Chapter 23 Blood-like Sunset Part 3
A group of children, you say one word, I say one word, they all constantly argued over Helian Rongchuan and Yan Changqing regarding who was more powerful. Even though Yan Changqing had a straight face, he didn’t have the heart to break away from the chubby little paws that were tightly clasped on his legs. He couldn’t leave or stay, it made things a bit difficult.
Helian Rongchuan was about to say, “Okay, time for you guys to disperse” to relieve him, but he heard a milky, childish voice suddenly pop out from the group of chirping little dumplings: “Oh! How about we have these two immortal elder brothers to help us get the elm money.”
When these children heard that, they exploded and excitedly shook the arms of Yan Changqing and Helian Rongchuan. They raised their heads one by one, and said eagerly: ” Big brother, help us!”
“Big brother is the most powerful, so he must be able to pick a lot!”
“Big brother is the best!”
Helian Rongchuan hugged a little one hanging by his thigh, the most violent chubby girl and rubbed her head with his hand. He said, “I can help you, but this big brother has injuries on his body. Can you let him go?”
The little chubby girl looked at him reluctantly. Little children don’t know how to read faces. She was really a little bit reluctant to let go of this very powerful looking older brother. She pouted and said pitifully,
“Oh , then… let this older brother accompany us to pick up the elm money below. Okay?”
Helian Rongchuan smiled and hugged the little chubby girl, and said to Yan Changqing: “Then is this big brother willing?”
Yan Changqing: “…”
Helian Rongchuan raised the corners of his mouth and lightly jumped to land on the big elm tree. He shouted downwards: “Children, pick the elm money.”
After an incense’s time, the noise under the big elm tree gradually stopped. Every child’s small bamboo basket was stuffed with bright yellow and green elm money. Yan Changqing bent down, picked up the last bunch of elm money and put it into the little chubby girl’s small bamboo basket, clapped his hands, and was about to leave, but was stopped by the crying village woman.
This village woman was the mother of Ah Mao and that little fat girl. She also slung a large basket on her arm that was covered with a blue floral cloth. The exposed corner revealed a pile of tender yellow elm money. She rubbed her hands with embarrassment and blushed earnestly.:
“The two nobles saved my Ah Mao’s life. I am uncouth and I don’t know how to thank you. Why don’t you two come to my house for lunch as a thank you?”
Yan Changqing didn’t finish saying, “No need” when he was hugged by Ah Mao and the chubby girl. The larger one hung onto his arm, while the smaller one hugged his leg. The two had very similar blushing little faces that looked up pitifully at him. Helian Rongchuan had never seen Yan Changqing so helplessly entangled by little dolls. Clutching his stomach, he laughed:
“I couldn’t tell that Master Yan would be so popular with the little dolls. Hahaha, I think if you don’t agree, this little doll will definitely not let go.”
Before the village woman’s enthusiastic invitation, and the two chubby dolls’ forceful act of coquettishness, Yan Changqing was dragged into the farmhouse of Ah Mao’s family.
Although it was a hut built with thatch and bamboo mixed with mud and stone, the room was quite clean. The floor was swept with a broom, and there were still thin broom marks. The little chubby girl sat down beside Yan Changqing a little bit, seemingly afraid of Yan Changqing’s cold face, but she kept peeking at Yan Changqing.
Helian Rongchuan liked this clever little girl very much. He hugged her and said, “Hey, chubby girl, what are you looking at?”
The little chubby girl was only three or four years old. Asked this, she was a little shy and lowered her head. She pointed her little finger at Yan Changqing, and said in a grinning voice: “I’m looking at that big brother.”
“Aren’t I your big brother, why don’t you look at me?” Helian Rongchuan grabbed the little chubby girl’s tender little face and asked casually, while his eyes looked over at Yan Changqing, who was sitting coldly by the side and drinking tea.
The little chubby girl was frightened by Helian Rongchuan’s deliberate frown of pretending to be offended. Tears burst into her eyes and her small mouth flattened honestly. She said, “Because that big brother looks handsome.”
