At Duke Ying's residence, Wei Chang Hong didn't fully recover from his injury until half a month later.
During this time, Wei Luo was always nearby to watch over him. She had searched and collected various kinds of expensive medicine for him and wouldn't feel assured until she watched him drink a large bowl of medicine every day. Sometimes, Wei Chang Hong felt very helpless and tried to struggle against this, "Ah Luo, I'm not as delicate as you. My injury had healed a long time ago. Could I stop drinking these tonics?"
Wei Luo shook her head and rather unreasonably said, "You can't even defeat Li Song. When you can beat Li Song, you won't have to continue drinking these tonics."
Li Song had practiced martial arts since he was a child. Wei Chang had only learned some boxing to strengthen his body and health. Their abilities couldn't be compared. Her condition was too unreasonable. Wei Chang Hong didn't have any other methods and could only continue drinking the tonics.
Today, Zhao Liuli had invited Wei Luo to the palace because she had something she wanted to discuss with Wei Luo. So, Wei Luo let Chang Hong off for today. She returned to her room, changed her clothes, and went to the palace.
At the same time, Emperor Chong Zhen had arranged a banquet at Lin De Hall and had invited the top three winners for the hunting competition to confer their rewards to them. A few princes and the sons of imperial officials would also be at the banquet. Zhao Jie and Zhao Zhang were also on the invitation list.
Zhao Jie hadn't officially participated in this year's hunting competition. Zhao Jie had only taken this chance to join in the festivity. After all, this type of competition was Emperor Chong Zheng's method of testing the young men's abilities. It wasn't a grand and solemn occasion. There wasn't a reason for the princes to show off their strengths and steal someone else's opportunity. Originally, Zhao Jie had wanted to hunt a small fox for Wei Luo, but since that girl didn't seem interested, he could only drop the subject.
At the banquet, Emperor Chong Zhen was wearing a purple, imperial ceremonial robe and a yi shan guan (a type of Ming Dynasty crown). His smile was good-natured as he allowed everyone to sit down. Zhao Jie and Zhao Zhang sat on his left and right side.
(T/N: Below is a picture of that type of crown.)
Zhao Jie was wearing an inky grey robe with golden edges and a pattern of dragons that hadn't yet grown horns. His bearing was noble.
Zhao Zhang was seven or eight years younger than him. He was wearing a dark blue robe with a python pattern and cupping his hands in greeting. His smile was amiable and meek, but his face didn't show fear.
Liang Yu was sitting below Zhao Jie. Li Song was sitting below Zhao Zhang. The other official's son sat next to Liang Yu. The other people were sitting respectively on the left and right side of the hall.
During the banquet, Emperor Chong Zhen had heavily praised Liang Yu and the other two winners. He praised them as young men who had outstanding talent, bravery, and strategic ability. His words were very appreciative.
Liang Yu modestly stood up at once and felt somewhat embarrassed hearing these words. However, Emperor Chen didn't have the same impression. He ordered the palace servants to bring out the rewards that had been prepared in advance to bestow to these three people.
The three people kneeled down, accepted the reward, and sat down in their seats again.
The reward ceremony was followed by drinking and watching the dancers.
The dancers wore rainbow colored clothing. They swayed and whirled their bodies to the sound of the music. Their movements and postures were graceful. Most people couldn't turn their eyes away from them.
Zhao Jie lowered his eyes. With waning interest, he poured a cup of wine for himself and lifted up the ceramic wine cup. He raised his eyes to look at Li Song, who was sitting on the other side.
The injury on Li Song's chest wasn't healed, so he couldn't drink wine. He had seemed absent-minded since the banquet started and was supporting his chin with his hand. At the moment, everyone was appreciatively watching the colorfully dressed dancers. Although his eyes were looking at the dancers, who knew where his consciousness had disappeared?
Zhao Jie called to a palace servant and whispered a few words to him. The servant nodded, quickly and quietly appeared behind Li Song, and said a few words into his ear.
After Li Song heard these words, Li Song looked at Zhao Jie gloomily.
Zhao Jie raised his wine cup. His thin lips held his smile. He raised his head, drank the cup in one gulp, and placed the cup down on the table upside down to indicate, "I finished. Do as you wish."
Li Song's eyes deepened. He could only pour a cup of wine for himself, toast Zhao Jie, raise his head, and finish the cup in one gulp.
Li Song had though this would be done after one cup. Who would have expected that Zhao Jie would deliberately torment him? One cup wasn't enough. There was a second cup, then a third cup... When he had drunk the seventh cup, it felt as if the injury on his chest had split opened. His heart felt a burning pain. But when he saw that Zhao Jie didn't have the intention to stop, he could only endure his pain and accompany him in drinking. The two of them were fired up and vowed to not give up until the other person fell over.
Unfortunately for Li Song, his tolerance for alcohol wasn't as good as Zhao Jie's. As each cup of wine went down, Zhao Jie's face didn't change the slightest amount. Instead, his face became increasingly composed. As for Li Song, the scene in front of him was already somewhat hazy. There was suddenly a sweet-smell in his throat, but he endured it and swallowed it down. He diligently drunk another cup and firmly placed the cup down on the black lacquered table inlayed with gold!
The banquet ended. Everyone returned to their own residences.
Zhao Jie's steps were steady. Other than his body smelling of wine, he didn't seem like a person that recently drank twenty something cups of wine. He nonchalantly said his goodbyes to everyone, walked down the steps near the throne, and departed through Xuan De Palace’s entrance.
On the contrary, Li Song's eyes were red and his gait was careless. With the help of a palace servant, he was barely able to walk out of Lin De Hall. By the time he walked outside to Xuan De Palace's entrance and felt the cold wind, he felt somewhat sober.
Coincidentally, a bluish-green covered carriage arrived and stopped at the Xuan De Palace's doorway. One of Wei Luo's hand held her skirt decorated with a hundred golden butterflies and flowers and her other hand held Jin Lu as she came out of the carriage. When she first looked up, she met Zhao Jie's line of sight. Her pink lips started to curve up to show a smile. As her line of sight changed, she saw Li Song behind him and the corners of her lips immediately hanged down. She looked away. She didn't want to see him.
Zhao Jie smiled. He reached her in a few steps. He stroked the top of her head and asked, "Why did you come to the palace? Is Liuli looking for you?"
Wei Luo nodded and plainly said, "Liuli said there was something she wanted to discuss with me and wanted me to come visit her." As she said this, she smelled the alcohol on his body. She retreated half a step and held her nose. "Did big brother drink wine? The smell is so strong."
Not only had he drunk, he had drunk a lot.
Zhao Jie couldn't smell it himself, but he saw the young girl's face of distaste. He couldn't resist teasing her, "What? You don't like it when this prince drinks?"
Far from the question of like or dislike, it was only that she wasn't used to the smell. She put down hand that was holding her nose, "If I say I don't like it?"
He curved his lips, looked at her eyes, and said half in jest and half in earnest, "Then, I won't drink wine anymore."
Wei Luo blinked and didn't say anything.
Behind Zhao Jie, Li Song looked away from them, took the reins that a palace servant handed to him, mounted the horse, raised the horsewhip, urged the horse forward, and left without looking back.
(T/N: Advance chapters have been updated on Patreon.)