Perhaps because of Jiang Che and Xie Xiu’s marriage, Wei Zhao’s mood always seemed a little depressed during the New Year. Just after the fifth day of the New Year, he ignored the empress’s attempts to make him stay and took Wei Chongrong out of the palace.
Seeing that Wei Zhao was in a depressed mood, Wei Chongrong used different approaches to make him happy, but unfortunately the effect was minimal. Wei Chongrong understood that Wei Zhao could only deal with his emotional matters on his own and it was useless for others to say anything, not to mention that his current age was not suitable for discussing this topic.
In the first month of the new year, the Western Camp took a rotating break, and Huo Qingyang got a five-day holiday. He had no relatives in the capital, so he consciously reported to Wang Qin’s residence, carrying a freshly roasted goose in his arms.
Upon seeing this, Wei Chongrong laughed and said, “Brother Qingyang, you’ve come and actually brought food with you, you’re afraid we won’t feed you, aren’t you?”
Huo Qingyang tore off a goose leg for him smoothly: “Have something delicious to eat and keep your mouth shut, what a nag!”
Did he look like someone who would treat people with formal courtesy according to the rules of a host or a guest? It was just that on the way to Wang Qin’s residence, he saw a stall selling roasted geese. There was a long line in front of it. He was curious, so he went to join in the excitement and turned out to be lucky. After waiting for half a shichen, he bought the last goose and brought it to Wei Chongrong.
Wei Chongrong held the goose leg in both hands, gnawing happily. Huo Qingyang asked him, “Little prince, where is His Highness? Roasted goose is not delicious when it is cold.”
Wei Chongrong raised his head, looked at Huo Qingyang with sympathetic eyes and said, “Daddy doesn’t like to eat this, he likes all kinds of sweet and greasy pastries.” Huo Qingyang’s intentions were a bit off the mark.
Huo Qingyang didn’t care. After leaving a piece for Wei Chongrong, he held the roasted goose and gnawed on it. As he gnawed, he said: “Isn’t it good to love desserts? There is a temple fair in Nancheng. There are sugar figurines, sugar paintings, tanghulu… Everything is available. We can go shopping.”
“Really? Let’s go after eating.” Wei Chongrong was not keen on sweets, but he was interested in visiting the temple fair, especially since Wei Zhao had been bored at home for several days; just to take him out for a break would be nice.
Wei Zhao actually didn’t really want to go out, but Yujing in the first month of the year was extraordinary. The streets were bustling with people, and the temple fair in Nancheng was even more amazing. When it was most crowded, people didn’t need to walk by themselves, they could be carried forward by the surging crowd. If someone unfortunately wanted to go in the opposite direction, it would probably take them two or three times more time than normally, and they still wouldn’t be able to reach their destination. Under such circumstances, Wei Zhao was not at ease with allowing Huo Qingyang, a newcomer, to take Wei Chongrong out, so he could only accompany them.
Compared to Wei Zhao, who grew up in the palace and only went to the inner city occasionally, Wei Chongrong was very familiar with Yujing City and knew everything that was delicious there. Unfortunately, he couldn’t say it because he couldn’t explain it, and could only quietly complain in his heart.
However, the magical thing was that Huo Qingyang knew what Wei Chongrong knew, and he even knew what Wei Chongrong didn’t know. What was even more terrifying was that in order to please Wei Zhao, Huo Qingyang didn’t go anywhere else but to the stalls selling pastries and candy.
In this regard, Wei Chongrong could only express his helplessness. Zhou Ji’s Duck Neck and Chen Ji’s Douhua they had just passed by were classic century-old shops. He had come there to eat with Jun Hua many times before, and he wanted to savour their food again, but Wei Zhao was not interested, so Huo Qingyang didn’t stop.
Wei Chongrong had no money and could only swallow his saliva and follow them. Wei Zhao and Huo Qingyang stopped just a few steps away. Wei Chongrong looked up and saw that the booth where they stopped had the signboard of Wang Ji’s Sugar Paintings, and there was a crowd gathered inside and outside, both adults and children.