Helian Rongchuan’s hands lightly pinched the chubby girl by the cheeks, intentionally teasing her: “Then I don’t look handsome?”
The little chubby girl glanced at Helian Rongchuan with tears in her eyes.
In fact, Helian Rongchuan looked very handsome. With a straight brow bone, a straight nose, and healthy wheat-colored skin, whether he was viewed from the side or the front, his facial contours were deep and beautiful. There was even a little wild, unruly side that had a very aggressive male charm. It’s just that this kind of look was not appreciated by a three or four-year-old female doll, especially with Helian Rongchuan who was so fiercely pinching her face until it hurt. Thus, in the heart of the little chubby girl, Helian Rongchuan’s image had dropped a bit.
In the eyes of this little baby, it was Yan Changqing’s handsome, youthful face that made it easier to get drawn to.
Although that face was cold now and seemed a little unhappy, when she was picking up the elm money, this elder brother was still very gentle to her.
So the little chubby girl sucked a nasty mucus back in her nose, aggrieved while crying loudly to Helian Rongchuan: “Huh, you are a big ugly monster. That elder brother is a beautiful fairy!”
Yan Changqing choked slightly, and put down the tea cup with a calm expression.
Ah Mao’s Mother on the other side had already prepared the food. As soon as the bamboo steamer was opened, there were four large bowls of steamed soft elm money wrapped in cornmeal and flour in the white steam. The emerald green shallots and garlic on the side of the table were freshly picked from the vegetable garden. She neatly washed these ingredients with spring water, chopped them up, and mixed them with vinegar and her own freshly ground sesame oil. A fresh, spicy, hot smell wafted out.
Helian Rongchuan looked sideways. There seemed to be waves floating in his dark brown eyes. He rubbed the corners of his eyes, and saw that Ah Mao had already placed a large bowl of steamed elm money in front of Yan Changqing as if offering a treasure and said, “Big brother, eat first!”
Helian Rongchuan curled his lips: “No conscience.”
Ah Mao’s Mother had already brought a few more bowls over. She was a little embarrassed: “There is nothing to entertain the guests with at home, only the freshly picked elm money.” Seeing Yan Changqing not moving his chopsticks, her face turned redder and her voice became quieter: “This benefactor, do you dislike …”
Yan Changqing picked up the chopsticks, nodded politely and smiled: “How can I dislike it, I just have never seen such food. I was just a little curious.”
With his smile, Ah Mao’s Mother’s face turned red inexplicably. She said: “Benefactor looks like a high-ranking official, and he should have never seen the food of our poor family. But this steaming elm money is my best dish. People who have eaten it say it is more delicious than fish and meat!”
Helian Rongchuan said while eating it with relish, “That is reasonable. I have searched for many cooks, but no one knows how to make this thing.”
Ah Mao’s Mother’s eyes lit up: “This noble person has eaten this kind of food before?”
Helian Rongchuan had something in his mouth, and said vaguely: “When I was a child.”
Ah Mao’s Mother was inexplicably proud. She said: “That must be different from our Xixia Village. You benefactors may not know this, but this old elm tree in our village is extremely godlike. After you eat the elm money from this tree. One would achieve success!”
Helian Rongchuan raised his eyebrows slightly, and said: “How would one achieve success?”
Ah Mao’s Mother pretended to lower her voice mysteriously, and said: “Benefactor might not know this, but thirteen years ago, our village had a seven or eight-year-old boy, just as big as my Ah Mao.”
Ah Mao’s Mother patted Ah Mao, who came to listen to the story with curiosity, and continued:
“That little boy was very miserable.” Yes, he had no father and no mother, and was extremely poor. In his bare feet, he would beg for food from different households. But the kid could also be considered to have a backbone. Every spring when the elm money grows out, he would be too embarrassed to go freeload food. So he would climb this old elm tree every day to pick elm money to eat. You have seen it, such a big old elm tree, and he would pick it bare every year. Can you guess what happened in the end?”
