MERRY XMAS EVERYONE!!! DOUBLE RELEASE TO CELEBRATE THE SPECIAL OCCASSION!!!
The dark night was sweet and dreamless.
Li Yuanmin turned over, and his black hair swept across the pillow with the movement. His thin eyelids moved and he opened his eyes. He emptily looked at the familiar auspicious daily relief sculpture on the top of the bed. He drank a lot of wine last night, but unexpectedly he was without a headache. His forehead only felt a little stuffy. He couldn’t help raising his hand to knead his temple, then he supported his body to sit up.
He habitually lifted the curtain and looked towards the direction of the long couch, he was startled. Ni Lie was not there. Even the long couch was taken away, leaving nothing in front of him.
He frowned slightly, feeling strange. In the past, he ordered someone to move it away. How did it get moved so quickly today? If it were not for him getting up early and going to the outskirts training ground, Ni Lie had always waited for him to wake up in the outer room. Why was he not here?
He unhurriedly on the spot, put on his shoes, and got off the bed.
The servant woman outside heard the movement and came in with light steps: “Your Highness, the hot water is ready, do you want to take a bath?”
Li Yuanmin was stunned and realized that it was Ni Lie who had arranged it. He drank so much last night that he hadn’t taken a bath. Ni Lie looked cold, but his heart was careful and scrupulous. He felt warm in his heart and nodded.
“Alright, bring it in.”
Several servants carried the bathtub, towels, handkerchief, and other things in and settled them properly before they all went out. Li Yuanmin removed the inner robes and pants on his body and stepped into the steaming bathtub.
Li Yuanmin let out a long sigh after the hot water reached his chest.
Thinking of the memory from the confrontation at Xuntai Mansion last night, he felt disgusted in his heart. Fortunately, he had developed an indifferent outer appearance for these past few years, and it wasn’t that difficult. It can be seen that Yuan Chongsheng was a rather problematic character, but he had underestimated himself excessively as the prince from the cold palace. Even before he had a firm foothold, he thought that he could easily snatch a big piece of fat from his mouth. How is it possible that his 7 years of physical and mental effort be gone to waste?
Li Yuanmin closed his eyes and leaned his neck lightly against the edge of the bathtub. The steam made him look like a piece of powder jade with excellent texture. His face was even more beautiful. The corners of his mouth twitched slightly. ——It was still unknown what would happen when Yuan Chongseng couldn’t pay the thirty thousand two hundred annual tribute, should he be frightened or angry?
After the snow-colored skin was soaked red and the tip of his nose was slightly sweaty, he got up and put on loose casual clothes.
As soon as the screen was removed, the servants brought in utensils to wash the face and rinse the mouth and a bowl of piping hot hangover soup. It was said to be arranged by Commander Ni.
Li Yuanmin smiled knowingly. After washing his face and rinsing his mouth, he sat at the table with his hair draped and sipped the bowl of that hangover soup.
The bowl soon bottomed out. He put down the soup spoon, and a little servant boy came to report that Leader He had personally escorted Ni Ying and the others back.
The little servant boy felt indignant at the injustice: “This slave has never seen the young lady be in this kind of sorry appearance before. Her whole body was covered in dirt, she looked like a beggar. Hearsay, that official prison is dirty, moist, and stinky, insects and rats went rampant there. I don’t know how much the young lady had suffered overnight—that Xuntai Mansion is really hateful.”
Ni Ying had an easygoing temper and had never followed the customs and practices of seniors and juniors. Everyone inside the mansion was extremely fond of this bright and lively girl. The little servant boy also knew that King Guangan had always loved her dearly, so he couldn’t help overstepping and complaining. His resentment was somewhat sad and hoarse:
“Your Highness, the young miss is waiting outside for you at this moment.”
Li Yuanmin didn’t even lift his eyelids. He only took the fragrant tea and rinsed his mouth. He said indifferently: “I won’t see her, hear Ben Wang’s order, take her to the library and make her copy the “Etiquette” book ten times. Give her food to eat only when she finished copying everything.”
