Bringing along Hua Zhu Yu, Huangfu Wu Shuang strode across the stone bridge, pass the lake, and took seven to eight turns before finally arriving at Zhu Yuan located in the east. Not allowing the attendants to announce his arrival, Huangfu Wu Shuang directly entered Ji Feng Li’s room.
Inside, no one was present. Only the scent emanating from the incense fixed in the white furnace was permeating the room in peace, coldly seeping into one’s spleen.
Greeted by such a sight, Huangfu Wu Shuang was confused. He did not expect to not see Ji Feng Li in the room when it was still bright and early. He knitted his brows and asked the guard outside, “Where is the Chancellor?”
Emerging from the side room, a man in scholarly blue stepped out with distinct features, a gentle demeanor, deep dark eyes, and lips upturned as though having just received some happy news. When he saw Huangfu Wu Shuang, he courteously paid his respects but his eyes would inattentively wander towards Hua Zhu Yu as interest fleeted across his dark eyes.
But on his lips was the still ever-present bright smile.
Hua Zhu Yu felt his inquisitive eyes on her as he appeared to be holding back his laughter yet there were also hints of regret within those eyes and even interest. In conclusion, it was a complex look. In fact, since this morning, when she was walking along with Huangfu Wu Shuang in the palace, everyone was looking at her with a strange gaze. Unexpectedly, the matter of her beating Ji Feng Li to a pulp had elevated her status, making her quite well-known in the palace.
The fact that she had slapped the Left Chancellor and even pulled out his hair has made the other eunuchs admire her greatly. However, at the same time she had also offended quite a few maidservants who admired Ji Feng Li as they glared at her with not so kind eyes.
“Lan Bing, where is the Chancellor?” Huangfu Wu Shuang callously asked the man in scholarly blue.
Only at this time did Hua Zhu Yu realize that this person was one of Ji Feng Li’s three subordinates that Huangfu Wu Shuang had previously mentioned, Lan Bing. She heard that he was someone who hadn’t pass the imperial exam. He had a belly full of knowledge and had participated in several imperial exams yet for some unknown reason, he had failed each time. Afterwards, he decided to no long partake in the imperial exams and began to wander amid the Jianghu.
By chance, he met Ji Feng Li and they became fast friends. Ji Feng Li brought him back to his Chancellor Residence but this person did not want an official government position and just wished to be a subordinate, an advisor for Ji Feng Li.
Hearing Huangfu Wu Shuang’s question, Lan Bing just smiled and answered, “Your Highness, Lord Chancellor is in the bamboo forest. Hearing that Your Highness had come to pay a visit but with yesterday’s wounds yet to have healed, he was unable to come greet Your Highness and instead has invited Your Highness to come to the bamboo forest.”
In the bamboo forest?
He’s probably just returned and most likely in a sorry state so he couldn’t come to greet Huangfu Wu Shuang.
Hua Zhu Yu raised her brows in laughter and as she lifted her head, her eyes met with Lan Bing’s which were full of curiosity. She slightly smiled at him as a callous glint fleeted across her eyes. This Lan Bing was definitely not easy to deal with. Since he’s Ji Feng Li advisor, presumably he’s also a wily old fox (crafty).
Inside Zhu Yuan it was exceedingly tranquil. Jade green upright bamboos filled one’s sight with the occasional unknown wildflower inching upward, wrapping itself around the base of the bamboo, blooming white blossoms.
Through the series of lofty bamboos, one could spot Ji Feng Li reclining against a bamboo chair with a book in hand, reading in leisure, flipping through the pages. Contrary to what one might expect, he wasn’t in a sorry state and his expression was exceptionally relaxed. Nearby was a stone table however nothing was arranged upon it. Hua Zhu Yu speculated that he most likely just came back from the mountains and hearing that the crown prince came to pay a visit, scurried into the bamboo forest.
He wore a wide sleeved white robe and in the midst of this jade green bamboo forest he emerged like a cloud. However, Hua Zhu Yu noticed that he had worn his clothes in a hurry as the jade belt on his waist was very loose. Moreover, it didn’t seem like had worn his inner trousers, faintly exposing glimpses of his fair thighs. Huangfu Wu Shuang was not aware of yesterday evening’s affairs so naturally he was unlikely to notice such details but she on the other hand spotted it right away.
