Zhan’er asked her, “Miss, don’t you like the Crown Prince?”
“We don’t even know each other, how can we talk about liking each other?”
Zhan’er twisted the small handkerchief in her hand and said, “But I heard that the Crown Prince Consort this time was personally chosen by His Highness, the Crown Prince.” In other words, it was the Crown Prince Dugu Jie who specifically asked Nangong Xian to be the crown prince consort.
Nangong Xian was somewhat astonished.
“Is that so?”
Nangong Xian shook her head and propped up her chin with one hand. She said, “Zhan’er, I, your young Miss, want to go into battle to protect the country. If I’m lucky, I’ll find a man I truly like and marry him. I’ll live a life of being alone with him.”
“Men are like the territory of my Luo Dynasty. They are not allowed to be separated. It would be so disgusting to share a man with others!”
In the Luo Dynasty, not every man had three wives and four concubines. There were also many couples who lived a happy life together for the rest of their lives. However, in the palace, there had never been an emperor and only one empress.
Zhan’er didn’t reply, only silently looking at the young girl sitting on the wooden stool with her legs crossed. After a moment, she blinked her clear eyes and asked softly, “Then what if His Highness the Crown Prince only marries you in this lifetime?”
Nangong Xian seemed to have heard something ridiculous and immediately burst out laughing. “Zhan’er, what kind of joke are you talking about? The Crown Prince is someone who will become the Emperor in the future. He will have a backyard full of concubines in the future.”
Marry only me in this lifetime? Nangong Xian stood up and tapped Zhan’er’s forehead. She said, “I’d rather believe that you’re a man than that the Crown Prince will only marry me.”
Zhan’er moved her lips but didn’t say anything.
Nangong Xian suddenly said, “I met His Highness that night. He is indeed very handsome, but he doesn’t seem to be in good health. I feel that I should marry him…” Nangong Xian pouted and said with a serious expression,” I suspect that the pleasures of a boudoir are very discordant. ”
Zhan’er was shocked by Nangong Xian’s bold words. She was shocked and asked in an unconcealable tone, “You think the Crown Prince can’t satisfy you?” Zhan’er’s strange gaze swept across Nangong Xian’s graceful but heroic body.
Although the Crown Prince was very weak, it was not to the extent that he could not satisfy Nangong Xian.
“Of course.” Nangong Xian ridiculed. “The men in our military camp are still the best. All of them are strong and able to eat and work. I can’t bear to let a sickly person like His Highness the Crown Prince move too much. If he moves even a little more, I would feel like I’m killing him…”
Hearing Nangong Xian’s words and seeing Nangong Xian’s serious expression, some bitterness flashed across Zhan’er’s eyes.
She couldn’t help but say, “Actually, His Highness’s body was also strong when he was young, but after his mother died of illness, His Highness lost his reliance. In the palace, a prince without his mother is very pitiful. Because of the servants’ negligence, His Highness the Crown Prince was once poisoned with chronic poison. Although he was discovered in time and was saved by the divine physician, Blind Zhou, his body was always unwell and would cough once winter came.”
Zhan’er stared at Nangong Xian’s swaying legs and said enviously, “What the Crown Prince wants the most is a healthy and strong body.”
If possible, His Highness hoped that he could be a strong warrior in his next life. He would give Nangong Xian the luxury of living a life of relaxation, and leave the heavy responsibility of protecting the country and fighting enemies to him.
When Nangong Xian heard Zhan’er’s words, she sighed again. “Look, the palace is so scary. Even the prince was almost killed. If a woman like me who doesn’t know how to scheme and calculate entered the harem, she would definitely be gnawed until not even her bones are left.”
After a moment of silence, Zhan’er said, “You’re right.” The palace was indeed a dangerous place, far more terrifying than the battlefield.
“I’m thirsty, Zhan’er.”
“I’ll go pour tea for young miss right now.” Zhan’er turned around to pour tea, not noticing how complicated Nangong Xian’s gaze was as she looked at her.
