Chapter 13 Wind Crane: Linglong
“Yes! Finally, I’m back at Moonglade!” Qi Jianqiu was disguised as a man again, pumping her fist in excitement. “I hope I get to see the beauty Linglong this time!”
“What? You too?” Feng Luodi turned to look at her, the few of them standing in front of the main door, “Are you jealous of her popularity or an admirer of her beauty?”
“Shush!” Qi Jianqiu shoved her lightly, and pulled her along through the door, “Here we go! The challengers have arrived!”
Scarlet and Jet exchanged looks, and both looked away. How could the daughter of the Right Minister look so elegant but be so raucous?
Moonglade lived up to its name as the best musical parlour in Chang’an, looking dignified and exquisite at the same time.
A servant was waiting by the door, smiling at them as they approached. “It will be 100 coins per person, ladies and gentlemen.” He gestured to the sign beside him.
“What!” Scarlet and Jet curled their lips, “That’s almost as much as our monthly salary!”
“No worries, the tab tonight is on Master Qi.” Feng Luodi grinned as she patted Qi Jianqiu on the shoulder.
Rolling her eyes at Feng Luodi, Qi Jianqiu gestured for her accompanying servant to hand out 500 coins to the waiting servant for their group. Entering through the doors, they quickly located the banquet hall the gathering was being held in. There was an audible intake of breath as they walked through the doors of the banquet hall. The grandeur of the hall itself was simply unbelievable; it was much bigger and well decorated than the halls that resided in a normal governmental official’s house.
Feng Luodi and Qi Jianqiu followed an attendant to a coffee table surrounded by cushions on the sides, while their handmaidens and servants sat at a smaller table beside them. Looking around, Feng Luodi could see that most of the guests present were of a certain status, judging from the various servants sitting behind their masters. Though the majority of the guests were men, some were obviously women in disguise like Qi Jianqiu, while other women were dressed in female clothing, like Feng Luodi.
Looking at the cushion in front of her, Feng Luodi scrunched up her face; as her knees had yet to be accustomed to the proper sitting position of this era: kneeling on the floor. It was only after she begrudgingly sat down, did she have the chance to look around.
A zither was situated in the middle of the hall, presumably for the use of the ‘performances’ later. A screen of bright green tassels was placed on the eastern side of the hall, and one could make out a woman with a zither placed on her lap behind said screen. Judging from the conversations buzzing around her, Feng Luodi guessed that the woman behind the screen was most likely the famed Miss Linglong of Moonglade. Most of the patrons were presentably dressed in gowns of fine silk and wool, enjoying the light snacks and wine placed in front of them. Feng Luodi took a sip of the Osthmanthus wine on the table, and found it surprisingly good: refreshing, but not as strong as most of the alcohol in the 21st Century. Is it possible that the method of distilling wine has not yet been invented in the Xuan Dynasty? An idea began to form in her head.
Soon, most of the tables in the hall were already occupied, save for the table to the left of them. “Our position seems to be really good! We can see everything from here.” Feng Luodi nudged Qi Jianqiu.
“Purely coincidence, I reckon.” Qi Jianqiu was focused on the snacks in front of her. “I think Moonglade has changed their chef since the last time I came, these are much better than before. I wonder how they managed to make it sweet but not overwhelming?”
Ignoring Qi Jianqiu’s constant obsession with all things culinary related, Feng Luodi continued to look around, trying to get a better look at the fellow patrons. She did not know any of the nobility of Chang’an, save for Qi Jianqiu and the Four Gentlemen, the latter of which she has never even met.
“Who are those people over there, sitting in the front row?” Feng Luodi nudged Qi Jianqiu again, and this time she looked up. In the direction Feng Luodi was pointing had a table behind the zither set up in the middle of the hall. Five men sat around the table, all dressed richly and wearing the same arrogant expression. They were not talking among themselves, seeming to be lost in their own thoughts, a huge contrast to the other noisy and lively patrons.
“I have no idea, but they do look very pompous.” Qi Jianqiu shook her head.
At the same moment, the screen on the east side of the hall parted, and a woman carrying a zither walked out. Immediately, the hall went silent. Even the five self-important men immediately straightened their backs to look at her.
“Yes! That’s Miss Linglong!” Qi Jianqiu whispered, her eyes burning with excitement. Feng Luodi’s eyes were burning with excitement as well, but for a different reason: the zither Linglong cradled in her arms. She had memorised the characteristics of the 10 Guqin by heart, and with one look she knew immediately it was the Guqin she had been looking for: Wind Crane. Her hands trembled in excitement, and she curled her fingers into a fist. Finally, after all these months of searching, she managed to see the first of the 10 Guqin. If she can acquire it, she would have completed 10 percent of the mission! That is 10 percent closer to going home!
No one noticed Feng Luodi’s excitement, as all eyes were fixated on Linglong. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say her beauty was angelic, with looks that stood out even in a place like Moonglade. Her eyes glimmered with emotion, and her smile won the hearts to those looking at her.