“Father, this daughter wishes that you would always be the hero in this daughter’s heart, someone that everyone else respects. This daughter does not wish for you to be the person whom everyone secretly points and curses at.” Mo Jiu Jiu backtracked, secretly scolding herself. No matter what, she had worded herself too strongly just now. It didn’t matter what sort of a person her father was, she could not speak to him like that as a daughter.
“Father does not blame you, Jiu Jiu. Father understands that certain things are beyond your control when you are an official at court. You are still young and do not understand what you saw. There are some things that Father has no other choice but do. Who knows how many people secretly wants me dead. Father’s head could be chopped off any second. Father wants you to live a worry-free life, that is why Father must work hard. Otherwise, our Mo clan would have gone extinct long ago,” Duke Zhen explained the current circumstance surrounding their family.
Mo Jiu Jiu looked at her father earnestly, “Do not worry, Father. Daughter is all grown up now. Daughter will share your burden with you. This daughter also has the responsibility to uphold the Mo Clan’s prestige. This daughter will not disappoint you.”
Duke Zhen patted his daughter’s shoulder proudly, “From the very beginning, my children are my source of pride! None of you have ever disappointed me.”
Mo Jiu Jiu smiled mischievously, “Then, Jiu Jiu will work hard to become an even greater person so that me and my siblings could make you proud even more.”
Duke Zhen laughed happily, “Good! You’re ambitious! You truly are Mo Chang Xiao’s daughter!”
Mo Jiu Jiu smiled happily before looking at her father, “Father, will the Marquis of Ning Nan’s matter really affect our Mo Clan? Will daughter not killing him impact your plan?”
Duke Zhen comforted her, “Don’t worry. Who do you think your father is? Who, in this entire kingdom, could shake our clan? Who has that guts and ability?”
Mo Jiu Jiu laughed, “My father is the best!” Despite saying that, she couldn’t help but worry. Mo Clan’s power had always been something that made the Emperor wary. Would the Emperor really take action against Mo Clan? Han Yi Xiao was bound to support the Emperor. As the daughter of Mo Clan, she had a responsibility to protect Mo Clan’s prestige.
The Duchess took her hand affectionately, “Jiu Jiu, you have lost weight ever since you entered that camp! You have gotten tanned as well. Why don’t you leave the camp? You are a girl, if you continue staying there, your reputation will be ruined!”
“Mother, I am no longer a girl. I am a soldier through and through, just take it that you have another son,” she joked as she wrapped her arm around her mother’s shoulder.
Her mother glared at her, “You have always been so crooked! You are already 17 years old, you have reached the age for matrimony. Come back to the manor and get your acts together. It is time for you to find a gentleman husband.”
Mo Jiu Jiu coquettishly replied her, “Mother, your daughter does not wish to marry anyone just yet. This daughter wish to keep you and Father company. Could it be that you don’t like this daughter anymore and wants her out of the house?” She looked at her father in a spoiled manner.
Duke Zhen put on the head-of-the-family look and said, “Don’t worry, Jiu Jiu. You are still young. You can wait for two more years before getting married. If you don’t wish to get married, it’s alright, your Father will keep you!”
The Duchess looked at the Duke in displeasure, “What are you even saying? If we wait any longer, she will become an old maid! Who would want her then? Daugthers should be married off at their prettiest, flower-like age.”
“My, Mo Chang Xiao’s daughter will be able to get married no matter what age they are. As soon as she wishes to get married, suitors will immediately step onto our threshold. Besides, Xuan Er is not married yet, so what are you rushing Jiu Jiu for?” Duke Zhen sided with her daughter.
Mo Jiu Jiu winked at her father.
The Duchess sighed, “What exactly is going on with Xuan Er? He is all grown up and yet he refuses to marry. Does he already have someone in his heart, or is he suffering from something unspeakable?”
Mo Jiu Jiu tightened her arm around her mother comfortingly, “Don’t worry, Mother. Older Brother is so accomplished, if he wishes to get married, so many maidens would line up for a chance to get him. Just, right now, he wishes to focus on the army, so he’s had no time to do anything else. Once he’s got time, he will definitely bring back a beautiful daughter-in-law for you, and maybe even a healthy little grandchild.”
