Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol01 Ch27 (Intermission)
Bei Mo’s first snow came in the middle of the November.
General Ze Yin chose this time to enter the Royal Residence, to report his retirement from military to the King of Bei Mo.
“Why so sudden?” The Bei Mo King was no longer interested in admiring the snow all of a sudden, as he turned to gape at Ze Yin.
Ze Yin replied, “The danger at the frontier has now pa.s.sed, so Ze Yin should also fulfill his promise with Yangfeng.”
“No longer partic.i.p.ating in military affairs so that you can accompany your wife till old, while watching nature unfold itself over the years, am I right? Such a gentlemanly promise.” The King of Bei Mo turned away, refusing to say any more. After a while, he finally added, “Does Yangfeng still bear a grudge over the poisoning of Dong Lin’s two princes.”
Ze Yin sighed heavily, lowering his voice. “A women’s kindness should not interfere with national affairs anyway. It’s not King’s fault.”
“So it seems that she still bears a grudge against me. Pity, nothing can replace a good friend.” The Bei Mo King had bitter smile as he nodded, “What else could I say? Oh well, oh well. General Ze Yin, you may leave.”
The Main General’s Residence in Bei Mo, in the midst of snowy skies and earth, had its sign pulled away from above its main entrance, the sign that the King of Bei Mo had personally written.
Ze Yin’s intentions in resigning had long been hinted within the residence as the crowd of servants had been with him for many years and were all fiercely loyal. Wherever Ze Yin went, they would follow, so even when news was proved officially, the Residence was calm like usual. Everyone seemed to have mutual understanding as they all packed their luggage themselves without being asked, getting ready to leave Bei Yali.
The snow continued to fall for seven days, no trace of stopping.
The road to leave Bei Yali was snowy white, while only a small group of carriages ambled on it. The carriage wheels pressed against the snow, leaving two long tracks.
One of the most decorated carriages in the middle, a small stove was alit. Yangfeng had her head lowered, looking at the baby in her arms. This child had far too much energy, just like his father, who only slept after much coaxing.
A sweet smile formed at her lips as she put the baby on a tiny blanket, wrapping him up carefully. Yangfeng softly sneezed as she sat by the window.
“Asleep?” Ze Yin moved in to face the two, carefully examining the sleeping child. He was used to picking up swords and killing, but seeing this delicate, newborn baby, he could only think that he would hurt him whenever he tried to cuddle him. He felt more afraid at his first time being a father than his first time being on the battlefield.
Yangfeng saw his expression and startled to chuckle softly, moving close to him, watching their child together. In a loving voice, she said, “Look at his nose and his little mouth. He looks just like a little Ze Yin.”
“His face looks like his mother’s.” Ze Yin was joyous, “The son looks like the mother. He definitely has a promising future. Yangfeng, it’s all thanks to you.”
Yangfeng was stunned. “Thanks to me?”
“It’s all thanks to you, otherwise, how was I going to have such a cute son?”
“What are you saying?” Yangfeng was both angry and pleased. Not wanting to wake the baby, she tugged at Ze Yin’s sleeve. The two sat quietly on their seats, which were cushioned with thick fur. Yangfeng lowered her voice, “Does Husband think I’m too stubborn?”
“Why would I?”
“Yangfeng forced Husband to leave his post as the Main General, even leaving Bei Yali to settle down elsewhere. Yangfeng forced you to leave even though the snow hasn’t stopped, not to mention that Qing’er isn’t a month yet either. Having said that, that was far too stubborn of me.”
Ze Yin laughed, his voice deep and soft, while his large, rough hand stroked Yangfeng’s face. He asked, “Is there anyone else who could force me, Ze Yin, to retire? Retirement and leaving Bei Yali was all your wish. As it’s your wish, I would definitely do so, willingly.” He paused, his voice softening. “Besides, I know that you’re still feeling uneasy about what happened to Pingting. Although the rewards from the King kept coming, you seemed even more on edge each time.”
At the mention of Pingting, Yangfeng’s face turned sorrowful. In a low voice, she said, “Yesterday night, I dreamed of Pingting. She was standing in front of me, not smiling, not speaking. I reached out to touch her, but she was like a shadow, something I couldn’t touch. Ze Yin, I had to beg Pingting to think of a plan for Bei Mo.”
