Chaos Of Beauty

Chapter 22 — Secret Battle
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Chapter 22: Secret Battle

Feel that in the mortal world, everything will come to autumn, all shaken down.[1]

Feng Shan (maple mountain) in the northern area of the Capital City, is famous for its entire mountain of red leaves, every autumn, leaves continues to endlessly fall across this boundless land, such scenery half dyed in red, attracts many visitors here, someone has once poetically described this: “Gently lingering in the autumn wind, the red leaves of Feng Shan descends.”

Feng Shan today seems to be particularly lively, during this early morning, a group of esteemed guests have arrived at the foot of the mountain, dressed in silk clothing, golden headdress with jade belts, dressed in whole bodies of extraordinary worth, along the way, they have attracted many watchful eyes. The mountain visitors were all speculating the identity of these people, no one would have thought that they are royalty and noble gentlemen from within the Capital City being accompanied by beauties as they tour Feng Shan together.

The entire group sits in the teahouse at the foot of the mountain, quenching their thirst, chatting and joking around, planning to get a little rest first, before they go up Feng Shan.

“The scenery of this Feng Shan is indeed phenomenal,” Lightly swaying the paper fan in hand, Zheng Liu carries a warming smile as he asks the other people, “What does everyone think of it?”

In fact, most of the accompanying officials has lived in the Capital City for many years, the scenery of this place, they have already seen it before, but with the Emperor asking this, not one person did not put on a joyful smile, competitively fighting for the first praise, to match up with the Emperor’s aesthetic mood.

The Third Ranked Scholar[2] in the same class of year as Guan Xiu Wen, has always struggled for a chance to present himself, to actually catch onto the opportunity for flattery, he immediately steps forward, a straight face saying: “I have always thought that the Three Greatest Sceneries in the world, without Feng Shan, is indeed a great pity.”

The officials were speechless, within officialdom, flattery, shameless bootlicking is but a basic requirement, but to only touch and go, leaving behind no traces, such is the true essence to it, this new Third Ranked Scholar speaks so exaggeratingly, all the officials were secretly laughing inside, cynically watching on, waiting to see how he will make a fool of himself.

Seeing everyone watching him, the Third Ranked Scholar grows complacent, even his voice had tuned three points higher: “A scene of red dyes Feng Shan, such magnificent scenery, is able to rival that of the Three Greatest Sceneries, but when the Three Greatest Sceneries were chosen, Feng Shan was actually not included amongst them, is this not odd? I propose that Huang……Gentleman should write a petition, to have Feng Shan included amongst the Four Greatest Sceneries.”

Zheng Liu faintly smiles but says nothing, the entire group of officials secretly chuckles, the Three Greatest Sceneries were appointed by the people of the world, Feng Shan may be beautiful, but also falls very short, to impose such idea right now, afraid that one must want to become the laughing stock, it just so happens that this Third Ranked Scholar is uninformed, and is even rather proud of himself.

“Gentleman Liu’s words are absolutely right ah.” Thin lips hooking up into a smile, Lou Che’s eyes like the night skies looks directly at the Third Ranked Scholar, speaking his praises.

Hearing Lou Che’s words, the Third Ranked Scholar’s smile spreads even more, to receive the imperial court’s Prime Minister Lou’s appreciation, how could he still be afraid of not being able to rapidly go up the ranks in future? His lips modestly saying: “Not at all, not at all.”

“The other three sceneries have all become famous with the mentioning in writings of reputable literary people, since you are full of praises towards the scenery of this place, how about this, you stay here, raise your brush in composition of a literary piece, when we come back down the mountain, not only would we have explored the scenery of Feng Shan, but will also get to admire your excellent writing, is this not better?”

Hearing up to here, he too comes to understand the underlying meaning behind Lou Che’s words, face stiffening, suddenly pale, suddenly red, lightly saying: “But……this……”

“Come, prepare brush, ink and paper, allow Gentleman Liu to compose a good piece of writing.” Upon hearing this order, the disguised imperial guards immediately steps forward from the side, with the Emperor and officials travelling in disguise this time, everything that has been brought along is left to the imperial guards and domestic servants to carry, hearing the orders, they take out the brush, ink and paper, placing it to one side.

At this moment, how could anyone possibly continue to hold it in? Immediately roaring out in laughter.

Seeing this Third Ranked Scholar Liu’s face like that of sour pickles, it is just too funny, causing the laughter to well up, even Gui Wan couldn’t hold it back, laughing out loud.

“Is your heart feeling at ease now?” Lou Che whispers as he turns his head to Gui Wan, those calm eyes glowing with tenderness. Thinking of how much Gui Wan seems to have been worrying since this morning, gloom overcasting her face, his heart was absolutely pained, always wanting to think of a way to make her laugh, wholeheartedly laughing out loud.

Lightly nodding her head, Gui Wan smiles, pitying that Third Ranked Scholar Liu, who fails to understand why he has been publicly mocked by Lou Che, containing a smile as her eyes glances elsewhere, she meets eyes with Consort Ying who had her attention over here, those eyes seemingly quiet, seemingly resentful, and Zheng Liu next to her is also carrying a slight smile, with a complete appearance of gentleness and well-cultured demeanour.

Gui Wan quietly gathers up her smile, the autumn wind brushing against her face, actually bringing with it, a trace of chilliness.

What exactly is he scheming?


