Chapter 237: “If he won’t marry me, I’ll marry him!”
“What the heck, can you guys please confirm for me if that person inside the sedan chair unable to move is my Second Royal Brother? I must be seeing things, right? Yes, it must be my eyes playing tricks on me. My Second Royal Brother ran away from home to escape a forced marriage, how could it be…”
Xia Yuqing muttered to herself in a dazed state, trying to convince herself that she had been overwhelmed by recent events and exhaustion.
Unfortunately, the numerous bright eyes around her confirmed that her vision was actually fine.
“Junior Sister, it seems like you didn’t see it wrong. The person bound tightly in the sedan chair does appear to be your runaway Second Royal Brother,” Yun Zhongyue gracefully leaped onto a nearby tree, blocking the dazzling sunlight with one hand as he looked into the distance.
“What?!” Xia Yuqing exclaimed, taking another look at the tearful and pitiful “bride” gazing towards her direction.
In an instant, Xia Yuqing’s thoughts shifted from “How could that person be my Second Royal Brother?” to “How did my Second Royal Brother end up here?” Wasn’t he supposed to have run away from home?
Could it be that he encountered human traffickers when he ran away and the seemingly shrewd but naive Second Royal Brother was kidnapped by them? And now, under the guise of a bridal sedan, he was being transported to a gathering place for traffickers? With Second Royal Brother’s looks, if he accidentally angered those traffickers, those heartless murderers, he could become a real-life meat bun?!
Xia Yuqing was startled by her own wild imagination, and almost instinctively blurted out towards the bridal procession, “You scoundrels, let go of that man, I’m coming!”
The sound of gongs, drums, and trumpets abruptly stopped due to this unexpected shout, and everyone’s gaze instantly focused on Xia Yuqing.
…Niang Niang (Junior Sister), can you please stop blurting out things that can be easily misunderstood? Although the person is the Second Royal Prince and a relative, haven’t you noticed someone behind you whose face turned dark because of your words? This is Cui Er and the others, who silently covered their faces, unable to bear witness to this.
…Who is this girl? She’s so bold and wants to openly snatch a man from under their noses? She’s almost on par with their chief. Are all women these days so audacious? They will have psychological trauma trying to find wives in the future! This is a group of bridal escorts shocked by Xia Yuqing’s bold words.
…Haha, she dares to have an affair right in front of Zhen. It seems I have spoiled her too much recently. It’s necessary to re-educate her. This is Feng Tingye, laughing with an inscrutable expression, surrounded by a rolling black aura.
“Big Brother, what’s wrong with Royal Father? He looks so scary!” Second Baby, who was in the same carriage, saw Feng Tingye’s appearance and immediately turned around, throwing herself into Big Baby’s arms, trembling with fear.
“Don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong. Mother didn’t behave well and wanted to cheat on Father, but Father caught her. Father is angry,” Big Baby held Second Baby’s chubby body, speaking seriously.
“Cheat on? What does that mean?” Second Baby sucked on her chubby fingers and looked up at Big Baby with her innocent and clear eyes, puzzled.
“Cheat on means Mother wants to have another little brother with someone who is not Father. After Mother has the little brother, she won’t want Big Brother and Second Baby anymore, nor will she want Father,” Big Baby said with a serious expression while hugging Second Baby. His calm demeanor made it hard to imagine what shocking words this child had just uttered.
…Are children these days so mature? Or is it just the little brat from the Little Royal Sister’s family who is exceptionally precocious? We should have our Little Baby spend less time playing with that kid from Little Royal Sister’s family. It wouldn’t be good if he corrupts our precious daughter. This is Xia Muyun, frowning and holding another little child with a conflicted expression.
…Junior Sister, are you sure this Big Baby of yours isn’t born to collect debts? Why does he always say things that seem to deceive you? Please, let’s hope we don’t have such a troubled child in the future! This is Xia Yuqing’s Third Senior Brother, shocked speechless by Big Baby’s words.
