Grabbing his chest, Ji Feng Li retreated two steps before he stabilized himself. Seeing Hua Zhu Yu fall, he was about to step forward and help but before he could do so she had stood up herself. She coldly glared at him and exclaimed, “Get out! Don’t disgust me!”
Ji Feng Li stopped dead in his tracks. If it was said that the hall was quiet before, now it was deadly still. The tension was as taut as a bowstring stretched to the max, seemingly able to snap at any moment.
Staring at Hua Zhu Yu, Ji Feng Li’s calm eyes were suddenly thrown into turmoil, like calm lake that was suddenly disturbed by a huge pebble, rippling fiercely.
A warning from many years ago rung in his ear, “What is love but a calamity. Abstaining from love is the only way for one to accomplish great things! Bear this in mind, remember!”
“Bear this in mind, remember!”
These words swirled around him, echoing in his mind. Remember! But he had forgotten. He was no longer the person he once was.
His beautiful eyes slightly narrowed. The waves of emotions swirling within them gradually sunk into a deep dark abyss, hidden from sight and his lips lifted into a cynical smile.
He stepped back a few steps and leaned against the table behind him.
“Alright, didn’t you just want to snatch the bride? If you can defeat me today, I’ll let you take Rong Si. Otherwise, you must immediately leave the army, never to appear in front of this Chancellor again!” He said carelessly but his tone was decisive without any traces of hesitation.
“Since the words are spoken, it’s settled!” Hua Zhu Yu coldly said before quickly walking out.
Although Hua Zhu Yu was not sure if she could defeat Ji Feng Li, her blood was boiling with anticipation.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
The courtyard was extremely quiet. On the neighboring rooftops, a few shadows were looming in the darkness. The people who came to the wedding banquet did not dare stay in the courtyard and simply hid in the distance to stealthily observe.
The trees within the yard were lined with red lanterns, giving off a dazzling light that was beautiful as an illusion.
Hua Zhu Yu drew her sword. It was currently snowing and as she stood there, the snow fell on her sword, melting into drops of water, flowing down the blade.
The cold wind blew through, making her robes tremble as the snow continued to descend. She took on an offensive front and made the first move.
Amidst the falling snow, the sword soared, advancing towards Ji Feng Li who was standing beneath a tree. He smiled indifferently at this attack and opened his fan, blocking Hua Zhu Yu’s move.
A murderous fire gradually ignited between them.
Hua Zhu Yu’s moves were fast and fierce, accurately attacking towards Ji Feng Li as his gaze became even colder.
One move, two moves, three moves…
More than a dozen moves had been exchanged. Ji Feng Li’s fan swept across and Hua Zhu Yu flipped her body to dodge. Her sword flew out but Ji Feng Li was quicker and he shifted while thrusting his fan straight towards her chest.
At the tip of the fan were countless blades, extended liked a dagger, aiming at her chest. If it wasn’t for this row of blades, the fan couldn’t touch her and her sword would’ve stabbed his chest first. But now, he only needs to apply a bit of force and the blade would pierce her clothes and stab deep into her chest.
Looking up, she saw that indifferent smile on his face. This made her recall that time when they first met when he had on that same unreadable smile. A cold chill ran down Hua Zhu Yu’s back.
She didn’t expect Ji Feng Li’s fan to have such abilities. Even when he faced such a powerful opponent such as Xiao Yin, he did not reveal this.
Perhaps she had been with Ji Feng Li for far too long that she was accustomed to his gentle as spring breeze demeanor and had forgotten what kind of person he truly was.
At the age of 15, he had passed the imperial examination. At the age of 18, he had become the Left Chancellor. On the battlefield, his decision to kill was decisive and resolute. As someone who strategizes for the court, how could his martial skills be easily seen through by her?
Ever since she saw his exchange with Xiao Yin, she thought that at the very least she could hold out till a hundred moves or so. She didn’t think that she would lose after just a short exchange. It seems he’s even more difficult to deal with than expected. He obviously did not want to draw things out with her tonight so he did not hold back.
