Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 531
Once the eldest imperial prince’s two imperial bodyguards found their master and made sure he was safe, they followed the noise and discovered the weak and delicate looking Official Yu holding a dagger as she stood next to a very dead tiger corpse. She was currently wondering just how she should skin the tiger in order to keep its pelt as intact as possible.
The two bodyguards had their eyes wide open and it seemed as if their eyeballs would fall out of their sockets at any moment. Yu Xiaocao revealed an embarrassed smile and said, “Please don’t misunderstand. This tiger was killed by Little Black and Little White. I mostly thought that the animal didn’t have much meat on it and wanted to skin the pelt to bring back.”
The situation had already passed and the two imperial bodyguards had already heard the gist of what had happened from the eldest imperial prince. A little girl, around thirteen to fourteen years of age, was able to boldly lure a fierce tiger away from the eldest imperial prince. Furthermore, she was able to stay completely unharmed and was now calmly holding a knife in an attempt to skin the dead tiger. This was already incredibly amazing! Any other young maiden in her shoes would have only screamed in fright and gone into a dead faint, becoming no help at all and likely becoming an impediment instead.
Originally, Xiaocao thought that even though the tiger was very skinny, she still wouldn’t have enough strength to carry it back to the rest area. Now, with two free laborers around, if they wanted to bring the entire animal back, they were more than welcome to! Little Black and Little White had been keeping guard over Xiaocao this entire time. When they noticed that more protection had arrived, they eagerly leapt into the forest. There was still prey that they had killed earlier that they hadn’t brought back.
“Wah wah wah…Official Yu, I didn’t know if I’d be able to ever see you again…” What was this little brat saying? Can’t he be happy and excited to see her alive? Seeing him sob like this made it seem like he didn’t actually want to see her.
When the imperial bodyguards picked up the tiger corpse, the little brat’s expression immediately cleared and he bounced around the dead tiger excitedly, “Official Yu, did you kill the tiger ah? You’re so strong ah! You’re even stronger than Wu Song
‘Child, you’re thinking too much. Can’t you see the dead tiger’s throat? It’s clearly been ripped open ah.’ Yu Xiaocao silently pointed at the wound on the dead tiger. The little brat believed that he had discovered something amazing and continued to remark emotionally, “Little Black and Little White bit the tiger to death ah? Goodness gracious! Official Yu, the hunting dogs you raise are so fierce and powerful, even a tiger isn’t their opponent!! Third Young Master Ning even claims that he is the best expert in the capital at training hunting dogs. He must be talking big, right? The best expert really should be you!! Where’s Little Black and Little White? Did they get injured in the fight?”
“They went off to hunt more game! Your Highness, I’m not sure if this area is safe right now. How about we go back first ah?” Yu Xiaocao still had some lingering fears after that thrilling episode. If the person who let out the starving tiger had another trick up their sleeve, they only had two bodyguards here with them and it’d be very difficult for them to get out without any problems.
Fortunately, the eldest imperial prince grasped the severity of the situation that they were in and nodded his head in agreement, “That’s a good idea! When we get back, I’ll have Imperial Father look into this. Why would a tiger appear in this area? We got a pretty good haul today. After all, not just anyone has the skill and luck to be able to kill a tiger!!”
They returned back to where they had hitched the horses and the two maidservants were already there waiting for them. Chunhua noticed that Xiaocao looked quite disheveled and even had a scratch on her face. The expression on her face changed and she hurried over to ask, “Master, what happened——did you encounter a fierce tiger?”
Qiushi also frowned and remarked doubtfully, “Didn’t they say that the areas in this vicinity only contained small animals ah? How could a vicious tiger appear?” The two imperial bodyguards also had similar doubts.
Yu Xiaocao waved a hand at the two girls and said, “Don’t be nervous, I’m fine!! Let’s go back first and see what the emperor says!!”
