Chapter 17 — Huan Mo Che Hits a Wall
“Why did young master Huan want to meet Me today?” Shang Wuxin asked as she sampled a mouthful of the newly refilled tea.
Looking at the crown prince sitting on the Top seat, each action and every movement of his was full of elegance. Curiosity sprung up in Huan Mo Che’s heart. He’d stayed in the capital for a very long time and although he’d never met the crown prince in person before, the hearsay was all about his incompetence. But how was it possible for such a person to be a pushover? On the contrary, this kind of talented person was a dragon among men. Huan Mo Che had seen all of His Majesty’s sons, but none of them could compare to the young man in front of him. If the crown prince had only been putting up a pretense before, then why had he stopped now?
“The Crown Prince should call this young master ‘tutor’. As a tutor, I’ll take on the responsibility to teach with impartiality,” Huan Mo Che stated with a smile. “Moreover, His Majesty has issued an imperial decree to let me guide You well. Requesting the Crown Prince to not make things difficult for me.”
“This Prince appreciates young master Huan’s thoughtfulness, however recently, My health has been out of sorts. I’m afraid I cannot learn from young master Huan.” Shang Wuxin said, looking at the teacup in her hand, “If young master Huan doesn’t take offense, the gardens of this residence aren’t bad for viewing. This Prince will go take a rest.” Done speaking, she got up, ready to depart from the great hall.
But not waiting for Shang Wuxin to leave the hall, Huan Mo Che followed closely behind her. A gentle smile was still hanging on his face, yet Shang Wuxin sensed that he was the type to hide his innermost thoughts beneath a temperate surface, like putting on a mask. However, when would people like them reveal their true face to others? It seemed that if Huan Mo Che didn’t have a pair of peach blossom eyes that resembled his, Shang Wuxin would’ve also appreciated such a person.
“Since the Crown Prince is this young master’s student and the student is feeling ill, whether in the capacity of a tutor or a member of this country’s populace, I should still attend to You either way.” Huan Mo Che stated, deaf to any objections. Naturally, he was able to tell that the crown prince didn’t like him, or was maybe even disgusted with him, but no matter how much he thought about it, he couldn’t remember having done anything disrespectful toward him. The two of them were genuinely meeting for the first time. Moreover, he was fiercely interested in the crown prince, so he wasn’t opposed to becoming a shameless tutor like this.
Shang Wuxin paused in her footsteps and glanced at Huan Mo Che, her discontent absolutely clear. However under her sharp gaze, he still looked back at her cool and composed with a small smile. With thick sincerity spilling out of his eyes, he suggested, “Isn’t the Crown Prince feeling unwell? Would You like for this young master to call for a court physician?”
Wu Wei and Wu Ju looked a bit taken aback by Huan Mo Che’s actions. Even Chief Hai was puzzled. Young master Huan’s behavior was too unusual! At this moment, Huan Mo Che was also aware he was acting abnormal, but he felt like teasing this blank-faced boy. It appeared that his own mood turned particularly relaxed around the crown prince.
Shang Wuxin didn’t pay him any attention, as she was unable to make him leave, nor could she just kill him. In addition, she knew Huan Mo Che’s martial arts was definitely not low. In that case, ignoring him was good enough.
Shang Wuxin didn’t return to her sleeping quarters. After all, that area was very private. Even if she didn’t have the awareness of a woman, she still guarded her privacy closely. As a result, she entered the study and started practicing her writing distractedly. It was under the pretense of practicing, but it was actually in order to calm her own mind. Because her mind was disturbed, it required peace.
Huan Mo Che peeked curiously at the youth practicing calligraphy at his desk. He knew the crown prince hadn’t entered school as a child, and the emperor hadn’t sent people to teach him how to read and write, either. It looked like the crown prince had many secrets. Huan Mo Che’s disposition was obviously very serene and apathetic, yet he didn’t understand why he had such a strong interest in the crown prince.
He came to the boy’s side, intending to examine what kind of handwriting this mysterious crown prince was practicing, but a simple glance shocked him for quite a while. The characters on the paper were solemn and refined, exceedingly graceful and outstanding, powerful and distinct. A skillful, neat and steady writing, with a bold and unconstrained style. Even he couldn’t compete with this kind of skill. He reckoned that the crown prince’s casual writing practice sheet was enough to make everyone fight to obtain it as a piece of art.
“Good characters,” Huan Mo Che uttered in admiration. Looking at the writing, his appreciation rose even further. “It appears that the Crown Prince’s erudition is higher compared to this young master, making me truly ashamed to act as a mentor. I don’t know whether it’s possible for You to consider me a friend1 henceforth?”
