Feihu knelt on one knee and said solemnly, “This subordinate will do all I can. Please do not worry too much, Your Highness!”
It was then the steward rushed in suddenly. “The ji hour is coming, Your Highness. Her Majesty the Empress Dowager is asking for Sixth Princess Consort and has sent someone to find His Majesty. She’s dead worried!”
Yang Hanlun quietly made his way to the back. He’d forgotten that his mother was present as well. He would have to find a good explanation.
The empress dowager had lost her temper when he returned, her face tight with a dark scowl as she brooded and said nothing. She broke her silence as soon as she saw her son and nagged, “That brother of yours. Why would he go attend some court affairs on such an important day? The ji hour is coming. It won’t do for us to start without him! Yuguan and Empress Chen have yet to return from their trip to the temple, either. None of them have made it yet. What’s going on?”
Yang Hanlun pushed aside his pain and managed a smile. “Imperial Elder Brother must have left for some emergency, Imperial Mother. And the guards reported that the pouring rain had resulted in a landslide at the State Protection Temple and obstructed the main road. Empress Chen is now taking shelter in the temple! She’ll be back as soon as the road is unblocked!”
The empress dowager looked at the pouring rain outside worriedly. “What’s with this weather? According to the imperial preceptor’s forecast, today should be a sunny day. Why would it rain so suddenly? That worries me!”
“Fret not, Imperial Mother. It’s summer. It’s not unusual for there to be rain in the afternoon.” Yang Hanlun tried to reassure her despite the growing worry in his heart.
“Wait at the door, Lihua. Notify me as soon as they’re here!” The empress dowager got to her feet and gave the order to the maid behind her. The maid, Lihua, bowed to her without missing a beat and said, “Understood. This maid will go at once!”
Worried that the guards outside would accidentally reveal the truth, Yang Hanlun stopped Lihua and said, “Wait, Lihua. Stay here to serve Imperial Mother. I will have someone wait at the door. Don’t worry, Imperial Mother. This son has everything under control!”
The empress dowager stared at his face. “Did something happen?”
Yang Hanlun’s hesitation was brief. “Hm? Nothing. What do you think has happened, Mother?”
The empress dowager gave him a good, long stare. Finally, she relented, “Go. The ji hour is coming. It’s time for the wedding ceremony! Come support me, Lihua!”
The maid hurriedly helped the empress dowager up and noticed her tremor and the coolness of her palms. The maid was about to say something when the empress dowager silenced her with a warning look. Lihua lowered her head immediately and helped her walk away.
Yang Hanlun let out a relieved sigh and trailed after the empress dowager. The rain grew heavier and heavier, showing no signs of stopping. Imperial Elder Brother, Haihai, are you safe and sound?
It was time. The newlyweds were to bow to heaven and earth as part of the wedding ritual. The officials at present eagerly awaited the arrival of the emperor, but the emperor was nowhere to be seen even when the ritual was about to begin. Why isn’t His Majesty here? wondered the officials. Has something happened?
The empress dowager sat on the high seat in all her glory, looking at the newlyweds with a joyful smile. That was enough to reassure the officials. All must be well if the empress dowager was so calm and in such a good mood.
Bashfully, Chen Birou emerged at the door with the support of her chaperon. Yang Hanlun took big strides to accept the red ribbon tied in a true lover’s knot. The couple each held one end of the ribbon as Luo Kuangyuan - their master of ceremonies - called out, “First bow to heaven and earth!”
The newlyweds knelt down and each held up a lit incense to pay tribute to heaven and earth.
“Second bow to the parents!”
They knelt before the empress dowager and kowtowed.
“Third bow to each other!”
Yang Hanlun looked at his bride, her face obscured by a red veil. Wrought with anxiety, he felt no joy at all.
Chen Birou’s heart swelled as she looked at the big, strong hand holding onto her smaller ones. She’d waited for so long. The day had finally come. Although there was another woman in this household, she was confident that Yang Hanlun would remember their past happiness as long as she stayed by his side, and the woman wouldn’t be a concern. The wedding ceremony was enough proof. This wasn’t how one would marry a secondary consort, but a banquet befitting the first consort! Father had told her that not even the first consort had received such a grand wedding. The empress dowager must really like her! A faint smile tugged at Chen Birou’s lips, revealing her self-satisfaction.
