Chapter 8 - Doomed to be Cannon Fodder

Chapter 8: A Crazy With Talent

Even though autumn had begun, today had been a spot of hot weather. But Long Heng had long gotten used to the blazing heat and treated it as if it was air.

Located in such a remote corner, and its mistress currently gone mad, it was no wonder that no one dared come close to Winter Garden. Its surroundings were very quiet, with the occasional breeze that refreshed and cooled a passerby for a moment before leaving them stifled in the unbearable heat.

Long Heng walked up to the door of the Winter Garden. Just as his servant was about to knock on the door, a light wind blew out of the residence, bringing with it a paper on which some words were written. Long Heng reached out to grab it, but before he had the chance to look at it, a voice inside echoed, “Mistress Xiu, a piece has been blown out by the wind.”

It was followed by a somewhat despondent voice which replied, “The light wind cannot understand my words, so why does it have to steal what I write? What a scumbag…”

“Mistress Xiu, please mind your words. I will go retrieve it.” Xiao Shi was unable to understand, just why were her mistress’s words becoming more and more coarse?

“No need; it’s only a piece of scrap paper.” The people inside no longer spoke, but Long Heng could hear the clarity in her words. How was she possibly be someone who’d gone mad? He stopped that servant from knocking on the door and turned to leave.

Walking away, he discovered that there was still a piece of paper within his hands. The servant came over, “Your Highness, this humble servant will throw it out for you!” He had hurriedly come to his master’s side when he saw his master’s intention of throwing the paper away.

Long Heng casually handed the paper over to him. That woman had said that it was but a piece of scrap paper anyways. But just as that servant took the piece of paper from him, he inadvertently glanced at it and made out a few words, “Ten years grinding a sword, frost of blade edge…’. The paper was gone from his hands before he could clearly see the rest of its contents.

“Come back.” He called for the servant to stop. Taking the piece of paper back, he smoothed it out. Only then did he clearly see the verses written on it.

“Ten years grinding a single sword, frost of blade edge yet untested. This day before the lord, who yet has problems unresolved?” The handwriting was delicate and beautiful, obviously a woman’s hands. But what sort of woman could write such a heroic poem? Perhaps she was copying someone else’s work, but who could that person be? How could a girl from a family of scholars come to know such a heroic figure?

Long Heng had studied martial arts since youth and then joined the army, a heroic air that he had aspired to from the bottom of his heart. It was a pity that in a culture that loved beautiful verses, such a poem of frost and swords had not been penned in a very long time. He himself believed that true men were already extinct within this world. He’d never expected he’d encounter such a poem under these circumstances.

He liked it a lot, but couldn’t find an excuse to turn back and ask a woman about it. Therefore, he decided to secretly send people over to check on it when the chance arose.

On the other side of the door, Bai Xiangxiu was still pondering deeply. She tended to favor those heroic verses, but sadly, Song Jiaoyue did not especially like those. She remembered that he liked those slightly more ornate and artistic phrases. If she were to accidentally voice one or two of those, that might be able to hook his attention. However, people here were afraid of being famous like pigs were afraid of being fat. If her reputation spread far and wide, wouldn’t she turn out just like the female lead, hooking in men in bunches and bunches?

Therefore, she had to think of a plan to send it over to Song Jiaoyue whilst also not letting any outsiders learn of it. It would be best not to write love poems. Bai Xiangxiu finally managed to crank a few out, but how to get one to him was now a problem. Luckily, an opportunity came right along.

The male supporting character Song Jiaoyue had come for a visit, and that young male cousin of his happened to stumble into the Winter Garden. Bai Xiangxiu was overjoyed at this. Here at last! If she didn’t make him take something out, it would really be letting down her hard work of these past two months!

But as soon as this boy came, his attention was caught by their jujube cakes. He wolfed them down one after another. I say, a young master of a major family like this, having so much good stuff at your own home, why do you have to run into my house to eat sweets?

She’d first seen this kid wandering about outside, and intentionally let him in after hearing someone call him Young Master Cui. Even after she learned his identity, she was still a bit miffed when she saw only two of her cakes had survived demolition. She hadn’t thought of how to make him take the poem she had finished writing out yet!