Staring at Zhan’er as she poured the tea, Nangong Xian couldn’t help but ask in her heart, Dugu Jie, oh Dugu Jie, I’ve made myself clear. Are you willing to let me live?
When the eunuch brought Zhan’er to her palace for the first time, Nangong Xian discovered that Zhan’er was disguised as a woman. However, at that time, she didn’t know who Zhan’er was, so she endured it and didn’t expose her.
On the afternoon of the palace banquet, Zhan’er suddenly disappeared. Nangong Xian saw Dugu Jie at the palace banquet and recognized his pair of eyes that were like Zhan’er’s. Only then did she guess the relationship between him and Zhan’er.
Dugu Jie had done all of this just to select a satisfactory Crown Prince Consort.
Nangong Xian didn’t understand how she had caught Dugu Jie’s eye, but she hoped that Dugu Jie would spare her life.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival, Nangong Xian received a message from the Eastern Palace saying that His Highness had prepared a banquet in the palace and wanted to invite Nangong Xian to the Eastern Palace to admire the moon with him.
In the Luo Dynasty, there was no such thing as not being able to see each other before marriage. This was the first time Nangong Xian had interacted privately with the Crown Prince. Ying’er valued tonight’s date very much and gave Nangong Xian an immortal look.
After packing up, Nangong Xian asked her, “Where’s Zhan’er?”
Ying’er said, “Zhan’er went back to the palace. There’s something she needs to do in the palace.”
Nangong Xian wanted to ride a horse, but her father had prepared a carriage for her. “You are about to become the Crown Prince Consort. It’s better not to show your face.”
]Nangong Xian entered the carriage. She was increasingly displeased with the title of crown prince consort.
She arrived at the Eastern Palace and was welcomed by the butler all the way. Finally, she arrived at a unique courtyard. On the high platform of the courtyard, a table was prepared. Nangong Xian was invited onto the high platform by the butler.
“Miss Nangong, please sit first. His Highness will be here soon.”
Nangong Xian nodded. She looked up and saw the bright moon rising in the sky. Nangong Xian could not help but think of the moon in the desert. When she was thirteen, she had sneaked into the military camp and followed her father to the war.
She had spent last year’s Mid-Autumn Festival in the barracks. She sat on the Gobi with her wine and looked up at the full moon above her. There was only one thought in her mind—
No one could divide the great rivers and mountains of the Luo Dynasty!
Nangong Xian had a dream. She wanted to protect the full moon on the desolate desert and leave it in the Luo Dynasty forever.
Nangong Xian was lost in her thoughts and did not notice the Crown Prince’s approach. It was only when the Crown Prince sat down opposite her and poured a cup of wine for her that Nangong Xian regained her senses.
“I didn’t know that Your Highness had arrived. I, Nangong Xian, am lacking in etiquette. I hope that Your Highness will forgive me.” Nangong Xian wanted to stand up and bow. However, Dugu Jie grabbed her wrist and gently patted it.
“Xian’er, take a seat. We’re going to be husband and wife soon. There’s no need to be so reserved.”
Nangong Xian’s ears turned red.
Dugu Jie stared at her reddened ears, and his cold heart suddenly softened. Nangong Xian sat down again and rubbed the wine glass in front of her. She heard Dugu Jie ask, “What have you been doing recently, Xian’er?”
Nangong Xian answered truthfully, “I’m learning how to be a qualified Crown Prince Consort.”
Dugu Jie looked at her deeply and said, “There’s no need to learn. As my crown prince consort, you only need to do one thing…”
Nangong Xian frowned slightly and heard Dugu Jie say, “It’s enough to be loyal to me forever.”
Nangong Xian opened her charming and serious eyes and stared at Dugu Jie for a moment. Suddenly, she said, “Your Highness, I am naturally willing to be loyal to you forever. But Your Highness…”
Dugu Jie: “Huh?”
“Your Highness, have you never thought of marrying someone you love and the person loves you back?”
Dugu Jie laughed. “I like you very much, Xian’er.” He indeed liked Nangong Xian very much. Otherwise, he would not have disguised himself as a woman to accompany her.