Second Baby was clearly frightened by Big Baby’s words. After a moment of daze, she looked at Feng Tingye and then at Xia Yuqing. Her small mouth puckered, and a pool of clear tears quickly gathered in her eyes. With teary eyes, she sobbed, “Wuwah, Mother, don’t cheat on us. Little Baby doesn’t want to be abandoned by Mother, and I don’t want Big Brother and Father to be abandoned by Mother either. Wuwuwu…”
Second Baby’s crying snapped Xia Yuqing back to reality. She glared at Big Baby and hurriedly hugged Second Baby, who was on the verge of crying, comforting her, “Dun Dun, don’t listen to your brother’s nonsense. Mother loves you the most, how could she not want Dun Dun?”
Under Xia Yuqing’s soothing, Second Baby finally stopped crying and laid pitifully in Xia Yuqing’s arms, hiccuping non-stop.
Xia Mingxi was also startled by Xia Yuqing’s sudden shout, causing his tears to retract instantly. After a brief stiffness, Xia Mingxi struggled even more violently.
“Mm… Mm… Mm…” Little Royal Sister, save your Royal Brother, save your Royal Brother!
The people who had come to welcome the bride quickly reacted when they heard the commotion. It seemed that the person being snatched was none other than the “bride” they were welcoming today!
“That girl wants to snatch the groom!” someone shouted, and everyone else snapped out of their daze. Then they heard a resounding cry, “Brothers, get your weapons, someone is trying to snatch the groom! Someone is trying to snatch the groom!”
Hearing the shouts of the people welcoming the bride and the warning gazes from the people across, Xia Yuqing realized that she had been too hasty and had blurted out her true feelings. Now, the human traffickers were already on guard, and it was impossible to launch a surprise attack.
While tears silently flowed in her heart, Xia Yuqing complained to herself for being so talkative and forced a dry smile, saying, “Misunderstanding, it’s all a misunderstanding!”
“Misunderstanding?” The people welcoming the bride had already taken out shiny knives from under the wedding carriage, clearly not believing Xia Yuqing’s words.
Seeing their posture, Xia Yuqing became more certain of her suspicions. These people were definitely human traffickers, or at the very least, not good people. Have you ever seen ordinary citizens hide so many knives under a wedding carriage?
“Yes, yes, it’s a misunderstanding. Look, I’m holding a baby in my arms, and my husband is sitting next to me, how could we be snatching the groom?”
The leader of the group glanced at the baby in Xia Yuqing’s arms, and his initial certainty wavered a bit. “Then what you just said…”
Xia Yuqing saw that they were starting to believe her words to some extent, so she continued, “Actually, I just suddenly saw a bound person sitting inside the sedan chair, and it was a man. I was so surprised that I misspoke.”
The group of people exchanged glances and turned their heads to look at the sedan chair. When they saw Xia Mingxi’s head slightly peeking out of the window, they became even more convinced of Xia Yuqing’s explanation.
The leader of the group cleared his throat and raised his hand, signaling someone to push Xia Mingxi’s head back into the sedan chair as if handling livestock.
“Mm… Mm…” Xia Mingxi, thinking that Xia Yuqing and the others hadn’t recognized him, was startled when he saw the people approaching and was about to be pushed back inside. He stiffened his neck and let out a series of screams resembling a slaughtered pig, hoping that Xia Yuqing and the others would take a good look at him and help him out of this predicament.
Xia Yuqing and the others looked at this scene with a bewildered expression, and a hint of sympathy flashed across their faces involuntarily. Second Royal Brother, you’re all tied up like a dumpling now, so you should behave and go inside calmly. As the saying goes, a wise man does not fight when the odds are against him. We’re not planning to leave right away, so you’re only causing trouble for yourself by behaving like this.
Xia Yuqing watched helplessly as the people forced Xia Mingxi back inside. Their wariness towards Xia Yuqing and her unexpected companions also slightly diminished. This prompted the leader to cautiously speak again, “Brother, don’t blame me for being curious. It’s the first time I’ve seen a man sitting inside such a big sedan chair. I wonder what’s going on with you guys…”
The leader scrutinized Xia Yuqing from top to bottom for a while before saying, “You’re not from around here, are you? Let me advise you, it’s better not to be too curious about the affairs of Yanping Stronghold. Otherwise, you’ll suffer a great loss.”
