Emperor Xi and Empress Xiao went into the empress’s tent. Senior Concubine Xu could only turn back to her own place.
Before long, the second prince arrived.
Senior Concubine Xu had yet to take off her hairpin as she paced restlessly back and forth.
“You were too impetuous, child. Didn’t you realize your royal father wasn’t willing for you to marry the Zhenguo Duke’s granddaughter? This was just a probe to begin with. It would have been great if he agreed, but it’s no big deal if he didn’t. Why did you speak up once again? Not only did you lose face, you also angered your royal father.”
The second prince stood unspeaking with a sinister expression.
He also didn’t know what he was thinking back then. He had been heated and thus spoke up once again. Thinking of that willfull girl, his eyes darkened.
Senior Concubine Xu knew her son had always been proud. For the sake of this matter, he had been embarrassed several times, and was definitely not feeling well. She said comfortingly: “Forget it, it’s also good that this happened. This seat was also muddled for not having investigated the Yan household’s miss before agreeing. Looks like that Zhenguo Duke’s granddaughter is truly a weird one. Such a girl naturally isn’t worthy of my son. It’s better to let someone else have her. Let that timid coward of a fourth prince enjoy this sort of girl. It’s just too bad we couldn’t get the Zhenguo Duke on our side.”
Wasn’t this the case?
They had planned it well. The mother and son also understood the Zhenguo Duke’s attitude, which was why they chose such an occasion to speak up. They offered the Yan household’s miss an enormous opportunity while limiting Emperor Xi and the Zhenguo Duke’s options in front of the crowd. Unfortunately, things ended up this way.
It seemed that anything involving the Zhenguo Duke Estate would have many twists and turns.
Thinking of the previous matter with the crown prince, Senior Concubine Xu’s expression turned even uglier.
“You’ve angered your royal father today. Lay low for a few days.”
With a sunken expression, the second prince spoke about his brother’s fight with Yan Yan earlier. Senior Concubine Xu’s willow brows furrowed tighter. “Really, that Qi’er. Isn’t this adding fuel to the flames? Keep an eye on him in the coming days. Don’t let him cause any more problems.”
Mother and son discussed a little longer before the second prince left.
“You were implicated by your grandfather in today’s matter.”
After they walked to a secluded location, the Zhenguo Duke stopped and looked at Yan Yan with a complicated gaze.
If it weren’t for the Zhenguo Duke Estate not wanting to get involved in the princes’ struggles, a young miss like Yan Yan wouldn’t have to denigrate herself in front of everyone.
The Zhenguo Duke Estate’s people truly didn’t marry into the royal family. This had been their way of doing things all along and his majesty understood their tactfulness. They wouldn’t interfere with things. But the matter today was too abrupt. No one expected the second prince to propose during such an occasion. Not only was it hard for Emperor Xi to avoid, it was the same for the Zhenguo Duke.
Luckily things had worked out. Although the fourth prince had appeared after the second prince was refused, at least the fourth prince knew his place. He didn’t come with any strings attached.
“Grandfather shouldn’t say this. Ah Yan is mom’s daughter, and also your granddaughter. Grandfather, grandmother, aunt, uncle and cousin all cherished me since I was young. I’ve enjoyed the benefits of the Zhenguo Duke Estate, so I naturally have to prioritize it.”
The Zhenguo Duke patted her shoulder and sighed. “Your grandfather is grateful you can understand these things. But your marriage was actually decided so randomly, grandfather…”
Yan Yan’s lips curled in a smile. “Your granddaughter feels it’s pretty good this way. As long as my marriage wasn’t decided, my dad wouldn’t give up. Furthermore, the fourth prince and I could be called childhood friends. He will definitely treat granddaughter well. Grandfather doesn’t have to worry.”
Towards Luo Huai Yuan jumping out to lift the siege, Yan Yan was a little startled but also not that startled.
He had spoken those words once before, but merely phrased them differently in front of the crowd today. To say she wasn’t moved would really be a lie. This fellow would always pop up in weird ways and make her feel extremely moved.
Yan Yan wasn’t fifteen yet after all. It was a miracle that she could come up with a way to refuse the second prince in front of everyone on such short notice. She was also a girl, and didn’t want others to look at her weirdly.
Did she not feel anything about belittling herself in front of everyone? Of course she did, but she had to do it.
In such an awkward situation, even the Zhenguo Duke couldn’t stand out and shelter her. She had to face the awkward situation of “as expected, no one would marry her”. Did she not feel awkward? Of course she did, but she merely put on her usual cold, firm and even indifferent expression to face the situation.
