He looked behind him at Si Shen, observing the large bundle of wrapped silk he held in one of his arms.
"You got the silk? Good," he remarked carelessly.
The Crown Princess, Wen Siying, told him before that she liked purchasing the silk material from the shop that he just visited when she hadn't entered the palace yet. With her father being the head of the Department of State Affairs, she used to have the freedom to buy the silk she wanted from the shop, but after she married him, she could no longer do so. After all, the Crown Princess wasn't supposed to exit the palace without permission.
That was why Yushang thought that for her birthday coming up in a few days, she would find a gift of different silks from the shop she used to visit so much to be a pleasant surprise. He didn't want to send large amounts of people to buy an exuberant amount from the shop to avoid drawing attention, and he wanted to pick her gift out himself, so he brought Si Shen along with him to go look.
Who knew that he would run into that girl from before who just kept showing up around him for some reason?
He originally just wanted to confront her about the fact that she forced him to waste too much money on re-buying his cloak, but then she started going on another tangent about his identity and wanting him to invest in her invention, which, honestly, he wasn't that interested in.
In a way, he somewhat regretted saying that he was the son of a merchant. Otherwise, she likely wouldn't have gotten the entire idea to get him to invest.
At the moment, he completely made up something along the lines of being the Third Young Master of the Bo family since he knew the Second Young Master, Bo Zhiyuan, fairly well. The two met by accident at a calligraphy and poetry convention, and ever since then, they had been decent friends. That was how he knew that the Bo family never had a Third Young Master, letting him take on the identity.
He originally came up with this while hoping that she didn't know the Bo family's structure very well, but who knew that she would know Bo Zhiyuan? Thankfully, though, she didn't question the identity he claimed to have, since he wouldn't have known what to say in that moment.
Though… thinking about it…
Considering how frequently Yushang went out in the public, he
need some sort of identity to take on. Who knows if he would meet that girl again considering that over the span of a few days he already saw her so many times? If she looked into these matters and found his identity to be false, then that would be very complicated to explain. When dealing with other people, it would be easier to have some sort of identity too.
Yushang took a sharp left turn at these thoughts, heading in the direction of the Bo villa. Si Shen followed behind, not questioning any of his actions.
When Yushang arrived, he didn't bother with concealing his identity. It wouldn't be necessary since the Bo family had enough political standing so if word traveled out that he visited them, it wouldn't be damaging to his reputation or anything. He flashed his crown prince emblem at the guards at the front, and didn't spare them much of a glance when they dropped to their knees and welcomed him in.
He headed directly to the courtyard he knew Yushang was in, pulling the paper fan he usually carried on him out and fanning himself with it when he walked in. The doors to Zhiyuan's study was open, so he knocked on the side and walked in.
Zhiyuan, who was studying a scroll on his table, looked up. Upon seeing Yushang, his eyes widened, and he pushed his chair back as he stood up, saluting.
"Crown Prince, what brings you to the Bo villa today?" He looked over at Si Shen holding the bundle of silk and joked, "Is that a gift for me?"
Yushang waved his hand for Zhiyuan to sit, and he took a seat across the table as well. "You wish. That's for the Crown Princess. I'm here 'cause I just wanted to tell you congrats on getting a baby brother."
"A baby brother?" Zhiyuan tugged on the collar of his robe, straightening it. "As far as I remember, I never had one, unless this is some joke?" He raised his eyebrows and let out a chuckle.
"Nope, not a joke. Your baby brother's me. Starting from today."
Immediately, Zhiyuan stood up again. "Crown Prince, you can't be serious. I can't bear that honor."
Yushang sighed and reached over, pushing the other to sit back down. "Sit, sit. You're not the older brother of the Crown Prince, idiot. You're the older brother of the Third Young Master of the Bo family." Seeing that Zhiyuan still didn't understand, Yushang explained, "I need an identity to go around and do things with. Your Bo family happened to be on the top of my mind, so I chose that."
Zhiyuan let out a sigh of relief. It would've been too much of an offense if the Crown Prince intended for him to be his older brother. "You need a name then," he said after his sigh.
