“Cong’er, you’re always running to and fro, gaining knowledge with every trip. I’m sure there are many oddities you’ve collected along the way. I am very eager to see what you have for me.”
Two princes down and one to go. Now that the third prince’s turn had arrived, his largeness’ fat body was planted firmly in his chair.
The emperor looked at him oddly and teased.
The chubby trembled, wiped his ever sweaty brow and wobbled to his feet before the emperor with a bright smile, “He-he-he, imperial father, I actually planned on giving you a great gift, top grade in fact. Of perfect design and quality… “
“To the point!” The emperor’s face darkened.
The tubby wiped his oily hands, sweat falling down his brow like torrential rain, and took a coy tone, “But I recalled imperial father’s teachings. All the lands belong to the king and all the people are the king’s subjects. So what could I possibly give the imperial father when everything in this world is already yours? Anything that I would offer would be taking the imperial father’s item only to return it. There is nothing in this world truly mine to give.”
“As such…” The emperor’s eyes grew colder.
Swallowing dryly, the fatty wiped more sweat before saying, “As such, imperial father, you must understand…”
“Humph, of course I do. At my centennial jubilee, everyone on earth pays me tribute, yet only my son comes up empty…”
“No, no, no, imperial father, you’ve got it all wrong. I believed that anything that I would present would be too crude and quaint to express my deep love and endless respect for my imperial father. For this reason I have sought the help of a great teacher for a month to learn a dance for your anniversary.”
The fatty came to the front, cueing the music and going down into a wobbly strange thing called… dancing?
No, it was a bit too soon to call it a dance. It was more or less along the lines of quirky jumping.
His largeness flicked his hair, batted his eyes, his bubbly cheeks bouncing at the slightest movement.
It was downright revolting, hideous and worthy of nothing but being thrown out. It was like looking at the sea from a boat, with the waves going up and down, and up and…
While the blob bounced around quaking the floor with every downstroke, so too did the audience, maybe too in tune with the artist and his handi-, uh, footwork. Even their guts were doing the rumba. It was truly a… jolting experience.
It wasn’t just one, oh no, the entire audience was cracking their knuckles, looking at the graceful ballerina with bloodshot eyes.
If not for him being a ‘self-respecting’ prince, they would probably be raining fists and kicks by this point.
[Sweet mother of mercy! A dance should be easy on the eyes, but yours is sucking the life out of me! ]
The emperor’s face took so many shades of white even he didn’t know it could. Shaking to his very bones, his fists clenched, his eyes red, pouring every ounce of his strength into not jumping in there to sock the ball into cutting the hellish dance out. But at some point, something was bound to snap, and that unfortunately happened to be his patience, “Stop!”
The fatty froze with a bent waist, blinking his big puppy eyes at the emperor’s bloodshot ones.
Every single guest breathed easier, cherishing this moment of peace on earth.
“Cong’er, next time, bring that great teacher of yours. I promise not to kill him. Now go!” The emperor sighed.
The chubby bowed and then hopped and banged his way to the chair pleased as a punch for getting away with it.
The rest of the guests were eternally grateful that the horror show had ended. [We are blessed that our eyes aren’t scarred from watching your chipper son bounce. Your mercy has no bounds, emperor…]
The Crown Prince stood up again, “Imperial father, although the third brother’s dance may be a bit rough around the edges, his intentions are good and his heart pure. Please bestow him a reward, imperial father!”
“Humph, can anything live up to his performance?” The emperor’s eyes flashed.
Crown Prince chuckled, “Imperial father, third brother has been an oddball since birth. With your endless affection, only giving me and the second brother something will make the third brother feel left out. Please consider his sincere feelings and offer him a little something. A token perhaps.”
“I’ll say it one last time. I can bestow a reward on anyone on this land, except him!” The emperor’s smile was cold, “What bestowal would even be worthy anyway?”
It sent a cold shiver down the hearts of everyone.
The emperor implied that he was grumbling from having such a fatty as a son. But how could the ruler be so short-sighted, fussing with his son over trifles?
Zhuo Fan scratched his nose, exchanging a look with the first and second great minds. He already had an idea what was up.
Only the second prince put on a mocking smile.
