I hope none of my readers are on the young or shy side, because this chapter of Da Mo Yao might need to be rated S for sensuous. Or maybe H for hot. When Yu Er and Qu Bing make up, they…..erm, do it in a very unique and unforgettable way. Though if this entire chapter makes it intact to the drama I’ll eat my shorts. What feels really intense about the relationship between them is how they just connect in a very physical way, but then they do talk a lot and never just use actions to convey their feelings. I’m glad Yu Er is finally moving on from her statis in dealing with her lingering feelings for Jiu Ye, because she needs to focus all her attention on the double trouble that is Li Yan and Liu Che. Both want her out of the picture for different reasons, and one Huo Qu Bing might not be enough to keep them both safe.
Chapter 30: Passion Dance
I have no idea how I managed to return home. My entire body feels empty and I’m so exhausted I just want to collapse. When I enter the room I discover that the ceramic appliances have all been swept on the floor. The entire floor is a mess and I sigh with a heavy heart. I turn and rush to the Huo Estate.
Uncle Chen sees me and immediately calls out “The young master rushed home yesterday from the Palace, stopping by Yi Ping Ju to buy a few of your favorite snacks. He was so happy to be able to make it home in time to join you for dinner. He saw you weren’t here and I said I had sent someone to pick you up. He wanted to go pick you up personally. He was so excited when he left, but he didn’t come home all night. I thought he spent the night at your place. But when he came home this morning at dawn, he didn’t drink a sip of water or eat a morsel of food. He locked himself in his room and no one was allowed inside. Before you arrived, he just left the house with the worst expression on his face. I heard from Hong Gu that he didn’t eat anything yesterday as well and spent the night waiting for you in your room.”
Uncle Chen tried to stay mellow “Ms. Yu, Jiu Ye is indeed a good man, and we indeed owe him greatly…..” and his face looked apologetic “But our young master is unwaveringly devoted to you. Because of you, he even turned down the Emperor’s marriage decree. Other than the Empress and the General Great Wei, he’s upset all the other relatives in the family. I genuinely am sorry to you for what I did and I don’t want to say anymore. But…..ay!”
Qu Bing just got better, and despite looking like he’s completely recovered, there is no way he can endure this type of self-torture. Because I was so worried, my tone of voice was overly stern with him “Why didn’t any of you counsel him?” I said it and immediately realized how silly I was, Qu Bing would never listen to anyone’s advice. I apologize to Uncle Chen “I’m sorry for saying that. Do you know where Qu Bing went?” He shook his head “He wouldn’t let anyone follow him. He might’ve gone to see his mother, or maybe to the Princess’s estate, or perhaps to General Gong Xun’s estate. Or somewhere to drink.”
I turn around and head out “I’ll go find him.” From Princess Pingyang’s estate to General Gong Xun’s estate to the Chen estate, plus all the dancing houses and drinking halls in Chang An, he’s nowhere to be found. When I leave Tian Xiang House, it’s already dark of the night. Standing under the lantern outside Tian Xiang House, I stare into the pitch black night. Qu Bing, where are you?
I suddenly have a sliver of hope and wonder if maybe he went home. I hurry back to the Huo Estate but the door guard sees me and shakes his head. “The General has not returned yet. Housekeeper Chen has sent people searching for him but no one can find him.” I turn to walk back into the night without saying a word. Suddenly I think of one place he might be. It’s just past the 15th of the month and there is a round moon in the sky. It shines a silver light on a mountain full of Lover’s Vines.
I follow the side of the Lover’s Vines and run around the mountain side. “Qu Bing!” “Qu Bing!”…….The sound of my voice reverberates through the canyons, tossing and turning, but it still remains just my voice. From the bottom of the mountain to the top, the entire mountain responds to my calls with only the sound of the wind rustling through the Lover’s Vines. Huo Qu Bing, where are you? Huo Qu Bing, are you leaving me?
Since two days ago, my entire being has been strung tighter than a taut string and I’ve not even rested properly. I can no longer endure the weight of my sorrow and I sink down on the ground in exhaustion. My face contorts into a grimace and I start making this noise that sounds like I’m crying and laughing at the same time.
During this period of time, I was like a soybean between two rock plates. I was about to be crushed into a million tiny pieces under the pressure of their two rocks. Those two rocks are in pain, but did they not know my pain?
How can Huo Qu Bing not understand. Since long ago he has been to me the bone of my bones, the blood of my blood. If I wanted to pick Jiu Ye, I would have left a long time ago and not wait until now.
