Han Jiao was unquestionably not a man stuffed with cotton.
However, he proved this in a way quite different from the big boss. The big boss relied on force, while Han Jiao usually used words. Strictly speaking, it should be called “eloquence.”
So the current situation was not one that Han Jiao excelled at.
He hid behind a tree, about the distance of an arrow’s flight from the military official who just splashed him with wine.
The unopened wine barrels were all set to the southeast of the guest seats, at a distance of less than seven meters from that military official.
The meaning of the big boss was for him to start from here, rush over, open a wine barrel, and pour it over the military official’s head like a thunderbolt.
This was actually the result of Han Jiao’s negotiation. The big boss’ original intention was for him to lift the wine barrel and smash it directly onto the military official’s head.
“Causing a fatality on your eldest brother’s birthday would be disastrous.” This was how Han Jiao politely refused.
Only after this concession by the big boss did he agree to only splash wine and not smash heads.
“What are you waiting for?”
Upon hearing the urging from behind by the big boss, Han Jiao, who was hiding behind a tree, took a deep breath and prepared to face it head-on.
“I’ll count to three,” Han Jiao spoke softly.
“Just go and pour a barrel of wine.” Xie Duo was emotionally affected by the little child prodigy’s nervousness. “Don’t make it seem like you’re launching a surprise attack on the enemy camp.”
“I’m only counting to find the rhythm!” Han Jiao firmly refused to admit that his current level of nervousness was no different from launching a surprise attack on the enemy camp.
“Alright, go ahead and count.”
“One, two…” Han Jiao took a deep breath, and with a sudden burst of energy in his step, he exclaimed, “Three!”
He dashed out!
As he ran halfway, Han Jiao realized that there was no sound of footsteps behind him…
Instinctively, he looked back and was astonished to find that the big boss was still standing behind that big tree with a serious expression, not rushing with him at all!
This stinky little brother dared to deceive him!
Han Jiao made a swift turn and dashed back, panting, ready to question the big boss.
Xie Duo watched as the little child prodigy timidly ran back, then asked incredulously in a hushed tone, “What’s wrong now, Master Cotton?”
“Why didn’t Your Highness follow!” Han Jiao’s eyes flashed with anger.
“When did I say I’m going with you?”
“……” Han Jiao looked at the big boss, then at the group of guests, turned around, and spoke expressionlessly, “There are five of them.”
“This is the Prince’s residence. Are you afraid that those people would dare to harm you?” Xie Duo, losing his patience, raised his hand, swiped the air with wide sleeves, pointed his fingertip directly at the enemy’s position, and gave the final command, “Han Xiaobai, go and drench his forehead with wine. Now, immediately!”
As the fierce command was issued, the little child prodigy in front of him was first startled and then revealed the same fearless expression as before. He even cheekily pouted at the Ninth Prince, clearly displaying his discontent on his sulky face.
Xie Duo: “……”
Han Jiao couldn’t take it anymore. He hated the big boss!
Eyes turning cold, Xie Duo questioned in a low voice, “Do you dare throw a fit in front of me?”
“I dare not!” Han Jiao was extremely stern.
A deadly stare-down ensued.
Han Jiao’s courage had a short expiration. After being fierce, he also got a bit scared, and his gaze shifted between “Fook your mother” and “I was wrong,” finally settling on the “I was wrong” position while he stared at the big boss.
It was uncertain whether he recognized his defeat too late. He had just vented his frustration on the boss…
In Han Jiao’s increasingly regretful look, the big boss’ icy face suddenly broke into a smile, revealing little sharp tiger teeth.
Han Jiao: “……”
He discovered his peculiar talent for tickling the boss’ funny bone in a life-and-death situation!
“I’m right behind you.” Xie Duo surprisingly sounded gentle, as if he was stroking the ruffled fur of a little wildcat. “You’re responsible for splashing the wine, I’ll handle the rest.”
Han Jiao’s eyes, filled with a “ready to die” expression, suddenly brimmed with emotion. He inexplicably believed that the boss’ words were not meant to deceive him.
So, he really went in alone!
One against five!
Ironhead’s shining moment—
He rushed to the destination.
He bent down and picked up the wine barrel.
Lifted the oiled paper.
Took large strides toward the military official.
Raised the wine barrel above his head.
In an instant, he turned the wine barrel upside down.
The wine cascaded down!
The military official, who had been chatting with his friends, turned into a drenched dog on the spot. He incredulously turned his head, raised his eyes, and looked at the person holding the wine barrel.
Han Jiao lowered his eyes and smiled slightly at the military official. A rare mischievousness shone in his peach blossom eyes.
