After a while, the carriage entered the palace gate. Yuan Mingdao was a child and under the protection of Fu Zhiyu, so the guards at the palace gate didn’t dare to examine him too closely, and they entered without incident.
It was just that this matter was quickly known by the emperor, which was also normal. The emperor stayed at Liuli Palace at the moment, and Fu Zhiyu just came back, almost meeting him face-to-face.
“Why did you go out of the palace and bring a child back?” Emperor Qingyuan wasn’t angry. He called Yuan Mingdao over, looked at his palms without any marks, relaxed, smiled and said, “What does Xiao Jiu bring him for? Is there anything special about him?”
Fu Zhiyu wasn’t nervous. He knew that it was impossible to bring Yuan Mingdao in without passing the emperor’s scrutiny. The emperor often came to Liuli Palace and it was impossible to hide an extra child. He didn’t want to hide Yuan Mingdao either; he wanted to bring him in openly.
But Yuan Mingdao was indeed too small and thin and didn’t have any signs of martial arts training. Fu Zhiyu had also discussed it with the child in the carriage. No need to worry, just behave a little timidly, like a normal child who had never seen the world, and leave the rest to him.
“I met him on the street and felt sorry for him, so I brought him back.” Fu Zhiyu’s reason was also very simple, “Can’t I? I want to raise him for fun, but the current residence is not ready yet so I’ve brought him back to the palace.”
Emperor Qingyuan liked his simple-mindedness and straightforwardness, so he nodded and let Yuan Mingdao stay.
When Fu Zhiyu looked at him, he knew that the emperor was thinking the wrong thing, but he didn’t intend to explain. The Crown Prince and the Third Prince were grown up, and there were some concubines in their palaces. This was not the first case and it was not a big deal.
After meeting the emperor, things went more smoothly. Fu Zhiyu set up a small bed for Yuan Mingdao not far from his bed that night. Anyway, he was still little now and it was okay for him to sleep there.
“This time I don’t need a martial artist to teach me martial arts,” Yuan Mingdao said. “I can practise by myself. These things are in my bones, but my body can’t keep up for the time being. I will remember everything after practising for a while.”
Fu Zhiyu nodded and added: “The scimitar you used in your previous life should still be in the ancient countries of the Western Regions, it hasn’t been brought here yet. Don’t worry, I will get it back for you, but you can’t take it with you to the palace. Just wait until we live in my residence.”
“Good!” Yuan Mingdao sat on his small bed. He estimated the distance between him and his master’s bed and felt even more happy. “I’m not in a hurry. Now in the palace, no one should touch me either.”
Fu Zhiyu patted him on the head and said soothingly: “Go to sleep. Don’t be afraid, I will protect you in this life.”
“Master,” Yuan Mingdao grabbed the corner of his clothes, his eyes gentle, “in these two lifetimes, the luckiest thing for Mingdao is to meet you.”
Fu Zhiyu originally wanted to say that he was lucky to meet Mingdao, but he hadn’t said this sentence, changing it to: “…I’m sorry.”
Yuan Mingdao shook his head hurriedly and said, “I did all this voluntarily in my previous life! It’s not the Master’s fault!”
“I obviously became the emperor, but I couldn’t protect you. It’s my fault to spend so much time on people who are not worthy, but not really taking care of people who are worthy,” Fu Zhiyu said seriously, “I’m sorry, Mingdao, it won’t be like this in the future.”
Yuan Mingdao didn’t know what to answer. His master said that but he had always been very kind to him, and Yuan Mingdao couldn’t help but shed tears again.
“Why are you so weepy?” Fu Zhiyu didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, wiping the child’s tears with his sleeves, “Little crybaby.”
Yuan Mingdao denied it while sobbing and explaining: “I… just can’t help it. Too many things have happened today, and I am still in a child’s body. It is instinctive, I can’t help it…”
“Yes, our Mingdao is still a child.” Fu Zhiyu’s eyes were doting, “Then don’t think so much now, just play carefree like a child.”
But I still have to practice martial arts and try to protect my master!
Yuan Mingdao clenched his fists and made up his mind silently.
