Chapter 174 Resonance: Willing
Faithful, kind, honest and upright. These were the appraisals given to Xue Yiqi by his acquaintances. Of course, everyone also commented that he was clumsy in speech and guileless, a soft person who tries to get along with everyone, and someone who was unable to refuse the favours from others.
These characteristics stemmed from his strict upbringing in the Xue Family as well as Situ, Gan Qingjia and Jiang Moyin pampering him covertly. It made him upright yet conservative, reckless yet restrained, honest yet dense and benign yet ruthless in his actions.
Before Xue Yiqi met Shangguan Yan, he’d never thought that there would come a day where he would use this kind of mocking and harsh tone on a person. His eyes were filled with impatience as he said those words.
However, he immediately regretted his words when he saw a trace of sorrow flicker across the eyes of the woman before him. He was stunned to see the usually arrogant and cheerful woman reveal such a sad expression.
In the past, it was difficult for him to gauge how others were feeling based on their facial expressions. He knew how dissatisfaction, depression and vexation looked like, but not grief. Yet, when he finally understood, it was already too late.
He didn’t know how to console a person and didn’t want this woman to have a misconception, so he hastily left behind the words ‘Please excuse me, I’ve got some important business to tend to’ before he fled, leaving behind a downhearted Shangguan Yan.
It was still early in the morning, so there were almost no passers-by outside the entrance of the majestic and grand Xue Residence.
Shangguan Yan stood there alone, muttering to herself repeatedly. “I haven’t even finished speaking…if you don’t like Steamed Pork and Crab Roe Bun in Gravy, we could’ve gone to eat Fish Skin Wonton and Prosperity Balls. Jeez, I have already tried all of them before I came to recommend these to you. Sigh, you don’t know how to appreciate my kindness…”
Although she was muttering to herself, it went without saying that she was disappointed.
Upon witnessing this, the Xiaoyao Sect’s disciples sent by Lu Buping to look after Shangguan Yan were secretly whispering among themselves.
“What should we do? Sect Leader seems to be angry. Sniff, how many people are going to suffer from this again?”
“Mhm mhm, that person will certainly end up in a miserable state. We better stay far away. Once we get implicated…we would have no place to cry.”
Leaving aside Xue Yiqi and Shangguan Yan, Situ was also feeling very helpless at this moment. After Gan Qingjia and Qi Jianqiu quarrelled, they ran to the Duke of Anping’s Residence to drink wine while Qi Jianqiu seized Feng Luodi all for herself.
Situ drank his wine silently but shot daggers at Gan Qingjia. This untactful brother. He had just convinced Feng Luodi to accompany him for a day instead of looking after her mother, while his younger brother went to visit Jiang Moyin.
Sigh…how did they resemble a pair of lovers in any way? They even had to make an appointment a few days prior just to meet up.
“Say, Situ, are all women so unreasonable? Didn’t I simply tell her the truth? Yet, Jianqiu flew into a rage and even threatened to move to the Feng Residence.”
Gan Qingjia grumbled as he treated the wine as water and downed it in one go.
Situ’s gaze swept across the wine jars scattered on the ground before looking up at the grumbling Gan Qingjia. After a while, he was finally willing to respond and asked, “So, what exactly did you tell her?”
Hearing this, Gan Qingjia shot him an aggrieved look, while Situ innocently looked up at the sky.
“Sigh, I merely told her that she’d added too much vinegar into the dishes today. But, to my surprise, Jianqiu got mad and swept all the dishes off the table and even told me off for a very long time.”
Gan Qingjia scratched his head with a dazed look in his peach blossom eyes.
Situ raised his eyebrows. Hmph, they were already married. It was very normal for a couple to quarrel. Anyhow, this was at least better than Feng Luodi being unwilling to marry him all this while.
Of course, Situ merely complained in his heart and didn’t say this out loud.
“Her culinary skills have always been superb. It’s your fault.”
Thanks to Feng Luodi, Situ had managed to try many of Qi Jianqiu’s dishes. Despite being a married woman, Qi Jianqiu’s habit of studying new dishes, asking Feng Luodi to name them and sending food to her best friend hadn’t changed.
