Wei Mao didn’t know Wei Chongrong’s thoughts and kept on rambling, “Little wolf cub, without Fourth Uncle to back you up, I’ll see how you can still be proud of yourself in the future!”
“Smelly cat, dead cat(1), shut up! Don’t talk nonsense! My father will never not want me!” It took Wei Chongrong a lot of perseverance to control his urge to beat Wei Mao. Wei Mao not only had a cat-like name, but also looked like a cat. He was thin and small, very weak.
Wei Mao had always been accustomed to running roughshod over the palace. When he was provoked, he suddenly became furious: “You are the stinky wolf cub, dead wolf cub! Second Brother is right, you and Fourth Uncle shouldn’t have come back at all. Coming back is just bringing trouble. I hate you to death!”
As soon as these words were said, Wei Chongrong was completely irate. What do you mean they shouldn’t have come back? Wei Zhao was the prince of the Great Yan and Wei Su personally gave him the title of Wang Qin. Why shouldn’t he come back? Also, he didn’t care if other people said bad things about them father and son, but Wei Mao, who was he to do so?!
Why did Wei Zhao go to the battlefield back then? Wasn’t it because Ji Qing was dead, Jun Lin was dead, and there was no one to lead the Ji family’s army? Wei Zhao became Wang Qin at the age of ten. His military achievements were just icing on the cake for him. It didn’t matter if he didn’t have them, he already had enough power. However, the family of Wang Changning was declining, Ji Wan was falling out of favour, Wei Ming and Wei Su had different political opinions, and the position of the Crown Prince was unstable. Wei Su was determined to take back Youzhou. Wei Zhao’s actions were not without consideration for the Eastern Palace. Where did he wrong the Great Yan, where did he wrong Wei Mao?
The more Wei Chongrong thought about it, the angrier he became. He couldn’t deal with his anger without beating Wei Mao, so he pounced. Anyway, he was still young and the punishment for doing something wrong wouldn’t be too serious. Wei Chongrong admitted that he was angry, and it wasn’t only Wei Mao’s words that made him angry, but also other reasons.
Wei Mao was only one year older than Wei Chongrong, as tall as him and had never had any experience in fighting with others. How could he be Wei Chongrong’s opponent? With Wei Chongrong’s first punch, he was thrown to the ground and could only cry and call his father and his daddy, unable to fight back.
In fact, Wei Chongrong held back his strength; if he had beaten Wei Mao as he had Pei Di, Wei Mao wouldn’t have been able to cry out.
Seeing the son of Wang Qin beating the Crown Prince’s son to the ground, the palace servants outside the hall were scared out of their wits and went in to report the incident while trying to stop the fight.
When Wei Ming got the news, he quickly came out, followed by Wei Zhao and Jun Feili, all three of them with unpleasant faces.
When they saw the two children who had been separated, they all felt that the palace servants’ report was wrong. What kind of fight was this? It was clear that Wei Mao had been beaten up unilaterally.
Compared with Wei Mao’s bleeding nose and bruised face and his miserable beyond recognition appearance, Wei Chongrong had no trace of injury except for a little wrinkle in his clothes. The contrast between the two was too stark.
“Mao’er, tell your father, what is going on?” Although Wei Mao was the one who looked more pitiful, Wei Ming didn’t relent and questioned him first.
Wei Mao was sobbing, grunting and moaning from time to time, so how could he say anything? Wei Chongrong kindly helped him and said, “Uncle, Third Brother said that Daddy didn’t want me anymore and wanted to pass me for adoption to Second Uncle. Is it true?”
Wei Zhao froze when he heard the words; a cold light flashed in his eyes. Him passing Wei Chongrong for adoption to Wei Xu, why didn’t anyone mention such a big thing to him? He turned sideways to look at Wei Ming, but saw that his expression was obscure and unreadable.
Wei Ming stared at Wei Mao and said in a deep voice, “Mao’er, did you tell Rong’er what he said?” Passing Wei Chongrong for adoption to Wei Xu looked like a very good thing for everyone. There was only one problem. Wei Ming didn’t think Wei Zhao would agree.
