Chaos Of Beauty

Chapter 23 — In The Dark
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Chapter 23: In The Dark

[Flowers on] luxuriant branches easily descends one after another, [I want to] discuss with budding flowers to open little by little.[1] (All flowers bloom so brilliantly so that when time passes by they can urgently descend to the ground. If that is the case, I would like to discuss with the budding flowers, is it possible to bloom a little slower)

“It’s already springtime again.” The slender figure in front of the window lightly says as though sighing, Gui Wan sits leaning on the felt covered long chair (chaise lounge), gazing out into the spring air brilliantly overflowing in the courtyard, speaking out in utter boredom.

Time flies so fast, nearly half a year flashed by, how is she to not be filled with emotions, in a blink of an eye, has the “Changes of Feng Shan” already passed by for so long now?

Gui Wan takes her hand out from the snow fur, resting it on the window sill, having just come in contact with it, a heart penetrating coolness charges up her arm, slightly shrinking back, she could not refrain from inhaling the cold air, it is still so frost cold, just like that day, by the pond when she asked Lou Che, is he lying to her as well, the feeling from that faint smile he responded with, is exactly the same. Such smile, really makes people feel the ghostly chill from within their bones.

Half a year ago, the besieging of the Prince Duan Estate failed to catch Prince Duan, as though he suddenly disappeared from the Capital. Although rumours later stated Prince Duan has appeared in the areas of Nan Jun and Luo Ling, but because there were no evidence, the matter was put to a rest. As for Lou Che, whilst many thought he wanted to tilt the power balance within the imperial court to his side alone, actually fell tremendously short from everyone’s expectations as he suddenly enters a tranquil state, other than attending the court assembly every day, he practically showed no concern towards the affairs of the state.

“Exactly what is he planning to do?” The doubts within her heart is spoken out loud, Gui Wan knits her brows, thinking about the question that has been troubling her for a long time. This past half of the year, Lou Che has practically used half of his time on her, whatever can be seen, whatever can be toured, whatever can be played, he has been accompanying her in all these recreational fun, even towards Consort Ying’s loss of favour, he did not even show any concern.

Lou Che becoming uncaring towards all of the state affairs, is this really him wanting to spend days like an idle cloud and wild crane?[2] Gui Wan spouts out hot air, her pressed lips actually hooking up into a smile, as if ridiculing, as if sighing. On the surface, Lou Che is a gentle and wave-less pool, like the spring breeze brushing past, but underneath this pool, whether it is of stormy seas or rapids across the reefs, no one knows.

“If you wish to deceive another, you must first deceive yourself” this phrase, Gui Wan seems to have heard it from somewhere before, when it first drifted by her ears, she forgot all about it, thinking about it now, it is rather interesting.

The wind blows behind her, before she turns her head, Ru Qing’s voice sounds: “Madam, there is a guest requesting an audience outside.”

Retracting the already slightly frozen hand, Gui Wan silently sighs, him again. This past half of the year, he has come numerous times, sometimes bringing new strange treasures, sometimes chatting around for a half a day, sometimes rushing here, with no purpose, sitting down for a moment, drinking a cup of clear tea, and leave feeling extremely satisfied.

She is finding it increasingly hard to see through him now, in her memory, he still seems to be that refreshing and frail youth, but looking at his doings this past half of the year, it seems like reality has already far left her memories.

Gui Wan strolls into the floral hall, under one glance she sees several retainers carrying a big box inside the hall, in moment of surprise, Guan Xiu Wen comes up greeting her, consistency of fortune in his official career overflowing from this youth’s body, his body thus has an additional air of thriving vitality, a proud smile hangs on his lips as he calls out: “You’re here.”(Note of reminder: The floral hall is the Chinese equivalent of drawing room - a room aside from the main living room where guests can be received and entertained)

Sounding a shallow laughter, Gui Wan closes in, looking over the fact that he did not make any cordial addressment, her heart was put a slight discomfort. The change in this youth is caused by the influence of the environment he is in, he is still warm and friendly, but is somewhat different to the past, she is unable to specify where the difference lies, only feeling that that sense of crystal clearness has been infiltrated.

The elegant young man directs the retainers to place down the box, smiling with slight excitement, “These have been shipped in from Jiang Xi, I believe you would definitely like……” His expression like that of offering treasure appears na?ve.

Upon thinking how such naivety has made all sorts of officials amongst the imperial court feel fear, Gui Wan was also extremely doubtful, is this youth really the one who cut off Prince Duan’s wings within half a year, and helped the Emperor to remove several ruthless veteran officials? The rumoured brutality, and the water-like pureness before her eyes, just which one is real?

Noticing Gui Wan’s heavy silence, Guan Xiu Wen also knits his brows together, asking: “What’s wrong? Is there something not to your liking?”

Smiling, Gui Wan takes away her inquiring eyes, suddenly hearing a burst of collision sound, she turns around in surprise, one box under the carelessness of a servant, has fallen to the ground, the things inside the box spills out, beads of jade glass pours out just like that, causing a noisy sound of clear ringing, an underlying halo light flows out, spilling out an entire floor of stars.

Such a valuable gift again, Gui Wan wryly smiles, really unable to understand his intentions. If it is to say him returning her grace, he has already paid it all off. But if to speak of other intentions, sometimes when he sends her gifts, as long as she says she likes it, he will be satisfied just like that, could it be that all this is just to get her to say she likes it?

“Xiu Wen……” Wanting to say some words of persuasion, but does not know where to start.

“Do you like it? This is of the high quality glass, such shine embellished with glamour, is of the highest of the highest quality goods.” His eyes like clear water, Guan Xiu Wen looks at Gui Wan with such hopeful eyes, an expression as though he wants her confirmation.

Swallowing down the words she wanted to say, “……like.” If she rejects it, just like the first time round, this youth would probably completely destroy all the treasures.

Receiving a definite answer, Guan Xiu Wen finally puts his heart at ease, under Gui Wan’s signal, he takes a seat at the guest spot, his eyes following Gui Wan’s movement, the smile on his face unchanging.

“The imperial court is busy with state affairs, you are already a minister close by his majesty’s side, how could you have the leisurely time to come here?” Not knowing what to say, she could only casually ask this.

Very lightly taking a sip of the scented tea, Guan Xiu Wen answers in a neither rushed nor impatient manner: “I have come today, to discuss matters with Teacher.”

Discuss with Lou Che? What matter is this? Such suspecting question flashes by, Gui Wan laughing says: “Could it be that something big has happened within the imperial court?” Lou Che has practically entered a retreated state this past half of the year, officials who drops by has also gradually decreased, exactly what matter could there be, that requires discussing with him right now?

“Something big is indeed happening within the imperial court, his majesty wants to establish an academy, primarily above the six ministries, to share the burdens of the prime minister and six ministries.” Guan Xiu Wen clearly explains the reasoning, towards Gui Wan, he has not even the slightest of wariness.

Her lips gently curls up upon hearing this, Gui Wan shows her disdain, this is clearly Zheng Liu’s way to seize power, wanting to gradually overstep the power of the prime minister and the six ministries, concentrating his own imperial power, having said that, this is indeed a greatly effective approach.

“But, finding Teacher today, is not because of this matter……” Guan Xiu Wen smiles as he continues speaking.

Gui Wan looks towards him, meeting her eyes is Guan Xiu Wen’s orbs like a quiet lake that appears bottomlessly deep.

Doubts secretly accumulating within her heart, Gui Wan diverts to another topic, all the topics she picks were all interesting news and stories regarding matters within the court, beating around the bush without a trace, hoping to be able to unearth some revelations. Guan Xiu Wen openly speaks without a sense of guilt, seeming to have no hesitation, but only towards the real purpose for finding Lou Che today, does he keeps his lips sealed.

The faint fragrance of tea indoors, blends in with the plum blossoms and snow scenery outside the window, the two people pleasantly chats, pretty much with joy filling the air. Speaking of the interesting news within the palace, Guan Xiu Wen mentions: “Ever since Lady Consort Yin got pregnant, within the imperial palace right now, it can be described to be in a state of extreme nervousness[3], afraid that something similar to Consort Ying will happen.” Once he finished saying this, his expression was somewhat unnatural, observing Gui Wan’s face.

Seeing that the look in his eyes carries three points of attentiveness, Gui Wan feels more vigilant at heart, continuing to smile, asking: “Lady Consort Ying……how is she?”