A pair of hands pulled my hands away from my face and dark eyes stared at me without blinking. He said nothing, just staring at me. I thought he wouldn’t show up so I blink a few times to make sure he’s here. I dumbly ask “Do you still want me?” In his eyes flashed pain and joy and he said each word carefully “Before I had you I said I would never let you go. Now that I have you, I will say with even more certainty…I am never letting you go.”
My heart, which has been perched on a precipice, finally returned to it’s normal spot. I let out a relieved sigh and my entire body fell forward into his arms “I’m so tired. So tired. So tired! Please don’t be mad at me. Jiu Ye, in order to treat your illness, he’s got very sick. So I stayed there……” He suddenly kissed me and stopped what I was saying. It was so passionate it felt almost rough.
I was so fatigued that my brain wasn’t working so I ask stupidly “Don’t you want to know what happened?” His eyes are no longer somber like before and was now twinkling again. He smiled and kissed me again “All I need to know is that I am the only person who can do this.” He hesitated for a moment “Since you came back, he must be fine now?” “The fever has broken and the doctor says that the fever, though dangerous, helped shake away the chill in his body. He’ll be fine after a period of careful recovery.”
He stared at me “Yu Er, I’m sorry. No matter what, you two met first. And in this entire situation, I was the one who didn’t do things in a completely honorable manner. I’m also to blame for the situation today. A person is not like a plant or a tree, how can feelings be swept so away so easily? Even regular friends wouldn’t want to see each other in emotional pain. Plus there are emotional knots that only time can untangle, and are easier said than done.”
[See above: those two ————> they be making out soon. Let your imagination fly~]
Even though Uncle Chen apologized already, but that day Huo Qu Bing just left without showing a shred of remorse. Because of his sudden illness, I didn’t want to mention the unpleasantness of the past, so I chose to let it go. This is the first time he’s said something like this. He’s not pressuring me, but rather giving me as much time as I need. He has chosen to trust me. My heart swelled with emotion, and any lingering frustration in me just dissipated completely. I reach forward and tightly embrace him. There is nothing I need to say, my actions have conveyed to him my response. He sighed with happiness and tightly embraced me back.
Our bodies were tightly pressed against each other and suddenly I felt something hard pressing against me. Our tender emotions suddenly morphed into a heady mood and he shifted his body and apologized “I wasn’t thinking anything at all, it simply had a mind of its own.”
I’ve never seen him slightly shy like this and all I can do is laugh. He was tense for a moment before lowering his head and nibbling on my neck “Yu Er, I really want you. Are you willing?” I bury my face in his chest and softly laugh, not answering his question. He also laughed “So does that mean yes? Yu Er, what if you get pregnant?”
I answer confidently “So what! If we have a baby together, then we’ll have a baby. It’s not like we don’t have the means to raise a child.”
I thought he would be happy, but instead he grows silent. His face is expressionless and he calmly asked me “Even if you get pregnant I still can’t marry you. Do you know what that means? Do you know how people will talk about you?” I nod my head and he picked me up in one swift move and turned towards the deeper part of the mountain. I was confused, why wasn’t he headed back to the estate? I thought to myself that there is nothing in the world this man won’t dare do, and I suddenly lost all color in my face “What are you doing? You can’t possibly be thinking of doing that…..there?”
He smiled like this was perfectly normal “My Yu Er knows me so well! There is a hot spring over there and we won’t be cold if we are in it. Between the Heavens and the earth and the water, can you imagine what it will be like? It will surely be much more interesting than in a bedroom. Plus I’ve been so pent up for so long, now that we’ve decided, I don’t want to wait another moment longer.”
“But….but the sun is almost rising!” He gently placed me on a rock next to the hot spring and was taking off my clothes and answering me “Isn’t that even better? At the time when day and night meet, the books say that it is when the yin and the yang converge. Remember those books you asked me to get for you? It states that this is the ideal time for consummating a relationship……” He was still talking when he was already pulling me into the water and his voice trailed off.
He was afraid I would be cold so he pulled me in quickly. He still had a circlet around his hair so I reached over and plucked it off. His hair spilled around his face in the water and suddenly this image seems so familiar to me. I can’t help but smile. He startled for a moment, and then reacted by pulling me in for a deep kiss. It was such a long kiss that we are both adept at martial arts but we’re still out of breath by the time we emerge from the water and break apart.
