Chapter 29: Blizzard In The Capital
One hand lightly propping up her cheek, one hand holding a book, Gui Wan passes time in a bored manner. The doors makes a “gazhi” sound, she raises her head, Ling Long pushes the door opens and enters, footsteps seeming a little hurried, walking up to the low table, half lowering her body, whispering into Gui Wan’s ear.
“De Yu gong-gong?” Speaking with slight surprise, Gui Wan places the book aside, looking towards the doors, she deeply ponders. The Head Eunuch within the palace is requesting an audience outside the courtyard right now?
Nodding at Ling Long, seeing her leave the room in very hasty steps, Gui Wan braces herself, standing up, she gazes out of the window. These days, the inner courtyard of the Prime Minister Estate is as calm as ever, only the calm and joys of the servants in this courtyard is real, hers is actually half real, half fake, she understands that muddled thoughts are mixed within, only by being like this, is she able to spend day after day under the dark waves.
De Yu coming right now, what matter could it be for?
“Madam.” This refined and polite voice is the same as always.
Thoughts drifting too far, Gui Wan turns around, a person is already standing by the doors, of tall and slender stature, in a long royal blue robe, thin autumn air hung on the body, looking just like a gentleman from generations of a scholarly family, how is anyone to tell he is actually the current fair-headed one within the palace?
Upon a closer look, he may be containing a smile as he stands there, but that face is slightly pale, worries hanging between his brows.
“Gong-gong……” Gui Wan firstly sits beside the low table, Ling Long is nimble minded, and had already brought a seat over from the side, allowing De Yu to sit down, before his body is steadied, a cup of green tea with clean air overflowing, entangled with a shallow fragrance, is already handed over next to De Yu’s hand.
De Yu accepts the hot tea, but his lips does not touch it, with a turn of his arm, he places it back onto the low table, slightly lowering his head, appearing to want to speak but finds it difficult to open his mouth. After a long while, finally unable to resist this exceptional silence, parting his lips, hoarseness carried under his voice: “Madam, do you by chance know of the Shu Clan?”
Again with the “Shu Clan”…… “What makes gong-gong interested in this prominent family from the south?” Not answering and questions back, probing at De Yu’s underlying tone.
Shaking his head, taking the tea, he downs it all in one, after clearing his throat, De Yu finally speaks: “Perhaps Madam is not aware, the formidability of this Shu Clan,” Speaking up to here, perhaps he does not know how to describe it properly, he pauses for a moment, attracting the doubtful looks in Gui Wan’s eyes, organising his thoughts, he continues to speak: “His majesty has once left the palace for a day, it was precisely on the day of the herbaceous peony flower fair in the Prime Minister Estate, only returning to the palace at sunset, following him back, was also an additional person. His majesty summoned him to talk for an entire day, ever since then, this person has been secretly suggesting schemes for his majesty, should there be tasks that his majesty cannot do himself, it will be done by lending this person’s hand. His presence elusive, even gaining his majesty’s amnesty, I spent a great amount of time before I was able to discover, he is a descendant of the Shu Clan, heard he is called Shu Yu Hai.”
Hearing this name, Gui Wan’s heart is overcome with a chill, knitting her brows, “Shu Yu Hai?”
The descendants of the Shu Clan, one in the Prime Minister Estate, one in the imperial palace, conducts tasks stealthily, the deep meaning behind this unpredictable, look like it is their ambitious hearts thriving, coming here prepared. Lou Che should have picked out this point, the Emperor is no idiot either, just that the stakes at play here are unclearly intertwined, they both want to make use of the Shu Clan, occupying such high positions, there are many things to let go of because of this, to have the Shu Clan, those shady dealings that are not to be known to others, can be done with the lending of their hands.
One person’s capabilities has its limits, an entire clan’s capabilities is infinite.
“Gong-gong coming here today, is it because of this Shu Clan matter?”
