The next day, the sixth prince issued Lin Haihai a divorce paper, releasing her from the title of princess consort. In the divorce paper, the prince expressed his deep regret and praised Lin Haihai highly. He explained how he had divorced Lin Haihai a few days after their marriage. Although he later regretted his decision, what was done was done, and he had no way of changing the past. He was now making the divorce paper public in order to return to Lin Haihai her liberty.
At the same time, stories about Lin Haihai and the emperor were spreading among the commoners, their tales told at dining tables and on the streets. The commoners had long grown frustrated with the sixth prince, displeased with the way Physician Lin had been treated. She was better than Chen Birou in all aspects!
In teahouses, taverns, and on streets, similar conversations could be overheard.
A number of burly men drank and pontificated around a table. A dark-faced man slammed the table and hollered, “I believe only His Majesty is worthy enough to be with someone like Physician Lin! It’s said that His Majesty has cut his ties with all women in the harem for Physician Lin. That shows how devoted he is to her!”
“Those women have nothing on Physician Lin,” a scholarly looking man said as he shook a folding fan. “Fortunately, His Majesty is a kind and just ruler. He’ll be a good match for Physician Lin.”
“But I believe no mortal men are worthy of Physician Lin,” a man said unhappily. “She’s like a celestial descending from the heavens. She shouldn’t get involved in such mundane matters!”
Such conversation could be heard in markets as well.
“Oh, how exciting that His Majesty has fallen for Physician Lin as well!” an elderly woman said among her peers, visibly pleased. “They make a perfect match!”
“You’ve lived more than a couple decades, Auntie Li,” her younger friend said with a laugh. “Put away the envious look on your face, or your husband will scold you if he sees you! We can’t possibly compare to Physician Lin!”
“Of course we can’t. I’m not envious; I’m just happy for Physician Lin! Haven’t you heard about their love stories? It was said that Physician Lin had run into His Majesty right after being divorced. They then worked together to save a life on the street...”
Again and again, people told their story nonstop!
Time snuck by quickly. Lin Haihai had endured half a month of daily torture. The empress dowager’s condition had improved substantially, and could now make simple movements with her limbs. Lihua helped her with physical therapies and massaged her every day, while Yu Qing treated her with acupuncture. After spending some time with Yu Qing, the empress dowager had taken a liking to the young woman. She then heard that Yu Qing had feelings for the sixth prince, which delighted her greatly. She had a few tentative conversations with Yang Hanlun, and her son never rejected the idea outright. That made her want to arrange a marriage again!
Lady Wen had been visiting the empress in her chamber to chat with her recently, but she was always somewhat distracted. Lin Haihai usually left the palace early in the morning, and Yang Shaolun always visited the empress dowager after morning court before seeking Lin Haihai out in the empress’s palace. Most of the time they missed each other. He rarely got to catch a glimpse of her rushing to leave the palace. Still, he visited every day on the off chance of crossing paths with Lin Haihai. Then he would leave after sharing a few words with the empress.
Lady Wen misunderstood his behavior to be for her sake, and she gradually fell deeper in love with the emperor.
Meanwhile, Lin Haihai had been looking for the Companion Couple. Now that Baizi wasn’t around, they were her only hope!
Naturally, Lin Haihai would attend Imperial Physician Chen’s wedding. The empress was dragged to the banquet too since she had nothing better to do. Yang Shaolun left the palace to meet up with Lin Haihai as well after finishing up with state affairs.
Since Imperial Physician Chen’s parents weren’t in the capital, Lin Haihai had taken their place as his master. The couple first bowed to the emperor. Then to the parental figure, a role Lin Haihai had assumed for the day. Lastly, they bowed to each other. Lin Haihai was filled with a bittersweet feeling as she looked at Suqiu in a phoenix crown and a vibrant gown. It’s a woman’s greatest joy to get married to the person she loves the most, but alas, that wouldn’t be part of my future!
She watched as Suqiu was taken to the newlywed room. Then she dragged the empress to visit and congratulate Suqiu.