The news in the palace spread quickly. The next day, everyone knew that Wang Zhao brought back a particularly beautiful child, and it caused everyone to talk a lot.
The Ninth Prince Fu Zhiyu really had changed a lot recently, as if he had become a new person. He used to be a gentleman and abided by etiquette, not to mention that he had no concubines and had never even been alone in the same room with a woman. Now who knows what happened; yesterday, he brought a child from outside to the palace. The child looked good, but it was a boy, and besides, he was too young. Isn’t this a beastly thing?
“I think Wang Zhao has seen the light. He didn’t care about the worldly things before, tsk tsk… But is this like raising a skinny horse(1)? What a way to play, ah.”
“But I think Wang Zhao is really kind to that child. This morning he personally fed him the porridge spoonful by spoonful, as if it was his own son. Alas, it’s not really his son, is it?”
“What are you talking about! How old is Wang Zhao now?”
Once Fu Zhiyu was reborn, he could do whatever he wanted, and the rumours in the palace couldn’t hurt him. Besides, this rumour was good for him. He wanted to make people outside think that he was really irrational now and that Mingdao was extremely favoured, so that he could protect himself and Mingdao.
However, he did explain to Consort Yun clearly that the things were not like the rumours said. He just saw that the child was pitiful, helpless, and a good seedling for martial arts training, so he brought him to the palace.
Consort Yun didn’t dislike the child. She had always supported all her son’s actions, and it was not that the palace couldn’t afford to raise a kid.
She had liked Yuan Mingdao very much in her previous life. After all, Yuan Mingdao was loyal to her son, in stark contrast to Xie Ke, how could she not like him?
To some extent, Consort Yun inherited some of Old Mrs. Yuan’s characteristics. Seeing Yuan Mingdao’s thin and frail appearance, she immediately ordered the kitchen to make a lot of food.
“You must take good care of yourself. Why are you so thin and weak? I don’t know how much you have suffered,” Consort Yun sighed. “When Zhiyu was ten years old, he was half a head taller than you.”
When all the gossip in the palace reached Xie Ke’s ears, he seemed to be in a bad mood all day and was often in a daze. Once the emperor summoned him, it took him a while to respond.
“What’s the matter with the boss?” Lu Linhai couldn’t help gossiping with Du Yin again, “Is it because of the Liuli Palace incident? Hey, do you think if I were a few years younger, Wang Zhao would have a crush on me? I can do it too.”
“…you really should stop talking,” Du Yin said helplessly, “If you say one more word, even I will want to hit you.”
“What did I say wrong again?” Lu Linhai looked innocent, “Can’t I tell the truth? Besides, look at the boss, if he knew that Wang Zhao really had such interests, he wouldn’t hold back, right? But it’s useless anyway. I heard that the child is from the ancient countries of the Western Regions, with green eyes, really different from us.”
Du Yin was speechless. He thought to himself that what Lu Linhai was thinking was too simple; he had no idea what kind of character Xie Ke was. He wouldn’t hold back indeed. It was the child… the child’s life was in danger.
He had no doubt that his boss had the ability and motivation to deal with the child in the palace.
But he forgot something. No matter how jealous Xie Ke was, it was impossible for him to touch Yuan Mingdao. That was the one protected by Fu Zhiyu. He really didn’t dare.
If he had done something, he and Zhiyu would only get farther and farther away.
At this moment, Xie Ke walked out of the emperor’s study, and the two stopped talking at once.
Perhaps it was because of the previous incident that the emperor remembered Xie Ke deeply, or perhaps it was because Xie Ke was indeed extremely good, but among the imperial guards he was now the most favoured by the emperor.
However, after just being called to the emperor’s study, the man was still dead-faced, his expression hard to describe. It was probably the gloomy expression of someone whose wife was abducted. No one dared to touch him.
Lu Linhai coughed guiltily a few times, and then tried to change the subject: “Boss, what was the emperor looking for you for?”
- Raising a skinny horse, a practice of buying good-looking girls from poor families and then training them, teaching them to sing, dance, play the qin and chess, calligraphy and painting, and then selling them as concubines to rich people. Because poor girls were often thin, they were called “skinny horses”.