Chapter 73: Sweet-scented osmanthus candy, a young man and a beautiful girl Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“Call him Little Red,” Ning Xiaoyao twisted around to look at Lou Zigui.
Lou Zigui shook his head.
“Then what are you going to call him?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. Immediately, the russet horse twitched its ears. Big Boss Black turned to look at his Supreme Commander as well.
A battle horse’s name should be strong and aggressive, but Lou Zigui couldn’t think of one no matter how he tried. Weiwu[1. Weiwu (威武) - “mighty, powerful.” Also frequently used to describe stirring battle scenes or soldiers.] was a name already taken by some of the horses in the military. Baqi?[2. Baqi (霸气) - “aggressive, domineering.” Also a frequent adjective used to describe cold male leads in Chinese web novels.] Fang Tang’s horse seemed to have that name. Then what other names sounded mighty and domineering? Dragon, Tiger, Panther, Wolf--these were all names that sounded fierce, but it seemed like they already had owners as well. Lou Zigui suddenly realized how much he’d missed out on after not yet giving his horse a name.
Ning Xiaoyao’s neck was already turning sore from looking up at Lou Zigui for so long. “You can’t think of one?”
Lou Zigui tried his best to hold on. “I’ll think it over when we get back.”
Ning Xiaoyao narrowed her eyes. “Then tell me the ones you’ve thought up as backups instead?” It wasn’t so easy to hoodwink His Majesty Ning. As expected, Supreme Commander Lou couldn’t say a word. Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes shone with sympathy. How hard could it be to make up a name? Though Supreme Commander looked like the kind of guy who could do everything except give birth, he was apparently useless when it came to names.
Lou Zigui tried to explain himself. “All the good names have been taken already.”
“Then just use Little Red,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “If you keep on hesitating, someone will take this name, too.”
“Old Yellow, keep steady.” an old peasant driving an ox cart spoke to his animal, his sons sitting on the cart behind him. They passed by His Majesty Ning and Supreme Commander Lou.
“Look at that,” Ning Xiaoyao spread out her arms. “Someone’s already using ‘Old Yellow’ as a name.”
So you can’t use the same name on a horse, even though it’s from an ox? What kind of rules are these? Supreme Commander Lou felt a bit lost.
“I still think Little Red’s pretty good,” Ning Xiaoyao was persistent with her persuasions. “In the future I’ll raise a mare and call her Little Ming.[3. Ming (明) - “bright, brilliant, light.”] Little Red and Little Ming, what a great match.”
Lou Zigui said, “My horse is a stallion.”
“That’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao looked as clueless as ever. “Little Red is a great name, ah.” Little Ming and Little Red were two names that were familiar to anyone who went to school. School textbooks always needed to name the people used for examples inside, the same for school exams. Most of the time, it was always Little Red and Little Ming. What formidable names!
“So my stallion will be Little Red, and your future mare will be Little Ming?” Supreme Commander Lou asked her incredulously. Just how did these names match at all?
“Right, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. (Author: Did you mix up their genders?)
Supreme Commander Lou couldn’t help but feel that something was off somewhere. Ning Xiaoyao nuzzled her head against Lou Zigui’s chest, feeling a little disappointed. “You don’t like it?”
The person sitting in front of him was hanging her head. She’d even stopped grinning foolishly. Lou Zigui’s last death throes crumbled at the sight before he caved in. “All right,” he nodded. “Then Little Red it is.”
Ning Xiaoyao immediately regained her spirits. “Really?”
Lou Zigui patted his battle horse and said, “He’ll be called Little Red in the future.”
“Haha,” Ning Xiaoyao clapped her hands. “In the future, my Little Ming will follow Little Red. I want a litter of sons from Little Red, or maybe daughters.”
“.......” said Lou Zigui. You haven’t even acquired a horse, much less started raising one yet, and you’re already pairing her up with a stallion? Moreover, what do names have to do with ideal matches?
Big Boss Black perched on Little Red’s head with a sigh. “You might as well accept it. Xiaoyao’s brain has never been all that useful.”
