Su Xi-er looked at the dishes on the table. Due to the dry weather and poor soil of the Western Region, meat dishes were much more prevalent than vegetable dishes. Not only that, she found that on top of the jars of wine placed on each table, there was a basket set off to the side of the banquet hall that was filled with even more wine containers.


Exactly how much do we have to drink during this banquet? Su Xi-er glanced at Pei Qianhao.


Pei Qianhao whispered to her, “Even though wine is highly valued in both the Western Region and Nanzhao, there’s a difference in how it’s appreciated. The Western Region cares about how heroic you are, and how much you can drink in one mouthful. Meanwhile, Nanzhao focuses on tasting and enjoying the wine down to its last drop. Needless to say, more people in the Western Region simply pass out instead of guzzling down that much wine.”


Su Xi-er instantly understood what he meant and winked at him, an action the officials picked out and smiled at.


When the two of them settled into their seats, Su Xi-er felt a somewhat awkward gaze on her. Raising her head, she found that this gaze belonged to Huyan Fei.


Dressed in white robes that accented his thinner frame, Huyan Fei gave Su Xi-er a genial smile and a nod to show his respect.


However, in the eyes of the officials, there was something more to it. The late King had casually mentioned that the Imperial Princess and Huyan Fei would be engaged, but Huyan Fei’s body is not in good shape. Furthermore, he won’t be able to carry out bedroom affairs for several years; he’s no different from a eunuch in that department. As for the Imperial Princess, she has become Princess Consort Hao, enjoying supremely noble status. The late King’s promise doesn’t have any weight to it anymore.


But Old Lord Huyan definitely would feel uncomfortable about this, right? Everyone looked around and saw that Old Lord Huyan wasn’t present at the banquet despite having turned up during the morning court assembly.


An official asked, “Lord Huyan, where is your father?”


Huyan Fei maintained a smile as he replied, “My mother has been under the weather for a few days, so my father is personally tending to her in the residence.”


“Lord Huyan’s father is loyal to the country and treats Lady Huyan extremely well. Since the King has advised Lord Huyan to recuperate in the royal court, why did you return to your residence instead?” Another official continued to ask.


Huyan Fei narrowed his eyes. Why am I the subject of all these official’s conversations? The Imperial Princess should be in the limelight.


At this moment, Su Xi-er stood up and looked at the official. “Lord Huyan has his own legs; he can choose to go wherever he wants, and the King naturally can’t control that. Since the King has been busy recently, it’s perfectly normal for Lord Huyan to return to his residence to rest. What other questions do you have?”


Discerning the unfriendly tone, the official rose and bowed. “This humble subject was only casually asking. Please quell your anger, Your Highness.”


“Tonight’s banquet serves to welcome my husband and I; I hope everyone won’t dampen the mood.” Su Xi-er swept her cold gaze across the crowd, effectively silencing everyone.


Du Ling quietly watched the scene unfold with approval in his eyes.


A eunuch announced, “The Grand Empress Dowager arrives!”


With the last important figure arriving at the venue, everyone stood up and greeted, “Paying respects to the Grand Empress Dowager!”


“Rise! This Dowager is happy today; don’t think of leaving without getting drunk!” The Grand Empress Dowager’s face was wreathed in smiles, overcoming her typical imposing manner.


Du Ling sat at the upper seat, and to his lower left was the Grand Empress Dowager, while to his lower right was Su Xi-er and Pei Qianhao.


With everyone present, Du Ling raised his hand and peeled open the red cover on the wine jar before pouring himself a cup. Everyone followed suit shortly after.


Su Xi-er only stared at the wine cup, remaining completely still as everyone toasted under Du Ling’s lead.

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Rakumon's Thoughts

Translator: Rakumon

Editor: Lunarlark