Wei Mao stopped crying, shifting his gaze from side to side, just not to look at Wei Ming. He was more afraid of his father than of his daddy who occasionally punished him by copying books, although Wei Ming had always treated his children gently, never physically punished them and didn’t even say a heavy word.
“Mao’er, look at me and tell me if Rong’er tells the truth?” Sure enough, Wei Ming’s tone wasn’t stern, and was even more relaxed than before.
Wei Mao bit his lip, raised his head and said timidly: “Father, Younger Brother hit me, it hurts so much…” He showed him the bruises on his face, trying to get away with it.
Wei Ming held Wei Mao’s hand in one hand and gently stroked the bruise on his face with the other, saying softly: “Rong’er hit you. It’s Rong’er’s fault. Father will ask him why. But now what Father wants to ask you is why Rong’er hit you. Did you say those things?”
Wei Mao couldn’t muddle through, so he nodded and defended himself: “Father, what I said is not a lie. Grandmother Empress really said that she would give Younger Brother as a son to Second Uncle.”
Wei Zhao’s face was instantly gloomy to the extreme. He originally thought that Ji Wan wasn’t close enough to Wei Chongrong because the time spent together was too short, so he wasn’t as good in her eyes as Wei Xuan and his brothers and sister, but the attitude, in general, was the same.
Now, he finally understood. It turned out that his mother was the same as his father. She never thought about accepting his Rong’er. She tried every way to take Rong’er away from him. There was no difference between her and his father.
Originally, Wei Chongrong beat Wei Mao. Regardless of the cause, from the standpoint of the elders, Wei Zhao was supposed to teach Wei Chongrong a lesson and give Wei Ming and Wei Mao an explanation, but at this moment, he was in no mood to do so at all.
Wei Zhao pulled Wei Chongrong to his side and said to Wei Ming: “Imperial Brother, please tell Mother Empress and Imperial Sister that I am not feeling well, so I will go back to my residence.” After saying that, he took Wei Chongrong and left without hesitation.
They didn’t like Rong’er, fine, he didn’t force them. It was his son, he liked him, it was enough. But why were they going to give his son to someone for adoption without even telling him? Don’t even think about it, there was no way he would agree to it.
Wei Zhao left as soon as he said he would, leaving Wei Ming sighing silently in the courtyard. If the matter was not handled properly, the consequences would be endless.
Jun Feili picked up Wei Mao, comforted him, and asked Wei Ming: “Your Highness, Fourth Brother just left like this, do you think…” Wei Zhao’s waywardness was really not something ordinary people could handle. He left angrily, and Wei Ming had to explain to the empress.
Wei Ming said with a wry smile: “If Ah Zhao wants to leave, even if you put a knife to his neck, you can’t make him stay. Feili, take Mao’er back first and call the imperial doctor to take a look at him. Don’t let Mother Empress know about this. I’ll go and tell Mother Empress and Imperial Sister that Ah Zhao took Rong’er home.”
Seeing Wei Ming enter the hall, Jun Feili sighed faintly. Wei Mao was puzzled and said, “Daddy, why is Father so nice to that little wolf cub? He would rather hug him than me. Doesn’t he like Mao’er anymore?”
Jun Feili frowned and said solemnly: “Mao’er, where did you hear these words? Don’t say them anymore, otherwise I will punish you by copying the ‘Three Character Classic’ ten more times, did you hear me?”
Wei Mao shrank his head and muttered in a low voice: “I heard Second Brother say that, Daddy, will you punish him too?” Since he had to be punished, it was natural that the more people, the better. Wei Mao betrayed Wei Lan without a second thought.
Jun Feili frowned when he heard the words. Wasn’t Wei Lan’s attitude very proper in front of Wei Zhao and Wei Chongrong? How could he teach his younger brother to say these words? Without allowing him to think about it, Wei Mao covered his head and cried out in pain. Jun Feili didn’t dare to delay and hurriedly took him back to the Eastern Palace.
On the way home, Wei Zhao frowned and didn’t say a word. Wei Chongrong sat next to him without speaking, only looking up at him from time to time.
