“I can’t meddle in that, I’m not familiar with him.“
Editor(s): Amelea, juurensha
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Within the Weiyang Palace.
“Ah choo!” Xiang Shu suddenly sneezed and gave everyone in the hall a fright.
Over the past few days, a new wave of visitors had already replaced the previous batch. As soon as news travelled out of Weiyang Palace last night and the families in Chang’an heard that Young Master Shulü Kong had entered the capital, they immediately rushed over to act as matchmakers. Fu Jian was extremely generous towards old friends beyond the Great Wall, so what awaited Xiang Shu was clearly the ‘setting up of office and three divisions’.
Although there were still no news of the specific official position, it could not be any lower than that of a Grand Marshal. Xiang Shu had the support of the Ancient Chi Le Covenant behind him; if they didn’t come now to offer betrothals, then it would be too late if they were to delay for a few more days!
The eldest son inherits the family business, so the young men brought over by each family were all without exception the younger son. In addition, there were also fathers and brothers who had brought along the portraits of their daughters for the Great Chanyu’s appraisal. Who cares if Xiang Shu likes men or women? Send them all forward for him to see first before considering anything else.
Xiang Shu felt annoyed by all the clamour, but they were all of noble descent, so he had to take care to give them face. It’s not like he could just beat them all up and kick them out.
So all one could see were young men in the hall with faces as pretty as pictures; there were Xianbei people, Xiongnu people, Di people -- each with their own style. The attendants of six or seven Five Barbarian noble families kept shoving portraits in his face as well.
Young men were pouring tea for Xiang Shu one after another, which was part of the etiquette as mentioned in the ancient covenant. This behavior originated from the nomadic people beyond the Great Wall. When a young man paid a visit, and a young lady takes a fancy to him, she would hold up a pot as she pours him a cup of tea to indicate that they could get to know each other and ride on horseback together when they were free. With the sky as the blanket and the earth as a sleeping mat, they could go for a vigorous round. If they didn’t take a fancy to the man, then they would avoid him and not come out, so their fathers and brothers would serve the man tea instead to indicate -- you’re uglier than expected, just get lost ba.
Over time, it evolved into a custom where handing over a cup of hand brewed milk tea would express the sincerity of the one who offers a betrothal.
Xiang Shu really couldn’t understand; if Fu Jian likes to screw Murong Chong, then he can just screw him by himself. Why did he have to egg on the entire Chang’an to scramble all over one another to have that kind of interest as well? When the milk tea was sent over, he didn’t drink from any of them either, because taking a sip from the cup of any family would be an expression of tacit consent on his part that they could try for a betrothal.
There were so many families, and they were all Hu nobles, so it wouldn’t be good for Xiang Shu to slap their faces on the spot. Therefore, he could only say, “For the milk teas that aren’t touched, I will send someone to deliver them back afterwards. It’ll be the same for empty cups.”
Then he glanced at a copper water clock, looked at the time, and his eyebrows scrunched up into a frown.
Visitors began leaving one after another, it was almost dusk. Xiang Shu felt like there were too many leads to think about today, and just as he was about to get up, he saw a figure outside the palace and said, “Yuwen Xin? What’s the matter? Come in.”
As soon as Yuwen Xin was summoned, he immediately walked in grinning from ear to ear. At that time, the youngsters of the various families had not yet all left and started staring at him one after another. Xiang Shu wanted to ridicule him for a bit, yet Yuwen Xin beamed as he fell straight to the ground in prostration, “Great Chanyu! Insignificant me was truly as blind as a bat last night!”
Xiang Shu looked at Yuwen Xin coldly. After all, one wouldn’t hit a smiling man, and now that he did this, it wouldn’t make sense for him to blow up. So he said, “How many siblings do you have? Leave their portraits.”
Yuwen Xin chuckled. He went to one side first and poured a cup of milk tea, then under Xiang Shu’s strange gaze, he personally presented it to him and said with a little embarrassment, “Great Chanyu, I have no siblings……I’ve just always……”
Xiang Shu, “Get out.”
Yuwen Xing put down his cup and wanted to come over to hold Xiang Shu’s thigh. He said sincerely, “Great Chanyu, I’ve always admired you. Over the years, I’ve always put off marriage because I hoped that I would be able to catch a glimpse of you as I’ve done today. I’m willing to devote myself to you, and……”
Xiang Shu lifted his foot and avoided Yuwen Xin’s embrace, then kicked him out straight.
