On the other side, Liu Shu Yi was still glaring at Chu Ming Chen.
“You’re not allowed to scare him either. I’m telling you, little Ah Mo is my little brother. If I see you bullying him again, I’ll definitely beat you up!” Liu Shu Yi waved her little fist as she spoke.
Chu Ming Chen suddenly gave up. “Liu Shu Yi, you only know to threaten me! I’m going to tell my mom when I get back, and say you bully me every day!”
Yan Mo was a little stunned. That uncontrollable little tyrant from back then had turned into a little tsundere. Anyone would be shocked.
Yan Yan also realized who this teenager in front of them was. She wasn’t unfamiliar with this scene, but back then the characters were little brats whereas now they were teenagers.
Chu Ming Chen and Liu Shu Yi’s grievances went way back.
Actually, the two of them were cousins. Liu Shu Yi’s mom Ma Quan Fang was the older sister of Chu Ming Chen’s mom. The older sister married into the Yiyong Marquis Estate whereas the younger sister married into the Ruyang Marquis Estate. The sisters had a very good relationship from a young age, and it didn’t fade after their marriages.
Chu Ming Chen was younger than Liu Shu Yi by a year, and the two had grown up playing together. But Chu Ming Chen had always been naughty and Liu Shu Yi took it upon herself as the older sister to discipline him. Chu Ming Chen was often unresigned, but unfortunately he was still suppressed every time. Not only did Liu Shu Yi suppress him, even his mom who cherished him would always be biased towards this damned opponent of his.
Neither one was willing to give an inch. Every time they met they would bicker a few rounds. However, Chu Ming Chen usually couldn’t get the upper hand.
Those teenagers who played with Chu Ming Chen naturally knew Liu Shu Yi as well. Chu Ming Chen’s background was the best out of those people and his temper was the most overbearing. Since Liu Shu Yi was able to make him submit, the others were naturally scared of her.
A teen with a round face spoke up: “Big sis Shu Yi, we really didn’t bully that child.”
The other teenagers nodded in unison.
Liu Shu Yi gave them a suspicious glance and then looked at the pififul looking Yan Mo behind Yan Yan. Her righteous heart ultimately was biased towards the underdog. Yan Mo was smaller than boys his age and couldn’t be compared to those pampered teenagers.
“Ah Mo is so obedient, he definitely wouldn’t lie. I saw you raising your whip at him earlier!”
Recalling the scene, Liu Shu Yi glared at Chu Ming Cheng again.
That round-faced teen explained with an awkward smile: “We really didn’t bully him. We just wanted to find a space to practice our riding. He was blindly running around and we were afraid of bumping into him. That’s why we wanted to drive him away. Unexpectedly….”
Fine, the rest didn’t need to be said. Yan Yan already understood.
It turns out these people weren’t good riders. They could even be called extremely bad. To avoid harming passersby, they wanted him to move far away. Unexpectedly, this passerby wasn’t too obedient, resulting in them arguing.
Liu Shu Yi spurred her horse over to Yan Yan and said quietly: “Hmmm, that, my useless cousin truly isn’t too good at horseriding.”
Yan Yan smiled as she saw her awkward expression. “Enough, since it was a misunderstanding we’ll leave it at that. I hadn’t recognized him earlier. Your cousin seems to have changed in appearance.”
When he was young, he had been a brawny little meatball. After growing up, he became a tall and slender pretty boy. It was quite the difference.
Liu Shu Yi revealed a disgusted expression before involuntarily laughing. “That’s right. He’s no longer the brat playing around in the mud.”
Their words were pretty low and the others couldn’t hear them clearly.
Chu Ming Chen pricked up his hears and only heard “misunderstanding”, “cousin” and “brat playing around in the mud”. His face immediately flushed.
Everyone had dumb moments as a kid. Why did this Liu Shu Yi like picking on his shortcomings!
He coughed a few times and did his best to put on a stern expression: “Cousin, this friend of yours is?”
Hearing him call her cousin, Liu Shu Yi looked at him as though startled. Seeing Chu Ming Chen’s earnest appearance, she couldn’t help but recall some amusing things in the past and start laughing.
“Little cousin, you don’t recognize her?”
