The people crowded around the market square and whispered among themselves. “Is it really true that the Young Master of the Ye family wants to decide on whom to marry today?”
“Yes, yes, I saw the sign the servants put up in the morning when I was walking by. But I can’t believe it. Are they really going to do it this way?”
Another person nodded with an equally skeptical expression. “That’s what I heard. But isn’t it strange that there are only men lining up? Does the Ye family not worry about having no offspring?”
“Whether they worry or not, what’s strange about only men trying their luck? Which self-respecting family would have their daughter queue up in a line to see if some Young Master wants to marry them? Even if the Ye family is wealthy and has a good status, that’s still not something you can expect a lady to do!”
“Right, if any woman did this, her family would need to be in really dire straits. And even then: She’d be throwing away all her face. Even if they get a huge lump of money, will they still be able to live in this city? People would point left and right at them regardless of whether the Ye family is behind them or not.”
The people continued to discuss, despite not being outside of Ye Kun Lin’s earshot but he didn’t care. He just raised his gaze to the man that was next in line and gave him a smile. “What is your name? And where are you from?”
The man straightened up and gave a smile of his own, exposing a row of teeth that was already missing two. “I’m Mo Huan. And I came from the neighboring city.” His gaze brushed Ye Kun Lin’s body that was clad in a beautifully embroidered robe and he licked his lips. “So what are my chances, Young Master Ye?”
Ye Kun Lin continued to smile but his gaze couldn’t help but darken at the black aura surrounding the man. He still stayed polite though. “Everybody has the same chances, Mister Mo. Alright, I’ve seen you and my servants have recorded your name. This will be all for now.” He nodded and inconspicuously motioned at the servant to his right who struck the name off his list.
The next man stepped forward and Ye Kun Lin looked up again, trying to discern his aura. Unfortunately, just like the man before, his aura didn’t show anything good. It wasn’t black but there were still several dark spots. Especially the area around his heart had turned to a dark gray. He should have done his fair share of things to break others’ hearts. This certainly wasn’t the type of person he wanted to marry and spend his life with.
He motioned at the servant standing to his right again, still asking the man for his name and where he had come from. He barely listened to him though.
These fake smiles, he had never paid much attention to them. To him, only a person’s aura was used to discern their true colors in the true sense of the word. This time as well, he had asked for this kind of meeting to decide whom he wanted to marry because he wanted a man that was inwardly just as good as he was outwardly.
Ye Kun Lin had never told anybody about his ability, not even his own family. Explaining this to them … He just didn’t know how to go about that. What if they didn’t believe them? What if they did not accept his reason for this?
No, keeping quiet about his ability and just insisting on doing it like this was the only way. He had to take a look at the people that were interested in him one by one, making sure that they really were who they pretended to be. He didn’t care whether the man he finally married was a noble or a merchant or maybe even a beggar. He just wanted a good man.
And why shouldn’t he? His own family was prestigious, wealthy. He did not require his husband to bring anything into the family. So to him, it was much more important that he would have a man that he could trust completely. Somebody that wouldn’t make him second guess everything he said because of the way his aura looked. That was his single requirement of his future husband.
The men continued to step forward, reporting their names and the places they had come from and exchanging a few polite words with Ye Kun Lin, hoping that they would be able to make a good impression on him and marry into this family.
Ye Kun Lin couldn’t help but feel down though. Even though not all these men had a black aura, many of them still had a dark one or at least one with several dark spots.
Were there no good men around here? Then who should he settle with? His family had already said that they would give in to this whim of his but that he would have to decide on one of these men. If he couldn’t find anyone he liked, then they would choose for him based on the person’s status. So today, he had to find a man that he would be able to live with. Otherwise, who knew what would happen?
Unfortunately, several hours had already gone by and even though he had let the servant to his left note down the names of some men that had good auras, there was nobody he was really satisfied with. After all, being a just and honest person was only his initial requirement. He naturally hoped to find a man whose personality fit his among them. But so far, things weren’t looking good. And the worst thing was that the line of men was slowly coming to an end.
Ye Kun Lin would have liked to speed this up but his ability wasn’t that strong. He couldn’t be more than three steps away from the man he was appraising. The closer he was, the more he would be able to see as well. So letting them walk up to his desk one at a time was the best he could do.
If he couldn’t find a man that was able to show an aura he liked, then he would have to invite the ones that he could get used to for another meeting and get to know them better, trying to find out who had the most suitable personality among them.
After all, their aura hadn’t been too bad. Even though he hadn’t felt any connection with them, it didn’t mean that they couldn’t work out as a couple. It was just that that would take some more time and getting to know each other.
Ye Kun Lin glanced at the list of the servant next to him. There were about two dozen names on there. He could remember a few of these men and their auras. Even beyond that, he had a vague impression. One of them had been trying to joke with him, probably hoping that he would appreciate a spouse that was able to make him laugh. Another one had been very proper and polite, giving the impression that he was somebody who played by the rules and would have a good grasp on everything in the estate, being able to take up a lot of responsibility.
There had been others that gave him an equally good impression but … He couldn’t help but hope that maybe there would be another man further down the line that would give him more than this vague feeling that their relationship may be successful after working on it for some years. Somebody who could make his heart skip a beat or go faster. Somebody who could inspire some feelings in him even if they were only weak for now.
Ye Kun Lin closed his eyes for a spell and lightly exhaled. He was probably hoping for too much. It would be better to have fewer expectations and make a sound decision. His family would also be happier with that.
Ye Kun Lin looked up again, restoring his faint smile while he asked the next man for his name.