“Although not as doted on as before, but his majesty has not mistreated her either.”

Able to pick out the pretty cynical tone in his words, Gui Wan smiles, this youth still carries such pure naivety, his unreasonable hate towards Consort Ying, is also more or less due to feeling she has done her wrong right?

Just when the two of them were in the middle of chatting, a slender moon-white figure slowly approaches from outside the hall, before the person enters, his voice travels in first: “Gui Wan, which esteemed guest has come by?”

Guan Xiu Wen places down the tea in hand, instantly standing up, “Teacher.”

“So it is Xiu Wen ah.” Sounding a pointless greeting, Lou Che’s attitude is neither cold nor warm.

“Teacher, student has come today, wanting to discuss a matter with Teacher.”

Seeing him directly speak in such upfront manner, Lou Che was slightly stunned, then raises a cold smile, his eyes looking Guan Xiu Wen from head to toe, seeming as though it is the first time he had met him, his speech like a light satirical laughter: “Every time I see you, it just gives me a kind of feeling as though looking at you in a different light.”

Guan Xiu Wen raises his head, looking directly into Lou Che’s eyes, answering with a clear resonant voice: “Thanking Teacher’s praise, all has come from Teacher’s cultivation of grace.”

Lou Che puts on a smile, looking towards Gui Wan, his orbs appearing veiled, in the end, he does not say a word, turning around to accommodate to Guan Xiu Wen, the two of them heading into the study room to discuss matters, the floral hall is suddenly left a hall of coldness.

Gui Wan sits in her original spot, picking up the tea, the tea is already cold, the fragrant already gone, taking a sip without minding this, she places down the tea cup, coldly sighing out loud: “Clearly is a cup of tea, once cooled down the taste is actually different, it really is a few points similar to that of people……” Turning her head as she smiles and ask Ru Qing who had been standing by the side all this time, “Don’t you think so?”

Ru Qing was stunned at first, and then nods her head, heavily responding with a sound of: “Yes, Madam.” Giving rise to a wave of lightly laughter from Gui Wan.


Like the first snow, prideful plum blossoms, the breeze during spring carries a fragrance.

Plum blossom fragrance faintly leaks into the hall through the window, seemingly lingering with worries. Gui Wan silently observes the scenery outside the window, time sneaks away within such silence. Two whole hours have passed by, even Ru Qing was growing impatient, wondering to herself: exactly what matter is Lord Prime Minister and First Ranked Scholar Guan discussing, to actually take up so much time?

The time of waiting, seems to be passing even slower.

Fire, within her chest there seems to be a small ball fire burning, disturbing Gui Wan’s thoughts. Mind temporarily blank, temporarily chaotic, she was practically unclear of what she herself was thinking about, but the scenes before her eyes were flying around and around, deep down she could not help but wonder, the situation of leisurely and carefree mood this past half of the year, was it a dream or was it real? Right now within the study room, are they discussing power of profit?

The sheer cunningness and falsehood within this Capital City, the intrigues within the imperial palace, is it of power, or is it of status bewitchment?

Making a sudden turn of the head, entering her eyes were Ru Qing’s face of impatience, Gui Wan just silently smiles, her heart calming down a few points. Wait, only waiting……what she is waiting for is perhaps not the result, but the start of a new round.

Finally spotting Lou Che, Guan Xiu Wen’s figures, the two people slowly making their way over, both faces carrying a smile, unable to distinguish whether it is real or fake, gradually closing in.

Only just stepping into the hall, Lou Che speaks with an additional apologetic tone within his usual gentle one: “Gui Wan, I need to enter the palace this once today, looks like, accompanying you to tour the mushroom garden will have to be postponed.”

Her heart receives a slight surprise, Gui Wan’s face was unchanging as she nods her head, although between them, there were actually no arrangements to go touring whatever this mushroom garden is.

Guan Xiu Wen chimes in from the side: “Teacher, there is not much time, let us quickly enter the palace.”

Lou Che walks upfront, lightly hugging Gui Wan, his body temperature lightly transmitted onto Gui Wan, lowering his head onto Gui Wan’s neck area, lightly speaking as though he’s a mosquito, he whispers into her ear: “I’m sorry, Gui Wan, wait for my return.” His voice can only be heard by the two of them, his expression hidden, not one person could see it.