Sugar paintings were not sold directly. Instead, it was a spinning wheel, with three coins for each turn, and you got whatever you got. In the four corners of the table with the spinning wheel were the paintings of the four divine beasts, the Azure Dragon, the White Tiger, the Vermilion Bird and the Black Tortoise, and other than that, there were various ordinary small animals. In an ordinary sugar painting stall, it only cost a coin to turn the spinning wheel, and Wang Ji’s price was three times that of others, which was obviously due to his unique skill. Not only did his family boil sugar well, but the level of painting was very high. The samples of the four divine beasts inserted on the shelf were all lifelike, making people eager to try.
“Rong’er, come here and try?” Wei Zhao stood in front of the spinning wheel and beckoned to Wei Chongrong. He liked the vivid White Tiger very much, but it was the children who turned the spinning wheel and he was embarrassed to compete with them, so he could only let Wei Chongrong do it for him.
Wei Chongrong sighed and moved over slowly, unable to complain about Wei Zhao’s childish behaviour. How old is he, and he still likes sugar paintings. There was really nothing to say…
Wei Zhao didn’t care if Wei Chongrong was willing or not. He dragged him to the spinning wheel, pointed to the White Tiger in the upper right corner, and ordered: “Rong’er, do you see it? That’s it!” The determined tone could make people mistakenly think that Wei Chongrong could spin it in one turn.
Wei Chongrong nodded and stretched out his hand to toggle the pointer on the spinning wheel. Wasn’t it just a White Tiger? What’s so great about it? The pointer quickly turned twice, gradually reducing its speed. It passed the Azure Dragon and slowly turned in the direction of the White Tiger.
Wei Chongrong was full of expectations, and the onlookers were also very excited. Although it was not a valuable thing, the four divine beasts were really difficult to get, and people would give enthusiastic applause to anyone who succeeded.
The pointer was getting slower and slower, and the distance to the White Tiger was getting closer and closer. Seeing that it was about to arrive, Wei Chongrong, who didn’t care much about the sugar painting, couldn’t help but get nervous.
Then, the pointer stopped, and it stopped in a grid next to the White Tiger, only a little bit away from the White Tiger, and voices of regret broke out in the crowd.
“Daddy, I want to spin again!” Wei Chongrong couldn’t figure out why he failed. Obviously, his strength and angle were calculated. He refused to admit defeat and planned to have another go.
Of course, Wei Zhao would not have any coins on him. Huo Qingyang immediately took out three coins and put them on the plate where the stall owner collected the money. Wei Chongrong looked at the spinning wheel very carefully and moved the pointer again.
This time, he used relatively little strength, and the pointer slowed down after only one turn, and gently paddled to the position of the White Tiger. Wei Chongrong held his breath and waited for the pointer to stop.
Who could have thought that although the speed of the pointer was very slow, it just kept turning to the right, until it passed the White Tiger’s grid and finally stopped.
Wei Chongrong was dumbfounded. No way, was his luck so bad? Both times it was a little bit off the mark. He wanted to do it again, and the stall owner who was sugar-painting for the people in front of him pointed to a line of fine print under the signboard, which said “limited to two times per person”.
Wei Chongrong ran out of the times and was forced to withdraw. Huo Qingyang didn’t want Wei Zhao to be disappointed, so he went to spin twice. The result was even more outrageous than Wei Chongrong’s; his rewards were small animals in the middle, not even close to any divine beast.
Wei Zhao was depressed, and regardless of whether anyone laughed or not, he went up and spinned the wheel in person. He flicked his hand casually, the pointer moved and stopped right in the centre of the White Tiger’s grid.
Wei Chongrong and Huo Qingyang looked at each other, not knowing what to say. Seeing that Wei Zhao and the others were together, the stall owner gave them the White Tiger and four small animals, asking them if they wanted to merge the four small ones into two slightly larger ones.
Wei Chongrong immediately waved his hand, indicating that he didn’t want to eat them, and asked the stall owner to synthesise the four small animals into a big one. The stall owner thought for a while and poured them a sugar painting in the shape of a lantern, which was considered an appropriate scene for the New Year.
