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In the main hall of the Wei Mansion, the lanterns suspended from the top were shining brilliantly. The servants had arranged the tables and seats for the banquet.
By the time Wei Tan and I arrived, the hall was full. All the clan elders in Yong capital, their children, and family members were invited to the banquet.
"Meng Jing is here." Madam Guo smiled when she saw Wei Tan.
Wei Tan stepped forwards towards the seat of honor and made his salutations: "Paying respects to father and mother."
I also saluted along with him.
Wei Jue looked at the both of us and said with a smile: "Meng Jing, it is only our family here in today's feast. You don't have to sit separately, just sit with your bride."
These deliberately-uttered words elicited a low laugh from everyone nearby.
Wei Tan remained calm and agreed. He took my hand and led me to sit down at the table next to Wei Jue.
After everyone was ready, Madam Guo ordered the dishes to be served. When the servants brought out the wine, Wei Jue asked all his sons and nephews to come up one by one and meet me formally.
The first was Wei Zhao.
He got up from his seat, held a cup in both hands, and cupped his hands in greeting towards me. "Paying respects to my eldest sister-in-law."
I returned the greetings: "Second brother-in-law." After I spoke, I took a cautious sip of the wine.
I did not have time to take a close look at Wei Zhao when he had entered the city or when he had entered the mansion. Now, he had taken off his helmet and iron armor and was standing in front of me in white brocade robes. He was a very handsome man. His facial features seemed to be like Wei Tan's, but not the same. His complexion was paler than Wei Tan's, and his features were also more delicate. His voice was neither deep nor high, but rather neutral and suitable for conversation. Wei Zhao's aura, with the smiling expression on his face, seemed to be scholarly.
I unobtrusively scanned the main hall and felt that, indeed, in the Wei family, Wei Zhao was the only handsome man.
Besides Wei Tan and Wei Zhao, there were only five other nephews of Wei Jue, who were children of his brothers.
Wei Xian with the beard was the oldest, in his thirties. Followed by Wei Ping and Wei Gang, in their twenties. And, at the end were Wei Lang and Wei Ci, who were about the same age as Wei Zhao.
Wei Xian, Wei Ping, and Wei Gang, all three of them already had families. When they gave their greetings, I saw a large crowd of people behind them making a ruckus. Their families were also living in Yong capital, and they usually come around to the Wei Mansion every other day. I got to know them a long time ago, and could, at last, make the acquaintance of their husbands.
Wei Lang and Wei Ci were not married yet, so they just called out the greetings, raised their heads, and downed the wine. Wei Ci, who seemed to have a good relationship with Wei Tan, gave him a joking wink.
When the greetings were over, the dishes were ready. Everyone who had had three rounds of wine, could finally begin to dine.
The Wei family did not strictly observe customs at their banquet and instead, it was very lively. Wei Jue inquired about Wei An's lessons, the women's needlework, and the children's recent developments. Everyone answered one by one, sometimes with laughter. Wei Jue talked about their expedition and praised Wei Tan and his nephews.
Madam Guo listened from the sides, her expression calm when she heard of Wei Tan's deeds. Yet, when she heard Wei Jue praise Wei Zhao, even if they were only the minimal words of "very good", her face was unable to conceal her joy and pride.
Wei Rong, together with a few other children, was having fun, and the banquet scene was chaotic and noisy for a while. Wei Jue drank and chatted with the clan elders, with no care for the time.
Many people came over to talk to Wei Tan and to partake in wine. Some women from the clan also came to get close to me and the meal was not lonely.
"Eldest cousin brother is very blessed," Wei Ping's wife Zhou-shi laughed. "Sister-in-law is virtuous and beautiful. It was worth waiting for so many years, right?"
"Yes, eldest cousin brother is seldom home, and even then, he stays only for a short time." Wei Xian's wife Zhu-shi answered. "Cousin brother should think about how distressed sister-in-law will feel when she is home alone."
"Who said that I don't know how to love people?" Wei Tan held a wine cup in his hand and said meaningfully. "So, I'll let our mother know that you said that the separation was hard this time. Next time, I will not take brothers Zhong Mao and Zi Da along."
