Former Concubine Ma was old and wasn’t suited for such long journeys. Therefore, Luo Huai Yuan only brought Yan Yan and the children this time.
When they arrived at the capital, it was the twenty-third of December.
They rested at the Yun Prince Estate for a bit before they went to pay respects at the palace. The Yun Prince went to meet the Jing Emperor. In theory, Yan Yan should be greeting the empress in the Fengqi Palace, but the empress had contracted a foul illness. This was known to all so she was exempt.
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t linger in the palace. After his meeting, he took his wife back to the estate. Afterwards, a large amount of bestowals were sent over from the palace, signifying the emperor’s regard of the Yun Prince Estate.
Actually, based on Luo Huai Yuan and the Jing Emperor’s previous relationship, there was no need for such a show. However, society was structured this way and they had to follow convention. The Yun Prince was a vassal prince after all and depended on the current emperor for his meals. The Jing Emperor expressing that he valued the Yun Prince would make others not dare take him lightly.
Who didn’t know that the Yun Prince and the Jing Emperor’s relationship wasn’t shallow? Ever since he ascended, the Jing Emperor had repeatedly demonstrated his favor. This astonished everyone and they couldn’t help but sigh about the unpredictability of life. Who would have thought that of the two spurned princes, one would become the emperor and the other would be greatly favored. Of those who everyone had their eyes on before, two were dead and one was crippled. The crippled one was currently like an invisible person. From the looks of things, as long as he knew his place, he could probably live in peace.
This won’t be mentioned for now. After the Yun Prince’s family arrived, the Qi Prince and his family also entered the capital.
Ever since the Jin Prince died and the former emperor was buried, the Qi Prince rarely appeared before others. This was his first time returning to the capital every since the Jing Emperor ascended. This was thanks to the Jing Emperor’s grace. During the former emperor’s funeral, the QI Prince hadn’t been summoned back due to what he had done. This time’s summons exhibited the new emperor’s benevolence and was also to let him pay respects to the former emperor’s grave.
Having not seen the Qi Prince in a while, he seemed to have become a different person. He was no longer high-spirited and his face was instead downcast. Although he wasn’t old, the hair at his temples had whitened. It was clear that the Jin Prince and Senior Concubine Xu’s deaths had struck him quite a blow.
Seeing the Qi Prince like this shocked Yan Yan a little. The unreasonable third prince from long ago who liked calling her violent girl was gone. In his place was this taciturn and grizzled middle-aged man.
The Qi Consort followed behind the Qi Prince. She was a small and frail girl, and seemed very timid. She shrunk behind the Qi Prince and after paying respects to everyone, she lowered her head and no longer spoke.
“Everyone, be seated. “ The Jing Emperor said.
Today was New Year’s Eve. The Jing Emperor had organized a banquet in the Zhaoyang Hall to entertain everyone.
In attendance was the Jing Emperor, the prime senior concubine, crown prince Luo Zhuo, eldest princess Luo Yi and the Jing Emperor’s three concubines. Because the Xiao Empress1 had health issues, she wasn’t present. Then there was the Yun Prince’s family and the Qi Prince’s family, as well as the former crown prince’s little heirs.
This was the first time Yan Yan saw the former crown prince’s sons. They were all young, between seven and ten. After the Jing Emperor ascended, he didn’t mistreat the crown prince’s women and children. They received their proper titles, but since the little princes were still young, they had yet to be given vassal states.
The Jin Prince’s children were also doing well. Prior to his death, the former emperor had told the Jing Emperor that children had nothing to do with the deeds of adults. Descendants bearing the Luo surname were sparse so the Jing Emperor should give them some care. The Jin Prince’s children now lived in the capital’s Jin Prince Estate, and arrangements would be made once they matured. They weren’t stripped of their titles, but due to their father’s crimes, they remained behind closed doors and spent their days by themselves. They didn’t attend this banquet.
Everyone knew the Jing Emperor was a taciturn person. After saying a few words with his toast, he remained silent the rest of the time.
Luo Huai Yuan had always been curious about the prime senior concubine. During the banquet, he kept sneaking glances at her. Others didn’t notice this fellow’s actions but Yan Yan did. She secretly gave him a pinch and shot him a glance that said “you’re going to get it later”.
After the banquet, everyone departed.
As they left the Zhaoyang Hall, Yan Yan pinched Luo Huai Yuan’s ear.
“Yan Yan, this is still the palace. We have to keep up appearances.”
Yan Yan glared at him and got on the palanquin with the children. Luo Huai Yuan shamelessly squeezed in after them. Luckily the palanquin was big enough, or he really wouldn’t have fit.
The Qi Consort looked astonished at the situation. The Qi Prince was also watching silently.
