Zhu Junfan nodded and said, “The person who had set the poison has already been caught. The perpetrator was one of the first set of people who had been recruited to take care of the horses. It’s said that he’s normally very obedient and looked like an honest and loyal man. Usually, he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary either. Who would have thought that he had hidden for so long and only came out now?”
Zhu Junfan had already made sure to deeply investigate all of the people who worked at the stud farm and they had actually managed to pull out a few people who had suspicious backgrounds. However, these people didn’t have the chance to do anything before they had all gotten caught.
“Steward Yan from the stud farm stated that he had once lost one of the detoxifying pills. After interrogating the culprit, he admitted that he had secretly sent out the farm’s fodder and pills to his master. If the enemy has an expert medicinal chemist who is good at making poisons, it’s possible that he has figured out the secrets to these pills and fodder. Thus, that is why they made this deeply hidden spy reveal himself and cause this calamity.”
Zhu Junfan wasn’t completely sure whether or not his deduction this time was correct. After all, Yu Xiaocao was his younger cousin’s sweetheart. If anything ever happened to her, it was more than likely that his cousin would slaughter his way up to the throne to beat his ass...however, the stud farm at the border was not only Zhu Junyang’s special project, but it was also something that he himself had looked forward to. Didn’t every leader of a country long for a rich empire with a strong army?
“Imperial Majesty, from what you’re saying, it looks like the reason why they caused this problem was to bring me out to take the bait? However, the detoxifying pills and horse fodder had all gone through Ruizhi’s hands to Steward Yan’s. How could a small horse groom find out just who made these things?” While she was at the horse farm, Zhu Junyang was afraid of making her too conspicuous and acted as a smokescreen for her the entire time. Did she still end up raising the suspicions of these foreign enemies?
Zhu Junfan placed his long, slender fingers onto the desk and solemnly said, “That spy stated that Junyang, you, and Chief Steward Su had been marked as the most likely targets. Your appearances, personalities and clothing preferences have all been transmitted out to them. This time, whoever goes out, will be marked as the person who made the medicines. The other side had already sent down orders: Do your best to catch the person alive. If it’s too hard to keep them alive, then kill them!”
Yu Xiaocao thought for a bit and said, “So from what you’re saying, this particular mission is quite dangerous! This official strongly requests that if I’m to take this mission, the money given should be increased by a few fold…”
“In actuality, you could also make the detoxification pills at your residence and then we will send guards to transport it over!” Zhu Junfan paused for a moment before he continued, “You are a trusted aide and official. The people of this empire need you ah!”
“Imperial Majesty, please don’t say it like that! This official’s goosebumps have risen! This official is only a small, insignificant farming girl, so please don’t put the pressure of all of the people on my head. I’m a weak and tender maiden and cannot handle such lofty responsibilities!”
Yu Xiaocao was now used to acting silly around this old transmigrator friend of hers. Su Ran had already gotten used to her antics but the little eunuch, Su Chi, was so shocked that his eyeballs almost fell out of his head——there was actually someone who dared to speak this way to the emperor. Did she feel like she had lived for too long?
Zhu Junfan glared at Su Chi and then continued to converse with Xiaocao, “I heard that you’re planning on starting to hybridize rice plants at the Imperial Plantations, right? We don’t have high expectations. As long as these new rice paddies are able to come up to a thousand catties per mu, then we will be satisfied!”
Su Chi’s eyes widened even further, ‘A thousand catties per mu, wasn’t this expectation a bit too high? Did you want to force Official Yu into a death sentence ah?’ As the young eunuch thought about this, he looked sympathetically towards that slender and delicate looking girl.
However, he would have never expected that the young maiden, who he was sympathizing with, would actually boldly state, “Super high-yielding hybrid rice strains can already produce three thousand catties per mu. Thus, there’s no reason why I can’t end up producing a hybrid rice that can get up to a thousand catties per mu!”
‘Three thousand catties per mu? Miss Yu, are you sure you’re not dreaming? Right now, rice paddies that produce three hundred catties per mu only happen during a prosperous year, alright? The emperor is letting his imagination run wild, so you should be bringing him down back to reality. Instead, you’re dreaming the same dream as he is. When the time comes and you're unable to make good on your promise, wouldn’t that be a crime of ‘deceiving the monarch’ ah?’
Before his master had left, he had repeatedly reminded him that he needed to pay more attention to the Yu Residence and Miss Yu. If they encountered any difficulties, he should help them if he could. However, what was he supposed to do now? Was he supposed to stop Miss Yu in front of the emperor and have her take back her words? ‘Master, ah, master. This task you set upon me is too hard. This disciple can’t do it ah!’
“When you say it like that, we truly don’t want you to take any risks anymore…” Jiangnan had a lot of land suitable for rice cultivation. If the rice paddy yields could go up, then all of the people in the Great Ming Empire would be fortunate! Zhu Junfan now regretted his previous decision.
Yu Xiaocao's eyes shifted a bit as she replied, “Not a problem. This official can pretend to go. I don’t know whether, within the hidden guards, if there are any suitable soldiers who have a similar appearance and build as me.”
Zhu Junfan threw a look towards Su Chi. Before Chief Steward Su left, he had stated that all of the matters regarding the hidden guards would be temporarily given to his future successor. This fellow should know the hidden guards like the back of his own hand.
Su Chi immediately stepped forward to state, “There are a few soldiers who have a similar build to Official Yu. However...Official Yu’s skin is as pale and luminous as snow. There are probably very few people in this world who can compare to her skin quality…”
What a flattering statement! Yu Xiaocao thought carefully for a bit. She didn’t think she had any previous interactions with this new assistant chief steward before, so why did it seem like he was trying to curry favor with her? Eh, it didn’t matter. Having someone treat her well was much more pleasing than having someone regard her with an arrogant expression.
She smiled, “Little Chief Steward Su’s compliments are too much! As long as you find someone with large eyes, it doesn’t matter if her skin is on the tanner side. I have some special face powder on hand. After using it, one’s skin will look white and bright and it also looks extremely natural.”
“Official Yu, I don’t dare to take the title of ‘chief steward’. If you don’t dislike it, then you can call me Ah Chi instead, alright?” Su Chi was even more deferential towards her. His master had told him that he considered Miss Yu like a younger sister. This meant that seeing Marital Aunt Yu was like seeing his master in person.
‘Ah Chi? But I’m younger than you!!’ Yu Xiaocao met the eyes of her old transmigrator friend’s eyes and saw the mockery within his eyes. Zhu Junfan resisted the urge to laugh. Instead he coughed and said, “Lass, address him the way that we do. Call him Little Chizi instead ah!”
Su Chi peeked at Xiaocao as he thought, ‘Although Miss Yu is younger than me, she’s considered a senior since she’s in the same ‘generation’ as my master. So it should be fine for her to call me ‘Little Chizi’.’ Thus, he hastily agreed with the emperor’s words and nodded in assent.
Xiaocao silently roasted, ‘Little Chizi, what a fitting name for a eunuch ah!’
“Official Yu, please be at ease. This servant will definitely find someone who looks very similar to you. I will also send a few people who look similar to your maidservants from the hidden guards...Official Yu, the hidden guards have people who are skilled at disguises, which you may need when dressing up. Perhaps...” Su Chi took the initiative to mention that the hidden guards had people skilled in disguise.
“Looks like Little Chi...Chief Steward Chi has everything in hand. Then I will just have to thank you!” Yu Xiaocao vaguely felt that the reason why Su Chi was treating her so differently had to do something with Sir Su. However, his proposals truly did help make her relax a bit. Originally, she was planning on getting in contact with Medicine King Valley’s Xu Ziyi and have him get her some human skin masks for her. Now it looked like she didn’t need to!