“I know.” Ze Yin pulled Yangfeng into his arms, pain flashing in his eyes. “My country, Bei Mo, owes her deeply, yet they pushed all of the blame for killing Dong Lin’s two princes on her. Ze Yin is far too ashamed to face her.”
“She’s not willing to clear the misunderstanding either.” Yangfeng was distraught. “Ever since you searched up where Chu Beijie was living, I’ve already sent someone to pa.s.s on my letters, telling her to clear up everything with Chu Beijie, that He Xia was the one who killed Chu Beijie’s two nephews. But she hasn’t sent anything back to me.”
“She should be under house arrest right now. Could the letters we sent, weren’t delivered to her, but were collected by Chu Beijie’s people?”
Yangfeng shook her head, “Isn’t it better for Chu Beijie to see them? But the Dong Lin army doesn’t seem to be pursuing He Xia right now, meaning it’s highly likely they still don’t know what He Xia did. I reckon Chu Beijie is too arrogant, that’s why he’s not stopping or peeking at Pingting’s letters. I’m just afraid, what if Pingting doesn’t plan to plead innocent?”
Ze Yin’s thick eyebrows creased, not understanding, “Since she knows that He Xia has changed, why is she still willing to be punished in place of him?”
Yangfeng seemed to feel a little cold, shifting her position in Ze Yin’s arms, until she was able to hear her husband’s heartbeat more strongly. Her gaze was fixed on the sleeping child not far away, as she sighed softly. “Being disappointed in someone is one thing, but hating them is another. Pingting knows this very well, that the moment she says the truth, He Xia will immediately become the most wanted criminal of Dong Lin. How is that any different from personally killing him? Their friendships built over the past fifteen years won’t be broken so easily.”
Yangfeng’s voice got softer and softer, as if her thoughts were even more problematic than before. She hesitated for a long time, before continuing, “I’m just worried that since she’s so clever, instead of trying to solve the misunderstanding, she’d use this to test Chu Beijie’s feelings for her instead. Sigh, just how can a man’s heart be tested?”
Ze Yin heard the sadness in her tone. He was very worried that she’d get sick, as it hadn’t been more than fifty days since she gave birth and there were too many worries on her mind. Patting her shoulder lovingly, he a.s.sured her. “Don’t think about it too much. Although I’ve retired, it’s not like I don’t have any influence. If Pingting has any needs, we can definitely help her.”
“I hope that G.o.d will protect Pingting.” Yangfeng pressed her hands together at her chest, praying.
Ze Yin’s group of carriages advanced slowly on the snow-covered ground, while the sky was full of fireworks outside the Royal Residence of the country of Yun Chang.
The Royal Residence was covered in red silk, while the maids were all dressed in grand, festive gowns, flowed in and out of the room like water, bringing in all sorts of colourful desserts.
The joyful sound of drums travelled from within the Royal Residence to the outside neighbourhood, causing the peasants of Yun Chang to gather and discuss.
“Princess is going to marry!”
“Heh, our Yun Chang finally has a prince consort?”
“There should’ve been a prince consort ages ago. Although the Princess is pretty clever, but as a woman, it’s not that good to meddle with politics too much right? It’s better to find a husband and settle down, giving birth to a son too.”
“Hahaha, that makes sense.”
“Having said that, our Princess has quite a good taste. Ever since the King died, the number of people proposing suddenly increased, almost enough to trample down the Royal Residence’s door. The Princess refused everyone, but chose this one.”
“Yeah! Yeah! As expected of our Yun Chang’s Princess, to have such good taste. With him as the Prince Consort, our Yun Chang no longer has to be afraid of Dong Lin’s Chu Beijie and Bei Mo’s Ze Yin! Hahaha, come, let’s cheer for the Princess and the Prince Consort with a little wine!”
The mellow wine gushed freely out of their containers.
