The fourth month, the end of spring, the imperial capital Lin’an precisely had a good scenery.
At the outskirts of Lin’an city, the brilliant and distinguished Eastern Ling’s great army was neatly and orderly advancing towards the imperial capital.
Along the way, the surrounding forest was lush, water and grass abundant, and wild flowers wildly blossomed everywhere.
The army flag was prominent, and that majestic brush work of the character ‘Gu’, dignified and imposing.
Inside an inconspicuous blue roofed horse carriage, someone lightly lifted the curtains, carefully stretching out a pair of eyes.
Those eyes were like that of a small forest deer, limpid and carrying a gloss of cleverness, full of curiosity and excitement.
She looked at the scenery outside the horse carriage, and couldn’t help praising her own decision in her heart.
Following Gu Huai Jiang to Eastern Ling’s imperial capital Lin’an originally was just a spur of the moment for her, but who knew the scenery here would be this good.
Gu Huai Jiang concealed her identity, and quietly had her brought back to the imperial capital, He then told her some Eastern Ling’s local customs and practices.
Finally did she learn that girls, when sitting inside a horse carriage, couldn’t stretch their head out.
And further couldn’t have half the body all stuck out either.
A short while later, she saw a lofty city gate appear in front. The ever extending city gates, unable to see the edge.
When they reached below the city gates, she further felt the imposing might.
So this was the imperial capital, Lin’an.
“Marquis, his Majesty has ordered this one to come welcome you. Congratulations Marquis, for returning in triumph.”
Sitting inside the horse carriage, Yu Fu suddenly heard a sharp voice, like they were speaking with their throat pinched.
This person called themselves ‘za jia*’, presumably a court eunuch from the palace.
(*T/N: Self-addressed pronoun meaning ‘I’ or ‘this one’, only used by eunuchs)
Afterwards, she heard Gu Huai Jiang say a few words of courtesy, then brought along a few personal attendants, and spurred the horse forward to proceed into the city.
Following behind was naturally Yu Fu’s horse carriage.
Following along straight down the capital city’s main street, the Gu Manor sat on the edge of the imperial palace*. That was the best district for the official residences of court officials.
(*T/N: Original term technically translates to ‘palace city’; think similar to the Summer Palace or Forbidden city, how it’s a city within a city.)
Yu Fu secretly looked out from the carriage window, only seeing the manor’s lofty front gate, with jade pillars and cinnabar paint, bright and dazzling to the eyes.
Up above, erected the words ‘Great General Marquis Manor’ in gold lacquer on the horizontal inscription board, and underneath it, stood five young men dressed in splendid brocade and lined orderly in a row.
At first glance, every single one were all extraordinarily handsome, each with different personality.
Presumably, this was the Marquis manor’s young masters. But didn’t Gu Huai Jiang say he had six sons?
“This son welcomes father back home.”
In the young men’s uniform voices, it revealed happiness and the meaning of reunion after a long separation.
“Heard father met with the Western Kun people’s scheme at the borders and nearly died from poison. We were all burning from worry. Now seeing father return safely, truly a great fortune.”
The young man that spoke was the eldest among the five, approximately eighteen nineteen years old.
His appearance was entirely different from Gu Huai Jiang’s imposing look, with fair white skin and a slightly smoothed chin.
A pair of slender phoenix like eyes, when he spoke, glistened with energy.
His handsomeness bordered on the edge of grace, rather unlike someone born from a military lineage, but more like a distinguished wealthy young master on horseback.
He was also the type that girls liked very much.
“Jiu Ge, your eldest brother isn’t here, so in the manor you are the oldest. It must be very tough for you to take care of everything.”
So it turns out he was Gu Huai Jiang’s second son, Gu Jiu Ge5Gu Jiu GeGu family second son.
“The eighteenth of the fourth month is eldest paternal aunt’s fiftieth birthday. After eldest brother heard news that father was in good health, he then rushed to Jin Ling to congratulate eldest aunt for her birthday.”
(*T/N: In Chinese family relations are very specific to how they are addressed, this paternal aunt is the blood related older sister of Gu Huai Jiang.)
Just as Yu Fu was watching intently, she suddenly saw a young master standing in the very back seemingly noticing her peeping.
He pulled the sleeve of the person next to him, and the two of them looked towards the horse carriage together. Finally then did Yu Fu realize that these two looked exactly the same.
No more than fifteen sixteen years of age, yet to be fully grown, but their features were already unusually good-looking.
Gu Huai Jiang’s sons, each surpassed the other in looks.
Don’t know how that eldest young master that went to go congratulate their paternal aunt looked like.
Seems they are Gu Huai Jiang’s youngest twin sons that he spoke of, Gu Xiang2Gu XiangGu family fifth son and Gu Yi3Gu YiGu family sixth son.
“Yu Fu, come.”
As soon as Gu Huai Jiang spoke, a servant went forward and parted carriage screen. Yu Fu half rose from her seat and got out of the carriage. That servant then crouched on the ground, using his back as a foot cushion.
Yu Fu slightly frowned, her little body paused atop the horse carriage.
Afterwards, she suddenly burst out her energy from playing leapfrog in her youth in the valley, and at once, leaped over that servant, steadily landing on the ground.
Hearing the sound, the servant was startled and quietly lifted his head to look. Yu Fu was already heading towards the manor gates.
From the surrounding came chattering laughter.
Unknown as to who began to laugh first, but eventually that laughter became more and more loud. Gu Yi almost started snorting like a pig from laughing so hard, and quickly cover his mouth.
Losing their composure like this in front of Gu Huai Jiang would result in getting punished to kneel in the ancestral halls.
He couldn’t help lifting his head to peek at Gu Huai Jiang’s expression, yet saw him also unable to hold back his smile.
Yu Fu lowered her head and straightened up the pearl necklace on her neck. She’d used too much strength in that leap just now, don’t know if her hair messed up or not.
The crowd of young masters finally had a chance to measure her up and down.
Her face was white and tender, about ten years of age, yet unreasonably good looking.
She was wearing a silvery red brocade jacket, and many jade and pearl bracelets and such, each and every one all uncommon goods.
If an ordinary girl dressed like this, who knows how tacky it would be. But worn on Yu Fu’s body, it instead nicely contrasted her natural innocence.
Then carefully thinking back to her actions just now, jumping off the horse carriage, rather to mess up her hair ornaments, than to step on a person’s back.
This kind of little miss…..who could she be?
“From now on, Yu Fu is your younger sister. This is your father’s first time back in the capital, and must enter the palace to report to his Majesty. I’ll give Yu Fu to you all to take care of.”
Gu Huai Jiang only left behind these words, before he hurriedly spurred his horse forward and left.
Everyone all looked to each other.
What did he mean….’from now on she’s their younger sister’?
Could it be that father, after having been widowed for more than ten years, finally thought things through and found a woman outside?
The five young masters all lowered their heads and studied Yu Fu. Coming closer, they finally realize that Yu Fu was indeed too short.
Compared with the tallest, second young master, Gu Jiu Ge, she only reached his waist.
Yu Fu sensed that she was gradually getting surrounded, and strenuously lifted her head to look at the five of them.
The five of them felt exhausted from lowering their heads, and Yu Fu also felt exhausted from lifting her head.
The atmosphere seemingly went silent, and the two sides stood in opposition, with a large disparity in strength and some slight ill intentions.
A good while later, Gu Jiu Ge slightly narrowed his phoenix eyes and slowly spoke.
“Little girl, who’s your mother?”
T/N: Regarding how the dates are translated, the dates in the novel follow lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, which is why the months are just translated as numbers.