The russet horse replied, “Then will she raise a stupid horse like her as well?”
“.......” said Big Boss Black. So as it turns out, you were worried about your future wife?
“Little Red, let’s go,” Ning Xiaoyao pulled on Little Red’s long mane and shouted, “I’ll definitely find you a good wife!”
Little Red galloped forward and cried, “You have to stick to your word!”
“I vow on my high character and moral principles,” Ning Xiaoyao promised.
“Neigh~” Little Red galloped blindingly fast.
Lou Zigui’s mouth twitched. “What are you doing with the horse…”
“Little Red,” Ning Xiaoyao reminded him.
“Are you talking to Little Red?”
“Right, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Supreme Commander, you really hurt Little Red’s feelings when you didn’t give him a name.”
Supreme Commander Lou felt that it was impossible for him to continue the topic any further. The two of them caught up to the previous old peasant driving the ox cart, before Ning Xiaoyao took out five taels of silver from her bag and stuffed it into the arms of one of the sons. “For you,” she said.
The son was stunned.
“Bed rest is required for a broken leg, the bone will grow back on its own,” Ning Xiaoyao shouted as they galloped past. “There’s enough for the doctor’s fee there, so I hope your big brother gets well soon.”
Little Red ran like the wind. By the time the people on the ox cart realized what had happened, the young man who had given them the money was already gone.
“I heard them talking just earlier,” Ning Xiaoyao explained to Lou Zigui. “That boy’s big brother broke his leg while working for the landlord, but it takes three taels of silver just to invite a physician and buy the medicine. Their family can only afford one tael.”
“Three taels of silver?” Lou Zigui asked. “But didn’t you give them five taels?”
“So the little brother can buy some nourishing foods,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Supreme Commander, your eyes sure are sharp. You could tell I gave away five silver taels at a glance?”
Lou Zigui fell silent before he spoke. “Xiaoyao, your ears are very formidable as well.” We were so far behind the ox cart, so how did this girl heard what that boy was saying?
“This is good,” the old man driving the ox cart said to the stunned son beside him. “Let’s hurry back and find a doctor. Your big brother can be saved, we’ve run into a good person!”
The five taels of silver felt heavy in the youth’s hands. He raised a hand to wipe away the tears in his eyes and kneeled on the ground to kowtow three times towards Ning Xiaoyao and Lou Zigui’s retreating forms. Then he stood up and jumped onto the ox cart. Though he didn’t know the name of their savior, he did remember their face. The youth tightened his grip on the lifesaving money in his hands. If they ever met again in the future, he’d be willing to act as their horse or ox to repay their benefactor.
Little Red turned into a street leading north as Ning Xiaoyao started whispering to Lou Zigui. “I was going to take something with me from the Grand Preceptor’s study, but there wasn’t a single copper coin inside!”
Lou Zigui really had no words to say. So while they were exchanging verbal blows, this girl had already scanned the entirety of Xie Wenyuan’s study?
Ning Xiaoyao took out some brushes from her bag and said, “Supreme Commander, have a look. I think these brushes have jade handles. How much can we sell them for?”
So you ended up sneaking something out after all? Lou Zigui rested a hand on his forehead.
“How about we find a pawnshop and ask them?” Ning Xiaoyao suggested. She’d just given away five taels of silver, so she was anxious to make up the loss.
“This was an item bestowed by the emperor,” Lou Zigui saw that Ning Xiaoyao didn’t seem like she was joking, so he could only speak up. “A complete set contains 24 brushes, each with a handle carved with 24 different scenes of Jiangnan.”
“Really?” Ning Xiaoyao stared at the jade handle of her brush. She’d never had a chance to see art before, so her art appreciation skills were zero. She didn’t see what was so special about the carvings on this brush, either, but she did know how to calculate their worth. “Is the person who made these brushes still alive?”
Lou Zigui replied, “That person’s been dead for nearly 100 years.”
You could still use brushes that were almost 100 years old? Ning Xiaoyao found it hard to understand and added, “Looks like these brushes are worth a lot of money.”