De Yu lifts his eyes, suddenly springing up from the chair, with a “putong” sound, he was kneeling before Gui Wan, across the low table, Gui Wan was slightly surprised, hastily standing up herself, wanting to reach out to help him up, but was pressed back with those deeply heavy eyes. De Yu’s expression reveals solemnity, bleak and chilly from a distance, upon closer inspection, it is practically weighed down with a huge boulder, hundreds and thousands of pounds heavy.
“Madam, it is all my fault, failing to discipline the little eunuch’s mouth to be sealed tight enough, disclosing your matters to Shu Yu Tian, this Shu Clan is cunning, heart set on seeking power, I am only afraid they will turn their attention towards you, after thinking it over and over again, I just keep feeling this is not right, thus specially coming here today to confess my sin.” Once his words were spoken, he lowers his body, kneeling before the low table without producing a sound. The Shu Clan’s movements are much quicker than he has imagined, Shu Yu Tian directly speaking to Lou Che is already a matter that happened a few days ago, this point, De Yu naturally does not know of.”
Gui Wan was firstly a little shocked, and then leisurely smiles, “Gong-gong needs not be like this, this world holds so many sets of lips, one cannot manage them all, a little eunuch’s mistake, has nothing to do with gong-gong.” Sending an eye signal to Ling Long, Ling Long immediately steps forward to help De Yu up.
Who knew De Yu would continue to kneel there without the slightest intention to move, only bitterly smiling. Due to the loneliness of being alone in the palace, he wanted to dispel such feeling without much thought, one day, after getting drunk, he had let slip a few matters concerning the Emperor and Gui Wan, this was all heard by a little eunuch, only then did the information happen to be leaked to Shu Yu Hai. After this, he fell under immense regret, although secretly sending the little eunuch who leaked the information to his death, he cannot possibly recover an established fact. Unfortunately these words, he could only simmer in his heart, how could he possibly dare to tell Gui Wan this?
Seeing him kneel on the ground, unwilling to get up, Gui Wan also felt she committed wrong, it was her who single-handedly pulled De Yu into this complicated vortex, causing him to act in spite of himself, following her through the ups and downs, right now, for the sake of her benefits and her safety, he has actually come here to ask for forgiveness, how could this possibly not shake her heart? Actually finding herself speechless in this precise moment, after a while, Gui Wan stands in front of De Yu’s body, lowering her body to pull up his arm, “Gong-gong, exactly is it I who owe you more, or is it you who owe me more? You kneeling here like this, is it to make things clear between us?”
De Yu was slightly stunned, and only then did he stand up, lifting the huge rock from his heart, worries alleviating, taking a few steps back, glancing towards Gui Wan a few times, after a while, the tea has gradually cooled down, he speaks up: “Madam, may you pay more heed towards the Shu Clan, I am unable to stay any longer, and shall be taking my leave now.”
Knowing that he holds a special identity, indeed inconvenience for him to be staying here, Gui Wan nods her head, watching him respectfully bow towards her, the very moment he turned around, she could not hold back from calling out: “De Yu gong-gong.”
“Madam has other commands?”
“Did gong-gong secretly slip out of the palace today?”
Hearing those words, De Yu’s body slight freezes, warm currents running through the passages to his heart, knowing this phrase of Gui Wan’s is spoken in concern towards his safety, afraid that he will attract troubles due to leaving the palace without permission, with his back facing Gui Wan, he is still able to see, right now, her shallow smile like the curve of the new moon, eyes like the night, hiding the intoxicating effect of alcohol, brilliant like the stars.
“May Madam rest assured, leaving the palace today is for official business, there will not be any blunders.” Without turning his head back, he throws aside these words, and leaves just like that, just like how he came, grazing into the twilight, Ling Long hastily follows after him. Right now, not one of them knew, De Yu’s secret visit today, will be the last time he sees Gui Wan, leaving without turning his head back like this, in later days, actually became a regret.