How exactly did he come back from the mountains? This puzzled Hua Zhu Yu greatly!
Hearing the approaching footsteps, Ji Feng Li’s lowered eyes widened as his deep eyes were beaming with smiles. Unhurriedly, he placed the book in his hands down and appeared to getting up to pay his respects.
Huangfu Wu Shuang appeared solemn but his eyes could not conceal his pleasure. He coughed once and said in a coarse voice, “Left Chancellor, no need to be courteous! Yesterday, it was Yuan Bao who wasn’t sensible and was too heavy handed. Today, this prince brought him along to apologize to Left Chancellor, Yuan Bao…” Huangfu Wu Shuang tilted his head to face Hua Zhu Yu and coldly uttered, “Not quickly apologizing to the Left Chancellor?!”
Hua Zhu Yu lamented in her heart, why not make him pay his respects? Once he did so, it would expose his sloppy appearance. But she could only step forward and pay her respects to Ji Feng Li and apologize, “Lord Chancellor, yesterday Yuan Bao has offended you!”
Ji Feng Li raised his brows, his deep indifferent eyes swept across Hua Zhu Yu’s face and with a gentle smiled said, “Your Highness, no need to be courteous, Feng Li’s wounds aren’t serious, thank you for Your Highness’ concern!”
He really knows how to act ah!
Clearly, his clothes were untidy yet he still appeared all elegant and graceful. “Lord Chancellor, if it’s nothing serious, why not pay your respects to the crown prince? Furthermore, the crown prince is still standing yet how can Left Chancellor be sitting?” Hua Zhu Yu asked bluntly.
Hearing this, Lan Bing quickly ordered the guards to bring forward a chair. Huangfu Wu Shuang leisurely sat down. He was also keen and noticed the underlying meaning of Hua Zhu Yu’s words and calmly asked, “Left Chancellor, the bruises on your face has faded, the wounds on your body must also be better, correct?”
Hua Zhu Yu now realized just how effective the hot spring was. The bruises on Ji Feng Li’s face were almost gone, it seems like he soaked for quite a while.
“Your Highness, after a night’s rest, the bruises will naturally fade but my leg is still in pain, I’m afraid I’m unable to pay my respects to Your Highness,” Ji Feng Li calmly replied.
Huangfu Wu Shuang wanted to say something further but he suddenly saw a faint silhouette amidst the bamboo forest as a soft fragrance gently drifted over.
“Wan Er!” Huangfu Wu Shuang exclaimed in a loud voice yet it did not conceal his affection.
She sure has great timing. Hua Zhu Yu knitted her brows and saw the smiling expression in Ji Feng Li’s eyes.
Hearing the call, the person gracefully emerged from the bamboo forest and it indeed Wen Wan. Attired in a multi-layered dress of a deep pink hue, with an eight-petal flower embroidered on the skirt, she did not adorn any flashy jewelry and simply wore a jade hairpin. With gentle steps she approached unhurriedly. She first paid her respects to Huangfu Wu Shuang and then to Ji Feng Li. She was truly a girl from a noble family, each movement was soft and refined, captivating people.
Hua Zhu Yu thought she would never have such light and poised movements as Wen Wan. Before when she disguised herself as a man, her movement were always free and at ease. If not for madam Xuan pushing her to learn the qin and dance, she reckoned she would’ve become just another crude soldier on the battlefield.
‘Wan Er, why are you here?” Huangfu Wu Shuang asked in a not so thrilled voice.
Before, it was fine for Wan Er to be in the same place as Ji Feng Li but currently her identity was different and yet she still came to find Ji Feng Li, how can he not be angry.
Wen Wan gently smiled as her vermilion lips softly opened and a mellow voice sounded, “Your Highness, Wan Er has never been to this summer palace before. This morning, after waking up, Wan Er intended to go for a stroll and unexpectedly arrived at Zhu Yuan. Hearing that the stalks of bamboos here were very lush, Wan Er wanted to take a look to paint a picture and present it to Your Highness. Wan Er did not expect to meet Your Highness at this place and to bother Your Highness and Lord Chancellor, hope Your Highness pardons the offence!”
