Court Lady by Feng Nong
The first year of Zhenguan. The Emperor of Great Tang, Li Shimin, was ruling the country. Under his rule, the country was at peace and the citizens were satisfied. The curtains had opened into the flourishing age and the citizens of Chang’an were particularly happy.
Third month of Spring. The peony flower in the Duke Lu Residence  had bloomed.
A beautiful lady strolled out from the main door. She had large clear eyes and neat eyebrows. She wore a high-waisted long skirt, decorated with beautiful round embroidery, looking elegant and delicate.
“Aaa—” A bird’s chirp filled the air.
The beautiful lady lifted her head, exchanging glances with the owl perched on the roof. Her demeanor caused the bird to fly away in surprise. She huffed before walking quickly to the front of the main building. She saw an old and a young man moving in circles in a hall.
The older one, with a fierce and black face, was her father. He was famous all over the land and his name was Sheng Xiaojing. The younger one, with a white and handsome face, was the eldest of her younger brothers. He was famous all over Chang’an for being a ‘playboy’ and his name was Sheng Chumu.
At this very moment, Sheng Chumu’s hands were shielding his own butt as he ran back and forth. He looked rather ‘graceful’. Although he occasionally got hit, he was still filled with energy. On the other hand, Sheng Xiaojing was panting, clearly tired from the chase.
“I, Sheng Xiaojing, have spent half my life on the battlefield. When it comes to bravery or accomplishments, I have never lost to Lu Yunji. Why is it that when you meet with Lu Qi, you always get beaten up? You useless bum!” Sheng Xiaojing bellowed as he chased. He wasn’t angry that his son got into a fight, he was angry that his son could not win the fight.
Sheng Chumu tilted his head. He was nursing a black eye but still did not admit to his abilities. He hit his own face proudly. “Who said that I cannot beat Lu Qi? Amongst all the men in Chang’an, I have always ranked first with the ladies.”
Sheng Xiaojing huffed, “What ranking?”
Sheng Chumu halted as he repeated seriously, “The ranking of man amongst ladies—"
Sheng Xiaojing took the chance to catch up. He swung his hand and the sound of a stick whipping through the air could be heard.
Sheng Chumu shouted, “Father, you cheated!”
“There is nothing called cheating in tactics!” A hint of pride appeared on Sheng Xiaojing’s face. However, he did not stop his actions, he was determined to make his son remember this lesson.
Sheng Chumu thought that he was screwed this time. All of a sudden, a flower appeared in the corner of his eye as someone stood between him and his father. The round flower embroidery and that elegant dress was very familiar.
“Elder Sister!” Upon recognising the person, Sheng Chumu quickly swapped places with the beautiful lady. The second he turned his back, he stiffened his back to bear the brunt of the stick.
Bam! One firm whack into his memory. It was so painful, stars appeared in Sheng Chumu’s eyes! The beautiful lady was married and was now known as Consort Han, taking after her husband’s surname. It was also his most beloved Elder Sister!
Consort Han’s expression was anxious as she held onto Sheng Chumu. She softly berated him, “Ah Mu, are you stupid? How can father hit me?”
As Sheng Xiaojing saw his son’s face scrunched up in pain, he thought that at least this brat was protective of his sister. He then threw the stick away and returned to his seat. He was still huffing.
Consort Han asked, “Why did you suddenly fight with Lu Qi?”
Sheng Chumu reached his hand to massage his own back as he answered sharply, “Lu Qi was fighting with me for a girl named Yan’er at Swallow House.”
Sheng Xiaojing lifted his fist. “You still dare to speak? Bastard…”
“Bastard!” Consort Han took over the end of his sentence. She looked displeased. “Who is Lu Yunji? How dare his son beat my younger brother over a prostitute? Do they even have any respect for the Han Mansion?”
“Why are you and your mother the same? You all only know how to let him do what he wants!” Sheng Xiaojing had resisted saying this for a while. “Do you know that he is infamous for being Chang’an’s number one hedonist? The family’s business that I spent so much effort to build will go to ruins in his hands.”
“Father, the borders are facing unrest and the Emperor thinks you are too old. That is why he appointed Lu Yunji as the Great General. You are taking your anger out on me.” Sheng Chumu added on shamelessly and gave a constipated smile, “There is no use getting angry with me, the one you should find is His Majesty.”
Sheng Xiaojing fumed, “Even if I am old, I don’t need you to ruin my reputation!” After finishing what he wanted to say, he walked to the wall and took down the lance that made him famous. His face was murderous as he turned around and headed for Sheng Chumu.
Seeing how things were going downhill, Consort Han silently nudged Sheng Chumu. Sheng Chumu immediately got the hint and ran. Sheng Xiaojing was held back by his elder daughter and could only stomp his foot in anger.
No one would have thought that with this run, Sheng Chumu would take the first step on a life that is the complete opposite of ‘hedonist’.
* * *
1. The title is Duke Lu, but not their last name
Chapter 1.1: Spring
Second reign of the Tang Dynasty. Springtime.
Life was booming in spring. The great yellow plains stretched as far as the eyes could reach as the boundless green grass of the paddy field waved in the wind. Two horses cut through the wind, kicking up puffs of sand, causing the sun to appear red. It looked as if someone had painted a haze over the scenery. The view was picturesque.
On the horses’ backs, there was a master and his servant. Luggage hung from the horses, they looked like they were going to a faraway place. The young master was refined and graceful. He wore a green garment, and anyone could tell that he was a scholar.
The young man suddenly heard someone shout for him from behind.
“Du Ning, Du Ning!” Sheng Chumu was sitting unsteadily on his horse. His horse was slightly uncontrolled, and he looked as if he would fall off at any moment.
Sheng Chumu had come out of his residence, wanting to find his good friend, Du Ning, to go have some fun. Who knew that Du Ning would not be around? He was told that Du Ning was headed to Guangzhou to attend a wedding. When Sheng Chumu found out, he rushed over, not wanting to miss out on the fun.
When Du Ning heard Sheng Chumu’s voice, he wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. With this guy around, nothing good would come out of it. Usually it was fine, but this time he was going to attend a wedding. He was not going to create trouble for his relatives. Although this was what he thought in his mind, he still pulled on the reins of his horse and waited for Sheng Chumu to catch up. After all, Sheng Chumu only had him as his only friend.
“Du Ning, why are you going so fast? Is your cousin’s wife that beautiful?” Sheng Chumu’s butt was sore from getting rubbed against the saddle. It was so painful he could not sit still as he kept on hissing in pain.
Du Ning could not bother to reply. He was not like Sheng Chumu who only had eyes for beautiful ladies and would eye his younger cousin’s future wife whom he had yet to meet.
All of a sudden, an army appeared in front of them. They moved in formation and their armour shone. They all wore satisfied looks upon their faces. Sheng Chumu caught sight of the flag that was waving in the air. The huge “Lu” character displayed on it caused him to squint. Acting according to the Emperor’s orders, Lu Yunji had led an army to subdue rebel troops and was returning victorious.
Court Lady by Feng Nong