“Yan-gege,” Xiao Wangye called out in a low voice, both excited and guilty.
Yan-daren stepped inside, and bypassing a circle of orioles and swallows1 莺莺燕燕 (idiom) – A bevy of young girls; a crowd of women chattering together pleasantly, grabbed Xiao Wangye by the collar, lifted him up, and whispered, “How could the Ninth Prince come to such a place?”
Xiao Wangye pointed to the Fourth Prince. “It was huangxiong who brought me here.” The brotherhood was instantly forgotten.
Yan-daren narrowed his eyes at the Fourth Prince. “Ninth Prince is only fifteen years old.”
The Fourth Prince had his clothes wide open at this moment, and he looked very sloppy. He said, “Aiya, what are you afraid of? When I was his age, I had two to keep me company in the room.”
Yan-daren said no more and took Xiao Wangye away.
Xiao Wangye looked down at his wrist that was grabbed, and there was a hint of joy in his heart. He felt that being caught visiting a brothel wasn’t so disgraceful.
The girls behind them laughed and waved their handkerchiefs as they called to Xiao Wangye, “Xiao-gongzi, come again next time ah!”
Xiao Wangye replied cutely and obediently, “See you, jiejies.”
Yan-daren stopped and narrowed his eyes at him, asking, “Jiejie? What is the Ninth Prince’s identity? How could you casually call someone a jiejie?”
Xiao Wangye said innocently, “Then I also can’t call you Yan-gege?”
Yan-daren was stunned, then he said in a cold voice, “Then from now on, the Ninth Prince can no longer call me that.” Then he turned around and left.
Xiao Wangye quickly ran after him and grasped his sleeve, feeling very wronged. He said in a small voice, “I want to call you that.”
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Yan-daren had come over here on horseback. On their way back, the two rode the same horse, letting Xiao Wangye sit in front of Yan-daren.
While the horse was running, Xiao Wangye’s back was very close to Yan-daren’s broad chest, and it made his heart beat irregularly.
He tried to distract himself by asking, “Why did Yan-gege come to Autumn Pleasure Pavillion to find me?”
Yan-daren’s deep and magnetic voice rang close to his ear. “It was Taizi Dianxia who asked me to come. He felt uneasy when he saw you follow the Fourth Prince out of the palace.”
Xiao Wangye nodded, but there was a trace of unspeakable disappointment in his heart. He hesitated before asking a very deep question, “Yan-gege, have you ever thought of sleeping with someone?”
“I haven’t,” said Yan-daren.
Xiao Wangye’s ears were red as he shyly said, “I have thought about it. Yan-gege, can you guess who it is?”
“Can’t guess,” Yan-daren replied simply.
Xiao Wangye’s enthusiasm was extinguished, and his face collapsed in an instant. He thought that this person didn’t have the least bit of sentiment at all. Xiao Wangye was so angry that he didn’t continue talking. When he got off the horse, he deliberately knocked Yan-daren’s chin with his head.
Yan-daren hissed in pain, and Xiao Wangye ran away with his tail between his legs.
After that, Xiao Wangye didn’t see Yan-daren for several days, not until the birthday banquet of the Old Emperor.
On this day, the Old Emperor entertained civil and military officials in the palace, and the scene was extremely grand. During the banquet, the nine princes offered birthday gifts one after another. What the Little Emperor presented was an excellent glazed Buddha statue, and the Old Emperor held it in his hand for a long time, unable to put it down.
All the ministers under the stage spoke highly one after another. “Taizi Dianxia really knows what the Emperor wants.”
When it was Xiao Wangye’s turn, he presented a picture of “Nine Sons born to a Dragon,” which he personally painted himself.
Xiao Wangwe was gifted and intelligent. Not only were his articles written well, but his paintings were also remarkably true to life. The whole court had heard about it before, but only now had they seen how true this was, and they were astonished2啧啧称奇 – Literally, to click one’s tongue in wonder.
In the audience, the Prime Minister said in all smiles, “The Emperor is indeed the dragon son of heaven. His nine sons each have their own strong points. Ninth-Dianxia’s is meant to imply that the Emperor’s flood of good fortune will fill the heavens!”
After hearing this, the Old Emperor was very happy. He then ordered people to set Xiao Wangye’s table beside him, together with the Little Emperor.
When the voice fell, people off the stage suck in a breath. It was well known nowadays that the Emperor favored the Ninth Prince, but letting him sit as equals with the Taizi was too much.
However, Xiao Wangye couldn’t care less about this. In his eyes, all he could see was that Yan-daren was beside the Little Emperor, so he couldn’t wait to get to the table.
Towards the end of the banquet, the Old Emperor happily announced there was one more good news today, and it was regarding the Taizi’s marriage.
The Little Emperor was already in his twenties, but he still hadn’t established an imperial concubine. However, at a dinner party a few days ago, he fell in love at first sight with the daughter of the Major General.
The hundreds of officials congratulated him one after another. The Little Emperor was smiling so widely that his face couldn’t hide how happy he was.
Xiao Wangye was also happy. Although he hadn’t met the General’s daughter, he heard that she was a rare talented woman. Moreover, the Major General holding half of the military power in the imperial court would be good for the Little Emperor to consolidate his foundation in the future.
Xiao Wangye turned his head around to look at Yan-daren, expecting that Yan-daren would also look happy. Who would’ve thought that, as always, his face didn’t crack at all, and he was still calmly looking ahead.
Xiao Wangye sighed and withdrew his gaze. He thought that Yan-gege must have been a stone in his previous life. No matter who it was, they couldn’t keep him warm.
However, he didn’t see that, right now, Yan-daren was tightly holding a jade pendant in his hand. He held it so tightly that his palm was sore and his knuckles were white.