Wei Zhao took the White Tiger sugar painting that he personally won with a full sense of accomplishment, and he was a little reluctant to eat it. Huo Qingyang was carrying the lantern, but he looked a little lost. Like Wei Chongrong, he didn’t like sugar, but what made him feel even worse was that he didn’t dare to say so.
In the end, Wei Zhao solved almost all of the two sugar paintings. Wei Chongrong just looked at it and felt so tired that he couldn’t stand it. His father’s taste was really not flattering.
The temple fair was held in Nancheng, and the farther south it went, the more crowded it became. Wei Chongrong was short and it was difficult to move in the crowd. Huo Qingyang couldn’t watch it anymore, so he simply lifted him up and carried him on his shoulders, allowing him to enjoy the taste of the “infinite scenery at the top”.
When they arrived in Nancheng, Huo Qingyang was familiar with the road, and took Wei Zhuo and Wei Chongrong to eat several snacks in the stalls that were remotely located but had their own characteristics. Wei Zhao felt strange, so he asked, “Qingyang, you haven’t been to Yujing for long, how come you are so familiar with it?” Even he was not very familiar with the outskirts of Yujing.
Huo Qingyang smiled without saying a word. Could he say that he deliberately inquired about it? Before they were going to return home, Wei Chongrong accidentally saw a small wonton stall where he had eaten with Jun Hua before, and yelled: “Daddy, let’s go eat that! A lot of people are queueing. It must be delicious.”
Wei Zhao was not very interested in foods other than sweets, but Wei Chongrong wanted to eat, so he naturally would not object. Huo Qingyang didn’t mind either, he had always lacked resistance to food, so the three of them went to the stall selling wontons.
The wonton stall was set up by an old couple. It covered a small area and had four or five tables. There were more people standing in line than sitting and eating. Some people couldn’t wait, so they just stood and started eating while holding a bowl.
Huo Qingyang glanced at Wei Zhao worriedly, for fear that he would not accept such an environment. Who knew that Wei Zhao would be telling Wei Chongrong: “To judge whether the food is delicious, the number of people in line is the best criterion. In crowded places, it is usually not unpleasant.”
Wei Chongrong nodded again and again. The places he knew that sold good things were basically found in this way. When he saw that there were many people, he tried it. When he tasted it, he remembered it and came again next time.
Wei Zhao took Wei Chongrong to line up, and Huo Qingyang stayed at the tables waiting for a vacant seat. There were two people in front of him who left after eating. He reacted faster than anyone else, rushed over and occupied the position. Then Wei Zhao came over with wontons, just in time to sit down.
The little wontons were spicy and very exciting to eat. Just when Wei Chongrong was eating happily, there was a sound that was not harmonious enough from the table behind them.
It turned out that two people were whispering about Wei Zhao in a very disdainful tone. The implication was that he had lost the face of the Great Yan. Wei Chongrong and Huo Qingyang were both very angry, and Huo Qingyang was so furious that he started to stand up, ready to get to the two people to settle the score; but Wei Zhao stopped him.
Wei Zhao shook his head and said sternly in a disapproving tone: “You two, have a good meal and don’t mess around.”
Huo Qingyang and Wei Chongrong had to calm down, but after listening to those words, no one was in a good mood. They hurriedly finished the wontons, paid and left.
On the way back to the residence, Wei Zhao said indifferently: “Qingyang, you don’t have to mind what outsiders say. Those are irrelevant people. I don’t care, as long as you don’t think so.”
Huo Qingyang immediately grasped Wei Zhao’s hand and said excitedly: “Your Highness, of course I don’t think that way. Don’t I know yet what kind of person you are?” He was just worried that Wei Zhao would feel uncomfortable when he heard those words.
Wei Zhao took his hand back, pursed his lips and said, “Qingyang, we are not in the mansion, you’d better… change your way of addressing.” Huo Qingyang realised his gaffe, smiled and nodded hurriedly.
In the next few days, they did not go out again, and Huo Qingyang was pressed by Wei Zhao to learn the Art of War in the study every day. Wei Chongrong followed and listened. He saw Huo Qingyang’s excited and painful expression, and he really didn’t know what to say.
