IMPERIAL HAREM ESTABLISHED!
A week has passed and Lin Xiao had been secretly training Xia Yushen on the way to win a fight regardless of method. In other words, the way to fight dirty. It went from launching a surprise attack, to throwing dirt to your opponent’s eyes and to hitting them in a very questionable place.
To Lin Xiao’s surprise, Xia Yushen could learn these crude methods quickly. But fast as he was, he still couldn’t make it to the competition since he required three days of rest prior because of his injury.
But that didn’t stop the young boy from teaching a lesson to those kids who had bullied him. He only finished one fight, and it scared the other children to the point of running away. In order for Xia Yushen to not get reprimanded, Lin Xiao had effectively informed Xia Yuanfeng a day before to ‘kidnap’ the boy away for several days.
“Big brother Lin! Did you see their faces earlier?” Xia Yushen asked, eyes filled with mirth as he remembered what happened not too long ago.
“En! You did well. That last kick was absolutely beautiful,” Lin Xiao praised the child he’s currently carrying in his arm.
“Then…” Xia Yushen flashed an impish smile towards Lin Xiao. “Don’t you think I deserve a reward?”
Lin Xiao stopped in his track, then looked directly at Xia Yushen. After a few seconds, he raised his free hand and flicked the boy’s forehead. The resounding sound of his finger hitting Xia Yushen’s forehead could be heard and the skin that came into contact with said finger turned red.
Xia Yushen’s reaction was almost an instant as he covered his forehead and glared at Lin Xiao. “Big brother Lin! What was that for?!” he asked, tears pooling in his eyes from the pain.
“To rein you back from your high horse,” Lin Xiao replied. “You just won one fight, and you already want a reward? How many times did they bully you? Until you pay it all back, don’t even dream of having a reward,” Lin Xiao told him.
When Lin Xiao saw Xia Yushen’s tearful eyes and pouting lips, though, he could feel his heart soften. “Fine. Let’s go to the market in the middle district. I’ll buy you some toys,” he said as he walked again. This time, heading to the main street where he can then proceed to the middle district.
“But I don’t want toys…” Xia Yushen whined. “Big brother Lin, how about you give me some money and I’ll buy myself some rewards?” he suggested with a smile, already forgetting about the pain of having his forehead flicked.
“No,” Lin Xiao immediately replied.
Lin Xiao didn’t answer, but Xia Yushen did not give up. “Brother Lin, I won’t ask much. Just ten silver!”
“Ten silver is not much?” Lin Xiao hissed at Xia Yushen.
“… is that… too much?” Xia Yushen asked timidly.
“Ten silver can feed a farmer’s family for half a year!” Lin Xiao informed the young boy. “Now, tell me, is that not a lot?”
Xia Yushen was still young, so he still didn’t understand the concept of money. All he knew is that the children in Xia family would receive at least ten silver coins every month while the direct descendant of the patriarch would receive at least one gold coin every month. Now that he heard Lin Xiao’s words, he finally figured out how much it worths.
“Then… can I just have one silver?”
Listening to Xia Yushen’s meek tone, Lin Xiao could feel his heart softening again. One could not blame him. After all, Xia Yushen is the first child that he was responsible for and he truly had treated the boy as his younger brother.
Despite this, Lin Xiao did not answer. Instead, he just silently walked towards his destination. In his mind, he was weighing the pros and cons of giving Xia Yushen the ten silver the boy asked for.
Seeing that Lin Xiao didn’t answer him, Xia Yushen stayed quiet. But unfortunately, he couldn’t do so for long. Just as they were nearing the central market, Xia Yushen spoke up again. “Big brother Lin, how about just fifty copper coins?”
“If you keep talking, I will just bring you back to General Bai’s residence,” Lin Xiao replied, effectively making Xia Yushen shut his little mouth.
As soon as they arrived at the central plaza, Lin Xiao made his way to the Eastern part of the market where they mainly sell foods. He continued walking until they reached a fancy establishment called Da Guo Pavillion.