Once the entire party was done chatting around, other than that Third Ranked Scholar Liu, everyone sets off along the mountain path that spirals upwards.

Originally a great day with clear autumn skies and crisp air, thousands of li with no clouds, the cloudless sky washed blue, laughter and joy all along the way, as times goes by, Gui Wan’s heart also gradually settles down, a day of fun for both monarch and subjects flies by in a blink of an eye, the sun descends into the west mountains, half leaving behind an afterglow, it is already time to head down the mountain.

“Huang……Gentleman, it should be time to return now.” Li gong-gong’s shrill voice gently reminds.

“That’s right ah,” Someone interrupts from the side, “Perhaps, Gentleman Liu has already written out his literary piece, heading down the mountain to admire such is also of great aesthetics.” Everyone bursts into a roars of laughter again.

Taking the same route back, all the female partners were a little tired, their walking speed slowing down, walking down half the mountain, the usually greatly pampered senior officials were all tired from walking all day, and could only stop and take a short break.

“Strange……” Minister of Personnel Yan Gang lightly beats his legs, whilst muttering to himself.

A few people turns their heads over, a tall official asks in wonder: “What is Old Yan looking at?”

Yan Gang raises his hand and says to the person not far from him: “Look, it is already almost evening now, why are there still people heading up the mountain? And there is so many people coming up too.”

Several people looks over towards the mountain path, indeed a group of people has come, the tall official sneers and says: “Probably someone is in the mood to enjoy the night scenery, it is not a bad idea ah.” His words led to the laughter of many, these officials are usually this arrogant, often finding people to make fun of and does not even feel that anything is wrong with it.

The group of people are getting closer and closer, in a blink of an eye, they already reached the halfway point of the mountain, even the Emperor and his courtiers who were sat in the distance came to realise this, Lin Rui En walks closer a little, carefully looking over the approaching people, after a moment of observation, solemnly appearing stern, he coldly shouts: “Heads up, on guard.”

The imperial guards immediately surrounds them in a circle upon hearing orders, the officials who were still laughing and poking fun at the situation also pales, backing themselves towards the Emperor’s side, that arrogant attitude instantly wiped clean without a trace. The noisiness immediately disappears.

Waiting till that group of people was in close proximity, turns out it is a local landowner leading a group of aggressive retainers up the mountain, and even loudly shouts: “Go catch that shameless little b*tch for me, let me see where she can go hiding to……”

Such matter is already considered commonly occurance, they presume that that local landowner’s concubine must have eloped with someone, fleeing into the mountains. Everyone lets out a huge sigh in relief, and cannot help but to grow annoyed of Lin Rui En making such a fuss, the tension from before immediately loosens up, their ridiculing attitudes once again resurfacing.

The local landowner’s party and the Emperor’s party passes by each other on the same path.

Just when everyone treated it like a joke and took it positively, a shocking turnover hits.

Within a mere moment, the one who looks like a local landowner suddenly turns back, his hand holding a bomb, a trail of grey smoke spreads towards the Emperor’s party, the officials who were nearest, had not even the time to cry out, and had already fallen to the ground. The few who reacted quickly all moves closer towards the Emperor, seeming in search of shelter, Li gong-gong seems to have been completely stunned, loudly shouting out: “There’s assassins! Guard his majesty”

The scene immediately turns into chaos, the group dressed as retainers pulls out their sabres and swords, charging towards the centre of the resting team, the guards responds quickly, circling around them, standing in front of the Emperor and courtiers, blades meets blades with the disguised assassins, within that moment, the clashing of metal rings throughout the entire area.

Assassination? This thought quickly flashes past Gui Wan’s mind, freezing for a moment, she immediately turns to Lou Che, “Husband?”

Seeing that these assassins are remarkably fierce, the imperial guards’ protective circle grows smaller and smaller, the mood within Lou Che’s dark eyes cannot be read, reaching out to stroke Gui Wan’s face, he turns his head shouting out: “Protect Madam.” Lou Sheng and two others steps forward upon hearing the order, the weapons in their hands thoroughly ready.

The sounds of fighting is already brushing by his ears within a blink of an eye, Lou Che sweeps his eyes across the entire scene, suddenly spotting a panicking official hiding by the Emperor’s side, a hint of smile floats to the surface of his lips, loudly shouting towards that official: “Your majesty, careful assassin!”

As soon as his voice was heard, the assassins swiftly moves inwards, all charging towards that person. That pitiful official who had already been scared out of their wits, is even more frightened right now, unable to utter a single word, his mouth widely hangs open, only able to emit sounds of whining and choked back sobs.

The assassins were either slashing or slicing, in a life for a life manner, the imperial guards were losing their grounds, and have even changed their target, the situation remains extremely critical. Lin Rui En stands by the Emperor’s side, a sliver sword clenched in hand, light and shadow flashing by with every strike, killing off any who comes close, blood splatters in all directions, a bloody stench diffusing into the air.

Standing by the Emperor’s side, the shadows of sabres, shadows of swords, shadows of people, all confusingly flies by the eyes, unrestrainable tension and panic rushes up Yao Ying’s heart, the hand originally holding onto the Emperor’s has unknowingly let go, wildly looking all around……where is he?

Not this one……nor that one……they’re all not it. Where is he? Need to find him……must definitely find him……

Head slightly turning to the side, turns out he is just three steps away, calmly directing other people, I found him……this is great, I found him……grabbing onto him this time, never letting go again……never letting go……

Sleeve suddenly sinking down, Lou Che looks back in surprise, “……Lady Consort Ying?”

