Chapter 428 - The Horse is Like the Owner

"If you know you can't do it, then it isn't brave, it's stupid! This is called changing my actions to suit the changing times!" The fat young man could be said to be one of Zhu Junyang's few bad friends. This fellow’s thoughts were simple and he worshipped the strong. 

He had very complex emotions towards Zhu Junyang, who had beaten him until his own mother almost didn't recognize him. Feelings of anger and dissatisfaction had swirled within him, and he was always trying to find a way to take his dignity back. However, he never took advantage of Zhu Junyang, a wolf cub two years younger than him, when the latter interacted with him. Zhu Junyang also never detected any malicious intent from him. So although they fought whenever they met, their relationship became deeper with each fight and they had somehow become best friends.

This person wasn't of low birth. His grandfather, Lu Dawei, was one of the founding fathers of the country and was a strong general. After the emperor emeritus abdicated, the old general also retired. The emperor urged him to stay many times, and even repeatedly went to his estate to invite him, but he refused to come back from retirement. 

None of his sons succeeded him. His eldest son received an empty title that had a salary but no political power. His second son took the path of the imperial examinations. At present, he was only a small official of the fifth rank. Thus, he may not be able to take upon bigger tasks in the future. His youngest son abandoned his official position and started a business, which was currently booming. At that time, the high ranking Old Master Lu often lamented that his martial arts and military arts were unable to be imparted onto the next generation.

Unexpectedly, Lu Hao, the only legitimate son of his eldest son, suddenly had a change in personality when he was ten and pestered him to teach him martial arts, Although ten was a bit too late to start learning, the little guy was talented. After learning for a year, he managed to catch up with those who had been practicing for three to five years.

However, this kid didn't do him proud. His grandson learned his martial arts well, but he lacked practical experience. Old Master Lu didn't know who he had offended to get beaten to the point that he was black and blue with his eyes all swollen. Old Master Lu was angry but, at the same time, he refused to accept what had happened. He secretly searched for the perpetrator.

In the end, he discovered that the culprit was a kid who was two or three years younger than his grandson. The way that kid fought was ruthless, as if he didn’t care about living or dying. That type of callousness made Old Master Lu feel a bit scared but he also appreciated the kid’s guts. At that time, with Lu Hao's martial art skills, his grandson may have been that kid's opponent if he gave it his all. Yet, his grandson lacked the drive to give it his all. When he threw a punch, it was naturally weaker by about three fractions. Thus, every time he was beaten badly. 

At that time, Old Master Lu's love of talent came up and he wanted to accept the kid as his last disciple. In this way, his mantle would be passed down and, in the future, his fat grandson would have a helper. However, as soon as he started asking around, he ended up inquiring all the way to the emperor and emperor emeritus. This wolf cub was the grandson of the emperor emeritus, which was quite unexpected! With a regretful heart, he had to give up on his previous idea. With his worldly wisdom, no matter how talented Zhu Junyang was at the time, he couldn't accept the Imperial Grandson as a disciple! 

However, from time to time, his little grandson would go fight the other and he pretended not to notice. Since then, his grandson's martial arts skills had greatly increased. Although he came back black and blue every time from the fights, the kid always practiced more vigorously in the future.

When Lu Hao was around seventeen or eighteen, the Old Master threw him into the old army to gain experience. At that time, Zhu Junyang had just been granted the title of royal prince and got the task of heading to the West. Thus, this pair of ‘bad friends’ only met up on the streets many years later.

"Some other day, I'll invite you to Zhenxiu Restaurant to drink wine. I'm still on the job. I'll take my leave from this point." Zhu Junyang looked at the sky. If he didn’t say anything soon, he was afraid he would have to spend the night over at the Imperial Plantation. 

Although the layout of the Imperial Plantation wasn't bad, he had to consider that Xiaocao was a female. It wasn’t good if word got out that a girl had stayed the night outside. There were already many people saying bad things about her since his lass became an official. They couldn't let something else happen that would allow the others to gossip about her during their meals and teatime!

Lu Hao took a look at Yu Xiaocao and his face showed a 'this brother knows’ expression. He smiled knowingly and said, "Ok, this brother won't delay your 'business' anymore. In the future, I will be in the capital. Let's get together another day." 

The two said their farewells and Lu Hao nodded politely to Yu Xiaocao. He patted his horse's stomach and they passed by each other. Yu Xiaocao was very pleased with the way the two got along. No wonder there was a saying, 'Qin Hui [1] still has three good friends.’ It was said that Royal Prince Yang had a solitary personality and was hard to get along with. In his darkest times, wasn’t he considered quite lucky to have a friend beside him? 

After they passed the city gate, there weren't many people on the official roads. The people travelling were all people from the suburbs on the outskirts of the capital, carrying burdens to sell. When there were fewer people, the little red horse suddenly gave Fierce Wind a look full of provocation. The little red horse spread her four legs and ran like a gust of wind. 

Yu Xiaocao had a connection to her steed. When Little Red was 'making eyes' at Fierce Wind, she knew what this horse wanted to do. She gently clamped down on the horse's belly and leaned forward slightly so that they were one. Before Royal Prince Yang could react, the one entity had already ran into the distance. The dust that rose from their run made him and Head Steward Liu cough.  

