Big Boss – Chapter 43

She made a fool of herself

In the moonlight, Ye Youqing could clearly see the light-colored pupils different from those of the Central Plains people quickly moving.

“What’s going on.” Shi Li quickly lost her drunken look, her eyes sharp, focusing on Ye Youqing under the lamplight.

“At the beginning of every summer, the Emperor takes a group of concubines and courtiers to the western capital Luoyang near the Baima Temple for summer retreat and blessings. The Noble Consort will definitely accompany him.”

“The palace there is not like the palace here, quiet and deserted all around, with only ancient temples and forests nearby. If someone wants to harm her, it would be very convenient.” Ye Youqing said seriously.

Shi Li pondered her words for a while, then said, “But this happens every year, and… the Noble Conosrt has also gone many times. She is intelligent and should be fine.”

Indeed. Ye Youqing thought, she lowered her head and rubbed her temples, feeling her head heavy and hazy from the dream just now.

In the end, it was just a dream, but she couldn’t help but think of Ci Ke and felt unable to let go.

Shi Li also gazed at the bright moon, lost in thought, and the two remained silent for a while.

“Did you go see Ci Ke today? How was it?” Shi Li asked.

“It was a bit strange,” Ye Youqing honestly replied, “she seems to be distancing herself from me, and it bothered me during the day.”

Shi Li nodded knowingly, didn’t speak further, but instead got up and walked outside to fetch two swords, tossing one to Ye Youqing, and declared loudly, “Since you can’t sleep, might as well practice in the morning. With your current mediocre skills, you can’t beat many people.”

Ye Youqing just reached out to grab the sword when she saw a cold light coming towards her head. She quickly wielded her sword to block it, and soon the swords clashed in the courtyard, blending with the moonlight, creating a white blur.

In the sleeping city of Bianjing, all the doors were shut, basking in the moonlight.

In the following days, Ye Youqing did not go see Ci Ke. She remained busy each day, always feeling like there wasn’t enough time, so she practiced with Shi Li every night and planned her business during the day.

Pei Ning’s response was swift. In a few days, she sent a message saying she was heading south and had secured a few locations. Ye Youqing asked for Shi Li’s help, and a fast horse was sent with recipes and further plans.

Shi Li handed her a considerable sum of silver.

On top of that, there was more good news – some of the former residences and lands of the late Si Rongwang were finally returned. Due to the deaths and escapes of many of Si Rongwang’s family members, the fate of their assets was uncertain until they ended up in the hands of Zhao Qingrou and Ye Youqing.

Ye Youqing was excited about this unexpected fortune all night. Although a lot of these were embezzled by the government, there were still some remote estates and fields that were worth utilizing.

She couldn’t help but feel grateful for being born in the Qi Dynasty, as even if a woman married out, she could still inherit property if her immediate family had passed away.

Unknowingly, Bianjing quietly entered the summer season. The streets were busier, with the shade denser. Cicadas could be heard occasionally, and the bright sun shone all day, quickly bringing the scorching heat of midsummer.

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The emperor’s annual trip to the imperial palace arrived as scheduled. The palace had already prepared carriages and guards, with the imperial guards clearing the roads within a three-hundred-mile radius in anticipation of the emperor’s departure.

Although Ye Youqing no longer had that dream, as the day approached, she became increasingly anxious. She made several mistakes in tallying the accounts, so she decided to write a letter and have it delivered to the palace, warning Ci Ke of potential danger and advising her to find a way to escape to the imperial palace with Zhou Ziqiu.

Only then did she feel a bit more at ease.

On this day, she was sitting in the study, engrossed in her work, when she heard Qin Xin’s hurried footsteps outside the door, followed by a rapid knocking.

“Come in,” Ye Youqing wiped the sweat from her forehead.

“Eldest Miss, someone from the palace has just arrived and wishes to see Eldest Miss!” Qin Xin appeared flustered.