A forced smile appeared on Xia Yuqing’s face, and the people outside the carriage exchanged glances before slowly reaching for the weapons they carried on their bodies.
“However, if you really want to know, there’s no harm in telling you.” The leader chuckled foolishly. “The person sitting in the sedan chair is the young master who caught our chief’s eye recently. Originally, we planned to use the traditional marriage rituals and a grand carriage to escort him back, but unexpectedly, this kid resisted to the death. Our chief isn’t someone to be trifled with, and they got annoyed on the spot. They directly ordered us to kidnap him back to become the chief’s wife. Just as we arrived at the foot of the mountain, you guys stopped us like this. Alright, since it’s a misunderstanding and today is our chief’s happy day, we won’t argue with you anymore. We need to hurry back to the Stronghold to report to the chief, or they’ll get angry. We’ll take our leave.”
As Xia Yuqing listened to the man’s explanation, her eyes suddenly lit up, and only one thought filled her mind: her Second Royal Brother was going to be abducted to become the chief’s wife, the chief’s wife!
In an instant, Xia Yuqing felt a surge of enlightenment as if her family had finally married off a son, making her unable to contain her excitement. She shouted once again, “Oh my goodness, Second Royal Brother… bro… bro… brother, you finally got married! Little Royal Sister is so happy for you!”
Xia Yuqing’s shout caused the group of bandits, who had been turning to leave, to freeze in place again. They turned their heads with a bewildered expression, looking at Xia Yuqing. The people beside Xia Yuqing’s mouth twitched and they silently turned their heads, pretending not to have seen anything.
“Indeed… they are here to steal the bride! Brothers, draw your weapons!”
“… ” She had clearly expressed her joy for her Second Royal Brother getting married, so how did these bandits interpret it as wanting to steal the bride? These bandits’ intelligence was really questionable. They couldn’t even understand spoken language!
Seeing the bandits drawing their weapons, Feng Tingye and the others couldn’t be bothered to waste time with them anymore. They unsheathed their weapons, preparing to take action.
Thus, the two groups confronted each other for a while, and inevitably, chaos ensued.
After Xia Mingyuan’s ascension to the throne that day, Feng Tingye had ordered all the reinforcements, including those from the Ye Kingdom, to return to their respective homes. Therefore, there were only a few people remaining with Xia Yuqing and Feng Tingye, not many in number, but each one was skilled in combat. Dealing with these bandits was a piece of cake.
In less than a quarter of an hour, all the bandits were lying on the ground, and the area at the foot of the mountain was filled with sounds of complaints.
Xia Yuqing and the others had only intended to rescue the person, and since they had exchanged a few words with these bandits earlier and knew they weren’t truly bad people, they didn’t take their lives. They simply made them temporarily lie down and immobilized them.
“Second Royal Brother, come, let me untie you.” Xia Yuqing, seeing that most of the people were down, happily skipped to the side of the bridal sedan, lifted the curtain, and untied Xia Mingxi.
Second Baby who had been set aside, opened her big eyes and curiously looked at Xia Mingxi. She reached out her small hand and tugged at Xia Yuqing’s clothes, asking, “Mother, who is this beautiful big sister?”
“Big sister?” Xia Yuqing was taken aback and glanced at Xia Mingxi’s current appearance. Earlier, she could only see Xia Mingxi’s face through a small window but now, up close, Xia Yuqing noticed that Xia Mingxi was wearing a bride’s attire, the kind girls wear!
Xia Mingxi was originally delicate-looking, so the bright red wedding gown didn’t look out of place on him at all. Instead, it added a touch of enchanting allure that he didn’t usually possess. Perhaps considering that he was still a man, they hadn’t adorned him with the essential phoenix crown that girls wear when getting married. They simply let his ink-black long hair flow gently over his shoulders. Though lacking the grace and elegance of a newlywed bride, he exuded a delicate vulnerability that made people pity him even more. A man looking like this was simply bewitching. Furthermore, with Xia Mingxi currently having a piece of white cloth stuffed in his mouth, it looked somewhat…
Xia Yuqing stared intently at Xia Mingxi, drooling for quite a while. Her eyes were filled with large hearts, recognizing him as the ultimate uke. Her gaze couldn’t be wrong. Her Second Royal Brother was simply a rare gem of a submissive partner. How could such a perfect face and that rarely seen petite figure not be suppressed for a lifetime!