A servant spoke up outside at this point, “Young Master Cui, Sir Song asks for you to return and not to disturb the peace of the Prince’s rear court.”

This Young Master Cui was still only seven years old. He casually wiped his hands and said, “I know.” Having finally managed to find and gaze at a most beautiful sister from up close with great difficulty, especially a big sister with such delicious jujube cakes, he was unhappy at having been made to return before having eaten his fill.

Seeing at how this child was staring so intently at her cakes, Bai Xiangxiu thought of a scheme. She hurriedly walked over to her table, from which she retrieved a piece of paper, using its flip side to wrap up that cake, “Since you like it, you can eat it on the way back. Use this to hold it and don’t dirty your hands.” When she saw Young Master Cui reach out to accept it, she secretly gave herself twelve likes within her heart.

Young Master Cui reached out to receive it, stroking the beauty’s little hand in the process. While he was young, he was still precocious and loved beauties a lot, so he instantly decided not to wash his hand for a month.

The servants managed to pull the little boy out from the Winter Garden with much difficulty. He really ate the cake as he walked, even saying, “The food of beauties is also delicious, it’s just that her flowers are a bit ugly. They even have thorns.”

“Young Master Cui, this way please. Be careful not to fall.”

The hearts of the servants within the manor nearly shattered. This kid already knew how to look at beauties at such a young age. If he was a little older and trespassed into the courtyard of the Prince’s harem just like this, wouldn’t the servants be beaten to death in punishment?

Crumbs fell out from his mouth as Young Master Cui walked, and he used some paper to brush them off his clothes.

The poem which Bai Xiangxiu had so painstakingly remembered and written with tremendous effort was smudged and ripped till only a few words remained. It was almost beyond recognition. When Young Master Cui reached Song Jiaoyue and Prince Li, he immediately threw himself into his cousin’s arms, grinning, “Cousin, cousin, I saw a great beauty.”

Seeing that his entire mouth was still full of crumbs, Song Jiaoyue said, “Where are your manners?” He then reached out and wiped off his younger cousin with his handkerchief. This little cousin of him loved sticking to him since he was young. He’d already made plans to come deal Prince Li’s complex today. However, his younger cousin had just insisted on following him along. Used to being a little tyrant within his family, he just couldn’t calm down for a single moment.

Young Master Cui raised the remnants of the cake before him, completing his mission gloriously. It was just that the quest item had already been completely destroyed, “Look, the beautiful sister even gave me cake to eat. It’s delicious! Cousin, you should have a piece.” He picked up a piece as he spoke and put it on Song Jiaoyue’s lips.

Song Jiaoyue smiled wryly, reaching out to take the jujube cake in his hands and placing it back on the table. “You know I don’t eat sweet stuff.”

Long Heng said, “Take Young Master Cui to wash his hands,” With the grease on his hands, that clean-loving friend of his must have long since suffered a mental breakdown.

Having given these instructions, he glanced casually at that messily bitten cake, wanting to ask a servant to clear the table, but stopped when he seemed to see some indistinct words written beneath. This handwriting almost seemed… familiar. His heart pounded involuntarily.

Song Jiaoyue also saw it, his face freezing involuntarily as well. “That little scamp, he must have taken the writings of some mistress in your harem to wrap his food in.” He reached for the piece of paper, about to dispose of it.

“You don’t have to dirty your hands, let the servants clear it up!” For some reason, Long Heng didn’t want to let Song Jiaoyue see what that woman had written.

Song Jiaoyue was truly afraid of being messy as well. He smiled and sat back, his hand comfortable at his sides. A couple of servants came over, using a small shovel to place the cake on an ox. At that moment, the cake was turned upside down. The cake faced downwards and the words faced upwards, the remaining words simultaneously falling into the two men’s eyes. However, they were broken up, making one feel as though they were looking down into a clump of clouds.

“Autumn light cold painting… catching streaming fireflies. Heavenly night’s coolness… leading cowherd weaver’s star.” The verses were beautiful and refined, but sadly both lacked the front half of their sentence or the back half of it.

“What a pity,” Song Jiaoyue’s heart ached as he silently blamed his cousin’s roughness and carelessness, ruining such a perfectly good poem.