Chapter 3: Authority
“Was there any shortcomings in the hospitality of the servants in the mansion?” Chu Xie turned his gaze to Jiang Yanchi, his eyes showing some regret, “It so happened that I had to go out for something today and couldn’t welcome the two esteemed guests in time. I have indeed been negligent.”
Jiang Yanchi was immediately glared at by his mother.
Duan Se was anxious, and her ears turned red. She waved her hands quickly to explain, “No, it’s been very thoughtful, extremely thoughtful. You can’t be more considerate. The child can’t speak yet, so Lord Chu, please don’t take it to heart.”
She reached behind and tugged on Jiang Yanchi’s clothes twice.
“That’s good, then.” Chu Xie continued, “Lunch is almost ready. If you don’t mind, please move to the main hall. I’ll change into some fresh clothes and meet you in a moment.”
Seeing this person speak slowly and carry himself with an innate nobility, Duan Se couldn’t help but feel a sense of respect.
After seeing the person off, Duan Se turned around, glared at her son, and said indignantly, “Ah Yu, how can you say such things? He’s our benefactor.”
Jiang Yanchi remained silent, gazing through the window at the gradually disappearing figure.
Chu Xie, this person, was not quite right.
Jiang Yanchi had already gathered information about this man while he was in the Cold Palace. He had no status, no background, and was neither a noble from the three major ducal mansions nor an heir to powerful officials from the Three Departments and Six Ministries. He had no connections with the marquises and aristocratic families.
He had no backing, no real power, and no military force.
In the beginning, he was just a clean and tidy little eunuch, a servant trodden upon by thousands.
Six years ago, he became the companion reader for Duke Yue’s Shizi due to his clever character. Later, he became the chief eunuch by the empress dowager’s side. Then, three years ago, he became the chief eunuch under the current emperor.
As he watched that figure disappear into the depths of the green shade, Jiang Yanchi withdrew his gaze.
This man was definitely not simple.
Chu Xie returned to his room with a look of impatience on his face. He hurriedly had several basins of water brought in and vigorously scrubbed his hands in one of them to remove the blood he had touched.
One basin of water in, one basin of water out.
The servants didn’t understand what he was thinking, but they followed the protocol and continued to bring water.
After washing for quite some time, his fingertips were tinged red, but he finally felt clean.
He let out a sigh of relief.
“Darn it, if I have to go into Zhao Prison again, I’ll be a dog, a dog!” Chu Xie cursed silently in his mind, restraining the urge to kick over the copper basin.
With the person sent away, he sat on the couch, propped his legs up on his knees, and rested his arms behind his head.
He thought for a moment but couldn’t make sense of it, so he opened that useless system again.
“What do you think? How come Duan Se and Jiang Yanchi, who lack cunning, didn’t die in that Cold Palace?” Chu Xie asked in his mind.
Giving them the slightest favor made them weep with gratitude. If it weren’t for Chu Xie being forced to follow the villain’s script, he would have considered sending these two people out of the imperial city right away.
“They’re just not suited for this place,” he thought.
“Right now, we can only access Chu Xie’s character arc in the script. We’ll unlock them one by one… Maybe later in the story, we’ll have the authority to unlock others, but…. that’s not the focus, is it, Host? Regardless of what kind of protagonist they are, we don’t need to think too much about it. We just need to complete the tasks according to the script…”
That made sense.
Why bother with all this when they were all just paper characters?
Complete the story, be reborn, and that would be good enough.
“At present, the character compatibility is 100%. You’re truly the most talented host I’ve ever seen!” the system praised enthusiastically. “Your acting skills are amazing!”
Chu Xie was very pleased with himself and even modestly gave a Versailles-style courtesy. “Mainly because this character isn’t complicated. He’s just wicked, just twisted…”
His stomach growled.
Ah, the lunch break for animals in society was always so short.
He straightened up, adjusted his appearance, and practiced a refined and gentle smile in the mirror.
As he rushed to the dining hall, Jiang Yanchi and Duan Se had already taken their seats.
The table was filled with twenty-seven dishes, including those from the sky, those from the earth, those from the water, and those buried in the soil—everything you could imagine.
They were all dishes that Duan Se hadn’t tasted in over a decade.
They were also dishes that Chu Xie had grown tired of eating over the past few years.
Jiang Yanchi didn’t hurry to pick up his chopsticks, and he signaled Duan Se to hold back as well. With his peripheral vision, he watched the eunuch who was testing the food. Only after he had tasted every dish did he nod slightly to his mother.
But Duan Se felt that he was overly cautious.
Chu Xie had a noble character, so how could he have any reason to poison them for no apparent cause?
Moreover, the food was too delicious.
Duan Se’s eyes turned red, and tears were about to fall again. Chu Xie hurriedly stood up and personally served her food, saying, “Eat quickly. This is a time to be happy. Why do you always have a sad look?”
Duan Se was afraid she would spoil her appetite and forcefully held back her tears, eating two large bowls in silence.
But she couldn’t help it; after eating her fill, she felt even more like crying.
It was so delicious. Who knew that food could be this tasty?
She held the bowl and tears fell one by one.
“Mother,” Jiang Yanchi covered Duan Se’s hand back with his own, gently comforting her.
“Niang Niang, Your Highness. Always brooding alone in the courtyard leads to sorrow. Today and tomorrow, I have no official duties. After we finish lunch, I’ll take you both hunting in the Western Mountains outside the city,” Chu Xie said. He then personally served Duan Se another bowl of soup. “Relax and enjoy yourselves. This way, you won’t keep thinking about the past.”
