Upon reaching my family’s manor, I jumped down my horse and politely bid Feng Zhao Wen goodbye.
“No rush! No rush! This prince will only leave once General An enters.”
I wanted to rid myself off this baggage quick; so I pounded on the door before repeatedly yelling, “Uncle Tong, open the door!”
The door squeaked open as a latch flies off. Used to this situation after so many years, I retreated a few steps and used my hands to cover my head. The door latch smashed into my left shoulder before crashing to the ground.
I turned around to look at Feng Zhao Wen in embarrassment, “Sorry for making Your Highness see all this. My Father’s temper is a little on the bad side!”
“Rotten brat! Whose temper is bad, you say?” a startling thunder-like voice from behind me scared me off.
I quickly tried to remedy the situation and flatter him, “I-I mean my Father’s temper couldn’t be any better!” And then, I pointed at Feng Zhao Wen, “I was talking about his dad! His dad’s temper is really bad! He gets hit every single day!”
Father looked over to him and froze before putting out a warm laughter, “Your Highness the Crown Prince, this lowly one lost conduct and offended the crown prince….” He hits my head heavily.
I held my head while yelping in pain; secretly thinking that father made the correct choice when he chose to not live in Ping Kang Lane.
So many colleagues lived there; it would be fine if he opened the door like that and hit Uncle Yan with the door latch; other than a couple of curse words, everything would be fine. But what if he ended up hitting an imperial counselor or a minister? Things would get really messy!
Father was truly admirable ah! How could he hit his own child like that while warmly inviting Feng Zhao Wen in?
From my fourteen years of experience with him, he was truly sincere when he invited Feng Zhao Wen in.
That, in itself was a scary situation.
What was even scarier was the crown prince didn’t even reject his offer; he entered the manor arm in arm with my father.
As I sat in front of the dinner table along with Feng Zhao Wen, I got suspicious. Father had never been one to be courteous with his guests and Feng Zhao Wen wasn’t a courteous guest either.
But, I quickly forgot about all those when I saw my favorite dishes filling the table; savory spicy chicken and savory spicy quail…… I quickly picked up the dishes with my chopsticks.
Father helplessly laughed at Feng Zhao Wen, “These lowly ones lost conduct; I didn’t teach my son well.”
My mother died early. My Father was very harsh towards me in everything except when in front of the dinner table. When I was three, I was a crybaby who always looked for my mother. I refused to eat unless I see her. Uncle Tong the gatekeeper told me I was a ‘stubborn brat’. I got so thin I could be compared to the little quails on the table right now….. Father was worried; he didn’t think I could live long.
Because of that, Father had something akin to psychological trauma when it comes to me eating. No matter how crude I was in eating, he would yield towards me and would never reproach me in front of the dinner table.
Feng Zhao Wen laughed lightly, “After eating with General An these past few days, this prince thought General An likes light meals.”
In order to get closer to Yan Ping these past few days, I always ate his favorite meals in great enthusiasm. I was originally eating in great delight, but after hearing Feng Zhao Wen, the chicken bone in my mouth almost got stuck in my throat. Even my chopstick that was aiming for a spicy shrimp froze midair. Feng Zhao Wen did not waste that chance and quickly place the biggest piece of shrimp into his bowl.
I watched with bulged eyes as the subject that I coveted entered his bowl. I couldn’t stop myself from glaring at him in contempt. He casually smiled back.
My father hits the table as he laughed loudly, “Brat, you finally met your match today! You always fought for food against me and I always let you win.”
There was no distinction of age between me and Father when in front of the dining table. It was normal for us to fight over our favorite meals. That old official uncle also loved to compete with me whenever he stopped by for meals. But in front of Feng Zhao Wen……. My face unwittingly turned red.
Father didn’t seem to detect my embarrassment; he continued laughing with Feng Zhao Wen, “This brat loves savory and spicy food the most! Just like me!”
Feng Zhao Wen laughed happily, “Old General’s taste is as exquisite as the younger generations; savory meals are more fulfilling. Those light dishes are so tasteless.” He was not courteous at all; he ate the spicy shrimps until half of the dish was empty.
The meals in my house were really spicy; other people normally could not stomach them. The way Feng Zhao Wen ate showed that he truly enjoyed them. Remembering the kind of dishes I placed on his bowl these past few days, my face reddened. I cannot believe this Crown Prince would actually use a tactic of war even in front of the dining table; blocking me from eating with his words and dominating the rest of the meals until they were inside his tummy.
I secretly outstretched my leg and estimated where Feng Zhao Wen’s legs would be; after that, I heartlessly stomped on him.
“Ah—–“ Father cried out as he shot up from where he sat. I paled and quickly protect my head as I trembled. I stole a look at Feng Zhao Wen and he pressed down the twitching on his lips as he puts on a worried expression in front of my father, “What’s wrong, Great General Han?”
Father pointed at me as he howled, “An Yi, you little bastard! You are getting more and more courageous!”
Feng Zhao Wen was probably the only person that ate to his fulfillment that night.
