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   Chapter 34 Coming-of-age Ceremony, Part 1

Eight-year-old Princess: Phoenix Reborn By Lan You Ruo Characters: 10750

Updated: 2018-08-04 14:55

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ISBN: 978-1719927130

Ten was an auspicious number. Holding Yun Shang's Coming-of-age Ceremony on October tenth meant that everything would be perfect.

"Luckily the ceremony is being held in late autumn. It's getting much cooler now. I can't even imagine what it would be like to hold such a ceremony in the burning summer heat. Have you looked at the dresses and counted how many layers they have?" Qin Yi groaned about the dresses Yun Shang was going to wear while checking each carefully. It was almost time for the ceremony and everything had to be just perfect. "Princess, there you are. I've got everything you need for the ceremony here. The hairpins, the phoenix coronet, and four matching gowns - one for each part of the ritual. You should wear the top sleeve gown at the end. I'm sure you will looked absolutely stunning in that dress."

Yun Shang nodded but soon lowered her head. She looked rather sad, "It's such a pity that my mother, Lady Jin won't be there for me."

Feeling sorry for Yun Shang, Qin Yi sighed and tried to comfort her, "Princess, I'm sure Lady Jin would have given anything just to see how wonderfully you've grown. You are indeed a great Princess."

The two women sat quietly and held each others' hands. Someone outside cried, "Princess, it's time. Xiu Xin is here. She reports that all the preparations are done and that the guests are gathering at Huazhang Palace. If The Princess is ready, she should leave for the ceremony."

The Coming-of-age Ceremony was held outside Huazhang Palace. Plenty of distinguished guests had been invited to witness the event. Slowly but solemnly, the rite carried on. Yun Shang would go back inside to change into a matching gown after the Master of the ceremony had braided her hair and embellished it with different hairpins. The procedure repeated three times. Yun Shang had changed from a colored dress suitable for little girls to a deeper and refiner color and fabric as the ritual progressed. At the end, she wore an elegant top sleeve gown, which indicated that instead of a child, she should be considered a young woman of marriageable age. Emperor Ning had granted Yun Shang 'Fengyu' as her courtesy name at the end of the ceremony. After receiving her courtesy name, Yun Shang bowed to all guests, and the ceremony was officially considered completed.

After the ceremony, all guests were guided to the Moon Tower on Penglai Island for the following banquet.

Emperor Ning and the Empress were sitting on the seat of honor. Yun Shang, in whose honor the feast was being held, had been seated to their left. To their right sat Luo Qingyan, also known as the famous Prince Jing. Princess Hua Jing's seat had been placed next to Yun Shang.

When the maid led Hua Jing to the seat prepared for her, Yun Shang noticed that Hua Jing paused briefly before she sitting down. Then she turned to Yun Shang with an exaggerated smile and complimented, "Dear sister, you look fabulous today."

Yun Shang blushed and lowered her head. "Don't make fun of me, sister."

Right at that moment, Yun Shang sensed someone was staring. She looked up and surveyed the hall. Her breath caught in her throat when she saw that it was Prince Jing. His jet-black eyes were fixed on her. She squirmed under his gaze. Yun Shang felt as though he could see through to her deepest secrets. She stared back at him inquiringly, however, he simply raised his cup at Yun Shang, took a gulp, and looked away.

The rest of the banquet carried on like any other royal feast. It began with dancing. After a few songs, the female performers stood down as the music had gradually become softer than before.

"May I have your attention please? Today, is my daughter's Coming-of-age Ceremony. I heard that Shang'er has prepared a marvelous embroidery. Since several guests are either good at embroidery or enjoy an embroidered masterpiece, I say we should take a look together." The Empress announced to the guests with a smile. Then she waved at the servants. Two eunuchs carried the embroidery work out.

Yun Shang lowered her head. Her lips curled into a sneer.

Carefully, the eunuchs placed the masterpiece on an easel set before dramatically removing the cloth that covered the work of art. Yun Shang soon heard whispers from the guests, "How lifelike these lotuses are! From here it seems as though the petals are waving in the breeze. It's absolutely beautiful."

Hearing the comments, Yun Shang looked up and saw a few women standing in front of the embroidered lotuses, studying the work earnestly, "Neat stitches and delicate coloring. It is truly a exceptional piece. If I'm right, this kind of technique is usually applied only on Hunan embroidery. As far as I know, Princess Hua Jing is the only one who could perform Hunan techniques in such an exquisite manner. I'm really surprised that Princess Hui Guo is as good as her sister. Hmmm .. the final stitch looks exactly like Princess Hua Jing's. I presume that both of you must have learned from the same master?"