"How about…" Yushang looked up in thought. "Bo Zhizhong? Your 'Zhi', and as for 'Zhong', the 'Zhong' that means loyalty. Hoping that the Bo family will be loyal to support this new identity of mine. Oh, and tell your father about this too later. I'm too lazy to go tell him myself, and your father is always pressing me to give your brother benefits, which I'm not into."
Zhiyuan's polite smile dropped, replaced by a deep frown which barely appeared on his usually cheerful face. "Ah. My brother— I never understood why my father keeps doing that to you. My brother's already inheriting the business, so why is he still trying to get himself into politics?"
Yushang knew about this struggle of Zhiyuan. It was one of the only things that bothered him, and it bothered him to an extreme degree.
It was customary for the First Young Master of the family to inherit the business when that was their father's decision, but Bo Zhiyuan was always a hundred times more hard working in terms of business despite the carefree, wasteful young master that others seemed to interpret him as. But simply because he wasn't the First Young Master, his chances of inheriting the business decreased to an unfair degree.
Running his fingers through his hair, Yushang advised, "Well, hope it makes you feel better that the First Young Master annoys me way too much, so I'll never do anything in his favor. If he wants to get some sort of government position, he has to work for it himself."
Zhiyuan smiled again. "So, if anyone asks, I'm supposed to claim that your my brother, Bo Zhizhong?"
"Yeah. There's no need to publicly declare that the Bo family now has a Third Young Master though— that would be too suspicious. If anyone who I've been in contact with doubts it though, then you can go and tell him that I'm not lying. I won't be using that identity too much or ruining the reputation of your family, so there's no need to worry about that either."
"I won't worry about that, my honorable Crown Prince," Zhiyuan grinned.
Now that this matter was settled, Yushang wanted to move onto the next one. He lifted his chin and asked, "Do you know someone who makes this thing called… pen-cils? She claims that she's made a few paintings for you."
"Oh, Miss Yang? I do know her, and purchased three paintings from her before."
Zhiyuan turned and pointed to a few paintings hung on the wall. Yushang looked over. From a glance, they were decent paintings from someone with a good amount of artistic skill, though he was still unsure why Zhiyuan bought them from her considering that most of the paintings being brought in the market were from male painters.
"What about her?" Zhiyuan continued, "How did you know…?"
"I ran into her in the market today. She wanted to convince me to invest in her invention, but why would I do that? I'm the Crown Prince, even though she thought I was a merchant's son from your family. I'm sure the whole thing was a hoax."
Zhiyuan sat up straighter, rummaging in the scrolls by the side of the desk to find a scroll of white paper. He unscrolled it, and Yushang's jaw instantly dropped.
On it was a lifelike portrait of Bo Zhiyuan's fiancée, Zhou Luowei. It was in black and white, but if it weren't for that fact, it would've been a near replica of her, so lifelike that Yushang doubted that what he was seeing wasn't a mirror reflection of the girl. She had a faint smile depicted on her face while she looked to the distance, and though Yushang didn't remember the face of the girl too well, he was sure that this portrait was more than accurate.
The piece of art was clearly something that couldn't be created with ink. He had never seen anything like it before. Yushang had to admit that it was good. Too good.
One could… create such an accurate portrait of someone with this tool called a "pencil"?
If his father, who was always obsessed with the arts, knew about this new type of art, wouldn't he invest so many gold taels into it? And didn't that mean that Yushang was an absolute fool for outright rejecting the girl's proposal for his investment then? If he invested into it… and showed the invention to his father as a gift or something perhaps… then surely he could win his father's delight!
Yushang immediately took back everything bad he thought about the girl and her invention.
But now, the question was: how was he supposed to track down this girl if he didn't know her name and didn't leave any form of contact with her?
Fu Yushang walked down the streets, deep in thought. As he walked, somewhere along the way, he realized that Si Shen, his personal bodyguard, was following behind him as quiet as always. This was just how Si Shen was, always having a concealed presence and showing an appearance when he felt necessary. He was probably following behind Yushang this entire time, but Yushang just didn't particularly notice or care.