Holding Jun Hua on the horse, Wei Chongrong took control of the reins and sent the horse running around the encircled territory. They weren’t going very fast, but it was an exciting experience for Jun Hua, who giggled with delight as he pointed at the pheasants and hares running in front of them.
With a swishing sound, an arrow flew past them and nailed a hare that was desperately fleeing.
Wei Chongrong raised his eyes and saw Huo Yingying dressed in a red riding outfit with a bow in her hand. Obviously, she shot the arrow just now, right in the middle of the hare’s mouth, not bad at all. Wei Chongrong couldn’t help but clap his hands lightly, showing an appreciative smile.
Jun Hua turned his head and looked at Wei Chongrong with shining eyes: “Brother Rong, let’s go shoot a bunny too!”
Wei Chongrong frowned and said, “Little Monkey, we don’t have a bow and arrows.” In the spring hunt in Shanglin Park, bows and arrows were strictly controlled. There was a number on each arrow. Everyone had to register when they received their arrows. Wei Chongrong was going to play with Jun Hua today, so he didn’t go to receive the arrows at all.
Jun Hua blinked, tugged at his sleeve and said coquettishly: “It’s fine, let’s go back and get the bow and arrows.” That big sister in red clothes was so amazing, he wanted to be like her. If Brother Rong was willing to help him, he would definitely be able to win against the Sixth Prince.
Wei Chongrong was so pestered by Jun Hua that he had no choice but to take him to collect the bow and arrows. And because Jun Hua wanted to personally draw the bow and shoot, Wei Chongrong specially chose the lightest bow and the shortest arrows. It was convenient, but he didn’t know how effective it would be.
Hunting in the imperial forest, the little princes and princesses wouldn’t really be allowed to carry bows and arrows and roam all over the mountains and fields to find prey. Guards would ride in front of them to herd the small animals and make it easier for them to shoot the prey.
In the past, when Wei Chongrong went on hunting trips on his own, he would always ride ahead of the others. Today, accompanied by Jun Hua, he couldn’t be too reckless. The little guy had just learned archery, so he could barely hit a fixed target; it was hard to tell if he could do something when riding on a horse and shooting at a running prey.
Wei Chongrong carefully controlled the reins to prevent the horse from running too fast. Jun Hua drew his bow and shot an arrow at a pheasant not far away who was leisurely basking in the sun. His accuracy was pretty good, but his strength was insufficient, and the arrow fell one step away from the pheasant.
The pheasant, who was lucky enough, jumped on the spot twice, but didn’t flee. Undaunted, Jun Hua took out another arrow, drew his bow again and shot. Wei Chongrong closed his eyes, unable to bear watching this scene. Sure enough, this arrow deflected even more severely, at least two or three steps short.
Realising that someone would never stop until it got shot, the pheasant fluttered its wings and escaped.
Jun Hua put down the small bow in his hand and said in frustration: “Brother Rong, am I so stupid that I can’t shoot anything…”
Seeing him look unhappy, Wei Chongrong quickly encouraged: “My Little Monkey is the smartest, who dares to say you are stupid! Archery is something you just need to practise a few more times and it will be fine. You are still young, don’t worry, take your time, I will teach you.”
Jun Hua was still a little unhappy, muttering: “Daddy told me that when Brother Rong was as old as me, he was already the number one at the palace school and no one could match him. The Sixth Prince is one year younger than me, but I can’t even win against him. It’s so embarrassing!”
Wei Hao?! Wei Chongrong recalled that when they came back from the forest before, they did see him carrying a little white rabbit. But Wei Hao was riding a horse with Yan Li. It was difficult to say whether the little white rabbit was shot with Yan Li’s help or not.
Thinking of this, Wei Chongrong leaned to Jun Hua’s ear and said, “Little Monkey, it doesn’t matter. Next time we see the prey, the two of us will draw the bow together. I promise not to let you leave empty-handed.” The child’s self-confidence needed to be protected when he hunted for the first time.
“En en.” With Wei Chongrong’s promise to help him, Jun Hua’s expression that had turned cloudy brightened again.
After reassuring Jun Hua, Wei Chongrong tightened the reins and set off again. He saw several little rabbits jumping around in front of him.
Just then, Wei Chongrong heard a long neigh from a horse behind him, and when he turned his head to look, his face changed.
It turned out that the black horse that Wei Mao was riding suddenly went wild, raised its front hooves and rushed forward as if crazy, surpassing them in an instant.
Wei Mao was pale with fright and dripping with cold sweat. He grasped the reins, trying to control the horse to reduce its speed. But the black horse was insane and didn’t obey him at all, neighing shrilly and rushing forward, faster and faster, almost throwing Wei Mao off.
“Third Brother, don’t panic, hold on tight, I will find a way to save you.” Wei Chongrong saw that the situation was wrong, so he slapped his horse and chased after Wei Mao.
It was just that his horse was not as good as Wei Mao’s. The black horse was still crazy, and he couldn’t catch up at all. The gap between the two was getting bigger and bigger. Seeing that the black horse was about to run out of his reach, Wei Chongrong didn’t dare to delay anymore. He took Jun Hua’s bow, took an arrow and drew the bow to shoot.
