Chapter 428: Departing for Jiangzhou & A Longing for Reunion (II)
Ling Zhang slowly looked from face to face and sniffed, “You guys seriously fell for Yuwen Jin’s nonsense?”
“Well, what other explanation is there?” ventured Xie Qing, clearly looking forward to hearing Ling Zhang’s answer.
Ji Feng, Zhao Turui, Zhao Jiusi and Tao Yi all looked at Ling Zhang with expectant eyes. Evidently, whatever the circumstances, growing taller was always a great temptation for them.
Ling Zhang thought back carefully for a while and then responded, “I think it might have something to do with the soup made with bones that I’ve been drinking on a frequent basis recently. The method of cultivating internal energy I’ve been following should be a contributing factor too.”
The latter was not accessible to them, but the former was definitely on the table. Soup made with bones. Easy peasy!
“So we can grow taller by just drinking soup made with bones? I’ve been wasting time for so long!” wailed Yuwen Jin.
Ling Zhang looked at him and said bracingly, “It’s okay. I believe you’ll be a lot taller when you finish your training in that place.”
Yuwen Jin’s eyes twinkled. “Really?”
“Your cousin said so. I think it’s true,” replied Ling Zhang.
The main reason why Yuwen Tong had said that was because Yuwen Jin was still at puberty, and it wouldn’t be a problem for Yuwen Jin to grow a little taller with the help of the high-intensity training and nutritious daily diet he would get in the Shadow Battalion.
Hearing this, the others were somewhat envious, but they all knew there was a line in the sand, so none of them asked where that place was. Given that both Ling Zhang and Yuwen Jin were keeping it back from them, information about that place must be top secret.
Zhao Jiusi, who was among the crowd, appeared faintly thoughtful. He was now Ling Zhang’s adviser, but after the imperial wedding, Ling Zhang had shooed him home to let him focus on preparations for the imperial examination. As a result, recently he’d been preparing for the exam at home all along and hadn’t visited the palace. The same went for Jiang Yu.
Zhao Jiusi, who knew that Jiang Yu was no inferior to him in terms of learning, had a sneaking urge to outshine Jiang Yu in the exam, so he’d been staying in his study preparing for the exam for quite a few days. He came here only because Yuwen Jin was leaving this afternoon. As a friend of Yuwen Jin’s, he had to see him off. They wouldn’t be able to see each other for a very long time – not until the imperial examination next year.
“But growing taller is not the only thing you’ll be doing there. You need to psych yourself up for some serious hardships,” Ling Zhang told Yuwen Jin.
Oozing confidence, Yuwen Jin patted his chest and said, “Rest assured, Brother Zhang, I got this.”
Ling Zhang gave a smile. As long as Yuwen Jin toughed it out, his name would definitely be on the list of successful candidates the next year.
“What about you guys? Are you all preparing for the exam?” Ling Zhang inquired of Ji Feng and the others.
All his friends nodded. “Yeah. All of us are going to be studying hard at home from tomorrow. I’m afraid we won’t be able to get another chance to see each other until the day of the exam next year, but if there’s anything you need our help with, please tell us. We’ll do everything we can to help you out,” said Ji Feng.
Ling Zhang said, “Okay. I congratulate you beforehand on passing the exam next year and shooting to fame.”
“Today we don’t drink wine. Let’s drink tea instead.”
“To the future.”
Thus, they drank tea instead of wine to encourage each other. Zhao Turui, who was obsessed with the idea of becoming a businessman, had had a frank and straight talk with his family. His elders would allow him to go into business on one condition – that he took the imperial examination next year and passed it. Otherwise they wouldn’t give their consent.Read latest chapters at Listnovel.com
Zhao Turui was also working hard on his dream. Recently he’d been studying in his room from dawn until dark. He was putting more effort into study than his brother was. Infected by him, his brother had been working even harder than before.
Seeing his friends had all set their respective goals and their eyes were gleaming with dash and vigor, Ling Zhang felt greatly inspired, as though he were seeing how they would look like when they achieved their goals next year.
After a simple lunch, they saw Yuwen Jin off at the city gates in the afternoon. Then Ling Zhang turned around to return to the palace.
Before he left, Zhao Jiusi in the distance bowed to him with hands folded in front. Ling Zhang inclined his head, mounted Snowflake the horse and quickly went back to the palace.
In all likelihood, after this day, there wouldn’t be another occasion when they could meet each other just as friends. No matter what his friends would become, civil officials or military officers, there was bound to be some kind of distance between them, because he was the empress, and they were his subjects. Still, deep down, they would always know that they used to be just friends, the kind who had no misgivings about laughing together or swearing together.