“Lady Consort Ying, it is safer to retreat back,” Lou Che knits his brows together, showing his impatience, “Let go!”

No! Cannot let go……her heart seem to have only left behind this one faith, like grabbing onto the last straw before she drowns, Yao Ying stubbornly grabs onto Lou Che, her tears have already blurred her vision, it seem like only the thing she is grabbing onto can give her a moment of security, trust and warmth, that is why she need to firmly hold on……

Within this hectic moment, he cannot attend to much, the assassin has already came before Lou Che’s eyes, the shadow of the blade shaking, actually coming towards his face, a sound of ringing metal, horizontally intercepting the attack, preventing the potential slashing, Lou Sheng charges in front of Lou Che protectively, “Lord Prime Minister, are you alright?”

“What are you doing, didn’t I leave you to protect Madam?” Lou Che’s raised voice carries agitation, hurriedly looking towards the left, Gui Wan was actually not at the original spot, his face slightly changes, those cold eyes glaring at Lou Sheng.

Lou Sheng swings his blade, whilst taking advantage of a quick interlude to answer: “Lord Prime Minister may rest assure, Madam has been retreated to a safe place.”

Heart slightly easing up, the situation is chaotic, he cannot look back, and even has a heavy burden next to him that he cannot discard aside, the aggravation in his heart was unspeakable, it just so happens that this situation is of special circumstances, he cannot lose him temper, and can only calmly look over the scene again, his eyes darkens, this matter……seems a little odd.


Whilst following the Prime Minister Estate guards to the back, Gui Wan keeps her attention on the fight scene, the fierceness of the assassins is extremely similar to the phantom soldiers. The situation is critical, whilst retreating, she continues to look back, suddenly catching a glimpse of a figure, is that not Consort Ying? Stunned with terror, her head collides into a figure, looking up, it is actually Zheng Liu.

Coldly watching over the entire scene, Zheng Liu’s expression was deep and heavy, seeing Gui Wan approach, a light satirical smile emerges: “What, Madam also came to protect the Emperor?”

Pressing her lips together, Gui Wan does not refute, just indifferently glancing at him, before returning her gaze back to the situation.

The situation gradually turns for the better, Lin Rui En’s sword swift like flashing lights, blocking off any threats that can harm Zheng Liu and Gui Wan, the imperial guards after all is rich in experience, well-trained, not long after the fighting started, Lou Che on one hand, had already kept the situation under control, the Prime Minister Estate guards surrounds the leading assassin who is dressed as a local landowner, sure enough, this distracted the assassins’ attention, and also spiritually scattered them.

The other guards are all Lin Rui En’s personal attendants, have been on the battlefields for many years, in terms of perseverance and fighting spirit, they are all of the best warriors, over time, they display their formidability, the majority of the assassins were either killed or captured.

Yet the assassin leader remains stubborn, despite being surrounded, he is still exerting his force and spirit to wrestle.

Lin Rui En kills off all those that have come near, his body of lightly coloured Confucianism robe has actually been dyed blood red now, the traces of blood stains extremely horrifying, his wrist makes a slight move, throwing off the blood on the soft-edged sword, seeing the assassin leader and guards fighting it out into a circle, his killing intent immediately raises, wanting to go up, he turns his head to report to the Emperor, under one glance, he actually sees a touch of a familiar figure, heart hit with surprise, he freezes on the spot, the chilliness on his face fades away, withdrawing the soft-edged sword behind him.

It was in this moment, that the assassin leader sounds a roar, springing towards the official who was mistaken for the Emperor, everyone all shocked, before they even had the chance to scream, Lin Rui En flips his hand, shooting the soft-edged sword in hand over, with the interference of a silver light, the assassin leader was blocked off, the force of the sword piercing into the official’s arm, fresh blood dripping, the official’s throat could not produce a single sound, before fainting on the spot.

The guards immediately goes up front, capturing the assassin leader that is dressed as a local landowner alive.

The fierce fighting lasted half-a-pot-of-tea time, but feels like half a day, the originally bright and beautiful scenery of red leaves, has actually been overshadowed by the flashing of swords right now, a foul wind carrying bloody rain. Corpses lies all over the mountainside, amongst them, there were also several officials who had been gassed unconscious. The guards promptly had their injuries treated, even the relatively calm senior officials, also felt the lingering fear after the fighting, their sluggish expressions sunken into gloom, the aesthetic mood from touring the mountain had already drifted beyond the highest level of heaven, disappearing without a trace.

Gui Wan watches as Lin Rui En captures that assassin leader and heads into the distant to interrogate him, only then did her heart settle down, turning back towards Lou Che, the moment her eyes settles, her heart sank, secretly crying out “this is bad” inside.

Yao Ying was spilling tears as she clutches onto Lou Che, that bitterly helpless look, makes people’s heart grieve at the sight. The situation has calmed down, several officials who stood at a closer proximity were first to discover this scene, following on, more and more doubtful and surprised eyes were directed towards the two people, but because one is the current court’s Grand Secretary, one is the doted consort of the back palace, they did not dare to casually speak of it, only able to secretly observe, leaving the muttering in their hearts.

This bizarre and undistinguishable atmosphere very quickly spreads across the entire mountainside, sound of quiet murmuring floods the place, everyone seems to have already pushed the attempted assassination incident to the back of their minds, and instead grew greatly interested in the strange situation before their eyes.

