Because the Crown Prince’s poor supervision and failure to investigate his subordinates led to the fraud case, after the news spread, the Crown Prince’s reputation among the officials and scholars was very bad. His already unsteady position as heir to the throne became increasingly precarious.
Fortunately, the Tian Chen Emperor had not yet completely lost confidence in the Crown Prince, after ordering him to reflect on his shortcomings for a few days, he still assigned him the job of presiding over the Qiong Lin Banquet, attempting to let him save a bit of reputation.
However, the Crown Prince was not at all grateful, so when the Tian Chen Emperor retired from the banquet, his expression immediately soured. He focused on pouring out the wine jug and drinking, ignoring the other guests. Because of this municipal exam, he’d lost a large number of subordinates, and was also reprimanded by his imperial father in front of numerous officials. He’d already lost all of his face; how could he have a good impression of this batch of students?
Zhou Yun Sheng sat under the head seat, secretly sizing up the legendarily licentious and arrogant His Highness, the Crown Prince. He was extremely handsome, a pair of slender sword-like eyebrows, slanting into the hair on his temples, and a pair of long and narrow, twinkling phoenix eyes. He always watched people with a sense of haughtiness, which invoked involuntary fear.
He was wearing worn-out black clothes, his lapel wide open, revealing snow-white inner clothes. Because the fabric was too thin, it actually outlined his smooth muscle lines, even from far away, you could perceive that his seemingly emaciated body still contained a powerful force. His posture was very idle, he sat with his legs spread, very bold, one hand holding the wine jug, the other holding a wine cup. Because he’d drank too much, his eyes were somewhat blurred, but he didn’t look sullen, on the contrary, he looked sharper and wilder.
He seemed to find the activities somewhat boring, putting down the wine cup and propping his cheek on his hand, smiling faintly as he sized up the crowd of students. But his cold eyes caused all the guests to feel frightened, lowering their heads to avoid his gaze.
The temper of this royalty was infamously volatile, it was easy to provoke a deathly calamity without ever finding out which word triggered him. He dared to play around with the Tian Chen Emperor’s imperial concubines, dared to intercept the state treasury’s taxes, taking the silver for his own use, and even dared to brandish his sword and stab a court councilor who’d angered him during an imperial court session, resulting in serous injures. His style of action could be summed up in one word – mad! Four words – mad to the extreme!
With him on location, the other guests didn’t dare be noisy, they didn’t even dare breathe too loudly.
At this moment, in the palace hall, except for the sounds from the musicians, no one said a word.
Zhou Yun Sheng regained his line of sight, inwardly lamenting the Crown Prince’s good looks. Even this world’s male protagonist, the Seventh Prince, was no match for him.
At the same time, the Crown Prince was also sizing up the champion. The world knew that the Crown Prince loved beauty, whoever he fancied, whether man or woman, he would capture them. Shen Yi Bin was a first-class beauty, he could be called a talented young scholar. He looked like a spring flower, with a pair of vibrant peach blossom eyes. After drinking, his eyes were slightly damp, unexpectedly resembling a small animal, pitiable and lovely.
Plus, he was the youngest, yet he was wearing the crimson champion gown. Sitting amongst a group of long-bearded old men, he resembled a firefly on a dark night even more, dazzling and difficult to ignore.
The Crown Prince’s eyes were deep, his fingers tapped the wine jug, quite a bit of ambiguity.
His personal servant saw his hint and bent over to ask, “Your Highness, shall I call the champion over to have a drink with you?”
“No.” The Crown Prince waved his hand, pointing to another direction, “Call over that third-place winner for me.” Shen Yi Bin was very valuable to his imperial father, he was still aware of this point, so during this Qiong Lin Banquet, he absolutely couldn’t touch the champion.
The third-place winner was 25 years old, although he was not as peerless as Shen Yi Bin, he was also handsome, confident, and graceful. When he saw the Crown Prince point towards himself, his face immediately paled.
“Sir Tan Hua, His Highness the Crown Prince requests your presence.” Perhaps it was psychological, but the third-place winner felt that the voice of this eunuch contained malevolence, like the grim reaper demanding his soul.
