MCAB - Chapter 23.3
The protracted war lasted three whole years.
When Ning Qinghuan was fighting bloody battles in the north, Jun Zishu had devoted herself to strategizing in the fourth prince's manor.
Jun Zishu's life in the manor was considerably well. The fourth prince had shared Jun Zishu's situation with his wife Consort Wang. Thus, Consort Wang did not treat Jun Zishu like she would a love rival. Instead, she treated Jun Zishu like a friend. Whenever she faced problems, she would even seek help from Jun Zishu.
The first time Consort Wang visited her, Jun Zishu already knew what kind of thoughts the woman harbored. The woman was simply worried that Jun Zishu would fall in love with her husband. Hence, during their first conversation, Jun Zishu had tactfully revealed that she already had a loved one, easing Consort Wang's worries completely.
Outside of the fourth prince's manor, the crown prince's reputation had thoroughly crumbled during the past three years. His ability had originally been subpar already, having no strengths to speak of whatsoever. To make matters worse, he had a bad temper and a fatal lust for beauty.
Thanks to the fourth and fifth princes uncovering the crown prince's dirty secrets in the background, the emperor had already grown extremely dissatisfied with the crown prince.
Now that the emperor was still in good health, he had already started leaning toward the option of withdrawing the crown prince's succession rights and choosing another son, whom he was more satisfied with, as his successor. Meanwhile, this son was none other than the fourth prince.
In Jun Zishu's opinion, the fifth prince should never have held much advantage in the fight for the throne. The fifth prince had only managed to rise to the throne in the original timeline because the fourth prince had met with an unlucky death.
Not to mention, the emperor didn't really like the fifth prince. Although the crown prince, the fourth prince, and the fifth prince all shared the emperor's blood, the degree of favoritism the emperor held for each of them differed.
Out of the three princes, the emperor doted on the crown prince the most. This was because the crown prince had originated from the empress, who was also the emperor's first wife. The emperor loved his first wife very much. Moreover, his wife had helped him a lot both before and after he ascended to the throne. Thus, even after the empress passed away, the emperor still left the position of empress vacant.
In comparison, the emperor disliked the fifth prince the most. The fifth prince originated from Concubine Xian, and the emperor didn't like Concubine Xian very much. This was because he did not welcome Concubine Xian into his harem willingly. Instead, his mother had forced Concubine Xian onto him before he had ascended to the throne.
Although the fifth prince was nothing but an innocent child in this affair, the emperor couldn't help but dislike him solely because his mother was someone the emperor disliked. Not to mention, the emperor didn't dislike Concubine Xian simply because she had been forced onto him. It was also because Concubine Xian's family was a troublesome force to deal with in the empire. This situation irked the emperor very much.
Meanwhile, this troublesome force was also the opponent Jun Zishu and the fourth prince had to go up against.
On this day, Consort Wang came to chat with Jun Zishu once more.
Although Jun Zishu was adept at misleading people, she didn't like to converse with others very much. Fortunately, Consort Wang was only using chatting as an excuse to complain and vent her frustrations to Jun Zishu. Thus, Jun Zishu only needed to stay quiet and listen. She didn't even need to express her own opinions.
Although being a prince's consort looked wonderful from an outsider's perspective, Consort Wang had to deal with many troublesome matters.
Not only did Consort Wang have to handle the manor's internal affairs, but she also had to watch out for other women trying to seduce her husband every day. To make matters worse, when such situations took place, she had to act generous and ignore these vixens' actions.
"You're embroidering a rabbit again, Little Sister."
Consort Wang familiarly took a seat in the courtyard and watched Jun Zishu embroider.
"Don't you find it boring to embroider every day?"
Consort Wang sighed, looking a little distracted.
Jun Zishu shook her head in response and continued with her embroidery.
"Why do you keep embroidering rabbits? Why not embroider something else?"
Whenever Consort Wang was bored and came to visit, she would always find Jun Zishu embroidering. Initially, Consort Wang didn't believe her husband's claim that Jun Zishu was only here as an adviser. After all, no matter how she looked at it, there was no way a weak and tender girl like Jun Zishu could be so capable. However, after Jun Zishu helped her develop a solution for the troublesome vixens, she quickly became convinced of Jun Zishu's abilities.
"Because he likes to have me embroider rabbits. He probably likes rabbits a lot."
Jun Zishu warmly smiled as she spoke, all the while her hand skillfully manipulated the embroidery needle.
"The person you are waiting for; when will he be returning?"
"He should be back soon, very, very soon. When that time comes, I will disappear from this place."
"Are you sure Husband will succeed?" Consort Wang asked in a lowered tone, anxiety filling her heart.
"He will. You should probably prepare yourself in advance. When the time comes, you'll become even busier. Being a…is much more tiresome than being a prince's consort."
Although Jun Zishu deliberately avoided mentioning that title, she knew that Consort Wang would understand what she was trying to convey.
Jun Zishu had a relatively favorable impression of Consort Wang. Although Consort Wang gave off a fierce impression on the outside, she was, in reality, a tender girl on the inside. Consort Wang might not be a seasoned noblewoman right now, but Jun Zishu knew that Consort Wang would become a qualified empress one day.
Meanwhile, hearing Jun Zishu's advice, Consort Wang didn't know whether she should be happy or sad. She simply fell silent and looked up at the sky with a blank look.
[It's a huge victory, Host. The mission target is on her way back now.]
When Jun Zishu heard this voice echoing in her mind, she accidentally stabbed her thumb with the needle. Seeing blood seeping out of the wound, Jun Zishu quickly put her thumb into her mouth and set her embroidery work aside.
She's finally coming back, huh? Even the flowers are close to withering already.
[The flowers have withered three times already. Regardless, at least she is returning in one piece. I have a feeling that our mission will be ending soon, hehe.]
