Chapter 7: Provocation
At night, the wind crept in through the gaps in the window, causing the candlelight to flicker slightly. Shadows danced on the walls, and He Yan looked at the broken pieces of silver in front of her and asked, “Is this all?”
“This servant already pleaded with the shopkeeper for more,” Qingmei hesitated, “but the shopkeeper said these accessories can fetch only this much.”
He Yan nodded, “You may leave now.”
Qingmei left the room.
He Yan picked up the pieces of silver, one by one, and placed them in her palm. In total, there were only two pieces, and she felt as if her heart had shattered along with them.
Back in the He family, money was never in short supply. Even if they ran out, they could easily use any piece of jewelry or jade pendant to get some money. Later, during the war, there was no need for money on the battlefield. When she returned to the capital, the Emperor’s rewards filled several courtyards of the He family.
She thought of the gold and silver jewelry bestowed upon Flying Phoenix General. Any one of those items could have solved the He family’s urgent needs. But now, she was no longer in that He family.
He Yan sighed heavily. Now she understood the saying, “A penny can confound a hero.”
Silver was silver, but there was another matter she wanted to attend to—going to the drill ground. Chopping wood on the mountain every day was undoubtedly strengthening her body, but it only enhanced her physical strength. If she wanted to recover fully, she needed to spar with others on the drill ground, practice archery, and ride horses. However, she wondered if her doting father, He Sui, would agree to this.
She extinguished the candle and laid down on the bed. Whatever it was, she would deal with it tomorrow.
The next day, after chopping wood and having lunch, He Yunsheng was about to go sell cakes.
He Yan looked at the large bamboo tray filled with cakes and asked, “Making so many, will you be able to sell them all?”
“The weather is getting warmer, and many people will come to buy them,” He Yunsheng replied. “In a few days, we’ll need to sell something else.”
He Yunsheng had really worked hard for this family. He Yan admired him and patted his shoulder, showing some appreciation, “Let’s go then.”
He Yunsheng’s body stiffened a bit. He Yan’s gesture was quite… masculine.
Once they arrived at the stall, as they came early, there were not many vendors around. They found a good spot near the street and displayed the da nai cakes.
It was early April, and in the afternoon, the sun was shining, giving a taste of summer. The da nai cakes were sweet and tangy, with the fragrance of plums. They were perfect snacks for this season. As He Yunsheng had expected, business was good. He Yunsheng handled the cakes, while He Yan managed the cash. They were busy when suddenly a group of people came marching aggressively towards their spot, with Wang Jiugui leading them.
With a loud “thud,” Wang Jiugui slammed his hands on the table. The surrounding people quickly retreated, not wanting to get involved in the confrontation.
He Yunsheng showed no fear and angrily asked, “What do you want?”
“What do I want?” Wang Jiugui sneered, “Do you think it’s fine to just hit me and leave it at that?”
He Yunsheng rolled up his sleeves, his face as cold as ice. “Do you want to fight? I’ll accompany you!”
“You little punk, you’ve got guts!” Wang Jiugui took a step back, and his lackeys surrounded He Yunsheng. “Young man, I advise you not to be too arrogant!”
He Yunsheng remained unfazed. At that moment, He Yan said, “Stop!”
Both He Yunsheng and Wang Jiugui turned to look at He Yan.
Wang Jiugui saw He Yan and smiled again. He said, “This kid doesn’t know any better, but he’s your little brother after all. For Miss He Yan’s sake, I’ll let him off. If Miss He Yan is willing to accompany me on a stroll, then we can forget about this matter. I’m a generous person and won’t argue with a child.”
“You are talking nonsense!” He Yunsheng was furious.
“Hold on,” He Yan grabbed He Yunsheng’s hand. He tried to break free, but no matter how hard he struggled, He Yan’s grip remained firm. He Yunsheng was stunned. Since when did He Yan have such strength?
“Don’t make a scene here and scare the people around,” He Yan said calmly. “Let’s go over there and talk.” She pointed to a small alley not far away from the Drunken Jade Pavilion.
He Yunsheng and Wang Jiugui both spoke at the same time.
He Yunsheng anxiously said, “You’re a young lady, how can you be with them… These people are not good!”
But Wang Jiugui laughed, “It seems Miss He Yan is sensible. Let’s go then. I brought a gift for Miss He Yan today…”
He Yunsheng wanted to argue, but He Yan whispered softly in his ear, “You think the wood chopping I’ve been doing with you these days was for nothing? Don’t worry, nothing will happen. It will only take the time to make a pot of tea.”
Her gentle and soft voice had a hint of inexplicable amusement, leaving He Yunsheng stunned. By the time he regained his senses, He Yan had already walked away with Wang Jiugui and his gang.
He Yunsheng wanted to chase after them, but when he remembered what He Yan had told him just now, he stopped himself.
Just trust her this time, the time it takes to make a pot of tea. If she doesn’t come back by then, he’ll go find her.
On the other side, He Yan and Wang Jiugui walked into the small alley.
The alley led to the restaurant in Drunken Jade Pavilion. Faintly, they could hear the sound of a zither inside, melodious and pleasing. He Yan had long yearned for this, but she had never been there. She had just returned to the capital, and He Rufei had come back too. Dressed like a lady, she couldn’t enter such places.
“Little Sister He, what do you want to talk about?” Wang Jiugui smiled and approached her.
“My little brother.”
“You mean Young Master He,” Wang Jiugui seemed a bit surprised at first, but he quickly smiled, “Of course, how can I lower myself to argue with Young Master He? You know that.” He reached into his pocket and took out a powder box in a duck egg blue color, then touched He Yan’s face with his other hand, “You are in my heart, and from now on, we will be a family…”
Wang Jiugui’s words were cut off by a scream.
Inside Drunken Jade Pavilion, the zither strings quivered slightly, as if a beautiful jade had been scratched, abrupt and regretful. Someone asked in confusion, “What was that sound?”
A corner of the gauze curtain was lifted by the handle of a fan, and a delicate teacup appeared, held by slender and jade-like fingers.
He Yan let go of Wang Jiugui’s arm, and his arm fell limply. He looked terrified, and He Yan gave him a faint smile. Then, she raised her hand, and the duck egg blue powder box flew toward Wang Jiugui’s face, splashing his face with white powder.
“Thank you for the gift, but I don’t like this kind of inferior powder. Remember, don’t give me such things again in the future.”
“Wretch! Attack!” Under Wang Jiugui’s miserable wail, he still managed to give the command.
The young girl at the prime of her youth seemed to hear a joke. Her eyes curved, and her laughter was as crisp as a mountain spring. She was truly happy, and as the spring breeze brushed her skirt, with her black hair and fair skin, almond-shaped eyes shining with intelligence, she looked like a delicate and beautiful young lady strolling on a spring outing.
But her words sent a chill down people’s spines.
She rubbed her wrist and smiled, “You’d better not regret this.”
In this chapter, the male lead appeared with just one finger showing. [Covering face with hand]