Former Concubine Ma didn’t think she would be able to leave the palace one day.
She had entered the palace when she was eight, and she was now over forty. She had lived her entire life as a woman in the palace, from when she was young and immature through maidenhood and then past her prime.
Many people said she was blessed.
This was truly the case.
A palace maid’s life wasn’t as great as it seemed on the surface. It was one thing to be beaten, but it wasn’t rare to lose one’s head either. Palace Maid Ma had been graced by the former emperor back then and gave birth to the fourth prince. For a palace maid, this was truly ascending the heavens.
At least this minor servant was able to become a mistress.
However, from the very beginning, Palace Maid Ma didn’t actually want this blessing. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to go against fate and could only accept it silently.
After giving birth to the fourth prince, every day was a struggle and she lived in fear. Everything she did was to help her and her child survive. This thought helped her get through things in the beginning. After her son matured, he started having his own opinions. When the fourth prince left the palace, grew up, got married and had children, Former Concubine Ma kept watching silently from afar. Although it wasn’t easy for mother and son to meet, it was enough for each to know the other was well.
Former Concubine Ma expected to live out her remaining days in the palace. Unexpectedly, her son wanted to bring her out one day.
The new emperor was a benevolent one. Former Concubine Ma thought this as she was moved to tears.
She didn’t realize how much effort Luo Huai Yuan had spent to be able to bring her out of the palace.
She stepped out of the courtyard she had lived in for a long time and got on a carriage. The carriage slowly drove out of the palace. What was it like outside the palace? Former Concubine Ma had already forgotten. However, she felt it was definitely better than inside it.
After arriving at the Yun Prince Estate in the capital and seeing her grandchildren, Former Concubine Ma cried once again. When Luo Huai Yuan and Yan Yan went to pick her up, she had already cried once. Seeing her cute grandchildren, she couldn’t help do so again.
Ever since Niu Niu and Jian’er were born, Former Concubine Ma only saw them once. It was during the funeral of the former emperor when Luo Huai Yuan brought his family back to the capital. At that time, the palace was in mourning for the former emperor. Niu Niu and Jian’er wore hemp mourning apparel and was being led around by the adults. Former Concubine Ma also had to weep for the former emperor and merely had a rushed meeting.
Seeing them now, she couldn’t get enough of them.
Niu Niu was already seven and could be called a young lady. She was able to understand reasoning and logic. She knew this former concubine was her own grandmother. Seeing her younger brother wanting to shrink back when being held fast by their grandmother, she immediately gave him a glare.
Jian’er immediately became obedient.
Jian’er also knew this was his own grandmother, his dad’s mother. However, he was being held fast in the middle of the courtyard while she stood and cried. He inevitably felt a little embarrassed.
“Mom, enough. Let’s go inside first.” Luo Huai Yuan said.
Only now did Former Concubine Ma realize she had lost her composure. She wiped her tears and let the others escort her inside.
She hadn’t brought many people from the palace this time. There was only the palace nana who had served her for a long time. There should have been some personal items and necessities but Luo Huai Yuan had said to leave them behind. Everything would be purchased anew. She only brought two chests.
Things like clothing and daily necessities had long since been prepared by Yan Yan. Former Concubine Ma’s residence had also been cleaned and awaited her arrival.
After staying at the Yun Prince Estate for over ten days, where the family of five spent the time blissfully and comfortably, Luo Huai Yuan prepared to take them back to his vassal state.
Because the nation was in mourning, they naturally couldn’t make a big fanfare. Prior to departing, the couple took their children to the Qi Estate to visit Shen Yi Yao before making a trip to the Zhenguo Duke Estate to visit the Zhenguo Duke’s family.
Although the Yun Prince’s family kept in touch with the Zhenguo Duke Estate secretly over the years, they had maintained their distance on the surface. They gave off the impression that their relationship was shallow. This was Luo Huai Yuan’s first time visiting the Zhenguo Duke Estate officially after heading to his vassal state.
They stayed for an entire day. During this time, the Zhenguo Duke called Luo Huai Yuan to his study to talk. Yan Yan didn’t know what they talked about, but it probably had to do with the new emperor.
Actually, prior to this, Luo Huai Yuan had contacted the Zhenguo Duke Estate secretly when he snuck into the capital. Without the Zhenguo Duke Estate’s help, Luo Huai Yuan and the Jing Prince wouldn’t have been able to do such major things with the forces they had in the capital.
This was the first time the Zhenguo Duke ever got involved in the matter of succession. He had several reasons for getting involved, but it was mostly for the sake of his granddaughter and her husband. Although the Shen household’s people didn’t do that much, and merely sent out a few helpers while making things convenient, it was still a huge help for the Yun Prince and Jing Prince.
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t clearly say this but the Jing Emperor was well aware of it.
Prior to Emperor Xi’s death, they had discussed the Zhenguo Duke once. It was a long discussion, and the Jing Emperor understood how he should maintain this special relationship between official and monarch. With this additional consideration, their relationship would naturally be extraordinary.
On a bright and sunny day, the Yun Prince headed back to his vassal state.
Because Former Concubine Ma and the two children were present, and since there weren’t any pressing matters in the Yun Province, this journey was unhurried.
They stopped at various places, and by the time they arrived in the Yun Province, it was already June.
For most of the year, Luo Huai Yuan and Yan Yan had been “travelling”. The journey from the Yun Province to the capital took half a month when travelling quickly, and a month if slowly. They had made two roundtrips, and now that they finally returned home they let out a breath.
During these idle days, Luo Huai Yuan had found Jian’er a teacher to formally start his education as his heir.
