Wei Zhao raised his head, Uncle Fu turned around, and the two spoke in unison while looking at Jun Qing who pushed the door open. He was wearing only his inner shirt and had a fox fur cloak wrapped around him. He obviously came in a hurry, and there was undisguised worry written on his face.
Wei Zhao quickly regained his senses, swiftly walked up to Jun Qing’s side, reaching out to support him, and said softly: “Qing’er, it’s cold outside, so let’s talk inside the room.”
Jun Qing remained motionless, holding Wei Zhao’s hand tightly with his trembling hand, and said urgently: “Your Highness, tell me quickly, what happened to Xin’er? I just had a nightmare and dreamed that he fell off the mountain, covered in blood…”
As soon as these words came out, Wei Zhao looked aghast and said categorically: “Dreams are all the opposite, Qing’er, don’t scare yourself.” After saying that, he helped Jun Qing come in, walk to the table and sit down.
Wei Zhao’s face was blank, but in his heart he was shocked, because Ji Xin’s soldiers mentioned in the letter that he was indeed hit by an arrow while climbing a cliff, that’s why he couldn’t avoid it. Fortunately, there was someone next to him to protect him and he didn’t fall down.
Seeing Jun Qing’s face slick with sweat, Uncle Fu fetched a cloth and wiped it for him. He didn’t say a word, glancing at Wei Zhao from time to time, hoping that he could break the deadlock.
But the first person to speak was Jun Qing. He rubbed his forehead and looked up at Wei Zhao: “Your Highness, give me the letter. I want to know what happened to Xin’er.”
Wei Zhao thought for a while, and seeing that Jun Qing’s mood was quite stable, he handed the letter over. Since Jun Qing already knew that something had happened, if they kept it from him, it would only make him think about it, which would be bad for his health; so it was better to talk about it and discuss the next move.
After reading the letter, Jun Qing frowned and said, “If the person can strike during the internal drill, it means that the one who wants to harm Xin’er must be in the Western Camp. He is in a very dangerous situation. I have to bring him back.”
Since Emperor Gaozong, the Eastern and Western Camps had a tradition of conducting exercises in spring and autumn. Of course, it was in the times when there was no war, and once the war started, the exercises were unnecessary. The spring manoeuvres were in the third month, and the autumn ones were in the ninth month. At the moment it was still the first month and both sides were preparing for the spring manoeuvres, so it was not surprising that there were occasional small-scale internal skirmishes.
It was just that such internal exercises were usually very neat, and unless they misfired, there were very few casualties. And Ji Xin was backstabbed by someone, which was even more unusual. The other party was obviously prepared to remove him in one fell swoop.
“It’s not your turn to go bring anyone, ah!” Wei Zhao raised his eyebrows slightly, saying as if nothing had happened: “Qing’er, you can wait at home with peace of mind, and I promise to bring him back to you. If you follow, will it be better if I have to take care of you instead of saving Xin’er?”
“But…” Jun Qing was speechless for a while. The enemy was in the dark, they were in the bright, and the matter of saving Ji Xin was not as easy as Wei Zhao said. If the other party really wanted to kill Ji Xin, there must have been others waiting for them. How could he let Wei Zhao go into danger for him and Ji Xin?
Seeing Jun Qing’s scruples, Wei Zhao patted him on the shoulder and said with a smile: “Qing’er, if you really don’t feel at ease, just lend me the Eighteen Black Armoured Horsemen of your family, and I promise to return everyone to you intact.” The Eighteen Horsemen were once the personal soldiers of Jun Lin, and they were said to have the ability to defeat a hundred enemies at a time.
Naturally, Jun Qing would not refuse, but said ruefully: “Hou Zhaoyang has long since changed, and the same is true of the Eighteen Horsemen. Their current strength may not be as good as His Imperial Highness expects.” Jun Lin was gone, and the Eighteen Black Armoured Horsemen he had brought up with his own hands no longer had the same combat power.
Wei Zhao didn’t care. He moved his finger and said with a chuckle: “Qing’er, our opponent is not the Tiele elite cavalry. You can rest assured that one can kill chickens with a cow butchering knife.” The Eighteen Black Armoured Horsemen were more than enough to deal with the little people in the Western Camp.
