This chapter is updated by Novels.pl
The prospect of roasting their own skewers was an interesting and fascinating concept to the young maidens. At first, enthusiasm ran high. However, once they tried a few times, they discovered that they either cooked the food until it was burnt or took it off too early when it was too raw. Furthermore, the skewers that they roasted were either salty enough to choke someone or not seasoned enough. They all had to admit that they didn’t have the talent in this area and thus sat obediently in the grass pavilion to wait for the food to be done.
Naturally, the most popular skewers were cooked by Yu Xiaocao herself. After all, she had worked at a night market in her past life roasting skewers, so she definitely was very skilled at this. Even the seemingly cold and aloof Yuan Xueyan eagerly strove against Royal Princess Minglan for the skewers Yu Xiaocao made.
The two younger boys, Li Haoming and Li Haoyu, stood pathetically at the barbecue rack next to Xiaocao, waiting for the meat to finish cooking! Although Ning Donglan resembled an immortal on the outside, his serene appearance actually hid an avid foodie. In fact, he even fought for food with the seven year old Li Haoming. Yu Xiaocao’s previously ethereal impression of him had immediately been shattered.
Lu Hao, on the other hand, had some skill at barbecuing. It was said that when he was stationed in the southwest in the past, he had spent a lot of time hunting in the forests and had consequently learned how to roast meat then. Although the flavor of his skewers were different from the ones Yu Xiaocao cooked, they were still quite good. Those who were too hungry to wait for Xiaocao’s skewers to get done ate his instead.
As for Ning Donghuan, he had disappeared at the start of the barbecue and no one was sure what had caught his interest this time.
Before long, the whole wild goat with the secret seasonings had finished roasting. Zhu Junyang wordlessly shaved a plate of roasted meat and ripped off the one remaining back leg and delivered the food in front of Xiaocao. While he was keeping an eye on the goat, he had keenly noticed that his little lass had been busy cooking food for others and hadn’t eaten much. He naturally cared a lot about his little lass. Thus, he took over cooking the skewers from her to allow Xiaocao some time to eat.
When He Wanning saw this, she started heckling him, “Royal Prince Yang, are you still my older cousin ah? How come when the goat was done you didn’t give me a heads up? Is that taking care of your younger cousin ah? Is Younger Sister Xiaocao the only one worth of your care in your eyes ah?”
Zhu Junyang lightly glanced at her and coldly replied, “You have hands and feet, can’t you get some yourself? You only care about your own pleasure and force other people to do work for you. Are you handicapped ah?”
“Tsk tsk…Younger Sister Xiaocao also has hands and legs ah!” He Wanning scooted over and reached out a hand to pick up a piece of roasted meat.
Zhu Junyang slightly turned his body away to avoid her hand and coldly stated, “Hasn’t Xiaocao been using her hands to roast meat for you ah? Haven’t you eaten enough meat made by her? She’s been busy this entire time and hasn’t eaten anything. What’s wrong with me sending her some food to eat?”
“Oh ho, looks like you really care about her! Tsk tsk…” He Wanning mischievously glanced over. From the looks of things, she wanted to see if Xiaocao had a bashful expression on her face after hearing their conversation.
However, her expectations were completely off the mark. How could something this mild cause any waves in Yu Xiaocao? This was all too trivial for her! Xiaocao gleefully took the plate full of food without a change in her expression and began to eat. Furthermore, she motioned with her chin in the direction of the roasted wild goat and reminded the other girl, “Older Sister He, if you delay any longer, you won’t even have any bones to gnaw on. This wild goat meat is much more fragrant than the meat from domesticated goats!”
He Wanning looked over and saw that everyone was surrounding the roasted goat. Slices of meat were quickly being cut and she could see the food disappearing before her eyes. She exclaimed, “Qiulu, quickly snatch a plate of roasted meat for me! Go now!”
The whole roasted goat had been coated with the specially prepared blend of secret seasonings that Xiaocao had prepared. The cooking heat was also well controlled, so the outside of the goat was golden and crispy while the inside meat was soft and tender. The fragrant smell of goat’s meat hit everyone’s noses and they all praised it without measure. He Wanning interjected, “Xiaocao, I heard that this year in autumn, the emperor wants to go to Weichang County this year to go hunting. At that time, you should also go. If any wild goats get caught, we can roast them to eat!”
“The autumn hunt at Weichang County? The people who are allowed to go have to be of a certain rank right? I’m only a sixth-ranked small official, how do I have the qualifications to go?” Yu Xiaocao also wanted to experience what an Imperial Hunt was like but she also knew that only certain people were allowed to tag along.
He Wanning blinked her large eyes a few times and slanted an ambiguous look in the direction of Royal Prince Yang. She pouted her lips and a devilish grin appeared on her face, “You may not have the qualifications but that doesn’t mean other people don’t ah! My older cousin is highly regarded by the emperor. If he asks for a favor to bring you along, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Yu Xiaocao laughed and shook her head, “We’ll discuss it more when the time comes. Isn’t there several months before the autumn hunt?”
“Alright…I still hope you can come along. Besides anything else, if you bring along your Little Black and Little White, I’m sure you’ll get a good result at the hunt. Perhaps you could even be rewarded by the emperor!”
He Wanning had decent equestrian skills when compared to the other noble maidens in the capital. However, to the noble masters born from military families, her skills were not that impressive. She had thought about this. If Xiaocao went along, she might even take a placing at the hunt and cause an upset among those arrogant fellows. Wouldn’t that be grand ah?!
“Don’t think too much about this. The autumn hunt is likely a contest of personal skill. If we rely on Little Black and Little White to compete, it’d be hard for other people to accept the win ah! That being said, we might not even be able to bring hunting dogs along!” Yu Xiaocao felt that He Wanning’s delusions of grandeur were a bit too much.
