Nirvana In Fire Chapter 87

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To most people, the first hour of dusk marked the end of a hard day’s work.  But to the inhabitants of the normally bustling and brightly-lit Spiral Market Street, dusk was only the beginning – a time to rouse oneself from a lethargic slumber and begin to clean and prepare the halls to receive the first guests of the evening.  The entire street was quiet, and every window and door was still barred shut, its silence so complete that it was almost impossible to associate this place with the frantic energy and gaudy celebrations that took place here after dark.

It was through these deserted streets that a small carriage with a jeweled canopy made its way quietly, pulled by a beautiful white horse, on which sat a handsome young nobleman dressed in fine splendor, smiling brightly.  From his expression, you could never have guessed that he was riding through empty streets.  He looked instead as if he was sitting in Crimson Sleeve House on one of its busiest evenings.

The crisp hoof-beats rang through the air, and the small carriage and the handsome young man rode past many extravagantly decorated gates before halting at the side-door of Miaoyin House.   The carriage-driver jumped down and knocked three times on the door, and a moment later, a serving-girl answered.  She took in the visitors at a glance and then disappeared again without a word.  The carriage-driver and the nobleman waited patiently.  A short while later, the door opened again, and a young lady, covered head to toe in a veil of light gauze, came forward slowly on the arm of the serving-girl.  Although her features were blurred by the veil, it was obvious from her graceful figure and delicate steps that this was a beauty to stir the hearts of anyone who looked upon her.

The splendidly-dressed young man had already leaped down from his horse and was coming forward in a bow, as he said with a bright smile, “Miss Gong Yu is truly a lady of her word.  To have Miss as a guest at Jingrui’s birthday banquet, we will be the envy of the city!”

“Master Yan is too kind.”  Gong Yu’s voice was gentle.  “The young master has come personally, I am not worthy of the honour.”

“A chance to escort such a beautiful lady, naturally I fought for the privilege,” Yan Yujin answered, delighted.  “Jingrui is the birthday boy, so of course he couldn’t get away, and Xie Bi has to help receive guests and manage the household staff, so even if he wanted to come, he wouldn’t dare voice the thought.  As for anyone else, Miss Gong Yu would not know him well, so who could win against my claim?”

Gong Yu lifted a hand to cover her smile.  “Master Yan is as witty as always….”

Yan Yujin smiled back and turned towards the road.  “The carriage is prepared, is Miss ready to leave?”

Gong Yu spoke lowly to the serving-girl, and then stepped forward and entered the carriage.  The serving-girl bowed and returned indoors.

“She’s not going?”

“I am attending Master Xiao’s birthday banquet, what need have I to bring her?”

Yan Yujin thought for a moment and then nodded.  “That’s true, once we arrive at the Xie residence, there will be no shortage of girls to serve you. ……If Miss is seated, we will prepare to depart.  Although there is more than an hour before the banquet is to start, there will be elders present, so it is best for us to arrive early.”

“Yes, we may depart.”

At this soft reply, the carriage driver cracked his whip, and under the accompaniment of the elegantly-dressed young man, the carriage began to move forward.

At the same time, the Xie residence of the Marquis of Ning was busy preparing for the birthday banquet of their First Young Master.

Because Xiao Jingrui was the son of two families, his birthday celebration undoubtedly held a certain significance that had nothing to do with him personally.  And thus, neither Zhuo Dingfeng, who had always doted on him, nor the usually stern Xie Yu had ever commented on the special treatment Xiao Jingrui received every year on his birthday.

The guest list had been prepared long ago, and when it was first presented to Xie Yu, his gaze had stopped momentarily at the words ‘Su Zhe’, but he did not say anything.  Although they served different masters, Xie Yu did not intend to obstruct the relationship between his son and this strategist of Prince Yu’s.  This was because he knew very well that the information Xiao Jingrui possessed was very limited, and even if it was all seized by Su Zhe, it would still not matter much.  Besides, Xiao Jingrui’s friendship with Su Zhe might one day be put to good use, and even if it was not, it did not do much harm.

And so, his only response to this list, which included an enemy’s strategist as well as a lady from a pleasure house, was, “Let your mother have a look.”

As Xie Yu had not expressed disapproval, the quiet and composed Grand Princess Liyang, who kept a low profile, naturally did not express any opinion either, and so the invitations were sent out without any issue.

