The next day, Yang Nuo went to the palace and told Yi Yi about the situation.
“Really, big bro Nuo Nuo? Heng Heng really said that?”
Yang Nuo nodded, his lips curled in an elegant smile.
They were in a small bamboo forest near the eastern palace. It was a small grassy field filled with young bamboo trees. This was Yang Nuo and Yi Yi’s secret little hideout. The two of them had come often in the past.
Ever since the two of them realized they were interested in each other, they had often come here on dates. Actually they weren’t really dates since Yi Yi hadn’t quite figured it out yet. She only felt that she enjoyed hanging out with big bro Nuo Nuo alone to chat. As for what Yang Nuo the two-faced fellow thought, it was hard to say.
Yi Yi let out a breath and revealed a sweet and beautiful smile, “That’s good then. To think I was worried for so long.”
Yi Yi’s voice was the soft and coy kind. When her mood was good, it would sound like she was acting coquettish. Every time it would make the listener’s heart grow soft as can be.
“No more worries?”
Yang Nuo leaned his face over to her cheek and rubbed her little face with his nose.
“Big bro Nuo Nuo.”
Yi Yi blinked her large eyes, her face blushing. She wanted to move away but also felt it would be too obvious. In the end, she still couldn’t endure Yang Nuo’s fixed gaze and lowered her head shyly.
“Silly lass.” Yang Nuo laughed lightly and softly kissed the top of her head. “I have to make a trip back to the Yun Province in a few days. We might not be able to see each other for a long time.”
Yi Yi grabbed his hand in a panic, and gently creased her brows, “Why?”
He pinched her nose, “It’s time for me to take the exam. I naturally have to return to my hometown to register.”
Yi YI’s brows furrowed even tighter, and she pouted her lips. “Then how long will you be gone? Will I not be able to see you for a long time?”
“Not too long. Once I pass the county-level exam, I will be able to return to the capital for the city exam and finally the court exam. We can meet again at that time.”
Yang Nuo’s voice was filled with confidence. Actually, he could have already passed the county exam when he was ten years old. However, his instructors told him that he hadn’t accumulated enough experience due to his youth, and although he could pass, he wouldn’t be able to score high, and wouldn’t be able to do well in the city exam after that.
He waited six years and accumulated experience for six years. Now, he wanted to fulfill his wishes.
Yi Yi also knew that this was important to him, and thus didn’t bother him despite the endless reluctance in her heart. She merely said with teary eyes and pouted lips: “Then big bro Nuo Nuo has to come see me once you’re back.”
“En, wait for me to marry you when I’m back!”
While the Yang family prepared for Yang Nuo’s trip back home, the Jing Emperor also gave the crown prince an assignment.
The Yellow River had overflowed its banks for two years in a row. The Jing Emperor assigned Luo Zhuo to bring people along to investigate.
Luo Zhuo was sixteen, and had been brought along by the Jing Emperor to listen to politics since he was twelve. In the past few years, Luo Zhuo had gotten better and better and handling government affairs, but it was all limited to paper. He had never experienced dealing with the suffering of the people and working with regional officials.
The Jing Emperor understood that if the water was clear, there wouldn’t be any fish. After several years of purging, things were much better than before. But the matter of the Yellow River flooding twice had made him rather angry. The Yellow River flooding had always been something that gave emperors headaches throughout history. After spending hundred thousands of silver taels every year without any effect, the Jing Emperor felt that something was not right.
When an imperial censor submitted a note impeaching the river channel’s governor Hu Guang Bo for corruption and abuse of law, the Jing Emperor decided to let the crown prince gain some experience.
Knowing that things weren’t simple, the Jing Emperor not only made sufficient preparations for the crown prince on the surface, he also secretly sent people to follow him.
Therefore, Yang Nuo left the capital and Luo Zhuo was about to leave as well.
On this trip, he brought Yang Heng along. Yang Heng was the most skilled in martial arts amongst the three apprentice brothers, and it also allowed him to clear his mind.
“Do you feel regretful?”
Yang Heng stood at the end of the boat, and looked pensively back at the capital. Luo Zhuo walked over and patted his shoulder.
Yang Heng stuffed something back into his robes and smiled. “Why should I feel regretful? I was clearly the one interfering. Yi Yi and my brother have feelings for each other.” As he spoke, his voice trailed off towards the end.
Luo Zhuo sighed and patted his arm. “It’s good you can understand. A man of character won’t have trouble finding a wife. In the future, you will definitely find a good girl to marry.”
Yang Heng smiled bitterly, and didn’t speak.
No matter how good of a girl, it still wouldn’t be her.
Having grown up as childhood friends, it would be a lie to say there were no feelings. But he had understood too late, and by the time he realized, Yi Yi and his brother already looked at each other differently.
He had been very dispirited for a few days, and in the end he wasn’t resigned. He continued to play dumb for a long time. He just couldn’t restrain his feelings, but it ended up making all three of them suffer. His older brother avoided Yi Yi for his sake, and Yi Yi avoided him for his brother’s sake.
