The marquis was returning.
Before he set off, Yan Ting had sent a letter home. Therefore, the Weiyuan Marquis Estate had received the letter when he was still five or six days away. He didn’t say much in the letter and merely said how long it would take him to get there.
Everyone in the Weiyuan Marquis Estate started moving. Old Madam Yan was full of smiles the entire day. The usually low-key Concubine Pei also revealed some joy in her expression. Instead, Shen Yi Yao’s joyful expression occasionally revealed a trace of worry. But since everyone’s thoughts were preoccupied with the marquis’s letter, no one paid attention to her.
Yan Ting arrived in the blink of an eye.
Knowing the marquis would arrive today, the estate had made arrangements bright and early. The estate had been swept clean and everyone wore new clothes and jewelry, as though they were welcoming some major hero’s grand return.
Yan Yan brought Yan Mo over in preparation. Seeing the old madam’s pleased expression, she really wanted to tell her not to count her chickens before they hatched. Of course, these words couldn’t be said out loud. She was just a child on the surface, and her grandfather had also told her to pretend like she didn’t know anything.
In the afternoon, the housekeeper stationed at the city gates came to report that the marquis had entered the city. The old madam hurriedly convened the household to wait by the doors.
Before long, Yan Ting rode up with a group of people.
Yan Ting wore a polished leather armor and leisurely rode a black horse. He was tall and upright, looking extremely heroic and handsome. Actually Yan Ting had a pretty good appearance. He was tall and slender, but not rough-looking. He had a handsome appearance, with slanted brows and thin lips. His dark pupils contained a hidden sharpness. He had a reserved air yet didn’t lack in firmness.
Regardless, Yan Yan saw her mom’s expression which had been distracted initially suddenly become…excited.
Yan Ting got off the horse and took two step to kneel in front of Old Madam Yan.
“Mom, your son has returned.”
“It’s good that you’re back, it’s good that you’re back.” The old madam wiped her tears and hurriedly pulled him up.
The rarely seen Eldest Lord Yan, Yan Zhi, and the Third Lord Yan, Yan Qu was present as well. Yan Zhi was over thirty, and was fat and bearded. He warmly patted Yan Ting a couple of times. “Old two, it’s good that you’re back.”
Yan Ting’s eyes were withdrawn and calm. He greeted his eldest brother. The always refined and taciturn Yan Qu also called out second brother in greeting. Compared to Yan Zhi, the two blood related brothers had a better relationship. At least, Yan Ting’s gaze grew quite a bit softer and he patted his little brother’s shoulder.
Then Yan Ting’s gaze turned to the right onto Shen Yi Yao.
He walked over. “Yao’er.” His expression wasn’t passionate but he grabbed onto Shen Yi Yao’s hand.
Shen Yi Yao looked excited, her eyes turning slightly red. “Husband.”
“Are you well?”
“I’m very well…..”
On the side, Concubine Pei’s delicate white hands squeezed her skirt tightly, her veins faintly visible.
“Enough. Second brother and sister-in-law, stop showing off your affection. Hurry and go inside. There will be time for you to talk later.” Xue-shi teased with a smile and helped the old madam back into the estate.
Shen Yi Yao lowered her head bashfully. Yan Ting lightly laughed and patted her hand before following them in.
The group of people grandly entered the estate and went towards the Rongan Hall.
After arriving, the old madam saw that her son was travel-worn and had him bath and change before returning. The others remained within the Rongan Hall. A reception banquet would be held for Yan Ting later.
Xue-shi had always been a discerning person. Seeing the old madam happily smiling, she flattered her generously. She told her everything she wanted to hear, making her smile even more splendidly. Yan Zhi was raised by the old madam and naturally knew what his principal mother wanted to hear. He also added his wit to the conversation, causing laughter all around.
The couple coaxed the old madam into smiling repeatedly. It was clear there was good reason that the two were able to remain within the Weiyuan Marquis Estate despite being concubine borne.
The third lord Yan had always been one of few words, and merely watched with a slight smile without speaking. The third madam Chen-shi had a very disdainful expression at the eldest branch’s flattery. However, she had never been good with words and didn’t know how to cut in.
Of course everyone maintained a pleasant expression regardless of what they felt inside. At least everyone maintained a smile. Yan Ting had taken Shen Yi Yao with him as he left earlier. Although Concubine Pei didn’t show anything on the surface, her lack of conversation showed that she definitely had thoughts about it.