At this moment, Zhu Hanwen had already completely calmed down and a cold sneer was on his plump face as he said, “That’s right ah! Not only did a tiger ‘coincidentally’ appear in this safe area, but it also appeared at my back. If it wasn’t for Official Yu, this prince would have been devoured with nothing left!”
Anyone born into the imperial family didn’t get a true childhood. Only those who forced themselves to mature quickly would be able to survive the treacherous political currents and not get buried behind in the ground. Zhu Hanwen was already considered quite lucky. He was the legitimate son of the empress and was also the first child of the emperor. He was also the only imperial prince in the palace and there were no rivals fighting for his position. However, even at such a young age, he was able to sense that there was something off about all of this and that someone was plotting against him.
Since it involved the imperial family, Yu Xiaocao was not going to voice her opinion at this time. She only silently rode her horse behind the eldest imperial prince as they went back in the direction of the camp.
The eldest imperial prince’s pony took the lead. The emperor and empress, who were idly strolling on the outskirts of the camp, spotted their son far in the distance and they felt their anxious hearts finally relax. Zhu Junyang, who was also patrolling around the perimeter, also saw a familiar figure and the expression on his face gentled considerably.
Suddenly, he frowned as he observed the faraway figures of the people. A severe expression settled onto his face as he reported to the emperor, “Imperial Majesty, there’s something off. It looks like Official Yu had gotten injured! This official asks for permission to go over and check…”
“Go ahead, go ahead ah!” Zhu Junfan wasn’t going to believe his cousin’s lies. They had only been separated for half a day yet the youth still couldn’t sit still and was looking for an excuse to get closer. Didn’t he know to come up with a better explanation? There were bodyguards and other experts protecting them, how could they possibly let that lass Yu Xiaocao get injured?
Zhu Junyang speedily mounted his horse after getting imperial permission and bolted off towards the small hunting group. When he saw the dead tiger being carried on one of the imperial bodyguard’s horses, the worry and caution in his eyes became much more distinct.
“Imperial Highness, are you okay ah…Xiaocao, you got injured?!” While he was conversing with the prince, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that Yu Xiaocao’s hair was all mussed up and there was an eye-catching scratch on her fair little face. He almost couldn’t resist the urge to pull her into his arms.
What had happened? Everyone else didn’t have a single scratch on them. It was only his little lass who had her clothing all messed up, her hair in disarray, and a wound on her face. Judging by the injuries on the dead tiger, did he even need an explanation now? If the little lass hadn’t raised two wolves, she…Zhu Junyang didn’t even want to go down that line of thought!
“Just how were you two protecting your master?!!” Zhu Junyang vented his entire temper on the two maidservants. He had spent a lot of time snatching them out of the hidden soldiers’ ranks, but they had decided to act like they were young misses instead? Their master had gotten injured yet not a strand was out of place for either of them! This was a crime that could not be forgiven within the hidden soldiers’ ranks…
Chunhua and Qiushi trembled as they knelt down in front of their infuriated previous master. For them, their master’s safety and well-being was more important than their lives. If they were unable to protect their master, then they would be tortured within the hidden soldiers’ hidden chamber. Even if they didn’t die, they would still lose a layer of skin. These two female bodyguards, who had just reached the age of sixteen, didn’t even dare to beg for mercy and could only wait in despair for their punishment.
“Zhu Junyang, just why are you scaring them? The scratch on my face is only from a branch that I brushed past, that’s all. Only the skin got broken, and I don’t even need to put on any medicine in order to have it heal without a scar!!” Yu Xiaocao explicitly expressed her disapproval of the prince’s way of handling things. These two maidservants had already been given to her. As their mistress, she hadn’t even said a word, so why should someone who was irrelevant butt in? Was that really proper?
Zhu Junyang immediately stowed away his temper when he saw that she had gotten angry. He gently clasped her small face in one hand and inspected the cut on her cheek as he gently said, “Are you sure it happened because a wayward branch hit you and not because the tiger’s claws had narrowly missed you?”