Nangong Xian believed that Dugu Jie liked her. She smiled and shook her head. “But Your Highness, I don’t like Your Highness.”
Dugu Jie’s gaze darkened visibly.
There was no expression on his face, and the noble aura on his body was blurred, while his ruthless and domineering aura was completely revealed. As expected of the Crown Prince, he had the aura of an emperor.
Nangong Xian knew that she had angered Dugu Jie, but she still said boldly, “Although I have been fighting with my father since I was young, I have always yearned for love. My father only married my mother in this lifetime. Under the influence of my parents, I can only accept the life of a couple.”
“And you can’t give me what I want, Your Highness. All the same, I can’t give my love to a man with a backyard filled with concubines. Your Highness, if all you need is a woman loyal to you, then I can do it.”
“However, if you need a woman who is loyal to you, who loves you and dotes on you, please forgive my incompetence.”
She stared at the crown on Dugu Jie’s head, knowing that the small crown would be taken away and replaced with a royal crown soon. Nangong Xian took out a box from her sleeve and placed it gently in front of Dugu Jie.
Puzzled, Dugu Jie opened the box and saw a black wooden hairpin inside. The design was simple, but it suited Dugu Jie’s temperament very well.
His cold eyes lit up. “Xian’er, you prepared this for me?”
Nangong Xian smiled and nodded. “Yes, this is a hairpin I personally carved for Your Highness.”
Although the material used was ordinary, the hairpin was beautifully carved, and the details were smooth and round. It was obvious that the hairpin was made with heart. Dugu Jie had never received a gift as shabby as this in his life.
But he loved it.
Dugu Jie handed the hairpin to Nangong Xian and said, “Xian’er, help me put it on.”
At this moment, only one’s parents and one’s partner could touch the hair. Nangong Xian hesitated for a moment before catching the hairpin. She got up slowly, moved to Dugu Jie’s side, and knelt down beside him.
Dugu Jie was too tall. Nangong Xian had to straighten her back before she could insert the hairpin into Dugu Jie’s hair.
“Your Highness, it’s done.”
However, Dugu Jie didn’t say anything about letting her sit back down.
If he did not say anything, Nangong Xian would not be able to leave.
Nangong Xian maintained her kneeling position with Dugu Jie. She was a little flustered. Just as she was about to get up, Dugu Jie grabbed her waist and pulled her into his embrace.
Dugu Jie lowered his head and looked at Nangong Xian’s beautiful and young face. He said, “You said you weren’t willing to marry me, but you gave me a gift. Xian’er, are you playing hard to get or are you torturing me?”
It was Nangong Xian’s first time being hugged by a stranger. It would be a lie to say that she was not nervous.
When she breathed, her chest heaved.
Nangong Xian pressed her hands on Dugu Jie’s chest. She sat up from Dugu Jie’s embrace and said softly, “Your Highness is the most outstanding and good-looking man I’ve ever seen.”
“I’m a mortal, so I naturally admire beauty. I really like you, Your Highness.”
A smile flashed across Dugu Jie’s eyes. “I’ll let you like me.”
“But Your Highness…” Nangong Xian avoided Dugu Jie’s intimate actions. Her charming and narrow eyes stared straight at Dugu Jie, making his heart itch.
Staring at the black wooden hairpin on Dugu Jie’s head, Nangong Xian said, “Your Highness, my carving skills are not bad. As for me, I want to carve a hairpin for my husband for the rest of my life. However, Your Highness will be wearing a crown in the future. It’s not suitable for Your Highness to wear my hairpin.”
Dugu Jie was stunned.
Nangong Xian withdrew from her embrace and knelt on the other side of the table. She lowered her head and said, “Your Highness, under the Prosperous Dynasty, there are far more civil officials than generals. Your Highness, you are an understanding person. I believe you have long seen that the surrounding nations are ambitious and have long wanted to eat this delicious snack of the Luo Dynasty.”
“Right now, in the imperial court, no one but my father can fight in all directions. If this goes on for a long time, there will definitely be external worries, and external worries will cause internal troubles!”
