Rui'er was very surprised that Yan'er and little Shadow weren't here to pester him, but to find the Grand Tutor. Yan'er climbed on her brother's back and looked askance at him. "Come with us?"
Rui'er immediately stopped his hose and asked seriously, "Is this matter true?"
"When have I ever lied to you? Heheh, are you coming or not?" Yan'er grinned, eyes curved so harmlessly it was easy to forget how naughty and black-bellied she could be.
Rui'er returned the smile with a radiant one, looking extremely happy. "Great!"
Yan'er was delighted by his reaction and immediately winked at little Shadow, but Rui'er continued to say, "Great, you two go by yourselves!"
Yan'er's expression froze as Rui'er took her on his back to set before Shadow. He rubbed Shadow's head and said seriously, "Then, I'm leaving my little sister to you. Have a good trip!"
He was obviously around the same age as Shadow and no taller, but acted like a big brother while stroking the other's head. More importantly, Shadow actually smiled and subconsciously nodded back.
Yan'er immediately stood on tiptoes to hit the back of Shadow's head. "Why are you nodding?!"
Shadow recovered his senses and scratched his head. He didn't speak, but took a step back. As expected, Yan'er and Rui'er didn't say much to him as they started talking with each other.
"Big bro, are you sure you're not coming? You'll regret it, oh. I'll give you one more chance, coming or not?" Yan'er smiled slyly.
"Not coming!" Rui'er was very firm. He had planned to find an excuse not to return to the palace after finishing his training and head directly south to find a doctor. Before leaving the palace, he had already spied on the Grand Tutor's whereabouts in the medical division. This summer, Grand Tutor would be staying in the south. He wasn't going to mess around blindly with Yan'er who could deafen him with her ravings in less than three days.
"Fine fine fine!" Yan'er crossed her arms and said in a miniature adult tone, "If you don't go, forget it. Shadow and I will go ourselves!"
Rui'er gently leaped back onto his horse and intended to see them off before he left. Unexpectedly, they got on the carriage and remained behind him without moving. Yan'er was sitting inside while munching on a pastry with both hands. Lil Thing popped out of nowhere to sit on her shoulder while munching on a sweet of its own. Little Shadow sat outside while holding the reins.
The three of them all looked at Rui'er until he felt restless. According to past experience, this was a bad sign. Yan'er had to be digging a pit for him again.
"You guys…aren't leaving yet?" he probed.
"Your Highness, you should go first," Shadow spoke.
Rui'er's eyes flashed foxily. Of the 36 strategems of war, he felt that retreat was the best option. Thus, he waved, nodded, and left. The horse's hooves clattered as he galloped off. After a while, he looked back to check that Yan'er and the carriage weren't following him, but still felt something was off. Still, he didn't stop and continued on his way. Though imperial father was afraid of Yan'er being cheated, he had no such fears. It would be best if Yan'er didn't cheat others instead. He didn't have to worry when she had little Shadow and the shadow guards to protect her.
Just like that, Rui'er spent the day hurrying on his way and tethered his horse by a large tree at night to rest. Just as he was about to take out his rations, a meat smell suddenly wafted over from nearby.
Rui'er followed the smell of roasted meat and saw Yan'er and Shadow in the grass nearby roasting meat. Yan'er was gluttonous while little Shadow broke off a chicken leg and handed it to her while reminding her it was hot.
"Delicious!" Yan'er took a bite and gave it back. "Big brother Shadow, it's really good. You try some!"
"Princess should eat, there's still plenty left," Shadow smiled. In front of Rui'er he was like a gentle little brother, while in front of Yan'er he was the warm big brother from next door. As he spoke, he broke off the other drumstick and held it towards Rui'er with a shout. "Your Highness, you're hungry right? Come on!"
Rui'er's lips twitched after he was caught and he strode out with wide strides. He just knew it, these two wouldn't abandon him so easily. Without a word, he sat down cross-legged and took the drumstick before eating with big bites. But the first one shocked him. "Little Shadow, when did you learn how to roast meat?"
"From uncle," Shadow replied.
That would be Jin Zi. Rui'er and Yan'er both called Jin Zi yifu (姨夫), or uncle on the aunt's side, so Shadow started doing the same.
Every year Jin Zi and Mu Linger would find some time to live a few days at the capital city. Jin Zi had to report on Northern Li's situation while Mu Linger simply came to find her big sis and children to play.
Hearing this, Yan'er remarked, "It's been a while since I've seen little Ling'er."
"We'll see them again this winter," Shadow laughed.
Jin Zi and Mu Linger's daughter was named Jin Ling (金灵), so Mu Linger became Big Linger while Jin Ling was little Ling'er. She was the youngest among the group of children at only five years old. She was everyone's heart and joy! Although she was as muddleheaded as her mother, she also inherited part of her father's shrewdness and became a girl who was fascinated by money! She was still easily confused by other things, but turned sharp-witted as long as money was involved and was extremely stingy. Maybe it was because her father's name was Jin Zi (gold), but she had an obsession with gold ingots. No one could cheat one from her hands except her father.
Once Mu Linger brought her to the palace to play and Han Yunxi joked, "You're called little Ling'er, so why not have your parents birth you a little Jin Zi (gold) too?"
