Tian Bing Qing vaguely remembered that the Crown Prince was a very happy child when he was little. He loved to smile.
Back then, the previous empress was still alive and he was the beloved youngprince. When he was one year old, he entered the Eastern Palace.
When the Crown Prince was only eight, the empress passed away.
Over the past years, Consort Tian received sole doting from the emperor. She gave birth to Princess Min An before the previous empress died. When the previous empress learned of Princess Min An’s birth, she had laughed before she died.
Back then, Tian Bing Qing had started to know things. He had been serving the Crown Prince for 4 to 5 years.
He used to think that although the emperor was cold towards the previous empress, she managed to secure her seat by giving birth to the Crown Prince, the emperor’s only son.
But now, he really wanted to shake the late empress from inside her coffin and said: Look! Consort Tian not only stole your seat, lived in your phoenix palace and robbed you off your man, she also mistreated your son. How could you die while smiling?
The common people had a saying: You first had a step mother; then you had a stepfather.
The emperor slowly turned from a real father to a step father towards the Crown Prince in front of Tian Bing Qing’s eyes. The emperor went from looking at him with a warm smile to looking from above with raised eyebrows. Back then, he truly wanted to go to the late empress’ tomb and cry.
But the Crown Prince learned to accept it faster than he did. He grew to be quiet and reserved pretty fast, resulting in a reticent personality. He learned literature and martial arts real hard.
When the Crown Prince was nine, he went to Yu Feng Mountain to hunt, riding a precious horse bestowed by the emperor. After a particularly bad accident, the Crown Prince broke his legs and sustained heavy injuries on his internal organs; he almost died.
Even though this matter made thousands of people lost their lives, every cloud had it’s silver lightning. This matter taught the emperor one thing, he only had one son, the Crown Prince.
If he had no son, his imperial brothers would be more than happy to give theirs to sit on the golden seat.
Soon, the emperor gradually warmed up towards the Crown Prince.
Back then, the Crown Prince laid on his bed days and nights, calmly looking out to the window. He once heard the Crown Prince sighing, “It is better if it is personally reared.”
He did not understand what he meant; stupidly staring at the Crown Prince.
A flash of ice could be seen in his phoenix eyes, “That horse was reared in the Imperial Stable for two years. That day, in the Yu Feng Mountain, I heard the sound of whistle; one that I usually heard in the Imperial Stable.” He was pensive and wise; unlike any other child.
Now that he put it that way, how could Tian Bing Qing not understand?
That docile horse that had been trained for two years, for whom had it been prepared for?
Everytime he thought about it, his heart jumped. He almost lost His Highness…..
Lucky the late empress blessed him.
Tian Bing Qing kneeled on the cold ground facing the direction of the late empress’ tomb.
Before she passed, the late empress decided to see things through back then; she did something to ensure the infertility of the emperor. If she hadn’t done that, there wouldn’t have been an army of physicians bustling to drag the Crown Prince back from the gate of death.
During the night in which the Crown Prince struggled for his life, he had heard the prince’s nanny kneeling while muttering that to the deceased empress outside.
The late empress was a wise woman.
Back then, the nine year old bedridden boy had smiled, “Xiao Tian, go and bring a puppy from outside the palace for me. Lying on the bed all day is really boring.”
There were a lot of exquisite pets in the palace’s Zhen Qin courtyard; from puppies to birds and tigers. The palace servants cared for them really well, but because they cared for them a tad too well, it became scary to people nowadays.
Tian Bing Qing went out of the palace and brought back a little ash-brown puppy from a farmer’s family. He was ugly and stupid and had only opened his eyes. His flesh wriggled as he moved around, trying to find something to eat.
His Highness was really happy after looking at him; he forbade everyone from feeding him, not even Tian Bing Qing. He would personally feed him everyday.
That puppy had temper as well. If anyone that was not the Crown Prince offered him meat, he would covet the meat but would turn his head around stiffly. He was so adorable and funny.
The servants around the Crown Prince would all bring pieces of meat to toy with the dog, Xiao Hui. Everytime His Highness decided to read study, he would be drawn towards them by the uproar of laughter instead. He too would laugh in delight.
When that time comes, Xiao Hui would circle the Crown Prince while whining and sniffing his robes.
Many years later, when An Xiaolang appeared and incited a warm smile on the Crown Prince’s face, Tian Bing Qing would always remember a smiling Feng Zhao Wen circled by Xiao Hui.
The way she and Xiao Hui flattered people was the same.