“You- have- lost.” His voice was cold as he slowly said each word.
Hua Zhu Yu slightly smiled as she sighed in her heart. In the end she was defeated.
“Alright, I’ve lost!” she said, admitting defeat. But there will come a day when she will defeat him! Witnessing Jin Se’s reaction tonight, she knew that it would be difficult to take Jin Se away. It was Jin Se’s choice and she was in no position to force her. Since it has already come to this, there was nothing else for her to do but leave.
With a slightly smirk, Ji Feng Li withdrew his fan and the blades retracted with a slight noise. Like the white fan in his hand, he now stood there with a graceful and harmless demeanor.
“You can leave and don’t appear in front of this Chancellor again, otherwise….” Ji Feng Li’s voice gradually lowered and the remaining words were lost in the wind.
“Otherwise, if not you die then I die, right?” Hua Zhu Yu said. “ I will wait for that day.”
She placed the sword back into the scabbard. Turning around, she took one last look at the bright hall before leaving straight for the door.
The snow continued to fall through the night, covering the roads as it gradually got thicker. There was no one on the streets as Hua Zhu Yu rode through with her horse. Once she arrived at the small tavern, she dismounted.
She slightly turned her head back to make sure it was clear before slowly entering the tavern. She made her way up to the second floor and met Ping Lao Da. After discussing, they decided it was best to ride back to Yu City as fast as possible. Although Ji Feng Li said he would let her go, she couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t change his mind later on and send people to kill her.
She knew that Ji Feng Li was already harboring suspicions that she was Ying Shu Xie. He most likely did not kill her before because he appreciated her talent. Perhaps he already had plans to make use of her by allowing her to lead the army as a commander to defend against Northern Kingdom. However, now that the war was over, if she didn’t leave, she will definitely be in danger. It’s just that whenever she thought of Jin Se, her heart would ache. The love Jin Se had for Ji Feng Li was perhaps a lot deeper than she had anticipated.
In the night, on the cold uninhabited road, two fine horses sped along on the snow, startling the birds perched upon the trees lining the roadside, making them take flight up into the dark skies.
Within the courtyard, Ji Feng Li was standing there as the snow softly fell upon his wedding robes, accentuating the dazzling red as his robes trembled in the wind.
Tang Yu, Tong Shou, and Nangong Jue silently watched from a far. Seeing Ji Feng Li still standing out there, the 3 of them were worried. In the end, Tong Shou finally went outside and said, “Lord Chancellor, are we going to let him go just like that? Lord Chancellor, aren’t you afraid……afraid he will leak the news of our victory? Could it be that Lord Chancellor has that much trust in him?”
Ji Feng Li glanced over at Tong Shou for a moment before silently making his way into the room. As he walked, he brushed the snow off his clothes.
Tang Yu quickly brought over a cup of tea which Ji Feng Li accepted as he slowly replied, “Leaking the news is also fine.”
Tong Shou frowned in puzzlement. “Lord Chancellor, didn’t you try to block the news from leaking out of the army? Are you no longer afraid the situation at Yu City will change?” Tong Shou asked. Before, Ji Feng Li had tried all methods to prevent the news of victory from reaching the capital.
Taking a seat, Ji Feng Li was slightly smiling as a sharp glint flashed in his eyes.
If she was far away from him, she would not hear about him again right?
Hua Zhu Yu thought this would be the case but she was proven wrong. Along the journey back to the capital, she was driven crazy. She would hear the commoners constantly sing praises for Ji Feng Li. Though many people did not know that Southern Kingdom had won the war, the fact that Ji Feng Li himself volunteered to go to the battlefield had elevated his position in the hearts of the people.
Sitting in a small tavern having a meal with Ping Lao Da, Hua Zhu Yu could hear the conversations around her. Several people were talking about Ji Feng Li, complimenting him. Hearing this she slightly frowned.
She always thought that though Ji Feng Li was standing on the young Emperor’s side, he had intentions of usurping the throne. The war this time was merely a means for Ji Feng Li to take military power into his hands. But today, hearing the words of the people, she suddenly had an unsettling feeling that something wasn’t quite right.
