Chapter 156: Returning To The Capital

Caught off guard by his question, Lin Haihai was at a loss of how she should respond.

Noting the conflicted look on her face, Yang Shaolun said, “Tell me everything. Don’t leave anything out!”

Lin Haihai wanted to keep the truth from him to keep Mother Qin alive, but there was no point in her hiding anything since the statement the prefect got would tell him everything.

Noting the way her eyes shifted, Yang Shaolun growled angrily, “Are you going to lie to me again, Lin Haihai?”

Lin Haihai broke from her reverie and smiled apologetically. “No, no. I’m not going to lie to you. Why would I?”

“Then tell me the truth. I’ll ask for your opinions when making the judgement, but you must tell me everything that has happened!” Yang Shaolun said with resignation. She was a renowned physician in the capital, and yet she kept lying to him for trivial reasons like he was some gullible fool.

Lin Haihai put her hand on his palm and said seriously, “I can tell you the truth, but you must not get mad!”

“I promise!” Yang Shaolun straightened his back under her serious gaze.

“The day I was sold to Nestling Beauty,” Lin Haihai said slowly. “The procuress Mother Qin found out I wasn’t a virgin, and she summoned a few burly men to teach me a lesson...”

“What do you mean by teaching you a lesson?!” Yang Shaolun slammed the table, enraged. “This Emperor is cutting her down!”

Lin Haihai rolled her eyes. She knew she couldn’t tell him the truth. She shot a disapproving glance at him and said, “She didn’t do anything in the end. Are you going to listen to me or not?”

Yang Shaolun scowled darkly. He could guess the truth without using his brain! “You don’t have to. This Emperor knows already. Nestling Beauty must have been forcing regular women to sell their bodies, and Chu Zijun was their benefactor. Am I right?”

Lin Haihai was surprised. How did he know?

Yang Shaolun narrowed his furious eyes at her. “How did you get away? Is it really because you’re a princess consort?”

“It is. They let me go after finding out that I’m a princess consort and disbanded Nestling Beauty. I know their crimes were too great to forgive, and no sob stories can justify committing crimes. I’m not going to plead for them. You may do whatever you deem appropriate to them!” Lin Haihai resigned. She really shouldn’t speak up for them, or she would be wronging the women who had been victimized all these years. Those people were adults with full mental capacity. They had to take responsibility for what they had done.

“I know you pity them, Xiao’hai, but those kidnapped women might have a happy family or a man they were in love with who they were forced to part with. I’ve experienced that pain myself. When I knew you had been sold to a brothel, the anxiety and torment almost made me break down. When I thought about what you might be facing, I wanted nothing but to grow a pair of wings so that I could fly to you, worried that I would be too late to stop others from hurting you.”

The fury in his gaze dissipated, and his eyes brimmed with tears. The tremor of his hands revealed the fear he had been bottling up.

Lin Haihai’s heart clenched. She knew he would be the one suffering the most should anything happen to her. She could imagine his pain, because she would be as in pain as he was if she were in his place.

She threw herself into his arms and choked, “We must protect ourselves no matter what and not let the other worry, alright?”

“Alright, that’s a promise!” Yang Shaolun’s voice trembled, and his breath hitched.

Lin Haihai fell silent, remembering what Yu Qing had said. She said that no matter how successful a woman was, she needed a warm embrace to weather the cold reality of life. She had found her sanctuary millenia from her time. I hope you’ll be happy with Nan Guang forever, Yu Qing!

Their embrace remained tight and true throughout the night. Yang Shaolun was exhausted after days of searching and worrying. It was only natural that he would lose himself into a deep sleep with his beloved woman in his arms. However, he jerked awake in fear several times during the night. Lin Haihai would whisper sweet nothings into his ears to put him back to sleep.

Early morning came with bird chirps enlivening the beautiful scenery of Yangzhou. Located south of the Yangtze River, the picturesque city was pleasantly warm. Lin Haihai listened to the private conversations between the birds with the man she deeply loved by her side. Her heart was full with happiness, and a smile tugged at her lips.

Yang Shaolun rolled to his side. Lin Haihai quickly placed her hand on his chest to pat him gently. Yang Shaolun opened his eyes to her refreshing beauty, feeling touched and content. This was the life he had been dreaming about!

“Get some more sleep. You must be exhausted searching for me!” Lin Haihai covered his naked body with the blanket. It was still a little chilly this early in the morning.

“What is a little exhaustion going to do to me? I’m fine. Don’t worry!” Yang Shaolun pulled her into his arms. The way she looked right after waking up filled him with arousal, but she shouldn’t be having sex too frequently while she was pregnant. He would control himself.

“I wonder how Imperial Mother is.” Lin Haihai’s eyes stung when she thought about the empress dowager.

He smoothed over her frown and said gently, “We’ll return to the capital today. Leave the matter here to Xiao Yuan. He’ll deal with it!” 

“I can’t lose any of you, Brother Yang!” Lin Haihai broke into tears. The pain she had been pushing aside reared its ugly head when she thought about her parents and her grandfather from the modern day. It was excruciating to lose your family.

“You won’t, silly girl,” Yang Shaolun said as he wiped her tears away, his heart breaking for her. “Why would you lose us?”