Back in the mansion, Wei Chongrong said good night to Wei Zhao and was about to turn around and go back to his courtyard, when he heard Wei Zhao say, “Rong’er, don’t go, sleep with Daddy tonight.”
“Oh!” Wei Chongrong responded happily, cheering and throwing himself into Wei Zhao’s arms.
Wei Zhao picked up Wei Chongrong, kissed him on the left and right cheeks, and said against his forehead: “Rong’er, don’t be afraid, no matter whose intention it is, Daddy will never not want you.” If Wei Xu needed a son, the best way was to wait for Wei Xiao to be blessed. It was useless to have designs on his son.
Wei Chongrong put his arms around Wei Zhao’s neck and smiled happily: “I trust Daddy, but can Daddy not listen to the words of Grandfather Emperor and Grandmother Empress?” What he cared about was not Wei Zhao’s attitude, but whether Wei Zhao could withstand the pressure from both the emperor and the empress.
Wei Zhao snorted softly, and said indifferently: “I won’t listen to them, what can they do to me? I have my own way of dealing with Father Emperor. As long as Father Emperor doesn’t agree, Mother Empress cannot take the lead in the matter of adoption.”
Seeing that Wei Zhao was confident, Wei Chongrong immediately relaxed and stopped worrying about it. He realised that it was good to be a child with a father. No matter what happened, Wei Zhao would take care of him. He didn’t need to worry about it at all. He was so happy.
After the empress’s birthday, Wei Zhao and Wei Chongrong continued to live their regular life of practising martial arts in the morning and studying in the afternoon. Neither of them mentioned the word “adoption” again, as if it had never appeared.
At the end of the tenth lunar month, Jun Qing sent a letter to Wei Zhao. Wei Zhao read the letter with a worried expression on his face and muttered under his breath: “Qing’er is doing nonsense and Xin’er doesn’t care about it. Up and down and stumbling, it’s not fun.”
Wei Chongrong was puzzled and asked uneasily, “Daddy, what did Hou Zhaoyang write in his letter? Is there something bad?” Speaking of which, he had rarely seen Wei Zhao upset over something, so it was not a trivial matter.
Wei Zhao put the letter on the table and sighed: “The second day of the next month will be the day to offer sacrifice to Hou Zhaoyang Huan.”
Wei Chongrong nodded, then shook his head again. He knew that the death anniversary of Jun Lin was on the second day of the first winter month, but he had been gone for almost twenty years. What could it have to do with Jun Qing’s “nonsense”?
Wei Zhao continued: “In the previous years, when I was in the capital, Qing’er and I would go to Dingling to offer sacrifice to Hou Zhaoyang Huan every year in person.”
Offer sacrifice in person?! Wei Chongrong’s eyes were round; did he hear it wrong?
Jun Qing was the son of Jun Lin, and it was normal to pay respects to his father, but Wei Zhao, why would he follow? He was the prince, Jun Lin was the subject, and they were of the same generation, and going to offer sacrifice in person would be too grand, wouldn’t it?
“Can Qing’er run around in his current state?” Wei Zhao fidgeted, stood up suddenly, slapped the table and said, “No, I have to go to his mansion to persuade him to stop.”
Hearing that Wei Zhao was going to Hou Zhaoyang’s residence, Wei Chongrong hurriedly said, “Daddy, I’m going too.” He finally figured out what Wei Zhao was worried about. It turned out that Jun Qing was going to Dingling to pay respects to Jun Lin, and Wei Zhao worried about his pregnant body.
Wei Zhao raised his eyebrows and said with a smile: “The little brother hasn’t been born yet, Rong’er, why are you in a hurry?” He still remembered that last time in Hou Zhaoyang’s residence, Wei Chongrong was very interested in Jun Qing’s belly.
“I want to go out and play!” It had been half a year since they returned to the capital. Wei Zhao had been living in seclusion and only been to Hou Zhaoyang’s residence once, so it was completely understandable that Wei Chongrong was eager to go out.
Wei Zhao thought for a while and said that as long as Wei Chongrong finished all the homework assigned by his teacher for this afternoon, he would take him out tomorrow.