This had resulted in Feng Luodi being elated and sad at the same time. When she noticed that her garment sat a little too tight at her waistline, she immediately pulled Situ over to accompany her, and as soon as Qi Jianqiu put the dishes on the table, they were gobbled down by Situ in an instant.
As such, Feng Luodi praised Situ for his huge appetite. Situ couldn’t help but doubt if the woman who’d finished a table of dishes with him was the same Feng Luodi. Could it be that women in general, including Feng Luodi, who didn’t seem to bother with anything, actually cared a lot about their figure?
Situ had subconsciously stumbled across the truth and obtained another method to win Feng Luodi’s favour. But, at this moment, the person in front of him was another one of Qi Jianqiu’s gourmand.
“But she’d really slipped up today.” Gan Qingjia said with an aggrieved tone.
Situ looked up again. Gan Qingjia, who’d once flaunted himself as the kingdom’s most charming guy and someone who could capture the hearts of all the young girls in the capital, was finally married and decided to be truthful to his wife. But, the outcome of his honesty was…his wife running away from home.
However, she’d fled to the wrong residence!
“What’s with your hand?”
Situ decided to not fret about the couple’s quarrel and turned to look at Gan Qingjia’s left hand instead.
“Sigh,” Gan Qingjia sighed again. He instantly sobered up, it was as if the wines he downed just now were simply a few jugs of water that had no effect on him at all.
“Jianqiu swept all the dishes off the table, remember? As a result, she wasn’t careful while walking and almost fell down. I got injured while supporting her.”
Gan Qingjia didn’t mind his injured hand. After he was done complaining about his family issues, he got down to business.
“His Majesty had seemingly put the First Prince in an important position recently.” Gan Qingjia addressed the matter with great familiarity.
“His Majesty has let the First Prince interfere in almost every subject presented by the various high-ranking officials relating to matters like droughts and floods, insurrection and epidemic as well as oppressive taxes and the recruitment of troops.”
As he listened, the corners of Situ’s lips curled upwards, but an icy-cold indifference was reflected in his eyes.
“This way, the Eighth Prince would all the more assume that the First Prince was his main opponent, and he would be compelled to find the mistakes of Zhang Xin and the others. The manpower he left behind in Chang’an would also be directed against the First Prince.”
“Exactly!” So speaking, Gan Qingjia felt a strange feeling slowly emerge in his heart.
“However, His Majesty is being too obvious by handling things in such a manner. Was he really doing all this for the Eleventh Prince? I initially thought that the Eleventh Prince was the best educated one out of all the princes and that he bore the most semblance to His Majesty’s demeanour. But, everyone has seen his recent actions and the way he’d handled the various matters in court. He’s only slightly better than the Seventh Prince.” Gan Qingjia finally got to the main point.
“Could it be that we have thought wrong and His Majesty sincerely wants to support the First Prince to ascend the throne?”
As soon as he’d finished speaking, Gan Qingjia instantly paid close attention to the changes in Situ’s expression.
But, Situ’s expression didn’t change in the slightest; he remained silent and indifferent. Seeing this, Gan Qingjia felt a tinge of anxiety wash over him. He was about to say something to redeem the situation, when Situ spoke, “If that’s really the case, then His Majesty would all the more so want to get rid of me.”
His words had left Gan Qingjia dumbstruck for a moment before he regained his senses and asked, “But why? You’re supporting the First Prince wholeheartedly.”
Situ suddenly broke out in laughter and seemed to have recalled something. His reaction made Gan Qingjia feel somewhat uneasy. He couldn’t make sense of the Emperor’s nor the First Prince’s thoughts and, at times, he also couldn’t quite understand his Elder Brother.
What Father had said was right. He was still inexperienced and didn’t understand the dangers in court. Although he’d assumed the post of the Imperial Treasurer at such a young age, this didn’t mean that he could survive in the court for long.
However, he must persevere and survive in court no matter what. In the past, he was wanton, dissolute and carefree but right now, he had an important person to protect, so he couldn’t afford to lose this battle.