Unfortunately, many years prior, Xiao Hui had been killed by someone in the pond of the imperial garden. When they pulled him out of the pond, his little body was already bloated pitifully.
He thought it was all his fault. Dogs from poor families were not suited to be raised inside the palace.
Anyway, back then, the only difference was the person An Xiao Lang was flattering was not the Crown Prince, but rather that young general from the Great Chen.
The Crown Prince had always hated sycophants. But back then, when he starting showing her his interest, he returned to the VIP posthouse and laughed before saying, “Xiao Tian, she is it.”
Tian Bing Qing was shocked senseless; he bitterly tried to persuade him, “Your Highness, are you sure?”
He had spent the last few years in war, made from iron and covered in blood. When his phoenix eyes fell on Tian Bing Qing, the eunuch’s legs turned soft. “What is there to be reconsidered?”
In recent years, as the Crown Prince grew older, Empress Tian had been trying to stuff his Eastern Palace with concubines and maids, but he had always turned them away.
He once mustered up courage to persuade Feng Zhao Wen, “Even if Your Highness refused those women that the empress sent, you should at least choose one from wherever you want. It is not good to be all by yourself. The emperor will bestow you a marriage sooner or later, anyway.” There wasn’t a single serving girl on the Crown Prince’s side at all. It was not hard to guess the reason.
Hearing that, the Crown Prince slammed his booklet against the table, “Right, Xiao Tian. Why didn’t I think of this? Since the women here cannot be touched, why don’t I find one from outside and rear her here?”
Tian Bing Qing trembled, suddenly remembering Xiao Hui.
He continued persuading him, “Your Highness, don’t tell me you want to kidnap a little girl from outside and raise her here. By the time she grows and reaches a marriageable age, your age….”
Later, when the emperor announced a decree telling the Crown Prince to visit the Great Chen, he saw a rare delight in the Crown Prince’s visage, “Xiao Tian-ah, why don’t we select a bride from the maidens of the Great Chen? All the esteemed maidens in the Great Qi have relations with the people in the harem, this prince does not wish to involve myself with them.”
Tian Bing Qing wanted to cry; this stupid mouth of his really deserved a slap.
The Crown Prince had always been one who did what he said he would. Even though that General Yan was there when he roamed around with An Xiaolang, the more time he spent with her, the more satisfied he became.
Tian Bing Qing could not bear to break his hope, but the future really did seemed too bleak, “Your Highness, I think that An Xiaolang really has feelings for that Yan Xiaolang. I’m afraid……..”
The smug Crown Prince laughed joyfully, “Xiao Tian, you only sees her fawning over General Yan but failed to see the road of her getting over him.”
Getting over him?
“These past few days, this prince realized that An Xiaolang is aware of General Yan’s likes and dislikes. I’m afraid she has been by his side for a long time. We can see how blessed she feels just by looking at her face. Just how sincere must she be to fawn over him like that?”
Tian Bing Qing had been in the palace for a long time, he knew how to differentiate sincerity and whatnot.
He thought for a while before nodding, “Your Highness is good at reading people; An Xiaolang is not a completely senseless person. Moreover, she comes from a powerful family so she will not be swayed by riches. She couldn’t be any more suitable.”
Just, Your Highness, are you sure she will fall for you?
Within the three years of them returning to the Great Qi, they received latest news about An Xiaolang from the spies they placed there.
That night after they declared war on the Great Chen, the Crown Prince was slightly drunk as he leaned against Tian Bing Qing, slowly walking to an empty courtyard. His voice could not hide that trace of lightness inside him, “Xiao Tian, An Xiaolang’s father died.”
Tian Bing Qing: “…………..” Your Highness, was that the way to announce such a mournful matter? Never mind about trying to sounding mournful, why did he sound like he was about to celebrate?
An Xiaolang’s father had never openly objected you from stealing his daughter. He only rejected the offer of gold from the Great Qi; he wasn’t one to betray his ruler.
But he did say once, that should the day comes, he wished his daughter could live the peaceful life of a commoner under the Crown Prince’s rule.
Back then, both master and servant failed to see how different things would be after raising her. The common people all spoke about white-eyed wolf. One that you raised with your heart. You raised it and reared it and before you knew it, you already invested a lot of feelings for it. Loads and loads of feelings. So much feelings that even he failed to gauge the depth of his feeling for her.
(TN: White-eyed wolf is the person that you raised with your heart and soul only for it to grow rebellious against you/always throw tantrum/ignores you etc. Basically ungrateful/greedy/selfish.)