He desperately wanted to refuse, but he met the Crown Prince’s sly and unreadable gaze and his whole body went limp. Not to mention speak, even standing up was impossible, and he accidentally overturned a whole pot of wine on top of his body.
Everyone quietly glanced at him, eyes filled with 120,000 points of sympathy.
“Dare to ask the eunuch, could this Shen be fortunate enough to drink with His Highness the Crown Prince?” Suddenly, Zhou Yun Sheng smiled faintly and cupped his hands.
The personal servant quickly looked over at him, bowing, “If Sir Champion wants it, it’s naturally welcomed, please.”
The third-place winner looked at the juvenile walking over to the seat of honor, unable to help feeling relived, recording this kindness. Even more, the others endlessly admired the champion for his generous self-sacrifice. There was a saying that being close to the emperor could be as perilous as lying with a tiger, but they felt that this heir to the throne was even fiercer than a tiger.
The Crown Prince obviously didn’t expect Zhou Yun Sheng to take the initiative to come over. He swung his sleeve, indicating that the other side should sit down, then he observed him. When he found that there was no reluctance or fear on the young boy’s face, his gloomy mood inexplicably improved.
“You’re actually perceptive, you’ve done me a favor.” He said, smiling insincerely.
Zhou Yun Sheng cupped his hands, his tone very light, “This isn’t a favor. This small official will serve as an academician in the Imperial Hanlin Academy starting tomorrow, and every day, this small official will study with the Crown Prince. Naturally, this small official should get closer to the Crown Prince, so as not to ruin the assignment.”
He not only looked pure and lovely, even his voice carried the clearness and translucence of youth, listening to it made others feel extremely comfortable. The Crown Prince sneered, but his eyes softened, thinking that the newborn calf was unafraid of the tiger.
Zhou Yun Sheng lowered his head and touched his nose, his line of sight moving to the Crown Prince’s wooden clogs. The spring cold snap still had not passed, at night, wearing padded cloaks to feel warm was still necessary, but the Crown Prince was dressed very flimsily, and he actually had on wooden clogs. Was he not afraid of the cold?
Doubt flickered and faded away in his heart. The Crown Prince personally handed him a cup of wine. He quickly took a sip, his eyes lighting up slightly. This was a bottle of the imperial wine, XiFeng, and it was boiling hot, the aftertaste was unforgettable.
The Crown Prince watched him lick his lips longingly, a small pink tongue probing out, very enticing. He really liked this view, persuading the young boy to drink a few more cups. The two toasted and drank, chatting and laughing quietly. It unexpectedly didn’t look like it was their first meeting, they seemed like close friends who’d known each other for many years.
The Seventh Prince, who was also in attendance, was waiting for the Crown Prince to lose his temper, then he could come out to rescue Shen Yi Bin and show off his good intentions to the Shen family. But when he saw this scene, he couldn’t help but feel depressed.
The Crown Prince was addicted to alcohol, after drinking a bottle of XiFeng, he ordered the servants to fetch two jugs of longevity tribute wine and place them in boiling water, so they could continue drinking when it reached the proper temperature.
“Drinking on an empty stomach can cause illness, pad your belly with some food.” Seeing the boy’s flushed cheeks and blurred eyes, the Crown Prince chuckled, reaching out to pat his hair.
“Ah, of course.” Shen Yi Bin’s body was still very tender, without a body that had been perfected to the point where a thousand cups wouldn’t intoxicate it, Zhou Yun Sheng was already somewhat dizzy. 007 could adjust the body’s constitution, but he was currently in full view of everyone, he had no chance to fiddle with the AI on his wrist to dissipate the effects of the alcohol. Moreover, if a drunk man miraculously returned to normal in one second, it would be too suspicious. Plus, the Crown Prince was still staring at him.
He dug into his bowl, then stared blankly at the Crown Prince, complaining: “This food is cold, unpalatable!”
“It’s delicious when it’s cold.” The Crown Prince smiled inexplicably, picking up his bowl and eating seriously, he even finished two bowls. Then he continued drinking, but he didn’t forget to fill the cup of the young champion by his side.
Zhou Yun Sheng had already become stupid, his brain filled with alcohol. The food was also pushing to the top of his throat, ready to come back out at any time. Seeing the Crown Prince still wanting to pour him more wine, he brushed him away and staggeringly ran out.
