On the other side, the main character in Luo Huai Yuan’s story was standing in the courtyard. He looked bleak as he gazed at the moon suspended in the sky.
Yan Mo had the habit of taking a walk after dinner since he was young. The moment he stepped into the courtyard, he saw that figure. He lived in the same place as Shen Ran while Shen Yi Yao lived in the neighboring courtyard.
Shen Ran looked at him and nodded his head slightly. Yan Mo responded with a smile before stepping back inside. During this long trip, the two inevitably had quite a few interactions. Therefore, they knew each other’s habits clearly.
Shen Ran watched Yan Mo’s figure disappear back inside. He stood for a while longer before returning to his own room.
The night passed quietly.
Luo Huai Yuan was very hung up on the fact Yan Yan didn’t believe his story. To prove he wasn’t making things up, he went to find Yan Mo bright and early. The two of them talked for a long while about who knows what. After he returned, Yan Yan noticed his expression was rather strange.
Even Yan Mo had noticed a few clues, though they were merely clues. He hadn’t concluded things as thoroughly. Yan Yan had no choice but to believe it. Perhaps there was really something going on?
Afterwards, Yan Yan inevitably paid closer attention during the day. However, since men and women should maintain some distance, it was rare to encounter Shen Ran and Shen Yi Yao at the same place.
According to Luo Huai Yuan and Yan Mo’s observations, Shen Ran’s slight feelings were unrequited. Shen Yi Yao had yet to notice anything. Perhaps her first impressions of him were deeply rooted. Shen Yi Yao still viewed and treated him as an older brother.
No one knew whether the truth was really as Luo Huai Yuan’s story. This sort of private matter wasn’t something a junior could ask about. Perhaps due to Luo Huai Yuan’s story, Yan Yan was in a weird mood. She even wondered whether she would object to her mom remarrying.
Her conclusion was actually that she wouldn’t object!
Perhaps prior to marriage, Yan Yan would have felt life would be the same regardless, whether one had a partner or not. After marriage, she realized that it was better for a woman to have someone considerate accompany her. The loneliness in the depths of the night wasn’t something you could fend off by yourself.
When Luo Huai Yuan went to the Fu Province for over half a year, Yan Yan had deeply experienced this.
With such thoughts in mind, it was especially hard to bear watching one person being clueless and the other person suppressing everything. But this sort of problem wasn’t something outsiders could rush. Furthermore, maybe Shen Yi Yao didn’t have such thoughts and was planning on spending her life by herself.
Inevitably, she used her words to probe things out. For example, when she chatted with her mom, Yan Yan would always bring up Shen Ran and ask Shen Yi Yao what she thought of him. She also asked curiously why Uncle Ran never married.
These pointed questions were things Luo Huai Yuan came up with. They were indirect suggestions.
Many things would get subconsciously ignored if they weren’t mentioned. If they were raised, one might discover many secrets hidden within.
After her daughter raised the topic, Shen Yi Yao also became curious. Why didn’t big bro Shen Ran ever marry? He wasn’t young anymore, and he should have some descendents to pass down his bloodline.
In Shen Yi Yao’s heart, Shen Ran was someone on the same level as Shen Ding. When she was younger, her two older brothers were older than her by quite a bit. Therefore, there was no one to play with her. Only one person would find time during breaks from martial arts training to play with her. That person was Shen Ran.
Shen Ran was an older brother to Shen Yi Yao. This relationship was built up from when they were children. She inevitably worried about his matters.
Their relationship wasn’t ordinary so they didn’t need to worry that much about maintaining proper distance between man and woman. When he was free, Shen Ran would visit Shen Yi Yao. The two of them drank tea or played go.
No one knew Shen Yi Yao used to be interested in go. When she was young, she was accomplished in the four arts of zither, go, calligraphy and painting. These things were just for a maiden to pass the time and a way for noble ladies to develop themselves. For Shen Yi Yao, it wasn’t really to the extent of enjoyment. The only exception was go. Unfortunately, prior to marriage there wasn’t anyone to play with at home. Her parents, brothers and sister-in-law didn’t like it. Therefore, Shen Yi Yao had given up on it after a while.
