When he stepped into the study, Yu Huang Rong was treated to the sight of the captain of the secret guards, She Ning, pouring a cup of tea for the emperor. His lips twitched but he pretended not to have seen anything and continued to make his way over to the table, plopping down next to it. “My dear friend …” He reached out for the cup but She Ning moved it out of his reach and directly handed it to the emperor.
Luan Xin accepted the cup and lightly blew on the steaming liquid. “He’s back with the disgusting sweet-talk. Ah Ning, if he does it again, just poke him a bit with your sword. I’m sure it’ll make him shut up.”
The captain of the secret guards nodded and picked up his sword. He did leave it in the scabbard though, probably taking note of the fact that Luan Xin hadn’t said that he was supposed to stab him a few times with the sword and should only poke him.
Yu Huang Rong’s expression darkened. This Luan Xin! Never mind that he was the emperor, how could he call himself his friend when he always reacted like this as soon as they saw each other? He had come here with peaceful intentions but was treated like an enemy! Hmph. Simply unbelievable!
While the person next to him cursed him inwardly, Luan Xin simply sipped his tea. “Mn, you’re getting better at this, Ah Ning.”
“Heh!” Yu Huang Rong gritted his teeth. Couldn’t this guy see that he was still here?!
Luan Xin glanced at him. “What? Didn’t I already promise yesterday that I would help you with the person you like? You said it would still take time until I’m supposed to get involved so what have you run over here for again?”
Even the emperor could hear the sound of Yu Huang Rong’s teeth grinding against each other. He didn’t mind though. This guy … He had left for so long and now that he was back the first thing he said was ‘Help me get married’. He couldn’t expect a warm welcome if he was like that, could he? Ah, who would have thought that his best friend regarded a beauty as more important than him? It was truly too sad …
Yu Huang Rong wasn’t happy with the treatment he was getting but he didn’t dare to complain either. He still wanted Luan Xin’s help, after all! He took a deep breath and forced himself to smile. “Luan Xin, don’t be like this. You’re the only person who can help me. Me coming here right the next day again is just because I trust in your skills very much.”
Luan Xin didn’t bother to answer and merely drank his tea. This guy could go fuck himself for all he cared. Those who forgot their friends in the face of beauty weren’t worth his help.
Yu Huang Rong took another deep breath and slid closer to Luan Xin. “Xiao Xin, don’t be like this. This is really very important to me. I’ve been in love with this person for so many years.”
This time, he managed to get Luan Xin’s attention. The emperor glanced at him and furrowed his brows. “What do you mean being in love for several years? You’ve been on the battlefield for so long! How could you have been in love with this person for so long? Don’t tell me it’s one of your fellow soldiers?” He chuckled at his own joke and glanced at the captain of the secret guards.
She Ning didn’t seem amused. His expression stayed as expressionless as ever and he didn’t react in any other way either.
Luan Xin harrumphed. These guys! One was drier than the other.
Seeing that his friend was finally willing to show some interest in his matters, Yu Huang Rong struck while the iron was hot. “Aiya, it’s not one of my fellow soldiers but … it’s indeed another man.
“I met him once before I went to the battlefield back then and I fell in love after meeting him a few more times. I’ve been thinking about him constantly for the last years. Whenever we were at the height of battle and it seemed like we couldn’t hold on, I thought of him and how I wanted to look into his eyes for at least one more time. Each time I persisted on so that I could return to the capital one day.”
Luan Xin raised his brows and gave Yu Huang Rong a doubtful look. Since when had this guy become such a romantic? And how come he just told him that he was thinking of a beauty on the battlefield instead of trying to win honor for his emperor? It seemed friendship really didn’t count for anything in his eyes. He couldn’t help but feel intrigued at the notion of Yu Huang Rong being in love for so many years at the same time though. “This male beauty that caught your eye … I wouldn’t happen to know that person, right?” He furrowed his brow and finally slapped the table. “Damn! It wouldn’t be me, would it?”
This time the captain of the secret guards reacted. He snorted and his shoulders shook for a single time before he schooled his expression again.
Luan Xin turned around in a rage. “Ah Ning! What’s the meaning of this? You don’t think there could be somebody else who admires me?”
She Ning preferred to stay silent.
Yu Huang Rong asked. “Could we stay on the topic at hand? This is about my love life. You certainly have nothing to do with that, Xiao Xin, I can assure you of that.”
The emperor harrumphed and took another sip of his tea. “What ‘I have nothing to do with that’? Of course, I have! Am I not the one you are asking for help here? So if it’s not me, then who is it? Don’t think I’d say even one word if you don’t tell me his name.” Hmph. He’d like to know just who had this kind of charm to make his best friend forget about him!
Yu Huang Rong’s lips curved into a gentle smile when he thought of the person that had occupied his heart, scaring Luan Xin into almost dropping his teacup.