Gui Changqing crossed through the crowds of b.u.t.terfly-like maids, while wearing a heavy yet grand courtier dress, towards a small, peaceful building in the western part of the Royal Residence
The most influential maid of the Yun Chang Royal Residence, Luyi, happened to be standing at the entrance, while instructing two maids. “Get the gift, Double Golden Phoenix Belt, sent a few days ago. Also, go get some dry hawthorn and remember to place them in the red plates. There are two plates, each one gets exactly ninety-nine slices of dry hawthorn. Remember, ninety-nine slices, no more, no less. I’m making this clear, today is an important day, if any of you dare make a mistake, watch out for your leg.” She said this all in one breath and when she turned around, seeing Gui Changqing, she hurriedly smiled. “Senior Official Gui, please come in, Princess has been waiting for a while, but Senior Official just hadn’t come yet. It wasn’t going to be long until the Princess was going to welcome My Lady.
Gui Changqing smiled modestly, stepping into the room.
The smell of incense lingered in the room. Although outside was full of joyous music, here, it was all just unclear, residual sounds. Reaching the curtains, she saw a thin figure sitting alone in front of the mirror through them.
Gui Changqing already heard Princess Yaotian’s familiar, crisp voice before she drew back the curtains. “Please come in, Senior Official.”
Gui Changqing pushed the curtains back, walking until she was standing in front of the mirror.
The Princess in the mirror had long surpa.s.sed her usual glamorous appearance. A coronet, studded with many gems, had been placed neatly on her head. Below, she was wearing a chain of pearls, that wouldn’t stop shaking, but none of this managed to block out the shining light in her eyes.
Princess Yaotian put down the eyebrow pencil in her hand, studying herself carefully in the bronze mirror. She joked, softly, “Senior Official, has Yaotian dressed up prettily enough?”
Gui Changqing looked at her attentively, nodding. “Absolutely stunning.” There was a pause. Then, as if there was something she had to say, she gave a long sigh. “Princess is finally going to marry. The little girl who liked to make all of the Residence’s maids run after her, until they were breathless, is soon to have a husband. Time sure flies. Is Princess happy?”
“Happy and worried at the same time.” Yaotian looked at herself in the mirror. “When Mother was still alive, she said that marrying was like reaching into a black hole. There isn’t a way to tell whether what you pull out is a rare treasure, or a deadly snake. Senior Official is the most loyal official of Yun Chang’s Royal House. If it hadn’t been for Senior Official’s help ever since Father died, I would’ve never been able to deal with national affairs. I want to ask Senior Official a question, so please give me a truthful reply.”
Gui Changqing replied in a distinct voice, “Go ahead, Princess.”
“When I chose He Xia, the officials and peasants were happy but why was Senior Official so worried about it for several days?”
Gui Changqing hadn’t thought that Princess Yaotian would ask such a thing and she looked a little stunned, only replying after much thinking. “The King died early, not leaving a son. Princess is ruling the political court as a woman and everyone understands that whoever marries Princess will be the Prince Consort of Yun Chang, who can do whatever they want to with Yun Chang. That’s why I was constantly warning Princess to be careful when choosing a husband, not someone useless who would bring Yun Chang to its destruction.”
“He Xia is useless?”
“Though Princess is perceptive too. He Xia is currently framed and hunted by the King of Gui Le, and needs a refuge.”
“Although his family is ruined now, he did come from a good family, so his behaviour is extremely graceful, not to mention his rare talents. In this period where the prospect of war is constantly hanging around, like a cloud, warriors were the most valuable of all. Princess agreeing to marriage at this time is like bring a steel barrier to our Yun Chang. But…” Gui Changqing shook her head, her voice soft, “He’s too powerful, too ambitious. It’s not going to be easy to keep this man beside for long periods of time.”
Princess Yaotian lowered her head, thinking. In a hesitant voice, she asked, “If so, why didn’t Senior Official tell me in the past? I would always consider Senior Official’s opinions.”
“Even if I said so, would Princess’ decision be changed?” Gui Changqing sighed, “I’ve been serving for twenty years and have known Princess since birth. How could I not see if Princess had already hardened her heart to iron, firmly decided such a thing?”
Princess Yaotian sucked her lips, thinking, then smiling. “As expected of Senior Official. It’s true that I wouldn’t have changed my opinion. From the moment He Xia stepped into the Royal Residence, I had already decided that I wouldn’t marry anyone else. What kind of girl doesn’t want to marry a man, who’s worthy of being called a hero? Not to mention that there are far too less heroes, even if you’re lucky to meet one, you don’t dare to hope for too much.”
She stood up, the accessories in her hair jangling.
