Stationed in front of the gate of the Eastern Palace, Yan-daren looked up and saw Xiao Wangye running over.
In recent years, Xiao Wangye had been scuttling a lot, and his appearance had also started to develop. At first glance, he was quite similar to the Little Emperor, especially his eyes, which were warm and bright.
Yan-daren saluted respectfully, his face still as grave and as stern as before. “Is Ninth Prince looking for Taizi Dianxia? Dianxia is still resting, I’m afraid…”
“… I’m not.” Xiao Wangye put his hands behind his back and said in a soft voice, “I’ve come… come to see Yan-gege.”
Yan-daren truly had no idea what was good in looking for him, but since Xiao Wangye looked excited, he didn’t say much. Just let him look.
Xiao Wangye sent someone to put a small wooden bench over, and he sat beside Yan-daren. He chatted about a few everyday things, but then he turned quiet.
“I saw some jujube trees in the back garden today. Yan-gege, would you like to come pick some with me?”
“I am the bodyguard of the Eastern Palace. It’s inconvenient to leave. Try finding someone else.”
Xiao Wangye tried hard not to pout his lips in displeasure. But in his heart, he thought of how the Eastern Palace had too many rules. Working here all day long must be very hard.
He raised his small face and looked at Yan-daren. He thought to himself: Wouldn’t it be good to let Yan-daren come to his side? Although my monthly allowance1俸禄 – These characters actually translate to “salary,” but it’s more like a monthly reward given to officials at all levels. is not much, it’s enough to support a bodyguard. If worst comes to worst, then I’ll just have two less new clothes every month…
As a result, when the Little Emperor woke up from his nap, he saw the scene of his Jiu-di trying to poach away someone from his own palace.
The Little Emperor said no more and kicked Xiao Wangye out.
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Xiao Wangye was defeated, but not discouraged. After two days, he once again went to Eastern Palace to find Yan-daren. This time, he also brought a basket of freshly picked jujubes.
Xiao Wangye washed them clean and picked out the biggest jujube, giving it to Yan-daren to taste, while he proudly said that he had climbed the tree himself.
When Yan-daren declined, Xiao Wangye put a piece into his mouth and bit into it loudly, trying to entice Yan-daren.
But in the end, Yan-daren remained unmoved. Instead, he led over the Little Emperor, who had been reading, and the latter ate half of the jujubes in Xiao Wangye’s basket in one breath.
Xiao Wangye couldn’t stop him. He was so angry that he was about to cry.
With a smile, the Little Emperor stuffed one jujube to Yan-daren and said, “This is Jiu-di’s kindness. Have a taste.”
Yan-daren obediently accepted it and took a bite. He nodded and said, “It’s very sweet.”
Xiao Wangye was so happy, he put away his tears.
A few days later, the Old Emperor held a dinner party outside the palace and invited the young ladies of all the eminent families in the capital.
Everyone was well aware that this was held to pick an Imperial Concubine2妃 – The highest-ranking concubine under the Empress for the Taizi.
The Little Emperor was surrounded in the pavilion, reciting poems before the daughters of each minister and playing music on the zither.
Xiao Wangye felt bored, so he secretly ran to the lakeside and found a tree to climb up.
He was an expert in climbing trees. In the entire palace, he was second to none. No one knew where this talent came from.
As soon as Xiao Wangye sat himself properly on a tree branch, a man came from not far away. He was dressed in the purplish red uniform of the Imperial Bodyguards and was holding a saber in front of him. His facial features were sharp and distinct, and he had a handsome face. This person was Yan-daren of the Eastern Palace.
Xiao Wangye’s eyes lit up. He spread out his hands and vigorously waved to him below as he called, “Yan-gege.”
Yan-daren followed the voice and looked up at the tree. A trace of panic suddenly appeared on his normally calm face and he cried out, “Be careful, Ninth Prince!”
Xiao Wangye was originally seated securely, but when Yan-daren shouted like this, he suddenly panicked. His small body wobbled back and forth for a while and then he fell.
Xiao Wangye closed his eyes in fear, but he didn’t land hard on his butt as he had expected. Instead, he was greeted by a warm and powerful embrace.
Xiao Wangye opened his eyes and found that he was being held firmly to Yan-daren’s chest.
Yan-daren practiced martial arts all year round, so his chest muscles were firm. Xiao Wangye was caught in his arms, and he somewhat couldn’t breathe.
Yan-daren put the person down on his feet, and he said respectfully, “I have offended.”
Xiao Wangye blushed in having inconvenienced him, but at the same time, he wished for it to continue.
After the banquet, the Old Emperor and the princes all went back to their palaces. Yan-daren was not on duty that night, so he went home alone.
On the way back, it was desolate. Yan-daren’s ears moved as he clearly heard someone secretly following behind him.
The person following him didn’t seem to have any knowledge of martial arts, for he didn’t restrain the sound of his footsteps. Yan-daren didn’t take that person seriously. As a result, that person followed him all the way to the gate of his official residence.
Yan-daren turned around and faced the empty street. He unsheathed his sword a bit and asked coldly, “Still not coming out?”
After waiting for a while, Xiao Wangye’s head emerged from the corner of the tailor shop across the street.
Yan-daren frowned. “Why is the Ninth Prince here?”
Xiao Wangye straightened up his body as he drew near; however, he wasn’t confident enough to assume an air of righteousness. “I, I am going back to the palace.”
“That’s in the other direction,” Yan-daren exposed him on the spot without any mercy.
“Oh, is it? Guess I was wrong.”
Yan-daren looked around and asked, “Did you come alone?”
Xiao Wangye nodded.
Yan-daren sighed in resignation and said, “Let’s go, I will escort the Ninth Prince back to the palace.”
Xiao Wangye didn’t move. With both hands behind him, he cleared his throat and hinted reservedly, “It’s getting late. Actually, staying here overnight is also not bad.”