Happy holidays everyone! I wish you all the best in these difficult times. I’ve prepared some presents under the tree for you to unwrap tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll add some more festive cheer all around.
After pondering for a while, everyone present apart from the young Yan Yan felt things were terrible.
They all couldn’t help but make conjectures, and by putting everything together and thinking deeply, they came up with a conjecture that was hard for them to accept.
Perhaps Yan Ting had been after the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s daughter from the very beginning, and had not been sincere. Only then did this sort of situation happen where things were sweet on the surface yet bitter on the inside.
Thinking to this point, the Zhenguo Duke couldn’t quite take this blow, and his face suddenly aged quite a bit. The Zhenguo Madam also cried extremely sorrowfully.
Yan Yan had long since predicted that if these things were laid out, her grandparents would definitely be very upset. However, she didn’t expect it would be to this degree. She couldn’t help but say: “It’s all Ah Yan’s fault. Ah Yan shouldn’t have said these things out loud. Perhaps Ah Yan was wrong in her thinking….”
Second Madam Shen pulled Yan Yan over and slowly stroked her back. “Ah Yan, we don’t blame you. You didn’t do anything wrong…..” Her expression was also extremely complicated.
When Shi Yan Dan married into the Shen household, Shen Yi Yao wasn’t even ten years old. She basically watched her grow up, and therefore also knew about the events from back then. She naturally understood what her in-laws were upset about.
She forced a smile and said comfortingly: “Perhaps, perhaps your son-in-law isn’t aware of this. After all, that Concubine Pei is Old Madam Yan’s niece. It makes sense for her to be a little biased.”
“Second daughter-in-law, no need to make excuses for him. I’ve been wondering why Yao’er hasn’t been coming home much these years, and also hasn’t brought Ah Yan over. Turns out there was a reason for everything! In the past Yan Ting hadn’t gotten a good posting yet and would send Yao’er over frequently to suck up to us. The moment Yan Ting was assigned to the border, Yao’er never comes over anymore. Every time we send someone over, there’s always an excuse.”
Yan Ting’s current posting was personally arranged by the Zhenguo Duke. The Weiyuan Marquis Estate was in their final generation of succession. To prolong their family status naturally required outstanding military achievements. Since the Shen household’s eldest son Shen Dong had been guarding the border, the Zhenguo Duke arranged for Yan Ting to be placed under him to let his son-in-law accumulate merit. Now it made the Zhenguo Duke seem both laughable and embarrassed.
He grew angrier the more he thought about it, and couldn’t help but pound the table. With a crack, it split apart.
“What a scheme, what a scheme. This elder shoots wild geese all day long, but was actually pecked blind by a little chick. Yan Ting, well done…..”
The Zhenguo Duke had served in the military for a lifetime, and was extremely skilled in martial arts. Despite being over sixty, he was still full of vigor. Especially his snow-white beard which was currently billowing, painting an extremely shocking image.
Yan Yan had already been on edge and shivered at the loud noise. She couldn’t help but shrink into Second Madam Shen’s arms.
The Zhenguo Duke looked at Yan Yan and pain flashed across his eyes. He said: “Ah Yan, don’t be scared. Grandfather isn’t angry at you.”
“Grandfather……” Yan Yan’s face was a little at a loss and a little timid. “Did Ah Yan make a mistake….”
The Zhenguo Duke’s heart couldn’t help but hurt. He both hated Yan Ting’s guts and hated his daughter for being so muddleheaded. He said: “Ah Yan wasn’t wrong. It’s the others who are in the wrong….”
At this time, a teenager ran in from outside. He was around ten years old and had a brawny figure. This was Second Madam Shen’s younger son Shen Qi.
“I heard little Ah Yan came…er, grandfather is here as well…”
Shen Qi had been naughty from a young age. He wasn’t afraid of anything, except his grandfather. He had heard the servants say Miss Yan had come and wanted to find his little sis to play. He didn’t expect his grandfather to be here as well.
Since he had come, it wasn’t easy to leave again. Shen Qi approached and saluted the people, then ran over to Yan Yan’s side. He pulled her hand and said: “Little Ah Yan, big bro came to find you to play. How’s your whip training going? Want to go play around with it?”
Shen Qi wasn’t much older than Yan Yan, merely older by a few months. However, he had always liked to act older, and would always call out “little Ah Yan”, as though she was very young. In reality, he was also just a little brat.
Second Madam Shen smiled as she looked at her son, and then looked at her in-laws, saying: “Might as well. Ah Yan, go play with Qi’er. As it happens, you haven’t seen him in a while.”
Second Madam Shen stroked Yan Yan’s hair and said: “You’re still young. Let the elders worry about these matters.”
Yan Yan could only nod her head. As for Qi’er, he was a naughty one, pulling on Yan Yan’s hand before scampering off.
Yan Yan and Shen Qi had been close from a young age. The Zhenguo Duke Estate emphasized martial arts, and Shen Qi was influenced by this, saying how he wanted to become someone highly skilled in martial arts. At that time, he was only five years old and had just started his training. He would complain endlessly at being dragged out and made to stand in horse-stance by his dad, but his tone was completely different when bragging to his little sis. Yan Yan had mocked him and thus the two started arguing. Eventually, they became rivals.
Shen Yi Yao hadn’t been willing to allow little Ah Yan to learn martial arts. In her mind, girls should be gentle and refined. However, she couldn’t overcome the Zhenguo Duke’s willingness to have Yan Yan learn. He said that the Zhenguo Duke Estate had very few women, and Shen Yi Yao had been his only daughter. However, she was always gentle and quiet, and was pampered by the Zhenguo Madam. Therefore, this daughter of his wasn’t raised in the usual manner of the estate where martial arts was emphasized. She became so elegant and refined that she didn’t seem to be from the Zhenguo Duke Estate.