Little Ling'er had only been three but nodded seriously, "Okay!"
Thus, on the trip back home, she immediately asked her father to birth a little "gold." The clueless Jin Zi simply tossed her a tiny gold ingot. After that, whenever she wanted money she could say, "Father, father, birth a little gold for me."
When Han Yunxi heard the news, she almost split sideways from laughing.
Yan'er doted on little Ling'er and simply took her as her own little sister to love and protect. Meanwhile, the elder sister from the Tang Clan, Tang Hongdou (Red Bean) was 12-years old this year. Her wealth didn't lose to little Ling'er, but she also doted on the girl. She knew the latter like gold and always secretly stuffed her several gold ingots whenever they met.
Speaking of little Ling'er, Yan'er fell lost in thought. Rui'er ate his fill and glanced at the tent set up by Shadow on the side before asking seriously, "Little Shadow, weren't you guys going to look for your father?"
"Mhm!" Shadow nodded even more seriously than Rui'er.
"I'm serious?" Rui'er was miffed.
Shadow continued to act serious. "Your Highness, the princess and I really are off to find my father."
Rui'er's expression fell while Yan'er laughed out loud. "Exactly, we're off to find the Grand Tutor!"
Rui'er ignored them and went to sit next to the tent. Shadow was about to explain when Yan'er stopped him with a glance. Shadow then shut up and a grin grew on his lips. Even his sly look was mild in comparison. Yan'er quickly scooted over and called out sweetly, "Big bro."
Rui'er glanced at her without a word.
Yan'er sat next to him, took his arm, and leaned on his shoulder. "Big bro, I'll tell you secret, okay?"
Rui'er didn't speak.
"Okay?!" Yan'er grinned mischievously.
Rui'er squinted. "Not okay. Don't tell me no matter what, hold back!"
Yan'er immediately let go and stared at him with wide eyes. Amused, Rui'er split his lips in an innocent smile. "Hold it in, don't tell me!"
Yan'er really didn't spill. She covered her mouth with her hands and sat on the side. It was unclear whether she was metaphorically drawing circles on the ground or something else. She was a girl who could endure and didn't bring it up again. Just like that, Rui'er called out the shadow guards following in secret and told them to guard the night before going to sleep in the tent with Shadow and Yan'er. He slept in the middle with Shadow on his right and Yan'er on his left.
At first Yan'er slept with her back to her brother without budging an inch. No one was sure whether she'd already fallen asleep. But in the middle of the night, she finally turned around and scooted next to Rui'er to push him. "Big bro…big bro, I'll tell you, I'll tell you okay."
"Big bro, wake up. I'll tell you good news."
"I surrender. Wake up, I want to tell you…"
She had been holding it in the whole time thinking she could! But after smothering herself all night, she had to say it or she'd feel miserable.
"Big bro, wake up!"
She tugged hard. Dazed, Rui'er only muttered, "Stop making a racket, sleep!" He was very sleepy and long forgot about his words. He pushed her aside. "Don't make noise, sleep!"
Yan'er kept pushing back and clinging to him. "Big bro, I'll tell you…I have to tell you."
She kept repeating the same thing nonstop. At last, Rui'er couldn't stand it and popped up into sitting position. "Xuanyuan Yan, do you believe it when I say I'll kick you out? So noisy!"
Yan'er said, "Even if you kick me you have to listen to my good news first. I have to tell you something nice, so just let me spill."
Rui'er's head dropped. "You win, say it."
Yan'er said, "Big bro, the Grand Tutor isn't in the south, but at Endless Mountain near Medical City. Qin Min wrote little Shadow a letter to find them."
So speaking, she gave a long exhale and added, "Finally, I feel better."
Rui'er was immediately alert and looked towards Shadow. "Shadow, is this true?"
Shadow didn't sleep. He wasn't woken up by the noise, but just hadn't slept to start with. He was currently thinking about his father and mother. He turned over with a warm smile. "Mhm! I'm going to find my father and mother dearest."
"What are they doing at Endless Mountain? That's just a wild peak," Rui'er was curious.
After going to the Poison Sect's forbidden grounds every summer, he was very familiar with Medical City's surroundings.
"I don't know either, my mother didn't say," Shadow crawled up and muttered. "Your Highness, I've only told you and the princess about this. Please don't leak it out! My mother said not to tell anyone and to have me come alone."
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managed to get a token PGC chapter out before vacation, i'll see you guys again in august!
yeah i...really can't stand yan'er. there's bratty but cute, and then there's bratty but obviously too young to be responsible for well, anything. girl, do you think your brother goes to summer martial arts boot camp for fun? you try telling your grandpa you wanted your brother to skip classes. did their mom and dad not tell them what's at stake with the 10-year agreement, their family's gonna be screwed if they don't upgrade their martial arts skills *eyeroll*
also this whole scenario is ridiculous. i can accept them traveling alone as teenagers, but they're like, elementary school age students traveling around in the wild? even with guards following them it's still so? ?? ridiculous??
i can't blame them entirely because they're children who shouldn't know any better, but LFY and HYX are really....weird parents. even for ancient china super emperor and empress, argh!
anyways, glad i'm going to be PGC-free again for a while, i need the time to recover mentally, OOF.