Yu Xiaocao pretended to be completely carefree as she replied, “With Little Black and Little White around, even if another tiger appeared, I wouldn’t be hurt at all! This was the first time I had seen a tiger in person and was a bit flustered. When I was turning around, I wasn’t paying attention and had brushed past a branch that had thorns on it. That’s all.”
Zhu Junyang, on the other hand, saw through her bold façade and discovered the fear within her. He gently pulled her into his arms and felt her body still trembling slightly. He hurriedly tried to comfort her and his voice became even more gentle as he soothed, “Don’t be scared! This prince is here now! Our Xiaocao is so awesome that you can even calm me down when I’m in a rage. How could a tiger be counted as anything in front of you?”
During the moment she was pulled into his warm embrace, Yu Xiaocao felt tears come to her eyes. However, after she heard Zhu Junyang’s subsequent words, she burst into laughter. She remembered the scene at the Wu Family’s residence. The prince had completely lost control of himself and had destroyed the area, making it look like an earthquake had just passed through. At that time, he was ten times more fierce and scary than a tiger. Despite that, she had confronted him in that state and hadn’t felt the least bit afraid the entire time. Perhaps she unconsciously knew that he would never harm her, right?
She sniffled a few times and then used a spoiled tone to complain, “When the tiger ran towards me, I was so scared! I was afraid that if I died, what would you do in the future? I also wondered if Sir Su would be able to subdue you in the future should you lose control without me!
“The only person in the world who is able to control me is you. Thus, you absolutely cannot have anything happen to you. Otherwise, this prince will also go down to hell with you…”
Zhu Junyang tightened his arms around that slim and weak little figure and gave her a kiss on the head. Relief was entwined with a bit of sweet happiness——the little lass had only thought about him when she was in imminent danger. Zhu Junyang had finally comprehended the true meaning of ‘happiness’ at this moment.
“And then what happened?” Zhu Junyang quietly asked.
Yu Xiaocao returned his hug. His embrace made her feel very warm and safe inside. It was as if a sailboat that had endured the stormy waters of sea had finally gotten back to the tranquil safety of the harbor. She had a home now for her heart.
“Next? What do you mean what’s next??” Yu Xiaocao’s voice sounded quite stuffy as her head was buried into his chest. It was a sound that brought pure pleasure to his ears.
“You said that the tiger leapt towards you. So what happened next?” Zhu Junyang gently patted her back with extremely soft movements. It was as if the girl in his arms was a weak and precious little infant.
Yu Xiaocao blinked her large eyes a few times at an angle where he couldn’t see the expression on her face. Anyone who knew her would know instantly from looking at that face that her following words were not to be trusted. Sure enough, she concealed the little divine stone’s contribution and pushed Little Black and Little White out instead, “Then…naturally Little White came by at just the right time and bravely appeared between me and the tiger. It managed to engage the tiger and pull it away from me to battle it. Following that, Little Black also ran over. If it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted the tiger pelt, Little Black and Little White would have long torn the tiger to pieces by working together!!”
Zhu Hanwen was silently listening at the side as Xiaocao described how the two wolves had fought the fierce tiger. He gazed at Little Black and Little White with a look of pure admiration in his eyes. He esteemed their strength and boldness and admired their loyalty towards their master. Although he would have luckily gotten away today, if it wasn’t for the two wolves, then he would have had to sacrifice Official Yu’s life. The loss would still be great. His imperial father would lose one of the best ways to strengthen and enrich the country, and he would have to bear the guilt and shame towards the Yu Family for the rest of his life. Furthermore, it was likely that he would have to bear the loss of losing Royal Prince Yang, who was a brilliant general…
“Official Yu, you are my savior! Expressing my gratitude for such a boon is not enough. This prince will remember your deeds in my heart for the rest of my life!” Zhu Hanwen had an extremely solemn look on his childish little face and his eyes were filled with gratitude.
 Wu Song (武松) – Also known as Wu the Second. He is one of the well-known characters in Water Margin, one of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature. He slays a man-eating tiger after drinking 18 bowls of wine.