Seeing that Wei Zhao and Jun Qing had already discussed the matter and Wei Zhao was about to get up and leave, Wei Chongrong, who had been quietly listening, suddenly jumped off the bed, slipped on his shoes and pounced on Wei Zhao, urging him repeatedly: “Daddy, you have to be careful, you must be careful, you must not come back injured…”
“Fine, fine, Daddy will be careful and promise not to get hurt!” Wei Zhao responded, picking up his son who was only wearing his inner shirt, carried him back to the bed and stuffed him under the quilt, “Be good and wait obediently at Hou Zhaoyang’s residence. You are not allowed to make trouble and bother Qing’er, you know?”
Wei Chongrong kept nodding, reminding Wei Zhao repeatedly that he must first take care of himself. If he got injured, he would be angry with him and would not care about him for at least three days. Wei Zhao didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry, but still agreed to all his son’s unreasonable demands.
After Wei Zhao went out, Jun Qing asked Wei Chongrong if he was afraid of sleeping alone and wanted to go to his bedroom.
Looking at Jun Qing’s high, bulging stomach, Wei Chongrong shook his head decisively, saying that he would not be afraid of sleeping alone. Although he liked to say hello to Jun Hua from time to time, when he was too close to Jun Qing, he felt too much awe, so it was better to keep his distance.
Jun Qing didn’t ask anything else, arranged for two servants to guard outside the door, then turned around and went back to his room. He could not sleep tonight anyway and it would be inconvenient to take Wei Chongrong back with him, so it was better if he stayed here.
Wei Zhao went to save Ji Xin, and it was impossible for Wei Chongrong to sleep. He lay on the bed, relying on the scattered information he had, trying to restore the truth of the events in his previous life and analyse the results of today.
All along, because there was too little information about Ji Xin, Wei Chongrong ignored him and did not think that he was an important figure in reversing the overall situation, but now it seemed that this might not be the case.
In Wei Chongrong’s memory, Ji Xin was the last Wang Changning. He had lost his father before he was born and lost his mother when he was born. He was raised by his grandfather and step-grandmother. When Ji Xin was seven years old, the old Princess Chongqing passed away, and Ji Xin was taken to the palace by Ji Wan.
The history books then recorded Ji Xin’s rebellion, his failure, his death and the loss of his title. There were few mentions of him and all of them were bland.
Ji Xin was only twenty years old when he died. Although it was not a great age, Jun Lin, Ji Yu, Wei Zhao and others were all in their teens when they first went into battle as vice-generals. Ji Xin became Wang Changning at the age of six. Unless he was completely unusable, Wei Su had no reason to leave him idle. But in the 48th year of Yongjia, Wei Su sent Jun Qing and Lu Ming to Fuyu but didn’t use Ji Xin. In that battle, Jun Qing died and Lu Ming was captured. In Wei Su’s lifetime, the Great Yan never launched another war on the northern frontier.
Initially, Wei Chongrong took it for granted that Ji Xin was not good at fighting, although this was somewhat inconsistent with his background of being raised in the palace and it made no sense that Wei Su’s direction of training Ji Xin would be different from Jun Qing’s. What really made Wei Chongrong suspicious was that he saw that Huo Qingyang couldn’t hold his own while sparring with Ji Xin’s at all. Huo Qingyang was the future general and his personal fighting ability was immense. The fact that Ji Xin was able to handle him without much effort could not be explained just by being two years older. Ji Xin’s strength couldn’t be underestimated.
Unfortunately, there was so little information about Ji Xin that before today, Wei Chongrong would never have imagined that Jun Hua’s two parents had been in such trouble before Jun Hua was born.
At this time in his previous life, he and Wei Zhao were still in Fuyu, and the letter from the Western Camp must have gone directly to Jun Qing. Wei Chongrong had reason to believe that Jun Qing personally took action to save Ji Xin and bring him back, and Jun Hua’s early birth was mostly due to this matter.
