Chapter 8

Even though autumn had arrived, today was a spot of hot weather. But Long Heng had long gotten used to the blazing heat and treated it as if it was air. Located in such a remote corner, and its mistress currently gone mad, it was no wonder that no one dared come close to the Winter Garden. Its surroundings were very quiet, with the occasional breeze that refreshed and cooled a passerby for a moment before leaving them stifled in the unbearable heat.

Long Heng walked up to the door. Just as his servant was about to knock, a light wind blew out of the residence, bringing with it a paper on which some words were written. Long Heng reached out to grab it, but before he had the chance to look at it, a voice inside echoed, “Mistress Xiu, a piece has been blown out by the wind.”

It was followed by a somewhat despondent voice. “The breeze cannot understand my words, so why does it have to steal what I write? What a scumbag…”

“Mistress Xiu, please mind your words. I will go to retrieve it.” Just why were her mistress’s words becoming more and more coarse?

“No need. It’s only a piece of scrap paper.” The people inside no longer spoke, but Long Heng could hear the clarity in her words. How was she possibly be someone who’d gone mad? He stopped that servant from knocking and turned to leave. A few steps away, he discovered that he was still holding a piece of paper.

“Your Highness, this humble servant will throw it out for you!” The servant had hurriedly come to his master’s side when he noted his master’s intention of throwing the paper away.

Long Heng casually handed the paper over. That woman had said that it was scrap paper anyways. But just as the servant took it from him, he inadvertently glanced at it and made out a few words. “Ten years grinding a sword, frost of blade edge…’. The paper was gone from his hands before he could clearly see the rest of its contents.

“Come back.” He called for the servant to stop. Taking the piece of paper back, he smoothed it out. Only then did he clearly see the verses written on it.

“Ten years grinding a single sword, frost of blade edge yet untested. This day before the lord, who yet has problems unresolved?” The handwriting was delicate and beautiful, obviously a woman’s hands. But what sort of woman could write such a heroic poem? Perhaps she was copying someone else’s work, but who could that person be? How could a girl from a family of scholars know such a heroic figure?

Long Heng had studied martial arts since youth and gone off to join the army with a heroic air from the bottom of his heart. It was a pity that in a culture that loved flowery, ornate verses, such a poem of frost and swords had not been penned in a very long time. He himself believed that true men were already extinct within this world. He’d never expected he’d encounter such a poem under these circumstances.

He liked it a lot, but couldn’t find an excuse to turn back and ask a woman about it. Therefore, he decided to secretly send people over to check on it when the chance arose.

On the other side of the door, Bai Xiangxiu was still pondering deeply. She tended to favor those heroic verses, but sadly, Song Jiaoyue didn’t especially like those. She remembered that he liked those slightly more ornate and artistic phrases. If she were to accidentally voice one or two of those, that might be able to hook his attention. However, people here were afraid of being famous like it was the plague. If her reputation spread far and wide, wouldn’t she turn out just like the female lead, hooking in men in bunches and bunches?

Therefore, she had to think of a plan to send it over to Song Jiaoyue whilst also not letting any outsiders learn of it. It would be best not to write love poems. Bai Xiangxiu finally managed to crank a few lines out, but getting one to him was now a problem. Luckily, an opportunity came right along.

Male supporting character Song Jiaoyue had come for a visit, and that young male cousin of his happened to stumble into the Winter Garden. Bai Xiangxiu was overjoyed. Here at last! If I don’t make him take something with him, then it really be wasting my hard work of these past two months!

But the boy’s attention was caught by the jujube cakes as soon as he wandered in. He wolfed them down one after another without pause.

I say, don’t you have a lot of good stuff at your own home since you’re a young master? Why do you have to come to my place for this? She’d seen this kid wandering around outside, and intentionally let him in after hearing someone call him Young Master Cui. Even after she learned his identity, she was still a bit miffed when she saw only two of her cakes had survived the massacred. She hadn’t thought of how to make him take the poem she had finished writing yet!

