Just to vent my frustration… I found some websites and wattpad posting my translations without crediting. If your read this please take it down as this is very demoralising and it is very irritating. It’s not that hard to ask for permission! Argh!
Back to the story… Shen Xin and gang is returning back to Shen Miao’s side…
Edited by Tnyhy
Chapter 71: Setting Fire to the Ancestral Hall (Part 2)
Around ten Li (1 Li = 500m) outside the capital, there were horses drinking from a frozen creek. And at the withered grassland that seemed to have yellowed, some soldiers were taking a rest.
Sitting furthest away from the rest of the soldiers was a middle-aged man, his complexion was bronze in colour, most likely due to the sun and rain during the battlefield but his strength could be seen. His stature was like a little mountain and his thick brows were righteous and awe-inspiring with big eyes. Together with a full beard, in one glance one could tell that he had a forthright character.
The female that was sitting at his side was stroking the head of the horse. That woman was also middle-aged and wore a green short jacket and a pair of gold embroidered pants, and her hair was tied up in a simple bun. She had a pair of lively eyes and looked pretty but the thing that attracted others was her air of valiant heroism. There was a pair of double silver bracelet around her waist that made ding-ling sounds as she stroked the horse.
“Furen, there is still about one Shichen (1 shichen = 2 hours) before the capital is reached.” The middle-aged man laughed, “After spending all the time in the Northwest, the air is sweet upon returning to the capital.”
“How is the Northwest bad?” The woman’s beautiful eyes glared and asked forcefully, “I grew up in the bitter cold Northwest and if you like sweetness, why did you marry me for?”
That man quickly begged for mercy, “Furen is right, this capital has a trace of sweetness and not suitable for us coarse people. The Northwest is better, one can still hunt deep in the mountain in winter, and silver foxes run all around that can be hunted and then given to Furen for a coat.”
When the woman heard it, her lips raised to a smile as she scolded while laughing, “Seeing an official and speaking bureaucratically!”
These two people were not others but the formidable Grand General Shen Xin and his Furen, Lou Xue Yan. Today they returned in a rush in order to participate in Old Shen Furen’s birthday celebration. Before this, they had not disclose anything to the Ding capital as they had received the surrender letter in advance. Mostly likely it was to give the people in the capital a pleasant surprise that they came back this early in triumph.
“We have yet to seen Mother’s birthday celebration before.” Luo Xue Yan said, “In the previous years, it was always after the year ends that we returned and gave Mother the bestowments that His Majesty gave you, as longevity presents. In a rush to return today, one do not know if this fire rat (T/N: no idea what is it, just take it as a type of huge breed of rat) coat will enter Old Taitai’s eyes.”
“Why would it not enter Old Taitai’s eyes?” Shen Xin heard it and immediately asked, “This is a good thing and even in the battlefield, this is also a treasure. With it, you can be invulnerable to knives and spears. At the beginning, in order to hunt that fire rat, I kept watch in the mountain for seven days and seven nights so if you insist on giving it to Mother, I will… Give it to you.” As his words reached the end, Shen Xin’s voice gradually softened. Obviously his words were somewhat uncongenial but a human’s heart is not a scale, and there were some parts that had bias. Even though Old Shen Furen treated Shen Xin very well, she was after all not his real mother and since there was no blood relationship, Shen Xin naturally dotted his own wife more. Moreover Luo Xue Yan followed him into the battlefield to fight normally and this fire rat cloak was more useful to her than to Old Shen Furen. If it was not because of Luo Xue Yan insistence to give it to Old Shen Furen, Shen Xin would have already gave it to Luo Xue Yan.
“What do you know.” Luo Xue Yan stared at him, “You have missed Old Taitai’s birthday every year and even though all of the rewards that His Majesty bestowed you were given to Old Taitai, who will really truly know. The last time we returned to the capital, I actually heard that people in the capital said that you purposely chose not to be close to Mother. I do all this, all for you. Even if you do not worry about reputation, Jiaojiao cannot be associated with an unfilial father.”
When these words were spoken, Shen Xin was also silent for a long time. It was indeed that the Ding capital was not like the Northwest region that was bitter and cold, and did not have traps from the enemies’ knives and spears. But how can it be considered as truly peaceful. Both of them, husband and wife, were not in the capital and the rumours would of course run rampant which was very maddening.
Luo Xue Yan continued saying, “You know that I do not know of all the twisting and tricky around the inner courtyard, as our Luo family do not have so many rules and regulations. I can only use the simplest method. This fire rat cloak is precious and if it enters Old Taitai’s eyes and makes her happy, when everyone sees that, the rumours would naturally be self-defeating.”
After a long while, Shen Xin then said, “It still Furen that thought out well.”
“I did not do it for you but for Jiaojiao.” Luo Xue Yan snorted and suddenly looked sullen, “Both you and I are most of the year not in Ding capital, even though the Northwest region’s conditions are brutal and Jiaojiao is still young of age and cannot be brought over. But during all these years, we did not personally taught or accompanied her, it is us that let her down.”
When Shen Xin heard it, he sighed again and hung his head as a touch of pain flashed in his eyes.
There were no heartless parents under the skies, and there were no parents that did not love their children. But he and Luo Xue Yan were unable to control their destiny who was to fight in the battlefield, but Shen Miao could not follow. When two armies were at war, all the methods were dazzling and killing the opponents’ relatives were common, and then they could only reluctantly and painfully separate from their daughter. At least in the Ding capital, one did not need to worry about Shen Miao’s safety.