“Send someone to tell Jian Tou!” Xiang Shu roared angrily, “To confiscate all of the Yuwen family’s property and send their entire family back to Youzhou. They’re forbidden from entering the pass again for the next hundred years.”
“Great Chanyu, have mercy!” Yuwen Xin was extremely shocked. He didn’t know how he had provoked him and knelt down in the courtyard to hurriedly beg for mercy. Although he didn’t know if Fu Jian would listen to Xiang Shu and really confiscate his family’s property, he was still afraid that once Xiang Shu was in a high position, he would certainly cause trouble for him. Just as he was pleading for mercy, a beautiful lady came in from outside and didn’t wait for any announcement before walking straight into the palace.
Xiang Shu glanced at her and saw that it was Princess Qinghe, who didn’t know if she should cry or laugh. She saw Yuwen Xin and asked, “How did the Yuwen family provoke you?”
Yuwen Xin quickly said, “I don’t know! I……”
Xiang Shu, “I don’t know either.”
Princess Qinghe, “……”
Princess Qinghe recognised Yuwen Xin, so she spoke a few kind words. Xiang Shu didn’t protest. Princess Qinghe motioned for Yuwen Xin to get up. She didn’t state her purpose in coming, and just smiled as she flipped through the portraits on the table. “Yo, looks like there’s quite a lot who offered betrothals today. Are there any Hans?”
“No.” Xiang Shu said coldly.
Xiang Shu and Princess Qinghe were old friends. Seven years ago, when she dismounted from her horse in the Yinshan mountains, Princess Qinghe had dressed up as a man and participated in a hunt that really put her in the limelight. When they bumped into each other last night, they didn’t have time to talk, so she came forward today to talk about the old days.
“There’s so much tea, are you offering them to the Gods?” Princess Qinghe didn’t mind Yuwen Xin, who was still standing outside, and was about to take the tea on the table when Xiang Shu said, “They’re also for the betrothals. You’ll have to marry the person whose cup you drink from.”
Princess Qinghe knew the rules, so she refrained from touching the 12 cups of tea that were lined up in a neat row. She poured a cup for herself and said, “I just came over from His Majesty’s place, and I talked so much that my lips are all dry. It just so happens that I can get a cup of tea here to drink.”
Princess Qinghe would only appear gentle and quiet in front of Fu Jian or on occasions where she had to entertain guests, and was used to usually being free and unfettered. She was like a completely different person from how she was like last night. As Xiang Shu faced his old friend, his tone sounded a bit more gentle, “Your younger brother has already been betrothed to someone, otherwise I’d chase you out now too.”
Princess Qinghe’s eyes twinkled, but she smiled, “How does Shulü Dage know that I only have one younger brother?”
Xiang Shu took a deep breath.
Princess Qinghe sat down at one side and explained, “It’s not that His Majesty wanted to torment you on purpose with that mischievous decree he came up with. I especially came over today without the intention of talking to you about any betrothals either……”
Xiang Shu breathed a sigh of relief.
Princess Qinghe, “I wanted to ask, is the Han brother you brought over yesterday married? Is he someone by your side?”
“Servant.” Xiang Shu said coldly, “No.”
Princess Qinghe happily uttered an “ah”, then continued, “That’s good then, because I do have another younger brother.”
Xiang Shu, “……”
Princess Qinghe continued, “He’s called Tuoba Yan, and he joined the imperial guards when he was 14 years old. He’s 18 this year and has already followed His Majesty for many years. I don’t know why either, but he took a fancy to that servant of yours at first sight yesterday……”
Xiang Shu, “……………………”
Princess Qinghe continued in an affectionate tone, “Yuwen Xin, I heard that the two of you were old acquaintances?”
Yuwen Xin, who was outside, said in a hurry, “Yes yes, his father’s name is Chen Zhe, and his ancestral home is in Jinyang.”
Princess Qinghe pretended she couldn’t understand Xiang Shu’s expression and continued saying happily, “I heard Yan’er mention this last night, so it turns out he’s a well-known Han man. Ever since Yan’er became an adult he has always wanted to find a boy from such a family, and it just so happens that he’s the youngest son in the Tuoba tribe. If you nod your head in assent, I’ll speak to His Majesty straight away.”
So Xiang Shu could only change his tune and say, “I can’t meddle in that, I’m not familiar with him.”
Princess Qinghe was full of doubts.
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro.