Lin Haihai stared at Li Junyue’s masculine features, a familiar affection returning to her heart. Drowsily, she said, “I want to hear you sing, Stupid Bear!”
Li Junyue clutched her hand tightly and began singing in a quiet voice, “Kisses, my dear. I’ll overcome tall mountains searching for the missing sun and moon! Kisses, my dear. I’ll overcome the sea looking for the missing rainbow...”
Her eyes dropped as she gradually fell asleep, and her serene face gained a touch of tiredness. Suddenly, she opened her eyes and asked, “Would you still stay with me? Would you keep singing for me?”
Li Junyue knew she was feeling extremely insecure. He covered her eyes with his hand and said, “I would never forget about the youth we spent together. I promised to keep the little girl protected. I’ll give your hand to your future groom on your wedding day. Sleep, little sister. Your older brother will always be around to protect you!”
Li Junyue remembered how his master had introduced the little girl to him. “Junyue, Xiao’hai would be studying medicine with you from now on. You must take care of her like you would your own sister!”
From then on, the little girl had been as important to him as a younger sister. He was two years older than she was, and they went to the same elementary school, middle school, and high school. During her third year in high school, she got into a car accident and suffered from a comminuted fracture. He had visited the hospital every day to catch her up on her studies at the time.
Sometimes, the pain of her injury would keep her from falling asleep. He learned the song My Dearest Baby by Wakin Chau and hummed it to her when she had trouble sleeping. She often refused to get injected with painkillers and instead endured the pain herself because he had let loose that each injection cost five hundred RMB. It was so expensive that she didn’t want it even when she was in serious pain.
He sang to her, told stories to her, read news to her, and described to her his time in college. Their life at the time was fraught with difficulties and trouble, but they could always see the rainbow. He promised then that he would come to her to protect her at once no matter what happened. Perhaps that was the reason why he ended up falling to the ancient times not long after she had transmigrated. He’d fulfilled his promise - He would stay with her no matter what happened to her!
A faint smile bloomed on Lin Haihai’s pale face. She closed her eyes and relaxed herself until she fell into a deep sleep. In her dreams, it was a sunny day, and everyone she had been missing was there.
Li Junyue injected her with progesterone and prescribed her some vitamins. She looked a little malnutritious. She didn’t need a lot of nutrients for the moment, though. What she needed was sufficient rest.
He stayed by her bed, keeping the darkness at bay. She had never fallen for someone so deeply her entire life, and when she did, she was forced to part with the man she loved. He understood her pain. It would be a long, uphill battle. He wanted to stay with her to face it together. In this foreign world, they only had each other. Although they weren’t connected by blood, they were closer than biological siblings.
Yang Hanlun hurriedly rushed into the room. Li Junyue put his index finger on his lip to quiet the prince. Yang Hanlun cast a worried look at the pale Lin Haihai and gave Li Junyue a questioning look. Li Junyue tucked Lin Haihai in before walking out of the room with his medical kit. Yang Hanlun followed him with a grave look on his face.
“How is she? Is she alright?” Yang Hanlun’s heart pounded when he noted Li Junyue’s dark expression, filled with a sense of foreboding.
Li Junyue sighed at the man before him. Both brothers loved Xiao’hai deeply, but neither were the perfect candidate for her. The sixth prince had fallen for Chen Birou earlier. Although he loved Xiao’hai as well, it wasn’t a pure and unique love. As for the other brother, well, there was no need going into that.
His silence made Yang Hanlun’s heart sink. Is it that serious? When he spoke up again, his voice was twisted by concern. “H-how is she?”
Li Junyue broke out of his reverie to see the panicked look on Yang Hanlun’s face. Hurriedly, he said, “Don’t worry, she’s fine for now. Just have her rest well!”
Yang Hanlun let out a sigh of relief and turned to enter the room. He sat by Lin Haihai’s bed, watching her pale but serene face, his heart filled with a myriad of emotions. His heart never felt settled when it came to her. Would it always be like this?
Li Junyue looked through the crack of the door at the lone figure sitting by the canopied bed. The candlelight illuminating him flickered and wavered. Li Junyue sighed heavily before leaving with a heavy heart.
