The soft spring wind of March gently brushed across her cheek. Gentle rays of sunlight shone brilliantly on the mountain. On both sides of the road were wheat fields and they were so green it looked like the plants had been dyed. It truly showed that the world was full of verdant life.
“Hey! I gotta say! The wheat seeds that Royal Princess Jinan bred are not that bad. Our entire north has been planted with it. It’s said that the previously fertile and plentiful Jiangsu area is now envying the people in the north. Not only are they able to eat enough to fill their stomachs but they can also, from time to time, enjoy the tastes of refined grain!”
Ning Donghuan gazed at the bright green wheat fields with the farmers working hard in them. He couldn't help but let out a few compliments. In actuality, as someone who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, how could he possibly know how hard the lives of commoners were? In the past, being able to eat food made with white flour was considered something only the wealthy could enjoy ah! Thus, just how wretched were the lives of the commoners in the north then?
“That’s right! The common people have plenty, the treasury is full, and Royal Princess Jinan’s contributions cannot be forgotten ah!” Ning Donglan agreed as he glanced over in the direction of the youth dressed in white.
“But...why aren’t we traveling along with Royal Princess Jinan’s large entourage ah? I heard that the conditions in the north aren’t always peaceful, so if we traveled together as a group, wouldn’t that be more safe?” Ning Donghuan was a bit puzzled. Clearly, they were all headed towards the same destination and He Wanning and Yuan Xueyan were also very good friends with Royal Princess Jinan, so why were they traveling separately?
He Wanning heard his question and immediately answered, “Every time Younger Sister Xiaocao travels, she always brings along delicious snacks, fruit juices, and canned goods. Third Young Master Ning, perhaps you’re more interested in the good things that Younger Sister Xiaocao brought along?”
Ning Donghuan immediately rearranged his expression and stated seriously, “Am I, Ning Donghuan, such a person ah? I was just curious. You two are really good friends with Royal Princess Jinan and usually inseparable from each other. How come this time you’re not with her?”
“In the past when we were together it was because we had agreed upon having fun together. This time Younger Sister Xiaocao is out on an official mission, so how could we muck it up for her?” He Wanning stated in a lofty manner.
Ning Donghuan ‘tsked’ at her and then turned his attention to the only person he hadn’t met before, the youth, “Royal Prince Guo, I heard that in the past your health wasn’t the best and that it was Royal Princess Jinan who helped you by giving you some medicines and writing medicinal cuisines for you. Are that lass’s medical abilities even better than the imperial physicians’?”
Yu Xiaocao, who was currently disguised as the never before seen Royal Prince Guo, replied in a shameless manner, “This young prince cannot make the judgement as to whether Royal Princess Jinan’s medical skills are better than the imperial physicians’. However, my imperial uncle’s body and myself have all been treated by her, so she definitely has some skill!”
Ning Donghuan seemed to fall into contemplation and he muttered to himself, “In the future, I cannot offend that lass. Otherwise, if I have an issue with my body in the future, then I’ll have no face to beg her for help.”
Yu Xiaocao let out a peal of laughter, “Third Young Master Ning, you are quite a practical person!”
“I just have a clear view of things!” Ning Donghuan didn’t think he was doing anything wrong, “However, when will Little Black and Little White have pups ah? If I could get one, then I could die contently!”
Ning Donghuan’s dog-fighting arena had attracted all of the rich good-for-nothings in the capital. In other people’s eyes, this arena was too bloody and cruel but, in these people’s eyes, it was a provoking, interesting, and entertaining area! Consequently, Ning Donghuan made quite a bit of money from this endeavor. His dog-fighting arena was now breeding fighting dogs and it had all sorts of breeds there. Even a few of the western hemisphere’s sheepdogs had been brought over. However, this fellow still constantly thought about the Yu Family’s two special dogs and it had become an obsession for him.
Ning Donglan didn’t want to see his younger brother commit a faux pas and hurriedly interjected, “In actuality, by being not too close and not too far from them is a good thing. Not only do we have some freedom but we also have the protection of the soldiers in the front. What could be better?”
“That makes sense!” Ning Donghuan also didn’t want this leisurely trip to be constrained by external factors, “Eh? It looks like they’re planning on settling down right now? But it’s still light out ah! Are we going to be like them and also spend the night outside in the wilderness?”
Xiaocao looked at the color of the sky and then took out a map. After she identified where they were, she pointed towards a direction and said, “There’s a village about fifteen kilometers from here. If we pick up our speed, we can get there before the sun goes down. Isn’t hunkering down in a small village better than sleeping in tents outside?”
Although the weather in March was a bit warmer, it was still chilly at night, the early morning and evening. Even if they used their tents, it still wouldn’t be a very comfortable night’s sleep. Xiaocao was also considered half a hedonist, so why wouldn’t she choose the comfortable area when she had the choice?
“Oh ho! From your appearance, Royal Prince Guo, I couldn’t tell that you knew so much despite not stepping a foot outside before! Where did you get a map like this from? It even has the small villages marked on it and is quite detailed!” Ning Donghuan had spurred his horse forward and craned over to look at the map that was full of densely crowded drawings. It was a bit overwhelming for him so he looked away within seconds.
How could Yu Xiaocao tell him the truth? After all, she had been to and from the northern border twice and this map had been drawn after she solicited the observations of all of the people who had traveled with her. Although there were a few minor errors here and there, for the most part, this map was quite detailed and accurate.
“Why does it matter where this young prince got it from? All that matters is that it’s useful! Come, let’s compete! Let’s see who can get to the village first! The person who wins can make the person who loses do something. Do you dare to take this challenge?” Yu Xiaocao had gotten the attitude and arrogance of a young royal prince down perfectly. If it weren’t for the fact that He Wanning and Yuan Xueyan knew her true identity, they would have truly believed that the person in front of them was a spoiled and headstrong young master.