Waiting till that figure completely disappears from sight, Gui Wa withdraws her line of sight, sitting back in her original spot, heart feeling a little uneasy, she stands up, pacing back and forth in the room two times, yet the unease in her heart grew increasingly heavy. Looking ahead into the future and thinking back to the past, he carefully thinks, sounding a soft sigh, she takes hold of a brush, writing two letters on the low table.
The first letter, is written to San Niang, the letter ordering for her to keep a close eye on the southern Shu Clan, should the Shu Clan have any movements that targets the Prime Minister Estate, may San Niang overcome the Shu Clan with all her might.
The second letter, is written to her older brother Yu Yan He, Jin Yang is very close to the foundations of the southern Shu Clan, in the letter, Gui Wan requests her older brother, when the Shu Clan’s power grows too large, without any hesitation, to directly press forward into the enemy’s lair, it is of utmost importance to eradicate the Shu family.
At this time, Gui Wan has already seen through the Shu family’s cunning means, wanting to gain advantage in between the dispute between the Emperor and Lou Che, using this opportunity, to form a stepping stone for the clan to stand above.
The dispute between the Emperor and Lou Che, she hides her understanding and acts like the fool, because this is a men’s world, this round of disputes, does not allow for others to intervene. She can only silently accompany Lou Che, in his spare time, a game of chess, a cup of tea, clear breeze widespread, accompanying her husband with a graceful smile.
Under this calm surface, she does not allow for anyone to obstruct or even harm the Prime Minister Estate’s interests from the shadows, even if she only sees a little warning sign, she must still seize and eliminate the dangers before it occurs.
Looking at the letters, ink yet to completely dry, she gently folds them, placing them into the envelope, holding it to the side of the candle, she watches as the candle wax drip by drip seals the opening, her anxiety, her melancholy, also seems to have been sealed within the hot wax.
Even if Gui Wan is this bright and intelligent, she would not have imagined, these two letters were still a step too late.
The changes through history will never come to a pause, even if one is to exhaust every scheme in their mind, with the lack of right timing and right location, in the end, it will only be greatly difficult to succeed. Just one light scribble of words in history, will bring endless poignancy and helplessness, and just how many pairs of naked eyes are slowly brewing such efforts that will always remain inferior, be it the loyalty of De Yu’s unannounced visit, the scheming of Gui Wan’s letters at night, or the composition of Lou Che’s mapped out strategies……
In the heaven’s recording of the fourth year, during mid-autumn, the luminance of the moonlight spills across the entire land, it was at the same time Gui Wan’s letters were sent out of the Prime Minister Estate, did a major event that will later change the outcome of this political dispute take place elsewhere.
Heaven’s recording of the fourth year, late fall, below Xia Xiang City Gates.
As night falls, the dark skies lightless, wind howling past, bringing a rustling chill, a man dressed in thick layers of silk clothing stands at the city gates, his shivering body make a turn with every few pacing, constantly rubbing his hands, as he occasionally hazes out towards the main road, faint white breath visible as he exhales.
“Lord Advisor, they’re coming, they’re coming!” Slightly weak and dim light quickly approaches, a city gate guarding soldier jogs up, the lantern in hand flickering, such sight appearing distantly void and unreal within the darkness.
Hearing the little soldier’s words, the advisor’s spirits were lifted, straightening his body, gaze locked in front. Sure enough, shortly after, the sound of rumbling carriage can be heard approaching, he heads straight to the bottom of the city gate in waiting. The advisor hurriedly walks forward in welcome, bowing his body, “Your honour, you had made a long journey.”
“Advisor Zhang, during the time I was away, was everything fine in the city?” The curtains are lifted, a slightly plump figure hops off the carriage with the support of the soldier, fur coat wrapping the body, face filled with signs of fatigue, right hand rubbing at his sore neck, left hand holding a box made from pear wood.