Yan Yan’s current mood was very profound. She merely pulled Yan Mo to sit in the chairs against the wall and watched everything from afar.
The reception west of the main hall was extremely large. Three large round rosewood tables engraved with immortal peaches and clouds were arranged in a triangle. The maids and grannies continuously placed various dishes on the table. They used jade plates and silver chopsticks. Everything looked delicious and extremely extravagant.
Before long, Yan Ting returned wearing new clothes. He wore a set of dark blue round collared robes embroidered with cloud patterns. Around his waist was a gold-plated jade belt. In his everyday clothing, his appearance changed once again. He had a few more traces of genteel elegance, and appeared even more handsome.
Shen Yi Yao walked behind him with a reddened face. What was different was that she wore a different set of clothing and her hair was also pinned differently. The old madam had Yan Ting take a seat the moment she saw him, and everyone’s attention became focused. No one noticed Shen Yi Yao’s weird appearance.
The only two exceptions were Concubine Pei and Yan Yan. Yan Yan merely felt it was strange her mom had changed. Concubine Pei thought even further and couldn’t help but grit her teeth.
The younger generation all approached and saluted. Yan Ting examined Yan Mo for a while and asked in concern: “Mo’er’s health has been good recently?”
Yan Mo smiled bashfully and lowered his eyes. “Your son’s health has been pretty good and not too sick.”
Yan Ting nodded and then asked Yan Yan. “Has Ah Yan been naughty? You didn’t anger your mom, right?”
Yan Yan said: “Mom never gets angry when she sees me anymore.”
Her words could be interpreted in multiple ways, but unfortunately Yan Ting merely took them at face value.
Then, Yan Ting paid some attention to Yan Hong and Yan Qian. Compared to the reserved Yan Yan, these two were much livelier. Yan Qian put on the charm of a young daughter and said she hadn’t seen her dad in so long and missed him a lot. Yan Hong pulled naughtily on Yan Ting’s hand and asked if he brought back a large horse as he promised.
It wasn’t like she didn’t know this, but many things could be seen when viewed from a different perspective. For Yan Yan, fatherly affection had always been a show of concern. It looked very nice, but had a sense of distance and a lack of warmth that should be present between father and daughter. Instead, what he showed towards Yan Hong and Yan Qian was probably what fatherly affection should look like.
Concubine Pei’s gloominess was lifted and she shot Shen Yi Yao a satisfied glance. Shen Yi Yao was looking at Yan Ting while holding back a smile and didn’t notice. However, this glance was seen clearly by Yan Yan. She felt her little brother’s hand tighten in her own and squeezed his little hand in comfort.
After some casual chatter the banquet was ready. The group of people went into the reception.
The older generation sat at one table, including the old madam, the eldest and third lord Yan, Yan Ting and all their principal wives. One table was for the young masters and one for the misses. The concubines stood behind their respective misses and served them.
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s dining etiquette was pretty good. It focused on eating without talking. However, today was different since it was a welcome banquet. The eldest lord Yan was also one who liked to drink, so how could the brothers not have a few drinks.
The three brothers toasted each other and were extremely merry. The old madam watched the scene with a smile and didn’t speak.
The eldest lord Yan became more talkative as he drank. He dumped a bucketful of flattery onto Yan Ting, both praising his status and accomplishments. As he spoke, he finally breached the topic that was on everyone’s minds.
“Second brother coming back this time must mean you have some military accomplishments, and you are confident of success?”
Yan Zhi and Yan Qu’s positions were idle posts. The matters above would never reach their level. However, Yan Zhi thought that since his second brother returned, he had definitely succeeded in what he set out to do. After all, Yan Ting had been gone for almost three years and had never returned once. Everyone knew the reason he left.
The moment the eldest lord Yan’s words fell, everyone’s gaze turned towards Yan Ting.
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate was on its last generation. If the title couldn’t be extended, they would lose their nobility status. This was something that affected the entire estate. Despite all the fights and quarrels within, everyone still knew clearly what was important. For the eldest branch, it was definitely better to have the Weiyuan Marquis Estate behind them. Therefore, everyone was concerned about this matter.
Shen Yi Yao’s hand shook and her silver chopsticks fell to the floor. Everyone’s gaze was focused on Yan Ting and no one noticed. One of the maids saw and hurriedly gave her a fresh pair.
Yan Ting’s expression was a little rigid but he knew this matter couldn’t be concealed. He shook his head and said: “I’ve returned due to relocation orders this time.”
