Chapter 413 - Ethereal

“By the decree of the emperor, father and daughter, Yu Hai and Yu Xiaocao are to enter the capital to meet His Imperial Majesty!” Su Ran’s figure stood firmly and appeared very spirited and radiant. He gave off the feeling as though he were a banished immortal that was above the common folk. 

“This commoner (commoner girl) accepts this decree. Many thanks to the Emperor!” As it was his first time receiving an imperial decree, Yu Hai was a bundle of nerves and almost did not manage to stand up from the ground as he had gone weak in the knees. It was only after Yu Xiaocao supported him that he was able to hold the imperial decree in his trembling hands. 

Yu Xiaocao glanced at the smiling Zhu Junyang who stood behind Su Ran. The both of them had their own distinctive features. In terms of appearance, one was devilishly charming and the other was otherworldly clean. One emitted a cold aura, while the other warm...they were both extremely beautiful men who were very pleasing to the eye. 

Noticing Yu Xiaocao’s gaze, a comforting smile appeared on Zhu Junyang’s cold face and he nodded at her, as though telling her that it was a good thing. Just as he smiled, flowers bloomed and the wind of spring blew for five kilometers, stunning Yu Xiaocao who thought that she was already immune to his charm. 

‘It’s already come to such a situation, yet she still has the mood to appreciate beautiful men?’ Seeing that his youngest daughter gave no reaction even though so much time had passed, Yu Hai took out a piece of banknote worth 500 taels from his sleeve and reluctantly presented it to Chief Steward Su, stuttering, “Chief...Chief Steward Su, this is a small token of my appreciation…” 

Su Ran glanced at the Yu Residence that was undergoing renovation. He did not reach out for the banknote in Yu Hai’s hand. Instead, he smiled, making them feel as if they were bathing in the wind of spring, “Master Yu need not be so courteous.” 

Yu Hai was a little undecided about whether or not he should keep the banknote. ‘Could it be that Chief Steward Su thought the amount was too little? That could be the case, since he is the emperor’s most trusted chief steward. Which side of society has he not seen? Why would he care for these mere 500 taels from his family? Ai...he should’ve taken out 2 pieces of banknotes just now,’ Yu Hai felt very regretful ah! 

Casually, Yu Xiaocao took the banknote from her father’s hand and forcibly stuffed it into Su Ran’s fair and delicate hands. She somewhat shamelessly smiled at him, “Sir Su, we’ve troubled you to come so far from the capital, so just take this money as Xiaocao treating you to tea!” 

Su Ran lightly pushed the banknote back. He did not seem to have used much strength, but it had managed to easily push away Xiaocao’s enthusiastic little hand. He smiled slightly and his voice sounded gentle and warm as he spoke, “Miss Xiaocao, if you sincerely want to treat me to tea, then you should personally brew the pot of tea yourself. The country wild tea you brewed last time for the ‘heir of Prince Jing’ was quite lovely. It would be even better if it was accompanied by desserts!” 

Seeing that he was adamant about not receiving the banknote, Yu Xiaocao knew that it would not look good if she continued to persist, so she went with the flow and kept the banknote. She stuffed it into her pouch and said to Chief Steward Su, “Sir Su, my home is undergoing renovation, so it’s a little more chaotic than usual. Please…” 

“Please rest in the manor, Chief Steward Su…” Zhu Junyang flashed a smile at Yu Xiaocao, smoothly continuing her sentence. 

Su Ran’s gaze moved between Zhu Junyang and Yu Xiaocao for a few times before he let out a faint smile, “That’s also good. Since I’ve come to Dongshan Village, it is expected that I go and greet the princess consort…” 

Towards the rest of the Yu Household who were at a loss, Yu Xiaocao said, “Father, you should go and pack your bags for the capital. Mother, can you see if we have any specialty products for us to bring to Godmother? Godmother likes to eat the bacon and dried fish that we make…”

Hearing the words of their daughter, the two of them were akin to waking up from a dream and immediately started to busy themselves. When he heard that he had to enter the capital to meet the emperor, Yu Hai was so nervous he tensed up completely and even walked awkwardly. His arms and legs would not listen to his commands, and his brain was also near giving up! He never thought that he would be able to have the opportunity to meet the emperor in the years he was alive. It was a real-life emperor, not the ones that appeared in operas! His life was now without any regrets!

Madam Liu was a little tentative, so she turned towards her husband after the figures of Chief Steward Su, Royal Prince Yang and her youngest daughter disappeared into the stone pathway covered by trees, whispering, “Xiaocao’s father, why do you think the emperor wants to meet us? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?” 

Yu Hai was also a little lost, replying with uncertainty, “I’m also not sure...Cao’er has followed Chief Steward Su. If she were here, even if she didn’t know the reason, with her cleverness she’d still be able to make an approximate guess.” 

The old village head, who had accompanied the Yu Household to receive the imperial decree, held it in his trembling hands as he observed it. He was actually fortunate enough to be able to receive the imperial decree twice during his time as the village head! Even though the imperial decree was not directed at him, he still felt proud regardless. The first time he received the imperial decree, Hunter Zhao’s family went to the capital and he even became a general. This time, the Yu Family was about to rise to new heights with this imperial decree! 

He reverentially returned the imperial decree to the Yu Family, smiling as he comforted Yu Hai and his wife, “Don’t panic. You see, the person who came to read the imperial decree is the chief steward. His expression was calm and treated your family warmly, and even Royal Prince Yang’s face had a hint of a smile—it’s definitely not a bad thing! Eldest nephew, good things are coming your way! When the time comes, don’t forget to look after our Dongshan Village!” 