She had never been the standard proper lady from a young age. The older she got, the further she strayed, and her personality was already fixed. She was occasionally envious of her eldest sis Yan Ru, envious of Liu Shu Yi. One didn’t have a high status but had someone like Xue-shi protecting her behind the scenes. The other was a proud daughter of the heavens who could live her innocent life as she pleased under her family’s indulgence.
She had never had these things. The reason she had it a little better now was all due to her thorns which protected her territory. If anyone encroached, she would ensure the invader couldn’t retreat unharmed.
She had already gotten used to this tough attitude, and also gotten used to shouldering all sorts of difficulties by herself. Even though her mom had snapped out of it and changed, she wasn’t able to become someone who would seek shelter in her mother’s arms. However, she would still feel weakness occasionally and need comforting. She also needed someone’s approval to steady her resolve.
There was one person who from the moment they met continued to tell her….
You are very good, very good, good everywhere. Her weirdness and unconventionalism weren’t problems. He even told her he liked her a lot, liked her for a long time.
Was this what it meant to like?
Yan Yan knew Luo Huai Yuan jumping out to help her came at great risk to himself. The reason he always maintained an act was to remain unobtrusive. But today, because of her, all his previous efforts had gone to waste. No matter what he did in the future, because it involved her, he would inevitably be noticed. His days would definitely not be as easy in the future, and others might even guard against him as a possible enemy.
During their interactions in the past, Yan Yan knew what Luo Huai Yuan wished for. His biggest wish was to leave the palace and be free to do whatever he wanted.
Could his wish still be realized? Yan Yan didn’t really understand what he meant by freedom, but knew it definitely wasn’t easy to achieve anymore.
Was this what it meant to like?
For the sake of liking someone, abandoning the peace he finally acquired?
He could sacrifice so, so much for her. Since that’s the case, it didn’t seem like a big deal to marry him.
Hearing Yan Yan mention Yan Ting, the Zhenguo Duke frowned. “That bastard’s getting closer and closer to the second prince’s faction. Even if he wasn’t responsible for the matter with the wolves, he must have known about it. What are your thoughts?”
These days the crown prince’s faction wasn’t the only one investigating. The Zhenguo Duke had been busy as well.
Because Yan Yan’s group had given him the complete story and along with his own investigations, the Zhenguo Duke had a good understanding of the entire matter.
To put it bluntly, it was a scheme within a scheme. The original scheme was against the crown prince, but unfortunately it was ruined by Yan Yan’s group and the crown prince escaped. The scheme after that was improvised based on the situation at hand. Those people wanted to use the crown prince’s fear of death and sacrifice of Shen Qi and the fourth prince as evidence that the crown prince was morally lacking and pull him off his seat.
There weren’t many people Senior Concubine Xu could use. The only one she would trust to handle this sort of secret was her own brother Xu Xiang Rong.
Yan Ting had entered the hunting area with Xu Xiang Rong that day, and then coincidentally appeared afterwards as well. It could be concluded that Yan Ting had been with him the whole time, and was definitely present that day. This was to say he had watched his daughter get surrounded by wolves, and even made the decision to abandon her for the sake of his own prospects and the second prince’s success.
This was why the Zhenguo Duke called him a bastard.
Yan Yan pursed her lips and sighed deeply, saying: “Granddaughter wanted to have mom leave him, but Ah Mo…..”
The Zhenguo Duke patted her shoulder. “Don’t worry about this. Grandfather will handle it.”
“Watch over your mom and Ah Mo properly and focus on preparing for marriage. Once his majesty announces it, the wedding date will probably be around a year from now. After all, a prince’s wedding cannot be ordinary. Just the Ministry of Rites alone has to spend a lot of time. You go back first. Your mom’s probably worried.”
Yan Yan nodded and went towards the Weiyuan Marquis Estate’s tent.
Before she got close, she saw Cui Ping and Mei Xiang standing outside looking anxious. When they saw her, they swiftly walked over and said the lord marquis had come.
Yan Yan wasn’t surprised. If it wasn’t for her grandfather, Yan Ting would have taken her away earlier.
What was he here for? Probably to ask why she messed up his plans.
The people inside seemed to have heard the movements outside. Yan Ting’s voice roared out. “You sinner, hurry and get in here for me!”
Yan Yan pursed her lips, lifted the tent flap and walked in.
She saw Yan Ting sitting in the main seat with Shen Yi Yao next to him. Yan Mo was there as well, looking guardedly at Yan Ting.
“Why are you speaking this way about Ah Yan!?” Shen Yi Yao said in displeasure.
Yan Ting’s expression was like the bottom of a pot, extremely dark. He had a beserk air around him completely different from his usual calm.