At these words, the table immediately fell silent.
Looking at Yan Ting’s expression, everyone’s brows furrowed tighter and tighter. The old madam wanted to speak but hesitated. The eldest lord Yan blurted urgently, “Did something unexpected happen? Then what about the prolonging of nobility?”
His voice was a little loud. Even the younger generation at the other two tables looked over.
The old madam coughed a couple of times and said: “Ting’er has just returned, and hasn’t even eaten a carefree meal yet. Let’s discuss any matters later.”
Since the old madam had spoken, the others naturally couldn’t say anything else. The alcohol that was previously being enthusiastically drunk was placed aside. Everyone at the table ate without really tasting the food.
After the meal, the younger generation was taken out by their respective maids and grannies. The maids swiftly started clearing the table and the old madam took her few sons and their wives to the eastern side room. Concubine Pei was present as well. Over the years, she remained present like this the entire time. As time passed, no one felt it was weird anymore.
The old madam sat on the kiln by the window. Yan Ting sat across from her. The rest were seated in the luxurious ebony chairs. A group of maids brought these masters and mistresses fruits and tea. Matron Zhao went and shut the doors before standing at attention.
“Old two, just what on earth is going on?” The old madam spoke first.
Yan Ting sat upright on the kiln, his gaze obscure as he spoke: “Your son also doesn’t know. The relocation orders suddenly came from the court, so I returned.”
The old madam frowned and asked after muttering to herself: “Then where are you relocated to? Has your posting been arranged?”
Yan Ting’s expression was unpleasant for an instant. “It hasn’t.” After a pause, he spoke again: “Your son plans to ask at the Ministry of War after resting and regrouping.”
Everyone seemed to have sensed the seriousness of the matter. Normally a general at the border could only leave for a few reasons. One was a promotion due to merits. Another was being relocated from the battlefront. Normally this relocation would come with a promotion of a few ranks. Of course, another reason was being removed due to a criminal investigation.
There has never been a case where someone was relocated out of the blue, without clear arrangements for their future posting. Did he have to wait for a vacancy in the capital like those people on the waiting list who had just passed the imperial exam? This was the part Yan Ting was confused about. This was too abnormal.
“Second brother was sent to the border due to the Zhenguo Duke’s arrangements. Now that he’s returned for no reason, there has to be an explanation, right?” The eldest lord Yan glanced at Shen Yi Yao and said.
Everyone’s gaze fell on Shen Yi Yao.
Shen Yi Yao’s expression was a little rigid and a little helpless. She looked habitually at her husband for help. Unexpectedly, Yan Ting’s eyes were indiscernible, as though covered by a layer of gauze.
After a moment or a while, Shen Yi Yao who was sitting on pins and needles heard Yan Ting say: “The military relocation orders come from the Ministry of War. What does it have to do with father-in-law?”
Seeing her husband help her out of her predicament, Shen Yi Yao hurriedly nodded.
The eldest lord Yan no longer spoke. The third lord Yan had always been taciturn. The old madam looked to be deep in thought. The room was extremely silent.
Yan Ting stood up and said: “Mom, I’m going back to rest first. After resting, I’ll go make inquiries at the Ministry of War.”
The old madam nodded and everyone stood up. Yan Ting took the lead in taking his leave from the eastern side room. Shen Yi Yao also saluted and took her leave.
Yan Ting had left first. After leaving the Rongan Hall’s gates, he stood still and waited for Shen Yi Yao to catch up before holding her hand and walking back to the Jinse Pavilion.
Seeing this, Shen Yi Yao felt somewhat relieved. She revealed a sweet and bashful smile.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. That night the Jinse Pavilion asked for water three times. Concubine Pei gritted her teeth upon receiving this report, and smashed an entire porcelain tea set…
It should be known that in this world, men can lay out honey traps as well. Hopefully everyone isn’t disappointed at the scummy dad’s appearance. Since he could pull off such a scheme, he definitely has to be extremely handsome and a profound schemer who’s used to putting on an act. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have tricked Shen Yi Yao and the Zhenguo Duke for so many years.
But as mentioned previously, success cannot come solely from schemes and tricks. One must be capable as well. It’s clear who would be the winner if the scummy dad goes against the grandfather. In his past life, he had obtained military merits and his nobility was extended. He naturally had room to advance and retreat. As of now, he no longer has a path to retreat. Hopefully he won’t be driven to desperate action, hehe…..