Accompanied by the cold, the snow descended and blanketed the earth.
Hua Zhu Yu had left the camp and was currently settled on a rock near the riverbank. Due to the drop in temperature, the river surface had condensed into a thin stretch of ice. A few birds were currently perched on the ice, wandering about in search of food. A careless move had landed one of them in the frigid waters and it was presently struggling to get back on land.
Since the war had ended, the army camp was calm and peaceful. With the appearance of this unexpected snowstorm, the military training sessions were also temporarily cancelled.
It was decided that Wang Yu was going to stay in Yangguan. Nangong Jue was promoted to a Vice General and he too was to remain in Yangguan to assist Wang Yu in guarding the border along with the Hu Battalion. Wang Yu had wanted Hua Zhu Yu to stay as well but she had declined because she was set on returning to the capital. However, she felt it was quite odd that Wang Yu did not press her. He readily agreed and did not force her to stay behind.
Hua Zhu Yu was pondering over these things as she sat there absentmindedly watching the birds on the ice. As a gust of wind blew past, flickers of snow were swept up, landing on her uniform.
Hua Zhu Yu brushed the snow off herself and slowly stood. She then made her way back to the army camp. Upon her return, she noticed a large carriage at the entrance but she couldn’t see who was inside.
Her gaze shifted and she saw Ji Feng Li’s tent being taken apart, in addition to Jin Se’s. It appears they were leaving the army camp. The army was about to depart in 5 days, were they thinking of having a head start?
Hua Zhu Yu then saw the carriage curtains lift and Jin Se was assisted by Xu’Er down the carriage. Her beautiful face was bathed in the evening sunlight, like a flower blossoming under the pressing spring breeze.
Hua Zhu Yu felt a slight tug at her heart but she ignored it and quickly returned to her tent. Inside, it was dark and bleak. Hua Zhu Yu lit the candle and watched as the faint flame wavered, resembling her heart.
Gentles steps could be heard approaching her tent. The tent curtain lifted and a warm fragrant scent mixed with the cold breeze entered.
Hua Zhu Yu looked up and saw Jin Se. She smiled and said, “I knew you would come bid farewell. Are you returning to the capital ahead of time?”
Jin Se lifted the hem of her skirt and took a seat. Her complexion was a tad pale. She opened her mouth to speak but instead sighed. “Miss… I….”
Hua Zhu Yu felt something was off and teasingly said, “When did you pick up the habit of humming and hawing? What exactly is wrong?”
Jin Se had her head hung down for a while before she looked up at Hua Zhu Yu. “Miss, it’s not that we want to go back to the capital ahead of time. We are heading to the city of Yangguan for a few days. Lord Chancellor just said…” suddenly Jin Se stopped and bit her lower lip. “He said he wants to marry me before we return to the capital.”
Hua Zhu Yu was shocked and her hands tightened around the candle involuntarily. The heat slightly burned her hand and she quickly placed it down on the table. With a calm smile she said, “So it’s like that. I thought you were returning to the capital but you’re heading to the city. What day did you decide on?”
Seeing Hua Zhu Yu’s placid reaction, Jin Se suddenly walked up to her and asked, “Miss, you don’t hate me?”
Hua Zhu Yu’s smile froze and she slightly lowered her gaze, concealing the sense of loss within them. She held Jin Se’s hand and placed it in hers. “These few days I’ve had some time to think. Perhaps, Ji Feng Li is a good person as you said. For you to find a husband that you desire, how could I hate you. Though I do feel that this marriage announcement is quite sudden, but as long as you are happy. If you have already made a decision, I will not stop you. As long as you live well, I’m happy for you.”
“Miss…I…I…” Jin Se’s lips quivered and her eyes teared up. It seemed like she wanted to say something else but couldn’t form the words.
“What is it?” Hua Zhu Yu calmly asked with a smile.
Someone had knocked on the post outside and Xu’Er’s voice could be heard. “Miss, it’s getting late. Lord Chancellor is asking for you.”
Jin Se looked at Hua Zhu Yu and said earnestly, “You must come that day.”
“Alright, I’ll be there,” Hua Zhu Yu said with a reassuring smile.
“Then I’ll get going first,” Jin Se withdrew feeling relief in her heart.
Hua Zhu Yu watched as Jin Se left, her figure slowly disappearing from view. The last rays of sunlight had faded and the curtains of nightfall swept down.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
Though there was a fire in the tent, the surrounding was enveloped in cold air.
