Chapter 32.2: Medicine for the Soul

On this day, Ma Haihu decided that he was going to bring his gang of brothers to attack the Duke Lu Residence. He was going to give Sheng Chumu two choices. He could either marry Hainiu and everyone shall drink the celebratory wine happily or if he chose not to, they were going to kill him.

Everyone’s firewood was ablaze when their servant suddenly ran in. He announced that the Sheng brothers from the Duke Lu Residence were here and they wanted to meet Ma Hainiu.

Ma Hainiu was excited and nervous at the same time. “What are they looking for me for? Has Sheng Chumu told his family about us?” All of a sudden, she realised that her elder brother and fellow brothers had all found seats. “They are here to see me, all of you look so coarse and fierce. When they come in, it will look as if they had entered a bandit’s nest. Hurry and leave.”

Haicao, who had grown up with Ma Hainiu, said roughly, “We are scared that you will get bullied.”

Ma Haihu understood his sister the best. “Okay, okay, okay, we will leave. Younger Sister, we will be in the back. Anytime you need support, you can just call and we will be out to help.”

Ma Hainiu pouted, “That’s better.”

Everyone hid in the inner house with their ears flattened against the wall.

Sheng Chuling entered with Sheng Chujun. They saw only Ma Hainiu and immediately stuck out their chests.

With their elder brother absent, the second brother should take charge. Sheng Chuling cleared his throat. “We came here today because…”

Ma Haniu cut him off, “I know why you came.”

Sheng Chujun was delighted. “That’s great. Let’s move quickly, hand the thing over.”

Ma Hainiu was thinking that they were really direct. “How can it be so fast, I still have to prepare. Rest assured, when the time is right, I will get people to carry it to the Duke Lu Residence. It will at least be a few buckets full.”

Sheng Chujun choked. “A few buckets? That is a lot for an antidote.”

Ma Hainiu froze. “Antidote?”

Sheng Chuling started to realise that something was not right. “Then what did you think it was?”

Ma Hainiu raised her brows. “Wasn’t it dowry?”

“Bah!” Sheng Chujun did not detect the danger. “Are you really thinking of marrying Elder Brother?”

“Of course I am going to marry Sheng Chumu, we have already…”

Sheng Chujun lifted his hand, with an expression that showed that he knew it all. “Kissed, hugged and even tore clothes.”

Ma Hainiu said matter of fact, “That’s right, so he has to marry me.”

Sheng Chuling laughed, “So what? Don’t you know the famous nickname my Elder Brother had last year in Chang’an? He is Chang’an’s number one hedonist! If he had to marry every girl he kissed--”

Sheng Chujun continued, “Then our Duke Lu Residence will be swarmed.” 

Ma Hainiu was furious. “Oi! I treat both of you so nicely, yet you are so arrogant. What are you all even here for?”

“For the antidote!” Both brothers shouted together.

“The antidote? Impossible!”

“You want to be our sister-in-law? Impossible!”

Ma Hainiu suddenly shouted, “Elder Brother!”

Sheng Chujun chuckled, “It doesn’t matter how nicely you call us.”

Sheng Chuling looked back and tugged on Sheng Chujun’s sleeves. Sheng Chujun turned around. Oh god. They didn’t know when but the hall was suddenly filled with burly guys with broad shoulders and thick waists. The two of them did not even have time to get into position before they were attacked. Bam, bam. They were beaten up. Ma Hainiu calmed down and drank tea. She kept her ears alert. Finally, she heard the Sheng brothers shout Sister-in-law before she called for them to stop.

She asked, “You all are no longer against us?”

Sheng Chuling was the first to change his tune. “We are definitely not against it! As the second brother of Sheng Chumu, I will announce that I highly approve of this. This marriage is simply adding more close relatives. Let’s form a strong collaboration. The two of you are the ideal combination, no flaws at all!”

Ma Hainiu and the pirates’ gaze turned to Sheng Chujun.

“...” Sheng Chujun was frightened. He glared at his second brother. His second brother already said everything he could think of! He thought for a long while before managing to force out a sentence. “Have children early!”

Ma Hainiu was satisfied. “Since everyone always says words have no meaning, you two shall write that down. Put your fingerprints on it before you can leave.”

Sheng Chuling and Sheng Chujun exchanged glances. It was a mistake making this trip!

 

The Crown Prince was invited to Grand Prince Liang’s residence. He had finished an entire pot of tea but Grand Prince Liang had yet to appear. Suddenly, he saw a person wearing Turkish clothes walk past the hall. He was startled. His Imperial Father had just begun a war against Illig Qaghan. Why was there a Turkish person in Grand Prince Liang’s residence? He immediately sprung to action as he silently followed the person. He realised that the Turkish person had smoothly made his way into the back garden. Grand Prince Liang, who had yet to appear in the front hall, was actually waiting there.

