After the Qingan Count’s family left, Shen Qi and Luo Huai Yuan pulled Yan Yan and Yan Mo along, planning to go stroll the lantern market.
The lantern markets of the inner city were also extremely lively. The lanterns here were a level higher in craftsmanship and designs compared to the outer city. There were stacks of fireworks all over, exuding an air of luxury and extravagance. The people coming and going on the streets all wore extraordinary clothing and it was clear their status wasn’t low. The lowest among them were at least officials.
In a restaurant facing the street, there were several people sitting around a table, drinking, chatting and laughing.
One of the people there looked depressed. He sat there only drinking alcohol, subconsciously exuding an air of loneliness.
“What’s wrong? Not happy?”
Yan Ting froze and didn’t speak.
That person leaned over. From the outside it looked as though the two were conversing, but it wasn’t actually the case.
“For the sake of accompanying you, I didn’t even participate in the palace’s carnival. Why give me the cold shoulder!?”
Yan Ting’s expression was extremely ugly. He gave the other party a glance and said hoarsely: “No one asked you to come!” After a pause, he spoke again: “Can you not act this way? I’ve already said what we’re doing is strictly a business transaction!”
Xu Xiang Rong straightened up. He had one hand behind his back, appearing dignified and noble. Hearing these words, he didn’t reveal any hint of displeasure. He merely smiled elegantly without speaking.
Out of their group, Liu Xi called him over to drink. He went over while maintaining his smile.
Yan Ting minded his own business as he drank. His gaze flickered as he looked at the full moon in the sky.
Xu Xiang Rong had people flatter him wherever he went. After he went over, someone diligently poured him a drink. They drank a few cups before Xu Xiang Rong walked off and sat by himself. Liu Xi followed after him.
“Brother-in-law, what’s wrong? That fellow not accepting the reality?”
Xu Xiang Rong gave him a glance and didn’t speak.
Liu Xi also didn’t expect Yan Ting would end up messing around with this male-inclined brother-in-law of his. He felt that Yan Ting must have hidden himself too deeply. Normally he put on an arrogant appearance, but was actually just someone acting as well.
Although Li Xi was lecherous, he was only interested in women. He couldn’t understand those who were interested in men. However, this cheap brother-in-law of his was powerful and influential. He naturally wouldn’t say anything bad about him. Occasionally when Xu Xiang Rong had his eyes on someone, Liu Xi would help out behind the scenes.
He laughed awkwardly and explained: “I just feel he seems to not be giving brother-in-law any face, and wanted to teach him a lesson. Does he really think he’s the powerful and lofty Zhenguo Duke’s son-in-law?!” After speaking, he ruthlessly spat on the floor. His act as a lackey was performed extremely well.
It was true the Liu Xi was Xu Xiang Rong’s younger brother-in-law, but it could also be denied. This was because his disappointing older sister had passed away early on due to illness, and hadn’t even given Xu Xiang Rong any children. Over a decade later, the marital relationship between the Chengen Marquis and the Wuding Marquis households had already faded.
Xu Xiang Rong had married the Wuding Marquis household’s principal daughter soon after the Xu household moved into the capital. At the time, Senior Concubine Xu’s foundations weren’t stable yet and her two princes were still young. Xu Xiang Rong happened to be at the age where he should marry, and ended up choosing the Wuding Marquis household. Liu Xi’s older sister had been sickly from birth. After she came of age, no one came to the door to propose due to her health. Seeing someone finally show up, the Wuding Marquis also didn’t shun him for his background, and married his daughter over.
Liu Xi’s sister passed away a few years after marrying Xu Xiang Rong. Since then, Xu Xiang Rong had never remarried. Everyone praised him for being loyal and passionate to his deceased wife, but only those close to him knew the truth. Xu Xiang Rong had merely married Liu Xi’s sister as a cover. He wasn’t like those who enjoyed occasionally dabbling with men. He never liked women to begin with. He had raised several concubines at home, but they were also just for show. Luckily, the Xu household still had a younger son. Their family line wouldn’t end here.
No one expected the Xu household who used to be butchers would develop to this extent. They seemed to be able to stand toe to toe with the crown prince’s faction. Even the Liu household never expected this. They were already declining long ago, but in the past few years they seemed to have undergone a revival. It was all due to their relationship with Xu Xiang Rong. The person who contributed most to this was Liu Xi. He had cautiously and conscientiously stuck to his cheap brother-in-law like glue all these years.