Hearing Nangong Xian calmly analyzing the military strength of the Luo Dynasty, Dugu Jie couldn’t help but feel vexed.
She was right. The Luo Dynasty had been powerful for too many years. The people lived in peace and the Imperial Court was prosperous. Now, they valued civil officials more than military generals. The surrounding countries looked like obedient little kitties, but who could guarantee that these little kitties would not become wolves and tigers when they woke up?
Great General Nangong was about to grow old. If the surrounding countries did not know their place, who would the Luo Dynasty send to kill the enemy?
Seeing that Dugu Jie was seriously considering her words, Nangong Xian knew that His Highness was an understanding person.
Nangong Xian picked up the glass of wine that the Crown Prince had poured for her earlier. She respectfully raised the glass and said to Dugu Jie, “Your Highness, I’m afraid I’m not qualified to be the Crown Prince Consort.”
“Your Highness, if you become a ruler in the future, I will be your subject. I am willing to guard the border and protect the territory of my Luo Dynasty! I promise that as long as I am alive, the territory of the Luo Dynasty will always be complete!”
With that said, Nangong Xian raised his head and gulped down the entire cup of wine.
Dugu Jie looked at her in a daze. The little girl in front of him was not even fifteen years old yet. She looked charming in her dress, rich and graceful. But her ambition was higher than the sky and wider than the sea!
Imprisoning such a woman within a high wall was no different from breaking the wings of an eagle, forcing it to be a walking chicken.
Dugu Jie held Nangong Xian’s hand and sighed. “If only I had a good body.” With a good body, he could lead troops to war.
Nangong Xian looked at his body that was not considered healthy. She suddenly smiled brightly, as if it was the first time she caught a glimpse of him at the building. Her smile was bright and beautiful. “It’s okay. Your Highness will always be my Zhan’er. As for me, I will protect you forever.”
Hearing this, Dugu Jie’s eyes widened. “You…”
Dugu Jie was speechless. He didn’t expect Nangong Xian to have already seen through his disguise.
Nangong Xian burst out laughing. “Your Highness, although you are thin, you are too tall. A palace maid is not that tall.”
Dugu Jie blushed.
Under his black python patterned robe, his fair skin was dyed with a layer of red. It was truly alluring and delicious. Nangong Xian turned her gaze away, not daring to look at him.
Dugu Jie suddenly coughed, and Nangong Xian hurriedly tried to calm him down.
After Dugu Jie stopped, he said, “When I’m agitated, I cough easily.”
“Xian’er, you go back first. Let me consider your words carefully.”
A few days after Nangong Xian returned to his residence, he received news from the borders that Rong Di from the west had come to invade. He came with an unstoppable momentum.
His Majesty was enraged. He immediately ordered Nangong Jue to lead the troops to attack Rong Di!
Nangong Jue left the capital that afternoon and went to the northwest to fight. Nangong Xian felt that Rong Di’s invasion was rather strange. Rong Di had been very well-behaved for the past hundred years. Why would he suddenly attack the Luo Dynasty?
Nangong Xian went to consult her teacher, Li Wei. Her teacher said, “This year is the coldest year in the north that only appears once every hundred years. They can’t wait any longer.”
Most of the time in the north, it was very cold. In the past, they could still endure it, but this year, the cold came especially early. In winter, the north could not grow any rations at all, so the livestock farm could not be developed.
At that time, Rong Di people in the north would have no food, no cattle or money. They would die!
Nangong Xian felt that something was amiss.
Since the entire north was about to usher in a year of extreme cold, the Rong Di people in the northwest had already begun their attack. What about the north?
Nangong Xian explained his worries to his teacher. When his teacher heard this, he also felt that something was wrong. Seven days later, an officer from the north came to report that a large number of Rong Di people had invaded the Luo Dynasty and plundered food wantonly.
The Crown Prince, Dugu Jie, smelled something unusual at the first moment. He hurriedly entered the palace to see the Emperor and requested for the Emperor to send people to the north. He wanted to chase them away in time before the Rong Di people in the north were ready.