“Ask her yourself what good thing she did! What gave you such guts to reject the second prince’s proposal? To avoid marrying him, you didn’t hesitate to belittle yourself. Now that you ended up with the useless fourth prince, are you satisfied?”
Shen Yi Yao didn’t know what had happened. She only knew that Yan Ting had furiously come in and said he was waiting for his good daughter. He didn’t say anything after that.
How did this involve marriage? What second prince and fourth prince?
Yan Yan briefly summarized what had happened. Yan Mo’s mouth hung open.
This means that big bro Luo was his brother-in-law?
Shen Yi Yao’s brows furrowed tighter and tighter as she listened. After hearing that it ended up being the fourth prince, her expression eased up.
“Marrying the fourth prince is better than the second prince after all.”
The fourth prince was that child Yuan’er. Although he was a little fat, his character was impeccable.
Seeing mother and daughter speaking amongst themselves, and with that line about the fourth prince being better, Yan Ting could no longer remain silent. He flipped the table in front of him.
“Ignorant woman and child. Choosing a dumb pig over a dragon amongst men.”
Yan Ting ground his teeth, his eyes flashing furiously, looking like an enraged lion.
Yan Yan twitched her mouth. “If you’re dissatisfied, you can go tell his majesty. He was the one who bestowed this marriage.”
“You dare bring that up? Who gave you the guts to make a fool of yourself in front of everyone? You belittled yourself and made yourself out to be worthless. Also, “old but undying” and “evil mother-in-law” was referring to your grandmother? You unfilial and disloyal thing, watch how I teach you a lesson today!”
Yan Ting’s face was twitching from anger and fire seemed to be shooting from his eyes. He forced his way over and wanted to give Yan Yan a slap.
Finished, he was completely finished. His plans and his dreams. That sinner of his had rejected the proposal in front of everyone, which definitely angered Senior Concubine Xu and the second prince. How was he supposed to explain things? If the second prince was angry at him because of this, his future prospects….
All these thoughts piled up in his head, making him gradually lose his reasoning. His eyes turned red and he no longer cared about anything other than laying a hand on Yan Yan.
If Yan Yan let him hit her, she might as well kill herself by ramming a wall.
She dodged, making Yan Ting’s hand strike the air.
Shen Yi Yao charged over with a sob like a beast who lost its cub, pushing Yan Ting away.
She trembled as she stood in fron of her daughter glaring at him. “Yan Ting, what are you trying to do?”
“Move aside for me!”
Yan Ting pushed Shen Yi Yao and stepped up to strike Yan Yan once more.
Shen Yi Yao hadn’t been standing steadily to begin with. This push caused her to fall over to the side.
Yan Yan spun as she grabbed her with one hand and blocked Yan Ting’s palm with her other.
She laughed coldly. “Yan Ting, how capable you’ve become. You’ve actually started hitting women.”
“I’m your dad you unfilial daughter. How dare you call me by name? I must beat this sinner to death today!”
As he spoke, he sent a fist flying over. This fist was extremely forceful, and the faint sound of rushing wind could be heard.
Yan Yan pushed Shen Yi Yao into the terrified Cui Qiao’s arms and avoided the fist by bridging her body backwards. She swiftly sprung back up and shot over with her flexible body.
Yan Ting trained in martial arts, riding and archery from a young age, and had served in the military. His skills were naturally not ordinary. Yan Yan’s skills weren’t worse than his, but she was best with her whip and her emei piercers. She wasn’t that good at forceful physical battles.
Yan Ting was in the prime of his life and was also striking out in anger. Girls were weaker than men to begin with. The reason Yan Yan could trade blows equally with him was due to her internal force and her agility.
The two rapidly exchanged several blows. Two emei piercers slid out from Yan Yan’s sleeves and landed in her hands. She leapt over Yan Ting’s kneestrike and stabbed out several times. Yan Ting didn’t dare block and could only dodge back.
Yan Yan closed the distance, her attacks coming from strange and tricky angles. Yan Ting only saw a flash before he felt a faint prick against his throat. He instinctively stepped back but felt another prick against his chest.
His face instantly turned pale as he stared at the piercer against his throat.
“Those green-clothed people were killed by you?” His voice contained fear and disbelief.
Those corpses had very strange wounds. They were all stabbed with a sharp weapon that left strange round holes. Apart from those mortal wounds, they were unharmed.
The second prince had suffered a huge loss and naturally wanted to figure out what had happened. Therefore, both princes had examined those bodies.
Seeing those strange wounds, they were both very amazed.