The line continued to shorten even though there were still a few men coming over and queuing up. By now, Ye Kun Lin already felt tired. Using his ability this often in just one day was a huge drain on his energy. He felt famished and couldn’t help but hope that things would be over soon. Anyway, it didn’t seem that he would be in luck today.
Just when he thought so a man in a travel-worn robe stepped in front of him and spoke up without needing Ye Kun Lin to prompt him. “My name is Rong Wu. Originally, I came from the state of Nan but for the past years I have been traveling, seldom returning home.”
Ye Kun Lin looked up, once again using his ability to discern the man’s aura. His expression couldn’t help but grow a little dazed. It was white with a few specks of gold and a few twirls of blue and red. This was a very good aura. It signified that this was a man that had accumulated good karma, that he was somebody passionate who still held onto his moral values even in the heat of the moment, and could also think matters through calmly, enjoying peace and quiet.
Ye Kun Lin was very satisfied with this aura. It was the kind he had been looking for. He stopped using his sight and instead looked at the man’s face. He was older than him, and probably not by just a few years. Still, he didn’t seem like an old man. He just had a face that spoke of his rich experience.
There were a few lines around his eyes, as well as wrinkles between his eyebrows as if he had furrowed them a lot while he pondered what he saw on his travels but also a few lines around his mouth, like a man that was laughing a lot.
Ye Kun Lin couldn’t help but smile at him, a genuine smile this time. Even if not for his second sight, this was a man he felt at ease with. “Mister Rong, it is? You’ve traveled so far, might I ask why you queued up?”
Rong Wu smiled. “Isn’t this the queue of men who want to marry you? If not, then I’m terribly sorry. That was what I wanted to do.”
Ye Kun Lin blushed and leaned back on his seat, rearranging his sleeves while his gaze darted around. Yes, what had he said there? “I meant … Why do you want to marry me?” He glanced up, meeting with a pair of dark eyes that sparkled with mirth.
The lines around the man’s mouth and eyes deepening when his smile grew more pronounced. “Five years ago, I was already traveling the world. I came to this Liao kingdom, journeying from the north to the south without a goal in mind.
“One day, I entered this very city. That day, it was drizzling, making the streets and the houses seem dull as if a veil had been draped over the world. The people stayed inside, the sounds they made almost drowned out by the pitter-patter of the rain on the roofs. The only ones still in the streets were the beggars that didn’t have anywhere to return to. They huddled below the eaves, pulling their clothes around their bodies as tightly as they could. It was a heart-wrenching sight.
“After drifting around for so long, I could somewhat understand their plight. Every now and then, I would be in this very same situation: Nowhere to go, nowhere to stay. It makes one feel alone and desolate.
“That day, my situation was better so I made my way through the city in search of an inn. I had never been here before, so I did not know where to look. But I figured that there should be one at the market square and even if there wasn’t, I could go from there to find one.
“When I got close, I saw that a single stall had been erected on the market square. I was wondering who would try to sell their goods even in this weather and I was especially wondering why there were people lining up for them. When I got closer, I realized that the queue was made up entirely of beggars. They were braving the rain to quietly line up, obediently waiting until it was their turn.
“I finally spotted an inn on the other side of the square and went over but at the door, I could not help but look back to see who the person was that would man such a stall. What I saw was a youth who had probably not even come of age yet. He was smiling brightly at the beggars, not minding the rain in the slightest while he gave out food and clothes to them.
“A servant was standing to his side, trying to hold a bright paper umbrella over his head while he whispered to him that he should stop already and return home where it was warm and dry. But the youth did not seem to hear him. He persevered on, giving out one bowl after the other before pointing to the stack of clothes next to him.
“I was in a daze seeing that. Over the years, I had often seen the nobles put up such stalls and do good but that had only ever happened on the bright and sunny days, often shortly before a festival would happen. I had never seen one of them go to such lengths. But this youth did and he never seemed to get tired, always smiling and talking to these people as if they were not any different from him.
“I observed that scene, having forgotten about the rain that was still falling onto my own head and the coldness that was slowly seeping into my bones. That day, I told myself: Rong Wu, if you ever get tired of traveling and want to settle down somewhere with a partner of your own and maybe a child that you could raise together, then you have to find a person like this.”
Rong Wu stopped and looked at him with a slight smile, not saying the last sentence he had in mind. He could read in this Young Master’s face that he already understood.
Ye Kun Lin stared at the man blankly, his mind traveling back to all the days in the past when he had been doing exactly what this man had described. He couldn’t remember that particular day. He couldn’t remember seeing this stranger either. Still, if this was how he thought, then this was the man he would want to marry. He did not even need his second sight for that. Just this story alone was enough to decide.
Ye Kun Lin gave a smile and motioned to the servant on his left. “If that is so, then I am honored that Mister Rong thinks so highly of me. You said you were traveling. Do you have a place to stay? My servants could arrange something for you.”
Rong Wu’s eyes turned into crescents and he shook his head. “Don’t worry about that, Young Master Ye. I am staying in the same inn as that day.” He motioned over to the other side of the market square. “Actually, I saw your stall from there. Otherwise, I might not have known. That sounds like fate, doesn’t it? So why don’t you tell me when I should come to your house to see you again?”
Ye Kun Lin glanced at the list that the servant to his left was holding before he looked back up at the man. “Tomorrow sounds like a good day, doesn’t it?”
Rong Wu nodded and turned to leave, giving the Young Master he had remembered over the years another look. For this person, he would stop his life of restless traveling and settle down without regret.