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WU LING NOBLE SON
The bawling Zhao gongzi was using the back of his hands to wipe away tears while muttering swears under his breath. When he dismounted, his legs trembled, and he almost fell over.
The manservant went over and lent a hand to support him, and said, “Gongzi, gongzi, are you okay?”
Zhao gongzi kicked him, “Do I look okay to you?”
“Just now, really scared me to death.” He Yan expressed, “It was all my fault. If I didn’t insist on racing with the gentleman, he wouldn’t have been terrified.”
Her heart was full of regret, and she sincerely apologized, “Please don’t take offense, gongzi.”
Take offense? Why would he take offense? Across him was the person who saved his life, why would he be offended? Zhao gongzi willed a smile, but in the end there was still a breath left unsaid in his heart. He glared at the horse, whose head was still lowered, looked at the grass, then shifted to the cause of disaster, the horse saddle, and was unable to restrain his anger. He waved his hand, “This ungrateful, backstabbing, bastard almost hurt this young master. Throw him out! I’ll have him turned to horse jerky!”
He Yun Sheng furrowed his brow, and He Yan’s smiling expression turned even colder.
A horse was like a high-ranking military officer. Not only was it a method of transport, it was also a comrade-in-arms to share life and death with. Horses couldn’t speak, but they would carry a soldier charging into battle. They couldn’t express their thoughts, but they would whinny to mourn over their owner’s death, so much so that they would go on a hunger strike. They treasured their owner as much as their owner cherished them.
The wealthy and pampered gentleman hadn’t yet gotten a taste of the cruelties of the battleground, so it was impossible for him to understand the intimate bond between a man and a warhorse. Even before one’s birth, they were already conformed to the social hierarchy segregating nobility from common people. An animal, he would never consider hesitating over. Once it was killed, then it was killed; there was no point in troubling oneself over trifles.
“…. This is a fine horse.” The one who spoke up was He Sui, and he soothingly pleaded, “Gongzi, please think this over.”
“This is my horse.” Zhao gongzi didn’t know who to direct his temper at, and He Sui had just interjected like that. Zhao gongzi coldly laughed, “Anything wrong with doing what I want to do?” He drew a dagger from his waist, which glittered like frost, and declared, “I’ll not only kill it, but I’ll kill it right here!”
The dagger’s handle was inlaid with a ruby the size of a dove egg. The scabbard was forged with gold, appearing incomparably gorgeous, yet the knife’s edge was directly facing the currently grazing warhorse. The horse, utterly unaware of his owner’s heart overflowing with killing intent, leisurely shook his tail.
Zhao gongzi’s eyes glistened with murderous desire, as though cooking up a good method. Since this horse startled him and let him lose face, he could just slaughter it on the spot. Firstly, it would be a way for him to release his anger. Secondly, he would appear brave and his lost honor would be restored.
He bellowed at the manservant, “Capture him!”
He Yan’s palm twitched and unconsciously carressed the iron-headed rod by her waist.
She couldn’t… she couldn’t watch this horse die because of her. But even if she took action, she didn’t have a proper excuse.
The horse was pinned by some manservants. The head manservant turned around and yelled out, “Gongzi, gongzi, we’ve pinned him! Please take action now, gongzi!”
Zhao gongzi, with a dagger in hand, strode over. Facing the horse’s neck, the coldness of the dagger gleamed as he was about to swing—
A sharp and clear noise, similar to metal clashing against gold, resounded as something dropped to the ground. He Yan stealthily retracted her extended hand but saw that the dagger Zhao gongzi was holding had already fallen. Zhao gongzi was clutching his wrist, crying out, ‘Aiyo, aiyo.’
“Who? Who was it?” He called out as he shifted about in pain, while not forgetting to insult, “Who fucking messed with me?”
“It was me.”
Someone’s voice floated from behind.
This voice… He Yan’s head slightly moved, and she turned around to look over. But when she looked behind her, she didn’t expect two more people to arrive, also riding on horseback. The young man on the left wore a licorice-root yellow robe with a rounded neckline, and the color looked sharp worn by him. With rosy lips and pure white teeth, a light smile, and pupils that glistened like crystals, rarely could one witness a person with such a boyish and naive air about him. He was a spirited playboy-type son of a wealthy family.
But the young man on the right… He Yan’s eyes lit up.
It became spring. Colors blossoming, ice and snow melting—there was an entire city of spring colors.
The young man dressed in yellow clothing was actually very handsome, and his eyebrows even more so. His face was as beautiful as jade, and his eyes sparkled like stars. His eyes were gently shaped, though slightly raised at the corners, and were akin to limpid autumn water. His presence made others’ hearts skip a beat, as his gaze was ice-cold.
Despite his youthful disposition, he wore a crown, his fine hair gracefully falling straight down. He wore a colorful suit, his lapels adorned with a rosefinch delicately stitched with golden thread. His presence imposed an air of grandeur. He wore olive boots, a sterling sword by his waist. His white horse donned on a golden saddle, carrying with it an aura of elegance. At the moment, the fingers on his right hand were toying with a dark perfume satchel, its contents producing a clinking sound.
What a charming and elegant Wu Ling noble son!1
He Yan’s heart was pounding with admiration, but she suddenly felt uneasy. At lightning speed, before she could even lower her head, the white cloth slightly swayed and covered her eyes, blocking her vision.
Only while listening to that Zhao gongzi‘s dreadful flattery did she remember: “Turns out it’s Chief Commander Xiao2… excuse me.”
Within He Yan’s thoughts suddenly surfaced another spring day like this that happened many years ago, on a peaceful day when birds were chirping and dancing, and the willow tree was swaying in the Autumn courtyard. She had raised her head, confused, and spotted a handsome young man wearing a white embroidered jacket at the Poplar Swings Garden, his expression filled with annoyance, but his valiant bearing unrestrained.
On a lazy spring day, with a light breeze in the air, he stood out like a person from a painting, and all the colors of spring could not match up to him.
1 五陵贵公子 (Wǔ Líng guì gōngzǐ)：Wu Ling isn’t a title or anything. It literally refers to the tomb of five Han kings in Chang’an. But in this context, it’s used as a metaphor for the rich or children from noble families that have produced a lot of officials for several generations. He Yan describing him as such is like emphasizing just how exceptionally rich and noble this person is.
2 肖都督 (Xiào dū dū): lit. commander-in-chief Xiao. But we’ll be using Chief Commander Xiao instead as it sounds less awkward. It’s just another one of his titles…
3 肖珏 (Xiào Jué) is his given name, while 肖怀瑾 (Xiào Huái Jǐn) is his courtesy name. The courtesy name would replace a man’s given name as he entered adulthood. It could be given either by the parents or by a private teacher on the first day of school. Women might adopt a zi in place of their given name upon marriage. One also may adopt a self-chosen courtesy name.
4 封云将军 (Fēng Yún jiāngjūn): General Feng Yun is a title bestowed to him by the emperor after having achieved something meritorious, the same way He Yan (or should we say, He Ru Fei) was bestowed the title ‘General Fei Hong’.
E/N: There seems to be like a billion ways to address Xiao Jue. And so we once again encounter the author’s lengthy and flowery paragraphs describing someone’s unparalleled and jade-like beauty.