Lou Che tightly knits his brows together, under everyone’s watchful eyes, it is not like he can throw off Yao Ying with great force, noticing that all eyes are overtly and covertly watching secretively, he already feels somewhat impatient and angered, sending eye signals to the two people beside him, the two guards hurries forward, one on each side grabbing Consort Ying’s arms, they practically had to forcefully yank her off, to separate Consort Ying from Lou Che’s side. Consort Ying was originally blanked out, only wanting to grab onto her only hope, surprised by the external force just now, her mind immediately clears up, looking all around, she freezes on the spot, docilely not daring to say anything.

The current situation is already considered extremely awkward, everyone simultaneously turns to the Emperor, wanting to pick out a clue from looking at his expression.

Zheng Liu still carrying that warm smile, says to Lou Che and Consort Ying: “Minister Lou and Beloved Consort, is everything alright?” That tone very gracious, as though it is able to warm people’s hearts.

Gui Wan feels a chill run up her spine, looking at the nearby Zheng Liu with that flawlessly fake kindness, even more so feeling deep and heavy, deep down she knows, him questioning like this, highlights his own innocence, and also have all condemnation pushed onto Lou Che and Consort Ying.

Sure enough, a discerning eye is able to see the mystery behind this type of situation, right now, to see the Emperor still seem to be kept in the dark, their eyes turns back to Lou, Ying with an addition of condemnation and contempt, and towards that monarch, they could only sympathise with him, there were even some of the more powerful ministers, who began to question, is Prime Minister Lou’s power too great? In the dark, everyone’s hearts gives rise to a mood filled with concerns.

Lou Che loosens his brows, lowering his body in a respectful bow, answering in a smooth and steady tone: “Thanking your majesty for such concern, Lady Consort Ying was swept away from your majesty just now, grabbing onto this subject insisting to return to your majesty’s side, it has but made this subject overly worried……”

This pleasantly smooth voice entering the ears, has eased some of the atmosphere from before, but everyone although has temporarily solved their doubts, the scene from before has been deeply engraved in their hearts, their mouths say nothing, but the potential problems have been planted.

It was in this atmosphere of a bizarre and complex situation, that Lin Rui En comes back from the other side of the mountain, bending into a bow, he says: “Your majesty, do you want personally interrogate the assassin?”

Zheng Liu sterns his face upon hearing this, folding the fan in hand, he lightly touches his chin, leisurely saying: “Bring him over.”

The assassin leader was very quickly brought over with his hands tied behind his back, all the officials has seen his fierceness just before, although he has been captured now, but that air of ferocity still remains, one after another, they turn their heads away, not daring to look.

A sound of “pu tong” as he drops to his knees, the guards standing on the sides. Zheng Liu also takes a close look at the man, asking: “Who was it that sent you?”

Up until now, did he finally realise he had killed the wrong subject, a look of surprised flying past his eyes, disappearing in a flash, his lips remains sealed. Upon seeing the situation, the guards at the side unleashes the whip, severely slashing at the assassin leader’s chest, a trail of blood is revealed under the already tattered clothing, streams of blood dripping, forget saying the accompanying women could not bear to watch this, even most officials, were making a show of their pitiful states.

The assassin leader sure is truly a man of dauntless bravery, not even a gulp can be heard, still that face of leaving the monarch to dispose of him, no pain, no itch, seeing this situation, all the guards were gritting their teeth in hatred, but it is not like they can do anything.

Zheng Liu knits his brows, his eyes locked onto that assassin leader, silently. Lou Che originally wanted to lay down a command, but thinking back to the situation just now, it is not the right time to speak up right now, his eyes quietly darkens, pressing his lips together, saying nothing.

“Looks like you truly are a man of dauntless bravery, I cannot bear to harm you, I believe you must also have your own parents, spouse and children back home, should you be inflicted any harm, would it not pain their hearts?” Such moving words, hoping to open up that kneeling man’s soft spot.

The assassin leader’s expression instantly loosens up a bit, adjusting his position, dumbly speaking: “You need not keep up the farce, I will not tell you master’s name.” His tone seems to have already faltered from the firmness of before.

“It does not matter even if you do not say it, I will not force you, but what I really do not understand is, where have I offended you people, to require lives in exchange for lives?” Zheng Liu innocent tone along with his elegantly refined outer appearance, even his expression was penetrating, as though it is able to make one sense his heartache and innocence, “Exactly who could have wanted to assassinate me?”

Gui Wan was slightly shocked by his long drawn out tone, the moment she turns her head, she sees that Zheng Liu’s lips covered under his fan has clearly hooked up into a faint smile, extremely devilish.

Li gong-gong who stood at the side, immediately understood the Emperor’s hint, immediately following on: “Your majesty, it can’t be……Prince Duan right?”

Once those words were spoken, all was rendered shocked, before anyone can produce any sound, that assassin leader was already stunned, those sharp eyes turning deep, looking towards the Emperor in surprise. Everyone upon seeing this, speechlessly freezes on the spot, this assassin leader’s expression has undoubtedly confirmed the previous speculation, suddenly, the mountainside bursts into an uproar of mumblings.

This time’s mountain tour, Prince Duan indeed did not come, could it be……the one who wanted to assassinate the Emperor, really is Prince Duan?

