Big Boss – Chapter 53

Eve of the storm

“Ma Da,” Shi Li sighed, “Why are you so blunt and vulgar in your words?”

Ma Da quickly shut his mouth and ushered the two of them into the courtyard.

“I’ve always been a rough person, don’t understand those elegant words, so please forgive me, Miss Ye,” Ma Da chuckled, leading the two under a locust tree. There was a wooden table and chair placed there, looking oily and sticky.

Seeing the situation, Ma Da reached out to wipe it clean, but ended up smearing fresh blood on his hand, causing him to exclaim in surprise and scratch his head.

“It’s fine,” Ye Youqing was always unfazed by such things, picked up a fallen leaf to wipe away the bloodstains, and then sat down calmly.

Upon seeing this, Ma Da became a bit less formal, casually tossing aside the pig’s head and extending his hand, saying, “Escort Head, please.”

The three of them took their seats, and Ma Da stole a glance at Ye Youqing, blushing and saying, “I thought girls from wealthy families were pampered. I was afraid of mistreating you, but Miss Ye, you are indeed different from ordinary noble ladies.”

Ye Youqing smiled.

“Earlier, you mentioned Wei Yanei… is it true or false?” Ye Youqing asked. This situation was quite coincidental; she hadn’t even made a move yet, so how did Wei Yanei end up being targeted by others?

It seems someone was quite ruthless.

“I, Ma Da, am a well-known honest man in the Jianghu and would never deceive anyone. This incident is not groundless. Many vendors and pedestrians passing by the Imperial Street this morning witnessed the scene, causing several girls to cry in fear,” Ma Da said, patting his robust chest proudly.

“Do you know who did it?” Ye Youqing heard that it was true, feeling a sense of satisfaction.

“I haven’t heard anyone say, but this Wei Yanei has always had a bad reputation in the town. Being the present Emperor’s nephew, he often bullies men and dominates women, so he likely has many enemies. Perhaps he stumbled drunkenly onto the street and was ambushed by one of his enemies.”

Ye Youqing listened, her eyes growing deeper with thought.

It wasn’t until Shi Li coughed next to her that she realized why she had come here today and looked towards Shi Li.

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“Just now I forgot to introduce, this Ma Da was once my father’s right-hand man, born with immense strength and powerful martial arts skills. His brothers all used to work in our family’s escort agency, loyal and devoted. After my father passed away and the agency closed down, they secretly followed me to the capital and became butchers.”

“They used to help me out often,” Shi Li smiled.

“It’s not just helping out, the old Escort Head has done us a great favor. It’s our duty to protect the young Escort Head,” Ma Da scratched his head, feeling a bit uneasy.

“Now that I saw the young Escort Head is finally… we can rest easy too,” Ma Da chuckled warmly.

At that moment, they suddenly heard heavy footsteps outside. Ye Youqing glanced up and saw two burly men entering the courtyard, followed by an equally muscular girl.

“Ma Er!” Ma Da boomed, pulling the group over and introducing them to Ye Youqing, “Miss Ye, these are my siblings, Ma Er, Ma San, and Ma Xiao!”

Ye Youqing almost chuckled at the thought of the names Ma’s family members were given, finding it somewhat hasty.

(LP: “Da” means oldest, “Er” means two, “San” means three”, and Xiao means “youngest”)

“We have met Miss Ye,” Ma Er, the man who was called, greeted with a fist salute. Compared to the others, he appeared relatively refined, with a square face, straight eyebrows, neatly trimmed beard, and though he wore coarse clothes, he looked very clean and tidy.

Ma San, on the other hand, seemed clueless, his shiny bald head resembling a young monk as he also saluted alongside Ma Er. The other girl appeared the most astute, her face bronzed and rough due to labor, but her bright eyes and the cleaver in her hand hinted at her sharpness as she smiled at Ye Youqing.

Seeing the group hesitating to sit down, Ye Youqing quickly gestured towards the bench, smiling warmly, “You all don’t need to be so reserved; I am the guest here.”

Upon hearing this, the group finally took their seats. Ma Da hurriedly got up and went into the house to fetch a few bowls of tea, carefully placing them in front of Ye Youqing.

