The feeling of a tiny and soft body hitting his body and being enveloped by his chest made his heart stop beating for a second before it violently started up again. This strange feeling made him feel a tiny bit panicked——was there something wrong with his body? When he got back to the mountain residence, he should have one of the imperial physicians take his pulse.
He lowered his head and saw a pair of large eyes shining with tears. It was as if he was looking into a clear, pure spring that had sunlight pouring into it. Her eyes had the clarity of water melted from the purest snow and ice at the top of a mountain. Zhu Junyang started feeling his heart starting to beat faster and faster. The little lass had a pair of eyes that could speak volumes. Long eyelashes framed them, and it made her seem like a cheerful little spirit. Every time they flickered, he could sense her inner emotions and feelings. Sometimes they would even glitter adorably whenever she came up with a naughty idea. They truly made people either hate or love her.
Zhu Junyang secretly inhaled a deep breath and looked at the bright red nose on the little girl’s face. He spoke in a voice that had overtones of tenderness and complaint, “Why aren’t you paying more attention when you’re walking? Luckily you only bumped into me. If you hit a rock or large tree, you might have had an open wound...you’re already not beautiful, so if you had a big wound on your face, how much worse could you look?”
Yu Xiaocao felt flames of fury rise inside her, ‘If you didn’t suddenly stop moving, do you think I would have hurt my nose ah? You claim I’m not beautiful, hmph! Do you think everyone is like you? With a face so devilishly handsome that you attract everyone around you? Where am I not beautiful huh? I’m a very adorable and sweet looking little girl, okay?’
Yu Xiaocao was quite satisfied with her current looks. Her skin was soft and tender and glowed with health. She had a pair of clever and large eyes and long eyelashes framing them. Her nose and mouth were both delicately shaped. In her previous life, her skin was on the duller side so she looked more average than the average person. She was still young right now and hadn’t grown into her full potential. ‘A girl changes eighteen times between childhood and womanhood. In the future, my looks will definitely stun you!!’ Yu Xiaocao gleefully thought as she threw out any notion of modesty or shyness.
Zhu Junyang watched as the little lass first became furious, huffing and puffing in rage, and then suddenly silently giggling in glee. The only thing he could think now was this, ‘A woman’s heart is as deep as the ocean. It’s impossible to understand a female!’
He thought for a bit and continued with the previous topic, “Xiaocao, didn’t you want to say that you wanted to thank me? You wouldn’t be only saying that because you felt happy and gave me an empty promise right?”
“My words are as good as gold. Since I said I wanted to thank you, then I absolutely will. Tell me, what do you want? As long as I’m able to fulfill it, I will!” Yu Xiaocao kept thinking about how the young royal prince’s actions had inadvertently caused her younger brother to be taken in as the last disciple of Headmaster Yuan. Her heart was full of happiness.
Zhu Junyang’s eyes shifted a bit and he smiled, “I also know that I’m not lacking for anything and don’t have anything that I particularly want. How about...how about this, you can promise to do something for me as a sign of your gratitude? How's that?”
“What do you want done? Don’t make it too hard, my abilities have limits!” Yu Xiaocao silently thought, ‘You’re a high and noble young royal prince. If you can’t do it, how could I, the daughter of a farmer, help you instead? If it’s too hard, don’t look at me.’
The smile on Zhu Junyang’s face had a devilish tint to it, “As for what it is? I don’t actually know yet either! You can hold onto this debt for now. When I come up with something, I’ll tell you then!”
Yu Xiaocao felt like she could start seeing the outline of an illusory fox behind the young royal prince again. She frowned and gently rubbed her nose that was still a bit tender and said, “It needs to be something that can be done by me. If I can’t do it, then when the time comes, don’t blame me for being unable to fulfill it ah!”