“But Senior Official is right too, I have to work hard to keep that man by my side.” Yaotian turned around to look at Gui Changqing, revealing an innocent smirk. “Senior Official, you can help me think of how to keep He Xia’s heart.”
Gui Changqing bowed, “I’ll put all my heart into it.”
“Very good.” Yaotian shuffled towards the door, facing the other side of the Royal Residence, muttering to herself. “The music’s nearer. He Xia…he should’ve already reached the entrance of the main hall right?”
In yet another distant country, in the Royal Residence of Gui Le, He Su was silent as he looked at the grey sky.
The Queen approached from behind, inquiring, “After seeing the letter, King seems to look worried. Was it really bad news?”
He Su nodded. “Princess Yaotian of Yun Chang has agreed to He Xia’s marriage proposal and they will get married today.”
The Queen gaped. “Princess Yaotian actually agreed to marry He Xia, who has nothing? Why is she so unwise?”
“It’s a good decision.” He Su looked back, briefly meeting the Queen’s eyes. “He Xia doesn’t have nothing. His biggest riches are inside himself. In this world, lots of people have external riches, but those with internal riches are rare. Princess Yaotian saw, and took fancy at this point.”
The Queen could hear the accusation in his voice and lowered her head obediently. “As King is annoyed, I shall play a piece,” she whispered.
“No need.” He Su stood by the window, locating the general direction of when the Jing-An Ducal Residence once stood, muttering, “What else have I done wrong? Gui Le’s two renowned qin players no longer belong to Gui Le now.”
Yangfeng had left exactly because the Queen had believed in gossip, and had decided to dispose of her. Hearing He Su mention her, the Queen’s heart squeezed in shock. “That was due to my stupidity. I’m willing to accept all punishment.” She raised her long dress and kneeled down, head lowered.
He Su was silent for a long time. Another thought seemingly crossed his mind, as he suddenly began to laugh. “You may get up, Queen.”
He turned around, helping the Queen to stand. His voice was a little pleased as he said, “Yangfeng’s qin skills may be spectacular, but she’s just a woman of the harem. If we were to talk about strategising, she’s nothing compared to Bai Pingting. Never mind losing Yangfeng, I’m surprised that He Xia would give up on Bai Pingting for some temporary interest. He’ll have to pay a heavy price in the future.”
The Queen was suddenly suspicious, “Is Bai Pingting really that amazing?”
“Has Queen met Bai Pingting before?”
The Queen tried to recall her. “She rarely entered the Royal Residence, I’ve only seen her once or twice. She doesn’t like to talk, and her looks are average.”
“Bai Pingting may not be a beauty, but she has a different sort of charm, causing people to want to stay with her, have her forever.” He Su looked at the Queen, a trace of a smile on his lips. “Men can easily fall in love with beautiful women and it’s easy to be entertained by them, but just how many women are worthy enough so that a man would want to stay by her side forever?”
“Doesn’t that mean He Xia has given up?”
“He Xia will regret it, maybe he has already regretted it, but what use is that?” He Su narrowed his eyes, a harsh light seemed to rise from the pits of his pupils. “I won’t let him get Bai Pingting back so easily.”
After dinner, He Su stayed behind in the main hall, sorting national affairs. The Queen excused herself.
b.u.mping into the corner of a side hall, the Queen stopped, wiping her tears away with her sleeve.
The Queen’s nurse, Mother Cheng Xiang, who happened to accompany her, was shocked. “What’s wrong, Queen?”
“The King’s fallen in love.”
“Bai Pingting of the Jing-An Ducal Residence.”
Mother Cheng Xiang was silent.
When the King ordered to get rid of the House of Jing-An, he had privately requested for He Xia and Bai Pingting to enter the Royal Residence. It was strictly ordered that if the House of Jing-An and their followers reacted, they were to be killed immediately. Only one person had to survive, not to be injured.
Bai Pingting of the Jing-An Ducal Residence.
The wedding chamber was well decorated and inside, the bride’s cheeks were shiny red.
A red scarf softly fell from to the ground, as if picked by a light breeze, and a handsome man entered her eyes.
One of the n.o.blest men of the four countries, the famous Marquess of Jing-An, was standing in front of her.
Their whispers were barely audible and when their eyes met, her hearts wouldn’t stop thumping messily.