Heart turning cold, with the feeling of gradually sinking, the fine tone of this light voice was actually heavier than a thousand jin[4], pressing down on Gui Wan to the point where she did not even know how to breath for a moment, lightly gritting her teeth, Gui Wan says: “This is the decision you made?” (Jīn /斤 - a weight measurement, approximately twelve kilograms)

“No, this is the decision the heavens made.” Letting go of the person in his arms, Lou Che smiles as he speaks this, the melancholy just now seeming like a dream, turning around to head off, Guan Xiu Wen bows in signal of his leave, and then follows after.

Gui Wan coldly observes their back figures, watching them blend into the snowy scene, Lou Che actually did not turn his head back again, leaving without a look back. Her vision blurs, within her eyes only the vast whiteness and brilliant dots of red remains. The brewing tears in her eyes, were warm, were sour, also pinned with a little sadness. Opening her eyes wide, in the end, the tears did not fall.

Up until it was deep into evening hours, Lou Che had still not returned. Gui Wan felt her body grow increasingly cold the longer she sat, finally unable to withstand it, she stands up, ordering Ru Qing, Ru Ming who were serving by the sides: “Go prepare our belongings, we’re leaving this place.”

The two maids found it rather incomprehensible, but did not ask anything, immediately acting upon the orders. Having only just walked out of the hall, the old housekeeper was already running in from the courtyard in panic. The old housekeeper usually the most calm when carrying out tasks, when has he ever appeared so anxious? Gui Wan upon seeing the situation, face immediately pales. At this moment, that hoarse aged voice of panic travels in from outside: “Ma……Madam, something bad has happened……

The two maids were stunned by the old housekeeper’s panic, standing within the courtyard, not knowing whether to enter or withdraw, receiving Gui Wan’s signal, they once again return inside the hall, the old housekeeper desperately pants, face suddenly turning pale, suddenly turning red, forcefully blurting out: “Madam, something bad……something bad has happened, there’s……there’s imperial troops besieging the Prime Minister Estate. I heard Lord Prime Minister has ran into trouble within the palace……”

The retainers and maids within the hall also look at one another upon hearing this, panic showing, this Prime Minister Estate is the most prestigious official residence within the Capital, one shock at the Prime Minister Estate, and the entire Capital shall be shaken, the usual amount of officials visiting has already gradually decreased, didn’t think that today they would actually encounter such a situation, how could those within the Prime Minister Estate not be panic stricken?

Clearly knowing that Lou Che’s trip into the palace today will definitely be a tricky one, but she did not expect that the resulting disaster would actually hit them this fast, there is simply no time to react to such change. Gui Wan carefully looks around from the corner of her eyes, taking in everyone’s panicking state, although anxious deep down, her face has already kept all emotions in control, enforcing calmness, staring into the courtyard where darkness has concentrated.

Affected by her composure, the panicking state within the hall also fades, the situation inside the hall and outside in the courtyard sinks into stillness with not a single sound, in this darkness, first there was one, and then many more dots of lights, slowly flooding into the courtyard like a tidal wave, a moment later, the imperial troops’ fire lights up the entire courtyard, bright like that of daylight. Lin Rui En stands in centre, by the sides there stands a person in casual grey robes, neither dark nor light, it was actually the one who acted like as a double agent, the palace’s head eunuch, Li gong-gong.

The two people comes up to the open hall, watching Gui Wan leisurely sit there, seemingly smiling as she suspiciously watches the imperial troops within the courtyard. Li gong-gong first steps forward, his shrill voice drawing out people’s annoyance: “Madam Lou, coming to the Prime Minister Estate today under imperial orders, Prime Minister Lou has took Consort Ying away as they secretly fled the back palace, right now are they or are they not staying within the estate, please invite them out to speak.”

A fine finger gentle stroking across her lower cheek area, Gui Wan slightly knits her brows, the moment she heard of the news, her heart seems to have been pricked by invisible needles, pain flooding out, sourly finding it difficult to suppress. Recalling what the Empress has once said, Lou Che sure enough could not throw aside his inner concerns, and left her to sink into a dilemma, heart lighting up in fire, despite being angry to the extreme, she instead smiles, a melodic voice sounding: “Li gong-gong is so socially active and resourceful[5], indeed far above the typical, don’t know what residential rank gong-gong is right now?”