Heart suddenly hit with a pang, Gui Wan looks towards Lou Che, only seeing his face expressionless, looking as though the matter does not concern him, although deep down she understands he probably would not say anything, would not ask anything, but within an instant, her heart still starts panicking.

Since the ancient times, the control of the imperial court, has always been based on the counterbalance of principles, the power forces within the court should never be tilting to one side, only such nailing of power, can maintain the stability within the imperial court. And with Prince Duan being fessed up right now, the power that Prince Duan represents is extremely likely of being reduced to naught due to his involvement in this matter, to Lou Che, this matter can only be half joy half worries, now that the situation has already generated a subtle change, although it cannot be visibly seen, Gui Wan makes the speculation from the depths of her heart, that in between this moment of joy and worries, one can only be afraid that the worries weighs heavier……

The entire ground of red leaves trembles in the wind, dyed with blood, it starts to appear more and more bleak, dozens of eyes were either surprised, taunting, or excited, various types of undercurrents swarming over. Standing by the Emperor’s side, being swept across by these eyes, she could feel a wave of inner turmoil, Gui Wan gently bites down on her lower lip, seeing General Lin ask that captured assassin leader something again, his voice drifting past her ears, but not at all reaching her mind.

“Looks like Madam Lou has received quite a fright……” Being mentioned by Zheng Liu, Gui Wan snaps out of it, seeing everyone carry looks of sympathy towards her. A glance at the ground, that assassin leader is already no longer there, and only then did she realise her mind had wandered off for quite some time already.

“Thanking your majesty for such concern, it was indeed extremely dangerous just before.” Acting delicately frail can also be regarded as a great way to escape this complicated turbulence.

“To let so many people receive a fright in an encounter of danger, really is of the most atrocious sin, I will definitely not let the mastermind behind all this go so easily.” Zheng Liu’s eyes wanders around the gathering of officials, asking, “Then who will be the best person to hand this case over to?”

Yet another hot potato thrown right at them, clearly aware that this matter involves Prince Duan, who could possibly dare to casually stand up in acceptance of this case? Whilst all the officials were exchanging glances, they simultaneously lower their heads, avoiding the Emperor’s probing eyes. Once those words were spoken, not one person answered after a long time.

In the end, his eyes could only land onto Lou Che, Zheng Liu lightly laughs, “Looks like we have to once again trouble Minister Lou.”

Once those words entered Gui Wan’s ears, it more or less carried a little flavour of ridicule, her heart feeling greatly at discomfort, as though something is stuck in it, yet Lou Che’s completely emotionless voice enters her ears: “Yes, this subject shall endeavour to comply to the imperial order.”

Up to this point, matters have finally come to an end, the guards were busily dealing with the aftermaths, the officials who were in a moment of absurdity also recovered their state of mind a little, only that Consort Ying is sticking out over there, in such tender and frail state, very pitiful, even the Emperor did not seem to remember her, not paying her much attention, amongst the officials, not one would dare to speak up to touch upon this topic, Gui Wan slowly makes her way back to Lou Che’s side, ordering Lou Sheng to lend a supporting hand to help Consort Ying make her way back, only then did they resolve the strange and awkward situation of her standing by the Emperor’s side, and Consort Ying standing by Lou Che’s side.

In the end, Lou Che did not speak again, neither angry nor happy, putting on a full appearance of staying aloof, until they stepped onto the carriage for their return, did he finally reveal the slightest bit of emotion, sunken into a deep and heavy mood, he gently says to Gui Wan: “Gui Wan, you temporarily leave the Capital, go take a break at your older brother’s place for a while, how’s that?” Hand reaching her cheek, affectionately lingering there.

Abruptly, her chest overflows with an ominous feeling, she returns his gaze, Gui Wan very determinedly shakes her head, “No I want to stay here.” The underlying currents within the Capital is already revealing its menacing aura, among the sea of officialdom, one either sinks or floats, an instance of win or lose set, how could she possibly not know of this principle, knowing that Lou Che is making this move to protect her, it is not that she does not appreciate his care, it’s just that she is terrified inside, terrified that escaping right now, will definitely become a lifetime’s regret.

A tide of sourly astringent feelings quietly surges up, Gui Wan extends her hand and clasps onto Lou Che’s palm, softly saying: “Fortune or misfortune is difficult to anticipate, but I intend to follow you either way.” Her pupils appears very faint, yet it did not lose its sparkle, she spreads a smile like that of flowers.

Lou Che’s eyes deepens even more, sounding a sigh, he gently pulls Gui Wan into his embrace, without a word, his other hand lifting up the carriage curtains, several other horse carriages were slowly running next to them, Gui Wan looks out along with him, the largest, most magnificent carriage is not far from them, the Emperor must be secretly laughing inside it right? Thinking this, her anger rises, lightly harrumphing.

“Gui Wan, Prince Duan may be domineering, but the possibility of him plotting this, only holds a very minimal chance.” Slow and leisurely stating this by Gui Wan’s ear side, Lou Che was very reasonable.

“Someone set him up?” Since the beginning, she had felt that something was not right, no matter how stupid Prince Duan can get, one would still not act so recklessly like this. Although this thought had rolled past her mind thousands of times, to blurt it out right now, she still felt a biting chill, this Emperor, in order to concentrate his imperial power, he wouldn’t really begin to eliminate the other power holders right?