“Your honour, all has been well.”
“En.” As the governor of Xia Xiang, his first phrase is but customary words. Xia Xiang is a wealthy town in the southern area, a peaceful and happy society, he would not think that anything big will happen here, he vaguely sounds a reply, stepping off the carriage, he instantly senses the biting chill, muttering: “The weather this year really is unusual, already this cold at this time.”
The little city gate guarding soldier goes to park up the horse carriage, the advisor closely following after the governor, lightly asking: “Your honour, meeting with Prime Minister Lou this time you entered the Capital, is presumably a great gain?”
“En, the matter is urgent, tensions are running high during this time in the Capital, Lord Prime Minister’s side is hastening to press on.” Towards his own trusted advisor, the governor sees that no one is around, and speaks frankly, “Lord Prime Minister wants the southern region to join hands and form a unanimous opposition, then the central academy plans will be unsuccessful, if we let his majesty successfully establish the central academy, only using those close ministers, then what good will we still be able to reap? You see, this is Lord Prime Minister’s handwritten letters, wait till tomorrow morning, before we give it to the other ministers to look over.” A chubby hand lightly patting the box, the governor was somewhat proud.
He is one of Lou Che’s most trusted official in the southern region, gaining deeply high regards, close to the south, thus serving under Prince of Nan Jun, and under Lou Che’s care in the Capital, in recent years, has helped Lou Che consolidate southern forces, thus gaining a lot of merit, flushed with success, prospering in officialdom, naturally of a wide and fat body figure, upon smiling, the meat on his cheeks will even tremble.
“Your honour is wise, the day Prime Minister Lou alone gains all power, shall be the day your honour soar into the skies, this little one will require a lot of guidance and help from you ah.” Lips filled with compliments, the advisor and governor sharing knowing smiles.
The two people head towards city gates, the governor rambling about things he has encountered in the Capital: “Must say that this Capital City is better than Xia Xiang in all aspects, but the beauties of this Capital City ah, not gentle enough, how could they compare to the grace and passion of Xia Xiang women ah?” Words coming to a pause, he sees that the advisor is eagerly listening in, and once again speaks, “Having said that, there is one exception-- Prime Minister Lou’s madam, that is but a dear little lamb ah……a peerless beauty, but only such beautiful woman, is able to match up to Prime Minister Lou ah.” Catching that one glimpse in the courtyard that day, separated with too big of distance, he had not even managed to get a clear look of what Madam Lou looks like, but that elegance of hibiscus containing dew, even if that figure stood amongst the clusters of flowers, it still made people feel bedazzled, a stunning glimpse, difficult to forget.
The two people chatting and laughing, walking past the city gates, the advisor looks back, about to order the soldiers to close the gates, when a burst of hurried horse hooves rapidly approaches, the soldiers stops what they are doing, advisor and governor turning around, eyes met with only the rising of dust, and one galloping horse arrives below the city gates, within the darkness, the dim lantern is unable to clearly light up the person on the horse.
“Who is Governor of Xia Xiang, Prime Minister Lou has a message.” The person on the horse loudly shouts out.
