Chapter 4: Wedding
Bright red candles were lit, a brocaded couch also the color red, the color of cheer*.
*Historically, red has always been seen as a lucky color in China and is common in weddings. This is NOT a communist thing. Fun fact: saying something is “red” in Chinese means it’s popular.
Although they had an agreement with Ren Fengyao on what would happen after the marriage, Zi Yinye was still resentful she still had to be married. She never expected her marriage to happen under such circumstances. She had already lost count how many twists and turns she had to go through to reach the bridal room. She only vaguely remembered how large the event was. And of course, how could the wedding of Ren Fengyao, the young talent valued by the emperor, be ordinary. Smiling mockingly at herself, she sat straight, calmly sitting cross-legged on a bed, waiting for the groom to unveil her.
After a while, she could faintly hear the sound of guests playing a drinking game. The groom would probably be forced to drink until he was drunk. While she pondered over how she was going to deal with the groom if he was drunk, she warned herself not to be nervous and expose her secret.
Just as she was in deep thought, there was a peal of footsteps outside the door. Zi Yinye’s heart sunk. The door was opened and one person entered. Was he drunk?
Although his steps were unsteady, Ren Fengyao’s eyes were clear. Today, he had been poured quite a few cups of wine, but not enough for him to get drunk. Fortunately, Leng Canxing had helped block for him, otherwise he would definitely have become intoxicated. Many of his peers had come, but whether or not they were sincere or had malicious intentions, they all had one thought: watching entertainment. How many grooms did not get drunk on their wedding night? At this moment that Leng Canxing was holding them back, he had to use this time to speak to Lady Zi.
“Lady Zi, I presume your maids have already informed you?” Seeing Zi Yinye nod, he continued, “I have wronged you, however, at the present, this is the best I can do. In a few days, I will personally empty my home’s ‘Wind Pavilion’ for you to live. You will stay there temporarily while I sleep in the study and not disturb you. Once the time comes, we will divorce. If you are not willing to live at the official minister residence, I have another house near the outskirts of the city. Three months later, you can move there, but during those three months, I apologize that you must coordinate with me for outsiders to see.”
Ren Fengyao’s voice was steady and powerful, his sincerity apparent. Zi Yinye couldn’t help have have the urge to see how he looked like, but before she could reply, there was another string of footsteps outside the door, immediately followed by the door being flung open. A few people staggered in impetuously.
A flash of annoyance passed through Ren Fengyao’s eyes. One of them said, “Minister Ren, why haven’t you unveiled her yet? Are you afraid of others seeing her?” From the sound of his tone, it seemed like he was taking pleasure in Ren Fengyao’s misfortune. In all likelihood, he had heard of the rumors and come to watch while also using the chance to ridicule Ren Fengyao!
“Gentlemen, the emperor has ordered that nobody can disturb minister Ren’s bridal room,” a clear voice interrupted.
“We’re not causing a disturbance, we’re only here to see the bride!” They jeered.
Ren Fengyao was fully aware of why they had come. If he did not unveil her, then none of them would leave. Ren Fengyao smiled coldly and walked forward slowly, then lifted off the red veil.
As the veil landed on the ground, the first thing they saw was a brilliant crown of pearls.
The bride drooped her head. A white veil covered her face. They could not see her appearance, nor the emotion in her eyes.
The person who had previously spoken laughed embarrassedly. “Why does the bride have her face covered?” Hearing this, the bride lowered her head even more.
“Enough, enough. Gentlemen, please leave! If you all stay and the emperor learned of it, then it would be troublesome. Please go back!” A young man drove them out of the room, closing the door tightly behind him.
The room fell silent. Ren Fengyao gave a slight cough. “I apologize!”
Zi Yinye did not raise her gaze. Instead, she shook her head. With this slight shake, she had glanced over the entire room. Immediately, an awkward atmosphere arose. Ren Fengyao could hear that there were no more noises outside and knew that the guests had left. Thus, he said, “Miss, please rest!”
Hearing the door shut, Zi Yinye understood that Ren Fengyao left and slowly removed the crown of pearls. Zi Yinye knew that another possible crisis had been averted. Next, she had to wait for three months to pass so she could move out of the official minister residence. Only then would she truly be safe.
The second day after the wedding, the two women from Beiqi came to pay their respects to the minister’s wife. Although it was said to be paying their respects, it was more correct to say they were confronting Zi Yinye. But Zi Yinye was completely indifferent. It wasn’t as if she wanted to be married, so why did it matter what they said? But her four servants were indignant. How could their lady be bullied! If it weren’t for Zi Yinye’s instructions, the one with the worst temper, Xia Yue, would have already reported to Ren Fengyao.
More than a month after the wedding, besides her slight interaction with Ren Fengyao on the wedding night, she had never seen Ren Fengyao and his apparent alienation was known by all the servants, causing them to hold Zi Yinye with some disdain. A stately minister of a country, a talented youth, was going to be forced to marry a woman so ugly even ghosts would shun her. Anybody would say this was injustice. Added with Ren Fengyao’s cold attitude, Zi Yinye’s status was low as could be.
“My lady, young master Hua sent a letter!” Qiu Xing handed over a letter to Zi Yinye.
“Oh!” Zi Yinye said with a rare amount of excitement, “Brother Jianli sent a letter?” After she read the letter, she started frowning. Sensing her master was anxious, she asked carefully, “My lady, has something happened?”
Zin Yinye sighed. “Brother Jianli is planning on reuniting Zhi nation!”
Qiu Xin was astonished. “This quickly?”