Within the Zhenguo Duke Estate, only Shen Ran knew about this. He had played go with Shen Yi Yao in the past. However, after Shen Ran left for the border, this matter was left in the dust.
After returning to the capital, Shen Ran reunited with Shen Yi Yao.
The two of them had talked about the past and mentioned this matter, stirring Shen Yi Yao’s forgotten memories and her hidden interest. Therefore, the two of them occasionally did as they did long, long ago, and would play for a couple of hours. During this time, they spoke very little but this had its own delight.
Shen Ran was a taciturn person and rarely took the initiative to speak when together with Shen Yi Yao. Shen Yi Yao was a focused person, and didn’t have any thoughts to spare for words when concentrating. Therefore, the scene of them playing go was a silent painting. Only their hands raised and placed the stones, without anything else.
Today, Shen Yi Yao’s mind wasn’t on the board and she was clearly a little absent-minded when placing her stones.
She wasn’t too skilled to begin with having not played for decades. The person she was playing against was also completely different from before. The only reason this match lasted so long was because he was going easy on her.
In the past, Shen Ran had to put some effort into secretly going easy. Today, he did so very openly but Shen Yi Yao still didn’t realize it. It was clear her mind wasn’t on the game.
“Big bro Shen Ran, do you have thoughts about getting married after coming back this time? You aren’t young anymore. It’s about time to consider extending the family line.”
Shen Yi Yao hesitated for a long time before speaking up. She purposefully acted casual to prevent Shen Ran from overthinking things.
Shen Ran whose head was lowered while looking at the board didn’t expect her to mention this matter. His coarse fingers gripped a black stone for a long while before placing it down.
He raised his head and gave her a glance. He smiled carelessly, “Your big bro Shen Ran is already so old. What good woman would be willing to marry me? The matter of family isn’t urgent. Might as well leave it to fate.”
Shen Yi Yao froze. She kind of wanted to say that it wasn’t necessary to marry a good woman to pass on his genes. However, she wasn’t quite able to say these words. It wasn’t that she felt it would be an insult to women, but rather felt it would be an insult to Shen Ran.
Shen Ran had remained by the border for several decades, not losing out to Shen Dong. However, he had remained single, disciplined and pure, like a monk. Shen Yi Yao knew about all these things because her dad and second brother had discussed it several times. They seemed rather worried. To have such a man randomly find a woman for the sake of passing on his genes felt like a sort of insult.
The topic couldn’t continue and Shen Ran appeared to be focused on the game and unwilling to speak further. Shen Yi Yao hesitated and didn’t know what to say. She could only sigh and look back at the game.
This glance left her startled. It turns out her loss was already set in stone. Previously she seemed to have a fighting chance, but after Shen Ran placed his stone, she lost a large part of her territory. After another stone, she lost the whole board.
Shen Yi Yao put the stone in her hand down and smiled: “Big bro Shen Ran, your skill in go is getting better and better. Compared to you, Yao’er is shamefully inferior.”
Shen Ran smiled bitterly, his mouth filled with unspoken anguish.
How could he not be skilled?
During those countless, endless nights, what he did most was to lay out a board, playing black with his left hand and white with his right, like all those years ago.
Unfortunately, she would never understand…..
Shen Ran stood up and said: “Sis Yao, let’s leave it at that for today. I still have some matters.”
After speaking, he left with large strides.
Shen Ran had thought he could remain collected, but realized he wasn’t able to control himself.
No one understood why he chose to abandon everything to return. Many of his fellow soldiers and brothers had said: Many people have left already. You’ve already stayed for decades. It’s about time to rest.
It’s about time to rest?
None of them realized that the reason he returned was due to a moment of impulse. A moment of unrestrainable impulse.
After returning and seeing her, he realized it was wonderful.
Just seeing her like this, always watching over her.