The two women blushed with shame, hid their embarrassed smiles, and hurriedly walked away.
People came to chat and toast us one after another. I drank a lot of wine, and it did not take long before I started to feel dizzy.
"Eldest sister-in-law." When Wei Rong came over with the wine cup, the smile on my face became ugly.
"Huh? Eldest sister-in-law is blushing..." Wei Rong stared at my face and blinked. Before she finished her words, the wine cup in her hand was taken away.
"Children are not allowed to drink." Wei Tan said.
Wei Rong opened her eyes wide to glare at him.
"I'm not a small kid!" Wei Rong pouted, "Father said I could drink today, and mother also allowed!"
"Oh?" Wei Tan was unmoved. "If you can recite the female commandments, I will let you drink."
Wei Rong's face changed, and she was about to speak. At that time, Wei Ci smiled and walked over to her and yelled, "Ah Rong! What's so good about drinking? Follow me, let us go and burn some firecrackers."
Hearing these words, Wei Rong's face immediately regained joy. She grimaced at Wei Tan and followed Wei Ci out.
The two left noisily, but Wei An, who was standing behind them, stayed where he was.
"Are you not going?" Wei Tan asked.
"Not going." Wei An said briefly.
Wei Tan looked at him, the corners of his lips curled softly.
"Come here," he said.
Wei An walked around the table and walked up to him.
Wei Tan stretched out his hand, forcefully grasped Wei An's shoulder, and slapped his back. Wei An must have been shaken by him but he pushed himself to continue standing steadily on his feet.
"Not bad." Wei Tan nodded, "Much stronger than when I left. Can you pull apart the big bow that I gave to you?"
"Yeah." Wei An nodded.
Wei Tan said, "I received a lot of military crossbows, I will give one to you tomorrow."
When Wei An heard the words, his eyes shone slightly.
"Yeah." He said.
"Ah An!" At this moment, Wei Ci's voice suddenly came from the front of the hall. He smiled and beckoned him to his side, "Come quickly! The fireworks are so beautiful!"
Wei An looked at Wei Tan.
"Go ahead." Wei Tan smiled.
Wei An nodded, turned, and walked outside.
I looked at Wei An's retreating figure and felt that this little brother-in-law was strange. Turning my head back, I found Wei Tan looking at me.
"Are you drunk?" he asked.
I was a little offended, shook my head, and yet, after a moment, I nodded.
Wei Tan looked at me for a while and said, "Don't drink anymore. If they come to give toasts, give it to me straight away."
By the time everyone at the family dinner dispelled, my footsteps were unsteady. To avoid seeming rude when taking leave of others, the sobriety in my mind was barely retained. On our way back to the courtyard, I was hypnotized by the swaying of the lantern in the hand of the servant who was walking ahead.
Grabbing my shoulder with one hand, Wei Tan whispered in my ear, "That's a pillar."
I was dumbfounded and looked intently. Sure enough, a dark pillar stood in front of me, and I had almost rammed into it now.
"Are you dizzy?" Wei Tan asked.
I was so dizzy that I could not even nod my head, and could only reply vaguely: "Hmm..."
Wei Tan stopped speaking, took my arm, and led me forward.
When I finally laid down on the couch, the softness of the bedding almost made me sigh out loud.
"Go get some sobering soup." I heard Wei Tan tell others.
I squinted and tried to open my eyes. A figure was hovering above me with its broad shoulders blocking the candlelight.
The shadow stayed there, it seemed to be far away, indistinct, and yet, at the same time, clear.
Will he come over? To continue what we did not do that night?... In the chaos, I unexpectedly thought of such a question. But before I could ponder over it, the shadows in front of my eyes darkened, and I slowly closed my eyelids.
SRR: This is it guys - the first DILONH chapter on my website! Hope you liked it. :)
Edit: I caught a few errors when I looked at the chapter again and fixed them. Please forgive any mistakes guys! :
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Beginning as an avid reader, I am translating novels with the help of machine translation and online dictionaries.
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