Wei Chongrong was stunned, standing stupidly in place, a little at a loss. He had no other purpose, he just wanted to touch Jun Hua, he missed him a little bit.
He told himself that he would love Jun Hua in the future and treat him very well. After all, Jun Hua was the only one who cared about him in his previous life, even though for a long time, he didn’t show his care.
Wei Zhao didn’t expect Wei Chongrong to act like this, but Jun Qing’s reaction seemed normal to him. He pulled Wei Chongrong to his side and said solemnly: “Rong’er, don’t mess around.”
Wei Chongrong pursed his mouth and didn’t speak. He suddenly thought of a problem. It was once said by a doctor that Jun Hua’s leg disease wasn’t innate, but was the result of a difficult birth. The person who delivered the baby didn’t do the right thing when he pulled the baby out.
It would be great if this could be avoided. Jun Hua who didn’t have a problem with his leg should be even cuter, Wei Chongrong thought seriously, puffing out his cheeks. It was just that Jun Qing didn’t look like someone easy to get close to at first glance, so he was afraid it wouldn’t be easy to do something.
Jun Qing avoided Wei Chongrong’s touch purely instinctively. Seeing the child lowering his head and not speaking, he couldn’t help but secretly review whether he had done something wrong. Wei Chongrong’s origin was unusual, and his personality was most likely very sensitive. It was fine for others to be distant towards him, but he was Wei Zhao’s best friend, so how could he do that? Although Wei Chongrong’s behaviour was a bit sudden, the child expressed kindness to him and he avoided it. Would it make the child sad? Jun Qing wasn’t someone who was good at dealing with people, so he glanced at Wei Zhao begging for help.
“Little petty guy, are you really aggrieved?” Wei Zhao poked his son’s fleshy face with his finger, not believing that he would be aggrieved because of this.
Wei Chongrong shook his head and said seriously: “Daddy, I want to touch my little brother.” Let’s pretend to be childish, as long as it was useful, he would not be ashamed.
Wei Zhao winked at Jun Qing, meaning that it was up to him. Although Jun Qing was not used to it, he still let Wei Chongrong put his little hand on his belly. Who knew that as soon as Wei Chongrong’s hand touched Jun Qing’s stomach, he would feel something squirming gently under his palm.
Wei Chongrong was startled, surprise flashing in his eyes. This was Jun Hua moving, did it mean that he had a good impression of him? Wei Chongrong turned around and said proudly: “Daddy, little brother is moving!”
“Really?” Wei Zhao said curiously and also reached out to touch but unfortunately didn’t get to touch anything. Jun Qing didn’t like anyone touching his body. Wei Chongrong was little, so he reluctantly tolerated it, but he wasn’t polite with Wei Zhao and slapped his hand away without hesitation.
Afterwards, Wei Zhao sent Wei Chongrong to the courtyard to play, while he and Jun Qing were talking in the house. He asked Jun Qing, “What were you thinking? I didn’t expect you to be bullied by the little brat.”
Jun Qing’s expression was cold, and he said indifferently: “If you are willing, it has nothing to do with bullying. Besides, His Majesty still has not given up his thoughts on Youzhou. He might have to go to war one day, how can I let him take that risk?”
Wei Zhao gave him a blank look and said, “You make it sound like you don’t have to go to war. You are the son of Hou Zhaoyang, and for that reason, Father Emperor will not let you off easily.”
Jun Qing wasn’t very surprised and said calmly: “I am not my father. I may never be able to do the things he could do.”
Wei Su often said to people that the expression “like father like son” was not true, and the Crown Prince’s gentle and elegant personality was the exact opposite of his. In fact, this was also very accurate when applied to Jun Lin and Jun Qing.
The Jun family, from which Jun Lin came, was a long-established and prestigious family of scholars, with the heritage of hundreds of years. But there was no trace of the Jun family’s bookishness in Jun Lin. He was born a star general, destined for battle. Jun Qing lost his father at the age of three and was raised in the palace by Wei Su from then on. He learned sword, horse riding and archery, military strategies and formations, all from a young age. But he was different from Wei Zhao. Wei Zhao learned those things because he liked them, while Jun Qing learned them because the emperor wanted him to learn them and wanted to cultivate him into a second Jun Lin.
