived blossom of the Aristolochia, never had appeared since, mysterious and beautiful, making many crazy for her.
"Just this once." Claire waved offhandedly impatiently. "Once the matter of the right to forge for the army is settled, I will never appear as Lan Ling again."
When the news that Lan Ling accepted the crown prince's invitation to the theater, young noble flocked to the theater in droves. That day, the theater would reach the pinnacle of its existence.
The crown prince waited at the entrance for Lan Ling to appear. When she finally arrived, the crown prince froze with shock, astonishment flashing through his eyes.
Today, Lan Ling was wearing a lavender dress with long and sleeves rippling with the light breeze, giving off an exceedingly aloof air. Her supple long hair hung simply, like beautiful silk. She stood there silently, as if all the sun rays in the world were focused on her.
"Greetings, your highness." Claire gave a slight curtsy.
"Miss Lan, meeting you is quite difficult," the crown prince joked. He approached her while smiling, extending his hand.
Claire smiled gently and reached out, letting the crown prince help her into the carriage.
Jean stood silently at the entrance. Watching the carriage disappear into the distance, an unexplainable irritating feeling arose in his heart. White Emperor and Black Feather were crouching on Jean's shoulders, also watching silently as the carriage went into the distance.
Once the crown prince and Claire arrived at the theater's entrance, they found the theater already filled with the nobles who had come to see Lan Ling. It was the first time the theater had been so full. The entrance was tightly sealed. The crown prince frowned slightly seeing the people who were standing by the entrance and not going in. Of course he knew why they had come. They all wanted to see Lan Ling, the stunning beauty. The crown prince turned around and extended his hand, helping Claire out of the carriage. When they saw Claire, they started gasping in low voices. Their burning gazes focused on Claire. She had not appeared ever since her dazzling first appearance at the donating convention. Today, they could witness her beauty again.
The nobles all came to pay their respects to the crown prince, but they gazes kept on drifting to Claire. They wanted to talk to Claire, but fearful of the crown's warning dark expression, none dared to speak rashly.
"Okay, let's all go in. No need for formalities, we're simply here to watch a show." The crown prince finally could not hold back, contempt in his voice. He waved offhandedly, indicating for the nobles to all go in. The nobles reluctantly withdrew their gazes slowly, about to go in.
Just at this moment, a carriage suddenly appeared and stopped abruptly at the entrance. There was the sound of urgent footsteps.
"Wait, your highness!" The urgent footsteps grew louder as they approached.
The crown prince stopped in his steps and turned. It was Hua Xiuning running hurriedly, her skirt raised.
Because the crown prince had stopped, Claire also stopped in her steps. Thus, everybody present stopped.
Hua Xiuning scanned the surroundings first. Almost every prestigious noble of the capital was there, even the prime minister's son. This was good! A gloating light glinted in her eyes. Everybody turned towards Hua Xiuning, sighing in their hearts. Once with the status of being one of the three great beauties, she lost all her radiance before the stunning beauty Lan Ling.
"Miss Hua, do you need anything?" The crown prince asked quietly.
"Your highness, I understand that I should not disturb you," Hua Xiuning apologized insincerely. She shifted her gaze to Claire, raised her chin, and said in a gloating manner, "But, your highness, there is something I must report. I cannot let you continue to be deceived."
Hearing Hua Xiuning's words, there was a ripple in the crowd. Hua Xiuning had dared to say such words in the current situation. What were her intentions?
The crown prince frowned slightly. He watched Hua Xiuning without a word. The reason he had always stayed away from this woman was because her eyes were filled with too much greed and ambition.
Claire was also watching Hua Xiuning. Hua Xiuning shot Claire a provocative glance, then turned back to the crown prince and said loudly, "Your highness, this woman is not from the Li clan at all! Li Yuewen does have younger cousins* without surname Li, but are of surname Hill, not Lan, of the Hill clan from Amparkland. Her younger cousins are the daughters of Li Ruihuan, the woman who betrayed the Li clan. But that woman only had two daughters, Claire Hill and Lashia of ages fourteen and thirteen respectively. Lan Ling's mother is not from the Li clan. A Lan Ling of the Li clan does not exist in the first place!"
*The children call her cousin too but they are not actual cousins. It's like calling a man about the age of your dad uncle in Chinese.
Hua Xiuning's voice was loud, loud enough to let everyone hear her voice clearly. It seemed from the sound of her voice that she cared deeply for the crown prince. The ripple in the crowd grew bigger. They all shifted their gazes to Lan Ling. Hua Xiuning became to gloat. This woman of unknown origin, humph! She actually dared to deceive his highness, deceive everyone, saying she was Li Yuewen's younger cousin! Now she would pay for it.
Claire's eyes glinted coldly. The stupid woman was too ignorant. It was the second time she had insulted her mother in public. She would definitely pay!
"So?" The crown prince asked indifferently. He seemed completely unsurprised.
"S-so..." Hua Xiuning was a bit taken aback. She completely hadn't expected the crown prince's calm reaction. Calming herself, she said in a low voice, "She is of unknown origins and deceived your highness, deceived everyone."
"When did I say my mother is from the Li clan?" Claire smiled gently, her voice quiet as she said, "Since when did I say my mother is from the Li clan?"
After she said this, there was another ripple in the crowd. Everybody looked worriedly towards Claire. What did she mean? Currently, many were starting to get worried for the stunning beauty. Would his highness really punish her for deceiving him? He wouldn't, would he? Such a stunning beauty, who could bear to see her suffer? In the worst case scenario, they would plead on behalf for the stunning beauty. These thoughts flashed through many nobles' minds.