Inwardly, Xia Yuqing let out a long scream, and her inner little devil excitedly drooled as if it were cascading down a cliff. Her eyes seemed to stick to Xia Mingxi’s body, until he freed himself from the restraints and removed the cloth from his mouth, then gritted his teeth and asked, “Junior Sister, what are you looking at?”
Suddenly awakened from her dreamlike state, Xia Yuqing forced a dry laugh and said, “Ahahaha, nothing, nothing…”
Xia Mingxi coldly snorted, walked out of the sedan door indignantly, but heard little Second Baby sigh from behind, “So, big sister was actually a bride? She looks really beautiful.”
“!” Xia Mingxi’s steps suddenly halted, and Xia Yuqing clearly saw his small figure tremble slightly.
Just as Xia Yuqing thought Xia Mingxi was crying, she saw him stomp his foot fiercely and walk up to the leader of the group closest to him. He lifted the hem of his skirt and delivered a kick while scolding, “You made me wear women’s clothing! You made me wear women’s clothing!”
“…” Second Royal Brother, your image!
The leader, who had just been beaten the most severely by Shao Zitang and the others, now found himself suffering even more. He could only cover his head and whimper, begging for mercy. Unfortunately, his words only fueled Xia Mingxi’s already inflamed anger.
“Madam, spare my life! Madam, spare my life! Madam, spare my life!”
“…” Everyone watched Xia Mingxi’s actions pause, and then…
“You’re the Madam! Your whole family are Madams! To h*ll with your Madam! I’m a man, a real man. Have you all gone blind? Can’t even tell if someone is male or female? Blind idiots like you should stay at home instead of causing trouble for the public! People with your nearsightedness can’t be saved no matter how thick their glasses are! You bunch of beasts, scum, perverts with cross-dressing fetishes, go die!”
Xia Mingxi didn’t care about the slightly disheveled wedding gown he was wearing. He grabbed a dry tree branch nearby and mercilessly attacked the person while cursing like a cannonball.
Xia Yuqing and the others watched in astonishment as Xia Mingxi, who had always been timid, suddenly exploded. They couldn’t help but feel deeply moved: So, a rabbit really does bite when it’s cornered.
By the time everyone snapped out of their daze, they saw that Xia Mingxi had already beaten the leader severely. He was now leaning on the wooden stick, panting heavily, while the unfortunate leader had been beaten to the point of foaming at the mouth, his consciousness fading.
Seeing that Xia Mingxi was about to resume the beating after taking a short rest, Xia Yuqing slowly approached and stopped him. She said, “Second Royal Brother, calm down. If we keep fighting, someone might die! We should hurry and leave. Didn’t that person say the bandit stronghold is on this mountaintop? It won’t be good if the leader comes chasing after us.”
Although she really wanted to see what her Second Royal Brother’s destined other half looked like, it was better to slip away now that they had already beaten someone.
Upon hearing Xia Yuqing’s words, Xia Mingxi’s actions abruptly halted. He snorted coldly and then threw the stick behind him, straightening his clothes to restore his usual dignified appearance. Unfortunately, the wedding gown he was wearing made him look somewhat comical.
“Hmph! For the sake of my little royal sister, I’ll let you go for now. Little royal sister, let’s go!” Despite being clearly worried by Xia Yuqing’s words, Xia Mingxi pretended to be calm and made a show of leaving with a final harsh remark, “And let that chief of yours abandon any hope. I will never marry her in my lifetime!”
“Hehe, you find it so difficult to marry me? Well, that’s perfect because I don’t want to marry either. So, for your sake, I’ll reluctantly marry you,” a slightly sweet and charming voice suddenly accompanied by the sound of galloping horses came from behind the group.
Upon hearing this voice, Xia Mingxi’s legs went weak, nearly causing him to step on his own wedding gown and fall flat on his face.