The governor is stunned, he had only just arrived himself, and behind Prime Minister Lou’s messenger follows after, could there be new instructions? Not daring to display the slightest neglect, he walks up front, “What does Lord Prime Minister has to instruct?” Seeing the person on the horse beckon him forward, he knows it must be a secret message, cannot be heard by others. Nervously smiling as he approaches, the person on the horse immediately dismounts, leaning towards him; the governor’s mouth drops, raising his head to take a close look of the person, his face instantly pales: “You”
The advisor waits by the side of the city gates, watching the governor slowly walk over, speaking in private with that messenger, body is even shaking, seeming to be laughing. His body shrinks back, patiently waiting, but after waiting for a while, the governor is still maintaining that posture, heart hit with a chill, he jumps up in anxiety, just about to shout out, but suddenly sees that the governor’s body is already slowly falling, the messenger squats down, taking the pear wood box from the governor’s hands. The advisor’s heart rapidly beats, deep within this dark night, he seems to be able to hear his own heartbeat, pointing towards the governor’s location, he loudly cries out: “Assassin, an assassin”
The two city guarding soldiers upon hearing his cries, pulls out the swords from their waist side, unfortunately it is too late now, the messenger is as quick as lightning, the soldiers did not even manage to see his face, and had already died under his dagger. The advisor witnesses the entire scene, voice stuck in his throat, unable to utter a sound, legs turning numb, he kneels before the city gates, to no avail, his eyes is met with a flash of light……
The next day, news of the “Governor of Xia Xiang’s Murder Case” that thunderstruck the six provinces of the southern region, quickly made its way into the Capital City, a total of seven lives including the governor and horse groomers, not a single person survived, and this round of assassination, is but only the fewest number of deaths amongst the murder cases of officials from the southern region. During this same period, the crucial power holders of Xun Zhou, Hong Tong were successively killed. The biggest sacrifice being Governor of Xun Zhou’s entire family, thirty four lives, wiped out in one night.
And these three officials, are all powerful assistants of Lou Che’s from the southern region. This round of assassinations that thunderstruck the southern region, still yet to be solved twenty years later, whenever the commoners mentions this round of assassination, there is still lingering fear.
Dark clouds lay low, clear blue covered in boundless ash, the gloomy sky a misty grey, the northern wind picking up, only sensing prickling pain as it scrapes past the face.
Lou Che walks out of the study room, ink coloured cross collar robe complemented with black sable fur, ink green python patterned boots stepping along the light grey brick path as it produces rustling sounds, coming up to the crescent doorway, he hears Lou Sheng and the housekeeper discuss something from afar, taking a few steps closer, Lou Sheng turns towards him, expression looking even gloomier than this weather, he bows his head as he says: “Lord Prime Minister.” The housekeeper also bows after him.
Lou Che sees the nervousness revealed within their expressions, and is able to guess what they were discussing just now, only acting like he does not know right now, “Has preparations been made as I had instructed a few days ago?”
The housekeeper says nothing, Lou Sheng nods his head, “Yes, all preparation have been made, but Lord Prime Minister, doing this……”
“Enough.” Cutting off his words, Lou Che appears slightly impatient, his control over the southern region already falls far short from before, the killing of the three governors, has crushed his past few years of great efforts, today, the situation no longer allows for him to hesitate. The tip of nose suddenly senses cold, he raises his head, the sombre sky is actually filled with floating snow, thinly, slowly drifting in the air, the pavilion tower of the Prime Minister Estate is originally of exquisite craftsmanship, to be dyed in snow right now, bright and clear, such beautiful scenery it forms, really is heart moving.
“Lord Prime Minister,” Taking advantage of such occasion wherein he has drifted into a daze, Lou Sheng walks forward, a pair of hands lifting an object, “The day before yesterday, General Lin Estate’s sent this here, said to hand it to Lord Prime Minister or Madam, seeing Lord Prime Minister troubled yesterday, so……”
Accepting the object Lou Sheng was holding up, it is a letter and a lustrous jade that wins over the snow by a few points, Lou Che sinks into deep thoughts, opening up the envelop, inside there is no letter, only a note tucked inside, opening it, only two words: one year. Turning it over and over again, looking over the note over and over again, but is still only able to see those two words, Lou Che lightly creases his brows, unable to make out the meaning behind it, then looking at the piece of jade, ideally carved patterns, The Lin [林] character in middle, it is clearly the warrant pendant of the Lin Estate. Carefully thinking over it, Lou Che places the warrant pendant into his sleeve, his face expressionless.
The housekeeper advices from the side: “The snow is getting heavy, standing here too long will harm the body.”