Chu Ming Chen glanced at Yan Yan and the roots of his ears turned red. He shook his head.
Liu Shu Yi laughed even more evilly. “Remember the big sis Ah Yan that beat you up back then?”
Chu Ming Chen’s thoughts turned rapidly and finally stopped on a certain scene.
He faintly recalled when he was an insensible child, he loved digging around in the mud. After getting dirt all over his hands, he would rub it onto his cousin’s dress and laugh happily.
Once, he was up to his same old mischief when he mistook the person, dirtying a beautiful little girl’s dress instead. This girl wasn’t like his cousin at all. When his cousin’s dress got dirtied, she would only cry and tattle. This girl pressed him on the ground without a word and gave him a beating. Her little fists were rather powerful, making him cry for his mom and dad.
That was Chu Ming Chen’s first time beaing hit by someone in his life. The memory was fresh in his mind. What made it even more unbearable was that ever since then, Liu Shu Yi had also learned this technique after seeing him getting beaten to tears.
He remembered Liu Shu Yi calling that little girl Ah Yan.
Chu Ming Chen suddenly felt the heavens turning upside down. Before he could react, he had instinctively turned his horse around and galloped off.
There was no evidence of shoddy horsemanship this time. He galloped away very swiftly.
“Hahaha, he’s still scared of you…hahaha….”
The round-faced teen on the side looked awkwardly at Yan Yan and said to Liu Shu Yi: “That, big sis Shu Yi, we’ll head off first.”
After speaking, the few of them vanished like smoke.
A long while later, Yan Yan finally said impatiently: “Enough, they were all laughed off by you.”
“I really couldn’t hold it in. You don’t know how undisciplined that spoiled brat is normally. I’ve never seen him so scared of anyone like this.”
“You’re exaggerating too much!”
“Really, I’m not lying. He probably doesn’t look like that even when faced with my uncle.”
Yan Yan shook her head helplessly. She lightly moved the whip in her hand and lassoed the reins of Yan Mo’s horse over. She then headed back to the campsite with Black Jade. Liu Shu Yi hurriedly followed after.
More and more people arrived at the campsite.
There were four of these areas around Mt. Meng that surrounded the central campsite of the royal family. The closer to the middle, the higher the status. Those on the outskirts were all low-ranked military officers or officials and their families.
The Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s tents were relatively close to the middle. It wasn’t too far but it also wasn’t too close. Those around them were mostly major families of similar status.
More and more misses could be seen wandering the campsite in groups of three or five. They were mostly wearing riding outfits and met up to go play in the area. The proper ladies of the capital rarely left their doors. Only in a place like this could they relax their etiquette.
When Yan Yan and Liu Shu Yi went out to play, they had run into Wu Qiong Qiong once. She was surrounded by three or four young misses around her age. Yan Yan had walked past without looking at her. Wu Qiong Qiong didn’t show much on her face, but Yan Yan clearly felt a vicious glare on her back.
Liu Shu Yi pulled Yan Yan and said quietly: “Ignore her. Ever since that time, the Wu household pushed all the blame onto Pei Jia Yu, saying Wu Qiong Qiong was manipulated by her which was why she did something like that. But who doesn’t know the truth of the matter? Everyone is secretly laughing at their Wu household for making matters worse by covering it up.”
Yan Yan had no opinion on this. She couldn’t control what other people thought.
After that day, her second aunt had sent someone over with a carriage of things, saying it was the Wu household’s apology gift. Yan Yan accepted it without modesty.
As for the Wu and Pei household, they were merely dogs biting at each other and ending up with a mouthful of fur.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate’s people arrived two days prior to the imperial procession.
Only the Zhenguo Madam and Shen Ding’s family of three were in the group. The Zhenguo Duke would come two days later along with the emperor.
When Shen Yi Yao found out her mom and brother had come, she didn’t go pay a visit. She merely had Yan Yan take Yan Mo to go pay respects to their grandmother, uncle and aunt.
Seeing this, Yan Ting came to insincerely persuade her a little.
Shen Yi Yao gazed indifferently at him: “Didn’t you once say that a married woman should focus on her husband’s household?”
Yan Ting looked a little wretched as he gave Shen Yi Yao a complicated glance before leaving.
