Qin Min quickly returned the bow. Perhaps the crown prince's status was to blame, but she couldn't treat this five-year old as simply a child. Maybe there were too many people or Rui'er had just grown up, but he wasn't as sticky towards Gu Beiyue as he was in the past.
He said, "Grand Tutor, imperial father and mother knows you've come back. They are hosting a banquet for you in the palace this evening."
"Please thank His Majesty and Esteemed Empress on this minister's behalf," Gu Beiyue replied seriously.
Rui'er paused, then glanced at Shadow at the side. "Grand Tutor, may I borrow…that kid for a bit?"
He's clearly younger than Shadow, all right?!
What does he want?
Qin Min was nervous again, while Shadow seemed to hear the crown prince talking about him and landed with a face full of confusion.
"What does Your Highness want Shadow for?" Gu Beiyue asked.
"To train with me. He runs and I'll chase; I run and he'll chase, anything's fine!" Rui'er was serious.
Qin Min's heart finally settled in her chest. At the same time she realized that the crown prince was quite intimate with Gu Beiyue despite his manners, or else he wouldn't be making his request with a negotiation tone. Gu Beiyue was also respectful to the crown prince, but close as well. He must be treating the boy both as a young master and a child. He didn't force Shadow, but asked gently, "Shadow, do you want to accompany His Highness to train?"
Shadow's lips split open in a grin. "Yes."
"Your Highness, Shadow has good lightness techniques but not martial arts…"
"Don't worry," Rui'er interrupted, "I won't hurt him!"
Shadow grinned happily. When he saw the crown prince turn to leave, he quickly pulled his father down and whispered in his ear, "Father, don't worry. I was yielding to His Highness Crown Prince just then. I can run even faster. If I want to protect His Highness in the future, I have to make it impossible for him to catch me."
Gu Beiyue was taken aback, but still rubbed his head and said softly, "Go ahead."
The two children had wandered off before Qin Min spoke up. "Grand Tutor Gu, a few days ago Shadow asked me what the guardianship of the Shadow Clan meant. I thought you told him already."
Everyone knew that the guardianship of the Shadow Clan meant protecting one's master unto death. She thought Gu Beiyue would tell little Shadow everything before starting to teach him lightness techniques so the boy could continue to carry the heavy mission on his shoulders. But Gu Beiyue had yet to reveal anything.
Why didn't he do what he was supposed to earlier?
Did he feel reluctant?
Qin Min added, "I told Shadow that the Shadow Clan's mission was to protect the imperial clan…that's not wrong, right?"
"Yes," Gu Beiyue nodded and didn't explain. Qin Min didn't bring it up again.
Since there was a banquet tonight, Gu Beiyue stayed behind instead of reporting to the palace. Qin Min ordered the servants to boil a medicinal bath for him while she took Shaoyao to walk around the estate grounds and write down a list of seeds for her to buy. It would be a shame to let such a large yard run wild, so she would make good use of it.
At night, Rui'er brought Shadow directly into the palace, leaving Gu Beiyue and Qin Min to arrive by themselves. The fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month was the Mid-autumn Festival, a time for family reunions to admire the moon, drinking wine and composing poems. Every family in the capital was having a lively time.
Qin Min could see the full moon as soon as she got off the carriage. It was so bright that it illuminated all the dark alleyways of the night. But because the moon was so bright, it looked rather lonely in the sky with the stars dimmed.
"Grand Tutor Gu, have you noticed? You can't see the stars on this day," Qin Min couldn't help remarking.
Even now, she had no idea that this was Gu Beiyue's birthday, much less that his true name was Gu Yue, or lone moon.
Gu Beiyue looked up and didn't comment beyond saying, "Let's go, don't make His Majesty and Esteemed Empress wait."
Qin Min followed him deep into the palace but said one more thing. "Still, it's good that the full moon's only on the 15th and 16th. It'll wane eventually, and the stars will get their chance to shine."
"Mm," Gu Beiyue replied, head bowed as he quickly followed the court lady leading the way.
The Mid-Autumn Festival Banquet was located in the pavilion in the imperial study. Gu Beiyue and Qin Min arrived to see Long Feiye and Han Yunxi waiting. The crown prince and Shadow were nowhere to be seen, as was Princess Yan. As a couple, they didn't know what to say. Meanwhile, Han Yunxi laughed and chatted while Long Feiye grinned.
When they arrived, Gu Beiyue started to bow when Han Yunxi stopped him. "Gu Beiyue, this is a mid-autumn family feast. If you're going to be so formal, leave the palace and let Qin Min stay instead. Qin Min, have a seat."
Without Gu Beiyue's permission, Qin Min didn't dare act rude. "Many thanks to Your Majesty, Esteemed Empress," Gu Beiyue still bowed. Perhaps his habits were unchangeable, or perhaps he simply didn't want to change them. Qin Min followed suit.
Han Yunxi rolled her eyes at him, but Long Feiye only spared him a glance before turning to ask, "Is the princess awake yet?"
"Not yet, Zhao mama is looking after her. She's already been told to carry her over as soon as she wakes," the court lady replied.
"It's windy outside, so have Zhao mama dress the princess in another layer. Don't let her catch cold," Long Feiye said seriously.
Before the court lady left, Long Feiye added, "Have you prepared the porridge the princess likes?"
"Yes, we've prepared the fish porridge," the court lady replied.
Long Feiye asked after a few more minor details before she was allowed to leave. Although their voices were low, everyone present could hear each word. Qin Min was surprised. She knew this master liked his daughter, but didn't expect him to dote on her so much. He was personally concerned over every single detail. She glanced at Han Yunxi and only saw her head drooping as she looked lost.