The flowers bloomed and fell, fell and bloomed, and ten years of cold and heat passed. Young children grew into handsome teenagers, and Wei Su had to admit with pride and a little regret that Wei Zhao was the one who was more like Jun Lin than Jun Qing.
If Wei Zhao hadn’t had an accident in Youzhou, Wei Su wouldn’t have returned to Jun Qing’s idea again. Ji Xin was too young, and Wei Su couldn’t wait. No one was as reassuring to him as Jun Qing. In the end, Jun Qing was trained by him personally and had the blood of Jun Lin in his veins.
Jun Qing was not Jun Lin. He understood it himself, and Wei Zhao also understood it. The emperor alone didn’t seem to understand. The two of them thought of this and fell silent at the same time.
After a long time, Wei Zhao suddenly said, abruptly returning to the previous subject, “You say that he didn’t bully you but he hit you so hard that the baby almost couldn’t be saved.”
Idle and bored, Wei Chongrong, who was hiding under the open window and eavesdropping on their conversation, trembled when he heard these words. He and Jun Hua really shared the same fate. They were both disliked even before they were born.
Indeed, when Wei Zhao first returned to the capital, Jun Qing was in bed to protect the foetus, and he couldn’t even get out of bed, so how could he go to visit Wei Zhao? But the reason for this was somewhat different from Wei Chongrong’s imagination.
Jun Qing gave Wei Zhao a sidelong glance and explained: “That was a misunderstanding. We were just having a normal sparring session, who would have thought that we had a baby? Isn’t it that taking the Suyun pill after the age of twenty is not necessarily effective?”
“Didn’t he notice anything unusual?” Wei Zhao still didn’t believe it. In the first few months when he had Wei Chongrong, he vomited so much that Helian Zhuo didn’t even dare to torment him again during that period.
Jun Qing shook his head and said frankly: “Not to mention him, even I didn’t know, otherwise how could we spar.” Wei Zhao was also speechless and could only sigh that the baby was blessed with great fortune since it could withstand the full force of his father’s blow.
Wei Chongrong was listening with great interest when he suddenly felt himself being picked up by someone and turned around to see that it was Ji Xin. He hurriedly shouted, “Brother Ji Xin, you’re here?”
Ji Xin nudged his nose and said with a chuckle: “Little prince, it’s not a good habit to eavesdrop!” As soon as said that, two cold glances aimed at him at the same time, making Wei Chongrong shrink into Ji Xin’s arms in fright.
Under normal circumstances, Wei Chongrong should have been discovered long ago with Wei Zhao and Jun Qing’s skills, but one of them was pregnant and in poor physical condition, and the other’s internal strength was restricted and had not yet fully recovered. Wei Chongrong was young and breathed lightly, so he wasn’t noticed for a while. It wasn’t until Ji Xin spoke up that they knew that there was an disobedient little guy who had been eavesdropping on their conversation for a long time. Although they didn’t say anything untoward, Wei Zhao was very dissatisfied with Wei Chongrong’s behaviour, and his cold, harsh gaze was palpable.
Ji Xin was six years younger than Wei Zhao and Jun Qing. He had been chasing them since he was a child and had been punished by them for not studying seriously enough or not practising martial arts hard enough. Therefore, seeing Wei Zhao showing signs of anger, he subconsciously helped Wei Chongrong, saying that he was a child, it was inevitable for him to be playful.
Wei Zhao snorted coldly and didn’t say anything. Ji Xin and Wei Chongrong glanced at each other; Ji Xin made a helpless expression and then carried Wei Chongrong into the house.
After entering the house, Ji Xin put Wei Chongrong on the floor, walked straight to Jun Qing’s side and asked him how he was, how well he slept at night, whether he vomited when he got up in the morning and what he ate for each meal. Everything was detailed and comprehensive. He was simply a model of a gentle and considerate husband.
