“I’ll get it.” The voices belonged to Ding Yilin and Ding Yisen, who had been watching Wang Shijing from a distance. Wang Shijing held Shao Yunan with one hand and Jiang Moxi’s hand with the other. They hadn’t gone far when two children ran out.
“Little Father! Big Brother!”
“Little Dad! Moxi!”
Jiang Moxi didn’t want to be held anymore, so he jumped down from Uncle Shijing’s arms and ran to Nizi. He hugged Wang Nizi just like Wang Shijing had done with Shao Yunan, then, amid gasps of surprise, he leaned down and kissed Nizi on the lips with a loud smack.
Wang Shijing was stunned, Shao Yunan was also stunned, Wang Qing was stunned, everyone was dumbfounded, even Nizi was in shock. Only Jiang Moxi remained calm as he touched Nizi’s head and then her face.
“Nizi, miss you.” He bent down and gave her another peck. “Aigoo! Moxi!” Aunt Zhou hurried over to separate Jiang Moxi and Nizi, not knowing what to say. Shao Yunan covered his face, stole a glance at Wang Shijing’s expression and said. “Let’s go home!”
“Moxi! You can’t just kiss Nizi like that!” Aunt Zhou scolded Jiang Moxi while holding Nizi. Jiang Moxi, with a blank expression, coolly replied, “Nizi, wife.” Everyone was speechless. Shao Yunan teased a certain man who already had a dark expression, “Does this count as setting a bad example?”
“Wang Shijing… “Let’s go home!” Shao Yunan returned home, but couldn’t discuss what happened on the mountain with Wang Shijing, not even mentioning the wooden bed. The reason was that they had an important guest at home.
Seeing an elderly man sitting at the head of the main hall with white hair and wearing plain clothes, Shao Yunan looked at his man and thought, ‘Who is this?’ Wang Shijing led Shao Yunan to bow to the man and said, “Lord Wang, this is my spouse, Yunan, who just came down from the mountain today.”
‘Lord Wang?!’ Shao Yunan muttered quietly. The old man stroked his beard as he looked at Shao Yunan from left to right, occasionally making sounds of what seemed like doubt, making Shao Yunan feel uncomfortable.
“Lord Wang,” Wang Shijing said. The recently arrived Lord Wang withdrew his gaze and said, “I thought I recognized Shao Xiao from somewhere. He seemed familiar, but I can’t quite remember.”
Shao Yunan didn’t say anything, and he was wondering who would explain to him what was happening and how they suddenly had a ‘Lord Wang’ in the house after he came down from the mountain! Wang Shijing said, “Lord Wang might have made a mistake. My spouse lived in Sha Village before our marriage, and after getting married, he has only been to Yongxiu County, he was never in the capital.”
Lord Wang replied, “Perhaps.” He then looked at Shao Yunan again and said, “Even though I’m in the capital, I’ve heard about Little Shao for a long time. Today, I can see that his reputation is well-deserved. Little Shao has remarkable abilities at such a young age and I admire that.”
Shao Yunan jolted, “I’m just a commoner.” Lord Wang clearly hesitated for a moment, then burst into laughter. “It seems I’ve startled you. Well, you’ve just come down from the mountain and you probably don’t know what has happened. Shijing, take him downstairs to freshen up and fill him in.”
“Yes, Lord Wang.” Wang Shijing led Shao Yunan downstairs. The person who had entered the room with them earlier approached Shao Yunan and whispered, “Shao Yunan did come down the mountain with three large tigers and he was riding one of them. Jiang Kangchen’s son was with them.” Lord Wang nodded, not saying anything. As soon as they entered the room, Shao Yunan eagerly asked, “What’s going on? Why is there a ‘Lord Wang’ here?”
“Don’t worry, dear.” Wang Shijing poured a cup of tea for his wife and said, “The news of the earthquake has reached the capital, just as we expected. Some people are using this as an excuse to deceive the Emperor and claim that such a calamity must have caused casualties in Xiushui Village. The officials from the Qintian Observatory say that there’s a star of misfortune next to the Purple Micro Star, which will affect the Emperor’s fortune. The direction of this disaster star is toward Yongxiu County. These two incidents combined create a narrative of a disaster star in Xiushui Village and the target is clear, you and your elder brother.”
Shao Yunan sipped his tea and raised an eyebrow. “Who came up with this ludicrous idea? Do they think the Emperor is a fool?” Wang Shijing replied, “It doesn’t matter if the idea is ludicrous. They’ve found a pretext and they’ll use it to pressure the Emperor. Sometimes, the Emperor isn’t all-powerful, especially when he hasn’t fully consolidated his power.”
