Chapter 42: Challenge Her!
One song of Shen Yue made everyone listen as if they were drunk and stupefied. Females that had superior Qin skills would be loved anywhere and especially so if this female was pretty. At least in front of the male side of the banquet, Grade One students were too young but Grade Two’s and Three’s youths paid a lot of attention over to this side. Even though in Guang Wen Tang, Qin Qing’s beauty was ranked first but she had a proud temperament and was not as gentle and pleasing as Shen Yue.
“This older sister of yours plays exceedingly well.” Feng An Ning reluctantly said, “I Do not know where did she hired her Qin teacher. Tomorrow I will also ask Mother to find me a famous Qin teacher for lessons.”
They were all at the young age when their desire to compete was the highest. Just like when Shen Miao just became the Empress, she took everything with relaxation except for Fu Xiu Yi’s heart where she controlled it tightly. As long as Fu Xiu Yi gave a good expression to another female, she would start to worry. Moreover with all the truth and fiction in the Inner Palace, one would privately trip and backstab others. She had the temperament of returning the grudges that she received immediately and therefore offended quite a number of people. Currently, this temperament of hers has not changed but she would not use methods that would hurt herself.
“Speaking of which, Second Young Lady of Shen family is a rarely seen beauty with talents.” Everyone loves beauty and Prince Zhou felt amazed by Shen Yue but he only said, “What a pity.”
Even though others might not have understood what was there to pity, it was not possible that the few princes present did not understand. Shen Yue was born charming with infinite talents and to have such a beautiful and eloquent person as a partner, it would perhaps be one of the greatest thing in life. Unfortunately she did not crawled out of the Shen Furen’s womb and was not the daughter of the Shen family’s First Household but of the Third Household.
Unfortunately Shen Xin who had military power in his hands, had such an idiot like Shen Miao for a daughter. Even though she looks a little different today, one’s impression was not something that could be changed overnight. They believed that Shen Miao was being guided by someone behind the scenes and was still the idiot who did not know anything else.
After Gao Yan stepped down from the stage, Pei Lang gradually calmed down. It was his first encounter in this life for such a situation. Even though he did not understand it, he did his utmost to relieve his anxieties. At the moment when he heard Prince Zhuo’s words, he could not help but look at the purple clad young lady at the female side of the banquet.
She held a chess piece while being immersed in her thoughts. Even though they were separated a distance and he could not see her eyes, he could feel that that those eyes were filled with careful examination and deep intent, as if it was like the time when Shen Miao was looking at him. How could such a person be an idiot?
But people would not change overnight, unless it was Shen Miao who put on an act of being silly and stupid. Why would she do so?
Even someone as intelligent as him could not think of what was going on.
The female group of ‘selection’ ended with the completion of Shen Yue’s ‘Singing to the Moon’. Shen Yue naturally had gotten first rank, but today she did not felt happy because of this but felt some embarrassment instead.
She glanced at Shen Miao and saw that Shen Miao was engrossed with her chess game and did not even saw her. Shen Yue knew that Shen Miao had no skills in the four scholarly arts and would have not known anything about chess. To look so serious today, it was only to deliberately pull her face down. Chen Rou Qiu took note of her expressions and warned her in a whisper, “Yue-er, you have forgotten yourself.”
Chen Rou Qiu’s expectation for her daughter was that regardless of any situation she must be calm. Whether she was truly calm or act it out, she must always let others see a calm image. When a female had a calm appearance, their temperament would be superior but if one was flustered, one would not have the bearings of an aristocratic family. In all fairness, Chen Rou Qiu’s method of teaching females was indeed good and she herself did very well. Unfortunately Shen Yue was still somewhat young and had yet to experience failure thus she did not understand how to endure it silently.
Hearing Chen Rou Qiu’s warning, Shen Yue slightly retracted the anger on her face. The servant at her side served her a cup of tea, “May Young Lady drink a sip of tea to freshen your throat.”
Shen Yue took the tea over and looked at the servant. The servant smiled at her and Shen Yue understood in her heart before the smile on her face became somewhat real. She said, “It is somewhat warm. I am very interested in the next ‘challenge’ category.”
Because Shen Qing had gotten first rank in ‘chess’, her mood was much more pleasant as she smiled, “This year there will not be any differentiation between genders or grades, so the challenges should be more intense.”
It goes without saying that the ‘challenge’ round was the most anticipated of the three. This was because in the ‘drawing lots’ round, one may not draw the best one, in the ‘selection’ round one will pick their best skill to perform. Thus in the ‘challenge’ round there would always be two people competing against each other on their best abilities. Because females tend to be friendly outwardly, they had to portray an indifferent expression to show that they did not value the results of this round. But the males were different. Youths would like to compare with others to determine ranking of one another and at this age where they were at their most competitive, it would always be the most intense during the yearly ‘challenge’ round.
In this year’s ‘challenge’ round, regardless of female or male, irrespective of Grade Two or Three, all the students could do it together. As long as one wants to challenge another, they could do so. Even though it could be said that male and female could challenge one another, there were most likely no such instances.
There were indeed no challenges this year in the literary topics thus the highlight fell naturally on the military topics.
This practically isolated the possibility for female involvement. Even though there was no shortage of daughters of military who has martial arts skills, but as compared to their male counterparts, there was a huge variance and thus one would not be successful.
But one was surprised to see that from the male side of the banquet, Cai Ling stood up first and went up the stage.
The examiner asked him what area he was challenging, he pointed to the slip of paper that indicated arrow shooting and said, “Shooting arrows from a distance.”
It was evident to everyone. This overlord, Cai Lin, was ignorant in literary matters but was considered as outstanding in military skills. In which his shooting skill was the best as he could shoot his targets every single time and was even ranked first in last year’s academy examinations on arrow shooting.
Who was he going to challenge today? In the audience, there was no one who was more outstanding than him in shooting arrows from a distance.
Cai Lin craned his neck and suddenly his hand pointed towards the female side of the banquet.
When everyone saw that he was pointing towards the female side of the banquet and not the male side, they were shocked. When they finally saw clearly who he was pointing at, their jaws dropped and even discussions came to a halt.
He also intentionally loudly shouted out, “I want to challenge her, Shen Miao!”
That purple clad young female who was immersed in the chess game raised her head and looked straight at the person on stage with clear bright eyes. Her expression did not seemed to fluctuate and there were no mistakes in her actions, as if this earth-shattering sentence was just a casual greeting that she needed not answer.
Chen Rou Xiu frowned. She had taught Shen Yue wholeheartedly but Shen Miao seemed to be the one to have learnt to maintain one’s composure instead.
In the distant pavilion, the handsome youth who was leisurely drinking tea suddenly spurted it all out and there was a trace of surprise in his otherwise frivolous expression, “Is that boy from the Cai family crazy?”
Shen Miao stood up. On the chess game on the table, the black pieces spread across the entire board and were approaching to her.
The first pawn has been dispatched.
She picked up a white piece and placed it down. The black pieces were swallowed and she threw them chicly into the bamboo basket.
“Accepted.” She responded.