With a swishing sound, Wei Chongrong’s arrow hit the black horse’s neck. If Wei Chongrong used his usual bow, this arrow would definitely have entered the neck of the black horse. It was a pity that this bow was chosen for Jun Hua. It was too light and the power was not enough.
The black horse was stimulated and became even more frantic. Wei Mao closed his eyes tightly and pulled the reins hard, already scared to death.
Wei Chongrong shouted, but he was too far away from Wei Mao to help him at all, and the guards didn’t have time to rush over.
As Wei Mao was about to be thrown to the ground by the out-of-control black horse, another arrow came flying with a cracking sound.
After the arrow hit it, the black horse crashed to the ground. Wei Mao fell to the ground too, his feet so soft that he couldn’t stand up at all.
Wei Chongrong hurried up with Jun Hua, jumped off his horse, knelt beside Wei Mao and asked, “Third Brother, how are you?”
Wei Mao kept panting, and it took a long time before he raised his head, looked at Wei Chongrong and asked, “Did you save me?”
Wei Chongrong shook his head and replied honestly: “I shot the first arrow. My bow was not good, so I harmed more than helped.”
Jun Hua didn’t understand what was going on, he just found it thrilling and exciting, and added, “That was my bow.” Wei Chongrong rubbed Jun Hua’s head and indicated with his eyes that he should not talk too much. Wei Mao was in a bad enough state, so he should not stimulate him any more. Jun Hua nodded obediently.
Wei Mao let out a long sigh, “I still have to thank you, you moved much faster than those guards.”
Wei Chongrong pulled out the arrow, looked at the number on it, and handed it to Wei Mao: “Send someone to inquire who is your real saviour.” When he and Jun Hua arrived, there was no one around Wei Mao, so he guessed no one saw who had saved him.
Wei Mao took the arrow and didn’t speak for a long time. At that moment, the guards rushed over and were relieved to see that the two young emperor’s grandsons and the young son of Hou Zhaoyang were safe and sound. With the same crime of negligence, the outcome would be completely different depending on whether or not the young masters were in trouble.
Seeing that Wei Mao had almost recovered, Wei Chongrong helped him to stand up and asked the guards to send him back. Wei Mao handed the arrow to the guards and told them to find out who the owner of the arrow was and to report to him quickly when they found out.
After such an incident, the hunt definitely could not continue today. When Wei Xuan heard this, he was even more shocked and immediately ordered his men to find out who had the guts to try to murder his younger brother. If he found out, this person would definitely be punished by death.
After a while, the people from the imperial stables came to report that the crazy horse had no symptoms of illness or other abnormalities before.
Wei Xuan frowned, his tone very unkind: “You mean that the horse went crazy for no reason?”
The groom shook his head again and again, kowtowing and pleading guilty. He actually didn’t have an explanation, but this sounded too much like shirking responsibility and he didn’t dare to say it in front of Wang Linzi. If he said that, he would only add to his crime.
Wei Xuan dismissed the groom, frowning, deep in thought. He had to get to the bottom of this matter, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to answer to his parents. It was likely that the enemy wasn’t targeting Wei Mao, but the entire Eastern Palace.
The owner of the arrow that killed the black horse was soon found out, and it was none other than Huo Yingying.
When the news spread, everyone, including Wei Chongrong, found it hard to believe. Wei Chongrong didn’t doubt Huo Yingying’s archery skills, but at her age of eight, could she really have that kind of power? Or could it be said that the people of the Huo family were all born with divine power and different from ordinary people?
Whatever questions there were, the number on the arrow couldn’t be false, and the arrow indeed belonged to Huo Yingying.
It was determined that Huo Yingying had saved Wei Mao, and both the empress and the Crown Prince’s Lord Consort rewarded her. Wei Mao even personally visited Wang Qin’s residence and expressed gratitude to Huo Yingying for her life-saving grace. Facing many awards, Huo Yingying remained as calm and silent as usual.
A few days later, the cause of the black horse’s madness was found out. It was said that the people of the imperial stables accidentally mixed a kind of wild grass into its food. If this kind of grass came into contact with certain incense, it could cause a horse to go crazy. The emperor was furious and punished the relevant people in charge of the imperial stables.
Regarding this result, Wei Chongrong was sceptical. The imperial stables kept so many horses, and the food was distributed uniformly. If the wild grass was mixed in by accident, there shouldn’t be only one horse that went crazy.
There was also the so-called incense. He didn’t know about other people but he knew Wei Mao. He never carried incense sachets or bags, let alone smoked incense on his clothes. He simply couldn’t have this triggering condition at all.
Wei Chongrong suspected that the person who had tampered with the black horse wasn’t actually targeting Wei Mao, but him.
Because in the past few years during the spring hunts, he had always picked the strongest and fastest horse, and this year, if he hadn’t brought Jun Hua with him, he would have definitely chosen that black horse. Its size, its aura, compared to the other horses, wasn’t in the same realm at all.