“You know about these brushes?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Artists,” Ning Xiaoyao explained with the wisdom of experience, “Don’t have works of much worth when they’re alive, but their creations become valuable after they die.”
What kind of logic was this now? Lou Zigui still didn’t understand. Ning Xiaoyao put back the treasured 24 brushes into her bag before deciding to find a dependable pawnshop to change them into money.
“They were bestowed by the emperor,” Lou Zigui said, “You can’t exchange them.”
“It’s fine,” Ning Xiaoyao replied, “I’ll file off the imperial seals when we get back.”
“........” said Supreme Commander Lou.
Meanwhile, Grand Preceptor Xie was currently ordering his men to search for his pens in the study. Those were his most treasured set of pens, but how did they disappear after he just let them out to dry in the sun? Grand Preceptor Xie couldn’t accept this reality.
Elder Li only laughed coldly and said, “Grand Preceptor, now you’re saying you’ve lost the gift bestowed by the emperor as an excuse? Is this how you plan to drive this old man away? Why don’t you tell me where you’ve gone wrong? That was His Majesty’s orders. Are you planning to defy and disobey an imperial decree?”
Grand Preceptor Xie just wanted Elder Li to go die. Why is he still alive?
“Who would dare take the emperor’s gift?” Elder Li chuckled coldly.” Who are you planning to frame this time? Is everyone who came to your estate today a suspect and a thief?”
After fighting against Xie Wenyuan for half his life, Elder Li could see right through him. He was nothing more than an extremely vile villain!
Grand Preceptor Xie felt his vision go dark. Xie Anyi only felt that his father would die for sure if this continued, so he kneeled down before Elder Li. “Elder, my father’s body really can’t take it anymore. I implore Elder to return home for the time being.”
Elder Li sat there unmoving. Begging him to be generous? Then what about all the people that Xie Wenyuan had forced to their deaths? Had Xie Wenyuan ever been generous to them?
“Elder,” Grand Preceptor Xie signaled his son to get up before looking at Elder Li. “The vassal lords won’t let go of Prince Fu’s matters just like that. What do you think His Majesty will do in the face of their counter attack?”
Elder Li was stumped by Grand Preceptor Xie’s question. Now it was the Grand Preceptor’s turn to smile coldly. How could it be so simple to be an emperor?
Ning Xiaoyao had no idea that Grand Preceptor Xie had come back to life so soon. She was dragging Lou Zigui along the streets while drinking very fragrant barley tea. She’d also bought some sweet osmanthus candy from an old granny, which tasted 100 times better than the pastries from the Grand Preceptor’s estate. They even bought a big bag of dried fish strips for Big Boss Black and a loud little bell for Little Red. Finally, they rode their horse to stop in front of stage facing the streets and watch a Chinese opera performance showing highlights from various operas.
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t understand the story, which spoke of a talented young man falling in love with a beautiful girl and overcoming all sorts of obstacles together before they married and lived happily ever after.. Still, she watched on with relish. Lou Zigui found the entire thing uninteresting at first, but since Ning Xiaoyao wouldn’t leave, he stayed as well. As time passed, His Excellency Supreme Commander slowly became caught up in the emotions of the play.
“Just what are they singing?” Ning Xiaoyao whispered as she leaned against Lou Zigui.
“Everlasting and unchanging,” Lou Zigui whispered back, “Only envying the mandarin ducks and not immortals. When hair was black, a vow was made to stay until it turns white, this life…”
Ning Xiaoyao stuffed a piece of osmanthus candy into Lou Zigui’s mouth, smiling so that her eyes curved into crescents. “I'm treating you to another candy,” she said.
Big Boss Black licked his balls as he silently ridiculed her. It’s obviously Supreme Commander who paid for everything. Since when did it turn into that ninny treating my Supreme Commander to candy?
The flavor of the osmanthus candy was very light with the perfect level of sweetness. Lou Zigui was about to tell Ning Xiaoyao something when the opera singers on stage did their curtain call. Against the lingering strains of music, multicolored confetti burst from the rafters to rain down around them both.