Looking at Ji Xin, who was calm and easy-going, and Wei Zhao, who turned a blind eye, and then looking at the expression of indifference but not impatience on Jun Qing’s face as he answered the questions one by one, Wei Chongrong asked confidently: “Father, Brother Ji Xin is…”
In fact, there was no need for Wei Zhao to answer this question. If Ji Xin was not Jun Hua’s father, how could he care so much about him and Jun Qing? Besides, when Wei Zhao arrived at Wang Changning’s residence, he no longer raised the matter of seeing Jun Qing. He must have learned the truth from Ji Xin.
Sure enough, Wei Zhao nodded softly: “Wang Changning is the other father of the little baby.” The relationship between Jun Qing and Ji Xin had not been made public, but there was no harm in telling Wei Chongrong.
Having inadvertently learned of Jun Hua’s origin, Wei Chongrong suddenly wondered: did Wei Su know that Jun Hua was the son of Jun Qing and Ji Xin? Perhaps he knew, and that was why he favoured Jun Hua to such an extent that Wei Yang was envious and jealous.
Hou Zhaoyang’s mansion and Wang Changning’s residence were not far apart, but Ji Xin was in the Western Camp all year round and spent only a few days at home. Since Jun Qing raised the baby behind closed doors, they rarely had the opportunity to meet.
Wei Zhao didn’t want to disturb them, so he took Wei Chongrong to leave, but before leaving, he gave Ji Xin a stern talking, saying that if he hurt Jun Qing again, he would be punished for both crimes and would never be forgiven lightly.
Ji Xin smiled bitterly and hurriedly assured that similar mistakes would never be made again. He never wanted to hurt Jun Qing, and he had never won against Jun Qing since he was a child. What happened that day was purely an accident.
On that day, the two sparred in the training ground as usual. The first hundred moves gave Jun Qing a slight advantage, but unexpectedly, after a hundred moves, he slackened, revealing an obvious flaw. How could Ji Xin miss such an opportunity? He attacked without hesitation.
In normal times, even if Jun Qing was defeated, he would not let Ji Xin hurt him. But that day, his state was particularly wrong. Ji Xin couldn’t stop in time and gave him a hard palm blow. Jun Qing’s resistance was weak, and he was thrown to the ground, spitting blood.
After that, there was chaos. When the military doctor said that Jun Qing’s internal injuries were fine but the foetus had been moved and it could lead to a miscarriage, both of them were stunned.
Jun Qing had taken the Suyun pill, but at that time he was over twenty years old, and it might not be effective to take the pill. And he and Ji Xin had only been together a few times. How could he have thought that he had a baby? There were no symptoms at all.
The military doctor was only good at traumatic and bone injuries, so he told Ji Xin to find another doctor. Fortunately, he was a person who had followed Jun Lin and kept this matter confidential. Later, Jun Qing suffered so much in order to keep the child, and Ji Xin hated himself for not being good enough to him. How could he hurt him again!
Coming out of Hou Zhaoyang’s mansion, Wei Zhao saw that it was still early, so he took Wei Chongrong to see his residence. If there was anything he didn’t like or wanted to add, he could tell the people in the Ministry of Works and let them rectify it as soon as possible.
Since the founding of the country, with Zhuque Street opposite the Zhuque Gate, the main gate of the Imperial City, Yujing City had formed a pattern of wealth in the west and nobility in the east. The residences of the imperial family, the noble families and the high-ranking officials were all concentrated here. Shangguan Li was located in the north of the eastern city, close to the Imperial City, and was a prime location within a prime location. Those who were qualified to live here, apart from the descendents of the four wangs and eight gongs who had founded the country, were the emperor’s sons and daughters who stayed in the capital as well as the newly promoted nobles who had been given titles for their military achievements.
Such a superior geographical location was naturally a place where every turnip was in its hole, and there would never be empty houses. If anyone wanted to move in, they would have to first see if any family who lived here was not qualified, otherwise the emperor wouldn’t be able to evict them even by a decree.
In the history of the Great Yan, it was mostly the case that princes had residences and princesses went to live with their husbands. Because there was no place in Shangguan Li, some mansions were built in the neighbouring Wutong Li and Hehua Li. Wei Zhao’s luck was considered good. When Wei Su offered to open a residence for him, the Minister Steward(1) happened to take back the residence of Princess Chongqing shortly afterwards, so Wei Su had the princess’s residence to be rebuilt and later given to Wei Zhao.