Zhu Junyang felt slightly exasperated and amused. He patted Fierce Wind’s neck and said with a smile, "Fierce Wind, you are a good for nothing. The other has already thrown a challenge at your face. Hurry and pull out your fighting spirit for this challenge. If you lose to a woman, then you will lose your reputation as a Ferghana horse! There are times to spoil a woman but there are also times to show her your strength and dignity!” 

When he finished speaking, with a shake of the reins in his hand, Fierce Wind chased the red figure that was growing smaller and smaller in the distance. As a Ferghana horse, the title of ‘a thousand-mile horse’ wasn't just for show. With the addition of Zhu Junyang's consummate riding skills, the advantage Little Red obtained with her head start slowly disappeared, and the distance between them got gradually smaller. 

When they were almost at the Imperial Plantation, Zhu Junyang had caught up with Yu Xiaocao. He drove Fierce Wind to keep the same speed as her, traveling side by side. The little red horse defiantly sped up, but, no matter how fast she went, the other could always keep up with her. After the little red horse ran for a while she felt bored and slowed down on her own.

"This little red horse of yours is pretty good!" Zhu Junyang couldn't help but praise.

Yu Xiaocao gently stroked Little Red's smooth mane and modestly said, "Little Red is good, but she can't compare with your Fierce Wind. The title of a Ferghana horse isn't false."

Zhu Junyang looked into her eyes with a doting look and softly said, "Dayuan had offered several Ferghana horses as tribute and one of them just recently foaled. I went to see it and it’s a fine specimen, one that is hard to come by. If you raise it well, it won't be any worse than Fierce Wind. If you want to change horses, I can go ask the emperor..." 

Head Steward Li, who had been left behind in the dust, finally caught up in a disheveled manner. After overhearing their conversation, Head Steward Liu had a constipated look on his face and complex feelings ran through him as he thought, 'My master, that horse has been born for less than a month. Who doesn't know that the emperor has earmarked it for the empress's little prince? They're just waiting for the young prince to get well and for the horse to get a little older before arranging riding and shooting courses. Consort Li also covets that horse and begged for it for the little princess several times but the emperor didn't change his mind. Is it really good for you to outright snatch at the little prince's things like this?' 

Although he thought like this in his heart, Head Steward Liu didn't show anything on his face. He knew just how much his master valued Miss Yu. If a wisp of desire escaped her mouth, the master would get it for her despite all the difficulties. He prayed in his heart, 'Miss Yu, please resist!'

Maybe the Gods and Buddhas pitied his loyalty toward his master as Miss Yu refused as he had wished. "I think my Little Red is very good. Just like how important Fierce Wind is to you, Little Red isn't just a tool for me but also a close partner. As you know, all the animals in our family have intelligence. If I abandon Little Red, she will be sad." 

As if she understood her master's words, Little Red's defiant eyes became soft and gentle. Even her steps were light and made rhythmic sounds on the ground. However, Yu Xiaocao knew that this little horse held grudges. She might not do anything to Royal Prince Yang, who proposed replacing her, but she was definitely going to take actions against Fierce Wind in private.

Just like the young man who loved her and would always tolerate her little temper and willfulness, Yu Xiaocao was willing to bet that Fierce Wind must also have some feelings for Little Red, which was why he was always so docile towards her despite her violence.

She raised her eyes to look up at Royal Prince Yang, who occasionally looked over from time to time. Sure enough, a person with a certain personality would raise his or her horse into the same personality. In the future, this guy would definitely be someone who cherished his wife, right? If he could keep his promises, he would be a good marriage partner. Maybe...she needed to consider his proposal more seriously!

After thinking more about this, she decided that she didn’t actually reject the prospect of marriage as much anymore. Even in her previous life, one’s choice in spouse may not be the correct one. After all, there were scumbags in every era. Why shouldn’t they give each other a chance at happiness?

Zhu Junyang noticed that the gaze of the person beside him had changed. Although he didn't know the reason for the change, his keen intuition told him that the change wasn't a bad thing. For no reason at all, his mood soared with the breeze, and even the rising summer heat had become lovely and amicable.

The two of them silently rode side by side until they arrived at the Imperial Plantation. The carriage carrying Xichun and the others hadn't arrived yet. Yet at this time, many carriages had stopped in front of the Imperial Plantation. It seemed that there were people more excited than them.

Sure enough, once they entered the Imperial Plantation, they discovered that Minister Liu had brought some officials from the Ministry of Revenue and the managers of the Imperial Plantation to wait for them there. 

Out of these people, some had met Xiaocao and knew her skills. Although they didn't admire her as much as Minister Liu did, they still gave the appropriate greetings. Some had eyes that were full of contempt. What could a girl around the age of ten even do? She had only been awarded the title of a sixth rank official on the whims of the emperor.

If they didn't cooperate, what could she come up with? If she didn’t have any achievements, then that meant she had no ability. When that time came around, wouldn't the matter of her office being taken be certain? 

The thoughts of these officials were already known by Zhu Junyang. He resisted the anger in his heart and remembered the names of the managers and officials who wanted to embarrass his lass. He was now prepared to find a chance to get at them.


[1] Qin Hui - Notorious Chancellor of the Song Dynasty. Widely regarded as a traitor for his part in the persecution and execution of his political enemy, Yue Fei, a general who fought for the Song against the Jin dynasty during the Jin–Song Wars. 

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Translator: Elaine