"Mingxue, here, try this." A young girl wearing a blue dress said as she set a delicate piece of cake into Mingxue's plate.
Mingxue smiled politely and murmured her thanks. "Thank you, sister Han."
Han Lanqing smiled back and sipped her tea. Mingxue picked up the cake and took a small bite before placing it down and wiping her mouth with a handkerchief.
"Delicate. As expected of sister Han." Mingxue complimented.
"Mingxue, you are way to formal. I merely grabbed the nearest cake close to me nothing else."
"Then that must mean that Sister Han has quite an eye for pastries."
"Nothing of the sort. It was just luck."
This type of "polite" conversation continued on back and forth and would go on for a little while. It was like the Chinese polite fights. No one is supposed to give in and would sometimes go to extreme measures to pay the bill. However the polite conversations here are not over a bill but over their pride and status. If a higher ranked lady talks with a lower rank the lower rank lady must be respectful and let the higher ranked lady "win". However if it's between two ladies of similar status the bickering can continue for a while.
The Han family was only a merchant family but after Han Xiao Min married into the Wei family, the Han family was given a boost in status. There status right is still below the Wei family they are considered about the same.
"Now, now. You two, stop the bickering." A melodic voice said, Mingxue and Lanqing turned around to see a beautiful women in a purple silk hanfu strolling towards them.
"Princess." The two ladies immediately curtsied and stood up.
This is Princess Zong Fenghuang, named after the graceful phoenix. She is the oldest daughter and the younger sister of Zong Qiu.
Although she is betrothed to the crown prince of a neighboring kingdom she is still asked to come each year to help the ladies become more open and situated to the banquet. Some say that she is the motto of the banquet and the goal for every lady.
Zhu Fenghuang waved her hand and the three of them sat down.
"How are you two enjoying the banquet?" She asked.
"It's splendid. The scenery, flowers, and the food. As expected of the Royal Banquet." Compliments poured of Lanqing's mouth like it was rainwater and Fenghuang merely slightly chucked in response.
"Good that you are enjoying it. What about you Mingxue?"
Mingxue bowed her head and answered back simply. "The banquet is unlike any others I have been at and each year the banquet only gets better, Princess." Mingxue did not forget to end her sentence with Fenghuang's proper title unlike Lanqing.
Fenghuang smiled and was about to respond when she saw someone walk by.
"Qiu ge-ge!" She got up and hurriedly made her way over to a man in grey robes.
"Feng meimei. Nice to see you here." Zong Qiu turned around and smiled before patting her on the head.
Fenghuang immediately became a five-year-old and her smile grew bigger.
"Princess, who is this?" Lanqing walked over with Mingxue following behind.
"Oh this is my brother Zong Qiu. The second prince." Zhu Fenghuang introduced and stepped aside. She investigated the two ladies in front of her and was not surprised. Lanqing's eyes lit up when she heard the words "second prince". Names and titles held power so it was to be expected. Mingxue suddenly had this look of interest on her face but a dark cloud covered her thoughts.
Princess Zong Fenghuang looked back up at her brother to find that Lanqing was already by his side, hooking her arms around his.
"Prince Zong Qiu. I heard from my father that you own the..." Her babbling went on and on but her brother seemed distracted.
"Uhh yeah." He slid his hand out of hers and looked around searching for something. Or someone.
Finally he found her.
She was sitting on a stool, staring out into the pond with a dreadful look on her face. His lips curled upward as he studied her outfit. The three ladies next to him were forgotten as they followed his gaze to settle their eyes on a particular someone.
'This can't be right!' Mingxue gripped her dress tighter as Zong Qiu excused himself and walked straight towards Mingxia.
"Who is she?" Lanqing asked.
"I do not-"
"My sister." Mingxue interrupted Fenghuang and said it very quietly but everyone heard what she said.
"Wei Mingxia. Isn't it?" Fenghuang asked.
'How does she know the second prince? If they have any sort of relationship my plans may be ruined.' Mingxue panicked a bit but she quickly recovered.
On the other hand, Lanqing suddenly remembered who Mingxia was and a nasty feeling began to form.
Zong Qiu walked up to Mngxia and the two began to chat. The three ladies were too far to hear but they can tell that the conversation between the two were more than conversations between strangers.
Mingxue waited and waited for her chance.
Until luck finally turned her way.
The moment the second prince left, Mingxue made her way over little by little. Until she was close enough to smell the lavender smell on her sister. She bit her lips and for a second she hesitated but she quickly shook her head. She has to get rid of this person before she becomes a bigger obstacle in her future.
So she acted as if it was an accident and "accidentally" walked backwards and pushed Mingxia off. Unfortunately she lost her footing and she fell in as well. The two sisters landed in the pond, marking the spot with the pink and green fabrics of their dress.
Fenghuang= a mythological bird that is basically the phoenix in western culture.
This chapter was written out a bit rushed and may be a bit boring. But the next chapter would be better and would be told in Mingxia's perspective.
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