After leaving the main hall, Qing Qiao felt that her hands and feet were ice cold and that her figure was floating. She swayed side to side with every step she took.
She thought of Mister Qi’s distorted face when they left the room. The words “overflowing with enormous anger” were carved onto every strand of his hair.
“Why? Why did you lie to him? Clearly, you could have told him the truth!” Each accusing word was said while he gnashed his teeth in anger.
This uncle, are you joking? By chance, I unfortunately offended a high-ranking person that has your full support and protection. At any moment, I’m in danger of being killed in a bloody way by him. Even if you don’t care about my little life, I still care!
She tried her best to persuade him. In the end, she used the excuse that since Shao Yi’s body was very fragile, he shouldn’t be provoke as a way to placate Mister Qi. She agreed again to staying at Qi residence for a while and that her name would be changed to Du Chun Jiao during her stay.
“… That name is so vulgar and coarse.” As they were about to disperse, Mister Qi couldn’t resist mumbling his complaint, “How could you think of such an unsophisticated name?”
“Who knows? At that time, the name came to be in a divine light.” She smiled sweetly, “Perhaps, my name was Du Chun Jiao in my previous life.”
Just as she returned to her room, Dong Xi smiled at her with radiant delight and fluttered over to her like a butterfly. “Miss, Prince Duan sent you a letter!”
“Why are you that happy?” Qing Qiao’s heart was twisted with sourness, “Why aren’t you asking if your master’s night went well?”
Dong Xi held the letter. It wouldn’t be good if she went closer or retreated. She could only lower her head and mumble, “… Miss.”
“Fine, read the letter out loud for me.” As always, Qing Qiao couldn’t stand looking at someone being pitiful. She dryly coughed once and composed herself into a heroic form.
“That’s my good Miss.” Dong Xi opened the letter with a smile. She cleared her throat and crisply pronounced each word:
“My dear little Qiao,
How was your first day at Qi manor?
After you left this prince’s residence, this prince had missed you terribly and hasn’t been able to sleep soundly. This prince wholeheartedly hopes that you will miss this prince as much as this prince has missed you.
The martial arts world is dangerous and vicious. Every day, this prince prays that you will be able to accomplish that extremely difficult task and return home safely. If you cause a disaster to happen that threatens your life, please remember that the most important thing is to return to this prince’s residence. This prince had already prepared Zuo Qing to respectfully wait for you if you need to flee for your life. He’ll bring you to the ends of the earth. I guaranteed that no one will be able to catch you.
Love you, Duan Yu
The bag that little Qiao gave me was very unique. This prince liked it very much and has ordered the servants to make copies of it. Everyone has said this bag has an unprecedented capacity. It can actually hold five sesame-coated cakes. It’s truly worth of celebration.
Dong Xi put away this “love letter” that seemed more like cursing no matter how she looked at it. Dong Xi looked at Miss with embarrassment and kept trying to say something before stopping herself.
Miss held her cheeks without saying a word. Her expression was ashen.
“That…. Miss, is the prince unhappy and resentful that you’re staying at Qi residence?” Dong Xi summoned up her courage and asked.
“Unhappy and resentful?”
Miss wailed in anguish and disappointedly slump down on the square table, “It’s clearly extremely unhappy and resentful!”
Gu Qing Qiao, who rarely had nightmares, had a nightmare that night. She dreamed that she was on the ground at Shao Yi’s feet. With a face full of tears, she begged him to eat. But Shao Yi only laughed loudly and kicked her into the lotus pond.
She gritted her teeth and crawled out of the pond to look for Mister Qi to judge if Shao Yi’s actions were right or wrong. But, Mister Qi said it was laughable and preposterous that she couldn’t even feed a pig. Having no other options, she went to beg Duan Yu for help. Duan Yu smiled, pointed at Zuo Qing, and said that if she could run faster than Zuo Qing, he would help her.
In the end, her patience was completely used up. On a dark and windy nighty, she kidnapped Shao Yi and locked him in a large iron cage. Every day, she would choke his neck and then use a funnel to savagely pour braised pork and pig trotters down his throat. Shao Yi was choked to the point that he had a smile from ear to ear and would dance with joy. On the other side, she was so sad that she wanted to die. This was such a waste of this country’s food!