As he gazed at the little rascal of a girl, Zhu Junyang suddenly felt as if the weather today was very good. The sun seemed to be even more bright and gentle than before and there was a refreshing breeze blowing around. Even the dried up and yellowing grasses and leaves on the ground seemed better looking compared to yesterday. Royal Prince Yang, who was now in a good mood, said, “Don’t worry! It’ll be something that you can definitely handle!”
Yu Xiaocao didn’t take it to heart and only felt like the foodie would only ask for some new delicacies to be made. She had cracked the hard nut that was Buddha jumps over the wall, was there any other dish that would perplex her? At this time, she didn’t realize that she had promised herself out in the future…
Zhu Junyang happily went back to the mountain residence. Princess Consort Jing, who was currently in the garden admiring and taking care of the flora, could tell her son was in a very good mood. She placed down the water can in her hands and revealed a gentle and sweet-tempered smile, “Yang’er, did you come across something good? You seem very happy.”
Zhu Junyang walked over to his mother and took the water can from her as he described everything that happened today to his mother with a smile on his face. Princess Consort Jing widened her eyes and somewhat unhappily stated, “What? How come you didn’t tell me, your lady mother, that you were all going to eat Buddha jumps over the wall? I also really like that boy, Little Shitou. How come you didn't tell me this morning that you were going over to the banquet to celebrate his accomplishments of passing the county-level imperial exams and becoming a county-level official ah?”
Zhu Junyang rolled his eyes at his mother in his heart as he thought, ‘Lady Mother, for the sake of eating some Buddha jumps over the wall, you are really too much! How many times have you seen Little Shitou before? Only a few times! Other than Xiaocao, you haven't really seen anyone else in the Yu Family, alright? As the princess consort of an imperial prince, if you showed your face just to eat some food, my father would break my legs if he found out!’
Although this dynasty had repeatedly raised the status of women, most wealthy and noble families followed the traditions and kept women and men apart when they had guests over. The female host would always be behind a screen when she received guests...the banquet that happened today mostly had men over. Naturally, Yu Xiaocao, as a half-grown girl, was the only exception.
Thinking of Yu Xiaocao’s clever and adorable personality made his heart suddenly beat fast again. He used a hand to press down on his chest and wondered if he had injured the left side of his chest in the past, which was now causing him problems.
“What’s wrong?” Princess Consort Jing noticed that her son had stopped moving his hand, frowned, and was now clasping his chest. The harsh expression on his face made her feel very worried.
Zhu Junyang didn’t want his mother to feel anxious and the expression on his face went back to normal. He smiled reassuringly at her and said, “Lady Mother, I’m fine...there were a lot of people today. Other than the principal and teachers of the academy, County Magistrate Zhao also went. Headmaster Yuan ate almost half of the whole pot of Buddha jumps over the wall. I wasn’t able to eat as much as I wanted. In a few days, when Lord Father comes over, let’s have Xiaocao make us a pot. That way, the three of us will be able to eat a very delicious meal together!”
Once food was mentioned, as expected, Princess Consort Jing’s attention got preoccupied by that. She smiled and nodded her head, “Buddha jumps over the wall is a non-vegetarian dish that isn’t greasy. Your Lord Father will likely like it very much. You know, how is that lass Xiaocao so clever and lively? Her culinary talents are such that our two famous chefs in the estate have to prostrate themselves in front of her. She also knows how to take care of flora. Last time, my pot of eighteen scholars camellia had dried up and was on the brink of death yet she was still able to bring it back to life. This year, the plant is blooming even more brilliantly...in the future, I don’t know who will be the lucky man who will be able to take Xiaocao as his wife.”
Zhu Junyang unconsciously started frowning when he thought of that clever and odd little girl getting dressed up in wedding attire for another man. The desire to destroy and maim things started to rise in his heart. He quickly controlled his emotions forcefully and did his best not to allow those feelings to overtake his reason.
His illness hadn’t reared its head for a long time, how come it was suddenly showing up today? That was not okay, absolutely not okay! Right now he was very close to Dongshan Village. If he lost his reason and became the destructive devil again, wouldn’t he end up destroying her home and hurting the people she loved?