Gu Beiyue wasn't surprised and smiled. "Your Majesty, is everything well with Her Highness Crown Princess?"
After the incident with Rui'er as a child, Long Feiye had always paid attention to the little princess and discussed her with Gu Beiyue a few times. So far, the princess was about two years old. Besides the strange phenomena of a hundred birds paying homage on her birthday, everything was still normal. Han Chen was also surprised upon hearing of the incident and guessed that it had to be related to the phoenix power. But it was just conjecture. After all, he didn't completely understand its power himself.
He didn't discover any source of energy from the princess's body. Perhaps Han Yunxi had simply lost control over her own phoenix powers during childbirth, which attracted the many birds. After all, Han Yunxi hadn't been idle after Rui'er's birth, but was constantly practicing her martial arts. When she was pregnant with the little princess, she already had full control of her phoenix energy.
Of course, Long Feiye wasn't doting on the princess solely because of the hundred birds at her birth. Even if she was an ordinary girl, he would still cradle her in his hand like a treasure. Heaven knows how much he'd been wishing for a daughter. The man who never smiled would grin as soon as he mentioned his daughter, and now replied, "All's well."
Gu Beiyue and Long Feiye chatted on before moving to formal business. Han Yunxi took Qin Min aside to chat casually and quietly asked whether Gu Beiyue was obediently looking after his health. Qin Min then realized that it was Han Yunxi's idea to rush him out of the capital.
"Mm, pretty well. His complexion is much better recently," Qin Min muttered back. Perhaps she would have found out that Gu Beiyue had long gone off to Ningzhou with a few more questions, but alas, she didn't continue the topic.
After all the dishes arrived, Han Yunxi summoned Xu Donglin and said, "Find Rui'er and Shadow, it's time to eat after running around all day!"
Instead, it was the little princess who arrived first. She was carefully carried over while wrapped in a large purple fox fur robe with a hood over her head. It was impossible to see her face, much less tell whether this was a boy or a girl. Han Yunxi was too lazy to spare a glance, but Gu Beiyue and Qin Min were both amazed by the sight. There was no need to bundle up so tightly when it was only mid-autumn, right?
Zhao mama placed the little person into the emperor's arms and left with a smile. Long Feiye embraced his daughter and said with a smile, "Yan'er, Grand Tutor and Madam Qin is here. Take a look."
The little person neither moved nor made a sound.
Long Feiye grinned and tickled the girl's armpit, but she still didn't move. He grew alarmed and took off the huge fox fur hood, revealing the princess with her eyes tightly closed as if unconsciousness.
"Yan'er!" Long Feiye immediately panicked.
Gu Beiyue and Qin Min got up at the same time and rushed over, but the latter quickly got out of the way. Gu Beiyue urgently took the princess's pulse, but creased his brows immediately.
"What's wrong?" Long Feiye was almost pale with anxiety. He didn't even notice Han Yunxi sitting on the side, leisurely drinking her wine.
"Her pulse is normal, so how could this be?" Gu Beiyue couldn't diagnose anything and was deep in thought.
But the little princess herself suddenly spoke up in a serious voice. "Doctor Gu, just by looking at my pulse, was I smothered to death?"
The little princess had begun speaking very early. Now she was two, but pronounced her words clearly with a childish voice like a bell. Combined with her jokes, she gave off a quirky air.
Gu Beiyue gave a start and looked closely before seeing that the princess was dressed in a thick cotton jacket. He suddenly laughed out loud. Qin Min soon realized the issue and chortled as well. She carefully studied the little princess's face and discovered she was as exquisite as a jade doll, with beautiful, adorably sculpted features. Even when she had her eyes shut, one was afraid to touch her in case it shattered her to pieces.
Long Feiye finally realized he had been fooled. He looked at his daughter, who still had her eyes squeezed shut in a comical and strange sight, and didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Many times, he found himself helpless before Han Yunxi. But when it came to this daughter, he was perfectly capable of dealing with her yet chose to remain helpless.
"Doctor Gu, do a good deed and give me some medicine, otherwise I won't be able to wake up," the princess declared.
Gu Beiyue smiled and asked, "What kind of medicine does Your Highness Crown Princess want?"
"I need medicine that'll convince my father to stop bundling me up like a bun. I don't wanna be a bun," the princess said and opened her big eyes with a pitiful look towards Long Feiye. "Father, I got heat rash again!"
1. Again, the surname is written differently in Chinese. Compare Gu Beiyue (顾北月) vs. Gu Yue (孤月). You can refer to the 7 Noble Families tab on the PGC Tables spreadsheet for the list of true clan names.
im basically translating and publishing PGC after work now, which works better cause i can sleep a whole night to digest my anger about certain characters, haha. having a lot of fun translating my danmei series on the other hand. ahh, those plot twists, those characters...! fufufufu.
Perhaps she would have found out that Gu Beiyue had long gone off to Ningzhou with a few more questions, but alas, she didn't continue the topic.
this though, i hate it when authors do this. if you're not going to give us the satisfaction of qin min finding out the truth, can you at least not rub it in our faces? we don't need excessive angst shoved into our eyes thank you very much! the princess is...sigh, when i tried to translate her dialogue i thought it was han yunxi speaking, not some...two year old. unbelievable.
also a little sad that GBY is so easy to laugh around the royal family, but so quiet and cool with QM. it's like he's resigned himself to dying and so lets her do as she wants, but it makes QM feel like the stranger compared to everyone else he knows...
yes, im still annoyed at him.