Ling Zhang returned to the palace, his mind racing feverishly. A lot of things had happened within just a few days: his uncle’s going to Shengzhou, his maternal grandfather’s and Ji Yanlai’s departure, Yuwen Jin’s leaving for the Shadow Battalion, his friends’ decisions to focus on their preparation for the exam. It was as though all the action around him had suddenly abated.
Also, the weather was gradually getting cold. It was very likely that the air temperature would plummet in another few days, and there would be heavy snow.
Worried that the change of temperature might affect Fu Caiwei, Ling Zhang frequently had eunuchs go to the Ling Mansion to inquire after her and then return to inform him of the situation. Of course, he would have to depart for Jiangzhou in two days.
This afternoon, apart from Yuwen Jin, the diplomatic corps of the Wan Kingdom also officially took their leave.
The diplomatic corps of the Wan Kingdom were the first to leave, followed by that of the Luohai Kingdom. The Fangcun diplomatic corps were the last. The Fangcun Kingdom was in the south, and the other two countries in the north.
Both the Wan diplomatic corps and the Luohai diplomatic corps were tailed by some men. Yuwen Tong believed that Shan Congyi and Mu Rongfeng wouldn’t leave the Great Wen just like this, so he had some men shadow them closely to see if his speculations were right.
The day after their departure, the Wan diplomatic corps and the Luohai diplomatic corps “chanced upon” each other. Shan Congyi and Mu Rongfeng had a long private talk and then the two diplomatic corps went their separate ways.
Those trailing the two diplomatic corps had an inkling that something was wrong, for Mu Rongfeng and Shan Congyi hadn’t shown their faces after that talk. Taken aback, they figured out a way to put out feelers and discovered that Shan Congyi and Mu Rongfeng had secretly had two men impersonate them, that they themselves had traveled far away.
Yuwen Tong in the capital city was totally unsurprised to receive the message. Those men he’d assigned to tail the two diplomatic corps were neither his secret bodyguards nor members of his elite forces, just some common scouts who were amateur enough to be spotted by Shan Congyi and Mu Rongfeng but wouldn’t arouse their suspicions.
Shan Congyi and Mu Rongfeng, after perceiving that they were shadowed, had consulted with each other and taken a countermeasure. They’d each disguised as a member of their respective diplomatic corps, having the ones they disguised as impersonate them. Then they’d hidden in the inn where they’d stayed the day before, and waited a long time before leaving.
“To the north of Taizhou is the Beihai Sea where a fleet is waiting for me. I’ve sent a letter to my father already. Barring accidents, the things we need will arrive by the time I get aboard,” Mu Rongfeng said to Shan Congyi.
Shan Congyi said with a bob of the head, “I’m going there via Cangzhou, and I’ll stay in Cangzhou for a few days. That road in Jincang County is relatively important to Wang Xiangxin. I’ll give him a hand when necessary.”
“When will your money be arriving?” Mu Rongfeng inquired of Shan Congyi.
Previously they had agreed that one of them was to pitch in with money, and the other manpower.
Shan Congyi answered, “It’s been in readiness for quite some time. I had it secretly delivered to Cangzhou when I came to this country. You may rest assured that we won’t let anything go awry, Your Highness, for both of us will benefit a lot from the success of this joint operation.”
Mu Rongfeng inwardly gave a sneer, knowing that this was nothing but an empty promise, that there was no telling whether or not the Wan Kingdom was meditating some kind of underhand trick, but fortunately for him, he and his diplomatic corps would be traveling by sea, which meant that if things did go south, they could always return home by ship.
“About the matter of Haizhou, have you discussed it with Wang Xiangxin? Are you sure he’ll send his soldiers there?”
Shan Congyi answered, “Certainly. Haizhou must be taken. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to create any disturbances, and you wouldn’t be able to smuggle any weapons into this country, and all our efforts would be in vain. Why do you keep doubting me, Your Highness?”
“I’m not doubting you. I just want to confirm it. Well, I should get going. I’ll be in touch when the time comes.”
“Have a safe trip.”
Shan Congyi watched as Mu Rongfeng in disguise left, and with that the look in his eyes went cold. ‘What a dick,’ he sniffed inwardly. If it weren’t for the fact that this time around he needed the Luohai Kingdom’s navy to transport weapons to the Great Wen and deal with the Great Wen’s navy stationed in Haizhou, he would never have chosen to cooperate with Mu Rongfeng, allowing him to take a share of the pie.
Sooner or later the Wan Kingdom would subject the Luohai Kingdom to its rule, and when that day came, he would have all these people of the Luohai Kingdom kneel before him.
“Your Highness, it’s about time we departed,” Shan Congyi’s henchman reminded him, walking over and watchfully looking left and right.
Shan Congyi pulled his bamboo hat low to conceal his face and said, “Let’s go.”