Meng Fuyao opened her eyes lazily, pointing to her nose and sneering.
"Compared to those shrieking girls, I'd rather be a psycho killer."
She shut her eyes once more and turned to her side as if getting ready to sleep. However, the next moment, her palm hit the ground, and she shot right out of the temple like an arrow. Her body was in the air while her whip had already formed a black arc that was rolling toward the tree with a sharp, whipping sound.
At the same time, Yao Xun's lanky body jolted, and he vanished from where he had been sitting, reappearing 100 meters away the next second.
Meng Fuyao turned her head in midair, impressed by Yao Xun's shamelessness. Not only was he as good as her when it came to acting, but he also had zero loyalty.
As she was distracted, her whip strayed from its intended path. The person behind the tree snorted, easily trapping her whip under his feet.
Upon lowering her head and spotting a black pair of shoes with flame-colored edges, Meng Fuyao promptly released her hand, all willing to abandon her whip, turned and fled.
She hadn't distanced herself much when someone grabbed the back of her collar forcefully. When the momentum left her striding on the same spot, laughter could be heard overhead as the culprit held her down in a rough motion.
"Why are you following me everywhere? Are you begging for food?" Meng Fuyao growled resentfully
"You're quite a delight, aren't you?" Zhan Beiye expressed sarcastically. "How am I to bring a girl with such bad upbringing to the palace feast?"
"Look who's talking!" Meng Fuyao snapped. She remembered how Zhan Beiye had fled upon seeing the bold lady, Ya Lanzhu, and figured that a character like that would be off-putting for him. She even added recklessly, "Your whole family has no manners."
"You're right." Zhan Beiye let out a smile, as dazzling as the sun's rays but nothing like Yuan Zhaoxu's. "It is a fact that my family has no manners, but I'm the exception."
He kicked Meng Fuyao's whip up, coiled it around her legs and lifted her off the ground in a few swift movements, before conveniently gauging her weight by raising it up and down.
"Still alright, not too heavy."
"What are you doing!" Meng Fuyao squealed, floundering about close to the ground like a dumpling hanging off its string, and even eating a mouthful of dirt.
"I have a feast to attend, and I am asking you to join me." Zhan Beiye exhaled. "I've never failed or been rejected my whole life. I will not let you be the first to spoil my record."
He flipped his palm, easily pulling her toward him and meeting her eyes.
Just like that Meng Fuyao, who was hanging upside down and feeling all dizzy, heard the weirdest confession ever.
"Listen, woman." Zhan Beiye flashed his bright teeth, causing Meng Fuyao to shut her eyes. "I'm about to conquer you."
Hair full of golden pins, garment full of beads and also holes like those found in hip-hop style clothing, Meng Fuyao hung stiffly beside this certain someone.
King Hunter looked absolutely suave that night. His royal-yellow dragon robe enhanced the brilliance of his thick, black brows. The purple detailing on it, which usually looked gaudy on ordinary men, appeared especially magnificent on him. It was enough proof that clothes would never let a good looking face and body down.
It was the birthday of Taiyuan Emperor, Qi Hao, that day, and a grand feast with 16 seats took place in the Qingyun Palace Hall that afternoon. Local, high-ranking officials were present to receive representatives from respective nations. As the emperor wasn't feeling too well, he attended only for a short while to make a few toasts and exchange some pleasantries before taking his leave, while the rest continued enjoying the feast.
Since Tiansha was the biggest nation, as its representative and the emperor's younger brother, Zhan Beiye naturally received great respect from the guests and was also thrown into the spotlight with his extraordinary looks.
As the female companion of such an outstanding man, Meng Fuyao understood that she would a subject of scrutiny. Thus, she went all out with her ginger juice, golden hairpins, and fishnet outfit, and had two rings on every finger. On both arms, she put on golden-bell bracelets, which jingled loudly as she walked. She even put on some talcum powder that she had purchased from a night market, spreading strong whiffs of fragrance wherever she went.
Meng Fuyao's fishnet-inspired outfit was undoubtedly eye-catching. The beautiful golden butterflies on her original pleated skirt had been torn off, leaving holes all over and revealing white, inner pants.
If not for her fear of being beaten up by Taiyuan guards for looking so obscene, she would've worn the inner layer of clothing on the outside.
Dressed in multiple colors, Meng Fuyao strutted into the dazzling Qingyun Palace Hall, turning the faces of the other envoys purple. Zhan Beiye, on the other hand, entered nonchalantly.
When the emperor returned to get some rest, Meng Fuyao immediately waved to get the attention of a palace maid. "Waiter!"
At a loss, the waiter was unable to respond.
"Get me one dried fish!" Meng Fuyao demanded, throwing her a scornful glance.
The hall was instantly filled with boisterous objections. Dried fish were lowly and stinky salted fish that common people slogged hard to place on their dining tables. They were fish that people with even a little bit of status condemned, so one could only imagine the blasphemy Meng Fuyao had committed.
The master of ceremonies glared, ashen-faced, at Zhan Beiye, who raised a winecup to his mouth and downed it in one gulp before slamming it on the table.