Li gong-gong was stunned at first, watching this Madam Lou’s idle attitude, he was secretly amazed deep down in his heart, answering: “Entering the palace at the age of eight, now having the head eunuch of the inner palace, residential rank five.” His tone arrogant, quite a show of immense proudness.

Gui Wan takes a look at him, sneering: “Rank five? A merely rank five wants to pin a sin onto the current court’s prime minister? Could it be that gong-gong does not understand the laws of the land, only those from the third rank and above can condemn the senior officials outside of court, not to mention you reside within the inner palace, since when can you interfere with the affairs of the state?”

One round of reprimanding, with reasons, with evidence, Li gong-gong was instantly stunned speechless, not knowing how he is to react. Usually assuming dominant air within the palace, he has not yet thought that, today, amongst the gathering of a big crowd, he would actually be taunted beyond endurance by a seeming tenderly frail woman, under the shinning firelights, his face was both pale and thundering, hatred planted within his heart.

Lin Rui En sees that the situation does not seem right, and could only intercept: “May Madam not feel offended, towards today’s matter, his majesty only wants to figure out what happened. If you were in any way offended, please show a little forgiveness.” Using the firelight to look towards the woman on the chair, in the end his heart just cannot bear it, tone spoken with such sincerity.

Gui Wan looks into Lin Rui En’s water-clear orbs, her heart gently flutters, slightly calming her anger, taking a glimpse of that awkward expression of Li gong-gong, she knows that her doings just now has already angered this eunuch, which would definitely lead to following disasters in future, keeping note to herself, if there is a chance, she must first get rid of him. Her fired up anger has already been drained, emotions has also calmed down a lot, guessing from the situation in which they came in, Lou Che entered the palace and took away Consort Ying……within the back palace, how did he possibly take away a consort under everyone’s watchful eyes? Thinking about it from another point, she recalls the secret door in Yu Gan Hall, could it be that Lou Che also knows of this secret passage?

Thinking up to here, Gui Wan seriously speaks: “My husband entered the palace yet to return, I have not even inquired the palace about him, how is it that you contrarily come to the Prime Minister Estate in search?”

Today’s set game has clearly been planned by Zheng Liu. Half a year ago, maliciously framing Prince Duan, in such sudden lightning speed manner, ridding him off his potential power, originally wanted to take the opportunity to strike down Lou Che, regrettable that Lou Che never allows a single drip to leak by him, he could not possibly relentlessly strike him. Whilst concentrating his imperial power, in the situation of wanting to establish the inner and outer court, Lou Che has undoubtedly become an obstacle again, that is why, right now he can only follow the same plan, frame Lou Che. Consort Ying, this major pawn, really is of great use ah……

Her heart coils around this issue, emotions rolls within Gui Wan’s chest, a bitter and sour feeling overflows her heart, unable to hold it back, the tears overfills and thus drops, only one drip, and she reaches up to cover her cheek, covering the tear, within a blink of an eye, her expression once again returns to its usual state. Within the hall, everyone’s hearts were in a nerve wreaking state, not one person noticed, only Lin Rui En’s attentive eyes were locked onto her, his heart trembles, brows knitted, body standing still, unmoving.

Looking at everyone outside the hall, Gui Wan composes herself, Lou Che was not held back in the palace today, Consort Ying has also disappeared, this scandal, with no basis, no evidence, the Emperor also cannot possibly announce the news to others, let alone convict them, everything can only be dealt with secretly, this is the only turning point within the whole matter!

The hall suddenly falls into silence, other than the burning sound of fire, not one person dared to speak up, Li gong-gong’s face turns cold, seeing the atmosphere stiffen, without hesitation, he turns his eyes, glancing over towards Lin Rui En, but actually finds him staring intently at Madam Lou, revealing an expression of slight concern, secretly scoffing at him deep inside: what cold general? In face of beauty, half of his soul has already been ditched. Clearing his throat, he speaks up: “Madam Lou, the matter happened so suddenly, his majesty also only wants to figure out the situation, with no meaning to convict a crime, getting to the bottom of things, it this not what everyone hopes for?”