The rain refused to relent but instead grew even heavier. Violent winds brought red and green leaves to the ground. The window panels adorned with the character for joy fluttered loudly. The enthusiasm of the guests was thoroughly doused. However, the one getting married here was the sixth prince, so they kept up their smiles.
In the main seat, the empress dowager raised her cup to the guests several times. Neither the emperor nor the empress were in attendance. The same was true of the controversial first consort of the prince. It wasn’t unusual for General Chen to not show up since he was never one for such celebrations, but some had noticed that even Official Luo, head of the Court of Judicial Review, had disappeared.
Grand Councilor Yan sneered, which hadn’t escaped Yang Hanlun’s notice. He stared at the older man with fury blazing in his eyes. What he wouldn’t do to kill that man at this moment! However, he managed to control his anger and toasted the other guests with a full smile. Luo Kuangyuan had left while most weren't looking. He rode east towards the location at which the emperor had gone missing.
Chen Luoqing was at his breaking point. The further he descended down the cliff, the harder his heart sank. It was such a tall cliff with protruding boulders and dangerous bluffs everywhere. It was difficult enough for him to find his way down. It was unimaginable that anyone could have survived the fall.
(Sorry guys, we realized the raws we had removed the steamy scene. It probably didn't pass censorship. We will upload it once we've finished translating it! *within the next 2 days*) The following part is the missing part.
Yang Shaolun slowly came to. His pain had faded into a dull numbness. He opened his eyes to see vibrantly green grass and colorful flora covering the ground. Not far from him was a bonfire, over which was a red outfit being hung dried. He took a closer look at the familiar-looking clothes. That was the court attire Lin Haihai had worn today!
He scrambled to get up and inevitably ended up jostling his wounds. He shut his eyes to endure the pain. After a long tortured pause, he opened his eyes and picked himself up. Before him was a misty hot spring, and a woman’s hair could be seen spreading out by its edge. His eyes shifted from the court attire to the woman, and his heart skipped in panic. His limbs reacted first by taking him to the hot spring on all fours. There lay Lin Haihai, submerged in the hot spring serenely. She didn’t seem to be wounded, but her eyes were shut.
Yang Shaolun gazed at the delicate woman in disbelief. She’s been perfectly fine just this morning! What happened? Tears dropped from his face, and he reached out with a trembling hand to caress her silky hair. He couldn’t even feel sorrow. There was no point in him staying alive when she was dead.
With his mind set up, he looked at her with loving eyes and bent down to pick her up. It was then Lin Haihai looked up at him, meeting his loving gaze, which was still misty with tears. Was she simply asleep? Yang Shaolun was embarrassed by his lapse in judgement. Her crystal-clear eyes were filled with her love for him. Her face was flushed, and her lips were as red as cherries ready for picking. Her soaked hair stuck to her cheeks. He could faintly see her lower body, which was obscured by the steamy water. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from her. He didn’t even know how he should react.
Lin Haihai’s heart pounded. She had fallen asleep by accident and woken up to his loving, reddened eyes. His unbridled love seemed to have pierced through her heart, leaving her with nowhere to hide. She was put in an awkward situation, though, having been caught completely naked. She turned away bashfully and asked, “How did I get here?”
If there was something you couldn’t explain, play dumb. That was the lesson she had learned since coming to the ancient times.
Yang Shaolun broke out of his reverie, quickly turning away and rising to his feet. He jostled his wound again with his careless movement. The pain tore through him, and he collapsed to the ground, covering his injured abdomen while wincing in pain.