He laughed “I had almost forgotten my wish that way. That day in the water, all I wanted was to kiss you. But you were so feisty. All I did was hold your hand and you almost unmanned me. Yu Er, if you had really kicked me that day, wouldn’t you be regretting that right now?’ I humph at him “I would never regret it.”
“Then I’m the one who regrets it. I regret you so were close that day but I couldn’t do anything. But today I can…..” and he laughed and make an expression like a wolf spotting a snack. He pulled me in and his kisses were raining all over me, on my face, on my neck, on my chest…..
The royal physician said that Qu Bing was all recovered now and everything was fine. But he waited an entire day before prescribing the medicine, which wasn’t even medicine, but just some reminders to eat normally. Why Dr. Zhang took one day from diagnosing Qu Bing to prescribing his treatment is something that Uncle Chen and I both understand but neither want to mention it in front of Qu Bing. [Dr. Zhang clearly consulted Jiu Ye and gave him the diagnosis, and it was Jiu Ye who prescribed the treatment.]
When Dr. Zhang was leaving, he saw me holding back what I wanted to say and he understood enough to say casually “Yesterday I had a talk with Jiu Ye about medicine. Compared to him, all my learnings appear meaningless….” I understand he’s telling me that Jiu Ye must be better now. If time can heal a person physically, time can surely heal a person emotionally. Right?
I slowly walk into the room and from the window I can see Qu Bing studying the prescription. He hears my footsteps and look up towards me with a smile. I want to return his smile but I can’t. I just hurry my steps and walk into the room. He puts my hand firmly in his to warm it up. The warmth in his hand slowly chases away the chill in my heart as well, and I turn around and grab his hands tightly, giving him a warm smile.
Qu Bing appears to realize something, and then he promptly acts like he has no clue. He looks at the prescription and lets out a long sigh, clearly not intending to follow it “I can’t eat this, I can’t eat that. There isn’t much left for me to eat then.” He saw me glaring at him and he quickly changed expressions and sidled up next to me with a goofy smile “Don’t be mad! Don’t be mad! If I can sample you everyday, then I’ll surely……” Before he finished what he was saying, he was flying out the door and ducked to avoid a vase thrown at his head.
The vase shattered at the door and some of the maids are so frightened they immediately kneel down. He smiled at me through the window “I’ve got to go to the Palace for a bit. I’ll be back soon.” I chase after him “Wait, I have something to ask you.” He didn’t turn around but just waved his hand “I know what you’re worried about. It’s not like we haven’t snuck into the royal grounds before. That day we were even caught by the Emperor himself. If they want to tattle on us, let them. The Emperor won’t care at all……” His voice trailed off as he disappeared from sight. I think about it, and realize that Li Gan doesn’t have any solid proof anyway. There is really not much to be afraid of at this point.
I turn around and the two maids Qing Wu and Xiang Die are still kneeling there “Why are you still kneeling? Hurry and get up.” The two maids check to make sure Huo Qu Bing has walked away before patting their chests and getting up. Xiang Die moves fast and has grabbed a broom and is sweeping up the broken vase shards while saying “I’ve been a servant since I was small and have gotten used to kneeling as the first response when I hear my masters throwing things. My second response is saying “your servant I deserve to die.” This happens regardless of whatever was happening in the room to cause the throwing things, which we know nothing about.”
I laugh “Why are you all so afraid of the General? I have never seem him punish a servant.” Qing Wu smiled but said nothing, while Xiang Die thought about it “Yeah! He really has never punished us before. I don’t know, we’re just scared. I hear other servants all hope to serve a young master who might like her and make her a concubine. But in our estate this has never happened. We are all just serving the General……” Xiang Die suddenly turned red when she realized what she was saying.
I hid my laughter “I’m going to tell the General all of this.” Xiang Die and Qing Wu both get up and come plead with me, so I clear my throat “I’ll keep quiet about this, but you have to do as I say from now on.” Qing Wu quietly replied “Wonderful miss, don’t we already do everything you want. Whatever you ask us we candidly reply. But when the Madam asks us, we try not to say too much and the things we have to answer we try to keep it short.”
I sighed and hugged them both “Both sisters are good hearted, taking care of someone like me without any family. Thank you dear sisters. If you’re done cleaning, let’s go to Yi Ping Ju to eat.” They smile and nod their heads. Xiang Die sighed “You! You’re mean one moment, tender the next. No wonder even someone like the General doesn’t know what to do with you.”