After a long while, he finally withdrew his complicated gaze and said “let’s go”. The Qi Consort hurriedly lowered her head and got onto the palanquin with him.
“Was she very good looking?”
The prime senior concubine was truly a good looking woman. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call her stunning, her countenance like a flower and her complexion like the moon. She truly didn’t seem like a mother who had given birth to three children. Even Yan Yan was a little stunned when she saw the splendidly dressed up prime senior concubine. As a woman, Yan Yan’s appearance could be ranked at the top, but she was still lacking by a bit compared to the prime senior concubine. It was fine for her to look, but if her man looked, she inevitably felt some jealousy bubble up.
This was Luo Huai Yuan’s first time sneaking glances at another woman in front of Yan Yan. It was no wonder she would lose her cool and get jealous.
Luo Huai Yuan cursed himself a few times on the inside while leaning over flatteringly, “Not good looking. Not as good looking as my wife.”
“Father is lying. He was spaced out from staring.” Jian’er didn’t give him any face and yanked the rug out from under him.
Even their son could tell!
Yan Yan felt even more uncomfortable. She held her daughter and ignored him.
Luo Huai Yuan glared at his troublemaking son and raised his hand to vow: “Wifey, I really wasn’t spaced out from staring. I was just curious. You should know.”
Luo Huai Yuan hadn’t seen the prime senior concubine before. The emperor’s subjects and the rear palace’s concubines had to maintain a certain distance. Yan Yan had seen her once because they were both women. It was during the former emperor’s funeral. The women had been quite far from the men at that time. Therefore, it was Luo Huai Yuan’s first time seeing the legendary prime senior concubine.
He had truly spaced out while staring, but it was merely the reaction men had when seeing a startlingly beautiful woman. It had no other meaning. First of all, that was the Jing Emperor’s woman. Unless he was tired of living, he wouldn’t have errant thoughts. Furthermore, in his three lives, Yan Yan was the woman he wanted to live the rest of his life with. Even if he was given a fairy from the highest heavens, his heart wouldn’t be moved.
Yan Yan could understand what her man was saying. She harrumphed before softening her attitude. After returning to the estate and when the two were alone, Luo Huai Yuan fawned and acted obedient before finally coaxing his lovely wife into forgiving him.
The first of the New Year was meant offering tribute to the ancestors and to the heavens. As a prince, Luo Huai Yuan was required to participate. Yan Yan stayed with the children in the estate. The next day, the family went to the Qi Estate.
Yan Mo had also returned this year. Having stayed in the Fu Province for several years, he had tanned quite a bit. However, he had become much more spirited, and seemed steadier and more experienced. He also seemed more energetic.
After a long period of stagnation, the new emperor had ascended and there were many things to be done. Since the Jin Prince and the crown prince’s factions were gone, after the Jing Emperor’s ascension new blood started appearing in court. This was a time when people were needed. Luo Huai Yuan had discussed this with Yan Mo via letter, saying the time was ripe. As long as Yan Mo wasn’t mediocre, his future prospects were obvious.
Shen Yi Yao wasn’t worried about her son’s prospects. In comparison, she was more worried about his marriage. Yan Mo was already twenty-six and was still unmarried. Not only was Shen Yi Yao worried, Yan Yan was as well.
Shen Yi Yao had wanted to arrange her son’s marriage previously, but Yan Mo kept refusing. Along with his sensitive identity, this matter was put aside.
Yan Mo’s identity was truly a little awkward. Although his grandfather was the Zhenguo Duke and his brother-in-law was a prince, his father had passed away early and those surnamed Yan had scattered. His mother had also remarried. Qi Ran was his stepfather in name, but since Yan Mo was already grown, he had discussed things with Shen Yi Yao prior to her marriage and didn’t end up going over with her to become the Qi household’s stepson. This was because he would have to abandon his roots and change his surname if he did.
It wasn’t a big deal to change his surname, but he had been surnamed Yan for so long. Although his relationship with Yan Ting hadn’t been good, he was still Yan Ting’s principal son. He might face criticism if he changed his surname. Shen Yi Yao had divided her dowry into two prior to marriage and had given one portion to her son. Yan Mo had long since started living by himself.
In the Tianjing Alley of the capital, there was a residence. It was neither large nor small. It was a three compound residence with a courtyard. On the doors hung a sign that said Yan Estate.
This was Yan Mo’s own residence.
Despite this, he had yet to marry. Yan Mo also had his own pride. For the sake of bringing honor to the Yan household, for his own sake, and to not sully the reputations of his mother, sister and grandfather, he wouldn’t carelessly marry prior to establishing himself.