Lin Haihai hurriedly leapt out from the hot spring to support him, her nakedness forgotten. “How are you feeling? Does it hurt a lot? Go lie down - ”
Her lips were covered by his before she could finish her sentence. His heated breaths warmed her nose while his tongue nudged her teeth apart to explore and conquer her mouth. He tightened his arms around her, pressing their bodies together until there was no gap between them. Lin Haihai felt lightheaded, her heart pounding and racing like it would burst out of her chest anytime. Soon, her breaths were coming out as moans, and she lost herself to him, beginning to respond to his advances.
Her reaction further stoked his arousal, and he smoothed his hand over her back before shifting it to her chest, covering her supple breasts. He dropped kisses on her ears, neck, and slowly worked down from there. It was a sudden lightning strike that broke them from the heat of the moment. Lin Haihai pushed Yang Shaolun away before burying herself into his arms when she remembered her nakedness.
Yang Shaolun’s eyes lingered on her, thick with arousal. Lin Haihai had to look away. She silently cursed herself for letting things get out of her control. Her rationality and promises always evaporated when she saw him. There was something magical about him that made her weak to his display of emotions.
“Would you please fetch my clothes?” she asked softly, bashfully. He looked at her flushed face with a pang in his heart before letting go of her to fetch her clothes from the bonfire. Lin Haihai went back into the hot spring. Yang Shaolun laid her clothes by her side and gave her a meaningful look. Lin Haihai turned away in embarrassment.
Yang Shaolun walked to the mouth of the cavern and looked around. It was pouring heavy rain outside, obscuring everything from him. How did he get here? He remembered running into a group of assassins and suffering serious injury. Xiao Yuan risked his life to send him away. He got onto the carriage and blacked out.
How did he end up in this cavern? While his wounds still hurt, they were close to being healed. And how did she end up here? From the way she had reacted, it seemed that she had just regained consciousness as well, and she didn’t know how she got here, either.
Lin Haihai scrambled to keep on her clothes, which truly were unnecessarily complicated. It took a lot of work from her to make herself presentable. She looked up to see him staring bemusedly out of the cavern. He must be wondering how he got here. I’ll have to lie again! Lin Haihai sighed. Lying now came as easily to her as breathing.
“How did you end up here?” she walked up to him and asked. “How about me?”
Yang Shaolun turned to look at her. Her hair had been soaked and was dripping water. He reached out to gather her wet hair and squeezed it dry for her, which was done with great care and gentleness. Lin Haihai looked at him, moved. Yang Shaolun gave her a warm smile and said, “You’d catch a cold with wet hair.”
He shifted his gaze down, seemingly focused on what he was doing. In a nonchalant tone, he asked, “Don’t you know how you got here?”
Lin Haihai frowned and took a bemused moment to answer, “I was on my way to the State Protection Temple with the empress. I needed to relieve myself, so I went to the forest. That was when a man in black came up to me, and I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I was here with you!” She pretended to panic and asked, “Wasn’t it you who took off my clothes? Then, then I - ”
“Does your body feel different in any way?” Yang Shaolun hurriedly asked.
Lin Haihai knew what he was worried about. She answered, “No. However, I’m not sure how I ended up here. Why would my clothes be hung above the fire to dry? Was I drenched when I got here?”
Lin Haihai pointedly said those words so that Yang Shaolun would conclude she had been disrobed and put in the hot spring to prevent her from catching a cold. In other words, the person who took her here wasn’t an enemy trying to hurt them, and was in fact doing them a favor.
Yang Shaolun narrowed his eyes bemusedly. He had been a conscientious man, and yet he couldn’t see through her lies. Lin Haihai loved this side of him. She had always found a man most attractive when he was focused on something. Her gaze was warm as it settled on him, but her heart was throbbing with ruefulness. She was now certain of her love for him, but that realization was only deepening her sorrow. She loved him, but they were never meant to be!
“Achoo!” She felt a sudden chill and sneezed. She had always been healthy. With the spiritual pearl protecting her, she almost never got sick. She must have caught a cold after treating him and getting drenched by the rain, but it was nothing to worry about.
Yang Shaolun turned to her in concern, looking at her flushed face. He pulled her into his arms like she belonged there, which warmed Lin Haihai’s heart. She looked up at him while he covered her forehead with a hand. He sighed. “You’re running a fever. Come, have a seat!”