As for Yan Yan, she had always been lively and spirited, her personality competitive. This went along well with the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s tyrannical nature, and made the duke cherish her. Her wanting to learn martial arts made the Zhenguo Duke overjoyed.
However, since she had been only five years old at the time, her nature wasn’t set yet. The Zhenguo Duke had tested her out for a few days. Unexpectedly, despite her age, Yan Yan’s willpower was impressive. She would remain in horse stance if ordered, and would grit her teeth and endure no matter how long she had to hold it.
Since Yan Yan was a girl, she was limited by her body. Therefore, the Zhenguo Duke chose the whip as her weapon. Lady Hui was also given to Yan Yan by the Zhenguo Duke at the time so that she could continue her martial arts training at the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
Yan Yan and Shen Qi arrived at the martial training grounds of the estate. Shen Qi often trained here and picked up a lance with familiarity. He showed off a few proper looking moves.
Seeing this, Yan Yan recalled the times when she and Shen Qi competed in holding a horse-stance when they first started training.
She smiled and picked up a coiled whip from the weapons rack. Seeing the whip, she felt a little touched. Although she hadn’t come to the Zhenguo Duke Estate in almost two years and hadn’t competed with Shen Qi in martial arts in a long time, he had never forgotten her. Normally a weapons rack wouldn’t have whips, but he remembered to prepare one for her.
Yan Yan held the whip and tested it out before unleashing a set of eight-trigrams flowing dragon whip routine. Although her body was small and her strength was lacking, the whip formed an impenetrable barrier around her that Shen Qi found hard to take in.
He clapped his hands and said: “Who would have thought little Ah Yan is getting better and better at using a whip? Looks like you’ve been practicing regularly.”
“Isn’t big bro Qi the same way?”
The two looked at each other and smiled, the slight foreignness at not having met for a long time instantly fading.
“Why haven’t you come in so long? My mom said you’ve grown and that girls can’t be the same as boys.” Shen Qi threw the lance back into the rack as he spoke.
Yan Yan froze for a second before saying with a smile: “There’s a lot of etiquette to learn, but I’ve never neglected my whip.”
“That’s also true. We can’t be as carefree as we used to be! Recently, my dad wants to send me to the Qingshan Institute to study. He said martial arts can’t be neglected but literature must be learned as well.” Saying this, Shen Qi revealed a bitter expression.
“Second uncle is also doing it for your own good. You can’t just become an illiterate muscle man.”
“But after going to the institute, there’s no way I can run around and play all day. Oh right, I got a new bull horn bow. How about I take you to see it?” As he spoke, Shen Qi revealed an excited expression.
Normally Yan Yan naturally would be rather interested. At this moment however, she was a little hesitant, her expression a little downcast. “Forget it, I’m not in the mood.”
“What’s wrong? Did someone bully you? Tell me who bullied you. Big bro will go seek revenge for you.”
“No, it’s nothing. I’m thinking that my mom might be coming over soon…..”
Right as she spoke, a maid came to report that her mother had returned to the estate and that Yan Yan should go to the Ninghui Hall.
Hearing that her own mom had come, Yan Yan actually didn’t feel like seeing her. But how could she not go? She could only dillydally over to the Ninghui Hall along with Shen Qi.
Second Madam Shen had left angrily with Yan Yan back then, leaving behind a frightened Shen Yi Yao and Concubine Pei whose expression had changed drastically.
Concubine Pei saw that Shen Yi Yao had been downcast and didn’t know what she was thinking. She hurriedly took her leave and went to the Rongan Hall. After Old Madam Yan finished listening, she complained about her niece a little and then cursed Yan Yan that little scourge. Finally, they still had to come up with a plan.
After some discussion, Concubine Pei retreated to the inner room and Old Madam Yan ordered her servant to bring Shen Yi Yao over.
When Shen Yi Yao arrived, Matron Zhao was also present. Old Madam Yan’s expression looked angry.
Old Madam Yan first put on a show of strength, denouncing the Zhenguo Duke Estate for not giving their Weiyuan Marquis Estate any face. A second madam actually wanted them to give her an explanation. The old madam then unleashed a flood of tears, saying how everyone came to bully their household when her son wasn’t present. She also said that lass Yan was biased towards outsiders and actually brought her relatives to make things difficult for them. Finally she said with difficulty and grievance that for the sake of preserving their relationship with their relatives, she had ordered all the servants involved punished and locked Yan Hong into the small worship hall. She asked Shen Yi Yao to go back to her home and mediate.
Shen Yi Yao was very alarmed. She knew her high family status had always made her husband Yan Ting feel uncomfortable. Because her father and brothers had always been tyrannical and had upset her husband many times. Therefore, she hadn’t been going back home as often to avoid making her husband unhappy.
She felt very ashamed at her mother-in-law’s various accusations, and along with her second sis-in-law having left in a fury, Shen Yi Yao felt very uneasy.
Hearing her mother-in-law’s words, she ordered for her carriage to be prepared and hurried off to the Zhenguo Duke Estate.
Spoiler for next chapter in author’s notes below.
Yan Yan guessed very correctly. Shen Yi Yao truly came.
Old Madam Yan has a good grasp of Shen Yi Yao, but on others, hehe…..she probably doesn’t expect her granddaughter to stab her in the back. Children actually shouldn’t be underestimated. Children nowadays are all super bright at a young age, not to mention ten year olds who aren’t that young anymore. They actually understand quite a bit, but adults are just used to looking down on them, thinking they don’t understand.
Preview: In the next chapter, Shen Yi Yao has a falling out with her family.