Hearing that made the mother happy, “If that’s true, then Mother will hope for nothing else. All three of you worry me so much.”
Mo Jiu Jiu stuck out her tongue and laughed.
Duke Zhen looked at his daughter and said, “Alright. Didn’t His Majesty give you a two-day leave? Stay here and keep your mother company for these two days.”
Mo Jiu Jiu nodded happily, “Alright. It is already late, Mother and Father. You two should rest. Jiu Jiu will return to her chamber, first.”
“Alright, you are also tired. Go and rest,” said the Duke fondly.
Mo Jiu Jiu left them.
The Duchess looked at her husband unhappily, “Husband, you spoiled our children too much. Jiu Jiu is a girl who runs around in the army camp, and yet you didn’t rebuke her. I originally thought that she wouldn’t be there for long. I thought she was just curious. But it has been months, and her curiosity hasn’t subsided and instead, she only seems to like it more and more. Old master, why don’t you find some time to talk some sense into her? Tell her to resign her post and return here. I cannot find peace as long as she’s there.”
Duke Zhen laughed and comforted her, “Don’t you worry, Madam. Jiu Jiu is clever. She is able to stay right under Han Yi Xiao’s care for this long without exposing her true identity. Our Jiu Jiu is extraordinary. Don’t worry. It is late, let’s rest.”
“You really spoil her too much,” scolded the Duchess.
Duke Zhen laughed wickedly, “Then now is the time for me to spoil my wife.” He picked up his wife and walked towards their bed.
The Duchess looked embarrassed as she softly said, “We are already so old. Aren’t you embarrassed of saying that?”
Duke Zhen, arrogant as always said, “So what, if we’re old? Who dares to say anything, if I am trying to love my own wife?”
The Duchess smiled helplessly, but her face was full of happiness.
In Gui Ning Palace, Jun Qian Che had immediately returned to Yu Jing Palace after having his wound tended to by Yang Shi Han.
After bathing, Yang Shi Han sent all her attendants away as she played chess by herself inside her chamber.
As she sat in her chair alone, with the candle light highlighting her extremely beautiful face. Her emerald gauze skirt embroidered with golden peonies swept the floor. She lowered her head, revealing the simple bun on her head that was held together by a white jade hairpin. Her glamorous palace dresses and jewelries were gone and yet, she still managed to retain her elegance and luxuriousness. Her beautiful eyes were set on the chessboard, as a smile adorned her face.
Someone was watching her from the dark, unwilling to disturb her.
She must have been a fallen deity who had somehow entered the mortal realm. The air surrounding her was completely different from other girls’. He truly wished to approach her and speak to her, and yet, he did not wish to disturb her peace. He might as well treat her as though she was a precious painting that he could appreciate and protect from afar.
Yang Shi Han picked up a white chesspiece and put it on the chessboard before saying, “How long will it take for you to announce your presence?”
The man in hiding was surprised. He stepped out and let the candlelight illuminate his handsome face. Yang Shi Han’s heart unwittingly sped up as she gave him an alluring smile that people would find hard to look away from. “It is late. Why are you here?”
Mo Cheng Xuan felt a little awkward, “Sorry for disturbing Your Ladyship.”
“It’s alright. I am bored anyway. Would you like to play chess with me?” asked Yang Shi Han.
Mo Cheng Xuan hesitated for a moment before nodding and sitting opposite her.
They sat in front of the chessboard, looking at each other, before tacitly looking away and setting their eyes on the chessboard.
Yang Shi Han said, “Let’s continue this game. It’s black’s turn to go, please be my guest, General Mo.”
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Mo Cheng Xuan picked up a black piece and put it down.
Yang Shi Han placed her piece after him while lightly saying, “There must be a reason why General Mo came this late.”
“This General would like to thank Your Ladyship,” replied Mo Cheng Xuan.
She looked at him in confusion, “You’re thanking bengong? Bengong don’t remember doing anything that warrants your gratitude towards me.”
“This General heard that the Emperor got injured while trying to save the Empress. This General also heard that the Empress Dowager wanted to punish the Empress, and that it was you who suggested to send the Empress to the Empress Dowager’s palace as punishment.”