Suqiu couldn’t be more grateful. She took out a fragrant sachet and handed it to Lin Haihai. “Suqiu sewed this myself. This is a gift to Physician Lin to express my gratitude. Hopefully it isn’t too crude for Physician Lin!”
Lin Haihai accepted the gift and said with a smile, “Now that you’ve become my disciple, you should call me ‘master’!”
Suqiu blushed and bashfully said, “Of course, Master!”
Lin Haihai chuckled and turned to the empress, only to find her friend staring dumbly at the fragrant sachet in her hand. The empress looked up at Siqiu with eyes brimming with tears and asked, “Where did you get the sachet?”
Suqiu was confused. “This peasant made it myself!”
“The flower patterns are your work as well?” the empress pressed.
“That’s right. What’s wrong, Your Majesty?” Suqiu didn’t understand the line of questioning, but she smiled and explained, “This is the flower of thorn apples, which can be used as medicine. Mister Wen has planted many in his garden!”
“Mister Wen? What’s his name?” Lin Haihai grabbed Suqiu’s hand and asked. Mister Wen… Could it be Wen Xuan?
Noting that Lin Haihai was anxious to know the answer as well, Suqiu hurriedly responded, “His name is Wen Xuan. He’s from Chen!”
The empress was rooted to the spot. Ten years. For ten years, she had been thinking about him, worrying about him, yearning painfully for him. All the emotions rushed up to her in an instant, and she silently called out his name. She had bottled up so much pain and tears over the years!
Lin Haihai put her arms around the empress and told Suqiu, “I’ll give you three days. Take me back to your hometown after three days!”
Suqiu nodded at Lin Haihai’s serious face. “I have to visit my family anyway. I’ll trouble Master to come with me then!”
Lin Haihai was grateful for her understanding. It was a lot to ask a newlywed to part with her husband so soon after their wedding, but the girl had come up with the excuse of visiting her family to make Lin Haihai feel better. It hadn’t been long since she left for the capital. She didn’t have to return so soon!
That night, Lin Haihai told Yang Shaolun, “I have to leave after a few days. I’m going to Suxin’s hometown to bring Wen Xuan back!”
“Who’s Wen Xuan?” Yang Shaolun asked in confusion. Hearing that Lin Haihai was going to leave made him uneasy.
“Chuting’s father!” Lin Haihai said with a smile. “The man the empress had been in love with forever!”
“Oh, him.” Yang Shaolun relaxed, but he still didn’t want her to go. “Why should you be the one to get him? I can ask Xiao Yuan to bring him here!”
“That won’t do. Ten years have passed, and many things can happen. There must be something they cannot resolve or come to terms with, or Wen Xuan wouldn’t have been hiding away for ten years!” Lin Haihai could tell that there was something fishy about the situation.
“There’s still no need for you to go in person!” Yang Shaolun wasn’t convinced.
“It has to be me. Don’t worry. I’ll go with Zheng Feng and Wangchen. You should focus on your preparations. I’ll be back soon!” Lin Haihai simply wanted to find out what exactly had happened. Her instincts told her that there was more to the story.
Yang Shaolun did a mental analysis of the situation. He had been worried about Lin Haihai getting taken by Prince Pingnan as hostage, which had been preventing him from going after Prince Pingnan’s followers. It would be for the best that she took some time away from the capital. “Alright, but you have to keep a low profile. Don’t let any news get out about your trip. It’ll be dangerous should the enemies find out!”
He could never be more careful when it came to Lin Haihai’s safety.
“Don’t worry. Prince Pingnan can’t do anything to me. He doesn’t have the power to, not at this moment!” Lin Haihai thought back to the man’s army of living corpses. They weren’t good enough to pose a threat to her.
“Still, you must be careful, alright?” He wouldn’t let her leave if he could, not even for a moment.
Lin Haihai broke into a love-struck smile. “I’m more worried about you. Remember to be patient and don’t do anything reckless. Get rid of his close allies one by one!”