A servant spoke up outside at this point, “Young Master Cui, Sir Song asks for you to return and not to disturb the peace of the prince’s rear court.”

This Young Master Cui was still only seven years old. He casually wiped his hands and responded, “I know.” Having finally managed to find and gaze at a most beautiful sister from up close with great difficulty, especially a big sister with such delicious jujube cakes, he was unhappy at having to return before eating his fill.

Seeing at how this child was staring so intently at her cakes, Bai Xiangxiu thought of something. She hurriedly walked over to her table to retrieve a piece of paper, using its flip side to wrap up a cake. “Since you like them, you can eat it on the way back. Use this to hold it and don’t dirty your hands.” When she saw Young Master Cui reach out to accept it, she secretly gave herself a million likes within her heart.

Young Master Cui reached out to receive the bundle, stroking the beauty’s little hand in the process. While he was young, he was still precocious and loved beauties a lot, so he instantly decided not to wash his hand for a month.

The servants managed to pull the little boy out from the residence with much difficulty. He really ate the cake as he walked. “The food of beauties is also delicious, it’s just that her flowers are a bit ugly. They even have thorns.”

“Young Master Cui, this way please. Be careful not to fall.” The servants were nearly having a mental breakdown. This kid already knew how to look at beauties at such a young age. If he was a little older and trespassed into the courtyard of the Prince’s harem just like this, wouldn’t the servants be beaten to death in punishment?

Crumbs fell out from his mouth as Young Master Cui walked, and he used the paper to brush them off his clothes. The poem which Bai Xiangxiu had so painstakingly recalled and written with tremendous effort was smudged and ripped till only a few words remained. It was almost beyond recognition. When Young Master Cui reached Song Jiaoyue and Prince Li, he immediately threw himself into his cousin’s arms with a grin. “Cousin, cousin, I saw a great beauty!”

Seeing that his entire mouth was still full of crumbs, Song Jiaoyue said, “Where are your manners?” He reached out and wiped off his younger cousin’s mouth with a handkerchief. This little cousin of his had loved sticking to him since he was young. He’d already made plans to visit Prince Li’s manor today. However, his younger cousin had just insisted on following him along. Used to being a little tyrant within his family, he just couldn’t calm down for a single moment.

Young Master Cui raised the remnants of the cake before him, completing his mission gloriously. It was just that the quest item entrusted to him had already been completely destroyed. “Look, the beautiful sister even gave me cake to eat. It’s delicious! Cousin, you should have a piece.” He picked up a piece as he spoke and put it on Song Jiaoyue’s lips.

Song Jiaoyue smiled wryly, reaching out to take the jujube cake in his hands and placing it back on the table. “You know I don’t eat sweet stuff.”

“Take Young Master Cui to wash his hands,” Long Heng ordered. With the grease on his hands, that neat freak friend of mine must be mentally breaking down. Having given these instructions, he glanced casually at that messily bitten cake, wanting to ask a servant to clear the table, but stopped when he seemed to see some indistinct words written beneath. This handwriting almost seemed… familiar. His heart pounded involuntarily.

Song Jiaoyue also saw it, his face freezing involuntarily as well. “That little scamp, he must have taken the writings of some lady in your harem to wrap his food in.” He reached for the piece of paper, about to dispose of it.

“Don’t dirty your hands, let the servants clear it up!” For some reason, Long Heng didn’t want to let Song Jiaoyue see what that woman had written.

Song Jiaoyue was truly afraid of a mess as well. He smiled and sat back, his hand comfortable at his sides. A couple of servants came over, using a small shovel to place the remainders on a small tray. At that moment, the sweet was turned upside down and the words faced upwards. The two men glimpsed the surviving words simultaneously. However, the characters were broken up, making one feel as though they were looking down into a clump of clouds.

“Autumn light cold painting… catching streaming fireflies. Heavenly night’s coolness… leading cowherd weaver’s star.” The verses were beautiful and refined, but were sadly incomplete.

What a pity. Song Jiaoyue’s heart ached as he silently blamed his cousin’s roughness and carelessness for ruining such a good poem.

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