It felt great, especially great!
He discovered the thrill of action being better than words for the first time!
The military official wiped his eyes, which were stinging. His voice trembled with anger, “You… you damn troublemaker!”
Han Jiao still held the wine barrel and playfully tilted it twice over the military official’s head, pouring the last two drops on him. He then retrieved the wine barrel and replied with a smile, “You offer me a barrel, I pay you back with a barrel. It’s just fair.”
“You rascal! Looking for trouble!” the military official shouted, and a few of his comrades stood up in a hurry.
Han Jiao, now reveling in the joy of revenge, momentarily forgot his fear. He raised the wine barrel in his arms and hurled it at the group, laughing and taking a couple of steps back while assuming a defensive stance.
The military official caught the empty wine barrel, his face contorting with anger. He stepped onto a low table, hoisted the wine barrel, and swung it towards Han Jiao in mid-air.
Han Jiao crossed his arms to protect his head and hastily tried to dodge backward, but his speed was far slower than the military official’s attack!
He gritted his teeth, squinted his eyes, preparing to endure the wine barrel’s impact. Suddenly, his view was shadowed.
There was a “clang” as the wine barrel shattered, followed by a muffled sound.
Without feeling his arm getting hit, Han Jiao looked up and saw the tall figure in the cyan robe standing in front of him.
The military official had fallen to the ground, with the wine barrel in his hand reduced to just a mouthpiece.
“The Ninth Prince has arrived!” someone reminded in a hushed voice.
A group of tipsy guests stumbled out of their seats and saluted in unison, “Greetings to Your Highness Prince Ling!”
Xie Duo didn’t exempt them from the courtesy and remained silent, fixing his gaze on the fallen military official.
The military official, aware of the Ninth Prince’s unpredictable and unruly character, hastily let go of the broken wine barrel, stood up, and saluted. Then, he quickly raised his head, his face full of grievance, and pled, “I beg Your Highness to mediate for this subordinate!”
Xie Duo asked quietly, “Mediate for what?”
The military official, wearing a bitter expression, complained, “Didn’t you see, Your Highness? This Master Han’s recent actions are witnessed by all present here!”
“You mean when he raised a wine barrel and poured it over your head, then tilted the barrel a couple of times?”
“Yes, yes, yes!” The military official looked completely wronged and implored His Highness to take strict action against the troublemaker. “That’s exactly what happened!”
Xie Duo responded with a stoic expression, “I didn’t see it.”
The military official: “……”
The crowd: “?????”
The military official ran his hand through his drenched hair, looking at the Ninth Prince with pleading eyes, “Your Highness, you didn’t see it?”
Someone behind him hastily nudged him, signaling him to stop talking.
It was clear that the prince was protecting the apprentice. Saying more would only make matters worse.
Xie Duo narrowed his eyes and firmly declared, “I only saw you, on my Big Brother’s birthday banquet, creating trouble, provoking others, holding a wine barrel, and smashing it onto the foreheads of the guests I invited!”
The military official’s eyes widened his eyes.
“What did you intend to do?”
The military official, petrified, knelt on the ground and hastily replied, “This humble subordinate didn’t know that Master Han was a guest brought by Your Highness!”
“Oh?” Xie Duo turned on his heel, stood sideways, and coldly said, “So normally, you all enjoy bullying the guests brought by others?”
“This subordinate dare not!”
“These subjects dare not!”
A group of guests all knelt down.
Xie Duo nonchalantly said, “Get up, this is not a place for kneeling.”
Everyone then shakily stood up, not daring to meet the gaze of this unpredictable prince.
The military official, with his head almost buried in his chest, noticed the prince’s footsteps approaching him. He immediately tensed up, lowering his head further. The prince’s voice sounded above him.
“Raise your head.”
The military official nervously raised his head.
Xie Duo looked at him indifferently. “I’ve seen you bullying the guests my big brothers brought more than once.”
The military official’s face turned pale. In desperation, he resorted to using the Second Prince as a shield, “Your Highness, it’s a misunderstanding! I would only step forward to protect my lord if someone disrespected the Second Prince.”
“Oh, so my Second Brother has your back?”
“I dare not!”
“My Second Brother is formidable.” Xie Duo curled his lips with a faint smile. “You’re from the Northern Garrison, right? Those who offend my Second Brother usually end up in your custody.”
The military official wasn’t sure if this young prince was aware of the Second Prince’s power but refrained from answering.
“There’s no one backing me from the Northern Garrison,” Xie Duo complained unhappily. “If someone annoys me, I have to handle it personally.”
Startled, the military official fell to his knees and cried out, “Your Highness, spare me! I won’t dare anymore!”