Xu Xiang Rong swallowed a sip of alcohol and said indifferently: “Don’t interfere in the matters between me and him!”
“Since brother-in-law has spoken, this younger brother naturally won’t be nosy.”
While walking the streets, Luo Huai Yuan’s gaze froze as he stared over in a certain direction.
From his angle, he happened to see the two people who were interacting with each other on a balcony. Luo Huai Yuan’s vision was extremely good. He no longer needed glasses like he did in the modern world, so he could see very clearly.
Things seemed normal at first glance, but Luo Huai Yuan was able to see quite a lot of clues due to his experience from the modern world.
This had to be attributed to a female web novelist that he got acquainted with in the modern world. That girl wrote danmei novels. The two of them were very close and that girl was also a tomboy. She had corrupted him quite a bit with “rotten” ideas.
Thinking of the rumors floating around Xu Xiang Rong, Luo Huai Yuan suddenly felt this situation had become very amusing.
“What are you spacing out about!?”
Yan Yan had already continued walking a short distance before noticing there was someone missing. When she turned around, she saw him standing there seemingly pondering something.
“Nothing, nothing.” He laughed and waved it away.
“What did you bring me here for?”
After strolling for a while, Shen Qi took Yan Mo and split off. Luo Huai Yuan then pulled Yan Yan to a remote location.
Since they were in the inner city, they didn’t bring too many guards. On the way, Luo Huai Yuan had shooed them away, telling them to go find Shen Qi and Yan Mo. Therefore, he and Yan Yan were by currently by themselves.
The two walked a bit further before getting onto a carriage. Yan Yan asked where they were going and he responded by saying he was bringing her to a good place. As for where exactly, he refused to say. It wasn’t clear how long they travelled before they reached a very desolate looking area.
The night was cool as water and the moon was like a plate.
Because the moon was there, it was possible to see the surroundings.
Yan Yan could tell they hadn’t left the inner city, but how was there such a desolate hill in the inner city? To be honest, Yan Yan really didn’t know what they came here for. It looked extremely desolate!
“What did you bring me here for?”
Yan Yan asked again.
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t speak, and merely pulled Yan Yan up the hill. Once they reached the top, he had her sit down. The two were both wearing thick fur cloaks so sitting on the floor wasn’t uncomfortable. It was just a little weird as the cold wind blew and they looked at the pitch black scene below.
“What are you playing at this time?” Yan Yan asked with a frown.
He chuckled and remained silent.
He fished out a small and delicate handheld furnace and stuffed it into Yan Yan’s hands. He then brought out some snacks that was wrapped up and warm, and also handed it to her.
Yan Yan had been wondering why he seemed to have gotten fatter. It turns out he had stuffed so many things in his robes!
“Are you hungry? If you are, you can eat some snacks. This fried rice dumpling is extremely tasty, and it’s still warm.”
Seeing Yan Yan remain still, he took one and stuffed it into his mouth. Then he stuffed another one into Yan Yan’s mouth.
Yan Yan hadn’t expected it and could only slowly swallow it down.
It was truly quite tasty. Compared to the cooked version, it had a different flavor. Especially since the peanut and sesame stuffing was extremely fragrant.
Luo Huai Yuan wiped his hands with a handkerchief and then fished out something that looked like a firecracker, as well as some matches.
The match was lit and the flames made his face look a little more mysterious.
He used the match to light the fuse of the firecracker. He released his hand slightly and that firecracker shot towards the sky with a swoosh. It exploded in the dark night sky, forming various patterns of sparks that lingered for a long time.
“Do you think it looks good? I specially found someone to make this. You like red and I like cloud patterns. That’s why I made it like this.”
The sparks were crimson and formed into individual little clouds. The colors were extremely splendid, containing a hint of silver white. With the night sky as the backdrop, it was dazzling. Especially since it seemed different from other fireworks. It remained in the sky for a long time without fading. It was like it had grown roots there.
Yan Yan looked at the sky and didn’t react for a long time.
“What is this?”
