It was warm and sunny on the day of the feast.
Gu Yi and Gu Wan was already when Gu Lian entered the carriage with the help of MeiXiang, she raised her brows at the current mood inside. Gu Yi’s face was filled with anger while Gu Wan was curled up in a corner.
One look at the scene and she knew exactly what happened.
Apparently Gu Wan had accidentally spilled her tea, almost dirtying Gu Yi’s dress, this had angered Gu Yi as she had put in a lot of effort for her gown, as it matches her makeup and accessories perfectly, it would be a disaster if she needed to change into another gown.
“What wrong?” Gu Lian smiled innocently, staring at her sisters while reaching out for Gu Wan’s trembling hand, “Be patient, we’re reaching the princess’s residence soon.”
Gu Yi’s anger slowly subsides as she realized that her eldest sister was soothing the mood in the carriage, “Big sister, have a seat here,” She smiled sweetly.
Both sisters conveniently ignored the spilled tea on the carpet as Gu Wan keept her eyes downcast and Gu Yi started chatting happily with her eldest sister. Seeing this situation, Gu Lian grinned slightly as she gaze out the carriage window while responding to Gu Yi’s chattering.
Yan Shi and Gu Qing had not yet arrived at their glamorous carriage, but the servants were already rushing around the carriage while making sure that the tea and desserts were all perfectly placed.
Ah, the luxuries that illegitimate children like us would never enjoy~ Gu Lian thought nonchalantly as she watched the scene in amusement.
“Big sister, your attire today made you look even prettier than usual,” Gu Yi smiled sweetly as she showered her eldest sister in praises, “Especially this hairstyle, I have never seen one with such elegance in it.”
“It was done by my hand-maiden, MeiXiang,” Gu Lian replied gently, “Please feel free to send your hand-maiden to my place, I’ll allow MeiXiang to teach it to your people.”
“That’ll be wonderful!” She clapped in excitement upon hearing her words.
Gu Lian took this opportunity to adjust her sister’s hairpin, “Hm, your makeup and accessories are not ruined, but perhaps the weather today is quite hot as you’re already sweating.”
Gu Yi’s eyes went wide as she nervously wiped the sweat off her face with a handkerchief, sighing in relief as she saw that it was not stained with any of her makeup while not forgetting to glare at Gu Wan once again.
Gu Lian watched her sixth sister silently with cold eyes, not helping her a second time as the mood was already lifted, but Gu Wan had to receive at least a little bit of punishment.
For someone as timid as Gu Wan, it would be logical for her to sit still at a corner nervously to prevent any accidents from happening. But the fact that she actually spilled tea towards Gu Yi, who was sitting opposite to her, was obvious that it was done on purpose.
But it was to be expected, as Gu Wan is already of age to marry, plus the fact that her two illegitimate-born sisters were also lacking a fiancee, had made her panic. Hence, for a chance of having a good future, Gu Wan had decided to take a leap of faith and chose to stand with Yan Shi, resulting in the “incident’ today. Unfortunately, she was still the timid little girl as always, hence not only did she fail her first mission, she even exposed herself and her current position in this power struggle.
But Gu Wan’s actions today gave Gu Lian a sense of crisis, as she was able to convince herself today to ruin Gu Yi’s makeup, what else would she not do in the future? Once you’re someone’s dog, it’s almost impossible to stop in the future, plus your “master” would definitely not allow you to stop.
Gu Lian had came to the conclusion that she would need a teammate, since Gu Wan had already chosen her position, and this was why Gu Lian had adjusted Gu Yi’s accessories as a gesture of goodwill. Having a teammate would be a clever move in this power struggle game, plus she could not think of any conflict of interests between the two of them, which is why if this alliance would stay firm and strong.
As for why she was comfortable in forming the alliance in front of Gu Wan, that was because her sixth sister was a dumb woman, But it is too, expected, because if she wasn’t dumb, she would not even choose Yan Shi’s side, Gu Lian shook her head vaguely.
After what felt like hours, Yan Shi and Gu Qing finally showed up, gleaming luxuriously under the sunlight. They entered their carriage with elegantly before commanding the servants to move.
Tak tak tak tak, the horses’ hoofs sounded as they trotted along the path, casually pulling the carriage towards their destination, and it was to their relief that half of the guests were still not here yet.
As they left the carriage, an eunuch walked up to them, collecting their invitation before inviting them into the princess’s residence, “Ladies, please follow this servant to the princess’s garden, there is a beautiful pond built in the middle of the garden, you’ll certainly enjoy the view.” The eunuch started introducing the princess’s enormous residence as he leaded them towards the garden.
The ladies of House Gu were all filled with excitement, as it was their first time entering the residence of a royalty. Gu Lian, on the other hand, glanced around silently as boredom filled her, something as mild as entering a royal property would not excite her because not only had she visited a royal property in her past life, she had even invaded the royal palace due to boredom.