The Emperor was also a wise ruler. After hearing Dugu Jie’s analysis, he agreed with Dugu Jie’s way of doing things and asked him, “My son, who do you think is the most suitable person to fight in the north?”
Dugu Jie thought about it and said, “General Li Bing!”
Li Bing had been fighting with Great General Nangong Jue since he was sixteen. His combat experience was very rich.
“We’re thinking the same thing.”
On the same day, the Emperor summoned General Li Bing and ordered him to lead his troops deep into the north to chase away Rong Di. Li Bing received the order and was about to set off the next morning when he received an urgent report from the northwest that night. It was said that General Nangong Jue had been shot and was on the verge of death!
Upon receiving this news, the Emperor was shocked but also felt that something was wrong.
All along, the Great General, Nangong Jue, was the stabilizing force of the Luo Dynasty. With him around, the sky above the Luo Dynasty would never fall! However, he did not expect Nangong Jue to be injured, and his fate was unknown!
The Emperor had no choice but to send General Li Bing to the northwest to replace Nangong Jue in the war.
This way, no one could lead troops to the north to fight.
Over the years, the Imperial Court had been focusing on civil officials, and there were fewer and fewer generals. Most of the generals had followed Nangong Jue to the northwest. If they really wanted to find a suitable person to fight in the north, they would not be able to find him anytime soon.
At this moment, Grand Tutor Chen Kang recommended someone.
“Your Majesty, I think there is one more person who can lead troops into battle!”
Hearing this, the Emperor and Dugu Jie looked towards the grand tutor. The Emperor asked, “Who?”
The grand tutor said, “Grand General Nangong Jue’s only daughter, Nangong Xian!” He glanced at the displeased Crown Prince and whispered, “She is precisely the Crown Prince Consort that has been appointed.”
The Emperor did not speak, and the Crown Prince did not speak either.
The grand tutor continued, “Nangong Xian has been learning martial arts from the Grand General since she was young. To tell you the truth, the day the Grand General went to the northwest, Nangong Xian found my junior brother, who is also her teacher, Li Wei. Several days ago, Nangong Xian analyzed that there would be war in the north.”
“In terms of military matters, this Nangong Xian is extremely far-sighted. She is not the least bit inferior to her father! Your Majesty, there are too few generals in the Imperial Court now. We have to nurture a new batch of generals as soon as possible. Otherwise, when the Great General and General Li Bing age, who will be able to guard the territory of our Luo Dynasty?”
Actually, when the Grand Tutor mentioned Nangong Xian’s name, the Emperor was already somewhat tempted.
That little girl Nangong Xian was someone that the Emperor had watched grow up. He had often heard Nangong Jue praise his daughter for how powerful she was. He had even said that if Nangong Xian were a man, he would definitely be even more powerful than him on the battlefield.
The Emperor wasn’t in a rush to decide. After the grand tutor left, he stared at the crown prince. “My son, you heard what the grand tutor said. What do you think?”
Dugu Jie said, “Since when did the Luo Dynasty need a girl to guard our territory!”
The emperor sighed softly. “It’s not that we need a girl to guard our territory. It’s just that the most suitable person to guard our territory happens to be a girl.”
Knowing that his son was rather fond of Nangong Xian, the Emperor softened his tone and sighed. “My son, I’ve long wanted to tell you that Nangong Xian isn’t suitable to be your Crown Prince Consort. It’s a waste of talent for a lady like her to be the Crown Prince Consort.”
Dugu Jie clenched his fists, his eyes filled with indignance. “But Father, I like her.”
“But my son, eagles should fight in the air. It’s wrong for you to lock it in a birdcage.”
“Miss, the eunuch of the Eastern Palace came earlier and said that His Highness invited you to admire Yu Lin’s maple leaves.”
Yu Lin’s maple leaf?
Nangong Xian looked up at the small yard outside the window and realized that the leaves had already begun falling. Autumn had arrived.
Nangong Xian said, “Help me change my clothes!”
