After a few more times, Luo Huai Yuan became very close with Yan Yan and Shen Qi.
This was Luo Huai Yuan’s third life, and since he wanted to get closer to the two of them, he naturally put all his effort into it. As long as he reeled the little brat Shen Qi in, Yan Yan would come at least two out of three times. Luo Huai Yuan was very grateful, and any gloominess at having to “babysit children” was thrown to the back of his mind. Especially since the Tranquil Garden was peaceful and there were no servants around. The three of them played together a few times and were quite happy.
The Zhenguo Duke also received the news that the three little fellows were playing together. He didn’t say anything about it and merely had the steward Uncle Peng keep a close eye on the Tranquil Garden. He didn’t want any rumors spreading.
During this time, Shen Qi and Yan Yan had also asked about Luo Huai Yuan’s background. He didn’t lie to them, and merely gave them selective bits of information. According to him, he was a prince who was never favored. After being beaten by the favored third prince he was thrown out of the palace by his royal father.
Of course, this was the version used to fool children. At least Shen Qi and Yan Yan believed it.
Shen Qi’s thoughts were very simple. He felt little fatty Luo was truly pitiful, being beaten by his big brother so tragically. Yan Yan’s thoughts were much more complicated. She realized that every household had its difficulties. Even the royal family was no exception.
The last few days Shen Qi had called Yan Yan to the Tranquil Garden to play but she never came. Luo Huai Yuan grew a little anxious.
“Why did little sis Ah Yan not come again? I even planed something new for us all to play today.”
Shen Qi was also listless. He had followed his mom’s instructions and properly accompanied Yan Yan in play to make her happy. But even the usually oblivious Shen Qi had realized Yan Yan wasn’t in a good mood the last couple of days.
“Little Ah Yan hasn’t been in a good mood the last two days.”
Luo Huai Yuan froze and asked: “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
Shen Qi scratched his head and said simple-mindedly: “It’s all due to my younger aunt. She lost her temper at home last time and also yelled at little Ah Yan. Grandfather got angry and these days all the elders at home haven’t been in a good mood.”
Luo Huai Yuan was a little startled. He knew a little about Yan Yan’s matter in his past life.
She had gotten drunk once and had told him of her own volition. He then had people secretly investigate and put the pieces together.
What he understood was that it was the story of a scumbag who screwed over the relatives.
In the story, the scumbag had someone he loved, but because he was greedy for power, he married a principal wife for her family status. However, this scumbag was good at coaxing women, and managed to marry his true love as well, and even had her become good sisters with his principal wife.
If this was the story of a loser turning things around, that man could be called someone successful. But why was he called a scumbag instead? It was because he wasn’t a good person. He took advantage of someone else’s influence and played around with her heart. Not only did he allow his true love to bully his principal wife and children, but after he established himself, he kicked his principal wife away.
Yan Ting had borrowed the Zhenguo Duke’s influence and accomplished a great merit. It goes without saying that he brought great honor to his family and was promoted in the ranks of nobility. After their noble status was no longer at risk, Yan Ting gradually stopped treating Shen Yi Yao well. Since she had fallen out with her own family for Yan Ting’s sake, to the point they no longer interacted, she could only suffer by herself.
At that time Yan Ting still had some misgivings since Shen Yi Yao was surnamed Shen after all. She still had the Zhenguo Duke’s backing. He secretly backed the Jin Prince, and after he rebelled and became the emperor, Yan Ting finally revealed his true face.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate was on the decline. The Jin Prince was petty and held a grudge against the Zhenguo Duke for not supporting him. Although he didn’t show it on the surface, he made many moves in the dark. As for Yan Ting, he kicked them while they were down, completely forgetting that he had risen due to their help.
The Zhenguo Duke wanted to protect his own daughter, but no longer had the ability to do so. He wasn’t even able to protect himself. Prior to Luo Huai Yuan’s death in his past life, Shen Yi Yao had died of illness and everyone within the Zhenguo Duke Estate had lost their official positions. All they had left was the empty hereditary title of duke. Even the coveted insignia of pardon had only one use left due to them being framed by various schemes.
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t know what happened to the Zhenguo Duke in the end, but it undoubtedly wasn’t anything good. This was because the Jin Emperor’s methods were vicious and he took revenge for every perceived insult.
