Chapter 18 — First Meeting With Leng Yu Feng
Shang Wuxin had woken up early in the morning, but because it was so early, her mood was very bad. It was like another layer of ice was added to her originally cold and detached expression.
“Crown Prince!” Wu Ju approached the side of the crown prince somewhat timidly, looking at him as he gracefully ate his breakfast. Pondering it over, she still spoke resolutely, “May this servant attend to You today?” During this period of time, she had started to admire the crown prince more and more, and her respect for him had grown. Furthermore, she had also gradually started wishing to become stronger, hoping that she would be entrusted with heavier responsibilities and be qualified to act as his right hand. She was already different from before, when she had merely felt like wanting to protect the crown prince, whom she’d never met before. Now she wholeheartedly wished to be an important subordinate, even though she was just a woman. Wu Wei was also a woman, yet she was always there at the prince’s beck and call. Wu Ju believed that she herself would not disappoint him, either.
After hearing her words, Wu Wei, who was in the middle of serving the food to the crown prince, nearly dropped the chopsticks within her hand. She was already well aware of Wu Ju’s intelligence and strength. If Wu Ju had run into the crown prince first, perhaps she would have been even more competent than herself. More importantly, after spending so many days together, Wu Wei could clearly see Wu Ju’s devotion. They had even become good friends in private, partly for the sake of the crown prince. She also wanted to know whether he would lead her with him when he entered the palace today, but she didn’t dare ask. After all, she still remembered the last time. It had let her understand that only if she was formidable enough, she could protect herself. Otherwise, she would be a burden.
“Ah.” Shang Wuxin put down her chopsticks. Since she had gotten up too early, she didn’t have much of an appetite. Listening to Wu Ju’s words just now, her mood improved a little. “This is a birthday feast, not Imperial father’s personal summon. Of course I can bring you to with. However, once you enter the palace, concentrate on watching and listening, and don’t speak too much. This Prince hopes that you won’t stir up any trouble, do you understand?”
Wu Ju was delighted at heart, while Wu Wei promptly saluted, “Many thanks, Crown Prince. This servant respectfully obeys to do my duty. I won’t bring You any inconveniences!” They were very clear that while the crown prince looked like a solemn celestial being, he very much disliked troublesome things.
Shang Wuxin nodded in satisfaction. “However, you’re My people. You can’t let others bully you. It’s good if you don’t stir up any trouble, but if there’s anyone provoking you, you shouldn’t lose face for This Prince. If anything happens, there’s still Me to shoulder the responsibility.”
“Yes!” Wu Wei and Wu Ju both nodded heavily. Being able to stand by the Crown Prince’s side was their lives’ greatest fortune.
“Crown Prince, the carriage is ready. Should we set out for the palace now?” Chief Hai asked from outside the door. Thinking of the present the crown prince had prepared as a birthday gift, he still felt a little anxious. But he also knew his fears were groundless when he called to mind the prince’s intelligence. Anyway, even if His Majesty really got angry at him, the current crown prince would most likely not care a whit.
Shang Wuxin got up and took the handkerchief in Wu Wei’s hand to wipe her hands, then taking along the two maids, she walked toward the carriage parked outside the residence. But as soon as she went out, she noticed a tall black carriage made of incense wood. Though she didn’t know how it looked on the inside, judging only by the exterior, she could realize its great value.
“Whose work is this?” Shang Wuxin asked without any facial expression. No one was able to tell whether she was happy or displeased about this.
Chief Hai promptly ran up to Shang Wuxin’s side and said with a smile, “It was this old servant who ordered it. Do You like it?” Previously, it was because the Crown Prince’s residence had been too poor to afford such extravagant things. But now that they were so well-off, they shouldn’t put their Crown Prince in any inconvenience. When he saw how much money the residence had, he had immediately discussed with Wu Wei about making the carriage.
How would Shang Wuxin not realize Chief Hai’s intentions. She nodded her head. “Chief Hai has done very well. This Prince likes it a lot.” She entered the carriage while speaking. Sure enough, the interior was arranged completely to her current preferences. Simple, yet luxurious. More importantly, it was comfortable. She was someone who always treated herself well. Since she had the qualifications to live in comfort, why would she want to inconvenience herself.
