9 Is He Sick?
Two days have passed since the incident at Leijing. The duo had returned home grumpy and exhausted, but that didn't stop the children from joining their grandfather for lunch.
"Grandpa, if it's possible...May I make a request?" Yuxi began, just as she set down her chopsticks.
Everyone was gathered around the dining table for lunch.
"Of course you are allowed to, child. You didn't even have to ask."
Yuxi rarely voiced her opinion or concerns, much less ask for anything.
This was the first time she made a direct request, and Commander Moyao was eager to hear the news. Whatever it may be, be it a kingdom or a house, he would get it for her, but Yuxi, of course, didn't know that.
"I would like to learn archery and horseback ridding." Yuxi's eyes lit up as she said these words.
Her grandfather chuckled low. Most girls wanted to learn the arts or poetry and never skills useful in battle.
"I will not reject this request of yours, but I want to know why."
"I remember mother was always good with archery, and Father was always good at horseback riding. I want to be good at both." Yuxi's voice was filled with sincerity.
A faint smile was on her lips at the memories of her mother taunting her father who was never good at archery.
Likewise, Commander Moyao also had the ghost of a smile on his face. He fondly remembered his lovely daughter who always smiled the brightest whenever there was a bow in hand.
Yuxi rarely had a big smile on her face and if she did smile, it was always tiny bashful ones befitting of a lady.
Children her age should always laugh and smile the most, never hide it. Wanting the same expression he always saw Chen Xiyue wear, Commander Moyao immediately agreed.
"I will send a word to the best archer I know. I'll get the blacksmith to create your equipment and gear. As for the latter, Weihao can teach you." At the opportunity to spend more time with Yuxi, Weihao's face lit up in an enormous grin.
He stopped wolfing down the food and turned towards Yuxi with excitement shinning through his eyes.
"Wei-ge will teach you the best that I can!" He exclaimed, grabbing for Yuxi's hand. It was evident to see how happy and excited he was, but the Commander decided to pour water on his parade.
"-Until I find a more suitable teacher for Yuxi." The Commander finished with a teasing smile. Amusement flooded his eyes at the sight of Weihao's dropping face.
"But grandfather!" He whined, a childish pout on his face. His face resembled a child who couldn't get his favorite toy.
Despite his playful behavior, Chen Weihao was already a high-ranking General-in-training. He already commanded over 100,000 soldiers, yet, here he was, throwing a small tantrum.
"You still have men to train and look over. The military will need you more than ever. A war might brew between Houling and Shuiye, so we need all the Generals we have." The Commander chided, and before Weihao can interrupt him, he held his hand up.
"Yuxi will be much safer with a proper instructor. The entire Leijing know of your reckless ways in riding a horse. Yuxi cannot learn such dangerous methods."
Weihao was indeed a careless rider. He preferred speed over protection and would sometimes ride his horse without a saddle!
Sulking to himself at the truth, Weihao grumbled the entire afternoon meal.
- - - -
"Chunan, what are you making?" Yuxi asked, her eyes sweeping over the various medicinal herbs on the title.
Sitting on a chair and swinging her tiny legs back and fourth, she was watching Chunan crush a few herbs.
"One of the maidservant's daughter is heavily sick with the flu. I'm making a tonic that can help with her heavy cough."
Everyone in the Chen household was a like a family, despite the difference in blood and rank. The servants treated each other with respect and rarely had ill intentions towards one another.
As the head maidservant, Chunan had more motherly duties - especially when it came to the children of some older maidservants.
"And this is...?" Yuxi asked, pointing towards a plant with white petals.
"This is Jin Yin Hua. It helps with coughs and sore throats." Chunan patiently explained.
Curious at the process, Yuxi took a step closer to the table. The smell of the different variety of medicinal plants was stronger now that Chunan had poured a bit of boiling hot water to make the liquid medicine.
"What about this one?"
"This one reduces fevers." Chunan once again, explained with thorough patience. It was rare for a child to be interested in herbistry, and Chunan didn't want the child to lose interest in it. To be knowledgeable in herbs will come in-handy one day.
Chunan, who was in her late fifties, was beginning to get old. There wasn't any servant who was interested in medicine, even though it was an essential practice. And Commander Moyao didn't trust any doctors, so Chunan already prepared a protege. But having Yuxi learn the skill also wasn't bad, since the Commander trusted Yuxi more than any doctor or protege.
"Do you want to practice how to become a herbalist?" Chunan softly asked Yuxi whose tiny legs could barely allow her to see over the enormous wooden table.
"Sure!" Yuxi immediately agreed with wide, curious eyes.
A faint smile fell on Chunan's face just as she finished straining the tonic.
"Does grandpa need to drink a tonic? Does he ever get sick" Though Yuxi's question was harmless, Chunan couldn't help but feel an inner turmoil.
How did the girl know? Was it that obvious? Chunan was beginning to ponder the idea, but one look at Yuxi's smiling face and innocuous eyes, she could tell the question was genuine.
"No, Master Chen is perfectly healthy." Chunan's body went slightly stiff when Yuxi tilted her head. She went back to mixing the herbs.
Yuxi's observant eyes caught the change in Chunan's posture, but chose to not comment on it.
From Chunan's reaction, Yuxi knew there was something wrong with the Commander. But only Chunan and her trusted protege knew the truth.
Commander Moyao didn't want anyone to worry. He also didn't want news to travel of his weakness. He was once a legendary warrior on the battlefield, and to hear their hero get sick, would be a grave and unwanted news to the country. Shall the enemy hear of this, there will be dire consequences.