Behind their noisy scene, there was a tattered wooden sign that had been placed behind them at some unknown point in time. At the first brightening sight, she saw that there were words written in red ink, “Welcome to Beijing’s force-fed duck.”
On the second day, when the rooster had crowed three times, there were already many servants that had been waiting outside her side room for a long time.
“It will be time for Sir’s breakfast soon. Mister Qi would like the miss to go to the kitchen to oversee the food.”
The person at the front who had said these words was the blue-robed man from yesterday. His smile was sincere and his eyes were curved. He introduced himself as Xing Qu and said that he was this manor’s steward eunuch.
Qing Qiao had been unable to peacefully sleep the entire night. She was overflowing with resentment from being woken up after finally falling asleep and was having second thoughts. Since she was now lodging under another person’s roof, she could only follow the eunuch outside without saying a word.
They haven’t walked far before Eunuch Qu suddenly stopped and turned around to examine her.
“Ya! Why didn’t this miss dress up first?” His eyebrows were raised and his sleeves were shaking. The eunuch seemed to be severely shocked.
“Didn’t you want me to hurry up and go there?” Qing Qiao rubbed her head. She was somewhat confused, “I washed my face and rinsed my mouth.”
“Ai, how could that be okay?” Eunuch Qu let out a long sigh and had an expression that said he just knew that this country bumpkin didn’t know anything. “Our Sir has always only allowed beautiful people to accompany him. Only one in hundred looks good enough to be allowed to be at his side to serve him. This miss was born with some good looks, but if this miss doesn’t meticulously dress up, I’m afraid that this miss won’t be allowed to be close to Sir!”
Qing Qiao noticed that when the eunuch said these words, he had the subtle feeling of being pleased with himself.
“Eunuch Qu is right.” Something turned in her head and she slightly smiled as she said, “I realized this after seeing that Eunuch Qu is so handsome. Surely, Sir must enjoy being accompanied by such a beautiful man such as yourself.”
Hearing exactly what he wanted to hear, the redness that appeared on Eunuch Qu’s face could light up the entire country.
After many twists and turns, they finally arrived in the kitchen.
Qi residence’s kitchen was neat and had an imposing style. Although it was early morning, the several dozens of people in the kitchen were already bustling with activity and drenched in sweat.
“Why are there so many people here?” Qing Qiao didn’t expect that everyone would be so diligent and hardworking.
“How could Sir’s breakfast be sloppy and so-so?” Eunuch Qu faintly smiled, “Every day, Sir’s breakfast needs thirty-two cooks and forty-eight servant boys, so a total of eighty people. If there’s a special circumstance that requires more food, it will be a completely different affair.
“Eighty people? Could his breakfast also need to be announced one by one? Qing Qiao’s mouth was wide open. OMG, Mister Qi was raising Shao Yi as if he was Buddha.”
“Announce the food? What kind of joking are you telling?” Eunuch Qu glared at her for a moment, “How could a mere trifling forty-eight dishes be announced? Naturally, all of them will be placed on tables to let Sir casually choose.”
A mere trifling forty-eight dishes… Qing Qiao felt a cold wind quietly passing behind her.
“Then… Then, what type of dishes have you prepared?” She was powerless to stop her yawn and could only use her hand to cover her mouth. “I’ll have to bother Eunuch Qu to tell me.”
Eunuch Qu waved his hand and a servant boy immediately appeared at his side.
The servant boy took out a yellow paper and loudly read out loud, “Today’s breakfast includes: Pigeon eggs simmered in chicken soup, loosely rolled goose buns, longjin bamboo soup, baked venison, thin slices of suckling pig, various mountain vegetables, milk with candied fungus, hericium erinaceus mushroom, sirloin with oyster sauce, pipa prawns, nine layers cake…”
“Stop!” Qing Qiao felt confused and disoriented after hearing this much. She could only put up her hand and ask, “Do you have simpler foods? For example, do you have congee or simple side dishes?”
