Tian You was the most bustling street in imperial city. Shops crowded next to each other on both sides of the street.
It was the seventh day, and there were no more armed guards patrolling on the street, which made the street recover its lively atmosphere. However, observing carefully, people could feel a strange air filling every corner.
By the afternoon, behind a curtain of a restaurant, “Hey guys, do you think the Emperor regretted his decision. He didn’t want the Third Princess to throw the embroidered ball to choose a Fuma, but because he didn’t want to lose face that he…”
“SHH! You don’t need your head anymore? You dare talk about the Emperor!”
“Am I wrong? The Emperor is also human. How could he not keep his words?
“Didn’t the imperial palace post their apology! They said that there’s some national matter to be taken care of. The Emperor was reluctant when he decided to cancel the parade and the Fuma’s choosing ceremony yesterday.”
“Posted their apology? Psst, it’s for the three-year-old kids and you to be so gullible! I think the Emperor just doesn’t want to let the Third Princess marry common people like us.”
“I heard that the Emperor wanted to hold an open tournament. Who wins that tournament can marry the Third Princess.”
“Really? Where did you get that news?”
“From the imperial palace, earlier this morning. You should know that my wife’s brother has a brother-in-law who works in the imperial palace.”
“If so, this could be eighty or ninety percent true?”
“What if it’s true! They said it should be a fair competition, but who knows if something is arranged beforehand…”
“Well, what if it was just some simple exercises! Perhaps I could be that lucky guy!”
“Psst, I guess you will be eliminated right at the first round…”
“What? You look down on me?”
“No, I didn’t look down on you. It’s just your appearance is too offensive. The Princess’ Fuma must visit the imperial palace frequently. Look at your noble appearance… tsk tsk..”
“All you do is point at others. If you think you’re so good, how about you try?! Coward!”
“You! Fine! I will try! I’m good at literature and even martial arts. Why would I be afraid of this trivial contest!”
“Don’t you believe me...”
“It’s indeed livelier than Fan Luo Town.” Su Shuilian sat by the window on the second floor of a tea house. She looked down at the crowded street and noted with a tender smile.
“There are many people living in Feng Cheng. Just counting the permanent residents here, the number’s seven or eight times more than in Fan Luo City. Let alone the tourists who come and leave every day. Excluding the imperial palace, Feng Cheng is the size of five Fan Luo Cities. With half of the land occupied by the mansions of the officials and aristocrats, it's no wonder why Feng Cheng feels more crowded.” Liang En Zai sat opposite her. He also looked at the street, smiling and explaining.
Today, he received his father’s order to take his sister and his brother-in-law to Tian You Street, the most bustling street for an outing. What happened yesterday had troubled them the whole day, and they hadn’t had time to treat Lin Si Yao’s group, who had just arrived from a far place.
“Luckily we didn’t bring Xiao-er and Long-er with us. It’s really noisy here.” Su Shuilian smiled, shaking her head. The twins hadn’t been even five months old yet. It wasn’t suitable for them to be out in the bustling and noisy imperial city. She just felt some pity for Situ Yun as Lin Si Yao had him remain in the mansion and watch the kids.
“Big brother, tomorrow, we’re going back to Fan Hua Town.” Su Shuilian took a sip of the city’s specialty tea, and remarked towards Liang En Zai.
“You’re leaving tomorrow? Why don’t you guys stay several days longer? Mother has been yearning for you for quite a long time. Did anyone in the mansion offend you?” Liang En Zai frowned. Two years ago, when people hadn’t known En Xu was the biological daughter of the Elder Wangfei, the daughters of the concubines came and bullied her. And now, although her real identity was announced, it didn’t mean the harassment would cease. The war between the wives and concubines in the aristocratic families never stops.
“Not because of that. We just have many things to do back home too. It can’t be delayed for too long!” Su Shuilian smiled weakly, rejecting Liang En Zai’s invitation to stay longer. Actually, the knot between her and the Prince’s mansion wasn’t really complicated. The only relationship between them was just the body that Su Shuilian’s soul possessed was coincidently the young lady, daughter of the first wife of the Wangye. The complicated rules in the mansion would make it difficult for her to take care of the babies. If it weren’t the Yiniangs* coming to talk to her, then it was her other sisters would chat with her about pleasantries…
(yiniang - concubines)
There is a proverb saying that “when words get sour, adding words is useless” However, it seems not applicable to her Yiniangs and sisters. Even if they had nothing to talk about, they could still dig up a lot of irrelevant stories to discuss and kill time. Such a living style had given her more headaches.
Su Shuilian couldn’t remember how she had solved the similar situations in the big house of the Su Family. Anyway, at that time, she had only one Yiniang and one sister. Now, she has seven Yiniangs and their eight daughters, excluding her Fifth sister, who was already married (out).
“How many things could happen in Fan Hua Town! Moreover, Xiao Heng and his wife can solve them all. You don’t need to be worried.” If she left, where would he find such an excellent partner like Lin Si Yao to spar with!
Yesterday, before bedtime, he didn’t have anything to do. Thus, he pulled Lin Si Yao to the training court to practice some martial arts, which had helped his bottleneck advance another tier. He was so thrilled. He had planned to practice harder while Lin Si Yao was here. He didn’t expect the other to return that fast.
