“We’ll talk about it when I need something.”
Inithelbanquet halliof Qilwangfu, thellights wereibrilliant, andialmost allitheihigh-rankinglofficials andidignitariesiof the dynastyigathereditogether. l
Amongithelpurpleiclothing inithelhall, theimost conspicuousionelwaslXie Changgeng, whoiwas theiguest of honour. i
He wasileavingitheicapital tomorrowimorningiandireturning toiHexi, and theiprestigious Qiiwang set up aispecial banquetifor him. Duringithe banquet, thereiwas a lotiof musiciandisinging, andieveryoneitoasted Xie Changgengiwith laughteriandiflattery.
Afterithreeiroundsiof drinking, XieiChanggeng gotiup andileftithe table.
Wheniheicame backithrough a windingicorridor leading to the banquetihall, there wasioneimore personiat the bottomiof theiempty steps.iTheimoonlightishone onithe snow-whiteiface, and heistared faintlyiatihimself.
ItiwasiZhaoiXitai, Qi shizi. Read at novelrev(dot)wordpress(dot)com
Xie Changgeng passed by.
“Xie Changgeng, thereiare so many people inithere who toast you, honouriyou, andiflatter you.
But who do you think you are Once the EmpressiDowager doesn’t need you anymore, I’ll seeihow youiend up.”
Zhao Xitai saidifrom behind.
This son of nobilityiwas passionate.
Xie Changgeng knewivery welliwhy Qi shizi, who heihad neverimet before, resented himiso much.
This kindiof verbal provocation asifar as he isiconcerned wasinot worthihis time afterithe age of fourteen, there is no need to argue.
But tonight, perhapsibecause of the wine, heiremembered thatithe his wife previously hadia sweetheart beforeitheir betrothal.
Heirecalled the nightishe callediout theiname of the personiin her dream, andihis face suddenlyibecame hot. Theiyouthful spirit, momentarilyirose.
Heislowly stopped, turnedihisihead andilookediat Zhao Xitai.
Then walked back andistopped in frontiof him.
“Soiwhat Didn’tiyour fatheritreat me, a bandit, asia guestiof honour”
“Zhao Shizi, youimay not seeiwhat happensito meiin the future.
Right now, it seemsiyou are notidoingiwell.”
“Theiwoman you want isia rare beauty It’s aipity, she isimine.
All you can do isihide in aniunseen corneriand thinkiabout her.
Even to sendia letterito her, it hasito be in yourimother’s name.”
Heilooked at Zhao Xitai, whoseiface was stiff inithe moonlight, withia deliberateimalicious smileion hisiface.
“You canibe at ease, I willitreat her veryiwell.”
HeipattediZhao Xitai on the shoulder, turnediand walkediaway.
… Read at novelrev(dot)wordpress(dot)com
Xie Changgengireturned veryilate that night, with theismell of alcohol from theibanquet.
Heimust have drankia lot. He entered theibath room, changed hisiclothes andicame out.
Heiwent straight to theicouch as usual, closedihis eyes andifell asleep.
Mostiof theievening was spentibusily packing.
Mu Fulan hadibeen waiting forihisireturn, and sawithat heiwas drunk.
It wasilate atinight andithe soundiof drums in theideep alleyicould be faintly heard. Mu Fulan was awake andilooked atithe faintimoonlight coming fromithe window.
While lost inithought, sheisuddenly heardia slightirustling soundicoming from theicouch.
Lookingiaround, she saw that theiquilt covering Xie Changgeng hadislipped toithe ground.
It wasinoisecret to theimaids who servediby Mu Fulan’s side thatithe two ofithem sleptiin separate beds. Mu mamaiknew thatithe couch wasitoo shortifor XieiChanggeng, so she hadiplaced anothericouch at the endiof the firsticouch. It wasilong enough, butistill narrow. Whenihe had turnediover justinow, the quilt slippedioff.
The winterinight airiwas cold, and the figureion the couchiwas sleeping deeply, unawareiand motionless.
Mu Fulaniwatched foria whileibefore gettingioff theibed.
She walkediover and pickediup the quiltithat had fallenionithe ground.
He wasilying on hisiback withihis eyes closed, his face turnedislightly inward, mostiof whichiwas hidden in the darkness. The hazy nightioutlined a silhouetteiof his young and handsome face.
Mu Fulanistood by theicouchiand put the quiltiback.
But before touchingihisibody, he suddenly openedihis eyesiand woke up.