Wen Wan spoke such honorable words, what randomly ‘took a stroll,’ anyone present could guess that she came to find Ji Feng Li but it’s just that Huangfu Wu Shuang seemed to believe her. Or perhaps he didn’t but was willing to be muddled by her tender words. Hearing that she was intending to present a painting to him, his two eyes lit up as he said, “Wan Er, you’re great, this prince is fond of bamboos most. How about you paint here and this prince shall stand on the side to watch?”
“Alright!” Wan Er agreed. Perhaps she did not want to paint for Huangfu Wu Shuang but if she could stay and be with Ji Feng Li a bit longer then it was worth the price.
If Wan Wen and Ji Feng Li really were in love then she(HZY) was the one that had separated these love birds. In truth, Wan Wen didn’t commit any offense against her. Wen Wan was an outstanding young lady whom many people loved and admired. But based on what did she(HZY) have to be Wen Wan’s replacement and marry off. If not because of Wen Wan, Jin Se wouldn’t have died. Therefore whenever Hua Zhu Yu saw Wen Wan, she couldn’t help but feel displeased.
Looking at Ji Feng Li, Hua Zhu Yu saw that his lips were still upturned in a smile. His gaze was also on her as his two brows faintly knitted together, a complex look fleeting across his eyes. A guard quickly brought over paper and a brush and then set up a stand in the middle of the bamboo forest. Wen Wan moved forward towards the stand and began to paint.
A gentle breeze, a lush and verdant forest of bamboo, basked in a fragrant scent, no one uttered a single sound and attentively fixed their gaze on the painting Wen Wan. Hua Zhu Yu was the only exception and did not take interest. Her mind slowly drifted off, away from the bamboo forest, and lingered in the blue skies above.
The skies were blue like the tint of ice, with soft clouds drifting about as light as muslin. Leisurely, a bird glides by.
Hua Zhu Yu was startled, this bird, what kind of bird was this? Narrowing her eyes, she wanted to examine it carefully but it was flying too high for her to see clearly. But to be able to fly so high, it shouldn’t be an ordinary bird? It ought to be a type of falcon Hua Zhu Yu thought as her heart abruptly began to tremble…. It can’t be Xiao Yin’s gyrfalcon right?
After careful deliberation, she reckoned it was highly unlikely. How could Xiao Yin’s gyrfalcon fly all the way here, unless Xiao Yin had come to Southern Kingdom, but she was certain, Xiao Yin will never come.
Thinking up to here, she looked up again but that bird had completely disappeared, making her question if she had even seen it in the first place.
“The painting is finished!” Wen Wan said as she placed the brush down.
Hua Zhu Yu’s gaze shifted towards the painting.
The painting was very beautiful. The towering, upright bamboos were very striking. On the side there were even paintings of a few red and yellow wildflowers, sparkling beneath the rays of sunlight.
Wen Wan’s painting was praised by everyone. Waiting till the ink have dried, Huangfu Wu Shuang, in high spirits, instructed Hua Zhu Yu to roll up the painting. The two of them then returned to Qing Yuan, of course that was after Huangfu Wu Shuang confirmed that Wen Wan had returned. He was wary of Wen Wan and Ji Feng Li like one would be wary of a thief.
Hua Zhu Yu left Qing Yuan through the window, her movements very swift and agile. Following Huangfu Wu Shuang to the summer palace this time was only her, Jixiang and 3 other little eunuchs. Each night two had to stand by and wait on Huangfu Wu Shuang. Yesterday, after she got into a brawl with Ji Feng Li, Huangfu Wu Shuang exempted her from having to wait on him during the night.
Using her internal force, Hua Zhu Yu swiftly headed towards the patrolling base of the Imperial Guards. Concealing herself within the shadows of the trees, she reached out and plucked a leaf, placed it on her lips and blew, mimicing the calling of a bird. Then, she waited till the patrolling guard walked pass before employing her internal force to dash towards the back of the mountains.
After the time it took to burn two incense sticks, a strong figure emerged from the moonlight.
Sorry for the late update guys!!! I had quite the busy week but I will try to catch up on those missed chapters this week! And since a few of ya’ll had asked if I had dropped this novel I just want everyone to know that my goal is definitely to completely translate this novel. And if for some reason I’m unable to, I will definitely give everyone a heads up. If I don’t post anything for a while, I’m either really busy or got hit with the procrastinating virus but I definitely won’t drop the novel without letting ya’ll know first.