In this world, what is the hardest to be cover?
It would be rumors.
The news that the Emperor and Empress Dowager want to bestow an engagement for Su Feng Nuan didn’t take days to spread out of the Southern Qi Imperial City and gradually spreading further towards the border.
Su Feng Nuan was sitting inside the old cattle carriage on her way back to the Imperial City when she heard the news.
The old cattle was slow and swayed as it walked, three shakes with each step along the way as if it would collapse at any time. Yet, she didn’t seem to be worried, just holding onto the book she had in her hands that she was reading casually while she sat with her legs slightly folded, inside the wagon which covered the heat of the sun.
There was also a handsome young man of similar age as her, about 16 or 17. He sat in front of her in the wagon, holding a broken whip woven from a bad rope, bored from rushing the cattle.
The mountain road was clear of commuters, only the sound of the old cattle wagon ‘kazhi kazhi’ echoing as the wagon moved.
Near noon, the old cow was tired, and couldn’t move. After the young man waved a few whips, he glanced back and muttered, “What useless book is that? You look so revel in it .”
Su Feng Nuan raised her head, her eyebrow also lifted as she smiled, she reached out and tapped at the book in hand, pointing to a spot in it with a smile. “Reading literature and poems in vain, a waste of talents; being merry in the clouds. This poem is too accurate!”
The young man scoffed, rolling his eyes, “Indeed, a useless book.”
Su Feng Nuan shook her head, “This isn’t a useless book, I think this book is the most interesting.”
The young man lightly laughed again, “Absurd statements made in the marketplace, random writings, what use is it being interesting? After all, it is not serious material.”
This time, it was Su Feng Nuan’s turn to roll her eyes, “In Third Brother’s eyes, only the Four Books and Five classics1Classic Chinese Manuscripts are good stuff.”
This youth was Su Feng Nuan’s third brother, Su Qing.
“Of course!” Su Qing said merrily, “It’s my little sister that knows me well.”
Su Feng Nuan lightly snorted. “You are so pedantic at a young age. I have to see what kind of wife you will find in the future.”
“You’re worried that I can’t find a wife?” Su Qing glanced at her. “You should be the one to be careful that you can’t get married off. Running east and west every day, can’t even see you all year long. A wild girl no one wants.”
Just when Su Feng Nuan wanted to talk back, a crow flew over and landed on her shoulder. She extended her hand to take off the piece of paper from the bird’s leg. Opening it, she suddenly becomes cheerful and said to Su Qing, “You don’t need to worry about me not marrying off, I’m afraid that all of the world’s men will be for my choosing.“
Upon hearing, Su Qing’s eyes rolled, almost like it was going to roll up to the skies. Grabbing the piece of paper from her hand and took a look. Clicking his tongue and said, “What northeast or northwest wind is blowing the Emperor and Empress? Don’t they know you are a wild girl? Want to bestow an engagement for you?”
Su Feng Nuan shrugged.
Su Qing casually crushed the piece of paper, “Don’t know who is the unlucky one to marry you.”
Su Feng Nuan raised her feet to kick him.
Su Qing sensed and quickly jumped off the wagon. Putting his hands to his waist, “Wild girl, you kick me again, you want to fight?”
Su Feng Nuan extended her head out, looking at him, “You can win over me?”
Su Qing choked, after a split moment said, “I’m your third brother! Older brother is like a father! If you hit me, it is like hitting our father!”
Su Feng Nuan laughed, “It’s elder brother is like father, and you aren’t big brother!”
Su Qing glared at her, “Father had me follow you, is to manage you! Even though I am only third brother, but they are not with us, so I am oldest, so you should not be disrespectful to me!”
Su Feng Nuan pouted, “It doesn’t even take my fingers to hit you.” After saying so, she glanced at the burning sun, and again retreated back into the old wagon.
“Wild girl,” Su Qing muttered, asking impatiently, “We’ve been riding this useless old cattle wagon for half a month already and we only have gone 200 miles, if we continue like this, how long until we reach the Imperial City?”
“What’s good about the Imperial City? Not worth going.” Su Feng Nuan said with a lack of interest.
Su Qing suddenly realized, “Oh, I understand now! I thought you insisted on taking this useless old cattle wagon was for enjoying the sceneries along the way, so it’s actually because of not wanting to go to the Imperial City!”