Xiao Jingrui had a number of rowdy but good-natured friends, and last year, after the elders had retired, the crowd had gathered together amusing itself late into the night, making good use of this excuse for entertainment.  But this year, Mei Changsu was coming, and Gong Yu, who never left her House to perform, would also be there, and so Xiao Jingrui was planning this year’s banquet much more carefully than he had in the past, so that it would not dissolve into the kind of cacophonous, unrestrained partying that it had become in previous years.  But if he suddenly stopped inviting friends he had been inviting for the past few years, that would undoubtedly cause offense, and the dilemma occupied him for many days.  Yan Yujin saw his predicament and thought of a solution.  He could say that his parents had instructed him to make this year’s banquet elegant in nature, and that the evening would be filled with reciting poetry and listening to the zither.  As he feared this would dampen everyone’s mood, he would instead reserve the largest and best restaurant in the capital for the day before his birthday, and invite a dozen of the most beautiful ladies to entertain his friends for a day.  This crowd of young noblemen were indeed satisfied by this day of amusement, and voluntarily declined to attend the following evening’s “elegant and refined” banquet, and so Xiao Jingrui’s dilemma was neatly resolved.

Thus, on the evening of the twelfth of April, there were not too many guests attending Xiao Jingrui’s birthday banquet.  Originally, the invited included only Mei Changsu, Xia Dong, Yan Yujin, and Gong Yu, not including family.  But when he had gone to deliver his invitation to the Su Manor, Meng Zhi happened to be there, and the Commander had teased, “Jingrui, why aren’t you inviting me?” and so the Young Master Xiao of course immediately produced a second invitation for this esteemed guest.

Although there were not many people, there was still much to prepare.  The women were preoccupied with the decoration of the dining hall and managing the servants, and had left the arrangement of goods and supplies to Xie Bi, and so as soon as the Second Master Xie had a moment’s respite, he went to his dage to complain, “Why am I working myself to death over here while you sit around idly on your birthday?  No fair, you’ve got to give me half your presents in exchange!”

“You’re my flesh-and-blood brother, why talk about exchange?  If you like anything of mine, it’s yours.”  Young Master Xiao’s calm reply took all the wind from Xie Bi’s sails, and he even added casually, “Mum and Mother are looking for you, something about the banquet menu.  You take your time with all the work, don’t let me delay you….”

As the birthday boy ducked out the door, Xie Bi could only stand there kicking at the ground sullenly, before he gave up and returned to his work.

That night, the first to arrive were of course Yan Yujin and Gong Yu.  As soon as he saw Xiao Jingrui hurrying out to receive them, the son of the Imperial Uncle bent his head and whispered in the beautiful lady’s ear, “I am borrowing your spotlight today, usually when I come to the Xie manor, Jingrui never comes out to receive me, and I have to go and find him all by myself….”

Just as he had predicted, the first words out of Xiao Jingrui’s mouth were: “Miss Gong Yu has graced us with her arrival, forgive Jingrui for not coming out to meet you.  Please, come in.”

“Hey,” Yan Yujin eyed him coldly, “can you see me?”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Xiao Jingrui said soothingly, “Master Yan, please come in as well.”

“You haven’t said ‘forgive me for not coming out to meet you’….”

“Ah yes, forgive me for not coming out to meet Master Yan as well.  Should your humble servant carry Your Honour in on his back?”

“No need.  Just give me your arm.”

Gong Yu couldn’t help laughing, and she said with a shake of her head, “You two……are truly a pair of good friends….”

“That’s because I let him have his way.  Otherwise, we would have come to blows long ago,” Yan Yujin said with a straight face.  “If anyone wants to see a paragon of patience and tolerance, tell them to come to me….”

“Either come in or get lost!”  Xiao Jingrui scolded with a smile.  “Or do you want Miss Gong Yu to keep standing here while you let your mouth run?”

Yan Yujin hurriedly bowed to her and said in a singsong voice, “Aiya, it is this humble one’s fault, pray enter, Miss, and enter quickly….”

“Sober up, the show hasn’t even started, and you’re already singing.”  Xiao Jingrui rolled his eyes and led Gong Yu into the reception pavilion.  He served her some tea, and after a little while, suggested that he bring her in to meet the women of the household.