Crown Prince tried it again, “Imperial father, please…”
“Silence!” The emperor said, “Crown Prince, there are some things you have no sway over!”
“It’s fine, elder brother. I know I’ve stepped on the imperial father’s nerves. Not receiving anything is normal. There’s no need to try anymore.” The fatty pouted, lamented and advised.
Second prince enjoyed their distress, “One’s a hypocrite, the other’s a blob. At least they have each other, humph…”
The Crown Prince gnashed his teeth and gave one last look to the emperor before taking a seat. His hands were clenched tight, the fingers digging into his palms.
[Just why is it like this? I am the Crown Prince! How can I lose to that lard?]
Glancing at the second prince’s mocking face, Crown Prince taunted, [You idiot, not even this can get through your thick skull? Anyone can be rewarded, except the emperor. What the imperial father just did was that he showed his intent on the successor. But why does it have to be him?]
The Crown Prince looked at the fatty, who was saluting back in gratitude.
[Is the punk oblivious to imperial father’s meaning or is he just that good at faking it?]
In the Crown Prince’s eyes, the longer he stared at his horizontally challenged brother, a thicker bloodthirst was brewing,
The celebration went on with the officials, the seven houses and the delegation presenting their gifts, each with a reward returned in kind.
As the music picked up once again, graceful and stacked girls glided into the room while dancing. With that lardass setting the mood for an upset stomach with his class act, the audience got to appreciate these girls’ efforts much better. To the point that they saw them as starlets, mesmerizing and soothing.
One figure jumped out of the crowd and presented a plate of peaches to the emperor, “Happy anniversary, imperial father. May your joy be boundless and your life never ending.”
The emperor looked at the apple of his eyes and his heart softened, “Ha-ha-ha, Yongning, you have brought me the best gift!”
“Truly?” Yongning jumped up with a smile and went for a hug, “Then, imperial father, please reward me properly.”
“Ha-ha-ha, of course. What would you like?” The emperor laughed, doting on her.
With a wobbling face, the fatty pointed a sausage at his dear sister and cut her off, “Imperial father, didn’t you want to know my great dancing teacher. It’s her! But worry not, Yongning, Imperial father’s word is gold. He won’t beat you to death!”
The emperor looked off-kilter, “Yongning, did you teach Cong’er to dance?”
Blushing, Yongning glared at the living fat. She had also witnessed that thing’s high class act. It was like a horror show.
But now accepting that she was the grand dance teacher behind it all, wouldn’t that ruin her reputation?
Yongning explained, “Imperial father, don’t listen to his gaffe. I’ve taught him to the best of my abilities, but his dancing is just that nauseating!”
“Ha-ha-ha, I see. My princess’ dancing is the best in Tianyu!” The emperor nodded, “Yongning, you still haven’t told me what you want.”
Blushing, Yongning peeked at Zhuo Fan, twiddling with her bracelet, acting coy and all, “I-imperial father, don’t you think it’s time? I mean, for mother’s final wish…”
The emperor nodded, sending her back to the center and shouted, “Yongning, Zhuo Fan, here is my decree. Today, Princess Yongning and Best Steward Beneath Heavens Zhuo Fan shall be wedded!”
Unlike the exuberant Yongning, everyone else was dumbstruck. Zhuo Fan figured something like this was coming and sneered inside.
It didn’t end with just some simple decree, the second prince found his guts from god knew where and jumped forth, “Imperial father, I have long since taken a liking to the Parish’s Holy Maiden Yun Shuang. I ask the imperial father to wed us!”
The emperor grinned inside.
[What’s up with today? Everything is falling together perfectly.] He had long been thinking about how to steal Yun clan back from the Luo clan, to take advantage of Zhuo Fan’s calculative ploy, using this perfect chance to do just that.
The emperor nodded inside, [Marvelously done, my son!]
And spoke, “Happiness comes in two today, with miss Shuang’er tying the knot with my son.”
Second prince kowtowed. Yun Shuang shuddered, crestfallen, grabbing Zhuo Fan’s arm tighter out of instinct.
With a confident smile on, Zhuo Fan gave her a warm look, “It’s ok. You are with me now. It will never change!”
Yun Shuang’s eyes turned red, but her heart regained calm. The last time she’d been so at ease was when her grandfather was alive.