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121 The Appearance

 However, back then, he was still young. The ministers and rich people thought they still have time to persuade Mua Kong to take another wife. They assumed that he would eventually get tired of Hli Ja. His eyes would drift away to seek someone else. Then, they'd push their daughters into his sight.

A majority of these rich families craved power and status when it led them to the King. If using their daughter was the only thing they had to do, then it wasn't that big a sacrifice, doing so enthusiastically.

But for three years, ever since Hli Ja disappeared, Mua Kong was never around, making it hard for these rich men to show off their daughters.

What if Mua Kong choose a commoner again? Another mysterious woman that no one would have heard of or had ever seen. They knew Mua Kong does listen to his father, but what were the chances of Mua Kong listening to them. Could they persuaded him somehow?

Using power and money to threaten the Prince was a long shot. Mua Kong already had a strong foundation in the military and enough influence among the citizens.

Going up against the person who is the most capable and likely to receive the throne wasn't ideal, one would like to avoid if possible.

Since the news had spread throughout the country, the citizens were restless. Every town was busy preparing for the festival. Many families with daughter of marriage age, were even busier, glamming up their daughter for the festival. Some families who live a little further out, had already began their journey to the palace intent on attending the festival in time.

Because of the time constraints on the renovation project, the palace was bustling. The place was just as busy preparing as the citizens. The surrounding yards outside the palace was reconstructed. Many trees cut down to make rolls of pavilions outside the palace.

Due to the influx of citizens pouring into the capitol, the streets were flooded with people.

All of the inns in the capitol were booked until the festival is over. The city itself was so full that some citizens camped right outside the palace.

Many of those who planned on attending the festivals donated money, crops, and cattle, hoping to gain the favors of the rich and powerful, and even better the King's own attention. With the amount of food and supplies donated, the King felt that he had more than enough food to feed the people within and without the palace.

Facing the main entrance, once could see that the entire left flank had been torn down and renovated, while the right side remained the same. It was decorated beautifully. They built the pavilion reserved for the royal family next to the gate wall, near the main entrance. This pavilion faced the city, and had the best view as it was two feet off the ground, unlike all the others.

Flanking the royal pavilion's front were the other pavilions for the capitol: it's ministers, politicians, rich merchants, and their families. These pavilions had tables and chairs included, while the pavilions for the commoners only had tables.

Due to having limited resources and time, chairs weren't made for the common people, so they would have to sit in the grass. The tables were built about ankle-high, low enough to be used comfortably by a  sitting citizen. Behind the stage, and on the sides, are rolls and rolls of pavilions for commoners, with each pavilion holding ten families.

Time moved quickly for the palace, in a flash, the annual fall festival had arrived. People put aside their work, doing nothing but celebrating this joyous occasion.

The citizens attending the event, excluding the camping families, came early to settle in and find a spot. It wasn't until around noon that the King, Mua Mong, and his wife arrived in their designated area.

By this time, the ministers and upper elite class were already seated with their families around the Royal Family.

Right now was the annual talent show, where people came to perform, hoping to catch someone's eye, or promote themselves. Daughters also signed up, using the event to seem attractive to the royal family. Some families didn't even try for the royal family's attention, instead focusing all their energy on showing their children around like bait, hoping to catch at least once big fish.

The list of participants was long. A single day wasn't long enough for all of the entertainers to perform.

Around 12:45 in the afternoon, the palace maids and servants rolled cart after cart full of snacks, food, and drinks. The maids and servants went through the grounds one pavilion at a time. Making sure everyone had food and drinks at their table. Their start prince, Mua Kong, hadn't arrived yet.

Pa Chee wore the most eye-catching dress, bright red with lots of gold weavery and sparkling jewelry. Her makeup was beautiful, like a canvas that was freshly painted by an artist. She wanted to go for the bold look: one glance at her and these stupid peasants couldn't look away.

She felt pretty good about her chances as the King had mentioned her name to Prince Mua Kong before. Plus, she also got rid of that obstacle without leaving a trace behind.

Pa Chee basked in her confidence, sure that the only thing people knew about that inn was that it had suddenly burst into flames overnight. So drunk on her enormous ego that she had boldly signed up to perform a dance on stage, with some backup dancers she had hired.

After the dance, Pa Chee scheduled a flute playing and some poetry reading, but only a single verse. Her goal was to perform at a much later time, a time when she knew that Mua Kong would be watching, so she could display all her talents for him.

Although people looked like they were watching the performance, their minds were more focused on when Prince Mua Kong would arrive. All this waiting made them anxious. His estate is a little down south, farther than his brother's, Prince Mua Mong's estate, which only took twenty minutes to arrive by carriage. So, they expected him to arrive a little bit later than his older brother. But he was taking too long! Where was he?