Someone from the palace? Ye Youqing’s initial thought was Zhou Ziqiu, but seeing Qin Xin’s tightly clenched hands on her sleeves, she knew that the visitor was not an ordinary palace member. She composed herself and got up to go outside.

In the front courtyard, Ye Youqing saw a familiar long face from a distance, the eunuch who served by the emperor’s side. He wore a black cap and held a gilt-edged note, smiling warmly at her.

Ye Youqing couldn’t help but pause, feeling cautious.

The emperor was looking for her? It couldn’t be anything good.

After a momentary pause, Ye Youqing continued to walk towards the eunuch and nodded slightly, “Chief Steward.”

“Miss Ye.” The eunuch with the long face smiled warmly, then bent at the waist and handed the note to Ye Youqing, “I am here today to deliver a message on behalf of the Emperor, inviting you to accompany him to the Luoyang Palace in the coming days.”

Ye Youqing’s expression flickered, then she smiled faintly, not taking the note, and replied in a gentle voice, “I am just a daughter of an official, how can I deserve the Emperor’s invitation?”

“Eldest Miss, that’s not true at all. As long as the Emperor invites you, you are worthy. Moreover, with your exceptional talent and beauty, which girl in the capital can compare to you?” The eunuch raised his hands in front of her, unfazed.

“Eldest Miss, please don’t offend the Emperor’s dignity.

As soon as those words were spoken, Ye Youqing knew that she had no choice but to accept the note. 

“Chief Steward, thank you for your efforts.” She took the note with both hands and gestured for Qin Xin to bring something to the eunuch before feeling the weight of the gilt-edged paper in her hands.

The eunuch accepted the silver, bowed to Ye Youqing, and then took his leave.

Ye Youqing muttered under her breath and opened the note, scrutinizing the ancient text meticulously. She was puzzled as to why she was being invited to the palace trip that should only be attended by close attendants and royal concubines.

But it was definitely not a good sign, and Ye Youqing’s expression darkened.

“Eldest Miss, the Emperor wants you to go to the palace. How do you feel about this?” Qin Xin timidly asked.

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“The yellow weasel pays New Year’s respects to the chicken.” Ye Youqing scoffed lightly and walked towards her study, saying as she walked, “Go and ask Shi Li to come. Tell her we need to discuss important matters.”

Ye Youqing considered several methods, but she could not go against the Emperor’s will, so she ultimately had to compromise.

Furthermore, she felt a slight sense of relief in her heart. Perhaps Ci Ke had found a way to excuse herself, or maybe with Ye Youqing present, the events from her dreams would not come to pass.

Two days quickly passed, and on the day of departure, just as the sky was turning light, Qin Xin knocked on Ye Youqing’s door to wake her up.

“Eldest Miss, the palace’s carriages and horses are already waiting outside,” Qin Xin said in a low voice.

Ye Youqing rubbed her eyes, got up and placed her feet on the ground, took the wet towel offered by Qin Xin, and patted it on her face.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” Qin Xin seemed hesitant and cautious.

“Don’t worry, I have Shi Li with me,” Ye Youqing said. As soon as she finished speaking, the door was forcefully pushed open with a bang, revealing a long leg stepping over the threshold, adorned with eye-catching embroidered shoes.

The person who entered had a very ordinary face, but a slender figure with a small waist and broad shoulders. However, this figure paired with two playful hair buns and delicate clothing was quite unusual.

“Ye Youqing.” Shi Li spoke through gritted teeth, “Don’t forget, I am your master.”

Ye Youqing, who had been maintaining a serious expression, couldn’t help but smile at her appearance. Then she suppressed her laughter and said, “Master, please bear with it for a few days. Besides, even beggars can do it, so why can’t a mere maid handle it?”

Ye Youqing could almost see Shi Li’s white-knuckled grip, so she quickly changed the subject. While Qin Xin helped her change clothes, she marveled, “This face… is it disguise?”