“Gong-gong’s words are extremely right, but, if no crime has been convicted, the imperial troops entering the Prime Minister Estate, what is this all about then?”

“This is but only a regular course of official duties, I have received imperial orders to take charge, wanting to invite Prime Minister Lou back into the palace to clarify the facts, Madam Lou, please will you forgive me.” Having said that, he sends a few eye signals towards the imperial troops besides him, the imperial troops immediately disperses, a few of them charges into the living room, the others dispersed into different areas of the Prime Minister Estate, actually searching around the place.

Listening to him personally speak of imperial orders, she knows he’s a wolf assuming the tiger’s dominance, Gui Wan coldly watches on, watching them search, after observing for a while, she feels that the matter does not seem to be an act, could it be that right now, Lou Che has really disappeared along with Consort Ying? Her heart is met with a burst of irritation. The imperial troops very quickly returns to the courtyard, the results they have come for has not been found, Li gong-gong’s expression also turns a little green.

Looking at him with slight disdain, Gui Wan lightly laughs, “Li gong-gong, right now I should be the one asking, where is husband, right? Receiving no news after entering the palace, could it be, this imperial palace can also consume people?”

Li gong-gong does not speak, his face growing increasingly gloomy, Lin Rui En’s solemn voice travels into her ears, “Madam, Prime Minister Lou entering the palace is not false, but right now, he is already no longer in the palace, this is also an undeniable fact.”

Looking at him seriously, Gui Wan does not speak, Li Yu’s words, she does not believe more than half of it, but with Lin Rui En speaking up, she cannot not consider the authenticity of this situation.

“General Lin, exactly who was it that saw my husband and Lady Consort Ying……” The following words were stuck in her throat, Gui Wan hides her anger.

The orbs that were pinned onto her reveals a shallow light of tenderness, Lin Rui En smiles in consolation: “Madam mustn’t be anxious, this matter was seen by Lord Shou and two maids within Jing Ye. As for what exactly the truth is, right now, we are still unable to reach a conclusion.”

Lightly nodding her head, Gui Wan hooks up a smile in appreciation, this general who just always carries three points of coldness, has given her a type of inexplicable sense of security, even across half the hall, standing opposite one another, she still trusts him.

Li gong-gong looks towards Lin Rui En in blame, thinking to himself, how could he come clean like that; turning his head, he says to Gui Wan: “Madam Lou, now that the matter can be said to be unclear, yet we have accepted imperial orders, returning just like this would be difficult to explain, his majesty has said prior to departure, if Prime Minister Lou cannot be found, then we shall wait, if Prime Minister Lou is to not show up for one day, then we shall wait a day, if this brings along inconveniences to Madam’s daily life……”

“Li gong-gong means to leave behind imperial troops within the Prime Minister Estate to monitor me?”

Shadily sounding a laugh, Li gong-gong laughingly says: “If Madam wants to think that way, then there is nothing that can be done, I too am helpless ah.”

Tightly pressing her lips together, Gui Wan’s sitting body has already turned completely ice-cold, the power struggle today, she practically has no escape route, could it be that she really has to be kept under house arrest, waiting until the very moment Lou Che shows up? The skies seems to have gotten colder, her entire body turning numb.

Everyone within the Prime Minister Estate all reveals a look of anxiety, the situation is pressing, the Prime Minister Estate right now has no military power, there is no one that can help them, and can only be trampled on by others. The situation once again falls into freezing point, fixed in deadlock.

Outside in the courtyard, a tall and slim figure approaches, jogging along the way to the hall’s doors, walking up to Li gong-gong’s side, whispering something into his ears.

Lin Rui En walks closer into the living room, walking up to ten steps away from Gui Wan: “Madam, her highness the Empress has just laid down a decree, inviting you to stay in the palace for a few days to accompany her.”

Li gong-gong says from the side: “Madam truly is blessed with good fortune, to even receive her highness the Empress’ loving grace right now.”

Upon hearing this, Gui Wan was neither worried nor joyful, leisurely calm to the point where she practically showed no expression, carefully thinking about it for a while, up until that Li gong-gong had already revealed an impatient look, and only then did she gradually stand up, slowly stepping into the centre of the living room, a shallow smile as she replies: “That being the case, I shall stay in the palace for a few days then.”