Ye Youqing thanked him with a smile and picked up a bowl to drink. Ma Da beamed with joy only after this, unable to stop smiling.

“The reason I sought you out, I’m sure Master has already explained to you?” Ye Youqing casually started the conversation.

“Yes, since the escort agency closed down, our martial arts skills have gone to waste, with no place to use them. We spent two years in the southern regions doing odd escort jobs but were often bullied by the escort agencies and soldiers. The money we earned couldn’t even fill our stomachs, so we had no choice but to give up and become a butcher and a blacksmith in this capital city, relying on our brute strength to make ends meet,” Ma Er sighed as he spoke.

“In that case, I won’t beat around the bush. I need people now, especially those skilled in martial arts, but most importantly, those I can trust,” Ye Youqing said with a smile.

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“At the same time, I will provide you with enough monthly silver. Once things settle down, if you wish to marry and have children to live a stable life, I will also agree to each request.”

“The only requirement is that you must not do anything to betray my trust.” Ye Youqing emphasized the last sentence, as if each word struck at the heart, before softening her tone.

“I understand that the escort business involves licking blood from the blade’s edge, but there are similar risks under my command as well. So, think it over carefully, and give me your answer in two days,” Ye Youqing said, finishing the tea on the table in one gulp.

“You can rest assured, Miss, ever since the young Escort Head informed us, my siblings and I have already made up our minds. We don’t hide the fact that our lives in the capital are dire. Not only can we barely earn any silver, but as grown men, the taxes weigh heavily on us. Without seeing a way out like the past, it’s better for us to follow you and save our lives,” Ma Er spoke up, with Ma Da and Ma San nodding in agreement.

“Miss Ye, rest assured, when we followed the old Escort Head in the past, we were known for our loyalty. Now is no exception,” Ma Xiao’s eyes sparkled, “Don’t be fooled by my gender; I can wield a hammer to forge iron, proving my strength is no less than theirs.”

“Please take us in, Miss!” Ma Er blurted out loudly, about to get up to bow, but Ye Youqing quickly held his elbow.

“No need for that.” Ye Youqing relaxed a bit upon seeing this incident, smiling warmly as she took out an envelope and handed it to Ma Er, “This is your monthly salary. No need to do anything for the next few days. Remember the pattern on the envelope. In the future, any instructions will bear this mark.”

Ma Er accepted it with both hands and widened his eyes upon seeing the silver inside, his eyebrows shooting up in surprise.

“Thank you, Miss!” he stammered, quickly passing the envelope to Ma Da beside him, and they all handled it carefully, as if it were hot.

With the matter of Wei Yanei still on her mind, Ye Youqing didn’t linger any longer. Amid the group’s gratitude, she stood up, bid her farewell, and briskly walked away in the narrow alleyways.

“Thank you,” Ye Youqing said to Shi Li.

“What are you thanking me for?” Shi Li chuckled and turned a corner, “You’re the one to be thanked for taking them in. I’ve been feeling guilty all these years. If it weren’t for my own incompetence and causing the death of my parents, leading to the downfall of the escort agency, they wouldn’t have ended up in such a situation.”

“They weren’t harmed by you, it was him,” Ye Youqing corrected her.

Shi Li looked up, her features displaying a vivid intensity, creating a moment of mesmerization in the sunlight.

“Yes, it was him,” Shi Li murmured.

“Sometimes it’s better to find reasons from others when things happen, it’ll make you feel better,” Ye Youqing chuckled.

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“That’s nonsense.” Shi Li reached out and tapped her on the head.

With those words exchanged, Shi Li’s earlier desolate expression faded, and she became more carefree and relaxed, then asked seriously, “What do you think of the Wei Yanei’s matter?”

Ye Youqing shook her head, unable to determine whose doing it was, but to her, it seemed like a good thing.

Unless…

At the same time, behind layers of palace walls, inside the Imperial Study, in the Ganluo Palace, the Emperor sat at a spacious desk, anxiously furrowing his brows. Several palace attendants stood on the side, not daring to even take a deep breath.

The air inside the hall was incredibly stifling, with the smell of ink and paper almost suffocating.

“Has the Eldest Princess returned?” the Emperor spoke, breaking the silence in the air.