The servant boy looked further down on the yellow paper. He nodded and said, “To respond to Miss, there is. Chef Guo has prepared a bowl of swallow’s nest congee with little royal ginseng, fresh ginger buds with sweet sauce, and Chinese artichoke marinated in soy sauce as side dishes.
“What little royal ginseng?” Qing Qiao didn’t understand.
Immensely proud of himself, Eunuch Qu explained with an aura of superiority, “Little royal ginseng is first-rate daikons (T/N: large white radish) that were meticulously nurtured and personally selected by Chef Guo. These daikon plants have been grown in the core of the imperial palace since their childhood, have absorbed the spiritual energy of heaven and earth, and were raised with the essence of the sun and moon. Only eight daikon plants are raised each year and pickled by Chef Guo’s skillful hands. In the end, they become the very best pickled dish.”
Yeah, right. This group of fools. Making such a big deal over the trifling matter of eating pickled daikon. Qing Qiao rolled her eyes. Fine, do your best to torture yourselves. After all, life is a struggle, not just during youth.
Breakfast was conducted in the same grand hall as yesterday’s dinner.
Forty-eight refined vegetable and meat dishes filled two enormous mahogany tables. Shao Yi’s hand held a pair of delicate silver chopsticks as he walked around the tables. His eyebrows were furrowed and he was gently biting his lower lip. His chopsticks were hovering around the tables without stopping. Every time his chopsticks were near a dish, a hopeful light would be lit in everyone’s eyes. But, his chopsticks would leave the dish without any reluctance and the small flames of hope would be extinguished.
In a few words, everyone’s eyes were like light bulbs and Shao Yi’s hand was a power switch. It was even a wireless remote control type.
After he had walked around all of the dishes, Sir Shao Yi threw away his chopsticks and lazily said, “I don’t like any of them. Take them away.”
One third of the people in the room immediately put on the appearance of fainting.
The twin teenage girls started kneeling and said the old words of, “Please sir, just eat a little bit.”
On the side, Qing Qiao was watching their small tear-filled faces with fascination. In heart, she thought, ah the words “as dainty as flowers” were born just for the two of you.
Suddenly, she felt someone jabbing her ribs. When she turned around to look, she saw Mister Qi.
She calmly and composedly said, “Don’t touch me. I’m not itchy.”
Mister Qi blanked for a moment, and then gave her a meaningful glance with all of his strength.
“Why are you glowering at me?” She twitched her mouth and disapprovingly said, “Look at how nice the weather is outside the window. A person should be broadminded.”
“Gu Qing Qiao” Mister Qi was furious. He gritted his teeth and quietly threatened, “Do you still want me to investigate something for you?”
You’re so heartless! Specifically poking at a person’s vital point!
Qing Qiao plaintively looked at him for a moment, took a deep breath, straighten up, raised her foot, and step out from the line.
“Sir, the chefs had meticulously cooked the dishes today. It’s fine if you don’t feel like eating. Anyhow, at least try tasting them.”
Qing Qiao showed a charming and beautiful smile, then covered half of her face with her sleeve. The gesture was lovely and moving.
“… Who are you?” Shao Yi couldn’t remember her at the moment.
“Chun Jiao. This servant is Sir’s new nanny, Du Chun Jiao. Did you forget?” As she said this, she walked closer to Shao Yi.
“Humph, the one that uncle invited? I don’t need a nanny!” Shao Yi flung his wide sleeve. His face was publicized sulkiness, “How is it any of your business whether or not I eat?”
“Sir, your words are wrong.” Qing Qiao said with a smile, “Although this isn’t related to this servant, it is related to Prince Duan.”
“How is this related to ninth uncle Yu?”
“Don’t you hope that Prince Duan will like you? If you want Prince Duan to like you, then the first thing you have to do is raise yourself into becoming plump.”
“Right now, isn’t the person that Prince Duan likes a big meatball? Thus, it can clearly be seen that the prince is partial towards fat people. So if you want him to like you, you’ll have to make yourself fat!” She clenched her teeth. In return for the Emperor’s Spirit, she didn’t need her reputation. She would throw caution to the wind and go all out.
Shao Yi was slightly startled. He lowered his head to contemplate and didn’t say anything.
There’s hope! A small bird was fluttering in Qing Qiao’s heart as if she had seen a previously failed daughter waving at her with success in sight.