Going through the main entrance, one of the male worker welcomed him. “Welcome esteemed guest, would you like a table for two or will there be more guests joining you?”
“It will only be just us two. I would like to request for a private room,” Lin Xiao replied.
Hearing the word private room from Lin Xiao, the worker’s eyes brighten up. Not anybody can make a request for a private room, so in his eyes, Lin Xiao must be from some prominent family. His eyes made a quick appraisal on both Lin Xiao’s and Xia Yushen’s attire and he became more confident of his assumptions.
“Certainly, sir! Right this way, please,” he said with a big smile on his face. He then led Lin Xiao to the upper floor where their private room was located. Choosing one of the empty room, the worker opened the door for Lin Xiao and gestured for him to go inside first. Only once Lin Xiao and Xia Yushen has entered did he get in and closed the door behind him. He then patiently waited until his two guests were seated before he opened his mouth once more.
“Sir, what would you like to eat?” he asked as he gestured to one side of the wall. There were several boards being pinned on the wall that shows their menu.
Lin Xiao didn’t bother to take a glance at the menu on the wall and instead, he turned to face the worker. “My younger brother had made me proud today, so I wanted to treat him to a good meal. Do you have any recommendation?”
“Naturally, sir!” the worker’s eyes brighten up even more. “Seeing this younger brother is still growing, then I would like to recommend our establishment’s specialty…”
A few hours later, Xia Yushen dropped his chopstick and leaned back against the chair, rubbing his full stomach. His face is full of bliss as he had just finished one of his most satisfying meal. When he asked Lin Xiao for reward, he had only asked for money because that’s what he had seen other children in Xia family get. But now, Xia Yushen felt a meal was a better reward than money.
“You little glutton,” Lin Xiao commented as he watched the boy sitting opposite him. Xia Yushen was closing his eyes as he savored the feeling of being full, enjoying the aftertaste of his meal. Then, he quietly took out a small empty pouch and his own coin purse. He put some coins inside the small pouch without Xia Yushen noticing. He put his coin purse back before he could help tie the small pouch with several coins inside. “ShenShen, ah,” he called the young boy.
Xia Yushen opened his eyes to look at Lin Xiao, only to see the older male handed over a small pouch to him. Confused, he reached out to receive the pouch and opened it. To his surprise, he saw a big number of coins inside and he looked at Lin Xiao with disbelief. He then quickly counted it, and saw there were fifty copper coins, ten silver coins and there was even a gold coin inside. “Big brother Lin, this is?” he asked once he had finished counting.
“Your rewards,” Lin Xiao told him. “Remember to keep it safe! If you lose it, I won’t be responsible,” Lin Xiao added.
When Xia Yushen heard this, he felt elated. He gripped the pouch in his small hand, jumped off his chair and went over to Lin Xiao’s side to throw himself towards his elder martial brother. “Big brother Lin! Thank you! You are the greatest!” Xia Yushen said as he hugged Lin Xiao by the waist.
A soft smile formed on Lin Xiao’s face and he reached out to rub Xia Yushen’s head. “Alright. You are full now. Let’s go for a walk to digest your meal better or else, you’ll grow into a fat man!” Lin Xiao joked as he stood up from his seat.
Xia Yushen tacitly moved away and then tied the small pouch onto his waist belt. Then he followed Lin Xiao out of the private room to see the worker patiently waiting outside their room.
Understanding the purpose of the worker, Lin Xiao merely asked for the total of their bill before paying him. Soon, the two martial siblings find themselves outside of the establishment. Lin Xiao instinctively looked up at the sky to gauge the current time. ‘Wei Shi… it’s still early,’ Lin Xiao thought to himself.
“Xiao Shen, now that you have money, is there anything you’d like to buy? Your big brother Lin will accompany you,” he said as he looked at the boy beside him.
