Chapter 43: Life and Death Agreement
The wind during autumn was usually elegant and fresh but at this moment because of the tense atmosphere, even the flowery fragrance became stronger…
Shen Yue covered her mouth and said sounding surprised, “This… Fifth Younger Sister is a female, why would any young lady accept this challenge?”
“Exactly.” Chen Rou Qiu also worriedly said, “Fifth Lady, you must not force yourself. Even though Eldest Brother-in-law is a general, you all along do not have knowledge of these stuffs.”
Chen Rou Qiu’s words were said cleverly to get what she desired, to say that Shen Xin was a General but Shen Miao, as his daughter, did not know archery. The reason why females did not liked playing with knives and handling spears might be somewhat justified because of not knowing military skills. But if one does not have knowledge in military and literary skills then one would be quite terrible. Moreover everyone knew that Shen Miao had no knowledge on the four scholarly arts and to add on by saying that she was not good at military skills, this demoted Shen Miao’s reputation to nothing and one would also slight Shen Xin’s household.
“But… The rules for this challenge cannot be changed.” Shen Qing looked anxious but her voice had a tone that was rejoicing in Shen Miao’s misfortune, “Once an opponent was picked, no matter what the topic was, one must complete the challenge. But everyone would always pick an outstanding person to compete against. Could it be possible that Fifth Younger Sister had a hidden skill, else why would Cai Lin pick you out?”
Her words were somewhat piercing. But not only did Ren Wan Yun not stopped her, she smiled, “Eldest daughter is saying nonsense. How would Fifth Lady know how to play with knives and handle spears. Fifth Lady, if you do not wish to go up on stage to compete then Second Shen will personally speak to the academy examiners. You are still young and thinking of Eldest Brother-in-law’s face, they would not make things difficult for you.”
Even though Ren Wan Yun’s words sounded as if she was rescuing her lovingly, if one were to think very carefully, it would not be the case. After all in the academy examinations, there was no one that was the exception. For Shen Miao to be a precedent, most likely the Ding capital residence would start to talk. Moreover to use Shen Xin’s reputation, it might sound to others that Shen Xin used his meritorious efforts to gain privileges. After all, one would conform to the views of the majority and other than the advantage of having a good identity, there also were lots of disadvantages.
And she would never allow anyone to say anything ‘bad’ about Shen Xin.
“Thanking Second Shen, it is not required.” She stood up at the female side of the banquet and slowly walked towards the stage. The entire arena quietened down and one could clearly hear the young lady’s voice as it set off a wave in the arena.
“I comply to this fight.”
Cai Lin vision faltered. The reason why he did this was nothing more than wanting to vent it for Shen Yue. In the military topic, it would always be a misfortune for a male to challenge a female. But he was used being a scoundrel, and most likely would be scolded by his own parents when he returned. But thinking of being able to vent it out for Shen Yue, made Cai Ling to be delighted from the bottom of his heart. He was thinking that it would be good if Shen Miao did not dared to accept this challenge, he would then ruthlessly ridicule Shen Miao.
But one could not imagine that Shen Miao actually accepted the challenge. Not only that, she was portraying such a calm and magnanimous expression. Watching that purple clad person slowing walking up the stage, Cai Lin’s heart felt strange.
It was as if she had no fear.
But how could that be possible? Shen Miao did not know archery and he knew it better than anyone. For someone who had never practice martial arts, naturally they would be ignorant about it. Shen Miao could possibly not even know how to properly hold a bow, and in the face of something that one was not good at and had never tried before, anyone would panic.
She could actually keep up the act to such a point?
Just as Cai Lin was pondering, he suddenly felt a pair of eyes on him. He turned and met with Shen Yue’s eyes from the female side of the banquet. When Shen Yue saw him looking over, she got embarrassed and lowered her head. Cai Lin’s heart was captivated by that one scene.
