Surprised, Lin Haihai hurriedly helped him up and woke him by rubbing at his philtrum and pricking the baihui acupoint on his head. Wen Xuan stared at Lin Haihai as he sat up with Lin Haihai’s help. With a sigh, Lin Haihai said, “Do you know how much she missed you?”
Wen Xuan blinked. Tears streamed down his face, and the sorrow on his face was thick enough to drown him. Voice trembling, he said, “When did it happen?”
“Death puts an end to everything, be it joy or grudges. Would you be able to let go of the past and move on?” Lin Haihai looked at him sadly. She would be facing separation in the near future. She would be despairing like he was now.
“Move on?” He closed his eyes and sighed deeply, but in the end, his expression calmed at a soft exhale, showing composure that was only seen on an old monk. “I can finally move on!”
He slowly walked to his desk and sat down, looking up at Lin Haihai. “What did she want to say to me?”
“She said she had a daughter with you, and she was about to turn ten. If you haven’t yet forgotten about your time with her, you should pay her a visit!” Lin Haihai kept her eyes on him as she spoke, taking in all the minute changes in his expression.
Wen Xuan looked stunned. “Do you mean Yang Chuting is my daughter?”
Now it was Lin Haihai’s turn to be surprised. “You know Chuting?”
“I’ve stayed in the capital for two years. I know the emperor and the empress had a daughter named Chuting!” Wen Xuan said, dumbfounded. His heart throbbed with a numbing pain. He didn’t know Chuting was his daughter!
“You stayed in the capital for two years?” Lin Haihai couldn’t believe it. “Haven’t you thought about visiting her during those two years?”
“I tried everything, but in the end, all I got was a letter to sever our ties!” Wen Xuan laughed bitterly. Oh how he’d lived like a living corpse those days!
“She had never seen you since the day she was sent away to get married, and she had never heard from you. She thought you were dead. Two years after she got married, her sister visited her and told her that you had jumped off a cliff to your death! She wanted to follow you, but she had given birth to Chuting by then, which stopped her from leaving this world. She has been living in as much pain as you are, if not more!”
Lin Haihai teared up thinking about how the empress had been living the past decade. That would be her future as well. She cried for both her dear friend and herself!
“No, that can’t be!” Wen Xuan stared at Lin Haihai in disbelief. “I followed her all the way to the capital when she was married off. I never fell off a cliff. I spent two years in the capital, and Qiujing had been following me everywhere to take care of me. I exchanged many letters with Qiuyang during those two years. In the beginning, she seemed to still treasure our relationship, but slowly, she changed. She stopped responding to my letters, she stopped asking after me. Then she stopped writing to me altogether after she gave birth to a child. Qiujing visited her in the palace many times, but to no avail. After a year, Qiuyang had her sister give me a letter, telling me to stop chasing after her. She was happy, and she hoped I would stop trying to tarnish the status she had earned!”
All the words he’d been bottling up rushed out of him. His deep sorrow and resentment couldn’t have been an act!
“Qiujing? I assume that’s Qiuyang’s sister. She’s been accompanying you?” Lin Haihai gave him a disapproving look. How blind must he be to not see such an obvious trick?
“That’s right. I’m thankful that she has been staying with me!” He collapsed into a chair. He didn’t believe what Lin Haihai had said. The memory had cemented in his mind. For the past eight years, he had been loving and resenting the woman in his memory in equal measure. The two years he had spent in the capital crawled by second by second. No one knew how much pain he had suffered from!
“What if I told you that Qiujing had lied to you?” Lin Haihai looked at him seriously. “She hadn’t actually contacted Qiuyang. She visited her sister only once, two years after her sister got married. That was when she told Qiuyang that you had fallen to your death!”
“Qiujing lied to me?” Wen Xuan whispered. “Everything is a lie?”
“No, she’s the one who lied!” The door burst open, and the woman who had been staying at the door marched in, her pretty face twisting in anger. “She isn’t dead. This woman is lying. Think about it, the Daxing nation will be mourning the loss if their empress has passed away, but we’ve heard nothing here!”
Wen Xuan turned to Lin Haihai in shock. Lin Haihai openly met his eyes and said, “That’s right. The empress hasn’t passed away. I simply wanted to find out if you still feel anything for her!”
Lin Haihai could see joy passing through Wen Xuan’s face, but then his expression hardened into a dark scowl. He stared at Lin Haihai with piercing eyes and demanded, “What are you here for? Are you a follower of the empress?”
“I am!” Lin Haihai admitted readily without an explanation.