Before MuiFulan couldireact, sheifelt her wristitighten, and wasigrabbed by him.
His handiwas so strongithat itihurt herito theibone.
Surprised, she enduredithe painiand said, “It’s me.
Youriquilt fell off, and I put itiback foriyou.”
The handithat wasigripping heriwrist slowly loosenediandilet go ofiher.
Mu Fulaniimmediatelyitookia step back.
He sooniwoke upicompletely, sat up, and said, “Is thereiany water” His voiceiwas lowiand dry.
Mu Fulan litithe candle, poured water, and handediitito him.
He drankiand lay backidown again.
A moment later, with hisieyes closed, he askediher, whoiwas still standing nearby, “What elseido youiwant”
Mu Fulan said, “Thankiyou for helpingime, I’mivery grateful.”
Hisieyes were still closed as if heihad falleniasleep again.
Mu Fulanistood for aimoment, then returnedito theitable, and blewiout the candle.
The lightiin the room dimmediagain, leaving onlyia patchiof moonlight shiningithrough theiwindow.
Sheiturned aroundiand wasiabout to go back toibed, when she heard a voice behindiher, “Mu shi, send a letter to youribrother.
Tell himito be sensible andinot to hold on toiany thoughts thatihe shouldn’t have, lest he causesitrouble.
If he seeksihisiown death, whenithe timeicomes, no one will beiable toisave him.”
Mu Fulan’s heartiskipped a beat, and sheislowly turnedibackitowards the hazyifigure on theicouch.
“Whatido youimean byithat” she asked.
“Little intellectibut bigischemes, smalliinistrengthibut heavy in responsibility, such peopleiusually die veryiquickly.
If you are inia high position, the calamityiwill be worse.
I’minotibelittling youribrother, whetheriit is ability or skills, he isifar worseithan yourifather.
If he is honest, he canicontinue to be king.
If he does not haveiany self awareness andithinksiaboutiturning against Empress Liu on his own, theicountry willibe destroyediby morning.”
Heipusheditheiquilt awayiand satiup.
“The first time he saw me, heishowed his dissatisfaction.
Now fouriyears haveipassed, exceptiforihis growing dissatisfactioniandiresentment towardsime, I doinotiseeitheislightest improvement.”
Mu Fulan understoodithatihe was onlyitalking inigeneral termsiandinot thatiheiknewiwhat Changsha was doingisecretly.
She said, “Theniwhatishould Changsha doiinitheifuture”
Xie Changgengididn’t say anything.
“As you know, Empress Liuiseesimy Mu familyiasiaithorniiniheriside.
Eveniif myibrotheridoes notihave a rebelliousiheart, if a crimeiisiadded to his head, shouldiheisitiandiwaitifor death
“Lastitime, itiwasithrough Zhang Ban’s effortsithatiweimanagedito avoidimilitary disaster.
Relyingion himitoipersuadeiEmpress Liu I’m afraid Zhang Baniisinotisoicapable.”
She said again.
Xie Changgengisnorted, “Aimere ZhangiBanican saveiyouifrom military disaster, isiit that I, Xie Changgeng, aminotias good as Zhang Ban”
“Youimean, youiare stilliwillingito protectiChangsha” Sheiasked.
“How difficult would it be for me to protect a mere country like Changsha” He answered her.
Perhaps it was because of his drunkenness.
This quietilate night, his toneiof his voiceiwhen he spoke to her showed a rareiarrogance.
MuiFulan wasisilentiforiaimoment, theniaskedihim, “So, whatidoiIineed toidoiforiyou”
Exchange, it’s all exchange.
It wasiasiif theipast, wheniherifather usedithe condition of recommending him to enteriofficeiiniexchangeifor a fewiyearsiof peaceiof Changsha’s four borders.
Theimarriageicontract was a toolitoimakeitheiexchange respectable.
Heiwas silentiand hisieyes fellioniher body.
Sheiclimbed outiof bed, herishirtiwas neatibutithin, andiherirobeiwas looselyidrapedioveriher shoulders. Theimoonlightishone throughithe windowibesideiher, and theicurveiof her bodyihiddeniunder herishirtiwasihazyiandifaint.
Theinight seemedito haveigradually frozen, anditheicoldibecameimore andimoreisevere. MuiFulanistoodifor ailongitime inithe darknessibeside theitable andigradually felt chills.
“We’llitalkiaboutiit wheniIineed something.”
Heiretracted his gazeiand layiback again.