In the eastern palace.
Luo Zhuo and Yang Nuo were seated across from each other. One held white stones and one held black as the two played go.
Luo Zhuo was wearing a purple crown prince’s regular outfit embroidered with dragons. A black jade belt hung around his narrow waist. As a sixteen year old, he had already become an outstandingly handsome young man. His figure was tall and straight, his face fair and handsome and his brows seemed as if drawn with ink. As someone who was conferred the crown prince at a young age, he was filled with an air of nobility and steadiness. He was not lacking in the bearings of the future monarch under the heavens.
Yang Nuo who was across from him wore a set of black clothes. His brows were elegant and he gave off the air of a scholar. He appeared extremely refined. At this time, he pondered while holding a stone, and placed it down once he found his target. It was clear that in contrast to his appearance, he was an extremely decisive person.
“Are you going to let that matter drag on? This isn’t like you.” Luo Zhuo said faintly.
Yang Nuo froze, and put down another piece without saying anything.
“This humble one’s sister has always been lively and pleasant. But recently she’s been melancholic and extremely haggard, making this humble one’s heart ache. This humble one only has one sister.” Luo Zhuo left it at that.
“I’ll find a chance to tell the princess directly.”
“Tell her what directly?”
“Naturally that she and Yang Heng are the most suited for each other.”
After speaking, Yang Nuo didn’t raise his head. However, his fingers gripping the stone had turned white.
Luo Zhuo’s long and slender phoenix eyes narrowed dangerously, and he threw the black piece in his hand down. “So generous?”
Yang Nuo didn’t speak, and kept his head lowered.
“This older brother is truly mature. Have you ever asked Yi Yi’s opinion?”
“I don’t believe you’ve failed to notice that Yi Yi likes you, and that it’s a different sort of liking than with Yang Heng. You’re being a good role model as an older brother and yielding to your younger brother, but what are you treating Yi Yi as? Don’t tell me you don’t like Yi Yi, this humble one isn’t blind. If you were anyone else, this humble one would definitely have you chopped up!”
Yang Nuo lightly put the stone in his hand down and looked very wretched.
“Yang Heng…..is my little brother after all. I’m the intruder here, the two of them have been close since they were children.”
Luo Zhuo wasn’t able to endure any longer, and sighed: “I feel you’ve gotten your priorities mixed up. Have you ever considered that even if you don’t marry Yi Yi, she wouldn’t marry Yang Heng either? How could she just change her mind and get married to your younger brother!?” He emphasized the last two words.
“Mother empress and Aunt Wan have always been close, and she had long since planned on letting Yi Yi marry into your family. Mentioning a son-in-law for the emperor this time was because she couldn’t just watch any longer. Think about it properly, this humble one doesn’t want to say too much about it anymore.”
Yang Nuo nodded and said his farewells. Leaving the eastern palace, he walked vacantly.
“Big bro Nuo Nuo…..”
A hesitant female voice sounded from behind him.
Yang Nuo trembled and his feet stopped.
“How long are you going to avoid me?!”
Yi Yi’s eyes were red and her little face haggard. Her previously full cheeks were a little sunken recently. Her beaming eyes were filled with grief.
“Mother empress and father want to choose a husband for me. Will you only be satisfied after seeing me get married to Yang Heng?”
Yi Yi was a princess after all. To have her speak such brazen words with such an attitude was already challenging the dignity of her status.
Seeing Yang Nuo still acting the same way, she stomped her foot and ran off crying.
Before running a few steps, she was held fast from behind.
Yi Yi wanted to struggle free but couldn’t, and could only turn around and beat at him while crying.
“What do you want, Yang Nuo!? You’re the one who led this princess on. Now you’re pretending like nothing ever happened, and want to yield this princess to Yang Heng. What am I supposed to do?!”
Yang Nuo pulled her into his arms, his face full of pain. Seeing her like this, he felt even worse than she did.
“I’m sorry, Yi Yi. I’m a scoundrel. I’m mean, shameless and obscene. I actually liked you from a long, long time ago. I like your unaffected smile, I like how you act spoiled and pull my sleeve, I really, really like you…..”
“…..I clearly knew that Heng Heng liked you as well, but I pretended not to know and interacted with you in private. I was selfish and greedy. I wanted to enjoy each day as it came. But seeing Heng Heng run around you all the time, I couldn’t bear to continue…..I’m sorry……”
If the Jing Emperor and Xiao Hua hadn’t brought up the matter of marriage, who knows how long Yang Nuo would have continued acting this way. But since things were pressing, he could no longer play dumb.