I’m smiling but inside my heart I sigh. These two maids are hand selected by Uncle Chen to serve Qu Bing, and they are really good to me. But everyone else in the estate, because of Wei Shao Er and Gong Xun Aou and those folks, are polite to me on the surface but who knows what they are thinking deep down. Since Qu Bing’s illness, when Wei Shao Er sees me there is less animosity from her, but she is still very cool towards me. I rather not seek out unpleasantness so I try to avoid her when I can. I figure she also doesn’t want to see me, so the two of us rarely interact.
My relationship with Qu Bing is so obvious it doesn’t even need to be explained. From the Emperor on top all the way down to the lowest foot soldier in the army, everyone knows I’m his girl. Huo Qu Bing has never tried to hide it, and with his close friends and subordinates like Zhao Puo Nu, he treats me like I’m his wife. Even then, everyone pretends that they have no clue what is going on. From the Emperor on top all the way down to the lowest servant in the estate, everyone treats me like a young maiden.
They pretend as if I’m just an innocent maiden Qu Bing brought out one day to hang out with, and if they all closed their eyes to go to sleep, the next day I will have disappeared. From Winter until Spring, from Spring until Summer, with each night of sleep, I still continue to appear before them the next day. And they still stubbornly refuse to acknowledge me.
When the Palace holds a banquet, I rarely attend. But this time it is for the Empress’s birthday and she wants Qu Bing to bring me along. Even though she says nothing, but her little gesture such as this is like a tacit recognition of my relationship with Qu Bing. It was due to her influence that her siblings held back their dislike of me. She made my life easier, and for that I am grateful. Usually I’m dispirited when I go to the Palace, but today I purposely get all dressed up.
I arrange a Han hairstyle and use a popular Han accessory to secure my hair. I braid a purple crystal hair accessory through my hair and it glistens as it peeks out from under my dark locks, appearing like stars in the dark night. The largest crystal is the size of a thumb and hangs right over my forehead.
My outfit is also in the popular Chang An style, but I change it up a little. On top of the silk I add a thin layer of gossamer which gives it an illusion of depth and airiness. When I move it looks even more alluring. When Qu Bing saw me, his eyes lit up and he smiled “I always thought you are the most beautiful when you wear the Xi Yu outfits, but it’s clear you look just as lovely wearing a Han style attire. Clearly you just never made the effort in the past.”
When we enter the Palace, the Empress is seated on a dais receiving the well-wishes of hundreds of courtiers. Qu Bing tried to pull me up to wish her a happy birthday but I stubbornly refused. “You go ahead. My presence is enough for the Empress to know my heart. If you’re so public with me here, it will make things difficult for the Empress.” Qu Bing looked somber “Sometimes I wish you were stupider and not as considerate of others. That way you won’t have to endure this by yourself.”
I look towards the Crown Prince’s tutor and his shrew wife, who are currently bowing to the Empress “Like them? Is that happiness? Everyone sees them as a couple and compliment them, but I can care less about that.”
Huo Qu Bing released my hand and went up to greet the Empress. Once the banquet started and people were already dining, Li Yan finally arrived. She looked tired and in her royal attire it made her look precious. She passed by and everyone held their breaths, afraid of one gust of air might harm this delicate extraordinary beauty.
The formerly raucous banquet turned silent because of her entrance and we can all hear the sound of her skirts swishing as she walked and her jade pieces clicking against each other. She glided in front of the Empress and kneeled down to bow. Empress Wei smiled “No need! You’re not feeling well, a formal bow is not needed. I’ve received your wishes.” But Li Yan still formally bowed her head before getting up.
When she went to sit down, Liu Che naturally helped her into her seat. He said something to Li Yan and she furrowed her eyebrows and shook her head. Liu Che gave her a smiling look that said he was going to let her be. He turned to Empress Wei, and though he was still smiling, his eyes no longer had the look of tender caring. In the eyes of the public, Li Yan went from acting like she didn’t want to steal the Empress’s thunder to now showing clearing to the courtiers who was more important in the eyes of Liu Che.
I looked around the banquet. How many people here want the future Emperor to be Liu Buo (Li Yan’s son)? Or how many just want to see the Wei family tumble from power so they can win in the aftermath? Those who support the Wei family are obvious and a powerful lot, but the are a clear target for those who want to help the Li family, since they can operate under the shadows.
