The White-Haired Imperial Concubine - Chapter 38 - Ten Miles Fragrance[Updated at: 2021-01-11 22:05:32]
Chapter 38 Ten Miles Fragrance
The guest hall was very large, enough to host over a hundred people. The guests sat down in their respective seats, and the Crown Prince and Zongzheng Wuyou sat in the higher seats while Fu Chou and Princess Rong Le sat in the host seats, and Yu daren sat below Fu Chou. The banquet began with a few polite words, Fu Chou behaving extremely polite and mannerly. This banquet not only invited the famous chefs in the city but also invited the courtesans from Heavenly Fragrance House to play the zither and dance to accompany the wine and keep everyone’s moods happy.
As the sounds of the zither rang out, the whole venue was in a jovial mood. The delicately prepared dishes were placed on the table and Zongzheng Xiaoren moved his chopsticks first to taste, praising, “As expected of the top chefs in the city, the color, smell, and taste was exquisite, good! General Fu has worked hard!” Hearing the way he spoke, he made it sound as if this whole banquet was prepared especially for him, and everyone else was just piggybacking off of his glory.
“It’s good as long as it suits Crown Prince’s tastes.” Fu Chou smiled elegantly but when he looked down, a scornful gaze flit past his face before he resumed his normal expression.
Zongzheng Wuyou had an indifferent expression, he swept his gaze over to Princess Rong Le in a seemingly unaffected way. When he was unable to smell that fragrance that seemed to emanate from deep within the bones, he kept feeling that there was something familiar.
Princess Rong Le pretended to not have noticed anything and gazed at the fine liquor and delicacies in front of her, her face calm. She didn’t eat anything, only sitting there silently.
The sound of the zither from below suddenly changed. The soft and graceful melody flowed out from the player’s fingers, and outside the hall, eight women in blue clothes stood in two lines before walking in with shuffling steps, walking in spirals. They raised their arms up and the sky-blue water sleeves landed on the ground. As they gathered in the center of the hall, the eight people formed into a circle, twisting their waists and dancing along with the music. Sixteen water sleeves danced together, drawing out a half-circle in the air when suddenly, two rainbow-colored water sleeves shot into the air from a woman in the middle, surrounded by the other dancers clothed in blue. It was like a rainbow suddenly appeared in the spring sky, so beautiful and captivating, it immediately drew the eyes of the audience.
That woman wore a rainbow-colored, silk-woven dress. Her waist was slim and soft, flexible as if she had no bones, and her dancing figure was like a butterfly. Her soft chest rose up and down underneath the silk clothes as she danced, revealing yet not revealing. A water-colored silk gauze covered her face, seeming to cover her looks, but when paired with her beautiful dancing figure, it only served to accentuate her mysteriousness as well as making her more mesmerizing.
Zongzheng Xiaoren unconsciously leaned forward, an evil glint flashing through his eyes as he stared at the rainbow-colored woman.
Zongzheng Wuyou was stunned, this woman’s figure looked so familiar…a strange feeling of anger suddenly erupted within him and his hands curled into fists, even as his face didn’t change.
When the dance ended, Zongzheng Xiaoren stood up and applauded, “Good! Even if Moon Palace’s Chang’e(1) were to dance, I’m afraid that she would be embarrassed.” He laughed loudly and walked down, sweeping his gaze up and down the rainbow-clothed woman, as if she wasn’t wearing any clothes. He reached out, wanting to take off the woman’s mask, and she frantically retreated several steps, avoiding his hand. He didn’t become upset and instead, felt even more interested. He brought out his temperament of a crown prince, and spoke in a lofty voice, “Are you a new one from Heavenly Fragrance House? I’ve never seen you before, what’s your name?”
The rainbow-clothed woman properly greeted him and bowed her head, her voice slightly raspy as she answered, “This subject is Hen Xiang, just entered Heavenly Fragrance House a few days ago.”
Zongzheng Wuyou stared at the rainbow-clothed woman. Although this voice was not the same, it sounded more like it was purposely changed to sound this way. He couldn’t help but furrow his eyebrows, choosing to stay silent.
Zongzheng Xiaoren asked again, “Do you want to leave Heavenly Fragrance House?” The meaning of this question was self-evident.
Hen Xiang lowered her head even more, not speaking, seemingly deep in thought. She was not ecstatic or extremely grateful like how Zongzheng Xiaoren expected, and he raised his eyebrow, “What, you think that my Crown Prince Residence can’t even match up to a Heavenly Fragrance House?”
Hen Xiang frantically knelt down, her voice slightly shaking, “This subject doesn’t dare.”
Zongzheng Xiaoren: “I dare you!” The Crown Prince was a pervert, this was something that everyone knew. It was not once or twice that he had took a girl from the brothel back to his residence. Thinking about his own daughter, Yu daren did not have a good expression on his face. Downing a cup of tea, he lightly coughed, reminding him that the purpose of his visit this time was to get closer to the General, not bringing home women. Zongzheng Xiaoren understood but he couldn’t help gazing lecherously at Hen Xiang. Even though he was unable to see her face, her body alone was enough for people to lose their souls. He glanced at Fu Chou, his face full of misgivings, and Fu Chou understood. Since this person was invited by him from Heavenly Fragrance House, the Crown Prince had to ask for his permission to take the person away. As a result, Fu Chou smiled, “For Crown Prine to like Lady Hen Xiang, it is her good fortune. When the banquet ends, I will send someone to notify Heavenly Fragrance House, it is not a big deal.”