Yang Shi Han laughed, “Turns out you are here to scold me. I was the one who caused the Empress to be sent to the Empress Dowager. Your entire family must really hate me right now.”
He looked at her before earnestly saying, “This General does not hate you at all. Your Ladyship did that to help the Empress. The Empress and the Empress Dowager couldn’t stand each other, this was the perfect chance to improve their relationship. If Qi Qi seized this chance well, she might be able to cultivate a loving relationship with her mother-in-law.”
Yang Shi Han was touched. She did not expect him to understand her that well. The truth was she did all that for him. She shot him an arrogant smile, “Bengong is not that kind. If things improved between the Empress and the Empress Dowager, where would bengong stand in the future? Bengong only did that for bengong’s own good. Bengong knows that the Empress Dowager could not stand the Empress, so bengong sent the Empress there in order to give her a hard time. Once she riled up the Empress Dowager enough, the Empress Dowager will definitely scheme to have her pregnancy aborted. So, by helping Mo Qi Qi, I was only helping her dig her own grave. After all, I have always coveted her position.”
Mo Cheng Xuan stared at her directly in the eyes.
Yang Shi Han looked away first, “Great General, it is inappropriate for you to look at bengong like that. If the Emperor finds out, you will not escape it unscathed even if you have 10 lives.”
“This General was checking the validity behind what Your Ladyship said. Why did you keep saying things that would get you misunderstood even though that was clearly not what you meant.” Mo Cheng Xuan could see from her eyes that she was not being truthful.
Yang Shi Han shook her head while laughing, “A person’s heart is the hardest thing to understand. How could you possibly know that bengong was lying just by looking at bengong? How funny is that?”
“Qi Qi once told me that eyes are the windows to a person’s soul. If you want to know what that person is thinking, you only need to look at their eyes. That is how this General know that you haven’t been truthful,” explained Mo Cheng Xuan earnestly.
Yang Shi Han laughed, “Who would have thought that the Empress could say something so profound? How admirable. You are right, the reason bengong sent her to the Empress Dowager this time, is to give her a chance to prove herself. Whatever happens after this depends on her fortune. However, bengong did not do all this for Mo Qi Qi. Bengong did it for— General.”
Mo Cheng Xuan’s hand froze, before he smiled, “Thank you, Your Ladyship.”
“Is thanking me enough to repay me?” Yang Shi Han looked at him while smiling puzzlingly.
Mo Cheng Xuan avoided her gaze while saying, “Then, what do you want this General to do?”
Yang Shi Han suddenly stood up and walked seductively towards him. She settled herself on his lap.
He was shocked and tried to get her off of him, but she took that chance to wrap her arms around her neck. “Great General—“ Her voice was charmingly soft as she spoke, “Since you want to thank bengong, it is better to thank me through what I like.’
“Thie General does not know what you like,” said Mo Cheng Xuan as he withdrew from her as best as he could.
Yang Shi Han purposely positioned herself closer to him, pressing her chest on his, “Great General, all the women in the harem are lonely in their own way. The night is frighteningly lonely, making it hard for us to fall asleep. Why don’t you keep bengong company tonight?” She buried her head on his chest. Her improper hands began fondling his chest.
He grabbed her hand and stared at her sternly, “Please remember your position, Your Ladyship. You are our Noble Consort.” He tried to push her away.
Yang Shi Han wouldn’t let him win and hugged him tighter while laughing, “Since I am the Noble Consort, what are you doing in bengong’s palace so late in the night? Is that your self-respect?”
(TN: Touche tho.)
“I—“ Mo Cheng Xuan didn’t know what to say.
Yang Shi Han touched his cheeks with her slender fingers, while smiling beautifully, “Great General, am I beautiful?” She deliberately fiddled with her dress, revealing the skin on her neck and chest.
Mo Cheng Xuan quickly looked away while coldly saying, “Please remember your place, Your Ladyship.”
Yang Shi Han purposely turned his head to make him look at her, “Great General, you and I are both alone in here. Let’s not waste this auspicious night. Why don’t we—-“