“It counts as a sort of rocket-style firecracker, but it’s specially made. It can be seen from extremely far away in such a night sky. It’s the same even during the day. I’m calling it the Cloudpiercing Arrow. As the saying goes, a single cloudpiercing arrow summons thousands of troops and horses.”1
Luo Huai Yuan was shooting off his mouth while praising Lord Stephen Chow in his mind.
“Cloudpiercing Arrow. This name is pretty good!”
“I promise I’ll gift you some. It’ll be our secret signal. If you’re by yourself someday and encounter some danger, just shoot it into the air. At that time, I will definitely come riding on a seven-colored cloud to save you!”
Yan Yan couldn’t help but snort. She laughed and looked at the silly and happy man in front of her.
“What seven-colored cloud? What cloud can hold your weight!?”
“You’re making fun of my weight again!” The chubby face immediately became depressed, but started smiling again in the blink of an eye. “Don’t worry. Just wait until it’s appropriate. I will definitely become a huge hottie, a man with tanned skin, muscles and an eight-pack!”
Yan Yan found it hard to imagine what he would look like. She put on an earnest smile and nodded. “I’ll remember it. Don’t forget your words today.”
What had been a moment of bullshitting would end up becoming Luo Huai Yuan’s nightmare in the future. This won’t be mentioned for now.
The eye-catching red clouds finally faded from the night sky….
Suddenly, several “shoooo…..boom” sounds rang out. In the night sky in front of the two of them, a large spread of multicolored fireworks appeared.
The fireworks were extremely beautiful with a multitude of colors. The sky seemed to have turned bright.
Along with several “boom, boom, boom” sounds, the fireworks exploded in the air and bloomed like flowers. Some looked like fireballs, some looked like silver snakes. There were some that opened up like chrysanthemums of various colors. They were extremely gorgeous.
As they seemed about to fade, another large batch of fireworks rained down from the heavens, forming a gold and silver waterfall. It made one gasp in amazement at the spectacular sight. There were flowers of all shapes and colors throughout, making it seem like an ocean of flowers. The beauty made one’s heart stop.
The hill’s location was special. It was the highest point in the area. When the “meteor shower” in the sky continuously burst out, this place seemed like it was the only spot in the world.
Yan Yan involuntarily stood up. She held her breath as she watched the beautiful scene, deeply afraid to disturb it.
However, it had to end eventually. The sky gradually regained its tranquility. Only a few scattered sparks remained, floating in the air.
Yan Yan was just about to voice her regret when she heard another “boom, boom” and the sky brightened once more.
An enormous silver and pink rose formed in the air with countless smaller flowers around it. In an instant, a few large words were formed….
Yan Yan, I like you!
Yan Yan covered her mouth in disbelief.
The words were just about to fade when another row of words appeared.
Yun love2 Yan!
Yan Yan already knew what a heart shape represented, and she also knew the phrase “I love you”3. Luo Huai Yuan had told her the westerners used this phrase to represent love. It meant I love you!
This fellow was doing it again!
Luo Huai Yuan smiled extremely smugly, but was also a little embarrassed. He scratched his head and took a deep breath before dropping down on one knee.
He pulled out a small brocaded box and took a silver ring from within, raising it in front of Yan Yan.
“That, although our marriage was ordained by that royal father of mine, I still want to tell you that marrying you was my dream for multiple lifetimes. Those westerners love doing some skillful and extravagant things, but their methods of wooing are really something….I hope you are marrying me because you are willing, and not because it was ordained….I know I’m not good looking, and I’m also fat, but I am sincere….haha, since I’m not attractive enough, I can only use my sincerity to make up the difference. For this day, I have prepared a long, long time…..”
“The westerners have a tradition. When a man proposes to a woman, there would be a ring. If the woman agrees, she would accept the ring. Ah Yan, will you marry me? Not because it was ordained, but because you want to marry me. I will treat you well, the two of us, for our entire lives….”
The sky full of fireworks reflected off the silvery moon, making the scene look like the meteor shower from the dawn of time.
Various expressions of love continued fading in and out in the sky, but unfortunately Yan Yan no longer had the time to look.
Her eyes were misty and her voice was choked up. In her eyes, there was only this self-proclaimed average looking man.
Fine, he wasn’t even a man yet. He was only a teenager. However, he could always use various methods to make her not know whether to laugh or cry, and have a smiling expression as he filled her mind with astonishment or filled her heart with emotions.