Not caring for the housekeeper and Lou Sheng’s persuasions, quietly standing in the courtyard, up until the entire courtyard was blanketed in a layer of glittering white, did he leisurely say: “Gui Wan will definitely like this scenery.” Not waiting for Lou Sheng and the housekeeper to respond, he walks towards the bedchamber in the inner courtyard, with big strides, “Go prepare now, set off in two hours.” The housekeeper face is pale, Lou Sheng lowers his head without a word.
Every scene and every little thing within this Prime Minister Estate are all able to hold prolonged appreciation, seeing them in the eyes today, feels even more easy on the eye, Lou Che walks all the way here, quietly pushing open the doors, beyond the ajar doors, Gui Wan lies on the long chair, the room filled with cosy warmth, stood in the centre is a charcoal brazier, producing crackling sounds, fumes curling out of the incense burner, the light fragrance like orchids wafting into the nose, entering the room with light steps, he closes the doors, sitting at the rear end of the settee, quietly admiring Gui Wan’s sleeping beauty.
There is an old saying, a beauty’s spring sleep like haitang (Chinese crabapple blossom), yet his Gui Wan actually wins over haitang by several points, because the warmth inside the room, her skin reveals a clear baby-like texture, cheeks rosy red, such tranquil sleeping, just like Guan Yin (a Bodhisattva, known as the Goddess of Mercy).
Even if he were to spend his entire life accompanying this sleeping beauty, he will not grow sick of it, looking at her lovingly, time came to a standstill, tender warmth suddenly overflowing, Lou Che strokes her, such fine and smooth feeling under his fingertips, his heart makes a swing, the charcoal fire suddenly lightly sounds in the quiet room, shocking him back into his senses, toughening his heart, he gently shakes Gui Wan’s shoulder, watching her slowly awaken from her sweet slumber, opening her eyes, eyes appearing misty due to her deep sleep, facing Lou Che, she reveals a smile: “Husband.”
Lightly pinching her cheeks in a doting manner, Lou Che teases: “Look at you, how is this the appearance of the Prime Minister Madam?”
Neatening her collar, combing her hair behind her ear, Gui Wan’s elegant smile like chrysanthemums, “Husband, how is this the appearance of the Prime Minister?”
Thinking of how when in front of her, he indeed has not the slightest dignified and strict demeanor, Lou Che was momentarily speechless, seeing that she has yet to apply any powder, bright like the clear moon, long hair flowing, revealing a moist glow, he pulls her into his embrace, hand stroking her hair, unimaginably silky, not at all any less than the brocade fabric of Jiang Nan. A thought suddenly popping up in his head, he takes her hand, leading her to the dressing table.
Gui Wan sees him take hold of the bone comb, she says in surprise: “Husband?”
“Watch me comb up a beautiful hairstyle for you.” His hand is able to paint mountains, water, fishes, insects, able to bring to life, cao, li, zhuan, how could this little task of combing hair possibly stump him? (cǎo, lì, zhuàn - different calligraphy styles)
Amused by his words, Gui Wan leaves him to it, Lou Che’s hands are slender and very fair, so rare amongst men, it makes them all the more attractive, with the comb in his hand right now, it looks just like a little magic trick, after a moment of time, he was able to comb up a bun, simple and elegant. He looks around, picking up a hair pin, comparing it against her hair, but finds it too common, in the end he only picks up a silver hair pin and inserts it into the hair, matched with Gui Wan’s brows like an ink painting, light frown, shallow smile, all complementing each other.
Gazing at Gui Wan, Lou Che suddenly falls into a daze, his Gui Wan, is always faintly smiling, when the smile thickens, little dimples shallowly emerges on her cheeks, like the first appearance of day, also like clearing clouds revealing the sun; her pupils faintly distant, crystal clear at first glance, a deep pit upon a closer look, exhibiting the influence of extraordinary splendour.