Xia Yuqing hurriedly supported him, astonished at who could be so formidable as to scare Second Royal Brother with just a few words. Could it be…
Curiosity filled Xia Yuqing’s face as she turned her head. After seeing the person on the horse with a heroic and elegant demeanor, she was taken aback. Her first thought was… How come this person is a girl? What happened to the domineering male leader who was supposed to overshadow Second Royal Brother? Then, she belatedly realized that this girl seemed somewhat familiar, as if she had seen her before.
Before Xia Yuqing could figure it out, a surprised and excited shout came from the nearby carriage, “Sister Xue!”
Sister Xue?! The person who Yun Xi referred to as Sister Xue, could it be…
“Ah, I remember now. You’re Yu Xue, one of the twin granddaughters of Jin Lao,” a sudden realization flashed through Xia Yuqing’s mind as she recalled the girl she had encountered in the Shu Kingdom.
As Xia Yuqing mentioned it, Feng Tingye and the others also remembered Yu Xue’s identity, and their initial vigilance dissipated somewhat.
Yu Xue was dressed in a groom’s attire of bright red, appearing exceptionally handsome and elegant. Despite her petite stature compared to an average woman, she had no trace of fragility.
Yu Xue, upon seeing Xia Yuqing and her group, showed a hint of surprise on her face, which quickly turned into a malicious smile. “So, it’s you!”
“!” Little Royal Sister and this demoness know each other?! Xia Mingxi, still supported by Xia Yuqing, was stunned by this strange turn of events. He glanced at Yu Xue, then at Xia Yuqing, feeling a chill down his spine and a sense of impending doom.
For Yun Xi, meeting Yu Xue in this place was an unexpected delight. The two sisters rarely had a chance to reunite, so they naturally didn’t want to part ways. Feng Tingye and the others also had no place to settle down at the moment, so they readily agreed to go back to the mountain stronghold with Yu Xue.
Naturally, Yun Xi and the others were happy about it, but there was one person who had some objections.
“After crossing this mountain, there’s a town with plenty of inns. Why do we have to follow this tomboy, this demoness, to this place? Hmph…” Xia Mingxi walked alongside Xia Yuqing, trying his best to keep his distance from Yu Xue. He looked at the relatively large mountain stronghold and muttered in a low voice.
Xia Yuqing couldn’t stand to see her Second Royal Brother in such a pitiful state, so she slapped him on the back of his head and said, “We’ve been on the road for several days, and it’s getting dark, do you expect us to climb mountains and cross ridges to find a place to stay? You’re really good at talking without considering the practicalities. Besides, why wouldn’t we stay in a readily available place? It would be a waste not to take advantage of this opportunity, Second Royal Brother, are you stupid?!”
“…” Little Royal Sister, when you first saw me, you weren’t like this. Why did everything change the moment you saw that demoness? Advantage, advantage, you only think about taking advantage. Do you know that you’ve brought your Royal Brother into a pit just for a little benefit? If that demoness starts something, it will be unlucky for your Royal Brother. It’s more trouble than it’s worth!
Excuses, everything is just excuses! Sob, sob, sob. Even my Little Royal Sister doesn’t love me anymore. She actually took the side of an outsider!
“Sister Xue, weren’t you with Jin Lao? When did you come here? And…” Yun Xi couldn’t wait and immediately started asking questions. Meeting a familiar face in this place was truly unexpected for her.
Yu Xue smiled lightly and poured them a cup of tea as she spoke, “I believe Your Royal Highness is aware that my sister and I are not actually Grandfather’s biological grandchildren. We were found by him. From childhood to adulthood, neither my sister nor I knew who our birth parents were. It wasn’t until we turned fifteen that someone approached us, claiming to be our biological father’s entrusted person. He brought us back and hoped that we, as sisters, would inherit the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds left behind by our father.”
“Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds?” As soon as Yu Xue mentioned it, Yun Zhongyue and the others couldn’t help but exchange glances, their eyes filled with surprise.
Feng Tingye and the others narrowed their eyes slightly and asked, “Has the Sixth Wangye heard of the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds?”
Yun Zhongyue smiled reluctantly at the question. “In the martial arts world, there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t know about the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds.”