When Nangong Xian walked out of the Grand General’s residence, she saw a luxurious carriage parked outside her house.
She got into the carriage and saw someone sitting inside.
Dugu Jie was wearing a white, straight robe today. His black hair was draped over his shoulders, and he was adorned with a black wooden hairpin. He sat upright on a soft stool, stroking a jade pendant in his hand.
When he realized that the curtains of the palanquin had been opened, Dugu Jie looked up. On his fair cheeks, his red lips were red. Nangong Xian realized that His Highness’s complexion was not too good and was even paler than usual. She sat beside His Highness the Crown Prince and asked him with concern, “Your Highness, are you feeling unwell?”
Dugu Jie shook his head.
He continued to stroke the jade pendant silently.
When they arrived at Yu Lin, the Crown Prince held Nangong Xian’s hand and brought her to admire the red maple forest that covered the mountains and plains. Nangong Xian was wearing a scarlet red dress as she stood in the maple forest. She was so beautiful that people could not take their eyes off her.
Dugu Jie stared at her young and pretty face and suddenly called out, “Nangong Xian.”
Suddenly being called by her full name, Nangong Xian was stunned.
She looked up at Dugu Jie and asked respectfully, “Your Highness, do you have anything to say?”
Dugu Jie said, “Nangong Xian, how’s your archery skills?”
“Your Highness, you should know whether my archery skills are good or not.” After all, she had trained with His Highness before.
Dugu Jie picked an apple from the lunchbox carried by his eunuch. He tossed the apple in his hand and said, “Nangong Xian, shall we compete?”
“Compete in what?”
“Let’s compete in archery. We’ll put an apple on each other’s head and shoot at each other. Whoever hits the apple on the other’s head will lose. And the winner can make a request to the loser. No matter if it’s overboard, the loser has to agree.”
Nangong Xian finally understood why His Highness the Crown Prince wanted to meet her. If she won, His Highness would agree to all of her requests. If she lost, then His Highness would definitely request her to be his crown prince consort!
Nangong Xian: “Alright!”
They each held a bow and an apple on their heads. They stood facing each other from a hundred meters away.
Nangong Xian had once heard that His Highness’s archery was extremely formidable. In the past years of hunting, His Highness had always been able to take the lead. Nangong Xian and Dugu Jie raised the bows in their hands at the same time and aimed the bows at the apple on the other party’s head.
Nangong Xian looked at Dugu Jie with hesitation in her eyes.
The eunuch stood at the side and counted down ten numbers.
“Ten, nine eighty-seven-six-five-four…”
Nangong Xian suddenly released her right hand!
The arrow pierced through the air and shot towards Dugu Jie.
However, Dugu Jie suddenly lowered his arms and gave up on shooting after his eunuch finished counting the last number.
Nangong Xian’s eyes widened when she saw Dugu Jie’s actions.
Nangong Xian’s arrow hit the heart of the apple on Dugu Jie’s head. The apple split into pieces and the arrow shot into the maple tree behind Dugu Jie before stopping.
Nangong Xian ran to Dugu Jie in large strides. She looked up at Dugu Jie’s handsome face and asked in confusion, “Your Highness! Why didn’t you release the arrow!”
Not releasing the arrow meant forfeiting!
Dugu Jie resigned himself to his fate and said, “In order to become the master of the East Palace, I, Dugu Jie, have done many ruthless things. I’ve never been a good person, but now I realize that I can’t shoot arrows at you.”
He raised the red bow in his hand, picked up the carving knife he carried with him, and engraved the words “Nangong Xian” on the corner of the bow.
After stuffing the bow into Nangong Xian’s arms, Dugu Jie said, “It’s called Chasing Sun, and it’s my weapon. However, it has lost its use following me. Xian’er, today, I’ll give Chasing Sun to you.”
Nangong Xian held onto Chasing Sun tightly as he heard Dugu Jie say, “Little General Nangong, I hope that this Chasing Sun Arrows will follow you into battle! I wish you all the best in the capital city, and I wish you all the best in the world!”