“I’ve told you countless times, I don’t like him that way. He’s just a childhood playmate. I’ve only viewed him as a playmate. Big bro Nuo Nuo, the one I like is you. Perhaps not as early as you liked me, but that was because I didn’t understand at the time….after I understood, I felt that if you and I could live peacefully like father and mother empress, it would be great…..”
“You, are you still going to yield me to Yang Heng?”
After a while, Yi Yi straightened up in Yang Nuo’s arms and raised her head to look at him. Her large watery eyes were filled with apprehension. Yang Nuo gazed back before closing his eyes and pulling her back into his arms.
“I won’t.” He said quietly and decisively. “I will never. You can only be mine.”
Forget it, forget it. Just treat it as him being shameless. So what if Yang Heng disdained him. He couldn’t let go of the person in his arms. He had been depressed, and sorrowful….but in the end his emotions couldn’t be suppressed!
“Big bro Nuo Nuo….”
Yi Yi happily cried and laughed, and finally started crying heavily in Yang Nuo’s arms.
“Don’t cry, it’s all my fault…..”
In the distance, Xiao Hua was extremely moved. The Jing Emperor however had a stiff expression.
This damn brat. This damn brat dared to take advantage of his daughter!
Seeing the two young people tangled up and kissing, the Jing Emperor took a step forward to stop them. Before he stepped out, he was grabbed by Xiao Hua.
“Majesty, what are you doing?” Her voice was very quiet.
The Jing Emperor glanced over in the distance, his veins popping, and replied in an equally quiet voice, “That damn brat is taking advantage of our daughter.”
Xiao Hua looked over as well and her face turned red, but her hand didn’t let go.
“Er, that, I know this isn’t good, but we’re also spying on them. If daughter finds out, she’d definitely be angry.”
The Jing Emperor froze.
“Also, it’s normal for young people to be passionate. Regardless, our Yi Yi will definitely get married to Nuo Nuo that little fellow in the future.” Xiao Hua acted righteously as she spoke.
The Jing Emperor thought about it and felt the same way.
“Furthermore, Nuo Nuo knows what’s appropriate. You’ve watched for so long, and this is his first time overstepping a little. To put it plainly, the two of them talked things through and are now momentarily overly emotional.”
As they were speaking, the Jing Emperor was pulled away by Xiao Hua.
After walking for a while, the Jing Emperor finally reacted. “Our empress, you are obscuring the facts.”
Xiao Hua laughed awkwardly, “Am I?”
Xiao Hua smiled and glanced at the Jing Emperor, “Everyone was young at some point. Majesty should understand.”
“When We were young, We weren’t like this.”
“That’s because you were inflexible and passionless.”
Xiao Hua mumbled and thought the Jing Emperor couldn’t hear her clearly. Unexpectedly, she met his gaze when she lifted her head.
“We are inflexible, and passionless?” The Jing Emperor’s long and slender phoenix eyes narrowed.
“No, no, I didn’t say anything like that. Majesty definitely misheard.”
The handsome and expressionless face leaned closer, a faint light hidden within his eyes. The middle-aged Jing Emperor was more charming than he was in his youth. This was something Xiao Hua had never told him before.
She sucked in a breath and even forgot to nod.
A powerful arm wrapped around her waist and his lips pressed upon hers.
Xiao Hua pushed back but was unsuccessful in breaking free.
“Sir Jing, we’re in public……” She said indistinctly.
The Jing Emperor felt that since she could still speak, he wasn’t doing enough and increased his strength. His tongue tangled with hers as it tossed about and suckled.
After a long, long time, the Jing Emperor finally released his arm, but Xiao Hua was too embarrassed to look. She buried her head in his chest and wasn’t willing to look up. The palace maids would definitely gossip tomorrow about how the emperor and empress were immorally embracing and doing shameless things on the palace roads!
She lamented, “We’re in public, this isn’t decent….”
These were casual words, but they unexpectedly ignited him once again.
The Jing Emperor didn’t say anything before carrying her off and walking to their waiting carriage.
Xiao Hua had just felt relieved, and felt that this was better, when she was met with even fiercer kissing. Just kissing was fine, but the Jing Emperor’s hand moved under Xiao Hua’s dress. Only when she felt a slight chill underneath did Xiao Hua snap out of it a little.
“Sir Jing, don’t…….”
The Jing Emperor ignored her and kept going.
The journey to the Fengqi Palace should have taken only fifteen minutes, but the carriage ended up taking half an hour.
Only in the end did Xiao Hua realize from the Jing Emperor’s hoarse voice saying “Are We old?” over and over why this person suddenly went crazy. But her understanding came late, and she could only hug the Jing Emperor’s neck as she went along with his continuous movements while pleading for mercy in his ear “Majesty is as valiant as ever”…… 1
The Yang Family’s residence on the capital outskirts had been constantly renovated over the past dozen years. It already occupied a large amount of space.