“Prince Duan is not a lamp that will conserve oil, this matter is not at all easy to resolve.” Lou Che with unchanging gentle warmth, contains a smile as he makes his analysis, “The Capital is about to go through yet another major change, with you here, I cannot feel at ease, it is better to leave here.”

No longer beating around the bush to persuade her, Lou Che directly speaks his thoughts clearly, just wanting to send the lead to his heart, the fastening of his heart off to a safe place, “Wait till this storm has past, and I shall fetch you back.”

Throwing away his hand upon hearing this, Gui Wan straightens up her body, glaring at him with slight anger, “Would leaving the Capital guarantee complete safety? I’m not leaving, only this time, I will definitely not listen to you.”

There seems to be no room for negotiation, Lou Che looks at Gui Wan firmly unwavering expression, also feeling a sense of helplessness, the two of them could only stop discussing this matter, carelessly dragging it out, the horse carriage has already stopped in front of the Prime Minister Estate.

Having returned to the Prime Minister Estate, the housekeeper already had dinner prepared, Gui Wan was also indeed hungry, in the circumstance of not being in a good mood, she still had a good appetite to eat a filling meal, having only finished eating, the housekeeper comes in with wine, placing it on the table, Lou Che personally pours a cup, handing it over to Gui Wan, advising: “Today you received a fright and caught the chill, drink some wine, warm up your body, and drive away the chilly air.”

Gui Wan accepts the wine, seeing him pour himself a cup of wine too, she raises her head to see those eyes looking at her with affection flowing out, traces of sweetness floats up her heart, the wine flows into her mouth, the taste of mellow wine spreading out, causing her to sigh in praising. Lou Che faintly smiles, the two of them chatting cheerfully over the dinner table, it appears that all unpleasant matters of today have been forgotten, since they got married, this is the happiest dinner they had together.

Gui Wan was leisurely full of smiles, whilst telling a joke, she could only feel her head grow more and more heavy, her vision gradually blurs, silhouettes unclear, as though her voice just about forced itself out: “The wine……”

Lou Che steps forward to support her drooping body, with unlimited tenderness, he says: “Gui Wan, in Jin Yang wait for me to collect you.” The person in his arms sinks into dreamland, he hugs her, unmoving for a long long time, staring at her sleeping face with extreme reluctance, up until the time can no longer be delayed any further, the night passes by, the skies have already started to brighten up, and only then did he lift Gui Wan’s body and carry her out of the courtyard, Lou Sheng had already long been waiting aside.

In the early morning, from the Prime Minister Estate’s back door, a horse carriage drives out, the raising hooves hurtling forward.


A burst of bumpy sensation sinks deeper and deeper into her mind, Gui Wan’s eyes abruptly opens wide, entering her vision is the carriage interior, memories of moment leading to her falling unconscious slowly returns to her mind, lightly gritting her teeth, she lifts the carriage curtains, Lou Sheng’s back which was in direct view was fully set on hurrying the carriage.

“Stop the carriage.” Gui Wan loudly orders, because of the slight agitation, even her voice has lost its calm.

Turning a deaf ear as he continues to drive forward, Lou Sheng’s back view appears unusually firm, “Madam, please be bear with it, we shall be reaching Jin Yang in two days.”

Gui Wan is greatly surprised upon hearing this, thinking that she had already left the Capital for over two days, her heart grows even more anxious, seeing the scenery on both sides flying past, her thoughts rapidly turns, raising the curtains high up, she takes on a stance as if to jump.

Sensing the movement of the person behind, Lou Sheng starts sweating in fear, desperately pulling at the reins, an urgent cry comes from the horse’s mouth, the carriage drags on a little, before coming to a stop. Lou Sheng hastily jumps down from the carriage, only after seeing Gui Wan sitting in the carriage unharmed, did he slowly sighs in relief, respectfully saying: “Madam, Lord Prime Minister has already ordered, to get you to Jin Yang first no matter what.”

A fuming face as she sits in the carriage, Gui Wan lightly sounds a “heng”, lightly saying: “Turn back, return to the Capital.” No matter how big the world is, it is still of the Emperor’s land, if Lou Che is to lose this battle, no matter where she is to flee to, it will still be difficult for her to be spared.

Both knees makes a bend, Lou Sheng kneels on the ground, persuading: “Madam, this little person has been entrusted by Lord Prime Minister, and dares not to disobey.” A long while later, he hears not the slightest sound of a reply, Lou Sheng finds it strange, his line of vision from his lowered head actually catches sight of a pair of exquisitely made silk shoes landing before him, he raises his head in bewilderment: “Madam……”

“Pa”, a palm smacks across Lou Sheng’s face, his face was not in pain, but his brain froze at that very moment, the blood running in his body also seems to have frozen.

“We are wasting our time here, the Capital might have already been turned upside down by now, how could you be this muddled up, with the skin gone, where is the hair to attach itself, such principle, do you not understand? The one that truly grasps hold of fate is not the heavens, not the earth, not the Emperor, but is oneself.” Gui Wan bitterly smiles as she says this, her tone a little high, “Quickly turn back, we’re returning to the Capital.” Not giving him any chance to reject.

Stunned by Gui Wan’s short phrases of lecturing, he has never seen this cloud-like woman be so strict and talkative, each sound of light scolding like a wakeup call, Lou Sheng hurriedly stands up, offering a supporting hand for Gui Wan to ascend the carriage, he mercilessly raises the whip, pulling the reigns at a turn, and the carriage turns around, bolting forward down the road they came from.

