“Hmmm…” Li Yuan looked thoughtful.
“It means you’re special!” She added another sentence.
Li Yuan thought for a bit, then nodded. “Alright, I don’t blame you anymore.” He turned his head to say to Lan Lan. Lan Lan seemed to understand what Li Yuan meant and used its tongue to lick his face.
Mu Huanqing couldn’t hold back her laughter anymore. “Lan Lan, don’t bully Li Yuan.”
She walked up and hugged Lan Lan’s horse head. Lan Lan also enthusiastically rubbed against her with its face, making her laugh.
Suddenly, Lan Lan raised its head and vigilantly looked up a tree. It stared at the man sitting there with its nose flared and snorted, its hooves kept stepping back and forth.
“Lan Lan, what’s the matter?” Mu Huanqing noticed Lan Lan was acting unusually agitated and stroked it.
He Guan, who was sitting on the tree branches, raised an eyebrow. He looked at the mare in surprise.
“Huh? You can see this Lord?”
He Guan flew over with interest. As he got closer, Lan Lan whinnied louder and kept stomping its hooves. It seemed to feel uneasy at the arrival of this strange visitor.
Mu Huanqing was instantly on guard and turned to look at Li Yuan. “Go check if there are any suspicious people in the area. Or any snakes, rats, or insects that are dangerous for horses.”
Li Yuan nodded. His figure leapt away, immediately off to thoroughly investigate the surrounding area while Mu Huanqing tried to comfort Lan Lan.
“Be good. Don’t be afraid. I am here.”
They had no way of knowing that the person the horse saw was He Guan. Someone who could not be seen with their eyes.
He Guan rubbed his chin and looked carefully at the horse. He saw defensiveness and fear in its eyes and believed that the horse was spiritually intelligent. It was likely intimidated by the evil aura on his body and became restless.
“Relax. I am not here to do anything to your master. I am here to protect her.” He restrained his demonic energy and flew towards the treetops, distancing himself.
Lan Lan slowly calmed down. It was no longer restless as if it now understood that he was not malicious.
Li Yuan also came back at this time and shook his head to his master. He hadn’t found any suspicious people. The horse had also quieted down and was no longer restless, even continuing to nose her. Mu Huanqing also relaxed.
She took Lan Lan out of the stable and nimbly got on the horse, ready to ride it to inspect her land.
After she consolidated and operated the country village, the original cold and abandoned village was now a prosperous sight to behold. The village was surrounded by a large expanse of land. After it had been developed, it became an orderly villa.
Apart from the domesticated cattle and sheep, there was a pond which doubled as both a place to raise many fish and a place for the livestock to drink from. There were even workshops where craftsmen specialised in making farming tools, pottery, lacquerware, and other daily utensils. There were also breweries and textile workshops. Weavers worked to supply the villa of all the necessary cloth and dyes before handing them to the embroiderers.
The field was planted with vegetables suitable for growing in the north. The vegetable field was surrounded by low fences to prevent the livestock from trampling them. The next was Mu Huanqing’s favourite place, the stable, where specialised stablehands took care of the horses.
Mu Huanqing rode Lan Lan out of the village and onto the prairie. Lan Lan also seemed to be infected with the master’s good mood and immediately bolted away with a kick of its hooves.
Mu Huanqing and Lan Lan already developed a tacit understanding of each other. She leaned down and stuck close to the horse’s back to let Lan Lan run faster more easily.
She took Lan Lan to gallop through the prairie wind, finally reaching the side of a lake where the grass was especially fresh and tender. When Lan Lan lowered its head to graze, she lay on her back on the ground. She supported her head with her hands and closed her eyes. She sensed the vastness and tranquillity of the blue sky and white clouds, feeling exceptionally content.
She only lay down for a moment when she suddenly opened her eyes and quickly sat up.
The sound of horseshoes pounded through the earth. She turned her head to face the direction of the sound and saw a person on a horse quickly approaching her.
“Eldest miss!” The person loudly shouted.
Mu Huanqing recognised the horse rider as one of her capable subordinates. Hao Qi was also a horse fanatic. He was her stable boy before she married, and when she went to the country, he followed her there.
Hao Qi should have been back at the stables, taking care of the horses. Something must have happened since he had run over. She immediately ran towards him, and he quickly pulled back the reins when he saw the eldest miss, jumping off the horse before it had stopped.
“Eldest Miss, not good. Our horses were robbed!”
Mu Huanqing listened, face increasingly solemn. “What is going on? Explain it clearly.”
Mu Huanqing listened to Hao Qi's explanation while also whistling for Lan Lan to come over. She lightly leapt in the air and sat on the running Lan Lan. Lan Lan began to gallop when its master sat on it properly.
The two horses galloped back to the manor. The moment they returned, Mu Huanqing relayed the events to her steward. Li Yuan and Xin Yu had also rushed over when they heard the whistling winds. Mu Huanqing instructed them to suit up and follow her to the stables.
Nanny Ji also hurried over holding a freshly bathed Dou Dou. When Mu Huanqing saw her daughter, she kissed her and touched her cheek, saying, “Dou Dou sweetheart, Mother is going out for a few days. Be good and stay here. Wait for Mother to come back, okay?”
