Chapter 628 - Leaving on a Journey

When Yu Xiaocao appeared in the middle of the crowd sending off the army, with dark circles under her eyes and her eyes red-rimmed from staying up the entire night, Zhu Junyang, who was seated on top of Fierce Wind, immediately spotted her.

Today, the emperor had personally come out to send off these troops. Just as he finished his speech, he saw the newly anointed Great General Zhengxi jumping off his horse and striding towards a certain area. The emperor looked in the direction the youth was headed towards and immediately spotted a familiar face.

“That stinky brat!” The emperor growled in amusement.

Su Ran lightly chuckled and stated, “Since ancient times, even heroes have a weakness for beautiful women. This is something that is quite natural for humans.”

Su Ran also looked in that direction and spotted Xiaocao, who had a worried and anxious expression on her face. The little lass had just been engaged to Royal Prince Yang, yet the prince had to enter the battlefield right now. It wasn’t surprising that she was worried. The foreign invaders at the northwestern borders were all fierce and vicious warriors who weren't afraid of death. Although Royal Prince Yang was incredibly brave and strong, the battlefield was full of hidden dangers. Who could guarantee that nothing bad would happen to him? If the prince had met an untimely end, the little lass would naturally be quite heartbroken and would likely decide to stay alone for the rest of her life...Su Ran’s heart suddenly felt uncomfortable at this thought and an idea sprouted in his head. 

“Imperial Majesty, this subject asks to be sent to observe the army this time!” Su Ran suddenly bowed with his hands together as he volunteered himself.

Zhu Junfan was caught by surprise by this request. He didn’t understand what his chief steward was asking for and instead thought that Su Ran was afraid that his younger cousin might have disloyal thoughts after gaining so much power. He hurriedly said, “Chief Steward Su, we have full confidence and trust in Royal Prince Yang. There’s no need for you to keep an eye on him and the army, right?”

Su Ran replied solemnly, “This subject also believes that Royal Prince Yang is loyal to the bones. However, recently, the hidden soldiers have gotten information that there are some people who are quite unhappy with how the army was arranged this time. Imperial Majesty, you currently don’t have any other projects for me, so there’s really no point in me staying in the capital. It’s probably better for me to also go along this time!”

“Those so-called generals who helped to establish the empire all have too much idle time on their hands. All they do is gossip and grumble all day, like a bunch of gossipy old women. Alright, then go along with the army ah! Our younger cousin is truly like an unstable bomb that could explode at any time. Although he’s had Xiaocao keeping him in check these last two years and hasn’t lost control, there’s no guarantee that he might not lose himself in the bloody environment of the battlefield. With you there, there will at least be someone who can control him! In actuality, I was thinking about letting that lass Xiaocao go along as that would be more secure…” The emperor suddenly came up with an absurd idea of wanting to send Yu Xiaocao, who was Great General Zhengxi’s special medicine, along with the army.

Su Ran hurriedly interjected, “Don’t, please don’t! Although that lass is braver than most, she’s still a maiden. The battlefield is full of vicious sights and scary beasts. I’d be surprised if she wasn’t scared silly after seeing something like that. If you gave out the order, I’m pretty sure Royal Prince Yang would have a falling out with you right then and there. What do you think?”

The emperor rubbed at the tip of his nose and recalled just how much his younger cousin liked the little lass. It was very likely that the prince would cause a ruckus if he did exactly that. Zhu Junfan coughed and said, “We were just mentioning a thought. What are you so nervous for? Could it be that you…”

“Imperial Majesty, this subject views Xiaocao as my younger sister!” Su Ran hastily interrupted the emperor to stop him from finishing that thought.

“That’s exactly what we were referring to, alright? Why are you acting so off as if you’re feeling unconfident about something?” Zhu Junfan eyed his chief steward from head to toe. That fellow had a handsome figure, red lips with spotlessly white teeth, and an elegant scholarly demeanor. If one forgot the fact that he wasn’t a whole man anymore, he would absolutely be considered an incredibly handsome specimen. However, after all, he was still someone who had that alteration done. Could it be...that eunuchs could also end up liking women?

