Chapter 352: Flaunting wealth ahead of the marriage
Mu Liuyue had reduced the shop owner to tears when she heard her guard's pitiful cries. She had run out to ask what was the matter when she saw an unforgettable face.
"Han Yunxi!" Mu Liuyue was surprised.
Han Yunxi had her arms crossed as she stood calmly in place. "Aiya, so it really was Miss Mu. Long time no see!"
It really had been a long while.
Mu Liuyue had more or less stayed at home ever since losing their bet. Whenever she did go out, it was only in secret. In the past, she'd offended too many people while hanging out with Princess Changping. Once her reputation fell into tatters, anyone who recognized her would laugh at her in her face. Today was her first time openly going to town, yet she'd had the bad luck to have ran into Han Yunxi of all people!
However, at least she'd gotten a little smarter after staying at home for so long. She glanced at the six kneeling guards, then at the growing crowd around them, and had a good sense of where things stood. She wouldn't clash with Han Yunxi here, especially when her wedding was only in a few days. She wanted Great General Mu to help the crown prince ascend the throne. She wanted the Duke of Qin to know that marrying her was equal to gaining all of Tianning's infantry soldiers. She wanted the Duke of Qin to regret marrying a powerless woman like Han Yunxi, who had no backing whatsoever!
"Esteemed wangfei, did my guard somehow offend you?" Mu Liuyue asked.
Han Yunxi didn't speak, but Zhao mama asserted coldly, "He was highly disrespectful. Indeed, the offense isn't slight at all."
"Is that so." Mu Liuyue looked serious as she approached the guard in question, before slapping him soundly on the cheek!
"You deserve to be beaten! If esteemed wangfei hasn't taught you enough of a lesson, Liuyue will do it in her place!" Upon saying that, Mu Liuyue slapped him again. The guard didn't even dare to cry out.
Zhao mama felt her heart jump at the sight in front of her. She might have pinched the guard hard, but her pinches was nothing when compared to Mu Liuyue's slaps! Two backhands from Mu Liuyue had already left the guard's face red and swollen.
"Esteemed wangfei, does this relieve your temper? If not, I can keep hitting him! Right up until you're satisfied," Mu Liuyue was very sincere with her words.
Han Yunxi's eyes flickered, betraying her surprise. She never thought that the span of a few months had helped this girl grow so much. Mu Liuyue couldn't be considered clever by any means, but at least she wasn't completely idiotic anymore! If she allowed Mu Liuyue to slap her guard in public before so many witnesses today, public opinion would definitely turn sour against her. The ignorant might even assume that Qin Wangfei had a habit of tyrannizing servants.
Han Yunxi observed the guard's face before she clicked her tongue and sighed. "Liuyue, you're a lady, but you've trained your hand to be so tough. In the future, it's best if you refrain from hitting others so often. Since Zhao mama's already taught him a lesson today, it's enough."
Trained her hand?
Han Yunxi was obviously implying that Mu Liuyue hit her servants often to become so strong. Mu Liuyue wanted to retort, but there was no denying that she'd indeed been extremely ruthless with her slaps. She decided to change the topic and reprimanded her guard instead. "Why aren't you expressing thanks for esteemed wangfei's favor yet? Esteemed wangfei was in a good mood today. Why else would she fuss over a servant like you?"
Mu Liuyue's words implied that Han Yunxi was small-minded and petty, and even picked faults with the servants. Indeed, the general's daughter was no weakling when it came to a war of words.
Han Yunxi chuckled. "That's right! This wangfei was indeed in a good mood today. Otherwise, everyone here and you, their mistress, would have been severely punished!"
Zhao mama was the first to laugh at her remark, followed by the crowd behind them. Mu Liuyue had made a mistake in countering Han Yunxi and became a victim of her own cleverness. In the end, she'd ended up with the greater loss yet again. Her face darkened. Aside from thanking the wangfei for her bountiful grace, what else could she say? Her original plan was to have the guards do it instead, but now she had to speak up too.