“Village Head is exaggerating! I’m only a farmer, how could I be capable of looking after the village?” Yu Hai felt calmer now that he had heard what the village head had said. 

The village head smiled, his bearing now even warmer, “I’m guessing that your family did a great deal last time when we fought off the Wokou pirates. Regardless, if it weren’t for Xiaocao, our village would be faced with the threat of destruction like the neighboring village. If your Xiaosha hadn’t risked his life to relay the news to the garrison, they wouldn’t be able to arrive in time and the harbor would’ve been awash with the blood of merchants, and their goods would be plundered, causing a huge loss! Considering your family’s contribution, the emperor will surely reward you with a lot of good things when you arrive at the capital, maybe even a noble title or something…” 

“I’ll borrow your auspicious words!” Surrounded by fellow villagers who looked at him with gratitude and envy, Yu Hai cupped his hands together and made a deep obeisance before he went back to the Zhao Residence to prepare the luggage he was to bring to the capital. Madam Liu also followed him up the mountain as the dried meat and preserved ducks and chickens in the icehouse had not been ransacked by the Wokou pirates. She could still pack some for them to bring to Xiaocao’s godmother. 

When Xiaocao’s godmother heard of the Wokou pirates’ invasion, she had hurriedly delivered an entire cart of supplies from the capital. The supplies included food, clothes and all of their necessities. She even sent a thousand taels over for fear that they would be short of money because the village was completely ransacked. Her daughter was fortunate to have gotten such a sincere godmother. They did not have anything valuable to give her, and she did not lack anything in the capital. Thus, Madam Liu prepared some of their local products for Xiaocao’s godmother to enjoy. 

Su Ran, Zhu Junyang and Xiaocao casually walked on the path in the forest. In the early summer, the hot sun blazed in the sky, but a cool and slightly humid breeze could be felt along the shady path, giving them a comfortable feeling. Green was all that filled their sights, and when they turned around for a look, the blue surface of the ocean seemed like a badly-polished mirror. The blues of the sky and the sea blended together until no one could tell where the line was in which they met. 

“This seems like a good place to retire!” A light breeze carried the edge of Su Ran’s pristine robes, making it seem as though he could fly away with the wind at any moment. Xiaocao could not help but stare! 

Zhu Junyang felt sour in his heart. His little lass used to only stare at him, but now she was ‘cheating’ on him right in front of his eyes? This was too outrageous! He coughed heavily, reminding that little lass who watched other men until she forgot herself—be reserved! 

His cough did not pull the little lass back from her daze, but instead attracted the attention of Su Ran, who had been appreciating the view. He followed the jealous gaze of Royal Prince Yang, only to see that little lass lost in a daze as she stared at him. He outstretched his long hand that could be compared to that of a pianist’s and waved it in front of Xiaocao’s face, smiling, “Miss Xiaocao, what are you thinking about?”

“Sir Su...is like a god from the heavens who is above the common folk…” Xiaocao mumbled her thoughts as though she was hypnotized. She quickly realized what she had said and her face immediately reddened. She lowered her head and pretended to be a quail. 

Bright laughter erupted from Su Ran. Since he was young, his appearance had only attracted vulgar, greedy and lustful desires. He had become the emperor’s most trusted chief steward and even first-rank officials had to be courteous with him, but he could still feel a lot of jealous and contemptuous gazes behind his back. It was actually his first time receiving such unadulterated appreciation and compliments. He was touched, but he also felt rueful. 

Yu Xiaocao was not aware, but Zhu Junyang knew very well that Chief Steward Su Ran’s biggest taboo was comments about his appearance. Many of those high-ranking officials who desired him as their male bed-servant because of his looks had eventually lost their position and died very horribly. The little lass was so blatant she was only one step away from saying he was beautiful. If he continued to let her speak, he did not know what kind of shocking words would come out of her mouth. 

Zhu Junyang quickly took a step forward and blocked Chief Steward Su Ran’s line of sight. He wanted to say something to help the little lass justify herself, but he heard Chief Steward Su say with a smile, “Miss Xiaocao’s culinary skills are so extraordinary that even the imperial cooks hold you in high esteem. If Su Ran doesn’t eat cooked food, wouldn’t that mean I wouldn’t be able to taste Miss Xiaocao’s craft? Wouldn’t I be missing out on a lot of delicacies?” 

‘Eh? Eh? Chief Steward Su Ran wasn’t smiling out of anger, right? He even has the mood to joke around, he probably isn’t mad at the little lass, right?’ 

Zhu Junyang hurriedly spoke before Xiaocao could respond, “Let Xiaocao make some signature dishes for Chief Steward Su this afternoon as an apology…” 

“Apology? Royal Prince Yang has exaggerated!” Su Ran’s gaze lightly brushed over Zhu Junyang, seemingly slightly colder than before. He turned around and continued to stare at the place where the sky met the sea, feeling as though his mind had broadened just by watching the vast ocean. 

Yu Xiaocao was left confused. She glared at him and crinkled her nose as she whispered, “Why should I apologize to Sir Su? I didn’t do anything wrong! Don’t blindly cut into our conversation. Can’t you see that Sir Su’s mood was quite good before, but now he’s displeased because you decided to cut in?” 

Zhu Junyang also felt that Su Ran was not as happy as he was just now. He tried to focus his attention to sense Chief Steward Su’s thoughts, but she had a sudden realization. Eunuchs were always placed lower than the common folk. Even if he was a trusted and favored eunuch, many people still disdained him behind his back even though they treated him courteously. Chief Steward Su had experienced so much of this that it was natural that he had a deep understanding of the complexity and viciousness of the human heart.

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Myst's Thoughts

Translator: Vera