“Hmph. Maybe I don’t want to know after all.”
Unfortunately, it was already too late. Presented with the chance to finally spill this secret in front of a person who wasn’t the matchmaker, Yu Huang Rong didn’t intend to hold anything back. “It’s Scholar Zhang, Zhang Shi Lan. He’s the most graceful, most generous, most kindhearted person in the whole capital of our Chen country. He is beautiful like a fairy with bright, limpid eyes, a pair of petal-like lips and a graceful bearing that knows no comparison.”
Luan Xin shook his head with a disgusted expression. He waved his hand and pushed his cup back at She Ning. “Yes, yes. I understand already. You can stop now. Don’t feed me any more details.”
Yu Huang Rong harrumphed. “You just can’t appreciate beauty.”
Luan Xin raised his brows and gave his friend a mocking smile. “You’d better be thankful that I can’t appreciate beauty. Otherwise, I might just send an edict asking for that Scholar Zhang to be taken in as my concubine. How would you like that?” He pushed his teacup even closer to She Ning and fluttered his eyelashes at him. “Ah Ning, can’t you see I’m thirsty? Where’s the tea?”
She Ning looked at the cup, then turned to look at the teapot. His gaze traveled back to Luan Xin’s face and for a moment, it seemed as if he wanted to say something. In the end, he merely picked up the teapot and poured another cup of tea.
Yu Huang Rong followed the exchange with furrowed brows. Somehow, he didn’t feel taken seriously. He took another deep breath and sighed. “Xiao Xin, what’s the matter with you? I’m honestly asking you for your help. Is there a reason to treat me like this?”
The emperor glanced at him and harrumphed. “You still dare to ask that? What’s with rushing off to the battlefield like that? Don’t you feel that you owe me an apology? I had to hear where you were from other people! And now, you’re coming back and what do you do? You go off to get married! Have you even thought of coming here to see me and say hello?”
Yu Huang Rong was taken aback. He didn’t even know what to say for a moment. Was this guy serious? “Xiao Xin, it’s not like I did this on purpose. We were being attacked. Would you want me to come and drink with you for an evening or maybe have a banquet before going? I had to leave immediately. Otherwise, they would have decapitated me. I was merely a soldier. I couldn’t decide what I wanted. If the army was told to set out, then I had to be with them. You also know that!”
Luan Xin harrumphed. “And that means you can’t come and tell me? Lies! There would have been ways to do so. You could have at least sent a letter or a servant over!”
Yu Huang Rong sighed. “Alright, alright. I was wrong. Are you happy now?”
Luan Xin considered whether he should argue some more. He had been really angry back then. Then again it had already been several years. He had become the Emperor, and Yu Huang Rong had become a General. Did they really have to argue about something like this?
And it wasn’t like he hadn’t been told. After his father gave the command for the army to set out, it was only a question of time until he found out. In fact, even if Yu Huang Rong had entered the palace to tell him, he might have known about it already. And, well, with his status back then, things wouldn’t have been that easy anyway.
He glanced at the captain of the secret guards who nodded. Ah, it seemed like Ah Ning thought the same. He took the teacup when he handed it over and took another sip. “I guess I’ll graciously forgive you then. Should there be a next time —”
Yu Huang Rong grinned. “Should there be a next time, then wouldn’t it be your command that makes me move out, Your Majesty?”
Luan Xin smirked. “Well enough. Alright, what is it about that beauty of yours now? I’ll be damned if I’m unable to make my best friend get the person he desires!”
Yu Huang Rong heaved a sigh of relief. Luan Xin was totally able to hold a grudge for ages. There were things from his childhood that he had still had to hear on a regular basis before he set out for war. Having him admit defeat this easily was certainly out of expectations.
He couldn’t help but glance at the captain of the secret guards. There wouldn’t be anything he should know about, would there? Like something unexpected happening that made Luan Xin change his ways? Unfortunately, all his guessing was of no use. That guy’s expression was still as bland as before. In the end, Yu Huang Rong shelved that thought for later and turned back to Luan Xin. “Actually, it’s nothing much. I just … want some advice.”
Luan Xin raised his brows. “What kind of advice?”
Yu Huang Rong gave him a sheepish smile. “Well, you see … Scholar Zhang is a little timid and … it could be that maybe he’s a little afraid of me. So what can I do to make him less afraid?”
Luan Xin spit out his tea and turned to his friend incredulously. “The person you like is afraid of you and you’re talking about marriage?! What made you think of coming here yesterday in the first place? Shouldn’t you try and woo him first?!”
Yu Huang Rong could only hang his head in defeat. He also didn’t want to admit that Zhang Shi Lan was afraid of him. But what could he do? And the worst thing was that even though the scholar was afraid of him, he still loved him at the same time! Who could explain this to him?