The next morning, Zong Ching woke up with heavy bags under his eyes.
"Little brother, are you alright? You do not look so well." Zong Li the 5th prince in line, asked while slinging his quiver over his shoulder.
"Uhh no, I mean yes, of course I am well. I was uh reading through some books very late last night." Ching stammered as he slid his quiver over his shoulder.
In front of his brothers he shows an attitude of being cold and calm so seeing him stammering his words was a first time experience for him. Zong Li raised his eyebrows but decided to dismiss this and walked towards his horse. He got on easily and looked at Zong Ching climbing on with the help of his servants.
"Ready?" He asked and pointed off towards the woods. Zong Ching nodded and he smiled. "Well let the hunt begin!"
The two rode away on their horses towards the woods. The only brother he was close with is Zong Li. Zong Li's mother was a consort but she was the only person that chose to be friends with Zong Ching's mother. After his mother died she treated Zong Ching like he was one of her sons. Zong Ching did not excel in horse riding but his archery skills are top notch. Out of the ten targets he missed two, if he had better control over his horse he would be able to get all ten. Zong Li only missed one out of the ten, he excelled in activities sport-related.
"Mmmm. Haven't hunted on horse back for ages." Zong Li exclaimed as he stretched.
Zong Ching shook his head, "Nah, you're exaggerating, it's only been a couple of weeks."
"My point exactly." Zong Li responded with a matter-of-fact tone.
*Sigh* "You've always been so sarcastic." Zong Ching got off of his horse and gave the reins over to his servant.
"No I have not!" Zong Li retorted and got off his horse.
"Hey! Don't walk away while I'm talking!" Zong Li ran over and slung his arm over his shoulder.
"Woah." Zong Ching staggered from the sudden impact.
"But seriously what's been bothering you." Zong Li suddenly got serious.
Zong Ching grimaced. "Nothing."
"Hmmmm. I know it is definitely not nothing, so speak up." Zong Li demanded.
"Well. It's about this girl." Zong Ching admitted quietly.
"A girl. Ohhhh... I see so our little Ching Ching has finally become a man." Zong Li's words received a punch from his little brother in the stomach..
"Hmph." Zong Ching walked away and left Zong Li clutching his stomach.
"Okay, okay. I won't tease you anymore but you have to tell me the details." Zong Li finally caught up even though he was still clutching his stomach.
"Well..." Zong Ching told him the even that happened in the past few days, about Mingxia's sudden change, her attitude and him constantly thinking about her. He left out the part about trying to gain a connection with the Wei family for their connections. After hearing this Zong Li placed both of his hands on Zong Ching's shoulders.
"What-what?" Zong Ching stammered.
"Zong Ching, I never would have thought that this would happen but it did. Congratulations my brother you have finally awaken your male ambitions." Zong Li exclaimed and began crying.
Zong Ching may be clever and smart when it comes to political stuff but when faced with issues love wise he was an amateur. Well it is reasonable since he's a virgin.
"Why are you crying Brother Li." Someone one suddenly said and Zong Li turned around.
It was Zong Chen, first in line for the throne.
"Nothing Brother Chen." Zong Li became quiet and Zong Ching followed his example.
The battle for the throne was fierce, even if the brothers were best friends when they were children, they may become enemies if they take different sides.
The two princes with the most favor for the throne is the first prince Zong Chen and the third prince Zong Wang. Zong Chen is known for his military feats. He is ruthless on the battlefield and charged into battle at the youthful age of 12. On the other hand, the third prince Zong Wang may not be known for military accomplishments but for he was reputable for being a scholar and has dealt with numerous disaster cases, giving him support from the people. Both princes also have their own brothers supporting them. The first prince, Zong Chen, has his fourth brother, fifth brother and ninth brother supporting him. The third prince has the sixth, seventh and eighth prince supporting him. Each prince had their specialty and their own group of people supporting them.
"Brother Chen, what brings you here?" Zong Li asked.
"Nothing special just taking a walk." He answered simply.
He turned towards Zong Ching. "Brother Ching, fancy seeing you here."
Zong Ching only nodded, Zong Li could see that he had brought up his mask, the mask he uses in front of others to act polite and cold.
"Zong Li, that situation, have you taken care of it?" Zong Chen walked up to Zong Li ignoring Zong Ching.
"Of course brother. He confessed everything after three days staying in there." Zong Li whispered to Zong Chen, making sure Zong Ching didn't not hear it.
"En. Good job Li, I am very satisfied with this." Zong Chen patted Zong Li's back and walked off.
"Brother Li, what happened?" Zong Ching walked up beside Zong Li without making a sound which surprised Zong Li.
"Wa-nothing, nothing." Zong Li jumped at his brother's sudden question but he was also taken back when he heard his brother addressing him as Brother Li. The two brothers may not have a chance for the throne but they had each other and were very close. Zong Ching's sudden coldness towards him bothered Zong Li but who is he to complain? He would act the same way if his closest brother was keeping secrets from him.
"Let's go in town. I heard that there is this famous new pavilion opening today." He draped his arms around Zong Ching's neck and laughed while trying to change the subject.
Zong Ching merely nodded, knowing that his brother would not be telling him anything and the two walked away with heavy thoughts dragging them down.
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