She was saying so to have something to say. She believed he knew what he was doing.
“I will!” Yang Shaolun’s expression darkened as he agonized over how he should deal with the turbulence in the imperial court, but then he broke into a smile. He purposefully didn’t talk about political affairs with Lin Haihai in order to not worry her.
Three days later, Lin Haihai set out with Zheng Feng, Wangchen, and Suqiu. Time was of the essence, so Lin Haihai picked Suqiu up and carried her with qinggong to travel some distance. Then they hired a horse carriage and rode at its maximum speed, minimizing the time it took to get to Quxuan Town. Suqiu had long known about Lin Haihai’s martial art skills. Seeing Lin Haihai flying in the sky further deepened her admiration for her.
The empress had insisted on going with Lin Haihai, but she didn’t think it was a good idea when they hadn’t figured out what was going on. She promised the empress that she would bring Wen Xuan back no matter what.
It took them three days to make it to the town. Lin Haihai didn’t find the trip taxing at all, but Wangchen and Zheng Feng were exhausted when they arrived at Quxuan. Suqiu, meanwhile, was feeling alright as well. Lin Haihai had been carrying her the whole trip. She hadn’t even had to walk on her own two feet!
After a short rest, Suqiu took Lin Haihai and her companions to the Qiuyang Academy. Lin Haihai stared at the sign at the door. The simple calligraphy embodied tremendous pain and yearning.
She could hear children reciting in chorus. A beautiful woman was tending to the flowers at the door. She bore some resemblance to the empress, which surprised Lin Haihai. Who is she?
The woman looked up at the strangers at the door. She recognized Suqiu, and she asked with a faint smile, “Didn’t you go to the capital, Suqiu?”
“I’m back, Teacher’s Wife!” Suqiu greeted her.
Lin Haihai’s heart sank. Teacher’s Wife? Is she Wen Xuan’s wife? God, how is the empress going to take this?
“Who are your friends?” The woman stood up. There was an air of nobility around her.
“This is my husband’s master. And the two of them are my master’s followers!” Suqiu made a simple introduction. She didn’t go into too much detail since she didn’t know if Master would like it.
“Ah, greetings!” the woman said with a gentle smile. Lin Haihai looked at the way the autumn sun shone on her. Something about the image shook Lin Haihai to the core. She felt as if an era had passed in the blink of an eye.
“Hello,” Lin Haihai got straight to the point. “I’m looking for Wen Xuan!”
The woman wasn’t surprised at all. Smiling, she said, “Come with me. He’s in the study!”
Lin Haihai had Wangchen and Zheng Feng wait at the door before following the woman past the children’s classrooms. They arrived at an elegant room in the back court. The woman knocked on the door gently and said, “Someone’s here to find you, Wen Xuan!”
A deep voice responded, “Come in!”
The door creaked open. Lin Haihai walked in slowly. Sitting behind the desk was a handsome man. He looked up at Lin Haihai with confusion in his eyes. He had thought the visitor would be a student’s parent.
“Wen Xuan?” Lin Haihai asked.
“And you are?” Wen Xuan stood up from behind the desk and walked up to her. He was dressed in a long green robe that accentuated his scholarly temperament, and there was a jade pendant tied to his waist. Lin Haihai recognized the pendant on the empress as well. This must be the man she was looking for.
“Do you remember Chen Qiuyang?” Lin Haihai stared at him and asked.
Wen Xuan shuddered and paled before putting on a calm mask, coolly asking, “How is she?”
Lin Haihai didn’t know why he would act aloof. He was clearly stunned by the mere mention of the name. She stared at him and said in a pained voice, “Chen Qiuyang’s dead. I’ve come to ask you a question for her: Do you still remember her?”
Wen Xuan felt as if he had fallen into a pit of ice. He was chilled to the bones. He turned to hold onto his desk as the world seemed to rotate around him. He collapsed to the ground, falling unconscious as darkness consumed him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Before this I thought Wen Xuan would turn out to be a villain working with Prince Pingnan to take the empress back lol