Shen Qi had come this time as well.
He also brought some news: little fatty Luo would also be coming.
When Yan Yan heard this, her expression was alarmed.
One reason was due to that box. Even now, Yan Yan was a little dazed whenever she thought about it. Another reason was because Yan Yan knew about little fatty Luo’s relationship with the palace. Why would they bring him?
Did something happen?
This was also what Luo Huai Yuan was wondering. Ever since he received the summons, he had carefully observed for a few days. However, he still didn’t notice anything fishy. It seemed they only summoned him back for Mt. Meng’s hunt.
Yet he still remembered he had embarrassed himself during the hunt when he was ten years old. As a ten year old prince, he hadn’t even dared to ride a horse. His royal father flipped out on the spot, his face full of disgust. Ever since then, he was hated even more.
However, there were some benefits to returning. At least he was able to see his mom Concubine Ma again.
Concubine Ma was the same as before. Although she missed her son ever since he moved out, at least she didn’t have to be on edge the entire time. Now that she saw her son again, she was ecstatic and fussed over him endlessly.
Before long, Luo Huai Yuan couldn’t take it anymore. His mom was truly too fussy, even more so than in the past. When he hadn’t been able to see her, he had missed her to death. Now that they met, he was bothered to death. What kind of complicated emotion was this?
Luckily, he only stayed in the palace for a few days before leaving for Mt. Meng’s surroundings.
Luo Huai Yuan had always been an invisible little thing in the palace, and he was still the same this time around.
He still lived in his own Xianyun Palace. That cheap dad of his and his nominal mother empress never stopped by to see him. When they were about to set out, it was a servant who informed him the carriage had been prepared. He didn’t bring anyone except Xiao An Zi with him.
This master and servant pair kept quiet and did whatever they were told. If there wasn’t anything going on, they didn’t show themselves. When others were around, Xian An Zi accompanied Luo Huai Yuan in his act. Ultimately, the fourth prince still seemed dumb as a pig and timid as a mouse.
After hearing this news, Empress Xiao felt relieved.
Luo Huai Yuan coming this time was truly due to her arrangements. Although she had placed a spy into the fourth prince estate, she still felt more at ease if she could observe things herself.
As Senior Concubine Xu’s two sons matured, Empress Xiao felt more and more threatened. She had always been cautious, and didn’t want a wolf to suddenly appear from behind as she was dealing with Senior Concubine Xu’s side. Luckily, that pig still remained a pig.
As for the other one, Empress Xiao had never taken him seriously. The Grand Xi wouldn’t permit its future emperor to be a mute. Therefore, the fifth prince wasn’t a threat at all.
The fourth prince’s procession stuck close to the fifth prince’s. The two followed one after the other. If it weren’t for their eye-catching ceremonial processions, no one would associate the two of them with the three other princes in front.
The second prince was becoming more and more outstanding. He was handsome and refined, proficient in the arts and military strategy. He treated others with kindness, and was even gradually overshadowing the crown prince. Along with Emperor Xi being rather biased towards him, it made people’s minds wander.
On this outing, he didn’t ride in a carriage like the other princes, but rode a horse instead like his brother the third prince. He wore a square collared jacket under a suit of scaled armor, looking mighty and vigorous.
It wasn’t just the second prince. Emperor Xi also rather cherished the third prince, who resembled himself a lot. Senior Concubine Xu’s two sons were in the spotlight.
However, there were no fools that could remain in the court for long. They were all old and shrewd. The current emperor was in his prime, and only fools would pick their sides early. It wasn’t their business if those above struggled. They just needed to watch on the side.
Normally this journey only required a day, but the emperor going out was always a complicated affair. They took two days before they arrived. After resting for a day, Emperor Xi arranged a banquet and invited his close officials and the other royals.
Senior Concubine Xu had also tagged along this time. She sat with Empress Xiao on either side of Emperor Xi to serve him. Her seat was slightly lower, but was still above everyone else.
The princes sat in a row on the left side while the emperor’s close officials sat on the right. For example, the Zhenguo Duke, the Chengguo Duke and so on. Next came some of the nobles and high-ranked officials. Senior Concubine Xu’s maternal family the Chengen Marquis Estate’s people were naturally there. Her dad and younger brother were both in attendance.