“Da-ge, I’m married. The Prince’s Mansion… is just my mother’s house. How can I stay here for a long time?” Su Shuilian laughed as she explained when she saw Liang En Zai’s upset face.
“Alright, I understand. You got only that fellow in your heart. You don’t have enough room for dad, mom, and me!” said Liang En Zai glumly.
Su Shuilian was speechless at his words. This man wasn’t the noble, elegant, and generous Liang En Zai she knew!
“Don’t mind him. We’re going to take a walk down the street!” Seeing that people had rested well, Lin Si Yao didn’t lift his head up, just supported his petite wife, climbing down the stairs.
“Hey! Hey! Hey! No matter what, I’m your big brother! You don’t respect the elders!” Fortunately he had the heart of a gentleman! Just as he was about to accept his current situation, that man who didn’t put him, their brother-in-law, in his eyes! This had enraged him so much he had to bury such thought at the bottom of his heart. Tch!
In addition, Long Xi Yue, who used to quarrel with him, had followed Doctor Ouyang back to Blood Union. And now, the brother-in-law that had helped him breakthrough was about to follow his sister back to Fan Hua Town. He had suddenly lost interest in the future of the imperial city. This completely deprived his enthusiasm and drive.
Forget it… As his brother-in-law had helped him conceal the existence of the Knights, it would be alright. So, tomorrow, he would determinedly depart to Blood Union to find that little woman and quarrel with her. It is also a reminder of his existence to her. She was his, although he didn’t want to admit it early from the bottom of his heart.
“A Yao, there are so many things we can’t find in Fan Luo City. Should we choose some and bring home for our friends?” Su Shuilian eyed the accessories, some fabric puppets, some décor items, which were in many colors on the stalls along Tian You Street. Although they were novel, they weren’t expensive at all. They would be great souvenirs.
“Okay,” Lin Si Yao smiled, nodded. He knew she loved to collect those exquisite, lovely handmade items. Though he did not know what other purpose they had other than being placed on display.
However, it was fine as long as she liked them.
He saw she stop in front of a special, cute stall that sold accessories. He directly held her hand and pulled her into the shop so as she could pick out whatever pleased her.
“Wow… This hairpin looks very unique… This pair of cups are so lovely… Look at this pair of heart-shaped earrings…” Su Shuilian couldn’t help but compliment continuously. She walked around the shop before coming to the counter. As soon as she was about to call the shopkeeper to wrap around ten cute items she had chosen, she heard someone call her.
“Shuilian!” The female voice was clear and it sounded so familiar to her ears.
“Xi Yue!!!” Su Shuilian couldn’t help but cover her mouth. Long Xi Yue! The girl in a common shopkeeper’s outfit was Long Xi Yue – the one that had gone missing yesterday from the imperial palace!
“You… You… I heard that Blood Union had rescued you. Why are you here? Why do you look like a shopkeeper?”
“It’s a long story. We should go and talk inside!” Long Xi Yue called her assistant, Qing Lan to watch the shop as she smilingly pulled Su Shuilian into the room inside the shop.
“Lin gongzi, hopefully you don’t mind if I borrow your wife for a while? Don’t worry. At most, I will return her to you after one hour.” Long Xi Yue turned around to talk to Lin Si Yao who was about to follow Su Shuilian into the room. Then, she pulled the curtain right in front of him, concealing her and Su Shuilian from his vision.
Lin Si Yao stared at the curtain for a long time until he confirmed the two women’s chuckle. Then, he backed off and watched over them from the outside. Even so, he still noticed every sound from the room.
“No guard patrolling on the street had spotted you?” When they finally sat down, Su Shuilian couldn’t help but ask Long Xi Yue. How could someone who went missing in the imperial palace freely walk around the big street like this?
“It’s okay. Long Xi Yue had followed Doctor Ouyang back to Blood Union. The one sitting in front of you now is shopkeeper ‘Yang Jing Zhi of Zhen Ya Pavilion’.” It was her real name in the twenty-first century. After ten years, she finally had a chance to use it again. She missed it a lot! Long Xi Yue, ah no, now she was officially Yang Jing Zhi, winked mischievously at Su Shuilian. She wasn’t afraid that the man in the palace would find her in any minute.
“But… You and Qing Lan appear on Tian You Street…” Even if she could live her life with another identity, she should better move somewhere else! They dared open a shop right in the Emperor’s sight! Tch tch, Long Xi Yue did have big guts!
“Don’t worry! These days, the Emperor won’t have time to deal with me. After I’m done here, I’ll move out of the imperial city.”
“What is the matter? Do you need my help?”
“No need for now. But since we’ve met again here, we seem to have some fate together. I’ve made up my mind! After I leave the imperial city, I will come and reside in Fan Luo Town. Yeah, it’s the best that you give me a room in your house. So I can visit the babies at any time. No matter what, I helped you deliver them. Let them take me as their Godmother. What do you think?” Yang Jing Zhi explained in two, three sentences before immediately switching the topic into letting herself become Lin Xiao and Lin Long’s Godmother. Su Shuilian was dumbfounded and did not know whether to laugh or cry.
“There is no hurry. Let’s talk about it when you move to Fan Hua Town.”
“I meant it. My Shifu, that old man… Sigh, I think he won’t ever enter into Da Hui’s territory for the rest of his life. I’m alone here, without any relatives... I know only you…”
“Doctor Ouyang he…”
“... It's complicated...”