"Grandfather!" Yu Jian rushes towards Murong Cang and throws himself to his chest. His eyes are red.
Murong Cang pats him in the back comfortingly.
Murong Cang is still too weak to get up, so Yu Jian personally feeds him.
Emotions flood Murong Cang's heart, this child is all grown up now!
As for Gong Sang Mo, after breakfast, he returns to Xian Wang's manor to change and to relay the news to the Old Wangye.
The Old Wangye sighs, "Soon, it will be only me left."
"You will be very busy, grandfather. You will have to take care of me and Yu Er's children."
The Old Wangye huffs angrily, "Are you trying to play truancy? Are you trying to dominate the Yun yatou? No way, she will spend her days playing chess with me!"
With Gong Sang Mo's teasing, the Old Wangye becomes light-hearted once more.
After that, Gong Sang Mo goes to the venue where the martial arts competition will be held.
Inside the palace, after the morning court, Yu Jian and Yun Qian Yu divides the work and gets busy with their own tasks.
Yu Jian leaves the palace to oversee the academic and the martial arts examination while Yun Qian Yu stays to take care of Murong Cang.
The snow wolf, Ru Xue seems to have been invigorated by Murong Cang's progress. He is lying on Murong Cang's pillow, staring at him.
Yun Qian Yu secretly sighs: This wolf is better than some people out there. Ru Xue has only been here for a couple of days and is already emotionally attached towards Murong Cang. What about the people that he have spent half of his life with? They all wanted him dead.
She instructs Feng Ran to bring all the materials that she needs to read to Murong Cang's palace so that she can read them there.
Right now, Yun Qian Yu is planning to create a think tank for Yu Jian. She does not need many people, what she need is a bunch of clever people that can help Yu Jian in the long run.
Lu Zi Hao will be one of them. Guo Shu Huai and Xue Zi Huai are still under consideration.
Right now, Yun Qian Yu does not know that two out of those three will be known as 'The Three Huais of Nan Lou Kingdom' in the future! Su Huai Feng will be the third Huai.
She takes out the painting that Gong Sang Mo gave her.
According to Feng Ran's report, Mo Dai Kingdom and Jiu Xiao Kingdom have sent people to Mount San Xian. There is only one month left before Su Huai Feng will leave the mountain. Mount San Xian is a thousand miles away from Nan Lou Kingdom, it will take half a month to get there.
She puts down the painting and starts discussing everything with Murong Cang.
Murong Cang is hugging Ru Xue while patting him gently, "Su Huai Feng is indeed a rare talent. He will be very useful if he is to assist Yu Jian." He really wants to recruit Su Huai Feng to help his two grandchildren, Yu Jian and Qian Yu. With someone brilliant like Su Huai Feng by the children's side, he can close his eyes peacefully.
When Yun Qian Yu notices his immense liking for Su Huai Feng, she says, "Grandfather, I would like to personally go to Mount San Xian."
Murong Cang is quiet for a moment before he says, "Alright, we will get the best outcome if you personally go there."
"But, I am still worried about Yu Jian!"
"I, this old head am still here. Do not worry. Now that the thorns have been fleshed out, the palace is full of our people, there is no need to worry about Yu Jian's safety. Although I am weak, I can still keep him company in the court. There is also Lu Zi Hao to help him manage everything. Before you leave, tell Man Xi to attend the court everyday to help as well."
Yun Qian Yu agrees with him. It is necessary for her to recruit this Su Huai Feng. If she fails, he will work for the enemy, she must make sure that can never happen.
"Mount San Xian used to be Sang Mo's school. You should take Sang Mo with you. That will make grandpa and Yu Jian feel better." Murong Cang feeds Ru Xue minced meat.
"Yes." Speaking about Mount San Xian reminds Yun Qian Yu of the fact that Gong Sang Mo has killed Long Xiang Luo. He will definitely undergo punishment for that. She must try her best to stop that from happening.
Mo Dai Kingdom has not announced the death of Long Xiang Luo. That means that the imposter has been doing a really good job. But no matter how good the imposter is, they will never be able to hide Long Xiang Luo's death from Mount San Xian.
Yun Qian Yu is worried. She has no idea what kind of punishment Mount San Xian will dish out. If Gong Sang Mo really cannot avoid getting punished, she will endure the punishment with him.
Once everything is settled, both of them will start the journey.
The exams have ended and almost all of the answer papers have been graded.
When the results are plastered on the walls of the capital, people crowd the listing board. People from all walks of life are there, mostly curious since the questions this time were issued by Princess Hu Guo. The takers are listed based on their scores, what an interesting system.
Inside the palace, Yun Qian Yu is looking at the list of the top 200 candidates.
The candidate at the 1st place is Xue Zi Huai, as expected. She reads his answer paper. His answers are very close to the model answers that she provided to the examiners. His take on things are very unique and his answers are very creative.
Yun Qian Yu calls Yu Jian over and shows him Xue Zi Huai's answer paper. Yu Jian's eyes light up.
"Imperial sister, this Xue Zi Huai is indeed a rare talent. I already ordered people to investigate his background, there is no problem with him. We can use him."