Just as his heart was about to be swallowed up by the darkness, a pair of warm and limpid eyes appeared in his mind again. It was as if a ray of brilliant light was shining deep within his heart. Although it was weak, it stubbornly left a small illuminating flame in the vast darkness. A single spark had the ability to start a huge blaze. Zhu Junyang did his best to push against the darkness and the inky blackness slowly retreated. His bloodshot eyes slowly regained clarity and regained their usual dark and calm appearance.
“Yang’er, Yang’er!!” When he opened his eyes, in front of him was the anxious and worried face of his mother, who was being surrounded by a dozen bodyguards protecting her. Next to her was also Head Steward Liu and the head of the bodyguards all in readiness for a fight. It was as if an enemy was going to approach them soon.
“Yang’er, is that you? Yang’er, you need to come back to reality and don’t let the darkness within your heart overtake you. Yang’er…” Princess Consort Jing sobbed as she spoke. If Meixiang and Lanxiang hadn’t grabbed onto her with a deathgrip, she would have long sped over and hugged Zhu Junyang. She would gladly get injured if it could help her youngest son regain his reasoning faster.
She also knew that, at her son’s current martial abilities, it didn’t matter how many bodyguards there were to stop him. The whole residence could be destroyed by him, causing destruction and rivers of blood to flow....
“Lady Mother, I let you worry again. I’m fine now!” Zhu Junyang stamped away the last remaining bit of insanity and felt very guilty inside. For many years, his mother had worried herself thin because of him. If he hadn’t been able to pull himself back from the precipice, it was very likely that his mother would be one taking the brunt of his fury.
Princess Consort Jing happily wiped away the tears on her face. Her son’s illness had gotten much better compared to before and it looked like he was able to suppress and win against the ‘evil devil’ inside his heart. Didn’t that mean that before long, her son’s mental demons would finally be completely healed?
Head Steward Liu, who was next to Zhu Junyang, surreptitiously wiped away the cold sweat on his forehead and exchanged a look with the head of the bodyguards. Within his heart, he let out a sigh of relief. His master’s skill at martial arts had made great progress in the last two years. In the past, Head Steward Liu was able to restrain his master along with the help of seven to eight other men who were very skilled. Now, he was no longer able to do so. Luckily, in the past two years, his master’s outbursts had dwindled. Otherwise, he wasn’t sure what he would do.
Today, Princess Consort Jing was nearby. If his master hadn’t managed to snap himself out of it, they might not be able to stop him even if they sacrificed all of their lives. If something had happened to the princess consort, the master would likely descend into madness and become reborn as a complete monster…
When Princess Consort Jing saw that her youngest son had truly regained control of himself, she let out a sigh of relief and quietly asked, “Yang’er, didn’t you used to say that whenever you lost control and went berserk, it was as if you were stuck in complete darkness, locked up in a pit that was so quiet that it could drive a person crazy? What was able to banish the darkness today and allow you to pull yourself back from the brink of madness?”
Zhu Junyang thought of that small light in his heart. It was simultaneously weak and strong at the same time. A few times it had almost been swallowed up by the darkness yet it persisted in giving off a steady little light and warmth. It was just like her. Always looking as if a small wind would blow her over, yet she always managed to stand up tall after heavy storms and rain had passed.
In the past, the Yu Family had a very hard life. She hadn’t even reached the age of eight or nine and had a tiny, weak body before taking charge. Despite that, she held up the sky for her family. One copper coin for a portion of braised food, early-ripening green vegetables, the famous watermelons of Tanggu Town, planting corn and potatoes…
All of the children around eight to nine years old in the capital were still acting spoiled to their parents, yet she had already become the backbone of the Yu Family. The children of poor people matured early; this was a true fact he had witnessed himself. Zhu Junyang vaguely felt his heart hurt at the thought.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Looks like Yu Xiaocao has quite an influence on Zhu Junyang.