Xie Duo didn’t say anything more, turned around with a stern face, and walked away.
Once the Prince had gone a safe distance, the shocked and bewildered guests slowly returned to their seats. The military official remained crouched in place, too afraid to get up.
Everyone had been taken aback.
That included Han Jiao.
Wasn’t the boss supposed to be a good kid during his younger years?
What was with this overwhelmingly murderous aura?
Even when the big boss used to scare him, it wasn’t this intimidating, right?
Sitting back at his seat, quietly contemplating, Han Jiao nervously realized that maybe the boss had never been genuinely angry with him in the past.
The frequent scares were probably just because of the boss’ weird sense of humor.
Was the boss treating him like a toy to play with?
So, when they said, “A loyal subject doesn’t serve two masters,” did it mean that Han Jiao should only be the boss’ toy?
This was bad, really bad.
He should’ve never poked fun at the boss’ sense of humor.
The boss’ possessiveness was strong, not even allowing other Princes to touch the “royal” cuju leather ball, let alone someone who teased his sense of humor.
The banquet for the princes had ended, and the guests on this side of the table finally regained their composure. One of them looked at Han Jiao with envy and whispered, “Is Master Han here with Prince Ling?”
“I’ve never seen the Ninth Prince bring guests before. His Highness rarely interacts with people outside the palace, especially guests.” Another guest looked at Han Jiao with curiosity, silently wondering how he had managed to get close to the mischievous Ninth Prince.
Envy, jealousy, and resentment.
Han Jiao said, “I really came with Prince Yan. Maybe the Ninth Prince happened to arrive with Prince Yan today, which is why he said I came with him.”
The guests stared at him, thinking, “You’re just not telling us the real way you got close to the Ninth Prince! Stingy guy, you’ll even marry a wife with three legs!”
As the princes finished the banquet, the guests got up and hurried to find their respective lords.
Han Jiao followed the crowd and arrived near the stage. Two guests by his side pointed out each prince to him.
After the banquet, the princes split into several groups – Prince Yan and the Third Prince were chatting, the Eldest Prince was greeting the Second Prince and others, the Eighth Prince was talking with two younger brothers.
The eccentric Prince Duan was sitting by the lotus pond, crouched low, observing the grassy area?
The princes seemed to be unaware of this odd prince. Not even the eunuchs attending to the area paid him any attention.
The two guests with Han Jiao had already gone in the direction of the Third Prince. After some thought, he decided not to look for Prince Yan for the time being.
He cleared his throat and silently approached the crouching Prince Duan by the river. With great respect, he quietly asked, “Your Highness, do you need any help?”
The Prince Duan didn’t react at all, still bowing his head and staring at the grassy ground.
Han Jiao: “……”
Fortunately, he was mentally prepared. This guy in the novel never paid any attention to strangers.
Han Jiao lifted his robe and knelt by the Prince Duan’s side, bowing his head to examine the grassy ground carefully. He asked in a hushed tone, “Your Highness, have you lost something? What does it look like, and how big is it?”
Still no response.
The two of them stared at the grassy ground in silence.
After a while, Han Jiao noticed Prince Duan suddenly reached out, plucking a clump of weeds, and swiftly stood up, leaving like a gust of wind!
Han Jiao, still crouched in place: “……”
No wonder everyone had given up on trying to communicate with this unlucky child.
Fortunately, everyone was busy currying favor with their lords, and no one noticed the commotion on his end.
Han Jiao stood up, straightened his clothes, and, undaunted, turned around, strolling to catch up with Prince Duan.
Prince Duan walked quickly to where his younger brothers were, suddenly raising the clump of weeds he held, fixing his icy gaze on Xie Duo.
“Haha…” Though Xie Jing was used to Seventh Brother’s strange behaviors, he couldn’t help but laugh and whispered to his Ninth Brother, “Your Seventh Brother has brought you some wild vegetables. Eat them while they’re fresh.”
Ignoring Eighth Brother’s teasing, Xie Duo took a step forward, put his arm around Seventh Brother’s shoulder, and walked briskly to the side to prevent any more public embarrassment.
Away from their brothers, Xie Duo responded seriously to Prince Duan’s discovery, “I’ve seen this plant before.”
“You remember it.” Prince Duan, still holding the clump of weeds, lowered his gaze and caressed the leaves. He spoke softly, “This plant doesn’t grow in the palace. It can’t coexist with Qianqi. It’s recorded in the Compendium of Materia Medica.”
Han Jiao, who was observing from the side, was completely bewildered.
This Prince Duan seemed a bit off.
Was there some kind of special communication code needed?
Did big boss understand this?
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