Yun Qian Yu nods at him, "Indeed! It is time for Yu Jian to cultivate a helping hand."
Yu Jian's eyes dim down, "Imperial Sister, are you going to marry Brother Sang Mo after Yu Jian has helping hands?"
Yun Qian Yu is momentarily stunned before bursting into laughter, "I will have to marry someone sooner or later. Do you want me to turn into an old maiden? Nobody will be willing to marry me then."
"I cannot bear to part from you! Don't worry, Imperial Sister! You are Nan Lou Kingdom's Emperor's older sister. When the time comes, I will give you a big dowry and sends you off with great fanfare!" Yu Jian's eyes are firm and earnest.
"Alright, Imperial Sister will wait for Yu Jian's dowry."
After that, the two of them goes back to reading the answer papers of the exam-takers.
Yun Qian Yu reads them earnestly, in full concentration. The exam this time can be considered a big success, they have found so many talents. These talents are to be recruited into the court. Having young minds inside the court is a must to make up for what the old officials lack. They can replace the old officials in the future. They need competent officers for Yu Jian to start ruling properly. The officials that Yu Jian hand-picks will also be his backbone in the future.
The thing that surprises Yun Qian Yu the most is that the rouge shop owner's son actually manages to get the 3rd place in the exam. What a capable person!
Three days after the result was announced, Yun Qian Yu introduces the top three takers to the court. As per agreement, Xue Zi Huai has been made the Right Prime Minister. The Left Prime Minister on the other hand, will be announced soon. With the two Prime Ministers' aids, Yu Jian will have less trivial problems to deal with.
The one on the 2nd place is Duan Hua Li from Qing Zhou. Yun Qian Yu gives him the position of the Vice-Minister of Works, taking over the position from Bai Yong Zhi.
As for Ye Cheng Yan, he is recruited into the cabinet, under Lu Zi Hao's authority. There were originally five scholars inside the cabinet, but after Jiang Hong Wen was fired, they were left with only four. Yun Qian Yu has long planned to recruit a young scholar into the cabinet after the imperial examination, to serve as Lu Zi Hao's helping hand.
Yun Qian Yu does not give them any ranks or grade. They will have to pass their probational period first before being given their ranks.
Luo Han Sheng, the winner of the martial arts competition on the other hand, is given the authority of the Great General Liu's troops. Just like Xue Zi Huai, he will have to wait one year before formally receiving his rank.
The 2nd and 3rd place are inducted into Yu Jian's 100,000 troops.
Yun Qian Yu does not interfere with the rest of the people and lets Yu Jian and Lu Zi Hao handle them at their discretion.
Despite that, both of them still show Yun Qian Yu the final list after they made their decision. Once Yun Qian Yu reads the list, she becomes even more confident of Lu Zi Hao's ability to assist Yu Jian.
The atmosphere gradually settles down. Although a lot of the old officials are not satisfied with how things are arranged (those are the positions that they have fought so long to get, why should they lose it to a bunch of young kids?), none of them dare to voice their displeasure. They know that going against Yun Qian Yu will bring nothing good to them. Losing their jobs would be the lightest punishment they ought to get. Whatever! They will just wait for the fanfare one year later.
After the morning court, Yu Jian looks at Yun Qian Yu as though he wants to say something.
Yun Qian Yu laughs, "Just ask away."
"When you told me to investigate about the secret weapon in Jin Luan Hall, the investigation leads up to Ye Cheng Yan's family. His entire family worked for the late old Duke of Rong. Why are you still using him?"
Yun Qian Yu looks at Yu Jian, "Did you investigate why his family worked for the late Duke Rong on the first place?"
Yu Jian thinks for a while before saying, "Because the late Duke Rong saved his father once. They did all that to repay his favour."
"They were willing to abandon their comfortable life just to repay a favour, how many people like that are left in this world? We must appreciate people like them. Besides, they never did anything that was particularly harmful to others, why shouldn't we give him another chance? His grandfather and father are fiercely loyal, the apple will not fall far from the tree. If you give him a chance now, how do you think he will repay you later?"
"Remember this, there are no eternal enemies or allies in court. You are the ruler, you must be broad-minded. If you can have someone better, never settle for someone lesser," Yun Qian Yu patiently says.
Yu Jian nods, his dissatisfaction towards Ye Cheng Yan disappearing.
Yun Qian Yu will leave for Mount San Xian three days from now. She decides to visit Princess Ming Zhu prior to leaving. She has not seen her ever since that madness in the palace that day.
The Duke Rong's manor seems to have changed entirely. There are large gardens everywhere. The mo bamboo forest is no longer there. A large lotus pond stands in it's place. It will look magnificent during it's season next year. Yun Qian Yu sighs on behalf of Princess Ming Zhu. Although she did not marry an honourable gentleman, at least she has a filial son.
Princess Ming Zhu no longer has that pensive defeated look on her face. She seems to have gained weight and her face is blooming with a smile.
When Yun Qian Yu gets there, Jiang Yun Yi is also there. It is clear that Princess Ming Zhu likes Jiang Yun Yi a lot. From the way they chat with each other, people would think that they are a pair of biological mother and daughter.
