Beneath the faint glow of the moon, one could vaguely see his attire was completely black, his hair was dark as ink while his pair of eyes glistened like the night stars. His gaze vigilantly swept around and once he confirmed that no one was following, he advanced towards the decided meet up point.
Hua Zhu Yu waited a little over the time it took to burn an incense stick. After determining that there were no unusual movements in the surrounding area, she emerged from her hiding spot and walked over towards him. She gave a light cough after which she callously asked, “Guard An, the night is late, for what have you come to the back of this mountain for?”
Seated on a boulder, the person’s back straightened upon hearing the cough and quickly stood up. When he caught sight of Hua Zhu Yu, he stood there, shocked to the spot.
“You…” Among her four guards, An Xiao Er was the bravest yet he was frightened speechless on their first encounter. His mouth opened, then closed. Closed and then opened. He appeared like a fish out of water. After a long while, besides ‘you,’ he couldn’t say anything else.
Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t help but laugh. In this lifetime, to be able to witness such an expression from An Xiao Er was by no means easy.
Among her four guards, Ping Lao Da1 was calm, Kang Lao San3 was lively, and An Xiao Er2 was clever yet he possesses a highly poisonous tongue. Even Hua Zhu Yu could not escape from his jeers. But his culinary skills were outstanding. Whenever they had free time, they would go hunting in the outskirts of the city. They’d hunt for rabbits and pheasants and hand them over to An Xiao Er to prepare. According to seniority, he was ranked second but they all called him Xiao Er. The name Xiao Er was no different from the names of waiters running around in restaurants. But because of An Xiao Er’s amazing cooking, even if he ridiculed Hua Zhu Yu with a few remarks, she would just pleasantly accept.
“Xiao Er, it’s been a long time since we met but it shouldn’t be to the extent that you can’t even recognize me right?” With her hands clasped behind her back, Hua Zhu Yu leisurely walked up to face him.
After receiving the list of chess pieces that her father had placed in the palace, she was surprised to discover that the deputy commanding officer of the Imperial Guards was unexpectedly named An Yu. Recalling that her father had assigned An Xiao Er and Tai Xiao Si on an assignment outside, she was very sensitive to the surname An. After secretly looking into it, she discovered that An Yu was actually An Xiao Er. Hence she used the secret signal that they normally used to call him out here. It’s just that this time she wasn’t wearing her mask and she was even meeting him with the identity of Yuan Bao.
She did not expect Xiao Er to be frightened like this.
He had never seen her true appearance so to suddenly see her face like this perhaps such a reaction was normal. She was even in an eunuch attire, moreover, Xiao Er was an imperial guard stationed in the palace and these few days she had become quite illustrious. To finally realize that the bold little eunuch who dared to beat the Left Chancellor was in fact her, if he wasn’t shocked that would be quite strange. It would be a wonder if he wasn’t terrified!
Seeing Hua Zhu Yu’s head bent over laughing, An Xiao Er’s spirit finally returned. Pointing his finger at Hua Zhu Yu, he was stumped for words for quite a while before finally spouting out a sentence that nearly angered Hua Zhu Yu to death.
“Turns out you true face is pure like this ah, no wonder you don’t dare to reveal that face of yours, indeed, neither a woman, nor a man!”
Hua Zhu Yu immediately felt wronged, she blinked her eyes at him and asked, “Xiao Er, it’s been a while since we last met yet you have nothing pleasant to say? This face of mine, is it really sure an eyesore?” He said she wasn’t a man, that she admits since she originally was a woman anyways.
An Xiao Er narrowed his eyes and gave her a look; this was his signature gaze whenever she had done something mischievous. He would always look at her like this and spout a few ridiculing remarks.
“No wonder you had to wear a mask, if they saw your true face, which soldier would submit to you?”
This was the real reason Hua Zhu Yu would always wear a mask. Her father had said that she was too beautiful and that even when she dressed as a man, it was hard to pass as one. Even if she did, she couldn’t enter the battlefield with such a face therefore her father made her wear a mask. Don’t even mention winning over the soldiers, if those soldiers were to see a general with such a face on a daily basis, it would make them miss women, stirring up restless troubles. It’s even uncertain if they’ll have distorted thoughts of her.
“Furthermore, ……” Xiao Er lengthened his voice and added, “if all the soldiers in the army became broken-sleeved that would be a disaster!”
Hua Zhu Yu nearly collapsed. She glared at him and said, “Xiao Er, how did you assume this Deputy Commanding Officer position, was it with this sour mouth of yours? Has that Head Commander been angered to death by you yet?”
“I angered the deputy commanding officer to death so I was promoted to his position!” An Xiao Er said without the slightest consideration.
“Then it seems your next promotion isn’t far off.” Hua Zhu Yu narrowed her eyes, that venomous mouth of his, sooner of later would definitely anger the Head Commander to death.
“Xiao Er, it’s been a while since I had the pleasure of enjoying your skills, cook something for me!” Hua Zhu Yu said as she licked her lips. Though the palace was full of exquisite delicacies, it was only reserved for the masters. For an eunuch such as herself, she would occasionally enjoy some benefits from Huangfu Wu Shuang afterwards, but the taste wasn’t as it originally was anymore.
Hearing this, An Xiao Er did not quarrel and employed his internal force to dash about near the surrounding area. He returned after a long while later and in his hand was a wild pheasant and a freshly caught fish. The pheasant’s feathers were plucked and it was even thoroughly cleaned by him.
They took shelter in a cave and started a fire where the pheasant and fish were roasted. Xiao Er then took out dozens of bottles and jars and began sprinkling spices on the pheasant. Xiao Er always carried these spices on his body. Unexpectedly, when he became an imperial guard he still did not change.
A while later, the meat was done and Xiao Er took the whole pheasant and handed it to Hua Zhu Yu, saying, “Slowly eat!”
Beneath the faint glow of the moon, Xiao Er silently sat there. His handsome face disclosed no emotion yet his eyes, which were fixed on Hua Zhu Yu, slowly dampened as a layer of mist enveloped them.
- Lao means Old and Da means eldest so Lao Da is Old Big and he’s the oldest
- Lao San means old third
- Xiao Er means Little Second but it could also mean waiter