Although Dou Dou was only three years old, she didn’t really cry or shout and was a well-behaved child. She nodded when she heard and copied her mother, kissing her on the cheek.
“Dou Dou will be good. Mother must be good too!” The little hand also rubbed her mother’s cheek.
Monkey see monkey do, she made all the hearts of the adults melt into a puddle. Mu Huanqing was always grateful for her daughter’s considerate behaviour. She estimated that she would need to take two or three days to deal with the horse issue. To reassure her daughter, she always discussed it beforehand with her and let her know that although her mother wasn’t going to be at home, she was always thinking of her.
After comforting her daughter, she raised her head to talk to Nanny Ji, “Dou Dou will be in your care.”
“Don’t worry, Master Qing. This old body will definitely take good care of the young lady.”
Mu Huanqing smiled slightly and nodded. Nanny Ji now regarded her and her only master. She also saw how Nanny Ji cherished and doted on Dou Dou. In the four years since she had been pregnant and gave birth to Dou Dou, she relied on Nanny Ji’s experience to take care of everything and help her raise Dou Dou. Dou Dou also liked Nanny Ji, which allowed Mu Huanqing to be without worry even when she was not in the house.
She handed over things to the steward quickly before preparing her bow, weapons, and simple luggage. Li Yuan and Xin Yu made similar preparations and then all of them set off to the stables located not far from the manor.
She had lived in the Northeast when she was thirteen years old. In addition to practising martial arts, she also had the opportunity to learn about horses. She liked horses. What she liked, in particular, were their temperaments.
She liked to take a horse and gallop on the grasslands of Liaoyan, it felt like the freedom and recklessness of the jianghu. There were not many restrictions on women here. She could laugh freely and didn’t have to think about what clothes were suitable to wear. She could wear men’s trousers and didn’t need to wear hairpins or ornaments. She could just comfortably and simply roll her hair into a simple bun.
After leaving the Marquis household, she used half of the fifty-two thousand silver to set up a horse farm. She relied on herself to pioneer a new frontier and bought the uncultivated wasteland.
Over the last two years, she devoted herself to the horse business. She did it all herself, from selection, breeding, training, management, to any other affairs.
After more than three years in the business, it grew until the present scale and achievements. The people working in the stables were all personally selected trustworthy subordinates. Last month, they had completed a deal and the valuable horses were supposed to be delivered to the buyer. Unexpectedly, in the process of transporting the horses, they encountered a horse thief.
Mu Huanqing rode Lan Lan as she led Li Yuan, Xin Yu, and Hao Qi out of the manor. As soon as she left, He Guan tried to follow. But just as he stepped out of the manor, he was held back by a powerful force. It prevented him from moving even half a step forward.
“Damn it!” He cursed. He almost forgot that the object of the blood oath was not Mu Huanqing, but the bean-sized little girl.
He dashed back. At this time, Nanny Ji had already carried Dou Dou back in the house. As soon as He Guan entered, he blew a mouthful of black mist towards Nanny Ji. She fell back on the bed, soundly asleep. He Guan then conveniently picked up the tiny little Dou Dou and hurried to chase after her mother.
Dou Dou watched herself floating in the air curiously. She was not only not afraid but was also clapping her hands excitedly and laughing happily.
“Uncle fly, Uncle fly!”
He Guan watched her laugh happily and was also amused. He squeezed her nose lightly.
“It’s so strange. I actually met a baby who doesn’t cry or shout. I don’t know whether you’re too courageous or too dumb, since you don’t know fear.”
Dou Dou, whose nose was pinched, smiled unexpectedly and snuggled into his arms. She grabbed him around the neck with both arms and rubbed her small face against his neck. It seemed like she wanted to get closer to him.
He Guan was taken aback. His past years, who knows how long he didn’t keep count anymore, he had analysed countless women and come into contact with all sorts of women. He had never had any contact with a little girl before. For the first time, a soft little thing was fondly attached to him and in his arms. His demonic eyes actually exposed a gentle look.
Because he laid out a smokescreen, other people couldn’t see Dou Dou. So naturally, they didn’t see a baby flying in the air. He was able to bring her around without restrictions and very quickly caught up to Mu Huanqing and the others.
The four of them finally arrived at the horse stables after an hour and a half. The stablehands had already seen their figures from their lookout and hurriedly reported it to the guards who then opened the heavy gate to welcome the Eldest miss. Mu Huanqing rode straight through the gate and dismounted with a roll of her body. She threw the reins of the horse to one of her men and began to question the subordinates who came to meet her.
Naz's interesting note: Dou Dou means bean. Mostly likely, it's a nickname alluding to her small size. But it could be her real name as well.
Jianghu, as people who are familiar with other chinese novels may know, is equivalent to the wild west in western culture. A romanticised place not ruled by politicians but governed by the strong and a sense of chivalry or something like that. It's quite a vague word to mean basically strong people doing strong things without being attached to or bothered by the 'normal' world.