RSH Stratagem 33: You Don’t Need to Be a Natural Talent! (1)

When they finally arrived at the pavilion Xiang Yong had set up for the musicians, the other dragons were already there.

Qiu Ling nodded toward them and then went to the seat he had been assigned. He didn’t bother about Fu Min who was standing to the side with a curious expression and instead looked at the people who had gathered, and especially at the instruments they had with them.

He knew from a few of them what they intended to present considering that their names had been on the least. But just as Xiang Yong had told him, there were also many people that would likely only join in on the actual day of the festival. Thus, there were more musicians gathered here than he had originally known would come. To his pleasant surprise, there were some more who were playing a huqin. It seemed that today would be a success.

The musicians were a little confused and worried when their king just stared at them like this. From what they knew, Qiu Ling had never been that interested in music. If it came to the people close to him, then the ones they would expect to see would be An Bai and maybe Xiang Yong, while the others probably wouldn’t be able to see the point in coming here.

In fact, most of them had assumed that having them come to this pavilion was because they weren’t really wanted among the other people who would present their skills. So it was already quite a surprise that the king would up at all. But most likely, he was just going through the motions with them and would leave as soon as he had heard one or maybe two people.

Just when some of the ones who hadn’t registered beforehand wanted to quietly put away their instruments or not take them out at all if they had still been keeping them in their spatial rings, Qiu Ling finally retracted his gaze and gave them a smile.

“I’m glad that you have all gathered here and I’m looking forward to your performance. Today, there are some things that I would like to do differently from previous years. I hope that this will not put you in an awkward position. If it is inconvenient to follow through with what I ask for, then please don’t force yourself and just wait things out.

“Anyway, I would like to do this in two parts: First off, I would like you to present your skills in groups of the same instruments. For each group, I would also like you to choose one song for the first part that all of you will play. In the second part, you can play whatever song you originally chose.”

At that, the musicians couldn’t help but exchange looks, some of them murmuring.

Qiu Ling gave them a bit of time, not wanting to rush them. Anyway, he was interested in seeing how this would play out. He had thought quite a bit last night about how to do this. And at the end of the day, he figured that what might be the most beneficial to him would be to watch their technique and see how the same song might differ between different people. From that, he might be able to draw some conclusions. At the very least, he hoped for that. Also, getting to know new songs he could learn was a nice bonus.

After a moment, the gathered musicians finally at least found together in groups, but they still stood awkwardly to the side. They really weren’t sure how to decide on a song.

Qiu Ling could see that they had some trouble so he looked around, and finally motioned toward a group that was playing the xiao. “Let’s start with your group. That young one to the side with the green hair, what song would you suggest for your group?”

The dragon in question straightened up, not sure what to think of the fact that the king had chosen him. “That …” He glanced at the others, worried about choosing a song that some might not be able to perform.

Qiu Ling gave a hum, feeling that maybe he should’ve had Xiang Yong announce his plan beforehand. They definitely could have organized everything while he still had to watch that fight before. Well, it was too late now. Maybe he would be able to keep that in mind for the next time. Although by then, they would already know what he wanted or maybe he would want something completely different. He’d have to think about that.

He gave the young man a reassuring smile and then just motioned for him to go ahead. “Just chose anything. It doesn’t need to be complicated. The simplest song you can think of is good enough.”

The man was still confused but finally nodded and put the flute to his lips, starting to play.

The tune he had chosen was indeed a very simple one. It told of an evening in the forest, with the sun sinking toward the horizon, the red haze filtering through the green leaves, painting beautiful shadows on the ground. It was an unhurried song with a rhythm that was easy to follow.

When he finished, Qiu Ling gave a hum. He was mostly interested in seeing how the huqin was played but the good thing about listening to the other musicians as well was that he would be able to learn some new songs.

This was something that he truly didn’t know much about. Since he hadn’t grown up in the capital city for too long and hadn’t ever cared about music since it wasn’t quite something that he was introduced you, he seriously lacked knowledge in that regard.

But now, with a goal in front of his eyes, he was paying much more attention. And while right now, he had only heard it once, there were about a dozen people in this group so he would have up to another eleven times to listen to the song. By the end of it, he should be able to commit it to memory.

Whether he would be able to play it on the huqin … he doubted it, actually. But it was worth a try. Anyway, what he didn’t manage to do on his first try could still be done on the second or third. And if he needed to practice for years until he was finally able to get it right, then he was also willing to do that.

It would’ve been great if he could play for his beloved already by now when Jing He was in such a condition where he needed to lie down and couldn’t really leave his palace, but since that wasn’t possible, he would keep it for a special occasion. Until then, his skills would’ve grown by a lot.

With this song being a short and easy one, the dozen people had soon finished. They sat there, looking up at the king who had seemed surprisingly involved, constantly watching as they played and even showing in his expression when he noticed somebody playing especially good or even the odd mistake when somebody was too nervous playing in front of him.

They weren’t sure what else they should expect. Would the king say something? They hoped for it but they really weren’t sure if that would actually happen. Anyway, his investment was already much more than they had ever gotten from him in the past so they were already quite happy. More was always good but they didn’t think that they should expect too much.

Qiu Ling indeed didn’t have anything to say. After all, he had no idea how to play the flute and he also didn’t know much about music. Considering that all the people gathered here were musicians or maybe scholars, he figured that saying less might be better. Thus, he finally just gave a hum and then turned to the next group. “Very well, have you already thought of a song to play?”

The others exchanged a glance and one of them stepped forward, looking at the rest of the group for some reassurance that it was alright to take the lead, and then started to play as soon as they nodded.

Qiu Ling leaned back and once again, he quietly listened as the song was being played, soon continuing with the next group until all of the musicians had finished with the first part of what he had asked them to do.

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