When he heard that the Crown Prince was satisfied, Chief Hai laughed giddily. Combined with his round stature, that laughing face made him appear that much happier. Even Wu Wei and Wu Ju couldn’t help smiling, let alone the other guards, who all laughed stealthily. The usually solemn and fearful Chief Hai could actually be this amusing in front of the Crown Prince.
Hearing everyone’s laughter from inside the carriage, evoked a small smile on Shang Wuxin’s face as well. What a pity that no one was able to witness that smile, or else who knew how many maiden hearts it would steal.
The ones who drove the carriage were Wu Wei and Wu Ju, while the Crown Prince’s Imperial bodyguards were gathered around it as protection. Looking at that formation, everyone had an enormous curiosity about the crown prince. Nowadays, the citizens were circulating favorable rumors that the prince was keeping a low profile and biding his time. But unfortunately, the crown prince had never shown himself in front of those citizens. Let alone them, even the Imperial Court’s officials had never seen him. And since the crown prince still hadn’t reached 16 years of age, he couldn’t attend court yet. Thus, the reason so many officials had come to today’s birthday banquet was the crown prince.
“Woah, is that the Crown Prince’s carriage? Looks like it’s quite big and attractive. I wonder if He’s inside?” Female whispers spread across the streets. Who among the common women didn’t wish to marry into the Imperial household? They previously thought he was simpleton, but listening to the recent hearsay, many people had started admiring the mysterious crown prince.
“It has to be! Take a look, none of the other princes’ carriages can compare!”
“I wonder what He looks like? Could he be very ugly?”
Wu Wei and Wu Ju got furious when they heard some woman say that the crown prince was very ugly, but they also knew they couldn’t do anything at this time. They kept thinking on the inside, if they let those people see the prince’s face, no one would be able to speak such words. Even if they searched high and low, they would perhaps only find a few people in this world, whose appearance could compare to his.
Hearing the various discussions outside, Shang Wuxin didn’t seem to care at all. It could be said that the commoners were often the most artless and authentic, but even more often – the most heartless and cruel; they only saw the things on the surface. However, public opinion was actually a good thing to put to use.
“Crown Prince, we’ve arrived at the Imperial palace!” Wu Wei’s voice conveyed. Shang Wuxin didn’t have to exit the carriage where the rest of the officials and young ladies did. Since she had the crown prince’s privilege, her carriage was allowed within the palace grounds. That was within the crown prince’s rights.
When she heard that, Shang Wuxin slightly lifted the vehicle’s curtain to let the inspecting Imperial guards by the entrance clearly see her face. As it was an obligatory inspection, she naturally wouldn’t defy it, but she also wouldn’t let others frivolously examine her for too long.
At that moment, Shang Wuxin detected someone’s line of sight on herself. Though it didn’t carry any malice, the feeling of being looked up and down was too strong. Faintly frowning, she looked toward the owner of the gaze. That person was dressed in black, sitting straight on horseback. His chiseled face seemed to be personally sculpted by a deity. Even when he was quietly sitting on horseback, his charm and unusual good looks were obvious. Exceedingly graceful, he gave people a somber and desolate feeling. He had wheat colored skin, smooth and dewy. The star-like eyes adorning his outstanding face were particularly noticeable, calling people’s attention, and difficult to disregard.
“Who is that person?” Interest flashed within Shang Wuxin’s eyes. That man was very much to her taste. One glance was enough to tell he was a genuine rugged man to his blood and bones.
Wu Wei followed the crown prince’s line of sight, then lowered her head to say, “That person is Shang’s famous general, Leng Yufeng. He’s also Your mentor. In two days, he will go to the Crown Prince’s residence to instruct You in military studies.” Because she already knew that he would be the Crown Prince’s tutor, she had already thoroughly investigated him. But that general truly was a man that made people feel admiration for him.
“Mhm.” Shang Wuxin put down the curtain, while the carriage slowly proceeded inside the palace…