Hua Zhu Yu brought out the chess board and took a seat near the fire. She had bought this chess board at the night market of Yangguan. Whenever she felt bored she would bring it out and play a game by herself. There wasn’t anyone in the Hu Battalion who played chess well so she was better off playing by herself.
The fire faintly illuminated half of her face. Her eyes were concentrated on the chess board in front of her, as though beside this game of chess, there was nothing else worth taking note in this world.
Inside the peaceful tent, only the crisp sound of the chess pieces being placed could be heard.
Moments later, black and white pieces had filled the board.
Hua Zhu Yu lifted her hand but she didn’t know where to place the black chess piece.
To her surprise, she had unintentionally recreated the chess match that she had played with Ji Feng Li that day.
The corners of her lips faintly lifted in self-mockery and she lightly placed the black chess piece down. With the brush of her sleeve, the chess pieces on the board scattered and she began to clean up, slowly putting everything back in the box.
She no longer had the heart to continue playing.
At the start of winter, the city of Yangguan was lively and bustling.
Left Chancellor daren was getting married. This was huge news to the people of Yangguan. To be more precise, this was a big deal for Southern Kingdom entirely. But what the people of Yangguan found puzzling was that the marriage was kept very low-key.
The people assumed that it was because Left Chancellor daren had declined a marriage from the Southern Emperor previously, stating that he would not marry before the age of 30. As a result, the marriage was not celebrated with great fanfare but discreetly.
Everyone held great admiration for the woman that was to wed the Left Chancellor today. What kind of woman could make the grand Left Chancellor go back on his promise!
Yangguan’s Magistrate intended to lend Ji Feng Li his residence to hold the wedding ceremony but Ji Feng Li had refused and bought a simple residence north of the city to hold the celebration. Today the residence was decorated in dazzling red colors, exuding joy and jubilation.
Hua Zhu Yu was not planning on attending the wedding. All the other commanders had received an invitation from Ji Feng Li except her. But even if she didn’t receive one she still must go.
There was no other reason other then for Jin Se’s sake.
Jin Se was her good sister. Because of her, Jin Se had to hide her identity. If Jin Se were to claim her identity as the Northern Kingdom’s princess, her marriage would be grand and magnificent. Her family would be present to celebrate the happy occasion with her but today only Hua Zhu Yu had come.
As the sun was gradually setting, Hua Zhu Yu and the other commanders arrived at Ji Feng Li’s residence. Tang Yu was there to greet them with smiles. When he saw Hua Zhu Yu he was slightly surprised.
Today they were not in their military uniforms. On the battlefield, with everyone wearing identical uniforms, they all pretty much looked the same. Now without their uniforms, they all displayed their own unique temperament.
Hua Zhu Yu was dressed in a simple silver robe which she had bought for the occasion at a small shop in Yangguan. Since it was not tailored, it was a bit loose, making her appear tall and graceful. Beneath the faint glow of the candlelight, she appeared as elegant as the moon yet cold and solitary as the night frost.
Tang Yu was slightly in a daze witnessing the spear-brandishing Commander Bao change into a refined gentleman. He couldn’t help but stare blankly until Hua Zhu Yu had walked pass before he remembered that Lord Chancellor had specifically instructed him not to extend an invitation to Commander Bao. But the person had already arrived so what was he to do?
Hua Zhu Yu entered the courtyard with the rest of the people. Inside, the main hall was filled with guests, mostly high ranked military personnels.
“This general congratulates Lord Chancellor on your marriage!”
“Congratulations Lord Chancellor!”
People chimed in to give their congratulations.
Hua Zhu Yu looked around the hall and saw Left Chancellor Ji Feng Li standing there conspicuously.
Under the warm light of the lanterns, his red robes were bright and splendid. Dazzling enough to sting her eyes. Amidst the lively crowd of guests, as though separated by thousands of mountains and rivers, their gaze met for a fleeting moment before they both quickly averted their gaze.
“Congratulations Lord Chancellor.” Hua Zhu Yu lowered her gaze and gave her greetings. Afterwards, she followed the rest of the commanders to their seats.
In that moment, the gentle smile on Ji Feng Li’s lips slightly stiffen.
The auspicious hour had yet to arrive. Everyone in the hall was conversing merrily with the beat of the drums and music in the background. Hua Zhu Yu felt a bit stuffy and uncomfortable.
