“Didn’t you say that there will only be two more people coming today?”
“Then, what’s with that pair over there?” Shou asked Hu Zi.
Hu Ye and Qing Guang came with them to train, just as planned. However, when Qing Bo heard about this, he felt very uneasy about letting his sister go alone with the Hu siblings. To him, his precious little sister should not be friends with the likes of the Hu siblings, especially Hu Zi, that illiterate, so he self-invited himself to come along. Hu Cheng Se, who heard that Qing Bo would be tagging along, packed her luggage and decided to come too. She would never let Qing Bo have the chance to say mean things to her Third Sister.
'In no way will I let my precious twin sister go alone to far places with you illiterate bunch!'
'He must be thinking about not letting his sister go alone with some illiterate bunch! Say something around the word illiterate, see what I will do to you!'
Qing Bo and Hu Cheng Se glared at each other fiercely. They gave off so much hostility, Hu Zi shivered because she could feel the very air around them tremble.
They were now walking through the mountain path. Fei Ying didn't like the air around them and decided to fly ahead.
Fei Ying was that injured baby bird Qing Guang found four years ago. When she realized that it was an eagle, she felt remorse. She regretfully told Hu Ye that they couldn't roast it anymore. Hu Ye drew in a cold breath, he did not think that Qing Guang was so serious about roasting the little bird. At the same time, Hu Ye was thankful that she finally gave up on it. After taking care of the bird for so long, Hu Ye had become fond of it, wanting to keep it as a pet.
Since Qing Guang was the one who found the eagle, he let her choose a name. She decided on ‘Fei Ying’, which literally meant eagle, causing Hu Ye to draw in another cold breath.
In his heart, he said, 'Such a simple name, ah!'
“This is a good chance to settle our score, Hu Second Miss.”
“Hmph! Bring it on, Qing Young Master!”
Just when they were about to clash, Hu Ye stopped them. “You two, you can go and quarrel all you want, but do that after we arrive at the camping ground,” he said in a clear voice.
“Huh?” Qing Bo was unhappy that Hu Ye disturbed him. “Are you preaching to me? Why should I listen to you?”
Hu Ye simply smiled and said, “For one, Qing Young Master, your sister’s steps seem slower than all of ours. Though I don’t know why she’s slower than usual, I do advise you to keep your eyes on her so that she won’t fall behind.”
Qing Bo looked past Hu Ye and saw that his sister was indeed lagging behind while carrying the heavy luggage. He felt pity for her and decided to leave the matter with Hu Cheng Se aside so that he could walk slower and accompany her.
This is the story of the Qing twins.
Qing Guang, who could draw a bow before she was three, rarely got the chance to leave the capital for more training, so she learned the ways of archery from books.
She was simply interested in it. Before her mother's death, her family called a teacher for her. But after her mother's death, her stepmother fired her teacher, saying that it was not acceptable for a woman to fight and the money to pay for her teachers should be kept for her future dowry.
Of course, this would not stop her from continuing to learn and practice. With only a black bow that didn't quite match her size and two old arrows, she secretly experimented with different archery theories in her and her brother’s small bedroom, soon creating her own techniques. It could be said that she was an archery genius in her own right.
When she was eight, she registered herself in the school archery class, where she had her own teacher, and could freely learn without the influence of her stepmother.
When she struck the teaching deal with Hu Ye, she thought about coming to his house to practice but immediately put the idea aside because the ministers and generals in imperial court were not on good terms. It wouldn’t be surprising if her stepmother used this as a good reason to starve her later.
The twins’ mother was the only child of their father’s predecessor, the previous left chancellor. Their father, upon marrying their mother, had a smooth career and was promoted to left chancellor soon after the passing of the twins’ maternal grandparents, around the time after their birth.
She gripped her bow tight until the palm of her hand turned white, her nails digging into her skin. But soon enough, a large hand covered her daintier one. When she looked up, she found her older brother looking at her with warmth as he always did.
"You okay, Guang?" Qing Bo took her bow and carried it for her. "Are you tired?"
Qing Bo’s sharp eyes looked at her feet.
"..." Qing Guang and her brother had to survive the harsh life of a noble back courtyard. They did everything they could and needed to do in order to survive.
Their stepmother poisoned their mother till death, so they poisoned her back until she could never bear children again. The mother-daughter placed their bedroom in a storage-like room with not a speck of sunlight, so the twins made their way back to their mother’s courtyard. They took their mother's dowry, so the twins schemed to get an even bigger one. They took all of their father's love, so the twins struggled to earn the society's recognition and unshakeable reputation, steadying themselves in the household. They tried to kill them a hundred times, so the twins schemed to backfire those plans.
This is how the Qing twins lived, but in the end, their father still loved their stepmother and her child more than his own heir and first daughter. Qing Guang polished herself and was able to gain a few simple praises from their father; he now came to their late mother's courtyard more often. Although the courtyard was smaller than their stepmother’s, they twins didn't argue much because they planned to drive that mother-daughter pair out of the house soon after Qing Bo gained an official position. Other than the second wife, there used to also be some other concubines, but not even Qing Guang knew where they had gone.
Qing Bo and Qing Guang were always together as far back as they could remember, but sometimes, even Qing Guang couldn’t predict his actions. A long time ago, around a month after their mother's funeral, Qing Bo had gone missing for a whole day, making Qing Guang worry so much that she cried in the dark damp corner of their storage-like room.
The next morning, with her swollen red eyes, she saw her body covered in a thin blanket and in her brother’s embrace as he slept. When he woke up, he told her that he just went to take the first revenge for their mother. A few days later, a doctor diagnosed that the left chancellor's second wife was infertile after having suffered through a severe fever.
Qing Guang now took a good long look at her twin brother as they walked. She took his arm in hers while getting closer to his chest.
Seeing his sister acting all cute, Qing Bo couldn’t help but tease her. "What's wrong? It's not like you to suddenly act spoiled." He pinched both of her cheeks.