Chapter 180 “Drunken Immortal”
It’s been several months since Lan Caier started organizing the opening of the Drunken Immortal. With everything set and ready to go, they only needed to wait until the predetermined date.
Unlike in Glass City, the Drunken Immortal didn’t have the same halo effect of their fame to boost their sales; therefore, she had gone the extra mile to personally see to it that the staff are well trained and to her liking. Matched with Ling Yue’s produces and wine, both girls are ready to make it as huge as possible for the grand opening.
As soon as the news went public, it didn’t take long for it to spread into Marquis An’s household where An Ming Xia resided. For several months now, the girl had kept to herself and out of the public’s eye in order to recuperate from her injury. So, imagine the outrage it must be to learn of this news during her initial recovery. Knowing the enemy was doing so well while she herself suffers at home, how aggravating.
“Lan Caier is actually back, and she has a new restaurant?”
“Why so angry Ming Xia, it’s but a small restaurant. Without excellent winemakers and fine cooks at their disposal, they can’t stir up much trouble anyways.” An Ming Xia’s mother, Cui Shi, was currently trying out her new dress for the autumn season. Seeing her daughter throwing a tantrum again, this second wife of the marquis found it perfectly normal since she’s well aware of her daughter’s temperament.
Cui Shi was originally the eldest daughter of the largest establishment in the capital back in the day, also known as Fairy Square. With tender skin that’s always glossy smooth, this capable woman always carried a smile on her face no matter the occasion. But that’s not the main reason Marquis An would take her as his concubine, it’s Cui Shi’s ability to run a business which won the man’s heart.
Back when An Ming Xia became nearly crippled from the waist down, it’s widely believed by the physicians that she would be forever tied to the bed. This shocking revelation horrified Cui Shi that day. If not for the fact that the woman managed to procure a fifth rank bone replenishment Dan pill – at a very high price – An Ming Xia would still be lying there unmoved. Nevertheless, this recovery required no less than three months to achieve. Hence the reason why Ming Xia was absence during the Ghost Festival banquet.
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“Mother, you mustn’t underestimate that Lan Caier and her Drunken Immortal. There’s a kind of brew called the Hundred Fruit Wine that they serve there. Not only is it comparable to our own Five Treasure Wine, the price is only a fraction of ours.” What she didn’t know was that Ling Yue already improved upon the original concoction, but that’s none of her concern. Just the original fruit wine was enough to make her insecure.
In terms of influence and lineage, Marquis An’s noble house can only be called middle rank, far below that of the Hong clan. Yet, they do have one superiority, and that’s their finances. This was mostly thanks to the influx of revenue from the Fairy Square.
Over the years, nearly half of the income in their house now comes from Cui Shi’s business, which also directly raised their status within their home.
As a business that relies heavily on the patronage of the upper-class society in the capital, the Fairy Square can’t allow the Drunken Immortal to make an impact on their opening. Otherwise this might shake the Fairy Square’s foundation in the coming future.
“Is what you say all true? Then we must be careful.” Since her daughter An Ming Xia had always been helping out in the winery and storehouses since little, Cui Shi had a lot of confidence in the young girl’s judgement. Never had she heard such high praises about another winery. “But Ming Xia, your body only just recovered. Don’t worry, mother will personally help you vent your frustration by dealing with that Lan Caier and her friend.”
“I just knew mother loves me best, but I want to go out either way. I heard his highness the phoenix lord is also back in the capital. I want to give him a visit at his home.” An Ming Xia had no delusion of underestimating Cui Shi’s ability. To deal with two shameless tramps, her mother’s more than sufficient.
“Again with that phoenix lord. Ming Xia, how many times have I talked to you about this. That man’s a medicine pot and he might die at any moment. Why are you so obsessed with that person?” Cui Shi furrows her forehead.
Right now all the young ladies in the capital are busy coming up with ideas to catch the crown prince’s fancy, yet her own silly daughter here was busy thinking about a sickly foreign prince.
In Cui Shi’s view, the phoenix lord may have wealth, but not power or authority. If Ming Xia can become the crown princess, it be a matter of time before she becomes the queen of this great kingdom.
As a concubine to the marquis, Cui Shi knows very well the pitiful fate for those in her position. Never able to stand above the main wife, forever doomed to lower her head before the main house, all she can do now was to pin her hope on her daughter. She’s not asking for much, just a chance for Ming Xia to climb above what she has by clinging onto the crown prince.
“Mother, how many times have I said it already. I don’t like the crown prince. Besides, do you not see how many ladies are killing themselves to steal his highness’s heart? But the phoenix lord… Oh, if only you can meet him just once, and you will know. To me, Phoenix Lord Feng Shen is the only one in this world. There’s no other man better. He’s so handsome and polite, and….” Rambling up to here, Ming Xia’s cheek started to blush like she’s drunk on her own imagination.
Against her daughter’s love-struck state, Cui Shi can only shake her head in disappointment. It matters not now. She already received Consort Luo’s invitation letter for the flower gazing party. As long as her daughter shows up that day and win’s the prince’s heart, everything will be set in stone.
Two days later, the Drunken Immortal officially opens.
At the break of dawn when only the earliest of birds are stirring, the sky remains a soothing gray. Mist and dew as the main occupants of this hour. But it matters not to Ling Yue and her big sis. To ensure everything runs smoothly today, both girls made it a mission to arrive at the earliest hour.
Soon, the workers too had arrived for their posts when the morning beams broke through the horizon.
“Thank you for coming today. Drinks are on me today.” Lan Caier was pleasantly surprised to find Feng Xue and Liu Cheng to be first to arrive, and so soon at that. It’s not even the auspicious hour yet.
While Feng Xue makes her greeting with a warm smile, Liu Cheng didn’t look so great. A bit sulky, the boy didn’t say anything and walked inside, making sure only to nod his head in greeting.
“What’s wrong with Liu Cheng? He looks sort of down doesn’t he?” Ling Yue asks, confused over the boy’s state.
“Just ignore him. That dummy must be still grumpy about the flower gazing party.” Feng Xue also sounded a little sad when she got to this part.
A few days ago, Consort Luo had sent invitations to all the court officials, mainly those of the fourth rank and higher with a few exceptions.
The Feng House also received an invitation that day. Though it’s nominally a flower gazing party, but in reality, it’s nothing more than a disguise for the crown prince to choose a wife among the unmarried daughters. Attendance being mandatory.
“So all fifth ranking and higher got a invitation? Ling Yue, it seems someone had directly crossed our names out from the list.” Lan Caier made a dirty scowl after getting the full story.
It’s true she didn’t care whether or not she’s invited, but the fact that they never got an invitation was undeniably a snub against their family as a whole.
“I would rather not take part in the flower gathering, but my father wouldn’t agree.” Feng Xue sneaks a peak at Liu Cheng, afraid the boy might get a different idea.
As childhood friends, the both of them have had each other in their hearts for a while now. The feeling being mutual, they need not words to express their connection. Sadly, Feng Xue’s father was a third ranking official in court, no way Lord Feng would bestow his eldest daughter to a son of a concubine in the Liu family.
Just as they were busy conversing, their attention was brought to a halt by the arrival of two carriages outside the Drunken immortal.
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