Little Fairy was elated by this situation. She was confident that their mission this time would receive a high evaluation.
Does the Department have that kind of ability, Little Fairy?
The ability to erase my memories.
[Of course we have such a user-friendly ability. Moreover, hosts can choose from two modes. The first mode is the storage mode. If you go with this option, we will extract all of your memories during the mission period and store them. You can also freely retrieve these memories whenever you want. The second mode is the separation mode. In this option, we will dull the feelings you experienced during the mission period.]
Jun Zishu sighed in relief. Though, she felt that Little Fairy might have misunderstood her intentions. She simply didn't wish for her memories to be forcefully removed.
[Very few people go with the first option since that's akin to suffering from amnesia. Those who go with this option are generally looking to readjust their conditions or forget some bad experiences they underwent during their missions. However, people who took the first option almost never went back to retrieve their memories.]
I won't choose the first option.
[Mhm. I will support you no matter which option you choose.]
Jun Zishu believed that humans were creatures that lived by relying on memories. Thus, she'd rather keep her memories than discard them.
News of the army's triumphant return quickly reached the imperial court, exciting everyone.
The emperor rejoiced, and the people rushed to share the news.
"Have you heard? General Ning is returning after a victorious battle!"
"Of course! I've long since heard of this wonderful news!"
"I heard that Little General Ning will be returning as well."
"Really? Oh my. I heard that the Little General still isn't married since he has always remained at the border."
"Compared to the Little General, I'm more concerned about Miss Ning. I heard that she's ruthless on the battlefield, but I guess that's expected of someone from the Ning family. I wonder what kind of man can make such a woman submit?"
"Whoever it is, it definitely isn't you."
Apart from serving as gossip for the general populace, the return of the Ning family siblings also gave ideas to many people in the imperial court. As both siblings had yet to marry, they were prime targets for those seeking to increase their influence.
After General Ning, Ning Yunlang, and Ning Qinghuan returned to the Ning manor, before they could hold any sort of reunion with Madam Ning, the family of four hurriedly dressed up and made their way to the imperial palace. This was because the emperor had specifically hosted a grand banquet to welcome General Ning's triumphant return.
After assigning rewards to the war's contributors, the emperor started asking the question everyone was curious about.
"You're not young anymore, Yunlang. Have you found yourself a sweetheart yet?"
"I don't have any thoughts on this matter, so I will leave the decision to my parents," Ning Yunlang said with a blush, making it seem as if he was embarrassed to talk about this topic.
"I see. What about you, Qinghuan? You have made great achievements on the battlefield this time. Do you have anyone on your mind?"
"As it so happens, I do, Your Majesty."
Ning Qinghuan stood up and looked at the emperor with an earnest expression.
General Ning and Madam Ning were shocked to hear Ning Qinghuan's words. Meanwhile, Ning Yunlang revealed a slightly worried look.
"Oh? Which young lad is it? What family does he come from? If you don't mind telling us, we can play matchmaker for you," the emperor asked with an interested expression.
"It's not a man from any house."
The emperor raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"It's a little awkward for me to say this, Your Majesty, but I came across many things during the expedition. Some of the things I witnessed are so outrageous that I can't help but have bad thoughts whenever I see them now."
"Oh? What kind of bad thoughts?"
"Whenever I see that thing that men have, I have the urge to draw my sword and cut it off," Ning Qinghuan stated with a sincere expression, her words causing all of the men present to gasp and clamp their legs.
Even the emperor shuddered and choked a little when he heard Ning Qinghuan's words.
Afterward, silence enveloped the banquet hall as everyone focused their gaze on Ning Qinghuan.
"I apologize for the rude remark, Your Majesty."
"It's fine, it's fine… Then, what of the person that you like?"
"The person I like is a girl."
The banquet hall went into an uproar.
Ning Yunlang never imagined that his little sister would make such a bold move. Even before informing their parents of her sexual preference, Ning Qinghuan had announced that she liked girls in front of the emperor and officials.
This was a prime example of acting first and reporting afterward!
With this, no matter how dissatisfied General Ning and Madam Ning were with Ning Qinghuan, they couldn't force Ning Qinghuan to marry a man anymore. Otherwise, it would create an awkward situation for everyone involved.
Ning Yunlang couldn't help but give Ning Qinghuan a look of admiration. His little sister's courage was truly unparalleled.
However, not all was smooth sailing. Madam Ning had nearly fainted when she heard her daughter's declaration. Fortunately, General Ning remained relatively calm, and he quickly pinched his wife, helping her stay conscious.
The emperor was at a loss for words. He had no idea how to continue the conversation at all. He couldn't possibly ask which family's daughter Ning Qinghuan had taken a liking to, right? Even he found such a topic too awkward to talk about.
Suddenly, General Ning stood up and bowed to the emperor.
Seeing a way out of this awkward situation, the emperor nodded and signaled General Ning to continue speaking.
"I have long since known about this matter, but I never thought my daughter would be so stubborn as to come clean on this occasion. However, I think this is good as well. This way, others can avoid wasting their time coming to our manor seeking marriage," General Ning said with a smile, his words causing many in the hall to gasp.
"Your words make sense. Children can take care of their own affairs. Everyone, sit and drink up."
The emperor nodded and used this opportunity to move the conversation to another topic.
The people below naturally followed suit, and Ning Qinghuan happily sat down and grinned at her father.
In response, General Ning glared at his daughter before hurriedly placating his wife.
Meanwhile, Jun Zishu sat in her courtyard and watched Little Fairy's live broadcast with a hand placed over her heart.
Her cousin was very manly today as well.
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Other novels I translate on Hosted Novel:
Pantsu Hero Alice (PHA)
Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God (Side Stories)
After Being Bent By Reader (ABBR)(GL)