Tan Ge returned to the room shared by herself and Su Xi-er, taking a seat by the heater as she held her hands out to the brazier. As colour returned to her cheeks, the anxious expression on her face slowly relaxed as well.


Su Xi-er also extended her hands above the heater to gain some warmth, her eyes darting between the heater and Tan Ge. At last, she stood up and touched her outer robes. It’s much drier than it was this morning after sitting next to the heater all day.


When Su Xi-er sat back down, she looked towards Tan Ge. “Why did he suddenly ask for you?”  

Tan Ge slowly said, “With how formidable he is, how could I know his thoughts? When I arrived, he just looked at me and didn’t say anything.”


“Is that so?” Su Xi-er skeptically asked as she stared right at Tan Ge.


Unable to match Su Xi-er’s gaze, Tan Ge lowered her eyes to look at the heater.


Su Xi-er softly chuckled and went to her bed, covering herself with her quilt before closing her eyes.


Watching her turn away, Tan Ge’s hand froze in midair for a moment, and her eyes narrowed. 


So it turns out that Su Xi-er was testing me. If I had revealed anything with my expression, she would have picked up on it. Having already lost the drug that Shi Mo gave me, this hairpin is my last chance.


Tan Ge gazed at the burning heater. I’m just like this charcoal either I burn more and more brightly, or I get extinguished in an instant. I’m using my own life as a gambling chip, risking getting burned in the process.


The sea was much calmer in the following days, and the boat kept a steady pace towards Dongling. As they continued to close in on their destination, Shi Mo had all of his men change into normal clothes to camouflage as a farmer’s boat. Even he himself changed into some blue robes, but he still kept his face covered besides his mouth.


Standing on the deck of the boat, Su Xi-er looked at the pier they were gradually approaching. She turned her gaze towards Shi Mo, noticing that the harsh aura around him had receded significantly with his blue clothes, replaced with a strange gentleness. She then glanced at Tan Ge, observing the latter’s concentrated stare that was full of anticipation and apprehension in equal measure.


The boat slowed down, preparing to dock at the pier. There were a few merchant and guest boats already there as tall and burly men busied themselves with moving goods about.


Dongling was famous for being a nation of water with its connection to four large rivers that flowed through the whole country. During the internal strife, the merchant boats going by the waterways were greatly affected. However, now that a new emperor had taken the throne, stability was returning to the country, and the citizen’s lives improved along with it.


The new emperor valued training the soldiers, setting aside much of the money for military supplies. However, he didn’t impose many restrictions on business and trade, with the freely flowing market alleviating the grudges of the civilians.


Hearing a crisp sound as the boat reached the shore, everyone alighted the boat. An ordinary horse carriage was waiting close to the pier.


Shi Mo pointed at the carriage in front of them. “Board it first.” He then gave a meaningful look to his subordinate.


Understanding his intention, the subordinate immediately took Su Xi-er and Tan Ge with him.


It was Su Xi-er’s first time in Dongling. Some of the commoners who were otherwise busy stopped in their tracks, stunned by the eye-catching pair of Su Xi-er and Tan Ge in their red dresses.


At this moment, the words from a certain someone flashed past Su Xi-er’s mind. “This Prince invites you and Prince Hao to Dongling.”


Yet, the new emperor of Dongling is not the former crown prince, Chu Linglong.

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Rakumon's Thoughts

Translator: Rakumon

Editor: Lunarlark