Yun Shang turned around and caught Hua Jing looking back at her in fright, acting like she was worried about Yun Shang, and about their secret coming to light. Yun Shang smiled at her, rose from her seat and stepped slowly towards the embroidery. Leaning forward, she observed the piece for quite a while before commenting heartily, "My sister i

s truly as good at embroidery, as I was told." Then, beaming wider, she turned to the guests in the hall and apologized, "Mother didn't introduce the work clearly. The credit for the embroidery belongs to both, Hua Jing and I. You see, I painted the original pattern and my sister embroidered a copy of my work. As my father always said, a harmonious family supports the solid foundation of prosperity that follows. I assume that our Royal family is no exception. It's my Coming-of-age Ceremony, and I thought it would be really nice if I could present a gift with my sister's help. A gift that symbolizes our sisterhood. I thought my father would also be pleased with this idea and feel proud of both, my sister and I."

"Have you indeed? Where is your painting now? I want to see it." Surprised yet delighted, Emperor Ning tapped his chair and asked impatiently.

Yun Shang turned around and whispered in Qin Yi's ear. The maid quickly left the Moon Tower. All guests in attendance began whispering as they waited to see why the maid had disappeared. Soon, she returned with a scroll in her arms. Lord Zheng hurried forward to help Qin Yi unfold the scroll in front of Emperor Ning.

"Master Wu Na is a wise man of many talents. Painting is one of his many skills. I have spent the past seven years at Ning'guo Temple. During my stay there, Master Wu Na taught me how to paint. But I must say that I'm a slow learner. I cannot understand the art of painting as profoundly as he does. It's quite embarrassing as I have only learned the basics from him." Yun Shang whispered softly.

"The leaves are plump but not bloated, tender but not fragile. The petals are unfolding elegantly like a Goddess letting her sleeves loose. Jing'er's techniques are indeed great. After seeing the painting, the lotuses seem somehow less alive in her hands. Brother, you know about paintings more than anyone here. Come closer and have a look. What do you think of this painting?" Emperor Ning praised Yun Shang's painting and then told the eunuchs to turn it over to enable the guests to look.

At the Emperor's command, Prince Jing looked at the painting and then glanced at Yun Shang who was standing beside it. Then he said, "The painting is indeed unique from what I have seen across the Imperial City. The style, however, seems too unconventional for a well-born woman."

"I heard Princess Yun Shang never learned how to read. Isn't it amazing that a painting of yours could be appreciated by both, His Majesty and His Royal Highness. The only problem is that no one can tell whether you really composed the painting. I'm not trying to be offensive. But surely you all heard of the incident. Last year, some noble lady tried to impress the guests at her Coming-of-age Ceremony. So she took out a painting and claimed it to be her handwork. But she was soon exposed by one of the guests, who happened to know about that painting. What a joke she had made of herself."

A lazy voice came from the back. Yun Shang looked around and saw a familiar face. It was Li Luo, the grandson of the Grand Councilor. Yun Shang remembered the man. They had met several times in her previous life. Although they had hardly talked, he had taken it upon himself to pick on her at every meeting. She was instantly irked. 'The apple never falls far from the tree, ' Yun Shang thought to herself.

Ignoring Li Luo, Yun Shang turned her back to him. As she faced her guests, she found another old acquaintance. Yun Shang froze. She clenched her hands under her sleeves as she tried to hide her emotional upheaval. 'It has been a long while.' Yun Shang mumbled to herself. Yun Shang curled her lips into a smirk as she fixed her eyes on the person, who, after catching her look, smiled back in return.

Yun Shang felt nothing but disgust and disappointment when she saw the person's flirtatious smile. Putting on her polite smile, Yun Shang turned to Li Luo, "The thing is, when I was little, my sister used to come to me, crying, saying that the Grand Tutor was too harsh and sometimes punished her. I began to detest him even though I had never really met him. I was afraid that I would be punished as well, for I'm not as smart as my sister. Scared of being punished, I begged my mother to not send me to the Grand Tutor. Luckily, mother doted on me and didn't reject my request. When after I arrived at the Ning'guo Temple, Master Wu Na was the complete opposite. He is a gentle person. He never forced me to learn. Instead, he took me to see the running river in the valley, and taught me to feel the gentle breeze. He is absolutely magical in the way he narrates things. His stories were much more interesting. That's when I started to learn."

Hardly had Yun Shang done talking when a older man staggered out of the crowd and kneeled before Emperor Ning, "His Majesty, I've never punished Princess Hua Jing."

"You are the one that refused to learn. And yet you blame Princess Hua Jing for your shortcomings. Shame on you." Li Luo moaned. Although he was quiet, his voice was quite audible. Yun Shang heard every single word.

It seemed that she was not the only one. Even Emperor Ning had heard. He frowned and was about to speak up when a cold voice cut in. "There is only one simple way to find out. I suggest that Princess Hui Guo paint again in front of everyone here..."

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