“You, you… why are you here?” a stammering voice laced with fury sounded, accompanied by a strong smell of alcohol and a finger pointed in her direction way.
Hua Zhu Yu turned around and saw that it Lan Bing.
The ceremony had yet to begin yet Lan Bing was already drunk. His clothes were disoriented and his hair was a mess. His face was slightly red as he held a gourd full of wine in his hand.
“You… you, why did you come? You want to make a commotion? Leave, leave..” Lan Bing pointed at Hua Zhu Yu and exclaimed. He was unsteady as he tried to push her.
Perhaps because the hall was so noisy that no one paid attention to how much Lan Bing had drunk. The other commanders saw this and quickly stood up to assist.
“What’s wrong? Today is Lord Chancellor’s happy occasion, why did you drink so much?” a commander pulled Lan Bing aside and asked.
Lan Bing hit his head and cried out.
“Isn’t his tolerance very high?” a general asked. They had never seen him drunk before so everyone was quite surprised.
They intended to pull him out but he struggled in their grasp and threw the gourd at Hua Zhu Yu.
Hua Zhu Yu twisted her body and the gourd flew past her, landing on the ground in pieces. The smell of alcohol enveloped the air as Lan Bing cried out, “If it wasn’t for you, Si’Er wouldn’t…”
“Lan Bing!” Ji Feng Li called out. Though his voice wasn’t loud it was able to overwhelm the room.
“Escort him out and sober him up!” Ji Feng Li light voice was like the wind that carried a slight chill. Lan Bing’s complexion paled and his eyes seemed to have cleared up but he still allowed the people to take him out.
Standing there, Hua Zhu Yu sighed in her heart. If she guessed correctly, Lan Bing must have developed feelings for Jin Se.
“Commander Bao, why don’t you leave first? Or take a stroll in the streets!” Tang Yu quietly suggested in Hua Zhu Yu’s ear.
That’s fine. In the end she did come.
She smiled and replied, “Alright.” She calmly left the hall, not bothering to look back at the man in the red robes.
Once outside, she took a deep breath. The fresh air dispersed the stuffy feeling in her chest.
It was already nighttime and the moon was clear and radiant. She walked past the rows of red lanterns and left the residence.
She was about to take a stroll through the streets when she suddenly heard the low whistle of a bird call coming from the roof of the opposing building. She furrowed her brows and went back to take her horse and rode down the streets.
After the war, Yangguan was still in the midst of recovery. Along the whole street there was only one tavern open. When she arrived, she hopped off the horse and left it to one of the tavern’s servant and quickly made her way to the second floor.
She ordered for pot of hot tea and waited. Soon after, a person quietly took a seat opposite of her. It was none other than Ping Lao Da.
“Why are you here?” Is something urgent?” Hua Zhu Yu asked. Unless there were pressing matters, he wouldn’t personally seek her out.
Ping Lao Da nodded solemnly and pulled out a letter from his sleeve, handing it to Hua Zhu Yu. “I just received this and rushed over as soon as I can. I’m afraid we can’t stay here much longer.”
Translator’s random rambles~
I’ve been rereading “Rebirth of the Malicious Empress of Military Lineage” and it’s so good! Ya’ll should check it out if you haven’t already. I had read it like 2 years ago when it was first being translated. And at that time there were only a few chapters translated and there wasn’t a vietnamese translation either so I actually read the whole thing via mtl. It was still really good even though it was mtl so I thought I’d reread it now that it’s almost completely translated. It’s becoming one of my favorite rebirth novel. its hard to pick btw this and Li Wei Yang.
Anyways, have ya’ll been watching any new c-dramas? Listening Snow Tower and Princess Silver is out. I’ve watched the first 14 episodes of Listening Snow Tower and I wasn’t really impressed. I couldn’t really feel the chemistry between the leads so I’m probably gonna drop it. I haven’t seen Princess Silver though. I hear it’s also an adaptation from a novel. I was gonna wait a couple more days til more episodes were out so I can binge watch and see if it’s good or not.
But currently, my favorite drama is Her Private Life! It’s soooo cute!!! and the Chemistry btw the lead is phenomenon!! Kim Jae Wook is soo fine in it! I hadn’t found a really good romantic comedy in soooo long. Ya’ll should check it out! It’s so fluffy and cute and just makes you smile when you watch it. It makes me want to meet a Ryan Gold of my own haha