In his past life, Yan Yan didn’t know about these things, including Shen Yi Yao’s death from illness. At that time the Yun Prince Estate’s gates had long since been secretly guarded by the Jin Emperor. How could he allow any outside news to get in? Luo Huai Yuan only knew a little thanks to the hidden threads he had placed long ago.
As for Yan Yan, Luo Huai Yuan didn’t want to upset her and kept everything hidden. In the end, all he could do was give his few remaining subordinates over to Yan Mo for his protection. He hoped that Yan Ting wouldn’t be so vicious and refuse to let his own sickly son off.
Luo Huai Yuan’s mind lingered on the memories of his past life. Only when Shen Qi called him did he snap out of it.
“Why do you have such a worried expression every time little Ah Yan’s matter is brought up?”
“It’s nothing. I just thought of a few things.”
“Then are we still playing today?”
“We play! How can we not play!?”
How could Luo Huai Yuan be in the mood to play? He had ulterior motives in agreeing to do so.
After continuous efforts, he finally obtained all the information he wanted from Shen Qi. Based on the timing, Yan Ting was still at the border and hadn’t obtained his outstanding merit yet, and his noble title had naturally not been extended by three generations due to the Zhenguo Duke’s efforts yet.
Sometimes Luo Huai Yuan couldn’t help but lament over Yan Ting’s luck. Because of the Grand Xi’s power, the northern barbarian tribes were never able to encroach upon its borders. Especially with the mighty Shen household’s eldest son Shen Dong, who like his father before him, commanded the troops at the border for over ten years.
Luo Huai Yuan estimated based on his previous memories that it would be winter of this year when the northern barbarians would launch a sneak attack on the Pingsha1 Pass. Due to an especially lengthy blizzard in the plains, they were forced to do so for survival. For the sake of helping his brother-in-law, Shen Dong had Yan Ting take the troops to repel the invaders. Yan Ting had even counterattacked all the way into their lands, killing tens of thousands. If it weren’t for the unfavorable weather, he might have even reached their imperial palace.
Everyone was shaken once reports of the battle was sent back.
It wasn’t easy to obtain military accomplishments during this era of peace and prosperity. To advance in the ranks of nobility required military accomplishments. Of course, the Zhenguo Duke definitely supported Yan Ting and Shen Dong had given him all the contributions. Otherwise, how could a newbie with only a few years of experience at the border outshine the numerous generals there?
To put it plainly, the Shen household had used their influence to give him a boost. Unfortunately, they had fed a starving wolf who was never satisfied.
Luo Huai Yuan wasn’t clear for the moment how Yan Yan’s mom ended up falling out with her family. However, it wasn’t necessary to get to the bottom of this. Often times, a snake only needed to be struck in its weak spot. The rest didn’t need to be minded.
Luo Huai Yuan still remembered how his Yan Yan would grit her teeth when Yan Ting was mentioned. He still remembered how the frail Yan Mo had suffered injustice back home, and although his consort wanted to go help, she had seemed powerless.
Don’t worry, my consort, don’t worry. Since I’ve returned, I’ll naturally make sure you remain safe and happy in this life
Talking big didn’t require any effort, but when push came to shove, Luo Huai Yuan realized he wasn’t able to do anything.
He was a hated prince who had just been expelled from the palace and even needed to remain low-key to survive. The things he could do was far, far too little. It truly made him effing sullen!
However, Luo Huai Yuan wasn’t just all talk. He made up his mind and put in efforts to get Yan Yan out for a meeting.
Unfortunately this wasn’t easy to accomplish. If Shen Qi couldn’t convince the upset Yan Yan to come out, it wasn’t like Luo Huai Yuan could just barge into the rear residence. In the end, he had the bright idea of having the kitchen make something novel and let Xiao An Zi send it over to Yan Yan.
This matter naturally needed Uncle Peng’s approval. However, since Uncle Peng knew Xiao An Zi was a eunuch, there wasn’t any harm in letting him make a trip to the rear residence. As for the novel food, Shen Qi had also received a portion. Therefore, Uncle Peng merely saw it as conveniently giving Yan Yan a portion as well.
Xiao An Zi successfully met with Yan Yan and successfully passed on the message. Luo Huai Yuan had very openly invited Yan Yan and Shen Qi to tour the lake together.
Yan Yan refusing to go play with Shen Qi was natural. He was her cousin after all, and he was always mischievous. Playing with him was merely playing around, and since her mood wasn’t good she naturally didn’t want to go. But Luo Huai Yuan was different. He was a friend, and it was also his first time taking the initiative to send an invitation. For the sake of his face, Yan Yan had to go.