My eyes meet Huo Qu Bing’s and he mouthed the words “You’re the most beautiful” to me. I pout at him and act all disbelieving of his clearly false words, but inside I feel full of sweetness and contentment.
Li Guang Li was watching my silent interaction with Huo Qu Bing and he scoffed loudly. He got up and addressed the Emperor and Empress “The various Xi Yu kingdoms have sent their twelve best dancing girls to perform a Xi Yu dance especially choreographed for the your highness’s birthday.” Liu Che smiled and looked at the Empress, who announced that they can perform.
Even though it was supposed to be a Xi Yu dance, because it is intended for the Empress, it incorporated more Han flavor and tempered the usual free-spirited passion of the nomadic people. The dance is graceful and the lead dancer is a tall woman who dances like a butterfly, her every move seemingly effortless. I can’t help but nod my head, what a truly top-notch dancer. To my surprise, I see Li Yan also nodding her head and our eyes meet for the first time tonight. Her eyes are clear like a lake in Autumn, like one can see into the depth of her soul. I remember the first time we met and how her eyes were rich with emotion. She’s like a completely different person now.
She suddenly smiled and gave me a pitying look while shaking her head. I wanted to smile back at her, as if asking her which of the two of us is more deserving of being pitied? But then I realized what a pointless exercise it was. Why do we need to keep pressuring each other? I turned away and stopped looking at her. When the crowd began to heartily applaud is when I snap back to attention. Liu Che was quite pleased and offered to reward the dancers.
Empress Wei was about to say something when Li Yan interjected “These dancers came all the way from Xi Yu hundreds of miles to reach the Han dynasty. They are all alone without any support. There is no reward you can give them greater than giving them a family. Since the most eligible men in Chang An are all gathered here today, why doesn’t the Emperor play matchmaker today and give them each a home.”
A dancer’s life is not forever and they need to find a safe harbor when they are still young. They are bound to a life as a concubine or even worse. If they can give birth to a son or child, in this foreign place they might have a chance to find some security. All the dancers brightened up with hope to hear this, but the lead dancer just took a quick survey of the entire banquet.
Liu Che saw all the girls light up with hope and he looked rather tender, turning to give Empress Wei a smiling look. Empress Wei appeared to remember something and her face turned red and she lowered her head. Li Yan immediately averted her eyes and looked towards the sky. Li Gan, who had been secretly staring at her, spilled the wine in his cup when his hands shook.
Liu Che turned to the Xi Yu dancing girls “I’ve heard that the Xi Yu ladies use horse racing to show their affection to the man they desire. They can also use dance to convey their interest. I want to emulate the Xi Yu customs today, and I hereby allow you each to pick the man you want.”
A song started up and this time it’s a genuine Xi Yu tune. It’s immediately passionate and wild, the dancers turning sultry and limber as their bodies react to the music. Li Yan turned to smile at me and my heart chilled. I was wondering why she was doing all this. Now that Liu Che as given a royal decree that these ladies can choose, if one of the girls chooses Huo Qu Bing, then……
[One more friendly reminder, above is Koala approved canon Yu Er and Huo Qu Bing. Enjoy the pretty.]
Last time Huo Qu Bing opposed Liu Che’s wishes with an excuse that he won’t start a family until the Xiong Nu are eradicated. But today Liu Che has told the entire court and the Xi Yu dancers that he will let them pick. If Huo Qu Bing were to oppose him again in public…… I refuse to think any further, just gripping my skirt tightly and staring at the dancers.
Huo Qu Bing has clearly figured out Li Yan’s intentions as well and he got up to leave. But two girls had already danced right up to him and blocked his path. Huo Qu Bing’s demeanor turned cold and he returned to his seat with a small smile and started to drink, paying no attention to the two girls dancing in front of him. I let out a sigh of relief that there is still time. If Huo Qu Bing isn’t planning to accept both of then, then these two girls need to first use dance to determine a victor between them.
Li Guang Li’s expression turned ugly and jealous. I realized now that neither of these two girls were in cahoots with them in advance. They really just both want Huo Qu Bing. I turn to stare at the two girls with an exasperated expression, not sure if I should be proud or worried. The lead dancer is the most beautiful and eye catching one and all the young men and old lechers alike have clearly been eyeing her. Right now she starts to dance in tune to the music and moving towards Huo Qu Bing. The atmosphere in the entire banquet grows more excited.