Ji Feng Li’s reputation was so great in the hearts of the people, he will not usurp the throne and sully his honor and prestige.
“Ping, did you tell An the news of the victory?” Hua Zhu Yu suddenly questioned.
Ping Lao Da nodded in reply.
Hua Zhu Yu quickly got to her feet and said, “We must quickly return. The faster we return to court, the better!”
Hua Zhu Yu and Ping traveled day and night. Finally, after more than a month, they arrived at Yu City. Along the journey, Ping had already sent the news of victory to court. In addition, Hua Zhu Yu had continued to receive secret reports from An Xiao’Er through pigeons so she knew the situation at the capital.
Upon her return, Hua Zhu Yu quickly changed into her eunuch attires and entered the palace with the help of An Xiao’Er who had been elevated to the position of Commander of the Royal Guards. If not for him, she wouldn’t be able to take even a single step through the palace gates.
In front of her was the prestigious palace with rows upon rows of eaves, still majestic and grand as before. However, the imperial power has already shifted. Things have remained the same, but the people have changed.
They made their way through the corridors, gradually approaching the palace hall. Although her head was lowered, as she slowly walked up the flight of steps, out of the corner of her eye she caught a glimpse of the person standing above. She looked up and what she saw was a man in magnificent black embroidered robes, standing tall and elegant as he leaned against the parapet, greeting the wind.
As she made her way up the flight of steps one at a time, the man’s appearance gradually came into view.
The same curved brows yet there were no traces of willfulness. The same beautiful dark eyes yet there were no craftiness but rather calmness and prudence. The same beautiful face but not of a young juvenile but of a true man.
It was the deposed Crown Prince, Huangfu Wu Shuang!
But he was no longer the Huangfu Wu Shuang of the past. He was no longer that domineering and arrogant youngster. Rather, he had transformed in a calm, nobleman.
Huangfu Wu Shuang finally saw An Xiao’Er. He then looked pass An Xiao’Er and saw Hua Zhu Yu standing behind him. Upon seeing her, his lips hooked up in a smile.
Finally standing in front of Huangfu Wu Shuang, Hua Zhu Yu knew that what she saw was no illusion. In a mere short months, Huangfu Wu Shuang had gotten taller, he was no longer that youngster that would try to compare heights with her.
Hua Zhu Yu quickly stepped forward and paid her respects.
Huangfu Wu Shuang stood 2 steps above her. He looked down at her for quite some time before slowly saying, “Xiao Bao’Er, you’ve gotten thin.”
His words had caused her heart to warm. These past few days, she had wondered what he would say once they met again. Would he blame her for staying by Ji Feng Li? Would he punish her with a beating of 50 planks? She had thought of many different scenarios but did not think he would say, “you’ve gotten thin.”
After experiencing the wind and snow of the northern border, she indeed had gotten thinner. Her skin had also gotten darker and rougher. Compared to the past when she was a eunuch in the palace, now no one would dare suspect that she’s a woman. “Your Highness, you’ve also gotten thin!”
Huangfu Wu Shuang had indeed gotten thinner. Prison life was not easy even if he was once the crown prince and part of the royal family.
“Xiao Bao’Er, this time you have made great contributions. When this crown prince ascends the throne, this crown prince will confer you with the title of Chief Eunuch.” Huangfu Wu Shuang said in a deep voice above her.
“Yuan Bao thanks Your Highness,” Hua Zhu Yu said as she knelt down on the ground.
Huangfu Wu Shuang stepped forward and personally helped Hua Zhu Yu up. On the steps, they stood tall as their gaze swept past the towering palace walls, towards the world outside.
The world is vast and boundless; the palace, deep and profound. Who could imagine how many bodies have been buried deep within these towering palace walls. Outside of these walls she can live her life carelessly. But she had no choice but to enter the deep palace, like a moth drawn to a flame.
Just wanted to mention that I did slightly summarize the fighting scenes since translating fighting scenes is not my forte~~~