Everyone thought that the champion finally couldn’t stand the harassment and ran away, they couldn’t help but reveal tensed looks.
The Crown Prince also believed this, his face immediately becoming extremely unsightly, his hand reaching for the sword at his waist, his eyes concealing bloody rage. He’d thought that he’d managed to make a friend with a matching personality, but he didn’t expect him to also be so insensible. So, it would be better to kill him, to avoid being an irksome presence.
The Seventh Prince originally wanted to stand up and plead for leniency, but when he saw that the Crown Prince was ready to kill, he sat back down, re-thinking. In any case, the Shen family was already at odds with him, saving Shen Yi Bin this time might not result in any gratefulness. But if the Crown Prince killed him, the Shen family would fall out with the Crown Prince, and his imperial father would be bitterly disappointed with the Crown Prince, which could be considered killing two birds with one stone.
All the other princes also thought this way, so for a long while, no one stood up to dissuade the Crown Prince. The third-place winner struggled for a long time, but just as he was about to say a few words, he saw the eunuch that had chased after the champion come back, then whisper something to the Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince raised his eyebrows, his gloomy expression instantly clearing, then he stormed off without a word.
Everyone was stunned, finally witnessing the Crown Prince’s temperamentality.
In the imperial garden, Zhou Yun Sheng was lying near the lotus pond, vomiting. He was just about to adjust his body’s information to sober when the Crown Prince arrived, amusement in his eyes, “Only a few pots of wine and you’re actually drunk to this extent, really useless.”
“I’m only 17 years old.” Zhou Yun Sheng complained, his peach blossom eyes damp with tears. He was also captured by the Lord God when he was only sixteen, not yet at the legal drinking age. Although he’d reincarnated for tens of thousands of years, he still firmly considered himself to be forever sixteen.
The Crown Prince found the situation to be even funnier, mumbling that he was a pure boy.
Zhou Yun Sheng ignored him, continuing to vomit into the pond. When he saw that the fish were continuously surfacing to swallow his vomit, he vomited again, his already emptied stomach only bringing up bile. He shouted in disbelief, “Th-they’re actually eating my vomit! So disgusting! I didn’t think the fish in the imperial garden would be so disgusting!”
The Crown Prince couldn’t keep a straight face, his chuckles becoming bright laughter. After laughing his fill, he took out a handkerchief and personally helped the boy wipe his mouth, the action was very gentle. He liked this boy’s intimate and unruffled attitude towards him, so he unconsciously put down his guard and let go of his worries.
Zhou Yun Sheng thanked him and leaned on his hand to stand up, then his heart became slightly alarmed. The Crown Prince’s hand was very hot, it seemed to be burning up, it was obviously not the normal body temperature. He couldn’t help but lean in closer, picking up the faint smell of drugs. Because his five senses were more enhanced than a normal person’s, he could distinguish stalactites, amethyst, milky quartz, sulfur, ochre, arsenic ore, and even poppy and other medicinal ingredients.
The Crown Prince was personally raised and educated by the Tian Chen Emperor, he’d obtained his father’s wisdom. From an early age, he’d shown extraordinary political talent, but three years ago, his temperament went through huge changes. He not only became extravagant and careless, he started behaving more and more reckless and violent. The Tian Chen Emperor repeatedly called him before the throne to rebuke him, but no matter what, he never changed his ways.
Zhou Yun Sheng felt that he’d found the root cause of the Crown Prince’s major change in temperament.
Qiong Lin – Something about enlightenment. It’s a banquet held to entertain scholars
Your Highness– I’ve decided that even if it’s inaccurate, I want this to be as readable in English as possible. So, when talking directly to him, it’ll be “Your Highness”, when referring to him in the third person, it’s “His Highness the Crown Prince”. Note that every time the Crown Prince is addressed in the original, it’s “Crown Prince His Highness”.
Me– He uses Gu here, which is I/me/my but used by an emperor or king, could be a self-proclaimed emperor, apparently. It’ll be translated as I/Me/My
Tan Hua – Third place winner. Left that bit untranslated since calling someone third-place winner to their face sounds awkward in English
Him– the seventh prince called himself wang or king here. I guess princes just do that?