“What sceneries are there to see? These years, what sceneries haven’t I seen?” Su Feng Nuan laughed.
After hearing so, Su Qing again went back into the wagon, “I heard mother was already brought to the Imperial City Su Manor by the Emperor.”
“And you heard that from me.” Su Feng Nuan reminded him.
Su Qing pouted, “The Imperial City is great, during the younger days when we left, I remember you wouldn’t go, and you would frequently sneak back to the Imperial City, but these two years, how come you become tired of the Imperial City? and not willing to go anymore?”
“Bored, I guess.” Su Feng Nuan said.
Su Qing stared at her, studied for a while, but couldn’t make of anything. “Father had me follow you because he was afraid you’d sneak away again. So right now, you don’t want to go to the Imperial City, I’m afraid won’t do. The message just then, didn’t it say that the Empress Dowager and Emperor want to betroth an engagement for you? If you don’t quickly return to the Imperial City by the time the Royal Decree comes out, even if they give you a crooked melon or cracked date, you wouldn’t just marry would you?”
“This really is something.” Su Feng Nuan, massaged between her eyebrows, complained, “Northern Zhou have peaceful days they don’t want, what’s with the battle? They really are too comfortable. If not for that, our family would still be enjoying the quietness, Emperor wouldn’t think of Father, the Prime Minister wouldn’t nominate, Father wouldn’t need to get back to post, and the Su family wouldn’t need to move back to the Imperial City.”
Su Qing was speechless for a moment, “You just want to have fun, why blame the Northern Zhou?” and than continued, “That’s not right, this time, you insisted on going to the border with father to the battle, after father and big brother were injured, you used a serial tactic to heavily injure Chu Han, the 2nd Prince of Northern Zhou and won over the Northern Zhou army. That tactic, even father said was very cruel. Could you have been taking it out the Northern Zhou, your anger of not wanting to go back to the Imperial City?”
“By not killing Chu Han, I already went easy on him.” Su Feng Nuan snorted.
Su Qing was speechless for a moment, looking to the sky, “Really worry about my future brother in law, the most poisonous but the heart of a small woman.”
Su Feng Nuan glanced at him, putting her thumb and forefinger on her lips,
and blew a whistle. After the whistle sound, from not too far away came a shiny coated black and a red stallion pair.
Su Qing’s eyes lit up, “You agree to go back to the Imperial City?”
Su Feng Nuan nodded. When the horse came up, she grabbed the rein, leaping out from inside the wagon, and landed onto the stallion.
Su Qing was momentarily jealous, “Skunk girl, these years you didn’t put effort into learning martial arts from father, just running around, but still learned some good martial arts.”
Su Feng Nuan sat on the horse, holding the rein close, looking in the direction of the Imperial City, her stare gradually deepens, “Third brother, how about a race?”
“Sure!” Su Qing also jumped up and sat on a horse, “These few days sitting in the cattle wagon have been suffocating me, race for 80 or 100 miles what’s the fun, why don’t we race into the Imperial City? How’s that? See who makes it to the Imperial City first.
Su Feng Nuan slightly turned her head to look at him, “You started such a big race, is there a big bet you want? Say it, what do you want?”
“The Hanxiang-yu [wfn]type of cool jade[/wfn] that you took from the 2nd Prince of Northern Zhou.” Su Qing said immediately.
Su Feng Nuan decisively shook her head, “Not that.”
Su Qing blinked, “You’re afraid of losing?”
Su Feng Nuan rubbed the horse rein, not speaking.
Su Qing glanced at her and spoke proudly, “These few years, 2nd Brother and I frequently raced. If in marial arts, you have quite some random types and also tricky, your brother I am not your opponent, but if in racing….”
Su Feng Nuan cut him short, “If I bet the Hanxiang-yu[wfn]type of cool jade[/wfn], what are you taking out?”
Su Qing thought for a while, biting down, “Than I will out that thousand-year snow lotus that I’ve been keeping for 10 years. Its value is equivalent to the Hanxiang-yu. Even a million gold is hard to buy one. What do you say?”
“Deal!” Su Feng Nuan replied quickly.
The two set their bet deal and together galloped off towards the Imperial City.