Luo Xue Yan seemed to be sadder as she thought and continued speaking, “I often think it was truly safe putting Jiaojiao in the capital. Without parents by her side, was she really living happily? When we meet up with her every year, she always treat us coldly, but for whatever reasons it were, it would all be our fault. So no matter what she did, we cannot blame her at all.”
Shen Miao was not close to Shen Xin and his wife or even Shen Qiu because these so-called family did not accompany her since childhood. She was close to Ren Wan Yun and Chen Rou Qiu and even Old Shen Furen, because these people had contact with her all the time and was considered as ‘family’ in her eyes. And Shen Xin and his wife treated their daughter with being subservient to her every wishes, because this was all caused by them.
Shen Xin patted Luo Xue Yan’s shoulder, “There will always be a day where JiaoJiao will understand our difficulties.”
“Will she really understand?” Luo Xue Yan smiled bitterly, “There are some times where I would think that the unruliness of JiaoJiao was actually caused by who else? Shen residence…” She suddenly shut up and glanced at Shen Xin somewhat upset.
Shen Xin naturally understood the meaning outside her words and there was a slight change in his expression. A moment later, he sighed and held his beloved wife’s hands, “Furen worry too much. Mother and DiMei would teach JiaoJiao well and if is not right JiaoJiao would not be so close with them.”
Shen Miao’s attitude towards the two ShenShens was so good that it made one jealous. As such even if one have some ideas, it became nondescript.
“It is me that worry too much.” Luo Xue Yan said. She was a precious treasured Di daughter of the Northwestern Luo family and was also from a military lineage family. Even though it was a third ranked official, everyone else in the family were iron-blooded men. Luo Xue Yan was the youngest little sister and there were three older brothers in front of her, so ever since she was born there were only parents and older brothers in the family and there was not much filthy events, thus the knowledge on shameful secrets of the large families was little and she did not understand the sinister in it.
If she were to know about it, she would definitely be willing to take the risk and keep Shen Miao at her side, and not let Shen Miao stay in that terrible Shen residence.
Just as they were speaking, they heard someone behind calling out, “Father, Mother.”
Shen Xin’s expression dropped and he angrily said, “When there is someone outside, call me…”
“General Shen!” The oncoming person quickly said.
“Do not be bothered about your father.” Luo Xue Yan rolled her eyes at Shen Xin, “Putting on airs.”
The oncoming person was a twenty-something youth and had a dignified look. He had a wheat-coloured skin and when he laughed, there were two dimples on his face which added a rare childishness to his face. This young man looked quite similar to Luo Xue Yan and was Shen Xin’s Di son, Shen Qiu.
Shen Qiu was twenty-two this year and was brought along by Shen Xin when he was ten to experience the battlefield, saying that a strict teacher produces outstanding students. Shen Qiu was also brave, after so many years, he had earn a few meritorious deeds and was currently a fourth rank small General.
“Father, Mother, your birthday gift is set then what do I give?” Shen Qiu scratched his hand and was in a somewhat loss.
“This muddled-headed boy, why ask us on what gift to send. A man should make the decision swiftly, how to go to the battlefield if one cannot make a small decision like this!” Shen Xin seized the opportunity to criticise his son.
“I have not participated in the Grandmother’s birthday celebration for a long time.” Shen Qiu awkwardly said, “I also do not know what to give and cannot report up how many enemies I have killed. It is not auspicious for the birthday celebration.”
Lou Xue Yan laughed at Shen Qiu’s words, “It is alright. Previously His Majesty rewarded you with a bolt of fine silk brocade, you should give it to Old Furen. I heard that there is a shortage of this kind of fine silk brocade in the Ding capital that even the Ladyships in the Palace would not have any. If Old Taitai gets a blot, she would naturally be happy.”
“But that is to give to Younger Sister!” Shen Qiu hurriedly said.
“Let the matter drop.” Shen Xin waved his hands, “Have you seen your Younger Sister liking such brocade?”
Even though Shen Xin did not know a female’s likings, he knew that this daughter of his did not liked those elegant materials and prefered to wear gold and silver, the more tacky they were the better. Even though he was helpless, he could only leave it to her as she was happy. Even though the fine silk brocade was beautiful, Shen Miao would not necessarily appreciate it.
Shen Qiu heard it and felt that his Father made sense so he bowed his head and squatted down before saying softly, “This time because of the rush return, one did not bring any gift for Younger Sister. Thinking about it made one feel guilty.”
In fact Shen Qiu’s and Shen Miao’s relationship in the past was very good, and both sister and brother supported each other and life was considered blissful. However, Shen Qiu started following Shen Xin to the battlefield every year and then only saw Shen Miao once a year. Afterwards, Shen Miao’s temperament worsened with each passing year and both brother and sister almost did not exchanged any words. No matter how much Shen Qiu wanted to get closer to this Younger Sister, Shen Miao would only give him a lukewarm attitude.
Shen Qiu did not know of the reason but Shen Miao knew. In fact it was Shen Yue and Shen Qing and also Gui Momo that circuitous attacked and reminded her that her parents only brought Shen Qiu along by their side, and it was obvious that they valued males and belittled females. Sons could carry on the ancestral line so they were valued, whereas daughters were not valued as much. Shen Miao was young and was easily swayed by a few words, and when she saw this elder brother, she naturally felt that he had stolen all of her parents’ love and felt hateful towards him, thus she was not willing to be close with him.
“Never mind.” Shen Xin patted the dust of his body and stood up, “Call all those brothers up and continue the journey back. Must return to the Ding capital in one Shichen (1 shichen = 2 hours)!”