This was what Shen Ran had planned initially. It was still what he planned to do. However, when she asked him why he never married and had children, a wave of bitterness had permeated his heart.
But as a middle-aged man who had experienced many hardships, he quickly recovered from his momentary loss of composure. Shen Ran walked a few circles around the garden and recovered his usual calm. He turned and walked back to the residence, but ended up unexpectedly running into someone.
“Yun Prince, highness.” Shen Ran cupped his hands.
Luo Huai Yuan waved his hand, “You are Ah Yan’s elder, and thus are naturally this humble prince’s elder. No need to stand on ceremony.” He looked at Shen Ran curiously and smiled: “Uncle Ran is also here to stroll the garden? This humble prince happens to be of the same mind. How about going together? Ah Yan is pregnant and cannot be subjected to cold. But these summer days are truly too hot. Every afternoon, this humble prince comes to sit in the garden to cool off and pass the time.”
As he spoke, he wiped the sweat from his brow.
It wasn’t convenient for Shen Ran to refuse. Furthermore, seeing the Yun Prince covered in sweat, he nodded and followed beside him. On the other side was Xiao An Zi who carried a fishing pole and a bucket. The three of them walked towards the shade by the lake.
When they arrived, a refreshing breeze blew over.
Luo Huai Yuan sighed in praise and sat down in his old spot. Xiao An Zi ordered someone to bring a chair and Shen Ran sat next to him.
Luo Huai Yuan put the bait on the hook with familiarity and cast the line into the water. Seeing Shen Ran sitting there with nothing to do, he ordered Xiao An Zi to bring another rod.
When the rod was brought over, Luo Huai Yuan taught Shen Ran passionately how to use it. Soon, Shen Ran’s line was also cast into the water.
“Ha, this is great. With Uncle Ran’s help, there’s bound to be a good harvest today. Tonight, we’ll have a feast of fish for Ah Yan and the rest.”
Shen Ran smiled and didn’t speak.
The border had a lot of land and few people. There were very few lakes so he wasn’t good at fishing. He also didn’t have the free time to sit there for an afternoon just fishing. This Yun Prince was young and rather lively. It was unexpected that he would enjoy this hobby that was usually for old people.
Soon, Luo Huai Yuan gave him the answer.
“It’s good for pregnant women to eat more fish. Shrimp works too. Only crabs can’t be eaten. The crabs are the perfect size at this time. Unfortunately Ah Yan cannot eat it. It’s truly a shame.”
“Highness is considerate.”
Luo Huai Yuan smiled bashfully, seeming to be enjoying himself while also seeming a little smug. His sweet expression mixed with helplessness was extremely eye-catching.
“Can’t be helped. This wife is one I spent a ton of effort to pursue before winning her over. How can I not be considerate? Since she agreed to marry me, I naturally have to treat her the best.”
This Yun Prince’s mind truly worked a little differently from other people. However, Shen Ran didn’t overlook the words “this wife is one I pursued before winning her over”.
Shen Ran couldn’t help but be a little curious. He knew the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s convictions. In theory, with his identity as a prince, the Yun Prince shouldn’t have been able to marry Yan Yan. However, he was able to succesfully do so in the end. Shen Ran was at the border and naturally didn’t understand the details. However, he knew there had to be a reason.
As expected of a chatterbox, Luo Huai Yuan started describing how he pursued his wife without Shen Ran’s prompting.
He had been interested in Yan Yan from when they were still children. He pursued her relentlessly, flattering her mom, her cousin and her younger brother. He put efforts into everyone by her side. Furthermore, he continuously reinforced his presence in her mind. If he couldn’t be there in person, he would send over objects. Regardless, he made sure to have her remember him, remember his intentions using all sorts of methods.
Shen Ran was frozen as he listened. It turns out that there were such methods to pursue women?
Luo Huai Yuan patted his chest and boasted: “Since I liked her, I had to snatch her into my arms. This is because I truly believe that apart from myself, no one else can make her happy!”