If it was a problem that an eight-month pregnant man could solve, it was impossible for his father to be unable to handle it. Wei Chongrong thought of this, felt a little relieved, and gradually became a little drowsy. When he woke up, maybe Wei Zhao and Ji Xin would be back.
The next day, Wei Chongrong woke up at dawn and asked the maid while getting dressed if Wang Qin had returned. The answer he got was no.
Wei Chongrong frowned and wanted to go to Jun Qing to inquire about the news. Then he heard that Hou Zhaoyang hadn’t slept all night, lay down at dawn and just fell asleep. Wei Chongrong thought that it was not easy for Jun Qing, so he didn’t bother him and ate his breakfast alone without feeling the taste.
After breakfast, Wei Chongrong went to ask Uncle Fu, who said that no news had been sent back yet. Wei Chongrong had no choice but to go back to the courtyard and practise his martial arts while he waited.
After practising a set of punching techniques, Wei Chongrong was sweating and walked aside to wipe his face and drink water, but saw Meng Junda coming at some point, holding a clean cloth in his hand.
Wei Chongrong didn’t make Meng Junda wait, picking up the cloth and wiping his sweat. He took a cup of water from the maid’s hand and drank half of it, then asked, “Steward Meng, have you done everything Daddy told you?”
Meng Junda nodded, cupped his fist and said, “Little prince, this is exactly what this servant came to report. I have already received my punishment from the Minster Steward, and I have also sent a gift and apologies to Master Xue’s house. I have also found out the origin of the lantern.”
Wei Chongrong was not interested in Meng Junda receiving the punishment and giving gifts to the Xue family. Anyway, his father would have to change the steward sooner or later and the Xue family was destined to be their opponent. It was the uninvited marquee lantern he was a little curious about, so he asked, “What is going on with it?”
Meng Junda replied: “His Highness guessed right. The lantern was indeed sent by the Xie family, but it was not from Guogong Song, but from Hou Yichun’s heir. He heard that His Highness and the little prince went to the Star-Picking House and deliberately guessed the riddle and gave the lantern to the little prince to play with.”
It turned out to be his cousin Xie Qiu. Wei Chongrong smiled in understanding, and then asked, “Since the lantern was given to me by Cousin Xie, why would Second Young Master Xue say that we robbed him of the lantern?”
Meng Junda paused and explained: “This, this should be a misunderstanding. On that day, only the servant from Guogong Song’s mansion on the fifth floor went downstairs and handed over the note, but what he sent was the answers to two questions written by the young master of the Xie family. The Xue family didn’t know it, so they misunderstood…”
“Misunderstood?!” Wei Chongrong blinked. If Xue Xiao hadn’t guessed the riddle, he wouldn’t care where the marquee lantern went.
“It was really a misunderstanding.” Meng Junda’s tone was very certain, “The notes from the Xie family and the Xue family were delivered almost at the same time. Boss Du thought about the identity of the prince, so he sent the lantern to the fifth floor…”
Wei Chongrong was still suspicious but didn’t ask again. Even if the Xue family’s answer came first, so what? In the previous life, without this episode, the Xue family still hated the Eastern Palace to death, and more entanglements would not have an impact on the overall situation.
Seeing that Wei Chongrong was silent for a long time, Meng Junda asked, “What else does the little prince have to say?”
Wei Chongrong waved his hand: “I have nothing to say, you can go.” He suddenly discovered that Meng Junda still had some merits; at least he was very obedient and efficient in doing things.
Meng Junda cupped his fist and walked away, somewhat limping. It seemed that his trip to the Minister Steward made him suffer a bit.
When Wei Chongrong finished practising, there was still no news from Wei Zhao and Ji Xin, so he planned to go to Jun Qing’s courtyard to have another look.
Jun Qing had already woken up, but he was a little unwell and was still lying on the bed. When he heard that Wei Chongrong was coming, he hurriedly asked someone to lead him into the house.
Just looking at Jun Qing’s frowning eyebrows and slightly haggard face, Wei Chongrong could guess that he must have no news, so he stopped asking. Instead, he reached out and patted Jun Qing’s hand that lay on the quilt, comforting: “Don’t worry, Daddy and Wang Changning will be fine.”