Shi Li lazily grunted as she took a seat on a chair, “I am, after all, a descendant of the top escort bureau in the world. Disguise is nothing to boast about.”

Ye Youqing nodded and looked at the exquisite and beautiful clothes on her body before shaking her head and beginning to take them off.

“Eldest Miss, this…” Qin Xin faltered.

“The simpler and plainer, the better. I don’t want to attract unnecessary attention,” Ye Youqing said calmly. She then casually rummaged through the cabinet and pulled out a light blue plain garment.

Shi Li, who was standing beside her, suddenly spoke up, “Xiaoqing, what do you think the Emperor’s intentions are in this matter?”

Ye Youqing fell silent. After a while, she said, “I don’t know.”

In reality, she had a somewhat bad feeling about it.

After quickly finishing dressing and grooming themselves, with the fiery morning glow rolling in the sky, Ye Youqing asked Shi Li to bring along replacement clothes. The two of them then got on the carriage that had come to pick them up.

Swaying along, they neared the palace, and from a distance, they could see several carriages adorned with cloud-patterned emerald beads parked at the entrance, lined up to a length of several meters, with the emperor’s carriage not among them.

(If you're not reading on, it means this has been stolen)

“Miss Ye, you have arrived at just the right time!” The eunuch with a long face appeared out of nowhere, greeting her with a smile. “The Emperor, along with the concubines, will be boarding the carriages inside the palace. Please choose one of these carriages that suits your fancy.”

“As for that young lady, she can go to the back. There is a carriage for the servants to ride in.” After finishing his smile, the eunuch pointed towards the end of the caravan.

Shi Li cast a deep glance at Ye Youqing and then walked away with quick steps.

Ye Youqing let out a sigh and was about to walk to the side when she heard footsteps behind her. Soon after, a clear male voice rang out, “Is this Miss Ye from the Duke’s Household?”

Ye Youqing had never heard this voice before, so she turned around cautiously. It was a man, dressed in a white robe with a gold-trimmed leather belt around his waist, a jade crown on his head, and a handsome face. He was slightly shorter than Ye Youqing, but not by much.

“Miss Ye, this is Wei Yanei.” The eunuch with the long face quickly introduced, then whispered in Ye Youqing’s ear, “He is the Emperor’s nephew by marriage!”

Upon hearing this, Ye Youqing raised an eyebrow slightly, understanding the emperor’s intentions, which made her heart shrink slightly.

Since he was the emperor’s nephew by marriage, he was a member of the royal family, and she would not be able to escape the capital in the future.

What a calculation.

Suddenly, the curtain of the carriage beside them was lifted slightly, revealing an eye with a raised outer corner. But when Ye Youqing looked up, she only caught a glimpse of a pale yellow dress.

As her eyes flickered with various thoughts, many ideas flooded her mind. However, when her thoughts settled back into her eyes, there was nothing but calmness.

“Wei Yanei.” Ye Youqing’s red lips tightened into a line.

“I have heard of Miss Ye’s famous name for a long time, and only today have I had the pleasure of meeting you. Your beauty is truly stunning and captivating.” The man’s eyes continued to scrutinize Ye Youqing, making her very uncomfortable.

“I must get on the carriage to avoid delaying the schedule. Farewell.” Ye Youqing couldn’t be bothered to exchange more words with him, turned around and walked toward the carriage. Unexpectedly, a arm suddenly reached out in front of her, firmly stopping her in her tracks.

As impatience and anger gradually rose, Ye Youqing’s voice grew colder, “What is the meaning of this, Wei Yanei?”

“Don’t worry, Eldest Miss, the other carriages are full of people, but mine still has an empty seat. I have come to invite you to ride together.” Wei Yanei raised the corner of his mouth, lifted his left hand by Ye Youqing’s shoulder, creating a posture that resembled an embrace without actual contact.

