Chapter 265 “make you love me”
Summer, a season of warmth and life in this world. But here in the Northwest, there are no flowers, only a dryness that shifts from warm to cold during the day and night.
Nevertheless there are exceptions. Currently inside the castle garden, the flower to bloom the most beautifully happens to be the Empire's signature emblem - Thorn Flower, a plant most suited to be grown in harsh conditions.
Walking in front of Du Wei, Mrs. Lister with her slender hands gently waves through the flower bed. Mixed with her red outfit, it's enough to confuse the audience from distinguishing which was in fact a real flower, her or the plants.
From behind, Du Wei had kept his eyes fixated on this woman the entire time for he was quite uncomfortable inside.
With the moon's light shining down at her, Mrs. Lister suddenly stopped between a batch of flowers and peered into the sky. Sighing, she spoke in an almost moaning voice: "I've already forgotten how long it's been since I last saw such a brightly lit moon."
Du Wei smiled in return with his arms behind his back: “In the Northwest here, the wind is usually really strong, thus making it very clear during the night.
“It's not because of the weather, it's the human heart." Mrs. Lister shakes her head with a trace of melancholy surrounding that face of hers.
How can Du Wei not understand her words with his intellect: "You're right, it's not because of the weather, it's the person's heart."
Mrs. Lister slowly turns around. Under the effect of her bright red dress and the illuminating night light, her figure was enough to make anyone lose their breath: "You….. Still refuse to accept my offer?"
Du Wei lightly knits his brow: “I’m merely fifteen years old with hardly any experience. Sure, I'm knocking a Duke's title, but my strength cannot compete with the Northwest Army and the people of the grassland. Also, my foundation cannot hold its own against Governor Bohan, meaning my plan to take up roots here isn't assured. So madam, aren't you afraid of making the wrong bet on me?"
Mrs. Lister did not directly reply, instead, she only whispered her next words: "You… … We're not at a party or formal occasion right now, is it that hard for you to call me by my name?"
Only after a pause did she sigh: “Why must you come up with these excuses with your intellect. I admit I indeed want to have both families form an alliance and that there are some selfishness involved, but that's not all there is to it…. After all, I'm also a woman."
Du Wei could not say anything so she did the honor. Slowly stretching out her palm, she touches one of the thorns and pierced the tip of her finger. Crying out in pain with her mesmerizing voice, drops of blood began to drip out from the wound.
Seeing the situation, even Du Wei lapsed out for a second at her maneuver.
Seemingly satisfied with his response, Mrs. Lister flushed a shade of red on her face: “I married my husband when I was young. Although he was already of quite the age by that time, he's still the first man to treat me genuinely….. For this reason, I still can't forget him. Did you know? On our wedding night, I accidentally said something about one of the flowers in the garden being pretty and he actually jumped off the balcony just to pick it for me."
Speaking up to here, she brought her punctured finger into her mouth and gently sucked on the wound, “I’m a woman. Since the tender age of thirteen, I've already listened to numerous compliments and endured countless aggressive looks from other men. Even at that period, I had more men fall under my skirt than I can count…. But these people in my mind can never match up to my husband. Although he died early, he gave me the most peaceful and happy years of my life. He was already quite old, but even then he would accompany me on my trips to collect the morning dew. To me, his slightest cough during the night was enough to bring peace to my heart." Though she's talking about another man in front of him, the amount of emotion running through those words were overwhelming and somehow managed to change Du Wei's initial disgust towards her.
Hmm … … It seems she's not just a woman that only knows how to exchange benefits.
Tactfully turning around to face him, the Marquise softly smiles, “I … … I said so many things about another man in front of you, are you angry?"
Du Wei shakes his head and said: “You are not wrong … … You are after all a woman, even though strong and wealthy, you are not motionless." He then formed a kinder smile: "I didn't expect you to tell me these things about yourself."
“It's just a whim.” Mrs. Lister softly sighs and slowly came up to Du Wei. Before the two knew it, their faces were already close enough to feel each other's breath.
“The truth is… … Since his death, I haven't spent much time moon gazing over the years…. Nor have I had a day where I can truly relax." Mrs. Lister shakes her head, "Maybe everyone only knows me as someone that strives to expand the family business, but in my heart, I had always been looking for someone I can rely on and take me in."
She looks up and stares at Du Wei with her crystal like eyes: "Women are like vines. Though strong, it must still find a strong tree to dwell on. Over the years, I struggled and struggled, but have never been truly happy."
“I… … It's been a long time since I received any flowers." She talks with great sadness in her voice.
Du Wei didn't know where the impulse came, but before he knew it, he had already reached out to a nearby bush and plucked one of the yellow flowers from its vine: "A flower to match a beauty. Though this Thorn Flower cannot match a thousandth of your beauty, please accept it."
“Flowers are all equal. It's the person whom gives it that puts meaning into them." Right this instance, her beauty knew no boundaries: "If it's a gift from your honor, even if it's a bunch of hay, I will love it."