“When has this official ever been unconfident? Imperial Majesty, you’re the one looking too much into this!” Su Ran once again returned to his usual calm and unruffled image and looked towards that little lass, whose eyes were full of worry, “If she didn’t care about my awkward status, this eunuch would truly like to make her my younger sister officially…”

“Mhm! We also believe that could be feasible!” The emperor sent another piercing gaze at him as he nodded, “When my eldest son passes his adulthood ceremony, we will abdicate from the throne and become a leisurely emperor emeritus, bringing the empress along to tour the lands. As for you? You should hurry up and finish training up your disciples and their disciples. When the time comes, if you want to come along with us you can. If you don’t, then you can have your younger sister Yu Xiaocao provide for you in your retirement.”

Su Ran was already used to the emperor occasionally spouting off weird ideas. Although his heart clearly yearned for the ordinary lifestyle of ordinary people, this was just wishful thinking on his end. He didn’t want that lass Xiaocao to be affected by malicious gossip related to him. Thus, this was only a passing thought for him.

“Imperial Majesty, when the eldest imperial prince turns twenty, this subject will not be quite forty. That’s probably too early to retire, right?” He watched as the little maiden cried openly in the arms of Royal Prince Yang. This little lass always revealed her true, sincere self around people and never seemed to care about other people’s opinions about her. Perhaps, the emperor’s ideas weren’t so far fetched after all.  

The emperor and Chief Steward Su both focused on one figure——Zhu Junyang, who was currently tightly hugging Xiaocao’s trembling shoulders against his chest. He could only use his words to try to comfort her, “Don’t worry, this prince is extremely skilled. Can’t you believe in me? Don’t worry ah, the medicines you have given me won’t even have to be used. This prince will come back completely whole and safe. Not even a single hair on my body will be gone!”  

“Liar!” Yu Xiaocao’s voice sounded a bit stuffed, “A person sheds around a dozen or so hairs a day. Thus, your claim that not even a single hair will be gone is just something you’re using to trick me.”

“That’s not true, this prince may trick other people but I would never try to trick you! This prince will use all of my skills to make sure I come back safe and sound, without a single injury. Furthermore, I also have the highly skilled Head Steward Liu and Dong Dali with me this time. This prince will also have a gun at my side. Even the most stubborn enemy can’t possibly get the upper hand against this prince now.”

Zhu Junyang saw that when the little lass raised up her face, her eyes were wet with tears and had turned bright red, like a small bunny’s. A pang went through his heart. He silently vowed, ‘Going forward, I need to make sure to protect her well and prevent her from shedding even one tear.’

“Are the firearms barracks going this time too? How come I didn’t see Zhang Yao, Liu Xin or the others?” Zhang Yao and Liu Xin were captains of their squadrons within the firearms barracks. Last year, these two had accompanied them along with their soldiers to the northern border. They had been in charge of the safety of their small courtyard residence. Thus, Xiaocao still remembered them. 

Zhu Junyang hurriedly whispered into her ear, “The firearms barracks have already set out to head out to reinforce the army. Perhaps, by the time this prince arrives at the northwest, the war will already be over! Don’t cry. How can this prince leave without any worries when I see you cry?” 

“Alright! I’ll stop crying!” Yu Xiaocao used the back of her hand to wipe away the remaining tears in her eyes. She sniffled a few times and then said, “Then you absolutely have to be very, very careful on the battlefield. You need to keep the medicine I gave you on hand at all times, and don’t be stingy with using it…”  

“Don’t worry ah! These medicines were all made by you staying up all night. This prince will definitely keep them safe on me. When you get back, you need to catch up on your sleep right away. Look at those dark circles of yours, you’re almost a panda at this point!” Zhu Junyang attempted to be witty in order to drive away the melancholy in his little lass.

Yu Xiaocao nodded her head obediently. She still raised her head to look into his phoenix eyes as she was not completely convinced. She sternly stated, “You need to take good care of yourself. If anything bad happens to you, don’t even think that I’ll obediently stay by your side! I will use the fastest speed possible to find someone else to marry. Thus, your many years of waiting will all go to waste!”