Grand Prince Liang asked, “Is everything ready?”

The Turkish man replied, “Everything is ready. I have checked every blade, they are all sharp.”

Grand Prince Liang lowered his voice. “It is rare that the Crown Prince is willing to visit me. We cannot make any mistakes.”

“Please rest assure, Your Highness.”

“Good.” Grand Prince Liang spoke mysteriously, “I will go and meet the Crown Prince now.”

Hiding in the dark, the Crown Prince heard everything clearly. He never thought that Grand Prince Liang would harbour evil intentions and collude with the Turkish people to set a trap to bring him down. He turned to leave. However, Grand Prince Liang’s residence was huge and very soon, he met with several guards. They seemed to be looking for someone. He knew that they were looking for him and had no choice but to retreat to the back garden, hoping that there would be another exit.

Initially, he was still clear as to which direction he should go. However, as the footsteps of the guards neared, the Crown Prince had to give up using the corridor and hide within a small forest. He was panicking and could not recognise the way. All of a sudden, a green field appeared before him. He was extremely astonished. There were several tents set up and Turkish people were walking about as if he was the uninvited guest.

The Crown Prince suddenly turned around. Grand Prince Liang was standing behind him with his guards.

“Grand Prince Liang…” What are you trying to do!

Grand Prince Liang laughed lightly, “Aiya, you found out. I wanted to give you a surprise.”

“I am not feeling well, I think I should go back…” The Crown Prince thought that Grand Prince Liang would not realise that he had found out and that he still had a chance to escape. 

“Eh! It is so rare that you are here, you can’t leave like this. I prepared all these for you and you haven’t got to taste any yet. Come come come!” Grand Prince Liang enthusiastically pulled the Crown Prince to the tents.

The Crown Prince was being dragged by Grand Prince Liang. In front of him, two fierce looking Turkish warriors brandished their bent swords. The Crown Prince could not help but clench his fists, ready to fight for his life. They lifted their swords towards the skies. However, the swords did not swing down and the soldiers started to cheer.

The Crown Prince was stunned. “Aren’t they Turkish people?”

Grand Prince Liang laughed and replied, “Of course not. These are my soldiers dressed up as them. How is it? Isn’t it rare to see such plains in Chang’an? Desert scenes are my favourite. It is a pity that I am Grand Prince Liang and cannot wish to ever go to a desert. I can only ask people to dress up and set up some tents to satisfy my craving.”

The Crown Prince smiled as well. “Grand Prince Liang, you are in a good mood.”

Grand Prince Liang ordered his men to start the bonfire and bring out the huge pot. The huge pot was filled with meat and a thick bone soup. Ladies dressed in Turkish attire started to dance as the guards scooped out large pieces of meat from the boiling soup. They placed it in a huge bowl and served it to Grand Prince Liang and the Crown Prince. Grand Prince Liang took out a Turkish-looking small knife and heroically cut up the meat. He pierced a piece of meat and placed it into his mouth. A guard presented a small knife to the Crown Prince.

These were all new to the Crown Prince.

Grand Prince Liang boasted as he ate, “This knife is a genuine item bought back from the desert. It is extremely exciting to use it to cut meat. I especially asked them to sharpen the knife. Crown Prince, use it and see for yourself.”

The Crown Prince was interested as he cut up a piece and placed it in his mouth. “Not bad, it tastes especially nice. But is this...beef?”

Grand Prince Liang nodded. “Yes.”

The Crown Prince hesitated, “Imperial Father ordered the cows to be cherished and not to kill them for no reason. The number of cows are all recorded. Grand Prince Liang, how did you report to the officials after killing a cow?”

Grand Prince Liang grinned. “It doesn’t matter, there is no need to report. This cow was stolen.”

“What?” The Crown Prince was shocked. “You stole a cow? Whose did you steal? Stealing cows from farmers is equivalent to hurting farmers and the punishment is severe.”

“Aiya, my dear Crown Prince. With our status, what is the big deal about stealing a cow? Even if we get found out, it is not like we kidnapped women. We can just compensate them for a cow. You should let go of those rules for the time being and happily enjoy your time. Can you do that? Grand Prince Liang cut a piece of meat and handed it over, along with the knife, to the Crown Prince. “Eat!”

The Crown Prince suddenly reached out to take the knife and ate the meat heartily. Take it as if it is a dream. When he wakes up, he can go back to being the Li Chengqian who was bound by his hands and legs by the uncountable number of rules. 

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