His Gui Wan……
“Husband?” The sudden stop in hand movements alerts her, his expression unclear, Gui Wan stretches her neck, until she is able to look deep into those dark orbs, “What’s wrong?”
The softest spot of tenderness in his heart soars up, Lou Che grabs hold of her hands, “Gui Wan, you leave the Capital first, go up north.”
Hearing him speak like this, her heart is hit with a chill, Gui Wan dumbly stares at him, already understanding the meaning behind his words, can the situation no longer be delayed to this extent?
“No,” Persistent in refusing, “I am not leaving here.”
“Gui Wan, listen, you temporarily leave, no matter whether I succeed or not, I will still come pick you up. I heard there is a place in the northern region, is Qi Ling and the Nu Tribe’s trading land, calm and peaceful, is a great place to live in seclusion, you go wait three months for me there, in future we will be together day and night, is this not the life you wanted most?” Earnestlypersuading, Lou Che’s calm voice has the ability to thoroughly convince people.
Only Gui Wan, is not affected in the slightest, “No, I want to stay here.” Back then we agreed to share good fortune and misfortune alike……
“Gui Wan,” A stern voice escaping his lips, even Lou Che was stunned, when has he ever spoken to her with such authoritative sternness? “You staying here, I will definitely lose, only if you leave this land of rights and wrong, will I feel at ease.” Should he have to battle it out in future, the Prime Minister Estate besieged, he dares not imagine what the outcome will be like, his only concern is Gui Wan, only by keeping her protected, would he be able to take a plunge.
Shining eyes looking into his, other than the overflowing affection, she sees nothing else, Gui Wan’s nose is hit with a sour feeling, her insides spinning, only feeling like her heart is clogged with thousands of knots, also like insects gnawing at it, sensing a twist in her heart, tears surges up, rolling around in her eyes, but refuses to fall, she bites down on the bottom lip to the point of whitening, suddenly spotting red, her lip had been cut from the biting. Lips turning scarlet, such sight shocking Lou Che’s heart.
“Don’t cry, I naturally have a way to completely retreat, the secret passage in the imperial palace, has been personally passed down from the late Empress Dowager, even if it is the current Emperor, he will not be as familiar to it as I, three months, give me three months’ time……”
The windows in the room all tightly closed, Gui Wan stilly falls into a trance as she looks at Lou Che, thousands of feelings flying past in her heart, yet her mind is completely blank, heart wrenching in pain, never did she think she would have to face this type of scenario, until she is directly standing face to face with it right now, nor does she knows whether it is regret or hate in her heart.
“Lord Prime Minister, Madam, all has been prepared.” Lou Sheng’s voice sounds from outside the room, the two people inside the room remains silent.
Hand tightening, Gui Wan is pulled up by Lou Che, she panics, wanting to speak up, Lou Che’s face turns ashen as he takes the snow ferret fur cloak, tightly wrapping it around Gui Wan’s body, eyes containing severity that allows for no refusal.
The two of them opens the doors and walks outside, the entire sky filled with fluttering snow, glittering white covering the land, creating a realm of pureness within the world. Lou Sheng, the housekeeper, Ling Long, Ru Qing, Ru Ming queued up in waiting within the courtyard, because they have been waiting for a long time, every person is covered in a layer of frost.
Snowflakes descending, melting as it comes in touch with the face, not knowing whether it is snow or tears rolling down, Gui Wan is pulled into the middle of the courtyard by Lou Che, the man who usually dotingly lets her have her way with all matters, is abnormally resolute today. Her body not feeling cold at all, yet the chill in her heart is even icier than the snow, her vision blurred, not knowing what she is looking at.
This year’s snowfall has come so early……
Under the surrounding of the everyone present, she silently walks to the main doors of the Prime Minister Estate, three sets of carriages are parked on the roadside. Gui Wan upon seeing this, shrinks back her body, unwilling to take another step forward. Lou Che turns his face, amongst the descending of snowflakes, he too is finding it difficult to conceal an entire face of pained expression. One arm tightly wrapped around Gui Wan’s waist, he forcibly leads her out, deliberately not looking at her sorrowful face.