It was richly decorated with a large amount of pavilions. From the outside, it looked no different to a wealthy household.
Lin Qing Wan liked the secluded area. The Dingyuan Marquis Lin Qing Ting had told his sister many times to move into the capital. He had even prepared a residence already since the Yang Family had several in the capital as well. But the entire Yang Family liked living here, and thus they remained the whole time.
Yang Heng always practiced some martial arts before bed. Today was no different.
He glanced at his older brother who had been sitting and watching him for a while. His thick and sturdy arms withdraw his lance, and with a flick the lance flew directly into the weapons’ rack.
“Big bro, why are you watching me train instead of reading today?” He grabbed a towel and wiped off the sweat on his neck, pulling on a shirt from the nearby chair.
The Yang family had never gotten an official’s status. Although they become quite well known around the capital after so many years, it was all due to being related to the Dingyuan Marquis as well as Madam Yang’s relationship with the empress and her children being the crown prince’s classmates. The Yang family’s lord was a rich merchant, but no one knew how he ended up being rich.
The Yang family had always been very low-key. Yang Nuo and Yang Heng were also low-key. Despite being the crown prince’s classmates, they never interacted with any outsiders. This was because they were clear that people only tried interacting with them because they were interested in the crown prince. Lin Qing Wan was the same. Ever since her children became classmates with the crown prince, she very rarely interacted with the other titled women.
This spared her a lot of trouble, and also reduced the disturbances around the empress and the crown prince. Of course, she also wanted to build herself up independently, and one day soar into the skies.
Lin Qing Wan had such self-confidence, and her children were the same way.
Yang Nuo would ask his teachers every two years what level he had reached.
He had gone from someone who could pass the imperial exam to someone who could easily do well, to finally someone who would definitely be a top-scorer…..at that point, Yang Nuo no longer asked this question. This was three years ago.
Yang Nuo knew what he wanted. He wanted to bring honor to the Yang family, and raise their status in an aboveboard manner. He wanted to accumulate enough merit to be able to marry her, and not have everyone laugh at the eldest princess who chose to marry someone from a low background. He also understood what his younger brother was thinking.
The two of them were both doing their best, but as of today…..
“Big bro wants to tell you something.”
Yang Nuo had always been a decisive person. He had hesitated too long about Yi Yi and his younger brother’s matter. Not only did he make himself suffer, he even caused the person he liked to be hurt. Now that he had made up his mind, he naturally no longer hesitated.
Yang Heng sat next to him and scratched his head in confusion.
Compared to his sharpness earlier during training, he seemed completely different after putting away his weapon. If one ignored his bulging muscles and tall physique, he seemed completely like a harmless foolish young man.
“Big bro wants to marry Yi Yi.”
Yang Heng was frightened for an instant before letting out a careless “oh”.
“Big bro has let you down, but cannot yield in this sort of thing.” Yang Nuo had a hard time saying this. The usually steady person lowered his head for the first time and didn’t dare look at his own sibling.
Yang Heng’s rough palm patted Yang Nuo’s shoulder. He said with a smile: “Big bro what are you saying? It’s good if you married Yi Yi. That way I can always play together with her.”
“Big bro knows you also like her. Big bro wanted to yield at first, but—–”
Yang Heng jumped up and looked at Yang Nuo with fright. “Big bro what are you saying? I like Yi Yi, but don’t want to marry her.”
Yang Nuo looked directly into Yang Heng’s eyes and wanted to see if there was any pretense in them. Perhaps it was due to his emotional state, but he couldn’t see anything within them.
“Big bro, you’re overthinking things. I’m not an old stickler like you, why would I bring back a woman to marry. I’m going to become a great general in the future. As the saying goes, beauties fall beneath a hero. I won’t get married before I accomplish my goals.”
“I’m going to become a great general in the future”……
When he was young, Heng Heng would always say this.
Yang Heng’s attitude was very determined, and he was also calm, making Yang Nuo unable to doubt him. He gradually let out a breath and said: “That’s good then. Turns out big bro overthought things.”
He felt a sense of relief and smiled. Because of his own thoughts, he had been twisted up for so long, but he had never thought about asking the person in question.
Actually it wasn’t that he never thought about it, but he was too embarrassed to bring it up. He always felt that he had schemed and stolen something from his younger brother…..
“Big bro, as expected you’ve read too many books. You’ve got too many things going on in your head.” Yang Heng patted his shoulder once again. “I won’t say anymore, I’m going to bathe and sleep. I’m extremely tired after the training.”
Looking at Yang Heng’s fading figure, Yang Nuo planned on telling Yi Yi the good news tomorrow in case she was worried about things becoming awkward with Yang Heng.