Actually, he had long since planned on clearing things up with them, but unexpectedly his older brother had taken the lead.
During this time, his heart had been dripping blood while he acted foolish and unaware. Since one was his own brother and one was his childhood friend, he also wanted them to be happy.
Yang Heng looked out upon the churning river, expelled his air of depression and laughed loudly a couple of times. “Highness is right. Men of character won’t have trouble finding a wife. I, Yang Heng, is someone who will become a great general. I won’t start a family before I accomplish my goals!”
He scarcely imagined that his words were prophetic. In the end, Yang Heng only got married when he was thirty years old. At that time, he had already become a mighty general whose name shook all of society. And also at that time, he encountered his predestined partner.
Luo Zhuo encountered several dangers during this trip, and only returned after half a year. What awaited him on his return was his mom’s intimate embrace which he hadn’t felt in many years.
Xiao Hua’s heart had been full of pain this time. Although the Jing Emperor kept reassuring her that he had sent people along to watch over him, she still couldn’t bear seeing the various reports of her son’s hardships and injuries.
Luo Zhuo was drowned in Xiao Hua’s tears. The Jing Emperor glared at him, but Luo Zhuo pretended not to see and sank into his mom’s warm embrace.
The Jing Emperor got jealous easily, even towards his sons. Once they had turned seven or eight, he didn’t allow Xiao Hua to hug them. Putting it nicely, it was for their own good so they wouldn’t grow up to become mommy’s boys.
Xiao Hua knew this was him being petty, but also knew it was truly for their own good. This time was because she had been worried and couldn’t hold back any longer.
She looked her son over and made sure everything was in order before having someone arrange food. The family sat down for a reunion meal.
After eating, the children returned to their own palaces. Xiao Hua and the Jing Emperor went to bed after a bath. When they got in bed, Xiao Hua used her influence over the emperor for the first time in her life.
“Majesty, that Hu Guang Bo truly deserves death. You mustn’t let him off this time.”
The Jing Emperor nodded and stroked her silk-like long hair. “We have already ordered for him to be arrested back to the capital. We definitely won’t let him off.”
The river channel’s governor Hu Guang Bo had truly been daring. He embezzled the silver for the river channel and sent someone to assassinate the imperial censor who impeached him. After finding people had been sent from the capital to investigate him, he sent someone after them as well. Initially, he hadn’t been aware of Luo Zhuo’s identity. After he found out the crown prince had personally come, Hu Guang Bo still didn’t stop trying to have him killed. This was sufficient for his nine generations to be exterminated many times over.
Once Xiao Hua felt she had successfully persuaded him, she finally slept at ease for the first time in a while. The Jing Emperor looked at the bags under her eyes, and grew a few shades angrier at that Hu Guang Bo.
This matter will be temporarily put aside. The next day, Xiao Hua received news that the crown prince had actually brought a woman to the palace.
Xiao Hua was stunned and ordered someone to investigate.
The information she received was that when the crown prince went south to handle this matter, he had stayed at a minor official’s house to recover from his wounds. That official had offered his own daughter to serve the crown prince.
There were several meanings to that word.
Xiao Xia Zi smiled ambiguously and said with his head lowered that the crown prince had accepted and used her.
This struck quite the blow to Xiao Hua, and in confusion she waved her hand for him to leave.
When the crown prince came of age, the palace would send some palace maids to teach the crown prince the ways of the world. When she found out about this, Xiao Hua had struggled with it for a while before bringing it up with the Jing Emperor. The Jing Emperor felt that this was something the crown prince had to experience, in case he grew obsessed with matters in bed. Unexpectedly, Luo Zhuo was extremely opinionated, and despite the arrangements he never touched those two palace maids.
Who would have thought that after leaving for only half a year, he had accepted a woman offered by a subordinate official?
Xiao Hua urgently sent the Jing Emperor a message and he soon returned.
When Xiao Hua told him the situation with a concerned expression, the Jing Emperor gave her an indifferent glance.
“Isn’t this a good thing? Don’t you want hold a grandson?”
Hold a grandson?
Fine, Xiao Hua was almost at the age where she should be holding a grandson.
“But what about Zhuo’er’s wedding and marriage?”
The Jing Emperor was too lazy to explain to this silly Xiao Hua’er that men normally had many wives and concubines. Especially the heir apparent to the throne. He only had her, but he wouldn’t bother with his son’s thoughts. It was something for his son to figure out himself.
If he met someone suitable, it was good if he could figure it out. It was fine if he didn’t as well. As the future emperor, he could have his pick of women.
Xiao Hua looked at the man’s apathetic expression and awkwardly stroked her nose.
She understood the Jing Emperor’s perspective, and merely had gotten too used to it just being the two of them. Her son having a harem felt very weird.