Every youth’s heart had a lovely dream of being a hero saving a beauty. As of now in Cai Lin’s eyes, he was that hero who stood out on behalf of the beauty and as for Shen Miao, she was that evil and ugly villain.
Regardless of whether she accepted or declined this challenge, he would definitely make Shen Miao lose all of her face, and her embarrassment would be in full view of everyone.
This was to make her not to run rampant in front of Shen Yue again!
Generally speaking, the topic on ‘challenging’ was that the person who challenged would set the rules and also dictate on how the challenge would be carried out, and the person who was challenged could only accept it. So, because no one knew how it would develop, in every year this round would attract the highest amount of attention.
Shen Miao walked up the stage.
The chief examiner of the academy examinations was in a somewhat difficult situation. Shen Miao was after all a delicate little young lady. It was justifiable for female and male to challenge each others in the literary topics but for military ones, it was feared that Cai Lin was deliberately making a fool out of her.
“Today’s play is extremely good.” Prince Zhou clapped his hands, seemingly showing his interest, “I am Afraid that the reputation of Shen Family’s First Household would fall a thousand Zhang (1 zhang = 10 feet).”
Prince Jing shook his head and sighed, “General Shen’s good reputation was gained in the battlefield but his daughter is failing to live up to expectations.” In Prince Jing’s heart it was not only she failed to live up to expectations and was also actually very silly. It was obvious that it would be wrong for her to either accept or decline the challenge and with that kind of attitude, whatever that followed next would be even more laughable.
Cai Lin’s lips complacently curled up, “This year I have thought up of an interesting rule since it would be boring to follow the usual rules. The archery challenge this year would be for us to shoot at one another. You put a fruit on top of your head and I will shoot you with an arrow, after which I will then put one on my head and you shoot me. What about it?”
When those words were said, the entire arena went into an uproar!
That examiner jumped in shock. This could result in death. Shen Miao was ultimately Shen Xin’s daughter and if anything happened to her, when Shen Xin returned at the end of the year, who could be able to handle him if he were to look into it?
He quickly said, “Student Cai…”
Cai Lin waved his hand, “Teacher, Guang Wen Tang does not prioritise specifically for anyone. It is the case for previous regulations for the challenger to define the rules. So Why? A dignified Grand General’s daughter is such a timid younger generation?”
Shen Yue lowered her head and covered her tilted lips. Feng An Ning frowned but she did not know what to do.
“His words are not wrong.” The voice was somewhat hoarse but it was from Prince Yu who had kept his eyes closed all the time. There was a trace of an eccentric smile on his grim face as he said, “Naturally there was no argument that rules are meant to be fixed specifically for anyone. Is it possible that in the battlefield, because the enemy is strong, General Shen would temporarily flee? If so, then it is understandable.” Finishing, he himself felt that it was funny and started laughing.
Shen Miao’s eyes suddenly sharpened.
These people’s words were all mocking Shen Xin and they really thought that she was the weakness of the First Household of the Shen family. Before the anger that was accumulated finally burst forth she looked at Cai Lin, who was enjoying this good play, and swept her eyes towards the people in the banquet who were mocking.
The Shen Miao that was reborn could tolerate but the mistress of the Inner Palace, Empress Shen had a temperament of seeking revenge for the smallest grievances.
She coldly said, “My father fights in bloody battles in foreign lands to guard families and defend the country so that the Chrysanthemum banquet like today’s can be held and students can compete.” There was a flash of mockery in her eyes, “The win in today’s competition does not mean anything. The outstanding people are the ones that have killed on the battlefield. As for the rules you set, why would I not dare?”
Everyone blanked out for a moment.
“Why would I not dare? With your exquisite archery skills, you will naturally be able to shoot the fruits, whereas my archery skills are not up to par. If the arrow goes sideways, the person that would fear for their life is you.”
She smiled lightly as her voice seemed to be flown from afar but was as loud as thunder to everyone.
“In this case, sign a life and death agreement. Whether injured or dead, the consequences will be at our own peril.”
“Cai Ling, do you dare?”