“Husband……” In front of the horse carriage, Gui Wan tightly grabs hold of Lou Che’s hand, unwilling to let go, clearly aware that her leave to him, is the solution to his future worries, yet her hands are very loyal in investing her feelings. A heart breaking sound of soft calling, can only cry out the bitterness from the bottom of her heart, how could she possibly still hold it back? The tears come pouring down, voice choked back with sobs.
Lifting Gui Wan onto the middle carriage, the two people, ten fingers interlaced, tightly closed without the slightest gap, Lou Che removes Gui Wan’s hand one finger by one finger, that stiffened face loosens upon seeing Gui Wan’s tear filled face, heart achingly cupping her ice cold face, but then feels those hot tears scalding his hand.
“Gui Wan, don’t be afraid, three months, I will definitely come pick you up. Don’t cry anymore.” With the increasing amount of tears in his hand, his heart starts to panic. How could he bear to see her shed tears, to him, her tears is the greatest punishment.
Barely managing to control herself, Gui Wan locks her eyes onto him, “Don’t let me down……” Don’t let down your promise, three months is but a short moment, but in this life, it goes hand in hand with her life and death.
Hooking up his lips, revealing a handsomely clear smile, Lou Che firmly nods his head, the snowflakes dances in the air, sometimes spinning, sometimes turning, falling on the shoulders, hands, hair, Lou Che takes out a white lustrous jade warrant pendant, stuffing it into Gui Wan’s hand, reminding: “This you can use on your way there.” The northern area is the territory of the Lin military family, compared to the Lou Estate’s warrant pendant, this is more of use.
The snowfall grows more vigorous, Gui Wan’s eyes blurs, wanting to grab onto Lou Che’s hand again, but he had already taken it back, with a turn of the head, he begins to command the others to set off.
Deliberately neglecting Gui Wan’s calling, only afraid his heart will soften up, and no longer will he be able to bear sending her away. Ordering for everyone to get on the horse carriage, Ru Qing, Ru Ming in one, Ling Long in one, amongst the three carriages, only Gui Wan’s carriage is heading north, the other two carriages are used to divert the enemy’s attention.
Lou Sheng walks up, Lou Che does not set any commands, only faintly looking at him, amongst the heavy snow, that scar also seems to have blurred, Lou Sheng also says nothing, solemnly nodding. Having been master and servant for over a decade, he naturally knows what Lou Che has entrusted him to, he silently nods, wordlessly telling Lou Che, he will protect Madam with his life.
Raising his head to face the sky, the vast grey sky, white snow overflowing, Lou Che no longer looks back, only standing there alone, listening to the sound of the carriage wheels, in his eyes, there is just a scene of white, only when his ears hear the horse carriages leave afar, does he turn his head, the tracks left behind on this plain white ground, leading far off into the distance.
He silently stands in front of the main doors of the Prime Minister Estate, only the plaque with the two red painted characters of “Prime Minister Estate” [相府] seems to show no change, crimson red revealing solemnity and heaviness.
In the heaven’s recording of the fourth year, early winter, Lou Che’s wife leaves the Capital, on the day of leaving, a sudden blizzard hits the Capital City……
 The original proverb used to refer to earnest is kǔ kǒu pó xīn / 苦口婆心which literally translates to toughly spoken words from the old lady’s heart, the toughly spoken words refers to patience and repeated persuasion, whilst the old lady’s heart represent great kindness and goodwill. So the phrase itself is used to refer to someone who sincerely and patiently persuades through repeated attempts.
[Additional Note] the original words used for Capital in the Chapter title is actually jīng jī / 京畿 which is what you would call the capital city and its surrounding territory, but to stop the Chapter title from getting unnecessarily long, I just stuck with using Capital.
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