He Xia untied the red flower strap on his chest and took off Princess Yaotian’s coronet with both hands, smiling while sighing. “He Xia didn’t expect that ever since being homeless, that he’d be so fortunate to earn the Princess’ favour, when no one else was willing to help him. G.o.d really isn’t unfair to me.” He smiled gently, taking in Yaotian’s quiet face. “Perhaps Princess has other worrying things in mind?”
Yaotian giggled guiltily, replying, “I’m just thinking, if the House of Jing-An hadn’t perished, then would Yaotian still have been blessed enough to be the wife of Husband or not.” Tears dripped from her eyes and stopped, hanging down from the frame of the bed. She sighed, “It’s the night of the wedding chamber and the man in front of me is talented both literarily and militarily, a true hero. It’s just like a really good dream, so I’m a little afraid that it’s just a dream.”
He Xia frowned, “Why say that Princess, do you not believe in the loyalty in He Xia’s heart?”
“Oh, slip of the tongue.” Princess Yaotian turned back, smiling sweetly at He Xia. “If I didn’t believe in Husband, then why else would I have vowed to always stay together?”
He Xia’s starry eyes studied Yaotian carefully, his two pupils were like pools with a magical pull and it made Yaotian feel as if she was sucked in. He was on one knee in front Princess Yaotian, as he affectionately touched her hand. Raising his head, he said, “Don’t worry Princess, He Xia will swear right now that there will be one day where I’ll make Princess become the n.o.blest woman in the world and then personally crown the Princess as the Queen of the Four Countries.”
Princess Yaotian’s eyes suddenly brightened, “Does Husband really have such lofty ambitions?”
He Xia tossed his head back and laughed for a long time. “Life is too short, if I don’t do something great, how could I feel worthy of my parents who raised me?”
Princess heard that his voice was br.i.m.m.i.n.g with confidence, sounding extremely heroic. Secretly delighted, she softened her voice. “Since Husband is so complacent, presumably already having a plan to unify the four countries.”
He Xia stopped his laughter, thinking hard before replying, “The first thing to do, is definitely to forbid my life rival from returning to being the strength of Dong Lin’s Royal House.”
Princess Yaotian had been in charge of politics for a while, therefore she recognised the most important people of each country. She interrupted immediately, “Chu Beijie has already retired to the mountains, not interested in the government, but he’ll definitely leave the mountains if Dong Lin is in trouble. How does Husband plan to break Chu Beijie’s blood connection to the Royal House of Dong Lin?”
He Xia secretly admired this girl’s wit, for knowing the situation of the four countries so well. He flashed her a look of approval, clutching onto her willow-like waist to help her up so that they could both admire the far away moon outside the window.
“There’s only one scenario where Chu Beijie would never return to the Royal House of Dong Lin. Even if their Royal House is in danger, Chu Beijie would never dare interfere and will just sit back and watch.”
Princess Yaotian frowned for a long time, then shook her head. “I have absolutely no idea. In what scenario, would Chu Beijie leave his family?” Her beautiful, intelligent and wise eyes were trained on He Xia, searching for the answer.
A little hesitation surfaced on He Xia’s handsome face. He gazed at the moon, shaking a little. Then, as if remembering that Princess Yaotian’s question was still unanswered, he slowly breathed out, whispering, “That is, when Chu Beijie, of the Dong Lin Royal House, loses his most beloved woman.”
“Chu Beijie’s most beloved woman?”
“Her name is…” He Xia’s lips seemed to be as heavy as gold. They spat out the familiar name with great difficult, “…Bai Pingting.”
Princess Yaotian was shocked, and she sucked her lip in response.
Pingting, Bai Pingting.
The real mastermind of the Jing-An Ducal Residence. He Xia’s most beloved maid.
Rumours said that Bai Pingting was the manipulator behind Dong Lin’s forced treaty to Gui Le for five years of peace.
Rumours said that Bai Pingting was the one who saved Bei Mo, and killed Dong Lin’s two young princes.
Rumours said that Bai Pingting was currently being imprisoned by a very furious Chu Beijie.
Just what kind of woman are you really?
Double (golden) phoenix: Symbolic of happiness to a couple. Watch out for your leg: Punishment for servants, when they make errors, is being whipped on the leg.