Emperor Xi showed a hint of surprise at seeing Luo Huai Yuan. Empress Xiao didn’t miss this display of emotion.
Seeing this, she hurriedly spoke in his ear: “The fourth prince isn’t young anymore. No matter what, he’s still your majesty’s son. The second prince is about to get married, and this one sees that little sis Senior Concubine is planning on choosing his consort at this hunt. Since that is the case, as the principal mother I cannot overlook the fourth prince. Although he’s not yet of age, I’ll help take a look first. The fourth prince is timid and doesn’t like to show himself in front of others. He’s also outside the palace. We can’t let him be wifeless in the future, right?”
Emperor Xi smiled and nodded, patting the empress’s hand: “The empress is still more benevolent.”
Empress Xiao smiled slightly and was very magnanimous. “Majesty is overpraising. This one is just doing her duty.”
The emperor and the empress were displaying their affection and naturally no one dared to sneak glances at them. Everyone focused on the alcohol and delicacies. But this didn’t mean that Senior Concubine Xu could remain aloof.
Senior Concubine Xu was in the prime of her youth. She looked very slender and delicate. Each frown or smile contained a sort of pitiful charm.
At this time, she slightly furrowed her brows and leaned over to Emperor Xi’s side, calling lovably: “Majesty.”
Emperor Xi immediately straightened up and leaned over to her. “Beloved concubine, what’s the matter?”
Senior Concubine Xu covered her mouth with a sleeve and giggled cutely. She said softly: “This one just suddenly wondered if there were any prizes for tomorrow’s winner. You also know that child has waited a long time for tomorrow’s event. He’s always bothering this one about wanting to show his valiance to his royal father.”
The third prince was currently sixteen. As he matured, he struggled in his studies more and more. Instead, his martial skills were extremely good. He was resolute and bold. He could fire arrows on a horse and fend off ten men by himself on foot. Emperor Xi was deeply fond of him.
“Of course there’s a prize. Have Qi’er prepare properly. If he takes first place tomorrow, We will definitely reward him handsomely!”
Senior Concubine Xu answered with a smile: “Yes.”
She sounded gentle and charming.
Empress Xiao’s face imperceptibly tightened.
The crown prince’s martial skills were mediocre. Everyone knew this.
Actually it was fine to let her have this round. The problem was that this woman had been very ostentatious recently. She was afraid of the crown prince being used as a stepping stone, and being embarrassed in front of everyone tomorrow.
Empress Xiao’s gaze swept over the crown prince. His expression wasn’t too good. This son of hers ultimately couldn’t control himself well enough, and his expression revealed too much. The second prince Luo Jin sat next to him. He wore a dignified smile and looked like a proper role model. Then came the third prince Luo Qi. His face was filled with excitement, probably hoping to take first place tomorrow.
Then came the fourth prince Luo Huai Yuan. He had gotten even fatter in the few years he’s been gone. Despite this, he still attacked the delicacies on the table non-stop. If this person hadn’t been called over by her, Empress Xiao would really want to face-palm. Couldn’t he maintain a little of a prince’s dignity?
She then thought that if he knew to do this, she wouldn’t feel at ease.
Then came the fifth prince Luo Jing. He was the most handsome out of the five princes. He looked essentially like someone who had walked out of a painting.
Unfortunately, this was a wooden person. He didn’t have any emotions on his face, and was also not whole.
Empress Xiao remained focused on the fourth prince. Perhaps he could help make her son look good tomorrow?
Feeling someone watching him, Luo Huai Yuan shot a trembling glance at the head table and hurriedly lowered his head again. His mouth continued eating.
Empress Xiao revealed a satisfied smile. This fourth prince had always been timid as a mouse. The more people present, the more he would embarrass himself. Hopefully he won’t disappoint her tomorrow.
Emperor Xi glanced at Empress Xiao’s expression out of the corner of his eyes. He lifted his glass of alcohol unassumingly and took a shallow sip.
Senior Concubine Xu saw this and leaned over to his side again, shooting him a sweet smile.
Before dawn the next day, the entire campsite started getting active.
People went to and fro, hustling and bustling. Not only did the men get up early, but the women and some misses got up as well.
