Liu'er placed the tea on the table somewhat stiffly.
"Here is the tea you asked for, Old Lady," she said.
Never had Liu'er personally served Old Lady Fang tea, though the little servant girl's bulging cheeks signified that she hadn't really changed.
"Young Miss is sleeping, she will be out shortly."
Old Lady Fang did not care that the servant girl was unhappy.
Came back and fell asleep? Did she know she had caused trouble and was dodging it, or was she just sulking?
These days, the wooden stake Old Lady had been hit until it loosened from the ground.
As she thought about this, she heard the sound of footsteps. Miss Jun, wearing only green jacket-dress set, stepped out.
She was really resting?
"This was nothing. Grandmother, no need for you to worry," said Miss jun. "It's just an argument between girls. It's already passed."
She appeared to be tired, but her voice was gentle.
Old Lady Fang suddenly felt that she was a child and Miss Jun was an adult, busy with managing the domestic affairs. She was tired yet still placating the ruffled children.
What sort of nonsense was this.
Old Lady Fang set down her teacup on the table.
To be honest, they still didn't quite know what kind of plan this girl was cooking up.
"How could you say the Jinyiwei is a small matter? If you provoke those people, they won't care whether or not you are loyal and honest," she said cooly.
"They aren't angry. This is… a happy occasion," said Miss Jun, lifting up the cup on the table. "I must be excited for a happy occasion. Since I am excited, why would they be angry."
A happy occasion.
Old Lady Fang went silent for a moment.
"Once you've met that kind of situation, you don't want to just uncaringly try to take advantage of it. There is no point in ingratiating yourself to those people. They are a pack of dogs and wolves, cold and ruthless, hostile. You might be in favor now, but they could still kill you later," she said.
Miss Jun made a sound of understanding as her response.
"Actually marrying a princess. This Thousand-Man Commander Lu is very fortunate," murmured Old Lady Fang. "It's just that this princess is…"
"The Ning Family young misses' and my argument is even less of a worry for grandmother. Do not mind it," said Miss Jun suddenly, interrupting her.
It was not good to discuss the business of the Jinyiwei, even at home.
Old Lady Fang lost herself for a moment and sighed, but immediately stopped herself. When thinking about how the servants had described Miss Jun insulted Tenth Noble Son Ning, her headache immediately came back full force.
"You cannot talk about people like that," she rebuked.
"Then why can they talk like that about me?" Miss Jun asked.
Her voice was soft, her expression warm, but she spoke firmly.
She was just like before. The things she could say could enrage people half to death. Before, she had wanted to become a madam of the Ning Family, so she had played nice with the official families' young misses and tried to curry favor with them. But right now, she intended to destroy them, so naturally she would speak to vent out her anger.
Old Lady Fang smiled.
"They can, and you cannot," she said. "I know that you do not want to accept it, but there is unfairness in this world."
"No, the world is very fair," Miss Jun said seriously. "So they cannot speak of me like that."
It was like she was talking to a stubborn child who couldn't understand logical reasoning.
Old Lady Fang frowned.
"If you insult Tenth Noble Son Ning like that and turn him into a joke, the Ning Family won't just let it go," she said. "If you don't want to go, that's fine. I will make your aunt go to the Ning Family with a compensation."
"Grandmother, this is just an argument between girls. The adults do not need to interfere," said Miss Jun.
Old Lady Fang raised her eyebrows.
"You threatened the Ning Family Young Misses to come here to make you apologize. You think they won't dare? When the Ning Family sends us an written invitation, how is it still a child's matter?" she said with displeasure.
Miss Jun smiled.
"Then that truly is not a children's quarrel," she said.
Old Lady Fang snorted internally.
It was fine if she had squabbled with Ning Yunyan. But Tenth Noble Son Ning was the face of the Ning Family. If you hit the Ning Family's face, the Ning Family wouldn't let it go.
Miss Jun looked as if she didn't know what she had done was very serious. Old Lady Fang opened her mouth to speak, but Miss Jun's smile broke apart.
"They wouldn't dare," she said.
Old Lady Fang's words caught in her throat.
"Why wouldn't they dare?" she asked, resisting the urge to lash out at her.
"After they think about it, they won't dare," said Miss Jun.
Old Lady Fang felt that her voice was as if she was trying not to get angry, patient like she was talking to a child who was noisy and didn't understand anything.
How could this girl make people so mad?
"What do you mean they wouldn't dare after they think about it? It's us who wouldn't dare after thinking…" She couldn't stand it anymore and stood up in anger. However, halfway through her sentence she thought of something and was shocked.
Miss Jun did not say anything and finally put down her teacup on the table.
"That young lady, it was you who tripped her?"
When Liu'er heard Old Lady Fang's suddenly non-sequitur sentence, her lips curled.
With all the talk, the young miss' identity was not clear but that didn't matter. That young miss who had tripped was not her precious granddaughter, Yuxiu. Who would intervene for some other person.
"Everybody talks. They said it was me, I said it wasn't me. The argument has no meaning."
Liu'er heard Miss Jun words and grinned.
That is so. People say it was our young miss who tripped her, but who saw it? Who can confirm it? If you didn't capture it on the spot, trying to blame someone after the deed was done isn't easy.