After a pause, a hint of pleading surfaced on her face: "You….. Couldn't you call me by my name?"
Du Wei is still man after all. Before a beauty bordering on the line of a calamity, it's only natural that his mind gets steamy hot from being hit on: "Hmm. Mrs. Lan."
“Hmm… … You calling me like this makes me very happy." She flushes red and drops her face down in embarrassment."
Using this simple move nearly caused Du Wei to lose his soul, and inwardly, he wanted to exclaim at her resourcefulness: amazing!
It's true what the people of old say, "A beauty is more dangerous than a sharp knife if used right!"
“In thirty years of my life, you are the most handsome man I've encountered thus far." The Marquise's boldness caused Du Wei to drop his jaw.
“Don’t get me wrong.” Mrs. Lister smiles: “Although your age is on the small side, you give off the feeling to others that you are naturally born with a temperament to stand above others. Even if tossed into a crowd, your aura cannot be covered. In my life, you are the first to give me this strange sensation. Though I still don't love you right now, but no matter how I think about it, you are the best candidate to be my husband. In my entire life, the men that I admire the most are those with intellect and strength. Since I'm aware of my self-worth as a vine, it's only natural that I go looking for a big tree to take hold."
Du Wei appropriately plugged in another segment, “Unfortunately, my tree is nothing more than a sapling right now."
The Marquise suddenly chuckles before sighing: "Do you really need me to give you the entire Lister Family before you are willing to accept me?"
Du Wei did not speak.
“You… … What does it take to make you consent to marrying me?"
Contrary to what she expected, Du Wei found it even more difficult to speak when she's being so straightforward.
A moment’s hesitation, Du Wei manned up and spoke: “Madam, you are truly stunning and attractive. I fear in this world no man is a match for you. I…. am no exception. To be honest, a part of my heart also finds it hard not to fancy you. It's just that my personality is quite stubborn. No matter what, I can't bring myself to use my marriage as a tradeoff under any circumstances. Maybe you will find my explanation ridiculous, but I don't mind telling you. Whatever Northwest conquest, whatever power control, I never had those in my mind. Since the day I came to this world and became sensible, I only had one simple goal, 'to be free'! This ideal may perhaps be ridiculous in your eyes, but I've stuck to it till this day. Everything, from beginning till now, it was all for this so called freedom. Of course, if anyone wishes to get in my way or take it away from me, I won't hesitate to remove them from my eyes. Now do you understand? If I use my marriage as a chip in our exchange, wouldn't my so called freedom become a joke?"
Mrs. Lister widens her eye in utter surprise.
Du Wei continues: “It’s not that you’re not beautiful, nor is it because the Lister Family lacked appeal to me. It's just that a hopeless guy like me is on the slow side."
Savoring the meaning behind this so called "freedom", it was the Marquise's turn to be quiet.
Du Wei was gradually starting to clear up. Putting some distance between him and the lady, soberness retakes his mind: “There are two reasons behind tonight's dinner invitation. The First is naturally to thank you for the advice and the other……"
After glancing at her and seeing there are no resistance, Du Wei continues: "Mrs. Lan…. The worry in your heart is nothing more than the thriving future of your Lister Household. While I don't want to be that big tree that you wish me to be, but if all you need is a tree to cling onto, I can help you find one! Therefore, I believe the alliance between both families doesn't necessarily mean it has to be completed by us."
“What do you mean?” She tenses up.
“I have a younger brother named Gabri.” Du Wei slowly said, “We share the same mother and father. The only difference between us is that his surname is Rowling and mine being Rudolph. Though he's only ten years old right now, his gifted intellect is already showing. It's true the Rowling House has fallen into ruin but considering my influence and power in the empire, I guarantee that within twenty years I can uplift my family back into its former glory and more with careful guidance. Conservatively speaking, a simple title of a Count wouldn't be an overstatement. Of course, his personality and character doesn't need elaboration. I believe such a man wouldn't be a dishonor to the lady of the Lister Household."
Finishing her eye popping: “You… … You mean…… Are you saying to let your brother and my sister get marry? But… … But my little sister Angel is already fifteen years old, and….."
“Fifteen is only five years older than Gabri." Du Wei glance at Mrs. Lister, his meaning very clear: our age gap is at least ten years apart, I don't see you complaining?
“But, Angel will never agree to this. The girl is still fondling over you…. If you refuse to marry her then that's that, but to make her marry your brother, she will absolutely refuse." Mrs. Lister firmly states her piece.
Du Wei smiled: “Angel is but fifteen years old, how much relationship matters can she possibly know? She is currently in love with me…. Hmm, her crush is merely based on those rumors and stories she overheard from others. If I add up all the times I met with her, it can't even match one hand, let alone the miniscule amount of dialogue we racked up in three days. Just wait till she passes her pubic period. By then she will naturally understand the differences between true love and young love. My brother is a clever boy. With his fame in the capital, he will definitely be a fine match for the young miss of the Lister House."