This was because it was the first day of the autumn hunt.
The first day wasn’t like the other days. The more prey they got today, the greater the fortune the following year. The crops would grow abundantly, wild animals would multiply, the weather would be smooth and the people would have peace and happiness.
Emperor Xi had proclaimed the day before that all the younger generation could participate. Whoever got the first place would be heavily rewarded.
Such hunting activities had always been the best opportunity to make an impression on the emperor. Emperor Xi liked fierce and courageous people. To be able to get a placement, even if it was just the top ten, would mean limitless prospects in the future.
Many noble descendents earned their prospects here. Otherwise, with so many of them in the capital, their hair would be white by the time the emperor remembered them.
Empress Xiao had also spoken. She said that the women wouldn’t yield to the men, and they couldn’t be looked down upon. She would also reward any who had outstanding results.
When these words were spoken, many noblewomen and misses’ thoughts stirred.
The empress was naturally just making things more interesting for the emperor, but she wouldn’t make empty promises. Women weren’t as strong and there were few who could shoot on horseback. Despite this, they could still accumulate numbers by hunting rabbits and what not. If they really received the empress’s reward, it would naturally be a huge honor. They would be viewed in a better light in the future.
Mt. Meng’s surroundings had forty six areas. Some areas had ferocious beasts while others only had harmless little animals. If the women just wanted to play around, there were naturally places for them to go.
Shen Qi had bugged Yan Yan to go hunting with him. His grandfather and dad naturally accompanied the emperor so he was able to run off by himself.
Yan Yan couldn’t withstand his nagging and agreed.
Shen Yi Yao knew there would be capable escorts during the hunt so she didn’t raise any objections. She merely told Yan Yan to be careful and not to get hurt.
Yan Mo looked pitiful and wanted to tag along. But since he couldn’t even ride properly, Yan Yan naturally wouldn’t bring him. She said once his riding got better, she would definitely take him hunting. After dealing with Yan Mo, Liu Shu Yi came next. When Liu Shu Yi heard they were going hunting, she enthusiastically asked Yan Yan to bring her along.
Shen Qi had wanted to play to his hearts content with his cousin, but now they had a huge baggage with them in the form of a chattering young miss. His excitement suddenly dropped. Yan Yan could only comfort him and say it was just the first day. There were many more days to come with opportunities to play. Only then did Shen Qi recover his spirits.
Following the deep and drawn out sound of a bugle, the men in front scattered everywhere. They split up into countless little groups and sped off.
A group stood near the back unobtrusively. It was actually Shen Qi and Yan Yan’s group.
Yan Yan wore her red riding outfit as she sat astride Black Jade. Shen Qi rode a grey fine steed that was clearly a similar breed to Black Jade. Yan Mo still rode his little mare and was dressed simply.1 Then there was Liu Shu Yi riding Little Flower. She also brought a little bum beetle along.
“Chu Ming Chen, why are you following me? You aren’t good at riding. We’re going hunting you know?”
Liu Shu Yi patted the quiver on the back of the horse, looking rather pleased with herself. In her hands was a small bow used by women. This bow was exquisitely made, but it was also clearly something for girls to play with.
Chu Ming Chen gave her a disdainful glance. “That bow of yours can’t even kill a rabbit, let alone be used for hunting!”
Liu Shu Yi turned red from anger. “Who says I can’t kill a rabbit. I’ll kill one later for you to see.”
“Let’s go then.”
Once they set off, Liu Shu Yi realized she was tricked by Chu Ming Chen once again. She didn’t say she was going to bring him! But since he had already tagged along, it wasn’t like they could drive him off. She could only keep glaring in his direction.
This group had around twenty people. Apart from Yan Yan, Yan Mo, Shen Qi, Liu Shu Yi and Chu Ming Chen, the other people were all their guards.
When Ma Quan Fang found out her daughter was going hunting with Yan Yan and the Zhenguo Duke Estates little young master, she asked about the situation. Seeing that they had quite a lot of people, she merely added a couple of guards for her daughter. Chu Ming Chen was a bit of a rascal, and had probably snuck over. He only brought that little round-faced teenager.