Liu'er radiated with smiles as she looked at Miss Jun.
Miss Jun was not smiling, however.
"I do hope that they do not dare," she said.
Her voice was still soft, but Liu'er felt that it was different than before, like her mood was bad.
Her mood definitely was bad. She was tired from going out and her rest had been interrupted and she had to listen to Old Lady's nagging.
Liu'er pouted and glared at Old Lady Fang.
Old Lady Fang still stood there without moving, her expression complicated, but she didn't say anything.
The Fang Family from head to toe was busy with preparations for the young master's wedding. They hadn't been paying much attention to Miss Jun going out. Even if they had heard that Miss Jun had fought with people outside, that wasn't such a rare occurrence and they wouldn't talk about it idly. However, this time, the news had spread outside like wind.
Because of the approaching New Year's festivities, the already busy Yangcheng teemed with activity. The city gates were in use, day or night. Various stands and shacks had appeared by the city gates, the smell of brewed tea and cooked food filling the air.
At the moment, there was a shack with many people seated there. The old married couple running the business were so busy their feet scarcely touched the ground, serving plate after plate of roasted meat and tea.
Seated at the innermost table were two dust-covered young men. Seeing as their food has been served, one of them lifted up their hood very slightly to expose a clean chin. Lifting up the bowl, he took a large gulp. Although his face couldn't really be seen clearly, his body unfolded with a leisurely grace.
"The flavor of this place is very comforting," he said, his voice clear and bright.
The person across from him completely removed off his head. He was no more than seventeen or eighteen years old and had the vitality of a young person. All in all, a very majestic appearance.
"Tenth Brother, you came here and still do not dare to take off your hood. You really see them as outsiders," he teased with a chuckle, his eyes darting about. "Just relax, these are all just common old men. Even if they see you, they won't crowd around you or throw flowers and fruit at your feet."
This made the cloaked young man drinking tea smile.
"Eat your food," he said.
The young man who had made the joke did not tease him any more. He just used his chopsticks to fish up a meat bone, nibbling onto it directly.
The hooded young man put down his tea and watched the city gates not far away outside. The lines there were still full of people, no distinguishable sound coming through.
"There wasn't this much of an inspection before," he commented.
The proprietor walking by heard this and hurried to answer.
"Yes, before there was no need, but this time the Duke of Chengguo has ordered it," he answered.
"The Duke of Chengguo?" The young man's voice was laced with surprise. He raised his head slightly, smiling a not-smile at the shop owner. "When did the Duke of Chengguo move to the Shanxi Road?"
The shopkeeper could not understand the hidden nuances in his tone.
"He hasn't, he hasn't," he answered with a loud laugh. "It's just that the Duke of Chengguo said that the Jurchen were restless. Because it's close to the new year, and now that the northern territory is under martial law, he told us, the regions close to the north, to be more cautious to avoid letting in spies. So the old masters decided to conduct an inspection at the city gates."
After he said this, the proprietor went off. The young man held his chopsticks while in contemplation.
"Even so, the reach of the Duke of Chengguo is too long. What's more, these people actually listen to him," he commented.
The young man nibbling on the bone with oily hands in front swallowed loudly.
"He is just a general. He cannot create any big gales, so don't mind him," he said carelessly, pushing the plate forward. "Tenth Brother, have some meat."
As he said this, he smacked his lips.
"It's a pity there's no alcohol," he said regretfully.
"Uncle and Aunt warned us many times not to drink alcohol on the road," said the young man known as Tenth Brother calmly. "Drinking alcohol is not something good. If you do something like Zhu Zan, uncle will not protect you like the Duke of Chengguo did."
The young man being scolded frowned.
"I say, Tenth Brother, I call you my older brother, but do not really think you're my older brother. You are older than me by three days." He stuck out his hand, holding up three fingers and waved it about. "Do not pretend to be all grown-up."
Tenth Brother pulled his hand down.
"Three days is three days," he answered with a smile.
The young man shook his head.
"However that Zhu Zan brat is really too unreasonable. That many people saw that he was drunk and causing trouble and pushed someone's carriage, and he still dares to boast that he had urgent military intelligence to report and accidentally hit it." He laughed. "His talent for lying through his teeth is truly admirable."
"However it is backed by a domineering power," added Tenth Brother, taking another sip of his tea and was about to reply when a sudden guffaw came from next to him.
"... As expected, you're talking about Tenth Noble Son Ning?"
Just as this sentence was heard, the two young men paused, unconsciously turning their heads to see several porters laughing.
"Although the person himself isn't here, it seems that Yangcheng still circulates your legend," said the young man as he winked at the other. "Better to take off your hood and let everyone catch a glimpse of the immortal."
The hooded man paid no heed to him, stoically grabbing a bone to chew on.
The other young man tsk'ed and shook his head.
"How inelegant," he said, taking his own tea. He had just swallowed a mouthful when he heard a voice from next to him.
"... Tenth Noble Song Ning is definitely worth more than a brothel woman, but five thousand taels is a bit low..."
The young man spit out his tea, coughing violently.
Tenth Brother also cuffed him, but he did not notice, instead turning to the people laughing and joking.
With a faint crackling sound, he bit through a soft bone.
Worth five thousand taels?