Huan Mo Che wished to grow closer to the crown prince not only out of admiration for his literary talent, but also because he wanted to find out the mysteries behind him. Besides, the most important point was that he himself wasn’t fully clear why he liked the crown prince so much. Like? Huan Mo Che shook his head on the inside. It was a rare thing for someone to be capable of earning his notice.
“Young master Huan is the ‘First Son’, This Prince has humble talent and shallow learning. I’m afraid we don’t have much in common,” Shang Wuxin declined. No matter whether Huan Mo Che’s request was heartfelt and sincere, it was simply impossible for her to befriend him. Those pair of eyes were a grief she was unable to escape, reminding her of her former naivety. Even if it wasn’t the same person, they were still able to draw out the dark demons in her heart.
Hearing the crown prince refuse that way, Huan Mo Che’s heart sank. Even he didn’t recognize what kind of feeling it was. Disappointment? No, they originally had no relations, it wouldn’t be so easy to make friends. Anger? No, although his pride was high, he wasn’t arrogant. It was as if he had eaten something bitter, he couldn’t help frowning.
“I was too offensive. Asking the Crown Prince not to mind it.” Huan Mo Che feigned a silly smile, but the excellent pretense held some traces of strain.
Shang Wuxin didn’t care about Huan Mo Che’s oddness. Even if such a handsome man stood in the middle of her study, she would remain unmoved and do her own thing as usual. Huan Mo Che also turned a blind eye to the crown prince’s obvious neglect, sitting in the study and observing as he managed his matters. There wasn’t much going on, yet Huan Mo Che felt himself at peace.
The day was soon over, while Huan Mo Che didn’t want to leave. Though the crown prince hadn’t spoken more than a few words, he really liked this feeling. He found that the best thing he’d ever done was volunteering to be the crown prince’s tutor.
Watching as Huan Mo Che left the residence, Shang Wuxin’s eyes quickly darkened.
“Crown Prince!” Chief Hai came to the study and spoke as he looked at the emotionless boy who was standing inside. “Tomorrow is the Emperor’s birthday. The Crown Prince ought to attend as the East palace’s representative. What are Your thoughts on this?” Chief Hai asked. If it was like before, he would’ve arranged everything in advance. But the current crown prince’s thoughts were hard to fathom. How would he dare try to guess the crown prince’s mind as he pleased?
Looking at his uneasy appearance, Shang Wuxin smiled and helped him straighten up. “How would This Prince not recognize Chief Hai’s painstaking efforts for My sake? To Me, Chief Hai is like a father. Since I’ve made you handle so many affairs, I have complete trust in you.”
Chief Hai’s eyes teared up. As an eunuch, although he was the head servant in the Crown Prince’s residence, in reality no one had ever looked up at him. But listening to his words now, Chief Hai felt like his family’s crown prince was the kindest under the heavens.
“How can this servant receive Your heavy regard? Being able to serve You is this old servant’s good fortune,” Chief Hai said as he lowered his head, afraid that his tears would flow down in front of the crown prince and offend his eyes.
“It’s fine,” Shang Wuxin said with a smile. “You’re the head servant in this residence, don’t undervalue yourself.”
“Yes!” Chief Hai stood beside the crown prince and asked, “Then will You take part in the birthday feast tomorrow?” The emperor’s birthday was a big deal every year, yet the crown prince had never participated before. More importantly, the emperor had also never inquired after him. Over time, everyone became aware of the emperor’s indifference for the crown prince.
“I’ll go, why shouldn’t I? I’m the Crown Prince. If I don’t go to such an important banquet, only those rats would profit.” Looking at the jade ornament in her hand, Shang Wuxin smiled wickedly. That round jade ornament was her Imperial mother, Empress Qiu’s personal item. After her death, it became Shang Wuxin’s. Its color and luster were beautiful and it was warm to the touch, making Shang Wuxin quite fond of it. Therefore, she often held in her hands and toyed with it.
“Is this the birthday gift?” Chief Hai asked. The residence had undergone many changes, and who knew what Wu Wei was tasked with doing outside. Recently, Wu Wei was put in charge of the accounts office, but Chief Hai was certain that the Crown Prince’s household was very well-off.
“Birthday gift?” Shang Wuxin quietly started telling instructions to Chief Hai, while his eyes showed astonishment and a faint concern. Nevertheless, he went along with the crown prince’s plans.