Chapter 113 – The Northern Border (1)
Matriarch He watched Madam Zou leave. That girl looked more haggard by the day, she mused. Her fingers tapped gently on the table beside her as she began to consider some thoughts she had previously set aside.
A few days ago, Countess Jing’an had mentioned the matter of letting her eldest son, Dalang, take a concubine to the matriarch.
Truthfully speaking, the matriarch had been waiting for a great-grandson for much too long. She had given Dalang’s wife ten years, but there was still no news.
After He Changdi and Laiyue passed Zhangzhou and went as far north as they could go, they took to the water and reached Qizhou. They then changed horses and continued northward. After half a month of harsh travel, they finally reached the northern border of the Great Wu Dynasty: Liangzhou.
Looking at the endless grasslands of the northern border, memories from He Changdi’s past life bubbled to the surface. His heart was a mess of muddled emotions.
Laiyue rode his horse up to his young master’s side before asking, “Young Master, are we entering the city directly?”
He Changdi shook his head and pointed in another direction.
Laiyue turned his gaze over, only to see a few scattered tents dotted yonder on the boundless grassy plains.
He gulped, but didn’t say a word.
Throughout their journey, the fuse on Third Young Master’s temper had just grown shorter and shorter. He wore a gloomy expression around all day, and practically radiated the aura of a porcupine: don’t touch me!
Laiyue subconsciously took a deep breath and instantly regretted it. He looked down at his own travel-worn clothing, fighting the urge to throw himself into a pool of water. He was emitting the stink of the century here, and it was to the point where he was about to lose his sense of smell. He hadn’t thought that Third Young Master, who had always loved cleanliness, could actually keep travelling without bothering to wash the dirt off his body.
It was full summer right now. The last time they had properly cleaned themselves was back when they had left Qizhou. The further north they went, the fewer pools and lakes they could find. Since they were rushing to their destination, they were living roughly. A normal thing like a bath had become a luxury.
Now that they had arrived at the uncivilised northern plains, they were surrounded by grassland all around. There weren’t even that many tents, let alone any inns or restaurants where they could rest in.
Laiyue secretly shot a glance at Third Young Master. His fitted grey riding clothes were already stained with dirt, and there were even a few tears here and there. His black hair had been tied up at the back of his head, but the journey had made it a mess. Dark stubble was already growing all over his chin due to the lack of shaving. Half a month of travelling out in the sun and wind had made Third Young Master not only more tan, but also skinnier than before.
The corners of Laiyue’s mouth twitched. If his young master were to ride along the streets of the capital now, probably no one would be able to connect this coarse man with the He Family’s Sanlang the Fair.
Master and servant urged their horses towards the scattered tents in the distance.
Just as they arrived, a slightly plump madam happened to walk out of one of the tents, carrying some butter and tea as she pushed up the tent flaps. Seeing the two strangers, she looked over curiously and spoke in some gibberish that Laiyue couldn’t understand.
Laiyue stared at the madam. Although he had expected the northern border to be harsh and cruel, he hadn’t thought that they wouldn’t be able to communicate…
The madam spoke a bunch of words to them, but Laiyue still couldn’t understand a single one. He felt a headache building.
He turned to his master helplessly.
Who could have expected that He Changdi would get off his horse, walk up to the madam, and speak in the same gibberish!? Laiyue couldn’t understand a thing. However, after he was done, took out a stamp from the purse at his waist and passed it to the madam.
The madam eyed the stamp for a long time, holding it up to the light to see it better. Suddenly, she practically leapt for joy and returned the stamp to He Changdi. She then respectfully bowed 90 degrees to him, before pulling He Changdi into the tent.
Laiyue was stunned. He didn’t know how his young master had suddenly learned how to speak a barbarian language. And looking at the way he had spoken, he was extremely fluent, too.
Laiyue stood stock-still as he held the horses’ reins, completely dazed. His feet had become one with the ground due to his shock. In the end, He Changdi had to turn around and shout at him before he regained his senses.
In a moment, a half-grown teenager stepped out from the tent, smiling widely as he tried to take the reins of the horses from Laiyue. He Changdi noticed that Laiyue wasn’t moving, so he instructed, “Give the horses to him; he’ll help us take care of them.”
Laiyue then handed the reins over to the grinning, tanned teen.
Laiyue caught up to his young master in a few steps. He scratched his head helplessly and said, “Young Master, this servant doesn’t understand…”
He Sanlang glared at his manservant. “What are you blanking out for? Just follow me.”
Laiyue quickly nodded. However, not even a minute had passed before he was no longer able to hold back his curiosity. “Young Master, when did you learn how to speak the barbarian language of the northern border? This servant didn’t realise you could do that at all.”
He Sanlang looked at Laiyue in contempt. “With your wits, it’s normal that you didn’t know. All you think about all day is eating!”
Poor Laiyue didn’t dare to ask again.
All he did was eat a bowl of Third Young Madam’s braised meat with rice. That bowl of rice had even been leftovers from the maidservants’ meal! Third Young Master had been ridiculing him for that one bowl the whole way here; what injustice!
However, upon remembering that braised meat, saliva gathered in Laiyue’s mouth. That thick sauce and fatty meat… With one bite, the taste lingered in his mouth for hours… It was the most delicious meat he had ever eaten in his life!
If he could have another bowl right now, he would put the entirety of it on another bowl of rice. Three huge servings of that wouldn’t be a problem! Wait, no, maybe he could even eat the entire pot of rice!
As he thought of the harsh journey they had gone through to get here, Laiyue missed that delicious food even more.