“Enough!” Mrs. Lister suddenly revealed a hint of disappointment as she faces Du Wei: “Even if you turn me down, you don’t have to come up with such an idea!”
She suddenly presses in against Du Wei with her soft and fragrant body. Posting her arms around Du Wei's arm, she asks again without any intent of letting go: "Tell me please, what does it take to make you marry me?"
“Unless I’m in love with you… …” Du Wei firmly answers her without any indecision.
“Fine!” Madame Lister suddenly changes her tone to that of determination: "Du Wei! I will defiantly make you love me!"
After saying her statement, this woman gazes deeply into Du Wei that left his heart palpitating with unease.
Watching the Marquise turn and walk away, Du Wei then moves his hand to gently caresses the nearby flower bed and ended up piercing one of his fingers: "A flower with thorns sure is dangerous!"
“You… … Don't you think your methods are a little too harsh?" The voice of Semel surfaced from deep within him
“Are you really willing to drag that little Lister girl into a political marriage? You know it too…. She's still not over you yet."
Only after a while of forethought did the corner of his mouth change to that of a smile: "Semel, my dear Semel, did you know? I recently read a book called 'The continent's history'. There's a phrase in there that left a deep impression on me."
Du Wei took in a deep breath, his face full of indifference: “A lot of times, one may think destiny is in your own hands, but in truth, you're merely moving inside destiny's palm."
It was Semel's turn to go silent.
“Do know who said this statement?" Du Wei smiled indifferently: "It's Aragon Roland!"
"…… But this Lister woman said she will definitely make you fall in love with her."
Du Wei shrugged and got close to one of the Thorn flowers and sniffed it: Wait till the day I actually fall in love with her then we can talk!"
The next day, the prairie emissary, Hamuye, finally lost his patience. As such, Du Wei decided it was time to meet with this Prince of the grassland.
Though he spent days in those horrible tents and ate dozens of takeout meals, Hamuye's spirit was pretty good when they mey.
Adopting Mrs. Lister's plan of letting the foe take the initiative, Du Wei pulled away from his tough stance to lead the guy along.
Sure enough, when Du Wei hinted that he can have the twenty thousand cavalry knights removed from the grassland, this proposal greatly piqued Hamuye's interest.
“No matter what……” Du Wei very clearly indicated his position in this deal: "This clause cannot be written on the contract! Even if made public, the empire will never admit it!"
Du Wei’s biggest concession was that once the peace talk ended, he will immediately act on behalf of the central command and order those knights out of the grassland.
Towards this tempting proposal, Hamuye became so interested that he was able to ignore the days of bad treatment he endured till now.
Likewise, Du Wei finally showed off his "generosity" and prepared a hospitable dinner for this guest, thus ending the days of Hamuye eating takeout orders.
Considering their stances, the first meeting between the two can be called good and friendly. And once the talks ended, Du Wei immediately consulted with Philip to draft a letter for the imperial high command back in the capital – the contents pertaining to the abolishment of the cavalry division in the grassland.
When Philip first read the title, this aid promptly objected for the word "abolish" was too sensitive to send out. No matter what, To an outsider, the situation will look like Du Wei got manhandled into giving into the prairie dog's demand. They be lucky if they didn't get turned into traitors.
“Why don't we change the word ‘abolish’ to integrate or expand?" Philip pleads: "This way, the outcome won't change but the term will sound better."
“That's fine. You can decide on how to draft the document." Du Wei simply tossed the issue to Philip.
But then Philip suddenly raises a new question: "Oh that's right… … On the treatment of this Prairie emissary Hamuye, my lord, I suddenly got an idea. Although it may sound a little mischievous on the surface, but perhaps it might work."
Philip's face took on a dim shade: “Snowy Mountain! Maybe we can use the prairie people's belief to our advantage and make some news!"
Du Wei tightly pursed his lip and carefully looked over this Philip like he wanted to find something out of the ordinary from this guy.
Snowy Mountain… …
Du Wei thought inside: Rodriguez told me he's Blue Ocean's disciple and the guy is also from the Snowy Mountain. Then this great scholar sends eighty of his best students to him and asks that he does his upmost to defend the empire from being invaded by the prairie natives.
Quite clearly this was not some simple patriotic thinking. There's bound to be some hidden meaning.
These days Du Wei may know about the relationship between Blue Ocean and the Snowy Mountain, but he's still quite fond of Philip for the guy's talent and growth was simply too outstanding.
Philip, this young man, is he completely loyal to him … … or is he still loyal to Blue Ocean … … Or to the Snowy Mountain?!
Or maybe, as a disciple of Blue Ocean, he's merely a child of the empire…. Or……
Is this guy already aware of some inside information regarding the Snowy Mountain and hiding it from him?
Oh what to do, what to do…….
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