When they heard the Zhenguo Duke say those guards were all peak experts, they figured those people used some sort of sharp cylindrical weapon. They had wondered if it was done with emei piercers, but those wounds didn’t seem to match.
Seeing the strange weapons in Yan Yan’s hands, Yan Ting immediately understood.
After understanding, he looked at Yan Yan’s cold gaze. As long as she exerted a little more force in those two places, his soul would return to the underworld. His heart tightened as his vitals were threatened, his pupils shrinking to a point. He was clearly terrified.
“I am your dad….”
Yan Yan laughed sarcastically. “You still know you are my dad?’
Her hands moved slightly and Yan Ting couldn’t help but retreat. However, those piercers stuck tightly to him.
“Why didn’t you know you were my dad when you hit my mom? Why didn’t you recall you were my dad when you struck at me with full force? Why didn’t you recall you were my dad when you used me as a tool to climb the ranks and sold me to the second prince? Why didn’t you recall you were my dad when you planned on sacrificing me to pull the crown prince down?” Yan Yan smiled extremely splendidly but her gaze was frighteningly cold. “When your daughter was surrounded by wolves, you were hiding nearby, right? Why didn’t you recall you were my dad at that time?”
“How did you know?” Yan Ting was stunned and accidentally let it slip. He hurriedly tried to backpedal, “I wasn’t….”
Yan Yan sent him flying with a kick. He crashed against the screen and fell to the floor along with it.
“Don’t say you are my dad. You disgust me! If I could choose, I definitely wouldn’t want this sort of dad!”
Shen Yi Yao’s eyes almost popped out from glaring. Her face was streaked with tears and twisted. There was no sign of her usual gentleness. “Yan Ting you bastard. You were responsible for Ah Yan being attacked by wolves? Are you still human? She’s your daughter.”
She laughed briefly and coughed a couple of times. “I shouldn’t ask such a question. You aren’t even worthy of being called a bastard, so how could you still be human! I, want, to, divorce, you!”
Her final words were spoken firmly and decisively.
“Divorce? Impossible!” Yan Ting quickly reacted and laughed mockingly. “Fine, divorce. As long as you can bear leaving your children behind!”
Shen Yi Yao’s flushed face suddenly turned deathly grey. She fell limp against Cui Qiao and couldn’t help but shiver.
“Scram, scram for me!”
Yan Ting laughed coldly. He wiped blood from the corner of his mouth and picked himself up. He gave Yan Yan a glance, his gaze like poison-soaked daggers, before turning and leaving.
At the same time, Luo Huai Yuan was in his tent.
The moment he returned, he sprawled on the bed and rolled back and forth while hugging the blanket, almost scattering Xiao An Zi’s soul from fright.
Only when Xiao An Zi mustered up his courage to peek at his expression from the bedside did he realize his highness was actually smiling. His face was red from holding back his laughter.
“Highness, you, are you ok?”
Luo Huai Yuan saw Xiao An Zi’s expression and flung a pillow at him. “What’s with that look? This daddy isn’t crazy! Haha, your household’s highness is about to get a consort!”
Xiao An Zi looked like he was forced to swallow something unpleasant.
He glanced at his highness’s body type. What young miss could endure his highness’s weight?
He recalled his highness always going on about the Yan household’s miss. Could he have gone insane after getting rejected?
To avoid stimulating this “insane” fourth prince further, he considered for a bit before saying: “Then, congratulations, highness. Which household’s miss is it?”
“Of course it’s your household’s consort!”
Xiao An Zi wiped his face dejectedly.
Fine. His household’s highness had matured too early. He had started going on about that young miss several years ago. Not only did he keep going on about her, he would also say things like “this letter is for your household’s consort”, “this food is for your household’s consort”, “your household’s consort will definitely like this trinket” daily.
That young miss didn’t do anything but he would secretly mutter about her all the time. He was like a fat cat waiting to pounce. A moment of inattention would result in him running off with the thing in his mouth.
What was most difficult to talk about was that as Luo Huai Yuan matured, he started having the natural reactions of a male. Once, because of Xiao An Zi’s terrified appearance, Luo Huai Yuan had questioned him and found out he had the bad habit of talking in his sleep.
Luckily, Luo Huai Yuan didn’t have the habit of letting others stay on night duty. There was only Xiao An Zi who slept on a couch next to his bed in case he got hungry or thirsty in the night. Apart from Xiao An Zi, no one else knew he had this weird habit.
This would still be acceptable, but not only did he talk in his sleep, he would occasionally have wet dreams. Based on Xiao An Zi’s observations, the female lead was always miss Yan.