“Quick?” Zi Yinye said with amusement, “This is quick? Zhi nation has been split into East Zhi and West Zhi for ten years. For these past few years, the seat of emperor has changed hands constantly, warring unceasingly. The Zhi nation’s people cannot withstand such turmoil and are looking forward to an outstanding individual to reunite Zi nation. And there have been many people trying to hold the country together. The time seems almost ripe! But…”
Zi Yinye rubbed her temples, saying angrily, “I had already told Brother Jianli that once he wanted to reunite the country, I would help, but who would have anticipated such an imperial decree. Now I’m tied down here.”
“My lady, this wasn’t your fault! I expect that young master Hua would also be understanding.”
Zi Yinye shook her head. “These past few years, I have always been reliant on Brother Jianli and Brother Du. They have always been faithful towards me, so how can I go back on my promise? And reuniting the country has been Brother Jianli’s wish for many years. In truth, I also want to see Zhi. Afterall, wandering the realm is my dream. But Zhi has always been in the chaos of war, so how can I leisurely go sightseeing? I cannot wait for three years! I need to think of another method!”
Just as she was speaking, Dong Chen suddenly hurried over. “My lady, young master Ren has arrived!”
Zi Yinye froze for a moment, the muttered, “How, how come he’s here?” Ren Fengyao hadn’t appeared every since their wedding night, but today he was here, so today, why…? Oh, right! The imperial banquet!
Every year on the winter solstice, the palace would hold a majestic banquet, hosted by the emperor and empress. All the civil and military officials along with their immediate family would be invited. On one hand, the officials would try to pander with the emperor, while on the other, the imperial concubines and the officials’ families would mingle. This was not just for the emperor and his officials to bond, but also for the women to become acquainted.
It was already the winter solstice today? Just as she was in the middle of pondering, Ren Fengyo strolled in. This was the first time she had faced Ren Fengyao directly. On the wedding night, Zi Yinye had had her head lowered. She had only heard his voice and never had seen his face before. The first thing she noticed was Ren Fengyao’s tall and straight figure. Although he seemed a bit weakly, he emitted calm and grace.
As he walked in, Zi Yinye gradually could see his appearance. He had an exceptionally handsome face, dark, profound eyes filled with deep meanings, yet his gaze was sharp. A trace of a smile on his smooth lips, he donned an extremely ordinary looking dark scholar robes, but it did not hide his distinguished literary grace. Although he was a young man, he had the reserved calm of a more mature man.
Overall, he gave off an indifferent and calm aura, but Zi Yinye felt the urge to flee. She didn’t know why she had this feeling, but she intuitively wanted to escape. Hua Jianli and Du Luo were both outstanding talents, men with unordinary grandeur, but she had never felt this around them. She was able to interact with them very relaxedly. But although he was clearly a very gentle man, why did he give her such a sense of danger?
This was also the first time Ren Fengyao was facing Zi Yinye directly. Although her face was still covered, he could see her lustrous, gem like eyes. Currently, she was in a daze, but she seemed to immediately come back to her senses and lower her gaze frightfully. “Husband*, do you have any instructions?”
Clearly, she was afraid of him, her gentle voice carrying faint cowardice. Ren Fengyao really wanted to to tell her not to be afraid, but he did not know how. Although her current position was his wife, she had another person in her heart. He too was not pleased with this marriage. Afterall, only a harmonious marriage of consent was happy. Their current situation was just a stop gap measure. Perhaps even without three years, they would become estranged, so there was no need to become more entangled with her. It was not that he was unaware of the situation at the official minister residence, but that he was powerless to change it. If he showed concern, she would have even more trouble instead. Her reputation had already been destroyed and if he interacted with her even more, the person in her heart might misunderstand. So although he knew that the servants at the official minister residence did not treat her well, he could not make a sound. She only needed to stay for three months, then leave. But today, he had no choice but to come. She had to participate at the imperial banquet.
With a deep intake of breath, Ren Fengyao spoke. “I have to trouble you, I’m afraid! There is a banquet at the palace today and it is mandatory that all wives of officials must participate, therefore…”
It was the imperial banquet just as she had expected. Zi Yinye, her eyes still lowered, said faintly, “Husband*, what about your two mistresses?”
Ren Fengyao was at a loss for a moment, not understanding Zi Yinye. Was this an excuse because she unwilling to participate at the imperial banquet or was it because she was unsatisfied with Qi Zhenniang and Mo Jingyi being bestowed to him? How could it be? Ren Fengyao laughed in his heart secretly. She already had someone in her heart, so how could she dislike her fake husband having two women at his side? Although he only treated two two Beiqi women as wall flowers, he didn’t feel the need to tell her. Ren Fengyao said helplessly, “Only the first wife can participate!”
Zi Yinye raised her eyes, asking with unease, “Is that so! What does your lordship want me** to do?”
Ren Fengyao laughed and tried to pacify her. “My lady, you only need to enter the palace. The servants will take care of everything else!
Haha, how ridiculous, this man. His address and tone were both cold and distant. A man who kept his promises! It was only a pity that she couldn’t wait for him to finish keeping his promise.
Zi Yinye pondered for a moment. She was going to separate from him very soon. A thought of teasing him arose, but it immediately disappeared. He was too dangerous of an individual!
“Husband*!” Zi Yinye said softly. There were a few things she had to bring his attention to. “I** have already been married to you. You* need to change the way you address me!”
Hearing this, Ren Fengyao froze. “I**, I** almost forgot. Thank you* for your reminder, otherwise I would have become a laughingstock and there would have been trouble.”
*he still calls her “my lady” here……
Zi Yinye secretly laughed in her heart. This man was really the rumored to be unparalleled prime minister?