Luo Huai Yuan had previously insisted on teaching his children by example. Having experienced the pressure of studies in the modern world, he took pity on his children and didn’t insist on making them study at a young age.
Children their age should be playing.
By the time they were done playing, it wouldn’t be too late to start studying.
Luo Huai Yuan had intended for Jian’er to start his studies when he reached Niu Niu’s age. Niu Niu had only gotten a female teacher when she was seven. Prior to that, Yan Yan would teach her daughter to read, and Jian’er would tag along. However, the adjutant’s office kept rushing things, and gave Luo Huai Yuan countless sermons, saying that even if the little heir wasn’t intending on becoming a scholar, he should still have some general knowledge and etiquette. Along with Yan Yan saying boys and girls were different and had different responsibilities in the future, the schedule was moved forward.
Jian’er started the bitter life of a student. Apart from learning martial arts with her mom, Niu Niu also had to learn the feminine arts and other things from the female teacher.
The children started getting busy and Former Concubine Ma was enjoying her retirement in the Yun Prince Estate. Her days were filled with delight and she normally spent her time playing with her grandchildren. Luo Huai Yuan and Yan Yan both became idle.
Being idle meant finding thigns to do. Yan Yan recalled the matter of Luo Huai Yuan losing weight.
She had mentioned this matter several times before but it had always come to nothing. Now that he no longer had an excuse, she had to seize him.
Beacause she was worried whether Luo Huai Yuan’s body could endure this, Yan Yan had especially discussed quite a bit with the medical center’s doctors. She had done quite a bit of homework and came up with a plan in her mind. She thus started carrying it out.
Luo Huai Yuan immediately fell into an abyss of suffering.
He had acted shameless and pitiful but it was all useless.
Yan Yan wasn’t acting on her own this time. She also put Former Concubine Ma and the two little ones to use. Former Concubine Ma also felt her son was too fat. Being too fat meant it was hard to move about and it was bad for his health. She also cherished Yan Yan a lot, and would go along with whatever she said. She was naturally very supportive. Niu Niu and Jian’er firmly stood by their mom as well.
Luo Huai Yuan suffered as the entire family helped him lose weight.
His food was naturally reduced. During morning training, Luo Huai Yuan would also get dragged along. To put it nicely, the entire family was exercising together for their health.
This was essentially pain mixed with happiness.
Every time Luo Huai Yuan bitterly ran around the training field, the two little ones would laugh at him from the side. They shamed their daddy for being lazy. He didn’t even run as many laps as Jian’er. Luo Huai Yuan was infuriated. How could a dad let his children make fun of him? He made up his mind to lose weight.
His decision was good but whether he could persist was another matter.
Especially since Yan Yan gradually increased his amount of exercise. This was essentially hell for someone lazy.
“Wifey, how about taking a break?”
“No, keep going. Don’t think you can slack off because the children aren’t here!”
Luo Huai Yuan truly had such thoughts. When the two children weren’t present, he subconsciously relaxed. To avoid this from happening, Yan Yan had the servants make a cloth whip to supervise Luo Huai Yuan with.
This whip made of cloth didn’t hurt, but that depended on who was using it. In the hands of the ancestor of whips Yan Yan, it was an effective weapon. She could strike without making it hurt, or she could leave a red mark with a blow. Of course, it could be even more severe but Luo Huai Yuan hadn’t experienced that before.
“I’m so tired, so tired!”
Luo Huai Yuan lay on the floor and refused to move. He initially wanted to roll around but his physique didn’t allow it.
“Get up! Don’t slack off!”
After dilly-dallying for a bit, seeing his wife staring with a tight expression, Luo Huai Yuan could only climb up and continue.
As if this wasn’t enough, dinner with the family was when Luo Huai Yuan was truly being tortured.
“Jian’er is growing, eat a drumstick. Niu Niu should eat one too. Grandmother had the kitchen specially make it. Your dad has too many tricks with food. The cook said this is first marinated before being roasted in honey. It’s delicious, crisp and fragrant, perfect for children.”
Former Concubine Ma was all smiles as she grabbed one for each of her grandchildren, and then got one for her daughter-in-law. Only Luo Huai Yuan was forgotten.
It wasn’t that she forgot about her son now that she had grandchildren. It’s just that Luo Huai Yuan wasn’t allowed to eat it. Nowadawys, he was only given a bowl of porridge for dinner so thin he could see his own reflection, as well as a plate of vegetables.
The large table was filled with delicacies and the fragrance permeated the room.
The Yun Prince Estate’s food was constantly improving with many different styles. It wasn’t just that Luo Huai Yuan knew many tricks with food, but the cooks themselves were also skilled, and would come up with many new dishes since Luo Huai Yuan liked to eat.
In the past this was a cause for joy. Now, it was a sort of torture.
Luo Huai Yuan stared at the porridge in front of him. There was a large fatty face glaring back from the bowl.
You’re a dumbass!
After venting secretly, he sniffed the fragrant aroma and let out a tragic howl. He also wanted to eat!
No one bothered with him.
The four ate happily on the other side while Luo Huai Yuan wished he could chew up his chopsticks. After struggling for a while, he still swallowed down the porridge and cleaned up the plate of vegetables.
Eating vegetables every day. I’m not a cow!
This grievance lasted until bedtime. Of course, he still had other tasks after dinner. Former Concubine Ma took the children for a walk to digest while Yan Yan took Luo Huai Yuan to the training field, where he ran laps once again.
After a day of torment, by the time he got into bed, Luo Huai Yuan was essentially paralyzed.
So tired! So hungry!
How long was this going to continue!?