He took her hand and sat down on where he had been sleeping.
Lin Haihai felt a little cold, which was a common symptom among those running a fever. She curled into herself. Yang Shaolun wrapped his arms around her tightly with concern and love.
“Brother Yang!” she called out quietly.
Yang Shaolun looked down at her bright eyes. “Yeah.”
“I’d like to spend a day with you. A day that belongs to only the two of us.” Lin Haihai closed her eyes and snuggled close to him. Happiness bloomed in her heart, and she didn’t want to think about anything else. She wanted to savor this moment they shared.
Yang Shaolun felt a pang in his heart. So she does love me! In a hoarse voice, he said,
“Alright. We’ll have a day to ourselves!”
“But after today, we’ll go back to being who we are, who we should be!” Lin Haihai said ruefully. “That’s better than nothing, though. We mustn’t be greedy!”
Yang Shaolun fell silent, but at the same time he tightened his arms around her to hold her close, as if afraid that she would disappear once he relaxed his grip. Lin Haihai could sense his fear. She wanted to say something, but she couldn’t find the words. She ended up doing nothing while the sense of helplessness grew in her heart.
“You’re running a fever, girl. I’m going to go pick some herbs. Tell me what I should look for!” Yang Shaolun looked at her misty eyes worriedly.
“Why would you call me a girl? I’m not that young!” Lin Haihai said unhappily, widening her eyes to stare at him.
“You’re eighteen, and I’m eleven years older than you are. Why shouldn’t I call you a girl?” Yang Shaolun laughed. He had never thought that he would fall for an eighteen-year-old.
“I’m that young?” Lin Haihai said awkwardly. She was actually twenty-eight, and they were close in age. Perhaps they would be happy together. A sweet smile bloomed on her face when she day-dreamed about the possibility.
“That’s right. You’re my darling girl in my heart!”
Lin Haihai was surprised that the usually aloof man would say something so sweet. She held him tightly and said from the bottom of her heart, “And you’re my darling man!”
Let them do what they wanted today. They had been pushing themselves to suppress their feelings. Let them have today! They had a long life ahead of them, but together, they only had a day!
Outside, it continued to rain. Bouts of wind rustled the trees in the mountain, and a chill set in the cavern. Yang Shaolun added wood to the fire and wrapped Lin Haihai’s trembling body with his. Her forehead was still hot to the touch.
Knowing that he was worried, Lin Haihai took out a bottle of pills from her pocket and popped one into her mouth. With a small smile, she said, “This will help with the fever. I’ll be fine in a bit. Don’t worry, I’m a physician!”
That was actually chocolate she always had on her to comfort children when she treated them. Lin Haihai had always loved children. That was why she never left without some reassuring treat. It was something her mother had prepared for her as well.
Yang Shaolun allowed himself to relax and smoothed a slender finger over her eyebrow. He then cupped her face with his large hands and said, “You’re a physician, but you’re terrible at taking care of yourself. Look at the wounds on your face.”
That was when Lin Haihai remembered that she had gotten hurt. She hoped she could treat them now with her spiritual energy. Although the wounds had healed and faded away, leaving only faint traces on her face, he must be able to see them pretty clearly this close.
Lin Haihai gently caressed Yang Shaolun’s sculpted face. Under his dark thick brows were eyes brimming with deep adoration. He curled his lips into a faint smile.
“You rarely smile, do you? Look at you! Your smile can captivate anyone!” Lin Haihai said with a laugh, her hand finding its way to his forehead on its own accord. There was a slight crease between his brows. She tried to smooth it over.
Yang Shaolun chuckled, both for her exaggerated praise and her affectionate gesture. “In my eyes, the one who has been captivating everyone is you!”
“I don’t want to capture the attention of everyone. I only want one person!” Under all the pretenses she’d put up, Lin Haihai was but a woman who yearned for love. She wanted to marry and start a family with the person she loved. She would do laundry and make meals. She would put on only the slightest makeup. She wanted to watch the sunrise and fall with him, observed as the cold season wilted the flowers.
