Here’s the promised bonus chapter! Thanks to everyone who joined our little community!
Anyway, in this chapter we meet our ML, Xiao Jue and his family properly for the first time. Like everyone, he’s got some burden weighing him down, too. We are also introduced to a couple of characters, who have important roles in the story as He Yan’s besties!
THE XIAO FAMILY PRINCE
Spring came to an end, even the rain took on the summer’s heat.
At the end of the last day of the conscription, the long tents for filling out paperwork in the barracks have been put away and replaced by numerous small tents. The new recruits who had bid farewell to their families had already assembled, waited for the night to pass, and set off for Liangzhou early the next morning.
The tents were so small that a few people could barely squeeze into them. He Yan and Hong Shan were sitting next to each other. Since neither of them had much luggage, it was quite spacious to sit up. From last night to tonight, He Yan was here for an entire day.
There would be steamed buns to eat here, two for a meal, and they could get more after they settled down in Liang Zhou. The rest was not much of a problem, but it was inconvenient to go to the toilet, so He Yan would have to wait until late at night when no one goes there.
She just got out of the toilet, walked to her tent, and when she lifted the tent, there were two people inside. Hong Shan talked to them. As they heard movement outside, the two men looked back.
They were probably a pair of brothers, somewhat similar in appearance, thin, and looked very handsome. They looked rather young. The older one looked about sixteen or seventeen years old, and the younger one looked almost as old as He Yun Sheng. He Yan made a guess that the older looking one must be the older brother and the smaller one who looked as young as Yun Sheng must be the smaller brother.
The younger one when he saw He Yan showed a smile and asked with a familiar tone, “This brother is…”
“This is your brother Ah He,” Hong Shan helped He Yan, and said to He Yan, “These are the two new brothers today, there are no more accommodations out there, so they are here to squeeze in with us.” He pointed to the young man who was quiet, “this is Shi” and then he pointed to the other young man who had a simple and innocent smile, “This is Mak.”
Shi and Mak were probably a pair of brothers from a poor family, otherwise a better family would have given their children a better name.
He Yan found a place to sit down. As there were over two people, the tent suddenly appeared to be a little crowded.
“Are you guys from the capital?” After she asked, He Yan felt a little thirsty, so she unscrewed the water bottle at her waist and took a sip.
Shi was not talkative, but his younger brother, Mak, was very lively. He said, “We lived on Xiang Huai mountain. We usually lived by hunting. When we went down the mountain last time, I saw a recruitment draft, so I discussed it with my brother and came to join the army.”
They used to be a hunter’s family on the mountain.
“Perhaps your parents have also come to join the army?” Hong Shan asked. Generally speaking, even if the family is poor and came to join the army, they won’t let their two sons come and join together – they would always leave a way out for the family.
“Our parents are long gone. I grew up with my brother.”
Hong Shan sighed, “Then you should all the more cherish your lives, it’s no fun to come and join the army. You guys aren’t…” he glanced at He Yan’s direction, “Do you guys also want to do meritorious service like him, right?”
“A man should make a great contribution,” said Mak naively. “What’s more, the commander of the right army, Commander Xiao, is going to command the troops leading to Liang Zhou. My brother and I have admired him for a long time. It’s our honor to work with him!”
He Yan was listening to them as she drank water, and with a “puff” water gushed out of her mouth and she almost choked herself when she heard their words.
“Who did you say went to Liang Zhou to be the commander?” She asked.
Mak thought she didn’t know “Governor Xiao” and so he deliberately explained, “It’s the present-day General Feng Yun, the Xiao family’s second son, Xiao Huaijin.”
He Yan’s heart trembled.
How could Xiao Jue be a commander in Liang zhou? There was no need for him to be in this position. Besides, he had his own army. Why should he take new soldiers to Liang Zhou… unless he was demoted.
Xiao Jue was demoted?
The Xiao family in Beijing.
Xiao’s house was specially renovated according to his wife’s preference when General Xiao was alive. The Xiao family did not touch the layout of the courtyard in later generations, so although it was a generals’ family, the courtyard was as elegant and chic as a normal courtyard which could be seen in the city of Suzhou.
Through the flower wall was the main room, next to the main room was a pomegranate tree (the time hadn’t come for it to bear fruits), through the window, you could see a yellow pine wood shelf full of books and someone was sitting at the table reading.
The young man was born fair and beautiful, but indifferent, with a bit of laziness and fatigue. In his own house, he was dressed casually, and his cloud pattern brocade and blue jade belt made him look more and more heroic. There was a sword that hung on the wall, its color akin to frost and snow. Although it was inside the scabbard, still it looked majestic.
The door pushed open and someone came in.
The two people who came in were a man and a woman. The man showed a sevenfold resemblance to Xiao Jue but was not as cold as Xiao Jue. He had more gentle and clear air to him. His name was Xiao Jing, the elder brother of Xia Jue. Xiao Jing was followed by his wife, Bai Rong Wei. Although she was not a stunning woman, she was still beautiful and dignified.
The couple stood together, looking beautiful and pleasing to the eye.
“Huaijin,” it was Bai Rong Wei who opened her mouth. She put the parcel which was in Xiao Jing’s hand on the table and said, “These are the shoes and clothes we have prepared for your trip to Liangzhou, try them on later.”
Since the death of General Xiao and his wife, there have been only two brothers left in the Xiao family, Xiao Jing and Xiao Jue, and his elder sister-in-law was like his mother. In the past, the general’s wife used to mend clothes for Xiao Jue, but now it was Bai Rong Wei.
“Thank you, sister-in-law.” Xiao Jue nodded his head.
Bai Rong Wei smiled and said, “You brothers talk, I’ll go see if the soup is ready.” After she said this, she retreated.
After Bai Rong Wei left, Xiao Jing looked at Xiao Jue for a moment. Finally, he sighed and said, “Huaijin, you really need not go to Liangzhou.”
“Xu Jiefu has been targeting you frequently in the court and is looking for trouble with the Xiao family.” Xiao Jue looked unperturbed and only said, “The emperor listens to Xu Jiefu’s words, so I’m only causing trouble by staying in the capital. It’s good to go to Liang Zhou for a while to avoid the front. Besides, father’s death back then was full of suspicions, and this time, maybe I can find a clue and I might make a new discovery.”
When they talked about General Xiao’s death, the atmosphere in the room became dull.
After a long silence, Xiao Jing reached out and patted Xiao Jue on the shoulder, “You always think more than I do, but I can’t do anything for you.”
“Elder brother’s situation in Chao Zhong is more complicated. When I’m away, the Xiao family will rely on the elder brother.” Xiao Jue laughed, looked at Xiao Jing, and said, “Take care, elder brother.”
“You take care of yourself, too.” Xiao Jing felt a lot of emotions, perhaps to lighten the bitter atmosphere, he deliberately joked, “It’s not that I don’t want you to go to Liang Zhou, it’s just that you’re now at your prime, and it’s time for you to settle down. Now that you’re old enough, it’s time for you to get married. Do you have any girl you like or do you want your sister-in-law to look for you?”
When Xiao Jue heard the words, his smile disappeared, and his expression became more and more plain and finally became indifferent.
“No need, I don’t intend to take a wife.”