After Father courteously sent Feng Zhao Wen away, a murderous intent flashed in his eyes as he stared at Feng Zhao Wen’s back profile.
“This fellow is shrewd and calculative, he is a big threat to the Great Chen.”
The Great Qi and the Great Chen were like two friends, how could Feng Zhao Wen be a threat to us?
I couldn’t understand him. I rubbed the bump in my head that was formed after he hit me. “Father treated him with great courtesy when face to face; now that he turned around, he is suddenly the enemy. Why didn’t you just poison him just now?”
I was an obedient child. Father told me that it was okay to lie to other people, but I must never lie to him. Just say it straight if I have anything to say, or else I would get a beating.
Father knocked me in the head, “Do you think I am an idiot?!”
I made a pained sound before running back into the manor, all the while screaming, “I even got hit for being honest, there is no justice in this world!”
Father bellowed from behind me, “In this house, I am the world!”
Father was emotionally unstable. Not only did he not pretend to be cultivated in front of Feng Zhao Wen, he was also very irritable; I got hit very pitifully today.
Lucky it was in front of Feng Zhao Wen; had it been Yan Ping, I would’ve dug a hole and buried myself in it.
After closing the door, Father stared at me before raising his fist. I covered my head as I retreated. Seeing his expression that showed no signs of softening down, I retreated by large steps and seek shelter behind Uncle Tong. I pitifully begged Father, “Father, I didn’t do it on purpose! I originally wanted to stomp Feng Zhao Wen’s feet!”
He jumped over and point the door latch towards me. Uncle Tong risked his life to stop him, “Calm down, Great General! Xiao Lang might have her own shortcomings, but she is still a good child!”
Uncle Tong was Father’s Deputy General. He saved Father’s life once and lost an arm because of it. He couldn’t bear to leave Father so Father arranged for him to live in our manor. But he was stubborn and refused to live an idle life, so in the end, he chose to become our porter/gatekeeper.
Father threw away the latch bitterly before pointing at my face, “Little bastard, you are so bad at reading people! Just one look and I could tell that Crown Prince of Qi isn’t a good news. I’m afraid, within ten years, the entire world will belong to someone with surname Feng. Are we really going to have to depend on that kid with runny nose inside the Eastern Palace? Hmph….”
In one glance, Feng Zhao Wen did appeared to be someone of great talent, but since I was close to Xiao Huang, I was naturally biased towards him.
I clicked my tongue as I seek shelter behind Uncle Tong, “Daddy, if I am a little bastard, what are you? As for Xiao Huang, I will help tutor him!”
Father picked up the latch with a red face, “The nerve of this brat! Do you think being a loyal official is that rewarding? Everything you have right now; from head to toe comes from your parents, so you must listen to me. You have to protect this little life of yours! Once Feng Zhao Wen makes his move on the Great Chen, you have to be the first one to surrender and bow down!”
“What about you then?” I bravely asked him.
“That has nothing to do with you! Sons doesn’t have to care for their parents in this world!”
I clutched my head and bravely peeked at him from behind Uncle Tong before shouting loudly, “The heavens will collapse before I stop caring about you!”
He threw the latch before laughing irritably, “Alright! Alright! I will allow this little bastard to care for me! Once the sky does collapse, we’ll see if you can stand.”
Uncle Tong watched Father who walked away before pulling me to sit next to him, “Xiao Lang must never be angry at the Great General. He was only concerned about you. He spent his entire life fighting in war and had killed so many people. Only after a great effort did he finally have you, but in the end, the madam ended up passing away. He is only worried about you; he wants you to live in peace in this chaotic world. Even though he has a bad temper, you must never take offense. He only wants what’s best for you……..”
Of course he only wanted what’s best for me.
I was now living the life he wanted for me; a disloyal official of the kingdom! A bellyful of food and a life of prosperity as I slept leisurely on Feng Zhao Wen’s dragon bed.
But back then, I didn’t know that things would end this way; I was full of naivety. I wished that Feng Zhao Wen would stay in the Great Chen longer so I could have more peaceful days with Yan Ping. But Father told me that he was only there to appraise the strength of the Great Chen. He only selected me and Yan Ping to accompany him to see if he could sow discord between the officials in court.
Naturally, I didn’t put the matters between the two countries in heart. I kept them company, strolling around here and there happily. A day before Feng Zhao Wen left, I actually asked him this: “I wonder if Your Highness can stay for a couple more days.”
The faint traces of smile in his eyes swept over both me and Yan Ping. There was that guilty conscience in me as I looked into his eyes, feeling as though he had detected my selfish desire. He simply said, “This prince has no way to repay General An’s kind thoughts. This prince truly enjoyed wandering around with General An and General Yan.”
I felt the same way, the past few days had been especially wonderful.
What he said won my heart. My previous dislike towards him gradually and reluctantly disappeared.
Despite my repeated persuasion for him to stay, the Crown Prince of Great Qi got on his carriage and left the Great Chen.
serene: Chapter 13 is sponsored by Rebecca!