Luo Huai Yuan had chattered on for a while but had yet to receive the response he wanted.
Wasn’t she supposed to pounce over emotionally and say something like “you’re so hateful” or say a few bashful and gentle words? He sighed in his heart. Having picked one that didn’t understand romance, he really had to put in a ton of effort.
He raised his head and was about to add on some more when he realized the other party was already a mess of tears.
He was still the first to give in. In his past life, this woman had never cried even when she was dying. Now that she was crying here, it made his heart ache!
“If you don’t want to hear it I won’t say it anymore.” He hurriedly stood up. “If you don’t like this, we’ll just toss it away. Don’t cry, don’t cry!”
As he spoke, he flung his hand out. Even with Yan Yan’s speed, she wasn’t able to stop him.
“Why did you toss it?”
“Didn’t you not like it?” He said dispiritedly.
“I never said that….”
“Then that means you like it?” He squinted in a smile and conjured up the ring in his hand. “Look….”
“You clearly didn’t throw it away. You dare lie to me….”
He licked his lips and smiled. His chubby claws grabbed the miss’s hand and slipped the ring on. It actually fit perfectly.
“I didn’t say I agree. Why did you put it on me!?”
“Although you didn’t agree with your words, you’ve already agreed with your heart….”
Xiao An Zi who was hidden not far from the hill couldn’t help but shiver.
A guard spoke quietly on the side: “Eunuch Xiao An Zi, do you think his highness’s matter is finished yet?”
“How should I know?” Xiao An Zi looked bitter.
The night was cold and the wind blew heavily. His highness was courting his consort up top while his lackeys were waiting around underneath.
Those fireworks all looked very eye-catching, but they all required someone below to release them after being signaled you know!? They didn’t just appear out of thin air!
They really didn’t know what his highness was thinking. If he wanted to see fireworks, there were plenty in the inner city going off at the moment. Why run off to this place where birds didn’t even shit!?
They naturally didn’t know there were quite a few secrets in these fireworks. They merely crouched there and lit them based on the prearranged timing. What it looked like up top, they were completely unaware.
A rustling noise sounded and a guard ran over clutching his side. Everyone crowded over and questioned him.
“How was it, how was it? Is his highness done yet?”
That person sniffled as he said, “Probably not yet. When I looked over, his highness seemed to be hugging and kissing the miss.”
A round of vulgar laughter sounded out.
“Ai, there are still two more fireworks here. Let’s set them off in case we have to carry them back later!”
Xiao An Zi reprimanded quietly: “Why are there leftovers? Didn’t we set them all off?”
“Perhaps they were overlooked.”
Over on that side, Luo Huai Yuan was enjoying the warm embrace, and had even gotten to kiss her small mouth, when he was startled by the sudden “shoooo….boom” and almost fell over.
Yan Yan snapped out of it and pushed him away.
He had a smile on his face as he snuggled over to Yan Yan while hopping mad inside. Those fellows with few successes but plenty of failures!
When Luo Huai Yuan and Yan Yan returned, the group of people were in the middle of discussing if they should send a search party out for them.
“Ah Yan, where did you go? You scared your mom to death! Shen Qi said you guys got separated, and couldn’t find you after searching for a long time!”
The moment she saw Yan Yan, Shen Yi Yao walked over anxiously.
Luo Huai Yuan: “Aunt, we didn’t go anywhere. We were watching the fireworks at the lantern market. Maybe Shen Qi didn’t see us. There were a lot of people after all. Seeing that there were fireworks, we found a place to watch them before returning.”
Shen Yi Yao nodded and didn’t say anything else.
Her daughter knew martial arts and was with the fourth prince. Theoretically there wasn’t anything to worry about but as her mom it was inevitable to feel some anxiety.
At this time, it was already late. The amount of people in the restaurant gradually decreased.
After chatting with Shen Yi Yao a little longer, Luo Huai Yuan said his farewells. Shen Qi also left after.
The group of people got on their carriages and prepared to head back.
Shen Yi Yao looked at her daughter and noticed her eyes were red.
“Ah Yan, you cried? Why are your eyes so red?”
Yan Yan pretended nothing had happened. “I didn’t. Perhaps it was due to the fireworks.”
“Have Mei Xiang and the rest help press a towel against them after getting back.”