Wei Chongrong nodded bitterly with bulging cheeks, his expression as aggrieved as it could be. Since he turned four years old, Wei Zhao’s requirements for his homework were not limited to reciting books. He added two large characters every day, and when Wei Chongrong wrote, he had a small stone hanging from his wrist, which was really cruel.
As if seeing through Wei Chongrong’s mind, Wei Zhao said sternly: “Rong’er, don’t think about getting away with it. If one word is not well written, you’ll tear it all up and rewrite it, and you won’t be allowed to go out. Remember?”
“I know.” Wei Chongrong curled his lips. He didn’t like reading and writing, but he was never perfunctory with the homework arranged by his teacher. He had learned in a messy way in his previous life. Wouldn’t it be even messier if he didn’t learn it seriously in this life?
Wei Zhao’s guess couldn’t be considered wrong, Wei Chongrong’s eagerness to go to Hou Zhaoyang’s residence was indeed related to the little baby in Jun Qing’s belly; but the reason for it was far beyond his imagination. Wei Chongrong always remembered that Jun Hua’s leg problem wasn’t innate, but caused by a difficult birth and being forcibly pulled out. Although he had not yet thought of how he could avoid making Jun Hua’s birth difficult, if he didn’t know anything about the situation, there was no possibility of helping Jun Hua, so he was eager to see Jun Qing and figure out his physical condition.
Due to Wei Chongrong’s good performance, in the afternoon of the next day, Wei Zhao kept his promise and took him to see Jun Qing.
After more than two months of not seeing him, Jun Qing’s belly bulged a lot. When Wei Zhao saw him, he couldn’t help but worry: “Qing’er, how did you manage it? Raising a child this big, do you want to die?” The painful experience of giving birth to Wei Chongrong was a nightmare Wei Zhao couldn’t bear to look back on.
Jun Qing had a cold personality, demonstrating neither joy nor anger. At this moment, he sighed lightly: “Do you think I wanted to? I’ve tried everything, but the baby just keeps growing. Teacher Duanmu has seen it and said there is nothing he can do, so we can only take one step at a time.”
“Teacher is back?” Wei Zhao helped Jun Qing walk back into the house and paused when he heard these words. Duanmu Hui was Sun Ye’s teacher. His medical skills were amazing and he was known as the “medical immortal”. If the old man couldn’t do anything, Jun Qing and the foetus in his abdomen would be in a lot of trouble.
Jun Qing walked with Wei Zhao, saying indifferently: “Teacher returned to Yujing last month and said that he would live in Yujing until the spring of next year. You might as well go and meet him and let him take a look at you.” Duanmu Hui’s medical skills were definitely above Zhuang Yu’s.
Wei Zhao waved his hand and said disapprovingly: “Qing’er, don’t talk about me yet, I’m not in a hurry. But you, you are so heavy, why do you have to go to Dingling? Xin’er and I can go. Hou Huan is a spirit in Heaven and won’t blame you.”
Wei Chongrong followed Wei Zhao and Jun Qing. When he listened to their conversation, his heart felt cold. If the only thing the medical immortal Duanmu Hui could do was to save the lives of Jun Qing and Jun Hua, how could it be possible to save Jun Hua’s leg? He didn’t know anything about medical skills at all. Could it be that this was a fate that could not be avoided?
Shaking his head, Jun Qing said calmly: “I have to go every year, how can I not go this year? My health is very good, I can eat and sleep, and Teacher also tells me to walk around more often, saying that it is good for my child and I can’t stay cooped in the house all day long.”
Wei Zhao was speechless as he helped Jun Qing into the house. He wanted to say that what Teacher Duanmu called “walking more” was definitely not for him to walk outside the city and up the mountain. It was just that Jun Qing’s character was even more stubborn than Wei Zhao’s. He knew it was useless to say anything, so he simply stopped talking.
In fact, except for the early days of pregnancy, when he was unaware of the foetus, there was nothing wrong with Jun Qing’s health. The problem was with the baby, which was growing so fast that it was impossible to control, so much that everyone was worried about what would happen if Jun Qing couldn’t give birth when he was in labour.
- 猫 māo is “cat” and 茂 mào (luxuriant) is Wei Mao’s name