Only, who was trying to harm him? Wei Chongrong couldn’t figure it out. He, the prince’s son who had not yet officially gotten a title, should not be in anyone’s way, right? In the past, he could still think that Wei Mao was the one who had a problem with him. Now, that was no longer possible. Not to mention whether Wei Mao really wanted to befriend him or not, the fact that he had taken the crazy black horse proved that the matter had nothing to do with him.
While Wei Chongrong was confused, Tuoba Xianhan provided him with a very useful clue.
On the day of the hunt, before Wei Chongrong took Jun Hua to choose a horse, Tuoba Xianhan saw someone approach the black horse. At that time, Tuoba Xianhan thought that the man was helping his master pick the horse and he didn’t pay attention. Later, when something happened to Wei Mao, he remembered to check that person.
It turned out that the man belonged to the Fifth Prince Wei Shi.
Wei Shi?! Wei Chongrong almost doubted his ears. The two of them really had no grudges in his previous life, and no enmity in this life.
No matter what life, Wei Shi in Wei Chongrong’s impression was a standard little transparent guy. In his previous life, Wei Shi was named the wang at the age of eleven, and immediately went to his fief. Among Wei Su’s six sons, he was regarded as the worst treated.
There were four elder brothers above Wei Shi. The eldest brother was the Crown Prince for now. The second brother was Wang Zheng, the third brother was Wang Lu, and the fourth brother was Wang Qin, each with a more affluent fief than the other. Besides, as far as fiefs were concerned, Wang Zheng Wei Xu died early and Wang Qin Wei Zhao was in captivity, but they had never been to their fiefs after they got their titles. Wang Lu Wei Xiao went to the fief, but he went after he got married at the age of twenty, unlike Wei Shi, who was sent to the fief by Wei Su at the age of eleven.
In this life, the time when Wei Shi received the title of the wang had not changed, and his title had not changed, but the emperor’s mind had changed, and Wei Su didn’t make Wei Shi go to the fief at a young age.
Even so, Wei Chongrong and Wei Shi had very little contact. They occasionally met in the palace, but they just greeted each other. If the grievances of the previous generation were investigated, only Wei Shi owed Wei Chongrong, because the person who framed Wei Zhao to be captured was Wei Shi’s uncle Li Kang.
It was just that the dead had passed away, and Li Kang had died in a battle. The emperor later learned the truth from Wei Zhao but didn’t make the matter public.
After all, Li Kang’s heroic image had been established for many years. Wei Zhao had no evidence and just his words were not enough. Pulling Li Kang off the altar would only cause a backlash from the people who would feel that Wei Zhao was looking for excuses and scapegoats for his defeat, even though what he said was the truth in its entirety.
Wei Chongrong didn’t know if Wei Xuan hadn’t found out about Wei Shi, or if he had found more things than it was convenient to say. However, when it came to his personal safety, Wei Chongrong told Wei Zhao unreservedly the information he knew, and the rest was out of his hands.
Wei Chongrong was full of hope that Wei Zhao would find out the cause of the matter as quickly as he had in the past. After all, Wei Shi was just a young prince who had not yet had his own residence and had no mother’s family to rely on, so it was impossible for him to do anything in the palace and keep his hands clean.
Unexpectedly, two days later, Wei Zhao told Wei Chongrong very seriously that this matter was over and should never be mentioned again.
Wei Chongrong was stunned, and immediately understood that it was more complicated than he had imagined. Wei Xuan couldn’t investigate it, and Wei Zhao was just as helpless.
After the spring hunt, Wei Chongrong became cautious when going to the palace to study and would never walk around outside the palace school.
The wind does not stop when the tree wants to be still, and now Wei Chongrong had a deep appreciation of the meaning of this phrase. In the 51st year of his reign, the emperor’s health became worse, and no matter how much restraint the Crown Prince and Wang Qin exercised in their behaviour, all sorts of justifiable and unjustifiable claims spread.
At first, Wei Chongrong didn’t care about Wei Su’s illness. In his previous life, the Crown Prince and Princess Yuankang died unjustly, Wei Zhao was captured and killed himself, and Jun Qing died in battle. The emperor still survived to the 54th year of Yongjia, and lived to be a full seventy years old.
Nowadays, the witchcraft disaster hadn’t happened. Except for Wei Xu, all of the emperor’s sons were alive, the lost land in the north had been recovered and a large area of Lingzhou had been developed. No matter how Wei Chongrong thought about it, he felt that Wei Su might be able to live a few more years than in the previous life.
He even secretly sympathised with his uncle, the Crown Prince, because of this. Wei Ming was born relatively late, otherwise, taking into account Wei Su’s longevity, he might not have survived him, which would be a tragedy.
Meanwhile, the emperor’s condition was getting worse and worse, and Sun Ye and Shangguan Xiang consulted him. Both concluded that the emperor wasn’t suffering from a fatal illness, but had reached the end of his life span and that medicine was ineffective.
Wei Chongrong was shocked when he heard the news. Why was it happening? Could it be that in the previous life, when the state and family affairs were in chaos, the emperor was forced to hold on and didn’t dare to die? But now that his wish was fulfilled and he had no more worries, he could no longer hold on.