Chapter 109: The Whole Gang
Translated by Gumihou
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com
“Isn’t second brother there?”
The brothers followed the path towards the front court. Duan Tingxuan was unhappy to find that Duan Tingye was not standing by the main entrance. Curse that shameful thing, where has he gone to hide now? Could it be that I, your older brother, haven’t oppress you for a few days you’re now strutting about with your tail up?
“Quite a few guests have already arrived, the old marquis is now speaking with the duke. Second brother is looking after the marquis and lower officials. The chancellors haven’t arrived yet, so, the marquis asked me to come look for you before they’re here. We’re expecting one of the princes to come as well, and of course, older brother is the best person to receive them.”
After hearing Duan Tingfang’s explanation, Duan Tingxuan knew that he had wrongly accused Duan Tingye. He nodded, and said, “Since it’s like that, you come with me. There should be quite a few scholars from the Imperial Hanlin Academy, it’ll be good for you to get to know them. You may ask them for advice on how to properly write your essays at the very least. That should help you get a conversation started, right?”
“Ah? B… but, I can’t…”
Duan Tingfang was flustered. Duan Tingxuan eyed this younger brother of his and said, “And why can’t you? Just make use of that attitude when you ridicule me earlier. Do you really think those bookworms from Hanlin Academy are harder to deal with than me?”
Is this brother’s revenge against my attitude just now? How petty, just because I made fun of him a little.
Third young master’s face reduced to 囧囧 as he stared at the little marquis: Why had he never seen this side of his brother before? He had always thought that this brother was a calm, brilliant man with a cold disposition. Whenever this thought popped up, he felt like he had been blind these 10 over years. Just how had he spent all these years imagining this petty man as a magnificent and heroic man?
The sun moved steadily across the sky, and soon it was an hour before noon. Duan Tingfang stood next Duan Tingxuan, his legs almost cramping from standing so long, his cheeks had started to stiffened from smiling so much. He looked at the sun and muttered, “The prince should be here soon, if they aren’t here by now they probably won’t be coming at all. Brother, shouldn’t we go in now?”
“Wait a bit more.” Duan Tingxuan frowned, and heard his brother said, “Even if they don’t come, there’s no need for brother to look so grave, right? How many of the noble families here have some sort of relationship with the royal family? None of them gave even half as much face as we did, so there’s no need for us to do so either.”
Duan Tingxuan lowered his voice, “Are you worried that I’ll be upset? What a joke, what kind of man is your elder brother? How could I be upset over a small matter like this? The reason why I look so grave is… well, I have a bad premonition…”
He had hardly spoken this when a small commotion caught their attention. He blinked, and narrowed his eyes at the dozen or so people who had suddenly appeared at the gate. He tugged at Duan Tingfang’s sleeves and said, “Second brother, ah. Do you see those people coming in? I somehow felt like my eyes are a little dazzled.”
“My… my eyes seemed to be dazzled too. That… is that his highness, the… crown prince?”
Duan Tingfang normally sported an aloof and cold aura. However, at the sight of the people before him, his legs wobbled. Not only him, but Duan Tingxuan too felt the fight or flight instincts coursing through his blood. Even someone who got along well with the princes suffered from goosebumps at this sight, how could Third Young Master Duan stand against this assault?
The chorus of greetings finally shook Duan Tingxuan out of his shock. He wordlessly stared at the group of princes ranging from age 8 to 20. Somehow, he managed to dredge up a smile and said weakly, “Your highnesses… you have all… come?”
“Second brother and imperial mother said that today is maternal grandmother’s birthday. Also, cousin-in-law is really good at cooking. Imperial concubine mother said that since she could not leave the palace, she bade us to come and bring some takeaway for her.” Eight Prince, Jiang Changxun, age 11 said. He was the liveliest of the lot and the most daring among the princes, as he honestly answered Duan Tingxuan’s question.
Your mom, can’t you at least pretend to make up some excuses for your presence? What kind of face do you think you left Imperial Concubine Duan?
Duan Tingxuan could only complain silently in his heart at this. However, against Jiang Changning, he had no intention of concealing his feelings, “Second prince is most filial, however, I don’t understand why you brought all 11 princes over if your intention is just to take some food home for Imperial Concubine Duan?”
Jiang Changning turned to look left, then right, as though looking for someone. It was clear that he was not paying any attention to Duan Tingxuan’s sarcastic remarks. Just as Duan Tingxuan was about to lose his temper, the prince smiled and waved at someone, “Over here, Qing Hu, this way.”
“Coming, coming,” an elegant young man carrying a scroll under his arms arrived. He was gasping for breath, clearly having rushed over. As he approached, Jiang Changning said, “I did say I’ve prepared a gift, surely there’s no need for you to bring anything? Moreover, do you think you could even enter this place if I’m not here?”
“Are you joking with me? Tingxuan and I graduated at the same year at school. Even without your highness here, don’t think I can’t enter Marquis of An Ping’s palace.” the person called Qing Hu answered with a warm smile. The smile was then redirected at Duan Tingxuan. “Tingxuan, it’s been awhile.”
Duan Tingxuan’s gaze darkened: It was one thing for Jiang Changning to bring his litter of brothers here with the flimsy excuse of taking food away for their imperial concubine mother, did he have to bring his friends over as well? Unfortunately, this man was his friend too. Otherwise, he would have kicked the man out.
“Tingxuan, what’s everyone doing standing about at the gate? Are you afraid that someone might miss the fact that the Marquis of An Ping is having a celebration?”
Jiang Changjing laughed, and was immediately stabbed by Duan Tingxuan’s eyes: So, you too know that the Marquis of An Ping is having a celebration today? Can you please reconsider your social status? How can you come over here like a swarm of bees to a picnic? How could we, a marquis family, bear the presence of so many princes?
However, no matter how the fire roiled within his belly, none of it show on his face. He felt pressured by the eyes of the little princes sticking on him. While Duan Tingxuan had no compunction about bullying the crown prince or second and fourth princes, he could not bring himself to mistreat these little princes. Social status aside, have you heard how those little guys warmly called him ‘Elder cousin’? How could he bully them?
He sighed deep in his heart and pulled the statue like Duan Tingfang aside. With a forced smile, he said, “Your highnesses, please, do come in.”
“Crown prince brother, I think elder cousin isn’t happy with us.”
The pipe like young voice belonged to who knows which little prince. The crown prince said blandly, “That’s perfectly natural. When a fierce wolf has a juicy lamb in his sight and was about to pounce, but is interrupted by a pack of strange wolves, naturally he’d be unhappy. Especially when he knows he’s outnumbered and out classed by them.”
“Is that so, ah. Then, should we all eat more? Since elder cousin’s temper is already bad, we’d lose out if we don’t stuff ourselves, right?”
“Hahaha, not bad, not bad. In the future, you can assist your fourth brother in the Imperial Accounting department.”
The sound of cheerful laughter caused Duan Tingxuan’s face to turn blacker with rage: Which beastly little prince is that? Somehow that little brat has a talent for pissing off people with just words.
[Gumihou: Ah, ah, ah, how adorable are the princes? Duan Tingxuan, you’re certainly out numbered and out classed here. Trololol]
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Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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