"You may rise," Han Yunxi waved her hand calmly. Even the empress dowager herself had no way to win against her glib tongue. Mu Liuyue might have improved, but she was still too inexperienced for this bout! If it wasn't for the crowd, Mu Liuyue would've blown her top already! She told herself, endure it! You can't fall into Han Yunxi's trap.
The first thing she'd done after accepting the imperial marriage decree was to find a new set of guards and to buy a brand new carriage. Her status was different now, because she was a consort-to-be. Her every word, action, and movement would reflect on the Eastern Palace-the dwelling of the crown prince-so she couldn't lose her face nor dignity. There was no way she'd become a laughingstock again.
Mu Liuyue rose to her feet. "Esteemed wangfei, Liuyue still has business to attend to, I shan't accompany you any longer."
The best option for me now is to leave!
Han Yunxi smiled with a nod. She didn't plan to do anything else, either. Mu Liuyue really turn to leave, but Han Yunxi asked her a question right before the girl got onto her sedan chair.
"That's right, Miss Liuyue. You still haven't fulfilled the terms of our bet from last time, right?"
Mu Liuyue felt unwell all over at the words. This is already from the past! It's over! Han Yunxi, why are you bringing it up again?
She was going to marry the crown prince in a matter of days. The topic of their marriage was all the rage around the capital city. And yet, Han Yunxi had chosen to bring up old scores at a time like this! It had to be on purpose! Mu Liuyue was infuriated by the thought, and finally lost her temper. "Didn't my big brother run in my place around the streets? What else do you want?"
"You disappeared after you lost the bet. I didn't see you until now, so I assumed you'd gone back on your words!" Han Yunxi smiled guilelessly.
Mu Liuyue's copout had been the talk of the town back in the day. Even the commoners knew the story of Mu Qingwu taking off his robes to run around the streets.
"So it really is the same Miss Mu that's marrying the crown prince!" a voice cried from the crowd. Immediately, conversation broke out amongst the people.
Mu Liuyue's face flamed before she quickly got into her carriage. "We're going!" she cried.
Han Yunxi hazy mood finally dissipated as she watched Mu Liuyue's sedan chair vanish in a hurry. Actually, she hadn't come to seek out Mu Liuyue on purpose, but only bumped into her here. The other girl was the one who'd crashed against her. Zhao mama saw Han Yunxi smile and coaxed, "Esteemed wangfei, do you feel better now? If the young general's determined to act like that, then we just won't care. Everyone has different affinities with each other. We don't need a friend like the young general."
Although Zhao mama had harped on the issue multiple times, it was only because she knew esteemed wangfei felt terrible inside. Her mistress didn't have many friends in the capital. Mu Qingwu would've counted amongst the few.
"I won't dispute with Mu Qingwu's choices at all. The bet was between me and Mu Liuyue to begin with, and had nothing to do with anyone else!" Han Yunxi said, looking natural and unrestrained. It really seemed like she didn't care.
Now that the fuss was over, she brought Zhao mama and Su Xiaoyu over to the Han Estate in the north. Unexpectedly, they met with Mu Liuyue's sedan chair doubling back on the way there. Hadn't she left? What is she doing back here? Moreover, Mu Liuyue is traveling in the exact opposite direction as us. It looked like she'd done it on purpose.
The road was very narrow, so the carriage and sedan chair were forced to slow down and take care when passing each other. Otherwise, they'd get stuck. Eventually, both of them stopped. Because there was no one here but their group, Mu Liuyue had no scruples about acting wanton. She didn't get down from her sedan chair, before simply lifted the curtains with a smile. "Han Yunxi, come out!"
Han Yunxi was too lazy to play along. She simply lifted her own curtains and demanded, "What is it?"