“Why wouldn’t I have the guts? Do you think I’m afraid of you?” Ning Donghuan glanced at the horse, which didn’t look like much, that the prince was riding on. Naturally, he also didn’t spare her tiny little figure a look either, “We already made an agreement. So if you lose, don’t cry and claim that I, Third Young Master Ning, am bullying a child ah!”
“Who can be certain who will win? Your boastful words are being said too early!” Yu Xiaocao lightly squeezed at the horse, prompting that dusty yellow horse, which was clearly impatient earlier, to become more energetic. After receiving its master’s commands, it shot off like an arrow from a bow. It stretched out its four hooves and ran like the wind into the distance.
Ning Donghuan was stunned for a moment, “What the! That yellowish horse doesn’t look like a heavenly steed, so why does it run so fast? However, the starting speed is of no use, the most important thing is its endurance!” He had complete confidence in his purebred Dayuan horse. Even though he started a bit later, he was sure that he could easily close the gap between them and then overtake the young prince.
Everyone was riding a horse that was of decent quality. At first, there wasn’t a true difference that could be seen between them. However, after they ran five kilometers, the bodyguards were slowly being left behind and the gap between the five nobles was also increasing.
Yu Xiaocao continued to hold onto the lead and the gap between her and the second place horse was getting larger and larger. Although the horses from the Yu Residence didn’t look like much, they had all been raised since they were young on mystic-stone water and fodder with spiritual energy imbued in it. Thus, their bodies had been altered by the energy into ones that could easily compete with horses that were from much better bloodlines. The best example of this was Little Red.
However, for this journey and her disguise, she couldn’t bring Little Red along. Thus, that fellow was currently back in the stables at home, sulking and in a temper. It even bit some of the other horses residing there. Little Red was now the head honcho of the horses at the Yu’s Residence. Whenever it was throwing a temper tantrum, the other horses would only obediently stand at the side quietly. None of them dared to even make a peep.
This dusty yellow colored horse could only be considered one of the middle-level horses within the Yu Family’s stables. In fact, its name, ‘Golden Jadeite’ was only casually given by Xiaocao when she headed out on this trip. However, this horse was clearly a male horse, but it had been given a feminine sounding name. Unfortunately, it was unable to object to this name and had even been marked by Little Red, who was jealous that it had received such an ‘elegant and classy’ sounding name. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was going to head out with the master the next day, it likely would have been injured from head to toe as punishment.
As expected, Xiaocao was the first to arrive at the village. At this time, the sun was still hanging out at the western mountains. The bodyguards, who were in charge of finding a place for their masters to live, had also just arrived at the village. Xiaocao watched as one of them took out a black colored official tile. It was rumored that these tiles were held by imperial bodyguards. Only then did she realize that other than Chunhua, Qiushi, and four of her other personal bodyguards, the rest of the guards had been sent specifically by the emperor for her. They were only borrowing the name of Imperial Prince Jing’s Estate for convenience.
“Master, Village Official Wu has already vacated a courtyard residence for you and your friends. Although the conditions are a bit crude, it is a clean place to live. Master, please head on over.” This tall and sturdy looking bodyguard was surnamed Yuwen and seemed to have a body full of muscle. Just one glance was enough to tell that he wasn’t someone to be pushed around.
Yu Xiaocao waved a hand at him and said, “When we’re out in the open, there’s no need to be too picky! Having a roof above our heads is still way better than spending the night outside. I’m going to wash up first. Make sure the servants start preparing food and you all need to help this prince keep an eye out to see who exactly lost this bet.”
The results came out very quickly. Ning Donghuan, who bragged earlier that he was riding a Dayuan horse, had actually come in last. He was also incredibly surprised by this outcome and repeatedly stated that he couldn't believe it. The facts spoke louder than the words and Xiaocao didn’t try to embarrass him. She only had him go off to feed and water the horses. While everyone else was in the main room, happily eating their evening meal, that unfortunate fellow Ning Donghuan had become banished to be the horses’ groom for the night.
By the time he staggered over to the table, hungry and exhausted, he discovered that his fellow travelers, who had no love from him, had pretty much finished eating. Only sad looking leftovers were left on the cold table.
“You are all such big bullies ah!” Ning Donghuan howled in anguish and was almost to the point where he was biting on his handkerchief, sulking in the corner of the room.
He Wanning and Yuan Xueyan stifled their laughter and left the main room to go to the eastern side room to rest. Even Ning Donglan, his blood-related older brother, was too lazy to pay him any attention. When he left, he didn’t forget to insert a verbal knife, “Eat faster as we have to head out early tomorrow. If you end up delaying my rest, I’m going to banish you outside! Oh right, don’t forget to wash up completely after you finish eating. The disgusting odor on your body is enough to make anyone want to vomit immediately!”
“Are you still my full-blooded older brother ah?” Ning Donghuan lamented just as his belly let out a rousing howl of hunger. It was as if it was protesting its master’s decision to delay eating food.
She had to admit that having such a fool along with her on this journey made it seem less lonely and boring. Xiaocao relented her teasing and had one of the servants bring in the leftover food she had saved for him to the table. Although it was a simple spread of four dishes and a soup, the taste of the food was so good that Ning Donghuan began to cry in happiness.
“Royal Prince Guo, you are truly the best out of all of them! Don’t worry, in the capital, this older brother has a lot of clout. If anyone dares to bully you, then that means they don’t want to have a good relationship with Third Young Master Ning!!” Even the taste of delicious food wasn’t enough to stop the blabbermouth Ning Donghuan from talking.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Bro, I don’t think Royal Prince Guo needs to worry about being bullied...