Chapter 246: The Lady Fights the Evil Concubine
The group moved in the direction of the north mountain, traveling with great pomp and dignity. The royal entourage even boasted of horses with all red fur. Bai Xiangxiu was truly having her eyes opened today, but busied herself with setting up camp after entering the mountain. Every household set up camp according to instructions from the palace servants. Because Prince Rong hadn’t come, the highest ranked after the emperor was Prince Li. Therefore, their camp was right next to the royal camp site at the second highest position. After them was the Lin family, as they were now royal in-laws!
Minister Lin felt quite vindicated now. His own daughter was a Noble Lady, and he’d heard that it was only a matter of time before the emperor elevated his daughter’s position. How would he not be happy about this? When taking another look at Long Heng, he felt that his daughter had been quite correct in not choosing him. Prince Li was just a pawn that the emperor would get rid of at any moment! Look at him now, serving his daughter and son-in-law!
The camp was quickly set up and Bai Xiangxiu also put the carriage into order. Everyone was given some breathing space after arriving before setting out again, so she and Long Heng sat in the tent for a while before setting out after hearing the signal. They were to be horseback this time, whether man or woman, with some palace and personal servants following behind with other items. They would also collect any spoils of the hunt and prepare them to be feasted on during lunch.
Long Heng couldn’t ride at the moment, so he laid on the litter and was carried by four people. Elevating a concubine to a wife was usually a matter to be laughed at, but when everyone saw the highly spirited Bai Xiangxiu cutting a sharp figure, they all felt that Prince Li’s beating had been worth it. Song Jiaoyue in particular felt that a cat was heavily scratching at his heart, and he was unable to calm his emotions for the longest time.
He acutely felt how useless he was, and how he was even less than Yu Kuang. Although the wulin head liked her as well, he was able to put down the emotional burden he’d taken on his shoulders. He returned to the wulin once he saw her safely back to the manor and had left with a dashing grace. But what of Song Jiaoyue? He always wanted to see her again and was unable to fully let go of things, but never had any idea what to say when he finally saw her, and could only look at her from afar.
Bai Xiangxiu had practiced horse riding at Tranquil City, having been a part of an accelerated class at that. Truthfully, she’d been forced to learn as fast as she could, and now sat both steadily and handsomely on her horse. How would any ordinary woman compare to her? Add to that her clean, neat appearance today and a lovely looking bow hanging jauntily off her saddle, her beautiful and flawless face evoked admiration and envy no matter how one looked at her.
This was most apparent from Lin Qianzi. She was clad pertly in white today, and looked quite pitiful after her miscarriage. That’s right, she’s the female lead after all, how would she not draw eyeballs when she looks pitiful? But… is it really appropriate to be dressed in all white?  Bai Xiangxiu ignored that ferocious glare coming from her and walked side by side with Long Heng’s litter.
“She’s probably going to make a move against you, be careful.”
“I know, be at ease. I know very well what she wants to do.” Bai Xiangxiu was quite confident. These ‘bugs’ I’ve got are so good for eavesdropping, and they’re completely natural and without any harmful side effects. Even if they’re found, no one will know what they’re used for. They’ll only think it’s a fragrance pouch used to put down a curse! She somehow ended up walking side by side with Lin Qianzi. Bai Xiangxiu subconsciously looked around and noted that there weren’t any veiled maids beside the female lead. Did Su Yun not come? What a weird feeling, but it also makes sense, since she’s not the sort to go off the deep end in search for revenge. She understands very well how to make use of others. And yet, why did she help Lin Qianzi previously, but not show up today?
“Congratulations to Consort Li. You’ve finally gotten what you want,” Lin Qianzi spoke with a smile, but it was infused with sarcasm.
“This is all thanks to the emperor’s favor.” Who doesn’t know how to speak pretty words? It’s just a contest of who can be the most gracious and well-mannered. I’ve been pretending at this all along. Pfft!
“Look at you suffering under the elements just after being elevated. Consort Li is good-natured to not complain.”
“The lady jests. When even a Noble Lady with such elegance like yourself doesn’t complain, what right does someone like this consort have to pick and choose? Besides, the breeze is refreshing today and the scenery a delight to the eyes. It’s quite appropriate for playing games.”
“Indeed, it’s a bit dull to only ride on horses with such beautiful scenery in front of us.” Lin Qianzi urged her horse forward after speaking, arriving next to the emperor and murmuring a few words.
The emperor reached out a hand and the convoy immediately came to a halt. A eunuch soon announced in a shrill voice, “The emperor has given orders that it is too uninspiring to walk along thus for the autumn hunt. Therefore, Noble Lady Qian has suggested that the ladies of each household can hold a contest. Whoever is the first to bring down bring will receive a jade horse. This horse was offered as tribute from the barbarians and is quite precious. She will also receive one golden fur coat that is a treasure from the late emperor. It’s warm in winter and cool in summer.”
Even Long Heng’s eyes narrowed when he heard these two items. Bai Xiangxiu asked quietly, “Are they really good?”
“Very good, particularly the golden fur coat. It’s impervious to blades and spears. It’s really quite a treasure.” He took a look at Bai Xiangxiu after speaking and noticed that her eyes were sparkling. I. want. it!! was written in them. Long Heng coughed lightly, now this was being just a bit too obvious. He couldn’t help but remind her, “Be careful of traps.”
“Of course there will be traps, but I’m well prepared. Long… um, Your Highness, do you trust me?”
“……” I do, but I’m worried. However, Long Heng wasn’t the sort to voice sweet words, especially when there were so many around him.
“I’ll be careful, but so do you too!” Bai Xiangxiu was able to step forward so boldly because she had such a shield behind her. Thanks to Long Heng’s attentions and care, the previously cowardly Bai Xiangxiu had built up her confidence, and even she felt that she was a bit over the top these days. Well, you only live once! And why would I be like this if they hadn’t started things?
“Will anyone participate?” The eunuch yelled. However, many of the ladies couldn’t even sit properly on their horses, much less participate in a contest!
“I will!” It was the first time that Bai Xiangxiu had spoken so loudly in front of others. Her voice rang surprisingly crisp. There wasn’t a hint of hoarseness in it at all. One had to say, her voice really did sound good, even she was lulled by it for a moment. I guess I don’t have to put on an act for the rest of my life! Apparently even the women of olden times can live with their heads held high. No wonder the female lead had grown so out of control in the novel and unsettled an entire city with her antics. She’d realized that she had a man who loved her and who would always stand behind her. This was why she’d been so fearless. And now, that man stood behind Bai Xiangxiu. It was a wonderful feeling.
An indescribably stunning women slowly urged her horse to the front as the crowd watched with astonished eyes. Her clothing fluttered in the wind, the blue color somehow seeming more pure than Noble Lady Qian’s robes of white.
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