Even though it was a futuristic era, the creators of the world in her past life had created an ancient royal palace, it was easy as it was all digital coding. Hence, the royal palace in her past life ended up being the epitome of luxury and glamour as the enthusiastic designers poured in every single ounce of fantasy they had into the ancient palace.
Meanwhile, Gu Yi was staring unblinkingly at the glamorous buildings around her before catching the calm look on Gu Wan’s face. She jumped in shock as she realized she had almost seemed like a poor peasant who had walked into a rich district for the first time. Gu Yi quickly calmed her excitement and her enthusiastic expressions turned into the expressionless sweet smile she always wore, silently giving thanks to Lady Luck that there were no outsiders here to see her lose her cool.
Soon, the group of ladies reached their destination, and the pond was not as modest as the eunuch described, in fact, it was humongous. Different pavilions filled the land around the pond as the princess’s other guests lingered and chitchat as they waited for the party to start.
A separate pavilion was assigned to them and they made their way there, and as they seated themselves comfortably, everyone, even Yan Shi, could not help but gasp in awe at the beauty of the place. The curtains were half-translucent, shimmering ever so softly as the wind blew past. Furthermore, the view was absolutely perfect, they could see the wonderful pond while inside the cooling pavilion.
Beautiful maids began serving appetizers as soon as they were seated, filling up the tables quickly with different sort of delicacies while the other maids began setting up a soothing incense that also serve to remove any bugs from the area.
Everyone could not help but fall in love with this stunning place.
Soon, an older looking hand-maiden walked in front of the crowd while smiling, “There will be four different type of competition today, mainly the zither, poem-constructing, painting and dancing. The Princess had prepared wonder prizes for the winners of the competition, would any ladies care to join?”
The guests all groaned impatiently inside, wondering why the princess had not told them beforehand and gave them time to prepare.
On the other hand, Gu Qing’s eye lit up brightly as soon as she heard the announcement, before a slight hesitation flashed through her eyes. Would it be inappropriate for an uptight lady of a prestigious house to perform for others? She wondered nervously as she looked around, wanting to see if anyone was brave enough to be the first.
(TNote: This is probably because only low-classed ladies would perform for others for a living, in the high society, women are only expected to perform for their husbands or the king.)
The hand-maiden smiled as she noticed the ladies’ worries, “Do not worry, ladies, for the princess is known to be very easy-going, and a good performance would always be appreciated here, and most importantly, you would not be labeled as a lady of lower value by choosing to perform here.”
Gu Qing, who had been hesitating before, rushed over immediately to sign up as a contestant upon hearing the maid’s words.
Gu Yi, who had been in the same pavilion as the other ladies of House Gu, had been prepared to sign up too, as this was a good chance to flaunt her talents, only to be held back by silent Gu Lian.
“Competing with Gu Qing will only gain you Yan Shi’s hatred,” She whispered softly into Gu Yi’s ear as she reminded her gently, “Why not wait for the maids to pressure you before accepting it, since by then, it would be treated as an order from the princess?”
Realizing her sister’s efforts, Gu Yi nodded gratefully at Gu Lian before settling down in her own seat, she covered her lips with a handkerchief as she regulated her facial expressions.
Not long after, as according to Gu Lian’s prediction, the hand-maiden who had announced this news walked towards each pavilion, personally inviting the ladies that were residing inside to join the competition.
Gu Yi had answered the hand-maiden’s call and signed up for a performance with the zither.
Gu Wan, on the other hand, was too timid to perform, but upon realizing that the contestants for the painting competition would not need to perform on stage, was hesitating nervously, wondering if she should join. After a long wait by the patient hand-maiden, Gu Wan had decided not to sign up after all, as she was not at all confident in her abilities.
“Big sister, are you not joining?” Knowing that Yan Shi should not know about their alliance, Gu Yi voiced out slowly, probing Gu Lian to make a decision. Gu Yi was not dumb, in fact, she was quite the smart lady.
“I will pass, as I would not want to embarrass our House by offering the princess a bad performance.” She answered calmly, before turning to the side to whisper in one of the servant’s ear.
The servant nodded in respond and proceeded to lead Gu Lian to her destination. Yan Shi glanced at their exchange with disinterest as she was confident that Gu Lian would not be able to hook up with any person of authority with her lowly status of an illegitimate child.
But the truth of her absence was that she really needed to use the washroom and there were no secret plans or conspiracy in this. But then again, there’s no escape when luck forces itself onto you.
[The princess is nearby…]
The system notification sounded in her head as she left the washroom, she blinked as a grin filled her face, deciding that she should not waste such a good opportunity to complete her goal, furthermore, since Lady Luck was on her side right now, why would she push her away?