All the families in Shangguan Li were high-ranking, and most of the family members went out in carriages and sedan chairs, so it was very rare for someone to walk like Wei Zhao and Wei Chongrong. As they walked past the residence of Gong Qi, Wei Zhao told Wei Chongrong that Gu Yu, the son of Gong Qi, had been his classmate.
Wei Chongrong immediately recalled that Gu Yu treated him well, but by then, he was already Gong Qi himself. He didn’t know it before, but now he finally understood that it was for Wei Zhao’s sake, and he couldn’t help feeling a little emotional.
At this moment, a carriage passing by them suddenly stopped, and the person in the carriage lifted the curtain and said in surprise: “Your Imperial Highness Wang Qin?”
Wei Zhao was taken aback when he heard the words, and the expression on his face was slightly flustered. He neither answered nor turned his head. Wei Chongrong raised his head and happened to see the person who got out of the carriage. It was Jiang Che, Wang Yong’an.
Jiang Che said a few words to the coachman, and the coachman drove the carriage away on his own. He walked up to Wei Zhao and cupped his fist in greeting: “Jiang Che has seen His Imperial Highness Wang Qin.”
Wang Yong’an of the Jiang family and Wang Changning of the Ji family were the only two wangs with different surnames in the Great Yan. Unlike the Ji family, who had been in the army for generations, the Jiang family, except for Jiang Buxin of the first generation and Jiang Lan of the fifth generation, had always followed the route of civil servants.
“Wang Yong’an is exempt from courtesy, this little wang dares not accept.” Jiang Che and Wei Zhao had the same titles of wangs, so it was fine to greet each other without saluting when they met.
Jiang Che lowered his hands, clenched his fists tightly at his sides and pondered: “I heard that Your Highness returned to the capital a long time ago, but I have never been able to visit the palace. It’s really, really…”
Wei Zhao returned to his senses and hurriedly interrupted Jiang Che’s words: “It was just a minor illness, not worth mentioning. The affairs of the Central Secretariat are complicated, and Wang Yong’an doesn’t have to worry.” Jiang Che was less than thirty years old, and he was already the right shilang(2) of the Central Secretariat. No matter how much of a family background he had, his personal ability couldn’t be underestimated.
Jiang Che became anxious and argued: “Ah Zhao, I didn’t mean that, we… why should we be so rusty…” In desperation, the name he called Wei Zhao also changed.
Wei Zhao was silent, and said after a long time: “Ah Che, we can’t go back to the past anymore, so why do you have to force it?” In fact, even without Wei Zhao’s experience in Fuyu, it would be impossible for him and Jiang Che. One of them was Wang Qin and the other was Wang Yong’an.
Sure enough, Jiang Che was silent for a long time. Wei Zhao looked at him and didn’t say a word either. Wei Chongrong watched from the side, unable to tell what they felt, thinking that he didn’t know that Wei Zhao and Jiang Che had a past, and Wei Zhao’s Suyun pill had also been taken for Jiang Che.
In Wei Chongrong’s previous life, Jiang Che had always taken great care of him, both in the bright and in the dark. Although he didn’t know the reason at the time, he could still understand from various indirect pointers that it was probably because of Wei Zhao.
Wei Yang ascended the throne at the age of seven, and Wei Su left him four auxiliary ministers, namely Wang Yong’an Jiang Che, Gong Yue Shangguan Xuan, Gong Guo Sun Shu and Gong Qi Gu Yu. Among them, Sun Shu died in the 2nd year of Taiping, so there were only three long-term political assistants left.
When Wei Yang dealt with the Shangguan family, the Jiang family and the Gu family didn’t want to take action and maintained a neutral attitude, but for Wei Chongrong, Jiang Che made an exception. It was a pity that Wei Yang was jealous and thought that Wei Chongrong was hiding his strength and distrusted him even more.
Seeing that the atmosphere between the two men was getting more and more awkward, Wei Chongrong quickly played the role of a child and said that he was hungry. So it made sense for the three of them to go to a famous restaurant on Zhuque Street.
- The Minister Steward managed the palace treasury, i.e., the private finances of the imperial clan and was also in charge of disbursing the incomes of members of the imperial clan.
- Ancient official title