Zhu Junyang’s handsome face immediately darkened and his heroic brows furrowed into a deep frown. He lowered his head speedily to steal a little kiss from his adorable yet hateful little lass. He coldly huffed, “This prince will never give you that opportunity! Just obediently wait for this prince to come back and marry you. Eat a little more in the meantime. This prince doesn’t like gnawing on pork chops!!”

“Shoo shoo! Just who are you calling a pork chop? You disgusting pervert! Tell me the truth! Do you prefer women who are plump and curvy? If you dare to like some other woman, I will make sure to poison your two beautiful eyes until they’re blind!!” Yu XIaocao lowered her head to glance at the small dumplings on her chest as she snarled angrily.

“Women are truly too frightening when they get angry ah! Is it too late for this prince to regret my decision?” Zhu Junyang revealed an expression full of remorse.

Yu Xiaocao forcefully pinched his sturdy and muscular waist, “Regret your decision if you dare!! You told me before that in the future you’ll listen to everything I say. Then...I solemnly command you today: Come back safe and sound for me!! Do you hear me?”

“Yes! I receive your command, Lady Wife!” Zhu Junyang seriously agreed to her request.

“Don’t worry ah! With me, this expert, keeping an eye on things in addition to Royal Prince Yang’s impressive skills, the only people who are able to harm him are still in their mothers’ wombs!” Su Ran had openly eavesdropped on the two of them as he had been standing next to them for quite a while. He almost burst out into laughter after being amused by their previous conversation.

When Yu Xiaocao heard this, her eyes lit up and the worry on her face immediately disappeared. She excitedly gushed, “Sir Su, you will also be going to reinforce the army ah! With you by Ruizhi’s side, keeping an eye on things, I can completely relax. This time, I will have to humbly ask Sir Su to keep a closer eye on things…” After she finished, she solemnly gave Su Ran a ninety degree bow.

Su Ran lightly lifted her back up with a hand and smiled genially, “No need to be so courteous. This is merely what I should be doing. Don’t worry, if he tries to be impetuous, I will make sure to beat him for you.”

Yu Xiaocao giggled simple-mindedly and said, “Mhm, then I will have to count on you, sir. Zhu Junyang, you need to make sure you listen to Sir Su’s proposals and you absolutely need to make your own safety a priority. As for the war, if it takes longer to win, then it takes longer. I will make sure to plant more high-yielding crops and support Great General Zhenxi with all of my might. I will become your most ardent supporter!!”

Zhu Junyang’s frown deepened even more. That fellow Su Ran was truly an eyesore that kept coming back. Also, that lass Xiaocao seemed to believe that eunuch wholeheartedly. He had made promises left and right and didn’t relieve her worries, yet a single sentence from that loathsome fellow had made her happy. Hmph! Was this prince really not reliable ah?

“Hey! Why are you keeping an eye on the army as the army supervisor? How come this prince had never seen such a position in the army before?” Zhu Junyang gritted his teeth and asked. He crossed his arms across his chest as he glowered at Su Ran. 

Su Ran glanced at him with an ambiguous look in his eyes. He waved the scroll containing the official order in front of the prince’s face as he slowly remarked, “The emperor cares about you as you are his younger cousin. He was afraid that it’d be too much work for you, so he had me go along to help you a bit. See, this was written by the emperor himself. Do you really think that it’s a fake order?

Zhu Junyang snatched the order over and noticed that the ink on the paper had just dried and still had the slight fragrance of wet ink. He knew then that the emperor had just written it. He shot a glance over in the direction of the emperor’s carriage and met the mischievous eyes of his older cousin——the emperor was planning on watching a play ah! Otherwise, why would he deliberately choose Su Ran, the eye sore, to become the army supervisor when anyone else would do? It was truly infuriating!  

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Myst.2's Thoughts

Sanguine’s thoughts: I love the emperor’s and Su Ran’s antics.

Translator: Sanguine