Jun Qing nodded silently. Wei Chongrong felt that his hand was so cold that he took it and put it under the quilt. Jun Qing was taken aback and didn’t resist, obeying him.
The quilt was very warm. Wei Chongrong paused for a moment before withdrawing his hand; but doing so, he accidentally touched Jun Qing’s stomach and couldn’t help being taken aback.
It was not that Wei Chongrong hadn’t had close contact with Jun Hua before. He had greeted him many times, but never once had Jun Hua moved so badly. He was practically struggling.
Wei Chongrong was stunned for a long time, raised his eyes to look at Jun Qing, and said, “He is moving so fiercely, does it hurt?”
Jun Qing shook his head gently: “I’m fine, go out and play. I will let you know if there is any news.”
Seeing that Jun Qing looked uncomfortable, Wei Chongrong didn’t insist on staying, nodded obediently and went out.
There had been no news from Wei Zhao. Wei Chongrong had no desire to play. He first wandered around the courtyard, and then simply went back to the house to write his big characters. If you don’t think about anything, time will pass faster and you won’t be so bored.
Wei Chongrong wrote in one go until noon, and completed all his tasks for the next three days. Rubbing his sore arm, he put down his brush and asked the maid about the news once more, without much hope, and received the expected answer.
At lunch time, Wei Chongrong didn’t see Jun Qing again. He couldn’t help being a little worried. Jun Qing had slept through breakfast, he should eat lunch, ah. If Jun Qing was not hungry, Jun Hua should be hungry.
Besides, Wei Zhao went to save Ji Xin, and Jun Qing didn’t even accompany him for a meal, wasn’t it a bit too much? It was not that Wei Chongrong was dissatisfied with Jun Qing, but he felt that although Jun Qing had a cold temperament, he was not an unreasonable person. Most likely it was because of his physical discomfort.
Wei Chongrong soaked his rice in soup, not even bothering to eat the vegetables, and finished the bowl in three bites, then ran towards Jun Qing’s courtyard.
When he arrived at the door, he saw two maids going around anxiously. Wei Chongrong immediately asked, “What is the matter, elder sisters?”
The two maids greeted him, and one of them said, “Little prince, it’s like that: we brought lunch to Master Hou. He said he didn’t want to eat it, so we withdrew. Seeing that he was a little uncomfortable, we asked if he wanted to invite a doctor over, but he drove us out.”
“You wait, I’ll go in and have a look.” The maids couldn’t help but listen to Jun Qing’s words. Wei Chongrong, relying on his status as a child, could be a little wilful.
Sneaking into the house, Wei Chongrong walked cautiously towards the bed. Jun Qing was lying on his side, facing inwards, and didn’t seem to hear Wei Chongrong’s approach, not saying anything.
Wei Chongrong went to the head of the bed and gently lifted the curtain, just about to peek inside, when his hand was caught and held tightly
Only when Jun Qing saw who the visitor was did he let go of Wei Chongrong’s hand, saying in displeasure: “What are you doing in here? Uh…”
Wei Chongrong didn’t care about Jun Qing’s discontent. He only saw his painful expression and the beads of sweat on his forehead, and suddenly had a bad feeling in his heart.
At first, Wei Chongrong thought that if Jun Qing didn’t personally go out to save Ji Xin like in his previous life, he shouldn’t have gone into premature labour. It just occurred to him at this moment that if one worried too much, it might also cause giving birth prematurely. To make matters worse, today was only two days away from the 18th of the first month.
“How are you? Does it hurt a lot?” Wei Chongrong had been a loner in his last life, had never had a child, nor had he ever seen someone giving birth to one, and was completely ignorant of this.
Jun Qing still shook his head, insisting that he was fine. Wei Chongrong didn’t believe it, turned around and ran out. He was going to find Uncle Fu and asked him to invite Teacher Duanmu over. Regardless of whether Jun Qing was going to give birth prematurely or not, it was always right to be prepared.
Translator’s note: I feel really, really sorry for Ji Xin in the previous life. Imagine seeing your beloved, the parent of your child, to have to go to war he dislikes – and die there – just because you’re useless, and having your son being taken away to the palace as an orphan…