By this time, Gong Yu had removed her veil, revealing brilliant yellow robes.  Her face was not powdered or made up, but this only served to emphasize a certain lovely grace in her appearance.  At Xiao Jingrui’s invitation, she solemnly knelt in a bow and said quietly, “Although Gong Yu has had the honour of being invited tonight, I am nonetheless only an entertainer, here to provide music for the noble gentleman at his esteemed residence.  How could Gong Yu dare to meet such respectable persons as Her Highness the Grand Princess?”

Yan Yujin’s brow furrowed and he was about to speak when Xiao Jingrui beat him to it, saying warmly, “This is a private gathering, and Miss does not need to be too concerned.  Besides, my mum and Qingyi mei are of jianghu background, and so are not very formal, and Xie Qi meimei is also open-minded by nature.  Although my mother is a little aloof, she has never been arrogant, and besides, she loves music, and has known Miss Gong Yu’s name for some time.  She asked me long ago to bring you to meet her as soon as you arrived.”

At his earnest words, Gong Yu could not refuse any longer, and so she thanked him and followed as he led the way further into the manor.  Yan Yujin had no excuse to follow them, and so he could only stay in the reception pavilion, wandering around idly. Fortunately, Xiao Jingrui returned to find him soon after with Gong Yu nowhere in sight – clearly she had been invited to stay in the inner courtyard.

After chatting for a few minutes, Yan Yujin saw that the time was drawing near, and he was just about to ask when he saw Xie Bi hurrying over, shouting as he came, “Dage, come quick, Commander Meng is here.”

The two rose quickly and hurried outside.  Because Meng Zhi was one of Xie Yu’s colleagues in the court, with an important position, the servants had first gone to notify the Old Master, and so by the time Xiao Jingrui arrived, Xie Yu and Zhuo Dingfeng were already there welcoming Meng Zhi in the entrance hall.

Xiao Jingrui didn’t dare disturb his elders so he stood quietly to one side, and, seeing a pause in the conversation, he was about to go forward to pay his greetings when another cry came from outside the gates: “Su Zhe, Mister Su, has arrived….”

The people in the entrance hall turned, and Xiao Jingrui was about to walk outside when Mei Changsu, a faint smile on his lips, appeared before him.  Tonight, he was dressed in a snowy white cloak over sky-blue robes, and by his complexion, he looked very well indeed.  It was difficult to imagine from his refined, scholarly appearance that so many of the ripples and waves experienced by the capital this past year could trace their origins to his hand.

With one calm glance, Mei Changsu had already taken in the situation in the entrance hall.  In keeping with custom, he first bowed to Xie Yu, saying, “I greet the Marquis.”

“The presence of the gentleman brings light to my humble dwelling, it is our honour to have you attending our son’s little celebration,” Xie Yu answered courteously.  He gestured to the man beside him, “This is Zhuo Dingfeng, Chief Zhuo.”

Mei Changsu smiled.  “Chief Zhuo and I have met a few times before, but have not had the opportunity to converse.  What fortune to meet again on this joyous occasion.”

“Chief Mei is too kind.  I have admired you for a long time, it is an honour to meet you at last.”  Zhuo Dingfeng clasped his fists to his chest and bowed, returning the appropriate greeting for someone of equal rank.  The two young persons standing beside them felt their pulses speed up, as they suddenly realized that, in their familiarity with Brother Su, they had gradually begun to forget his formidable position in the jianghu world.

Mei Changsu and Meng Zhi exchanged greetings as well, and the small crowd stood there exchanging pleasantries for some time.  Yan Yujin was growing impatient, but as these were all elders, he didn’t dare leave, and could only stand to one side, thinking to himself that he should not have followed Xiao Jingrui out, and that Xie Bi had been much smarter about all of this….

Fortunately, the pleasantries soon came to an end.  Xie Yu, as host, and Zhuo Dingfeng, as half a host, escorted the two esteemed guests to the main hall for tea, and naturally Xiao Jingrui followed closely.  But Yan Yujin seized the opportunity and, like Fei Liu who had only appeared at the gates for an instant, soon disappeared off to who knew where.

Translator’s Notes


Nirvana In Fire Chapter 87

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Nirvana In Fire Chapter 87 summary

You're reading Nirvana In Fire Chapter 87. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Hai Yan already has 203 views.

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