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Chapter 24-Part 1

Fate between people follows a gradual progression.

Jiang Xiurun, whether in this life or in past lives, has always adhered to this principle. Therefore, she carefully weighed her relationship with His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince, making sure not to overstep boundaries.

With a respectful bow, she said, “Your Highness is so gracious, which shows the favor bestowed upon me. However, customs vary among nations. We people of the Bo state are usually reserved and not accustomed to the familiarity seen in Qi. We do not usually share baths with others. If Your Highness wishes to bestow favor, I humbly request a separate bucket of medicinal soup for me. This way, I can take care of my health in my own time.”

Her words not only preserved the Crown Prince’s dignity but also tactfully refused the absurd suggestion of bathing together.

Feng Liwu’s mention of it wasn’t with ill intentions either. As young Master Jiang said, men of Great Qi often bathe together, much like drinking together at a banquet, a common practice among close friends. Inviting Young Master Jiang to bathe together was indeed bestowing great honor upon him.

Even though Young Master Jiang politely declined, attributing it to his youthful shyness, and graciously accepted the gift of medicinal soup, Feng Liwu couldn’t help but recall the incident when Qin Zhao had once stripped this young man in the inn. How Qin Zhao managed to take advantage of him at that time remains a mystery…

As his thoughts wandered, they involuntarily focused on the young man’s neck.

Since he was applying medicine, Young Master Jiang had his head lowered. Although he wore a high-necked robe, a graceful curve was still visible where the collar partially exposed his neck.

Feng Liwu had been close to him in the cave and knew that not only did that slender neck look delicate and lovely, but it also emitted an indescribable fragrance. If one’s nose happened to brush against it accidentally, it felt unbelievably smooth…

If the clothes were removed and he floated in the steaming medicinal bath… Thinking about it this way, not being able to bathe together seemed to leave an inexplicable sense of regret.

Before Feng Liwu could delve deeper into his thoughts, a servant arrived to inform him that the Empress was worried about the Crown Prince’s injuries, and since there was no Princess Consort who could attend to him properly in the mansion, the Princess Consort from Yan Kingdom, Cao Xi, was sent to the Crown Prince’s residence to take care of him on behalf of her aunt.

Jiang Xiurun finished applying the medicine, cleaned her hands with a nearby copper basin, and upon hearing about Cao Xi’s arrival, she quickly lowered her head to conceal her suppressed smile.

It seemed that her prayers had been answered, and Cao Xi’s arrival was surprisingly prompt.

Although Cao Xi was a bit dull, she had at least secured the position of Crown Prince Consort for several years. Now that she was here to serve the Crown Prince, Jiang Xiurun needed to make sure to please her in the coming days, ensuring a comfortable future for herself as the Crown Prince’s tutor.

Therefore, when the Crown Prince ordered to meet Cao Xi, Jiang Xiurun tactfully withdrew, understanding the importance of not hindering the future Crown Princess Consort from her plans to captivate the Crown Prince.

Regarding the selection of the Crown Princess Consort, the Crown Prince had long had his own plans. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Cao Xi was an excellent candidate.

Although the senior officials of Great Qi supported him as the Crown Prince, their loyalty to the Emperor was unquestionable.

If his father could peacefully enjoy his later years, he wouldn’t mind being the Crown Prince for a few more years. However, with the recent assassination attempt, the situation has become extremely precarious. If this continued, it would only lead to more trouble.

In such a situation, he would undoubtedly need outside support. And his maternal cousin was the beloved daughter of the Emperor of Yan. Marrying her would secure covert support from Yan State, which was crucial for Feng Liwu.

However, his previous impressions of Cao Xi weren’t very favorable. Now that she had arrived at the mansion, he couldn’t afford to be disrespectful.

So he instructed to bring Cao Xi into the room.

As Cao Xi entered the room, Feng Liwu had already been dressed in loose robes by attendants and was seated, sipping tea at the table.

Cao Xi removed her outer garment, revealing a lotus-colored long skirt underneath, and shyly glanced at the Crown Prince.

Yan state had many handsome men, but Feng Liwu was even more attractive than the young men of Yan, yet different from the slim figures of Yan men.

Feng Liwu, with a noble and elegant demeanor, possessed a sturdy physique not inferior to that of a warrior.