A few people who have no inkling of what is happening start cheering “Such a beauty surely can only match with a true hero.” I don’t know if they are just brown nosing to Huo Qu Bing or seeking their own demise. A row of military officials seated next to Huo Qu Bing and Wei Qing stare coldly and dispassionately at this scene, not even paying attention to dancing girls who are before them. Li Guang Li and his toady ministers try to fan the flames so that the mood in the banquet is the extreme of hot and cold coming from the two sides.
The other two girls see the lead dancer and grow embarrassed and frustrated. But they cannot compete with her so they twirl away. The lead dancer smiles like a flower and her beauty flutters with her every dance step. She brushes over Huo Qu Bing, who continues to quietly and calmly drink his wine.
The moment she kneels before Huo Qu Bing and offers him a drink is the moment she has made her selection. I can’t worry about anything anymore, I have to stop this now. I turn to meet Ri Chan’s eyes and he nodded his head.
I take off my shoes and put my wrist bells on my ankle. I slowly stand up and clap loudly three times. I disrupt the Xi Yu tune and everyone turns to look at me. Huo Qu Bing looks stunned but I just smile and wink at him.
A fast and carefree tune comes from Ri Chan’s short flute, akin to a feisty horse running through the plans, or a small bird gliding through the air. I follow the music and dance towards Huo Qu Bing. In every beat of the song, I stomp my foot and the bells add a new cadence to the rhythm. In the beginning I wasn’t quite ready yet so I make a few mistakes, which causes the dancing girls to titter. I glare at them and make a face. Humph! If they haven’t danced for seven or eight years like me and still dance as well as I’m doing, then I’ll let them make fun of me.
My dancing becomes smoother and the wild abandoned sensation of dancing on the plains returns to my body. Plus I know martial arts, so my dancing is even more light and controlled than the average dancer. The passion dance of a Xiong Nu girl, I may not be perfect at it, but it’s riveting nonetheless. Huo Qu Bing smiled and downed his wine, staring at me with unfettered joy and pride.
Because it was so unexpected, no one at the banquet knew how to react, just staring at me with their mouths open. It was dead silent. The bells on my ankles are crisp and clear, like the laughter of a young girl floating in the wind. It makes a person turn mellow and content.
The lead dancer quietly looked at me for awhile and then smiled at me before changing her dance steps. It was also a Xiong Nu dance. We dance around each other in front of Huo Qu Bing, who has stopped drinking and appeared to be genuinely enjoying watching me dance, and then watching her dance, almost like he was trying to decide which girl was better. This person was like the grass on the plains, turning livelier under the basking sunlight. I’m secretly stewing inside so I act even more cheerful. I turn towards him and use my flowing skirts to hide that fact that I’m launching a kick towards him. Too bad he was anticipating it and his hand was right there to grab my foot.
The tune from the flute becomes more urgent but I remain standing in place with a strange stance and a smile, moving my upper body in sync with the music. Thank god Ri Chan is the one accompanying me with the music, because he sees something is odd with me and immediately his tune slows down. That in turn causes the leader dancer to be caught off guard and she misses a few steps and almost slips. Everyone turns to look at her and forgets about me standing there all weird.
The moment she regains her balance she shoots an angry look over at Ri Chan playing the flute. To her surprise, she sees not an ordinary musician but a dashing richly attired young man. His wavy hair and high nose reveals that he’s also from the desert region. Ri Chan makes a slight apologetic bow to her and she suddenly turns red faced but flips her hair at him. I’m really losing my ability to keep a smile plastered my face. Even though there are dances where the feet don’t move and only the upper body sways to the rhythm, but right now…..
Huo Qu Bing sees that my gaze directed at him is growing decidedly chilly so he smiles and squeezes my foot one more time before releasing it and returning to his drinking without a care in the world.
The song continues but both the dancer and I are flustered and our dancing gets sloppy. Her face is red and my face is burning up, and we accidentally bump into each other while dancing. That startles me back to being alert and I turn and shoot Huo Qu Bing the evil eye. How dare he try to tease me at a time like this? But he continues to look at me with amusement and a wry smile.
The dancer also regains her mental clarity again and resumes her powerfully seductive dancing. I sneak a peek at her, deciding whether I should do something sneaky and injure her otherwise I couldn’t possibly out-dance her. But everyone was staring at me, especially with Li Yan here, there was no way I could get away with it.