While the two were arguing happily, Yan Yan and Shen Qi were discussing if they shouldn’t go to an area with ferocious beasts. With the two buffoons in tow, they would scare off any animals with their ruckus, and if anything happened they would have to protect them.
Shen Qi didn’t agree and felt it wouldn’t be interesting. He had gone to the women’s hunting area when he was younger. There were at most rabbits, and there weren’t even any foxes. He had wanted to take this opportunity to hunt a few more things and make his mom a fur coat in in the winter. Since they had so many people, would they have problems protecting those two?
Yan Yan considered it and was ultimately convinced
Yan Yan naturally didn’t know that Luo Huai Yuan had made a fool of himself today again.
He was grown now and could naturally ride a horse. He just wasn’t good at it.
When the bugle sounded, everyone galloped off. Only his horse refused to move as he kicked and yelled at it, causing quite a few passersby to laugh.
Hunting naturally had some dangers. Therefore, there were several guards around Luo Huai Yuan responsible for his safety. Seeing all the other groups leaving while this master remained in place, they suddenly felt disdain.
Luo Huai Yuan was covered in sweat. His head was lowered as he glanced around secretly.
He had spotted the little consort in the back. He naturally wasn’t focused on hunting anything whatsoever. Going to find the little consort was more important.
He cursed a couple more times and the horse finally started moving slowly. However, it didn’t go forwards, but to the left instead. The guards was about to yell that he was going the wrong way but Luo Huai Yuan had already gone off. They could only follow behind.
Luo Huai Yuan wasn’t familiar with the palce and wandered about randomly in the forest. Although the guards were full of complaints, they still loyally followed.
After a while of twists and turns, those guards had lost their sense of direction.
Right as they were trying to find their bearings, a black bear suddenly stood up from the bushes nearby. This bear was extremely large and sturdy. When it saw people, its instinct wasn’t to run but to charge over with a roar.
Luo Huai Yuan cried out for help and then vanished along with his horse like a puff of smoke. Those guards wanted to follow but was blocked by the bear. They could only deal with it first before finding that useless fourth prince. They were naturally angry.
Luo Huai Yuan ran far away after sneaking off. He was extremely pleased in his heart. It had taken him forever to find that bear’s den. He had finally shaken off those pests.
He turned his horse around and planned on finding the little consort. He had seen clearly where she had been heading to. He saw a few delicate members in their party and was sure they wouldn’t have gone far. He could probably catch up if he hurried.
He urged his horse onwards and said: “Little Green, you must run a little faster. Otherwise I’ll find some hornets to sting your bottom.”
That greenish white horse seemed to have understood something and was no longer lazy. It immediately picked up its speed.
Luo Huai Yuan laughed and cursed: “You damn troublemaker. You’re only willing to work after getting threatened by this daddy. If you catch up to our household’s consort, I’ll give you some good stuff to eat tonight.”
While galloping, that horse twitched its ears and snorted, seeming very disdainful.
If a horse could speak, it would probably be cursing: Don’t you see how fat you are? It’s only because I’m strong and valiant that I can drag you around. If it were any other horse, they’d be crushed to the floor…..
Luo Huai Yuan didn’t feel his weight added extra burden to the horse. He even started humming happily, wondering how he should make a startling appearance in front of the little consort.
There’s a saying that those who pretend to be mighty will get struck by lightning.
Luo Huai Yuan was immersed in his thoughts of finding the little consort, but didn’t notice a wolf had set its sights on him. This wasn’t unexpected. After all, they were in an area with ferocious beasts and Luo Huai Yuan made such large movements. He was even humming. A starving wolf setting its sights on his fatty flesh wasn’t too surprising.
He was still relatively alert. When that wolf pounced over through the air, he reacted. He squeezed his horse’s flank and it leapt forward, making the wolf grab a mouthful of air.
He turned and glanced behind him before crying out tragically, “Little Green, if you slack off this time, we’ll be fed to the wolf. This daddy hasn’t offered his virginity to my little consort yet. You also haven’t found a little mare. Hurry and run…..”
Little fatty: Without offering up my virginity, I’m not willing to die, wahhh…
Little Green: It would be nice if the person on my back was lighter. I’m exhausted from running.
Little fatty: Little consort save me. I need your protection.
Yan Yan: Scram….