The nonstop bumpiness seemed to no longer be of the carriage, but her own heart, a bitter smile faintly floats to her face, Gui Wan closes her eyes, carefully thinking over the assassination attempt they encountered on Feng Shan.

Making their way back down the same route, took another two days’ worth of time, waiting until the horse carriage rushed into the Capital City, it was already early morning, the carriage wheels rolls across the clear grey stone paving, emitting a sliding noise, Gui Wan in a drowsy state, was half dreaming, half awake, in a moment of haziness, she hears a burst of clamouring, abruptly awakening from her light sleep, the horse carriage suddenly comes to a stop.

“Madam,” Lou Sheng’s voice was full of hesitation, “That seems to be the imperial troops ahead……”

Lifting the curtains to take a look, the streets of the Capital City was actually filled with the imperial soldiers, endlessly flooding the area, Gui Wan upon taking a look all around, actually finds a familiar figure, such outstandingly valiant bearing, that does not stand inferior to the males, lightly frowning, she blurts out: “Lin Ran Yi?”

Only upon seeing that it is actually her, did she understand why Lou Sheng’s voice just now was so strange, Gui Wan’s suspicions instantly rises, the Lin military clan is divided into two, one guards the Capital, one guards the borders, very rarely do they appear together in the same place, Lin Ran Yi’s sudden appearance within the Capital, could this be under the secret summoning of the Emperor?

“Madam, they seemed to have besieged the Prince Duan Estate.”

“Let us follow along and take a look.” Throwing out the command without hesitation, Gui Wan was also somewhat curious, after being absent for four days, exactly what changes has occurred within the Capital now?

The horse carriage slowly follows behind the imperial troops, Lou Sheng slows down the speed, afraid that Lin Ran Yi will notice, in a very complicated mood, he trails them all the way to the front doors of Prince Duan Estate.

The former days of endless flows of traffic[3], courtyards bustling like a market, is partially cold and deserted right now, as though no one is interested, the lion stone sculptures has also lost its fangs within this ghostly atmosphere, in preparation to appear desolate, the large red doors were open wide, the imperial troops going in and out, busying back and forth, Gui Wan sits within the carriage, one hand supporting her cheek, paying full attention as she watches on.

Box after box is carried out from within Prince Duan Estate, soldiers of the imperial army had faces carrying a somewhat mocking smile, Gui Wan inwardly laments, these imperial soldiers would usually be extremely cautious and trembling when they enter the Prince Duan Estate, today it really is a situation of fate making its turn.

A very long time passes, a group of people have been detained from within the Prince Duan Estate, all dressed in silk clothing and brocade belts, male and female, with a total of twenty people, amongst them there was even an approximately four years old child, who, when being brought out by the soldiers, was crying out loud, such piercing cries, breaks one’s heart upon hearing it. Gui Wan carefully looks over the crowd again, Prince Duan was actually not in sight, she was secretly surprised.

“Madam……” Lou Sheng quietly calls out, “Look over there, it seems to be Lord First Ranked Scholar.”

The youth’s figure suddenly enters her line of sight, Gui Wan was startled, the last one to come out from within the Prince Duan Estate is actually him. Gui Wan can vaguely remember, the first time she had seen him, he was a refreshingly elegant youth within the trees, such crystal clearness giving her a feeling that he cannot get tainted, was all this just an illusion?

Lin Ran Yi and the Capital’s superintendent of the imperial guards steps forward, the superintendent was even flattering to the most extreme, yet Guan Xiu Wen coldly shows a face of indifference, the three people standing at the entrance discussing something, before the Capital’s superintendent hurries off again.

Simply unable to believe her own eyes, Gui Wan gazes at the scene half shocked, half suspicious, is this really the simple and na?ve youth who was reciting {{Spring Thoughts}}? Could it be that official robes worn on the body, can really make one lose their original nature, officialdom is so filthy, that even a white lotus can also transform into mud?

“Madam……the imperial army is almost done searching, it is best that we leave whilst it’s still early.” The horse carriage standing within the alley, is not at all completely safe.

Nodding in agreement, she let down the curtain, Gui Wan leans back into the carriage, no longer able to sleep, her heart endlessly swirling, within four days, could it be that everything really has gone through huge changes?

“Prince Duan’s times of overbearing arrogance, such domineering force rival to none, didn’t think that today……” Lou Sheng held mixed feelings, speaking to himself.

A hand supporting her head, Gui Wan listens on in silence, that bleak scene just now, in particularly affects one’s mind and heart. Overfilling water will cause an overflow, a fuller moon will begin to wane, such principle she has always been aware of since young, all things shall never be overdone, and must refrain three points, only then can you survive. Prince Duan lost on this “full” word. Gui Wan’s thoughts makes a turn, suddenly recalling, Lou Che’s situation can be said to be essentially the same as Prince Duan, also extremely dangerous. Could it be, in this world, flowers really cannot bloom for hundreds of days?[4]

Thinking a little too much, her body feels slightly weak, Gui Wan lowers her body to the side, lazily lying down, leaving her long locks to scatter, half closing her eyes, speaking to the outside of the carriage: “Lou Sheng, to the north courtyard first.”

There was no response from the outside, but the carriage bursts into greatly shaky movements, once again returning to its usual speed not long after. A long while later, the carriage speed gradually slows, a wave of footsteps sounds outside the carriage, the carriage curtains is lightly raised by someone, Fiery Xi Shi’s voice gently enters her ears: “Gentleman, do you have any instructions?”