Jiang Yanchi didn’t eat much.
Children of his age eating this little weren’t likely to grow well.
Chu Xie thought for a moment and asked, “Your Highness, do you dislike these dishes?”
After a pause, he added, “Do you like sweets?”
Jiang Yanchi hadn’t spoken yet when Duan Se nodded and said, “Yes, how did you know, Lord Chu?”
Warmth filled Chu Xie’s eyes.
“His Majesty also likes sweets.”
Duan Se’s hand trembled slightly, and Jiang Yanchi also appeared stunned.
Chu Xie: “Always craving a bowl of sweet soup in the middle of the night, and never able to eat enough. It seems that the Little Prince takes after His Majesty.”
“His Majesty, he….” Duan Se curled her fingers slightly and asked, “How is he doing?”
“Not very well. He had some symptoms two years ago, and suddenly fell seriously ill eight or nine months ago. Now he can only lie in bed, awake for one day and asleep for five, unable to get out of bed… Sigh.”
Duan Se also sighed, “Sigh…”
“When His Majesty gets better in a few days, I’ll ask him if your family can have a reunion dinner…”
Duan Se was startled and immediately got up, pushing the chair behind her back about a foot, making a harsh noise.
“Don’t! His Majesty dislikes me. Please don’t mention me in front of him, and don’t mention Yu Er… It’s fine the way it is, just being able to leave the Cold Palace is already good. I don’t expect anything else…”
Jiang Yanchi turned his gaze towards Chu Xie.
However, Chu Xie’s smile remained faint, and he had no immediate response. He remained silent without replying.
For the first half of the month, it had been raining. Today, however, the weather was clear and sunny—perfect for hunting.
Chu Xie had arranged for a riding and archery instructor, fearing that they might not know how to ride horses. He had expected that a child of his age would be lively and enthusiastic.
But he hadn’t anticipated that the Little Prince would be so composed.
It was Duan Se who got excited instead.
She swiftly mounted a horse, drew a bow, and shot with precision from a hundred steps away. Under the sunlight, Duan Se’s smile was radiant as she waved her heavy bow towards the two of them. “I’m going into the woods first!”
Chu Xie was stunned.
Watching her ride off at an incredible speed that even the riding and archery instructor couldn’t match, he thought she could go straight to the battlefield.
“I never expected Niang Niang to be so skilled at riding and archery…”
“Her archery was taught to her by Ah Weng* personally… before the Yue clan was annihilated,” Jiang Yanchi explained.
“Does Your Highness know how to ride and shoot?”
“I don’t,” Jiang Yanchi looked at Chu Xie, seemingly a bit embarrassed. “I grew up in the Cold Palace and didn’t learn anything.”
Chu Xie placed his hand on Jiang Yanchi’s shoulder, slightly bent down, and approached to meet his gaze. “That’s not Your Highness’s fault. Rest assured, in the future, I will find the best instructors for Your Highness. Your Highness is still young; there’s no rush to learn everything. Whether it’s reading and writing or riding and archery, you will have plenty of time to learn.”
Seeing that Jiang Yanchi kept his head down and just kicked some pebbles underfoot without responding, Chu Xie changed the topic. “Your Highness’s nickname is ‘Yu,’ right? I often hear Niang Niang calling you that.”
“Feng Yu. ‘Feng’ like the wind, ‘Yu’ like to grant or seek. That’s the name my mother gave me.”
Jiang Yanchi’s voice was as low as a mosquito’s.
Chu Xie smiled gently. “Your Highness should read more books. Your nickname isn’t explained like that. ‘Feng Yu’ refers to the fear-inducing wind and the taking and seizing of life.”
Jiang Yanchi raised his gaze, looking somewhat puzzled.
But Chu Xie didn’t delve any deeper into the explanation and signaled for someone to bring a gentle horse. He said, “Why don’t Your Highness give it a try?”
Assisted by the riding and archery instructor, Jiang Yanchi mounted the horse, stumbling and swaying.
Chu Xie then instructed several people to stand nearby, afraid that he might suddenly fall.
Jiang Yanchi showed natural talent. In no time, he was able to ride slowly while holding the reins himself.
Looking back, he asked Chu Xie, “Why don’t you ride, Lord Chu?”
Me ride horses.
Chu Xie couldn’t help but sneer inwardly. With my physical condition, I’d risk losing four years of life if I fell off. It would be like going to my deathbed right there.
It would be adding insult to injury to my already short lifespan.
He smiled and shook his head. “I don’t enjoy horseback riding or archery, and I’m not skilled in wielding blades or spears.”
Jiang Yanchi, surprisingly, persisted with his questioning on this particular issue. “Why not?”
“Just like that, I don’t particularly enjoy those violent actions. I prefer reasoning with people and dislike physical confrontations.”
From a distance, Duan Se galloped towards them on her horse. With one hand holding the reins, she already carried several rabbits, and behind her, she was towing a small wild boar with a rope.
Radiant and elegant under the spring sunshine, she was truly impressive.
Jiang Yanchi noticed Chu Xie adjusting his sleeves, seemingly inadvertently letting his gaze fall on him.
“Why don’t you give archery a try, Your Highness?” Chu Xie asked.
The scent of expensive cypress incense enveloped Jiang Yanchi’s body, almost overwhelmingly strong. As he drew nearer, he detected a faint underlying scent of something distinct and bitter.
Distinct and bitter.
Jiang Yanchi had a keen sense of smell and had vaguely sensed it the first time he met Chu Xie.
Was he using the strong incense to cover the medicinal scent on his body?