The imperial edict was sent down very quickly. Thus, the vast majority of high-ranking officials and nobles in the capital knew that Yu Xiaocao had been appointed an imperial envoy and was being sent to the stud farm at the border. Very few people knew that she was actually being sent to resolve a bad crisis there.
“Younger Sister Xiaocao, you’re going off to the border to enjoy the sights of the grassland prairie again?” He Wanning was over for a very particular reason. After all, one didn’t visit a temple without a cause. She was here to find Xiaocao, “Can’t you bring me along? I’ve never seen the sights at the northern border. I won’t make things hard for you. I can even pretend to be one of your maidservants…”
“You’re such a noble maidservant. This younger sister absolutely cannot handle you!” Yu Xiaocao quipped, “I don’t think you actually want to see the sights at the border, that’s just a convenient excuse for you. You clearly have an ulterior motive. Obviously, you want to have a sweet couples trip with your fiancé, right?”
This time, Lu Hao had been given the heavy responsibility of escorting ‘Imperial Envoy Yu’ to the northern border. He was bringing along five hundred expert soldiers from the Jin Wu guards along with the hidden guards who were disguised as Xiaocao and her maidservants. These troops were all there to create an effective smokescreen.
He Wanning immediately turned bright red and bashfully said, “Stinky lass, just what nonsense are you saying? He’s going to be on an official mission, so how would he have the time to...have a sweet couples trip with me? I really just want to enjoy myself among the horses at the stud farm and see the Snow Scar and little Black Whirlwind that you’ve been telling me about~”
“Have you gotten permission from your family yet? If Marchioness Anning and the grand princess royal agree, then I’ll bring you along!” Yu Xiaocao also felt like that since she had to go off in disguise, she couldn’t just be alone the entire time. She also needed to have more decoys along.
She didn’t know how He Wanning explained this trip to her family but she had actually managed to obtain permission from her parents and grandmother. Furthermore, she had managed to drag Yuan Xueyan along too! Did they truly think that they were out on a leisurely spring outing? However, the other girl not only brought maidservants with her but her family had also sent along a few bodyguards who were skilled at martial arts.
Yu Xiaocao knew that this journey was incredibly important and full of danger, so she didn’t bring along Yingchun or Wutong along as they had no self-defense skills. She only took along Chunhua and Qiushi as her personal maidservants. Furthermore, Imperial Prince Jing’s Estate also sent along a few bodyguards who were from the hidden guards.
On the day that they were to set off, He Wanning brought her maids and guards and arrived at Sanli Pavilion, where they had agreed upon early as their meeting spot. However, she discovered that the pavilion only had a young master who looked to be about thirteen to fourteen years old. By convention, men and women should not touch once they passed the age of seven, so she didn’t take the time to look more closely and instead waited outside, not far from the building. She waited and waited. Yuan Xueyan had also appeared within the agreed upon time. However, the usually timely Yu Xiaocao, her sweetheart, and the Jin Wu guards, who were supposed to be escorting them, were not to be seen at all.
“This is so weird! Did I remember the wrong date? Today is the sixth day of the third month right? It’s already past nine in the morning, but where is everyone else ah? Could it be that Younger Sister Xiaocao didn't want to bring us along and gave us the wrong time to fool us?” The more He Wanning spoke, the more she thought that her conjecture might be right. She angrily stomped to and fro on the road as she paced around.
Yuan Xueyan frowned slightly and the usual cold look on her face became more serious. She glanced over in the direction of the pavilion and noticed that there was a young master inside, sitting with his back as straight as a tree trunk’s. It looked like he was waiting for people...
Wait! The young master had six bodyguards behind him and two of them seemed on the shorter side. They looked a bit familiar...on a closer look, the young master, who was dressed entirely in white and had a clean looking complexion——although his skin was tanner, eyes a bit longer, and eyebrows a bit more heroic...but no matter whether it was his figure or physical appearance, they all gave her a sense of familiarity.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Xiaocao is going to have fun now.
**sorry for the hour delay, it was automatically scheduled for 7pm my time for some reason...>>