“Your Majesty, the Eldest Princess fainted from crying earlier and was taken away by the Imperial Physician for treatment,” the solemn-faced attendant frowned and reported in a low voice.

“Nonsense!” the Emperor scolded in a hushed tone, throwing the book in his hand onto the table with a bang, startling the attendants into trembling. “Have they found out who did this?”

“Not yet, the merchant who found Wei Yanei has been taken for questioning but yielded no useful information; we had to silence him.”

“With so many commoners passing through the streets, how does silencing him help?” the Emperor angrily rebuked, his thick eyebrows furrowed deeply, the crown on his head swaying. “This lad has caused such a scandal, tarnishing my royal reputation!”

“Summon Minister Song and Scholar Huang, dismiss the others,” the Emperor ordered after taking several deep breaths.

The solemn-faced attendant quickly gestured for the others to leave, bowing his body as they retreated. Once outside, he picked up the pace, fully aware of the Emperor’s genuine anger and thus dared not say more.

Shortly after, two scholars rushed in, catching their breath outside the Ganlu Palace, adjusting their robes and wiping away sweat, before daring to enter.

The morning’s commotion had stirred up a storm, and they had anticipated the Emperor’s summons, waiting at the palace gates.

“Greetings, Your Majesty,” the two men bowed respectfully, speaking cautiously.

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“How do you view this matter?” the Emperor, now calm on the surface but with trembling teacups on the table and a growing sense of tension, hinted at his underlying fury.

“Are you referring to… the marriage decree?” Scholar Huang, with a mix of black and white hair that made him appear older, asked in a low voice, to which the Emperor nodded.

Upon receiving the affirmation, he continued, “With all due respect, news of Wei Yanei’s incident has spread throughout Bianjing and his… loss is now common knowledge. Insisting on the marriage decree at this time seems inappropriate. It may be better to rescind the decree for now and consider future opportunities.”

The Emperor gazed at him for a moment in silence, then turned to Minister Song.

Minister Song, a bit younger, took a deep breath before speaking, “This matter is mostly rumors. I just spoke with the Imperial Physician, and it seems the situation with Wei Yanei’s condition is not too severe. With proper care going forward, recovery is possible. Revoking the decree now would only confirm the rumors.”

The Emperor nodded, “Makes sense. Go on.”

“I understand Your Majesty’s caution regarding the Ye family girl. From the last incident, it’s evident she’s cunning and still holds leverage. If the token is not retrieved soon, it may lead to future troubles.”

“Regardless, she is just a woman. Even if she were to gather the cavalry, she couldn’t lead a rebellion. There’s no need to be so wary. Insisting on the marriage decree could backfire, fueling gossip in the court,” Scholar Huang advised firmly.

“If we follow Scholar Huang’s advice, the only solution is to send someone to snatch the token from that young woman’s hand,” Minister Song said with a fake smile.

“Nonsense!” Scholar Huang, his beard askew, exclaimed, “Duke Liang is a respected minister in court. If other officials find out about this, it could create tensions between ruler and subjects. How would you explain this to the Emperor?”

“You see, that plan won’t work. We must stick to the original plan. By keeping this woman close to the imperial eyes, we can prevent any further trouble,” Minister Song continued to smile, glancing at the silent Emperor.

“Now, the only eligible man for marriage is Wei Yanei. The others are either too difficult to control or already married. The imperial army tasked with finding the cavalry has vanished without a trace. Their disappearance indicates a threat to our nation’s security if someone were to obtain the cavalry,” Minister Song reasoned.

“You…” Scholar Huang was about to argue but was cut off by the Emperor.

“Your words are wise. I’ve been restless lately, likely due to this matter. We must address it promptly,” the Emperor said, adjusting his crown.

“What do you think, Minister Song?” the Emperor’s face softened with a hint of a smile as he asked.

Minister Song glanced at Scholar Huang with a smile before speaking.

“I believe we should quell the rumors by stating that Wei Yanei caused a drunken scene before his joyful celebration. This way, we can contain the situation and deal with it later.”


LP: Huh? This Minister Song sure is stupid, he’s attracting death!



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red flower

Emperor just die 🗡🔫💣☺ you too Minister Song 🔫☺
thank you for the chapter 😊

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