Maintaining the same posture, Gui Wan appears to be in deep sleep, gently opening her mouth to say: “San Niang, what happened within the Capital these past four days?”

A tender laughter like tingling bells sounds, Fiery Xi Shi playfully says: “With such a huge matter happening, could it be that gentleman doesn’t know of it?”

Gui Wan slowly opens lifts her eyelids, her eyes as tranquil as the night skies, with a smile that may or may not be hanging within it, “I appreciate further details.”

A gentle breeze blows past, refreshing and pleasant.

San Niang stands before the horse carriage, narrating in detail all the movements within the Capital that have happened over the past four days, playfully saying: “That assassin died in prison, Prince Duan’s hundreds of words unable to offer an explanation, but with no evidence to testify against him, originally thought that the matter will come to nothing, who knew, on the second day, it was actually the new First Ranked Scholar who stood out, presenting the incriminating evidence, setting a solid crime for Prince Duan.

“What’s even more interesting is, word on the streets are saying, this new First Ranked Scholar is Prime Minister Lou’s pupil, all of this may very well be Prime Minister Lou’s scheme to eradicate Prince Duan. What assassin-la, incriminating evidence-la, all are Prime Minister Lou’s doings.

“Now the new First Ranked Scholar has stepped up the clouds, within two days, rose up three ranks, can be said to be fair-haired one[5] in front of the Emperor……”

Such delicately gentle words spoken in a tone of teasing as though watching a play, but Gui Wan because of the information disclosed by those words, actually feels her heart weigh down quite a bit. After San Niang leaves, the horse carriage once again gets moving, her heart like a wave-less mirror, Gui Wan once again half lays down again, with the accompanyingt rhythm of rolling wheels, she drifts into sleep.

When she had awakened, the horse carriage has already stopped outside the Prime Minister Estate, stepping off the carriage, outside the main doors of the Prime Minister Estate, there were actually a good number of people lingering around in waiting, their expressions appears anxious, occasionally whispering to one another. Gui Wan faintly smiles, playfully saying to Lou Sheng beside her: “It really is strange today, wherever we go, it is always ever so lively.”

Lou Sheng dared not to rashly say anything in response, accompanying Gui Wan into the Prime Minister Estate, responding to the old housekeeper’s look of surprise with a wry smile, shrugging his shoulders to express his own helplessness.

The old housekeeper was just about to step forward to ask them something, when Gui Wan’s one wave of a hand cuts off his long-winded words: “Where is Lord Prime Minister?”

Lowering his head, the old housekeeper very honestly points towards the back courtyard.

The autumn air is strong in the back courtyard, stepping into the courtyard, the red maple leaves spins in the air as they scatter, the clear waves in the jade pond, curling with smoke.

Lou Che sits by the pond in pale Confucian robes, hair held up in a jade headdress, his hands holding a fishing rod, leisurely fishing in the pond, sensing someone approaching, he turns his head, the instant he sees Gui Wan, surprise flashes by his eyes, and is immediately swept away, laughing saying: “Looks like Lou Sheng is getting more and more incapable of doing his job.”

Gui Wan walks up close, bending her body as she sits by Lou Che’s side, steadily gazing into the pond, saying: “Many officials are requesting an audience by the doors, yet Husband is fishing here without making a single move, looks like you already have everything planned out.” [6]

Thin lips hooking up a little, Lou Che smiles and says nothing, the waves in the pond meets with the wind, forming circles of rippling, yet the rod in hand makes not even the slightest of movement.

“Gui Wan, Tian Shan in the north, a vast scene of snow, as though the heavens and earth are one; Jiang Nan silk village, of elegance and graceful beauty, like rain like sorrows, which place do you like best?”

“I have not been to either, don’t know how to compare.”

“Shortly later, I will take you to explore the beauties of the world, how’s that?”

Sounding a little laughter, she watches at the red leaves descends to the lake, leisurely sounding a light sigh: “Husband, must you lie to me as well?”


[1] A line from the poem The Rhythm of Touring Nan Yan and Fan Kuo by Xīn Qì Jí / 辛弃疾. The specific line used here Feel that in the mortal world, everything will come to autumn, all shaken down is interpreted as: shaking down refers to the falling leaves in autumn, representing the poet’s feelings after losing many important things within this life.

[2] Please note that title of these officials from the imperial examinations actually have classier sounding titles in Chinese haha. The Third Ranked Scholar in the imperial examinations is actually called tàn huā / 探花.

[3] The proverb for endless flow of traffic is chē shuǐ mǎ long / 车水马龙which literally translates to carriages like flowing water, long lines of horses like a dragon.

[4] Flowers cannot remain blooming for hundreds of days or huā wú bǎi rì zhī hóng / 花无百日之红 which simply means all good things comes to an end.

[5] The fair-haired one is called dà hóng rén / 大红人 in Chinese, literally translating the great red man, as you know red can be symbolic of luck and fortune in Chinese culture and so the dà hóng rén / 大红人 is used to refer to someone who is highly regarded, highly favoured by someone in power.

[6] The proverb used for having everything planned out is called chéng zhú zài xiōng / 成竹在胸 or xiōng yǒu chéng zhú / 胸有成竹 which literally translates to having a complete [image of] of bamboo embedded in one’s chest (heart) - before painting bamboo, the image of bamboo is already in one’s heart.

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