When Xia Yushen asked Lin Xiao for money as a reward, he actually did not have any plan on buying something. He just wanted to know how it feels to be rewarded with money. But now that Lin Xiao had asked him, he gave it a thought. After a while, he looked up at Lin Xiao with the expectant eyes. “Big brother Lin, can we buy a present for Shizun?”
“Very well. Let’s go to the northern part of the market,” Lin Xiao said as he took Xia Yushen’s hand and led him away. Since they have just eaten, he won’t carry Xia Yushen so the boy can get some light exercise after a meal.
Unfortunately, their outings were bound to be cut short. While they were on their way to look for presents for their Shizun, a piece of news from the Imperial Palace was being announced. And it was news that would shake the entire country.
Messengers who were responsible for spreading the news were riding on a horseback as they did their duties. One messenger stopped at the market’s central plaza and made his announcement. Coincidentally, Lin Xiao was also there with Xia Yushen since he needed to go through the central plaza to go to the northern part of the market. So he stayed for a bit to hear what the announcement was about.
More and more people gathered at the central plaza and once the plaza was crowded with people, the messengers made his announcement. Lin Xiao’s martial arts were quite high, so even if he was quite far away from the messenger, he could hear it clearly.
The Emperor of Qin, Emperor Qin Yijun, had finally decided to establish his own harem. There were no strict requirements other than that the person hoping to join the harem must be pure, and between 13 to 24 years of age. Those who are interested are allowed to come to the Imperial Palace during the day of selection that will take place in three months.
What Lin Xiao did not expect was that this news would affect him more than he would ever think. He thought he would feel happy. But on the contrary, he found that his heart ached. The pain only grows as the announcement continues. His hand went to his chest as a frown formed on his face. He did not like this feeling at all. Unconsciously, the hand that has been holding Xia Yushen’s hand had also tightened its grip.
Xia Yushen felt it, and he looked up to Lin Xiao only to see that his big brother’s face looked pale. “Big brother Lin, are you alright?” Xia Yushen asked in a worried tone. Then, he saw the hand that was clenching on Lin Xiao’s chest and his worry intensifies. “Big brother Lin, are you feeling uncomfortable? Should we just go back first so you can rest?” he asked again. Lin Xiao didn’t answer him and instead, just offered him a small smile, though he could see that he forced the smile since it did not reach his eyes.
“I am fine, ShenShen. Let’s continue our search for Shizun’s gi—”
Lin Xiao suddenly felt that the world around him spin, and he saw Xia Yushen’s panicked expression as the boy’s lips move, appear to be calling out his name. He could feel his body falling, but the pain of hitting the ground never reached him, even after the motion had stopped. He could feel a warm body catching his limp body, and as he forced himself to stay conscious, he saw it was actually An Yi who had been protecting him from the dark. Then, he succumbed to the darkness.
Seeing that Lin Xiao had fallen unconscious for no reason, An Yi was worried. His heart drummed in his chest. He checked for Lin Xiao’s breath and quickly felt around Lin Xiao’s neck. Sensing the sign of life, he let out a sigh of relief. At first, he thought that Lin Xiao might’ve consumed some poison and it might’ve been lethal. But once he was assured that Lin Xiao is still breathing, his next action was to bring Lin Xiao to safety.
“Lao Er! You bring the boy along!” An Yi called for his partner as he motioned towards Xia Yushen who was still in a daze.
“No, wait! Who are you?! Let go of Big brother Lin!” once he heard himself being addressed, Xia Yushen snapped out of his stupor and tried to hit An Yi, only to be picked up by another person from behind. Thinking that they were being attacked by bad guys, Xia Yushen wanted to scream out for help, only to feel a sharp pain in the back of his neck before falling unconscious.
“Lao Er! Are you crazy!?” An Yi asked.
“If he screams, will you take responsibility?! Let’s just go!” An Er replied as he furrowed his brow in dissatisfaction.
Both shadow guards then proceeded to carry the two unconscious people. At first, they wanted to go to Bai residence but when they thought of how important Lin Xiao is to their Emperor; they decided to simply brings them straight to the Imperial Palace.