He glanced at the little servant boy, whose face changed slightly, “If anyone dares to deliver food secretly, then that person will be punished alongside her.”
The little servant boy’s face tightened, he didn’t dare to say more. He knew that although his master was not that ruthless, strict, and solemn, the decisions that he made were not that easy for people to have a say in.
At that moment, he took the empty bowl cautiously and passed the order.
After having breakfast, Li Yuanmin went to the study to deal with the official duties that had been suppressed two days ago. When the servant came to pass on lunch, he still did not see Ni Lie return. He asked the guards, and the guard said that he was not inside the mansion, that he had already long gone to the outskirts training ground.
Li Yuanmin shook his head and sighed. After several days of training, he didn’t know how the soldiers will complain.
At sunset, the little servant boy from the morning came to report that Ni Ying had finished copying “Etiquette” and was waiting outside.
Li Yuanmin pushed the cup a bit, then allowed her in.
Within a day of work, Ni Ying became a lot haggard. Her hair was messy and her wheat-colored skin got some gray and black stains on. The originally quick-witted pair of flushed eyes and tightly closed lip made her look like she had received an enormous grievance.
Li Yuanmin originally had a stern face. Seeing her pitiful appearance, he immediately felt softhearted. He sighed, and beckoned: “Come here.”
Ni Ying originally gritted her teeth and wanted to question him, but seeing those tender eyes and gentle gaze, tears started to fill her eyes. She immediately threw herself on Li Yuanmin’s knees, a sound of crying rang out.
Li Yuanmin touched her head and sighed in his heart. How could he have not known that she had been wronged? Originally, Yuan Chongsheng had promised to send her back to the house last night, but Li Yuanmin intentionally had the children suffer a bit for them to learn their lesson, thus he declined. Seeing Ni Ying’s sorry figure, he felt a little regretful in his heart, but even so, he could only harden his heart to teach her.
“Have you known the severity of this now?”
The girl on his lap cried and twitched, her shoulders trembled, and she didn’t reply. Li Yuanmin knew that she always had a stubborn temper, so how could she easily admit her mistakes? It was already at the peak for her to cry like this in front of him.
He helplessly sighed, patted her head, and summoned someone to bring hot water in. He personally gave her a towel, lifted up that small face, and wiped off the stains on her face.
Ni Ying sobbed: “Obviously…it was that dog official taking advantage of his position to bully people….”
She intermittently told the situation that day.
It turned out that yesterday when they went to the temple fair with a group of people. They happened to meet Yuan Chongsheng’s parade of guards passing by the temple fair. The attendant was urging on a horse using a whip to open up the path quickly, but unexpectedly went through the old woman’s vegetable vendor’s stand and thoroughly stomped on it. Not only was the attendant not ashamed, but still lashed out loudly. Ni Ying could not stand by and watch it, so she went forward to argue. Unexpectedly it made things noisier and bigger, the two groups of men and horses started to fight each other. Although Ni Ying and their party were mostly teenagers, Ni Lie had always made them practice ruthlessly. Thus, each and every one of them was strong and fierce. They originally had the upper hand. But unexpectedly, Yuan Chongsheng sent a group of county guards. Two fists were hard to beat four hands. More than a hundred soldiers said nothing but surrounded them. Together, they arrested them and put them in jail.
Ni Ying cried until the tip of her nose was red: “Your Highness Gege, tell me, why am I in the wrong?!”
Li Yuanmin sighed, “Come on, wipe your face.”
Of course she was right, but in this world, it’s not a question of right or wrong at all. Yuan Chongsheng, on one hand, drove the carriage in the busy street area. Second, he secretly dispatched a county guard. Third, he disrespected the vassal state king. For these three reasons, no matter how much he refutes, all of them were serious crimes. Since he was not a stupid thing to court death, such a public act showed he was supported by someone in court. From the start, he did not have to fear impeachment by a vassal state king who had their title only.