He Wanning chuckled and said, “Who knows, perhaps we will be able to bring them along? This is the first autumn hunt of the Great Ming Dynasty and we might be able to have a loophole! Regardless, we first need to make sure you’re allowed to go. If Royal Prince Yang is not willing to help, then I’ll have my grandmother mention this in front of the emperor emeritus. If the emperor emeritus agrees, the emperor likely wouldn’t disagree for the sake of face.”
The two were currently discussing things animatedly when suddenly a wretched scream surprised them. Following that, they could vaguely hear the sounds of someone crying intermittently for help. He Wanning stopped talking and the two of them listened carefully. The voice sounded oddly familiar.
“That’s Third Young Master Ning’s voice!” Zhu Junyang came forward a few steps to reach Xiaocao as he alertly looked in the direction of the sound. After thinking about it, he realized that it had already been about two hours since they last saw Ning Donghuan. From the panic in his voice, did the fellow encounter something dangerous?
Ning Donglan had rushed forward towards the direction of the voice as soon as he heard the first scream. Zhu Junyang raised an eyebrow at this. He never would have expected the scholarly and gentlemanly Second Young Master Ning was a hidden expert. If the other man wasn’t skilled at martial arts, his bearing and speed would not be able to reach this current point. The screams continued and soon, a figure staggered out from the nearby thickets. Behind the person were two giant animals. One was black and one was white.
“Save me! Save me ah! Second Older Brother, quickly save me!!” Ning Donghuan spotted Ning Donglan speeding over and acted as if he had seen his savior. His steps quickened towards his older sibling.
Ning Donglan had noticed that his brother’s clothing was now raggedy and all in strips. Despite that, his brother’s body didn’t have many flesh wounds on them. He only looked pathetic. As Ning Donghuan fled, Little Black, who was behind him, had noticed that reinforcements had arrived. Little Black wanted to play ‘cat and mouse’ with the offender and leapt forward to press his ‘prey’ beneath his giant paws. He revealed his sharp, gleaming white teeth and acted as if he could snap the youth’s neck at any time.
When Ning Donglan saw this, he hurried forward and swept his fan horizontally in the direction of Little Black. Little White spotted his movements and sped forward to reach it. The two white colored figures met in midair and began tussling at breakneck speed. It was so fast that people couldn’t make out who was the person and who was the wolf.
Although Ning Donglan’s martial art skills were quite good, Little White’s speed was too astonishing. The wolf moved around at the speed of lightning and didn’t give the man any room to counterattack. Since Ning Donglan had come along with Xiaocao and the others, Little White was already being lenient with him. Otherwise, the wolf would have bitten the youth already. Despite that, Ning Donglan’s white clothing very quickly became torn in parts and he started to look quite bedraggled.
Ning Donghuan, who had been pinned down by Little Black, saw the rows of sharp white teeth that were only about an inch away from his neck. Little Black breathed out hot air that smelled faintly fishy. The puffs of air hit the youth’s neck and made him even more frightened. He wailed in panic, “Miss Yu, save me ah, Miss Yu! I was wrong! I won’t ever do this again!”
When Little Black heard ‘Miss Yu’, it raised its head slightly and looked towards the direction of its master as if it was trying to ask, “Master, can Little Black bite this bad man once to teach him a lesson?”
Ever since Little Black appeared, Zhu Junyang knew that they were not in any danger and didn’t stop any of the young maidens from getting closer.
Yu Xiaocao leisurely strolled over. She first ordered Little White to stop fighting with Ning Donglan and then stopped in front of Ning Donghuan. When she saw his head to toe attire of ‘beggars clothing’, she stifled her laughter and stroked Little Black’s neck as she gently asked, “Third Young Master Ning, how did you end up offending Little Black? You truly have skill if you were able to provoke him to this measure.”
Ning Donghuan noticed that Little Black’s jaws were much further from him now and decided the danger was gone. He stubbornly claimed, “How could I have the guts to provoke your Little Black ah?! You’re the one who didn’t train your hunting dog right! He’s vicious and that’s the reason why he bit my Tyrant and even injured me!”
Yu Xiaocao raised an eyebrow and inspected the fellow from head to toe. Other than some red areas on his skin from where he had brushed past some trees and shrubs, the rest of his skin was perfectly intact and didn’t have a single inflicted injury. She laughed, “Third Young Master Ning, if Little Black wanted to bite you, do you really think you’d be able to run out of the thickets before he got to you ah? Is there any part of you that…has been injured by him ah?”
Ning Donghuan courageously pulled away the black wolf paws that were pressing him down and sat up, seeing that Xiaocao was inspecting him. He suddenly discovered that he was revealing parts of himself to her and hurriedly covered himself in shame. He shouted in embarrassment, “What are you looking at? Every part of me has been seen by you, so you need to take responsibility ah!!”
Zhu Junyang shot an icy cold glare at the hapless youth and he deliberately gave a warning look at a particular area before he coldly stated, “Who do you want to take responsibility ah? How should they take responsibility? Why don’t you tell us your thoughts?”
Ning Donghuan hurriedly closed his legs and the expression on his face immediately changed, “Noth…nothing! I was just wondering if it is really okay for a young maiden to inspect a person like this.”
“What’s wrong about that? I haven’t even mentioned the fact that you’re exposing yourself to me. Since you want to play this game and wish to blackmail me, then I will have to go along. Little Black…show him your strength!!” Yu Xiaocao’s voice didn’t hold the slightest bit of anger. Instead, her pair of large dark eyes were filled with mirth.
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