"I forgot to tell you back then. The crown prince is going to give me a magnificent wedding procession. He'll even come to pick me up, in person, from the general's estate! And also, the betrothal gifts I got from the imperial clan are enough to pave an entire street!" Mu Liuyue's tone was utterly smug. She was about to go home when the recent events made her more and more angry. Finally, she had decided to turn back and chase after Han Yunxi.
"What does that have to do with me?" Han Yunxi replied coldly.
"I'm inviting you to come, so you have to show up!" Mu Liuyue grinned. "You married into the imperial clan too, but it's a pity you had neither betrothal gifts nor money. I heard only the Duke of Qin's estate only sent a single wedding granny to pick you up. What's more, your Han Clan even paid for the members of the wedding procession to take you away. Tsk, tsk, how pitiful. You've probably never seen what a proper imperial wedding looks like! You can have your fill on my big day! And if you want to see how many presents I got from the royal family, come visit my house afterwards."
Han Yunxi suddenly grew very still. "Is there anything else?" she asked.
"No, just this one! I came to give you a personal invitation!" Mu Liuyue was smiling brilliantly.
Han Yunxi was very calm. "Then if that's all, move out of the way. Don't block the road."
Mu Liuyue felt great after showing off, so she simply lowered her curtain and had her sedan chair edge past the carriage's right side.
Han Yunxi's voice came faintly from her carriage. "Since you're the consort of the crown prince, you need to call this wangfei 'imperial aunt.' The next time you call me by name, I won't show any mercy."
Mu Liuyue humphed. "Imperial aunt? Heheh, I'll never call you that!"
The sedan chair passed by the carriage and stalked off. Han Yunxi's carriage remained in the same spot for a long time. Han Yunxi herself was frighteningly quiet, enough to scare both Zhao mama and Su Xiaoyu. They exchanged glances wordlessly. Mu Liuyue hadn't been wrong. Esteemed wangfei had married into the imperial clan with absolutely nothing. Comparing her wedding to Mu Liuyue's was like the difference between Heaven and a mudhole. Even the most optimistic woman would take offense to such a wedding being rubbed in her face, right?
Zhao mama assumed that esteemed wangfei would become angry and terrifying, but Han Yunxi simply leaned against her seat and lost herself in thought. After a while had passed, she asked, "Zhao mama, isn't Grand Concubine Yi's birthday coming up in the next few days?"
Zhao mama grew suspicious. Why was esteemed wangfei suddenly asking about that? What was wrong with her?
In former years, Grand Concubine Yi would always celebrate her birthday. Murong Wanru was in charge of arranging everything, but ever since she'd fallen into her coma and Grand Concubine Yi retreated to the Buddhist hall, nobody had mentioned it ever again. Zhao mama did some mental calculations and answered, "It'll be here in three more days. Esteemed wangfei, what are you..."
Han Yunxi's eyes flickered shrewdly as she broke into a cold smile. "Return to the estate. I'd like to discuss something with His Highness."
Zhao mama was nervous. Just what was up with her mistress? Had Mu Liuyue provoked her too much? Could she be planning to ask His Highness Duke of Qin for betrothal gifts? But that didn't seem to fit her personality! So just what was she planning?
Currently, Long Feiye was deep in discussion with Tang Li and Chu Xifeng at the estate. He hadn't left the capital ever since he had come back from Pill Fiend Valley. The crown prince's impending wedding was truly a threat to his power, but he had already made moves against the imperial uncle's estate before the marriage was announced.
"Master, we've already looked into it. There's a total of 40,000 dan of grain reserved for the refugees. The national treasuries offered 20,000 dan, while merchants around the country amassed 20,000 additional dan on their own. But only 10,000 dan of grain actually reached the refugees! Right now, we're still trying to find out how much grain the imperial uncle's estate claimed for themselves," Chu Xifeng reported.
Long Feiye clenched his hands into fists and pounded them against the table. He was about to speak up when Han Yunxi came inside...