Ri Chan’s melody suddenly stopped, and when it resumed it was a different song. It was a popular love song from the plains that is sung when a man is professing his desire for a woman. The bells on my ankle lose their beat and the dancer also stops for a moment. She turns to look at Ri Chan with a look of surprise and joy, and everyone else looks around in confusion, unsure of what the heck is happening tonight. Did everyone suddenly turn randy or went crazy with lust?
I look at Ri Chan with a questioning look but he ignored me, continuing to look only at the dancer. She stared at Ri Chan and then back towards Huo Qu Bing, and then back at me again. She suddenly made up her mind and with a few quick steps she was standing in front of Ri Chan’s seat. She knelt down in front of him, indicating that she had made her choice.
Everything happened so fast that Li Guang Li stood up with look of pure rage but Li Yan quickly chimed in before he could speak “Congratulations to you both!” Li Guang Li looked at his sister’s expression and sat down stiffly. This smart dancer changed her mind at the last minute, deciding to gamble her life and her future on Ri Chan. He will not disappoint her. If he is around for one day, then he will take care of her for one day.
I bow towards Hup Qu Bing and turn to return to my seat. Everyone stared dumbly at me when Li Yan laughed “Jin Yu, you randomly went up and danced, and now you’re just going back to your seat without an explanation. Where do you think you are right now?”
I exchange a look with Express Wei and we understand each other. Since Li Yan is not giving me an inch and wants to pressure me, then I won’t keep backing down. I bow to her and say very clearly “This place is of course the birthday banquet that the Emperor planned for the Empress.” Li Yan fumed to hear what I said but she had no response. No matter how much she is loved by the Emperor, she is still the concubine to the Empress being the first wife. She must always bow down to the Empress, so this place isn’t up to her to say anything about what just happened.
Liu Che coolly looked around and when he heard what I said, he looked at Empress Wei and then at Huo Qu Bing before laughing “Jin Yu’s dance was also quite good, she ought to be rewarded as well.” The Empress gently agreed.
A tempest hidden under a passionate dance performance has been averted for now. But what even bigger potential storm will come of this music and dance performance Ri Chan and I put on today? The competition between the Wei family and the Li family is gradually out in the open. Liu Che may have favored the Li family tonight, it was his way of using his imperial power to even the odds. Just like how he used the Wang family to defeat the Bao family, then then he used the Wei family to defeat the Wang family afterwards. The time has now come for the too powerful Wei family.
The carriage has been traveling for some time but all Huo Qu Bing does is stare at me and smile. When we enter the room, he takes off his robe and keeps smiling nonstop. I’m finally had enough of his smiling “You’re not thinking about how to battle Li Yan, instead you’re just laughing for no reason. Who knows what tricks she has up her sleeve next.”
He let out a long sigh and laid down on the pallet, crossing his hands behind his head, his expression one of contentment “I’m looking forward to her tricks. Hopefully it’ll be more of what happened tonight.” I huff at him “Yes! In front of an entire court of scholarly and military officials, a few girls vying for your attention is definitely something to be proud of, something to crow about!”
He still had a smile and appeared to be reminiscing “It’s definitely worth reliving in my mind. If it wasn’t for them, I never would have known that you were nervous about me. And I could have never imagined that you would perform a passion dance for me.”
I lifted my head and rolled my eyes, giving him two fake ha ha laughs “I sure am nervous about you!” His lazy attitude is really annoying me so I lean in and wrap my hands around his throat to pretend to strangle him “If you dare to touch inappropriately in public again, I will nervous you to death!”
His one hand reached out to tickle me and his other hand tucked me into his arms “Do you mean that as long as it’s not in public, I can do whatever I want? I can touch you inappropriately? Then I guess I’ll go right ahead then.”
Qing Wu and Xiang Die had just walked in with the night wash when they saw us entwined together in a very passionate embrace. Xiang Die dropped everything she was holding while Qing Wu actually managed to keep her cool and just bowed low and apologized before pulling Xiang Die and running out of the room.
Oh my god! I’m done for! I’m so embarrassed, how can I face them tomorrow? I glare at Huo Qu Bing but all he does is release the bed curtains with one sweep of his hand.
Who is the rabbit and who is the tiger, which is the one who is going to eat the other, I finally figured it out!
[This chapter is brought to you by the extreme boating put on by GeShi as HuoYu. Imma never going to picture the scenes from this chapter happening with any other onscreen couple. Ah, back to translating bliss and creating my own perfect adaptation of this novel.]