He wiped off the last stain on her face, but did not answer. He just patted her head, allowed her to lie on his knees, then let her pour down her torrents from her heart as much as she wanted.
Ni Ying hasn’t cried like this for many years. She only felt incessantly wronged, and so resentful, it was difficult to calm down. She even wished to immediately get on a horse, hold a sword and rush into the Xuntai Mansion to stab the dog official into a big open hole. She cried, making a mess, even wetting a big chuck of Li Yuanmin’s hem. However, the other party just gently touched her head, as if comforting a child.
The memory before the age of eight was already so far away, so far that the miserable dreamland couldn’t be recalled clearly anymore. Since she came to Lingnan, she had been the pearl in the palm of King Guangan’s mansion. His Highness loved her dearly, her elder brother also pampered her, she never had taken any blame or felt wronged before. But, she unexpectedly encountered this kind of unpleasant thing. She originally thought that everyone would come to comfort her when she returned, but after her elder brother went to the official jail early this morning to see whether she was healthy, he left with a cold face. And His Highness Gege who always loved her dearly also became heartless like this to her, punishing her to copy a book all day long.
She was aggrieved. Crying a big mess, she gradually calmed down with the gentle touches. She had no father or mother, but with His Highness Gege here, she got the same things as others.
She gradually stopped crying, only quietly lying on the knees that were wet from her tears.
After a long while, Li Yuanmin’s sigh quietly entered her ears.
“A Ying, righteousness and justice is not enough in this world. You are still young, you will understand it in the future.”
Ni Ying raised her head suddenly, a pair of tearful eyes full of stubbornness.
“Is it possible that from now on I will have to conceal this conscience and let these evil people run amok?”
“Of course not,” Li Yuanmin helped her up. He pulled the seat on the side to let her sit next to him, and picked up the scattered hair on her face to the side of her cheek.
“I know that our A Ying is a chivalrous good girl and couldn’t stand still at the sight of the ugly things. However, sometimes the evil people in this world are more dreadful than we can imagine. So terrible that we have no qualifications to be chivalrous and righteous. So, is it possible for us to just charge at it blankly without changing anything, and then compensate for the loss in vain like this?”
“I refuse to accept it!” Ni Ying bit her lip. She had nowhere to refute, but she felt unwilling.
“So, we have to become strong. Only when we are strong can we protect the people we want to protect.” Li Yuanmin paused and whispered: “Your Highness Gege promises you to work hard to become strong and not let A Ying suffer this kind of grievance in the future.”
“Humph!” Ni Ying was happy. She wiped her tears, but still hung up on the topic: “Then why did you even punish me to copy “Etiquette”? My hands won’t even listen to my order anymore!”
She stretched out her ten fingers, there were ink stains on them. She didn’t know which one was copying and which one was slapping the table.
Li Yuanmin was dumbfounded. He wanted to laugh, but held back, “Letting you copy is to make you learn your lesson. Later, when you encounter things, first calmly weigh in the situation, see if you could or could not boldly step forward like this again!”
Seeing the corner of her mouth deflate with a stubborn appearance, Li Yuanmin knew that she already understood the reason, so he changed the subject: “Are you hungry?”
Ni Ying rubbed her fingers for a long while, then raised her eyes and glanced at Li Yuanmin. She lowered her head, and seemed to act in a fit of pique: “I’m hungry!”
Li Yuanmin laughed heartily and squeezed her face: “Go take a bath and freshen up. This kind of dirt look looks nothing like the pearl in the palm of our King Guangan’s mansion.”
The corner of his eyes narrowed mischievously: “I asked the kitchen to prepare A Ying’s favorite roasted pigeon in honey. It’s freshly roasted, tsk, very fragrant.”
Ni Ying looked at his gentle look with a smile. She thought in her heart, she must also become strong. Together with her elder brother, they must protect her Royal Highness Gege.