Yet even that was but a dream, beautiful, but never to be realized.
Yang Shaolun’s heart clenched. Confirming her feelings for him made him a changed man. Although he knew he could only watch from afar when they met again in the future, what mattered the most was the closeness of their hearts. He couldn’t ask for more. Men would always yearn for more, but the most important thing was to seize the moment and what he had.
“It’s my greatest fortune to have met you in this life!” He caught her hand and linked their fingers. That sentence alone had conveyed the thousands of words he had been meaning to say.
Lin Haihai closed her eyes in content, savoring the intimacy of nuzzling his face. She whispered into his ear, “It’s the same for me!”
They had never expressed their love for each other, but perhaps some love needn’t be put into words. Lin Haihai buried her face into his neck. Her heart filled with both joy and melancholy. His warmth drove away the chill in her bones, and she fell into a deep sleep.
Yang Shaolun gently put a hand on her forehead. Her fever had ceded, but her face was still a little pale. He held onto her, unwilling to let go. Even when his injury began to hurt, he kept himself resolutely silent.
He had checked his wounds. They were still there, but they were already healing. How is it possible? It should’ve taken at least a fortnight to recover to this extent. Had I been unconscious for that long?
All those questions made his head hurt. He’d racked his brain for an answer with his eyes closed but to no avail.
When Lin Haihai woke up, she was met with Yang Shaolun’s adoring eyes. She got to her feet, feeling energized and light. She must have recovered from her cold. The rain outside had relented somewhat. It seemed as if the cavern was a standalone world separated from the outside world. It was so well laid out that no one would’ve found this place. She silently summoned Baizi. He would know what she was thinking about and would act accordingly.
Yang Shaolun put his arms around her waist from behind, watching the gentle rain outside. He inhaled deeply, breathing in the faint medicinal fragrance coming from her body. Unlike other women, she didn’t smell like makeup or incense. The elegant fragrance was something he adored greatly.
“Does your injury still hurt?” Lin Haihai asked quietly without turning around.
“Don’t worry, it’s already healed.” He matched her gentle tone as he responded, making clear his complete trust in her. “How did you know I was hurt?”
“I’m a doctor!” She turned to him with a mischievous look. He had always wanted her to show him this side of her. Gently, he pressed his lips to hers, capturing her small smile. LIn Haihai closed her eyes and savored this feeling. In the future, she would have to rely on her memory to prove to her his existence.
“I wonder what has happened to the wedding.” Lin Haihai sighed. Their absence must have put a damper on the mood.
Yang Shaolun felt a pang in his heart. Does she still have feelings for Imperial Brother?
Noticing the tension in his body, Lin Haihai smiled and said, “Let’s not think about the outside world at the moment. Today is ours and only ours.”
“Let us have a day to ourselves. Haihai, if one day I may put down the heavy mantle on my shoulders, would you be willing to lead a reclusive life with me in this mountain, away from the outside world?” He dreamed of a day where they could put away all their worldly concerns and lead a peaceful life here like celestials.
“I would. Of course I would!” Lin Haihai answered easily. If that day ever came, she would go anywhere with him. But alas, that day might never come!
Yang Shaolun held onto her tightly, his heart brimming with warmth and happiness. She did love him. That was all he needed to know. No matter how much pain and hardship awaited him, he would never complain. He would be satisfied even if he could only watch her from a distance.
Night descended. The rain had stopped. To ward off the intruding chill, they moved back to the campfire, holding idle conversations. Yang Shaolun washed the pile of fruit Lin Haihai had collected and handed the largest piece to her. She took a bite after wiping it clean and said, “It’s really sweet. Try it!”
She reached out to feed him. He took a bite, his gaze fixed on her. Her eyes curved when she smiled. She looked stunning like this. Yang Shaolun stared at her curved brows, eyes, and delicate lips in content. This smiling woman was what his soul yearned for and what his life depended on.
“Would you tell me about your past, Brother Yang?” Lin Haihai sat down and looked up at him.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Hope you guys are enjoying the story so far!!