Zongzheng Xiaoren’s mood immediately became better and he grabbed Hen Xiang’s hand, bringing her over to sit next to him.
Zongzheng Wuyou’s gaze became ice-cold, and his heart became extremely twitchy. If that woman was her, in order to escape from him, she used Zongzheng Xiaoren to leave the General’s Residence, was she really willing to sacrifice herself and get raped?! He forced himself to stamp out the urge to rip away that mask, waiting for the good play that would unfold.
Fu Chou gestured his hand and a maidservant carefully brought a white-jade wine gourd into the hall. Fu Chou smiled, “Pour it for the guests.”
The alcohol was crystal clear, when it was poured into the up, the smell of it wafted out, rich and mellow.
Zongzheng Xiaoren and Yu daren were both experts at drinking. The moment they smelled the fragrance, their eyes widened and lit up, realizing that it was a rare, excellent wine that would only come about every hundred years, Yu daren blurted out in surprise, “Ten Miles Fragrance!”
Zongzheng Wuyou’s heart trembled, and his face slightly changed, his gaze sharpening into blades.
Fu Chou smiled, “Yu daren has a discerning man, this wine is truly ‘Ten Miles Fragrance’.”
“Ten Miles Fragrance” was brewed by a family with the surname Qin on the outskirts of Jingcheng. It was rumored that this wine’s fragrance could be smelled from as far as ten miles out. Smelling this wine fragrance, Zongzheng Xiaoren was astonished, “So this is ‘Ten Miles Fragrance’, the rumors do not exaggerate. I heard that this wine no longer existed, how did General Fu come across it?”
Fu Chou: “I happened to receive it as a gift from a friend.”
Yu daren was stunned, “Thirteen years ago at the imperial banquet, countless scholars and officials praised ‘Ten Miles Fragrance’ as the pinnacle of all wines, but something happened after that banquet, causing His Majesty’s anger and everyone in the Qin clan was exterminated. Unfortunately, there wasn’t even a successor to pass on the skill of making this excellent wine to!”
Fu Chou imperceptibly glanced at Zongzheng Wuyou, only to see his face turn white, his dark eyes hiding a hurricane within. Fu Chou smiled, “Yu daren is already drunk even without drinking anything.”
Yu daren started, recalling the tragic case of Qin family from thirteen years ago, His Majesty once decreed that no one was allowed to bring up this matter again. Anyone who did so would be branded as a rebel and punished. Ever since then, not a single drop of alcohol was present at any palace banquets. Thinking up to here, he suddenly broke out into a cold sweat, frantically speaking, “That’s, that’s right, look at me…I’m already saying nonsense just by smelling it, I don’t even remember what I just said, cough…cough cough…” He gave an extremely awkward smile.
Princess Rong Le was indifferent towards this whole matter, keeping silent. Occasionally, she would raise her head and observe her surroundings. She seemed to have seen Hen Xiang, who was sitting next to the Crown Prince, tremble when Yu daren mentioned the events of thirteen years ago. She couldn’t help but think that these people were so cold and shallow, only lamenting that the wine-making skills of the Qin family were lost, yet no one cared at all about the lives that were lost so tragically.
Fu Chou raised his cup, “Tonight we have excellent wine in front of us, let’s not talk about anything else. Cheers!”
Zongzheng Xiaoren was no longer polite and raised his cup to drink when he suddenly felt an ice-cold aura aimed at him. Turning his head, he saw Zongzheng Wuyou’s sinister eyes cold and stabbing, his whole body emitting a cold aura. He couldn’t help but be startled, recalling that Zongzheng Wuyou’s disgust towards women and wine started thirteen years ago. He lightly laughed, “Seventh Imperial Brother, this ‘Ten Miles Fragrance’ is a peerless wine, you should also break your rules to taste it. Otherwise, it will be one of your lifelong regrets!”
There was a vein that was about to explode from Zongzheng Wuyou’s head and his body was as stiff as metal. Ten Miles Fragrance, Ten Miles Fragrance…these three words swam through his mind. He forcefully suppressed the feelings rolling inside of him and raised his hand. The jade cup next to Zongzheng Xiaoren’s mouth shattered, and the wine inside condensed into a stream of liquid, passing by the tip of his nose and the face of the woman sitting next to him, flying straight into the pillar to the side.
The liquid passed through the pillar, leaving behind a small hole as the wine splashed onto the opposite wall.
Zongzheng Xiaoren only felt the tip of his nose hurting and frantically touched his nose, his fingertips coming away with bright red blood, reminding him that he had just circled death’s door. He couldn’t help but tremble in fear.
The entire hall was shrouded in cold air, even the sounds of breathing seemed to have been frozen. The wine that Yu daren had just drank sat in his mouth, he couldn’t swallow it no matter what. That mouthful of wine was no longer a good wine but a fatal poison to him. His mouth slightly opened, the wine slowly dripping down from his shaking mouth, rolling down his neck and into his clothes like a venomous snake crawling across his body.
In that instant, it was completely silent, the strange atmosphere suffocated everyone.
Hen Xiang’s mask was cut open by the liquid and landed on the ground. A peerlessly beautiful face was revealed—
(1) In Chinese mythology, Chang’e is the Moon goddess, and is the originator of the tradition of placing mooncakes out on the Mid-Autumn Festival.