They fell silent.
After arriving at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate, they each went their separate ways.
Yan Yan returned to the Ningxiang Chambers and the senior maids all crowded over. They first helped her take off her outerwear. Yan Yan sat for a while before heading to the bedroom. She took off her belt, preparing to bathe and sleep.
She sat at her makeup counter. Mei Xiang and Mei Xue worked together. One took off her jewelry while the other put them in the box. When they were taking off her bracelet, they inevitably saw Yan Yan wearing a silver white ring inlaid with a pink gem on her left hand’s ring finger.
They were normally responsible for Yan Yan’s jewelry and knew that she didn’t have this ring before. Mei Xiang didn’t say anything about it. She only asked after taking off her bracelet: “Miss, should we take off this ring?”
Yan Yan glanced at the ring and thought of the fatty’s ramblings. His general meaning was that after putting it on, it couldn’t be taken off. Her face couldn’t help but turn red as she shook her head.
Mei Xiang and Mei Xue looked at each other, their eyes filled with smiles. This was definitely gifted by that fourth prince again!
In the eyes of her maids, Yan Yan was someone who was so unyielding there was nothing she couldn’t overcome. No matter what she was facing, she would be able to stand tall and protect the people behind her.
In this era, there wasn’t the label of tomboy. However, they knew that it was rare for their miss to reveal a feminine expression, yet this often happened due to the fourth prince.
It seems that after their marriage, their relationship would definitely be pretty good!
After her bath, Yan Yan lay in the soft bedding as she stretched out her left hand and examined the ring on her finger.
The room wasn’t well-lit but the dim light reflected off the ring, scattering into a mysterious ripple. It was so moving and alluring. When viewed from various angles, it would always give off a dazzling reflection.
The ring had a pink gem in the shape of a flower surrounding by extremely small yet brilliant jewels. The pink gem in the center was the size of a thumbnail.
It was said this was a diamond. Yan Yan had seen diamonds before, but no one in the Grand Xi used them in jewelry. This was because diamonds were extremely hard and they weren’t eye-catching. Their color, luster and intensity weren’t comparable to rubies. Their status and meaning couldn’t compare to jadeites. Their elegance couldn’t compare to jade. Unexpectedly, he had used it to make this ring.
She naturally didn’t realize how much effort Luo Huai Yuan had spent on her coming of age hairpin as well as this ring.
In the Grand Xi, diamonds were not popular but in the West there were people who inlaid them into jewelry. They mostly used colored ones. However, the diamonds in this era weren’t as dazzling as the ones in the modern world. This was because the people here didn’t know how to exhibit the brilliance of the diamonds.
Based on his past life’s knowledge, Luo Huai Yuan knew that diamonds needed to be cut and polished. But how to cut it and with what? There were very few things that were harder than diamonds. All this needed experience and experiments.
Luo Huai Yuan found some of the best artisans and spent a long time before finally figuring out the art of cutting seventeen faces. The ring on Yan Yan’s hand was the only jewelry in this world with this art.
Of course that might not be the case in the future. This guy had always had a good head for business.
For example, the heart brand little pads from before as well as those silk roses he had used to woo Yan Yan. To manufacture them, he had spent a lot of thought and effort. They were intended to woo his wife, but after seeing that they were pretty good, he ended up mass producing them for sale. They actually sold pretty well, and had actually been sold overseas as well.
The West wasn’t lacking in these sorts of rocks, but they were lacking novelties for the wealthy. Luo Huai Yuan had already ordered the people in the Fu Province to collect as many diamonds as possible. After a certain amount of time, he would create another miracle.
What was this called?
Wooing his wife on one hand while quietly making bank on the other.
Fatty: Still going to call me vulgar? Still going to call me vulgar? This bro knows how to be romantic too.
Author: (Can’t bear to look him in the eye)
Fatty: Author, what’s with that face? Can’t you just praise me a little?
Author: That, the only thing I can say is that my Yan Yan is lacking in experience…..
Fatty: What lacking in experience? Don’t you leave, come and explain things properly!
Author: It’s exactly what it sounds like.
- It’s sort of like a signal flare in martial arts novels to summon help. The line is from Kung Fu Hustle starring Stephen Chow. Highly recommend it.
- Love is written in English.
- Also in English