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    Chapter 105: A Good First Impression

    She thought to herself, I'd rather look at the back of a horse's head than your miserable face. So what if you're good-looking? You can't even crack a smile; that's more pleasant than looking at a horse's mane.

    However, upon hearing her words, Beitang Miao frowned and his gaze fell on her skirt. He asked, "Riding a horse?"

    "What's wrong with that?"

    "…It's fine." Looking away, he said, "Miss Mu, go if you wish."

    "Thank you!" Relieved, Mu Shufang called for the carriage to stop and hastily jumped off, seizing Feisha's horse.

    Feisha was seated on the carriage, watching Mu Shufang mount the horse with ease. He couldn't help but comment, "There aren't many young ladies in the capital who are skilled in riding. She's quite different."

    Unable to see outside from within the carriage, Beitang Miao pondered for a moment before curiosity got the better of him, and he whispered, "How can she ride in that silk robe?"

    Feisha reported softly, "That silk robe… Its hem is cut differently. Miss wears underpants beneath, so it's easy for her to ride."

    So that's how it is? Beitang Miao pursed his lips, remaining silent for a long while. Then, he gently lifted the small curtain beside him to take a look outside.

    Mu Shufang trotted on horseback, three steps ahead of the carriage, her back straight and spirits visibly lifted. She playfully joked with her attendants following behind, "Does my manner resemble that of a groom going to meet his bride?"

    The attendant flattered, "Indeed, Miss, your bravery is unparalleled compared to other delicate young ladies."

    Beitang Miao glanced down at herself, sitting 'delicately' in the carriage, feeling displeased. She lifted the carriage curtain and said, "Bring me another horse."


    "It's already late. It wouldn't be proper to leisurely ride in a carriage, making others wait." Beitang Miao dismounted, took hold of another steed, and with the grace of a gust of wind, mounted the horse and galloped away.

    The dust kicked up by the galloping hooves enveloped Mu Shufang's face.

    Startled, she wondered, What's wrong with this person? Racing horses over a disagreement? As if nobody else knows how to ride!

    Fueled by anger, she cracked her whip and sped after him, sending her group of attendants and guards into a panic.

    "General, Miss! Please don't rush! It's dangerous!"

    Their cries fell on deaf ears. Beitang Miao raced at top speed, and Mu Shufang was not one to be outdone. The two horses dashed side by side along the road to Huai Qu, causing passersby to hastily step aside.

    In an ideal scenario, the two would have galloped for over ten miles, with Mu Shufang eventually collapsing from exhaustion and falling off her horse. Beitang Miao would then emerge as the hero, saving her. Their misunderstandings would dissolve, and they'd proceed together to meet Prince Wu in Huai Qu.

    Perfect and harmonious.

    Unfortunately, Beitang Miao hadn't returned to the capital for a year, so he was unaware that the roads in the outskirts had been renovated. After their frantic dash, they found themselves at an unfamiliar crossroads after half an hour.

    Mu Shufang, panting heavily, caught up and looked up, stunned. "Where are we?"

    Beitang Miao replied solemnly, "I'm not sure."

    "Then why were you running so fast?" Mu Shufang asked, astonished.

    "... Originally, this path led to Huai Qu," Beitang Miao frowned. "It seems to have changed now."

    "What do we do now?" Mu Shufang glanced behind them; their attendants were too far away to be of assistance. Looking around, she found no one nearby to seek help.

    Beitang Miao fell silent, his face cold – not because he was trying to maintain an air of dignity at this juncture, but because he didn't know how to react to the awkward situation of having led Mu Shufang astray. It was incredibly awkward!

    "Let's retrace our steps," Mu Shufang suggested, glancing at the sky. "On our way here, we passed a small village. If we turn back now, we can still have lunch there."

    Beitang Miao acknowledged with a soft "hum," turned his horse around, and followed her.

    Arriving in a cloud of dust, they returned with heads hanging low. Mu Shufang found the contrast amusing. Glimpsing at him from the corner of her eye, she realized he had a human side too – he was impulsive enough to race with her on horseback, though his reserved nature made it hard to get close.

    Lowering his gaze, Beitang Miao held the reins tightly, reflecting that this girl had a good temperament. She didn't complain even after being led so far astray; thus, she wouldn't mistreat Chang Nian if they were to be married. If that was the case, he wouldn't stand in their way.

    Halfway through their journey, he asked, "Did the Prince mention what he needed to attend to today?"

    Mu Shufang was startled, turning around to look left and right before widening her eyes. "You're asking me?"

    With a squint, Beitang Miao lifted his chin slightly, indicating there was no one else around.

    "Oh," Mu Shufang responded. "The Prince said he's going to inspect the palace. It seems like the Third Prince is seeking his assistance."

    Beitang Miao, who usually kept out of conflicts, was unfamiliar with the princes' intrigues. He simply inquired, "Is she well-prepared?"

    Mu Shufang pondered for a moment. "She brought a lot of guards, so I suppose she is."

    Afterward, she raised an eyebrow. "General, you seem quite concerned about the Prince."

    "Your Highness and I share a deep bond," Beitang Miao said. "Should anyone dare to harm Your Highness, I would draw my sword and strike them down first."

    He had intended these words for Mu Shufang's ears, hoping to intimidate her and make her behave in the future.

    However, Mu Shufang showed no sign of fear. Instead, she gazed at him intently before turning away and muttering softly, "From afar, you seem cold and detached, but up close, you appear foolish."

    Beitang Miao: "..."

    Did this person not know that martial artists had exceptional hearing?

    "With a general like you guarding Your Highness, I can rest assured," Mu Shufang turned back with a smile. "If Your Highness ever finds themselves in trouble, this humble maiden will seek your assistance, General."


    The two horses clopped their way back to the small village, their hoofbeats echoing similarly to those on Yung Wa Road miles away.

    Chang Nian sat in the carriage, watching enviously as Ye Liang rode his horse. Then, with a sullen expression, he asked, "Why are you here too?"

    "I have been commanded by our master to ensure Your Highness's safety," Ye Liang replied.

    Looking around, Chang Nian beckoned Ye Liang closer and said, "You already have an official position as a courtier. Yet you still address the Duke of Guo as your master. This could be seen as disrespectful."

    Ye Liang was taken aback but then waved his hand. "No matter what rank I hold, he will always be my master."

    Chang Nian was puzzled. Apart from being wealthy, what else was good about Ye Jiangbai? Why were the people around him so loyal as if they were his blood relatives?

    Yung Wa Road led to East Welcoming Mountain. The palace on the mountain had been renovated from an old temple, and its foundation was already established, making the construction process swift. From the foot of the mountain, one could already glimpse its outline.

    As they passed through a forest, Ye Liang's expression turned grave. Chang Nian could sense his heightened alertness. His hand rested on the scabbard of his sword, his knuckles turning white as he held his grip for the duration of a stick of incense.

    "This is a main road leading to East Welcoming Mountain. There's no need to be so alarmed," Chang Nian smiled. "Even if there were assassins, there are sentry posts not far ahead where we can seek help."

    Ye Liang didn't reply to her. Instead, he fixed his sharp gaze on a particular spot ahead.

    The wind rustled through the trees, and the sun was obscured by clouds. A faint sound, barely audible, echoed from afar.

    In that fleeting moment, Ye Liang pulled on the reins and raised his horse's hooves, immediately shouting, "Protect the Emperor!"


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