Wei Luo left the warm room, past a turn in the corner, and coincidentally heard two voices ahead of them. It was Empress Chen talking to someone.
Empress Chen called the other person Wen-shi. Wei Luo thought about it. The only person that came here and had this name was Duke Ding's wife, Wen Xing.
Why were they talking here? Was there something urgent?
Wei Luo subconsciously paused and only heard Empress Chen say, "If this empress remembered correctly, the Third Young Master in your family is eighteen years old this year..."
In a respectful and modest tone, Wei-shi said, "Yes, Your Majesty remembered correctly. Xun-er turned eighteen earlier this year."
Empress Chen slowly said, "En, I remember that Xun-er was an amiable, courteous, cheerful, open-minded, and talented person. There are probably many girls who like him?"
Wen-shi lightly laughed and frankly said, "I'm not afraid that Your Majesty will laugh. Xun-er is very eccentric and doesn't like to talk with girls. Even now, he’s not engaged.”
Empress Chen said in puzzlement, "Oh. This Empress remembers that he was a lively child. He even came to Zhao Yang Hall several times and played along well with Liuli back then. How did he become eccentric?"
Wen-shi said, "Your Majesty, you don't know..."
Wei Luo didn't hear the rest of her words. She turned around to take another path to leave the back of the hall.
The meaning of Empress Chen’s previous words was already clear enough. Zhao Liuli had reached the marriageable age. At the longest, she would be married within a year or two. At the moment, Empress Chen didn't know about Liuli's relationship with Yang Zhen. If she knew, then no matter what, she wouldn't be willing for her precious daughter to marry a bodyguard. Empress Chen had only mentioned Third Young Master Gao Cong Xun. But, she would probably be planning their wedding soon...
Even if it wasn't Gao Cong Xun, it would still be a young master from a noble family.
She didn't know what the ending for Zhao Liuli and Yang Zhen would be.
Wei Luo walked closer to the back of the hall. As she was thinking about her worries, Li Xiang coincidentally came out from inside. The two of them met at the doorway. Li Xiang slanted her head to look at her with a provocative gaze that seemed as if she was rejoicing in someone's misfortune.
Wei Luo furrowed her eyebrows. She didn't know why Li Xiang was here. Shouldn't she be at the front of the hall? However, she didn't have the time to think too much about this. A servant girl came by with a red sandalwood box that had a plum blossom pattern and brought it over to her.
The servant girl said, “Miss Wei, the hairpin ceremony has already started. Please go to the front of the hall."
Wei Luo nodded and accepted the box.
The box contained the hairpin that Zhao Liuli would be using in the hairpin ceremony. It was a golden butterfly hairpin that was similar to the one that Zhao Jie had given her. She had already seen it several times, so she walked directly to the front of the hall without opening the box to look inside.
Inside Zhao Yang Hall, Empress Chen was standing in front of an eight treasure style couch with colorful glass. Zhao Liuli was wearing her selected robe and standing below her. On the sides, there were noble married women and their daughters that were attending the ceremony.
Zhao Liuli was kneeling on red suede carpet and saluting Empress Chen with her hands together.
There were two steps to the hairpin ceremony. The girl's hair would be gathered up onto the top of her head into a bun, then the hairpin would be inserted into her hair. Wei Luo was standing on the side and waiting for Zhao Liuli's hair to be put into a bun, so that she could insert the hairpin. Who could have imagined that when she opened the box there was a butterfly missing on the hairpin?! Instead of two butterflies, there was only a lonely butterfly left on the hairpin. This greatly reduced the value of the hairpin.
Where was the other butterfly?
When she saw the hairpin yesterday, it had been fine. Today, it had been in a box all day. No one had touched it. How could a butterfly be missing? This hairpin definitely couldn't be put onto Zhao Liuli's head. Empress Chen placed such a huge importance on the hairpin ceremony and would be able to see there was something wrong with it in a single glance. If she messed up, she would humiliate the imperial family and Empress Chen would be extremely unhappy with her.
If this wasn't an accident, who would intentionally try to harm her?
Wei Luo thought about when she met Li Xiang at the back of the hall's doorway. Then, she lifted up her eyes to look at Li Xiang.
She saw that Li Xiang was looking at her with a smile. She seemed as if she was going to be watching a good show soon.
Wei Luo dropped her eyes. She had already guessed what happened.
The first step was almost complete. They would soon be waiting for her to step forward to insert the hairpin into Zhao Liuli's hair. Mama Qiu tilted her head to gesture. Wei Luo settled her mind, raised her head, and without a change in her expression, she took out the hairpin that Zhao Jie gave from her sleeve and used it to replace the hairpin inside the box. Fortunately, the area she was standing in wasn't conspicuous. No one noticed what she had just done.
Wei Luo stepped forward. First, she saluted Empress Chen, then she stood up, half-kneeled in front of Zhao Liuli, took out the golden butterfly hairpin from the box that was lined with red silk, and inserted the hairpin into Zhao Liuli’s hair.
Zhao Liuli saw the hairpin, immediately opened her eyes wider from surprise, and whispered, "Ah Luo..."
Wei Lui quietly said, "Shh." Then, she stood up and walked back to her original place.
That hairpin was almost exactly the same as Zhao Liuli's hairpin with only a few subtle differences. Empress Chen was standing on a higher level. If she weren’t carefully looking, she naturally wouldn't be able to tell.
When Wei Luo walked back to her spot, she met Li Xiang's gaze. As expected, there was an incredulous expression on Li Xiang's face. While Li Xiang was angry, she didn't dare to stare at Wei Luo. She probably wouldn't be able to guess how Wei Luo was able to produce an identical hairpin.
After the hairpin ceremony was over, Wei Luo returned to the back of the hall to ask the palace servants if they saw anyone touching this box. She saw Zhao Jie standing inside the entrance. His dark eyes were looking at her. He seemed to have been waiting for a long time.
Wei Luo paused in walking, but she eventually walked over to him.
He looked at red sandalwood box in her hand, then he looked at her. He went straight to the point by asking, "Why did you put the hairpin that this prince gave you into Liuli’s hair?
As expected, he was waiting here for her because he had found out. Was he demanding an explanation of her version of the events?
Wei Luo didn't want him to misunderstand. She could only open the box to let him see the hairpin inside. "I don't know who broke Liuli's hairpin. It's missing a butterfly. If I didn't use that one as a replacement, Empress Chen would have definitely been mad."
The author has something to say:
Zhao Jie: I don't care. If I give you something, then it’s yours! If someone breaks it, then this prince will break that person!
Li Xiang silently shakes in a corner.
(T/N: Just in case you’re confused why this ceremony seemed so simple, we’re only seeing one of seventeen parts of the hairpin ceremony.
Advance chapters have been added to Patreon.)