At the end of the five-day break, Huo Qingyang reluctantly returned to the Western Camp. Before leaving, he took the homework Wei Zhao had arranged for him, and he would have to hand it in next time.
Wei Zhao had nothing to do for the time being, so he took Wei Chongrong to see Jun Qing. Jun Qing’s belly was already very big, almost the same size compared to when Wei Zhao gave birth to Wei Chongrong. At first glance, controlling the weight of the foetus was ineffective.
Wei Chongrong habitually touched Jun Qing’s belly, but as a result, Jun Hua kicked him very hard. Wei Zhao pulled Wei Chongrong back, frowned and asked Jun Qing, “Has Teacher Duanmu seen it? What did he say?”
Jun Qing paused, frowned and said, “Teacher says there is really no other way, we can only make the child come out early. If he grows more, I’m afraid it will be…” Jun Qing knew Duanmu Hui was definitely thinking of his good but he also felt a bit guilty about not letting the child stay long enough and feared that it would be bad for its health.
Seeing that Duanmu Hui had a solution, Wei Zhao felt a little relieved. He asked, “Did Teacher say when he would expedite giving birth?” Wei Zhao definitely had to come over when Jun Qing was going to give birth, even if just to stay outside to keep watch, so that his heart could be at ease.
“Teacher said it had to be after the Lantern Festival but I asked him to postpone it for a few more days. Teacher agreed to postpone it to the 20th.” Jun Qing said calmly, stroking his stomach.
Wei Zhao was puzzled, frowned and said, “Why postpone it? The child is already old enough, and it’s not good for you and the child to delay for a long time…” The Lantern Festival would be in three days. Why postpone when it would be better to get it done quickly?
Jun Qing glanced at him faintly and explained: “Xin’er is training in Xishan, and there will be no break until later in the month.” He was not a person with a weak temperament, but giving birth for a man was always very dangerous, and he naturally hoped to have his lover by his side.
It turned out to be because of waiting for Ji Xin. When Wei Zhao heard it, he didn’t ask any more questions. However, Wei Chongrong frowned when he heard Jun Qing’s words. He remembered Jun Hua’s birthday very clearly, the 46th year of Yongjia, the 18th of the first month.
According to Jun Qing’s plan, he was going to wait for the 20th before being expedited to give birth, and except that the foetus was too big and had to be delivered in advance, there were no other problems with Jun Qing’s health. How could Jun Hua be born premature? There had to be a reason.
Wei Chongrong didn’t know the reason for Jun Hua’s premature birth, and he couldn’t directly tell Jun Qing something like “you should pay attention in the next few days, don’t bump into anything, maybe something will happen…”
Just as he was struggling, he suddenly heard Wei Zhao say, “Qing’er, according to what you said, Xin’er can’t accompany you for the Lantern Festival? Where is Youyou, can he come?” Jun Qing was about to give birth, and Wei Zhao didn’t feel at ease with him being alone or just with the servants.
Jun Qing rubbed his brow and shook his head gently: “I’m not a child, do I still need people with me all day?” The meaning was very clear, even Lu Ming was not free.
Wei Zhao didn’t hesitate and said hurriedly: “It’s not a big deal usually, but it’s too desolate to be alone during the holidays. I have nothing to do recently, and I will bring Rong’er over to accompany you for the Lantern Festival in two days.”
Wei Chongrong was pleasantly surprised when he heard this. Jun Hua was born on the 18th of the first month. As long as Jun Qing was not as unlucky as Wei Zhao, he should not have started on the 15th. Although Wei Chongrong didn’t know what happened in the previous life, with him and Wei Zhao present, even if something happened, it could be resolved.
His father was so kind, offering help just when it was needed. If Jun Hua’s leg problem could really be avoided, then after Wei Zhao, another matter on Wei Chongrong’s mind would also be resolved.
Jun Qing was noncommittal about Wei Zhao’s statement. Anyway, if he told Wei Zhao not to come, Wei Zhao wouldn’t listen to it. It was better not to say anything.