TOMAS Chapter 15

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Chapter 15 Wind Crane: Rules

Just as the situation started to become awkward, a man in the audience spoke up. “Miss Linglong, why don’t you explain the rules of the competition to us? I’m sure most of us are more interested in that.” He was dressed in a robe of purple silk, looking rather arrogantly at the rest of the audience.

“Of course, my apologies for having overlooked that.” Linglong handed Wind Crane to a handmaiden behind her, and gestured towards the centre of the hall.

“The rules for tonight are simple: anyone who would like to perform will do so in the middle of the hall, and our five judges will rate their performance with the flowers in their hands. For each performer, every judge will have a maximum of three flowers to give out. Naturally, I would be the first to play tonight, and anyone can come up to play after I am done. Before you perform, please state the request you would like to be fulfilled, either by Moonglade or myself. If the flowers you receive are more than the ones that i have received, your request will be fulfilled. All performances will end at three in the afternoon, when the sand in the hourglass has completely filtered through.” She gestured to a dainty little hourglass by her side.

She walked to the zither that sat in the middle of the room, and curtsied. “Now, if i may begin.” Her fingers danced over the strings of the zither, the red sashes that adorned her arms arcing through the air as she played. She played the song immaculately, bringing out all the emotions and feelings within the music. When she finished, the audience burst into applause, with a few members standing in ovation. Then, it was time for the judges to cast their votes.

“Three flowers, three flowers, three flowers, three flowers…two flowers.” Someone in the audience counted aloud as the judges cast their votes. “What? Two flowers?” He counted again. “One…two…three…fourteen. There are a total of fourteen flowers, out of fifteen.” This caused some members in the audience some unhappiness. How could their ‘goddess’ Linglong not get a perfect score?

The man in the purple robe voiced his displeasure loudly. “You there! Yes, the scholar! How could you give only two flowers when Miss Linglong played so well?” The judge that gave only two flowers was indeed dressed as a lowly scholar, but was in fact a highly regarded preceptor of the musical arts.

The preceptor laughed, “Of course she has played well. But if I had given Miss Linglong a full score as well, this competition would be void. No one would be able to achieve a higher score than her, and hence no requests would be fulfilled today. Is that what you want?”

“Hmph. I’ll let it slide this time.” The purple robed man conceded.

Feng Luodi heaved a sigh in relief. If it wasn’t for the preceptor, there wasn’t even the slightest chance she would be able to obtain Wind Crane. “Luodi, do you think you can beat her? Although I barely know anything about music, I think she played really well back there!” For once, Qi Jianqiu’s attention was not on food nor the Four Masters.

Feng Luodi downed her cup of wine in one mouth, and smiled at her, “Definitely. I have played for longer than she has, and have a larger repertoire. I had a famous tutor as my mentor, not to mention my own hard work. If I didn’t even have the confidence to play better than her, I would bring shame to my teacher.” She poured herself another drink. Although Feng Luodi is not a person who likes to brag, she truly did believe that she was much better than Linglong. Back in the 21st century, she practiced hard under the tutelage of a famed zither musician, and the Feng Luodi of the Xuan Dynasty had also learned to play the zither since a very young age. Moreover, the techniques and scores of the 21st century were much more advanced and complicated than that in the Xuan Dynasty. There was no reason for her to lose.

At the table beside them, Jiang Moyin turned to speak to Situ Muye, who had been quiet all the while. “Trust me, this trip will not be for nothing. You’ll have to thank Qingjia for this.”

Before Situ could reply, Gan Qingjia leaned over with a playful smile still on his lips, and asked, “What are you thanking me for?”

“We have to thank you for bringing Xue Yiqi out to experience something new.” Jiang Moyin gestured towards Xue Yiqi. Xue Yiqi looked as extremely uncomfortable, with his face bright red from the stares from the women in the room.

Gan Qingjia laughed, and thumped Xue Yiqi on the shoulder, “I will show you the wonders of the world. If you go out with me, I’ll make sure there’s wine for you to drink, meat for you to eat, and pretty ladies all around you.” He flashed a charming smile to the ladies staring at him, and a chorus of sharp breaths could be heard. The consequent stares directed at the table became much more fiery, and Xue Yiqi’s became even redder.

Meanwhile, the first challenger of the day was just about to start. He was dressed like a rich master, but his eyes were tired and his smile frivolous. His request was outrageous. “If I win, I request to have Miss Linglong to accompany for a day. We can frolic around under the night sky, or in the grasses amongst the spring blossoms, if you’d prefer that.” He smiled coyly, “I hope this request is reasonable.”

Linglong smiled lightly, “Perfectly fine.”

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