Hearing about the recent assassination attempt and knowing that he had single-handedly fought off multiple assassins, his heroic and manly aura was unparalleled. How many men in the world could match him?

Every time she saw Feng Liwu up close, she found it hard to control herself, wishing she could immediately throw herself into his arms and declare to the world that she was the Crown Princess Consort of Great Qi.

As Cao Xi approached Feng Liwu step by step, her heart was restless and filled with fluctuating emotions.

Feng Liwu set down his teacup and frowned slightly as he watched Cao Xi approach and kneel at the table, bowing to him.

In fact, he had never paid attention to Cao Xi’s appearance. Most of the time, much like eating to satisfy hunger, he didn’t care about the subtleties of taste in ingredients.

And the selection of a Crown Princess Consort was mostly a matter of political consideration, unrelated to preferences for female beauty.

But today, as he had this close encounter with Cao Xi, who could tell him what scent emanated from this woman? It was almost suffocating!

Not to mention, in this study, King Mu and the Holy Mother of the West meet.

(T/N: there is a picture or painting of King Mu meeting the Holy Mother of the West in the study.)

After leaving the Crown Prince’s study, Jiang Xiurun briskly headed towards the kitchen.

Now that the Crown Prince was injured, the ingredients had to be carefully chosen for nourishment.

Perhaps due to having eaten a few meals with real worldly flavors lately, the Crown Prince had become quite discerning.

So it was up to her, as the idle tutor, to personally go to the kitchen and oversee the cooking, checking the timing of the soup and the tenderness of the steamed meat.

And when there was a break in supervising, she couldn’t help but ladle a bowl of fresh soup and taste it with the meat buns specially made for her by the kitchen maids.

Her greatest skill in life was observing and understanding people and being skilled in social interactions. Although she hadn’t been at the Crown Prince’s residence for long, she had managed to get close to the kitchen maids.

Most of the officials in the mansion were quite proud and didn’t bother building relationships with the servants. In contrast, this always smiling Crown Prince’s tutor was genuinely easygoing, which made people feel comfortable around her.

So every time she visited the kitchen, Jiang Xiurun would enjoy a bowl of soup and some buns, chatting with the servants and gradually uncovering many tales of the Crown Prince’s residence and the recent gossip among the servants of various mansions.

Unfortunately, due to her previous occupation as a laundry maid in the Royal Laundry Bureau, she didn’t know much about the happenings in Luo’an City. Her current status was neither high nor low enough to socialize with the noblewomen and officials. Besides, what real truth could she gather in social circles?

It was better to sit in this lively kitchen, listening to the chatter of the servants who bought groceries or ran errands for the Crown Prince’s mansion.

For example, just now, while enjoying a bowl of soup, she overheard a steaming piece of gossip—General Qin, returning home to recuperate from his injuries, almost had his other leg broken by his father, General Qin, because he didn’t want to marry into the Xu family. Upon hearing this, the Xu family threatened to cancel the marriage, and now both families were at odds.

However, Jiang Xiurun wasn’t particularly interested in Qin Zhao’s affairs. She just thought that if Qin Zhao didn’t marry into the Xu family but instead married a fiercer woman, it would be better for her, so he wouldn’t keep hovering around her all the time.

But she didn’t expect the gossip to keep coming today.

As Jiang Xiurun was about to have another sip of soup, the servant on duty from the Crown Prince’s study hurried over, informing the kitchen that there was no need to prepare extra food for the honored guest who had arrived today—Cao Xi from Yan State had been scolded away by the Crown Prince and had left the mansion crying, her heavily applied rouge smudging from her tears.

Now Jiang Xiurun couldn’t drink her soup.

What was going on with all these people, unable to get along with their future spouses? While the others were manageable, Cao Xi left crying but returned? Otherwise, wouldn’t the task of nursing the sick fall on her again?

Later, when Jiang Xiurun inquired further, she felt somewhat hopeless.

Cao Xi had actually shown such incompetence to the extent that, in front of the Crown Prince, she couldn’t find her words, directly stating that she had come to serve the Crown Prince attentively not only due to the Empress’s instructions but also because of the Emperor’s instructions. She even received precious medicinal herbs as rewards, said to be extremely valuable…


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