When Chen Luoqing arrived at the hospital after getting the message, Yang Shaolun had yet to regain consciousness. He turned to Xiao Yuan solemnly and asked, “What happened?”
Heart clenched, Xiao Yuan told him the whole story. Chen Luoqing’s expression darkened. He knew Yang Hanlun wasn’t at fault here, but he couldn’t help but blame the prince for what happened. He’d grown up with Yang Shaolun. Before the man became the emperor, they were brothers who shared everything with each other. He knew Yang Shaolun never wanted to be an emperor. His ideal life was to freely wander the great landscapes of the world and find himself a woman who shared his dream. Then they would lead a happy life as free spirits.
However, fate dictated that he became the emperor. He had to give up on his dream the moment he took over the throne and prepared to shoulder his responsibilities. He didn’t ask for much. He wanted only a woman he could give his whole heart to. However, that woman turned out to be someone he mustn’t have! Their story was fated to be a tragic one. They were doomed to part and forget about the other!
Chen Luoqing noticed a woman dressed in black sitting in the corner, seemingly guarding whoever was inside. He took a closer look and recognized her as Consort Zhuang, who had been escorted out of the palace. Why would she be here?
He was about to approach her when Xiao Yuan stopped him and said, “It’s thanks to Consort Zhuang that this servant and His Majesty were able to get out safely.”
Chen Luoqing was caught off guard. “Why would she be in the Prince Residence?”
“My name is Wangchen now, Physician Lin’s personal guard and disciple. Don’t worry, I will get out of your hair soon. I’m leaving as soon as the patient inside is awake.”
Her cool voice was reminiscent of the way Lin Haihai talked. She had been imitating her without noticing.
Without a word, Chen Luoqing entered to take a look at Yang Shaolun. This matter must be kept from the prince. He told Xiao Yuan, “Announce to the officials tomorrow at court that His Majesty has left to visit the peasants with this general, and will return in a few days. Understand?”
Xiao Yuan understood the reasons behind Chen Luoqing’s instructions. He nodded and said, “Don’t worry, General Chen. This servant won’t let anyone know that His Majesty is here!”
“Alright. Return to the palace now. I’ll take care of the rest. Issue a decree for Official Luo to handle court affairs for the time being!”
“This servant will take my leave and entrust everything to General Chen!”
“Farewell, Xiao Gonggong!” Chen Luoqing had come to respect Xiao Yuan wholeheartedly after the time he protected the emperor from the assassins.
With his medical kit on his back, Li Junyue turned down the horse carriage prepared for him and left the Prince Residence, walking along the street on his own. West Street was lined with bustling brothels and taverns. Lanterns and colorful decorations made for a celebratory atmosphere. Customers laughed heartily with visible smiles, while prostitutes with heavy makeup raised their handkerchiefs and struck up alluring postures to seduce the men passing by. Lil Junyue walked past them without sparing them a glance. Everyone had a story, and many were unknown to him. He didn’t want to judge and speculate what made them who they were today.
Past the lively West Street and a few alleyways, Li Junyue found the Carefree Tavern lying quietly by the riverbank. Remembering the Heart Wine sold at the tavern, he parted the curtains and entered.
The owner was still the woman with a faint smile. On her fair face was a pair of brilliant eyes hooded by curled lashes. He nodded to her in greeting and sat down by a table. The owner immediately served him wine. It was the same white porcelain bottle. He looked up and asked, “Does it have a name?”
The owner smiled faintly. “It’s called the Heart Wine. It has a unique effect on those burdened with concerns. Perhaps it’ll be of help to you!”
Li Junyue narrowed his piercing eyes with a smile tugging his lips. “I heard it’s made with women’s tears. Is that true?”
“No, that’s Parting Wine. Heart Wine is made with women’s hope. The two are as different as night and day.” The owner smiled faintly. A strand of hair fell carelessly to her cheek, accentuating her womanly charm.
Li Junyue poured some wine into his cup and picked it up to take a whiff. His elegant expression tinged with a trace of interest. “Would you be interested in sharing with me the history of the wine?”