Helian Rongchuan smiled: “What? Is it possible that the elm tree turned into a monster and ate the kid? I can’t guess.”
Ah Mao’s Mother looked envious and said, “It was more strange than the elm tree becoming a spirit! One day, this little boy was picking elm money from the tree to eat, when suddenly, a large group of officials came by the village. Each one was dressed better than the other. Carrying sabers, they knelt down at the elm tree and called Your Highness to the little boy. It turned out that the little boy was actually the second prince of the DongYun Kingdom on the other side of the mountain! Won’t you say that it was miraculous? That pitiful little boy suddenly became a nobleman. It must be the old elm tree that looked at the child pitifully and blessed him!”
The little chubby girl did not approve of it, and said with her full cheeks:
“That’s not necessarily true. Maybe the old elm tree felt embarrassed to see people after being picked bald every year, so he thought of a way to send the little boy away!”
Ah Mao for the first time did not bicker with his sister. He desperately put a big mouthful of steamed elm money in his mouth. The cheeks moved round and round like a little hamster, and said vaguely: “Then I have to eat more, so I can become a prince overnight!”
Ah Mao’s Mother smiled and rubbed the heads of two little children: “Good, good, eat more. East family’s girl, West family’s doll, took back the elm money to their home. You eat one, I eat one, eat it in one’s belly and enter the royal family, enter the royal family!” (doesn’t sound as good but basically a song to encourage them to eat more to enter royal family)
After dinner, the two thanked the village woman for her kindness and walked out. After a short walk, they returned to the ground of the big elm tree. Yan Changqing glanced at Helian Rongchuan and stopped.
Helian Rongchuan: “I know what you want to ask.”
Yan Changqing looked at Helian Rongchuan quietly. He suddenly discovered that the reason why he couldn’t see through Helian Rongchuan who was in front of him was because he had never understood him.
Whether it was as a friend or as an enemy.
“So you used to be a native of Yan Country?”
Helian Rongchuan said nonchalantly: “That’s right, but not anymore.”
He had a bad problem and couldn’t stand properly. He spoke as he leaned lazily on the rough trunk of the big elm tree. He raised his chin, and said,
“What the village woman said just now was nothing more than a mysterious legend. I happen to know another version. Master Yan, would you like to listen?”
The golden sunlight poured down from the green branches and leaves. Helian Rongchuan squinted his eyes and continued:
“For example, in their rumors, they won’t tell you, why did that boy suddenly become the prince of Dongyun.”
“Actually, he was not blessed by the old elm tree. It was his mother who was at the foot of the mountain coincidentally one day and kindly saved a man who had been hunted down. Although she was not that good-looking, she had a very good heart. Not only did she use all her money to heal the man’s injury, she also committed herself to him. She was pregnant with his child.”
“Unfortunately, after the man recovered, he disappeared. The woman, knowing that the man was not a normal person, took the pains to climb over the high Xixia Mountain and came to Dongyun in search of him. Can you guess what happened? The woman stood at the gate of the palace of the white jade hall and the golden horse for a day and night, but she only received the man’s indifferent roll of his eyes when he came out.”
“Only then did that woman know that the man she loved with all his heart was actually Dongyun’s crown prince. This crown prince was not lacking of wives and concubines and didn’t need her, a plain-looking village woman. The prince also had some gold and silver jewelry, but was not willing to give it to his savior or his unborn son.”
“So this bitter fated woman had to grit her teeth and return to this small village. Her tears had run dry, and a little boy was born . It’s just that they were an orphan and a widow, unable to make ends meet. In order to survive, this woman thought of a wonderful idea.”
Helian Rongchuan paused, still with a faint smile on his mouth: “Hasn’t Master Yan always been looking for the temper snow stones that I robbed? It’s a coincidence but the survival plan that the woman thought of was closely related to the location of the twenty ships of temper snow stones.”