However, in the next second, Shao Yi looked up and slightly smiled.
“You went through this much trouble to persuade me to eat. How much will uncle reward you?”
Looking at this young, cute boy in front of her, from the tips of his hair to the bottom of his feet, he deserved a good spanking. Qing Qiao quietly sighted, “… Not much.”
“How much is not much?” Shao Yi rested his chin on his hand and smiled as he looked at her.
“More than some other people, less than some other people. Wouldn’t be considered too much, wouldn’t be considered too little. You think it’s too little, he thinks it’s too much. He thinks it’s too much, I think it’s too litte. Too much, too little, too little, too much. How could words clearly describe the meaning of the two words “how much”?”
After her brain finished saying these words, Qing Qiao’s heart silently thanked Great Master Kong Kong and other quack priests. Thank you for your guidance in fooling other people.
Shao Yu took measure of her for a moment and then suddenly burst out in laughter.
“… You’re more interesting than them. No wonder uncle invited you here. Come, I’ll give you some face. What dish do you think is the best on these tables?”
Qing Qiao had already forgotten most of the names for the dishes. She only remembered that outrageous “little royal ginseng”. She shyly mumbled, “… I heard that Chef Guo had put a lot of energy into making his little royal ginseng dish. It’s truly one of a kind…”
“This servant is here!” An excited middle-aged man suddenly came out from the group of servants. He rushed over and fell down on the ground, “Little royal ginseng is the sole dish that this servant has used up his entire life energy to create. I beg for Sir to taste it!
“You’re Chef Guo?” Shao Yi lightly smiled. It made great waves. “Come forward and tell me what’s special about these pickled daikon.”
She saw Chef Guo wipe away his tears or perhaps it was sweat from his face and move to the table while trembling.
First, he brought a porcelain plate in front of Shao Yi. Then, with both of his hands, he offered Shao Yi a delicate crystalline lens, “Sir, please use this to examine.”
Wow, a chef that carries a magnifying glass around. Uncle, could you be Li Si Guang? Qing Qiao silently heckled while also looking at Shao Yi.
(T/N: Li Si Guang was a famous geologist.)
She saw Shao Yi pick up the magnifying glass to look at the dish. On every slender strip of daikon, there was a line of neatly carved words.
“Good fortunes to Sir Shao Yi”
“Hope that all of Sir Shao Yi’s wishes will come true”
“May Sir Shao Yi live forever”
She had seen flattering behavior before, but she had never seen this level of devoted care put into flattering another person. The admiration in Qing Qiao’s heart was immediately as unmanageable as when the Huang River flooded.
“Carved words aren’t special.” But, this didn’t move Shao Yi.
Chef Guo seemed to have expected this in advance. He immediately took out a slender toothpick to cut open the daikon. There was clearly a piece of reddish orange, a piece of green, and a piece of black unknown item embedded within the center of the daikon.
“… After this daikon was successfully pickled, this servant cut the daikon into the thinness of a finger, hollowed the center of each piece, put carrot, fresh bamboo shoot as well as shitake mushroom into the center of each daikon piece. This way Sir will eat four types of vegetables with each bite. These balanced nutrients will nurture and maintain your youth and health.” Chef Guo dropped his hand and explained.
OMG! Uncle, I was wrong. You’re not a geologist. You’re clearly a nutritionist and flattery expert! On the side, Qing Qiao almost wanted to prostrate herself in admiration. Who said that people from ancient times were easy to fool? Transmigrated women step forward to look. The people here are clearly more awesome!
Shao Yi raised his head and saw that Qing Qiao had a thoughtful expression. He slightly smiled, “Do you think he did very well?”
Qing Qiao hurriedly nodded.
“Then eat everything on these two tables.” Shao Yi raised a finger to point at a distant place, “If there’s even one unfinished dish, I’ll have you dragged out and beaten until you can’t talk.”
(T/N: When I read this part of Duan Yu’s letter,
“He’ll bring you to the ends of the earth. I guaranteed that no one will be able to catch you.”
It seemed more like
He’ll bring you to the ends of the earth. I guaranteed that no one will be able to find your corpse.)