The owner sat down. “Have you heard of the tale The Magic Lotus Lantern?”
“Ah, the story about Third Holy Mother?” Li Junyue asked.
The owner was deliberate with the pace at which she told the story. “According to my master, the wine is a relic from Third Holy Mother, meant for men and women in this mundane world to find their path through the troubled water that is love.”
Li Junyue didn’t say anything. There were many moving mythical tales in China. It wasn’t a bad thing to believe in them. They could act as a shorthand in communication, at least. Now, for example, the mention of the story alone was enough of an explanation for Li Junyue.
“Would the Heart Wine show me a way?” He tipped his head up and downed the cup of wine.
The owner refilled his cup and pushed it to him with a smile. “You aren’t troubled by love. The wine won’t work on you!”
“Then wouldn’t this be a waste of silvers?” he asked with a touch of playfulness.
“You simply want to have a cup of wine!” the owner answered like she had seen through him.
“You’re smart,” Li Junyue said appreciatively. “May I ask about your name?”
“I’m Suxin. Would you return the favor?”
Light flashed through her eyes. “Physician Li from Linhai Hospital?”
“That’s me!” Li Junyue said with his hands cupped.
“Mister Li is well-known in the capital for your kindness and expertise. It must be three lifetimes worth of luck for me to meet you today!”
Li Junyue laughed. His masculine face shone like the sun. “That’s a little formal and disingenuous, isn’t it, Miss Suxin?”
“Suxin is speaking from the heart and telling only the truth!” Her tone remained calm and collected, her emotions an unchanging flat line.
“Truth or not, it doesn’t really matter!” Li Junyue filled his cup and savored the wine like he was savoring his life.
“That’s not the case, Mister Li!” A man dressed in a fine robe marched in. He was handsome with his fair face and sculpted features.
Li Junyue arched an eyebrow and looked at the approaching man with interest. He’d never seen this man before. It seemed the night was bound to be eventful.
“This gentleman is Zhou Junpeng. Well met, Physician Li!” A smile tugged at the man’s lips as his dark eyes landed on Li Junyue.
Li Junyue gestured at him to take a seat. “Young Master Zhou.”
“Since you’re going to talk, I’ll take my leave,” said Suxin.
“Please prepare a jug of wine for me,” Zhao Junpeng said politely. “I’d like to have a drink with Physician Li!”
“It’ll be a moment!” Suxin rose to her feet, the hem of her dress brushing past Zhou Junpeng. Without halting her steps, she walked away gracefully.
“Have I disturbed Physician Li?” Zhou Junpeng asked with a smile. He didn’t sound apologetic at all. Like it was only right for him to sit here.
“Does it matter? I’m not going to drive you away after you’ve sat down already, am I?” Li Junyue considered the man with wise eyes. He knew Zhou Junpeng hadn’t approached him just to greet him.
Li Junyue’s response seemed to have surprised Zhou Junpeng. After a pause, he said with a chuckle, “It seems that I have indeed disturbed Physician Li. However, what is done is done. Allow me to overstay my welcome!”
“I don’t mind. If Young Master Zhou is feeling lonely, might as well have a drink with me!”
Li Junyue remembered the time he spent in the dim and crude bar in Africa, drinking cheap beer with friends while listening to music that was more noisy than pleasant. The waitresses all wore heavy makeup, but their smiles were the purest he had ever seen. Even when he went alone, he would often find a couple friendly strangers to share drinks and chat freely with. Once they got drunk, they would bid each other farewell and leave for their homes.
However, it was clear to Li Junyue that the man before him wasn’t someone he could open up to!
1. In the story, the Third Holy Mother, the goddess of marriage and love, fell in love with a mortal man and gave birth to a child, Chen Xiang. She was later captured and imprisoned by her brother Erlang Shen as punishment. Her son went through many trials in order to find and save her. At the end, he succeeded, and the mother and son were reunited. The Lotus Lantern was a powerful treasure gifted to the Third Holy Mother, which was capable of dominating all monsters and celestials.