"Yun Yi greets Princess Hu Guo," Jiang Yun Yi quickly greets her the moment she arrives.
"Get up. No need for so many formalities, we will be family sooner or later," Yun Qian Yu helps her get up.
Princess Ming Zhu smiles, "Right. Qian Yu does not have any boudoir friend, you two should meet each other more after this."
Yun Qian Yu and Jiang Yun Yi exchange a smile. Making friends requires predestined affinity. She met Wen Ling Shan and Jiang Yun Yi on the same day yet only made friend with Wen Ling Shan. Perhaps, they have destiny but no affinity.
"Imperial Aunt, Qian Yu will leave the capital a couple of days from now. The trip will probably take one month, so Qian Yu wants to visit you before leaving."
"How kind of you, little girl. No need to worry about auntie. Auntie has listened to Xi Er and has decided to live freely. After you leave, auntie will enter the palace to keep Imperial Father company." Princess Ming Zhu knows that Murong Cang does not have long to live. She wants treat her father well before he passes.
"That will be good. That way, Qian Yu's heart will be at peace." She originally planned to ask Princess Ming Zhu to keep Murong Cang and Yu Jian company, who would have thought that Princess Ming Zhu would offer to do it before she even brings it up.
"Your trip will take a long time, you need to be careful," says Princess Ming Zhu.
"En, I will be careful. Don't worry, Imperial Aunt." Yun Qian Yu does not stay for long despite Princess Ming Zhu's invitation to stay for lunch. When she tells Princess Ming Zhu that she has promised Murong Cang and Yu Jian to eat lunch with them, Princess Ming Zhu stops coercing her into staying.
To tell the truth, Yun Qian Yu does not like Jiang Yun Yi's company. A little instinct inside her heart makes Yun Qian Yu dislike her.
Jiang Yun Yi is naturally aware of Yun Qian Yu's dislike towards her. She tries to make her presence as little as possible.
To say that she hates Yun Qian Yu is an exaggeration, but her impression of Yun Qian Yu is indeed unpleasant.
First of all, Yun Qian Yu used to be Situ Han Yi's fiancée. That was reason enough for Jiang Yun Yi to dislike her. Although that was a thing of the past, the fact that it existed is still there.
Other than that, Yun Qian Yu's arrival in the capital causes her to lose the title of the no. 1 beauty in the city. Not to mention, Yun Qian Yu is brilliant and smart, perfect to the point where Jiang Yun Yi has to look up to see her person.
The large gap between them makes her dislike Yun Qian Yu.
After Yun Qian Yu left, Princess Ming Zhu looks at Jiang Yun Yi, "Yun Yi, you are already extraordinary as you are, no need to compare yourself to Qian Yu. Her past hardship and suffering are things that you have never experienced. That is why there will only be one Yun Qian Yu. No one can imitate her. No one can replace her. She is on her way to become a legacy of her own."
Jiang Yun Yi's head immediately clears up when she hears that, "Thank you for the teaching, Your Highness. Yun Yi understands your meaning."
Princess Ming Zhu pats her hands, "We are both just normal women."
That one sentence is enough to describe their positions. They are both stuck in the back courtyard while Yun Qian Yu is flying freely in the sky. Comparing the golden cage of the back courtyard and the freedom of the sky will only hurt her own heart.
As for Yun Qian Yu, the moment she steps out of the manor, she bumps into Hua Man Xi who has just returned home.
"Little girl, since you are here, why don't you eat lunch first before leaving?" Hua Man Xi asks in delight.
"No, thank you. I already promised grandfather and Yu Jian that I will eat with them."
Hua Man Xi gives the housekeeper a look.
The housekeeper who is standing behind Yun Qian Yu chokes a little. Is the Duke actually blaming him for this?
Yun Qian Yu helplessly looks at him, "It is indeed that. My relationship with Auntie is great, you know that. Just, I am going to leave in a couple of days and Yu Jian has been really reluctant to let me leave."
"Alright then. I will throw you a banquet to celebrate when you come back," Hua Man Xi laughs.
"How are you so sure I can do it?" Yun Qian Yu looks at him, amused.
"Is there anything you cannot do?"
Both of them look at each other, trying to hold in their laughter.
"Little girl, you look really pretty when you are laughing. Why do you look so stern all the time?"
"So that I don't attract men!" After saying that, Yun Qian Yu turns around to leave.
"You attract men even when you are not laughing," Hua Man Xi softly says.
Yun Qian Yu turns around to give him an eyeroll.
He laughs loudly. Once Yun Qian Yu's carriage leaves the manor, he mumbles to himself, "If only everyday could be like this."
Then, he turns to the housekeeper, "Who else came today?"
"Miss Jiang," the housekeeper replies.
"I knew it!" Hua Man Xi mutters under his breath as he looks at the direction of Yun Qian Yu's carriage.
Yun Qian Yu originally planned to eat lunch with Princess Ming Zhu before visiting Wen Ling Shan, but now, her plan has changed. She returns to the palace and decides to visit Wen Ling Shan the next day.
The next day, when she reaches the Wen Household's entrance, she sees someone unexpected.