Of course that wasn’t what Luo Huai Yuan called out. It was always “little Yan Yan” and “my little darling” and so on. While it didn’t embarrass Luo Huai Yuan to death, it did Xiao An Zi. What’s even worse was that whenever such things happened at night, Xiao An Zi would have to secretly clean up the fourth prince’s bedding the next day. It was essentially driving him crazy.
This meant that despite Xiao An Zi having met Yan Yan several times, he was always embarrassed to see her. Therefore, Yan Yan’s impression of him was just that he was little fatty Luo’s follower, a rather timid and nonexistent child.
Xiao An Zi was ashamed and too embarrassed to ask if his highness had gone crazy from missing the young miss and became possessed.
He looked sorrowful as he said comfortingly: “That, highness, if you truly like Miss Yan, let’s go beg his majesty. You’re a prince after all. Perhaps his majesty is willing to grant your wish. Just don’t drive yourself mad pining over her daily!”
Luo Huai Yuan burrowed out from under the blanet. The ecstasy was still on his face but there was also a hint of anger.
“Is your damn master such a failure?! Heh, let me tell you. Your household’s consort is destined to belong to your household’s highness!”
Xiao An Zi merely assumed he was speaking nonsense. He became so crazy after going to this banquet. Could he have suffered some sort of stimulation?
Luo Haui Yuan couldn’t be bothered with him.He wanted to take off his shoes and go to sleep, but he was too restless and couldn’t calm down. He could only pace around the bed excitedly. After walking around for a while, he had Xiao An Zi bring him a mirror. Xiao An Zi brought it over and he started making various poses as he looked at his reflection, muttering who knows what under his breath.
This night was bound to be a sleepless one. Many people were unable to sleep.
The next day, the marriage proclamation came.
Emperor Xi’s swiftness amazed everyone. What happened that night at the banquet was spread throughout Mt. Meng’s surroundings. Everyone discussed it in private.
Yan Yan’s words that day were also spread. Everyone knew of this startling young miss. Of course many discussed in private but few said anything openly. Wasn’t his majesty clearly appreciative? Unless they were tired of living, they wouldn’t go against his majesty. Furthermore, she also had another huge backer: the Zhenguo Duke.
Regarding Yan Yan’s rejection of the second prince and ending up with the fourth, there were those who secretly mocked her for losing a watermelon and picking up a sesame seed.
The smart ones naturally understood the true meaning of things. The foolish ones only dared mock secretly. That fat sesame seed was still a prince after all. Even if he wasn’t favored, he was still above the nobles. In the future, he would still have a prince’s title that couldn’t be removed.
With the emperor’s edict, Yan Yan become the fourth prince consort.
Unless she died, this marriage was set in stone. There was no room for regret. Putting it in the worst way, even if the fourth prince accidentally died before the wedding, she would still be the fourth prince consort, albeit a widowed one.
Along with the edict, Emperor Xi bestowed a large reward. There was a large number of rare jewels.
Everyone sighed about his majesty’s regard of this girl, and didn’t dare take her likely on the surface. Actually, only a few people on the inside understood that this was Emperor Xi wanting to compensate her.
Having been caught up in Yan Yan’s halo, the unknown ten year old Yan Mo was given the sixth-rank title of Yunji1 Officer. This was an empty title and didn’t come with any responsibilities, only a salary. Despite this, it was a sign of Emperor Xi’s regard.
Shen Yi Yao had cried that entire night. The next day she gathered up her spirits and went to receive the emperor’s edict as well as the congratulations of women everywhere. After busying herself for several days, her depression was nowhere to be seen.
No matter what, the days continued to pass. She couldn’t wallow in misery due to a temporary setback.
Yan Mo seemed to have matured. Everyday, he would bug Yan Yan to take him out for archery and horseriding practice. If Yan Yan was busy, he would go find Shen Qi.
He knew the reason his mom was in such pain that day was because of him and his sister. It was mostly still because of him. His sister would be married off soon while he was still young. Even if his parents divorced, he couldn’t leave the Weiyuan Marquis Estate.
Yan Mo had never hated how young he was more!
Everything was seen by Yan Yan.
Divorce wouldn’t work, because while Shen Yi Yao could leave after divorce, Yan Yan and Yan Mo couldn’t. Yan Yan could leave after marriage but Yan Mo would have to bear it his entire life. Yan Mo is only ten years old. Shen Yi Yao couldn’t possibly let him stay in the wolve’s den by himself. The female lead is going to rage. Let our Doraemon little fatty use his vulgar brain and figure out how to screw Yan Ting over once and for all. Of course this matter won’t be that simple. Regardless, the gloves are off.