The scent of the man came close to her nose. Ye Youqing frowned, subconsciously clenched her fist. However, she suddenly heard a smooth and pleasant female voice coming from behind her. A woman wearing a goose-yellow dress descended gracefully from the carriage.

“There’s no need to overcrowd, Wei Yanei. There is still a seat in my carriage, and it’s not appropriate for men and women to ride together.”

Ye Youqing suddenly turned around, meeting Ci Ke’s smiling fox-like eyes.

However, those eyes did not look at her.

“You are…” Wei Yanei’s smile froze on his face, and his eyes involuntarily glanced towards the eunuch with a long face, seeming to be signaling to him.

(If you're not reading on, it means this has been stolen)

“Well, Miss Ci Ke, your carriage is small, it can’t fit two people…”

“That’s alright, Wei Yanei, please feel free to ride alone in this carriage.” Ci Ke said softly, then gracefully walked towards the empty carriage.

As the two faced each other, Ye Youqing had already walked around the man’s arm and caught up with her.

Outside the carriage, the man was angrily speaking to the eunuch, his eyes occasionally glancing in this direction. Ye Youqing looked at him for a moment, then let down the curtain, out of sight, out of mind.

She turned to the side, intending to thank Ci Ke, but saw Ci Ke looking through the window on the other side of the carriage, her body pressed closely against the window, leaving an arm’s width of space between them.

“Thank you, but am I really that terrifying?” Ye Youqing asked with a furrowed brow.

Ci Ke, as if just noticing, stepped back, creating a considerable distance between them.

Ye Youqing sighed helplessly and asked, “Did you not receive the letter I sent you? This journey is dangerous, and I wanted you to find a way to avoid it.”

“My aunt made excuses to pretend to be sick and not go, but the Emperor inexplicably insisted. My aunt couldn’t resist and had to compromise,” Ci Ke said softly. “I was worried about my aunt, so I followed.”

She looked up at Ye Youqing for a moment, but immediately lowered her head.

Previously, she had been very anxious and afraid, but ever since she saw Ye Youqing’s face, most of that fear had suddenly disappeared.

Ci Ke clenched her own fist tightly.

The carriage began to sway as it moved forward. A hand reached over, and slender fingertips gently pried open Ci Ke’s index finger where she had left marks from pinching herself.

“You will start bleeding if you pinch again,” Ye Youqing shook her head.

As the royal carriages passed by, pedestrians on the road made way for it, clearing a wide path. Before long, the grand procession had left the capital city and was traveling on the official road. On one side were scattered trees, on the other side vast wheat fields with newly sprouted summer seedlings, resembling light green clouds floating above the land.

The carriage moved steadily forward. Inside the carriage, one person gazed at the wheat fields while the other observed the trees, in serene silence.

Unexpectedly, at that moment, the carriage suddenly began to shake violently, as if traveling over rough stones, causing it to sway and bump erratically. The horses in the front neighed in alarm and unexpectedly plunged into the wheat fields below the road.

Someone tampered with this carriage! Ye Youqing’s mind flashed with this thought. She quickly grabbed onto the seat to brace herself against the sudden up and down vibrations after the carriage plunged into the wheat fields.

Amidst this chaotic shaking, Ci Ke’s body uncontrollably flew towards the carriage door. A woman’s scream rang out, and Ye Youqing promptly stretched out her arm, firmly grabbing her fingers and pulling her back into her seat.

“Stay still and don’t move,” Ye Youqing whispered softly. She then stood up while holding onto the carriage wall, intending to grab the horse’s reins.

Unexpectedly, at that moment, a royal guard descended from the sky and landed solidly on the carriage beam. The beam on one side of the carriage couldn’t bear his weight and with a crack, it broke. The carriage spun into a half-circle, swerving violently towards Ci Ke’s side.

So Ye Youqing watched helplessly as she was forced to fly backward due to inertia, and finally…

Ended up sitting on Ci Ke’s lap.

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red flower

thank you i like it ♡´・ᴗ・`♡

Little Panda
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