However, she also understood how hard it was for the future emperor to only have one woman. She and Sir Jing only managed to reach this step due to their many shared experiences.
Thinking of how good he was, and how he was only good to her, Xiao Hua’s face turned red and she cuddled into his arms.
Looking at the sweetly smiling Xiao Hua’er who rubbed her face into his royal robes, how could the Jing Emperor not know what she was thinking?
His heart melted and he kissed the top of her forehead.
On the path in front of the Fengqi Palace, there were two figures walking slowly.
The one in front was tall, and wore a golden embroidered crown prince’s outfit, his hands clasped behind his back. The one behind was small, with dark hair and fair skin. A round figure whose face still contained some baby fat, round almond eyes and pouted little lips.
The figure in front stopped and turned with a frown: “Walk faster.”
The person behind let out an “aye” and ran a couple of steps to catch up. Then, the person in front started walking again and the other fell behind due to her short legs.
Entering the Fengqi Palace’s main hall, Luo Zhuo greeted Xiao Hua with a salute.
Then, Luo Zhuo stood up and looked around before pulling someone out from behind him. “Pay respects to my mother empress.”
That young lady glanced at the beautiful woman upon the throne in a panic before kneeling with proper etiquette and kowtowing, “Respects to the empress, may the empress live long and prosper.”
Xiao Hua didn’t expect her son to bring the girl over to see her. Her gaze was a little strange as she glanced at him.
Luo Zhuo sat on the side and said with a rigid expression: “Mother empress, this is someone personally serving your son. She’s called Zhu’er. In the future when your son is busy, I’ll have her come fulfill my filial duties in my stead.”
Xiao Hua was embarrassed but still nodded.
What was this repressed son of hers up to?
Xiao Hua offered Zhu’er a seat, and saw that the girl was tiny, probably not yet fifteen. The young and round little person sat obediently behind Luo Zhuo, and only took up half a seat. She was clearly a timid one.
Luo Zhuo spoke with Xiao Hua for a while before leaving with Zhu’er.
Seeing her son leave, Xiao Hua revealed a complicated expression. This expression remained until the Jing Emperor returned.
Hearing Xiao Hua’s account, the Jing Emperor revealed a mysterious expression and didn’t say anything.
Haha, laughing a hundred times towards the heavens.
Really like the thought of Zhuo’er’s cool expression while a round little thing is following behind him.
Little Zhuo’er is only sixteen, this author is a baddie.
On another topic:
Regarding Yang Heng, Yang Nuo and Yi Yi’s matter, this author feels that since Yi Yi is such a cute girl, it is normal for both her childhood friends to like her. Before, Yang Nuo’s feelings were hinted at. Back then Yi Yi was only eight and Yang Nuo was older by a year but something was already going on.
Because this is the epilogue of Xiao Hua’s story, I didn’t dare write in too much detail. The summarized style is a little different, where the main point is brought up first before the details were filled in this chapter.
Yang Heng’s acting was very good, even Yang Nuo was fooled. The only one who knew his feelings was Luo Zhuo who was the bystander. Therefore, Xiao Hua and Lin Qing Wan had both thought he was just Yi Yi’s childhood friend as well. Xiao Hua’s thoughts could be seen when she said “who knows what those little things are thinking”. She was lamenting why they couldn’t just say it directly, and had to avoid each other. Therefore, the situation where Lin Qing Wan objected to her two sons liking the same girl didn’t happen.
As for Yang Nuo, he matured early and started liking Yi Yi early, so he made a move (who knows when the little brats learned to meet up in private. This authors didn’t note a concrete time, everyone can use their own imaginations, hehe)
As for Yang Heng, he was always fooling around and was bit of a boor. He reacted too slow (by the time he realized, Yi Yi and his brother already looked at each other differently), and that’s why he told Luo Zhuo it was him who was interfering.
Of course, this author also considered that Yang Nuo is a scholar while Yang Heng is a martial artist. Yang Heng had always wanted to become a great general. This was mentioned in Wan Wan’s novel. The Dingyuan Marquis also planned on nurturing Yang Heng, saying that he is a good sapling.
Everyone can imagine that a warrior becomes famous by bathing in the blood of his enemies. If Yi Yi married him, what would happen in the future? Worrying every day? Sure, she could use the royal family’s authority to give him an official position, but this would be too cruel towards someone who truly has ambition. Lin Qing Wan would also not permit it. It is clear from the Yang family’s way of doing things that they want to rise up via their own efforts, and not rely on others. How could Yang Heng choose between his love and his dreams? In order to not let Yi Yi worry, he would have to give up his ambitions. Would it be a lifelong regret? (Alright, perhaps this author overthought things, but I really thought this way)
Therefore, I feel like Yang Heng’s ending should be to fulfill his dreams first before finding his own destined person. Everyone has a first love in their hearts, and if they think of them in the future, it would just be a beautiful memory. It’ll probably be the same for him…..
Don’t know if this explanation is satisfactory, please don’t hit me….