Silence hung over the courtyard. Layers of mucuna flowers pressed down on the branches while the hyacinth flowers peacefully kept watch, dancing in the breeze. The calla lily flowers, on the other hand, swirled up everyone’s unfathomable thoughts in silence.
It was at this moment that Covert Guard Duo had made his appearance.
Ever since Feng Luodi had expressed her feelings to Situ, Covert Guard Duo once again took up the responsibility of protecting her. His temper was inferior to Two but he was steadier than Quattor. His martial arts skills were inferior to Six but better than Zero. Thus, he was the most appropriate person to watch over Feng Luodi. Furthermore, he was stimulated by the Blood Shadow last time, so he strived to train even harder. After only a few days, Duo re-appeared like a reborn person.
Situ knitted his eyebrows. Duo’s appearance wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
“Did something happen to Luodi?”
This was the only thing Situ was concerned about.
Covert Guard Duo shook his head. He looked at Gan Qingjia with a strange expression and lowered his head. “It was Young Lady Feng who asked me to come to fetch General and Gentleman Gan.”
“Did something happen to Jianqiu?”
And, this was the only thing Gan Qingjia could think of.
Covert Guard Duo tilted his head and pondered for a moment before nodding.
Seeing this, Situ felt a strange feeling bubble up in his heart.
Gan Qingjia immediately sprung up and dashed out of the courtyard. He didn’t even ask Duo about what had happened to Qi Jianqiu.
The strange feeling in Situ’s heart intensified. As he stood up, he asked the perplexed Duo, “What happened exactly?”
Upon hearing Covert Guard Duo’s answer, Situ’s expression instantly changed. “A step too late again.”
Feng Luodi had just taken the Eldritch Physician, Xia Jingfeng, to her mother’s courtyard when Qi Jianqiu came running over in a rage.
When Feng Luodi saw Qi Jianqiu’s fretful appearance and the dissatisfaction written all over her face, she was shocked. This was the first time Qi Jianqiu revealed such an expression ever since she got married. She wasn’t bullied by Gan Qingjia, was she?
“What’s wrong? You look like you’re about to cry.”
Feng Luodi hastily pulled Qi Jianqiu to sit down in her mother’s courtyard.
When Qi Jianqiu heard what she’d said, the rim of her eyes immediately turned red. She wiped her eyes and said in an extremely aggrieved manner, “It’s all because of that bastard Gan Qingjia. I don’t want to be with him anymore.”
So serious? Feng Luodi was stunned. She glanced at her mother’s door which was tightly shut. She left Scarlet behind, and then took Qi Jianqiu back to her courtyard. When there was finally no one around, Feng Luodi asked her gingerly, “Did he bully you? If he did, I’ll make Situ discipline him.”
Qi Jianqiu pouted and didn’t say whether she’d agreed with her friend’s suggestion or not. She’d cursed Gan Qingjia non-stop, which frightened Feng Luodi greatly and only started explaining things after a long while, “That bastard Gan Qingjia actually said that the dishes I made were too sour!”
At this moment, Feng Luodi’s mind went blank for a moment.
She tried hard to compose herself and forced out a smile. “That was it?”
If it were the Qi Jianqiu from the past, she wouldn’t have such a big reaction, right?
Qi Jianqiu was immediately annoyed. “This is already very serious. He’s not allowed to say that the dishes I make are not delicious. Also, those things are not sour at all. I have tried them. Gan Qingjia simply dislikes me. Hmph, I want to move over and stay with you.”
Feng Luodi blinked her eyes. Why did it feel like there was something wrong with Qi Jianqiu today? Although her temperament was like that of a child sometimes, she was still a reasonable and understanding person. She would at most lose her temper for a while. Her reaction this time was too extreme.
“Luodi, he even said that I often eat sour things and that everything at home is sour. How could that be?! Everything tastes normal, alright? I hate eating sour things the most.”
Feng Luodi faintly felt that there was something wrong. After contemplating back and forth, a thought suddenly popped up in her mind when she saw the Eldritch Physician, Xia Jingfeng unhurriedly stepping in.
“Jianqiu, are you pregnant?”