“What about that ‘Lord Wang’?”
“That’s Lord Rong, the Emperor’s only living uncle. The Emperor sent him to investigate the earthquake situation, but it’s actually to help us. Lord Wang rarely interferes in political affairs and is loyal to the Emperor. Our adoptive father sent a message indicating this.”
Wang Shijing handed Shao Yunan the message and he quickly read it. The message was direct, informing them of the events in the capital and urging them to come up with a plan. The Emperor sent Lord Rong to delay matters.
“Elder Brother will be back soon. He’s at the academy dealing with various matters. He said not to panic. After Lord Rong arrived, he came directly to Xiushui Village and is staying at our house.”
“Does he know about our situation?”
“I don’t know. Elder Brother didn’t mention it. The Deputy Commander is also back. Lord Rong saw that Elder Brother is quite busy and the tea leaves aren’t fully processed, so he asked Elder Brother to focus on the new tea first. He’ll receive a detailed report later. However, the Wang Clan Head and Sun Clan Head have all testified to Lord Rong that there were indeed earthquakes and floods, but no villagers were harmed. Lord Rong doesn’t seem to be in a hurry… So, we don’t need to rush either.”
“Understood. I’ll take a bath first and then gather my thoughts.”
When Shao Yunan finished his bath and had his thoughts organized, an hour had passed. In the lounge where they rested, Lord Rong was playing with the three children, particularly with Nizi. Wang Qing stood awkwardly on the side, and Jiang Moxi watched the old man who had always teased him without expression.
Lord Rong seemed to like children a lot. He held Nizi on his lap and asked if she could read. Nizi said she was learning to read from her father, grandpa, eldest uncle, and uncle. She was also learning to play the zither and chess with her grandmother and tea ceremony from her little father. Lord Rong was amazed. Wang Shijing and Shao Yunan, who came from humble backgrounds, were very dedicated to their children’s education. Even in the noble houses of the Great State of Yan, few knew how to play music, chess, calligraphy, and painting. Women were expected to learn feminine skills, such as how to manage a household and serve their husbands and in-laws.
“What about learning feminine skills?”
Lord Rong became enlightened. Wang Shijing and Shao Yunan were both men, and they naturally wouldn’t teach their daughter feminine skills. The Great State of Yan also didn’t require men’s wives to have these skills.
Lord Rong assumed he had found the reason for Nizi’s lack of education. However, Wang Qing explained, “Father and Little Father don’t want Nizi to learn those skills, saying they’re bad for her eyes.”
Nizi nodded as she didn’t fear the amiable old man. She felt as comfortable with him as she did with her grandpa, proudly saying, “My Little Father says I’m responsible for being beautiful. My Dad and my Little Father are responsible for making money and supporting the family, and my big brother is responsible for studying well.”
Lord Rong was momentarily stunned, but then laughed heartily. “Did your Little Father say that?”
“Yes.” Wang Qing felt embarrassed once more. He wasn’t the ignorant ‘fool’ he used to be, so he understood that his Little Father’s words were quite extraordinary. No one expected a daughter to be responsible solely for being beautiful.
Lord Rong seemed to be trying to amuse Nizi and said, “So, being responsible for being beautiful, how many men will want to marry you when you grow up?” Nizi blushed but, with a trace of pride, glanced at her big brother. Jiang Moxi remained cool and calmly said, “NiZi, wife.”
Lord Rong stared at Jiang Moxi in amazement. Jiang Moxi then added “My wife!”
Lord Rong, “…”
Wang Qing quickly pulled his elder brother aside. Lord Luo Rong, with a friendly tone, said, “Call me Grandpa, none of this ‘Lord Wang’ business. It’s too formal!” Then, he looked at Jiang Moxi again, “I remember, you’re Wu Jian’s son, the one who couldn’t speak, right? Aren’t you a different person now?”
Wang Qing was the only one who could respond. “You didn’t make a mistake. My elder brother used to not speak, but now he can speak.” Not speak? He couldn’t speak at all, right? Everyone in the capital knew that the Duke of An’s grandson was mute. So, has he miraculously recovered now?
Lord Rong put his astonishment aside and just continued to smile. “You want Nizi to be your wife in the future?”
“Big brother Moxi…” Wang Qing really wanted to facepalm. Little did they know that Lord Rong, just like Shao Yunan, was open-minded and laughed cheerfully, saying, “Good! That’s the spirit! Just make sure to keep Nizi safe, don’t let other guys steal her away!”
“My wife!” Sweat! Lord Rong Wang, does this have anything to do with ambition?
Edited by: Jaisland