Upon hearing this, Xia Yuqing and her group were all taken aback, their attention instantly shifting to Yun Zhongyue and his companions.
“The Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds are a mysterious organization composed of the nine enchanting palaces and sixteen strongholds in the martial arts world. It is said that the leader of the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds is even more formidable than the leader of the martial arts alliance. The nine palace masters and the other fifteen stronghold masters under them are all skilled individuals. It’s a formidable group.” Hua Nongying casually played with his slender fingers as he spoke seemingly casually but if one looked closely, they could see that his fingers were tightly clenched, as if he was guarding against something.
“The leader you mentioned, the former Lord of the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds, is my father,” Yu Xue sipped her tea unconcernedly and replied.
“The former Lord?” Su Wuduan glanced at Yu Xue. “Didn’t you just say that your father was already dead? Then who is the current Lord of the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds?”
“It’s me.” Yu Xue looked up at everyone and calmly uttered two words, as if she was stating something ordinary like buying a big cabbage.
“….” Everyone fell silent for a few seconds.
“…. Sister Xue, what exactly is going on?”
“As I mentioned earlier, when I was fifteen, someone approached my sister and me, wanting us to inherit the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds. They presented evidence that proved our identities, but my sister only wanted to take care of Grandfather and had no interest in getting involved in the conflicts of the martial arts world. So, I had to grit my teeth and come back to take up the responsibility.”
“…” Xia Mingxi felt like his whole world was crumbling upon hearing Yu Xue’s words. He initially thought this demoness was just the leader of a small stronghold, but he never expected…
That Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds sounded like a force not to be trifled with, like a mafia or something! Xia Mingxi suddenly felt like half of the sky above his head had collapsed. He whimpered to himself, thinking he had provoked a small-time hoodlum, but in the end, he had unwittingly provoked the ancient version of a mafia boss. Who could understand the pain he was going through? Sob, sob, he didn’t want to die!
“But Sister Xue always stays in the Shu Kingdom, right? How did this happen… and you’re a girl…”
Before Yun Xi could finish speaking, a burly man who had just returned from being injured under Xia Yuqing’s group rushed to the front and defended Yu Xue, “Although our leader is a girl, she’s not any less capable than the men. You don’t know, back then, our leader took care of those arrogant old guys from the Nine Palaces and Sixteen Strongholds. Now they all defer to our leader.”
“…” How awesome!
“A Da, why are you saying this in front of the guests? Step back,” Yu Xue helplessly glanced at the honest man. Seeing him awkwardly scratching his head and stepping back, she shifted her gaze back to Yun Xi. “Most of the time, I stay by Grandfather’s side. But sometimes I come back to take care of things. There’s not much conflict in terms of time, after all, Grandfather still has my sister, and I have quite a bit of free time.”
Yun Xi nodded in understanding, and Xia Yuqing looked at the bruises on the face of the burly man who had shrunk behind Yu Xue, coughed lightly, and felt a bit guilty. “I didn’t know these people were under Miss Yu Xue’s command earlier. I’m sorry for hurting them.”
Yu Xue smiled indifferently and said, “It’s fine. We’re all one family now. Family members don’t hold grudges against each other. The brothers won’t mind.”
As soon as Yu Xue said this, Xia Mingxi, like a cat whose tail had been stepped on, suddenly stood up from his chair and flared up, “Who said we’re one family?”
Xia Yuqing glanced at Xia Mingxi, who had a reluctant expression on his face, and thought about Yu Xue’s identity. Concerned about the personal safety of her second Royal Brother in the future, she gathered her courage and spoke, “Miss Yu Xue, um… forcing something doesn’t lead to a good outcome. It seems like my Royal Brother isn’t very willing to be with you, so maybe…”
Before Xia Yuqing could finish her sentence, Yu Xue cleanly interrupted her, “As long as I’m willing.”
Yu Xue raised an eyebrow and swept her gaze from Xia Yuqing to Xia Mingxi. She spoke in a cool tone, “Since he doesn’t want to marry me, I can marry him just the same.”
Xia Yuqing and Xia Mingxi: “…”