Yan Yan arrived at the appointed time but Shen Qi wasn’t present.
Actually Luo Huai Yuan had craftily added some time difference in their appointments. Shen Qi would come, but would only arrive later. He invited Yan Yan and Shen Qi “together” because he felt he wasn’t close enough with Yan Yan, and also had to avoid the cautious distance girls and boys needed to maintain. If Shen Qi was brought up, Yan Yan wouldn’t overthink things.
“Big bro Luo, why is big bro Shen not here yet?”
“Oh, him? He probably got delayed. It’s fine, let’s get into the boat first. Once he gets here, he can take the other boat to find us.”
The Tranquil Garden had a lake that was rather large. It was connected to the waterways within the estate, but it occupied its own corner. The lake was called “Calm”, and its azure ripples extended into the distance, seeming truly tranquil and secluded.
There were two small boats on the shore. Two sturdy grannies stood on the back of the boat, and seeing Luo Huai Yuan and Yan Yan they gave respectful greetings.
The two of them got on one of the boats along with Xiao An Zi. The boat wasn’t big, less than two zhang in length and two meters wide. It swayed slightly when they first stepped on board. Yan Yan was a little scared since she didn’t know how to swim.
“Little sis Ah Yan, don’t be scared. Big bro Luo knows how to swim.” If something really happened, you’re the first one I would save.
The two grannies also smiled and said: “Miss Yan, the two of us grannies can swim as well.”
Only then did Yan Yan feel relieved. The two of them went to the front of the boat. Things had already been set up. At the front of the boat was a small square table and low round stools. “Little sis Ah Yan, the boat is too small so it’s a bit crude. Please don’t mind it.”
Yan Yan sat down without any objection. The small boat swiftly left the shore towards the center of the lake. Luo Huai Yuan sat across from her and attentively took out some fruits and snacks, placing them on the table.
“This lake’s scenery is extremely good. After seeing it once, I wanted to bring you and Shen Qi along for a look.”
Yan Yan looked around her. There was only water, and more water. Was there any scenery? Luo Huai Yuan saw her gaze and merely smiled, using his eyes to tell her to wait a bit. Based on her impression these past few days of Luo Huai Yuan “really knowing how to play”, Yan Yan cast her doubts aside and waited to be surprised.
The surprise came very quickly. The boat arrived at some place and suddenly a large field of lotus flowers appeared. They appeared to be endless, spreading out until they reached the azure sky.
As they got closer and closer, all sorts of lotus flowers appeared before their eyes.
It was the middle of June, and the flowers were in full bloom. Their long stamens stuck proudly out of the lake’s surface. Some were long, some were short, and there were all sorts of shapes. Some of the lotus leaves floated on the surface of the water, the alluring green colors making them seem like plates of jade. Some of the leaves danced upon the water surface like graceful girls in all sorts of postures.
There were pink, white and light yellow lotus flowers. Some had just bloomed while others were in full bloom. Some were still budding, like cute little girls wanting to speak words of endearment. The green lotus leaves contrasted with the flowers painted an incredibly beautiful picture.
The gentle breeze blew lightly and a wave of sweet fragrance permeated the air. This wasn’t like the smell of incense used in rich households. It was a natural and refreshing smell, making one involuntarily relax and become intoxicated.
The boat changed directions along with the sound of paddling oars, and entered the large field of lotus flowers. It turned out there was a narrow passageway between the lotus flowers that was just wide enough for the boat to pass. The boat gently rowed through the passageway, and the world seemed to have fallen silent all of a sudden. Their vision was filled with lotus flowers, as though they were in an ocean of them.
“How beautiful!” After a long while, Yan Yan’s slightly fleeting voice sounded out.
“Of course! I only pick the best places!” This guy never failed to sing his own praises.
Yan Yan looked at the round little fatty in front of her who was half a head taller than her and saw his cocky expression. She suddenly burst out laughing.
Little fatty Luo: I’m really here to solve problems, not to pick up girls.
Luo Huai Yuan: Really, really. I’m definitely not lying.
Authors: You had to pick such a romantic location to solve problems?
Little fatty Luo: You call yourself a romance writer? Don’t you understand emotional development? Don’t you understand romance? Bla bla bla….this big bro is fat. It’s not easy for me to chase girls…..
Authors: Flees in defeat…..