Lin Rui En makes a little nod of his head, stepping away three steps, he takes a good look at Gui Wan face of fatigue, wanting to speak up, but in the end he does not say anything, turning around towards the courtyard, he orders for half of the imperial troops to stay guarding the Prime Minister Estate, the other half to return to the palace.

Gui Wan silently watches, purposely making a sudden glance at that Li gong-gong’s deep and shady eyes, beckoning her hand to call for Ru Qing, Ru Ming too make preparations. Within the hectic scene, she quietly organises her mood, this really is a last resort decision, rather than being trapped within the Prime Minister Estate, every step difficult to make, it is much better to go into the palace. First of all, the most dangerous place is also the most safest place, not to mention that she had already laid down some handiwork within the palace, half a year of resting and reorganisation has already given her a little bit of dependence; second of all, she really wants to know the truth behind this matter, and is also very curious at the same time, does the truth lie within the palace?

“Madam,” Lin Rui En walks up to Gui Wan’s side breaking off her endless streams of wistful thinking, lightly saying in a quiet tone, “A horse carriage has already been prepared outside, you can leave now.”

Regaining her composure, Gui Wan sweetly reveals a smile, “General, thank you.” Her eyelids half-down completely obscuring those deep, unfathomable thoughts, also overlooking the cold general’s moment of absence.

Li gong-gong breathes in and out the cold air, whilst taking the lead. General Lin and Gui Wan slowly walks out of the hall, stepping onto the path of the plum woods, within the darkness, even the plum blossoms loses its colours, the emptiness leaving only the clear fragrance that soaks into the depths of one’s heart, other than the dots of firelight, the entire universe seems to have sunken into the darkness, Lin Rui En suddenly lowers his body, Gui Wan stops in her steps, watching him gradually raise his body again, picking up an embroidered handkerchief from the ground, passing it to her.

From the snow fur coat, she extends her hand in acceptance, Gui Wan is filled with warmth, she can be described as one who will lose her power right now, yet this solemnly cold looking general is still able to bend down to pick up the handkerchief for her, in this moment of a full display of human coldness and warmth, such action is so valuable, it feels somewhat unreal. The dark skies enchanted by firelights in the dark night, the scattered lights floats across her heart, Gui Wan sighs.

“Madam, are you able to trust me?” Are the sweet fragrance of the plum blossoms able to whisk people off into intoxication? Why is he able to ask this question so easily?

“Perhaps I trust General more than anyone else right now.” He is trustable right? Time after time, he has saved her in moments of danger, the firm strength that embraced her as they fell into the valley together, the cold clear figure that stood within the rain, within the darkness filled with plum blossom fragrance, the floating shadow that bent down to pick up a handkerchief for her, can she rely on him in times of danger?

“May Madam trust in me, I vow, to guard you safe and sound.” It must be the plum blossom confusing people’s heart, to make him spit out such words, the outlines of that resolute ice-cold face appears to have softened, clearing up within the darkness.

Footsteps faltering, Gui Wan looks back in astonishment, wanting to get a clear look of something, but the darkness covered up half of it, the sight before her is somewhat hazy; wanting to ask, but at a spot not far away, Li gong-gong’s impatient voice of urging sounds, sharply cutting through the quiet air.

General Lin strides forward, speaking in reminder: “Madam, the skies are already cold and dark, let us quickly go.”

Gui Wan follows after behind, heading towards those dots of firelights, absently, what the road ahead is like, she is not sure.

In this cold like water night, she sits amongst the tall red tiled carriage walls, stuffed with the splendid of gold and jade, such dreamlike enchantment shadows, instantly wrapping around her.


[1] The last two lines from the poem Walking Along The Riverbank AloneEnjoying The Flowers by Dù Fǔ / 杜甫.

[2] To live life like an idle cloud, wild crane or xián yún yě hè / 闲云野鹤means to live a recluse and unconstrained life.

[3] State of extreme nervousness is described as cǎo mù jiē bīng / 草木皆兵which literally translates to [even] grass and wood are all like soldiers, meaning everything is on high alert.

[4] To be socially active and resourceful is actually referred to as cháng xiù shàn wǔ /长袖善舞 which literally translates to long sleeves are an advantage in a dance.

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