Zhan Beiye lifted his brow and swept his eyes across the hall. Then, he snarked, "Why are you looking at me, Sir? This is Taiyuan, for goodness sake. Can't even serve your guest a dried fish?"
His words hit the master of ceremonies like a brick, causing his heart to jump. He broke out in cold sweat, quickly recalling that the man before him was known for killing without batting an eyelid. He had also heard that the Mo Lo Clan, which shared a border with his people, had been tamed after much beating. In fact, a stare from Zhan Beiye was enough to make them pee their pants. The master of ceremonies, finally able to verify his formidable powers and harsh attitude, speedily called for the palace maid to get a stinky fish from outside the palace.
The dried fish, slightly black in color, was eventually served on an unmatching gold and silver plate. The chef had specially seasoned it with wine in a futile attempt to mask the fish's odor. Guests on both sides of the hall started pinching their noses with frowns on their faces. They also became restless, as though there were needles on their seats that prevented them from sitting still.
Meng Fuyao chewed and chewed, before turning to Zhan Beiye. "Come, come, take a piece. Food of the peasants bring out the flavors better at times. It's not something that a royal prince like you can get to savor often."
Zhan Beiye stared at the fish, whose smell was so abstract that it left him in a daze.
Meng Fuyao giggled as she saw the fluctuations of his facial expression. She was waiting for him to flare up. 'Go on, make some noise, get angry, flip the table.... Even you, a royal prince, will be kicked out of the banquet for being disrespectful.'
If not him, it would work, too, if she got kicked out for being uncultured.
Meng Fuyao gave Zhan Beiye a malicious look before letting her eyes roam about his vital acupuncture point and feeling an overwhelming impulse to jab it. If not for the fact that he had locked her inner energy, which prevented her from escaping, she wouldn't have had to consume this stinking fish; she hated fish the most.
After staring at the fish for some time, Zhan Beiye turned to Meng Fuyao with an expression that said, Bring it on, and retrieved the pungent fish with his bare hand.
Under the gaze of everyone present, the honorable royal prince took a deep breath and finished his piece without any regard for anyone.
When done, he even indulged in its aftertaste, nodding approvingly. "Not bad, really tasty."
Meng Fuyao's face was as black as charcoal at this point. "I wasn't done speaking. I meant to say flavors of the toilet."
Zhan Beiye narrowed his eyes, shooting invisible daggers at her. After a brief pause, he responded, "You eat food more fragrant than mine."
Soon after, Meng Fuyao made another request. "I need to relieve myself."
'You're not going to follow me, are you?' Meng Fuyao smirked inwardly. It was a shallow but employable idea.
Zhan Beiye finished his wine and said, very naturally, "Let's go."
'Fine, fine. Let's see how you're going to follow me into the female cubicle.'
Meng Fuyao sat stiffly before breaking into a wide smile. "Sure, let's go."
At that, the duo walked through the odd looks other guests were throwing their way and exited the palace hall with the company of a eunuch, who led them to their respective bathrooms.
'Not good,' Meng Fuyao thought, upon realizing that the male and female bathrooms were opposite of each other. Despite the decorative privacy partition board on the walls, it was impossible for her to climb over it because it wasn't tall and her head would be exposed.
She turned around in time to catch his triumphant smile, which only made her madder. He must've known about the layout of the toilets already.
Indignant at the unfair situation, Meng Fuyao lifted her skirt a little and stroke into the toilet, which looked more like an ordinary house. She sat down on the bucket, staring at the box of jujubes at the side and contemplating how she could escape. Deep in thought, she subconsciously picked out a jujube and started eating it. Only a long time later did it hit her that these dates were meant to be stuck up the nostrils to keep the smell out.
The thought of it let her spit the half-eaten date out. Looking at its suspicious shape and slightly brown color, nausea hit her like a wave, which made her jump up and belch.
Before she got anything out, she heard someone crying out from outside, "What's wrong with that lady?"
Meng Fuyao raised her head and saw two palace maids exiting from a small door that was behind the screen, which meant that she could easily be spotted. Through the opened door she vaguely saw rows of buckets and figured that inside was the palace's main toilet. Behind those buckets was a half-opened hatchway.
Her eyes lit up, as did a light bulb in her head.
"Hey, sister! Save me!" Meng Fuyao stood on the bucket, face exposed, with tears streaming down her face. "Save my child!"
Half an hour later, Meng Fuyao pinned her skirt to her waist and snuck out of the hatchway in the main toilet.
It turned out that Meng Fuyao had gotten the attention of the two palace maids and shared her mournful story. She was a wretched girl, whom a prince had taken as his concubine during her laborious search for her husband. She was also pregnant but forced to undergo an abortion. Her Oscar-level acting, so vivid and detailed, was worth a mention. She hadn't forgotten to express the grief of losing her husband, the pain of carrying a child, the fear of being seized by the mansion and the humiliation of being abused by the evil prince. Her conveying of emotions was so on point that her listeners had broken down in tears and boldly promised to pull her out from the devil's claws.