“We’ll leave Chen Birou’s punishment to Yang Hanlun, okay? Let’s stay out of it.” Chen Birou was a pitiful woman as well. Everything happened because she suddenly took the position of the sixth princess consort away from her.

“She almost got you killed, and you want to show her mercy?” Yang Shaolun disagreed. She was the reason why he had been in such excruciating pain the past few days. She was the reason why Imperial Mother had fallen ill.

“Not for her, but Hanlun. Let’s not clash with him ever again, alright?” Lin Haihai tried to persuade him. They owed that to Yang Hanlun!

Yang Shaolun sighed inwardly. There was no telling who was in whose debt here. Imperial Brother had divorced her long ago, but he kept the truth hidden. As a result, the two of them struggled and went through unnecessary torment to finally reach each other. They didn’t owe him, not really, but it was all in the past. She could do whatever she wanted to do. Her happiness was the priority.

Yang Shaolun nodded. “So be it then. As long as you’re happy!”

Lin Haihai was conflicted as well. How was Yang Hanlun going to take the cruel reality? Someone as vicious as Chen Birou wasn’t a good match for Yang Hanlun. She could let her live, but she wouldn’t be staying in the Prince Residence. She would give Yang Hanlun the right to decide whether Chen Birou should be spared, but Lin Haihai would determine where the woman ended up. Chen Birou must be driven out of his household.

As soon as they were done cleaning up, Zheng Feng and Wangchen came. Lin Haihai peered at them. One looked bashful, while the other looked embarrassed. She exchanged a knowing glance with Yang Shaolun and smiled inwardly.

Xiao Yuan arrived after breakfast, followed by Suqiu. Yang Shaolun gave Lin Haihai a look and told Xiao Yuan, “The decision will be left to you!”

Xiao Yuan got on one knee and said, “This servant will carry out the order!”

“Xiao Yuan,” Lin Haihai called out suddenly. After some hesitation, she said, “Nothing. You should go ahead. Chu Zijun is General Xie’s disciple. You should consider how the matter should be resolved without embarrassing the old general.”

“Xiao Yuan understands!”

He rose to his feet and was about to leave when Lin Haihai stopped him again, “Wait!”

Xiao Yuan gave her a questioning look. “What is it, Physician Lin?”

Although she was now the head of the Imperial Physician Branch, he and the others were used to calling her Physician Lin, and they hadn’t changed the way they addressed her.

Lin Haihai sighed. “Spare their lives if possible. Death isn’t going to make everything right. One should live to make amends by serving the people!”

“Xiao Yuan will remember what Physician Lin said!” He could read the sympathy in Lin Haihai’s eyes. Physician Lin was too kind to have anyone killed, but Mother Qin deserved to be killed several times over for the atrocities she had committed. It was a pity that Sir Chu had gotten involved. Mother Qin had been trying to protect Chu Zijun in her statement, claiming responsibility for every crime and pleading for Chu Zijun to be pardoned as an exception.

Xiao Yuan had to make a fair judgement, though. Without Chu Zijun’s support over the years, she wouldn’t have been forcing people into prostitution so boldly. There was no place for pity when it came to a nation’s law.

“Xiao Yuan...” Lin Haihai hesitated. “Do what you have to do. Don’t make any exceptions for them. This isn’t some petty crime!”

“This servant understands!”

Yang Shaolun could tell how conflicted she was. He ordered, “Take them to the capital to await this Emperor’s judgement!”

Wangchen was filled with complicated emotions as well. Chu Zijun was like an older brother to her. She would naturally feel tormented by his arrest.

“This servant will make the arrangement and take them to the capital!” Xiao Yuan took his leave.

Yang Shaolun quietly took Lin Haihai’s hand. This was law, the foundation upon which he ruled over the nation.

Lin Haihai gave him a small smile. She wouldn’t make things difficult for him. She might be needlessly forgiving, but she wouldn’t ask him to break the law for her.

Chu Zijun returned after eliminating the bandits. He’d confiscated some weapons and rescued the carriers who got captured. The carriers thanked him earnestly. Lin Haihai gave them some money and sent them home.

“Senior Brother!” Wangchen’s eyes reddened when she saw Chu Zijun. “Why would you do something this foolish?”

Chu Zijun went up to kneel before Yang Shaolun, his face ashen. “This guilty official greets Your Majesty. All hail Your Majesty!”

Yang Shaolun looked at him with disappointment and pity in his eyes. “Since you’re admitting to your guilt already, this Emperor won’t say anything else. This matter will be left to the Court of Judicial Review!”

He didn’t have the heart to lay into him. Men often lose their rationality in love. He had been there as well.

“His Majesty is departing!” declared Xiao Yuan.

“Farewell, Your Majesty! Farewell, Consort Lin!” Officials of all levels in Yangzhou knelt before the imperial palace to send off the emperor of Daxing. A fleet of horse carriages were waiting at the door. Xiao Yuan had arranged for the culprits to be transported in a horse carriage under his personal watch, lest the crime reflected badly on the old general. It would be humiliating for his disciple to be taken to the capital in a prison wagon.

Yang Shaolun naturally would be riding with Lin Haihai, while Wangchen, Zheng Feng, and Suqiu shared a carriage. The group made their way to the capital under the autumn sun.

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houseau3's Thoughts

I do always enjoy translating the quiet moments