Everyone knew Yan Mo’s thoughts, and therefore didn’t insist.
Time passed by and now that her son was back, Shen Yi Yao hoped her son could place within the top few of examinees next year. At that time, he could finally start a family and allow her to stop worrying.
During the New Year naturally no one brought up such a serious matter. Everyone gathered happily and made merry.
Shen Yi Yao’s twins were still infants. Yan Yan and Luo Huai Yuan had both taken a look at them. The boy looked like Qi Ran and the girl looked more like Shen Yi Yao, and would clearly be decent looking in the future.
The usually introverted Qi Ran was recently all smiles. Seeing Yan Mo and Yan Yan, he was very cordial. Since he had a military background, he wasn’t able to help much with Yan Mo’s studies. However, he had people look around for visitation permits of current great scholars, hoping to be of some help. Yan Mo understood his intentions and accepted them.
They were all chatting when the sound of babies crying rang out from the inner room.
Shen Yi Yao was about to stand up when Qi Ran had her remain and went inside himself.
Before long, the sound of crying stopped. Shen Yi Yao was a little sheepish, “Your Uncle Qi is better than me at coaxing children now.”
Yan Yan concealed a smile.
After the banquet, Luo Huai Yuan, Yan Yan and Yan Mo left.
Qi Ran repeatedly invited Yan Mo to stay but he didn’t agree. Instead, he said he was going with his sister and brother-in-law, and visiting the Zhenguo Duke Estate tomorrow with them. Shen Yi Yao and her husband knew the brother and sister pair had a good relationship and didn’t insist on making him stay.
After leaving, Yan Mo seemed a little preoccupied. Seeing this, Yan Yan had her man take the children onto one carriage while she pulled her brother onto a different one.
After getting on, Yan Yan asked.
Yan Mo shook his head and smiled at her, “I’m just a little not used to it.”
His wore a set of pale cyan robes. His figure was slightly frail and his face was handsome. He looked refined and elegant.
This was already a grown man. He was no longer the frail little Ah Mo who needed his sister’s protection. However, in Yan Yan’s heart, this Yan Mo was still the little Ah Mo from back then.
She stroked his head and sighed: “It’s good as long as she’s happy, right?”
Yan Mo nodded and revealed a faint smile, “Right.”
It was understandable. He saw his own mom starting a family with someone else and having two children. The family was happy, and he should be wishing them well. However, there was inevitably some obscure feelings.
Yan Yan also had those feelings so she can understand what Yan Mo was going through.
Yan Yan suddenly felt choked up. She pursed her lips for a while before managing to swallow it down.
She looked at Yan Mo and sternly said: “Don’t overthink. Remember, mom is still mom and sis will always be your sis. It’s ultimately a little lonely living by yourself. If you aren’t willing to go to your grandfather’s place and aren’t used to mom’s place, why not come live with sis and brother-in-law?”
Yan Mo raised his eyes and glanced at his sis before saying with a smile: “Sis, don’t worry about me anymore. I’m no longer a child. What man would live with his brother-in-law’s household?”
“It’s fine. No one would dare comment. Your brother-in-law wouldn’t mind either.”
Yan Mo laughed and sighed. He leaned against Yan Yan’s shoulder and wrapped his arm around her waist, like he did when he was young.
“Alright, sis. Ah Mo knows your concerns. However, Ah Mo is already grown, and is about to start a family and a career. In the future I’ll have my own family. Don’t worry about me, ok? I will be fine.” After a paused, he spoke again: “Perhaps this time next year, you’ll be able to see your sister-in-law.”
Yan Yan patted his shoulder and said: “Sis is waiting.”
When they got to the Yun Prince Estate, the sky was already dark. They parted ways in front of the Yanran Pavilion.
Looking at his niece and nephew chattering to his sis and brother-in-law, Yan Mo smiled. Under the light held by the servants, he walked towards his own courtyard.
The weather was a little cold and he wrapped his cloak around him.
It’s about time to start a family. Being by himself was ultimately a little lonely.
Rubs nose. Everyone has their own happiness. Yan Mo will definitely have his as well.
You’ve probably realized, but back when I translated the previous novel, I started with “Emperor Xi” and “Empress Xiao”. It would be more correct if it were “the Xi Emperor” and “the Xiao Empress” since these are their titles, similar to the princes and the Jing Emperor. However, since it was already written out this way many times, I ended up keeping it as is while changing any new titles that came up. Similar situation was “Duke Jing” in the last novel, which should actually be “the Jingguo Duke”, which I’ve rectified in this one. In this chapter, “the Xiao Empress” is the former Jing Prince’s consort Xiao-shi, so I figured since it’s a different person, might as well make correct it. Sorry for any confusion caused.