“Brother Xuan, I heard some days ago that the empress has established a plantation, and she went around looking for experts in cultivating herbs. That must be the reason why she sent someone here to find you!” Qiujing said gently. Her words told Lin Haihai that she had been keeping an eye on the empress over the years. Qiujing must have eyes in the capital to report to her about her sister!
“Is that true?” Wen Xuan’s voice hardened, but his heart was still aching. It turned out that he had never once let go of her even after all these years. “Is it also a lie that Chuting is our daughter? Did she tell you to say that to me?”
“I was the one who established a plantation, not Qiuyang. If you want to know whether Chuting is your daughter, I’ll be glad to do a paternity test for you.” Lin Haihai’s voice was earnest. “We must not blindly believe in what we think we see. Seeing isn’t always believing!”
“It’s been ten years. No more, nor less. Why did you come to me now? Did you know that my heart had been torn to pieces when I read your letter? I always gave you what you wanted, and my life is no exception. Fine, you’ve sent someone to find me. It’s enough even if it’s not for the love we shared. I’m content as long as I’ll get to see you again!”
Wen Xuan burst into laughter while tears dropped from his eyes. He didn’t believe a word Lin Haihai said. He had agreed to see the empress simply because of the love in his heart that never faded even after all these years. As long as he would be able to see her again. As long as they could meet, even for once, he would be satisfied!
Lin Haihai’s heart throbbed painfully. Who would be able to grant her the wish to see Yang Shaolun again in the future? They would be separated by time and space. She would never get to meet him again, not even once, even if she gave up everything!
“Are you mad, Brother Xuan?” Qiujing panicked, her serene mask broken by a trace of anger. “She’d treated you like nothing, and yet you’re going to visit her. Isn’t that just asking for humiliation?”
“You’ve never loved someone deeply, Qiujing. You don’t know that dignity and humiliation mean nothing compared to love. All I’ve ever wanted is to see her. I’ve been dreaming about it for the past ten years!” Wen Xuan smiled weakly. He resented her, but he still loved her. He wanted to see her for the sake of his love for her, but it didn’t mean he would forgive her.
“Then I would go with you!” You’ve never loved someone deeply. The words cut into her heart and made her bleed. If she didn’t love him dearly, why would she cast away ten years of her youth for him? Why would she resort to such schemes?
“You don’t have to come with me, Qiujing.” Wen Xuan stared at her with regret. “You should have your own life. I’ve dragged you down for too long!”
He felt guilty for not loving her! Qijing could understand what he had left unspoken, but she didn’t have a choice. Many years ago, she also had no choice but to make her sister the one to be married off to another nation!
Her face paled. Ten years, and yet she still couldn’t replace her sister. What more could she say? Her sister was now the empress, though. They would never be able to overcome that and get together even if both of them still loved each other. That meant she still had a chance, and that was all she needed to keep going. As long as there was a sliver of hope, she wouldn’t give up on him!
Lin Haihai turned away in sorrow. She couldn’t bear to look at the heartbreak in Wen Xuan’s eyes. Other people might not be able to understand him, but she understood. When you’d been separated from someone for so long, when you had been yearning for someone and would give up anything for a single meeting, it would be enough even if they ended up exchanging angry glances or wallowing in silence.
“Pack up. We’ll set out tomorrow!” Lin Haihai said coolly. She knew Wen Xuan would go with her. He would never miss any chance to meet Qiuyang again. Lin Haihai wasn’t going to attempt to solve their misunderstanding. The three of them would sort it out themselves.
Qiuyang stared at Lin Haihai’s back with resentment. She knew who Lin Haihai was. Of course she did. Her spies had been staying in the capital for the past decade. She knew everyone who got close to her sister. What she didn’t expect was for Lin Haihai to visit personally before her spies could warn her. There was no way for her to know that Lin Haihai and her companions would be able to travel much faster than her spies.
Wangchen and Zheng Feng had been waiting outside. They didn’t dare ask about the dejected look on Lin Haihai’s face when she emerged. Instead, Wangchen worriedly asked, “Are you in pain again?”
They had been scared witless the past few days. Lin Haihai had been undergoing tremendous pain that would make anyone wish for death daily. Zheng Feng ached for her, but there was nothing he could do. He hated the feeling of helplessness.
“No, it’s not time yet.” Lin Haihai’s expression stiffened when she thought about the excruciating pain. She couldn’t help but fear it. She was only three months pregnant at the moment, and she would have to endure the pain for another six to seven months. Would she really be able to make it?Previous Chapter Next Chapter